Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Musical Interlude ~ Dead Can Dance

I have some pressing writing jobs to finish, so I’m taking a few days away from Bloglandia. I’ll leave you with another of my musical interludes, this time a 1995 performance of the Australian group, Dead Can Dance. This live performance of Rakim is about eight minutes long. When Brendan Perry switches to English toward the end of the song, the lyrics are:

Favored son,
Turn in the garden.
Shades of one,
Sins forgotten.
Favored signs to find hope
In the rounds of life.
Favored rhymes to find hope
In the sands of life.
Favored son,
Fence in your heart.
Saviored son,
Sins forgotten.

The combined talents of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard defy being put into a convenient genre, yet the duo attracted a worldwide audience until their eventual breakup in 1998.


Fear Versus Attraction

I believe in the so-called Law of Attraction. I’m not a zealot or one of those folks who believe Jewish people “attracted” the Holocaust, or that the path to untold riches is to lie on the couch and concentrate on big bucks.

And I’m not a believer because I’ve seen the movie The Secret and read some of the works of James Allen, Charles Haanel, Wallace Wattles, Robert Collier and other early 20th Century leaders of the “New Thought” movement.

I believe in the Law of Attraction because I’ve seen it work with friends, acquaintances and many people I’ve watched from afar. To me, it’s indisputable: You get what you dwell on. Most rich people I know somehow never doubted they’d be rich, and once they became rich, that’s just the way it was and their thoughts followed accordingly. In other words, the rich get richer.

I’ve known plenty of poor people who lusted after wealth but feared they’d remain poor. They spent more time fearing poverty than believing they were rich. You know how that turned out.

Most happy people I know are, well, happy. To be otherwise doesn't seem to enter their consciousness.

Fear is the greatest threat to what we want. We might want a good, loving relationship. But we fear we’ll never meet the right person, or fear we’ve already let the person slip away. We might want a particular job, and when we’re lucky enough to land an interview, our fear of not impressing the interviewer(s) sends entirely the wrong message.

So, my friends, the challenge is to shed your fears. I can’t tell you how, because everyone is different. But you must shed them and believe that what you want is, in fact, yours. There’s enough to go around, and you’re entitled to your share.

Don't let the Great and Terrible Oz fill you with fear. You must pay attention to the man behind the curtain, at least long enough to see him for what he really is.

Number 49 ~ REVOLUTION

Revolution. On your own day
You are believed.
Supreme success,
Furthering through perseverance.
Remorse disappears.

Political revolutions are extremely grave matters. They should be undertaken only under stress of direst necessity, when there is no other way out. Not everyone is called to this task, but only the man who has the confidence of the people, and even he only when the time is ripe. He must then proceed in the right way, so that he gladdens the people and, by enlightening them, prevents excesses. Furthermore, he must be quite free of selfish aims and must really relieve the need of the people. Only then does he have nothing to regret.

Times change, and with them their demands. Thus the seasons change in the course of the year. In the world cycle also there are spring and autumn in the life of peoples and nations, and these call for social transformations.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wall Street Crisis, The Depression, and Bail-Out

Call this a special edition of Election Astrology. 

Scanning several astrology blogs for campaign news, I keep coming back to Ray Merriman’s site. He’s a professional astrologer and president of The Merriman Market Analyst, Inc. For years now, banks, financial institutions, investors and traders have used his financial prognostications, and he’s even written astrological software enabling traders to spot potential turning points in stocks. If you’re interested in financial trends, I encourage you to explore his website.

Or you can go ahead and laugh. Just keep in mind that J.P. Morgan said, “Millionaires don’t use astrology. Billionaires do.”

So here’s Merriman’s take on the current Wall Street bail-out being negotiated in Washington.

Are you kidding? I mean, seriously, as a Financial Astrologer, or student of Astrology, would you really recommend the White House and Congress to rush through a $700B bailout agreement that could bankrupt the country in a “New York minute,” just as Mercury is starting its retrograde motion (September 24-October 15)?

Basic Astrology 101 teaches us not to make hasty decisions under Mercury retrograde, for inevitably (or so it seems), the matters agreed to do not work out well, or at the very least, require substantial modification afterwards. The idea is that one does not know, or adequately understand, all the facts required to make a well-informed decision. To say that not all the facts are known in this “Financial Rescue” proposal of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen, would be an understatement.

In somewhat typical Aries fashion (Paulsen is an Aries), the Treasury Secretary warns that failure to act at once will send the economy into a serious recession, an economic crisis. Not that anyone who has been reading this column for the past nine years would be surprised (yes, we began forecasting the period of 2008-2015 as a potentially very serious economic crisis period for several years now, based solely on Financial Astrology), but still, when the fullness of the crisis hits, the last thing you want to do is to compound previous mistakes by making agreements in haste before all the ramifications are considered clearly. And that is exactly the danger posed when Mercury is retrograde – especially when Venus (and soon Mars) are in the economic-crisis sign of Scorpio, and most especially when Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto are quickly moving into their T-square formation, a pattern that has not been seen since 1930-1931.

People ask me all the time if I think there is any possibility of a 1930’s Depression again, and my answer is, “Yes. But there doesn’t have to be." After all, the outcome is always the result of a combination of planetary cycles AND personal choices of our leaders. Historical cycles don’t have to repeat, but they are doomed to repeat when we fail to apply the lessons from those previous times.

Click here to read Merriman’s complete column.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ghostly Image Caught at Gym

Astronomers Perplexed by "Dark Flow"

NASA photo of galaxy cluster 1E 0657-56 lying 3.8 billion light-years away. It's one of hundreds that appear to be carried along by a mysterious cosmic flow.

Here’s today’s second post sounding like something from Sci-Fi: This time it’s strange patches of dark matter moving through the universe, at high speeds and in a uniform direction, with nothing in the observable universe propelling them.

Astronomers are calling the phenomenon “dark flow.” According to an article on
Scientists discovered the flow by studying some of the largest structures in the cosmos: giant clusters of galaxies. These clusters are conglomerations of about a thousand galaxies, as well as very hot gas which emits X-rays. By observing the interaction of the X-rays with the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is leftover radiation from the Big Bang, scientists can study the movement of clusters.

The X-rays scatter photons in the CMB, shifting its temperature in an effect known as the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect. This effect had not been observed as a result of galaxy clusters before, but a team of researchers led by Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., found it when they studied a huge catalogue of 700 clusters, reaching out up to 6 billion light-years, or half the universe away. They compared this catalogue to the map of the CMB taken by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite.

They discovered that the clusters were moving nearly 2 million mph toward a region in the sky between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela. This motion is different from the outward expansion of the universe (which is accelerated by the force called dark energy).
"We found a very significant velocity, and furthermore, this velocity does not decrease with distance, as far as we can measure," Kashlinsky told "The matter in the observable universe just cannot produce the flow we measure."

The scientists deduced that whatever is driving the movements of the clusters must lie beyond the known universe.

Click here for the complete article.

Solar Wind Drop Means More Cosmic Rays

NASA photo showing charged particles bursting from the sun’s surface. Temperatures are 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. The blue color enables the human eye to perceive the solar activity’s ultraviolet light.

It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi movie, but it could be serious: The sun’s solar wind is now blowing with less intensity than at any time since the mid-20th Century, exposing Earth to more cosmic rays.

According to an article today on Discovery News:
The sun is presently at the lowest point in its 11-year cycle of sunspot activity, but it's also 20 percent cooler and less windy than the last solar minimum in 1994-95, explained Karine Issautier, the Ulysses radio wave lead investigator at the Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France. In other words, the sun is showing signs of other, much longer cycles which also affect its power output.

The sun is also hitting an all-time low for its wind speed and pressure, blowing at 25 percent less than at the last solar minimum, Southwest Research Institute's David McComas told Discovery News.
The bubble of charged solar particles that fills the solar system is shrinking, exposing Earth and other planets to the onslaught of needling galactic cosmic rays normally held at bay by the solar wind. Inside Earth's magnetic field the main effect of the cooler, less windy sun is the cooling and lowering of the outermost part of the atmosphere. 

Click here for the Discovery News article.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

From the Tao Te Ching

Fame or integrity: which is more important?
Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
Success or failure: which is more destructive?

If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.

Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Large Study to Focus on Near-Death Experience

Scientists in the UK and US are embarking on an extensive study of near-death experiences to determine if they are real or a physiological figment of the imagination. Some 1,500 hospital patients are slated to participate.

The study is expected to run three years and is being headed by Dr. Sam Parnia of the University of Southhampton in England.

Part of it will involve placing pictures on hospital-room shelves, so high that they can only be viewed from above. If any unconscious patients recall the pictures, it would constitute hard proof of a true out-of-body experience.

“If you can demonstrate that consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that consciousness is a separate entity,” Parnia says. “It's unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded. And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories. This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study.”

Around 10 to 20 per cent of people whose hearts stop after a cardiac arrest report some near-death experience. The study will look at survivors from heart attacks at 25 UK and US hospitals who experienced periods with no heartbeat or measurable brain activity. During the study, doctors will use technology to study the brain and consciousness during cardiac arrest.

At the same time, they will test the validity of out-of-body experiences and patients' claims of being able to see and hear things while unconscious.

Click here for the London Mail article.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Number 56 ~ THE WANDERER

The Wanderer. Success through smallness.
Perseverance brings good fortune
To the wanderer.

When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins success. A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must take care to remain upright and steadfast so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his way unmolested.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Friend and the Archaeologist

Georgi Kitov holds a 2,500-year-old solid gold Thracian mask he unearthed in the Bulgaria town of Shipka in 2004.

“Life evolves and meanders through the years, like a river running on its way to the ocean of knowledge, and every encounter and bit of wisdom comes in handy sooner or later.”

This profound statement was waiting for me this morning in my email, written by my friend Ludmil Marcov (photo below), who’s a frequent contributor to my Quantum Spirit blog. Ludmil had been contemplating the recent death of the world-famous Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov, whom he had met several years ago in their homeland.

Ludmil, like Kitov, is Bulgarian. He’s a skilled architect, and since coming to the U.S. several years ago, has made a living creating enchanting home and garden design pieces as part of the Willow Nest business he and his wife Linda have operated in California, Oregon, Washington and now in Burton, Texas.

Ludmil knew Kitov many years ago in Bulgaria. “When I was in college, I took part in many archaeological excavations from Thracian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times,” he writes. “I was part of a team of many specialists and had a wonderful time exploring and learning from different masters in their trades. Working with scholars and craftsmen preserving and restoring the past gave me an appreciation for the past, and many of my skills were developed back then.”

Among those scholars was Georgi Kitov. In his email, Ludmil sent this obituary on Kitov from the online Bulgarian newspaper, The Sophia Echo:

All of his life, he walked through the valley of Thracian kings. Coming as a distant echo from a ghost-ruled tomb, the Thracian royalties spoke to him, called him.
He wooed them, diligently hunted for them and promised if they appeared, he would expose them to eternal glory instead.
Finally, they revealed themselves, and made him Bulgaria’s most prominent archaeologist, our very own Indiana Jones.

In 2004, reacting to a tipoff that tomb raiders were getting ready to hit a site near Kazanluk, a city 170 km east of Sofia, the Thracian scholar rushed to save, or rather try to be the first who lays hands on whatever was buried under layers of earth. He dug deep and struck gold. A solid life-size mask made of gold, positioned next to a skeleton with chopped up body parts surfaced. Gasping for breath, the archaeologist fought off one single thought that nevertheless kept coming back: Has he found the remains of the Thracian king Teres I (475/445 BCE)? “It can’t be possible,” he gasped for air. “It can’t be possible.”

Georgi Kitov died September 14 shortly after feeling sharp chest pain. He was 65.

Kitov was working on the ancient complex and presumable tomb of Thracian king Seuthes III (ca. 330/300 BCE) near the village of Starosel. Since 1992, the archaeologist and his team explored Bulgaria’s Valley of the Kings, a forested region in the central part of the country and nearly 100 km in length. The area is swelled with ancient burial mounds, no doubt left by the Thracians. After numerous mentions in ancient texts and serious archaeological finds to prove the existence of their civilization, Thracian history is still enveloped in mystery.

Ludmil closed his email with an ancient blessing for Georgi Kitov: “I wish him an easy trip over the river Stix in the underworld.”

Click here for the Sophia Echo article.
Click here for the New York Times obituary.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Small Synchronicity

Yesterday morning I compiled the post about the Church of England issuing a posthumous apology to Charles Darwin, admitting the church has misunderstood his teachings on evolution. So, for a period yesterday morning, I was absorbed in Charles Darwin ~ not a common occurrence for me.

Later, I received some materials to review from a prospective client interested in having me do some marketing writing. I opened the files and scanned them as well as visited the company’s website. The company’s name is Geospiza, which frankly is a name with which I was totally unfamiliar.

Then I found a brief reference on the Geospiza website as to the origin of the name. As it turns out, Geospiza is a genera of the finch family found on the Galapagos Islands and known as Darwin’s Finches, so named because of their importance in development of his theory of evolution and natural selection.

Once again, I consider that to be a relatively obscure connection ~ Darwin and Darwin’s Finches ~ to occur within a few hours of each other, especially considering the relatively little thought I've given to Charles Darwin in my lifetime. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Church to Darwin: "Sorry We Misunderstood."

Christians, in their misunderstanding of Charles Darwin, are committing the same mistake they made in the 17th Century in doubting Galileo when he said the earth revolves around the sun.

That’s the official conclusion of the Church of England and is being stated formally in an apology to Darwin (1802-1889). The apology is addressed directly to Darwin himself – 126 years after his death. It is to be posted on the church’s website and released formally, stating:
Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. We try to practice the old virtues of 'faith seeking understanding' and hope that makes some amends.
Darwin, in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, established evolution by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature.

Opposition to Darwin's evolutionary theories is still "a litmus test of faithfulness" for some Christian movements. The Church of England, in support of its apology, says such attitudes are rooted in perceived threats to Christianity.

Galileo (1564-1642) was the most noted astronomer and scientist of his era, and his belief that the earth orbited the sun was considered heresy by the Catholic Church. The church – as has been the case with Darwin’s teachings - prohibited advocacy of Galileo's teachings on grounds it was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture. Galileo, at the hands of the Inquisition, was eventually forced to recant, and spent the last years of his life under house arrest.

Click here for Times of India article.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Shine On, Harvest Moon

Monday, September 15, is the Harvest Moon, said in Norse mythology to be the most powerful of the moons for a strong harvest and plenty. It is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.

All full moons rise around the time of sunset. However, the Harvest Moon and Hunter's Moon are special, because around the time of these full moons, the time difference between moonrise on successive evenings is shorter than usual. Thus there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise around the time following these full moons. In times past this feature was said to help farmers working to bring in their crops. They could continue being productive by moonlight even after the sun had set.

Often, the Harvest Moon seems to be bigger or brighter or more colorful than other moons. These effects have to do with the seasonal tilt of the earth. The warm color of the moon shortly after it rises is an optical illusion, based on the fact that when the moon is low in the sky, you are looking at it through a greater amount of atmospheric particles than when the moon is overhead.

This description from Wikipedia. Click here for full description.

Number 6 ~ CONFLICT

Conflict. You are sincere
And are being obstructed.
A cautious halt halfway brings good fortune.
Going through to the end brings misfortune.
It furthers one to see the great man.
It does not further one to cross the great water.

Conflict develops when one feels himself to be in the right and runs into opposition. If one is not convinced of being in the right, opposition leads to craftiness or high-handed encroachment but not to open conflict.

If a man is entangled in a conflict, his only salvation lies in being so clear-headed and inwardly strong that he is always ready to come to terms by meeting the opponent halfway. To carry on the conflict to the bitter end has evil effects even when one is in the right, because the enmity is then perpetuated. It is important to see the great man, that is, an impartial man whose authority is great enough to terminate the conflict amicably or assure a just decision. In times of strife, crossing the great water is to be avoided, that is, dangerous enterprises are not to be begun because in order to be successful they require concerted unity of forces. Conflict within weakens the power to conquer danger without.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Do Our Senses Actually Reduce Our Perceptions?

It has long been my belief that our human senses detect only a small portion of our surrounding world. We know a great many of our fellow creatures can see much farther and with greater clarity, can detect odors with a thousand times the subtlety of our own sense of smell, pick up sounds well beyond our own hearing range, and are far more sensitive to the invisible currents that permeate the air around us.

A profound twist on this concept is in Graham Hancock’s fascinating book Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind (2003). In it, Hancock views our senses as faculties that constrain our sense of the world around us. And in support he cites one of the world’s greatest explorers of inner space, the English intellectual Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).

In his 1956 book The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, in part a description of his experiments with hallucinogens, Huxley contends our senses act as a “reducing value” to keep us:
… from being overwhelmed and confused by a mass of useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.

What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet … Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by local language.
There are people, Huxley contends, who can experience reality by essentially turning off the reducing value:
Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing vale. In others, temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate ‘spiritual exercises’ or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes, there flows … something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.”

The painting at top is the work of Peruvian shaman Pablo Amaringo who instructed Hancock on use of the powerful hallucinogenic plant Ayahuasca. Click here to see more of the shaman’s remarkable visionary paintings on Hancock’s web site.
Photo is of Aldous Huxley.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Film Interlude: Historia de un letrero

Here's an opportunity to take 5 minutes to regain perspective. This little film from Mexico won the short-story award at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Translated from the Spanish, the title is "The Story of a Sign."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Round-Up of Readings

NOTE: Here’s a selection of current political commentary from reputable astrologers. Hey, they can’t be any farther off than the so-called “experts” and “analysts” appearing nightly on CNN, Fox, ABC and the like. I’m sticking to comments drawn from specific charts and readings and not just the astrologers’ personal opinions and political biases.

Election Day

“In any case, the astrological signatures suggest that the election once again will not be settled on election day. Mercury changes signs that day, moving from Libra where it is all about collaboration, to Scorpio where our thoughts become more intensified and interested in matters of power. Scorpio also signifies things that are hidden, and perhaps ballots (Mercury) could be lost or stolen (Scorpio).” Lynn Hayes, Astrological Musings

“One gets a sense already of the power of the Jupiter Pluto victory to the young contender, Obama, but if it comes to a fist fight in the manner of the 2000 election - the last Evening Star election where Venus radiated Pluto - then the victory will go to the one who can wield the most money and power.” Dharmaruci, AstroTableTalk

Upcoming Debate

“The first debate is on September 26 and seems likely to benefit Obama more than McCain. Jupiter will be semisquare Obama’s Midheaven suggesting optimism, expansiveness, and success, whereas Saturn will be square McCain’s natal Jupiter and opposite McCain’s progressed Saturn, while Uranus will conjunct his natal Saturn, suggesting he will be stiff, somber, and uncomfortable.” Nancy Sommers, Nancy’s Blog

John McCain

“Using this 8:38 am time for McCain, the astrologer will find that his prospects for getting elected look very good. Transiting Jupiter turns direct over the next week while squaring his Libra Ascendant, bringing him renewed enthusiasm and opportunities. Especially favorable is that his progressed Midheaven will be conjunct his Venus (his chart's ruling planet) on Inauguration Day. However, as transiting Saturn heads to his twelfth house Neptune, much of the stardust may fall off Palin, and she may be more widely seen as an inappropriate choice.” Michael O’Reilly, Neptune’s Café

Sarah Palin

“In the meantime, the adoration Palin inspires will be very strong through September 27, with progressed Moon opposite Venus, and will diminish slightly thereafter as this aspect wanes, but not completely, due to the continuation of progressed Venus square the Sun, exact around the election. Scandals will continue to swirl around her right up to the election (progressed Moon semisquare Neptune) and beyond, right through December (transiting Neptune conjunct the Sun) with continuous questions over the ethics of her past behavior and the honesty of her statements.” Nancy Sommers, Nancy’s Blog

“Transiting Neptune is the major influence in her horoscope over the next few months since it's conjunct her Sun. While she most likely will find this phase disorienting due to the intense learning curve of being on McCain's ticket, Neptune here also makes her a big unknown as seen from the outside. She will be associated with many of Neptune's symbols, especially faith, oil, scandals, and the Cinderella factor.” Michael O’Reilly, Neptune’s Café

Barack Obama

“One major drawback in Obama's horoscope is that he has no planets in the tenth house, which goes against the historical record of elected presidents. A national leader needs tenth house planets to govern, to give the impression that he's in charge. Obama's planetary emphasis is in the seventh house, where he leads through the medium of the people he has around him.” Michael O’Reilly, Neptune’s Café

Joseph Biden

"The best indicator of a democratic victory can be found in Joe Biden's chart -- November 20, 1942, Scranton, PA, 8:30 AM. Uncanny. You've heard plenty of talk about the Saturn-Uranus opposition at 18 Virgo and Pisces on election day. Well it just so happens that Joe has a midheaven at 19 Virgo, putting 19 Pisces on the IC. Several minutes variation could even make it exact. Saturn on the MC means a change in status and a new position of authority. Uranus on the IC means a separation from home. It's a radical change for Joe since he's never left home, commuting by train every day from the Senate throughout his career. This is an excellent sign that Obama and Biden are going to be the next president and vice-president of the United States. I'm not one to predict but this is too obvious." JM, raging universe

Thinking the World's Gonna End

Once again, something in the news has triggered a rash of Doomsday rants. This time it was today’s early morning start-up of the huge Large Hadron Collider with its blasting of atomic particles through a 17-mile underground chamber. The collider's eventual intent is to replicate conditions surrounding the Big Bang, but some critics believe the collider could inadvertently create black holes capable of demolishing the entire Earth.

The BBC looked into the human penchant for apocalyptic fright and today published a fascinating article on why we have these fears.

"It is a very ancient pattern in human thought. It is rooted in ancient, even pre-biblical Middle Eastern myths of ultimate chaos and ultimate struggle between the forces of order and chaos," cultural historian Paul S Boyer, author of When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, told the BBC. "It is deeply appealing at a psychological level because the idea of meaninglessness is deeply threatening."

Although end-of-the-world thinking crops up in many religions, those in the West are probably most aware of Christian eschatology, noted the BBC article. In the early days of the church it was taken as a given by many believers that the Second Coming and the end of the world were imminent. Mainstream Christianity may have moved away from this type of thought, but large numbers of believers have returned to it at various times.

"It isn't just the lunatic fringe, it's an integral part of all Christianity. But [in mainstream Christianity] it is put into perspective that it may happen 'one day'," Stephen J. Hunt, a sociologist of religion and author of Christian Millenarianism: From the Early Church to Waco, told the BBC. "Certain groups and movements believe it is in their generation. They are saying ‘We’ve got the truth and nobody else has.’"

"It comes down to an issue of power," says Michael Molcher, editor of the magazine The End is Nigh. "What you get during times of particular discontent or war or famine or during general bad times is a rise in apocalyptic preaching and ideas.”

Click here for the complete BBC article.
Illustration from a 1939 Popular Science article, "How Will the World End?"

Update: Big Collider Passes First Test

Scientists perform the LHC switch-on phase early today at the CERN control center.

Scientists early Wednesday successfully sent the first particle beams around the Large Hadron Collider’s 17-mile underground chamber, constituting their first major step toward replicating “Big Bang” conditions.

Groups of scientists from around the world broke into applause when the telltale blips of success appeared on computer screens at CERN’s Geneva control center. The collider cost about $8 billion and is lauded as the most complex machine humans have built. Its purpose is to help physicists gain a better understanding of the origins of the universe.

Critics have voiced fears that the collider could create black holes capable of sucking in the entire Earth.

“The worries that scientists had today were nothing to do with being swallowed up by black holes and everything to do with technical hitches or electronic failure,” said physicist Jim al-Khalili at the University of Surrey. “Now after a collective sigh of relief, the real fun starts. No matter what we find, we will be unlocking the secrets of the universe.”

Click here for the complete Reuters article.
Click here for the New York Times articles and a video.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wednesday's LHC Test Still a Mystery

Here is one of the Large Hadron Collider's huge particle detectors located 300 feet underground near the Swiss border with France.

At 3:30 Wednesday morning, Eastern time, some 300 feet under the ground near Geneva, scientists will send the first protons through the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider, or LHC.

It’s as spellbinding as any science fiction novel, because nobody knows for absolute certain what will happen.

Thousands of physicists from around the world have been involved for 14 years in building the $8 billion LHC. Come Wednesday we might learn a lot about what happened in the first moments of our universe. We might learn a lot about the mysterious dark matter that scientists believe permeates the cosmos. We might see first-hand the emergence of a new particle called the Higgs boson.

Or things might get really ugly.

Critics of the LHC say the blast of protons could create a black hole and accidentally destroy Earth or the entire universe. As recently as last week, the director general of CERN was still rebutting the critics. “The LHC is safe and any suggestion that it might present a risk is pure fiction,” he said.

But even if the world’s top physicists have screwed up in a major way, the critics’ worst fears won’t materialize Wednesday because the day’s protons will only be circulating through the collider, not actually colliding.

The LHC is designed to accelerate protons to energies of seven trillion electron volts — seven times the energy of the next largest machine in the world, Fermilab’s Tevatron — and smash them together. It will eventually reach temperatures and energies equivalent to those at a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

The first collisions won’t happen for a month or two. It’ll take that long to reach the five trillion electron volts of energy needed for the anticipated collision of protons.

Stay tuned.

Click here for the New York Times article with some interesting links.
Click here for an interesting astrological reading on the LHC at AstroTableTalk.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Pushing upward has supreme success.
One must see the great man.
Fear not.
Departure toward the south
Brings good fortune.

The pushing upward of the good elements encounters no obstruction and is therefore accompanied by great success. The pushing upward is made possible not by violence but by modesty and adaptability. Since the individual is borne along with the propitiousness of the time, he advances. He must go to see authoritative people. He need not be afraid to do this, because success is assured. But he must set to work, for activity (this is the meaning of ‘the south’ ) brings good fortune.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shekinah ~ Part II

My life, with increasing frequency, simply amazes me. As far as I can recall, until this morning I had never heard the word Shekinah.

It’s an obscure word and I learned a bit about it when I wrote the “Shock and Awe” post below. A while after completing that post, I decided to take a relaxing bath and catch up on some reading.

As a writer and someone deeply interested in mythology, I like to study symbols. And, in connection with one of my other blogs – A Dowser’s Diary – I’ve been reading up on the intuitive arts, including the Tarot. I’ve read a couple of books on it and, on my way to the bathtub, picked up one I’ve neglected because its pretty old and obscure, A Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite.

You know where this story is going.

I settled into the warm bath and flipped open the book to page 79 and found the word Shekinah staring back at me in stark black ink. Waite was writing about the Tarot card called The High Priestess, and here in part is what he said about her in his century-old mystical language:

She is the Queen of the borrowed light, but this is the light of all. She is the Moon nourished by the milk of the Supernal Mother.

In a manner, she is also the Supernal Mother herself – that is to say, she is the bright reflection. It is in this sense of reflection that her truest and highest name is Shekinah – the cohabiting glory. According to Kabalism, there is a Shekinah both above and below. In the superior world it is called Binah, the Supernal Understanding which reflection to the emanations that are beneath. In the lower world, it is Malkutch – that world being, for this purpose, understood as a blessed Kingdom – that which it is made blessed being the Indwelling Glory. Mystically speaking, the Shekinah is the Sprititual Bridge of the just man, and when he reads the Law she gives the Divine meaning.

He says she represents symbolically both the Egyptian Isis and the Christian Mary.

Reading this, I was struck by two things.

One was the synchronicity of encountering Shekinah for the first time in my life, twice in the same day. The second was seeing again how war-mongers can take the loftiest and holiest of concepts and make them murderous.

Shock 'n Awe ~ AKA Shekinah

Painting entitled "Shekinah" can be found on several right-wing Christian blogs and MySpace pages. Photos below show real "shock and awe" in Baghdad, 2003, courtesy of the Bush Administration.

I admit that in early 2003, during the run-up to the war in Iraq, I was perplexed by the phrase “shock and awe.” We all heard Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney use it to describe the coming technologically blistering attack with which the U.S. planned to blow Saddam Hussein and his follows to kingdom come.

It struck me at the time as a colorful phrase, yet decidedly odd. Now, some five years after the fact, I learn that the term “shock and awe” sounds suspiciously like “Shekinah.”

Shekinah is an ancient Hebrew word – in ancient script written as SHKNH – with various meanings, but all dealing with divine forces protective of the Israelites.

Of course conspiracy theorists and anti-Zionists have made a point of this for years. I just learned of it when I stumbled across a blog post this morning about German historian Wolfgang Eggert’s current attempts to monitor cults of far-right Christian and Zionist zealots who lust for an Armageddon-like war so Jesus will come back to Earth, or they can go to Heaven, or something like that.

But back to SHKNH/Shock and awe:

From Gregory Reid's Youthfire: In the Hebrew traditions, there is a word that is used to define the cloud of God's glory: It is roughly translated as “Shekinah” but the Hebrew mystics wrote it as “SHKNH”. Shock and awe. It is highly probable that the strategists in the Psychological Warfare division of the army, who have a flair for the dramatic as well as the mystic and sometimes occultic, knew full well that the entire middle east would understand perfectly what “Shock and Awe” meant.

From Matthew Delooze's Voice from the Edge: “Shock and Awe” can easily sound like Shekinah and in ancient rituals it is the sound vibration that matters not spelling. SHEKINAH -Shakinah -Shakan. The return of the Shekinah is ancient prophecy. The word Shekinah is derived from the word Shakan. The return of the Shekinah is the “Mystical Presence in the Tabernacle.” The Shekinah is to guide and protect Israel.

As for the supposed U.S. military origins, from Wikipedia:

"Shock and awe, technically known as rapid dominance, is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power, dominant battlefield awareness, dominant maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force to paralyze an adversary's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight. The doctrine was written by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade and is a product of the National Defense University of the United States in 1996.

"Rapid dominance is defined by its authors, Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade, as attempting "to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fit or respond to our strategic policy ends through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe."

"Introducing the doctrine in a report to the United States' National Defense University in 1996, Ullman and Wade describe it as an attempt to develop a post-Cold War military doctrine for the United States. Rapid dominance and shock and awe, they write, may become a "revolutionary change" as the United States military is reduced in size and information technology is increasingly integrated into warfare."

If you want to learn more, look at this Google search on "shock and awe" and "shekinah."

No wonder conspiracy theories are sounding less and less theoretical these days.

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Official: Our Memories Are Potent Stuff

Brain scientists are enthused about new research concerning the effects memories have on us. Reading through some of the findings, it seems to me to validate some things commonly accepted in the metaphysical and mind/body communities.

This is not to trivialize the study conducted recently by American and Israeli scientists, but mystics, psychics, new-thought enthusiasts and mind/body researchers have long contended that what we think – especially our memories and our tendencies to dwell on some of them – can have profound effects on our emotions, our physical health and our perceptions of the world.

The scientific community had long theorized about some of these conclusions, but until now only had indirect evidence. I suspect we’ll be hearing much more about this study in the months to come. It was published today in the journal Science and reported on page one of the New York Times.

Identifying the Storage . . .

The study’s major finding is that when an event happens to us, we store the memory of that event in specific neurons. Then, when we recall the event as stored in our memory, the same neurons are activated. In other words, at the most basic physical level, we re-live the experience.

“It’s a really central piece of the memory puzzle and an important step in helping us fill in the detail of what exactly is happening when the brain performs this mental time travel,” said Michael Kahana, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.

. . . And Then the Replay

Thirteen study participants were shown 10-second clips of television shows, animals, and popular landmarks. Researchers tracked what cells the film clips activated. Afterward the researchers distracted the participants for a while and then asked them to recall the fact that they had been shown the clips.

Based on which of the millions of cells then became active, researchers were able to not only see a repeat of the original viewing experience, but also were able to know which of the clips the person was remembering a second or two even before the person knew.

If you’re at all interested in the study, I recommend the New York Times article.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tesla: A Story of Tragic Genius

It's somewhat unthinking of me to suggest you spend nearly 10 minutes watching this video about Nikola Tesla, but I offer it anyway. Tesla, as some of you know, lived in the first half of the 20th century and was a remarkable inventor whose revolutionary ideas have ushered in what some call the "Second Industrial Revolution."

His breakthroughs in electricity, magnetism and wireless technology were of world-changing magnitude. His ideas were so advanced and so revolutionary that powerful men stomped him into penniless obscurity. This video does a fair job of capturing Tesla's story, especially his undoing at the hands of Edison, the financier J.P. Morgan and even J. Edgar Hoover.

From his early years in Serbia, Tesla said his motivation was to make the world a better place for all people, and he dedicated his life to that goal. Here's a synopsis of genius and how it can be destroyed when it threatens the status quo.

August Sets 100-Year Record for No Sunspots

For the first time in 100 years, we’ve just completed an entire month without a single sunspot. And the lack of sunspots could signal a new Ice Age or some other extraordinary climactic conditions on Earth.

According to data from UCLA’s Mount Wilson Observatory, the last time this happened was in 1913. When the sun is active, there are easily 100 or more sunspots in a month. While there’s an 11-year cycle of diminished sunspots, the current lack has scientists puzzled.

So far this year, the average number of sunspots per month has been three. August had none.

Click here for the Daily TECH article.
Click here for my earlier post providing more detail.
Photo is sunrise on Hawaiian coast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mysterious Clouds at Edge of Atmosphere

NASA satellite photo showing 'night shining' clouds.

A thin blue line of clouds separating Earth’s atmosphere from outer space continues to spread as scientists remain mystified about its origin.

Called noctilucent – or “night shining” – clouds, they occupy the area about 50 miles above the earth’s surface. People first spotted them about 120 years ago, following the 1883 giant eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia.

Since then the clouds have spread from above areas such as Scandinavia and Siberia to more southern latitudes, and from far-southern latitudes to more northern ones, thus creating a thin shell around more of the atmosphere. They are frequently seen over Washington and Oregon in the US and over Turkey and Iran in the Middle East.

Researchers are speculating the noctilucent clouds are somehow linked to climate change or perhaps increased methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The 11-year sunspot cycle is another consideration, they say.

Click here for the Live Science article.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Firefly Population Dwindling Worldwide

Scientists are researching reports coming in from around the world that firefly populations are rapidly dwindling. The villains again appear to be urban sprawl and industrial pollution.

Researchers in the US and Europe are speculating that the spread of artificial lighting could be contributing to the demise of the little glowing creatures also known as lightning bugs. It’s possible the lights are interfering with firefly mating practices, where the male attracts a female by lighting up his backside. In Thailand, more than 100 entomologists and biologists convened last week to address the estimated decline of firefly populations there by about 70 percent.

“It’s quite clear they’re declining,” says Stefan Ineichen, a researcher who studies fireflies in Switzerland. “When you talk to old people about fireflies, it’s always the same – they saw so many when they were young and now they’re lucky to see one.”

Another researcher, Lynn Faust, who has spent a decade studying fireflies on her 40-acre Tennessee farm, says, “I know of populations that have disappeared on my farm because of development and light pollution. It’s these McMansions with their floodlights. One house here has 32 lights. Why do you need so many lights?”

Studying firefly populations is difficult because the bugs can’t be banded or marked, but scientists are calling upon volunteers to help track firefly populations.

Click here for the Live Science article.
Painting of fireflies by Robin Street-Morris.