Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Musings on Banned Books



Banned Book List for 2014
(Opens window)

---
When I read over the banned book list, I realized that I had read quite a few of them for school. Some I read for leisure after I had graduated from school. However, I was surprised at how many banned books that I had unwittingly read, since so few of them seemed to have perturbed me.

 The banned books and other classics that I read for school were actually meant to be read only by mature people. As teenagers, we often missed the point that the author was making. But since it was probably the only exposure that we would have to any serious literature, we were required to read them.

 The banned book that everyone wanted to read was J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” At the time, it was not considered worth studying. However, we had heard about it being smutty and vulgar. So, naturally everyone had to read it on the sly.

 Meanwhile, the state school board required that everyone read “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Even though it was reported to be racist, they still wanted us to read Twain’s classic of American literature. At the time, my school was a majority African-American/ Hispanic high school. Half the students had problems with the dialect of the characters, while the other half with the culture it portrayed. Racism was the last thing on people’s minds as to why they disliked the book.

 The other books that we had to read for American literature class were “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane, and “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The complaints that my class had about all these books was that someone always ended up dying in them. We were so sick of reading about dead and dying characters that we revolted and stopped reading. As far as I know, none of these books were banned because for having too many deaths depicted. What adults failed to realize is that teenagers do not share their sensibilities. Each group is shocked by unrelated things.

 With the other banned books that I read as an adult, I was unaware of any controversy. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury and “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein, I read since I enjoy science fiction. However, I disliked Heinlein’s fascist overtones in his book. I was thrilled to read “Our Bodies, Ourselves” by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Finally a book about women’s health issues written by and for women! “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown fascinated me with its counter point of view of history. However, I disliked Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” because for me, it was a racist soap opera.

 I met people who both loved and hated these books. I think that each book, in its own way, make adults uncomfortable. Moreover, I think that some adults transfer their discomfort to children. Rather than realizing that people do have the freedom not to read, certain adults decided to instead ban these books. Personally, I think that the more attention paid to these books, the more people will want to read them. (Consider “Catcher in the Rye.”) As for whether children would be troubled by them, people such as Stephen King, noted horror author, have pointed out that what bothers children is different from what adults are concerned about.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

STICK INSECT! WALKING STICK! STICK BUG: Having Many Choices

Stick Insects or Phasmids (Phasmatoidea, Phasmatidae) encompass about 2,700 known Insect species. With their long bodies that give them a twig-like appearance, Phasmids are almost invisible among the leaves of trees. When They are disturbed, Phasmids will lay motionless for hours pretending to be a stick. Sometimes, They will sway to mimic a twig blowing in the wind.

To avoid being eaten, Phasmids have many unique defenses. Although Most rely on passive camouflage to avoid predators, many large Phasmids have large spines on their hind legs for self-defense. Other Phasmids will discourage their attackers by regurgitating food at them or by squirting them with poison. American Walking Stick (Anisomorpha bupestiordes) sprays his intruder with a chemical spray that causes blindness.

Female Phasmids can reproduce without mating. Some populations consist entirely of mature Females and their Offspring. The Young are identical to their Mother. Sometimes Mother Phasmid will search for a rare Male to mate with. She will either find Him with his Friends or will attract Him by emitting a seductive scent.

Unlike other Insects, many people like to have Phasmids as pets. Usually all They require is blackberry leaves and water to thrive. However, They do prefer to have their leaves in their cages lightly misted.

Phasmids teach about having as many choices as possible. For example, people call Them by many names--Walking Stick, Stick Insect, or Stick Bug. Female Phasmids can reproduce with or without a mate. Phasmids defend Themselves in various ways. Some simply become still, while Others will squirt a poison. In life, it is important to have many options available to you.
--
Phasmids are cousins to Grasshoppers and Mantids.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ponderings on Time

"When as a child I laughed and wept, Time crept.
When as a youth I waxed more bold, Time strolled.
When I became a full-grown man, Time RAN.
When older still I daily grew, Time FLEW.
Soon I shall find, in passing on, Time gone."
Poem from the front of the clock case in the North Transept of Chester Cathedral, attributed to H. Twells (1823-1900).

To perform a personal examination of time, please document a single minute of time. Using a watch with a second hand, observe this one minute as carefully as possible. Then write as many details as possible: the location you are in, the sounds and sights available to you, and the 'feeling' of the time you are observing. Have you proved that time is relative?
--
Proving whether time is relative or not is something that I cannot do. As with many people who have a brain injury, I have lost my sense of time. I live in the Eternal Now, with the past, present, and future merging into a singular whole. Not only that, but now I see time as colors – blue days, purple months, green hours. (It is a form of synesthesia.) If I focus on time, it becomes a kaleidoscope of colors merging, fracturing, and flowing. Time, as I experience it, runs counter to most people’s sense of time. Therefore documenting a single minute of time is impossible.

 Because my sense of time is gone, I decided to research how others see time. What I uncovered was that there is not agreement on how time is perceived. One thought is “presentism” in which “time is experienced but does not pass.” The other is “flowism” in which time flows whether people perceive it or not. “Flowism” says that people perceive the passage of time by reflecting on their experiences. The philosopher Immanuel Kant agreed with this. He wrote that “the phenomenology of passage of time is a necessary condition for any experience.” For him, time existed and was “true” whether we experienced it or not (A priori reasoning).

 Before Kant, western philosophers traditionally defined time to be a construction of the self, starting with St. Augustine. (“I measure my self, as I measure time.”) Therefore perceived time is the “mental state of the beholder.” According to this philosophy, we perceive time as we feel. For example, depressed people usually see time as slowing down. However with a brain injury, my perception of my self is detached from how I feel. Therefore time is nonexistent to me, and is only an artificial construct. What exists for me is the illusion of time.

 From a psychological point of view, people may experience time in one of two ways. “Polychrons” experience time as one continuous current much like a river flowing from the past through the present, and on to the future. Meanwhile, “monochrons” perceive time as discrete intervals, which are divided into fixed elements such as hours. Furthermore, societies tend to organize themselves on either of these perceptions of time. Since western industrial society is monochromic, the notion that time can be proven to be relative is plausible. (Of course a polychromatic society would not even consider the idea.)

To gain an understanding of how time could perceived in relative terms, I compared watching a football game to a hockey one. Fifteen minutes of watching players skating frantically trying to score seemed like an instant. Watching the last few seconds of a football game with the losing team trying to score seemed endless. I suppose that in relation to me and the action of the game, time could be seen as relative. However, sports games are usually measured in “sports” minutes, which differs from “standard” minutes. A fifteen minute quarter in football may result in thirty minutes of “standard” time. Therefore, proving how time is relative in sports can be problematic.

 Since I live in a monchronic society, I have to accept the idea that time exists in measured units. To be in sync with others, I have to develop methods of “timekeeping.” Otherwise, I would simply follow the rhythms of my body in sleeping and eating. Monchronic time divorces many people from natural rhythms, and forces them to see time differently.

 Works Used.
 Hahn, Harley, “Time Sense: Polychronicity and Monochronicity.” Web. http://www.harley.com/writing/time-sense.html
Janiak, Andrew, “Kant’s View on Space and Time.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 14, September, 2009. Web. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-spacetime/.
Le Poidevin, Robin, “The Experience and Perception of Time.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2009. Web. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/time-experience/.
Musser, George, “Time on the Brain.” Scientific American. 15 September 2011. Web. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/09/15/time-on-the-brain-how-you-are-always-living-in-the-past-and-other-quirks-of-perception/.
 Prosser, Simon, “Passage and Perception.” Paper. Web. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~sjp7/passage_and_perception.pdf.
 Wittmann, Marc, “The Inner Experience of Time.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 31, May, 2009. Web. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1525/1955.full.pdf.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Carving in Stone: Washington National Cathedral (U.S.)

Living in Washington D.C., much of what happens is already recorded in history. However, there are parts of the City that still hold their mysteries close. One of those places is the Washington National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.)

 Dedicated in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, this Gothic Cathedral has been continually worked on by various stone carvers and masons, ever since. Officially finished in 1990, the Cathedral is still being labored on, since there are grotesques and gargoyles still be carved. Also, after the 2011 Washington Earthquake, they have endeavored to repair the damaged done to the Cathedral.

 Throughout the many years, the stone carvers developed a deep sense of intimacy and connection to the Cathedral itself. As Master Carver Vincent Palumbo noted, “The sculptor creates it (the work), but we give it life. When we carve it in stone, that is the resurrection.” Many of the carvings around the building reflect this closeness. One gargoyle depicts Master Carver Roger Morigi as the devil with his stone working tools, while another one is of a mushroom cloud coming out of his head. Both are in reference to his bad temper. (People who do not know this, often think that the mushroom cloud is a commentary of the modern age.)

 Other signs of the intimacy between the Cathedral and the stone carvers are the numerous carvings of their exploits. One grotesque shows Palumbo in a truck with a flagpole. This memorialized the time when he hit the Cathedral’s flag pole with his pick-up truck. At the north side of the nave, there is a flying buttress that remains uncarved. This is to commemorate in stone the death of Stone Carver Joseph Petti, who died there, when a scaffolding gave way.

 The stone carvers share the story of a fellow carver who worked there in the 1950s. He commuted daily from Baltimore, Maryland to Washington D.C., and therefore few people had met his family. When his wife died, he wanted her to be buried in the Cathedral. (Other people who had been interred there were President Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller.) He asked the Dean of the Cathedral Francis Sayre if his wife could be also. After being told no by the Bishop, Dean Sayre offered his apologies to the stone carver. Dean Sayre said that the man told him that it was already taken care of. According to the Dean, the masons had mixed the ashes of the wife of the stone carver into the mortar. She holds several stones together atop the south transept. Rumor has it that after the earthquake, she and the stones are still intact.

 Although Dean Sayre verified authenticity of the story, several elements make it a legend. The names of the stone carver and his wife are unknown. When the Dean was asked about the story, it was forty years after the fact. Furthermore Dean Sayre only stated what he surmised. Palumbo, who was interviewed about his long tenure at the Cathedral, told many stories, to the reporter, about specific people. The ashes of the stone carver’s wife was not one of them. Also, the legend of mixing of the ashes of the dead into the stone mortar is a story often told about other cathedrals as well. Whether it is true or not, it remains a testament to the closeness and love of the stone carvers for their Cathedral.

 Works Used.
Meyer, Graham, “Mysteries of the Washington National Cathedral.” The Washingtonian. September 2007. Web. http://www.washingtonian.com/articles/arts-events/mysteries-of-the-washington-national-cathedral/.
 Ringle, Ken, “Carving Out a Niche at the Cathedral.” The Washington Post. 18, November, 1999. Web. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/1999-11/18/101r-111899-idx.html.
 Washington National Cathedral Official Web Site. Web. http://www.nationalcathedral.org/.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

AFRICAN ELEPHANT: Having a Rich Emotional Life

To those first encountering African Elephant, He seems large and strong. With his great curved tusks, long nose, and great ears, African Elephant seems like a creature from prehistory. At one time, the earth was filled with Trunked Mammals (Proboscidea), and now there are only two left – Asian Elephant and African Elephant (who are not close relatives).

Despite African Elephant’s great weight, He walks almost noiselessly through the African plains and forests. Using his long trunk as a hand, African Elephant browses trees and grass, chomping on green plants. Playing a vital role is the ecosystem of Africa, He is a keystone species. His herd’s paths act as a firebreak. His wallows are small pools for water. He disperses seeds from one place to another, converting the savannah to grassland.

Living a close-knit group, African Elephant’s herd is ruled by a Matriarch, an Old Cow. (The Bulls have their own small group within the herd.) Ever affectionate, African Elephant is willing to risk his life to prevent a death of a family member.  Greeting his friends with low rumbles and trumpets, He welcomes Them back to the herd. He snorts and rumbles good-bye to his Friends when He leaves to browse.

“An elephant never forgets” is in reference to African Elephant’s rich emotional memories. He remembers what happens to Him and his Family Members especially if They are harmed in any way. African Elephant notices and remembers when One Elephant has something the Others cannot have. He will settle scores and harbor grudges.

African Elephant has a rich emotional life. He beckons you to have one as well. Like people, African Elephant cares what happens to Him and Those he loves.

Just do not harbor grudges like African Elephant does.
------
Note: Although Asian Elephant (Elephas maxims) and African Elephant (Lexodonta African) are the only remaining members of the Proboscidea (trunked mammals) Order, they are not close relatives of each other. Asian Elephant, which is closer in DNA to Mammoths, evolved as a separate Asian species. African Elephant has larger ears and a sloped head.

Conservation Note: African Elephant is endangered.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Babylonians

Noted for their complex astrology, the Babylonians (the peoples of ancient Mesopotamia: Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria) were also accomplished astronomers. From their seven story Ziggurats, these astronomers watched the rising and setting of the stars, as well as, the five bright planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). By keeping meticulous records of lunar and solar events, the Babylonians were able predict the next eclipse. Some of their contributions to astronomy are the discovery of many of today’s constellations.

Using their based-sixty numerical system, the Babylonians set circles at 360 degrees. Stemming from this, came the measurement of angles. With their degree system (similar to longitude and latitude), the astronomers could pinpoint the position of various stars. Using their records, they developed formulas to predict the next celestial event. Their observations were so accurate that some modern people wonder if the Babylonians had invented a primitive telescope.

 Starting their month with the New Crescent of the Moon, the Babylonian astronomers divided the period into six phases, each with its own particular meaning. They measured synodic months to be the period between full moons. To insure that their year started on the first day of spring equinox, the Babylonians devised a nineteen year cycle (235 synodic months), that contained leap years. Six of the nineteen years had a month added called Addaru, and another year at the seventeen year mark had the month Ululu added. This cycle of 235 synodic months, known as the Saros cycle, allowed for the repetition of celestial eclipses at defined periodic intervals.

Since the Gods resided in the heavens, the Babylonian rulers had to understand the stars. Their power came from correctly interpreting the desires of the Gods. In fact, the dynasties of each city state and later empire were tied to particular Gods. Therefore before any decisions of State could be made, the Gods had to be consulted.

According to the Babylonians, the Gods communicated with humans through various celestial events. They built their Ziggurats to reflect this belief. Each of the tower’s seven stories represented the bright planets, the sun, and the moon. Using’ their careful records of correspondences of local and celestial events, the Babylonians astrologers could interpret the will of the Gods. The Babylonians used their astronomy/astrology to aid their rulers in the affairs of State.

 Full-time astrologers became the intermediaries between the ruler and the Gods, by translating the will of the Gods. Some of their predictions were “when the Moon occults Jupiter that year a King will die.” On that particular day, the king would have a substitute king be killed. “When Jupiter goes out from behind the moon, there will be hostility in the land.” When the ruler was informed of that, he prepared his armies.

 The Babylonians watched the skies to understand what their Gods were telling them. Since their ruler acted by the consent of the Gods, he had to know what They were telling him. His astrologers not only informed him of the will of the Gods but also what the future would be. In this way, Babylonian astrologers ensured a well-ordered society.

 Works Used:
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky.” Thames and Hudson: New York. 2009. Print.
 Halsall, Paul, “The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, c. 2500 – 670 BCE.” Ancient History Sourcebook. March 1999. Web.
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/bablylonian-astrology.asp .
 Kolev, Rumen, “Some Reflections About Babylonian Astrology.” Centre Universitaire de Recherche en Astrologie. 2001. Web. http://cura.free.fr/decem/09kolev.html .
 Lendering, Jona, “Kidinnu, the Chaldaeans, and Babylonian Astronomy.” Livius.org: Articles on Ancient History. 2014. Web. http://www.livius.org/k/kidinnu/kidinnu.htm.
Magli, Guilio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy.” Copernicus Books: New York. 2009. Print.
 White, Gavin, “The Exaltation System in Babylonian Astrology.” SKYSCRIPT.co.uk. May 2009. Web. http://www.skyscript.co.uk/exaltations.html .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Archetypes in Mythology: Norse: Building of Asgard

The Wall of Asgard (Norse)

Read the Myth at Hurstwic Norse Mythology 
 
This myth details the relations between the Giants and the Gods. Both indulge in treachery to obtain their goals. The Giant, who had disguised himself, is both the Shapeshifter and the Shadow. When he bargains with Odin, the All-Father, he presents himself as an ordinary mortal. However, neither he nor his horse are that. In payment for building the wall around the Gods’ city, the Giant would receive Freya, Mani, and Sunna (Sol). By tricking the Gods, he shows Them for who they really are, people who do not keep their word.

 Loki, an Outsider, is the Trickster who devises a way out of the Gods’ dilemma. He shapeshifts to trick the Giant’s horse. Depriving the Giant from finishing the wall, Loki saves the Gods and presents Odin with a gift. From the union between Him and the Giant’s stallion comes Odin’s steed, Sleipnir.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Pwyll and Arwan (The Mabinogion) Welsh




 Read this myth from "The Mabinogion" (new window)

This myth details the web of hospitality in Welsh society. In this myth, people hear what courteous behavior entails. Pwyll, the mortal, disrupts the hunting of Arawn, the God, and decides to make amends.

 Pwyll, the Lord of Dyfed, is the Everyman who encounters a God. After being chastised by Arawn, he makes his amends by killing the God’s rival and ruling in his stead. As a good guest, Pwyll does not sleep with Arawn’s wife. Pwyll, the Everyman, navigates the world of the Gods using his manners.

 Arawn, the Grey Lord, is the Shadow, because he demands retribution from Pwyll. This prompts Pwyll to go on his “Hero’s Journey” to seek amends. Meanwhile Arwan’s rival and his wife act as Threshold Guardians to test Pwyll. The first by tempting Pwyll into disregarding Arwan’s instructions, and the second by allowing Pwyll to sleep with her. Since he does neither, Pwyll earns Arawn’s friendship.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Isis and Osiris (Egypt)





This myth details how Osiris became the Ruler of the Underworld. It also features the transformation of Isis from sister-wife to a Goddess in her own right. Osiris, who is killed by his brother Set, is both the Ruler and the Innocent. As the Teacher, Osiris, gives knowledge to his people. As the Innocent, he fails to see how his brother Set could be jealous of him, so he falls for Set’s machinations.

 Set is the Shadow who challenges Isis by killing his brother. Later, he dismembers his brother’s body forcing Isis to become the Alchemist in using her magic to restore Osiris. His actions spurs the transformation of Isis. Meanwhile, the Queen of Byblos, Astarte, is Everyman. She interacts with Isis, as an ordinary person, highlighting the Goddess’ metamorphosis.

 Isis begins the myth as the Innocent and Lover. After her brother-husband’s death, she seeks to bury him so that he may enter the Afterlife, and achieve his Rulership. In her journey, Isis becomes the Hero to save her brother’s body. At Phoenicia, she becomes the Alchemist when she uses her magic to cure a Prince. Later, Isis reassembles Osiris’ body and adds the missing piece making him whole so He can now enter the Afterlife.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Native American and Mongolian: Landscapes




 Crater Lake (Native American)

Read Myth at Legends Surrounding Crater Lake (new window) 

This myth details how Crater Lake in North America was formed from a volcano. (It is a geo-myth, since it explains how a landscape was formed.) The protagonist, the Chief of the Below Word is the Earth deity, As the Lover, He is spurned by Loha, a mortal woman. Becoming the Destroyer, He lays waste to the land. Loha is the Maiden, who refused his advances. Meanwhile, the Chief of the Above World, the Sky deity, is also the Caretaker who stops the Chief of the Below World. The two medicine people of Loha’s village become the Martyrs, in hopes of stopping the destruction. Their sacrifice inspires the Chief of the Above Sky to defeat his opponent.



Fire and Flood (Mongolian)

Read "Hunter Boy" at Mongol Mythology (new window) 

This geo-myth describes the creation of a certain stone landscape in Mongolia. Halibilu, the Hero, saves his people from a great flood. But in doing so, he becomes stone. Besides being the Hero, Halibilu is also the Caretaker, who provides for his people and saves the Dragon King’s daughter. In trying to save his people, Halibilu became the Martyr, sacrificing himself. (Meanwhile, the Daughter of the Dragon King, is the Damsel in Distress, while the Dragon King is both the Dragon and Ruler.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Archetypes in Myths: Babylonian and Meso-American Creation

Tiamat and Marduk
Marduk and Tiamat (Assyrio-Babylonian)

Read Myth at Myth Encyclopedia (new window) 

This myth explains how the present world was created. The original “primordial” Beings, Tiamat and Apsu (both Dragons) were overthrown by the “New Gods.” Chaffing against the rule of these two Beings, the “New Gods” seek to kill both. Angered over Apsu’s death, Tiamat became the Destroyer, leading her army of monsters. Meanwhile, the Sun God, Marduk, becomes both Rebel and Hero, after agreeing to fight Her. Rebelling against Tiamat’s rule, He kills and dismembers Her, creating the present world from her body. Then, Marduk, the Creator, assumes the Rulership as well.

Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca

Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca (Meso-American)

Read Myth at Quetzalcoatl (new window) 
 
This myth explains how the present world was created. The Gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, became Dragons to kill the Earth Monster, who was the Destroyer. These two Gods could be considered Warriors since They stopped Tlaltecuhtli (Earth Monster) from creating more destruction. From her body, the other Gods created the present world.  Meanwhile, Tlaltecuhtli is the source of Creations since both halves of her body are the earth and the sky.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

KOMODO DRAGON: Fearlessness

Komodo Dragon is the largest lizard that has ever lived on land. Armed with sharp claws and a powerful tail, Komodo Dragon will challenge all with a hiss and a flick of His forked tongue. As His islands’ top predator, He has nothing to fear from anybody, not even people.

As large as Komodo Dragon is, He was only discovered on His small Indonesian islands in 1912. These islands are hilly and are covered mostly with grass and palm trees. Even on His islands, Komodo Dragon lives a solitary life.

Komodo Dragon teaches fearlessness but remember his “shadow side” – the lack of social skills. When Komodo Dragons meet, they establish rank order by pushing each other. Usually the larger one wins.

Komodo Dragon's Teachings Also Include:

“Komodo Dragon Dreaming celebrates the potency that comes with truly believing in yourself.” Copyright: “Animal Messengers” by Scott Alexander King

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Sundials

As societies became more complex, people had to organize their timekeeping into smaller increments, especially during the daylight hours. Whether they had to establish a meeting time for a council session or a starting time for a religious ritual, people needed to devise a way to coordinate their time. Beyond “morning”, “noon,” and “evening,” they needed a finer division of time such as “hours.”

 Sundials were invented to solve this problem. Because they measure small intervals of time using cosmic activity, sundials were considered to be one of the earliest scientific instruments. The Egyptians were the first people recorded in the West to use the sundial. Their sundial consisted of the gnomon (a crossbar) and a flat base divided into six “hours.” In the morning, the gnomon faced east, and the afternoon west. The shadow cast by the gnomon on the base determined the hour.

 Using their knowledge of geometry, the Greeks refined the sun dial of the Egyptians. They invented the hemicyclium (hemispherium), which is a block of stone with a hemisphere cut into it. The gnomon was placed on top. The half-sphere created a circular arc that determined time more accurately. The hemicyclium resembled a hollowed out bowl with a stick on top.

 Sundials used in Europe were adapted from the Greeks and the Egyptians. These instruments featured twelve “hour” days and nights. However, the Norse and Saxons based theirs on the ebb and flow of tides. They marked two high and two low tides, which were further divided into halves and quarters for a total of sixteen “hours.”

One major problem with ancient sundials is that they measured “unequal” (“temporary”) “hours.” Summer, which has longer days, produces longer “hours,” than winter. Moreover, the further north (or south) from the Equator, the location of the sundial is, the more pronounced the difference between summer and winter “hours” are.

 In the 1300s, Abu’l-Hasan (Ibn al-Shatir), an Arab Muslim astronomer and religious timekeeper, invented “equal” (“equinoctial”) “hours” based on trigonometry. He reasoned that a gnomon parallel to the Earth’s axis (i.e. polar axis) would produce “equal hours.” “Equal hours” are measured from the passing of the low meridian (12 Midnight) until the next low meridian, and then divided into twenty-four hours. Once sundials were adjusted to the latitude of where they were, they kept accurate time. People, then, used sundials to set mechanical clocks.


 Sundials are divided into two groups – Altitude and Azimuth. The Altitude sundials determine time by the sun’s altitude. These Altitude sundials were either aligned with either the sun or the cardinal directions. Azimuth sundials determine the time from the “hour angle of the sun.” (Azimuth refers to direction of the sun’s angle.) These sundials are oriented by a compass.

 Example of an Altitude sundial is the pole (pillar) dial, which is a pole with a gnomon at the top. Meanwhile Azimuth sundials are often found in gardens. These are the tilted horizontal ones with the gnomon inclined at the latitude of the garden.

 As society became more complex, instruments to tract time in finer increments were invented. Though seemingly simple, sundials are actually intricate devices for keeping time. Because of their importance, people, over the centuries, worked to improve sundials. In fact, sundials were still being used in the 19th Century to set mechanical clocks.

 Works Used:
 Ling Liew Huay and Yee, Lim Siew, “The Mathematics of Sundials,” National University of Singapore, 2001, http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/projects/sundials/
 .
 Marie, Niclas, “When Time Began: The History and Science of Sundials,” TimeCenter, 2014, https://www.timecenter.com/articles/when-time-began-the-history-and-science-of-sundials/ .

 Nordoff, Helena, “Fun in the Sun: A Sundial Tutorial,” 21 August, 2003, http://www.qwerty.co.za/sundials/index.html.

 “Unit 6: Sundials,” Polaris Project, Iowa State University, 2001, http://www.polaris.iastate.edu/NorthStar/Unit6/unit6_intro.htm.
 Ward, John and Margaret Folkard, “Sundials Part 2: Definitions and Basic Types,” Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, 1997, http://www.rnzih.org.nz/pages/sundial2.htm.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lore: Threshold Guardians



Threshold Guardians
Thresholds are
Between places of
Not coming or going.

Crossing Thresholds is
Sacred
For Transformation
Happens.

Not all at Thresholds
Can
Should
Will
Transform.


Some must
Stay
Untouched
Commonplace
Ordinary

But Heroes must
Cross
But Guardians must
Challenge.

Guardians have
Sacred duty
Ritual obligation
To keep in and to keep out.
Doors keep
Worlds apart
Before from after
In between secure

Doors have Gods
Janus of Two Heads guards the Out and the In
Cardea of the Door stands firm
Limentius of the Threshold stands firm
Portunus of the Portal holds the key

Each demands
A reason for opening
A reason for closing
An answer

Heroes must
Cross over
But how?
Forculus of the Passage
Guides through
The Threshold

Thresholds
Many Guard
Few enter
Fewer exit
Only One Transforms.

Works Used.
 Goodin, Melinda, “Archetypes in the Hero’s Journey,” Crossing the Threshold, March 2004, web, http://members.optusnet.com.au/~mgoodin68/archtype.htm.

Peterson, Deb, “The Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey,” About Education, 2014, web, http://adulted.about.com/od/howtos/a/archetypes.htm .

---, “Threshold Guardians,” Television Tropes and Idioms, web, http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThresholdGuardians.

Vega, Debra, "Writers, Know Your Archetypes: The Threshold Guardian,” Moon in Gemini, web blog, 5 January 2014, http://debravega.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/writers-know-your-archetypes-the-threshold-guardian/.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GOANNA (AUSTRALIAN MONITOR LIZARD): Speed

A close relative to Komodo Dragon, Goanna lives mainly in Australia and Papua New Guinea. (Goanna is also the Australian name for the Monitor Lizards that live there.) In Australia, She fills the niche of predatory and scavenging Mammals. Not fussy, Goanna makes her home in monsoon woodlands, urban brush lands, and even cemeteries.

Noted for her well-developed limbs and deeply forked tongue that flicker in and out like a Snake's, Goanna is a distinctive looking Lizard. Long and stout, She has a tail that strikes out at her enemies. An active forager, Goanna digs out other Lizards, Insects, and small Mammals to eat.

This fierce looking Lizard is shy and timid but can be quite territorial and agressive when confronted. An excellent tree climber, Goanna will scoot up a tree trunk when danger threatens. Her reckless speed in escaping is legendary among Australians. They joke about scared Goannas racing up people’s legs thinking that they are trees. Australians advise to lie down when Goanna runs at you, and remember get treated for her bite. (It is not poisonous but can cause sickness.)

Among native Australians, Goanna is considered to be lazy. They tell stories of how ingenious Goanna was in climbing trees to get bark to make a canoe for sailing to Australia. However, when industrious Goanna arrived, She became lazy. She stopped farming and started stealing food from Echidna instead.

However, when She is confronted, Goanna races out of danger. Her most noteworthy characteristic is her speed, which serves Goanna well. Like Goanna, we can explore but be prepared to race away when danger threatens.

Goanna’s Teachings Include:
"Curiosity killed the cat but information brought the Goanna back." Goanna is forever looking into what is going on around it. Using its powerful body and legs, it climbs trees and rocks to find out what’s going on over there! Goanna’s tongue flashes back and forth from his mouth, as he tastes the air to find out who’s about. He calmly saunters along poking his nose into all manner of mischief but, forget not, that should Goanna feel the need for speed, there is nothing to see after the dust has cleared. Copyright: “Wisdom of Australian Animals,” Ann Williams-Fitzgerald.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

MONITOR LIZARD SUB-FAMILY: Firing the Imagination

Nile Monitor
Called Goannas in Australia and Leguaans in Africa, Monitor Lizards (Varanidae) are well known to people. Living in urban areas, Monitor Lizards have a long history with the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Australia.   In fact, Ancient Egyptians call Them “Monitors”, since They warned people of the presence of Crocodiles.

Ranging from shy reclusive Goannas to nasty and aggressive Komodo Dragons, Monitor Lizards often fill the niche of predatory and scavenging Mammals. Active foragers, Monitor Lizards will swallow their prey whole. What distinguish this Family of Lizards are their well-developed limbs and forked tongues.

Extremely hardy, Monitor Lizards have aggressive temperaments, a powerful bite, and a lashing tail. At the slightest provocation, They lash out with their tails. Although their tails produce a stinging lash, Monitor Lizards do not lose their tails like other Lizards.
A crocodile monitor lizard
Crocodile Monitor (WhoZoo)
Monitor Lizards have inspired much of people’s mythology such as dragons, which often resemble these Lizards. Because of Monitor Lizards’ aggressive natures, peoples of Borneo put images of Them on their shields to strike dread in the hearts of their opponents. In Thailand during the full moon, some unfortunate people became “were-monitors” prowling about for victims. Ancient Egyptians excluded Monitor Lizards from their after life since They preyed on young Crocodiles, who represented the Egyptians’s beloved god, Sobek. Meanwhile in Australia, stories abound of industrious Goannas inventing bark canoes for traveling.

Monitor Lizards fire people’s imagination. Dragons are their big brothers. Believing Them to be poisonous, People have thought of Monitor Lizards as “were-lizards”. Australians tell stories of how Goannas learned to climb trees to make boats. Let Monitor Lizards feed your imagination. Just remember not to be anti-social and lash out.
---

Note: Alligator Lizards (Anguids) are close relatives of Monitor Lizards. Scientists think that Snakes are related to Monitor Lizards as well.

Conservation Note: Monitor Lizards are threatened and endangered in part of their range from the pet trade and leather trade. Komodo Dragons are protected in Indonesia.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Building Stonehenge: The Beginning (2 of 2)

 In the 1960’s, when builders were excavating a parking lot near the Stonehenge site, they found four post holes that was believed to hold large pine logs. (These holes are said to be about 10,000 years old.) Ancient peoples traveling the Salisbury Plain would see these posts from miles around. Set east to west, these post holes were considered to be the first evidence of the area’s great importance. 

 Starting about 3100 BCE, the Windmill Hill People took the existing post holes and expanded the site. Using various tools such as deer antlers and digging stones, they dug a ditch and formed a bank, with an opening in the northeast. Call the Great Cursus, this ditch was white from the chalk underneath the grass. Outside this ditch, these people dug fifty-six pits named Aubrey Holes (after their discoverer James Aubrey). In these holes, archeologists have found cremated remains of people. One theory is that the Windmill Hill People was commemorating their Dead and their Ancestors.

 Many people have assumed that the Aubrey Holes had an astronomical use. Following the phases of the moon has been important to peoples in ancient times. One theory is that these holes marked lunar eclipses. Another theory is that the Windmill Hill People were marking particular phases of the moon. Other archeologists have noticed that the Aubrey Holes were aligned north-east and south-west. These holes then lined up with the sun at the solstices and equinoxes. This has lead to another working theory that the Aubrey holes are a calendar of equinoxes, solstices, lunar eclipses, and solar events. The underlying assumption to this theory is that many early peoples followed lunar-solar cycles for practical and religious reasons.

From the beginning of Stonehenge, numerous ancient peoples have added their particular visions to the site. Each succeeding generation built on the previous one’s efforts. We modern people will never know what the original purpose to Stonehenge was, but we can stand in awe of these early peoples who built it. Whatever Stonehenge was originally intended to be, it became a monument to the vision and tenacity of the Ancestors of Europe.
----
Works Used:
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.

 Bradshaw Foundation, “Stonehenge: The Age of the Megaliths,” 2011, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/stonehenge/index.php, .

 M, Richard, “Stonehenge,” MEgALiThiA, 06 Jan. 2006, http://www.megalithia.com/stonehenge/index.html, .

 Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.

 Richards, Colin, “Rethinking the Great Stone Circles of Northwest Britain,” Orkney Archaelogical Trust, 2004, http://www.orkneyjar.com/archaeology/dhl/papers/cr/index.html, .

 Smagala, Suzzanne, “Stonehenge,” August 2007, http://helios.acomp.usf.edu/~ssmagala/stonehenge/index.html, .

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Building Stonehenge, the Beginning (1 of 2)

During the Neolithic Period (5000 – 1000 BCE), along the Atlantic coast of Europe and in the British Isles, local peoples built and maintained great stone circles and megaliths. This activity started about 5000 BCE and continued on to about 2500 BCE. One of the last monuments to be built, Stonehenge was constructed in three distinct phases over a 1,500 year period, starting in 3000 BCE. The process of building this monument included digging large ditches as well as erecting the more famous stones. In the case of Stonehenge, three different cultures added their particular refinements to this monument.

When discussing Stonehenge, people often forget to place this monument in a greater cultural context. Nearby Stonehenge is a similar stone monument at Avebury, which was built around 2500 BCE. Meanwhile, there are signs of a similar circle at Durrington Walls, which was believed to be built before Avebury.  These megaliths, built by Neolithic peoples, had multiple uses. The purposes that archeologists believed that Stonehenge was used for included: worshipping the Ancestors, watching the heavens, and marking the cycles of the sun and other astronomical occurrences.

The building of Stonehenge can be regarded in the same light as the building of a Gothic cathedral. From the beginning of the project, the entire community is dedicated to seeing the building finished. Everyone involved understood that this construction project would take several generations to complete. Therefore, the entire community dedicated themselves to the process, and organized themselves accordingly. Some people regarded it as a fulfilling of their religious duties, while for others it was their community obligations. Though the specific vision may have been altered through the years, the newer residents of the community resolved to finish the original project.

The first group to shape Stonehenge into what we know today was the Windmill Hill People. Thought to be semi-nomadic hunters and gatherers, these people also grew some crops. What archeologists noted about these people was their propensity to orient their burials and monuments in the east-west axis. These directions were important to them, perhaps because of the rising and setting of the sun.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

PEACOCK (BLUE PEAFOWL): Love of Home

Native to Asia and the Congo Region of Africa, Peacock (Blue Peafowl) is a relative of the Pheasants. (The difference between the Two is their plumage–red and gold for Pheasants, green and blue for Peafowls.) As India’s National Bird, Peacock (AKA Male Blue Peafowl) is known the world over for his bright train of feathers. Because of this, Peacock has been introduced to other places, starting in Mesopotamia about 4,000 years ago.

Displaying his train is part of Peacock’s courtship with the Peahens. The longer his train, the more impressed will Peahen be. Unlike her male counterpart, Peahen is chestnut brown and bronze green but has the same crest as Peacock.

Blue Peafowl are Birds of habit, eating and sleeping in the same area all their lives. Peacock even displays his train in the same chosen place. During the day, Blue Peafowl sit in thickets. At dusk, They return to the same watering hole before roosting for the night. As They go to their tree roosts, Blue Peafowl screech to each other.

Known for their screeching, Blue Peafowl hoot loud alarm calls when They see a Tiger. During the monsoon season in India, people hear loud meowing calls from Blue Peafowl. Indians claim that Blue Peafowl are predicting the next rainstorm with their calls.

Blue Peafowl teaches the love of home. They emerge from their area of the dense forest in early dawn to feed at their regular spot and find water. Then They go about feeding on Insects or Mice. At dusk, They return home. To Blue Peafowl, there is something comforting about being a homebody. (Just remember to have a little adventure in your life once in a while.)
---
Male Peafowl are Peacocks; Females Peahens; Chicks Peachicks.

Monday, August 11, 2014

KOOKABURRA: Resolving Family Issues

The Kookaburra of Australia is the largest member of the Kingfisher Family. Unlike other members of the Kingfisher Family, Kookaburra lives in woodlands instead of near wetlands. Perched on a tree branch to spot prey, Kookaburra will swoop down and seize a tasty Insect in his long, dagger-like bill. Instead of Fish, Kookaburra eats Insects, Worms, and Reptiles.

Known for his distinctive call, Laughing Kookaburra will sing in a loud chorus, “Koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-koo-kaa-kaa-kaa”. Blue-winged Kookaburra sings a coarser call that ends abruptly. Some people have described Kookaburra’s call as a rollicking laugh. What is strange about Kookaburra’s call is how many people are familiar with it, without knowing. American filmmakers often feature Kookaburra’s laugh as background noise for jungle scenes.

What makes Kookaburra unusual is his family life. When his Young are fledged, They remain with their Parents to help raise the next group of Siblings. Kookaburra Brothers and Sisters will raise the second brood, while Parent Kookaburras raise the third brood. If one of the Parents dies, the Children continue to help the other Parent raise the rest of the Family.

What people can learn from Kookaburra is how to be a good family member. Kookaburra can teach you how to resolve many family issues. Learn from Kookaburra what makes for a strong family.
---
Important Kookaburra Teaching: Laughter and Joy
“He has a distinctive laughing call that when heard makes one feel like laughing along with him. Stirring the joy that lives deep within your being. When you hear a Kookaburra remember to allow yourself to laugh, for laughter and joy are the very essence of our being.” Copyright: “Wisdom of Australian Animals”, Ann Williams-Fitzgerald.

Kookaburra’s Teachings Also Include
“A silent Kookaburra is a far more uplifting sign than the raucous laughter emanated by a chorus of mockery and taunt.” Copyright: “Animal Messengers”, Scott Alexander King.

Monday, August 04, 2014

AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE Defense of Home

By JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work)
Although, They share a common name, Australian Magpie is NOT a relative of Magpie of the Crow Family. Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is a relative of Currawong. Found only in Australia, Magpie is among one of the most common of local Birds there. Australian Magpie tends to live in one place in a large group.

Australian Magpie has a complex social structure. He lives either in a tribe of about two to ten Birds or in a flock of many Birds. The difference between the two is that a tribe has a breeding territory. Members of his tribe defend their territory from all other Magpies. Australian Magpies who are members of flocks are usually Birds who were unable to join a tribe. These Birds do not breed until They join a tribe. When an Australian Magpie is about two years old, He is forced out of the territory of his birth tribe and must look for another tribe to join. The only way that an Australian Magpie can join a tribe is when another Bird leaves.

Australian Magpies forage by walking over open land, probing the soft parts of the ground, turning over stones, and other hiding places for Insects. Not particular in what He eats, Australian Magpie is quite versatile in eating whatever He finds. He and his tribe will exploit every part of their breeding territory for food.

What makes Australian Magpie dangerous is when He believes that a person is a threat to his nest. Father Magpie will attack by swooping down on intruders and pecking their heads. Australian Magpie is so aggressive in defending his nest that the local governments in Australia issue Magpie warnings and advise people to wear a helmet and carry an open umbrella. Since Magpie is protected in parts of Australia, the best defense is to avoid Him completely.

Australian Magpie teaches how to defend your home through offensive action. You watch and then attack before the home invader can come for you. But do not go so overboard in your defense that you become a menace to the neighborhood.
--
Australian Magpie’s closest relative is the Currawong of Australia. Although Australian Magpie resembles Magpie of Crow Family, They are not related.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Egypt: Stretching The Cord

Stellar Method of Determining Cardinal Points

Stretching The Cord
Navigating by the stars has been done by people for thousands of years. To find North today, people simply look for Polaris in Ursa Minor (The Little Dipper). (In the Southern Hemisphere, North would be determined by using the Southern Cross.) Since precession, which is the change in orientation of the Earth’s Axis, occurs every 26,000 years, the “North Star” changes through time. For example, during Roman times, there was no such star. However at the time of the building of the pyramids, it was Alpha-Draconis known to the Egyptians as “Thuban.”

The U.S. Army suggests that in order to go North, a person should walk towards the point on the horizon directly below Polaris. Another method is to select a circumpolar star such as Vega of Lyra, the second brightest star in the night sky. Measure the angle from the viewer to Vega’s rising and to its setting. The bisection of this angle will give the exact location for true North.

In ancient Egypt, the orientation of their buildings mattered, for the Pharaoh received his power from the Northern Stars. After his death, the soul of the Pharaoh went to the “Mooring Post” in the North by way of the Milky Way. In the ceremony, “The Stretching of the Cord” (Pedj shes), the Pharaoh determined the direction of North with the help of the Goddess Seshat.

 Several archeologists have suggested one method that the ancient Egyptians may have used for finding directions. To orient their buildings, they would have to bisect the angle of a circumpolar star. First they would erect a round wall. Then one person stood on a selected spot and looked through a “bay,” a straight pole with a forked top. As he sighted a circumpolar star such as Vega rising, a second person would use a “merklet,” a plumb line, to mark the spot. Around the circular wall at various timed intervals, they would mark the position of the star. The final marking on the wall would be the star’s setting. After measuring the angle formed by the star’s rising and setting to the first observer, the Egyptians could bisect it, and determine true North.

Kate Spence, of the University of Cambridge (U.K.), wrote that the Egyptians probably used Mizar (Eta Ursae Majoris) of the Big Dipper and Kochab (Beta Ursae Minoris) of the Little Dipper. (Both are circumpolar stars.) The Egyptians constructed a scaffold and hung a string with a heavy weight from it. This weight would point to the center of the Earth. When these two stars became aligned with the string, the line from the person, who was doing the sighting, to the string would point due north to the horizon.

From the First Dynasty to the end of the Ptolemaic Dynastry, the Pharaoh conducted the sacred ceremony, “Stretching of the Cord,” to orient the temples and tombs before building them. Facing the Goddess of Wisdom and Knowledge, Seshat, the Pharaoh stood with a hammer in one hand and a pole in the other. Holding the same items, the Goddess and the Pharaoh then pulled a cord that was wrapped between their respective poles. The Pyramid Texts described the ceremony as: “I have grasped the stake…I take the measuring cord in the company of Seshet. I consider the progressive movements of the stars. My eye is fixed upon the Bull’s Thigh [Ursa Major]. I count off time…and establish the corners of the Temple.” This is how the Pharaoh determined North from whence came his power, and to where his soul traveled.

Works Used.

Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.

 Belmonte, Juan Antonio; Molinero, Miguel Angel and Miranda, Noemi, “Unveiling Seshat: New Insights into the Stretching of the Cord Ceremony,” In Search of Cosmic Order: Selected Essays on Egyptian Archaeoastronomy, Juan Antonio Belmonte and Mosalam Shaltout, eds., Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities Press, 2009, 197-212.

 Houlding Deborah, “Time, The Egyptians and the Calendar,” Heritage of the Stars, 2003, http://www.skyscript.co.uk/heritage/egyptians.html, .

 Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.
 Stecchini, Livio, “Methods of Finding Cardinal Points,” World Mysteries, 2004, http://www.world-mysteries.com/alignments/mpl_al3.htm#Cardinal, .

Orientating Egyptian Pyramids,” World Mysteries, 2004, http://www.world-mysteries.com/alignments/mpl_al4.htm, , .


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GULL: Judging by Appearances

Most people encounter Gulls at beaches, usually when Gulls are scavenging for food or resting on boat docks. Some people watch Gulls drop Clams on hard rocks or on parking lots to open up the Clams. As opportunists, Gulls exploit whatever They can use, wherever They find it.

A readily recognizable group of Birds, Gulls have solidly built web-footed legs for running and swimming. With their long wings, Gulls can easily hunt over large areas of water. Most people can identify these white, grey, and black Birds, although names of particular species elude them.

Gulls live in colonies of many Birds. Usually nesting on rocky cliffs, tens of thousands of Gulls share a breeding territory with other Birds such as Pelicans, Herons, and Terns. Somehow in all the confusion of all these Birds, individual Gulls find each other and work things out.

In Salt Lake City, Utah (USA), a monument to California Gull sits in front of the State Capitol Building. Shortly after the Mormons settled the area, millions of Crickets began to devour their crops. But then thousands of California Gulls came and ate their fill of Crickets. In gratitude for saving their lives, the Mormons decided to honor California Gull.

Another Gull story involved a trainer of the Cleveland Indians Baseball team. While the beloved trainer was near death, a lone Sea Gull stayed near the dugout. After he died, the Gull remained to comfort the ball players, then left. These two Gull stories reflect how Gulls can be spiritual messengers.

Most people see Gulls as messy, noisy, and aggressive Birds. But imagine what the beaches would look like if you had no Sea Gulls – a silent beach covered with garbage. Gulls have a place in this world that people need to accept.

Gulls teach that appearances can be deceiving. Most people regard these noisy, troublesome Birds as pests. No man sees the services that Gulls provide, for example, eating garbage and cleaning up beaches. Gull teaches to judge by actions.
Glacous Gulls in flight

Saturday, July 12, 2014

EMU: Wandering Spirit

Second only to Ostrich in size, Emu is a large, flightless bird. A native of Australia, Emu appears with Kangaroo on Australia’s Coat of Arms. This distinctive looking Bird thrives by roaming around Australia.

Long and strong legs enable Emu to run swiftly, and to walk long distances. His fat reserves enables Emu to live during lean times. In addition, when food is exhausted in one area, Emu will walk hundreds of miles search for more food. Unable to fly, Emu exploits where He lives by keeping His feet to the ground, wandering from place to place.

The nomadic Emu shows that adventure can be found around the next corner. Explore and find out what you seek. But do not keep wandering to the point that you become dissatisfied easily. Also stay and finish what you are doing.

Important Emu Teaching: Attentiveness and Action
“These great flightless birds of the open plains forage attentively in family groups and pair off during breeding season to share time together. The male then assumes the role of incubator directing his attention to the care of the eggs for 60 days and then the chicks as they grow. When spurred into action, an Emu can reach speeds of 55km per hour, making it difficult for predators to run them down.” Copyright: “Wisdom of Australian Animals”, Ann Williams-Fitzgerald.

Emu’s Teachings Also Include:
“Emu Dreaming lends itself to the teaching of effective parenting skills and the endurance that is required to execute the role.” Copyright: “Animal Messengers”, Scott Alexander King.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Archeoastrotronomy: Finding Directions by the Sun

Solar method of Determining Cardinal Points
Finding cardinal points (the directions of north, south, east, and west) can be done by using the sun.  One simple method is to watch the sun rise or set, which would tell you which direction was east or west. Therefore, north and south would be perpendicular to the east-west axis. This is one way to find geographical north.

 The U.S. Army suggests using a more precise method in determining the cardinal directions. Place a tall stick upright on level ground. (On a sundial, this upright stick would be the gnomon.) Mark the shadow that forms from the sun striking the gnomon. Place a line perpendicular at the tip of this shadow. This marks the western direction, but is not precisely west.

 Then wait at least ten or more minutes, and mark the tip of the new shadow formed by the gnomon. For greater accuracy, wait again for another ten minutes, and then mark that shadow tip as well. Draw a straight line between these three points. This becomes the east-west line. To find the north-south line, stand with the direction of west on your left. Now you are facing north. This north-south line bisects the east-west axis at right angles. (For telling time, the crossing of the two axis is the noon line.) 

 Because finding directions was a sacred obligation for the ancient Egyptians, they did more precise measurements. To them, the Land of the Dead, where the Soul goes, laid in the west. Therefore their tombs including The Pyramids would have an entrance facing west. The ancient Egyptians probably used one of their obelisks as a gnomon. By tracking the shadows formed at the solstices and equinoxes, the ancient Egyptians could construct a more accurate basis for the north-south and east-west lines. Moreover, the obelisk, acting as the gnomon, would cast a moving shadow throughout the day. When this shadow was marked each hour, the radii of a circle were formed. In this manner, directions such as northwest could also be determined.

Finding the cardinal directions requires you to observe the movement of the sun. For accuracy, a stick and patience are needed. By using the stick as a gnomon, you can mark the various shadows formed as the sun moves across the sky. In this manner, you can determine the actual directions. With repeated observations throughout the year, a precise line for each direction could be constructed for religious purposes.
---
The sun moves north and south of east and west as the seasons progress and thus only marks true or exact east and west for a small portion of the year. 

 Works Used.
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
 Duke, Dennis, “Four Lost Episodes in Ancient Solar Theory,” Florida State University, 2008, http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~dduke/episodes3.pdf, .
 Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.
 ----, “Methods of Finding Cardinal Points,” World Mysteries, 2004, http://www.world-mysteries.com/alignments/mpl_al3.htm#Cardinal, .

Monday, June 30, 2014

OSTRICH: Speed and Knowledge




Ostrich
A native of Namibia, Ostrich is the world’s largest Bird. At speeds of 70 km per hour, She runs faster than any other two-legged animal. Not only that, She also lays the largest eggs. What many people remember about Ostrich is her bizarre appearance: her long skinny neck and legs.

The !Kung tribe of Namibia hold Ostrich in great reverence. She provides for them by offering her meat for nourishment and her eggs for water carriers. In ancient Egypt, Ostrich was the representation of Ma’at, the Goddess of truth and justice. She weighed the heart of the deceased for truth. Those who passed her test went into Osiris’ presence, while those who failed were cast into the Netherworld of darkness.

Unique among birds, Ostrich has hoof-like feet, which help Her to run rapidly from danger. Kicking up sand as She goes, Ostrich swings from side to side as She runs across dry riverbeds. Even when walking, She is not slow. Powered by strong leg muscles, Ostrich walks about eight kilometers per hour.

Learn from Ostrich when and how to run from danger. She does not bury her head in sand; instead She runs. The notion of Her putting her head in the sand comes from Ostrich’s lowering her head as a means of protection. However, if alarmed, Ostrich will begin trotting fast. When totally frightened, She sprints away quickly on her strong feet. Ostrich understands that speed and knowledge will protect her.


Although Emu resembles Ostrich, They are not related.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bardic: Finding Awen in Many Ways

Searching for Awen is something that Bards need to do in order to create their works. “Finding” Awens differs with each Bard, since all perceive Awen in their own particular way. However, one of the most common and easiest things that Bards do is to go out into Nature. A Bard would simply sit or walk in Nature, while becoming hyperaware of her surroundings. She would then speak to a tree and listen to its wisdom. While hearing the rustle of the wind or the call of the squirrel, a Bard goes deeper into Nature and discovers Awen.

 “Finding” Awen can by experiencing Bardic works. The creative fire of Awen is often exchanged between Bards in this manner. Through the efforts of one Bard, Awen flows to the other Bard, who embraces his piece. Listening to a symphony or reading a poem places a Bard in contact with Awen, that fills the creation.

  Spending time in devotion to the Gods is another way to “find” Awen. Performing regular rituals such as morning devotions or High Day observances will place the Bard in contact with the Divine. In this sacred time and space, a God may come to inspire the Bard to compose an ode in their honor. At other times, the Bard communes deeply with the Divine, and receives the “fire in the head,” compelling her to create.

 A Bard can seek Awen by wandering on the land. After finding a proper listening spot, he prepares to listen deeply to the Spirit of the Land. By employing meditation and paying close attention, the Bard can touch Awen through this Spirit. 

 During particular times of the year or at specific places of the earth, the door to Other Worlds will open. Going through the portal, a Bard can enter these Other Lands. This experience itself will connect the Bard to the wonder and awe of Awen. However, the Bard needs to take care not to become entrapped in the Other World.

 Through their craft, Bards can “find” Awen. By creating a song, picture or some other work, the Bard immerses himself into the stream of Awen. As the Bard deepens his contact through his craft, the more Awen will course through him. Awen usually comes to the Bard who opens himself up to create.

 As a channel for Awen to the present World, the Bard is the intermediary between Awen and people. She gives voice to the unseen and unperceived parts of the Worlds. Therefore, the Bard has to take special care in “finding” Awen. Moreover, she has the responsibility to “use” Awen wisely.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bardic: Finding Awen: Otherworlds: Fairies and others

After days of cold rain, the weather finally broke to become a delightful spring day. Therefore, I embarked to the local Nature Preserve – Hidden Pond Park. This park, complete with hills, meadows, swamps, and woods, is a pond and creek complex. As I headed towards the Nature Center at the park, I was greeted by a carpet of violets – purple, white, yellow, and mixed. While I walked the downhill path to Pohick Creek, I saw bluebells, spring beauties, and trout lilies. Nearer the creek, fiddlehead ferns were unfurling their heads.

At a bend in the creek, the water formed a small pool. When I sat down, two mallards landed and paddled around. Sitting in the warm sun, I felt drowsy as I held my stuffed lady bug. (I use “Peesey” to travel to the Otherworlds.) Wild fairies were sailing on little leaf boats in the air and on the water. Acting playful, the fairies were laughing until they saw me. Enraged, these fairies ordered me to leave. Since they despised humans, I hastily departed, after leaving an offering to appease the angry fairies.

 After that, I walked up the path to another part of the creek. An ancient oak leaned over the water exposing a huge hole made by its gnarled roots. Holding onto Peesey, I sat down and “descended” to the entrance. Coming through a tunnel, I found myself in a village populated by dwarves. The place hummed with purposeful activity, as the dwarves were busy crafting objects out of various metals. Because of their blast furnaces, the place was hot. I sweated but the dwarves seem comfortable. As their hammers struck against the anvils, a chiming music filled the air. As I wandered around, I noticed that the place was filled with bright colors. However I got the feeling that I was a distraction to the dwarves working, so I left.

 Arriving at the pond, I sat on a bench near some mud turtles basking on a log. As I watched them sun themselves, I fel asleep, waking up in a meadow near a babbling creek. I heard bumble bees buzzing, and bullfrogs croaking jug-a-rums, at the pond nearby. Meanwhile, Canada geese honked a welcome, as the ruler of the place, a fat toad, came to check me out. I apparently passed muster since he decided to sun himself near me. Feeling at peace, I relaxed and slept.

Afterwards, I got up and went home. When I arrived home, I pondered the difference between the three places where I had been. Were they all part of one single Otherworld? Were they all different Otherworlds? I wonder if all the descriptions of the Otherworlds collected through the ages were the six blind men trying to describe an elephant. My feeling from my experience was that I was at different locales of the same Otherworld.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Divination: Norse Runes: 12 Rune Life Layout

Because my life is in flux, I decided to do the Twelve Rune Layout known as “the Runic Wheel” for a life reading. “The Runic Wheel” is ideal for me to read accurately and wisely. I did the layout on May Eve (Walpurgis Night), since it marked the change between the light and dark halves of the year for the Norse. This crack in time was a good time to do a life reading.

 As I prepared to do the reading, I laid the Runes out counter-clockwise as directed by the layout. I noted each triadic grouping as well as any natural grouping such as “Self,” “Health,” and “Relationships.” During the divination, I looked for any particular messages from the Runes.

 Starting at the Nine o’clock position of “Self,” I drew Ansuz. For me, this Rune means that I am under the protection of the Gods. After I became injured, I felt the presence of the Gods come into my life. They have been guiding my life since.

 At the Eight o’clock position of “Material Position,” I drew Ehwaz. I interpret this Rune as “movement and adaptability.” Any new ventures that I start would be successful. However, I need to seek cooperation from other people to reach my goals.

 At the Seven o’clock position of “Communication,” I drew Isa. Because of my brain injury, communication with others is difficult. Isa reflects this blockage in my brain. What this Rune counsels me is that I need to wait first before speaking, so I do not stutter. 

 At the Six o’clock position of “Family and Home,” I drew Uruz. My family is like the wild Aurochs represented by Uruz. We are strong, passionate, and mentally ill. Managing our illnesses is like riding the Aurochs, but together we are able to do it.

 At the Five o’clock position of “Pleasure and Creativity,” I drew Berkano. This is the Rune of birth and rebirth. For six months, I have been struggling with a long fallow period of doing nothing. My zest for being creative has been noticeably absent. Drawing Berkano gives me hope that I should see the start of renewed creativity and the desire to write again.

 At the Four o’clock position of “Health,” I drew Dagaz. For me, Dagaz means “breakthrough, relief or some sort of dramatic life change.” Since my brain injury affects my over-all health, it makes becoming healthy, problematic. Because of this, I have made very slow progress in returning to good health. This Rune tells me to expect positive changes and improvement.

 At the Three o’clock position of “Relationships,” I drew Nauthiz. My brain injury creates difficulties because I miss social cues, frustrating me and other people. Nauthiz, the Rune of “need and obstacles,” informs me to be patient and use as much self-control as possible.

At the Two o’clock position of “Sex Life,” I drew Othila. For me, this Rune means “a sense of belonging, legacy, the Ancestors.” As I pondered this, I decided that the Ancestors are with me and want me to enjoy my husband. After all, that is how our line is continued. (This is their legacy to me.)
 
At the One o’clock position of “Ideals and Dreams,” I drew Mannaz. I understand this Rune to be “family and community.” My ideals and dreams arise from supporting my family and community. By serving my community, I can achieve my own ideals. 

 At the Twelve o’clock position of “Ambitions and Aspirations,” I drew Wunjo. For me, this Rune means “success and joy.” I was stumped as to how to interpret this Rune in this position. “Joy” could be a goal for me. I intend to do something joyful each day such as bird watching.
 
 At the Eleven o’clock position of “Friendships,” I drew Jera. This Rune means “harvest,” which I interpret to be: “I will reap the benefits of my friendships.” By maintaining the high quality of my relationships, my social life will improve. 

Finally at the Ten o’clock position of the “Subconscious,” I drew Kenaz. A part of my injury is being disconnected with parts of my brain. Kenaz, “the Torch,” will help me to illuminate these parts. Eventually, I will become more integrated, and more in touch with my subconscious.

 Looking at the Triads, several pictures emerge. From “Self” to “Material Position” and “Communication” flow Ansuz, Ehwaz, and Isa. From the Gods come my material comfort. However, I need to be still and ponder my good fortune.

 From “Family and Home” to “Pleasure” and “Health” flow Uruz, Berkano, and Dagaz. Deriving strength and robustness from my family, I can be reborn into a new period of creativity. By being reborn, I will receive a breakthrough in my recovery from my brain injury.

 From “Relationships” to “Sex Life” to “Ideals and Dreams” flow Nauthiz, Othila, and Mannaz. Because of the obstacles of learning social cues, I need to be in contact with my Ancestors. From them, I receive a sense of belonging. Now I can support and be supported by my community. 

 From “Ambitions and Aspirations,” “Friendships,” and the “Sub-conscious” flows Wunjo, Jera, and Kenaz. Since I seek harmony, I will harvest good friendships. With the help of my friends, my subconscious will be illuminated to me. 

 The Triads present a cycle building up to confirm that my struggles in relating with others will be rewarded. The connections between me and other people will improve. As long as I honor the Gods and the Ancestors, I will have a synthesis of vitality and testing which will help me overcome my ordeals in communication.

 The Runes for communication and relationships includes Isa and Nauthiz, reflecting my handicap. However, balancing this out is Jera, which tells me that if I am patient, I will reap a good harvest. Meanwhile, the Runes of self and the subconscious is Ansuz and Kenaz, which says to me that the Gods will connect me to myself. Adding to this is my sex life denoted by Othila, the Ancestral Home. My life may be in flux now, but this is necessary for me to achieve a breakthrough as denoted by Berkano and Dagaz.