Archive for the ‘mysticism’ Category

Weird dream

February 21, 2023

I visited a coffee shop to find I could not buy a coffee.

I visited l a second coffeeshop. Bar pushed against the wall. No coffee.

In the street two girls spot me who I may have seen before. The eldest walks up to me and tells me she has to do as her father told her, be a hero. Puzzled . She says talk to me. I invite her and her younger sister to join me. We walk to a coffee shop.

We walk into a coffee shop to find undergoing decoration. The door to the garden closed.

I wake up. I was not even aware I was dreaming. I must have momentarily fallen asleep.

A Five Gun Salute to the Origins of Coffee

March 11, 2021

Coffee, red coffee cherries, originate in the cloud forests of Ethiopia.

It brings to the drinker a sprightliness of spirit and a sense of mental well-being. — Ibn ‘Abd al-Ghaffar

Within the coffee cherry, two seeds or beans (one if a peaberry, en español caracolillo), roasted, has spread around the world to become one of the most valuable traded commodities. We may pay three dollars for a cappuccino, the price paid for green coffee beans is determined by commodity markets in London and New York, the grower, if commodity coffee, lucky to see three cents a kilo of green beans.

When I visit my friend’s farm, we are in the cloud forests of El Teide. I have thought, why not coffee? But if we planted, it would be ten years before we see a crop. Coffee is grown on Gran Canaria.

The cloud forests, the trees scrub water out of the clouds, it drips from their branches. Magical to pass through.

In the podcast the arrival of coffee in Arabia quickly glossed over, too quickly. Brought in by the Sufis from Yemen in the mid-15th century as part of their religious devotions.  It would though have needed more to penetrate society. Merchants saw an opportunity, but it would not have been enough to simply bring in coffee, pile sacks of coffee in the market, no demand, what to do with it. Kiosks were established in markets to serve coffee, then coffee shops and more luxurious coffee houses, with fountains, shade of trees, often by a river.

In Arabia, coffee effected cultural change. It provided a meeting place, in addition to the mosque and the market, it was a place to socialise. Also a place to hatch plots.

Two Syrians took coffee to Istanbul, as a ready made off-the-shelf package, opened coffee shops.

According to the Ottoman chronicler Ibrahim Pecevi: (1574-1560) coffee and the coffee house was introduced to Istanbul by two Syrians Hakm and Shams around 1556.

Mocha became wealthy on coffee, in essence they held a monopoly.

In Turkey, drinking of coffee elevated almost to an art form.

In its introduction into the Middle East, coffee was never a mere beverage. It was the subject of fatwas, legal treatise, edicts, a psychoactive substance, an affront to the Koran, a commodity to speculate upon, coffee houses, places to socialise, hatch plots, exchange news, coffee shops to be closed, burnt to the ground.

I agree Dark Woods an excellent roastery but for their single origins, not their espresso blends, for espresso blends I would look elsewhere. In Sheffield they have something of a local monopoly, South Street Kitchen, Motore Coffee, Union Street.

Dark Woods is located in an old Victorian Mill, on a canal in the Pennines in the middle of nowhere.

The podcast needs an accompanying blog for each episode. With sound, one can only visualise the internal structure of a coffee cherry, a cloud forest, the terraces in Yemen.

A recent news item of Saudi genocide in Yemen (UK supplies the weapons), showed a town perched on a mountain top, cascading terraces.

Coffee from Yemen nigh impossible to obtain and until recently, no one wanted, as poor quality.

The terraces are used for growing qat (Catha edulis), a narcotic close relative of coffee, far more profitable than growing coffee, qat even has its own UN designation.

I am curious the terraces. In Tenerife, similar terrace system, water tanks store the water, channels run along the walls, distribute the water to the terraces. A stalk from banana tree used to close a channel. A complex cooperative scheme for water distribution.

Ethiopia, from where coffee originated.

Contemporary writers in Medieval Arabia saw coffee as coming from Yemen. It may also have come from Ethiopia and one writer did mention Ethiopia. Trade routes passed through Ethiopia. To reach Arabia, the coffee passed through Mocha.

One of the most influential 16th century writers on coffee, Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri (fl 1558), after speaking of the introduction of coffee to Yemen, cautions his readers:

We say [that this account pertains to] the Yemen alone [lit not anywhere else] because the appearance of coffee [was] in the land of Ibn Sa’d al-Din and the country of Abyssinians and of the Jabart, and of other places of the land of the Ajam, but the land of its first [use] is unknown, nor do we know the reason.

Of consideration to contemporary writers, was not the origin of coffee, their main focus was to establish when and where coffee came into Arabia, and equally important, by whom and for what reason it was introduced.

Contemporary Arab writers have no myth of dancing goats (introduced later by Europeans as an embellishment), they do though have a myth and treat as a myth, of Solomon using coffee for medicinal use on the command of the angel Gabriel.

Contemporary accounts agree on two points:

  • coffee came from Yemen
  • coffee used by Sufis as part of their religious devotions

Carolus Linnaeus attributed coffee to Arabia, Coffea arabica.

The mountainous terraces of Yemen where coffee was grown, were remote then, are remote today, were not the centre of the Medieval Arab Islamic world. It is thus not inconceivable coffee would have been consumed for centuries before word of coffee spread to Arabia.

Sufis were not a monastic order, they were members of the local community, part of wider society, had day jobs.  If coffee was of use in the dhikr as a psychoactive drug, would it not have its use getting through the tedium of the day, the wife or servants asked to brew a pot of coffee?

Writing in the early 16th century Fakhr al-Din ibn Abi Yazid al-Makki writes:

And as for us, qishr reached us in Rey in Mecca and other places twenty or more years ago, but qahwa made from it did not spread until the end of the ninth [fifteenth] century.

Coffee was on sale in the streets outside the mosque.

  • qishr:  husks of the coffee bean or a beverage made exclusively from the husks.
  • qahwa: coffee; more precisely stimulating beverage made from the fruit of Coffee arabica.
  • qahwa bunniya: beverage made from the kernels (bunn) or from the husks and kernels.
  • qahwa qishriya: beverage made exclusively from the husks.
  • bunn: coffee beans; specifically the kernel as opposed to the husk.

Coffee was on sale in the streets outside the mosques.

The spread of coffee from Yemen into Arabia, from the Sufis, to the streets outside the mosque, to the home, in public, two decades, maybe a mere decade.

Jaziri tells us:

[After the spread of coffee to Egypt and its brisk consumption in the precincts of the Azhar] the situation continued along these lines: much coffee was drunk in the quarter of the mosque; it was sold openly in a multitude of places. In spite of the long time [that it had been drunk], not a soul gave a thought of interfering with coffee drinkers nor did anyone find fault with the drink either in itself or because of factors [associate with but] external to it, such as passing the cup around and the like. All this was in spite of the fact that it had become widespread in Mecca, and was drunk in the Sacred Mosque itself, so that there was scarcely a dhikr or observance of the Prophet’s birthday (mawlid) where coffee was not present.

We know coffee was well established in Mecca by 1511 due to an edict issued by a local governor regarding  suspicious characters gathered to drink coffee. Kha’ir Beg, pasha of of the Malmuks in Mecca and muhtasib of the town, happened upon a group one night drinking coffee. As he approached they extinguished their lanterns and ran away. He called a meeting the following day of scholars and jurists to rule on gatherings to drink coffee and of coffee itself.

I may care to drink craft beer but I may object to the drunken scum in binge-drinking bars.

The activities coffee drinkers were permitting were like taverns where consumption of wine took place. Coffee was not forbidden by the Koran, unlike wine, indeed, if created by God, who was Man to decide it could not be consumed? Coffee though a grey area, not explicitly forbidden, on the other hand, if a psychoactive substance, should it not be treated as alcohol?

Such distinctions and controversies were not restricted to Mecca in 1511, coffee periodically forbidden, the prohibitions ignored, then rescinded.

The arrival of coffee and especially the coffee shop and coffee house, was to have great impact on society and economic life.

Were the clientele of a specialty coffee shop today to hop on a H G Wells time machine and pedal back to a coffee shop or coffee house in Medieval Arabia they would not find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. The main difference being the serving of undrinkable coffee.

Please obtain Coffee: A Global History from Blackwell’s. Support independent bookshops not Amazon. Or, with indie bookshops closed, order Coffee: A Global History via Bookshop.Org an on-line portal for indie bookshops. But please note on-line service by Blackwell’s appalling, long wait for book to arrive.

Checking out the farms, a good idea, but please do not direct to or promote Instagram, more data for facebook to steal and abuse.

To enjoy your coffee, need to buy fresh roasted coffee from specialty coffee shop or reputable coffee roastery. Always buy coffee beans, freshly grind each time brew.

Invest in a quality hand grinder or electric grinder, cheap grinders a waste of money.

Hand grinders in ascending price range: Rhino, CrushGrind, Knock, Comandante.

Electric grinder: Niche Zero.

To brew filter coffee: V60, swan-neck kettle, digital scales, or an Origami.

To brew espresso: 9Barista, cheap domestic machines a waste of money, unreliable, cheapest semi-pro machine La Marzocco linea mini.

Water: Cannot brew coffee with tap water, use bottled spring water or a water filter. Minimum, Brita water filter, or better and designed for coffee Peak water filter.

Once indie coffee shops reopen, please support. And please show respect for the coffee, relax with served in glass or ceramic. And if not busy, have  a chat with the barista.


  • The Devil’s Cup
  • Where the Wild Coffee Grows
  • The Monk of Mocha
  • Coffee and Coffee Houses
  • The World Atlas of Coffee


A History of Coffee a collaboration between James Harper of Filter Stories podcast and Jonathan Morris, Professor of History and author of Coffee: A Global History.

Ute Lemper in conversation with Paulo Coelho

December 20, 2015

Singer Ute Lemper in conversation with writer Paulo Coelho discussing 9 Secrets.

Paulo Coelho on Super Soul Sunday

September 4, 2014

On Sunday, Paulo Coelho will be a guest of Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday, 11am ET/PT.

The Alchemist, his best-known book, originally did not sell in Brazil, and was dropped by the publisher.

He knocked on doors, and eventually found a publisher who was willing to take a risk, even though he was publishing a book, another publisher dropped.

Three years later when the book was already a half a million copies in Brazil, Paulo asked his publisher ‘Why did you accept a book that was already published and it was a flop?’ He replied ‘I don’t know.’

The Alchemist has gone on to sell 70 million copies.

Last week it was No2 in the New York Times best-seller list. It had recorded three-hundred and eighteen continuous weeks in the New York Times best seller list.

Adultery, his latest book published last week, entered the New York Times best-seller list at No2.

Nature teaches us more than philosophical books

June 15, 2014

Nature teaches us more than philosophical books

Nature teaches us more than philosophical books

Nature teaches us more than philosophical books. — Paulo Coelho

What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scripture, I learnt in the woods and fields. I have had no other masters than the beaches and the oaks. — Saint Bernard

Synchronicity, The Barn and a singer-songwriter

February 8, 2014

Late lunch in The Barn. It had been raining but I seemed to have been lucky and missed it.

Very quiet, and had been all afternoon, but then not a lot of people about due to the bad weather.

Early evening, several people came in, including singer-songwriter Heather Golding. She had only intended to pop in for a couple of minutes, to say hi, until we got into conversation.

She told me she was planning a gig at Café Mila in Godalming with Geckko in early March.

She was quite suprised I knew of Geckko, or Café Mila.

I have never seen Gekko perform, but may have met them at The Barn.

Café Mila, it was I who suggested they have occasional live music, and was instrumental in their first gig, suggesting my lovely friend Annie, only it sadly fell through.

I said, hopefully, in June, they may have storyteller Steph Bradley, and told of her following her dreams, of being being inspired by Paulo Coelho, of sailing to Brazil, of reading The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage in Portuguese, of walking from village to town, town to village, in a pair of red flip flops from Brazil, of telling and collecting tales, all of which are writ in Tales of Our Times, a great volume of thirteen chapters and thirteen copies, because there are thirteen moons in a year, of an anthology of poetry, Searching for Love, to be published on leanpub on St Valentine’s day.

Heather was fascnated. I want to meet this storyteller, she said.

I then told her, contrary to popular misconception, The Alchemist was not the first book from Paulo Coelho, it was The Pilgrimage, an account of walking El Camino de Santiago, and that when you walk El Camino de Santiago, you have to give a gift, to give something back, and the gift from Paulo Coelho was The Alchemist.

Heather was fascinated, as only the day before, she had been discussing with her friend, walking El Camino de Santiago.

She could not believe it, when I then produced a copy of The Pilgrimage, which I gave to her as a gift.

You must know my story, she told me.

She was at a concert, with her daughter, then aged ten (she was on her way to see her daughter as we talked and had to keep calling her daughter to say she was late and on her way). A voice told her she had to get up on stage and sing. She had never sung in her life. Three times the voice told her, each time more powerful. She realised she had to obey, and much to her daughter’s embarrassment, walked up and on stage, and explained she had never sung, but could she sing with them.

She explained, she had literally come from picking up her latest album, and showed it to me. She said an internal image by mistake, had been printed upside down. And yet had worked out better.

I then told her of the cover art for Triptych II (Nine for a Kiss), was taken from a painting, but the painting, not the correct aspect ration for album cover art, until someone had the clever idea, of reflecting the painting.

I took her over to a cabinet, where there was some work on display by Chris Skillicorn-Aston. Oh yes, Chris, I know him, she said, I was only talking to him recently. I told her of how the cover art for The Way of the Bow, was take from the details of one of his paintings.

She said she would give me a copy of her latest album, but could not yet, as only a single copy on her, but I was welcome to her earlier album, Kutara, improvisation of voice and harp, recorded at St Andrew’s Church, the Parish Church of Farnham, I had passed earlier, but not gone in as I usually do. I thanked her, and asked, that she dropped off her latest album either at The Barn or Café Mila.

Her latest album, Elakoyah, I thinks she said came from the voice of dolphins, but maybe I misunderstood.

I said it was a must, she upload her music to bandcamp, in order that it could be shared and reach a much wider audience.

I explained to her the Gift Economy, as explained by Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics. People freely give gifts, with no expectation of return. A book I was introduced to by Steph Bradley.

After we bade our farewell, I settled in the corner with my Kobo Touch.

I wanted to try what I had thought of last night. Downloading e-books, from Kobo Store, is somewhat kack-handed, download into Kobo Library, then download from Library. Accessing Kobo Store from Kobo Touch using wifi in Harris + Hoole Friday evening, I found was not easy. I then thought, access using laptop, add to Kobo Library, then download to Kobo Touch using wifi in The Barn. This is what I wished to try.

I found the Kobo Touch was not very responsive. Maybe my inept fingers, though could also be because it was cold. I could not find Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Maybe I had done something wrong last night, or as I was accessing now. I started again, found the book in the Kobo Store, added to Library and downloaded. It was so fast, literally a matter of seconds, I thought nothing had happened. But yes, it had downloaded, it was now on the Kobo Touch, available to read.

Time to take my leave of The Barn. Luckily bus on time, and my next bus, only a few minutes wait.

Saturday night, yet another storm hits.

Synchronicity: The coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.

Heather Golding: Singer-songrwiter, Kutura, improvisation voice and harp recorded in Farnham Parish Church.

Kutura is a wonderful album, beautiful, haunting music, makes good use of the acoustics of the church. Talking to Heather Golding, one would never expect this beautiful singing voice. I cannot wait for her to upload to bandcamp, in order that Kutura reaches a much wider audience.

The Supreme Gift

February 6, 2014

The Supreme Gift

The Supreme Gift

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” — Luke 7:44-47, New International Version (NIV)

THOUGH I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not LOVE I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not Love, it profiteth me nothing. — Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World

The Supreme Gift, a rewrite by Paulo Coelho of The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond, a book that was to greatly influence the life of Paulo Coelho.

The Supreme Gift, is currently only available as an e-book, only available on Amazon and iTunes (it may become available on Kobo).

But why restrict to Amazon and ITunes (and maybe Kobo), when there are distinct advantages to author and reader to release on leanpub?

Writers get a far better deal on leanpub, as do readers.

Leanpub pays 90% royalty to authors, less a 50 cent flat fee.

For the reader, multiple download formats, open source formats, not propriety formats.

Amazon is a propriety format, restricted to an Amazon Kindle. iTunes I do not know.

Kindle spies on what the reader is reading, Amazon can and do arbitrarily delete contents of a Kindle.

Kobo readers are better than Kindle. Open source format for e-books.

Kobo Touch is currently in WHSmith in UK at £30 (approx 45 euros), it was £90. The equivalent six inch e-reader from Amazon, Kindle Touch, is double the price.

For those who do not have an e-reader, download and install Calibre.

Calibre can also be used to manage books on an e-reader.

A few ball park figures (for writer can substitute publisher):

The Supreme Gift on Amazon — $3

Assuming writer gets 40% — $1-20

The Supreme Gift on leanpub — $2

The writers receives 90% less 50 cents — $1-30

Thus reader and writer get a better deal on leanpub.

But let us go a step further, a book about a gift, let us incorporate the principles of the Gift Economy that Charles Eisenstein describes in Sacred Economics.

Charles Eisenstein, in keeping with his idea of a Gift Economy, gift to others with no expectation of return, you can purchase Sacred Economics from a bookshop (if you can find), download as an e-book (pay what you wish), or download for free.

Leanpub lets us do something clever. We can set a low minimum price, say $1, a suggested selling price of say $2. A slider lets us pay what we choose, we can pay more than the suggested price, and we see how much of the price we choose to pay, goes to the author.

If we choose less than the suggested price, the author has granted us a gift. It is then for us to decide what we do with our gift. We may, for example, tell others, we have then passed the gift on, if they choose to download and pay, then we have also repaid the author.

It is what bass player Steve Lawson calls a zero cost transaction. No one has actually lost anything, you do not know where it may lead.

Bandcamp in part, operates in this way. You can listen as often as you wish, you are encouraged to share, sometimes download for free or pay a low minimum price, pay what you wish. And surprisingly it works, people are willing to pay, and if they share, more people discover the music. A complete contrast to the greedy Big Record Labels, who rip off everyone and criminalise those who dare to share.

Steph Bradley spent six moons walking around the country, sharing and collecting tales of what is possible, what people are trying, and collecting together in Tales of Our Times. She was inspired by Paulo Coelho to follow her dreams. On St Valentine’s Day, she will publish on leanpub, Searching for Love, an anthology of love poetry.

The Greatest Thing in the World (1874), a meditation Henry Drummond wrote in 1874 that illuminates the importance of 1 Corinthians 13. Widely read and quoted during his lifetime, it went on to sell over 12 million copies and it continues today to influence people to follow God’s two great commandments: to love God and to love each other.

DLD14 – On Mindfulness – A Conversation

January 20, 2014

DLD14 - Paulo Coelho and Arianna Huffington

DLD14 – Paulo Coelho and Arianna Huffington

Our world is swimming in data and drowning for wisdom. — Arianna Huffington

A fascinating conversation between Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho author of The Alchemist and founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington that took place this morning at DLD14 in Munich.

We live in the past or the future, but not the present. We accumulate stuff, but fail to address our well being. We fail to follow our dreams.

Story teller Steph Bradley spent six months walking around England storytelling and collecting stories. Tales she tells in Tales of Our Times. What she found was people are happy without stuff, and happiest when they are sharing and helping others.

When the world’s 85 richest people have as much as poorest 3.5 billion, we know something is very very wrong.

Arianna Huffington ends the conversation by telling the story of The two drops of oil.

In the UK, Manuscript Found in Accra, is on special offer in WHSmith:

Manuscript Found in Accra, set in Jerusalem on the eve of the attack by the Crusaders, is the latest from Paulo Coelho.

DLD (Digital-Life-Design) is a global network on innovation, digitization, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and influencers for crossover conversation and inspiration.

Winter Solstice Stonehenge

December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Stonehenge

Winter Solstice Stonehenge

Winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.

Stonehenge is an astronomical observatory.

Não pare na pista

November 17, 2013

A brief snippet of the film being made of the life of Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho.

It is due for release in Brazil in January 2014, then the rest of the world.

Today, marked The Alchemist two hundred and seventy-seven consecutive weeks in the New York Times best-seller list. Not bad for a book that was first published twenty-five years ago.

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