Sunday, December 30, 2012

The New Year's Kiss... or any kiss

A kiss to build a year on - if your brain's chemistry agrees
By Sheril Kirshenbaum
Thursday, December 23, 2010


A kiss at midnight to ring in the new year. That's what Friday night should bring, right?

It's tradition, compulsion, festive duty. An excuse to make a bold move with someone new, a reason to be anxious about finding a date or a chance to celebrate with a longtime love. And there's pressure to get it right.

There ia a scientific basis for those high stakes. Whom you kiss can set the course for a good year. Really. It's not magic - it's chemistry and neuroscience. And no matter how painstakingly you set the scene, in the end chemistry trumps mood music. From a scientific perspective, a kiss is a natural litmus test to help us identify a good partner. Start the first moments of 2011 with the right one, and you're beginning the year on a natural high.

Just what is it that makes kissing such a powerful and significant part of the human experience?

A kiss influences important chemicals in our brains and bodies responsible for promoting social bonding. According to the work of Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, kissing evolved to facilitate three essential needs: sex drive, romantic love and attachment. Each is involved in promoting reproduction, and kissing bolsters all three. In that view, locking lips helps us find partners, commit to one person and keep couples together long enough to have a child.


Humans have evolved to use a number of signals - including taste, smell and possibly silent chemical messengers called pheromones - to help us figure out whether someone is a suitable partner and a good person to reproduce with. A kiss means getting close to someone - close enough to suss out important clues about chemistry and genetics. At this range, our noses can detect valuable information about another person's health and perhaps even his or her DNA. Biologist Claus Wedekind has found, for instance, that women are most attracted to the scents of men with a different set of genetic coding for immunity than their own. This is probably because when there is greater genetic diversity between parents in this area, their children will have more versatile immune systems. The assessment occurs at a subconscious level, yet a bad initial kiss may be a result of a genetically star-crossed pair. (Which is something else to worry about during a new encounter: "What if the girl of my dreams rejects my genes?")

During a passionate kiss, our blood vessels dilate and our brains receive more oxygen than normal. Our breathing can become irregular and deepen. Our cheeks flush, our pulse quickens, and our pupils dilate (which may be one reason that so many of us close our eyes). A long, open-mouthed exchange allows us to sample another person's taste, which can reveal clues about his or her health and fertility. Our tongues - covered with little bumps called papillae that feature our 9,000 to 10,000 taste buds - are ideally designed to gather such information.

When we kiss, all five of our senses are busy transmitting messages to our brain. Billions of nerve connections are firing away and distributing signals around our bodies. Eventually, these signals reach the somatosenory cortex, the region of the brain that processes feelings of touch, temperature, pain and more.

Our brains respond by producing chemicals that help us decide our next move. A good kiss can work like a drug, influencing the hormones and neurotransmitters coursing through our bodies. It can send two people on a natural high by stimulating pleasure centers in the brain. The feeling has much to do with a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is responsible for craving and desire and associated with "falling in love." When it's really pumping, dopamine spurs us to take things further.

Kissing also promotes the "love hormone," oxytocin, which works to maintain a special connection between two people; kissing can keep love alive when a relationship has survived decades, long after novelty has waned. In other words, kissing influences the uptake of hormones and neurotransmitters beyond our conscious control, and these signals play a huge part in how we feel about each other.

A bad kiss, alternatively, can lead to chemical chaos. An uncomfortable environment or a poor match can stimulate the "stress hormone" cortisol, discouraging both partners from continuing. Evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup of the University at Albany reports that 59 percent of men and 66 percent of women say they have ended a budding relationship because of a kiss that did not go well.

Whether it's magic or a disaster, there is one thing that a first kiss is very likely to be: unforgettable. Psychologist John Bohannon of Butler University and his research team surveyed 500 people to compare their recollections of a variety of significant life experiences - such as a first kiss and the loss of virginity - to find out what made the most dramatic impression. A first kiss trumped everything: It was the most vivid memory in the minds of those being surveyed.

In fact, when asked about specifics, Bohannon reported that most people could recall up to 90 percent of the details of the moment - where they were, who made the first move - no matter how long ago the exchange took place.

Which is not to say that sharing a New Year's Eve kiss with someone new will necessarily be a memory worth savoring for a lifetime. If midnight's buss is a bust, remember that you can't control everything about the situation and that your body (or your partner's) may be saying something very important: Look elsewhere. If the chemistry is wrong, there's not much you can do. But take heart. Valentine's Day is less than two months away.

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist at the University of Texas and the author of the new book "The Science of Kissing."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Where is the House of the Rising Sun?

Thanks to Blake Ponchartrain of New Orleans Gambit Magazine. Blake is one of the best history researchers on the planet.  He answers questions sent into him from readers wondering about their history and their environment.  And what's not to like about that?

Where is the House of the Rising Sun?
Blake Pontchartrain


Hey Blake,
I have some questions about a song written about New Orleans, "House of the Rising Sun." Was there a real House of the Rising Sun in New Orleans, and where was it? Who wrote the song?
Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,

There probably were several buildings in New Orleans called House of the Rising Sun over the years, but it's likely most would have been named after the song, not served as the inspiration for it.

Back in the 1980s, Record Ron, whose Record Ron's Good & Plenty Records regularly won "best used record store" honors in reader polls, said he was told his record shop at 1129 Decatur St. occupied the original House of the Rising Sun. Ron, who died in 1996, never could authenticate that claim.

A Jan. 29, 1821, issue of the Louisiana Gazette ran an advertisement announcing L.S. Hotchkiss and Co. had bought John Hull and Co.'s interests in the Rising Sun Hotel at 535 Conti St. That hotel opened in 1801 and was destroyed by fire in 1822.

Another story proffers the famed house was at 826-830 St. Louis St. and was a brothel originally run by Madam Marianne LeSoleil Levant, whose surname is French for "rising sun."

Today, the three-story white building on St. Louis Street is owned by attorney Darlene Jacobs Levy and houses her Home Finders International real estate company. She inherited the building when her husband died in the late 1980s, and she began renovating the front apartment of the derelict building as a place for her father to live. Workmen at the site discovered risque postcards of half-dressed women from the 1800s behind a wall and uncovered fancy fluted columns and a ceiling mural of a golden rising sun surrounded by three cherubs. Levy says the house was a bordello operated by a succession of different madams for many years before her husband bought the building.

blake-1 House of the Rising Sun

Eric Burdon, the vocalist for The Animals, which scored a huge hit with "House of the Rising Sun" in 1964, wrote in his book Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood about meeting Levy and touring the St. Louis Street house.

"It was all I'd dreamt it would be," Burdon wrote. "A palace in the New Orleans heat. It was a wondrous feeling learning that the place I'd fantasized about for thirty years wasn't some run-down shack but was in fact a place of beauty."

Levy says she has no legal documents to prove the building's history. "It has been passed down in history and folklore as being the House of the Rising Sun," she says. "It doesn't really matter to me whether it is or not. It's not open to the public."

Levy restored the house out of a duty to conserve historic structures, she says. "What you see now is what we feel is the original house as it was in the 1800s."

As for the author of "House of the Rising Sun," that is unknown. Musicologists have traced the song's origins back as far as the 18th century to a traditional English ballad. Like many ballads and folk songs, the lyrics have changed over the years to suit the singer and the audience. No one can claim rights to the song, so anyone can alter it, record it or sell it royalty-free.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Solar Power

Pagans generally want to weave their value system into how we live our lives and we generally see things as more interconnected than non-Pagans. This combined with the recent presidential election and the state of our economy has caused me to chase worldly, but oh so connected, things..... like Solar Panels

By the end of the month of October 2012 (instead of September as orginally planned due to delays related to Hurricane Isaac) my house was generating its our own Solar Power.  The Federal tax credits for this expire in 2016.  If you own your own home, don't wait.  Do it now.  Yes it does take investment dollars from you. BUT you can get ALL of the dollars that will be reimbursed from the Feds (and your state) can be financed for 0% interest for 12 months.  The company I used Solar Universe does all the hard work. They connect you to the lender, complete all the paperwork; all you have to do is file the forms with your taxes.   With the Federal and State rebates we  had to come up with less than 20% of the cost.  With "netmetering" this will annually ZERO out our power bill.  My carbon footprint goes WAY down and I am living more lightly on the earth, woven into the web of life, even if this weave is using technology and involves plugging into our city grid.

Ok so how do you come up with 20%?  Assuming that you have a job/provable income, find a local bank and refinance your house.  That's what I did.  And along with the refinance we got what was needed to put Solar Panels on the house. 
I know. I know.
Not everyone can do this. The economy sucks and some people are upside down on their mortgages. BUT if you can, it perfectly aligns with pagan value system.

Another thing to think about. Our mortgage was with one of the large, national corporations that provide mortgages to most Americans.  And I figured that it would be easy to re-finance. After all they had watched me pay the bills (even through the chaotic aftermath of Katrina) for years. All they did was waste my time. So in July 2012 I ended up working with a local bank and the refi (at not quite 2% less interest than the mortgage I had) went through in a month.  A month! It took almost that long for the big corporation to tell me what they needed from me. And here is the ultimate irony. These days, even if you do the refi work with a local bank, they are going to "sell your mortgage" (Yep!) to one of the large corporations that provide the bulk of mortgage lending in this country.  Weird.  But true.   Yet at the local bank I spoke to a person, who walked me through the paperwork and made sure the timing (I was leaving town for 2 weeks) worked out.

This is only one of the physical, practical, grounded things that I kept me busy in 2012.
But I'm glad I did it because Solar Power fits my Value System.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Remembering the 1st Thanksgiving

"The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it
was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the
Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed
such a "Thanksgiving" to celebrate the safe return of a band
of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just
returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut
where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians
- men, women and children - all murdered." Richard Greener

Read the Richard Greener 2010 article from the Huffington Post   ( and below).

The idea of the American Thanksgiving feast is a fairly recent fiction. The idyllic partnership of 17th Century European Pilgrims and New England Indians sharing a celebratory meal appears to be less than 120 years-old. And it was only after the First World War that a version of such a Puritan-Indian partnership took hold in elementary schools across the American landscape. We can thank the invention of textbooks and their mass purchase by public schools for embedding this "Thanksgiving" image in our modern minds. It was, of course, a complete invention, a cleverly created slice of cultural propaganda, just another in a long line of inspired nationalistic myths.

The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a "Thanksgiving" to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians - men, women and children - all murdered.

This day is still remembered today, 373 years later. No, it's been long forgotten by white people, by European Christians. But it is still fresh in the mind of many Indians. A group calling themselves the United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole's Hill for what they say is a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a stature of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember the long gone Pequot. They do not call it Thanksgiving. There is no football game afterward.

How then did our modern, festive Thanksgiving come to be? It began with the greatest of misunderstandings, a true clash of cultural values and fundamental principles. What are we thankful for if not - being here, living on this land, surviving and prospering? But in our thankfulness might we have overlooked something? Look what happened to the original residents who lived in the area of New York we have come to call Brooklyn. A group of them called Canarsees obligingly, perhaps even eagerly, accepted various pieces of pretty colored junk from the Dutchman Peter Minuet in 1626. These trinkets have long since been estimated to be worth no more than 60 Dutch guilders at the time - $24 dollars in modern American money. In exchange, the Canarsees "gave" Peter Minuet the island of Manhattan. What did they care? They were living in Brooklyn.

Of course, all things - especially commercial transactions - need to be viewed in perspective. The nearly two-dozen tribes of Native Americans living in the New York area in those days had a distinctly non-European concept of territorial rights. They were strangers to the idea of "real property." It was common for one tribe to grant permission to another to hunt and fish nearby themselves on a regular basis. Fences, real and imagined, were not a part of their culture. Naturally, it was polite to ask before setting up operations too close to where others lived, but refusal in matters of this sort was considered rude. As a sign of gratitude, small trinkets were usually offered by the tribe seeking temporary admission and cheerfully accepted by those already there. It was clearly understood to be a sort of short-term rental arrangement. Sad to say, the unfortunate Canarsees apparently had no idea the Dutch meant to settle in. Worse yet for them, it must have been unthinkable that they would also be unwelcome in Manhattan after their deal. One thing we can be sure of. Their equivalent of today's buyer's remorse brought the Canarsees nothing but grief, humiliation and violence.

Many Indians lived on Long Island in those days. Another Dutchman, Adrian Block, was the first European to come upon them in 1619. Block was also eager to introduce European commercialism and the Christian concept of "real estate" to these unfortunate innocents. Without exception, these Indians too came out on the short end in their dealings with the Dutch.

The market savvy unleashed by the Europeans upon the Indians constituted the first land use policies in the New World. In the 17th Century it was not urban but rather rural renewal. The result was of course the same. People of color with no money to speak of got booted out and the neighborhood which was subsequently gentrified and overrun by white people.

Not far from Manhattan, one tribe of about 10,000 Indians lived peacefully in a lovely spot on a peninsula directly along the ocean. There they fished in the open sea and inland bay. They hunted across the pristine shoreline and they were quite happy until they met a man - another Dutchman - named Willem Kieft. He was the Governor of New Netherland in 1639. These poor bastards were called the Rechaweygh (pronounced Rockaway). Soon after meeting Governor Kieft, they became the very first of New York's homeless.

The people of New Netherland had a lot in common with the people of Plymouth Colony. At least it appears so from the way both of these groups of displaced and dissatisfied Europeans interacted with the local Indians. The Pilgrims in Plymouth had a hard time for the first couple of years. While nature was no friend, their troubles were mostly their own doing. Poor planning was their downfall. These mostly city dwelling Europeans failed to include among them persons with the skills needed in settling the North American wilderness. Having reached the forests and fields of Massachusetts they turned out to be pathetic hunters and incompetent butchers. With game everywhere, they went hungry. First, they couldn't catch and kill it. Then they couldn't cut it up, prepare it, preserve it and create a storehouse for those days when fresh supplies would run low. To compensate for their shortage of essential protein they turned to their European ways and their Christian culture. They instituted a series of religious observances. They could not hunt or farm well, but they seemed skilled at praying.

They developed a taste for something both religious and useful. They called it a Day of Fasting. Without food it seemed like a good idea. From necessity, that single Day became multiple Days. As food supplies dwindled the Days of Fasting came in bunches. Each of these episodes was eventually and thankfully followed by a meal. Appropriately enough, the Puritans credited God for this good fortune. They referred to the fact they were allowed to eat again as a "Thanksgiving." And they wrote it down. Thus, the first mention of the word - "Thanksgiving." Let there be no mistake here. On that first Thanksgiving there was no turkey, no corn, no cranberries, no stuffing. And no dessert. Those fortunate Pilgrims were lucky to get a piece of fish and a potato. All things considered, it was a Thanksgiving feast.

Did the Pilgrims share their Thanksgiving meal with the local Indians, the Wampanoag and Pequot? No. That never happened. That is, until its inclusion in the "Thanksgiving Story" in 1890.
Let the Wampanoag be a lesson to us especially in these troubled economic times. These particular Indians, with a bent for colorful jewelry, had their tribal name altered slightly by the Dutch, who then used it as a reference for all Indian payments. Hence, wampum. Contrary to what we've been shown in our Western movies, this word - wampum - and its economic meaning never made it out of New England.
Unlike wampum, Thanksgiving Day has indeed spread across the continent. It would serve us well to remember that it wasn't until the victorious colonial militia returned from their slaughter of the Pequot that the New Americans began their now time-honored and cherished Thanksgiving.

Enjoy your turkey.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Raven Grimassi on Tradition


"It seems appropriate to say a few words about the Tradition, and about Tradition itself.

I believe in the tenacity of nature. Look at a sidewalk with a crack in it, and most often there will be some grass there. Paved streets and cement sidewalks are pushed up by the roots of trees. The modern ways of human kind cannot, in the end, prevail against nature.

I believe this also about nature religion. It is the soul of nature and it will live on, even if only in the hands of the chosen ones of the secret few.

When I think about all the generations that have passed on the Old Ways through times of great adversity and even danger to their own lives, I am determined that the Old Religion will not end in our time. For decades I have planted seeds. Some have fallen on fertile soil, some have not, and some have been thrown away. But I have seen some sprout, and I admire the beauty of what has grown from them.

The Old Ways are about companionship with the forces of nature, and about honoring our ancestors who kept the Ways before us. The Old Religion reminds us that we are part of the whole, part of something greater than ourselves. This is important to remember, particularly in this time of New Age philosophies that elevate the self over all else. But what works uniquely for one person, perishes when that person dies. They have left nothing behind, and they have not been a part of anything greater than themselves.

People pass away, but traditions can survive. And we as initiates are part of that survival. We are remembered and we possess honor throughout time for we are part of the living legacy.

With all good wishes,
Raven "

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reflections on the Hurricane


Take a look at one New Orleanian's view of living without, electricity.
http://b.rox.com/2012/09/04/revelations-in-blackout/

I'm beginning to think that the next decade is going to be one
where we learn to choose what we do without
by learning to ask ourselves questions like:
  • Do I need X? (with the emphasis on need and not want)
  • How does X serve me or my "ecosystem"/relationship with the rest of the world?
  • Is there another option?
  • Is there another way to get what I need (or want) that better serves me and my "ecosystem"/relationship with the rest of the world?

The effects of the Hurricane make it easier to reflect on these questions.

I like the freedom my petroleum provided vehicle provides.
I like my AirConditioning.
I like what "the internet and all it's options" offers me.
That's why I'm putting Solar Panels on my home and acquiring a Solar Generator.
These things allow me to have the benefits of electricity but change how I get it and has already begun encouraging others to think about doing the same.

These choices are not just about going back to the "good ole days"
but about making smarter long term decisions
instead of simply feeding the "consumer beast".

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Thanks Nature"

I'm sure you heard about the recent evidence for the long anticipated "Higgs Boson".
It was of course announced as the "Discovery" of "The God Particle".

To Quote the article referenced in the link above:
"Thanks, nature!" Gianotti said to laughs, giving thanks for the discovery.

Later, she told reporters that "the standard model (of physics) is not complete" but that "the dream is to find an ultimate theory that explains everything -- we are far from that."

And there you have it Nature as the Great Teacher acknowledged by one of the lead physicsts on the team that found evidence of "The God Particle".

Live Science Higgs Boson

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lazy... maybe not

I've listened to people from cooler climates bemoan the slow pace of life in the south... These days I'm hearing more people from (formerly) cooler climes complain about the heat, saying they want to stay inside, saying they are going to "do nothing". If culture had any heat dependencies... and I think it does... then perhaps *it is* the heat.... well... and the humidity.

Summer is our Winter. It is when we slow down and stay indoors.
But given the climate, we also adjust *when* we go outside. Am I lazy when I am inside with something cool by 10AM? Or smart? My outdoor work hours tend to be 5:30AM-9AM or after 7PM. Small windows, which is why I am glad for my day job... in the air conditioning.

An exerpt by C. W. Cannon below gives you more information to ponder... in the heat.

Approach to leisure is a happy habit: C.W. Cannon
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011, 10:17 AM


Louisiana and these national ranking lists. Now the state is the "most violent," according to the Institute for Economics and Peace. Last summer, the label was "lazy."

Of course, data can be spun different ways, be attached to different words.

If "lazy" means actually enjoying leisure time and not working too much, why not call Louisiana the "happiest" state? Oh, yeah, we won that one the previous year, in a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

Sadly, the most recent thorny laurel -- most "violent" -- is a less spinnable word than "lazy" or "happy." More sadly, Louisiana's long history is replete with unspinnable evidence that the violence is not a new phenomenon here.

"Lazy," though, we might be able to dodge. It depends on what it means. Certainly the word has been associated with Louisiana for a long time. "Dose Creole' is lezzy,"Aurora Nancanou says of her own people, in George Washington Cable's 1880 saga of old New Orleans, "The Grandisimmes."

Indeed, Bienville himself complained of the laziness of the settlers sent by the mother country. However, if it's true that Louisiana has an approach to work and leisure that distinguishes it from the average American state, could the earliest cultural formation of the region be a factor?

I've spent the past year searching for clues to whatever cultural residues might remain from the earliest generations of New Orleanians, residing first in France, then in Senegal. I've come across some very concrete parallels, such as Senegal's soupu kandia, a spicy seafood stew distinguished by inclusion of a vegetable they call "gumbo" (okra).

But lifestyle approaches are more difficult to generalize about. Even scientific-seeming surveys reveal highly subjective judgments upon closer inspection. As it turns out, the "lazy" ranking Bloomberg put together included time "working" (presumably at one's job, for money) and how leisure time was spent, whether in physically strenuous activities or in sedentary ones. Sedentary leisure activities covered not only watching TV, but also "thinking" and socializing.

Louisianians spent a big chunk of their time socializing, coming in at the third-most social state in the country. Most importantly, time spent "working" was very low. Maybe those bumper stickers proclaiming, "Work is for people who don't know how to fish," say it best.

The idea of challenging the pre-eminent status of work as the raison d'ĂȘtre of our identities is sacrilege for many Americans. However, one does get a very different sense of the value of work -- in perspective -- in both France and Senegal. The way the French demand leisure as a right and insist on actual legal limits to time and days worked per year is well known. Their leisure habits, too, revolve very much around unrushed meals and conversation with friends and family.

Senegal, too, approaches the idea of work differently than in the United States. It's a highly entrepreneurial culture, much more than France. Vendors of everything from phone cards to shoes and clothes energetically trudge the streets in the driven pursuit of a sale (to the great irritation of many foreigners). And there's a craftsmanly work ethic of doing the job right, from carpentry or tailoring to peeling an orange or putting the straw in a bag of cold fruit juice in just the right way.

But there's also a sense that work can't be rushed, that time working needs to be leavened with breaks for rest, family and friends, contemplation, prayer. You want the job done by 5? Maybe, incha Allah (God willing).

While this approach to the customer's demands is famously annoying to many a Westerner, it does preserve a salutary degree of autonomy to the guy on the other end of the transaction. And if he gets the job done, and done well, and makes enough money to enjoy life with friends and family, what's the problem?

It may be that Louisianians' approaches to work and leisure have roots in the first generations from Europe and Africa, but the comparison does not extend to violence. Both France and Senegal have far more peaceable societies than even the average American state can boast. Apparently, the causes of the real problem in Louisiana will have to be searched for closer to home.

............................

C.W. Cannon is the 2010-11 Fulbright Professor of American Civilization at Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. He returns to the Loyola University English Department in the fall.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Early" Solstice

Feel the wheel turn.... be aware... so that you can learn from Nature.

http://www.hudsonvalleyalmanacweekly.com/2012/06/17/a-sooner-solstice/
Information below taken from the Link above:

This Wednesday, June 20, is the Solstice. It happens at 7:09 p.m. What’s so special about it? It’s the earliest summer since 1896: the earliest start of summer that you have ever experienced. Let’s see if the media pick up on this, or even realize it. So far as I know, it has not been published anywhere.
Anyway, summer: great. Bring it on.

Even in normal times, the Solstice is one of the few links between sky and Earth that’s popularly celebrated. Ask friends what happens and they’re likely to get it right, mostly. Longest day: check. Sun highest up: check. Sun moves through the sky along its most curving path: hmm, what? That one’s not widely known.

Still, people do pretty well with the Solstice. Yet most folks fail miserably when it comes to everything else about the sky. Even those with PhDs bomb when asked the stone-simple sky-stuff that every village idiot would have known 200 years ago. Go ahead: Test your friends. As the Sun is setting, does it move straight down, down and to the left, or down to the right? Most get this wrong. A century ago, everyone would have picked the latter choice without a moment’s hesitation.

Perhaps modern people are less observant. More finish college than ever before, but you don’t need a classroom to learn the basics of nature. It stares you in the face. But if you’re not looking, you won’t see it.

We could offer a hundred pages about the Solstice and its fascinating history, mythology and science, but let’s settle on ten goodies:
The word solstice comes from the two Latin words for “Sun” and “stoppage.” Makes sense: The Sun stops moving north that day.
The Solstice Sun hovers straight over the Tropic of Cancer, just south of Key West.
It’s when the Sun reaches its highest of the year, but it’s getting less high over time. That’s because Earth’s tilt is decreasing.
The Solstice is when the Sun is lowest in the sky for those at the Equator.
It arrives earlier as each century wears on. It’ll occur on June 19 in many places by century’s end. It was exclusively June 21 for all of our lives, until now.
In India, the Summer Solstice ends the six-month period when spiritual growth is supposedly easiest. Better hurry up and meditate (yes, that’s a joke): You’ve got less than a week left.
That day, the Sun rises farthest left on the horizon, and sets at its rightmost possible spot.
Sunlight strikes places in rooms that get illuminated at no other time.

In ancient Greece, the solstitial Sun happened in Cancer. But it has been in Gemini since around the time of Christ. In 1989 it shifted into Taurus, where it will remain until the fifth millennium.

But with all these goodies, the nicest fact may simply be that the Sun is now so wonderfully high. It’s 72 degrees up at 1 p.m., and won’t change much the next few weeks. It misses the zenith by a paltry 18 degrees. Look how short your shadow is.
With all that, given the world’s short attention span nowadays, TV announcers merely grant it two seconds: “It’s the start of summer!”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring in New Orleans

Posted at Nola.com by Brett Will Taylor... local blogger.

"Because I think there's a really awesome lesson to learn in the way that Spring really does bust out all over around here. The lesson is this: We live in a time when man actually thinks he is the master of Mother Earth. And, when it's spring in New Orleans, you can actually hear Mother Earth laugh at the foolishness of that notion!"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Italian Immigrants in New Orleans

Our local newspaper the Times Picayune is 175 years old.  They also are on-line at

They recently published a list of 175 Events, People & Things that shaped New Orleans.

The article below by Laura Maggi on Italian Immigrants was one of the 175.

The tourists waiting patiently for muffulettas in the aisles of Central Grocery likely have no idea they are surrounded by what was once a standard fixture of many New Orleans neighborhoods: the Italian-owned corner store.
italian-immigrants.jpgView full size

These grocery stores once dotted the city’s landscape, built by immigrants who flocked to New Orleans and surrounding parishes beginning in the late 1800s. Unlike Italian immigrants to other major American cities — who hailed from all over the then recently unified country — New Orleans’ immigrants came almost entirely from the poverty-stricken island of Sicily.

The Sicilian transplants found work on sugar plantations upriver or toiling on New Orleans docks. Many who stayed in the city settled in the lower French Quarter, creating what was known at one point as Little Palermo. Macaroni factories popped up around the neighborhood, while Italian vendors sold fruit at the French Market.

Eventually, some immigrants were able to open small businesses, such as corner stores or restaurants. Some didn’t stay small, such as Progresso Foods, the soup and condiment giant, which began as a New Orleans import company.

As Italians prospered, many followed the path of earlier immigrants, leaving the city for suburban parishes. Their culinary traditions, New Orleans twists on Italian food, can be seen all over the metropolitan region. These traditions include, of course, the muffuletta: a sandwich of deli meat and cheeses smothered in olive salad. Many local kitchens offer up red gravy, a long-simmered tomato sauce.

Each March, local families descended from Sicilian immigrants erect elaborate altars laden with bread, cookies and other food in honor of St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph’s has also been adopted as one of the few non-Carnival days of celebration for the city’s Mardi Gras Indian tribes, which don their elaborate suits in the evening and parade in the streets.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time and Direction and Circle Casting

We pagans put emphasis on the cardinal directions and meanings associated with directions.
East is where the sun rises and where seasons begun and from where new life and possibilities spring.
West is where the sun sets and where the path to the underworld begins. North is a position of power.
NorthEast an especialy important position for Streghe. This is where we enter our circles and where we interface with the gods.

Time and direction are woven together in our circles and our rituals.  When we set our circle and move through our rituals we are mirroring and influencing and interacting with "Time".

We pagans view the solar year as cyclical year, not quite linear time.The streghe view time as cyclical following the cycles inside of cycles approach. We have both the repeating annual solar cycle, monthly lunar cycle and the Ages which (I think) are stellar. 

A 2010 study looked at time and direction and shows that what we do in our rituals is essentially an innate tendency of humantiy but is also influenced by culture. The Science News article below talks about this study and is interesting in the way is shows different peoples will view time and direction differently. Time and direction are influenced by culture and these days technology. 

To quote from the article below:
For the Pormpuraawans {from a remote community in Australia}
"... time flows from left to right when facing south, from right to left when facing north, toward the body when facing east and away from the body when facing west."

"... studies have indicated that people use their bodies as a reference to lay out time."
Isn't that what we are doing when we lay out a circle?
"In the United States, time is generally thought of as running from left to right. Other populations arrange time from right to left, back to front, or front to back."  

Aboriginal time runs east to west
Sun’s trajectory may channel time’s flow for one remote groupBy Bruce Bower December 4th, 2010; Vol.178 #12 (p. 11)


Time rises in the east and sets in the west in a remote part of Australia. Aborigines living there assume that time moves westward, apparently in accord with the sun’s daily arc across the sky, say Stanford University psychologist Lera Boroditsky and linguist Alice Gaby of the University of California, Berkeley.

Unlike any other group studied to date, these hardy foragers think about the day after tomorrow as two days to the west, the olden days as times far to the east, and the progression of a person’s life from infancy to old age as running from east to west, Boroditsky and Gaby report in an upcoming Psychological Science.

Grounding time in absolute directions makes it imperative for these people, called Pormpuraawans, to know which way they’re facing at all times. For them, time flows from left to right when facing south, from right to left when facing north, toward the body when facing east and away from the body when facing west.

Pormpuraawans rarely use terms for right and left and instead refer to absolute directions, making statements such as “Move your cup over to the north-northwest a little bit.”

Culture powerfully influences how people conceive of time, in Boroditsky’s view. “Pormpuraawans think about time in ways that other groups cannot, because those groups lack the necessary spatial knowledge,” she says.

Previous studies have indicated that people use their bodies as a reference to lay out time. In the United States, time is generally thought of as running from left to right. Other populations arrange time from right to left, back to front, or front to back.

“This new finding is of great significance since cognitive scientists have assumed that time representations must be body-based,” remarks psychologist Asifa Majid of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Cultural differences in thinking about spatial orientation shape time representations, proposes psychologist Daniel Haun, also of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. In 2009, Haun reported that Namibian hunter-gatherers remember dance steps and other body movements according to absolute directions. Time perception has yet to be studied in this group.

Some evidence suggests that an innate tendency to navigate by consulting external landmarks and absolute directions gets transformed into a body-centered viewpoint in certain cultures (SN: 2/10/07, p. 89).

Boroditsky and Gaby studied 14 Pormpuraawans and 14 Stanford students. Each group contained seven men and seven women. Aborigines ranged in age from the late 40s to the mid 70s.

In one task, participants examined six to 12 sets of cards. Each four-card set depicted a progression over time, such as a man at different ages. On each trial, participants received a shuffled deck and were asked to lay the cards out in the correct order.

In a second task, an experimenter placed a marker on the ground and asked volunteers to denote time periods with their own markers. If the experimenter’s stone represented today, volunteers indicated spots for yesterday and tomorrow. In other trials, volunteers arranged markers for morning, noon and evening, and for olden days, nowadays and far in the future.

Halfway through each task, each participant switched his or her sitting position to face in a different direction.

U.S. students always portrayed time as moving from left to right. Most Pormpuraawans depicted time as moving from east to west, so time’s flow systematically shifted course as the direction they faced changed.

The few body-based responses among Aborigines may reflect increasing exposure to television and other facets of Western life, as well as unfamiliarity with arranging objects in sequences, Boroditsky suggests.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Natural Resiliance

Below is an article published in the Times Picayune that talks about a community's resiliance.   If you've read any news in the past 6 years you've probably heard about at least 2 of the disasters that affected the Barataria community: Katrina & the BP Oil Spill.  While the article is short on detail the fact that these communities are made up of individuals who live close to nature and who understand how they are interdependent on nature *and* each other is at the core of their capacity to survive.

It makes a unique kind of South Louisiana sense when you come from an area named after the immeniently adaptable Pirate, Jean Lafitte, when you live in an area named for the Pirate Jean Lafitte  will you get someone saying that the secret to their success is that they are like a Pirate, Jean Laffite.
They were able to adapt and change in order to continue,” Peterson said. “It’s kind of the lessons from what we can learn from Jean Lafitte.”


Full Article captured for reference below:
Barataria area is model of resiliance.
Allen Powell II - March 11, 2011 - Times Picayune

Most communities couldn’t survive six natural disasters in six consecutive years, particularly if they destroyed hundreds of homes and cost hundreds of people their jobs. But if you ask residents of Lafitte, Barataria and Crown Point, they’ll tell you they aren’t most people, and according to a recent study from the University of New Orleans’ Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology, they’re right.
Researchers found that residents of the fishing enclave are extremely resilient, which is evident in how quickly their communities have rebounded from hurricanes, floods and the BP oil spill, said Kristina Peterson, a senior researcher with CHART. The group studied those communities to determine the root cause of their resiliency in the hope that it might help others.

“They were able to adapt and change in order to continue,” Peterson said. “It’s kind of the lessons from what we can learn from Jean Lafitte.”

Researchers used “participatory action research,” a method that lets residents drive the focus of the study. Peterson said researchers spent four years meeting with residents and developed an oral history of the communities. They discovered the skill sets and practices that made the areas stronger and made residents more willing to reinvest despite the damage caused by hurricanes like Katrina, Rita and Ike.
Peterson said researchers presented their findings to residents several times, and then residents would tell them whether those findings were accurate to provide a complete picture. She said this type of research is more valuable than simple surveys or data mined from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“They told us their story,” Peterson said.
What researchers found was that despite the lack of outstanding public infrastructure, the communities had intense and extensive private bonds that provided a helpful social network. In addition, certain skills that were essential to disaster recovery, like carpentry, were often tied to the livelihoods of many residents. Residents said they had a close relationship with public officials, and that allowed them to minimize or eliminate the red tape that slowed recovery in other areas, she said.
Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner said the study validates what he already knew about the area. Residents in those communities are willing and able to do their part to recover, but they do need a helping hand from politicians to make certain that things are not too difficult.

Lafitte, Barataria and Crown Point, Kerner said, play an important role in the Louisiana economy as well as the nation because of its fishers, and oil and gas workers. He said he hopes the study will stand as testament to the will of those individuals.

“I think what they saw is that the people here bounce back faster and stronger than some other areas,” Kerner said. “If you look, we’ve been through six disasters in six years, and if you drive through Jean Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria, it doesn’t look like we’ve had one.”
Allen Powell II can be reached at apowell@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3793.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nature Deficit Disorder

Click the link and read about Richard Louv and how critical it is to connect with Nature.

It makes me glad I have spent time this weekend with my hands in the dirt, planting and weeding.  This always centers and calms me.  

It always seems to come back "Nature is the Great Teacher."

Or as Richard Louv says it:
"Simply put, the Nature Principle maintains that a reconnection with the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being and survival."

Read more in Richard Louv's  "The Nature Principle"

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chapter 45 – Initiate Full Moon

Nola was coming for a Full Moon tonight.  And he realized that it was the first Full Moon since his initiation. Was this why he felt on edge?  He didn’t think that the ritual would be any different now that he was initiated. But he wasn’t sure.  Had Nola said that anything would be different?

His mind wandered.  He and Nola had spent a good bit of time together lately but lot of it had been associated with getting the landscaping business off the ground, up to and including taking care of Leblanc.  Roger couldn’t stop kidding him about LeBlanc. Joe told the story with flare. He took special relish in the part where Owen was out gunned at the restaurant and left sitting there with Bryant. But Joe's favorite part was how he had knocked on the door just as Nola was going to have to let LeBlanc take her to the upstairs bedroom with a large king sized bed. Nola set LeBlanc up like pins. Then he and Nola had ridden off laughing leaving Owen to knock Leblanc down perfectly by landing all the landscaping and maintenance jobs as well as the large fencing and path work jobs at the Lakefront.  After they story had been told a few times. Roger and Joe became a team and Roger told the first half of the Leblanc story about the pool party and Joe finished it. An occasional comment from Maurice was guaranteed to spice up any telling. Nola was becoming a legend among his crew. And Owen was considered a very lucky man.


The plans he and Roger had to look over tomorrow morning were prepared.  He had worked out in his weight room and then had swum laps while Latasha had cleaned the house. Owen had already set the altar.  Everything was ready. There was nothing left to do. What was bothering him?  He felt like there was something he should know but that he was missing it.  It was frustrating. Was there something Nola was supposed to tell him that she had missed? No. That would be very unlike Nola.  She was more likely to tell you something you’d prefer not to hear than to hold anything back.  Then what was it? What was he missing?  He ended up taking a long shower hoping the warm water would beat it out of him.  He felt better afterward. It helped that she should be there any minute.  


Nola drove letting the other aspects of her life slip away and becoming teacher and priestess.  She felt that she had gotten Owen’s training back on track. He was initiated.  She thought the prep work for the Summer Solstice was as solid as she could get it.  They had spent time getting the landscaping business off of the ground but the good thing about that was Joe was well on his way to trained.  Summer heat would slow down the kind of landscaping they did. So she wouldn’t need to spend quite as much time with him on that.  All in all things were looking better.  She was looking forward to a Full Moon Ritual and the calm that had always settled over her afterward. She had decided not to worry about how the ritual would end.  The Gods and the Grigori would take care of that. The only thing she knew for certain was that when the ritual was over she was leaving.


She pulled into the driveway a little after 9PM and Owen met her at the side door. 

“Evening, Owen.”
“Evening, Nola.”
She looked up and said, “It looks like the sky is trying to clear with the cool of the evening. I’m looking forward to some moonlight in your backyard” and she took his arm and he turned and walked to the kitchen.    Ok, she thought, what’s up? The energy is off.
“You are always welcome in my backyard, moonlight or no moonlight.”
“Thanks, Big Man.  I think I’ll change out of these street clothes and get my cord and meet you outside.” He nodded with only the hint of a smile. She slipped into the downstairs bathroom.

Owen headed for his office, got out of his clothes put his new 1st degree cord on and went outside. Nola met him there.  He was focused on the sky when she came out.


She walked up next to him and breathed in the night and the moon came out from the behind the clouds.

He turned to her and said, “Did you do that?”
She smiled and teased a little, “I don't think so. Did you? It’s nice. We should take advantage of the clearing and do the Rite of Union."

She breathed deeply and said the Rite and did the motions while he matched her.  He perked up a little.  She did the Rite again while he matched her. She breathed and his breathing was entraining with hers naturally.  She did the Rite again while he matched her.  After the third time the moon began to slip behind the fluffy clouds. 

She smiled. “I guess that’s our hint to go inside.”

He almost smiled and they walked back to the kitchen. He said, "Everything is set up upstairs.”

She was so grateful that he liked taking care of the ritual set up.  “Thank you very much for taking care to have everything we need."
And he smiled at that, "Well it's really just wine, cookies & some flowers from the garden. The rest comes out of that Harry Potter box of yours."
"It's still wonderful that you do it. Thank you."

She found her ritual binder and looked to him, “Would you like to cast?" He nodded and began and as soon as he began the energy began to change.  His calls to the Grigori and the Gods were strong and so were the responses.  It actually looked like he got taller. And she smiled to herself. I don’t know what’s bothering him, but it is good to see that the Ritual does for him what it does for me. It lightens burdens somehow.


He rapped the wand on the altar and said, “The circle is cast.”

“We gather on this sacred night of our Lady, beneath the Full Moon…” And as the words washed over him Owen relaxed a bit more.  They linked over the Brunello in the chalice and Owen felt like what ever he was looking for was coming to him. 


They both settled into a comfortable position on the floor before Nola led them on a meditation. They both knew where they were going.   


"It is a beautiful pleasant night.... The moon is high in the sky but hidden by light clouds…  yet through the clouds the moonlight still tinges the path a light blue…  you know the way and walk over the edge of a bowl shaped valley... the sound of the bubbling stream guides you as you walk along the soft path.... You smell the earthly scent of the oaks and the crisp scent of the pines… you step out of the trees to a smooth lake made silver by the light of the moon now free from the clouds...  you breathe in the moonlight... and then slowly make your way to a round temple.... you enter... and acknowledge the God and Goddess statues...... and then you step into the pool of moon light coming through the center of the roof..... You breathe in and out and align yourself with the energy of the moon........  You leave the temple and make your way up a path that takes you to a high ledge in the side of the bowl-like valley.....  You lay down on the ground under the moon and stars and open yourself up to the universe and all its wonder......"

Owen listened and let his mind follow her voice and the images it created. He was on the high ledge and so was his grandfather.  “Papa Eric, I feel like there is something right in front of me but that I can’t see it. What is it that I am missing?”

“Son, I can give you hints. I can guide you but I can’t just give you the answer. You have to be ready for it.”
“What do I have to do to be ready?”
“You are on the right path.  Stay on it.”
“Does this mean that Nola is part of the answer?”
“Yes.”

Nola lay back and opened herself to the universe.  Tonight the physical reality of the meditation was strong. Images of marble columns and white robed men and women floated in her mind. She felt a strong sense of a place of healing. Who needs healing?  And Meana answered her, “You do.”

And Nola almost gasped, “Am I physically ill?” And the answer came, “No, but your heart needs healing.  You need to feel safe and happy again.”
And Nola sighed, “I would like that.  I would like that very much.”
And the vision faded.

Nola ended the meditation with, "in the distance you hear the howl of one wolf..... and then the answering calls of others..... you make your way back..... past the temple.... past the silver lake.... through the oaks and pines ....  up... to where you return to the world....."


Owen slowly opened his eyes as he came back to himself.   Nola did the Veglia, then blessed the cakes and wine and offered the plate with the cookies on it to Owen and took one herself.  She took a sip of wine and then handed it to Owen. When he returned it to her she then offered the traditional toast to Aradia.  She refilled the spirit bowl and relit the flame. And then gave the Charge.  Each time he heard her give the Charge her felt a different part it resonate with him. Tonight it was “For she has been with you since you entered into the ways and she is that which awaits you at journey’s end.”


Nola recited the closing and then took Owen’s spirit blade from the altar. Tonight would be the first time they charged his blade.  Owen smiled faced her with his arms open. She stepped into his arms and put the blade to her chest. He pulled her close until the blade was wedged between them, careful with the point and the handle as his blade was larger. He held her close and they kissed gently. They hugged gently moving their combined energy into the blade. They kissed gently again and then Nola removed the blade from their embrace and put it back on the altar. 


She added a very small amount of spirit fuel to the bowl and relit it.  Owen moved to the altar and began to take the circle down. He snapped his fingers over the elemental bowls and put out the candles.  It was dark in his bedroom but he knew exactly where she was. He found her and lifted her and moved her to the bed without saying a word.  She didn’t resist.


He kissed her and in the deep darkness she felt as if she were completely outside of time and space.  She kissed him more urgently and wrapped her leg over his calf and moving her hands around his back.  He felt like he could dissolve into this woman and had a clarion moment: God, Goddess, One.  She moved slightly from under him and began to kiss his neck and move one hand across his chest and other up his thigh until both hands and her mouth found his sex. He moaned as she slowly circled the tip of his penis with her tongue while running her fingers along the ridge on the underside of his shaft. Then she slowly took all of him and worshipped the God until he was ready to explode.  But he needed them to be joined. He reached for her and found her wet open sex with his fingers and she moaned and in the process released him. He moved so he could use his mouth as well as his fingers, until a small, “please… please” escaped without her realizing it. He moved to enter her.  She had been transported since the first kiss and as he entered her they both were lost in the physical and dissolved each into the other.


Meana let them stay semi-conscious, floating in the left over and positive energy of the ritual, then sent them both into a deep sleep.  Nola woke and was completely disoriented. Initially she wasn’t even sure which way was up and which down. When she moved her arm slightly she was able to find up and realized that she was partially on her side and partially on her back. Then she returned more fully to herself and realized that she was in Owen’s bed.  He was on his side and had his hand across her ribs and his leg over and between hers.  Something wasn’t right.  The she realized that her head was at the lower corner of the bed and that she and Owen were essentially sprawled diagonally across the bed. Well that explained some of the disorientation.  She moved slightly and was able to slip from under his hand.  He hadn’t moved and she took that as a good sign. She slipped a little bit further from him and was able to get out from under his leg. Her exit from the bed was successful but it wasn’t graceful because she had to essentially hold herself up with one hand on the floor in order to slip out from under his weight without waking him.  When she was all the way out of the bed she ended up sitting on the floor. Owen rolled flat onto his stomach and kept sleeping. Thank the Gods.  She made her way silently out of the room, grateful that her eyes where adjusted to the dark.  She found her clothes and her keys without turning the light on in the bathroom and got dressed in the kitchen where the light from outside made it easier to see. Without realizing it she left her cord on the kitchen counter. She cringed knowing the noise could wake Owen then started the truck, slipped out of the driveway and made her way home. When she looked down at the clock on the dashboard it said 2AM.  How was it possible that 5 hours had passed?  It wasn’t the first time that she was forced to acknowledge that when you walked between the worlds time could pass very slowly or very quickly. 


Owen didn’t wake until 6AM. He was disoriented too. But came around faster because it was after all his bedroom and because now there was more light outside. Why was he diagonal in the bed? He rolled over then realized that Nola should be here.  He moved around in the bed and then sat up. She wasn't here. What time was it? 6AM! How was that possible?  They had started the ritual a little before 10PM.  He got out of the bed and crossed the upstairs hall into his weight room. He looked out of the window and could see that her truck was gone.  He realized he had no idea when she had left. It could have been 10 minutes ago or hours ago.  He walked back to his bedroom and returned to the bed.  As he lay there he wondered if it was his initiation that had made the Ritual so… so… powerful, yes, but no… what was the right word…  otherworldly. Then he realized that his energy had been different yesterday.  He remembered feeling like some answer was just out of his reach. The feeling was still there but it wasn't as strong and bothersome as it had been yesterday.  He thought back to the meditation. Papa Eric had said that he was on the right path and that Nola was part of the answer. Now if he could just figure out the question.


He sat up on the bed and the altar was right in front of him. He sighed. The ritual may have been otherworldly but the altar was real. It took no time to pack the altar trappings into Nola’s Harry Potter Box. After he did that the only thing left as a reminder that the ritual had happened was the wine bottle and the vase of flowers. He shook his head, picked them up and tossed the bottle and the flowers into the trash. He added the vase to the rest of the altar trappings. 


He headed to the shower. Even as the water beat down on him he couldn’t shake the odd feeling that last night almost seemed like it had happened to someone else or in a dream state. What he really needed was Nola.  One minute she was here. Then she was gone. Her ability to slip away seemed downright magical.  He felt like…  like… he didn’t know what.

Roger was due at his house around 9AM to review plans for upcoming jobs. 

He needed to get his game on.  He got dressed and went down to make coffee.  When he sat on the barstool he saw Nola’s cord.  He picked it up and looked at the clock. It was before 8AM.  She was usually at work early. He found his cell phone and took a chance and called her cell phone. It ran twice and then she answered.

And as she opened the phone she glanced down at the number, “Hello Owen.”

“Hi…  I was calling to make sure that you made it to work Ok.”
“Not yet, I just dropped Jamie off at school. I’m on my way to work now.”
“Really? Where are you?”
“In the truck.”
“Very funny, woman. What street?”
“North Rampart.”
Good he thought she hasn’t passed me yet. “Could you please stop by on your way to work?”
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m not sure.” But part for him was thinking; Yes, damn it, you are not here.
“You’re not sure…   Ok, I’m on St. Claude now. I’m less than 5 minutes away.”
And she hung up. And he looked at the phone.  Just like that she’d be there.  No questions. Just Ok, see you in 5 minutes.

Nola thought the phone call was odd. In addition to it being unusual for Owen to call after a ritual, he had sounded strange. She thought that last night's ritual had been powerful and good. Perfect actually, a ritual moment out of time. Granted she had been a little disoriented and disconnected from everyday reality when she woke up. But it had cleared. She was hoping he just needed some reassurance.


She pulled into the driveway and all the way to the kitchen back door and got out of the truck.  Owen was standing in the doorway.

"Damn woman, did you fly that thing here?"
"I told you I was close."  He looked unsettled but sounded like himself and his energy was more like it usually was and not like what she had seen before the ritual yesterday.
"Well, I think about calling you. You answer on the 2nd ring. You're here in less than 5 minutes and then you pull all the way down the driveway to the back door."
Maybe he wasn't Ok.  Maybe the disorientation hadn't worn off. "Owen, you said you weren't sure if everything was Ok.  Why don't we go inside and you tell me what's going on." And she took his arm and he hugged her before she turned him into the kitchen.

"Ok tell me what's wrong." And she sat on the barstool.

"I don't know."
She looked worried, "Is this about the ritual or.... Is there something else going on? Are you sick?"
"No, I'm fine." He huffed.
"Well then?..." and she looked at him like what is it? "I can't help if I don't know what the problem is."

"That's the problem.  I don't know.  One minute we were...  joined... and then I wake up all turned around in the bed. You aren't here!  And it's 6 o'clock in the morning!" and she started to smile. "All day yesterday...  What are you smiling at woman?"


"You.  It's going to be fine." And she stood up and opened the refrigerator and, ah there were English muffins. She took them out and then found the butter.


"What are you doing?!"

"Owen, what you need more than anything else right now is to properly ground. Nothing helps that like food."  And she turned the oven to broil, adjusted the top rack close to the top heating coil and then started buttering an English muffin.
"Food?"
"Yes, food."
She finished buttering the English muffin and opened the oven and put the muffin on the top rack leaving the oven door cracked slightly. 
"Where are your small plates?"
He pointed and she opened the cabinet.
"Salt?"
He pointed. "Why did you just disappear on me?"
She got the salt and then checked the muffin, giving it a little more time. "I didn't disappear. I'm right here."
"You know what I mean."
She turned off the oven and slid the muffin on to the plate and put a pinch of salt on it, and slid the plate to him.
"Eat."

And he looked at her straight in the eye and defiantly took a bite...

"Hey that little bit of salt makes a difference!"
"See." As if it were all better now.

"Oh no, it's not that easy. Why did you disappear on me?"

"Ok Owen, you are right. The end of our ritual last night was different.  We were not ourselves. I think we managed to channel greater energies.  We did it exactly right. But I admit that when I woke up I was a little disoriented."

He smiled at that, "You were?" and took another bite as he realized he was starting to feel more like himself.

She smiled back, "Yes, we were diagonal in the bed and all tangled together.  At first I didn't know where I was. I managed to slip out from under you and you were out, solid, cold, out, soundly sleeping. There was no reason for me to wake you. So I went downstairs got dressed and got in the truck and when I did I noticed that it was 2AM."
"2AM, you didn't leave until 2AM?   What happened to us? We don't usually... whatever we did last night."

"Well... I agree that last night was different. But the ritual seemed Ok to me. Did it to you?"

"Yes... same Rite of Union outside, same circle casting, same everything… except for after.  Although... I was... I don't know, bothered by something all day yesterday, preoccupied... thinking that I should know something or discover something but .... "

"Oh."

"Oh?"
"Well your energy was different yesterday."
"My energy..."
"Yes. You were distant. It was as if something was bothering you. You seemed preoccupied or focused almost outside of yourself. Searching.  But the Rite of Union perked you up and then the circle casting seemed to center you and the ritual went well. Sometimes, when the world is bothering me, a Full Moon Ritual can be therapeutic.  I hoped that was what it would be for you."

And he sighed and finished off one half of the muffin.

She continued, "I was focused on just doing the ritual. I wasn’t sure what would happen after the circle was down. I had decided to let the Gods and the Grigori decide… You know we don't have to follow that specific tradition every Full Moon....  When you acted.... I just followed your lead." And she paused thinking before she said, "You said we were joined."

"Yes. It was amazing.  God, Goddess, One and we were the physical manifestation of that and then we... we...

"we weren't physical."
"Exactly!"
She smiled. "I think we did it exactly right. Maybe better than we've done it before."
"Oh no. I think we've always done just fine."
"What I mean is maybe that what ever searching state you were in and whatever totally open accepting state I was in made it possible for us to go places we hadn't been before.  And maybe this is what made me and you a little disoriented when we finally came fully back to our physical selves."

He thought about that. It did make sense. 


She said, "Finish your muffin. It will help. I really have to get to work. I was already running late because I had to take Jamie to school."

He looked at the clock it was after 8:30. 
She watched as he looked at the clock and picked up her keys and said, "I'll still see you Saturday for Summer Solstice, right?"
"Of course." And he gave her an exasperated look.


"You're sure you're Ok?"

"Yes, woman I'm fine." And he sighed.
"Ok, see you Saturday for Solstice."

And he got of off the chair and pulled her into a hug and said, "Thank you."

She hugged him back, "You're welcome and thank you."

Owen was still standing in the driveway and the gate was still open.  Nola had just turned the corner so she didn't see Roger pull up but he saw her truck turn the corner.  Since the gate was open, Roger pulled into Owen's driveway and got out of his truck with a big smile on his face. "I see she's sleeping over."


And Owen thought, No. And then he realized that might just be the problem. 


And Roger said, "You're in trouble now."

Owen took the kidding and smiled and said, "Coffee's ready inside."