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Monthly Archives: November 2007

Alder, Common

Botanical: Alnus Glutinosa (GAERTN.)
Family: N.O. Betulaceae
—Synonym—Betula Alnus.
—Parts Used—The bark and the leaves.
—Habitat—Europe south of the Arctic Circle, including Britain, Western Asia, North Africa.

——————————————————————————–
—History—The English Alder is a moderately-sized tree or large shrub of dark colour, usually growing in moist woods or pastures or by streams. The leaves are broadly ovate, stalked, and usually smooth. The catkins are formed in the autumn, the fruiting ones having scales rather like a tiny-fir-cone; the flowers appear in early spring, before the leaves are fully out. The woody, nearly globular female catkins are the so-called ‘berries.’ The trees are often grown in coppices, which afford winter shade for stock on mountain grazings without appearing to injure the grass beneath, and can be cut down for poles every nine or ten years.
The wood is much used. When young it is brittle and very easily worked. When more mature it is tinted and veined; in the Highlands of Scotland it is used for making handsome chairs, and is known as Scottish mahogany. It has the quality of long endurance under water, and so is valuable for pumps, troughs, sluices, and particularly for piles, for which purpose it is said to have been used in sixteenth-century Venice and widely in France and Holland. The roots and knots furnish good material for cabinet-makers, and for the clogs of Lancashire mill-towns and the south of Scotland the demand exceeds the supply, and birch has to be used instead. It is also used for cart and spinning wheels, bowls, spoons, wooden heels, herring-barrel staves, etc. On the Continent it is largely used for cigar-boxes, for which its reddish, cedar-like wood is well adapted. After lying in bogs the wood has the colour but not the hardness of ebony. The branches make good charcoal, which is valuable for making gunpowder.

The bark is used by dyers, tanners, leather dressers, and for fishermen’s nets.

—Dyeing—The bark is used as a foundation for blacks, with the addition of copperas. Alone, it dyes woollens a reddish colour (Aldine Red). The Laplanders chew it, and dye leathern garments with their saliva. An ounce dried and powdered, boiled in three-quarters of a pint of water with an equal amount of logwood, with solution of copper, tin, and bismuth, 6 grains of each, and 2 drops of iron vitriol, will dye a deep boue de Paris.

Both bark and young shoots dye yellow, and with a little copper as a yellowish-grey, useful in the half-tints and shadows of flesh in tapestry. The shoots cut in March will dye cinnamon, and if dried and powdered a tawny shade. The fresh wood yields a pinkish-fawn dye, and the catkins a green.

The leaves have been used in tanning leather. They are clammy, and if spread in a room are said to catch fleas on their glutinous surface.

—Constituents—The bark and young shoots contain from 16 to 20 per cent of tannic acid, but so much colouring matter that they are not very useful for tanning. This tannin differs from that of galls and oak-bark, and does not yield glucose when acted upon by sulphuric acid, which, it is stated, resolves it into almine red and sugar.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Tonic and astringent. A decoction of the bark is useful to bathe swellings and inflammations, especially of the throat, and has been known to cure ague.

Peasants on the Alps are reported to be frequently cured of rheumatism by being covered with bags full of the heated leaves.

Horses, cows, sheep and goats are said to eat it, but swine refuse it. Some state that it is bad for horses, as it turns their tongues black.

Binah

Themes: Peace, cooperation, communication, unity & spirituality
Symbols: Bees, lilies & lead

About Binah: In Cabalistic tradition, Binah embodies spiritual
discernment, love, stability, and awareness. As the third sephirah of
the Tree of Life, Binah becomes a divine mother, guiding her children
toward attainment and comprehension. Her name literally translates as
“the understanding’ which gives form and function to all other aspects
of life. Bees are sacred to her ( as divine messengers ), as are lilies
( white in purity ), and lead ( which gives us a foothold in reality ).

To Do Today: Binah’s energy was present in 1934 when Brotherhood Day
began to bring people of diverse faiths together in an atmosphere of
tolerance and respect. The thrust of the day is universal brotherhood,
accenting our likenesses instead of our differences. So, take time today
to learn more about other faiths and foster an open exchange of ideas.
Perhaps visit a church or temple and observe quietly, seeing that the
Goddess is there, too.

To promote strong spiritual roots in your own life, as well as the
understanding to nurture those roots, try this spell: Take a piece of
lead ( maybe from a pencil ) and hold it in your dominant hand, saying:

“Binah, walk with me; understanding impart. Every day be part of my
heart.”

Write this down and put the incantation in your shoe so that Binah will
walk with you wherever you may be.

from 365 Goddess – A Daily Guide of the Magick and Inspiration of the
Goddess
by Patricia Telesco

Goddess Meditation

The desert wind lends you wings
to fly across the land.
You fly across the land
bearing the decrees of heaven.

We all bow to you, trembling,
fearful of your stormy radiance.
We all bow to you,
knowing you are the epitome of justice.
Bowing to you,
we weep inlamentation at our wrongdoing.

Sighing great sighs,
we walk around your shrine and pray,
Sighing great sighs,
we attempt to follow your precise path.

~ Song of Akkadian Princess Enheduanna to Goddess Inanna

We are all part of the universe, all children of the Goddess. So how can
we possibly do wrong?
Is not every imaginable action part of the universe and therefore
somehow just?

It is not as simple as that, for some actions unite us more fully to the
cosmos while others seperate us from it. All people who have ever
existed have made similar distinctions between right and wrong, good and
evil. The Goddess, like any good mother, assists her children in
choosing right and punishes them when they do not. She can be wrathful
when we fail to satisfy her, the ancient prayers tell us. When we pull
away from her in our hearts, when we choose to live without attending to
her laws, she will correct us. To be a true follower of the Goddess
means to seek constantly to live in congruence with her inner laws.

from The Goddess Companion – Daily Meditation on th Feminine Spirit
by Patricia Monaghan

Brain Activity During Meditation

      
 

The brain is an the brain is an electrochemical organ – using EM energies to function.

Electrical activity emanating from the brain is displayed in the form of brainwaves.

There are four categories of these brainwaves. They range from the high amplitude, low frequency delta to the low amplitude, high frequency beta. Men, women and children of all ages experience the same characteristic brainwaves. They are consistent across cultures and country boundaries.

During meditation brain waves alter.

BETA – 13-30 cycles per second – awaking awareness, extroversion, concentration, logical thinking – active conversation. A debater would be in high beta. A person making a speech, or a teacher, or a talk show host would all be in beta when they are engaged in their work.

ALPHA – 7-13 cycles per second – relaxation times, non-arousal, meditation, hypnosis

THETA – 4-7 cycles per second – day dreaming, dreaming, creativity, meditation, paranormal phenomena, out of body experiences, ESP, shamanic journeys.

A person who is driving on a freeway, and discovers that they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state – induced by the process of freeway driving. This can also occur in the shower or tub or even while shaving or brushing your hair. It is a state where tasks become so automatic that you can mentally disengage from them. The ideation that can take place during the theta state is often free flow and occurs without censorship or guilt. It is typically a very positive mental state.

DELTA – 1.5-4 or less cycles per second – deep dreamless sleep

____________________________________________________________

Using new scanning techniques, neuroscientists have discovered that certain areas of the brain light up constantly in Buddhists, which indicates positive emotions and good mood.

“We can now hypothesize with some confidence that those apparently happy, calm Buddhist souls one regularly comes across in places such as Dharamsala, India, really are happy,” Professor Owen Flanagan, of Duke University in North Carolina, said Wednesday.

Dharamsala is the home base of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

The scanning studies by scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison showed activity in the left prefrontal lobes of experienced Buddhist practitioners. The area is linked to positive emotions, self-control and temperament.

Other research by Paul Ekman, of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, suggests that meditation and mindfulness can tame the amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory.

Ekman discovered that experienced Buddhists were less likely to be shocked, flustered, surprised or as angry as other people.

Flanagan believes that if the findings of the studies can be confirmed they could be of major importance.

“The most reasonable hypothesis is that there is something about conscientious Buddhist practice that results in the kind of happiness we all seek,” Flanagan said in a report in New Scientist magazine.

March 1, 2002 – BBC

Scientists investigating the effect of the meditative state on Buddhist monk’s brains have found that portions of the organ previously active become quiet, whilst pacified areas become stimulated.

Andrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, US, told BBC World Service’s Discovery programme: “I think we are poised at a wonderful time in our history to be able to explore religion and spirituality in a way which was never thought possible.”

Using a brain imaging technique, Newberg and his team studied a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks as they meditated for approximately one hour.

When they reached a transcendental high, they were asked to pull a kite string to their right, releasing an injection of a radioactive tracer. By injecting a tiny amount of radioactive marker into the bloodstream of a deep meditator, the scientists soon saw how the dye moved to active parts of the brain.

Sense of space

Later, once the subjects had finished meditating, the regions were imaged and the meditation state compared with the normal waking state.

The scans provided remarkable clues about what goes on in the brain during meditation.

“There was an increase in activity in the front part of the brain, the area that is activated when anyone focuses attention on a particular task,” Dr Newberg explained.

In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness.

Dr Newberg explained: “During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw.”

Prayer power

The complex interaction between different areas of the brain also resembles the pattern of activity that occurs during other so-called spiritual or mystical experiences.

Dr Newberg’s earlier studies have involved the brain activity of Franciscan nuns during a type of prayer known as “centring”.

As the prayer has a verbal element other parts of the brain are used but Dr Newberg also found that they, “activated the attention area of the brain, and diminished activity in the orientation area.”

This is not the first time that scientists have investigated spirituality. In 1998, the healing benefits of prayer were alluded to when a group of scientists in the US studied how patients with heart conditions experienced fewer complications following periods of “intercessory prayer”.

Inner world

And at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston last month, scientists from Stanford University detailed their research into the positive affects that hypnotherapy can have in helping people cope with long-term illnesses.

Scientific study of both the physical world and the inner world of human experiences are, according to Dr Newberg, equally beneficial.

“When someone has a mystical experience, they perceive that sense of reality to be far greater and far clearer than our usual everyday sense of reality,” he said.

He added: “Since the sense of spiritual reality is more powerful and clear, perhaps that sense of reality is more accurate than our scientific everyday sense of reality.”

Areas of the brain activated during meditation
Tracing the Synapses of Spirituality

June 17, 2001 – Washington Post

In Philadelphia, a researcher discovers areas of the brain that are activated during meditation. At two other universities in San Diego and North Carolina, doctors study how epilepsy and certain hallucinogenic drugs can produce religious epiphanies. And in Canada, a neuroscientist fits people with magnetized helmets that produce “spiritual” experiences for the secular.

The work is part of a broad new effort by scientists around the world to better understand religious experiences, measure them, and even reproduce them. Using powerful brain imaging technology, researchers are exploring what mystics call nirvana, and what Christians describe as a state of grace. Scientists are asking whether spirituality can be explained in terms of neural networks, neurotransmitters and brain chemistry.

What creates that transcendental feeling of being one with the universe? It could be the decreased activity in the brain’s parietal lobe, which helps regulate the sense of self and physical orientation, research suggests. How does religion prompt divine feelings of love and compassion? Possibly because of changes in the frontal lobe, caused by heightened concentration during meditation. Why do many people have a profound sense that religion has changed their lives? Perhaps because spiritual practices activate the temporal lobe, which weights experiences with personal significance.

“The brain is set up in such a way as to have spiritual experiences and religious experiences,” said Andrew Newberg, a Philadelphia scientist who authored the book “Why God Won’t Go Away.” “Unless there is a fundamental change in the brain, religion and spirituality will be here for a very long time. The brain is predisposed to having those experiences and that is why so many people believe in God.”

The research may represent the bravest frontier of brain research. But depending on your religious beliefs, it may also be the last straw. For while Newberg and other scientists say they are trying to bridge the gap between science and religion, many believers are offended by the notion that God is a creation of the human brain, rather than the other way around.

“It reinforces atheistic assumptions and makes religion appear useless,” said Nancey Murphy, a professor of Christian philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “If you can explain religious experience purely as a brain phenomenon, you don’t need the assumption of the existence of God.”

Some scientists readily say the research proves there is no such thing as God. But many others argue that they are religious themselves, and that they are simply trying to understand how our minds produce a sense of spirituality.

Newberg, who was catapulted to center stage of the neuroscience-religion debate by his book and some recent experiments he conducted at the University of Pennsylvania with co-researcher Eugene D’Aquili, says he has a sense of his own spirituality, though he declined to say whether he believed in God because any answer would prompt people to question his agenda. “I’m really not trying to use science to prove that God exists or disprove God exists,” he said.

Newberg’s experiment consisted of taking brain scans of Tibetan Buddhist meditators as they sat immersed in contemplation. After giving them time to sink into a deep meditative trance, he injected them with a radioactive dye. Patterns of the dye’s residues in the brain were later converted into images.

Newberg found that certain areas of the brain were altered during deep meditation. Predictably, these included areas in the front of the brain that are involved in concentration. But Newberg also found decreased activity in the parietal lobe, one of the parts of the brain that helps orient a person in three-dimensional space.

“When people have spiritual experiences they feel they become one with the universe and lose their sense of self,” he said. “We think that may be because of what is happening in that area ­ if you block that area you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. In doing so you ultimately wind up in a universal state.”

Across the country, at the University of California in San Diego, other neuroscientists are studying why religious experiences seem to accompany epileptic seizures in some patients. At Duke University, psychiatrist Roy Mathew is studying hallucinogenic drugs that can produce mystical experiences and have long been used in certain religious traditions.

Could the flash of wisdom that came over Siddhartha Gautama ­ the Buddha ­ have been nothing more than his parietal lobe quieting down? Could the voices that Moses and Mohammed heard on remote mountain tops have been just a bunch of firing neurons ­ an illusion? Could Jesus’s conversations with God have been a mental delusion?

Newberg won’t go so far, but other proponents of the new brain science do. Michael Persinger, a professor of neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, has been conducting experiments that fit a set of magnets to a helmet-like device. Persinger runs what amounts to a weak electromagnetic signal around the skulls of volunteers.

Four in five people, he said, report a “mystical experience, the feeling that there is a sentient being or entity standing behind or near” them. Some weep, some feel God has touched them, others become frightened and talk of demons and evil spirits.

“That’s in the laboratory,” said Persinger. “They know they are in the laboratory. Can you imagine what would happen if that happened late at night in a pew or mosque or synagogue?”

His research, said Persinger, showed that “religion is a property of the brain, only the brain and has little to do with what’s out there.”

Those who believe the new science disproves the existence of God say they are holding up a mirror to society about the destructive power of religion. They say that religious wars, fanaticism and intolerance spring from dogmatic beliefs that particular gods and faiths are unique, rather than facets of universal brain chemistry.

“It’s irrational and dangerous when you see how religiosity affects us,” said Matthew Alper, author of “The God Part of the Brain,” a book about the neuroscience of belief. “During times of prosperity, we are contented. During times of depression, we go to war. When there isn’t enough food to go around, we break into our spiritual tribes and use our gods as justification to kill one another.”

While Persinger and Alper count themselves as atheists, many scientists studying the neurology of belief consider themselves deeply spiritual.

James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to re-evaluate what his professional background had taught him.

“It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating,” said Austin, author of the book “Zen and the Brain” and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. “Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption ­ an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist.”

Austin’s spirituality doesn’t involve a belief in God ­ it is more in line with practices associated with some streams of Hinduism and Buddhism. Both emphasize the importance of meditation and its power to make an individual loving and compassionate ­ most Buddhists are disinterested in whether God exists.

But theologians say such practices don’t describe most people’s religiousness in either eastern or western traditions.

“When these people talk of religious experience, they are talking of a meditative experience,” said John Haught, a professor of theology at Georgetown University. “But religion is more than that. It involves commitments and suffering and struggle ­ it’s not all meditative bliss. It also involves moments when you feel abandoned by God.”

“Religion is visiting widows and orphans,” he said. “It is symbolism and myth and story and much richer things. They have isolated one small aspect of religious experience and they are identifying that with the whole of religion.”

Belief and faith, argue believers, are larger than the sum of their brain parts: “The brain is the hardware through which religion is experienced,” said Daniel Batson, a University of Kansas psychologist who studies the effect of religion on people. “To say the brain produces religion is like saying a piano produces music.”

At the Fuller Theological Seminary’s school of psychology, Warren Brown, a cognitive neuropsychologist, said, “Sitting where I’m sitting and dealing with experts in theology and Christian religious practice, I just look at what these people know about religiousness and think they are not very sophisticated. They are sophisticated neuroscientists, but they are not scholars in the area of what is involved in various forms of religiousness.”

At the heart of the critique of the new brain research is what one theologian at St. Louis University called the “nothing-butism” of some scientists ­ the notion that all phenomena could be understood by reducing them to basic units that could be measured.

And finally, say believers, if God existed and created the universe, wouldn’t it make sense that he would install machinery in our brains that would make it possible to have mystical experiences?

“Neuroscientists are taking the viewpoints of physicists of the last century that everything is matter,” said Mathew, the Duke psychiatrist. “I am open to the possibility that there is more to this than what meets the eye. I don’t believe in the omnipotence of science or that we have a foolproof explanation.”

Justice Oil

Justice
2 drops Cinnamon
5 drops Peppermint

Alternate Recipe: Use 7 drops Peppermint Oil and roll in powdered Cinnamon.

Lactose-Free French Toast

 
3 eggs
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp Vanilla
Cinnamon (to taste)
3-4 Slices Bread [Lactose Free]
 
1) Beat eggs with a fork, then add water. Mix well and add cinnamon.
2) Dip your favorite bread into mixture and cook in a non-stick skillet sprayed with oil, until brown on each side.
3) Sprinkle with powdered sugar, honey, syrup, or your favorite jelly.
 
Note: I am not lactose intolerant and this is my recipe. I have even added  nutmeg alone or to the cinnamon. I like to use the Olive Oil Spray for non-stick skillets.

Eucalyptus Morning Shower

This is a great little in the morning pick me up.
All you need to do is to place 3-5 drops of Eucalyptus E.O. onto a washcloth
and lay it on the floor of your shower.
After a few minutes you will feel refreshed and ready to face the world.

Dream Pillows

Dream Pillows

MATERIAL NEEDED:

2 pieces of your choice of material, any size or shape
Herbs and Spices (your choice)
Stuffing (optional)
Needle
Thread
Essential oils (your choice)
Zip Lock baggy
Ribbons and lace (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Making your own dream pillows using essential oils increases their effectiveness and makes reviving them so much easier. The day before you are going to make the dream pillows take the herbs and spices you have chosen for stuffing and put in the zip lock baggy. Now add several drops of the essential oil or oils of your choice. How many drops to use depends on the size of the dream pillow and the strength of the herbs and spices you are planning on using. With herbs and spices three to four should be sufficient, but if using stuffing fifteen or twenty would be better. Seal bag and shake well to disperse all the oil, leave over night so that the oils will be absorbed completely.

For sleep dream pillows use chamomile, lavender, neroli, marigoram, valerian, nutmeg, or hops. All of these essential oils help promote a restful, goodnight sleep. For the day pillows you might want to consider matching the essential oils with the herbs and spices you have used, or make and match a different fragrance to each different room. Nice ones to start out with are lemon, clary sage, geranium, and sweet orange.

To make your dream pillow all you will need is two pieces of material, any size or shape that you want. Stitch along three sides of the material, then turn it right side out, leaving an opening large enough to add herbs, spices or stuffing. Take the herbs and spice or stuffing out of your baggy and stuff this into your dream pillow, when you have it filled about 3/4 full fold over the ends and stitch closed.

After a few weeks if your dream pillow seems to be losing all its fragrance, here is a way to revive it: open a small corner of the pillow and add a few drops of your essential oils onto the herbs or stuffing and stitch back closed. If you don’t want to go to that trouble then just put a few drops of essential oils on the outside of the pillow and let dry.

“Blessings”

“Forget about the days
when it’s been cloudy,
but don’t forget your
hours in the sun.

Forget about the times
you’ve been defeated,
but don’t forget the
victories you’ve won.

Forget about the mistakes
that you can’t change now,
but don’t forget the lessons.

Forget about the misfortunes
you’ve encountered,
but don’t forget the
times your luck has turned.

Forget about the days
when you’ve been lonely,
but don’t forget the friendly
smiles you’ve seen……

Forget about the plans
that didn’t seem
to work out right,
but don’t forget to
always have a dream.”
  –Unknown

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