Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MORE RECENT HOMO FAMILY: Embrace Tolerance


bone needles

Recent discoveries have uncovered three more-recent Families of Homo who lived at the same time – Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal, and Denisovan – thereby making our view of ourselves more complex.  The mystery that these Families present to us is how they interacted with each other.  Did They ignore each other, make war with each other, or intermarry?  Did They even regard each other as Human?
            What modern scientists have uncovered in their DNA studies of modern humans was astonishing.  Many people of European ancestry have a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA in their genetic make-up.  Because the Neanderthals grew up in the cold climates of Europe, They were stocky and heavy-boned.  Migrating from Africa, Cro-Magnons were smaller and slighter.  Interbreeding with Neanderthals helped the Cro-Magnons to withstand the freezing cold.
            Meanwhile, the Denisovans left Africa about a million years after H. erectus did and half-million years before the Neanderthals appeared in Europe.  Living in Siberia, Denisovans used advanced tools such as bone needles.  However, what fossils remains of Them that we have were their very large teeth, which were similar to Australopithecus.  Migrating to South Asia and nearby Asian Islands, Denisovans also interbred with Cro-Magnons there.  Today, people in New Guinea and other islands carry Denisovan DNA in their genetic make-up.
            The picture that emerges is that though the majority of these Familes did not interact, some did, and regarded each other as Human. (Scientists claim that the ratio of inbreeding was about fifty Denisovans to every thousand Humans.) As we move forward in time, we see the grove of Humankind dwindling down one by one.  We modern humans may be all that is left, but we carry the Others inside of ourselves.  We can celebrate our ancient Ancestors by acknowledging their contribution to our well-being.  Since They chose to become a part of us, let us be true to our heritage and be tolerant of each other.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ethics for Magical People: Divining (2 of 2)



In the case history of Diana overhearing a Tarot reading, she noticed that the reader violated many of the suggested principles for diviners.  The most obvious was that the reading was not private, since people in the hall could hear it.  He did not keep his voice low or advise his client to keep hers down either.  This compromised the reading because the bystanders became invested in the outcome.  Moreover, the reader used the audience to manipulate the client, who could not make a scene in front of strangers. 

Then the reader put on an act for public consumption and to bolster his ego.  With a phony accent, he surrounded himself with the air of mystery of an esoteric occultist.  He wanted to impress his clients with an “aura” of his authority, so that they would heed his advice.  Dishonest in his presentation, the reader wanted to entice clients to rely completely on his judgment.

As the reading went on, it became evident that the reader had a hidden agenda.  He was either looking for women to date or wanted to take this particular woman out.  He deliberately misread the cards to encourage the client to break-up with her current boyfriend.  The boundary between the reader and his client was porous to allow him to manipulate the reading to his advantage.

The reading featured the Tarot cards which were the Six of Swords and the Two of Cups, which have multiple shades of meanings.  The Six of Swords could mean relief from recent problems.  Instead, the reader informed his client that the card meant that her boyfriend broke up with her.  Meanwhile the Two of Cups could mean love or reconciliation, but he told his client that her boyfriend found someone new.  The reader then manipulated the client in her distress to achieve his objective of dating her.

After presenting the reading with dire consequences, the reader told his client what to do.  Instead of offering any choices, he instructed her how the reading should be carried out.  Playing on her vulnerability, he became the final authority on her fate.  By manipulating his position, the reader exploited the client for his own ends.

Finally through his actions, the reader showed total disrespect for the act of divination.  Instead of acting as a conduit between the Universe and the client, he abused the reading to meet his own ends.  He caused undue suffering to his client and her boyfriend for his short-term gain.  This will backfire once the client realizes what the reader had done.  Also, the Universe will interfere in the reader’s life by convincing others that he is a manipulator and deceiver.

Works Used:
Bennett, Stella, “The Star That Never Walks Around,” Weiser: Boston, 2002.

Carroll, Robert, “Confirmation Bias,” The Skeptic’s Dictionary, 27 August, 2012, http://www.skepdic.com/confirmbias.html.

Chametzky, Marc, “Ethics of Divination: An Exploration of the Wiccan Rede as It Applies to Divination,” Ecclasia, 10 March, 2004, http://ecclasia.com/ethicsdivination.html.

Drury, Neville, “The Tarot Workbook,” Thunder Bay: San Diego, 2004.

Ellison, Robert, “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids,” ADF, 2007.

Hrafn, “Weaving Wyrd,” blog, http://weavingwyrd.com/.

Matthews, Caitlin, “The Celtic Wisdom Tarot,” Destiny: Rochester VT, 1999.

Wild Leon, “The Runes Workbook,” Thunder Bay: San Diego, 2004.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Ethics for Magical People: Divining (1 of 2)



People who do divination have a set of responsibilities to both their clients and to the act of divination itself.  Since many people have a desire to know the future, they become open to suggestion when they consult a seer.  Moreover because the diviner acts as an intermediary between the questioner and the Universe, divining becomes a sacred art.  To address these concerns, many seers and diviners have a code of personal ethics.

The practical root for these ethics is that the questioner will remember the reading.  Even if the reading was done at a party, people look to see if the good news will come true.  Meanwhile, they try to dismiss any bad news, but will find ways to confirm that it is going to happen.  This is known as the “confirmation bias” (looking for a confirmation of personal beliefs by the questioner).  In addition, the questioner will regard any future event within the matrix set-up by the diviner during their reading.  Therefore, people will remember the divination that confirmed their beliefs about the future.

The esoteric root is that, throughout history, divination has been practiced to discover the will of various Gods.  The Runes of the Norse were obtained through a sacrifice by Odin, their All Father.  Moreover, many Tarot readers regard the Tarot as a spiritual tool for connecting the Self with the Universe.  To keep a clear channel to the Divine, many of these readers will safeguard their cards from “stray and negative energies.” Therefore, many seers do not approach the act of divining in a casual manner.

In his book, “Ogham: The Secret Language of the Druids,” Robert Ellison, Archdruid emeritas of Ar nDaiocht Fein (ADF), outlines ADF’s suggested principles for seers.  The first principle is to regard that all readings as confidential.  The only exception is if the client is going to attempt something dangerous.  Even in public spaces, seers need to set up ways of to keep the reading private.

The second principle is that the seer should not exert any undue influence over the client.  A person consulting the diviner is usually in a vulnerable state.  He is open to suggestions from the seer, whom he unconsciously regards as the final authority of his fate.  Hence, if the seer has a hidden agenda, she can easily manipulate the unsure client.

The third principle is that the seer needs to impress upon the client that he has options.  An experienced seer knows that the future is never fixed but is usually in flux.  The seer should act as an advisor to the client, and not as the final authority.  Moreover, a seer is never the arbitrator of her client’s fate. 

Adding to ADF’s suggestions, Stella Bennett, an experienced Tarot reader, claims that using the Tarot as a fortune-telling game will tempt the Spirits.  Since she regards divining to be spiritual, Bennett endeavors to show respect to the Tarot cards, herself, and her client.  She believes that showing any disrespect will cause a blowback from the Spirits to either the reader or the client.  Bennett does not want any negativity brought into her life or her clients because of her actions.

Bennett stresses that since many clients are going through trying times, she needs to be positive in her reading, and usually ends her reading in a “uplifting tome.”  Furthermore, she believes that the ethical diviner should not predict death or any other dire event for her client.  Bennett counsels that the seer should caution her client about basing any life decisions on their reading. 

Caitlin Matthews, Celtic shaman and druid, regards divination as the “mirror of the Living Truth in the present.”  Because of this, she sees a cause and effect to her reading, which she should not manipulatively change.  If Matthews does not interpret the reading as it is laid out, the “web of the Universe” can be impaired.  Since the information comes directly from the Living Truth to the client, her task as a seer is simply to relay the message. Matthews has no responsibility to see it carried out.

These particular diviners emphasize that their readings lay out likely scenarios, which are based on the past and present of their clients.  Since the future is fluid, their readings are never absolute.  Each diviner knows only a portion of the future, and not the whole story.

In his blog, “Weaving Wyrd,” Hrafn, Northern-Tradition spirit worker, discusses the boundaries that a seer needs to have.  The boundary between the diviner, the Universe, the reading, and the client needs to be formed.  First, he must establish where the information of the future comes from.  The seer needs to ask himself whether it is from the Divine or from his own ego.  Then the diviner acknowledges his own emotions and reactions to the reading itself.  Without boundaries, each will bleed into the other and the seer will make errors based on hidden biases.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

EARLY HOMO FAMILY: Discover Your Inner Fire



The next Family to come after these Earliest Humans, was the Homo family (of which H. sapiens (Modern Humans) is a later member), about 2.4 million years ago (mya) Meanwhile, the Families of the Earliest Humans - Australopithecus and Paranthropus lived near the Homo family.  However, these earlier Families had little interaction with the Homo Family.  About two mya, several distinctive members (who had larger brains than the previous Early Humans) of the Homo Family appeared – H. gautengensis, H. habilis, and H. rudolfensis.  With his larger teeth, H. guatengensis specialized in eating plants.  Slimmer H. habilis (“Handy Man”) could make simple stone tools, while stocker and heavier H. rudolfensis ate grass roots.  
            About 1.8 mya, H. ergaster and H. erectus of the Homo Family appeared.  These Early Humans developed a complex tool making culture, such as using hammer stones to break open nuts.  Furthermore because of the hot African climate, their bigger brains needed more cooling.  Therefore these Humans possessed more sweat glands and was less hairy.         
Then H. erectus did something remarkable:  She migrated out of Africa to Eurasia,   adapting to the new places with strange plants and animals.  Since the seasons in Eurasia were more pronounced and cooler, H. erectus was forced to become more inventive: She discovered fire.  From the evidence found in the campfires of Peking Man of Asia, H. erectus built and used fire about 1.8 mya.  This gave Her a means to cook food and keep warm, which meant that She could master the environment.
            The Early Homo Family urges us to leave the safety of our homes and venture out in the unknown.  They will show us how to meet the challenges of new ways of living.  With their help, we can discover our own inner fires, thereby changing our own lives.

Monday, September 10, 2012

EARLIEST HUMAN FAMILY: Honor Diversity



 EARLY HUMAN FAMILY


Long ago, the Earth was populated by many kinds of humans.  Today, we modern humans (Homo sapiens) are alone on the Earth (except perhaps for the “Hobbit” (H. floresiensis) of Indonesia). The development of Humankind from prehistory to modern times is like an orchard of fruit trees.  Some of the trees continuously bore fruit, while some of the other trees cross-pollinated with the fruit-bearing ones.  After a while some trees died off, while the other trees flourished wildly.  However, eventually all the trees died off out except for one (perhaps two) lone tree. 
            Tracing the Human line, back in time, is difficult, because the fossil records are incomplete.  Since it involves humans, we react to our history as we would with our own families. Like all families, our Early Human Family is full of quirky and long-lost people.  There are those relatives we would rather not think about, as well as those relatives who we are proud to be related to.  For example, consider the difference between Cro-Magnons (H. sapiens) and Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis), in our Early Human Family, and how we react to each.

EARLIEST HUMAN FAMILY: Honor Diversity
            Four to two million years ago (mya), several Families of Early Humans roamed Africa.  As the climate became drier, the forests transformed into grasslands.  The Early Humans walked upright, but still regarded trees as their homes.  Walking upright gave Them an advantage because They could see various predators lurking in the grass. (One predator, Dinofelis (a saber-toothed cat) had often feasted on Early Humans.)
            The Earliest Families of Humans were Australopithecus, Kenyantropus, and Paranthropus.  They all could manipulate small objects, which would allow the next Family to make tools.  The most famous of these Earliest Families was Australopithecus.  “Lucy” (Au. Afarensis) was once thought to be the “missing link” between apes and humans.  The only Kenyantropus was K. platyops who was named for his flat face.  Meanwhile, Paranthropus, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man”, had strong jaws to eat nuts and hard plants.     However, only Australopithecus developed into Homo, the next Family of Early Humans.
Fred Spoor, a noted paleontologist stressed that, “East Africa was a crowded place with multiple species.” Imagine a world of different Families of Humans, with each with their own sphere of influence possessing special talents.  Simply because one Family seemed “less advanced” than another Family, did not mean that They could not survive at all. These Earliest Humans could successfully cope with the particular challenges in their lives.
These Earliest Humans show us that it is good to experiment, and to encourage diversity. Though some of Them died off, all of the Earliest Humans contributed to the whole of Humankind.  We need to honor the efforts of these Earliest People in becoming who we are today.