Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Full Moon In Aquarius...August 1, 2012...

("Aquarius", Artist:  Yuxuan Li)

It’s a Full Moon in Aquarius, Wednesday August 1st, at 11.27 PM/EST. Since Full Moon’s mark a culmination or heightening of things, they can bring with them a swelling of emotions. That is definitely the case here. The Moon’s Aquarian energies this time around, bring a sense of excitement, as well as curiosity and optimism. Aquarius is an air sign, so there might be a tendency to settle into ones emotions and lose oneself, as opposed to moving through them and processing them. Everything is heightened at a Full Moon, reaching an apex. It’s a prime time for those issues that need to be addressed to rise to the surface, and get noticed. The Moon’s gravitational pull on our planet, its effect on the tidal shifts, also puts light on emotional issues. It’s an opportunity to deal with and release emotional and uncomfortable baggage that can be/is weighing you down, and keeps you from reaching goals you have set for yourself. At times, Aquarius can be a bit cerebral, taking things to a place of logic. If you sense any feelings of wanting to go within, it is advisable that you be in touch with your emotions rather than squash them. Tell your brain you’ll have to reschedule.

Now that the rather intense T-Square of Mars, Jupiter, and Pluto has shifted to a mellower vibe, there’s a more than welcome and freeing sense of calm. Jupiter in Gemini and the Full Moon are in harmonious aspect to one another. This provides an optimistic boost to feelings of freedom and growth. There may be an increase in day to day happenings, to the point that you may feel like you have your hands more than full with daily productivity. The Moon is also in harmonious aspect to Uranus in Aries, and Mars in Libra. This ramps up the sense of freedom card, and by adding in Mercury and the Sun (both in Leo) there is a wealth of creative energy. New ideas that promote the type of creativity that takes you outside of the box.  There also might be a bit of drama thrown into the mix, but don’t worry.  The term ‘drama’ gets a bad rap, as not all drama is negative.

This Moon is about our relationships. Our friends, and family. It is about our connection to kindred souls. Those people in our lives that we relate to through similar or mirrored ideals, and interests. It tells us that now is a good time to engage in fellowship with them, as it aids us in feeling a part of the greater collective. The Leo Sun Sextile Jupiter in Gemini, indicates that it’s good for creating some quality time with family and friends. Interaction and conversation injected with plenty of humor will be welcome. Rest, relaxation, and family fun.  Keep it upbeat and positive, and you can’t go wrong.

You may feel a great need to analyze what your place is in the grand scheme, rather than be alone with your thoughts. Go with it. You may find it easier to put your focus on the future rather than focusing on what is in front of your face. It may feel more comfortable to do that, but those things immediately before us are what need our attentions. Aquarius likes to operate in stages. The gradual approach may not be your personal norm, but you can be open to the possibilities of the future as they arise, and work through and experience the emotional issues of the present at the same time. Don’t base your life around ‘what if’s’, and focus on/be at peace with ‘what is’.  Also, in relation to any past issues brought to light in this time of culmination, you may have to make some personal adjustments to get those issues moving again. Mercury is still retrograde, so it is very likely that some old unresolved issues may bubble up.

Jupiter in Gemini and Uranus in Aries complete a Cradle with the lunar axis. The atmosphere is prime for lots of conversations and debates ranging from the lively to the heated. Don’t be surprised if things seem to be getting a tad confrontational at times. There are two Trines in this Cradle: the Moon Trine Jupiter (air), with the Sun Trine Uranus (fire). Truth. Is that what you’re getting from others? Don’t take everything at face value. Do some researching of your own to make sure the “facts” are indeed factual. A Trine between Saturn in Libra, and Venus in Gemini, keeps you in touch with what’s real. It will keep things firmly grounded.

(Artist:  David Palladini)
A Sextile between the Full Moon and Aquarius’ ruler, Uranus, is about the promotion of ideas on how to right wrongs within the group/collective. Uranus and Mercury in Leo, are both retrograde. Whether these ideas will actually progress remains to be seen. Mercury in Leo is inconjunct Neptune in Pisces, and this influence says that they may just be exercises in wishful thinking. It’s recommended that you take note of the ideas, and sit on them until after August 7th, once Mercury has stationed direct.

Mars in Libra Trine Ceres in Gemini, speaks to some rules of thumb I point out in many of these forecasts. Nurturing through communication, and being sure to do it in person. If you aren’t expressing yourself in the flesh, and you convey your message through the written word (e-mail, etc.), there is way too much room for misinterpretation. How often do you rely on the non-verbal cues of others (facial expressions, body language) when they are expressing things to you? The personal approach is always the better way to go. Also, work on those listening skills. “Hearing” others is just as important as others hearing you.

There is always a trouble maker during cycles, and this time it’s Pluto in Capricorn. However, paying attention to your own actions can throw a wrench into the works of the trouble potential. Pluto is inconjunct the Leo Sun, semi-Sextile the Aquarius Full Moon, and Square Uranus in Aries. Play nice. Don’t bend or break any rules. Some more rules of thumb apply here: be respectful and considerate of others. Just showing kindness and respect within the greater collective will make all the difference. After all, the old sayings about ‘what you give-you get back’ are very true.

Take the time to bask in the Moon’s glow, and use its energy to revitalize you.
The following excerpt is from the "Farmer's Almanac":

  • Full Sturgeon Moon - August  The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month.  A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon becuase, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze.  It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What I'm Watching...Paranormally Speaking...

Paranormal television is a hot business these days. A number of the cable networks are producing most of the shows out there. It seems that every season a new series is added to the ever growing list. Most who have read my blog know about my fascination with the world of the paranormal. Having had my own experiences, I am a believer in the apparitional realm(s). I am a watcher of several of the shows available to viewers, but not all. Most of them are rife with sensationalism, something I have written about before. Some have been so obviously fake that it’s laughable (the British series “Most Haunted” being the first to come to mind). Most employ creepy background music and sound effects that are meant to add to the creep factor. What these background noises actually do is cheese me off because they cover up anything we should be able to attempt to hear when someone says “Did you hear that?!” In the majority of cases, I would say it’s an attempt to create an eerie vibe when there is none to be had. It’s just one of a few tricks of the paranormal TV trade.

If you look online, you’ll encounter those who believe the paranormal encounters on a show are valid, and those that call the investigations fake. Everyone has their opinion. I have my own about the show’s I watch. I tend to revisit the ones that seem to be relatively legit. I say “seem to” because how do you really know unless you are there? EVP’s, apparitions, objects moving…seeing what appears to be an actual paranormal event on television can be compelling. Hearing what is supposedly an actual EVP is fascinating (EVP/electronic voice phenomenon = recording of sounds/voices that aren’t audible to the human ear), but actually being in the moment…feeling what the investigators and witnesses are feeling…seeing paranormal events…the way things are conveyed is the key to a decent paranormally based television show. 

Which ones do I actually watch? Well, that list isn’t very long. There are a few that I watch every now and again when there is nothing else on (“A Haunting”, and “Paranormal State” to name a couple.) Then there is my rather short list of regular ghostly viewings that I watch each week. The four shows I am about to mention are the bulk of what I currently watch.

“Paranormal Witness” is on the SyFy Network, and it is well worth seeing. These stories are not for the faint of heart, as they are beefier and edgier than the majority of what’s out there. The second season of this spooky series premieres on Wednesday, August 8th, at 10:00PM/EST. I have marked my calendar. “Paranormal Witness” is the first of the two shows on my list that are based on witness testimony and re-enactments. Unlike other re-enactment shows (“The Haunted”, “A Haunting”) the production values are one of the best I have seen on a show of its type. Maybe due to bigger budgets, or better creative resources, each episode of the first season had an unsettling vibe that was so welcome. They use actors instead of witnesses (having the ‘victims’ of the actual events act out what they went through is a recipe for a dull show…they aren’t actors by any stretch, and their faked fear is not effective…at all.) I don’t know about you, but I like my ghost stories to have a certain amount of eerie punch. “Paranormal Witness” doesn’t disappoint. I am pretty confident that the new season will be as good, or maybe even better than the first. I am certain they will re-air the first season leading up to the second season premiere, but you can also find full episodes of this show by visiting the official show site: http://www.syfy.com/paranormalwitness/ If you dig shows of this genre, this one is a must see.

The second show on my list that’s based on the witness testimony and re-enactment format is “School Spirits”. It can also be found on the SyFy Channel, with the season finale “Frat House Phantom” airing Wednesday, at 10:00 PM/EST. Created by Mark Burnett of “Survivor” fame, and produced by Julie Insogna and Seth Jarett creators of “Celebrity Ghost Stories”, “School Spirits” is based on stories of school hauntings as re-told by students, faculty, and alumni. Here the production values are also of the higher variety. In regards to the structure and content, it is approached with a pen rather than the crayon employed by lesser productions. It is both dramatic and eerie, actors being used in the re-enactments here, as well. As with “Paranormal Witness”, I don’t feel like I have wasted an hour like other shows of the genre. It’s spooky and engaging, two elements that make “School Spirits” a show worth watching. SyFy re-airs episodes here and there, but you can also find full episodes at the site: http://www.syfy.com/schoolspirits/ Recommend it.

(John Zaffis)
Now my regular views switch to the investigative vein, with SyFy’s “Haunted Collector”. Well known in the paranormal field for close to 40 years, lead investigator, John Zaffis, is a researcher, demonologist, and nephew to Ed and Lorraine Warren (the Warrens are best known for their investigative work on the infamous Amityville case). Zaffis and his crew are contacted by people having paranormal troubles, and they investigate. Zaffis has a more unique approach to investigations. His experience is that many hauntings can be attached to specific objects, the theory being if you are able to locate the object and remove it from the site, the hauntings will hopefully cease. Zaffis has consulted all over the world during his years in the paranormal field, and has thousands of haunted items in his eerie museum in Stratford, CT. One famous item is a statue of the Virgin Mary (the hands are missing; they were supposedly melted off during an exorcism) from the Snedeker Case that he worked on with the Warrens. The feature film “The Haunting in Connecticut” (2009) is based on this particular case. I have seen some footage of the inside of Zaffis’ museum, and the collection is quite impressive. Visitors are said to feel eerie energy from the moment they enter the rooms.  I can believe it.

(Zaffis Museum of the Paranormal, Stratford, CT)

(Left to right: John Zaffis, Aimee Zaffis, Chris Zaffis, Jason Gates,
Brian Cano, and Beth Ezzo)
The other members of Zaffis’ team are Chris Zaffis his son (Investigator & Tech), Aimee Zaffis his daughter (Investigator & Researcher), Brian Cano (Tech Specialist), Jesslyn Brown (Investigator), Jason Gates (Investigator & Researcher), and Beth Ezzo (Psychic Investigator). Investigation shows on the whole can annoy me, due to some team members constantly talking, ruining any chances to hear anything. Couple that with injected music and sound effects, and that show will get tossed on my reject pile pretty quickly. Not the case with “Haunted Collector”. The team is always calm, and professional compared to teams on other shows. They always try to find scientific explanations for events before calling them paranormal. Each case ends with an item being located.  Zaffis then adds it to his museum as all clients ask him to. They can always get the item back if removing it from the premises doesn’t help things. Every case so far, it has. “Haunted Collector” is in it’s second season, and airs Wednesday, at 9:00 PM/EST.  You can watch full episodes on the official site: http://www.syfy.com/hauntedcollector/

(Steve DiSchiavi)
The Travel Channel’s “Dead Files” is the final show on my short list. This is a paranormal investigation show with a twist. Steve DiSchiavi is a retired homicide detective who conducts the first part of the investigation. He meets with the client to get the explanation of events. He then questions all relevant sources (past owners, neighbors, etc.), and researches past history of a site. Enter the other half of the investigation team, physical medium Amy Allan. Prior to her arrival at the site, her assistant of sorts, Matt Anderson, goes in and removes or covers all pictures so as not to lead Amy in her psychic impressions. Matt then accompanies her in while she walks the site at night.  There is a camera man with them, but Matt video tapes her, as well, asking salient questions as they move through the site. Steve and Amy do not communicate during the investigation, only divulging their findings to each other at the reveal with the client. It is then that Amy gives the client advice as to how to proceed with their situation. I find this show compelling, and find Amy Allan seemingly credible. You can find recaps of the episodes on the official site, but unfortunately it looks as though they do not have full episodes available: http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/the-dead-files I recommend keeping an eye out for re-airs of this one. “Dead Files” regular night is Fridays, at 10:00 PM/EST.
(Amy Allan)
The above are my regular four viewing choices to feed my paranormal TV requirements each week. All are compelling viewing. Do I think all of the stories are true? Do I think all of the investigators are legit? As someone with an open mind, I think anything is possible. As I mentioned, I have had experiences of my own.  Maybe that allows me to look at things with a different perspective. I do think that there are logical scientific explanations for a lot of things, but I also believe that the paranormal does exist. Whatever you feel about the paranormal, I find these shows entertaining. A quality I look for in most everything I watch...don't you? 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me...

Yesterday (Friday, July 27th) was my birthday. Number 48. As is often the case, the older one gets, the more ‘old age’ jokes are thrown their way. I had a few tossed in my direction, and I have cracked a few myself. In all cases, they are said in the spirit of fun.  There’s always room for that. Well...some of that...

Yeah, that’s me in the picture. New to the world, with not a worry in sight. Whenever I see a baby, I always think about the fact that I was once that size. That we were all once tiny, innocent (in my case 'chubby') people. I still have a couple of my old baby dresses with matching frilly panties. They were hand made, but I don’t know by whom. Every once in a great while I would come across them looking for something else buried in my closet. Wrapped in tissue paper, I would take out the dresses to look at, marveling that I was once small enough to wear them. They are still in incredible condition.  They could probably be worn again. To be a baby again with not one idea or belief stamped into my brain cells. To start from scratch. From time to time, I think we all have wished that we could start over. That we could erase the things we regretted. That we could do the things we valued over again, and maybe by revisiting them make them better. Obviously, we can’t do that. In this life, we forge ahead and make the best of it. We experience things as they come, and the road markers known as ‘Birthdays’ are one of those things.

Birthdays don’t mean the same thing to me as they did when I was young. In those long past days, I loved being presented with a brightly decorated cake, the blazing candle on top promising me a wish. The excitement of being presented with wrapped packages containing surprise goodies. It was my special day. Another path marker on my route to adulthood. I encountered some rough times growing up, so having those special and positive moments that were all about me…well, they meant something.

These days not so much. Do I think of myself as old? Sometimes. I definitely feel ‘old-er’. In the grand scheme, I’m really not old. I suppose one person’s 48 is different than another person’s 48. Mentally, I feel younger than my age. I have a great sense of humor, and dole out my share of silliness. I enjoy playing video games and watching Anime. Watching scary movies, and exploring the world of the metaphysical are also in there.  I am prone to the occasional celebrity crush (any of my friend’s on Facebook who have seen the plentiful photos I post of Chris Hemsworth as “Thor” can verify that…*grin*...actually, I find it all as funny as other people do).

Physically, I don’t have crow’s feet creased into the outer corners of my eyes, and my brow is unfurrowed. I don’t sport the wattle under my chin that some of my age have. I feel I can safely say that I look a bit younger than my age. (I wanted to post a picture of myself here, which is COMPLETELY out of character for me. I dislike having my picture taken for any reason. Posting my picture on my bio was hard enough for me to do, so the idea of posting a picture of my visage in a blog post…I think “repellant” would be a fitting word. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to go against my grain and post one. This one’s from several years ago, but I haven’t changed, really.  Plus, I recently got a hair trim, and I have decided that it makes me resemble Professor Snape a bit too much for comfort.) As far as the rest of my frame, I do have problems with my right hand and wrist, and my right knee. Often, trying to put my hand to use can be painful (an annoying thing for someone who likes to create with their hands). All of the time, bending my leg or walking is tricky and hurts. I’m also prone to headaches, and insufferable and tediously long bouts of insomnia. I have Graves’ Disease (hyper-thyroidism), and Rheumatoid Arthritis. In some respects, my body not only feels like it’s falling apart, it is falling apart. I’m not complaining, really, as that solves nothing. I accept my condition (albeit reluctantly) as one can only do what the doctor tells them to do. After that, you just have to figure out what you can do on a day to day basis, and figure out the best way to try and do everything else. Do I feel old? I have my moments. My body is starting to fall apart, and I’m not ready for that to happen. After all, I’m still young. I’ve got a bit more living to do tucked up my sleeve. “You are as young as you feel.” It all depends on one’s mental make-up. That’s what truly affects a person’s core.

My Birthday was a low-key one, which I prefer these days. Glenn, is ill. I have my usual ailments, and a monster of a headache that’s been raging around my skull for going on two-weeks. Aside from braving a quick trip to the grocery store to replenish some essentials, I avoided the heat and humidity by staying inside. I did get some cool prezzies from Glenn. Two neat books about Steampunk design, and a pair of Steampunk themed goggles. My dad and step-mum sent me a lovely card. A number of my Facebook friends filled my Timeline with Birthday wishes. All things considered, it was a good Birthday. Not what my young self would have liked, but completely fine with my adult self.

Happy Birthday to me…

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stormy Weather & Introspection...

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
The sky deeply rumbles, the scent of impending rain hanging heavily on the breeze. Any time I hear the approach of my favorite mood of Gaia's, I immediately go to the camera, followed immediately by the front door. Those cracks and rumbles booming in the near distance are letting me know that lightning is striking, and rain is falling. Somewhere. Hopefully, close by. I can be having the worst day imaginable, but inject some stormy weather into the mix and my frown will turn upside down in no time. The photo above is the first thing I saw after going outside and looking up. My first thought was of a naturally occurring Yin-Yang. The light meeting the dark. The positive meeting the negative. Duality.

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
Here on the coast, I get to witness the approach of storms in interesting ways. I have caught the distinct edge of more than one storm pulling itself from inland like a dark fluffy blanket being laid over the marsh. In some ways the weather patterns on the coast can make one feel like you are living on the edge of a shelf. I suppose that's not completely off the mark since the coast kind of drops off as it meets the wide watery expanse of the Atlantic. The sky here is big and blue much like the Atlantic. However, I find the sky is much more interesting. It's moods, it's changes, are more easily witnessed. I enjoy the sky immensely. Some of my favorite things reside in the sky. The Stars. The Moon. The clouds. It is the clouds that called me outside.

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
I have one specific vantage point of the marshland that I never tire of photographing. I have caught each mood of Mother Earth from that one spot, and each time is as magical as the last. It encapsulates what I love most about the place I live. The trees, the moss, the marsh. It is a corner of the outside world that I craved for so long.  Living in a vast city like Los Angeles can wear on someone from a more beucolic place. Finally, I returned to the Deep South, and the flora and fauna I grew up around. I missed so much of the nature here. And rain...boy, did I miss the rain. Lightning and thunder so angry it shakes a structure to it's very foundation. Heavy rain rhythmically falling in sheets and waves, lulling me into an unequalled state of calm. I have a short list that contains my personal forms of therapy.  Photography is one, as is hanging out in graveyards snapping pictures. The other therapeutic form at the top of my list is rain.

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
I have been doing quite a bit of introspection over the last few weeks. Trying to push my re-set button in constructive ways. Mentally and emotionally, I have needed to take stock for a long time. Negativity has held more of my energy than I would like. Yes, it has come in fits and starts, but it has had more of an effect on me than I care to admit. It's not a characteristic state for me by any stretch, but it has visited me frequently. Mostly in the form of stress.

Now is the time for some changes. My chief source of stress is almost at its conclusion, so that will be extremely welcome. I am feeling the need to make some strides on my own though. Do some reassessing and readjusting of my head, mainly. The unconscious mind is a funny thing. More funny-strange, than funny-haha. Well, as it is applied to what I'm talking about. Stress and worry can eat away at the core, turning someone into a shadow of their former self. In a way, it's like becoming a prisoner of your own mind. Worrying about the things you can't change or control to the point of derailing your ability to cope and guide the things you do have control over. The result? Feeling like a poor reproduction of the person you once were.

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
Sounds a tad dramatic, I know. Sad to say that on several levels, that's how I've been feeling. Time for a change though. The most used description of times like this are when people say they are "starting a new life". That phrase has never made sense to me. Yes, I know what it means, but we can't "start a new life" (if only it were that easy). The best we can do is what I have been feeling the need to do...hit the re-set button. Rejuvenate.  Breath life back into life.

One of the main culprits in this bothersome funk is the quashing of my creativity. I am a vastly creative person and not being able to release it in my usual ways has had a definite effect on my mental state. Roughly six or seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. As someone who uses their hands a lot (drawing, painting, sewing, etc.), dealing with the restrictive illness has been tough. I have projects already begun that I have wanted to complete, but not being able to get the necessary usage out of my hands has been...well, for lack of a better word, infuriating. It has been a long infuriating and frustrating ride to this point, with not being able to create with my hands. I think I would have gone absolutely bonkers if it hadn't been for my newly discovered creative streak of the last few years, photography. Capturing images in creative ways. Yes, I plan to invest in a better camera as soon as I'm able, but if it weren't for this small digital camera...well, like I said...bonkers...squared!

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)
Now that I have lived with my RA stiffness and pains for awhile, I have figured out ways to side-step the effects. I can start to work on new ways to achieve what I easily produced before. It will still take time, but time is the one constant in everything we do. Everything takes the requisite amount of time.

A book is waiting in my cerebral wings, so to speak. Typing is something I can do. That's why my blog has been my second saving grace. Sharing whatever I want to share. Creating my posts from found and researched information on topics of interest to me (and I hope to others), and creating posts from the wellspring of my own psyche. The compounding daily stresses can also act as a locked and bolted door that blocks the pathways of written words. "Writer's Block". I have been plagued with a bit of that, too. That's all changing though. I'm creating a new head space. One that functions in a stronger capacity. One that functions in a more positive way. Hitting that re-set button. That's what it's all about.

The sky continues to grumble. Looking out across the marsh, I can see the dark malformed puffs of clouds moving across the sky. I have always wanted to set-up the tripod and film the moving clouds. To record just how quickly they move when the weather is 'off'. Gaia is dealing with her own stresses at the moment, with droughts, floods, fires, all kinds of natural dangers. Stormy, angry weather...she has her moods, too. I think she's entitled.

This time of the year brings weeks of forecasts predicting the "possibility" of scattered thunderstorms. That's the weather peoples' way of saying "we don't know what's going to happen, but it could rain". There is a storm friendly breeze blowing, and the grey clouds are moving in. I caught the blazing orange flash of a couple of lightning bolts out of the corner of my eye. Things definitely look as though they are primed for the "bottom to fall out" of the sky. There wouldn't be any complaints made, by me or anyone else.  We sure do need it.

Will it rain today? No one can say with certainty. Whenever Mother Earth decides to fulfill her promises of rain, I'll be here. Pushing the re-set button.

(Photo:  Lisa Erin Brown)

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Moon In Cancer...July 19, 2012...

( http://hellobaby.deviantart.com/)

July 19, 2012’s New Moon is in the sign of Cancer, and hits its peak at 12:25 AM/EST. During New Moons emotional veils are thinned, so there is a sense of clarity that surrounds the energies present.  Cancer is a water sign rife with feminine energy. Cancer signifies the Mother, the nurturer. This Moon is about our feminine energy, and delving into the ‘mother’ within each of us. Getting in tune with our empathic abilities, and being able to not only empathize with the emotions of others, but to empathize with ourselves, too. New Moons encourage us to look inwardly, to self-nurture, and to grow.

There is some interesting stuff going on with planetary positions this cycle. The New Moon will be making a waning aspect to Saturn in Libra. Try to maintain a balance between helping and nurturing others, while helping and nurturing yourself. The emotion card is going to be very prominent, so it’s important that you maintain a balanced maturity and fairness in all of your dealings. Intellectual Libra is all about fairness and justice. Cancer, on the other hand, is highly emotional, and is very skilled at spreading it around. Rather than dealing with issues from one position or the other, make an effort to utilize both the heart and mind in your approach. This is key as others may be coming from a place of insecurity.

Uranus and Mercury are both in retrograde motion, and in aspect to one another. If tensions get high (and they usually do, don’t they?), don’t hesitate to inject some playfulness into the mix. Also, don’t be afraid to fully express yourself. It might create some new avenues for you that you didn’t know were possible. A little spontaneity every now and again never hurt anything…well, not much. *grin*

Peaked Libran Mars will be forming an exact T-Square aspect to Uranus in Aries, Square Pluto in Capricorn. Be strong and courageous in your dealings. Make every effort to keep the peace. The Mars Square Pluto dynamic could generate some power struggles. There is a lot of good energy to help you get things done, but if advantage isn’t taken now, there is the possibility of some oppression. Uranus and Mars will be in opposition, so expect the unexpected. That’s for good or bad…it could go either way. Taking some initiative, and not allowing energy to go unused, will keep it from veering to the negative. Basically, now is a time to be proactive.

There is a Cradle Pattern with opposing Uranus and Mars acting as the base.  The top of the Cradle is comprised of Mercury in Leo Sextile Jupiter in Gemini, connected by Trines and Sextiles to Uranus and Mars. Excitement is definitely in the air. The times of New Moons are times for new beginnings, and these planetary players are about innovative projects and ideas. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

(Artist:  David Palladini)
BUT, it doesn’t end there. There is a Yod in the mix, too. The top of the Cradle (Jupiter sextile Mercury) is acting as the base, and Pluto in Capricorn is at the apex of the Yod. Things could start moving quicker than you would like, or can handle. When things seem stalled or feel like they are just turning in circles, some decide to push harder hoping to get things back on track and completed.  That is the last thing you want to do. There is potential for some new and exciting things, so this is another place where a balance of intellect and of emotions will help. Pay close attention, and listen to what is being said. Will the proposals and plans work for you? You are the only one who can be the judge. Focus on the idea, and how it pertains to you and your mental framework. If the individual who came up with the initial idea is someone you don’t necessarily jive with, does that truly matter? A good idea is a good idea.  

The cycles of the Moon have great effect on our moods, our emotional tides. During the Cancer New Moon, they will be a little closer to the surface. Getting in touch with your feminine side, and focusing on family, hearth, and home, are prominent. It’s important to delve into the core of your family, and the core of yourself. Cancer the crab has a tendency to side-step some of the more difficult issues, but this is a really good time to explore some of those older and deeper emotion based issues.  Show them some love.  Allow them to heal. As mentioned before, Cancer is a water sign. Let some healing energy flow.

There is plenty of energy to be tapped. Plant those new seeds (ideas), and maybe re-energize some that have already germinated. Remember to utilize the head along with the heart. To nurture yourself while nurturing others. Balance is key.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Ruby...

Since my birthday falls at the end of this month, I figured I would start off some new additions to my postings on crystals and gemstones with July’s birthstone, the Ruby. I think a lot of people automatically associate it with the glittering kicks Dorothy wears in ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  Baum made a good choice when he penned the book, as the Ruby is a very rare gem much like the rare footwear.

A variety of the mineral corundum (a.k.a. aluminum oxide), rubies are one of the hardest minerals on the planet. On the Mohs scale (1 thru 10, 10 being the hardest), they fall at 9, second in hardness to the diamond. In its pure form, corundum is colorless. It’s the presence of various elements like iron, chrome, and titanium that give the stone its color. Chromium (chrome) is the main element that gives the deep red color to the ruby (all other corundum colors are sapphires). Also, like the diamond, rubies are graded under the “4-C’s”:  color, cut, clarity, and carat weight.

The name ‘ruby’ comes from the Latin word ‘ruber’ which means red. The relationship between rubies and sapphires has only been known since the beginning of the 19th century. Before then, deep red spinels and garnets were also thought to be rubies. Some famous pieces of the British Crown Jewels (the ‘Timur Ruby’, and the ‘Black Ruby’) are in fact spinels. Personally, I have always gravitated towards garnets. They are kind of the ‘poor man’s’ ruby.

(Left: Timur Ruby; Right: Black Ruby)
It is extremely rare to find a ruby that has fine color and good clarity. Interestingly enough, chrome is the culprit. Over the millions of years it took for the stones to develop, chrome was not only giving the developing gems their color,  it was creating multitudes of cracks and fissures. To find a ruby more than 3 carats is not only rare, its price would surpass the cost of a diamond of the same size.  The ‘silk of the ruby’ is a term used for the shiny quality of many rubies. The ‘silk’ effect is caused by very fine needles of rutile within the stone. If a trained eye doesn’t find rutiles within a stone, chances are good that it has been treated and/or is fake.

Some examples of the high price tag on quality rubies, are some jewelry pieces sold at Christie’s auction house around September, of 2011. A number of pieces from Liz Taylor's jewelry collection were auctioned. The ruby and diamond ring pictured above, broke the price-per-carat record for rubies, at $512,925 per carat (the grand total was $4.2 million). The necklace pictured sold for $3.7 million.

(Ruby mine, Mong Hsu)
As I was reading up on this stone, some sources said that India was long thought to be the country of origin for the ruby. Most of the mining background I found centered on Myanmar (Burma). Burmese rubies are thought to be the top of the heap when it comes to high quality. In the 1990’s, a mine in the small town of Mong Hsu, in NE Myanmar, became a primary mining source for the red stones. Historically, rubies and sapphires have also been mined in Cambodia, India, and Thailand, to name a few. After the second world war, some deposits were found in Madagascar, Vietnam, and Nepal. The most recent reported deposits I found were in Kenya and Greenland.

Now for the aspects of stones that I find most interesting. The symbolism. The ruby is represented in the elements of fire and blood. Red. The color of love and passion. The ruby brings and fosters love, as well as bringing one courage and loyalty. It is a stone of nobility, bringing its owner strength and vitality. It encourages one to follow their bliss.

The ruby aids in the reduction of negativity, preserving both the mental and physical health of the wearer. It is worn as a talisman of protection.  When set in gold it is said to carry the masculine energies of the sun, and when set in silver it is said to carry the feminine energies of the moon. The ruby fosters a positive state of mind. It promotes mental clarity and positive dreams. It also aids in obtaining wealth and passion.

There are a number of old beliefs about the stone. In the middle ages, the ruby was thought to be a stone of prophecy. If the stone darkened, it was said to signal that danger was near. It was used in powder form in the 13th century, to cure liver ailments. In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was thought to counteract poison. Rubbing a ruby on the skin was believed to restore a person’s vitality and youth. Rubies were believed to detoxify the system; treat fevers; cure ailments to the circulatory system; stimulate the kidneys, reproductive organs, and spleen.

(Left: Root Chakra; Right: Heart Chakra)
One use/association of the ruby that I was already familiar with, is its resonance to the ‘Base’ (1st) and ‘Heart’ (4th) Chakras. The ‘Base’ Chakra is located at the base of the spine, and is associated with the color red. It relates to the physical body, and is the Chakra that controls our grounding to the Earth. The ‘Heart’ Chakra is located at the center of the chest, and is associated with the color green. The “bridge” between the upper and lower Chakras, it is the love center. It deals with acceptance, compassion, and transformation. (To learn more about all of the Chakras, you can find other posts in the 'Chakra' section under 'Labels'.) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grave Interpretations: Classic Paintings & Poetry...

After visiting my favorite cemetery yesterday, I was moved to look up old/classic paintings that depict graveyards. I found quite a few, and picked out a collection of works that I like for various reasons.  Mood, shape, use of color...an artists eye reflects so much, whether it be literal, or more cerebral. As I am wont to do from time to time, I am posting some of these beautiful old works with works of a different form.  Paintings and poetry.  Enjoy.

("The Jewish Cemetery"; Artist:  Jacob von Ruisdael, c. 1655)
("The Cemetery in Gastein";  Artist:  Rudolph von Alt, c. 1898)
by Alessio Tummolillo

I kill time in cemeteries.

Sticky, humid cemeteries in the summer.
Golden, dead cemeteries in the fall.
Barren, watchful cemeteries in the winter.
Greeting the new dead in the spring.

When I have time to kill, I do it in mausoleums, sepulchers, graveyards.
I use, abuse, and muse over the refused, when I have time to kill.

To remind myself I'm alive.
To remind myself I'll die.
To remind myself to remember I'll be forgotten.
To remind myself I'll be
Reduced to ashes
Behind marble plaque
Thrown in the sea,
Where I'll rest for eternity.

Just to remind myself I'm not alone.
That we're all headed to the Sunset Limited.
("Cloister Cemetery in The Snow"; Artist:  Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1817-19)
("The Cemetery Entrance"; Artist:  Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1825)
by Pablo Neruda

There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I'm not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.
("Graveyard in The Tyrol 2";  Artist:  John Singer Sargent, c. 1914)
("The Ancient Cross and Round Tower at Clonmacnois";
Artist: William Henry Bartlett, c. 1841) 
("Lithuanian Graveyard"; Artist:  Mikalojus Ciurlionis, c. 1909)
by Raymond A. Foss

Tactile memories
in the cemetery stones
visual reflections of the times
the ages in which the country knew
imagery of hell, of heaven,
of lives as they were lived,
or of how they want to be remembered
tactile granite, marble, slate,
yielding in their turn to the rain,
the ice, the lichen, the moss,
the wind, the ages
Hear the whispers in the wind
the feel of the cemetery stones
rough, cool, smooth
places of remembrance
to be felt
("Nor'wester in The Cemetery";  Artist:  William A. Sutton, c. 1950)
("Quesada Cemetery";  Artist:  Rafael Zabaleta, c. ?)
("Arabs I (Cemetery)";  Artist:  Wassily Kandinsky, c. 1909)