Welcome to the Summer Solstice edition of the Enlightening Times!
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Featured Artist Emily Carding
1 Sun from Tarot of the Black Mountain.
2 Under Nimue's Lake, 3 Creation, 4 The Invitation
5 Blodeuwedd, 6 Lancelot and Guinevere
7 The Sun from tarot of the Sidhe
Emily Carding lives in Cornwall with her amazing husband, ethereal daughter, the glorious Albus Dumbledog.
Here you can see various offerings, such as The Transparent Tarot, the Transparent Oracle, and The Tarot of the Sidhe for Schiffer Books. Emily has also contributed book covers, articles and artwork for several works from Avalonia Books. To date these titles include Towards a Wiccan Circle (Cover), Both Sides of Heaven, (Cover and article- "The Salvation of the Sidhe"), From a Drop of Water (Article- "Nimue: The Archetypal Priestess"), Hekate Her Sacred Fires (Cover, Article- "Painting Hekate" and internal illustrations), and VS. (Cover, Articles- "Sun and Moon" and "Painting Polarity").
Avalonia also recently published Gods of the Vikings which features cover art and numerous illustrations by Emily. She is a regular columnist for Mermaids and Mythology magazine and her latest book Faery Craft, a new faery lifestyle and magical practice book due out from Llewellyn in Autumn 2012.
Visit Emily's Website to see more of her stunning work!
Death - Michael Berman
TMulla Nasruddin on the subject of death, and what happens after.
One of the most effective ways of coming to terms with questions that trouble us and we can find no answer to is sometimes to laugh about them. Mulla Nasruddin, the Sufi visionary who lived during the 13th century, was an expert at helping people to do this through his stories.
In our conditioning, we see things as either, right or wrong, black or white. Linear thinking does not allow one to think holistically. Our minds wrestle in the dark dens of logic and lose the gist of life. However, the Sufi teaching tales, like koans of the Zen tradition, reveal the paradoxes of conditioned living and they do so with humour as the following examples show:
Mulla Nasrudin, celebrating his 95th birthday was asked by a friend: "Don't you hate growing old, Mulla?" "Definitely not,"said Nasrudin. "If I wasn't growing old, I'd be dead."
A newspaper reporter was interviewing Mulla Nasrudin on his 99th birthday. As he was shaking hands to leave, he said, "I hope I can come back next year and see you on your 100th birthday." "I don't see why you can't," said the old Mulla. "You certainly look healthy enough."
A newspaper reporter was interviewing Mulla Nasrudin on his 100th birthday. "If you had your life to live over," he asked, "do you think you would make the same mistakes again?" "Certainly, "said the old Mulla, "But I would start a lot sooner."
Mulla Nasrudin finally reached the age of 105. A newspaper reporter from town came out to take his picture and write a story about him. The reporter was talking to a neighbour about the old man and asked him, "How do you figure your friend was able to live so long?" "I suppose," said the neighbour, "it was because he never did anything else."
What happens after death, and is death really the end of everything, are questions that have been asked since the beginning of time and will no doubt long continue to be asked. What do some of the world's religions have to say on the subject?
Jewish sacred texts and literature have relatively little to say about what happens after death. The Torah and the Talmud focus primarily on earthly life and the need to fulfil one's duties to God and one's fellow human beings. There are vague conceptions about re-connecting with one's ancestors after and references in some texts to the shadowy realm of Sheol as the home of the soul. The wicked and the unrighteous, meanwhile, are likely to find themselves in the fiery pit of Gehinnom. Christianity and Islam are both resurrection-based religions that embrace the notion of a Last Judgement of Final Day that ultimately determines the fate of the soul for all eternity (Rodgers & Maskell, 2012, pp.37-38).
On the other hand, recent scientific research into near-death experiences, the return from apparent clinical death to waking consciousness, could prove to provide 'a substantial alternative not only to faith-based beliefs about the afterlife but also the reductionist perspectives of the militant atheists' (ibid. pp.38-39). It indicates that it might be more accurate to regard the human brain 'as a transmitter or mediator of consciousness rather than as the source of consciousness, as has so often been assumed' (ibid. p.57). This is more in keeping with pagan beliefs about the nature of the soul and leads us to consider whether if the consciousness remains active and the body is clinically dead, is there any such thing as death or do we pass from one mediator or "carrier" to another?
In 'The Cafeteria', a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer, one of the characters asks the question "How can we hope when everything ends in death?" The answer given is that "Hope in itself is a proof there is no death." The point being made is that as so few people can ever really accept they are dying, in a sense death does not exist for them, and the latest research into near-death experiences can provide a great deal of comfort in such cases.
Whatever your own personal view might be, if there is one message that the dead bring from the time of Homer onwards it is that life is so precious that all of it must be made the most of and enjoyed to the full, for as much of the time as possible.
Bashevis Singer, I. (2011) Collected Stories (Penguin Modern Classics).
"Learning about Death" by Nevill Drury. In Rodgers, C., & Maskell, L. (2012) A Contemporary Western Book of the Dead, Oxford: Mandrake.
Michael Berman’s published work includes The Power of Metaphor for Crown House, The Nature of Shamanism and the Shamanic Story for Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Shamanic Journeys through the Caucasus and Shamanic Journeys, Shamanic Stories for O-Books, Journeys outside Time for Pendraig Publishing, and Tales of Power for Lear Books. A Bridge to the Other Side: Death in the Folk Tradition and Georgia through Earth, Fire, Air and Water are both due to be published by Moon Books in 2012. For more information please visit www.Thestoryteller.org.uk
There are four types of men in this world: 1. The man who knows, and knows that he knows; he is wise, so consult him. 2. The man who knows, but doesn't know that he knows; help him not forget what he knows. 3. The man who knows not, and knows that he knows not; teach him. 4. Finally, there is the man who knows not but pretends that he knows; he is a fool, so avoid him - Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol, 11th century.
This year has brought forth a magnitude of blessings to many with an accompanying drift of change and transition. We are living on the brink of a new civilization, though it may seem as an ordinary year for those pulled into their own perceptions, there are massive shifts happening right before our eyes. With the lack of faith in political leaders, people are beginning to realize the own power potential they hold in their own hands and learning ways to bring this light to humanity. Every human possesses a Divine light that encompasses the infinite potential within their makeup. Once we light this torch, we unfold our true potential and begin building our lives and leaving footprints of contribution to our world in which we must cherish and uplift.
One of the most empowering concepts one can grasp is the constitution of the atom. What is it that fuels our essence and drives our motive? What force lays beneath our most powerful creative energies and causes them to bring fruition? Could it be any other than our essence spark? How can we fully develop this potential laid within us all and use it to re-create our lives and worlds in which we dwell in?
Let's take a look!
First, we must truly become conscious of the energy we allow to circulate in our minds and body chemistry. What we allow ourselves to believe, whether conscious or subconscious, has an effect not only on us but on our world. We are catalysts to the universes, but we must cultivate our powers that need tended just like a garden or fruit tree. If we are energy banks, we must not only take the utmost care of our bodies but also our minds. If we use the following analogy, our minds are literally a paintbrush for the cosmos!
If one is an avid musician we must cultivate this skill and use it towards world good. Popular celebrities including people like Dave Chappelle. Will Smith and Joe Rogan just to name a few are using their careers to spread truth regardless of what people think. This does not mean becoming an Alex Jones or a Kevin Trudeau. What it does mean is cultivating our skills and talents to educate the public in the most subtle way and giving people the keys needed for awaking.
The most missing facet from our world is not a vitamin or mineral (although there are many). What's lacking in our world is knowledge, which is rising on every occasion and becoming more widespread across the globe on every continent. Knowledge has been missing and censored before the times of Egypt. Knowledge can be used to create or destroy. In the case of the Atlanteans, their knowledge became too powerful and caused their destruction.
The Romans decided that some knowledge was too powerful and decided to either destroy it or hide it from the public. Even popular religious figures were manipulated to fit their agenda. However, their time has faded and has fallen in the hand of the individual. We are the key holders to the future. How will we use this power is the question, in the case of the elite they used their minuscule knowledge to oppress the people and prepare lower realms for themselves to become students of evolution the hard way.
The power of the human being lays in their sovereignty. We are not straw men/women of the system to build up their empire. We are here to do something much more majestic and heavenly. We have lives planned by ourselves before even coming to this world. To remember this is a precursor to enlightenment. To follow through with them is considered Dharma.
Individuals in line with their Dharma find their lives flow much more graciously and any problem that they encounter becomes dissolved by the mercy of the Divine. We are literally instruments of the Universe for Higher Reasoning. We must become integrated with our Divine nature. We must not fear change or transition. It is time to align with our Dharma.
What can we do to increase our essence powers? With the huge increase of information via the internet and other knowledge mainstreams, we have all the tools needed to bring our consciousness to the highest order. Superfoods are a great example. Eating as much organic and wild harvested foods will not only keep our bodies in the best of shape, but will literally provide us with the right minerals and co-factors to let our consciousness lights soar to infinite heights. Spring water is a new trend that is bringing people back to Source and making life more simple all the while providing missing elements needed by our subtle bodies to bring down Rome and facilitate a more Eden-like world.
People all over are utilizing their essence powers to educate individuals across the globe and increase awareness. Authors, musicians, teachers, celebrities, journalists and lecturers are using their powers of influence to facilitate Universal knowledge. It does not matter what we do in life, anyone can integrate their essence power into what they do. This is the wave encompassing the future and a more ascended civilization.
Once knowledge is taken away from the public who are they to rely on for such information? Fox News? We must become our own wells of knowledge. Everyone has the right to live in abundance and truth. Once we come to terms with our true potentials and learn how to utilize them, we will grasp the essence of this age and live lives in harmony with the science of truth and enjoy the depths of liberation.
In peace & harmony, ~M
After 3 years of Living and breathing, painting, meditating and writing about the journey of the creation of the Soulscapes tarot I am now at the closing of one cycle and the start of another. During the next month I will be shifting focus from the Major Arcana to the Minor Arcana.
The inception of this series of paintings came about during the painting of the "World Serpent" image in 2008. The name Quetzalcoatl was whipspered into my ear during a meditation over the 21st Key of the Tarot. Over the next three years I spent months meditating over each "idea" and allowing my subconscious to chanel these representations...it all ends and begins again with the creation of the "Wheel of Fortune" which I have just begun to paint this week.
In these images I have represented the "fools journey" and the enlightenment process I have undergone during my own ongoing Spiritual Journey. We all know that an image is worth more than a thousand words and as such they are pools of wisdom in their own right. The Major Arcana of the Soulscapes Tarot represent signposts to certain psychological states/ major life changes and also some of them represent the points of change in the cycles of the seasons.
Midsummers Day is the highest point or most light we will see in a day, and after this day the sunlight begins to dwindle and wane until we reach the balance point of equal night and equal day at the equinox in Autumn. In the Soulscapes Tarot the Hermit represents that turn in the Cycle.
In our western culture we stray so far from the Natural rhythms and cycles of the Earth that some people barely notice the passing of the seasons as they stride through their lives with the focus on money and possessions. Spirituality is as important if not more imortant to the wellbeing of each individual. More and more people are waking up to the reality that there are worlds within worlds to be exploring in which we truly come to know ourselves.
The Imagery of the Soulscapes Tarot are like keys which you can use to unlock the doorways which reconnect pathways in your consciousness that have until now been untraveled. That which was hidden will be revealed, and with it comes clarity and perception from a greater understanding.
J M Ashcroft 2012
Please click on the image above if you are interested in seeing more of Jade's Artwork. :)
Stonehenge and the Heavens by David Rowan
If we define the word 'Astrology' as: 'Astral Logos', meaning 'knowledge of the heavens', then, in historical terms, we are right in saying there is no distinction between astronomy and astrology -
before the Enlightenment, or emergence of the age of reason, they were one and the same craft.
All cultures have had a relationship with the sky; some have worshiped the sky and others have built
structures to reach or have dialogue with the sky. Some have observed celestial movements and attempted to find correlations between earthly existence and movements in the heavens; throughout history, human cultures have done one, or more, or all of these ... Currently, in Britain, there is a raging debate in English law regarding who Stonehenge 'belongs to': English Heritage and the state, on the one hand, and Druids and other Pagans on the other.
- Since Stonehenge is pre-Druid, and also pre-political state (Britannia, Great Britain or united Kingdom), and all of the ideas about it as a place of healing and religion are purely speculative conjecture, let's look at what can be tangibly known about it:
- there is evidence of cremation remains
- there is evidence of Solar and Lunar alignments and orientations within its design
there is a greater body evidence suggesting that its primary usage was at themid winter
solstice, than there is for its primary ritualistic being at themid summer solstice
- it was an eclipse predictor
- it was a season predictor
In 2008, as part of the Riverside Project, cremation remains were exhumed from one of the 56 Aubrey Holes, which surround the outer ring of stones and fall within its encircling ditch and bank.
Modern carbon dating technology now places the dates of the eelier cremations at the pre-Sarsen stone stage, c. 3000 BCE, while later cremation remains, found near the ditch and bank are contemporary with the placement of the Sarsen stones, c. 2500 BCE.
The 58 Aubrey Holes, named after their discover John Aubrey (1626 – 1697), encircle Stonehenge and are a key feature in the first astronomical feature we'll explore of Stonehenge; Eclipse Prediction. Every year, for about 34 days, the full and new moons occur near the Sun's path (the ecliptic) and eclipses result. These two times, which are 173 days apart, move backwards around the calendar taking 18.6 years to complete a revolution. The precise two points where the moon crosses the apparent path of the sun through the zodiac ( the ecliptic) are called the lunar nodes.
By doubling the sun-moon calendar to 56 markers, we can obtain an accuracy of 99.8%, and meet the handy convenience that 18.6 x 3 is almost the same as 28 x 2. Now a 3:2 ratio enables eclipses to be predicted to high accuracy, as the picture shows.
(Eclipse diagram's taken from Sun, Moon & Stonehenge, Heath)
Ancient 'superstitions' of an eclipse being a portent of change or even danger still ripple though human culture today. Astrologically, we now view them as significations of change and opportunities for transformation. What must the Neolithic, stone age mind have made of moments when the Sun would disappear during the day, or part of the Moon became missing and then returned. Being able to predict eclipses might seem like an act of magic, or one of great cultural evolution; to gain a handle on knowing how the world moves and changes, and being able to anticipate it accurately; now, the forces of nature are not so random and we are not blindly at their mercy. We may even portend auspicious moments ...
If this incredible feat of Neolithic geometry and astronomy were not enough to show that the Stonehenge builders, or designer, had a profound relationship with the sky, the very location of Stonehenge is astronomically dependent, if one is to be able to predict not just eclipses, but also, the seasons.
Stonehenge is located in the centre of the 51 degree band.
At certain places on the Earth's surface, significant alignments of both Sun and Moon can be represented as a 90 degree (orthogonal) rectangle.
Such a rectangle exists in the architecture of Stonehenge: the Station Stones
When the rectangle is placed at 51 degree north, and the corners of the rectangle are aligned with a particular February Sunrise, marking the beginning of Spring, a May sunrise, marking the beginning of Summer. An August Sunrise, marking the beginning of Autumn, and a specific Sunrise, marking the beginning of Winter, the Midwinter Sunset and Mid Summer Sunrise are exactly perpendicular to the rectangle.
Once the rectangle is aligned and placed in position, it then becomes possible, by monitoring when the Sunrise is orientated with the diagonal of the rectangle; the Station Stones, one then knows that the season is changing.
21st Century humans live their lives within a structural framework that barely touches their conscious awareness; time. We acknowledge the changing seasons with celebrations and rejoice in birthdays all around the world. The sense of cyclic time enables us to orient ourselves in life, rather than just amble aimlessly from ice to sunshine without knowing when, or if, the ice will return.
Being able to predict seasons is essential if you are to garner the highest yield from your crops. Farming without a sense of time is precarious; farming with a sense of time means one able to work with narture. Seasons are not rigidly fixed in their timing and, as any gardener will tell you, they can vary to the extent of often being unpredictable. However, if one has the ability to monitor the orientations of the rising Sun, noting how much closer it is getting to the Station Stone axis, then one can predict the seasons, because 'season' is a name that we give to nature's response to the relationship between the Sun, the Moon and the Earth. From when a seed knows, 'it's time', to germinate to when a fish knows it's time to bury itself in the mud at the bottom of a river, in preparation for winter; the opening and closing of our seasons is conducted by the Earth's relationship to the luminaries in the heavens.
Stone, in the Stone Age, is the most precious material; it is the medium of their time, in the same way that plastic or electricity is the medium for our space age time; Robin Heath is apt to say, 'this was their NASA'.
The Neolithic peoples who designed and built Stonehenge In a time when even knowing that the year is itself a cycle, certainly had a profound relationship with the sky. Life could be ordered and structured and whatever the speculation regarding the religious or ritualistic uses of Stonehenge, by its builders and the Druid Priesthood of the Celts to come later, the sophistication of their Astral Logos is without question. Stonehenge does not 'belong' to those who view earthly life in relation with the cosmos, but one of the few things one can say with any certainty about Stonehenge is that it's designers and builders were Astrologers in its primary sense of the word; to have knowledge of the heavens, an Astral Logos.
© David Rowan, May 2012.
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