Path of the Sacred Pipe

As most of you know, I’m a generalist. A jack of all trades and a master of none. Generally the books I read reflect this. I have a grand collection of “Complete Idiot’s Guides” and many “Encyclopedias of” or “Guides to”. However when given the chance to read “Path of the Sacred Pipe: Journey of Love, Power, and Healing” by Jay Cleve, PhD I took it despite its narrow focus. It wasn’t long before I realized there was a whole world around which the pipe is centered.

I was amazed to learn how the whole earth is represented in the Native American’s sacred pipe. By learning about the parts of the pipe, Cleve shares the history, mythology, and modern day beliefs of primarily the Lakota, but also other Native American tribes as well. Not only do you learn about the spiritual, but you learn about the actual nuts and bolts of owning and using a pipe. As you might guess, one doesn’t just stuff any old stuff in there, light it up and go. Cleve discusses what gets used, care and maintenance, and the role the pipe plays in different rituals.

I had never imagined that a book about the Native American sacred pipe would give me a look at the Sun Dance ritual, or an overview of the Medicine Wheel, or stories of White Buffalo Calf Maiden. Cleve truly shows how the sacred pipe is fully woven into the fabric of the Native American culture, and because it is, “Path of the Sacred Pipe” ends up being a surprisingly thoughtful and entertaining read.

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

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

March 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.

This month’s reading turns away from the traditional Tarot in favor of a special oracle deck based on Celtic lore. This is the Celtic Messages Oracle deck. This reading addresses a question of general guidance for the present and near future asked by this month’s Significator, who will be referred to as John. John’s inquiry is general which makes for a great Tarot reading but also lends itself well to readings conducted by an oracle deck as well.

When general guidance is sought through an oracle deck it is important to keep an open mind to the messages that come forth as an oracle increases awareness of changing tides or opportunities presenting requiring certain energies in order to manifest the best possible results. The first card drawn for this reading is the Cow/Bull which will be referred to in this column as the Cow. This is a card of resourcefulness and harnessing one’s assets and material wealth. This card suggests that John spend the next few months taking stock of resources on numerous levels. Not only the monetary value of their resources, but also the value inherent in utilizing resources to the full extent. So John, are there tools available to you that you may be overlooking? Are there areas in your life where you are wasting energy, money, time or physical possessions? The Cow suggests that this is a time to start making full use of what you already have. There seem to be several outlets or possible opportunities that need to be sculpted or crafted with a mix of creativity, imagination and frugality. The Cow reminds John that nothing is to be wasted in this endeavor. What John is seeking is not going to originate with the resources or reserves of another but will be built making use of what is already at his disposal. This is a time of abundance and growth especially if John is able to take stock of the wealth he already has at his fingertips and make use of the abundance before him. The Cow is a sacred animal as it is a singular source of both food, clothing, protection, medicine, milk, a living cornucopia able to suit all of John’s needs. In what ways, John, is abundance right at your doorstep, needing only to be recognized for the full utility available to you? John has ample opportunity at this time to experience growth and extend generosity to others and it would be in his best interest to make use of talents and resources for which he does not often credit himself. Leaving no potential link unexplored would benefit John at this time as there is abundance in his life that needs to be reinvested and cultivated to a greater extent. There will be opportunity to network and expand the social circle with benefit to John’s career as a result. This will not be a passive process however, he must make the connections and extend himself openly showing the best of his many talents and making his unique and creative abilities clear to influential people who could help advance his career.

Herne is the next card pulled. This card refers to the Wild God of the forest and brings energy of chaos, virility, change and excitement. From a full assessment and utilization of strengths and assets already at John’s disposal, he will be prepared for a period soon to come in which change, action, and an element of the unexpected and chaotic will begin to surface. This will not be a threatening time, but rather one of high energy, calling John to keep pace with the momentum and summon the energy needed to charge ahead. This will be a very productive time and a very creative time as well. It may feel like John is tending to a large and fertile garden and he will need to keep up with the work before him in order to remain ahead of the game. Herne is seen as an aspect of the God of the Wild Hunt, Vegetation and wildlife. John may feel drawn back to nature or to embark on creative projects that put him in close contact with nature and the elements, especially with Oak and the Stag. Both symbols of strength and virility. Herne also brings lessons of sacrifice and guardianship. He is said to have either been injured in a great hunting expedition and healed but with some residual limitations, or in other stories hung himself from an Oak tree after being outcast from his companions as a result of false accusations of treason against the King. With this in mind, John, be aware of the potential to be scapegoated or challenged by those who may harbor jealousies or have ulterior motives. In the course of this time of increased productivity, creativity and personal questing there may come a feeling of being left out or scapegoated. John will do well to recall the potent abilities, skills, talents and resources already at hand and to make the most of the current hunt without allowing the opinions or insecurities of others to interfere. Also, he will need to contend with feeling ostracized or scapegoated and look instead for the sources of guidance and strength. Just as Herne is associated with sacrifice and the Sacred Hunt, he is also considered a great protector of wildlife and is summoned when others are in need of guardianship and protection. John will face the choice of pursuing his quest in honor of a greater goal, for the benefit of many as opposed to becoming lost in martyrdom and disconnected from his higher integrity. Major change is underway and may be unsettling for John as he may feel as if he is losing that which provided control and security. By being open to the process of change and healing John may be pleasantly surprised to realize the full potential he is now able to live up to.

The last card drawn is the Ford. The Ford is a marker of transition. It seems that John will be approaching a phase requiring him to take action and make a firm commitment and that simply looking to greener pastures with envy will not serve him, but rather he is being called to take action and seek that which he desires. He will need to summon courage and conviction to face obstacles that appear in his path without backing down or trying to find loopholes that will divert his energy away from potential conflict or the confrontation of uncomfortable situations that force him to contend with disruption in his plans. John will need to keep emotional waters calm and adopt the view of the observer, from which angle he will then be able to cross the emotional waters, making the best of what is available at this time and turning roadblocks into advantageous learning experiences. This will require him to reach beyond his comfort zone but will prove rewarding in the end. What may seem like difficulty is in a greater sense an opportunity to rise above a challenge and respond to barriers in a different way, thereby carving out new paths, new attitudes, behaviors, and a different personal energy that will demonstrate to John that not only can he overcome the difficulties at hand, but has also evolved into a whole new playing field. From this vantage point John will be better able to handle difficulties that arise in his life in the future as well. This is a time of demonstrating through action just how reason can overrule emotional reaction and help John ultimately reach his goals. He may feel torn between two courses of action or struggle with self doubt or ambivalence. The challenge ahead will bring a convenient opportunity to back down and repeat outmoded patterns of behavior that allow for self sabotage, or will pave the way for new accomplishments and greater confidence. The choice will be up to John when the time arrives.

Remember, no matter where you are reading this article, all readings are for entertainment purposes in accordance with New York State law. Best of luck to John on his future ventures as he harnesses the friction of change and finds his way through the challenges that once would have deterred him on his journey.

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

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards for 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? www.wwtrd.webs.com

Want a chance to get a live Tarot Reading? Check out www.cafenolany.com for listing of Tarot events at Café Nola in Schenectady NY!

This month’s deck is the Celtic Messages Oracle, a deviation from the traditional Tarot decks previously used. This oracle deck is published by Joules Taylor. Published by Cico Books, London/NY in 2008.

Thoughts are Okay

by Ajayan Borys

What is the greatest obstacle to meditation? When I ask this question of students in my classes, I usually hear one of two things: “I don’t have the time to meditate” or “My mind is just too active to meditate.” Notice that both of these relate to being too busy: either my life is too busy or my mind is too busy. In any case, let’s consider each of these separately, starting with the time issue.

I empathize with anyone with a busy life. But is a busy schedule really a good reason not to meditate? As Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.” He makes a good point. Just consider how important your mind is to the quality of your life. Your mind is the filter through which you experience everything. The quality of every experience, of every moment of your life, is colored by the quality of your thinking, of your awareness. If you are well rested, relaxed, clear, creative, happy, peaceful, you’re going to enjoy your life a whole lot more and achieve a whole lot more. If your productivity and the quality of your entire experience of life can be improved by spending a few minutes a day meditating, isn’t that a good investment of time? Meditation pays back that time with megadividends and improves your health and vitality as well. So the fact is, the busier you are, the more important it is to meditate. You just need to put the quality of life, creativity, and productivity at the top of your daily to-do list.

Now, what of the “my mind is too busy to meditate” issue? Everyone’s mind is incredibly busy. We all have lots of thoughts; estimates range from thirty thousand to eighty thousand thoughts each day. Whatever the actual number, it’s a lot. Yet a busy mind is not an obstacle to meditation. As a wonderful teacher of mine, Mata Amritananda Mayi (Amma, “the hugging saint”), once said, “To say that only those with quiet minds can meditate is like saying that only those with perfect health can go to the doctor.” Those with busy minds are the ones who need meditation the most. That’s all of us!

Having lots of thoughts does not pose an obstacle to meditation, but the idea that you shouldn’t have thoughts in meditation does. In fact, this can be a huge obstacle to meditation. This idea will pit you against your own mind, because it will make you try to suppress your thoughts. That is, you’ll break the first essential principle of sublime ease. Besides, the battle against thoughts is a battle you just can’t win. The very nature of your mind is to think; that’s what a mind does. If you pit yourself against the nature of your mind to think, there will be a loser, and it will be you!

Here is an experiment you can try in order to see this for yourself. See if you can control your mind. Pick something — anything at all — to focus on, and try to focus exclusively on that without any thoughts interrupting your focus for a minute, or even for just fifteen seconds. Seriously, give it a try….

How did you do? Interesting how, the moment you try to focus, other thoughts crowd in. It’s almost like magic. The mind’s very nature is opposed to control; just like you, your mind wants to be free. So let it. Don’t oppose your mind; work with it. That’s the Tao of meditation. We don’t control the mind, and yet the mind does quiet down. The mind becomes controlled, but not by you or me; rather — and this is a great secret of meditation — the mind can be effortlessly controlled by its own nature.

How can the unruly mind control itself? Well, actually the mind is not so unruly. There is a method to its madness, and that method is this: the mind is spontaneously drawn to greater pleasure, greater happiness. The freedom your mind wants is precisely the freedom you want: to seek your own happiness.

Aren’t we all naturally drawn to what we feel will make us happy? This is true whether we seek a satisfying career, a wonderful soul mate, a beautiful home, car, boat, the latest smartphone, our favorite dessert, sex, fame, wealth — whatever we feel might bring us happiness. The mind automatically feels attracted to it. We can’t help it. This draw toward greater happiness permeates the mind. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Happiness is a ball after which we run wherever it rolls, and we push it with our feet when it stops.”

I would go so far as to say that this pull toward perceived happiness is to the mind what the law of gravity is to physical objects — it is that powerful a force within us, invisibly driving humanity in all its endeavors. The good news is that when it comes to meditation, this powerful force is not an obstacle. Yes, those who try to control the mind will find its restless search for happiness to be an obstacle. For them the mind will be like a monkey jumping wildly from limb to limb. Yet as my first teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, used to say, the mind is not a wild monkey at all, but a bumblebee going from flower to flower in search of nectar. Once we understand this, we can simply point the mind in the direction of that nectar of greater happiness instead of trying to forcibly control it. The mind’s own nature will begin to work for us instead of against us. This is the great secret of effortless meditation.

So, where is greater happiness for the mind? Simply put, it is in transcending to subtler levels of the mind. Once you approach meditation with ease, you will discover the great charm that lies within, in the inner peace, stillness, expansiveness, intelligence, and creativity at the quieter levels of awareness. Once you stop trying to control it, your mind will discover that the experience of its own depths is true nectar. Meditation is said to bring you to what in Sanskrit is called ananda, a state of bliss. You don’t need to force your mind to go to bliss; you need only point your mind in the right direction and let go, and the law of gravity of the mind — the draw toward greater happiness — will do the rest. This is why the Tao of meditation works best. This is the practical way to control the mind, not by any exertion. You will see just how to do this as we progress through the book. Every technique in this book is based on this principle.

Does this mean you won’t have thoughts while meditating? Not at all. As long as you have a mind, you will have thoughts. But once you allow your mind to transcend toward the charm that lies within, the thoughts become less and less significant. Let them come and go; they are not your concern. In this way, you become released from the grip of thoughts; your mind is freed to follow its natural attraction to peace, stillness, expansion, and inner delight. And at times the thoughts will cease, and at that point you will be in the state of “no mind.” (More on this later.)

To better understand how thoughts can coincide with deep meditation, allow me to offer a final metaphor. Think of your mind as an ocean. Until now you’ve been hanging out on the surface of that ocean — the conscious thinking level — bouncing from one thought wave to the next, buffeted by desires, musings, worries, irritations, ambitions, insights, and so on. Once you start to meditate, you slip beneath the surface and begin to descend into the depths of your mind. As soon as you slip beneath the surface, you experience inner silence; and as you descend, the silence becomes deeper, richer, and filled with the light of being. Yet the waves on the surface will likely continue. The whole ocean does not have to become perfectly still for you to experience the inner silence of meditation. You can abide deep within, drawn by that increasing peace and well-being, while thoughts go by on the surface of your mind. And now and then you will rest on the ocean’s floor, where all is still.

About Ajayan Borys:
Ajayan Borys is the author of “Effortless Mind”. He has traveled the globe exploring human potential practices. The host of Mind Matters Radio on Alternative Talk Radio, he teaches workshops and retreats on meditation and spiritual relationships near Seattle and in the Himalayas. Visit him online at http://http://www.ajayan.com/

Excerpted from the new book “Effortless Mind” ©2013 Ajayan Borys. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com

Natural Solutions for Depression and Anxiety

by Kathy Gruver, PhD

Many people suffer from depression and anxiety as a part of their daily lives. These are commonly treated with antidepressants and other prescription drugs. In the pharmaceutical world, antidepressants rank number five in numbers of prescriptions written behind high blood pressure, cholesterol, gastrointestinal disorders and antibiotics. My experience is that there are non-drug ways to treat mild depression. I’m not referring to truly debilitating depression where a person is confined to the house or suicidal, but for mild mood problems, there are other options. Its mental sister, anxiety, also has some non-drug solutions. In fact, some new studies indicate that prescription anti-depressants aren’t even effective for mild depression, they are made for more severe cases.

The first thing I look at with my clients is nutrition. Many people suffering from depression and anxiety are low in the B vitamins and I suggest adding those daily. Be aware not to take them too late in the day as they can disrupt sleep. Tryptophan and 5-HTP are precursors to serotonin, which controls mood and are great additions to your daily regime. Tryptophan is metabolized in the liver and helps with conversion of certain B vitamins (another reason to have enough Bs). Tryptophan is also dependent on being hydrated so get enough water. SAM-e, Magnesium, Melatonin, Omega 3 fatty acids and St. Johns Wort are also beneficial supplement suggestions if you are battling mood disorders. But it’s not recommended to take St John’s Wort, Tryptophan or 5-HTP if you are on SSRIs like Prozac. There can be a dangerous interaction. And St. Johns Wort can counteract the effectiveness of the birth control pill so you might be less depressed until the pregnancy test comes back. Magnesium, my favorite mineral, not only helps with mood, but also sleep, constipation, PMS and headaches.

If you are experiencing anxiety, cut back on the caffeine and other stimulants. Even if you’ve been drinking it for years, with the addition of stressful life circumstances, caffeine can increase your feelings of anxiety. Taper off slowly so the withdrawal symptoms don’t send you back to the java. Also avoid self-medicating with alcohol. It, in itself, is a depressant and can just lead down a road to addiction and isolation.

I also suggest eliminating artificial sweeteners and flavorings like MSG. I’ve had clients that have experienced anxiety-like symptoms after consuming artificial sweeteners. The symptoms went away after the usage was stopped. Checking for food sensitivities and keeping a food diary can also be useful to see if you can chart a pattern of eating and mood. You can also be tested for heavy metal contamination which can affect both mood and food allergies. And it never hurts to do a cleanse or short fast. The cleaner the colon, the better off we are.

A lot of people are on multiple prescription drugs and I advise clients to check side effects to make sure they are not experiencing iatrogenic disease. (Loosely meaning treatment induced). Many antidepressants have anxiety as a side effect and vice versa. Also, studies have shown that low cholesterol aggravates depression so make sure your statin drug is not lowering your numbers too much.

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is common during the winter months. Using a light box or supplementing with Vitamin D can help with this issue. Make sure you get out in the light for the time that we have it. While you’re out there, exercise a bit. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests that 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help with mood issues. Exercise not only gets you outside and around other people, it boosts our self-confidence by releasing those feel good hormones in the brain.

We can’t escape the connection of body and mind and studies have shown that massage and acupuncture can help the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Massage, in general, relaxes the body and also stimulates the feel good hormones in the brain. The relaxation can also alleviate mild anxiety. A study conducted in 2000 by John Allen at the University of Tucson, showed that over 50% of people treated with acupuncture for their depression had lessening of symptoms so that they no longer met the criteria for depression.

Other alternatives to prescription drugs are homeopathics or Bach Flower Essences. Both work on the premise that “like cures like” and work on an energetic level. They balance the body so that healing can take place from within. Flower essences correspond to specific emotional states and restore them to balance. There are millions of combinations that are individualized for every person. More information on Bach Flower Essences can be found at www.bachflower.com or contact me for a consultation for specific remedies.

Just like you can’t have two solid objects occupying space at the same time, you can’t have two thoughts in your mind at one time. If you are having negative thoughts, try to change them to something else. I like affirmations for this. Rather than saying, “Life sucks,” change it to “Life is abundant and easy,” or “I am healthy and well.” When working with affirmations make them short, positive and in the present. And repeat frequently. I have affirmations around the house on my mirrors and on the dashboard of my car. It’s a helpful reminder that we’re in control of the stories we tell.

And, if you are experiencing depression or anxiety, try talking to a professional about it. No matter what treatment you are using, it’s important to cover the cognitive aspect as well. And remember, you don’t have to go through this alone, bonding with people and companion animals are important. And it probably won’t hurt to skip the horror movies and news programs on TV too.

I hope your moods stay high and your outlook bright. But if there are low spots, hopefully these suggestions were able to help!

Kathy Gruver, PhD is the author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker. She can be reached at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com

Geek Month in Review: February 2013

By JB Sanders

Winter, winter

3D-printed Moon Base
For real! The machines would be shipped by rocket to the moon, and would then use the material of the moon itself to construct buildings.

Future Secret Lair for Sale
The RAF (Royal Air Force) is selling their Neatishead radar base. It’s a nice little 25-acre plot with high-security fence, rail access, underground bunker and tennis court.

Watery Purple Spheres — Origin Unknown
Is it a fungus? Slime mold? Alien monster eggs? No one knows!

Fish Brain on X-Ray
Well, not exactly x-ray, but something to see the fish brain in action while the fish observes prey. Plus how often are you going to see a fish brain in action? You know, unless you actually go fishing.

3D-printed Robohand
Guys in separate parts of the globe design a prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old boy born without fingers on one hand. The crazy part? They do it while in opposite sides of the globe, over the internet, and the robotic hand is then printed on a 3D printer. More than that, they share the design and blueprints for the hand online for free, for anyone to use. So, first instance of cyberware shared over the net and printed out. We’re living the scifi!

Richard the Third’s Skeleton Found — and Verified
A skeleton with deformities and wounds similar to Richard III’s found under a parking lot. In order to really pin that down, they took DNA from the skeleton, and compared it to a direct descendent of Richard’s via Anne of York. It’s a match!

Futurama vs the Transhumanists
I’m not sure I can explain the difference as well as this video can, plus it’s another PBS Idea Channel thing. After having listened to it, I’m also not sure whose future I want more. Maybe neither?

The Universe is a Big Old Bubble Bath
And other mind-blowing analogies from physicist Michio Kaku. Also find out how a universe can be created for free.

Oldest Undeciphered Written Text Close to Being Figured Out
It’s clay tablets and proto-Elamite, a middle-eastern language from the Bronze Age. They’ve cooked up their own crazy setup to take pictures of the tablets with light from multiple angles, so that even shallow marks on the tablets can be seen clearly. And it doesn’t help that apparently the scribe made several mistakes in the text.

How One Historian Uncovered the Story of the First Computer
What computer, you ask? Colossus. The one used at Bletchley Park to decode the Enigma machine.

Virtual Slide Rule
Is it using a new technology to emulate an old and now obsolete one? Yes. But it’s still cool.
(Tip of the hat to Alex for this one.)

Life Found in Antarctica
And no, it’s not penguins. Scientists have discovered organisms in a sub-glacial lake that has been isolated from the rest of Earth’s biosphere for millions of years. A lake trapped under ice since before the continents looked the way they do. And as Fark put it: these folks have obviously never seen a John Carpenter movie.

More Bionics Advances: Rat 6th Sense Through Brain Implant
These wacky scientists in North Carolina fitted rats with infrared sensing devices, and then ran tests. Turns out the rats used it like it was a special vision.

Packaging-Free Goods
So this designer, as a final college project, decides to see what happens when packaged goods have no packaging. See the fascinating results. Be sure to click on each picture to see the resulting prototypes.

How Just a Few Boston Drivers are Messing It Up for Everyone (in Boston)
Ok, realistically, Boston drivers mess it up for everyone on the road near them. But in this case, scientists used anonymous cell phone tracking information to analyze the traffic patterns around the greater Boston area. What they found is kind of interesting. The drivers from just a few areas cause most of the traffic jams, because of their use of a small number of over-capacity feeder roads.

The Next Generation of Batteries Won’t Be Batteries
They’ll be super-capacitors. Just watch the movie.

3D Pen
It’s a pen-like device that let’s you create 3D doodles. Yup — you write on the air. It’s a kickstarted project at the moment. Check out their intro video.

Derelict Cruise Ship: The Stories Just Write Themselves
So an ice-hardened cruise ship, largely used in Arctic and Antarctic adventure packages, is seized for debts in Newfoundland. It remains docked for two years until finally a company purchases it, and has it towed to the Dominican Republic. Only part way there it breaks the tow line in heavy seas. Fast forward a month later, and another ship sights the derelict. They get it under control, tow it to international waters and set it loose again. It’s now floating on the currents of the Atlantic. Destination: no one knows.

Wikipedia entry

The Newest Hari Seldon?
So this historian takes a very wide view of history, the last 15,000 years or so and from the trends he’s seen, has some interesting (and sometimes heart-stopping) predictions for the future of Earth.

And if you aren’t familiar with who Hari Seldon is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hari_Seldon

3D Printed Car
How could I not link this? It’s “strong as steel, half the weight and nearing production”. Also, it looks totally scifi. The designers plan on driving the prototype (once it’s finished) from San Francisco to New York on 10 gallons of fuel, preferably pure ethanol (the car is a hybrid diesel and electric). Good grief!

Titanic Being Rebuilt
Some billionaire got it in his head to rebuild the Titanic, so he is. It’ll be the “Titanic II” and although it’ll be a faithful remake, it will have a few modern touches (like air conditioning).

Transparent 3D Computer
Which is interesting, particularly the induced 3D view through a transparent screen. However, keep reading the article for what other things the inventor is working on. Sounds like this guy will be running a Fortune 100 company in ten years, or inventing the next generation of computer. Oh, wait.

4D Printed Objects
Not a typo. Apparently some scientists at MIT are developing self-assembling objects — ones that change after being 3D-printed. Just add water!

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

Crystals, Jewels, Stones

We just got done talking about the 2012 Claude “I’m a Bad Mutha’” Lecouteux’s “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”. Now we’re going to talk about a reprint of Isidore Kozminsky’s 1922 “Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science”, along with what the publisher calls a “preface” but it’s more like a mini book called “Crystals and the New Age” by Stuart Weinberg. What will 1922 Kozminsky be like versus Lecouteux’s 2012 Medieval lapidary? You’ll have to wait to find out because we’re starting with Stuart Weinberg’s “Crystals and the New Age”.

Stuart Weinberg is in a unique position to write about crystals, gems, and minerals. He’s the owner of Seven Stars Bookstore in Cambridge, MA and from the photos provided in the book, Weinberg carries an insane selection of crystals and precious stones. Sadly, I’ve never had the chance to shop there, but it is probably a good thing for my checking account. What’s he’s written is a perfect introduction, not just to Kozminsky’s work, but to the crystal oriented New Age in general.

Weinberg gives you an excellent and efficient introduction to chakras, astrology, and the role crystals can play in them. Then when he gets to channeling you’re given a rundown on Emanuel Swedenborg, Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Edgar Cayce, and Jane Roberts and Seth. Weinberg wraps things up with a little history of crystals themselves within the New Age movement. How the movement effected the availability of precious stones, what became popular when and how. A topic I feel confident Weinberg can speak expertly on. In fact, I would have loved for that section to have been longer. Could there be a solo Weinberg crystal book in the future? If so, more history on the retail of stones please!

Now it’s time to take a look in the past to see what Isidore Kozminsky felt should go in his book of “Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science”.

Kozminsky opens explaining that a sincere attempt has been made to blend modern science with ancient occult philosophies. Obviously this is intriguing to the modern reader because the “modern science” in question is from 1922. Part One is “Crystal and Stones in the Bible and World Mythology”. It’s in here that he discusses “The Most Ancient Science” astrology, the Breastplate of Judgment (which is the rewarding topic of most of the chapters of part one), and stones in mythology. One chapter titled “The Greatest Charms in the World” is about the scarab. As a lady with earrings with scarabs carved into them, I will totally take “The Greatest Charm in the World” title. But enough about the opening act, you totally want to hear “Part Two: Precious and Semi-Precious Gems Arranged in Alphabetical Order”.

Just like I did with Lecouteux’s lapidary, I’m going to look up emerald in Kozminsky’s book. When I do, I’m told to see Beryl. Once I’m at Beryl, listed clearly underneath is Emerald. It gives me loads of alternate spellings and mentions that one of its derivations is through the Latin Smaragdus. (Readers will remember that Emerald was listed under Smaragdus in Lecouteux’s “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”.) The entry also lists a few emeralds that are notable for their size. Sadly, it’s not very exciting of an entry compared to Lecouteux’s lapidary, but that’s just because I chose Emerald. Diamond has a wealth of intriguing stories as well as factual information.

Here we are at the end. Both books read, both books reviewed. Neither one is better than the other because they both have different things to offer, which I hope my reviews did a little bit to highlight. Sadly, when it comes to the land of studying crystals and precious stones, one really can’t have too many reference books. And I’m not just saying that to make the publishers happy. If you were starting your collection you wouldn’t do too bad having these two books on the shelf.

A Lapidary of Sacred Stones

Now you kids know I’m a gal that loves me some Christopher Penczak. I’m a lady that adores me some Deborah Blake. Yet there is but one writer that elicits a fan girl squeal the way Ol’ Blue Eyes would from the ladies back in the day, and that’s Claude Lecouteux. Yes folks, he’s back, and this time he brought jewelry. Lecouteux…..with jewelry people! Claude Lecouteux’s latest is “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones: Their Magical and Medicinal Powers Based on the Earliest Sources.”

At this point in most of our lives we’ve all thumbed through, or own, at least one book about the properties and/or powers of certain minerals and gemstones. Many of you probably already have a favorite. However with each book it’s about what they choose to include and how they choose to organize the information. Those who know and love Lecouteux know that this book is going to be special, and Lecouteux does not disappoint.

From right in the “Introduction”, “How the Dictionary is Organized”:

I have left the names of stones in classical or Medieval Latin as entries, when they exist, because they do not always correspond to the names of modern mineralogy and many stones remain unidentified, and I am going by the medieval nomenclatures. For stones without specific names, I have created entries of the type “stone + virtue” or “stone + location.”

So to find my birth stone, Emerald, I look under “Emerald” and I’m told to “See Smaragdus”. Once there I find 5 pages of diverse information. For instance the stone was one of the 12 stones found on the high priest Aaron’s breastplate in Exodus 28:15-30. Or, the emerald is used in hydromancy or divination. He mentions the emerald’s appearance in “The Romance of Alexander” and the “Letter of Alexander to Aristotle”.

Hopefully this has given you a little idea as to what to expect inside Claude Lecouteux’s “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”. A lapidary is an old book on the lore of gems, someone who cuts, polishes or engraves precious stones, or a collector or dealer of gems. Lecouteux has certainly wrote this generation’s lapidary with “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”. Whether you’re looking for Carniz, Magnet of Fish, or Sun Stone, this book is a keeper!

Next we’ll be examining “Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science” by Isidore Kozminsky, that just happens to have “Crystals and the New Age” by Stuart Weinberg along for the ride.

Crystals, Crystals, CRYSTALS!

I’ve always loved gemstones and minerals. In school, when given the option, I always took geology because there was always a section on minerals and stones. And volcanoes and plate tectonics are pretty cool too. I was so into all of this that I actually gave my high school geology teacher cash and a shopping list to take to a gem and mineral show she was going to, and in return I got some beautiful fluorite.

When I learned that minerals, crystals, and gemstones had magical associations you can imagine how blown my mind was, that would be very. Like many teenage girls I was big into rose quartz, it was affordable and good with matters of the heart and love. As I matured I got quartz points which I learned how to cleanse and care for, and I took the time to learn about the gemstones that I already owned.

Crystals and gemstones can be lifelong companions, but in order to get the most out of them, you’re going to need some guide books. That’s what we’ll be talking about this week, books about stones and crystals! On Tuesday we’ll be talking about “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones: The Magical and Medicinal Powers Based on the Earliest Sources” by Claude Lecouteux and on Thursday we’ll review the two books in one “Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science” by Isidore Kozminsky and “Crystals and the New Age” by Stuart Weinberg.

In order to hold you over until Tuesday, why not check out my review of “Power Crystals: Spiritual and Magical Practices, Crystal Skulls, and Alien Technology” by John DeSalvo Ph.D.?