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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meteor Showers

According to National Geographic, there is a "celestial traffic jam" up there this week with two meteor showers combining forces on Friday.

Apparently meteor showers are annual events that, with some degree of certainty, can be timed in their occurrence. The Delta Aquarid meteor shower has been going on for a few days and is set to peak this Friday, July 29th. This occurs at the same time as the Perseid meteor shower gets started and this shower lasts until August 12th or 13th.

This peak period, when the two showers are occurring at the same time, corresponds with a New Moon. That's good news if you want to see a meteor shower because the sky will be pretty dark. When the Perseid shower peaks on the 12th or 13th it will be a full moon cycle and therefore harder to see the shower.

Meteor showers happen when the the earth's atmosphere slams into clouds of grain-size particles that are shed by orbiting comets. They have nothing to do with stars although they are named for the celestial bodies from which they appear to originate. When these particles enter the earth's atmosphere they are traveling at 150,000 kilometers and hour and they burn up in a fleeting streak of light. Unlike the great distance between us and the stars, these meteors are only a few hundred miles up.

All that sounds like a lot of powerful energy to me. I wonder what people thought was happening before they could google the Internet and get a scientific explanation. I wonder if they felt fear, or just a sense of wonderment.

I also wonder if that kind of "slamming around up there" doesn't affect us in some way that we may not be able to define. I figure there may be both positive and negative effects depending on your perspective.

If you're feeling a little "off" these days in ways you can't explain, maybe the showers are affecting you. If your sense of peace is disrupted and you have inexplicable anxiety or a sense of foreboding, you might want to consider a few drops of the Bach Flower essence Aspen. Aspen is helpful for fears of unknown origin and it can help balance that curious apprehension that might be following you around.

Walnut might also be helpful during "unsettled" periods in your life. Walnut is the Bach Flower essence that is indicated for people that feel overly sensitive to atmospheric influences. And having comet debris slamming into our atmosphere certainly seems to qualify as an "atmospheric influence". Walnut is considered the essence for change. It can help you feel protected from outside influences either human-induced or nature-induced.

I think the best "prescription" for feeling the effects of a meteor shower would be this:

Locate your most comfortable, fluffy blanket that you don't mind getting a bit of grass or dirt on. Wait until dark. Spread out your blanket on a peaceful spot that feels right to you. Lay back on the blanket and watch the show. Repeat as necessary between now and August 13th.

If you feel so inclined, you might consider sharing your blanket with a comfortable friend that feels as awed by the Universe as you do.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Knot of Vishnu: Stuck between two Chakras

I came across an old, but new to me, concept the other day called the "Knot of Vishnu". It felt like it warranted some examination.

In kundalini yoga there are considered to be three knots of attachment. As kundalini rises and you wind energy through the chakra system, you can get "tied up" on one of these knots it would seem. The second knot is the Knot of Vishnu. This area of potential trapped energy is found between the third and fourth chakras- right around the area of your diaphragm.

This concept of the Knot of Vishnu is explained briefly in "Unplugging The Patriarchy" by Lucia Rene

The third chakra is concerned with power. The location of the third chakra corresponds to just above the navel in the physical body. The central theme of this chakra is will power, personality, and self control. Balanced third chakras help you feel able to trust your feelings, emotions and sense of spontaneity. When you are balanced in your third chakra you know who you are and feel pretty secure in knowing what you want and how to get it.

The fourth chakra is concerned with love. It is located at the level of the heart. We sometimes confuse love with sexuality and the quest for a partner, but those issues are centered more in the lower chakras. The love of the fourth chakra is empathy for others, a sense of humanity, love of the "collective", everything and everyone in the universe and beyond, equally. It is about the complete release of power structures and heirarchies by allowing equality.

So, it seems kind of obvious how we end up with a knot in between these two chakars. Having grasped a sense of our own power and how we can in some way manipulate events and control our outcomes, it's hard to let go of that to move into working for "the good of all". At this "in between knot", we harbor lots of fear and the desire for, or fear of, control.

The Knot of Vishnu corresponds to the level of the diaphragm. Again, no surprise I guess. The diaphragm is a pretty interesting organ. It's pure muscle, but under both voluntary and involuntary control. To a point you can hold your breath, but as long as your nervous system is functioning, you can only do that to a point. If you pass out and loose conscious control, the diaphragm can do it's thing without you. The diaphragm separates the chest cavity from the abdomenal cavity. In emergency medicine, wounds and injuries are classified as "below the diaphragm" and "above the diaphragm" and there are very different treatments and outcomes associated with both. To have a perforation in the diaphragm and therefore mixing between the chest and abdomen is a very bad thing for both cavities. Babies are considered to be "diaphragmatic breathers". They breath differently than adults and more under involuntary control until they develop other muscles that encourage more "self-control" over this vital function.

Okay, so I got a bit carried away with the biology. The point is, this Knot of Vishnu, in my opinion, sounds like a very defining line in our lives. We can choose to stay balanced and focused on the lower charkra levels and probably function very well on the earth right now. We can move through the systems that are in place, probably be quite successful in a career and remain very much in control. Or...

We can choose to move up a bit and be more focused at the level of the fourth chakra, the heart. But to move up to that level, you have to release some fear and control issues that may be a bit stuck in between. To truly move to the upper chakra levels, you may have to pass through a knot of fear that suggests if you walk away from controlling structures, organizations, and accepted ways of functioning, something bad will happen to you. Many powerful structures are based on this fear and keeping your "knot of Vishnu" pretty tight. It's how marketing campaigns are structured- "if you don't do, buy,or believe in this, you will somehow be injured, damaged, or left out. Hmmm...

So the question is: how do you untie that knot? Maybe just being aware will help a lot. In today's society we spend a lot of our time holding our breath and not breathing deeply. When you turn your awareness to your breathing, it's a pretty easy fix to consciously think about breathing deeper and relaxing those muscles. Maybe the same can be said for that Knot of Vishnu. Maybe if we consider what we are fearful of, and why we hold that fear, we can let go of the control.

There are lots of Bach Flower essences for fear and I've written posts about them before But the one for the fear of loosing control is Cherry Plum and it seems most appropriate to me for the knot of Vishnu. In fact, Cherry Plum keeps coming up more and more lately, maybe that's the point. Lucia Rene writes that the earth itself has been blocked between a third dimension or chakra of power and control, and the fourth dimension where there is more collective harmony and less misuse of power and resources.

Whatever your personal blockages might be, and whatever it is that gets you "tied up in knots", there is no question that breathing deeply and slowly helps. So that might be the place to start and who knows where you might go from there.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Unplugging The Patriarchy

On Friday afternoon I discovered an absolutely incredible book by Lucia Rene called "Unplugging The Patriarchy". For me at least, it was one of those books that seems to radiate it's own energy. I felt drawn to it and as soon as I picked it up I knew it was right for me to read. I think books are pretty personal that way and similar to alternative cures and remedies. There is no one remedy or book that is right for everybody, all of the time, but if you find the one that is right for you in that moment, it can be a powerful connection and a transforming experience. That's the way I felt about "Unplugging The Patriarchy".

In the preface, Rene (there should be an accent on the last "e" but I can't make my computer do it-sorry!), explains the book is part truth and part fiction in what she calls a "fictionalized memoir". It's an unusual combination of novel and personal story, heavily supported with facts and in-depth research. It's easy to read like a novel, yet you learn some amazing things along the way.

"Unplugging The Patriarchy" is about changing the power structures of the world as we move into a new Aquarium age of post- 2012. It is a story of reclaiming, rediscovering and redefining by moving back into solar feminine energy.

Rene tackles multiple present power structures including the Global Elite, One World Government, International Banking, Media, Religion, Military, Industry and even Royalty. She provides information on powerful groups such as the Bilderbergers. All these were concepts that I heard before, but avoided researching or reading about because I saw the information as negative, conspiracy theory , energy draining pendulums. Despite a lot of information on these concepts, I don't find this book negative. It's just seems to lay out the facts in a non-judgemental way. It's just presented as knowledge and information that may encourage you to gently look at things a bit differently. It isn't a book about blaming; it's about explaining.

This is also a story about reclaiming feminine power, but not in a negative "male bashing" way. It's not about taking over or fighting for something, it's about allowing an enormous shift to happen that takes all of us, male and female into a different type of world/universe order.

There were some new concepts in this book as well. Lucia Rene outlines a chakra system for the earth. Lucia and two other friends, all trained as mystics, embark on a journey to perform a pretty amazing chakra clearing/re-polarization/rebalancing of the earth's charkas. It sounds pretty "out there" and yet, to me at least, it made so much sense and just felt right.

I read this book in a couple of days. I just couldn't put it down. Although I read it like a novel that way, I'll be going through it again, perhaps with highlighter marker. I really want to absorb it all in a more intense research orientated way now that I know how it ends, or begins, depending on your perspective. I feel like I can take a look at those power structures again and educate myself on those concepts from a positive point of view and I really like that idea. It's not often that a book is both interesting, and a good reference text. This one feels like both to me and is as well written technically as it is interesting- including 142 footnotes if you are so inclined!

I did do a bit of research on the author. She has a newsletter, a blog and another book coming out. All of this you can find through her website

I did read quite a negative review on this book. The reviewer said she just "couldn't get into this book". That was not my experience at all, but I think that just goes to show you books, like most things in life, have a time and place for you that is very personal. I'm pretty sure there was a period in time when I never would have got past the Preface of this book so I'm glad I found it when I did. I'm not the only one that thought it was an incredible read. "Unplugging The Patriarchy" won a Nautilus Book Award in 2010, and joins a pretty elite cast of writers in this honor.

For me, it's "a keeper" and I very much appreciate the insight I've received by reading it. I appreciate Lucia Rene for her journey and for sharing it. Can't wait for the next one!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Found Keys & Strange Reversals: Retrograde Mercury

It has been a strange day around here. Do you remember "backwards day" in elementary school? They never made a lot of sense to me but you were supposed to dress backwards and things that usually happened in the morning happened in the afternoon. You were supposed to eat breakfast for supper and everything was reversed. I vaguely remember a book theme of "topsy turvy day" or something like that. Maybe it was all to prepare me for today. I should have paid more attention.

It actually started yesterday. I was at a book signing and when I went to leave, reached in my purse and pulled out my keys. Only they weren't' mine! They looked remarkably like mine but "looking close" doesn't count when you're talking about keys. They were right at the top of this cavernous thing I call a purse and at the bottom were my own keys. I have no idea how those keys got there. It "feels" like someone must have put them there and yet that doesn't make sense either. I drove home wracking my brain about how I could have someone else's keys in addition to my own. I really haven't been that many places in the past few days so I started trying to retrace my steps. The weird thing is that I'm doing all this with a "found" set of keys, not because I lost my keys. I've been through this experience before, but in the reverse This doesn't make sense. Almost 24 hours later, I have called every place I have been in the past four days asking if anyone reported missing keys. I even called the police station and the car dealership that matches one of the key chain pieces. Not only has no one heard of anyone missing any keys, they all seem rather perplexed by my explanation that I'm not missing keys, I've got extra keys. Of course, it is difficult to understand I suppose when they quite naturally say, "Where did you find them?" and I answer "In my purse"! Hmmm...

I keep thinking in some parallel universe some poor woman is frantically trying to find her keys. Probably by now she's had to explain to her workplace that they may have to change the locks, she can't get her mail out of the box, she's already changed house locks, and I assume she had a spare car key or she's worn out a pair of perfectly good shoes. Perhaps she's made a number of phone calls inquiring about keys. Undoubtedly all her friends have said "Where did you last have them?" I wonder if her answer is, "well... my purse"?

Still thinking about these keys this morning I went to pay a bill with cash. It was quite a bit of money and I had taken it out of an ATM machine the day before and folded it specially in my wallet (which was in my purse by the way!). Today I took out the folded money and counted it out, only to discover I had been shorted $80.00 by the banking machine. In a strange backwards way, I had kept the machine transaction. This led me to a serious of encounters both in person at the bank and over the phone with numerous other agencies to try and see if I can be reimbursed the money. The jury is still out on that one.

In the midst of all this strange confusion, I talk to Wise Woman. In fact, she tells me her car won't start this morning for some "strange" reason that seems unknown to anyone. In true Wise Woman fashion, she isn't particularly upset by this and just reports that "Mercury is in Retrograde" you know. Ahhh.... I should have known.... I had these issues before

Never mind I figure. I'll just wait for someone to phone me back wanting their keys or returning my money. In the meantime I'll post on my blog this incredible book I've just finished reading. I barely get started writing when all is lost to cyberland and my Internet is down. I'm not at all surprised by this point, but figure I better go through the motions and call my provider. I expect to be led through a series of confusing test maneuvers of starting and restarting and pressing buttons I didn't even know were there. No so. The technician only asks me to confirm my address. The rest of the time I sit, phone pressed to my ear, hearing "okay", "okay", "okay"- all sounding like in fact it's really not "okay" at all. Nothing that can be done other than have a technician come out to the house to diagnose the problem. I've never had that happen before but am pleasantly surprised by such service. The next earliest appointment I can have is in 3 days time!! What??? No connection for 3 days! Surely the world will end? Then again, without connection, how will I even know?? Good thing I have Perelandra ETS Plus!

Strangely, I feel very calm about all of that. I guess I'm pacified by the thought that at least I'm not looking for my keys and having the locks changed. I have been taking Perelandra ETS Plus by the way. So I print off a hundred page document rather than email it, and head to a cafe to edit. I figure along the way I'll buy strawberries from the woman that always parks by the side of the road selling those really good, "fresh today" berries. Seems like a good idea to make more strawberry wine. She's there of course, just like I knew she would be, except she only has beans left. She's sold out of strawberries already today!!

On the way home I pass a computer service truck. There's a guy up there in the bucket and it appears he might be doing something to the cable line that eventually, magically, supplies me with computer connection. Sure enough, I come home without strawberries, but with an edited document, my purse, my keys, an extra set, and I'm connected to the world again.

So that's Mercury in Retrograde, Topsy Turvy day. Now, I feel back to the same place I started- sort of...

So if you lost your keys- call me. If you have money to return to me- call me. If your computer still works, but you have had a similar experience- email me. If you need a technician I think there's an opening 3 days from now. Otherwise, I'll go back to that great book I was reading. Maybe I'll read it from the back forward and see what happens.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Carrying the Load

I've had a couple of good conversations with friends lately. We've talked about how good it is to "talk it out". It seems that when your head is just full of stuff, it helps to share the "stuff" with someone else. In the very act of talking about it things sometimes seem clear and the load gets lighter.

I was thinking about that when I saw a picture of a woman carrying a load on her head. It turns out carrying heavy loads for long distances is still a regular activity for many people in developing countries. Interestingly, in many cultures, it is only women who are seen to carry loads on their heads. Men are more likely to carry the load on their shoulders or backs. Apparently there is research (although I don't have a source to cite here- sorry) to support the fact that woman can carry up to 20% of their body weight on their head with no additional energy exertion. This ability to carry a load on your head is not something you just "take up one day". It's a learned skill. Children practice and take on increasingly heavy loads in order to develop the neck muscles and ability to carry heavier weights. Now that got me thinking...

It occurs to me that woman in my culture often carry some pretty heavy loads "in" their head as opposed to "on" their head. By times, my own head feels a little full. This is something that we learn to do. Not unlike the way you might practice carrying heavier loads on your head, as young girls and teenagers we start to take on more and more "stuff". We analyze and think about things sometimes until our heads are spinning. Often a lot of the load we carry is worry, concern, and angst for others. We are the social animals in our culture and we concern ourselves with how we fit in, how others fit in, what we should do to make others feel better, more secure, more accepted. It goes on and on.

Perhaps, we too, can take on a lot of "stuff" before we even realize we're carrying that stuff around. Woman can worry about their jobs, their families, their friends, other families, those women in developing countries... all of that without even breaking stride.

When it's just part of what you do, you can go a long way or a long time before you realize the strain of that load. See when that load is perfectly balanced, you don't seem to exert yourself. Those women carry the load well without altering their posture or breaking a sweat. If the load is "in" your head, others don't even know you've got it in there. That's when you need a friend. I don't think it's always about sharing the load as much as it's about having friends to alert you to the fact that it's time to sit down and "take a load off".

In my part of the world, it's officially a heat wave. It's also the end of a work week and a beautiful evening. Time to "set down the load" and enjoy the lightness of your being.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Wave Help

Many parts of North America at the moment are in heat wave conditions. Although this is not actually the case in my part of the world- today it is pretty hot here as well.

I find it kind of interesting that the definition of "heat wave" is a relative term. For most weather events like cyclones, or hurricanes and tornadoes, there are very strict guidelines that guide their definition. So you can be in one heck of a wind storm, damage all around you, and find weather experts examining the event in order to determine whether or not it meets criteria to be designated an official storm. With a heat wave, it seems, it depends on what your normal values are like. In some places, after two days of hot weather, it may be called a heat wave. In others, it takes five days and much higher temperatures to be "official". In some areas, the humidity is a factor, in others it's not. So maybe we just need to revert to our body telling us that we are undergoing quite a stretch of hot weather!! Hmm..

It might also be smart to listen to your body and pay particular attention to how you are feeling during extreme weather. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion (for which there are actually very definite definitions in the medical community!) often seem to take people by surprise. When it's hot you need to seek the shade as much as possible. The more you sweat and loose fluids, the more you need to drink. Water is the recommended liquid of choice. You do have to watch electrolyte (sodium and potassium) intake as well, but unless you are really performing strenuous activity or dieting in the heat, that's not as likely. We typically get a lot of electrolytes in our diets.

There are some homeopathic remedies that can be helpful for sunburn, heat stroke and exhaustion. They include Caustium, Cantharis, Glonoine, and Belledona.

Causticum is probably the first one to think of for a sunburn, or any burn for that matter. Serious burns need further assessment, but you can take causticum while seeking out professional advice.

Cantharis is helpful if the person is feeling very restless and the pains are burning in nature. The person who can benefit from cantharis is likely to be pretty vocal with their complaints. In second and third degree burns, cantharis may be helpful before the blisters form.

The principal use of the remedy Glonoine is for headaches that result from too much sun. The person that responds to this remedy will likely appear red in the face, may even seem confused and uncommunicative. Glonine can be taken while seeking professional treatment advice.

If Glonoine does not relieve the headache that comes on from sun exposure, Belledona may be helpful. Belledona is a remedy that is helpful when complaints come on suddenly and are worse for movement. It is helpful to reduce the elevated body temperature/fever experienced during heat stroke and exhaustion.

The Bach Flower Beech might be helpful if you feel yourself irritated by a heat wave. If people are suddenly driving you crazy and you feel impatient and frustrated with the mannerisms of others, it might be an essence to turn to.

Any number of the Perelandra essences might be helpful for the signs and symptoms of heat exposure. Perelandra ETS Plus for humans would be the combination remedy to consider for the sudden onset of symptoms including a headache.

Animals suffer during heat waves as well. ETS Plus for animals may help them get through an event. They also need shade and lots of extra water.

The big key to avoiding the negative effects of a heat wave is to stay hydrated. That means drinking lots and lots of water. It's also about "going with the flow" and not stressing your body during the intense times. If possible, save tasks for cooler temperatures, later in the day or earlier in the morning. Maybe we should have "heat days" like "storm days" to keep people away from work if they aren't in air conditioned buildings?

Maybe the heat has started to affect my brain. But I had a great "go with the flow" yoga class this morning and received this youtube video from a friend. In the spirit of hydration (although spirits aren't actually recommended), I thought I'd include it with this post!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Animal Signs: Snake

Yesterday I had a bit of a conversation with a snake. She was coiled on a rock beside a peony bush that is in the middle of my potato patch. She didn't comment on the strangeness of having a peony in among the potatoes. Perhaps she was too polite, but she seemed to be both guarding the peony and relaxing at the same time. She looked very peaceful.

I told a friend of mine about my snake encounter and got an unrequested lesson on how to destroy and dispose of a snake with a shovel! I'm not interested in that at all, but it does seem to be a common reaction many people have to snakes. Maybe it's fear based, although in my part of the world, snakes aren't poisonous or dangerous in any way unless you've run into an imported pet variety. I'll admit they "give me pause" and I felt better putting up a cartoon picture of one than any of the millions of pictures of snakes that are out there. "My" snake looked very harmless though and was just out collecting some Vitamin D from the sun I'd say. I don't think she deserved a hit on the head with a shovel! She certainly seemed non-confrontational. I left her sunning herself and guarding the peony.

Daniel Mapel, in "Into The Heart of the Wild", explains the symbolism of the snake as a totem creature. Snakes are seen as shamanic teachers that facilitate deep transformation. The snake is a creature that is said to help us both deepen and integrate experiences of archetypal energies, insights, and connections with our higher selves. I suppose there is some fear in that.

Having a snake appear in your life may signify periods of change and transformation, deep emotional healing, or an increase in the depth of your spiritual practice. Maple recommends snake essence for people that are wanting to "shed their skin" and start anew the way the snake sheds it's skin.

At the risk of sounding like one of the Wilder's in "The Little House" books, (remember "Little House on the Prairie"?) one of my most prized possessions one summer was a snake skin. I found the entire thing, totally intact as though a snake had just slithered out of it, in the hay field in the phase between cutting and baling. It was tough but fragile at the same time. It caught the light in a sparkling kind of way and it seemed just amazing. It almost looked like the ghost of a snake.I proudly took it home, put in a very special box, and kept it in my drawer (sorry Mom!). When school started in September, I took my snake skin to show and tell. The other kids were as amazed by it as I was. So amazed in fact, that someone stole it from the teachers office! I'm still a little mad about that. The shovel concept rears it's head again- okay, not really that mad- they must have needed it more than I did.

Maybe we are a bit envious of the snake. That ability to just shed your outer layer for something new and revitalized underneath sounds pretty appealing. What strikes me is that to anyone else, the new layer really doesn't look any different- and yet, in some ways it's a whole new snake. That's the kind of transformation that can come from spiritual expansion I think.

If you feel that kind of expansion and transformation occurring in your life and could use a little support, the Bach Flower essence, Star of Bethlehem might assist you in your journey

There are also a number of Perelandra essences that might help you adjust to a new skin. From the Garden collection, Corn and Yellow Yarrow might be helpful. From the Rose Collection, you might consider Gruss An Aachen, Orange Ruffles, or Royal Highness. In Machaelle Small Wright's "Flower Essences", she provides the following definitions for these essences :

Corn: Stabilization during spiritual expansion. Assists translation of experience into useful understanding and action.

Yellow Yarrow: Emotional protection during vulnerable times. Its support softens resistance and assists the integration process.

Gruss An Aachen: Stability. Balances and stabilized the body/soul unit on all p.e.m.s. levels as it moves forward in its evolution process (p.e.m.s.:physical, emotional, mental, spiritual)

Orange Ruffles: Receptivity. Stabilizes the individual during the expansion of the sensory system.

Royal Highness: Final stabilization. The mop-up essence which helps to insulate, protect and stabilize the individual and to stabilise the shift during its final stages while one is vulnerable.

There might be other essences that are a better match for you. Then again, you might be getting all the help you need from the totem snakes around you. But if the transformation feels difficult, there are essences to ease the experience.

All in all, I feel pretty honored to have a snake around me. I will continue to show her the respect and compassion she deserves. As I write this blog, the snake is back on her rock again. I'll take that as a positive sign for this post. Maybe the peony will transform into a potato??

Monday, July 18, 2011

Electricity in the Air: Using it for Health

Seems like we continue to experience dramatic weather events all over the world. Across Canada today, no matter where you are it seems, you might be dealing with some sort of event. Severe thunderstorm and hail watches and warnings dot the map. Yesterday an intense weather system involving sudden high winds affected an outdoor concert in Ontario, causing sudden evacuation of the event, a collapsed stage, and a number of injuries. In my part of the world, the humidity is extremely high and electrical storms are forecasted. At the same time, tropical storm Bret is brewing off the Atlantic coast with predictions it will change into hurricane status at some point in the near future.

I'm a weather junky I guess. I love weather events, the more dramatic the better. A little piece of me feels guilty about this, I understand the events can be destructive and in fact catastrophic to many and I don't wish that on anyone, nevertheless, I love to watch a good storm and have always appreciated the drama.

I have written lots of posts about weather events and how they affect our health .

If the threat of an impending storms makes you feel anxious, check out this post Although the picture suggests winter, Aspen is very helpful no matter what type of upcoming weather event and may be particularly helpful for thunderstorms.

Traditional medicine puts some emphasis on your body's reaction to the weather environment when matching remedy to complaint. I think that's something conventional medicine is missing out on a bit. Instead of fighting against our environment and the negative ways that humans have impacted the environment and in the process adversely affected ourselves, maybe we could work with the strength of environmental influences to enhance our healing?

Maybe there are certain medical treatments that are increased in effectiveness if used when the humidity is particularly high, or when low or high pressure systems are advancing. Surely all that electricity we feel in the air prior to and during an intense lightening storm could be helpful to effect change in our body if we only knew how to use it? There are more babies born during a full moon. Maybe we could use that knowledge to work with obstetrical advancements? Maybe we have this knowledge of environmental influences within our DNA and we have just forgotten how to use it?

Perelandra essences work specifically on our electrical system. Machaelle Small Wright, the co-creator of this line of healing essences, in "Perelandra Essences", suggests
"the oral solutions are taken to balance, stabilize and repair the body's electrical system and its circuits during times of illness, injury and stress. They are also taken for maintaining the overall strength and balance in the electric system."

Wright also reports the average adult's electric system is 47 miles long, if stretched out in a straight line. Hmm... 47 miles all curled up in your body must be impacted by a lightening bolt or two it would seem to me! No wonder your "spider senses are tingling" prior to a storm!

If you're considering using Perelandra essences, check out their website See if they feel right to you. There is a trauma solution, much like the idea of Bach Rescue Remedy, that is an easy way to get started with the essences. The solutions are available for both humans and animals. I have had clients use ETS Plus for animals to soothe the anxiety some animals feel during an electrical storm (which is what inspired me for this whole blog idea today). They seem to settle down quickly in response to the essence. I have also found a lot of people experience immediate favorable reactions to ETS Plus for Humans. It has helped for anxiety, for unusual aches and pains that may or may not be related to changing weather or environmental conditions, and for restless sleep.

So, during the lead up to storm activity, I will keep my own bottle of ETS Plus handy. And if I use it, I will consciously consider that anything I want to heal may be aided by changing electricity in the air instead of thinking that there is a negative effect from the energy.

Maybe "harnessing the power of nature" has a potential far beyond wind generated elctricty! To the power of thunder and lightening everywhere!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Nurturing Space

If you are still feeling the influence of the full moon in Capricorn, now might be a good time to create a nurturing space for yourself.

This is absolutely NOT the same as creating a nurturing home, or nurturing spaces for others. Most people, particularly women, are very good at that already. We paint and decorate and arrange our houses to create a comforting place, a sense of home and a secure feeling. Unfortunately perhaps, this is often done not so much for our individual selves as it is done for others, for family members and loved ones. Sometimes it's even done because of what we believe others will think about us. That mad cleaning frenzy that's done only because someone might be dropping in. (I can hear my friends laughing at that- they know full well that's not something I personally do much!)

Creating a nurturing space for self is something totally different. It's finding a place that feels right to you and allows you to feel a connection with your higher self, with nature, or whatever you consider to be a higher force. It's a spot where you feel free to "go within", unobstructed by outside influences that pull your attention away from you.

Liz Simpson, in "The book of Chakra Healing", describes how the creation of an altar as a personal sacred space can help you focus introspection on a particular chakra you would like to heal. Once you have identified your personal challenges you identify objects that represent, for you, that chakra. Simpson suggests the ritual act of placing carefully selected objects in a particular place that is only yours may help your personal practice and growth.

People that are Water Violet types or are prone to Water Violet moods, likely already have an established sacred or nurturing space- they might just not call it that, or recognize it as such. This is the place you go to when the world is just "too much" and you need to be alone to think and sort out your thoughts.

Most children recognize the benefits of a nurturing space and no matter where they live or find themselves, they will have such a place. In teenage years it is often their bedroom if they don't share a room. That horrific pile of "stuff" and disorder that adults see, may actually be their altar and their source of comfort. I think, if given choice and opportunity, most younger children will find a place outside to claim as "their spot". It might be by a particular tree, a spot by the river, a hay mow, or best of all- a tree house that's too high for adults to want to climb! It's their "get-a-way". Sound familiar?

If you've lost that childhood space, now is a good time to re-create it. Find a spot where you feel safe, secure, and away from distractions- that's all that is required. Be selfish about your space. This isn't a spot to be shared. It also shouldn't be a spot that requires heavy maintenance. That's the difference between a clubhouse and a tree house. In a clubhouse, kids hoard comic books, candy, and all kinds of contraband that is really only fun if shared with other like minds. A tree house is just a spot, nothing there, a place to be alone. When you're alone you don't need a lot of "things"- that's the point. This isn't a spot that you have to "clean first before you can relax"- maybe that's why outside in nature is highly recommended.

Nemetona is, in Celtic folklore, "the goddess of the sacred grove". Her name means "sacred space". She is considered the guardian of all sacred places like healing circles, springs, or magical groves. The Celts didn't usually built temples or buildings to worship their gods, they found places among the natural landscape. So Nemetona is more associated with open air places of focus, worship or introspection.

If you don't already have a deck of Doreen Virtue's "Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards", I highly recommend them! Nemetona is one of the cards in this 44 card deck. The cards come with a guidebook to further explain each card selected. Drawing the card Nemetona, may mean that you could benefit from creating a spot for yourself where you can find refuge and retreat. Virtue explains that Nemetona it isn't so much about how you connect as much as it is important to frequently connect. Connecting with your divine self helps you be inspired, cleared, and on the right path. You may find yourself tapping into ancient wisdom and spiritual grace in your sacred space.

Maybe it was easier to connect with ourselves when we weren't so connected to ear plugs, blue-tooths, portable devices, and constant noise. Maybe that's reason enough to take the time to find a space away from it all so you can discover your own goddess within. Breathe in, breathe out, and discover yourself. Nuture yourself.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Full Moon in Capricorn

Tonight is a full moon in Capricorn. The moon in Capricorn is said to promote action and coming to terms with a situation. It's a time to really focus ambitions. Capricorn is said to bring illumination, to cast the most light on situations. It's a time to gather insight and move on with projects.

This particular full moon, because of the sun's position, is also about responsible nurturing and gaining insight into how you nurture. That doesn't always mean how you look after others. Responsible nurturing means you begin at a personal level and consider what you need to take care of yourself. Back to that individual versus collective theme it might seem. Time to think about what you want to put in your own cake before you think about making cake for everyone else. If that makes no sense to you, check out this earlier post

When the full moon is in Capricorn, we might all need to take a look at how we nurture and consider not where we need to take on more responsibility, as much as where we might be taking on too much responsibility. When we take over for others, even if our intentions are good, we prevent their ability to grow on their own. We also run the risk of providing the wrong things by bringing what we think others want and need, and not what they truly desire. We try to bring our perspective into their reality and that's not nurturing- that's taking over.

When you sit in the light of the full moon tonight, or better yet, when you dance under the moon, look up and see if there are any planes flying overhead. If there are, think about those oxygen masks that pop out of the overhead compartment when the cabin pressure drops below a certain point. Are you so busy putting oxygen masks on those around you that you are gulping for air yourself? And are those around you actually benefiting from those masks in the first place, or are you smothering them in your effort to nurture? Maybe the cabin pressure hasn't really changed in the first place?

Red Chestnut is a Bach Flower essence that can helps those that are "over-nurturing". It is indicated for those who have an excessive fear and worry about the welfare of others, usually of other family members or loved ones. Red Chestnut can help when you are fretful and worried about others at the expense of looking inward and looking after yourself first. Red Chestnut can help restore an ability to hold back from forcing help on others.

Nurturing yourself may also require a bit of "letting go". The full moon signifies an end of one phase. Maybe it's time to let go of something that has been a burden or is just time to sign off on. If what keeps you attached to a problem or situation is the fear of losing control, you might consider the Bach Flower Cherry Plum to help you release what doesn't need to be held.

Full moons are meant to be celebrations. Dance under the moon. Embrace the end of one phase and the opportunity to start fresh with a new project, a new intention, or a lighter, self-nurtured you. Howl to the moon if that's what makes you feel like you again. Nurture yourself and allow the rest to fall into place.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Plainsong

In my part of the world, it's humid, misty and muggy today. It's as close to rain as you can get without actually seeing drops fall on the ground. When we were growing up, this kind of weather was described as being "close out". It was one of those phrases I understood without thinking about it until I moved away and used that expression once where people had never heard it before. It seems a good description though- it's like the sky is close to the earth and it feels like you are covered by a dome or a protective coating. It feels very hushed and quiet out in this pre-storm phase. It's as though nature has just settled in to wait and see if it will storm or not without caring one way or the other on the outcome. It's the absolutely perfect day to curl up with a great book.

"Plainsong", by Kent Haruf would be a good book to read today. I'm almost sorry that I just finished it. "Plainsong", published in 1999, was a National Bestseller and won a book award or two. So I'm a little late finding it, but I discovered it at a flea market a few weeks ago. I like it when books find me at the right time. Maybe I wouldn't have appreciated it so much in 1999 when everyone else was reading it!

Haruf provides the definition for "Plainsong" before the novel begins:

Plainsong- the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times;any simple and unadorned melody or air

This Vintage Contemporary novel is set in the fictional town of Holt Colorado and is just what the title suggests- a simple, unadorned, story. Haruf takes us through the lives of a number of community residents that get twisted together in unusual and unlikely ways. His characters include a couple of young boys, a couple of old bachelor farmers,a pregnant high school girl, and a number of people in-between. Haruf seems to understand all the characters equally well and from the beginning I liked them all. They felt very real. The chapters are short as Haruf flips back and forth between characters telling the story from their perspective. The short chapters make it easy to read in short segments, but you might also be inspired to stay up all night to finish it like I did!

The characters are very well developed in my opinion and I enjoyed following their lives. There was drama and trauma but somehow it seemed like I knew the characters were strong and independent enough that they could make it out the other side without me having to invest a lot of angst in the process. I was involved but distanced and I appreciate that sometimes.

All of the characters have some pretty significant life-altering events occur to them, but as you read, you realize so much of what we experience in life becomes just another chapter and not the ending we anticipated it might be at the time. Life goes on. The characters grow,change, move on, and accept what happens as just part of their story.

I guess when enough people read your book that it becomes a best seller you open up your work for criticism. Some critiques complained that the novel ended too quickly or didn't have enough villains in it. I don't agree. I don't really need evil villains in my life or in my stories. I think enough issues, concerns, and lessons come our way without having to create opponents or finding blame. Seems to me that's what the people of Holt felt. I also appreciate the fact that some of the major events in the characters' lives didn't really get solved. They just "are". Again the characters seemed to recognize that fact and it made them that much more human.

By the end of the book I felt like I had acquired a few more friends that I cared about, felt for, and in many ways admired. I felt touched by the goodness of man-kind, and the strength, love, and wisdom, that can sometimes be found in the most unlikely of places and people. It's a story about people helping people, of strong ties and unconditional love.

I might look at people just a bit differently. I appreciate that.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grasshopper Restlessness & Scleranthus

It's a Monday morning- perhaps that says it all. It's summer time. In my part of the world it's beautiful outside and the day promises to be hot and sunny. For many people, daily routines are "shot" during the summertime. Some people are able to relax and let go and just truly enjoy. Others just add more to their routine and "to do" lists and try to fit it all in, working and relaxing and exhausting themselves in the process. Others experience a sense of restlessness and flit from one thing to the other, from chores to fun activities never quite feeling as though they are focused on the right thing. There's a Bach flower for that!!

Dr. Bach placed the Bach Flower essences into 7 categories. When trying to decide which essence(s) might be right for you, it can be helpful to narrow it down by turning to the categories. "Restlessness" isn't a category, but that flipping back and forth between tasks, an inability to make up your mind on what to focus on, seems to find a fit within the category of "uncertainty". There are 6 essences in this category: Cerato, Scleranthus, Gentian, Gorse, Hornbeam and Wild Oat.

Scleranthus is a good match for the restless summer indecision I'm referring to. People that need Scleranthus have a hard time making a decision or sticking with a choice, particularly if faced with a choice between two possibilities. If you can't decide whether you should take the day off and go to the beach, or settle in and finish that report first- you might consider Scleranthus. Scleranthus people often experience a "grasshopper" mind. They jump from one activity to the next. Even within a conversation, Scleranthus types may jump from one topic to another. The Scleranthus type is prone to mood swings and this may be more pronounced with changing weather patterns or during a shift from one season to another.

If you are looking for a buddy to "skip out of work with", a spontaneous person who will drop everything at the mere mention of helping out or being diverted- find a Scleranthus type. They are flexible and more than willing to "go with the flow" of someone elses' decisions. But unlike a Centaury type for instance, that is happy to be led, the Scleranthus person doesn't feel content to go with the decisions of others and is often second-guessing whether or not they made the right choice.

When out of balance, the Scleranthus person's changeable outlook can make them unreliable. They sometimes waste time and lose opportunities because they can't make up their mind. They spend so much time swinging back and forth and trying to decide the whole day can pass them by without getting anything done or having a chance to peacefully relax.

Although the Sceleranthus person may be the first to join the crowd when gently coaxed, they may just as quickly regret their decision. For this reason the Scleranthus person may be with you physically, but not really with you mentally. When the Scleranthus person goes to the beach, he may be thinking about the unfinished report, trying to craft it in his head. When the Scleranthus person stays home to work on the report, she may gaze out the window berating herself for missing an opportunity to go to the beach.

Can't make up your mind whether or not you should take Scleranthus? That's probably exactly when you should!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Animal Signs: The Turtle

I have been hearing turtle stories lately. A couple of days ago, someone I had just met, told me that a turtle had laid eggs in the mulch in her garden. She was very excited (the woman, not the turtle, although I would think the turtle might have been excited to get that effort over with). We talked about how unusual that seemed to be - to have turtles being hatched in your mulch. The next day, in a local paper, the front page picture featured a turtle in the process of laying her eggs in the gravel beside a country road. That too seems a little peculiar. I am told that turtle "mothers-to-be" are very selective in where they lay their eggs. I'm not sure about that spot beside the road, but then again, who am I to judge a turtles' birthing selection process! Normally, they very carefully choose an ideal site, lay the eggs and walk away! The baby turtles hatch on their own and make their way in the world. I guess the mother turtle doesn't even know how many of her eggs made it. That's perhaps the ultimate example of "letting go". While that sounds like a system with a few flaws in it- there are a lot of turtles in the world and they seem to be fairly well adjusted I think...

Perhaps it's because of that early forced independence, that allows the turtle, as a totem creature, to provide support for solitary pursuits. This seems to fit with the previous blog entry It can be kind of lonely and frightening when pursuing individual efforts and actions instead of going with the crowd or established group and maybe that's a good time to connect with turtles. Daniel Mapel, in "Into the Heart of the Wild", suggests taking turtle essence when you feel vulnerable dealing with specific individuals or groups of people. His Wild Earth website provides more information on the animal essences

Turtles are said to provide grounding, a sense of oneness with the earth. They help us to focus on the now, the moment at hand, and the problems or issues in front of us. As a totem creature, they ensure emotional and psychic protection when dealing with intense situations and environments. Turtles are said to help humans slow down and appreciate the moment, the earth, and our soul purpose.

So it seems interesting that turtles are coming a little closer to us these days in their choice of where to lay their eggs. I'm sure there is a scientific reason for why they are laying eggs in people's gardens and on the side of the road, but I choose to ignore that kind of science this time. Instead, I'm going to believe that the turtles recognize these are pretty intense times for humans and we could use very tangible evidence of their closeness and support for us. I choose to believe they are willing to help us connect with the earth and feel safe, secure and grounded when pursuing individual paths that may be out of sync or contrary to organized groups.

Seems like everyone could use a turtle or two in their lives!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Individuals versus the "Collective"

I heard a very good and brief (and that was part of what made it good) speech the other night at a school closing ceremony. The principal compared the graduating class with making a cake. He explained that in making a cake you add sugar, flour, milk, baking soda and other ingredients that on their own really aren't that good. You combine them, add some cooking time and end up with something that is better than the individual parts. He went on to explain that the graduating class was NOT like cake. He said the students were more like apples, and oranges, chocolate and potatoes; ingredients that were better alone, rather than combined. He encouraged the students to think about that as they moved forward making individual decisions, and pursuing personal dreams. Interesting that both kids and parents liked that speech.

The principal might have been venting a bit. I don't think the particular class was the easiest to work with. Certainly we have both historical and modern evidence that documents the destructive power of groups. In emergency management, such negative mass energy has been studied in detail. The Coconut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 where 492 people were killed when fire broke out in a night club is one of those examples often used to predict collective/crowd action. The riots in Vancouver after the Stanley Cup playoffs are perhaps the most recent example. Most of the looters and people that did destructive acts would not likely have acted alone, but once started, it became a mass consciousness that was destructive.

We seemed focused lately on combined energy and we talk about a "collective consciousness". Often the response has been that together, we can bring positive things to the world and make as positive a difference as some of the bigger negative or destructive forces. That may be true. That may also be dangerous. What seems good and positive today, may later appear in history as another great atrocity. When one group or crowd makes a decision on what another group needs, even when decided with the best intentions, the results are often not good in the long run.

Maybe we should all be just working on individual levels. We are schooled to think that very statement is an example of narrow minded thinking and selfishness. Maybe it's not. Maybe we can only see the world from our own individual perspective and perhaps we should put more thought to that. I'm not suggesting we not help other people that want and need help. But maybe we should be looking internal a bit more than we do- even if it feels uncomfortable. Maybe because it feels uncomfortable. It's easier to go with the flow, follow the crowd, jump on a cause to make us feel good about ourselves. But that's making cake, and maybe we are destroying some really good individual ingredients in the process.

Maybe what is best for the universe is to shine our individual lights. To pursue the thoughts, dreams, energies and forces that feel right to us individually- alone. We don't need other people to shine in the same way. Perhaps the universe if fully capable of collecting all that individual positive energy in a way that truly enriches and brings good to us all. Maybe we don't need to figure out how, we just need to do our own thing in a postive way.

My grandmother had a very interesting approach to making cake. As very little kids she let us all into her kitchen at once. She gave each of us a bowl a spoon a small pan. In the center of the table there was flour, sugar and salt. We mixed as much of it together in whatever combination we wanted in our own bowl. There were no instructions. She helped us pour or stir if we wanted help. She left us alone if we didn't. We added water to make it like a paste (also works as glue I found out later!). Once we had our "cake batter" we were allowed to go to the pantry and select whatever we wanted from the shelves. Usually there were gumdrops, sometimes chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, fruit. You could add in peppermints if you wanted. None of cared what anyone else made- we didn't even look. They were all baked in individual pans for the same amount of time. I think our grandmother was the time keeper. Once cooled slightly, we all took them outside and ate our own creations. No one ever wanted to share. Everyone was happy. What was fun that was that we were sharing a space,and a process. We were working together, but all on individual goals, and we were the sole judges of our own creations. As far as my grandmother was concerned, "you made your cake and ate it too". There was a lot of giggling throughout the entire process. It's a great memory. She would have appreciated the Principal's speech I think.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alternative Treatment for Bug Bites: People & Pets

Maybe it's because of some changing weather patterns, a shifting world, planetary influences, or just coincidence, but it seems like bug bites are causing more dramatic reactions in both people and pets this year. In my part of the world it might just be that because of so much rain, when the bugs do see the sun and come out they are particularly hungry!!

There are a number of alternative therapies for bug bite reactions that are all worth taking a look at during bug season time.

From the homeopathic world, the two remedies that come to mind are Ledum Palustre and Apis Mellifica.

Ledum Palustre is prepared from the Wild Rosemary plant and is today's picture. I felt a lot better about putting up a picture of the treatment rather than the villain! Ledum can help prevent a septic state from setting in as a result of being bitten by an animal or bug. Unlike most homeopathic remedies, there aren't a lot of marked emotional or mental symptoms that would indicate the use of Ledum. That makes it applicable for anyone, regardless of their personality, and a valuable component of any first aid kit. Think of Ledum for any kind of bug bites or stings as well as puncture wounds where infection may result.

Apis Mellifica is a more specific remedy to combat the effects of a bee sting, but it can also be helpful in any bite that reacts dramatically. Apis can be used for a severe allergic reaction (analphylactis) while you are enroute to or waiting for advanced treatment. Apis is prepared from the venom of the common hive bee. This does not mean it will cause a reaction in someone with sever allergies- exactly the reverse. Apis has been used to cure rheumatism and to desensitize patients that react strongly to insect bites.

Perelandra has a number of remedies that can be extremely helpful for bug bite reactions. From the combination remedies, Immune may be indicated. Lymphatic may also be helpfulif the reaction is occuring at a deeper, infection,level. The individual remedy Tomato, from the Garden Essences may be helpful as it is a cleansing remedy that works to assist the body in throwing off infection. From the Nature Program Essences, V-1, F-1, B-1, V-2, F-2 or B-2 may be indicated. All of these essences work in various ways to help the body respond to a viral, fungal or bacterial imbalance. ETS Plus for Humans or Pets may also be helpful during the initial phase of the bite or sting. With Perelandra essences you don't have to know which essences to use when, you test them using kinesiology instead. Perelandra website also offers some suggestions for tick bites.

From the Bach Flower essences there might not be as direct a match because they are more concentrated on the emotional level than homeopathics or Perelandra. A couple to consider would be Beech and Crab Apple. Beech is indicated for irritability and intolerance and that type of emotional reaction is a match for allergies and the irritability of a bug bite. Crab Apple is considered the cleansing remedy so it may be helpful as well. Rescue Cream which contains Crab Apple may provide a soothing topical application to the affected area. Rescue Remedy is also helpful in that initial phase of the bite sting if it accompanied by a traumatic situation such as a bee or wasp sting usually is.

Two other remedies to try are Swedish Bitters and Silver. Swedish bitters can be applied as a compress and helps to draw out the poison or infection. Most people recommend a light application of oil or cream before applying the Swedish bitters directly on the skin. Colloidal silver can also be applied to the area or an extremity can be soaked in colloidal silver to help combat infection. Both Swedish bitters and silver can be taken orally as well.

We recently had the occasion to try an alternative protocol on a horse client. This little mare pony had an amazing reaction to something or another. Her flank/udder area was red and swollen so badly it was chaffing together when she walked causing the area to look like a burn. It was an "ouch" just looking at her. She was avoiding much travel because of this but otherwise didn't seem that "out of sorts"- was still eating and eliminating fine. We gave her ETS Plus and then tried to figure things out. The next thing we gave was Ledum. This was followed with a number of essences from the Perelandra boxes. Included in there were Tomato, and most of the V-1, V-2, F-1, F-2,B-1 and B-2 essences. We selected all of the perelandra essences using kinesiology. This horse stood totally still and quiet while we did this and the others in the herd gave her a protective but non-interfering distance while we did this. This little mare also tested positive for Immune and Lymphatic combinations. Although the individual essences were a "one drop, one time deal", her owner is keeping her on Immune and Lymphatic for a number of weeks (perhaps the whole bug season)giving it to her once per day. Her owner already puts colloidal silver in the horses' drinking water so that practice was continued. Within a 24 hour period the swelling and redness had subsided remarkably and the owner was able to see a hardened lump or swelling in the udder area. She applied a compress of Swedish bitters to the lump and kept up with the regime of Perelandra Immune and Lymphatic. Two weeks later- all is well.

This little mare also tested positive for a number of Perelandra essences that appeared to be for a more emotional/ spiritual level or issue. All of these individual essences made sense to the owner. It also points to the fact that we can't separate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual concerns. We are complex creatures (both people and pets) and need that overall balance for our self-defence mechanisms to work well. If we are out of balance emotionally, we may experience physical conditions we might otherwise be able to combat and vice versa. We need to apply "whole healing" techniques to the "whole organism" in my opinion.

The reaction this mare had to Perelandra was dramatic and amazing. As soon as we had tested everything on her and given her the drops she peacefully walked away. I was packing up the boxes when I felt the gelding in the herd blowing on my neck! His turn. We opened up the boxes again and when through them all with him. Some of the essences were the same for him as his "sister", some were different. He tested positive Immune, but didn't need the Lymphatic for instance. Many of the essences he needed resonated with his "mother/owner". He walked away after we finished his testing and drops and the next mare walked up in the "healing position" it seemed. We went through the whole thing again. Each one of the horses stood completely still and focused while we went through the process for them and then calmly walked away when their turn was up. The whole experience from start to finish (and it took awhile to go through 3 horses) was gentle, peaceful, non-confrontational, a partnership between humans and animals. An experience I won't forget- magical!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Book Review: Bitter in the Mouth

Two books with very similar and uncommon themes mades their way to me over the past few days. When that kind of thing happens, I try to pay attention. Since, I'm not sure what else to do with the information, I figured I'd write it on my blog.

The first book I read was "Blue-eyed Boy", by Joanne Harris. Having recently discovered this author ("Chocolat", "Blackberry Wine", "The Lollipop Shoes") I have been reading everything she wrote. This book is not at all like her others. Some fans of her previous books said they were very disappointed with this one, or didn't read it at all. I applaude authors for trying new things even when they have a model that works and I found this book a different but interesting reading experience. It's quite a disturbingly dark book and isn't a "feel good piece". Nor does it have the past lives, magical, old world feel of the others. In fact, it's a "computer age" book and that's part of the story. I like a book of fiction that introduces me to a non-fiction concept. In this case, the story introduced me to synesthesia. At least one of the characters associates music, noises, or certain tones with particular colors. Interesting, and I thought of my friend that associates particular colors with the days of the week.

The next book I picked up, quite by chance, because it was literally falling off the shelf in the library, is called "Bitter in the Mouth", by Monique Truong. Amazingly it seems, in this work of fiction as well, the main character has synesthesia. In her case, certain words provoke a taste in her mouth. She can "taste" words. It's an involuntary response and depending on the taste they provoke is either a positive or negative response. Either way, it's quite distracting for sure. The character grows up with this secret in the 1970's in small-town North Carolina, where it's hard to live with secrets. This is only one of the secrets that are central to her character and her story.

"Bitter in the Mouth", is not an easy read. Throughout the dialogue, the taste associated with the word is often written in italics. This makes it very distracting to read. A couple of times I got lost in the food groups and had to make my way back to figure out the meaning of the sentence. That's the power of this book in my opinion. As I read it, for just a brief period of time, I could begin to imagine how distracting it must be to have this type of synesthesia. If only to a small degree, I could imagine life for the character and for those people in the world that really have this experience.

There is a lot of intrigue in, "Bitter in the Mouth", and I was hooked as I had to unravel the secrets and find out what was really going on. It's a story of family tragedies, coming of age, and growing up different in the world. And everyone, is in one way or another, different, even in a small town culture.

Truong explains the very real condition of synesthesia a bit in the book and after reading the two books, I was intrigued enought to do a bit of research as well. Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. There are a variety of variations of synesthesia depending on which senses are involved. In Grapheme-color synesthesia, individual letters of the alphabet and numbers are shaded or tinged with a color. In sound-color synesthesia, voice, music or noises trigger color and simple shapes. This sound-color was described in "Blue-eyed Boy". In Ordinal-linguistic personification forms, ordered sequences like numbers, days or months, are associated with personalities. This form is described in a book called "Wednesday is Indigo Blue" ( I haven't read that one yet, but it's on my list). Finally as in Truong's book, Lexical-gustatory synesthesia describes the condition where words or spoken language evokes taste sensations in the mouth.

Whichever type of sensations are evoked, a consistency is maintained. For instance, in Truong's book, the word "one" always "tastes" like bread and butter pickles for the character Linda, and the word "Mom" always tastes like chocolate milk for her. Synesthesia is always involuntary and automatic, and often, it is genetically linked.

In the research I did, I found that some synesthetes are unaware their experiences are unusual until they realize that other people don't have the same experiences. Others, like the character in Truong's book, really feel they are keeping a secret. What does seem consistent is that most synesthetes see their perceptions as a gift, not as a condition or disease. Many use their unusual abilities to be very creative, skilled in memorization, or talented mathematically. But as I read about it, I think for most, it is also "overstimulating" and overwhelming, so that if you do experience the world this way, you need to seal yourself off now and then from such over-stimulation. I imagine it might be kind of like landing in Vegas when you're used to the country. It can be exciting, enriching, and a pleasurable experience, but you're going to need to step back and take a break now and then because you just can't assimilate all those lights, noises and actions for an extended period of time. At least not until you learn to filter and adjust.

I guess we all filter and adjust as we grow and find our way in the world. I wonder what other experiences people have as children that they learn to "tone down" or ignore in order to be able to function in society. I wonder if we would all be able to see auras, feel energy fields, and hear others thoughts, if we weren't having to tune that out in order to be able to focus on a task at hand. Hmmm....

In the meantime, Monique Truong's book "Bitter in the Mouth", expanded my world a bit and I appreciate that!