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Sunday, 22 July 2012


Everything I know about the Illuminati, 
I learned from Leonard Cohen.

The first, but not the only, person who ever told me he had been in a flotation tank on LSD, was Leonard Cohen, back in the late 1970s. He dropped the subject casually into a conversation we were having. I had heard about sensory isolation at university when I took Sociology 101. Our professor, Pat Pajonas, told us about Dr. D.O. Hebb's famous experiments involving rats and I.Q.  Rats kept in environments with very low levels of sensory stimulation scored lower on intelligence tests than other rats.

Leonard told me he had very much enjoyed his experiences, and then asked if I had ever been in a flotation tank. I just stared at him blankly. To my knowledge at the time, I had not. But given what I now know about McGill's classified experiments on children, carried on by Dr. Ewen Cameron with the assistance of Dr. Nolan D.C. Lewis of Columbia University's Institute of Psychiatry, I think I may have been mistaken.

1951: McGill sensory isolation experiment

A few years ago, a filmmaker friend unwittingly emailed me this 1951 photo of one of the student volunteers in Hebb's experiments. I immediately recognized the blind-folded, immobilized student as Leonard Cohen. His facial features are easily distinguishable, despite the mask, and the preppy tie is another dead giveaway. And of course, I clearly recall him telling me about those experiments.

He also appears in this scene from The Ernie Game entertaining a group of hypnotized-looking people at a party. Trance-formation of a generation? Young Ernie, the protagonist of this 1967 NFB feature, was a mental patient, likely modelled on one of Dr. Cameron's mind control victims. Ernie eventually commits suicide, and the film ends on a disturbing note, while keeping the secrets of MKULTRA safely hidden from the public. After all, Canada's National Film Board was founded as an arm of military propaganda and the military were still funding Dr. Cameron's successors.

Leonard also appears to have received training in Ericksonian hypnosis, probably during his mysterious student days at Columbia, when he drifted through the same halls as Henry Kissinger, Zbiegniev Brezhinsky and (later) Barack Obama.


I don't laugh when people debunk David Icke's "absurd" theories on fourth-dimensional reptoid alien shapeshifters taking over the minds and bodies of many world leaders and celebrities. I owe my open-mindedness on this topic to memorable experiences I had had over the years with Leonard Cohen.

The most dramatic of these occurred in the Dublin Airport in December 1979, near the end of his UK tour. I had joined the tour in Manchester, and Leonard had generously invited me to follow him and his band, Passenger, through concerts in Scotland and Ireland. As we waited to board our flight, I wandered into the souvenir shop where I began browsing books and objects related to Celtic religions. Leonard was several meters away, talking to Jennifer Warnes, and then something seemed to attract his attention and he began walking toward me. When he was a few feet away, however, he came to a sudden halt, and his body and face became strangely distorted. He stared at me from an of angle, wriggling his fingers in the air like tentacles. He looked like some lizard contemplating a tasty-looking fly, or frog.

Of course, I thought he was joking. I waited for him to drop his little act, but he seemed frozen in this strange pose. His tongue flicked in and out of his mouth while his fingers continued their strange motion. Seconds passed, and to break the silence, I let out a nervous laugh. This seemed to jolt him out of his trance, but instead of acknowledging the joke, he hurried away as if shaken and disoriented. Maybe "scuttled" describes it better. He seemed not to know who I was or how he came to be standing next to me. I put it down to tour fatigue. He never explained, and I never asked.

On two other occasions, while sitting in his kitchen, once in Montreal, and another time on Hydra, I saw him "shift." His appearance didn't change, but he suddenly seemed to step out of this dimension and into another. I don't quite know how to describe this, but both times it happened, he grinned as if to say, "Did you see that?" For these and other reasons, I always found Leonard fun to hang out with -- at least in the beginning. He was witty, kind, and generous, and seemed to take a sincere interest in me. I couldn't imagine why at the time, but I thought it might have to do with my ability to perceive certain unusual traits and abilities that others overlooked.

Neuro-scientist John Lilly, who worked on sensory isolation with D.O. Hebb at McGill in the mid-1950s, wrote about his out-of-body experiences while floating in a tank on Ketamine and LSD, including numerous encounters with highly intelligent non-human entities who warned him of dire threats to life on earth. Sometimes I have wondered if any of these entities got hold of our Leonard.

Over the winter of 1980-81, on the island of Hydra, Leonard seemed to go through a religious conversion. He began expressing many right-wing political views and fundamentalist religious beliefs. In the three years since I had known him, he had struck me as mainly "apolitical and spiritual", but now he seemed obsessed with supporting Ronald Reagan's plans for a new America. He often came across as a totally different personality and I thought he might be having some sort of mental breakdown. He was spending much of his time drinking with a group of alcoholic millionaires and their hangers-on, including a former Swiss mercenary who had been in the Belgian Congo, and a Dominican woman who went by the nickname "Black Maggie."

I began realizing that the image I had of Leonard as a kind of older brother to the hippie generation, was highly inaccurate. He had even started combing his hair straight back in Reagan-esque fashion, and was spouting a new ideology that shocked me at the time. Later I would hear the same ideas from the mouths of high-profile neo-conservatives like Irving Krystol, William F. Buckley, and the Bushes -- but in 1980, it sounded like something out of a 1950s brainwashing manual. On one occasion, he told me that the world had been created 6,000 years ago by the collision of "black fire" with "white fire." I asked him, if that was so, how he accounted for dinosaurs and their relics. He said the dinosaurs were a hoax.I worried about his mental health.

He began expounding on the need for me to convert to Judaism. I was making my way through a book on the Kabbala, and was open to the idea of conversion. Judaism and Kabbala are not the same thing, however, and I abandoned my plan to convert after speaking to a rabbi.

LIFE Magazine : Hydra hootenanny
(note the tie, again)
October, 1960

Meanwhile, along with changes in personal style, Leonard had embraced drastic views about Armageddon and the ultimate destiny of Israel as a Light Unto the Nations. He made it seem that converting to Judaism would be a necessary life-raft in the End Times, which were already upon us. He seemed to be handing me an ultimatum: "You're either with us, or you're against us." I pondered his kind offer of marriage, although what he had in mind seemed to be some kind of collective wedding with himself as the Messiah, surrounded by an army of handmaidens.

Divine retribution, disaster, all-out war -- these were his themes. It was not my kind of scene, and neither was Hydra, where Leonard had got his start as a cult figure, even appearing in LIFE Magazine in 1960, several years before he had released any of his later-to-be famous songs. His lady friend, Marianne Jensen, appears in some of these photos, along with her estranged husband Axel Jensen and son Axel Jr., who as a child was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Ira Nadel's biography states that Leonard first went to Hydra in March of 1960 on the recommendation of Jacob Rothschild, whom he met in London. Baron de Rothschild's mother was involved with the Greek painter Nikos Ghikas, whose hillside mansion burned down soon after Leonard dropped by to visit. The story goes that he was refused entry to the Ghikas home and as he turned away he shouted "Curse this house!" -- only to see his wish come true in spectacular fashion. I find that Hydra legend a bit farfetched. It's  more interesting to explore the family and business connections that brought Leonard into the Rothschild sphere at the beginning of his career. The names "Henry Kissinger" and "Ronald Reagan" leap from the page at Wikipedia, not to mention that of newspaper magnate Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), who had been a close family friend of Rothschild's second wife, Serena Mary Dunn. In fact, Beaverbrook even married her sister, Marcia Dunn -- I'm digressing just to give a sense of the incestuous elite world that Leonard entered in his rise to fame and fortune.Hydra has long been an island with strong links to British intelligence -- and a number of former operatives still had houses there in the 1980s and later. I met a few of them.

In case people ever got the impression that Leonard moved to Hydra on the recommendation of the Rothschilds and a secretive gang of international financiers, media moguls, arms dealers and eugenicists, Leonard came up with an innocuous-sounding explanation, worthy of the fancy-free poet and budding novelist:

On a dismal rainy afternoon in April 1960, after spending three months in a boarding house on Hampstead High Street completing a manuscript, the 25-year-old “grocer of despair” found himself wandering bleakly around London’s East End, his spirits further depleted by raging toothache.
Then he spotted a Bank of Greece sign on Bank Street, entered the bank and saw a cheery clerk sporting a deep suntan and a defiant pair of shades. Cohen asked what the weather was like in Greece and was assured it was already springtime. On the spot, he decided to pack his bags.
Arriving in Athens on 13 April 1960, Cohen took a steamer to Hydra, a five-hour journey in those days. The destination wasn’t random, he’d heard from friends that there was a flourishing group of expat artists and writers on the island.

So, did he just accidentally stumble onto Hydra because he hated the English climate, as this tale implies, or was he sent? I guess the "friends" who had tipped him off to the artists and writers colony, would be Jacob Rothschild and Serena Dunn, who were also art collectors. Maybe Hydra proved too Bohemian for the boy from a family of haberdashers. Also, Greek winters can be disappointing, rainy and cold. Maybe those photos in LIFE Magazine spurred his career.


It's doubtful Fidel Castro sent out a call, a few weeks ahead of the US invasion, for the folksingers of the world to come to the aid of the Cuban people. Nevertheless, in the spring of 1961, Leonard flew to Havana, scene of a communist revolution that the CIA's Allen Dulles was intent on putting down with the aid of a couple of brigades composed of anti-Castro fighters and assassins. The leader of one of these brigades was Joachim Sanjenis Perdomo, who would pop up years later as the doorman at the Dakota Hotel on the night John Lennon was shot.

In one of his more confessional songs, written a decade later, Cohen would confide a few details to his audience, most of whom would think he was just kidding about being a spy:

Field Commander Cohen was our most important spy
Parachuting acid into diplomatic cocktail parties
Urging Fidel Castro to abandon fields and castles
And, like a man, come back to poetry...

After all, he's a singer, right? Musicians don't lead double lives as intelligence operatives, do they?

Later, in letters to his Miami brother-in-law, Edgar, the globetrotting poet/singer would vociferously declare his deep commitment to anti-communism. Given his past connections with Allen Dulles' MKULTRA brainwashing program at McGill and Columbia, it's just possible that Leonard was on a list of bright young men chosen for assignments like hanging out in the lobby of the Havana hotel where Castro had set up his revolutionary headquarters. It's possible he even arrived with a few blotters of LSD, from the CIA's own laboratory, stashed in his pocket. He claims he was there on vacation, but this photo shows him with a beard and military-style outfit, hobnobbing with men who appear to belong to one of the local militias. No tie, though. Too hot, I guess.

Havana, 1961. Leonard, the tourist.

Is it possible during his short stay, in which he was apprehended, questioned and nearly detained as an American agent, that he also ran into the beautiful, 19 year old Marita Lorenz, who was sharing Castro's bed at the Havana Hilton? The daughter of a CIA agent, Marita's life is the stuff of legend, and her book Dear Fidel is a rivetting read. Also, Marita is not a very common name in Canada: could she be the very same "Marita" who appears in the famous 1963 poem which Cohen would scrawl on the wall during a trip to the men's room at Le Bistro a Jojo , a well-known Montreal watering-hole for journalists, artists and other operatives?


Oh, and one final knot: there's a nice video about Leonard's early years growing up in Montreal, with photos and 8mm film footage of him as a child. It seems he wore a tie even when riding his wee tricycle. Oddly, it is reported that a few weeks after his father died the 9-year-old Leonard buried one of his dad's bowties, wrapped in paper on which he had written some verses.The sound track to this video features an interview, interspersed with a live performance of Passing Through, the lyrics of which are worth another look as they echo, in certain ways, the point of view of the singer/narrator in The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil

"I was at Franklin Roosevelt's side
on the night before he died
He said 'One World must come out
of World War Two --'(Ah the fool)"

Did Roosevelt really say that? And who was with him on the night before he died? My research says it was OSS mastermind Allen Dulles, who signed the treaty with the SS that wrapped up the war the following day, against Roosevelt's orders, opening the door to Operation Paperclip, Nazi rat-lines and the future One World Government aka The New World Order.

We have to thank Leonard for passing on inside information, while never making his position clear. But then, that's another trait the Illuminati are known for.

One tie at a time.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Unholy Messiah

September 21, 1980. I had decided to come back to Hydra and save Leonard. It's difficult to look back at the silly young woman who did all this mainly because she was in love at the time. Also, I had just come into some money, i.e. a Canada Council grant to write a novel. The first thing I did with it was buy a ticket to Greece. A few months earlier my mother had died, of complications from a 15-year battle with arthritis. My father had died of a heart attack six years earlier. I was 29, remarkably naive but also fairly sensitive, and heading into my first Saturn return.

Not that these are exactly excuses, but they help me to distance myself from my reckless self of thirty years ago. I was very prone to dreams, back then, and some of my dreams were precognitive. Or rather, I would receive information in them that would later prove accurate. I was also eccentric enough to base some of my decisions and actions on such dreams, just to see what would happen. Often the results were beyond my imaginings.

Over the summer of 1980, while I worked at temporary office jobs, I had received a number of these dream messages concerning Leonard. The gist was, he was back on drugs and his Roshi in California was very worried and disappointed. I had never met the Roshi, but in dreams he appeared as a small, big-hearted, round-faced man who spoke halting Japanese-accented English. This hunch, and the $9,000 cheque from the Canada Council were all it took: I was on a mission: I would go to Hydra, see Leonard, pick up where we had left off several months ago... Which was where? Well, limbo actually, but I was feeling adventurous. I would use all my persuasive powers to woo him over to "my" side: the side of light and love, or so I thought.

My plan went into motion, except that I dillydallied a bit, flying to London then boarding a train that took me to Italy, then the ferry to Patras. At the sight of the Greek coastline, I burst into tears. It was like a homecoming. The bus to Athens took several hours, and finally I caught the ferry to Hydra, arriving in the afternoon of Leonard's 46th birthday. An auspicious coincidence, I thought, until I knocked on his door and was met by Birgit, who told me Leonard had departed with his children and Australian nanny for New York that very morning, leaving her in charge of closing up his house. In her prim, rather Prussian manner she informed me that Leonard was about to begin his second European tour in two years, revisiting a number of cities where he'd given concerts the year before.

Leaving my luggage on the terrace, I stumbled down to the rocks and threw myself into the lukewarm sea. While swimming back and forth, I calmed down enough to concoct a plan. I would go back to Leonard's and beg Birgit to spend a night or two in the extra room. At first she refused, but eventually she gave in, before catching her own flight back to Germany. So for two days and nights, I had the run of Leonard's house. Just so you know: this was not like me, but at the time I was slightly possessed. In fact, I spent a few years living down the shame of the rash actions of that autumn. On the other hand, I learned plenty -- much more than I could process at the time, but much of it lodged in my mind because it seemed to shed light on some very dark places that I would soon be entering.

Most of the time, over those two days, I sat in the library, a small room just off The kitchen, where intuition guided me to a 1974 hardcover edition of  a book on Kabala by Gershom Scholem.  It was quite worn and opened by itself to a much read chapter on Sabbatai Zvi, the "false messiah of Smyrna." I read that chapter and most of the book that day and night. It was not my first encounter with Zvi. The previous December on a trip to London, I had spent the better part of a week at the British Museum, perusing the exhibits. In a display case I had come across an 18th century woodcut depicting Zvi as the Great Dragon, or some sort of anti-Christ. Now, what struck me between the eyes were the numerous ways he resembled Leonard. Zvi loved to sing and compose songs, he was prone to manic-depressive episodes, he had a charismatic personality and an odd, almost surrealistic, streak of humour. I read the chapter with the sense that I was making some earth-shattering, secret discovery: Leonard Cohen was the reincarnation of this 17th century holy madman who had unleashed a messianic fervour that ended in thousands of deaths and untold losses for the Jews of eastern Europe, who joined his movement in droves, sold off their property, and followed his teachings, including the antinomian dictum: Blessed is he who breaks the Commandments.

In a desk drawer in the basement of Leonard's house, I found the confirmation I had been looking for: a notebook he had been keeping over the summer. Obviously, he had not found much time to write, since most of the pages were blank except for a few at the beginning. On one he had scrawled what looked like a warning to himself: I GAVE UP DRUGS BECAUSE I WANTED TO LIVE.

A few pages on, he had written down a tentative schedule of concerts for his upcoming tour. There was a list of cities and dates, the last being Tel Aviv on November 24.

I had always wanted to visit Egypt and Israel. Here was my chance. I pocketed Leonard's notebook -- my second "bad deed" -- maybe I was inspired by Sabbatai Zvi, who believed forbidden acts hasten the arrival of the Messiah. The following day, I left for Athens and the island of Patmos where I thought I might get further inspiration and some answers by visiting the cave of another writer I admired: Saint John the Divine, author of the Book of Revelations. I was searching, really, for the history I had glimpsed in the pages of Gershom Scholem. What was the true nature of Light and Dark, and how would it manifest itself in the Middle East, and was Sabbatai Zvi a prophet or criminal, and why was I so drawn to his story and to ancient sites connected to his movement?

From Patmos I took a ferry to the nearby island of Samos where I spent a month with a German windsurfer, and then I flew to Egypt on a crawl through pyramids and temples, all the time recording my impressions in Leonard`s diary. I crossed the Sinai desert in a taxi, disembarked at El Arish where I saw a few abandoned tanks and other scarred relics of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (in which Leonard participated, entertaining the Israeli troops and even spending time in a trench with Ariel Sharon). From there my travelling companion and I took a bus to Gaza, and another taxi to Jerusalem. By then it was mid-November, which left me a week for touring around Israel (Ein Gedi on the Dead Sea, a kibbutz on the Sea of Galilee, Banyas Gorge in the Golan Heights, and so on) before meeting Leonard's plane at Tel Aviv airport on November 23.

Our reunion, such as it was, was fraught with tension. Leonard and the band were tired and demoralized. They had spent the last two months touring Europe for the second time in two years. Audience members in Germany interrupted one of the concerts to complain that they had paid to see the same concert before. Leonard's magic had worked only intermittently this time around, apparently.

I had met the band a year earlier,  when I had joined Leonard's tour of the UK and Ireland. So I wangled a seat on the bus next to guitarist Mitch Watkins, a couple of rows behind Leonard. We disembarked at a hotel on the beach in Tel Aviv. As the equipment was being unloaded, Leonard and I chatted. I remember he talked about the history of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, scene of a notorious bomb attack by the Irgun. I knew  the nothing about that incident, and I remember he told me that certain heroes of the Warsaw ghetto uprising had gone on to fight for Israeli independence, leaving me with the impression that he was a supporter.

Meanwhile, I still had the notebook I had lifted from his desk on Hydra. In it, I had kept a journal of my travels through Greece, Egypt and Israel. My plan had to see where it led me, as I explored museums and ruins from Athens to Cairo to Tel Aviv, and followed my own typically random trail of odd encounters and coincidences on a kind of do-it-yourself Kaballistic quest that had ultimately led me to the door of a girl named "Annie Cohen" who told me I was at the wrong address. That was the final entry I had inscribed in the stolen diary. Since my name was also Annie, in my Jung-soaked mind at the time this meant I had won my gamble, and there was still hope for our relationship. Or "union" -- or whatever. It stuns me, a bit, all these years later, how as a not-so-young woman I could be so blindly focused on a single outcome, but there was a whole history behind that, too, which I can't get into here.

Let's just say that, since I had met Leonard three years earlier, and even before our first meeting, signs and portents had dogged the trail of our encounters. It seemed whenever we were together, the universe went out of its way to mark the occasion. I believe this is what certain people mean when they speak of "karmic" relationships, the kind that get you thinking you have known the other person for centuries or milennia, and have "unfinished business" to complete. Quite literally, you can feel you are being flooded with ancient information from unknown sources, all compelling you to solve the mystery that has brought you together. Whatever. Some such thing was going on at the time between me and Leonard, although I had the sense that he was already more tired of it than I was.

All that would change, I thought, when I handed him back his notebook. Which I did, the following evening, after I managed to get ten minutes alone with him after the concert. Everyone was trying to see him that night but I slipped through the door just ahead of backup singer Sharon Robinson. Leonard was recovering from the concert, and the usual half-bottle of Vodka he consumed to loosen up on stage. Coming to the point, I pulled out the diary. He recognized it instantly. "Where did you get that?" His face changed as he realized I'd been in his study on Hydra, rifling his drawers. He lunged for the book, flipped through it, reached in his pocket for an exact-o knife -- who would think he carried one? He slit a few pages, the ones in his own handwriting, tore them out, and handed me the rest.

I`d wanted him to read my travel journal, with its revelations and clues regarding the future of the planet which was deeply connected to the outcome of our relationship, but now I saw the absurdity of all that. I sat frozen, dying of embarrassment, while he told me he would read it, but "it needs to be typed."

The following day was a blur, as I hung out with the band, who were drinking heavily and fighting with Leonard over money. They demanded equal billing on all future tours, i.e. it would be `Leonard Cohen and Passenger" but Leonard was telling them he didn't need their services after all and would hire some $300-a-week Armenian musicians the next time he went on tour. Their happy family was disintegrating.  I took refuge for several hours at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum for the day, thinking to regain my self-respect by reading about the murdered Jews of Salonica, the northern Greek city which happened to harbour thousands of secret followers of Sabbatai Zvi.

But also, all that day, there were visits from Israeli dignitaries, including a well-known poet whose name I didn't quite catch, and the usual string of press interviews. Overall, the atmosphere was grave and secretive, nowhere near as festive as it had been the year before. It was the last day of Leonard`s tour, after all, and everyone seemed a little devastated.

Someone --possibly Leonard himself -- told me he was headed for Hydra. I didn`t have the guts to say that was where I was headed, too, but I had a pre-existing plan to spend the winter there on Canada Council money, writing my novel.

Please excuse this travelogue. It`s just a prelude to more interesting things still to come...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Neighbour of the Beast

How did I end up living next door to Leonard Cohen, whose many female fans rarely get close and when they do, can’t stop gushing about their incredible luck at having spent an evening with him, eating spaghetti Bolognese?

I still sometimes puzzle over the strange twist of fate which positioned me around the corner and within gawking distance of his house at 30 Vallieres, six years after our first meeting in 1977 and long after the romance had flickered out.

At the time, my life still seemed to revolve around the man, although the parabola of my orbit fluctuated wildly, like that of some rogue planet that had wandered into his solar system and couldn’t quite escape the suction at the centre. I wouldn’t exactly call Leonard a “sun” – although “black hole” or “brown dwarf” don’t really encapsulate him, either. As relationships go, ours ranged from dangerously close to extremely distant.

He exercised a lot of magnetism over the people in his world, some of it pleasant and positive. Leonard’s greatest achievement, apart from his “life in art”, is his ability to compartmentalize various aspects of himself so that what first-time visitors and new acquaintances see is often a dazzling fragment of a man whose dark side would shock them. And that is an understatement.

Over the winter of 1980-81, I had seen several women fall in love with him and be drawn into the masochistic three-ring circus that was life on Hydra. I had concluded that something was wrong with the ringmaster at the centre of all this, but was unable to pull away. In a way, I felt a responsibility (to myself, but also to the others) to make sense of the puzzle of contradictions that threatened to absorb more and more of my life.

Unable to unravel the mystery of his hold over people, which at times appeared almost magical, I eventually decided, at Leonard’s suggestion, to go to Mount Baldy and see the Roshi. After divining that Cohen and I knew each other, the Roshi had suggested we get married. “You make Rennard Cohen good wife!” he enthused. A few days later, Leonard took up with a blonde from Minneapolis, and (in tears) Roshi apologized for his mistake: “Rennard Cohen crazy. You not need.”

Two weeks later, after arranging for Cohen to fund my Zen practice for a year, the Roshi confided that , being a man, he, too, had an ego and could make mistakes. “But Rennard Cohen good friend to you,” he concluded, with a pause implying a need for confirmation.

I didn't know what to make of it all. No one had bothered to ask for my input on the question of my future. It seemed to have been arranged in my best interests, between Leonard and the Roshi, during one of their sake-soaked evenings. The “scholarship” was handed to me like a birthday present which, once unwrapped, at first appears perfectly timed but on second glance turns out to be heavy with consequences. I was a newcomer who adapted well to Zen practice and even seemed to be good at it. I liked what I had seen so far, but did I really want to spend the next several years in some monastery in the desert of New Mexico? It seemed I was about to become a ward of the Roshi, who would train me as a Zen nun in his organization, after which I would just disappear into the Void of spiritual practice.

That’s when the phone call suddenly arrived, out of the blue, from an old friend in Montreal, who had decided to give up his jaw-droppingly cheap apartment in the heart of our beloved Plateau Mont Royal. Did I want it? I gave his offer two second’s careful consideration before saying yes. He didn’t tell me this charming 75$ a month flat shared a back yard (divided by a high fence) with Leonard Cohen.

Some people thought this proved I was still in hot pursuit of Leonard, but they knew little of the complexities. Besides, no matter how many spells you cast, or how many rosaries you thumb, it would be impossible to arrange such a coincidence, which I discovered only after I had flown back to Montreal and picked up the keys from my friend, who had just completed his Masters in Ecology at Penn State University, and also happened to share a birthday (September 21) with Leonard.

The irony was all too blatant: in my decision to evade Leonard’s kind offer, I ended up moving in next door to him. I’ve never particularly wondered what would have happened had I stayed at the monastery. I knew I was not cut out to be a nun, although over the first months back in Montreal,  I wrote a little book called A NUN’S DIARY, a fanciful retelling of my winter on Hydra which began at about the same time John Lennon was shot in New York.

It would be years before I finally understood the hidden truth about why those days on Hydra were the darkest time of my life. Over that winter, I saw Leonard change, and not for the better. I saw apparently trivial incidents unfold that made little sense at the time, but were in fact connected to events happening on the world stage. The island of Hydra miraculously mirrors the constellation of Hydra, which floats in the night sky between Leo and Virgo, the lion and the lady. And Hydra was the miniature chessboard where a secretive master practiced his moves for what was coming next.

Here, hindsight rears up like a dragon and runs away with the narrative. We are nearing a time when many secrets are bursting into the open. Let this be one of those secrets that unleashes a wave of shock, and a tsunami of sudden awakening to the abyss that lies ahead unless we look down into it.