The Canadian Horseshoe

I’m not sure how many of you may be familiar with the culinary classic, the horseshoe sandwich. For the uninitiated here’s the Wikipedia description, “This open-faced sandwich begins with thick-sliced toasted bread, and most often hamburger patties, or ham. Other meat is also used, such as deep fried pork tenderloin, grilled or fried chicken breast, and fried fish filets. There is also a “breakfast” horseshoe that uses eggs and hash browns. The meat is topped with French fries and smothered with a ‘secret’ cheese sauce. The cheese sauce varies from chef to chef, allowing each cook to create a signature dish, but the sauce is a sort of Welsh rabbit, common ingredients being eggs, beer, butter, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.”

According to Wikipedia, and most food folklore, the dish originated in Springfield, Illinois. I don’t want to knock the description from Wikipedia, but in my hometown a couple of hours north of Springfield you would find horseshoe sandwiches that I suspect were covered more in Cheez Whiz than Welsh rabbit. However, growing up the pinnacle of horseshoe greatness was the Italian horseshoe at Pagliai’s Pizza. It was a thick hamburger patty covered in the most perfectly fried crinkle cut French fries and topped with Italian tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. In fact, I talked about that damn Italian horseshoe SO much that the very first Valentine’s Day that my husband I celebrated after moving in together he attempted to recreate it without ever having seen or tasted one himself. It was a success, and until health issues came into play, it was what we had for dinner every Valentine’s Day.

Now my friends, you may recall that I was recently in Canada, home of poutine, which Wikipedia helpfully describes as, “a dish of French fries, fresh cheese curds, and sometimes additional ingredients, covered with brown gravy or sauce.” While visiting Canada I did not get to have poutine, but I did get to try one of its variants called mozza fries. It’s just like poutine except you replace shredded mozzarella for the cheese curds. And it was a tasty, tasty treat.

I recently had my gallbladder removed, which as of now has made no improvement in any of the symptoms that I had prior to the surgery. Essentially I’m exactly the same, except now I’m minus a gallbladder. In an attempt to cheer me up my husband decided to recreate the mozza fries I had in Canada. I can eat French fries when they’re baked, we currently keep fat-free shredded mozzarella cheese on hand (lame I know, but I do what I can), and we bought the lowest fat, blandest appearing brown gravy in a jar. Then my husband, in an attempt to turn it into a meal cooked up a lean ground beef patty. So once you take away all the added adjectives, what we had was a hamburger patty topped with French fries, covered in beef gravy and mozzarella cheese.

The Canadian Horseshoe

And holy crap, my husband created the Canadian horseshoe! Go, tell your friends. Better still, someone tell the folks over at Pagliai’s Pizza.

Banned Books Week 2011

It’s the last week of September and so that means it is once again Banned Books Week! From the American Library Association website, “Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.”

One of the features on the website is a free downloadable booklet that talks about Banned Books Week and how you can support it. It also features a list of books that have been banned and/or challenged in 2010-2011 (the list runs May 2010 to May 2011). The booklet is appropriately titled “Books Challenged and/or Banned in 2010-2011” and it’s by Robert P. Doyle. In case you were curious as to what books have been banned and/or challenged this past year, I thought I would share the list. For details about each book’s situation, check out the booklet.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker
The Notebook Girls: Four Friends, One Diary, Real Life by Julie Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, and Courtney Toombs
Forever in Blue, the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
My Mom’s Having a Baby by Dori Hillestad Butler
Betrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Dead Man in Indian Creek by Mary Downing Hahn
Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Stolen Children by Peg Kehret
The Koran
Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle in India by Joseph Lelveld
Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys: A Growing Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras and Dane Saavedra
Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane
Shooting Star by Fredrick McKissack Jr.
Writers’ Voice: Selected from Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette
Tweaked: A Crystal Meth Memoir by Patrick Moore
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
ttyl by Lauren Myracle
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
The Body of Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Push by Sapphire (Ramona Lofton)
Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs by Carl Semencic
We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives by Paul Shaffer
The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx
Bone by Jeff Smith
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology edited by Amy Sonnie
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Jubilee by Margaret Walker
Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems from WritersCorps

To learn more about Banned Books Week visit the American Library Association website.

How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization

On a whim Career Press contacted me to see if I had any interest in receiving a review copy of “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization: The Essential Guide to Improving Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or Temple” by Michael A. Sand. Now I don’t manage a religious organization, heck, I don’t even belong to a religious organization, but I jumped at the chance to check out the book. Why? Because I’m nosy. I wanted to see how effective religious organizations might be run, and since the author also wrote “How to Manage an Effective Nonprofit Organization” I figured he probably had a lot of insights since many religious organizations are nonprofits.

To say the book was eye opening is an understatement. I’ve attended events at assorted churches and temples throughout my life, but never in a zillion years would I have suspected the amount of effort that went on behind the scenes. Even if these organizations weren’t as effectively managed as they could be, if they were even halfway to effectively managed the amount of work involved is staggering.

It seems so simple on the outside looking in. You have a religious leader and they prepare sermons or rituals, perform weddings and funerals, and then you have some volunteers that I don’t know, keep the place clean and help out when needed. It’s not like I thought it was easy, it just seemed pretty straightforward. I would like to state now, for the record, that I am a dumb ass. Yes you have the stuff I mentioned previous, but what about by-laws? What about actually finding and keeping volunteers? What about budget, or fundraising for that matter? What about membership? The list goes on!

Fortunately Sand’s book is there to lay it all out for you. To me it was overwhelming, but it’s a book, the guidance is still there waiting for you after you catch your breath. “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” is not an exciting read, but it is incredibly thorough and detailed despite it’s compact size of 221 pages. Sand does his best to navigate the diverse religious landscape of America without stepping on any toes. Readers of The Buffet will be interested to know that along with the usual Judeo Christian suspects he also briefly touches on the Baha’i faith, the Quakers, and Wicca when discussing how different religious groups find leaders. However, if you’ve been looking for that truly common denominator between assorted faiths, how they can be effectively managed may be the link you’ve been waiting for. It’s an oddly comforting notion.

I honestly don’t know how many of you guys need to know how to effectively manage a religious organization, but if you’re like me and curious, you will definitely find “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” an interesting read.

October is Coming! October is Coming!

It’s almost here, the craziest time of the year for just about everything that I’m interested in. October is the month for all things paranormal, Halloween, and Samhain. If I had the time, money, and stamina I could probably find an interesting event going on every single day in the month of October! There is a lot of stuff happening, and I figured now was a good time to give you all the rundown in case you’re looking for some neat stuff to do next month.

First off, guess what? October marks the fifth year anniversary of The Magical Buffet! Can you believe I’ve been doing this for five years now? Man, five years and I still haven’t achieved global domination. What’s up with that?

October 1 & 2, 2011

3rd Annual Northern New York Paranormal Expo

Yes, the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society is putting on their third paranormal expo in Plattsburgh, NY. This year the event is in a new location, the Crete Civic Center. However due to some bouncing around with the timing of the event, for the first time since the NNYPRS started doing expos I won’t be attending the event. I know I’ll be missing out because their list of speakers for the event is fantastic. Buffet favorites Gordie Little and Paul Bartholomew will be there, the NNYPRS Tech Council will be doing what I’m sure will be another entertaining and informative presentation, Champy expert Scott Mardis (who has been featured on “MonsterQuest”) will be speaking, for the first time ever the NNYPRS will be doing a live reveal of their latest investigation of the Kent-Lord House (a purportedly haunted museum in Plattsburgh, NY), and more! And by more I mean loads of vendors, psychics and a large children’s area.

For more information, visit the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society website.

October 1, 2011

The Everyman’s Guide to Protective Magick: Religion, Folklore & Myth at Muse Gifts & Books

This is what I’m doing on Saturday October 1st! I’ll be at Muse Gifts & Books located at 157 Main Street (Route 101) Marlborough, NH from 1-3:00pm giving my talk, hanging out, and shopping. The store created an event on Facebook that has this description of the event.

“Join metaphysical blogger extraordinaire, Rebecca Elson, founder and publisher of “The Magical Buffet” for a special workshop: “The Everyman’s Guide to Protective Magick: Religion, Folklore & Myth”. Discover the rituals, talismans, and means by which the peoples of various cultures have employed throughout history to ward off negative entities and energies. In celebration of The Magical Buffet’s 5th Anniversary, admission is only $5! Seating is limited, so reserve yours now at: 603-876-4242.”

I’d love to see you guys there!

October 2, 2011

ISIS Paranormal Radio Interview

On Sunday October 2nd at 6:00pm eastern I will be a guest on ISIS Paranormal Radio. Hosts Dayna Winters and Patricia Gardner had me on years ago and it was one of my favorite interviews ever. We recently reconnected after their (along with Angela Kaufman) first book, “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” was published. Their radio show is online and it’s free to tune in. If you’re home at your computer, why not tune in?

To learn more visit the ISIS Paranormal Radio website. To tune in, go here.

October 15, 2011

“Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” Book Signing

Hey, speaking of Dayna Winters, Patricia Gardner, and Angela Kaufman….on Saturday October 15th from 12-3:00pm they will be at Spindle City Market, located at 302 Ontario Street Cohoes, NY signing copies of their book “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” I hear supplies of their book may be limited, so if you’re interested in buying a copy you may want to try and get there early. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it, but I would like to go and get a few photos with the ladies and get my book signed. I love signed copies of books!

October 21-23, 2011

Albacon

From their website, “Albacon a weekend gathering in Albany, NY, of fans and creators of Science Fiction or Fantasy, including literature, movies, games, and other media. Join us for three days of panel discussions, interviews, films, games, readings, autographs, an art show, special events, a fabulous dealers room, debates, conversation, and socializing with people who share your interests!”

Not only am I attending, I am a program participant! I’m still not entirely sure what that means. More than likely this means I will be dazzling another group with my “Protection From Evil: Religion, Folklore, and Myth” presentation. I also volunteered to be part of whatever panel discussions they wanted to put me in, so there is probably that too. Better still, I won’t be at Albacon alone. I’ll have authors Deborah Blake and Nancy Holzner (both program participants) to get into trouble with! If you’re in the area, come on down and have some fun with us!

For more details visit the Albacon website. UPDATE: Albacon 2011 has been cancelled. I plan on attending Celebrate Samhain that Saturday.

October 22, 2011

Celebrate Samhain

Readers may remember how much I loved attending Celebrate Samhain last year. I came straight home and marked the 2011 date on my calendar. Now you can imagine how cross I was to discover that Albacon had decided to shift the weekend of their event so that it now overlapped with Celebrate Samhain! Curses!

And even more curses because again for a stupidly low price you can spend the day shopping, listening to talks from Raven and Stephanie Grimassi, Christopher Penczak, Judika Illes, Dawn Hunt, and dancing to the live performance from Frenchy and the Punk (formerly known as The Gypsy Nomads)!

For all the details visit the Celebrate Samhain website.

Of course these are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more than just this stuff going on! What events are you going to this October? Feel free to share events in the comments!

Stiletto Heels, Playmates, and Murder

I just want to preface this ENTIRE article with the bold, and I’m sure controversial, statement that I think murder is wrong. I in no way endorse the murder of a human being no matter how incredibly awesome the story around it may or may not be. Murder=Bad Now with that out of the way, let’s lower the level of discourse on The Magical Buffet as I discuss sexy murderous scenarios, okay?

At the beginning of August I stumbled across an article from The Daily Mail titled “Death by stiletto: Woman ‘kills her boyfriend with spiked heel to the head'”. This conjured up all kinds of sexy scenarios. For those of you unfamiliar, this is what a pair of stiletto heels looks like:

Sexy, right?

Come on, it’s right out of some sort of suspense thriller. I could see it all in my mind. The woman, wearing her strapless formal dress, gets into a fight with her lover after some event. In her rage she throws off her jewelry and kicks off her shoes. When her tuxedo clad lover ups the ante, she picks up one of those stiletto heels and attacks him with it. To her shock and satisfaction, it kills him.

I wasn’t too far off. The article states, ” A woman allegedly beat her boyfriend to death with the spiked heel of a stiletto shoe. Thelma Carter, 46, struck her live-in boyfriend Robert Higdon, 58, with the shoe at their trailer park home in Augusta, Georgia, police said. Authorities are unsure how many times Mr. Higdon was hit with the shoe before he died.” But wait, trailer park home? And the sexy killer who allegedly bludgeoned her boyfriend looks like this:

Not so sexy, right?

This my friends, struck me as an outrage.

My mind immediately went back to a news story that was my guilty pleasure to follow. “1968 Playboy Playmate of the Year Angela Dorian has been charged with attempted murder — after she allegedly shot her boyfriend from close range in their Hollywood apartment Saturday night … TMZ has learned.”

Now this allegedly murderous woman’s story kicks ass, and here’s why.

First, I don’t know what she looks like now, but she has got to have the stiletto killer beat in the looks department. The TMZ article referenced above points out that she’s 5’5″ and 110 pounds and nothing else. But let’s face it, she was a Playmate of the Year. She was so hot a nude photo of her, along with some other Playmates, was scanned and inserted into Apollo12 Extra-vehicular activity astronaut cuff checklists by pranksters at NASA.

Angela Dorian. Sexy, right?

Next reason this story kicks ass is the gun. The gun allegedly used was a Walther PPK .380. That’s right, just like James Bond. But wait! It gets better. It wasn’t just a Walther PPK .380, aka, the gun of choice for James Bond. It was a Walther PPK .380, aka, the gun of choice for James Bond, that was given to her 40 years ago by the film director Roman Polanski! I can’t make this stuff up! Check it out!

However the final thing about this story is the way she allegedly killed. The CBS Los Angeles website states, “‘Quickly she just aimed and fired at me,’ Bruce Rathgeb said, telling the judge that he felt burning and stinging on the left side of his body and smelled gunpowder.

He said that his wife then put a small plastic bag in his mouth, which he spit out, and that she walked back to their apartment.”

That’s right. She shot him and turned around and walked off. Damn right, I’m a bleepbleeped motherbleeping Playmate of the bleepin’ year and I WILL shoot you and I WILL leave your ass to bleed out in the hallway. At least that’s what I like to imagine went through her mind as she walked back into their apartment. I hate to think about her being sad, or in shock or panic. I’m going to Hell, aren’t I?

UPDATE: On September 7, 2011 TMZ reported, “1968 Playboy playmate of the year Angela Dorian has just been sentenced to 9 years behind bars for shooting her husband in the back in 2010.”

The Beauty of Tarot Leaves

I recently became aware of Schiffer Publishing when they contacted me about reviewing “Wicca? What’s the Real Deal?”. I was surprised to learn that they also publish tarot decks and so I jumped at the opportunity to see what kinds of decks their company published. In response to my interest I was sent “Tarot Leaves” by Beth Seilonen.

Seilonen combines her love of tarot symbolism with the leaves of the trees she is accustomed to seeing growing up and currently residing in Maine. The deck follows the traditional Major and Minor Arcana, but they are presented through the prism of nature. The author shares, “The beauty of life is reflected within the leaves through the color, symbols, and imagery which overlaps with the veins of the leaf, much like that of a palm of a hand to a palmist; that which is most relevant at the time is revealed to the querant.” Of course you want to know what everyone really wants to know about a tarot deck, what is the art like? I found many of the cards quite striking and have a few favorites here to share.

Tower
Nine of Wands
Sun

I should also note, since I’ve never seen a tarot deck published by Schiffer before that the quality of the product is amazing. The cards are beautifully produced on sturdy card stock, the deck and accompanying book come in a hard cardboard laminated box that has a lid that lifts up and is closed firmly by a magnet, and the book that comes with it has the same dimensions as the cards (so it fits in the box)but instead of just being paper it has a sturdy, full color, card stock front and back cover. Each card is given its own page in the book and Seilonen also offers suggestions for card spreads that she finds work well with the “Tarot Leaves” deck. The suggested retail price for the deck is $24.99.

“Tarot Leaves” is a wonderful deck filled with beauty and whimsy. It would make a fine addition to anyone’s collection of tarot decks, but it’s perfectly suited for tarot readers and enthusiasts looking for a deck that reflects the natural world as much as the spiritual world.

Just Trust Me

I’ll admit I was surprised when I saw on Facebook that Quest Books was publishing a book called “Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin” by attorney G. Randy Kasten. I mean, Quest Books is the imprint of The Theosophical Publishing House, the publishing arm of the Theosophical Society in America. What the heck were they doing publishing a book on spin? From an attorney? There was only one thing to do, read the book.

And what a fascinating book it is! Kasten examines in detail different types of lies, and there is a rainbow spectrum of lies out there. But “Just Trust Me” is about more than just politicians saying they didn’t have sex with that woman, or your friends telling you that your outfit doesn’t make you look fat. Kasten discusses bias, stereotyping, how the media works, advertising, and more! He doesn’t just stop there. He gives you the tools to look for deception, be it while listening to a news broadcast, or talking to a family member.

There is more than just pure information that makes “Just Trust Me” a good read. Thankfully Kasten writes in a straight forward, easy to understand manner. You don’t need a background in law to understand him. No legalese here. Also, the book isn’t frightening. “Just Trust Me” could easily have been panic inducing. 280 pages of lies, lies, lies….they’re EVERYWHERE. Instead things are discussed in a level headed manner. Although, your mind will probably be blown on more than one occasion as you realize, I do that, or I’ve experienced that. Humans are a strange animal indeed, and these are truly some of our strangest times.

After the satisfying experience of reading “Just Trust Me” I again found my mind wandering back to my initial question; why the heck is Quest publishing this book? As I said, they’re an imprint of The Theosophical Publishing House of The Theosophical Society. So you know what, I went to The Theosophical Society in America website where on their “About Us” page I read this, “In accordance with the Theosophical spirit, most Theosophists regard Truth as a prize to be striven for, not as a dogma to be imposed by authority. They hold that belief should be the result of individual understanding and intuition rather than mere acceptance of traditional ideas, and that it should rest on knowledge and experience, not on assertion. Truth should therefore be sought by study, reflection, meditation, service, purity of life, and devotion to high ideals.”

Truth. “Just Trust Me” goes after it on all levels. Kasten helps you not only recognize the lies that are being presented to you, but encourages you to find out what lies you may be telling yourself. And just like that, it all made sense.

The Soul Solution

by Jonathan Parker

Have you ever wondered if you have a soul? And why, if it exists, and it is yours, you can’t seem to find it? Even if you haven’t asked yourself these questions wouldn’t you like to know?

Not only is it possible for to connect with your soul, doing so leads to deep peace and true happiness. Everything in the universe is in a state of motion, evolving into some state other than where it is at the present time. You arrived at where you are now through a process that will continue unfolding, expanding, and revealing continuous levels of experience well out into the future.

The soul already has all the qualities that anyone could desire, and by feeling connected with the soul it is possible to bring these qualities into everyday experience, while at the same time initiating a correlative process that dissolves everything that wouldn’t be wanted.

What interferes with experiencing our soul on a continuous basis are the many filters through which we experience life. What we normally think we are is an accumulation of all our perceptions, conclusions, beliefs, reactions, memories, and ideas as well as all the roles we have played utilizing our talents and skills. These comprise our personality, which is like an overlay that masks the true reality of our soul which lies beneath it all. And yet these overlays or identities are so compelling that we convince ourselves they are who we are and we lose touch with our deeper reality.

In a true sense, people are already connected with their soul, and they can often know and feel the connection when they are attracted to whatever is beautiful, profound, creative, loving, peaceful, and fulfilling, whether through people, activities or nature. You also see the soul reflected in the relentless pursuit of perfection often found in scientists, musicians, artists, athletes, authors, actors, and all others who seek to attain to a higher potential. So the soul is present in human experience even if it is not always recognized.

A Soul Meditation

Let’s begin the journey to your soul through a meditation. You will want to arrange yourself to be as comfortable as possible. I would suggest you do this when you won’t be disturbed or have anything else to do.

When you are prepared, settle in and start with a comfortable deep breath in through your nose and imagine you are also breathing in golden light through the top of your head. As you exhale feel yourself relaxing and absorbing the peace and light into every muscle, organ, and nerve…from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes. Breathe in light into every cell. Do this for one minute.

Read the following slowly to yourself and allow yourself to deepen the process into your entire body.

Say to your heart, I send you all the love of my soul.
Say to your body, I embrace you with all the love of my heart and soul.

Invite the soul’s love to merge into every muscle and nerve, and fill every cell and allow this love to become part of every atom and molecule of your being. Sense the relaxation and healing glow in your whole body and feel it spreading a radiant love all around you.

If there are any disturbances, distractions, or issues on your mind, say to yourself, “I ask the light of my soul to fill all my thoughts and feelings about these situations. I send all my thoughts, memories, and feelings the pure light and blessings of my soul.”

Feel a relaxed quality emerging through you as you welcome the peaceful soul presence.

Say to yourself:

“I allow the source of love to embrace my heart. I place my heart in the presence of my enlightened soul so that all may be healed.”

These statements are like prayers and intentions. They are requests of the deepest core of your soul where all goodness dwells. Allow yourself to deepen into the feelings of receiving the love, light, and healing that lives in your heart.

Drink in the soul’s qualities and say, “Yes” with thanksgiving. Say, “Yes” to receiving peace, love, and healing, and ask them to deepen within you.

“I ask the presence of my soul to deepen in my awareness. I acknowledge the radiance of the soul all around and through me.”

As always, express gratitude for your meditation. When you have finished with this process for this time, be sure to acknowledge yourself fully present and grounded in here and now.

The soul has a wonderful lightness, purity, and softness. Notice how any issues that may have seemed strong and dominant are now held much more softly and the feelings of lightness and spaciousness replace any struggle.

The more time you spend with establishing and deepening your soul connection the more you will feel its qualities and gifts. In the beginning the experience may be quite subtle, but with practice it becomes much more pronounced.

About Jonathan Parker:
Jonathan Parker is the author of The Soul Solution. He is a spiritual counselor with more than 30 years of experience teaching energy healing and enlightenment. The founder of Quantum Quests International, Inc., he is the creator of one of the largest libraries of personal growth audio recordings with over 10 million copies sold worldwide He lives in Oak View, CA. Visit him online at http://www.JonathanParker.org.

Based on the book The Soul Solution © 2011 by Jonathan Parker. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com

Geek Month in Review: August 2011

By JB Sanders

Geeky in the heat…

Bubble Universes

More possible proof of parallel universes, now in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). It’s more than just math theory! Probably.

Fields of Light

Not an alien landscape on some distant planet, but an art installation using fiber optic lights.

Bavarian Tunnels

More than 700 odd tunnel networks have been discovered in Bavaria, most dating back to Medieval times. Almost nothing has been found in them, “almost as if they were swept clean”. Weird, huh?

A City Frozen in Time

For 37 years — since 1974. It’s the city of Nicosia in Cyprus, abandoned when the island was divided between Greek and Turkish parts. Wild photographs worth the stop-over.

Shadowrun, Anyone?

So some clever hackers have pieced together an interface to various cracking tools via the Microsoft Kinect — so that you can see the computer like a first-person shooter, and move around by simply waving your arms.

Mad About Metered Billing?

Welcome to 1886! Yes, back then people complained about telephone company shenanigans. Read up on the amusing details:

Smart Cast

For when you break a bone, and want the hi-tech treatment. The cast monitors the situation with your muscles, the bone’s healing progress and let’s doctors monitor everything in real-time (or later over a martini, if they want).

New Blade Runner Movie?

It could be good. They’ve got Ridley Scott directing it. What’s up in the air is whether it’ll be a prequel (blah), a sequel or just set in the same universe.

This Isn’t the Start of SciFi Movie

It really isn’t — it’s a real live news report. Here’s the headline: “Orange Goo at Alaskan Village Found to be Fungal Spores, Not Eggs”. I just can’t make up stuff that good.

Supra-Genius

So this 13-year-old kid uses the Fibonacci sequence and the pattern of leaves on trees to create a solar-panel array that is 20-50% more efficient than conventionally arranged arrays. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this kid in the future — hopefully not as he ambles down main street in his death-ray equipped juggernaut armor.

All Pop-Culture Robots

Can you name them all? Not a quiz, just a giant picture of them all in one place.

Best Wedding Photos Ever!

Really, I’m not kidding. It’s a slow build, though. Scroll down the page slowly for best effect. (Alex, this one’s for you.)

Copper Man!

Ok, so not as exciting as it sounds, Copper Man is the name of the all-copper mannequin that US Army researchers used to gauge how well the standard flight gear insulated the crews of airplanes during WWII. Wacky, huh?

Weather Report from 1965

Or 1984, or 1384, or whatever floats your boat. Historical weather reports. Handy for those of you writing novels set in the past, rather than the future.

The Geek Zodiac

How could I not link to this? I’m apparently a Daikaiju (e.g. Godzilla, King Kong, etc).

Video Brings Portal to Life

I know, it sounds like I’m describing some kind of Lovecraft-inspired horror movie which is just a remake of a better Japanese horror movie, but no. We’re talking about Portal, the video game, and some fan’s amazing conversion of the portal gun idea into a tiny cinematic romp.

The Trans-siberian to Alaska Railway

Yes, this means a tunnel under the Bering Strait. Hooboy! Russia has set aside $65 Billion dollars for the project. Seriously.

Mindset of the Class of 1915

You may, or may not, be familiar with the Beloit College Mindset list, which is a big list of things the incoming freshman class has either always had, always known or never known in their lifetimes. Depending on your age, it’s a frightening and hilarious list. In answer to that, here’s a list of what the class of 1915 (the freshman class from 100 years ago) thought or knew:

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com

Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?

I first became aware of Patricia Gardner when her apartment exterior was vandalized in 2007. I wrote a little piece about it. What readers don’t know is that shortly after I wrote that article I spent an evening with Patricia (High Priestess) and got to meet Dayna Winters (Priestess) and other members of the Dragon Warriors of Isis Coven. As I was coming to expect from meetings like this, the group was filled with friendly and sincere spiritual seekers that welcomed me into their gathering with open arms. And this is why I was thrilled to learn that Schiffer Publishing has recently released “Wicca: What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions” by none other than Patricia Gardner, Dayna Winters, and Angela Kaufman.

These three ladies endeavor to navigate the murky waters of attempting to define and describe Wicca and its practices, which as most of you are aware is a journey fraught with peril as Wiccan practitioner’s perspectives and philosophies vary greatly. Overall I think the average Wiccan would feel the book adequately represents them, and at the end of the day, the three authors are Priestesses of their own coven, so it definitely reflects their own beliefs.

The bulk of the book concentrates on the misconceptions about Wicca with the first chapter being “Misunderstood Terminology and Erroneous Perceptions” and the second chapter being “Misunderstood Practices and Historical Misconceptions”. These chapters use the simple format of stating the myth, stating the truth, and then offering a detailed explanation. They discuss a variety of myths, such as: “All Witches follow the Wiccan religion”, “Wiccan revere nothing”, “Tarot cards are evil and their use attracts evil spirits”, “Witches use an athame to cut people or animals during their rites”, and “The Horned God that Wiccans worship is Satan”.

Next they discuss “What Wiccans Do”. Here is the basic description of rituals, a listing of holidays and other events like Handfastings and Esbats with a concise overview of each, some discussion of Wiccan tenets and principles, and even a look at the advantages and disadvantages of being a Wiccan. They share the vandalism incident that brought them to my attention within the disadvantages section.

Lastly is a fascinating chapter entitled “When Magick is Sane”. Very few books I’ve come across have so openly and frankly discussed that often times people who believe in magick are considered to be crazy. Since author Angela Kaufman is a licensed clinical social worker with experience working with individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues there is an extra weight of authority behind this chapter. They discuss spirits, divine guidance and hallucinations, a comparison of religion and culture versus diagnosable illness, and the difference between magick and self-delusion. From there it flows neatly into examining teens wishing to study Wicca, handling discrimination and intolerance, and some of the negative behaviors that can be found within Wiccan communities.

“Wicca: What’s the Real Deal?” could easily be mistaken as another “Wicca 101” book at first glance, and with most Buffet readers being well versed in Wicca or practicing Wiccans themselves, you may find yourself dismissing this book a bit too soon. With its straight forward myth/truth format and easy to follow explanations of the basics of Wicca and being Wiccan this book is, in my opinion, a must own for many people. High Priests and Priestesses should consider having a copy around for loaning out to concerned family members of those in their coven, or for a teenager interested in pursuing Wicca for them and their family to read together. With its discussion of what Wiccans do and the pros and cons of being Wiccan, anyone considering taking up the study of Wicca would benefit from reading this book. Also, anyone looking for an easy to digest introduction to Wicca would find use in owning this book.