Notre Dame Photo Gallery

These photos are from a trip to Paris in September 2018. It was the last bit of traveling we did in Europe before returning to the US.

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My book links:

TIMELESS TULIPS, DARK DIAMONDS

https://amzn.to/2WnlqZX

INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS


https://amzn.to/2UoiSc7

ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGOTTEN

https://amzn.to/2V6JItI

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ARCs are here!!

I think this is the culmination of the second eclipse this month! Time to start the birth process…

ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

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It’s getting exciting. I received a shipment of ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) from the publisher this week. After years of work on this book, I can finally hold it in my hands. Very satisfying!!

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Buddhism & Quantum Physics:

Early Buddhism, Quantum Physics, and Relativity with Bhante Samāhita

A lecture on the parallels of early Buddhist teachings and quantum physics.

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The Christmas Blog- Reflection

ForestWander

photo:ForestWander

My son asked whether I thought Christmas was a religious or secular holiday. I knew where my atheist son was going with this. I cut him off saying I thought it could be anything you wanted it to be. And I do stand by that. I fully recognize that many celebrate Christmas as the birth of a savior. Most of them quietly worship in their churches, but others are a bit more vocal like a neighbor who posted a sign about putting the Christ back in Christmas (the sign courtesy of the Knights of Columbus).  I grew up with the more secular version of Christmas focused on goodwill and gift-giving.

One of the big differences between being in Belgium and being back in the US, is that the US really does get into its holidays, religious or secular. If you didn’t have a calendar to point out the holidays in Brussels, you would never know there was a holiday since there were no overt external signs of any. But here, I walk the dog around the neighborhood every day and I see the Christmas decorations. More decorations on my street than in the entire city of Brussels. I love it! Individuals dedicate time, effort, and money to do this. And I love it! Trivial? Waste of time? Effort? Money? Maybe…

The last few days I’ve been paying attention to the kind of decorations that predominate. How do my neighbors view this holiday- religious or secular? Do the decorations tell a story? I probably pass sixty or more houses on my daily circuit and only three have overt religious items (2 nativities and 1 cross). The rest are predominantly lights, garlands, wreaths, reindeer, snowmen, and assorted popular blow-up characters. And Disney characters and flying pigs aside (yes, someone has one and there is a dragon too!), I do wonder if all this decorating has much to do with the Christmas story at all.

milky way

Perhaps, it’s all about the time of year. A time when nature hides, dies back, goes dormant. When we as humans are denied visual stimulation through color and form. In the starkness and stillness that is winter, we are called inside to quiet. And that call can be frightening, unsettling. And yet, it calls from the unconscious. To counter this we become busy and decorate the things around us as comfort to get us through the dark, cold winter. We bring trees and stars inside. The macrocosm calling to the microcosm, stop hiding, be still, wake.

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Gazing Skyward

The Fated Sky by Benson Bobrick, PhD.

Part 1

Fated Sky

There are many misconceptions about astrology. This book attempts a survey of its effects on Western Civilization. It’s a big job! This is a history book and astrology has been around a very long time. Most of us think astrology can be summed up by those little paragraphs written about your sun sign that commonly occur in magazines and papers. Some who have delved deeper know astrology is a science- one that predated and in part, gave birth to modern science. How is it that this thread is all but missing from history books? It is said that history is written by the victors and from that perspective (I suppose), astrology did not win. Bobrick’s book is not a book about whether astrology is a valid science. Rather, this is a book about how ideas and people’s understanding of them played a role in history.

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Bobrick opens the book with a very compelling case about how Columbus would never have set sail on a voyage of discovery except for having been inspired by an astrological idea that had come from the Persians through the Arabs and finally to the West by way of a French Cardinal and astrologer, Pierre d’Ailly. Known as the great conjunction theory, where Jupiter and Saturn unite, it was thought to herald great changes. The once- in- 960- year astrological event so excited Columbus, he decided it heralded the end of the world and everyone on the planet would need to be converted. He adopted the name Christophorus, “the Christbearer” and sought the financial aid of Spain. Columbus’ copy of the astrologer’s work who so influenced him, including his personal notes, can be seen in Seville. Ideas are no small matter!

Columbus

Man has always been intrigued by the skies. The origins of astrology go back to Mesopotamia, the Chaldean East, including areas of Babylonia and Assyria. From there, it spread to Egypt and Greece. Astrology was known in Greece at least as early as 1184 BC. Plato was tutored by a Chaldean astrologer. Astrology eventually incorporated Pythagorean concepts. But it wasn’t until Hellenistic Egypt that astrology came into its own and combined with Greek mathematical astronomy. By 150 BC, the earliest handbook on astrology was written. These ideas spread throughout Greece and on to India.

Babylonian astrology text

Babylonian astrology tablet, (photo: Poulpy)

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Astrological disc, Egypt (Ptolemaic 332-31 BCE)

During the Roman Empire, all classes of people were influenced by the practice of astrology. Astrologers were consulted at the highest levels and several Emperors were skilled astrologers (including Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian). The fundamental work on astrology (Tetrabiblos) in the classical world was done by Claudius Ptolemy who drew on ancient sources.

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Zodiac, (6th cent.) synagogue, Beth Alpha, Israel

 

Tetrabiblos

From Tetrabiblos (9th cent. Byzantine manuscript), zodiac & months

As the Roman Empire declined and the West fell into darkness, astrology flourished in the   East and the lands held by the Byzantines. By the 9th century, Islamic, Jewish, Greek. Persian, and Hindu scholars gathered in the intellectual capital of Baghdad. This was Islam’s Golden Age when cooperation, innovation, and learning flourished! The Arabs translated Greek texts and got to work on pioneering science. Arab scholars pursued astronomy, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, introduced a system of numerals, created a decimal system, refined the lunar calendar, and built observatories.  What came into existence then was what is today called “Arabic astrology”- a fusion of Greek thought and Arabic science. From this tradition, the formidable astrologer al-Biruni’s text, The Book of Instruction in the Elements of the Art of Astrology (1029), had a strong mathematical basis and he firmly believed no one could call himself an astrologer without a thorough understanding of all the sciences. Such was the nature of the profession.

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Astrolabe, Islamic (1067AD), (photo: Luiz Garcia)

Timbuktu ms

Timbuktu manuscript

All of this is a fascinating way of viewing history through the perspective of the emergence of science. From this lens, astrology is the science that underpinned what we think of as modern science. This was the need to watch the skies, to take measurements, to create the mathematics and instruments for observations, and then to make it relevant. Of course, astrology is also the oldest of the occult (meaning “hidden”) arts. And so much more than those little paragraphs in magazines that pass as horoscopes.

In part 2, we’ll look at how the Church and European Courts have viewed the practice of astrology. (Have you ever seen an astrological clock or a stained-glass window with the full zodiac?)

 

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Spiritual Awakening

THE KUNDALINI SYMPOSIUM 2018:

Below is a link to this year’s conference on kundalini. Kundalini (the rise of serpent energy) has been linked to spiritual awakening and is seen as a natural progression of human development. It is personal, cosmic, and evolutionary. Anyone “on the path” should have some understanding of this phenomenon. Once, it was believed only those in ashrams and monasteries had these experiences, but now more and more people are reporting spontaneous kundalini occurrences. The speakers provide lots of insights, personal experiences, and resources. Especially interesting (to me) was the talk on current research into measuring subtle energy and developing those devices that may change medical treatments. This should be of interest to anyone practicing energy medicine/healing. Currently 1000 energy healers have undergone a variety of testing of their abilities which (eventually) will lead to certification standards. Dig in! Share your thoughts.

 

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SNEAK PEEK

Here’s the new cover just in time for Halloween!

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See You on the Other Side

The European adventure is over! I’m going home. New house, new community, and a new book release. Are you ready for a ghost story? I’ll be back in Colorado next week and life starts again!

Colorado

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HALLOWEEN GREETINGS

FINAL REST: PERE LACHAISE

The Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is the most visited cemetery in the world. On a recent trip, I visited this vast, interesting place. Famed for being the first garden cemetery, it opened in 1804 but there isn’t much space devoted to what we would think of as gardens. Instead, the cemetery is chock full of ornate, closely placed tombs. If you’ve visited the cemeteries of New Orleans, you’d feel right at home here. The sixty-nine thousand tombs cover a range of architectural styles, but the Gothic crypt seems to predominate in the older sections.

Although there are over one million interred in the cemetery, and there is a waiting list today, it wasn’t always a popular burial site with Parisians. Located far outside the city when it opened, and not being attached to a church, made it an undesirable final resting place. So a bit of creative marketing helped it along. First, Jean de La Fontaine (poet) and Moliere (playwright, actor, and poet) were buried there. Burying the famous in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery increased its popularity. A decade or so later, the purported remains of Abelard and Heloise (the famous lovers) were moved to the cemetery and then Parisians clamored to get in. By 1830, the cemetery had thirty-three thousand graves!

Today, people visit the Pere Lachaise to see the tombs and architecture, and the graves of the famous. Americans are probably most interested in Jim Morrison’s grave. There’s an interesting story on how he came to be interred here. He died in Paris, but cemetery officials weren’t interested in offering a musician a place. They were persuaded when they found out he was working on a novel. The cemetery has many famous writers including Balzac, Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Oscar Wilde. The graves of composer Frederic Chopin and actress Sarah Bernhardt can also be visited.

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Oscar Wilde

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Hahnemann- father of homeopathy

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Reiki for Life

by Penelope Quest

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In February, I received Reiki level I training. It was taught in a typical two-day environment and left me feeling like I had more questions than answers. Searching for a good book that would help guide the practice, I found this gem. I read the e-book cover to cover and for anyone wanting an easily accessible manual on Reiki, this is a great one. When I get back home, I’ll definitely be buying the physical book for reference.

Before talking about the book, I think a brief discussion about what Reiki is for those who may have heard the term, but who are not sure exactly what I’m talking about may be in order. Reiki is described as a high vibration healing energy, a specific frequency of chi. Reiki is one of perhaps thirty or so different healing frequencies. Reiki energy stimulates and accelerates the body’s natural ability to heal. The energy is intelligent and works for the highest good using its own timetable. Reiki can affect the physical body, the mind, and the spirit. Developed in Japan by Mikao Usui in the 1920s, practitioners receive attunements to open a channel to allow the flow of Reiki energy.

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photo: queeselreiki

Although we don’t know exactly how Reiki works, Penelope Quest does a good job providing background information on how science is moving forward with quantum theories and interconnectedness. She points to some tantalizing research done by Valerie Hunt at the University of California on high frequency energy fields. While the average human field is 250 cps, those who use or receive Reiki have a field of 400- 800 cps. I would have liked to have seen some studies on plants or bacteria using Reiki in this book because I have seen them elsewhere. It also begged the question about human studies (you’d think we’d have something by now??). Hopefully, books focusing on the science will emerge over time and Quest’s book is a manual geared to practitioners. (See below for an article citing human studies where Reiki has been effective for treating anxiety and pain.)

Short Reiki trainings do not give a lot of background on Reiki’s developer, Mikao Usui. This is an area where the book is wonderful. Due to a lot of recent research, much of the myth and distortion surrounding Usui is being cleared up. Although we will never have a truly complete picture of this man, we know much more than an epitaph from a gravestone which is all the class alludes to. Quest also goes into meticulous detail over the lineages that developed after Usui’s death and how Reiki in the East is far different from what is taught in the West. I was very captivated with the traditional way Reiki is given time to develop in Japan. The West could learn a lot if we could slow down and step away from the money making paradigm.

Reiki3

photo: Andy Beer

Reiki for Life is divided into useful sections so that Level 1, Level II, and Level III are discussed separately. Anyone interested in Reiki, can quickly find out what is covered at any given level and what the requirements are for practice. Additional chapters offer insights in to how to creatively use Reiki in every area of life. Those wishing to open a Reiki practice in the UK will find very specific guidance on legal requirements, but there’s nothing for anyone who wants to do so in the US or elsewhere.

I wanted to share one jaw-dropping moment I had reading the book. This applied directly to me and occurred at about 70% through the book. Remember I outlined above that Reiki was just one of the healing energies. Well, it turns out that many Western Reiki masters are attuning to Kundalini energy and not the gentler Usui Reiki energy. The lineage that includes William Lee Rand introduced Tibetan Reiki symbols that channel this fiercer (serpent) energy. So, the dragon sleeps no longer. I was shocked. Still am. I think this needs to be disclosed going in. Gulp.

Further reading:

Articles:

https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/reiki/what-does-research-say-about-reiki

https://www.uclahealth.org/rehab/workfiles/Urban%20Zen/Research%20Articles/Reiki_Really_Works-A_Groundbreaking_Scientific_Study.pdf

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/962427/spiritual-healing-study-alongside-conventional-medicine

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