Our Uncertain Moral Nature

By Peter Georgescu

It should be clear now why “the problem of evil”—the bland phrase applied to it by the philosophers—became one of the central obsessions of my spiritual and intellectual life for nearly fifty years. I kept asking how my faith in God could be squared with the reality of evil and human suffering, and also how manifestly good people not only suffer evil but often either commit it or set it in motion, unwittingly. It’s easy to forget that the man who kicked my grandfather to death may have been a loving father of half a dozen children.

The problem may partly be the word “evil.” It’s been invested with so much significance that merely uttering the word is often a complex kind of behavior in itself. It’s a way of branding an enemy. When evil is out there, in opposition to you, it can be quite vital and energizing. There’s nothing like an honest fight against the bad guys to make you feel good and alive. We’ll probably never quit telling murder mysteries and detective stories and tales of dragon slayers, James Bond villains, and G.I. Joe because all these myths reconfirm a comforting vision of the world: Evil is out there, and it can be defeated. It was my vision of the world, as a child with Jesus Christ as my G.I. Joe. But there’s another reason those stories keep coming back: When we tell them, we’re saying evil is most definitely not inside us.

This was my worldview in Romania. In some ways, with my suffering and deprivation during those years, I was surrounded by more evil intent than at any other time of my life. Yet I retained my most unsullied experience of good. I believed in it, I prayed to it, and it saved me. I was surrounded by evil, but it was all outside me, in other people. The good guys won, and I was one of them. As a result of that victory, both geopolitical and personal, I arrived in America just in time to make a generous living from the greatest period of industrial growth in history. But I hadn’t left evil behind, in Europe. It was waiting patiently for me in America, having assumed a more insidious, problematic form. The ones I had to watch out for here didn’t thump into the conference room in jackboots. They wore double-breasted suits and quiet leather brogues. They worked hard. Half the time they were doing something I admired, setting the right tone for a client call, getting us to work all night on a pitch, or helping me earn a nice year-end bonus. But eventually the moment arrived, under pressure, when nothing much in the way these people looked or sounded had changed, and yet everything was different.

Unlike the perennial myths that urge us to believe in the good and stand up to evil, my encounters with the dark side of American life were often hardly distinguishable from the productive routines that enabled me to buy a home and fly to the Caribbean for a vacation. To just see evil as it happens and know it for what it was: I began to realize this was the greatest challenge. Especially when it was in my own heart.

It was more than just seeing through the camouflage of social conventions. The whole notion of evil became hard for me to pin down and understand. At all stages of my life there were destructive psychological forces all around me, but calling them evil didn’t seem to illuminate them or make them any easier to resist. We think the word evil describes something we instinctively understand—bad, destructive behavior—in an objective, impartial way. It’s just a noun, clear and familiar as daylight, the use of which seems essential to our survival as a civilization. And, up to a point, you can’t argue with that. Evil signifies what we oppose, all the behavior we consider wrong and antisocial and disruptive and unjust. It describes behavior we prohibit, as a society, to ensure order and happiness.

That’s certainly part of it, but in the West, it comes with centuries of religious connotations that make the word more of a weapon than a noun. You aim it at people to shame them and control them. In our Western culture, we use it to stigmatize practices, not just prohibit them with rules and statutes. The word itself carries the weight of divine judgment. With the word evil, we say, “You are wrong, and I am right.” For many people, the banishment of Adam and Eve resonates in that word. And so we see a story about a serial killer or a pedophile on television, and we brand them as evil to reenact, emotionally, that moment in Genesis, when an angry God disowns and exiles his two sinners. For those who use the word this way, evil can become a malignant spirit or force personified by the devil or some other dark spiritual entity. Fundamentalists aren’t the only people who accept this view. C. S. Lewis believed it. Even someone who for most of his life behaved as if he were pals with some kind of mischievous devil—Norman Mailer—seemed to endorse this view, in old age. Evil, or the devil, is simply a way of personifying or objectifying a fundamental force in human action.

There’s little room in this for an understanding of “evil” behavior as simply unproductive, self-defeating, and in some ways, built into our nature as human beings. Socrates believed that evil was the by-product of ignorance. Those who under- stood good would simply shed their wrongful behavior. St. Augustine believed evil was the ontological absence of good, a kind of void within the world and the human heart. Yet in the Hebrew Bible, the word for sin actually means to make a mistake—to miss the mark. You’ve taken aim at happiness and goodness, and your arrow has slightly or completely missed its target. There’s an assumption of forgiveness and hope, and practice, no less, built into that understanding of the word. It’s almost a practical term.

As a child, my perils were only about to begin. I had begun as a witness to evil, a little boy who could only stand aside and watch as other members of my family suffered. Now I was about to be drafted as a player into this contest and struggle and become an active opponent, in my own childishly Christian way, of the people who were destroying my family.

For more information visit: www.theconstantchoice.com

About Peter Georgescu:
Peter A. Georgescu arrived in America in 1954, after years of forced labor as a child in communist Romania. Today, he is chairman emeritus of Young & Rubicam Inc., which has more than 300 offices around the globe, vice chairman of New York Presbyterian Hospital, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton University, and Stanford Business School. His life long quest to answer the question “Why does evil exist?” led him to ongoing philosophical and spiritual study and an integrative view of morality, religion, and our power to do good to change the world.

10 Questions with John Mabry

1. What made you decide to write “Growing into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism”?

I’ve long been a student of Christian mysticism—and a practitioner, too, I might add! I was teaching a graduate course in Christian mysticism at a local university, when I realized that the only textbooks out there were either antiquated or hopelessly inept. I decided to write one myself. But because I’m me, it isn’t a textbook. I teach, but I don’t consider myself an academic. I’m a pastor—so I’m not writing for academics or even students necessarily, but for ordinary folks. My ideal reader is a Christian who wants to go deeper into her own tradition, or a non-Christian who wants to see what all the hoopla is about.

2. Readers know what I mean when I say Christianity, but what is Christian Mysticism? What is the difference?

In my mind there isn’t one. Mysticism is the very core of the Christian tradition, regardless of what denominational lens you’re viewing it through. The problem is, most Christians have either forgotten this, or they don’t recognize what they believe as being “mystical.” Mysticism is the pursuit of—or enjoyment of—union with the Divine. Since all Christians believe that they are united with God (or Christ or the Holy Spirit) in some fashion, all Christians are mystics. But unfortunately, we in the Christian tradition have done a pretty lousy job of communicating our tradition, even amongst ourselves. We’ve made it so sin-centric that we’ve sapped it of its joy—and that’s just not the way of Jesus at all. Christianity isn’t about sin or guilt or blame. It’s about life and transformation and making love to God. (There, that should get me on some Christian fuddy-duddy’s hit list.)

3. The path of the Christian Mystic has steps leading to Union. Could you describe each step to my readers

Sure. First, Evelyn Underhill describes a step zero, called “Awakening,” that kicks everything off. This is a mystical experience that just kind of comes out of nowhere and knocks you upside the head. You go, “WTF? What the hell was that?” This is kind of the “God as heroin dealer” model. The first taste is free, but you know you’ll want more, and soon you’re hooked. Which is good, because the next step is very hard. The mystics call it “Purgation” and it’s the first step in the classical model. Once you’ve had an Awakening experience, you see everything in a new light. You begin to sort through the things in your life, weighing them in light of the mystical revelation you received. You begin to let go of those things that are not congruent with your vision, and hold on to those that seem congruent. Basically, you’re sorting the illusory from the Real, based on the brief glimpse of the Real that you’ve received.

Once your done with this sorting, you can settle into a serious meditation practice, which the mystics call “Illumination.” In the Illuminated state, you see the Divine in all things. But as you go deeper, you realize that this is incomplete—that in fact, it is the other way around: all things are in God. I call this stage, “Enjoyment” because in it you really learn to enjoy the presence of God, and you sink deeper and deeper into an awareness of the Divine presence.

Finally, you sink so deep that the distance between you and the Divine disappears. The mystics often speak of this as “divine marriage” or “divinization,” but the result is the same—the illusory distinction between the Creator and the creation is dissolved, and the mystic enters into full and conscious union with the divine. But this is no sea of bliss. To be one with God means that what God wants, you want, and what God does, you do. And since God’s primary concern is to heal everything that is wounded or broken, mystics in full union are very busy people, spending most of their time with the poor and the oppressed.

(Question 4 was skipped because he pretty much answered it in question 3.)

5. In reading “Growing into God”, the path of the Christian Mystic doesn’t seem entirely safe. Could someone attempt this by themselves with just your book for guidance?

No form of mysticism is safe. People blow out their nervous systems doing Kundalini yoga all the time, when they try it out of a book. Christian mysticism isn’t as hard on the body’s electrical system, but you’re right—it’s not a safe endeavor, either. It’s best done within the context of a loving and supportive church community (there is no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian, after all) and for best results, one should see a trained spiritual director once a month.

6. The Catholic Church features many mystics in their history, but I get the feeling if someone spoke to a bishop today and said, “I’m pursuing the path of the Christian Mystic,” the Bishop’s response would be to back away from you slowly. I guess my question is, what’s up with that?

Well, my guess would be such a reaction might have something to do with an overzealous ambition. It’s like the difference between saying “I’m thinking of going into politics” and announcing, “I’m going to be king of the world!” Going into politics is doable, being king of the world is less likely. And so it is with mysticism. The truth is that all Christians are called to be mystics, but few ever reach the “finish line” of full union in this lifetime, but the good news is, we don’t have to. As St. Therese of Lisieux of Liuseaux said, “All the way to heaven is heaven.”

On the other hand, if most Christians knew their own tradition better, we’d all own up to being “on the mystics’ path,” and there would be far fewer raised eyebrows. Still, your fictional bishop should know better. Instead of backing away, he should clap a hand to your shoulder and say, “That’s a wonderful thing. I’ll be praying for you.”

7. Can Union be compared to the Buddhist concept of enlightenment? Is this path just for Christians?

The stages of the mystical journey are roughly the same in most religious traditions. If you conceive of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold path as a linear model of spiritual development, and compare that to the model laid out in the Hindu Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, and compare that with the Christian model of Purgation, Illumination, and Union, you’ll find amazing similarities. The Hindu and Christian models are the closest. The Buddhist model does things in a slightly different order, but all the pieces are there. Of course, each tradition uses a different vocabulary, different metaphors and symbols to describe this journey, but the journey is basically the same. In my book I’m describing the journey as Christians have experienced and spoken about it. But when you strip away the symbols and language and cultural baggage what you find is the same journey of the soul—a human journey.

8. Can you tell us about one of your favorite mystics and why they’re a favorite?

I have so many favorites! I especially love Julian of Norwich, though, because her visions are so rich, so emotional and loving, and they also challenge the theological notions of her time, albeit in a cannily diplomatic way. But I also love the practical mysticism of Charles Williams. His “occult thriller” novels are masterpieces of both horror and theology. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today if not for his influence.

9. What’s next for you? Any more books?

Yes, there are always more books! I have a new one coming out from Morehouse/Church Publishing titled Faithful Generations: Effective Ministry Across Generational Lines. I’m also polishing a Christmas novel, and hope to soon start work on a sequel to my horror/comedy/adventure novel, The Kingdom. Meanwhile, my progressive rock band, Mind Furniture, just did our first gig and we were blown away by the positive response we get, so we’ll probably put some energy into more live shows, even as we continue working on our next CD. Our last CD is called Hoop of Flame, and it’s on iTunes, so I hope you’ll check it out. It’s got a great hymn to Shiva, and a rock opera where we put God on trial for his crimes against humanity. It’s a kick!

10. Part shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Have you done any articles on Christo-pagan/Christo-Wiccan rituals or communities? I’d love to read that, if so.

I haven’t, but I’d love to. There are so many topics out there, so little time it seems. A great place that has discussed it from time to time along with a ton of other fascinating topics is The Wild Hunt website.

About John R. Mabry, PhD:
John R. Mabry is a United Church of Christ minister and pastors Grace North Church (Congregational) in Berkeley, CA. He teaches spiritual guidance and world religions at the Chaplaincy Institute for Arts and Interfaith Ministry in Berkeley and at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. Among his books are “The Way of Thomas”, “Faith Styles”, and “Noticing the Divine”.

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

February 2013

This column is intended to provide messages from the Tarot to address modern problems experienced by everyday people. Questioners, also known as “Querents” submit requests to have their issue addressed in a complimentary three card Tarot Reading published as part of the Magical Buffet. The reading not only addresses the Querent’s issue but also provides education about the role of Tarot as a tool for exploration and empowerment.

As February’s cold dark days bring the desire for warmth and comfort, relationships are in focus. Passion and romance are on our minds, and in case we forgot, there is always Valentine’s Day to remind us of our desire to share our lives with others. This month’s Querent is a woman we will call Elizabeth. Elizabeth has concerns about her budding romance, a long distance relationship with a man who seems to hold some promise of development both in terms of commitment and attraction, but with whom she remains uncertain. Pursuit of this relationship will entail risks and she is proceeding with caution, and looking for guidance for the long term growth of this relationship, any potential obstacles. She would also like to gain a sense of where his intentions lie in this relationship. In honor of Elizabeth and the atmosphere of Valentine’s romance, this month’s deck is The Lover’s Tarot. Her reading reveals the Four of Gems, Queen of Gems and The Death card, reversed.

A quick word about the much feared “Death” card before we proceed.In all realms outside of carnival fortune teller scenes in pop media, the Death card is not literal. It portends significant transformations that may bring great loss or sadness in the course of their progression, but it is not a literal indicator of the end of one’s life.

Public service announcement aside, let’s return to Elizabeth’s relationship question. First, to examine the theme for this relationship in the near future, the Four of Gems. This card’s suit is unique to The Lover’s Tarot and in other traditional decks may be termed “coins” or “pentacles”. The Four of Gems indicates that this relationship grows out of a desire for security. Some of this desire is physical security in all its forms- the comfort of knowing each partner is there, the satisfaction of finding balance and harmony in a partnership and the stability of combining material resources, abilities, and assets. There is a sense of satisfaction and harmony in this relationship especially in tangible ways that each partner seems to provide what the other has been missing. There is a feeling with this card that this relationship is grounded in practical matters and it may seem that mundane issues such as money and property are of great concern. There is an equal stake for both partners but much of this relationship rests on material and physical security. The desire for stability is essential and so both partners may look to each other for such stability. There is a strong attraction but its primary focus is grounding rather than emotional. It seems this relationship will develop in a way that emphasizes problem solving, practicality and sharing resources. A possessive side may be developing in this relationship as well however. Be mindful of red flags that this relationship is becoming more about security than actual emotional attraction. Be mindful of the attraction to what it seems you could have together trumping the attraction of how it feels to be with this person. There is potential for harmony on a material/physical/ and practical level but this stability may also yield dependency, clinging to the status quo and resisting change. There will be a desire to hold on to property, money, physical routines and comforts that potentially interferes with the emotional bond or even emotional growth as a partnership. Be very cautious about the potential for possessiveness on both sides of this relationship. It seems the tendency will be to engage in battles of will and the significant other may come to regard Elizabeth or her belongings/property or money with a sense of entitlement or ownership. Be mindful of how resources and assets are dealt with in this relationship. It seems boundaries will need to be clear to avoid stagnation and prioritizing comfort and security over growth and emotional well being. The number four will also be significant as this relationship proceeds. Be on the look out for four types of material resources that become significant to this relationship.

Although potential obstacles emerge in the prior card, the next card specifically addresses challenges this relationship will face. This card also is from the suit of Gems, and it is the Queen of Gems. This suggests that a woman in the role of material provider, business manager, money manager or property owner may be providing financial security or assistance but in doing so is posing a challenge to this relationship. This is likely to be a woman of either dark hair and features or grey/white hair. This would be a woman who is mature, serious but also generous who has developed comfortable means for herself and often invests in others as a way to promote growth and material security. This person or her relationship to either partner is hindering this relationship. There is also a potential warning here for Elizabeth, that this relationship may be focused more on a desire by her significant other to be taken care of financially and that placing too much emphasis on the material assets or property is taking away from the romance in this relationship.

The final card is the Death card, and it is reversed. Being a Major Arcana card elevates the significance of this card. There is a large transition underway for both partners, although it seems particularly to impact the gentleman. This change is being resisted. It seems circumstances surrounding this man are forcing him to confront a significant loss and undergo a deep transition that will further his own growth and development, but he is resisting this change. With this card following the Queen of Gems, it seems as if a connection to the material support of this authority figure, or perhaps the abundance available through a workplace setting, previous relationship with a heavy emphasis on money, or generous business oriented family member, are keeping him in a situation where he is materially successful but not able to make changes to facilitate deeper personal growth- including full commitment to this relationship. It seems as if currents are pulling him in the direction of making a fresh start, committing to a substantial change primarily impacting his life, identity and values, but he seems to resist this change or to shut down rather than opening up to new possibilities, especially ones that he feels threaten his security. For some reason he perceives this relationship as requiring him to give up some measures of his own security or comfort in order to embrace transition and growth. It also seems that severing ties or commitments which seem largely financial in nature, with the Queen of Gems is perceived by him as a threat or at least as a very overwhelming experience and he is resisting this.

It seems that this relationship has the potential for development and growth but the focus stems from a practical need for security found in this partnership that could easily become dependency/possessiveness if not careful. Business or monetary obligations possibly related to a female authority figure pose an obstacle to the further development of the relationship and a major lifestyle change on the horizon for the gentleman in the picture is being hindered by his own resistance to embrace change that would affect his way of life, especially in terms of creating financial or material risk. It is important to bear in mind that both partners have choices to make. Evaluating this relationship for what is apparent and intuited and then deciding how much energy, time, patience are given to this relationship is a process for Elizabeth. Meanwhile, her significant other also has important choices to consider especially in regards to his ability to be receptive to the changing tides around him which seem to be setting the stage for transformation and initiation in his own life but which he is not currently embracing openly. Knowledge of these patterns can help ease into transition and take healthy risks to allow one’s self to advance personally, spiritually, and in a partnership. It should be noted however that if one person, say Elizabeth, awaits the receptivity and openness of her partner yet over time it appears he still remains unyielding, holding on to a way of life that he has the potential to outgrow both personally and for the sake of this relationship- then she may have to accept that this relationship is not moving in a direction that would allow for optimal growth as a partnership. Based on this information Elizabeth can discuss her feelings about the direction this relationship is taking and attempt to openly engage her significant other in a conversation about his fears, the potential for this transition and what is holding him back. Through this type of communication there is a potential to work through the insecurities that bring such resistance to change but it will require patience as it seems this person views this transition as very overwhelming. When a card like the Death card is reversed it suggests blocked energy and in knowing this, there are actions both the Querent or others involved can attempt in order to resume a flow of energy conducive to progress not stagnation. Communication and faith can be key elements to reversing the Death card which would bring an open acceptance of a new beginning, one paving the way for growth and development on a significant level.

Best of luck to Elizabeth, and thanks for participating in this month’s column! As always, no matter where you are reading this from all readings are for entertainment only in accordance with New York State law.

Interested in being the Querent in next month’s column? Contact Angela at Trionfi78@gmail.com.

About Angela: Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards over a decade. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and formed Moonlight Tarot in 2009 which would become Moonlight Tarot LLC in 2010. Angela uses the Tarot to assist clients in exploring personal growth and development, and in accordance with New York State Law offers readings for entertainment purposes. Angela began providing readings on a professional, “Moonlighting” basis in order to provide affordable readings to those seeking guidance, inspiration and fun. Angela is also co-author of the new book “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). In 2006 she joined ISIS Paranormal Investigations and has accompanied the team on numerous investigations in private residences and businesses throughout the capital region, Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts.

For more information on services offered by Moonlight Tarot LLC, visit http://www.moonlighttarotllc.com

Check out Moonlight Tarot on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoonlightTarotLlc

For more related to Tarot and Wicca, check out: Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? At www.wwtrd.webs.com

This month’s reading was conducted using the True Love Tarot, Secrets of Mating, Dating and Relating by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber available published by St. Martins Press (2006). Copies of this deck are available at http://www.amazon.com/True-Love-Tarot-Monte-Farber/dp/0312337566

Life and Love Really Do Continue On

I am the bearer of sad news for The Magical Buffet community. On February 13th David Pitkin passed away. Pitkin was the very first guest author to contribute to The Magical Buffet, and more recently he was one of the participants at The Magical Buffet of Authors event.

Pitkin speaking at Magical Buffet of Authors

David Pitkin is the author of numerous books such as “New York State Ghosts Vol. 1 & 2”, “Ghosts of the Northeast”, and “Haunted Warren County”. You can find, and buy, his books here and here. Thanks to his wonderful and prolific writing, Pitkin was often a guest speaker at book stores, libraries, and paranormal conventions.

David Pitkin was such a special man. I saw him at a book signing that had three people in attendance and speaking at a paranormal expo with 50 or more people, and he treated each group the same. Like each and every one of them was the most special person in the room. That’s how he treated every person, like they were the most important person in the room. He was charming to the Nth degree.

Pitkin and I sharing a special conversation

Pitkin would often sign his books with “Life and Love Really Do Continue On….” In David Pitkin’s case I have no doubt that it’s true. The legacy he leaves behind of quality ghost folklore and the magic he brought to the lives he touched will absolutely carry on.

David Pitkin had a long life of wearing many hats. You can learn more from reading his obituary here.

The Art of True Healing

I love it when I’m sent reprints of old books to review. It gives me the opportunity to hold history in my hands. What are the odds that in my lifetime I would hold in my hands a copy of the 1932 book “The Art of True Healing: The Unlimited Power of Prayer and Visualization” by Israel Regardie? Let’s be generous and say, not good. Thankfully, over forty years ago New World Library co-founder and Publisher Marc Allen found that book in a store and kept it in good stead so that it could be shared now.

I’m not sure if Allen is as big a fan of Israel Regardie as I am, but it is obvious in his role as Editor that he does hold “The Art of True Healing” in high regard. And why not? The book’s primary focus is to instruct the reader in how to do The Middle Pillar Meditation. Readers of Regardie and/or the Western occult traditions are probably familiar with this exercise. For those of you unfamiliar with it, The Middle Pillar is an exercise where you work with moving energies throughout your body. I don’t want get too specific, it would be like giving away the book!

Believe it or not, I have been known to bust out The Middle Pillar. However I didn’t grasp it’s true potential as a tool for healing until reading this book. I certainly never considered it as a magical working you could perform on another person, but there it is, written in clear, concise language. And as always when I read Regardie I’m now inspired to retake up a regular practice. Allen chimes in at the end with some variant versions he’s come up with over his years of practice.

I highly recommend “The Art of True Healing”. It’s a wonderful introduction to Israel Regardie and a practical one at that. It has the pleasing introductory suggested price point of $12.95 and is in the perfect size for carrying in purse or coat pocket while studying. I’d also like to mention that obviously fans of Regardie, like myself, will want this book, but all my readers who work with energy for healing are going to want this book. Trust me. “The Art of True Healing” gave me new insights into subject matter I thought I already knew. That’s one of the best things I can think to say about this book.

Opening to Your Intuition: Building a Strong Foundation for Your Psychic Work

By Karen Harrison

The “trick” to being psychic is very simple: you need to be able to hear and listen to your inner voice clearly in order to receive the information that is being offered to you via your psychic senses. Learning to meditate teaches you how to quiet your thoughts and center your focus and concentration so that your inner voice can speak clearly to you—and so that you are ready to listen. In addition, the practice of meditation teaches you how to enter the alpha brain wave consciousness purposefully. In the alpha brain state, your focus and awareness is on your internal experiences—feelings, intuitions, and creative thought, because your electrical brain wave patterns are moving at a slower frequency or rhythm.

Scientists and physicians who study the human brain have discovered that it generally produces brain waves in four basic classifications: Beta, our normal waking consciousness state when we are focused on tasks and memorization, exhibits brain wave frequencies between 12 to 38 Hz; alpha, the brain wave state humans experience during meditation and times of relaxed creativity with a frequency between 8 to 13 Hz; theta, the brain wave state we experience in between waking and sleep when we are just coming out of our dreams with frequencies between 4 to 8 Hz; and delta, when the brain is in a deep sleep or unconscious mode with frequencies below 4 Hz. Hz is the abbreviation for Hertz, which is a unit of frequency measuring the change in state or cycle of a sound wave, alternating current, or other cyclical waveform, in this case the electromagnetic activity of the brain, of one cycle per second.

Being in the relaxed alpha brain wave mode of consciousness allows you to have a clear bridge of communication between the right hemisphere of the brain—the place of creativity and psychic sensitivity—and the left hemisphere of the brain—the place of logic, linear thinking, and perceptions. Meditation and centering allows for a clear channel of communication between the two halves of the brain, which will bring you clarity, insight, and understanding of the psychic information you receive.

Now, when I speak about your “inner voice,” keep in mind that you may get your psychic information in a different way than “hearing” it inside your head. Sometimes you may just get a flash of information and suddenly simply “know” something. You may have a vision that could be a complete scenario, or it may be simply a symbol or a face that you will need to work with as you interpret its meaning further. You may hear a quiet voice in your mind which gives you information. You may receive psychic information via your dreams. You may use a psychic tool such as the tarot or I Ching and interpret the cards or the throw of the coins. You may use a scrying mirror or crystal ball to psychically “see” scenes, images, symbols, colors, or numbers. You might employ a pendulum and use it to gain answers by the direction that it moves. There are many ways to obtain psychic impressions, intuit answers, and receive specific information that will help yourself or others.

When I use the term “inner voice,” I am talking about accessing that part of yourself that receives, interprets, and recounts information not obtained from your everyday material world or physical senses. It doesn’t matter the method by which you get the information or how it may be presented to you. The important point is that you pay attention and take note of the information that you receive.

Your inner voice is like any other part of you—the more you use it, the stronger and more skilled it gets at giving you information. The less you use it or pay attention to it, the more it atrophies and weakens. Everybody is a born psychic. You, me, everyone. It’s a natural ability and a part of what it means to be human. Some people are born with such a strong inner voice that they can’t help but hear it—these people, if not trained, may not be able to understand what they are getting, but the voice is strong. If they don’t understand why they are having these visions or why they can feel emotions and thoughts so strongly from others, they might work hard to shut it down, but it will always be there, ready to communicate again. Learning to hear your inner voice is like learning to play an instrument, becoming skilled at a sport, or mastering anything. What you have to do is acknowledge the desire and then practice the discipline. And then practice some more. The more you practice anything, the more skilled you become. It’s exactly the same with developing and honing your innate, human psychic skills.

The ability to meditate is essential to clearly hearing your inner voice. If you cannot quiet your mind, relax, center yourself, and focus, you will find that trying to access that inner voice and listen to what it has to tell you will be a frustrating experience. Sure, you’ll still be able to get the occasional psychic “hit,” but it will come sporadically, and I bet it will come when you are daydreaming or in that half-asleep, relaxed alpha brain state before you begin to drift into sleep at night or as you wake up in the morning. You will have a psychic experience at times when you are inadvertently in a slightly altered, quieter state of mind. If you want to use your psychic skills dependably and in a conscious way, you’ll learn the basics of meditation.

Sometimes when people hear the word “meditation,” they have the mistaken notion that they have to commit to a lengthy process in order to achieve a mental state of complete, total sublimation and control of the conscious mind. Not at all. No, you don’t have to chant mantras or be able to keep your mind absolutely blank for ten minutes or more. I’m talking about creating a meditative state of mind wherein you are calm, relaxed, and receptive. A state where you can focus on just one thing for a few minutes at a time, allowing your quiet thoughts to examine that one thing, consider it, and explore it. As you do this, your breathing will naturally slow, your body will relax, and you will feel at great ease. This thing that you are focusing on can be an image, a question, a feeling, a sensation, or a concept.

About Karen Harrison:
Karen Harrison has been involved with magick, the psychic arts, and occultism since early childhood. She earned a Master of Herbology from the Emerson College of Herbology in Montreal, and has worked as a professional psychic since she was seventeen years old. A third generation psychic, she has taught thousands of people how to open their own intuition and use that insight to enrich their lives.

Copyright © 2012 The Everyday Psychic by Karen Harrison Reprinted with permission from Red Wheel/Weiser LLC Available wherever books or ebooks are sold or from www.redwheelweiser.com or 1-800-423-7087.

Corresponding with Sandra Kynes

What to say about “Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans” by Sandra Kynes. Essentially my first reaction was; Holy shit! I apologize for the profanity, but that was truly my reaction when I pulled this hefty book out of its package. It must have been an extreme undertaking for author Sandra Kynes. There’s just so much information in there! It’s over 500 pages long!

Kynes new book is divided up into issues, intentions, and powers along with their correspondences at the beginning. Next are sections dealing with plants, minerals, animals, deities, astrological, and miscellaneous that are all cross referenced with each other. Not to mention the delightful index. The amount of information to be found within each area is amazing, even as Kynes is apologizing and acknowledging that more could have been added. Did I mention more than 500 pages?

She presented the information in these cross referenced sections to allow readers more options when working with correspondences. Kynes explains that the way these books normally work, the research creates a pin wheel. Her example is you look up love and you find that the Moon is associated with love. That would normally be the end. However the way Kynes has done things you look up love and you learn that the Moon has a link to love (as before), but now you’ll see that the Moon is associated with the Sapphire gemstone and perhaps that clicks with you more, or perhaps that is something you feel can reinforce what you’re doing. Kynes says that “We can bring correspondences to life by thinking in terms of a web. Doing so allows us not only to expand the links of attributes, but it also allows us to personalize the way we use magical correspondences.”

“Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans” is truth in advertising. And it’s true that it does have a definite Pagan/Wiccan lean to it, but it is certainly well researched and resourceful enough that any occult/magic user would find it a handy book to have on their shelf.

Geek Month in Review: January 2013

By JB Sanders

And the apocalypse just rolls on by…

Heavy Metal — Old School
Anyone remember the old Heavy Metal magazine? Chock full of busty art, heavy-muscled heroes and aliens? Kind of psychedelic, back in the days when they meant that quite literally. No? Yes? Either way, check out some of the magazine’s great covers over the years. Special bonus: they had an HP Lovecraft issue (yes, with semi-realistic-looking mind-shattering monsters).

1970’s Covers

1980’s Covers

The Once and Future Mars
It’s firmly in the category of “artist’s rendering”, but it’s still wicked cool. See Mars as if it had an Earth-like atmosphere.

Digital Globe
It’s a villain-lair must-have, or an essential item in your Orbital Control Center: the digital globe. Interactive, capable of displaying any information you want up there digitally. You want earthquake zones? Sure. You want political divisions? Got that. You want to just change it up and show the Moon? No problem. Everyone is going to want one of these.

3D Printer Pranks
Keep this comic in your “for future reference” file, and pull it out when 3D printers go mainstream. Some really amusing (and Evil) pranks in there (also some pretty adult ones, so watch it).

Whistle It!
Did you know there’s a whole language entirely composed of whistling sounds? Or that it can travel up to 2 miles because of it’s acoustic properties? No? Me neither.

A Light Powered by Gravity!
It’s actually a device meant to replace the kerosene lamp in developing countries — still widely in use, and responsible for respiratory problems, fires and increased poverty (kerosene isn’t cheap). You hang the Gravity Lamp, fill it’s bag with rocks or sand, and get about 30 minutes of light as the bag drops. Brilliant!

Scifi Writers Start Your Star Engines
Astronomers and researchers have discovered that a giant burst of gamma rays hit Medieval Earth after the results of a giant cosmic event (either two black holes colliding or two neutron stars). The event occurred sometime in either 774 AD and 775 AD. What effect might it have had? All sorts of possibilities!

Space Travel Will Make You a Better Person
Really. Plus, all sorts of geeky space race references, some Contact (the movie) and a little Adventure Time.

Swimming in the Reactor Pool
Oddly enough, not a synonym for instant painful death. Apparently, water is a pretty darn good radiation shield. Not that you should swim in one, but if you do, definitely don’t swim really low. Bonus fun for the response from an actual nuclear tech at the end of the article.

Video Games Are Now Art
That’s it, case closed, debate solved, done. That said, fun overview of some really amazing video games over the years and what makes them particularly “artful”.

Make Your Own Pulp Magazine Covers
Via the web and a really cool bit of web programming. Also, the host site sells some seriously cool t-shirts (man, I wish I was getting some advertising dollars for this plug).

How Much is Real?
In TV or movies, not nearly as much as you think. Check out these YouTube videos of various green-screen and special effects composites, even in TV shows that you wouldn’t think had them. You think Monk didn’t use any special effects? Think again!

From 2012:

From 2009:

From Game of Thrones:

The Slow-Mo Guys Pop a 6-Foot Water Balloon
These guys do some really fun videos. This one is no exception. It’s simple, it’s slow-mo, and it’s awesome.

The Kitten Setting
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the world-renown scifi author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, Red Shirts, etc), he’s a damn fine writer. He also has a blog that he’s been regularly updating for over a decade. On it, he permits comments from readers, but moderates himself — often with ruthless efficiency. He’s very open and forthright about doing it, too. He even has a name for it: the Mallet of Loving Correction. Well, now he has another setting on his Mallet: the Kitten Setting.

I’ll let him explain:

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