Jan 16, 2011

Esoterica



The Crab Nebula has surprised astronomers by shooting off mysterious flares.

One of the most well-known celestial objects still has some tricks up its sleeve, according to a new discovery of surprising gamma-ray flares coming from the famous Crab Nebula.

The Crab, long-considered such a steady celestial light that it was used to calibrate other sources, has now had three flare-ups where it brightened significantly in the gamma-ray range for a few days, astronomers report.

"Our belief of a stable Crab got smashed completely — now we have to think again," said Marco Tavani, an astronomer at the INAF-IASF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica-Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica) in Rome.

And solar flares could threaten the 2012 Olympics. Of course they could threaten far more than that.

Weather experts told the Commons science and technology committee: 'Extreme space weather events typically occur at the solar maximum, which itself follows a roughly 11-year cycle.

'The next solar maximum is expected around 2012-13 — potentially coinciding with the London Olympic Games.'

It is only the most extreme solar storms that cause chaos, and Olympic organisers do not believe there is a 'significant risk' of major disruption.

NASA has found the first evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a sun outside of our solar system.

NASA's Kepler mission confirmed the discovery of its first rocky planet, named Kepler-10b. Measuring 1.4 times the size of Earth, it is the smallest planet ever discovered outside our solar system.

The discovery of this so-called exoplanet is based on more than eight months of data collected by the spacecraft from May 2009 to early January 2010.

"All of Kepler's best capabilities have converged to yield the first solid evidence of a rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun," said Natalie Batalha, Kepler's deputy science team lead at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and primary author of a paper on the discovery accepted by the Astrophysical Journal. "The Kepler team made a commitment in 2010 about finding the telltale signatures of small planets in the data, and it's beginning to pay off."

And an amateur astronomer has discovered four planets from the comfort of his own home.

Peter Jalowiczor, 45, has never owned a telescope but still managed to provide scientists with enough information to establish the existence of four gaseous orbs outside the solar system.

The gas worker from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has been officially named by the University of California's Lick-Carnegie Planet Search Team as the co-discoverer of planets HD31253b, HD218566b, HD177830c and HD99492c.

. . .

An overwhelmed Mr Jalowiczor said: 'I've always been interested in astronomy and I have two science degrees but to be one of the officially recognised finders of these planets is just... I get lost for words.'

Using just two home computers, he spent night after night analysing thousands of space measurements released by astronomers at the Santa Cruz-based university in 2005.

There may be a galaxy right near our own, invisible because it's almost entirely made up of dark matter.

An entire galaxy may be lurking, unseen, just outside our own, scientists announced Thursday.

The invisibility of "Galaxy X"—as the purported body has been dubbed—may be due less to its apparent status as a dwarf galaxy than to its murky location and its overwhelming amount of dark matter, astronomer Sukanya Chakrabarti speculates.

Detectable only by the effects of its gravitational pull, dark matter is an invisible material that scientists think makes up more than 80 percent of the mass in the universe.

And antimatter is apparently turning up in thunderstorms.

Scientists using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed inside thunderstorms in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.

"These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams," said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi's Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). He presented the findings Monday, during a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

Astronomers claim to have found the "missing link" between the big bang and the formation of the universe.

For years scientists have known nothing about the "dark ages" of space – a period between the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and the creation of the first stars.

But Cambridge University researchers have now captured light emitted from a massive black hole to peer into this unknown portion of the history of the universe.

They discovered remnants of the first stars and evidence of the aftermath of an exploding star, which was 25 times larger than the sun.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict has proclaimed a link between the big bang and God.

God's mind was behind complex scientific theories such as the Big Bang, and Christians should reject the idea that the universe came into being by accident, Pope Benedict said on Thursday.

"The universe is not the result of chance, as some would want to make us believe," Benedict said on the day Christians mark the Epiphany, the day the Bible says the three kings reached the site where Jesus was born by following a star.

"Contemplating it (the universe) we are invited to read something profound into it: the wisdom of the creator, the inexhaustible creativity of God," he said in a sermon to some 10,000 people in St Peter's Basilica on the feast day.

Pope Benedict has also proclaimed that the late Pope John Paul II performed a miracle as the sex abuse enabling former pope wends his way towards beatification.

Pope Benedict XVI has formally approved a miracle attributed to his late predecessor, paving the way to John Paul II's beatification on 1 May.

. . .

The Vatican credits him with the miraculous cure of a nun said to have had Parkinson's Disease.

Church officials believe that the Polish pope, who himself suffered from the condition, interceded for the miraculous cure of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a Frenchwoman in her late forties.

Catholic clergy in Spain are up in arms about a naked limbs -- naked everything, really -- in a sacrilicious calendar.

A Catholic youth group has shocked its religious superiors in Mallorca by producing a calendar that features a nude version of the passion of Christ.

The wrath of the bishop of Mallorca has fallen on the Davallament youth group from the Spanish island's town of Sant Joan after they decided to make the stripped-down version of the Easter week story to raise funds.

The calendar features a semi-naked trio of young men raising the cross on which Jesus will be crucified and a Last Supper whose protagonists wear only crotch-hugging underwear. In other shots the protagonists are entirely naked, covering their genitalia with plumed roman helmets (above).

This other act of remarkable, spiritually guided artistry remains largely overlooked.

It's the sheer size of the structure that first strikes you. Almost 40 metres (131ft) tall, its spires and giant dome tower over the surrounding apartment blocks in this Madrid suburb.

That's not unusual for a Spanish church. But this one is being built by an elderly man, almost single-handedly, out of junk.

Justo Gallego - or Don Justo, as he's known - embarked on his epic endeavour almost half a century ago.

Now 85 years old, he still has a huge amount to do.

Archaeologists have turned up the first evidence of both Stone Age residents on the Isle of Crete and ancient sea travel.

Archaeologists on the island of Crete have discovered what may be evidence of one of the world's first sea voyages by human ancestors, the Greek Culture Ministry said Monday. A ministry statement said experts from Greece and the U.S. have found rough axes and other tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old close to shelters on the island's south coast.

Crete has been separated from the mainland for about five million years, so whoever made the tools must have traveled there by sea (a distance of at least 40 miles). That would upset the current view that human ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by land alone.

"The results of the survey not only provide evidence of sea voyages in the Mediterranean tens of thousands of years earlier than we were aware of so far, but also change our understanding of early hominids' cognitive abilities," the ministry statement said.

The incredible, shrinking brain:

Man's brain has been gradually shrinking over the last 20,000 years, according to a new report.

This decrease in size follows two million years during which the human cranium steadily grew in size, and it's happened all over the world, to both sexes and every race.

'Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimetres to 1,350 cubic centimetres, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball,' Kathleen McAuliffe writes in Discover magazine.

A thirteenth astrological sign has been announced messing up everybody's charts. I've never been gladder that I'm not an astrologer.

The star doctors say Earth is currently in a different spot in relation to the Sun, and its equatorial alignment has changed from 3,000 years ago when the study of astrology began -- back when 12 zodiac signs were assigned to 12 different periods of the year.

Those signs you were born into are different now because the Earth's wobble on its axis has created a one-month bump in the alignment of the stars, according to Kunkle.

"Because of this change of tilt, the Earth is really over here in effect and Sun is in a different constellation than it was 3,000 years ago."

More esoteric news items can always be found in the Headlines feed in the right-hand column here.


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Jan 15, 2011

Evangelicals Coming to Jesus on Gay Rights


Pastor Jay Bakker


There seems to be a sea change happening in the evangelical Christian community regarding homosexuality. I've long thought that this was inevitable; due in no small part to the massive influx of Christian youth. The born again movement is getting younger and young people are so over this issue.

High profile evangelicals have also been walking proudly out of the closet -- as opposed to being dragged out by scandal. 

A while ago I posted a blurb on singer/songwriter Jennifer Knapp who rode the wave of Christian Rock success in the late 90s. Like many, she had to get real about her own sexual orientation and find her place in the religion she loves. And like others have, she came to realize that the Biblical case against homosexuality wasn't strong enough to prevent her from being who she was.

Last November megachurch pastor Jim Swilley came out to his congregation in the wake of the series of gay teen suicides. This act of compassion was strongly encouraged by his wife of many years, who had known from the beginning about his sexuality. Said Swilley about the inevitable backlash:

“As a father, thinking about your 16-, 17-year-old killing themselves, I thought somebody needed to say something,” he told WSB TV in Atlanta. “I know all the hateful stuff that’s being written about me online, whatever. To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that.”

But Swilley did not lose his reputation or his ministry and found a good deal of support from parishioners. In the CNN interview posted just below, Swilley comes across as a man comfortable in his faith and in his own skin. As many of us outside of conservative and fundamentalist Christianity have been saying for years, this very well-read Bible-loving preacher found that to rely on a handful of "clobber verses" to justify homophobia is to cherry-pick scripture. Says Swilley:

The Bible says a lot of things about a lot of things that people don't have answers for .... The scripture says if you're given to gluttony, put a knife to your throat. But people seem to be fine with fat Christians in the church .... If you have a son that doesn't work for a living and is rebellious, to take him by the hand and lead him to the elders of the city and let them stone him with stones until he is dead. We don't support that now. If you have an unemployed son, you don't kill him. 




Another preacher who has really gotten his arms around the cherry-picking issue so well defined by the historic letter to Dr. Laura, is Jay Bakker, son of Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Messner. In a recent column, Cathleen "God Girl" Falsani opened up about her gratitude to evangelists like Jay Bakker for addressing the hard questions on the scriptural value, or lack of it, regarding homosexuality.

Simply put, homosexuality is not a sin, says Bakker, 35, pastor of Revolution NYC, a Brooklyn evangelical congregation that meets in a bar.

Bakker, who is straight and divorced, crafts his argument using the same "clobber scriptures" (as he calls them) that are so often wielded to condemn homosexuals.

"The simple fact is that Old Testament references in Leviticus do treat homosexuality as a sin ... a capital offense even," Bakker writes. "But before you say, 'I told you so,' consider this: Eating shellfish, cutting your sideburns and getting tattoos were equally prohibited by ancient religious law.

. . .

"The church has always been late," Bakker told me in an interview this week. "We were late on slavery. We were late on civil rights. And now we're late on this."

Fall to Grace: A Revolution of God, Self & SocietyIt shouldn't come as a shock that the young Bakker is proving to be a leader on this issue. So was his mother. Tammy Faye Messner surprised and impressed me as much as any human being ever has.

I first became aware of Jim and Tammy Faye in the glory days of the PTL Club. I found her comical, with her abrasive singing voice and outrageous make-up. A few years later, I saw her and her husband fall brutally from grace amidst the Jessica Hahn scandal and rumors that he was a closeted gay man. I can still see Tammy Faye in an interview responding to the latter question: "My husband is not homosexual or bisexual. He's a wonderful, caring husband." I'm paraphrasing from memory but that was the gist. She looked so horrified at the suggestion that her husband could be, you know, a homo. For years she was a punchline and frequent SNL caricature. The make-up, the prescription drug addiction, the warbling... She was a goldmine of comic fodder.

Later, I learned that she had become a popular impression among drag queens. I thought it hilarious; a bunch of gay men dressing up in poofy, blond wigs and make-up too heavy by half even by drag queen standards. I heard rumors that she was becoming something of a gay icon. Well, that fit. Bigger than life women whose lives were filled with tragedy, romantic heartbreak, and humiliation have long been adored by gay men. Marilyn, Judy, Liza... I had a hard time putting the provincial Tammy Faye in that class but I could, as ever, see the humorous, campy appeal. I thought, smugly, that she must have been horrified at having her image trotted about by a bunch of sodomites. But those men didn't seem to mind. They appeared not to be so much mocking her as just adoring her. Then something happened that amazes me to this day. She embraced them.

In this 2002 interview Tammy Faye shared her simple message of love and acceptance:

On Sunday, Tammy Faye will appear on the Capital Pride Festival Mainstage. What she'll be doing is still a little unclear: speaking, certainly; maybe singing; and a lot of hugging.

Prepare to be hugged. And loved.

MW: How many gay prides have you done prior to Washington's Capital Pride?

TAMMY FAYE BAKKER MESSNER: Oh, probably six or seven. Maybe more than that. Maybe ten.

MW: What's the typical response when you take the stage?

TAMMY FAYE: Overwhelming love from everyone. Both ways. I love them and they love me. It's just unbelievable. I've never felt such warmth in a group of people. That's the truth.

MW: Do you find a difference between the way gay men and lesbians respond to you?

TAMMY FAYE: The lesbians are taking a little longer to respond to me, but I think that's just a woman thing. Women always suspect people, they all have that sixth sense. But I love them, too, and I want them to know that I accept them. I think they're finally realizing that.

MW: What do you plan to do at our gay pride?The Eyes of Tammy Faye

TAMMY FAYE: Same thing I've done at all the rest of them. I'm going to talk to them just like I talk to straight people. I don't make any differences between them.

My husband and I both found ourselves quite taken with Tammy Faye when she was on The Surreal Life.  No fans of reality television we, but the idea of bunch of D list celebrities in ridiculous situations had just the right kind of train-wreck appeal. But Tammy Faye took me by surprise. Her incredible sincerity sliced right through my cynicism. The humor I'd long associated with her improbable rise as a gay icon evaporated. I began to see why the gay community had so completely adored her; that it wasn't just because of her hyper-real image. It was because the adversity in her own life hadn't destroyed her. She had faced it all with a courage and compassion that was truly inspiring. And it was because she had opened her enormous heart to them.

In a way that my teenage self could never have imagined, when I was watching her rise and fall with horrified fascination, Tammy Faye went on to be a living example of Christian compassion. And the world embraced her. People from all walks of life, in the most unexpected places, expressed deep sadness at her illness and death. I know I cried like a baby. She just couldn't help but touch your heart. And to my great surprise, this simple woman turned out to be a trailblazer; the first high profile evangelist to accept gay people as they were. And now we can see that she won't be the last. A fuller, less judgmental faith is emerging in the very megachurches that have for so long been bastions of intolerance. After all, it only takes a spark.


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Jan 13, 2011

New Message from Karen Bishop



For those who don't receive emails from Karen Bishop, I am posting her recent message in full, as she no longer posts anything online. An explanation for her lack of web presence right now can be found on the front page of her Emerging Earth Angels site. It's a great, little explanation of what's been going on that, for me, is very resonant. Now, here's the current missive.

Hello everyone!

It has been an interesting few months of twists, turns, trials, and experimentations with the energies in regard to the ascension process, but nonetheless, everything has been designed and implemented in support of the end times, and adjusted in accordance with how things have chosen to unfold.... and always, but always in unpredictable ways in recent times, even though the end result will remain the same.

Below is a brief update of the latest news offered to you as a support and validation of your own experience, as well as yet another way of touching base while my latest book promised to you is still in the writing stage (I am still in a seeming endless transition as my new geographical, spiritual, personal, and professional destination abruptly changed in accordance with how the planet chose to experience the end times). Please know that for various reasons, I am currently without a website and have also shut down my PayPal account, so for now, e-mail (not my favorite modality) is all that remains for communicating to large groups when needed. If needed, my mailing address is posted at the end of this e-mail, and mail will be forwarded from there to the temporary address where I am currently residing. Below is a brief planetary update:

Generally speaking, things are right on track in regard to our spiritual evolutionary process as a planet, even though things unfolded in a very different way than expected. Currently, there is very little darkness left, and what is left is up and out...the very last tendrils which are just hanging on by a thin thread.

We have made tremendous progress, even though it may not seem like it at times. Many of the tweaks and attempts at holding together the higher energies did not stick, so other things too complicated and long-winded to describe here were tried. While all these things were occurring, a new structure was being implemented nonetheless, and during this time, the remaining darkness was allowed to run rampant. The light, or those holding most of it, was encouraged to go underground, lay low, and conserve itself, and this manifested in various ways (described further on). The reason the light had to hold tight within itself was because there was nothing to tap into at this time, and because the darkness was being allowed to run rampant so that it would implode or destroy itself as part of the remaining purging process. In addition, allowing the darkness to go as far is it could with no interruption would also allow many souls on the planet to finally wake up to the fact that something indeed needed to change. But mostly, things were being put into place from above and we simply needed to be removed from the old grid during this time. It was hoped that the souls on the planet would take over on their own, holding the light and higher ways on their own (thus, all the attempts at trying things this way that were not successful), but this did not happen, and now we will be receiving light from the outside in times to come (more about this as well, further on).

The purging of the remaining darkness is unfolding in some of the final stages right now. This means that old energies deep within the earth are rising up to be released. Old darker energies in regard to old battles, ancient energies of the past, races and indigenous cultures of long ago and even in recent centuries, and so forth, are now rising up from the earth where they have been held and will be released. Prior owners of land or races and residents of land areas are all being shuffled around now, as the old earth and all its history will no longer be. A massive cleansing is at hand.

Because of this situation, it can feel as though there has been a lot of darkness in the air that we breathe or rather in our surrounding energies. And because so much of the last remaining energies are being purged right now, we can at times wonder if we are living in hell and have fallen down into a deep black hole of darkness with an inability to get up. In addition, any parts of us that are connected to the old energies are leaving as well. We may find ourselves cleaning out closets, getting rid of old signature jewelry and the like, as we rid ourselves of this old planetary energy. During this time, I found myself ridding my house and my jewelry box of anything that was of southwest or ancient energy, as these energies were no longer a part of me. This has been a life-long energy of mine, now to depart. And all part of the many endings that we will now experience as part of this final stage (this is what my new book is all about).

With this “allowing” of the darkness to run rampant, it can feel as if the earth has gone mad and that who knows what is now at the helm. We can feel as if we can no longer breathe, as if there is absolutely nowhere left to go, as if all our coping and self-nurturing mechanisms have been depleted and exhausted, and as if we have been beaten down too low to get our heads up once again. With so many removals and nothing new to tap into, thereby forcing us to rely on our own personal energies, these times can serve to severely deplete us.

During this time, there has also been a lot of energy around our hearts. We may have experienced esophagus problems (an inability to swallow what is occurring out there), or lung and breathing problems (an inability to breathe in the darkness). As our hearts are opening very naturally through the on-going ascension process, what are they currently opening to? Nonetheless, our hearts are expanding still and this process may result in chest pain and pressure, middle back pain, and the like. And as always, these symptoms are not always related to the ascension process, so it is always best to consult a health care professional.

During this time of the release of darkness, we are of course, releasing the remaining darkness or imbalances within ourselves as well. The higher energies are here, even though it may not feel like it at times, and these energies are molding and forming us into the purer states of being that we were always intended to become. We are being pushed and molded into a pure gold nugget with nothing extending outside of our new pure boundaries. If you are an over-giver or over-helper, you will be encouraged to discontinue this practice, as it is now all about self and center without reaching (and always has been). If you are a perfectionist and like things the best that they can be, you will be encouraged to see that everything is really all about love and that is all that really matters. If you have believed that you are here to make something happen on the planet and to make change, you will be encouraged to realize that you are simply here to experience and create and love one another. These are but a few of the higher states of being that we are naturally being pushed and shoved into now.

While these last stages of the ascension process are unfolding in regard to the removal of old planetary ways of being from the old world, we are being encouraged to conserve our energies and keep them close to the vest. There is a reason behind this. We are all being taken care of and all our needs will be met during this time. There is no question about this. In this way, we are not receiving any big bursts of money, manifestations, new creations, and the like. We are being encouraged to lay low and stay steady and wait. It has not been time for new creations quite yet. We are still waiting for the new grid to become steady and solid. It has taken some time to form, as the majority of souls chose old patterns and ways, and chose not to change, grow, and look within. Being knocked down countless times always serves as a great vehicle for the removal of remaining ego, as well as placing us in a more gentle state of being.

But things are about to change. With the last tendrils of darkness now in the forefront sadly serving as our entertainment at times and blocking us from moving forward or creating anything new, we are nonetheless making progress. With each purging of darkness comes more stability into the higher realms. With each date of 11 (November 11th, or January 11th, for instance), we move oh so slowly into the higher realms. 11-11-10, or most recently 1-11-11, pushed us forward as we move through the opening of the 11 portals. At these times, we can feel that everything is going to be just fine, and that we are now more stable, but then over time, things fall again. It is a step-by-step process...one tiny step at a time. So even though it may feel that the darkness has taken over, it is simply just the final purgings that are taking place.

Part of this process also involves a massive removal of the old for each of us. Again, massive endings are part of this process and must occur if we are to move forward into a very new reality. Anything and everything that no longer fits us will fall away, be taken away, or simply leave. This process can be grueling, acutely depressing, and shocking at best, but once through the thick of it, the arrival of our own personal new is well worth it (the new book outlines the stages and feelings associated with it).

February will bring in a new anchor and things will really grab. But it is with the equinox in March that we will really see great movement, and it will be a movement like no other. It is now possible to predict these things with more accuracy as we are now no longer dependent upon human beings to make things change and grab. This philosophy did not work. Human behavior was more unpredictable than ever imagined, and sadly so. So in this way, with the light now arriving from the outside once again, planetary changes in energy will much more easy to predict, as they will not be dependent upon human beings. We will be returning to the old stages and methods of the ascension process that were utilized in years past (prior to the last three years when we were supposed to take over on our own). For instance, solstices encourage going deep and equinoxes encourage forward movement and manifestation, along with numerous other supports from our other celestial bodies at differing times along the way.

Come March and especially into April, we are scheduled for a massive influx of movement and of receiving. It is finally time. This is because so much darkness has been removed in recent times, and also because the new grid is becoming more solid. With the arrival of the light, the old will now begin to fall away more rapidly and we will feel much more at the helm with something more solid to now hold onto. And hopefully, if we have learned from all we have been through so for, we will finally wisely utilize what we receive.

Wishing you starlight in your soul, heaven in your heart, and miracles in your life during these miraculous times,

Karen Bishop

[I am withholding the address information as I am not comfortable publishing another person's address online. I will provide that info upon request.]


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Jan 10, 2011

Gotta Love Those 11s



President Obama just lead a moment of silence, at the nation's Capitol, in honor of the "innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Ariz., including those still fighting for their lives." I couldn't help noticing that it was at 11:00am on 1/10/11. How's that for "Oming the dome?" We are in the midst of massive, collective shift in awareness as it regards the toll of hate and aggression. That's the most obvious expression of much deeper transformation taking place. I know a lot of people are offended by the political excess we've seen following the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Gifford that took 6 lives, including that of a 9 year old child born on 9/11. (There's that 11 imagery again.) I'm sure a good bit of it is cynical. But there is no question that it has brought us to a dialogue that we've needed to have in this country for a long time.




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Jan 8, 2011

The Birds... and Fish



Well, the bird story just gets stranger and stranger. It was weird when it was just in Arkansas but the bird and fish kills are now being reported around the globe. Somehow, I was not mollified by the theory that they were startled by New Years Eve fireworks. Until I learn that there've been thousands of bird deaths every New Years and Fourth of July that have been previously unremarked upon, I will remain unconvinced. The fireworks theory is also undercut by the fact that birds are continuing to drop out of the sky all over the globe, with the most recent shocker coming out of Italy, where it rained 8,000 dead doves.

Reading the dove story this morning was something of a synchronicity for me. Last night, discussion of the bird deaths caused me to ruminate on a darkly comic anecdote from college theater days. I will probably get some of the details wrong, but this is how I remember it. One of the technical theater students returned from doing summer stock with this tale of stagecraft gone horribly wrong. He had been working on a production of The Sound of Music. In a daring attempt at spectacle, the director had called for live doves to be released during the opening number. There was some concern from the techs about the difficulty and expense. I, for one, would have had even larger concerns about things like bird crap on audience members, but I wasn't there. Besides, any objections were overruled. This was a director with a vision! So, cages with drop out bottoms were strung up above the stage. Doves were purchased and secured in the cages on opening night to be released at the appropriate moment. But, it seems, the cages were a bit too close to the lights. When the intrepid young actress playing Maria appeared onstage and began to belt out "The hills are alive..." she did so amidst the disturbing spectacle of dead, baked doves plummeting all around her like some bizarre snow storm.

Well, similar blizzards of bird corpses have now been experienced in locations all over the world. I had begun tracking the weirdness here but it started to get ridiculous and a little hard to keep up. The birds and fish deserve a stand alone post. My question remains, however. Is it the apocalypse?! I mean... dead birds are dropping by the thousands out of the sky.

And then there are the fish. Scores of them -- two million in Chesapeake alone -- are washing up dead on shores around the world. Birds of the air, fish of the sea, just inexplicably dying in droves.

Another funny, little synchronicity keeps popping into my head. I watched -- and enjoyed very much -- the Doctor Who Christmas special. In this terraformed, Dickensian world, the fish -- and sharks -- fly through the air like birds. The effect, like so much of the newest iteration of the series is hauntingly beautiful.




My first thought, in response to the New Years bird kills in Arkansas, was toxicity from this summer's massive oil spill in the gulf. Mostly because no one knows what the effects of all those illegal dispersants will be. The possible effects of gulf weather streams moving through Arkansas and Louisiana is discussed here. But, again, there are incidents being reported all over the world. Although, according to this map, which was up to date as of a few days ago, most of the incidences appear to be in the US.

One theory has to do with the rapid shifting of the magnetic poles confusing their natural navigation systems. We just went through a north pole migration so abrupt that the Tampa, FL airport closed down to reconfigure its runways.  In another earth change related theory, George Ure has some speculation about it being tied to earthquake activity, which could also be connected to changes in the earths magnetosphere. I'm not saying this is  precursor to pole shift but, then, who knows. The whole thing is just weirder than heck.


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Jan 6, 2011

The Dark Night of the Soul



I stumbled upon this very insightful post on the dark night of the soul. (It can also be found here.) Here's an excerpt but I think the whole thing is a must-read for anyone who is going through this painful  process of alignment.

The dark night of the soul is a process many spiritual seekers go through at some point in their lives, I being one of them. The dark night is not mentioned that much in spiritual texts and teachings. A lot of the times, we are being told to be happy, raise your vibration, look to the light, but none of this will be lasting until you have loved the dark.

The dark night of the soul is an overall beautiful experience where a person’s ego/false self is “dying” to their true Self which is LOVE or in other words one is realizing the ego self is false and never really existed. This process can occur at any point in one’s life, but it usually emerges after a spiritual seeker has attained a lot of spiritual knowledge or growth. This is because the ego is now being called out for what it is and it tightens its grips on you to hide you from the light that you are.

Even though this is a very beautiful and sacred process, it can be perceived at the time as very difficult. Especially when you are in the thick of the fog. This is why it is called the dark night of the soul (it may feel like a dark century of the soul to some lol). You feel as if you are stuck in the dark with no hope of seeing the light again. You already feel totally alone due to this process, and ontop of that it is not talked about often in spiritual texts. This is because a lot of us look for the light only and try to run away from the dark, not realizing that the dark will only grow larger the more you ignore it.

Many think they have done something wrong when the symptoms of the Dark Night appear. Especially if they just went through so much perceived spiritual growth. This is furthest from the truth! When you find yourself in the Dark Night show gratitude because you are going through a sort of rites of passage or a spiritual detox. The pain you feel is the pain you have tried to suppress for years, decades, and even lifetimes. It is now finally bubbling up to the surface to be healed with the love you give it. Even though it seems painful to face this pain, you should feel honored that this pain is finally flowing out of you. We don’t even realize the heavy baggage that we have held onto for so long.

It seems to me that the dark night of the soul, experienced by so many lightworkers and spiritual seekers, is tumbling out of the new age closet. As I've discussed ad nauseum, there has long been active suppression of "negative" states in new age circles. This is one reason that, as 11orangeankh11 says, people think they've "done something wrong" when they find themselves in a process like the dark night of the soul; just as, tragically, they do when they experience illness or adversity. These states don't accord with the "positive attitude" and "staying in the light" that so many new age ideologies insist are important for manifesting what we want. But "want" is an ego function and the dark night of the soul is about dissolution of the ego. Here is one explanation of how the ego comes into conflict with our spiritual expansion, resulting in the dark night of the soul.

Your ego, your limited sense of self, your inadequate complex of ideas about who you are had to be dissolved. Your ego was, you begin to see, eclipsing higher consciousness and your true nature. Your old sense of self was inadequate to your new hopes and proper state. Your suffering intensified because of a major misapprehension. You were too used to thinking of yourself based on inputs from your previous experiences in life. On and on through life, you gathered information and responses from the world which indicated to you what kind of person you were and are. These superficial units of related inputs became integrated in what is called the ego — your sense of self, your sense of who you are. As long as you allowed this inaccurate or only partial sense of who you are to dominate, you could not know or abide in your true nature.

Your ego sense is so powerful — you invest it with so much of your thought and feeling — that your attitudes of life become based on an egocentric perspective. The ego gains a progressively greater foothold on your entire life because your basic attitudes about your existence and essential nature are strongly linked with ego.

Then, your ego sense, due to your suffering or your limitations in life, wants to have more power over circumstances and a more pleasant life. The ego sense often becomes motivated to seek higher consciousness and, thus, greater ability to dominate in life. Not always, but often, it is the ego sense which most eagerly pursues higher consciousness. It wants to be in charge; it wants to manipulate events and make life come out more to its satisfaction. [emphasis added] But, as long as your ego dominates, it is on a collision course with your true nature and your higher consciousness. There’s going to be a showdown. There has to be a confrontation sometime if your higher consciousness is ever to emerge, if you are ever to know truly who you are and what your human capabilities are.

I bolded the passage above because, in my opinion, this is where our spiritual growth gets derailed by the new age obsession with "positive thinking." The Secret and other "law of attraction" vehicles flatter the ego by promising that we can control our environment and get everything we want if we just learn how to think the "right" way. We won't get sick, we'll own multiple properties and cars, and have oodles of time to soak up the rays on our yachts... but only if we stay positive. The grandiosity of this notion can actually put us on a collision course with spirit and plunge us into the dark night. Our shadow self can only be willfully suppressed for so long before it erupts into conscious awareness. And we can't fully come into the wholeness, or oneness, we seek if we are cleaving to the dualism of that positive vs negative world view.

The dark night of the soul comes into the vernacular by way of a poem by the Carmelite priest St. John of the Cross who cataloged his experience of this painful journey of transformation. I first became familiar with this work while listening to Celtic artist Loreena McKennitt who adapted the poem and set it to music.




But the experience of the the dark night of the soul is not confined to this Christian tradition and is recognized in many wisdom traditions. Like the divine madness it has long been recognized as a sacred state and spiritual gift. Colleen O'Connor gives a little background in her interview with spiritual teacher Andrew Harvey who shared his experience of the dark night in his book The Sun At Midnight.

The Sun at Midnight, a new book by mystical scholar Andrew Harvey, describes how he rebuilt his life, his faith, and his marriage after the split from his guru, Mother Meera. It's centered on the Christian concept of the "dark night of the soul," in which the false self must die so that the true self can be born. This mystery of annihilation is found in many religions throughout history, from the shamanism to Sufism. Often there is anger, despair, and a sense of abandonment by God. But, as Harvey relates, the dark night of the soul is the true passage to Christ-consciousness. [aka, unity consciousness] You think that you are at your furthest from God, "but you are actually so close that you are blinded by His Glory and think it night."

Like the many people who have been plunged into the dark night after crashing headlong into the limitations of "new thought" paradigms, Harvey came to his experience after a brutal disillusionment with his spiritual path. For those unfamiliar with his story, here is a brief recap: Harvey, who had always been openly gay, fell in love with a young man named Eryk. He was shocked and horrified to learn that the support he had expected from his guru Mother Meera was not forthcoming. Her acceptance of his homosexuality was conditioned upon his never acting on it. He was given the choice of celibacy or marriage to a woman. In particular, she wanted him to marry and write a book about how she had healed him and made him "normal." Instead he wrote a book about his shattered faith in Mother Meera and his descent into and resurrection from the abyss.

I wonder how many people come to their dark night because of disillusionment with spiritual teachers and teachings. I experienced a number of such disappointments before I was brought to the inward, teacherless process of the dark night. Disillusionment is painful but, given the option, how many of us would knowingly choose delusion? The dark night is an eruption of the true self, tearing brutally through that which is inauthentic in our belief systems. This can include spiritual teachings we've followed for years.




In the video player above is a series of short lectures by Chrism on the dark night of the soul and the potential for suicide during kundalini awakening. I include them not because I think everyone in a dark night is going through a kundalini crisis but because I think much of what he's saying can be more broadly applied. One thing I'd add to his discussion of suicidal ideation, the third video in the player, is my own theory on why this happens so frequently during the dark night, lightworker syndrome, and other manifestations of spiritual emergency. I think we can become focused on death, not just because of the pain and sense of isolation, but because we are going through the process of ego death. As Karen Bishop says, of the lightworker phenomenon, we are dying while we're alive. On some level we know we're dying but much of that awareness is buried in the unconscious. The way the conscious mind interprets it is in a kind of death fixation that results in -- sometimes simultaneous -- terror of (hypochondria) and longing for death (suicidal ideation).

In the video on suicide, Chrism describes the frustration of the dark night as being like the butterfly inside the chrysalis. It feels its new wings but wonders what to do with them because it's still in an enclosed space. This is one of the most apt analogies I've ever heard to describe what it's like to be simultaneously so expanded and new and yet so maddeningly stuck in a confining reality.

But there is more to the symbol of the butterfly that makes it one of the primary archetypes of transformation. To fully appreciate butterfly as symbol, you have to understand what really happens to the caterpillar when it's in the chrysalis. A butterfly is not a caterpillar with wings. It doesn't just sprout them and then emerge. A butterfly is a completely remade caterpillar. While it's in the chrysalis, the butterfly secretes a digestive enzyme which dissolves its body all the way down into a gelatinous state. It reforms from that raw material into a wholly new creature; one that can fly. This, in a sense, is what is happening during the dark night of the soul. The ego, that which defines your body and mind, and holds you together as you, is being broken down into its rawest state. Not surprisingly, many of us find this process of dissolution uncomfortable. But it is a passage between a shallow, ego-centered centered faith and a mature experience of the divine.




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Jan 5, 2011

Love and the Disgraced Priest



Father Albert Cutié has a new book out on his journey from disgraced Catholic priest to happily married Episcopal priest. He and his wife also have a newborn daughter so I know his book publicist is loving him. In the publicity game we call that great timing. But I digress.

Cutié has harsh words for the church he left.

"In the Roman Catholic Church, a scandal is not really a scandal until it becomes public," Cutie writes in his new book, Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love, which hits stores Tuesday (Jan. 4).

Yet when he was caught by paparazzi canoodling with his girlfriend on a Miami beach in 2009, Cutie was booted from his rectory, dropped from his insurance plan and told he would no longer receive a paycheck.

It would be easy to dismiss his criticism of the church's hypocrisy as sour grapes from a disgruntled former employee, were it not for the many cases of priests who did far worse only to be protected by a shroud of secrecy. Cutié claims to have witnessed firsthand numerous transgressions that were ignored, one presumes, because they were never caught by the paparazzi.

The Rev. Albert Cutie saw a lot of things in his 14 years as a Catholic priest while church officials looked the other way: priests who got caught with prostitutes, priests who lived with their gay partners, and men of the cloth who kept one bed in the rectory and another with their mistress.

Of course, these transgressions were as victimless as Cutié's and, with the exception of the prostitutes, legal. But as I've written in numerous entries over the last few months, the Catholic Church's blind eye has also extended to egregious abuses of children and adolescents. This protection of, in some cases, sociopathic pedophiles extended to the highest levels of the Vatican; even to the former pope. Instead of turning abusers over to the authorities, defrocking, or, at least, removing them permanently from contact with parishioners and their children, the Catholic Church at all levels of authority -- Bishops, Archbishops, and the Vatican -- has participated in cover-ups and shuffled offending priests to other parishes and other countries. This, even in cases, of unrepentant and prolific predators like Ken "the Pied Piper" Kiesle, Robert Trupia, and the stunningly evil Marcial Maciel Degollado. In the case of Tony Walsh, it took a crime so venal it couldn't be kept quiet -- raping a grief-stricken boy at a funeral gathering -- to spur action. But it had long been known that he was an "unrepentant abuser."

In case after case, the Church has thrown children under the bus in favor of protecting predatory priests and its own reputation. And yet, in this unusual instance, Father Cutié was thrown under the bus for his perfectly healthy attraction to and relationship with a consenting adult the minute it became publicly embarrassing. I can only shake my head and wonder at the priorities of an institution that clearly knows full well it's vows are burdensome and often transgressed, but is only really spurred to action when its reputation and/or finances are at risk. (Eight archdioceses in the US have been bankrupted by lawsuits, with the Milwaukee Archdiocese being the latest to seek protection or face closure.) I could admire the Church's forgiveness and compassion for sex offenders were it not so unforgiving of any sexual expression that becomes public knowledge; let alone if it extended such compassion and protection to the countless children whose lives have been devastated by clerical abuse.


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Jan 1, 2011

Esoterica



Food replicators: One aspect of the Star Trek universe that never really appealed to me. Okay, in outer space, I could see the necessity. But here on the ground I prefer my food to come from, well, the ground.

The team at Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Lab (CCSL) are building a 3D food printer, as part of the bigger Fab@home project, which they hope one day will be as commonplace as the microwave oven or blender.

. . .

"Imagine being able to essentially 'grow', 'cook' or prepare foods without the negative industrial impact - everything from fertilizers to saute pans and even packaging," he says.

"The production chain requirements for food would nearly be eliminated."

Local food, could really mean local.

"You can imagine a 3D printer making homemade apple pie without the need for farming the apples, fertilizing, transporting, refrigerating, packaging, fabricating, cooking, serving and the need for all of the materials in these processes like cars, trucks, pans, coolers, etc," he adds.

Nature is always smarter than we think we are and plants are smarter than we know.

They’re underfoot and underappreciated. But the roots of a plant may demonstrate the remarkable wisdom of crowds just as swarms of honeybees or humans can.

Three plant scientists now propose that roots growing this way and that in their dark and dangerous soil world may fit a definition for what’s called swarm intelligence. Each tip in a root system acquires information at least partly independently, says plant cell biologist František Baluška of the University of Bonn in Germany. If that information gets processed in interactions with other roots and the whole tangle then solves what might be considered a cognitive problem in a way that a lone root couldn’t, he says, then that would be swarm intelligence.

James Arthur Ray would like to have still more evidence thrown out; preferably all of it.

Attorneys for a self-help guru facing manslaughter charges stemming from a fatal sweat lodge ceremony want to limit the trial's testimony and evidence to the 2009 event that led to three deaths.

James Arthur Ray's lawyers filed motions this week asking a judge to suppress self-help videos their client made after the October ceremony near Sedona.

They also want to prohibit testimony regarding what Ray, his volunteers or staff said or did following similar ceremonies, any opinions on whether Ray is guilty or innocent, and testimony of emotional distress from the families of the deceased.

Eyes are the windows of the soul; or the soullessness as the case may be.
With its technologically advanced animated characters, the 2004 film The Polar Express was supposed to change moviemaking. Instead, it gave audiences the creeps. Reviewers dissed it as "the night of the living dead." Why didn't the audience perceive the characters as alive? Something, they said, was wrong with the eyes.

Now, a new study shows just how important the eyes really are when we judge whether a face is that of a living person or an inanimate object. And that ability, the researchers say, is key to our survival, enabling us to quickly determine whether the eyes we're looking at have a mind behind them.

"People want to see faces, and we're very adept at seeing faces everywhere: in clouds, a burnt piece of toast, even two dots and a line," says Christine Looser, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at Dartmouth College and the study's lead author. "And it makes sense to be aware of faces," because they might be those of living, dangerous creatures, such as a grizzly bear. "But we also don't want to waste time on faces that aren't alive, that aren't attached to minds."

More evidence that wasps are just incredibly cool.

The study, reported on in the journal Naturwissenschaften, began when scientists observed that unlike other wasps, the Oriental hornet is most active in the middle of the day. Further investigation revealed that UVB radiation affects the hornet's activity level.

It turns out that an Oriental hornet's shell can trap sunlight, while the pigment xanthopterin converts it to energy. This explains why the hornet is most active mid-day.

Could the iPhone save the Cherokee language from becoming extinct?

Nearly two centuries after a blacksmith named Sequoyah converted Cherokee into its own unique written form, the tribe has worked with Apple to develop Cherokee language software for the iPhone, iPod and – soon – the iPad. Computers used by students – including Lauren – at the tribe's language immersion school already allow them to type using Cherokee characters.

The goal, Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said, is to spread the use of the language among tech-savvy children in the digital age. Smith has been known to text students at the school using Cherokee, and teachers do the same, allowing students to continue using the language after school hours.

A new species of ancient human has been discovered.

Earlier this year Svante Pääbo and his colleagues showed that the mitochondrial DNA from the finger bone displayed an unusual sequence suggesting that it came from an unknown ancient hominin form. Now, using techniques the researchers developed to sequence the Neanderthal genome earlier this year, they have sequenced the nuclear genome from the bone.

The researchers found that the individual was female and came from a group of hominins that shared an ancient origin with Neanderthals, but subsequently diverged. They call this group of hominins Denisovans. Unlike Neanderthal, Denisovans did not contribute genes to all present-day Eurasians. However, Denisovans share an elevated number of genetic variants with modern-day Papua New Guinean populations, suggesting that there was interbreeding between Denisovans and the ancestors of Melanesians.

Interesting statue fragments were recently unearthed in Egypt.

Archaeologists have discovered fragments of a statue of a pharaoh and an ancient god during a routine excavation at what was once the largest temple in ancient Egypt, culture minister Farouk Hosni said on Thursday.

According to Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, the fragments -- the legs of King Amenhotep III and a bust of the god Hapi depicted as a baboon -- were uncovered in the ruins of Amenhotep’s mortuary temple on the west bank of Luxor, Upper Egypt.

Physicists cite cosmic bruises as evidence of parallel universes:

Scientists say that they have found evidence that our universe was 'jostled' by other parallel universes in the distant past.

The incredible claim emerged after they studied patterns in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) – the after-effects of the Big Bang.

They say they may have found evidence that four circular patterns found in the CMB are 'cosmic bruises' where our universe has crashed into other universes at least four times.

Quidditch for muggles... See, without the flying broom, I'm afraid the fun would really go out of it for me. I'm so old-fashioned.

Quidditch, the game popularised in the Harry Potter books, is now being played by students around the world. So just how do you turn a magical sport into something that can be played in real life?

As a group of college students gather on a cold Sunday morning outside the White House for their weekly sports practice, it's hard not to smirk.

Watching adults run around the field with household brooms and mops between their legs, wearing makeshift wizards' capes, is quite a sight, after all. But in non-wizarding society (or the muggle world, for those of you in the know), one has to improvise.




More esoteric news items can always be found in the Headlines feed in the right-hand column here.


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