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January 31, 2003

Gravity Hill

I am still sick as a dog, but am thoroughly tired of lying in bed sleeping or resting. If that makes sense. I am also done with being sick, thank you very much, so someone please make it go away now.

Near Sonoma State University, there is an area that is informally called Gravity Hill. There are no signs to it, and no way of knowing you are there if you don't already know that you are there. Basically, it is a road that follows around on the side of a hill, where the road dips down to a trough, then climbs back up. If you drive to the bottom of the trough in the road and put your car in neutral, the car backs rapidly back up the hill. It is a bit eerie and kind of cool.

I have taken a few people there, and it has become sort of a test of a person's ability to hold an open mind and allow for something of wonder in the world. It has been revealing. Two people of whom I expected better instantly tried to explain it away "rationally," as though there isn't and couldn't be an as-yet-unknown rational explanation for it being a genuine effect.

One friend said it must be an optical illusion, and that the trough must actually be a hill. Even when I had him get out of the car half-way up one slope, and I stood on the opposite slope, to triangulate and show that we were looking DOWN on the roof of the car, he insisted that we must just be being deceived by our eyes. There are none so blind as those who will not see? I was extremely disappointed in this friend, who remains a friend and so will remain nameless, because he was the one who got me started thinking about psychic abilities in a way that made sense to me.

Another (former) friend said more or less the same thing, only she added a little stab of the knife by laughing at me in a patronizing way, a sort of, "There, there, little girl, you run along with your fantasies and illusions, and I will stay here in the grown-up world and smile smugly at you." It didn't feel very good.

The Nature of Friendship

This was the same friend who started to find fault with me and belittle me in many other ways about things that mattered the most to me, and when I tried to talk about it with her, she either denied that she had said it, or denied that she had meant it the way I took it, even though I checked with others who were witnesses to make sure I wasn't mistaking her meaning. Several people even volunteered private comments to me, ever so cautiously, because they knew how much this friend meant to me, about the nature of her attitude toward me, which gradually got so obvious that I couldn't ignore it or explain away her comments as just a glitch in an otherwise nice person's attitude. For some reason, she had what I call an agenda against me, and was in her mind in a "better than" competition with me, so she felt she had to belittle my accomplishments and downplay the significance of my spiritual path or knowledge.

Eventually, I realized that it couldn't be mended, and that the kind of relationship she wanted with me, I didn't want, and the kind of relationship I wanted with her, she didn't want or wasn't capable of, and so I moved her back outside the boundary that says that on this side are my friends and on that side are people I like, admire, perhaps even love, but who, for whatever reason, I do not consider to be friends.

I gained much and my life was enriched in many ways by her presence, but one of the things I have been doing with my life in recent years is not allowing people to be in it who have bad intentions or negative agendas toward me, and so she had to go.

When Good People Go Bad?

I find it difficult, in some ways, to believe that it took me until I was in my 30s to even understand that there were people with bad intentions, and then, after the initial horrified realization and loss of idealistic illusions, it took even longer to get to the point where I realized in my heart that I had the right to say "no" to such behavior, and if the "no" doesn't stick, to say sayonara, which in Japan means so long for a very long time. Within family, if a parent says sayonara to a child, it means the parent is disowning the child.

I won't say that I have disowned the few people I have chosen to retreat from in this manner (with perhaps one exception, who was over the top in harmfulness). I don't judge these people, and I still hope for the best for them. I just have realized that their nature and mine are not compatible, and it does harm to both of us for me to allow them to continue to do harm to me.

It harms me because, well, they are doing harmful things, and because I feel diminished when I allow others to harm me. It harms them because they are not being given guidance that they are doing harm, or enough restraint to stop them from doing it. It is not loving to allow someone to continue to do harm. If I cannot get them to understand how they are harming me, then that means that they are not ready to deal with it. Eventually, they will be, or so I hope, but I do not need to be their verbal punching bag in the meantime.

Levels of Reality

Which brings us to a related topic: The idea that there are some people who mean harm. There is a popular New Age idea that everyone means well, and that if only you understood a person fully, you would see that they never intended to do harm, or that what might seem to be harmful is all just some mistake that, if we ignore it, it and its effects will go away. As a corollary to this belief, anyone who dares to mention otherwise--who, perhaps, says that the emperor is naked, in a manner of speaking, by saying that someone does not have good intentions--quite often becomes a target of denial and criticism.

My brother and I were discussing this just a few days ago. There are some people, for example, in the corporate world who do not have good intentions, solid ethics, and sound moral codes. They are in it for the money, or the power, or whatever, and as a result they make decisions that are not good for the company or their coworkers all the time. And yet, if one tries to point out that perhaps the company would be better off without that person, one is criticised and told that there is nothing there.

I am reminded of one company and one person in particular, for whom the alarm bells in my head went off early, loud, and long. Most people I expressed my concerns to scoffed at those concerns and said they didn't see what I saw. A few privately did, but were afraid to say anything. One revealed, as he was packing his bags to leave the company, that he had seen this person destroy two other companies and he wasn't going to wait around to see this person do it to that company.

Although I spoke up against many of this person's destructive policy recommendations, no one else saw what I saw, not even the people who had the power and authority to speak up and who I thought, in my starry-eyed idealism, must have far greater insight and wisdom and vision than I had.

I came to feel like Cassandra--seeing disaster coming, and not able to do a darn thing about it. I, too, eventually left the company (though for other reasons), after seeing it start on a downhill slide, rapidly losing market share as a direct result of this person's destructive decisions, as I had predicted years before. This person was indicted on criminal charges when he left the company some years later, but that was way too late for the company.

This inability on the part of many people to see that here, now, on the physical level, people can and do deliberately do bad things to others, is a result, I think, of confusing levels of reality, or thinking that there is only one, or thinking that if one ignores or denies a problem, it will just go away. The truth is that yes, at some cosmic level of being, all spirits--I take that back--MOST spirits are basically good. That DOES NOT MEAN THE SAME THING as saying that they mean well, even at the cosmic level. Some spirits, even at the cosmic level, still have bad intentions, even if one could say that they are basically good. It is a difference between one's basic NATURE and one's INTENTIONS, and it is the intentions that are made manifest by our actions, and that are therefore the most important gauge by which to determine whether someone should be in your life.


And at the more normal, everyday level of reality, spirits, even if basically good, can get confused or angry or vengeful or twisted in a number of ways, and can then INTENTIONALLY do harm to others. If one does not have clear intentions to do good, and to be ethical, and honest, one can end up doing harm to others, because one will not have an internal set of principles to act as guidance in those dicey moments and decisions we must all make each day.

I know I have sounded this trumpet or beaten this drum in various ways before, but it always bears repeating. There are people in the world who intend to do harm, and unless you want to be harmed, it is best to avoid them. Don't deny it; don't say that they are basically good; don't make excuses for them or allow them to stay in your life for one minute longer. Know that you do not deserve to be treated badly, and escort them out of your life.

Which gets to the other part of it, and that is what we believe we deserve. If we have not been taught by having loving, responsive parents that we deserve to be loved and cherished, but have instead been taught that we are worthless, as far too many of us have, then it is difficult to get it into our hearts that we deserve better than what we are receiving, if we are being abused or harmed in some way. I, as much as anyone, fully understand that from the inside. But ask for spiritual help and guidance, and even earthly help and guidance, if you are in a bad situation, and do your best to treat yourself better than you think you deserve. Eventually, it is my prayer than none of us will ever allow another person to do us deliberate harm.

Some of you may be unclear on the difference between a harmful relationship and one that has things in it that bother you. The difference is simple: If you are being harmed, it is a harmful relationship. It can't get any simpler than that, and yet what a length of years we can put into trying to figure out what harm is!

Here are some "compare and contrast" examples:

  • If he doesn't spell all his words right, and that annoys you, he isn't doing you harm. That's just a personal idosyncracy on his part and a personal dislike on yours.
  • If she asks you regularly to put the toilet seat down when you are finished, and you regularly forget, and she gets exasperated and loses her patience and yells at you, that isn't harm, that's frustration at your lack of considerateness. Though she is also not being harmed by your actions. Even if she did sit in the toilet in the middle of the night.
  • If he regularly belittles you and makes you feel like less than a whole, healthy person, he is doing you harm. It is even worse if he alternates this behavior with apologies and promises not to do it any more, followed by a gathering storm in which you tip-toe around, holding your breath, followed by another outburst from him. That's harm.
  • If he or she snores, that isn't doing harm, no matter how loud it may be.
  • If he or she rages at you all out of proportion to the fault, that's doing harm.
  • If he or she steals from you, that's doing harm.
  • Often, the harm is associated with abusiveness, though not always. For more on abusive relationships, see http://www.recovery-man.com/abusive/healthy_abusive.htm. And now, having wandered far afield from Gravity Hill, I am going to take my ill carcase back to bed.

    January 30, 2003

    Sick as a Dog

    My apologies for the lack of updates this week. I was out of town earlier this week, and when I returned, I instantly came down with a horrible cold. I can hardly sit upright, so I am going back to bed now.

    January 25, 2003

    Coconut Oil

    This is just a brief fragment from a dream I had last night. In it, I dreamed that scientists had taken a closer and more microscopic look at coconut oil, and had found that it was enough different that it warranted being placed in a class by itself. They also found that, far from being unhealthy as is being taught today, that it had some unique things to offer. In the dream, I thought of how ironic it was that people whose culture included lots of coconuts in their diet had been reducing their use of coconuts because of the scientists, and now here it was shown that once again, scientists had been wrong.

    Just as they were when they said that one must avoid wooden cutting boards because they "must" be unsanitary. Once someone actually tested this assertion, there was quite a lot of egg on a lot of faces, because it turned out that wooden cutting boards are more sanitary and safer than plastic. (Of course, you still have to clean that board!)

    I am not saying that my dream was true about coconuts and coconut oil. In fact, I have no idea what the dream might mean. The lesson here is that one must always listen to one's own inner guidance. With so many conflicting stories and sets of "scientific" data, one could be pushed and pulled in many directions otherwise.

    Nanotechnology and Oil-powered Cars

    My daughter goes to a school that requires seniors to present a thesis before an audience. She isn't a senior yet, but has friends who are, so we went last night in support of her friends. It was interesting.

    Each student had to do a project related to their thesis. One had planted an orchard of 62 olive trees, which apparently is his forever, a generous donation from his parents. At the end, he passed around olives he had harvested and cured himself from his trees.

    Another student had torn down and was rebuilding an old redwood barn, making it into an office, salvaging the redwood as he went. A third played the piano--an original composition of hers--while a mezzosoprano sang the words to the poems she (the student) had also written. Yet another student had gone behind the scenes of the grape-growing industry and had had her eyes opened about the problems of pesticides and migrant labor. Fortunately, more wineries are realizing how much healthier organically/biodynamically grown vines are, and how much tastier the resulting grapes and wine are.

    A friend of my daughter's gave a report on nanotechnology--its history and promise, and also things to beware. Somewhat to my bemusement over the years, this was also the daughter of two people I knew in college, who were part of a rather supercilious and shallow group of people who liked to pretend they were something better and who looked down their nose at people like me.

    I always privately thought that these two were nicer than the people they hung out with, but I was much shyer about speaking up back then, so I never told them. In fact, never have told them. I might offend them, anyway, because perhaps they still love those people. Don't get me wrong--I liked those others. It was just that, after a while, I realized that my feelings of admiration and respect were not returned. Later, someone revealed to me that they also privately laughed at me behind my back, which was somewhat humiliating. Heck, maybe there was something to laugh at. I was a geek before that term was popular, awkward and shy and very, very smart, completely myself, no pretensions, and no idea what to do with myself.

    Though the person who told me about their contempt for me also said that he used to agree with them, and it was only later, when he really got to know me, that he realized (and these are his words, not mine) that my worth as a person and a friend was far above the tawdriness and flash that those others, who were his friends as well, offered. One can hope that they grew up eventually and deepened into better human beings. At least, I hope so and do think it possible.

    Anyway, it has always seemed somewhat odd to me that those two and I should end up in the same city with our children going to the same school.

    Another student had converted his diesel car engine over so that it now runs regular vegetable oil. When he approached the podium, there was laughter from the audience, because the back of his t-shirt read "drive vegetarian," and of course we all knew from the program what his topic was. Plus we had all just seen him demonstrating the car at break time. This student, who wore a strange knit wool cap with twin tassels hanging down on either side of his face, caught the attention of the Volvo-driving, Birkenstock-wearing, liberal left-wing former hippy audience. There were many questions, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than one family were to convert their car to oil.

    At the demonstration, I had asked the student, "So you are saying this car burns oil?" At his assent, I said jokingly, "Some of us used to have our cars fixed for that problem." Unfortunately, the student, like many of the parents at the school, had a zero sense of humor and turned and left. Too bad. I thought it was pretty funny. When I asked his mentor, who was standing there, if the student had just heard the joke too many times before, the mentor said that no, no one else had ever made that joke, and he was sure the student appreciated the humor. I'd like to think so, but I think he was just being polite.

    What is most interesting to me is that each of these students did a great job on their project, even if some were too nervous to make a great presentation. I wish that all schools required this kind of committed work.

    January 23, 2003

    Hot Links of the Day

    The following Web site is one of the coolest sites I have come across in a long, l o o o o n g time.


    Check it out. And after you resurface (days later), stop by Wil Wheaton's Web site and tell him thanks for (a) providing the link to Everything2 (his site is where I found out Everything2), (b) providing the information about Moveable Type that got me started on this whole Web log thing, and (c) himself having a darn cool Web site that is obviously run by a darn cool guy.

    (Yes, yes, I did say "darn." Wanna make something of it? Didn't think so.)

    January 22, 2003

    Neither Rain Nor Snow

    I was visited this afternoon by a pair of earnest, clean-cut, young Mormon elders making their rounds of the neighborhood. They stood there on what passes for a porch for my house, drenched and dripping.

    I was wearing my galabeyah (a long, caftan-like robe) from Egypt, which is now, after several years of steady use, looking definitely second-hand, and I had to go pick up my daughter from her school in just a few moments. Otherwise, I would have invited them in for a cup of hot herb tea out of sheer pity.

    Nonetheless, we had a brief and interesting conversation, and they invited me to attend the local church, which I may very well do. I am just not sure what Mormons would think of someone saying that they not only talk with Jesus and God, but Jesus and God answer back. :-)

    Mormons...now that took me back. When I was in high school, one of my closest friends, whom I will call Ron X., was a Mormon. He declared himself the Emperor of Un, and the rest of us, his friends, were his subjects. We all wore clothing of Un (I made for myself a flashy gold cape, for example), and, if I recall correctly, had various titles in the ministry of Un.

    Some time I may write about the great purple patriarchal cross we constructed, and hauling it off to the beach...

    But another time. This is about Mormons, and I want to keep it brief.

    Later, I have had other friends as Mormons. Every one of them, to a person, was a decent human being who was willing to help out in any way possible. They always walked their talk, and truly did try to care for each other. If you want a community in which you are truly a member, Mormons wouldn't be the worst way to go.

    This isn't to say that all Mormons are wonderful; they are a mix of people, good and bad, as with any group. But, at least with the ones I've met, the good seems to be at a higher proportion. Followers of other religious beliefs could well take note.

    January 21, 2003

    Time to Boycott Tuna Again

    Much as I love tuna, I hardly ever buy the stuff, because I have always been concerned that even the so-called "dolphin-safe" tuna wasn't, when you got right down to it, safe enough. How many dolphins can be killed and still have the tuna be declared safe? And for that matter, how much illegal, non-dolphin-safe tuna fishing has been going on? Lots, I am willing to bet. So I don't buy tuna often.

    Now, it seems that my gut feelings were right. Tuna fishing is stressful for dolphins, and the officials in our government, forgetting who is really supposed to be in charge (we, the people) are trying to hide the fact. Read about it here, then send a message to Secretary of Commerce Evans and Secretary of State Colin Powell. It's easy. Oh, and stop buying tuna while you are at it.

    January 19, 2003

    The Alchemists

    In a previous post, I mentioned the entities I call the Alchemists. Here is a little more information about them. I confess that I found it very uncomfortable to tune into them or "talk" with them, especially at first, as I felt a certain amount of, not exactly hostility, but certainly unfriendliness on their part toward humans, aside from the fact that their natures are so very different and therefore difficult to comprehend. So I only spent as much time with them as I needed to for the reading I was doing.

    These entities came to my attention in 2001 when I was doing a series of private readings for someone. In answer to a question that person asked, I was shown these beings, whom I then tuned into and started to communicate with. They are not for everyone, and require a certain psychic ability and a strong, earth-based constitution to deal with them regularly. They are so different from us that it is difficult to "talk" with them, though they have a great deal of curiousity about us humans, and they share common concerns about preserving the earth.

    Are They Friendly Spirits?

    The best way I can describe their stance toward humans as far as whether they are friendly or not is to say that being friendly doesn't come into it. The old legends of the faery folk, who were, from the human point of view, capricious and neither bad nor good, but beings apart who had their own mores and agendas and ways of looking at the world, is a close approximation of how the Alchemists seem from the human perspective. One might be able to describe their actions, but to explain those actions is another and far more difficult matter.

    Yet it is possible to contact them and engage in a meaningful conversation. More on that in a bit.

    Their Nature

    The Alchemists move through the solid earth with the same ease we humans move walking upon the surface of the earth through air, or as a fish moves through water. It is their natural element. And just as with a fish rising too near the surface of the water, or just as we would feel uneasy and start to experience discomfort if we rose too high and got too near the boundary between our atmosphere and space, the Alchemists feel uneasy rising too near the surface of the earth. The surface is "thin" to them, and difficult for them to move or function in. Unlike a fish out of water or a human unprotected in space, however, it is possible for them to function on the surface of the earth or in the air for a while, as the air itself is just another chemical to them.

    As they move through the solid earth, they move through different layers of materials—stone, dirt, minerals, water, oil; molten, solid, and liqiud. There are even air and gas chambers beneath the earth's surface, such as caves, that they can move through, and for some reason that I do not understand, they are more at ease in those caves or air pockets than they are on the surface.

    They also have at least one access point to the earth's surface, something like a well, only much wider and tremendously deeper and not filled with water (i.e., more like an air shaft), that they guard closely. They may have more than one such access point, but I only tuned into one. I think it is somewhere in the Pacific Northwest on the American continent, though I am not sure of that. The Alchemists broadcast some kind of very strong energy up through that well (perhaps a form of communication, perhaps something other). To my psychic awareness, the energy looks like a dark light.

    What They Do

    The reason I call them the Alchemists is that they have the ability to transmute the living materials of the earth from one substance to another. They can energetically reach into atomic structures and add to or take away from the energy levels of those atoms so that the atoms are converted into other substances. It isn't that they are creating or destroying energy; they just shift it around from one set of atoms to another. They can also rearrange the chemical composition of matter, recombining the elements to create different minerals.

    In this fashion, it is possible for them to create gemstones, for instance, or oil, or new minerals such as sugilite, which was discovered in 1944 by Sugi Ken-Ichi (Sugi is his family name; I am using the Japanese style for presenting his name). In creating these new minerals, they are obeying a higher authority than humans or even the earth's spirit itself; the instructions to create these new minerals (as well as some other instructions they receive) seem to be coming from off planet, though not from aliens, but instead from what we might call the higher angelic realms of beings who act as intermediaries between the physical realm and our Creators. Why, I only have some faint glimpses of, as that was not the focus of the readings I was doing.

    In addition to creating and rearranging minerals, the Alchemists also help balance the energies of the earth through the consistency of the earth's crust. They can create or moderate earthquakes, for example, and manage volcanoes and all other geological phenomena. In a way, they are like janitors in the basement of the earth, going about adjusting valves and banging on pipes and letting off steam to prevent exposions and in general tinkering with things to keep them balanced, working, and in order.

    The Alchemists Become Aware of Us

    The Alchemists have only recently become more fully aware of our existence as spirits on the surface of the earth. In a sense, they were aware of us throughout the millenia, but more in a dreaming sort of way, as things not even on the periphery of their awareness. Occasionally a human would connect with them in spirit (or they with a human), or an Alchemist would come to the surface and be experienced by one or more humans, but on the whole, humans were incidental to the awareness of the Alchemists. This kind of incidental contact is the explanation for a few, but not all, of the mysterious disappearances where someone would walk around a corner and never be seen again, for example. The physical contacts between humans and Alchemists would usually be quite frightening to the humans.

    The Alchemist's dreaming awareness of humans has changed, and they are now sharply aware of our existence. As near as I can tell, this change came about through some kind of deliberate intrusion into the Alchemist's realm on the human end, perhaps by peeking into their "well," perhaps by drilling too deeply in sensitive areas, or even perhaps by underground nuclear testing, which is very disruptive of the Alchemists' energy natures and of the work they do.

    It is possible that the creature known as the Mothman was an Alchemist. If so, he was one who had come to the surface for a specific reason; he did not just wander up to the surface and lose his way, but instead was there to gather information for the other Alchemists to make a decision about humans. However, there were those who were as interested in him as he was in us, and the publicity surrounding his appearances caused every being involved to agree to take the event out of the public's sight.

    What They Want

    The Alchemists now feel that the humans might pose some kind of threat or danger to the earth herself, and yet both through my contact with them (to a small extent) and through their contact with the higher angelic realms, they know that humans are not to be touched. This does not mean the Alchemists cannot defend themselves, for they can and will. But they are not going to come to the surface and attack humans as they had first considered.

    However, they do want humans to know that the earth needs conscious help from more than the Alchemists. It takes all beings on the earth to participate in healing and caring for it. One of the things the Alchemists would like to do is to partner consciously with some of the surface dwellers (including us humans) to work energetically to mend, heal, and recreate the earth's more solid and energetic structures. This includes working on the verges of the oceans as well as on and in the earth's surface soil, which in many places is dead due to overuse of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and other anti-life chemicals. This deadness is not irreversible, but will take some time and effort to undo.

    When I did the readings in which this information came through, I was given some specific instructions on how to contact the Alchemists. Unfortunately, I did not keep that information. It involved creating some kind of construct out of certain semiprecious and precious gemstones, something like a book in shape, but open, not solid, with thick sterling silver wires connecting the stones. If anyone is interested in more details, I can see if I can get more information.

    However, as I cautioned before, they are not for everyone, and one of the things I think is most important for contacting them is that the person doing the contacting must have an exceptionally clean heart and must not be in denial, especially about their psychic abilities. Any sort of unclarity, or any sort of dishonesty to oneself (which is what denial is), will not be received well on the part of the Alchemists, and they will either not have anything to do with such a person, or they will overpower or overwhelm such a person, not maliciously, but because that is their nature.

    January 18, 2003

    Homeland Security--Security for Whom?

    Write your legislators and let them know what you think of this.

    "The right of self-defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction......"

    --St. George Tucker, founding father, Revolutionary War hero, Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, and federal judge under President James Madison.

    January 17, 2003

    War and Oil

    A number of people are protesting that they do not want war, period, and that is certainly an excellent sentiment. But without being aware of how one is contributing to the problem, such protests are hollow.

    If, as many say, the true motivation for the Bush administration's war-mongering is oil, then one answer to the problem is not just to complain about it or contact one's elected representatives to register your opposition to war (you have done that, right?), but to also reduce one's use of and dependence on oil.

    If it is true that oil is the motivation, then let's reduce our demand for oil products. Even if oil is not a motivation for war, oil is a health and environmental hazard in numerous ways, and the world will be healthier when we greatly reduce our reliance on petroleum and petroleum products, especially plastic. (Plastics are contributing to many unforeseen environmental and health problems.)

    The obvious and most used oil product is gasoline. Learning how to drive more efficiently so as to save fuel is perhaps the best place to start. Buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle or one that relies less on gasoline at all is another (though more costly) step; perhaps one to take when you next need to replace your vehicle.

    However, beyond cars are many other oil-consuming products, some of which you may not be aware. (A summary can be found here and here; in the latter one, in particular, notice how many more billions of gallons of crude oil are in the Middle East compared with any other place in the world.) Here is a brief list of petroleum products in everyday life, with some suggestions for alternatives:

    • Candles. Most candles sold in the usual places use paraffin, which not only is a petroleum product, but is also unhealthy to breathe when burned. There are alternatives to paraffin-based candles, such as those made from vegetable oil. You can find the alternatives most easily in health food stores. Lamp oils, unless you are using olive or some other food-based oil, are also petroleum based and unhealthy to breathe.
    • Candies. Some candies, especially cheaper chocolates, have paraffin in them. Ick. Avoid them. Buy better chocolate. Your valentine will thank you for it.
    • Petroleum jelly (petrolatum) is a common household item. You might not know it as such, but things like Vasoline are basically petroleum jelly. Use alternatives from a health food store.
    • Cosmetics. Many cosmetics (lip balms, mineral oil—the "mineral" is petroleum, and so on) contain petroleum in some form. There are many excellent and healthier alternatives. Check your local health food store.
    • The barbecue. Two words: Lighter fluid. Ick. Barbecue the natural way by using natural charcoal, such as mesquite charcoal (not charcoal briquettes), and instead of lighter fluid (petroleum product!), use a chimney. Chimneys work GREAT!
    • Plastics. Most plastics are petroleum based. Avoid plastics as much as possible.
      • When asked "paper or plastic?", proudly produce cloth grocery bags, which you can buy inexpensively at many stores, or at least reuse your paper or plastic bags from before. (Some grocery stores give a slight credit for using cloth bags or reusing paper or plastic bags, or contribute to a good cause. Whole Foods punches a card; after a certain number of uses, you get one of their truly lovely but expensive cloth bags for free.)
      • Buy toys made from natural materials, not plastic. Toys made from natural materials are nicer and more wholesome for children and help children to develop their deeper senses.
      • Buy glass storage containers instead of plastic ones—they are nicer and more sanitary anyway. If you get storage containers made from Pyrex, you can use them in the freezer, refrigerator, and oven. If you get some Corningware cookware with lids, you can use it on the stove as well as in the freezer, refrigerator, and oven. (Never use Pyrex on the stove.) The venerable Anchor Hocking makes all-glass storage containers as well. You can also, if you must, use any of these in the microwave, though I recommend against using the microwave for anything. And especially, you should never warm your child's milk in the microwave; it poses a burning hazard and the microwave denatures the milk.
      • Stop buying water in plastic bottles. Most of those bottles are made from PET, a petroleum product, and if you aren't recycling those bottles, you are further contributing to the problem. Instead, purchase a few reusable, sterilizable water bottles (such as the Nissan 16 oz. commuter bottle or the Nissan Drink Anywhere Lid Tumbler, both available at Campmor), and an excellent water purifier from Bondel, and fill and refill your own water bottles. Some people like to use fuel bottles instead, though I don't know how safe that is.
    • Synthetic fibers for clothing, such as polyester. Here is a strong argument for buying only natural clothing (cotton, linen, wool, silk). And natural clothing looks and feels better and classier. It may not always be as easy care (though often it is; many silks, for instance, can be machine washed and dried), but it is much nicer. Also, after a while of wearing only natural fibers, you may start to notice that you have reeducated your skin and body and that you can tell the difference on an energetic level between wearing clothing made from synthetic fibers and clothing made from natural fibers.

    More Resources

    • This Week in Petroleum. An interesting weekly report on petroleum usage and other petroleum-related news.
    • The Onion weighs in with its usual crisp humor.
    • I have said for many years that my intuitive knowledge about our earth's resources, including oil, is that they are not as limited as we are told, nor are they created or formed the way we are told, nor are they being used up. Through spirit communications I did privately in 2001 and 2002, I learned of the existence of entities in the earth, whom I call the Alchemists, who transmute the materials of the earth in various ways. Always allowing for the possibility that I have a great imagination and nothing more, I was surprised to find this book, The Deep Hot Biosphere, which seems to in part corroborate what I have intuitively known and channeled. (It doesn't mention the Alchemists, though.) Take a look. Maybe even buy and read it.
    • For more on how plastics are threatening the environment, read Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival?—A Scientific Detective Story. Back to the text.
    • In other environmental news: If you are upset over deforestation, then the first step is to reduce one's consumption of paper products and increase one's recycling efforts. For many tips on how to do so, see my essay on saving the environment.

    January 16, 2003

    Personal Channeling

    Today, I was going through the tiny notebook I carry around with me and found the following piece of channeling that I had done for myself on June 13, 2002. I had totally forgotten about it. Much of what it says could apply to others, so I am sharing it here in the hope that it will be helpful. The spirit speaking is Jesus.

    We find ourselves today at a crossroads in time and space. In one direction lies freedom, fame, even infamy. In another lies poverty and obscurity. And straight ahead lies the true road of justice, on which, feet set, you will find yourself crawling at first, as you return to forgotten virtues and values, then striding, and finally running.

    Behind, of course, lies your past, and though you could visit it extensively, lovingly poring over and fingering the treasures of the heart, and the perils you survived, why? Why go backward when the future holds new treasures and perils?

    Life never stands still, and so it is with you--even in inaction, the stream of life carries you slowly forward. How much more quickly you will move once you commit to a road and step forth on it, renewed in spirit, bold in heart!

    So we say to you, be bold and brave; try new things; stretch out your hand to reach for that which you desire (in integrity, always). In reaching, you stretch; in stretching, you grow. Those around you will shift and change accordingly; worry not for permanence of person, but always maintain permanence of those virtues that mean the most to you: Love, honesty, integrity, humor; respect, cheerfulness, and your own unique blend of humor and charity in your heart.

    Appply all those things to yourself and others, and you will find your path always leading home, your heart refreshed and joyful, your vistas unlimited, and your tastes changing to match your heart stride for stride.

    Even when that which you reach for shifts, alters, and changes, as it inevitably will, you will find that you are always given exactly what you need.

    So go for it. Go for the gold. Seek out love, contentment, fulfillment, in whatever form seems most meet and just to you at the time, and find yourself at play forever in the fields of the Lord, your God, your loving divine Creators.


    Your brother, Jesus

    January 15, 2003

    The Plural of Shaman is not Shamen

    As a person who is perhaps a bit more picky about the correct usage of the right word, but aware that I am that way, I often restrain myself from remarking publicly on grammatical and spelling errors and word misusages. Even though I whole-heartedly agree with Mark Twain, who once said something like, "The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter—it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning," still yet I also know that one needs to allow others their own path; in short, cut them some slack. (Twain quotes here.)

    However, I have seen one misapprehension that is proliferating in the New Age community, and I would like to put my two cents' worth in an attempt to correct it, however futile this attempt may be.

    The misapprehension I speak of is that the word "shaman" is composed of the words "sha" + "man," and that therefore the plural of shaman is shamen. Some have even taken the next (and unfortunately predictable) step, and have started to refer to shawomen. [muffled exclamation here]

    In case you haven't heard the word before, a shaman is a person who acts as an intermediary between the normal world and the world of spirit. A shaman normally practices "magic or sorcery for purposes of healing, divination, and control over natural events." —http://www.dictionary.com. In short, a shaman is a medicine man or woman.

    The word shaman is a Russian word, eventually going back to the Sanskrit, and the proper English plural is shamans. (Here's the full treatment of its roots from dictionary.com, "Russian, from Tungus šaman, Buddhist monk, shaman, from Tocharian B samane, monk, from Prakrit samana, from Sanskrit sramanah, from srá­ˇh, religious exercise.")

    This new usage of shaman, pl. shamen smacks of the sarcasm that was rampant in the 1970s. As feminism flowered, there was a backlash against it, and some people started to say that, as long as the feminists were replacing every instance of "man" and "male," then, to be truly politically correct, one should not refer to the person who delivers our mail as a mail carrier, because that was sexist; instead one should refer to the mail carrier as a person carrier.

    Of course, this was a ridiculous argument, and was meant to be so; it originally was intended to criticize the feminists, whom some people thought were going too far. Although "mail" and "male" do sound alike, they do not mean the same thing, and those who originally proposed this "correction" knew this full well. (Not that there is any great wit to saying that mail and male mean the same thing.)

    And yet, and yet—! Some feminists who were seriously humor- and sarcasm-impaired took up the cry in earnest—"Mail carrier is a sexist pig term!" The long and the short of it is that the US Post Office bowed to pressure from these unfortunates and changed the term to letter carrier, which is okay but not truly correct, as that person carries a lot more than letters. But there I quibble.

    Anyway, back to shaman. There isn't much more to say, or there is far too much. I could go on to speak of the verbal crimes perpetrated upon the world by the self-righteous and unthinking politically correct, but I will womanfully restrain myself. (And don't even get me started on the incorrect "wholistic"! The correct word is "holistic." Some ill-educated person in the 1970s, not realizing that the word "holistic" means dealing with the whole, thought that the "h" was needed to indicate that "whole" was meant. Please, please, dear God, spare me. [long pause for effect] I blame television, really.)

    Just remember, the next time you hear or use the word shaman and you want to refer to more than one of them, the proper plural is shamans.

    January 07, 2003

    The Furry Weather Report: Attitudes

    Last night, the cats came in several times with frosty fur. I don't mean that their fur was literally touched with frost, but that their fur was so cold that breathing the air in around them, or gently stroking their heads and backs, one could feel the touch of frost in the air outside. After a brief spring-like day which was clear and almost warm, the night's temperatures had dropped to near chilling. I am sure my young fruit trees are quite happy; all the more likely that they will produce good fruit in this coming year.

    The temperature during the day is in the mid-sixties (Fahrenheit); a bit cool, but not uncomfortable. It got as low as 42.6 degrees out in my back yard (I have a remote sensor that reports to a clock I have by my desk), and is only up to 47.1 degrees outside now, and beautifully foggy, at 9:48 AM. At 42 degrees, a frost is still some ten degrees away, but it is cool enough to notice. Though the cats don't seem to mind. Their paw pads get cold, though, and when they cuddle with me, I hold their paws in my warm hands, which they not only seem to appreciate, but to almost demand. Or at least take as their due. I don't mind; the warmth in my heart from a loving, cuddling cat, no matter how frosty, snuggled up on my chest far exceeds any chill from their cold paws and fur. I even enjoy their cold wet noses touching my own nose or cheek.

    The rains seem to have let up for a while. Though we have had record rainfalls here in Northern Califormia in the past two months (at least for as long as people have been keeping track in this area, which is only for less than a century), yet still I enjoy the rain--for that matter, I enjoy all sorts of weather--and I am glad for every drop we get, for every bit of rain now means that much less of a drought come summer.

    It used to puzzle me that people would feel otherwise in this state (California), which is, on the whole, a semi-arid state, meaning sort of a desert. It puzzled me even more that in Tucson Arizona, where I lived for seven wonderful years and which is an outright desert receiving only 11 inches of rain a year, people could ever complain about the rain.

    It gradually dawned on me over the years that many of the people who complain about the rain were also the sort who complain about the sun or fog or wind or any other weather. In short, nothing pleases them, and they are always wishing for things to be other than they are at present. It is always too hot or too cold or too dry or too wet. They are constantly looking forward to when they are sure things will be better, toward the day of "perfect" weather, never realizing that the weather isn't the problem--it is their inability to enjoy what is in front of them right now, their inability to find perfection in the rain or the fog or the heat. And anyway, the weather, as I am sure someone has already remarked, will always be with us. (Paraphrasing Jesus's comment from the Bible: "For you have the poor always with you, but me you have not always." (Mark 14:3-9.) I quite presumptuously am sure he doesn't mind.)

    It is a matter of attitude, both being unhappy with the weather (or anything else one is experiencing) and being poor. As Shakespeare once said (and I consider him a man wise in the ways of human nature), "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2; as an aside here, allow me to mention that Sarah Winchester, she of the Winchester Mystery House fame, had these words formed in a stained glass window in her unused ballroom. I toured the Mystery House once, and never would again. The energy in that house is uncomfortable to me. And yes, it is a mystery why she had those words placed in the window, especially as she herself didn't seem to agree with them, but instead is said to have lived in fear her entire life.)

    One can have little money or few material goods and yet not be poor ("broke, but never poor," which is said to be a Norwegian proverb). One can also have plenty and never be happy with it, either always wanting more, or always finding fault with what one has. And yet if one cannot find something positive to say about one's experiences (and I do mean any experience, even those that are genuinely unhappy, such as the death of a loved one), then one is always going to be unhappy, if only by a little.

    Attitude is in part an outgrowth of one's natural temperament, about which one can do little, and in part a habit, about which one can do much. Some people automatically go to anger or criticism or unhappiness when responding to something new. Others go to wonder or delight or at least an openness to whatever the thing is. If those who automatically go to anger or fear or criticism or any other form of unhappiness were to become aware of this habitual response on their part, then they have a chance of consciously changing that response to at least neutrality, and perhaps better. It takes time to change a habit, and there will be successes and failures, but with persistence, a habit by definition can be dropped and another put in its place.

    I will even cheerfully go out on a limb and say that the most confirmed pessimists could train themselves to be at the very least cautious optimists. If the various studies on the connection between attitude and health are to be trusted (and I think they are), then, if successful in converting to a more optimistic outlook, such people have a better chance of living longer, too, and of being happier on the way.

    The weather will always be better, too.