Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Divination: Norse Runes: Five Rune Layout

 Five Rune Layout          3
                                2    1    4

To seek out Freya’s advice, I did the Five Rune cast on Monday. I asked, “What can I learn from this conflict.” The Five Rune Layout adds “Help” and “Fate” to the Three Rune Layout. The first Rune was Gebo, “gift,” the second Othila, “the ancestral legacy,” and the third Perthro, “luck.” “Help” was Hagalaz, while “Fate” was Nauthiz, “need, hardship.”

Looking at the layout, I see that this conflict is a gift. Help in the form of a crisis means that the group therapist can see how we fight and guide us through our conflict. Acknowledging our legacy means recognizing that we have injured brains, which greatly affects our perceptions. My fate was that I needed to experience this conflict to deal with my strong emotions. Perthro, Freya’s answer to me “dare the fight,” i.e. take the chance.

To read the introduction to these divinations: Three Rune Layout

Monday, April 28, 2014

Divination: Norse Runes: Three Rune Layout

 Three Rune Layout:  1  2  3

To practice Rune casting, I used several Runic layouts – the three, five, and six tile ones. I did the readings in one week on particular days. (Saturday was the day of the Norns, Monday – Freya, and Wednesday - Odin.) Focusing on a single problem, I wanted to see if the answers from these various Gods would differ. I wanted advice on my conflict with another person in my therapy group for people with brain injuries.

The questions I asked for each casting focused on how I could handle this conflict and to learn from it. Processing strong emotions with an injured brain is difficult. I often find myself screaming and shaking at small irritating things, which is normal for people with brain injuries. In my therapy group, my goal is to learn how to deal with strong emotions in a constructive way.
To consult the three Norns, I did the Three Rune Layout on Saturday. I asked “What do I need to do to not react to this person’s provocation.” The first Rune, “The Root of the Problem,” was Hagalaz, meaning “chaos, crisis, and sudden change.” The second Rune, “the Present Situation,” was Eihwaz, “reassess the situation.” The last tile, “The Most Probable Outcome,” was Mannaz, “the support of the family.” The Norns were telling me to head off disaster by delaying my reaction, and to instead seek help from the group. By me asking for the group’s help, we could all learn about regulating strong emotions. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals by Susan E. Davis

Susan Davis, a physical therapist for animals, wrote “Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals” for people whose pets are facing a health crisis. The author writes, “When faced with a particularly difficult challenge in life, I have always felt the best weapon of combat is knowledge. Along with that is keeping a positive attitude.” Whatever the diagnosis may be, the pet owner wants to understand how he or she can help the ailing animal. To achieve this end, Davis outlines various health problems that many animals can develop. After each ailment, she explains various therapy plans and solutions.

Although Davis focuses on dogs, she gives examples of her work with other animals – birds, reptiles, and assorted mammals. Her explanations tend to be technical but I feel that the book is helpful since many owners want to be as well informed as possible. Two things that the author repeatedly stresses is that aftercare for surgery is often neglected, and that a professional therapist is necessary for most treatment plans to be successful.

To see how useful this book can be, I spoke with a friend who rescues Welsh corgis. She has an elderly male who is arthritic, and a young male, who had knee surgery. Suggestions from this book helped my friend care for her dogs. My friend had a ramp put in to ease the climb up the stairs for both dogs. To support the neck of the arthritic dog, she used a round pillow. (This dog eventually died but his last days were spent in comfort.)

In several chapters, Davis discusses how an animal’s joints function, and how injuries occur. However, a lay person can grasp her technical presentations. Davis emphasizes that after knee surgery, physical therapy is needed. She stresses consulting a professional therapist for this, since someone without knowledge of how muscles work can cause further injury. This information spurred my friend to get physical therapy for the young male corgi.

In her book, Davis offers commonsense suggestions for pet owners in caring for their animals. Some of these activities, the owners can do themselves, while the others, they will need the help of the veterinary staff. Writing in mind for all animals, Davis helps to ease the concerns of their owners. I would recommend this book for people who love for animals, and want to enhance their lives.

PURCHASE THIS BOOK AT HER SITE: Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation for Animals

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Inca Calendar

Though not a prehistoric society, the Inca Empire employed similar timekeeping methods and reasons for keeping a calendar. They established their calendar to maintain the welfare of their people. Furthermore, the Incas used their calendar to bind everyone together in their empire, by coordinating religious and agricultural activities from Cuzco, their capital. To keep social order, the Incas divided their cities into four quarters, with each quarter split into radical sections from a common center. The lines, called ceques, had sacred sites (huacas) along them to determine where the sun would be on a given day. Families were assigned to maintain the local huaca, to keep a sacred landscape for timekeeping.

One example of how the Incas kept time was detailed by the Spanish. They reported that overlooking Cuzco, in the northwest was a high mound called Cerro Picchu. On this hill were four marked pillars. When the sun went past the first pillar, it was time for farmers in the higher altitudes to prepare their fields. When the sun entered the two middle pillars, planting began in Cuzco. When the sun hit the middle of these two pillars, planting began in the valleys.

 The Incas also used the dark nebula constellations of the Milky Way to tell time. When the constellation Tinamou appeared, they knew to watch their crops since the tinamous (birds resembling a partridges) would come. When Toad appeared, the Incas held their religious rituals for rain, because toads brought the rainy season.

 In addition, the Incas constructed a lunar calendar to track their rituals. To keep this calendar in sync with the solar calendar, they tracked the sightings of the Pleiades. The first month began at the summer solstice, and featured the Great Feast of the Sun (Capac Inti-Rami). The following month was one of penance and fasting. In the third month, farmers harvested root crops and conducted ceremonies for growing corn. In the fourth month, farmers focused on their ripening crops. The fifth month honored the Inca Emperor at the Feast of the Incas. In the sixth month, the Incas harvested corn and gave thanks to their Gods. The seventh month was for the Inti-Raimi festival, when everyone had to go to Cuzco. The eighth month featured rituals for irrigation and water. In the ninth month, the Incas tilled their fields and sacrificed to all of their Gods for a successful growing season. The tenth month featured the Feast of the Moon. During this time, Cuzco was purified. The eleventh month was the dry season, when the Incas had ceremonies for rain. The last month was the Festival of the Dead.

 My theory of why the Incas developed their solar-lunar calendar was to ensure social order and the welfare of their people. Living in the mountains, the Incas had to pay close attention to their environment to stay alive. To feed and clothe their people, the Inca Empire structured their ritual activities around the growing and harvest seasons. Moreover, these religious rituals not only honored their Gods, but also focused on keeping the empire intact. Since the official timekeeping was done at Cuzco, everyone was conscious of the Empire in their lives.
Works Used:

Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
Gazzo, Bridget and Sarah Cahalan, “The Ancient Future: Mesoamerican and Andean Timekeeping,” Dumbarton Oaks, 2014,, .
Jrcalhou, “The Inca Calendar,” WolfWikis NCSU, 2008,, .
---, “Inca Calendar,” Peru Travel Diary, 2009,, .
Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Archeoastronomy: Ancient Timekeeping

Timekeeping in prehistoric times focused on survival. To stay alive, well-fed and safe, people had to make sense of the various periodic clues in their environment. They developed calendars to time their activities to what was happening in their environment. From watching the seasons of the sun and the phases of the moon, people constructed a map of the cycles of nature. Other people used the changing stars of the night sky as well. For example, peoples of Australia watched for Arcturus, the star, to rise in the northeast sky, so that they could gather the wood-ant larva for food. Meanwhile, the !Kung of the arid Kalahari watched for the star Capella to rise in the evening sky for the advent of the rainy season.

 Calendars enabled people to focus on what they need to do to survive. In northern Maine, my family timed various chores by the calendar. March was sugaring season, when the stronger sun caused the sap to rise in trees. In April, people prepared for the ice to break on the Kennebec River to ship their lumber downstream. (This practice ended in the mid-1970s.) Then in June, berry picking season began for making jams and jellies for the coming winter. June was strawberries, July raspberries, August blueberries, and finally September blackberries. Then in September, we laid in logs for the woodstoves for heat during the winter.

Another part of human survival was conducting religious rites to ensure good relations with the Other Worldly Powers since the Gods were essential to their well-being. Calendars were used to keep these rites in sync with nature. For example, the Romans held Liberalia near the spring equinox to celebrate Liber, who governed plant fertility. When the pastures became green in April, the Romans asked the Pales to protect their livestock. The festival of Parilia (in honor of the Pales) was held to cleanse sheep before sending them out to graze.  During the dry hot days of August, the Volcanalia was held to pray to Vulcan, the God of Fire, to be merciful and quiet.

Works Used:
Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion,” Oxford University Press: N.Y., 1996.
Aveni, Anthony, “People and the Sky,” Thames & Hudson: N.Y, 2008.
Magli, Giulio, “Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy,” Copernicus Books: N.Y., 2009.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Bardic Magic: Awen Exchanged: Bardic Spirits

To speak to the Spirits of the Land, I went to the nearby railroad cut. On one side of the tracks was a small park and on the other side, a large park with a man-made lake. A pedestrian bridge crossed over the tracks to connect the two parks. Running through my neighborhood, the railroad is a constant presence in our lives. Meanwhile, the Land Spirits have accepted the railroad and often use it to connect with people. 

When I arrived at the small park, I asked to be received by the Spirits of the Land. While walking the path to the bridge, I gloried in the first day of Spring. It was a warm day, whispering of life ready to reappear. As I approached the bench by the bridge, a robin hopped out of the woods into the clearing. Cocking its head towards me, the bird trilled a melody. I was welcomed by the Spirits of the Land. 

While sitting at the bench, soaking up the warm sun, I waited for a spirit to speak to me. Then freight train rattled on through bringing with it, the Being of the Cut. Apparently this ancient Being enjoyed playing with the trains. The Being also like watching people crossing the bridge back and forth. 

The Being of the Cut first noticed people when they blasted into its hill many years ago. Curious, It approached the workers and were told that they were Irish. The workers regarded the Being as one of “Sidhe,” although It did not know what that meant. However, the Being did like that the workers always respectfully greeted It. Afterwards, the Being became more kindly disposed to people and their trains. 

The Being of the Cut told me that It knew me, and regarded me as an old friend. For many years, I would come in the Spring to look for the bluets, growing amongst the moss on the rocks at the cut. I also would search for the white and yellow violets later on. The Being enjoyed my delight at finding these little flowers. As the Being told me this, It settled around me like an old favorite blanket, cozy and warm.

 After a while, I asked for a token of our bond.  Confused, the Being said, “Are not the bluets and violets, which are soon to bloom, enough?” Embarrassed, I apologized for presuming too much. Sitting for a while longer, I wanted to make sure that the Being was not disappointed in me.

 Walking up the path to the road, I was surprised by a Promethea silk moth, a large black moth with gold-silver trim. The moth danced in front of me and showed off its gold-silver tips. Then a second one came and the two tangoed higher and higher up through the trees. I was witnessing a mating dance. Then one of the moths returned to rest on the ground, next to my feet. A few minutes later, the moth flew around me, glimmering in the sun. After that, it flew off to rest in the nearby leaf litter.

 I think that the Being wanted me to return and spend more time in its company. To the Being, I was a friend. We shared in the joy of the first day of Spring. Leaving, I felt whole, and eagerly awaited for the bluets to appear.