Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alfa Romeo 8C, the Brescian 'Mille Miglia', Rudolf Caracciola, and Vittorio Jano

Alfa Romeo is, of course, associated with Milan. I don't see many Alfas on the road in California, but the brand is so iconic in Europe. Tied so much to the recent history of Europe. For example, if one thinks of the culture of Europe in the 60s, Alfa Romeos are just a regular part of the background...or in old movies.

'Mille Miglia' was a road race, from Brescia to Rome and back, from 1927 to 1957. It was founded by Brescians.

Rodolf Caracciola was a famous German racer from the 20s and 30s, of part Neapolitan ancestry. Vittorio Jano was an Italian automobile designer of Hungarian background. They were famous for their association with Alfa Romeos, so they deserved much mention here.

Alfa Romeo 8C

The Alfa Romeo 8C name was used on road, race and sports cars of the 1930s. The 8C means 8 cylinders, and originally referred to a straight 8-cylinder engine.


In 1924, Vittorio Jano created his first straight-eight-cylinder engine for Alfa Romeo, the 1987 cc P2, with common crankcase and four plated-steel two-cylinder blocks, which won the first World Championship ever in 1925. Albeit it was a straight-8, the 8C designation was not used.

The 8C engine, first entered at the 1931 Mille Miglia road race through Italy,[2] had a common crankcase, now with two alloy four-cylinder blocks, which also incorporated the heads. The bore and stroke (and hence rods, pistons and the like), were the same as the 6C 1750 (bore: 65 mm, stroke: 88 mm 2,336 cc). There was no separate head, and no head gasket to fail, but this made valve maintenance more difficult. A central gear tower drove the overhead camshafts, superchargers and ancillaries. As far as production cars are concerned, the 8C engine powered two models, the 8C 2300 (1931–1935) and the even more rare and expensive 8C 2900 (1936–1941), bore increased to 68 mm and stroke to 100 mm (2,905 cc).

Rudolf Caracciola

Otto Wilhelm Rudolf Caracciola (30 January 1901 – 28 September 1959), more commonly Rudolf Caracciola (pronounced, was a racing driver from Remagen, Germany. He won the European Drivers' Championship, the pre-1950 equivalent of the modern Formula One World Championship, an unsurpassed three times. He also won the European Hillclimbing Championship three times – twice in sports cars, and once in Grand Prix cars. Caracciola raced for Mercedes-Benz during their original dominating Silver Arrows period, named after the silver colour of the cars, and set speed records for the firm. He was affectionately dubbed Caratsch by the German public,[2] and was known by the title of Regenmeister, or "Rainmaster," for his prowess in wet conditions.

Vittorio Jano

Vittorio Jano (Hungarian: János Viktor; 22 April 1891 – 13 March 1965) was an Italian automobile designer of Hungarian descent from the 1920s through 1960s.

Jano was born Viktor János in San Giorgio Canavese, in Piedmont, to Hungarian immigrants, who arrived there several years before the birth of Jano. He began his career at the car and truck company Rapid owned by G.B. Ceirano. In 1911 he moved to Fiat under Luigi Bazzi. He moved with Bazzi to Alfa Romeo in 1923 to replace Giuseppe Merosi as chief engineer. In Alfa Romeo his first design was the 8-cylinder in-line mounted P2 Grand Prix car, which won Alfa Romeo the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925. For Alfa road cars Jano developed a series of small-to-medium-displacement 4-, 6-, and 8-cylinder inline power plants based on the P2 unit that established the classic architecture of Alfa engines, with light alloy construction, hemispherical combustion chambers, centrally located plugs, two rows of overhead valves per cylinder bank and dual overhead cams. In 1936 he designed Alfa Romeo 12C using V12 engine, the car was not successful and this is given as the reason for Vittorio Jano's resignation from Alfa Romeo at the end of 1937.

Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia (Italian pronunciation: [ˈmilleˈ], Thousand Miles) was an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947).

Like the older Targa Florio and later the Carrera Panamericana, the MM made Gran Turismo (Grand Touring) sports cars like Alfa Romeo, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche famous.

The Brescian connection

The race was established by the young Contes Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti, apparently in response to their home town of Brescia 'losing' the Italian Grand Prix to Monza. Together with a group of wealthy associates, they chose a race from Brescia to Rome and back, a figure-eight shaped course of roughly 1500 km — or a thousand Roman miles. Later races followed twelve other routes with varying total lengths.

The first race started on 26 March 1927 with seventy-seven starters[1] — all Italian — of which fifty-one had reached the finishing post at Brescia by the end of the race.[1] The first Mille Miglia covered 1,618 km, corresponding to just over 1,005 modern miles.[1] Entry was strictly restricted to unmodified production cars, and the entrance fee was set at the nominal level of 1 lira.[1] The winner, Giuseppe Morandi,[1] completed the course in just under 21 hours 5 minutes, averaging nearly 78 km/h (48 mph) in his 2-litre OM;[1] Brescia based OM swept the top three places.

Tazio Nuvolari won the 1930 Mille Miglia in an Alfa Romeo. Having started after his team-mate and rival Achille Varzi, Nuvolari was comfortably leading the race but was still behind Varzi (holder of provisional second position) on the road. In the dim half-light of early dawn Nuvolari tailed Varzi with his headlights off, thereby not being visible in the latter's rear-view mirrors. He then overtook Varzi on the straight roads approaching the finish at Brescia, by pulling alongside and flicking his headlights on.
The Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B MM that won the 1938 Mille Miglia driven by Clemente Biondetti. Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Philadelphia,PA, USA

The event was usually dominated by local Italian drivers and marques, but three races were won by foreign cars, all of them German. In 1931, Rudolf Caracciola (famous in Grand Prix racing) and riding mechanic Wilhelm Sebastian won with their big supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSKL, averaging for the first time more than 100 km/h (63 mph)[1] in a Mille Miglia. It was also the first of three wins for a foreign driver as Caracciola was German, despite his name. The win was a surprise as Caracciola had received very little support from the factory due to the economic crisis at that time. He did not have enough mechanics to man all necessary service points. After performing a pit stop, they had to hurry across Italy, cutting the triangle-shaped course short in order to arrive in time before the race car.

The race was briefly stopped by Italian leader Benito Mussolini after an accident in 1938 killed a number of spectators. When it resumed in 1940 during war time, it was dubbed the Grand Prix of Brescia, and held on a 100 km (62 mi) short course in the plains of Northern Italy that was lapped nine times.

This event saw the debut of the first Enzo Ferrari owned marque AAC (Auto Avio Costruzioni) (with the Tipo 815). Despite being populated (due to the circumstances even more than usual) mainly by Italian makers, it was the aerodynamically improved BMW 328 driven by Germans Huschke von Hanstein/Walter Bäumer that won the high-speed race at an all-time high average of 166 km/h (103 mph).


Friday, January 25, 2013

Interacting with wildlife

I currently live on an island of wilderness in an urban sea. It hugs against a mountainous park. In fact, the backyard and hillside here directly accesses the park by a couple of hundred yards. Houses are only on one side of the streets here, lots of trees and hillsides, not much traffic, and it's quiet. So, not surprisingly, there is a lot of interaction with wildlife without even going into the park. During the day, people invade the park where the animals live; and during the night, animals invade the neighborhood where the people live (racoons, skunks, possums). The border between the park and the neighborhoods surrounding it form something of an illusion of separation. It's not quite the same dynamic that one would expect to see in "the country," where small towns are dwarfed by the "countryside." Here, the urban landscape dwarfs any wild areas.

Wildlife in the park includes coyotes, foxes, racoons, wildcats (wild "house cats"), ravens, falcons, hawks, vultures, seagulls, bats, short-eared brush rabbits, possums, jackrabbits, squirrels, skunks, garter snakes, rattlesnakes, black snakes with thin red strips down it's back, and one times many years ago I saw a dead wild pig. There apparently was a mountain lion sighting a few years ago, but there are no deer. Just last Sunday, I saw two coyotes about twenty yards from me. I thought I had seen some before, but I wasn't sure. It was an amazing thing to see as they looked more like wolves than coyotes. In fact, they could have possibly been wolves; but more-than-likely they were coyotes... with perhaps some remote wolf-genes. As I looked at them, one quickly looked at me with it's wild eyes. Mostly likely, they were hunting the small brush rabbits along those foothills.

We can look at photographs or watch videos online, but there's no substitute for actually seeing, hearing, and experiencing something like this first hand. I remember last year seeing some bats flying around while it was actually still pretty light outside, and no video or television can recreate that sight... of actually seeing them flying, and literally being able to see their fury faces firsthand! For whatever reason, on that particular early evening, they came out while it was still rather light out. I was just in the right place, at the right time; which is how these experiences with wildlife often are.

The raven neighborhood

There are lots of trees here, and for whatever reason starting after the year 2000, ravens started settling here in large numbers. They drove other birds away. Just three days ago, I saw a raven trying to drive away a hawk. The hawk didn't appear very frightened, but it showed me how fiercely territorial that ravens are. Years ago I saw white feathers all about out the window, and when I looked out, two ravens were killing a sea gull. When I saw a falcon land on a chimney some weeks ago, a raven landed there too and stared at it, then another one landed, and they drove it off. I have never witnessed any aggression by them towards people. I guess they figure they're in charge of the skies here.

A rare embrace

Last summer while hiking in the park, I reached a spot where the trail travels along over a steep mountainside. There's somewhat of a feeling of being in the sky there. You are in the sky in a sense, or in relation to everything in view below. It's windy there in the late afternoons during the summer, and I saw ravens there as I approached. I thought that it was somewhat of a strange location for them to be, since it was windy and it was far from where they usually live and hunt back in the more wooded areas. Then suddenly they started flying in a circle around me... about seven or eight of them. Now this is a particular spot on the trail where you are are sort've surrounded by sky, as it on a bend or corner of this mountain which was about eight hundred feet that this spot.

They flew in a circle around me, about twelve feel from me, and for about forty-five seconds. Perhaps they recognized me from many hikes before, and being highly intelligent as they are, embraced me for this small window of time. They're not very personal in how they interact with people, and somehow I felt strangely "honored" to have been chosen by them to interact with in this dramatic way; and especially since the raven is such a large part of folklore and mythology.

A forgotten act of heroism

As stated before, so much of seeing or interacting with wildlife is timing. In 2005 while hiking, I can upon a grassy picnic area and saw fox stalking a cat. It was an orange cat which lived in the park, and whom I could tell was once a domestic cat by it's docile nature. The cat's paws were extended out along the ground, and it's head low facing the approaching fox. I had seen dead cats along the trails prior to that, and a ranger told me that the foxes were killing the cats without eating them. I decided to intervene, although you rarely--if ever--should interfere. My quickly conceived plan was to walk towards the cat and grab him by the scruff of the neck--which disables them--and carry it off the field. If this was a true wild-cat, then I would not have intervened. This cat looked somewhat docile, and I was sure that it was someone's pet at some point; and was the victim of some odd situation like "some guy dropping off his girlfriend's cat off there because she dumped him for another guy." Anyway, I just figured that he or she could used a break.

As I approached the cat, it took off running, and the fox ran after it too, and I started running and trying to stay between them hoping that the fox would quit. Luckily, the cat found a tree-like shrub to jump up into and the fox stopped close-by. I looked at the fox and we made eye-contact. His eyes were very wild, and I couldn't determine if he was angry or not. He was only about seven feet from me. He looked at the cat in the tree-shrub, then he looked at me, and after a minute he started to leave. I felt a number of varied thoughts about what I had done.. including thoughts of a symbolic or spiritual meaning to it. Had it been a person, I wouldn't have had those feelings, and it just would have felt like what it was. It's like one of those things that nobody will ever know... but you know it.

After walking the same trails a lot, and only after a long time, wildcats--who like to hang out along the open trails--start to trust me just a little bit. They stop running away. I move over to the opposite side of the trail from them, and they watch me with their wild eyes. One one occasion years ago, a mother watched me as I walked by her kittens. As I glanced at her, she looked at me with particularly wild eyes... while was partly due to her concern. In that particular instance, it wasn't "trust," but I'm still glad she didn't necessarily see me as a threat to them. I still remember how she looked as we made eye contact. She was beautiful sitting along a thick piece of sideways-angled heavy brush stem. Her short thick tabby fur and luminous wild greenish eyes looking at me.

"Little bears"

This park has a few of what I would call mini-forests. Somehow a forest, even a mini-forest, seems incomplete without bears. To me, racoons are like little bears. They way they move, how they stand on two feet, their hand-like claws. They range from somewhat scrawny to surprisingly large. I have seen some who look about forty pounds. The larger ones strike me as more bear-like with their big heads and thick round ears, and big teeth. I also like that they're not a threat to someone unless a person presents themselves as a threat to them... so they can be viewed at close range. In addition, they're generally not a big threat to pets.

The meeting of the minds

In one particular stretch the trail is paved, which is a leftover from when there were some roads and homes in the area. The old foundations have been torn out, but there are still a couple of wells and artificial-looking spots. In one particular stretch of old paved road, in the early evenings, wildcats, skunks, and racoons come onto the road together. They seem to be amused by each others presence. Animals have some very keen senses, and they must notice a lot of differences beyond mere looks. For example, the smell of other animals. Dogs and cats have such a good sense of smell that they can tell people apart by the individual scent of those people. Anyway, the just sort've look at each other, and spend some time there before they get onto the business of nocturnal hunting. I think cats are only partly nocturnal though.

Bears and mountain lions

I think most people have had the experience of camping and having bears come around. I sill find it a curious concept that theoretically, bears could attack someones campsite of they wanted to. They just don't. They only come around for food, which they can smell from great distances. It just interesting that they generally don't present a really big threat to people in the woods. When they invade the campsite looking for food, they almost appear as big, clumsy, benevolent creatures... and not 300+ pound beasts, which they really are.

Here along the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, it's common to hear about mountain lion sightings. There was one experience that I thought was interesting. A woman was hiking in a remote area, and she saw mountain lion kittens. Soon, not surprisingly, the mother came running after her. However, she only chased her a short distance. That really reflected the nature of the mountain lion. Mountain lions are not much of a threat to people, with perhaps only a dozen killings of humans in California in the past century. You would be much safer walking a trail ten feet from a hidden mountain lion than you would be walking down the streets in some urban districts. 999 times out've 1,000 they would ignore you.

Mother bears are very different. They go berserk when anyone is around their cubs. They present likely the greatest threat in the northern wilds to the average person. Coyotes are also a big danger to young children. It's interesting that wolves have been forcefully driven out've North America, while coyotes thrive in even urban areas. In any case, always keeping a healthy respect for wildlife is a good rule of thumb. A racoon, for example, can do tremendous damage to a person if they feel threatened.

1-29-13 ADDITION: I just wanted to add here one small item. Awhile back, I dropped a large piece of cooked meat on the floor. It was close to the size of a golf ball. Instead of throwing it away, I placed it out along the hillside near an established "animal path." The next morning it was gone. It was like a little mystery, and a fun interaction.

That animal path was another item worth noting. These paths are often in places where a wilderness meets a neighborhood. One such path exists just right along where I sit in a chair along the back hillside of where I live. Late Spring last year while sitting there on a warm evening, a raccoon came upon me. It looked at me, then after a few seconds let out a low growl/snarl to show it's disapproval of me blocking the trail. I found it amusing, but he/she was right. I was blocking the road. A raccoon has to make an honest living too.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 7

The “movie and reality TV ghost trend” continues on with a new program on the Syfy network called ‘Ghost Mine’, which focuses on spirits and EVP’s in old mines which seems pretty logical. One underlying theme in these programs, and in this entire issue in general, is that “nobody wants to be watched.” On one episode of ‘The Dead Files’, a teenage girl started to cry when something that she had strongly felt already was revealed by a medium... that she explicitly was being watched during private times. That theme is one constant throughout, as well as the intuitive experience of "being watched." We all just assume that, if we were entirely alone, we could say or do anything without anyone or anything on an earthly scale knowing about it. Well… maybe that’s not always so.

Another aspect to this “spirit world” is that spirits, especially dark energy spirits, visually manifest—sometimes by their own choice—in a manner that just seems far to stereotypical. This may be one of the most, if not THE most, glaring roadblocks to the average reasonable person accepting this natural condition of the planet. In one episode of ‘The Dead Files’, the spirit of a very bad man (for a lot of reasons) was existing in the same house where he had performed many abortions. In one of the “spirit photographs” taken, there were numerous “little faces” of what basically looked like newborn babies. Just the faces. Again, this ties into that same theme. It looked fake, but it wasn’t. There wouldn’t have been any kind of political agenda here. It was real. Another weird aspect of this theme is that some negative spirits are able to read a living person’s mind and conjure up something that would specifically frighten that person.

One eerie EVP!

One program featured an EVP of what clearly sounded like a little boy who seemed to have been very scared, responding to the investigation team being present. He made statements like “who are these people?” “Why won’t anyone listen to me?” For whatever reason, this boy’s spirit seemed to be trapped in the house instead of moving on to where he needed to go.

Personally, I have witnessed paranormal activity throughout my life, few and far between. After they happen, with most people I think, denial kicks in. These type of happenings are usually very personal to a person, and there’s a strong reluctance to share them. I feel that right now, because they would tend to sound fake… as if the person is seeking attention or wanting to feel special in some way by making up a “ghost story.”

One state park, where I go hiking, has a lot of residual energy from the past. I would guess that one time in seventy that something paranormal occurs while up there. Only once or twice did I actually see something. Almost always it’s voices or sounds. They’re very faint, almost as if I am hearing them with my mind instead of my ears. I can’t really explain that. However, they’re very “directional.” I can’t tell where they’re coming from. This state park was once home to some rural roads and houses; and also the historical record shows that there were Amerindians living at least nearby.

There’s one particular spot where there is a high point along one side of the trail, but it’s flat beyond that high point and the heavy brush. I can’t see that area when I pass by, and the brush is so heavy that it’s just not a place that one would want to fight their way into. At this spot on the trail, and emanating from that direction, I have clearly heard the sounds of children playing.  It’s clear but very subtle. If a person was there with me, they may not even hear it; which leads me to believe that not everyone is able to hear these types of sounds or voices. Needless to say, there were no children over that ridge.

There’s another spot along the trail where there’s a thicket of trees, and I sometimes hear whispers in that one spot. Again, something like this occurs only one time in seventy I am guessing. If this were a condition of the wind or something natural, then these sounds would happen much more often. Also, there’s one particular spot up in the foothills where I clearly have heard voices speaking just beyond a bend, and when I get there, nobody is there within a hundred yards. I can’t hear any of the words. It’s like that “cafeteria sound.”

I only saw something up there on one, possibly two occasions. I saw a phantom figure walking across the trail once. Another time there could have been an explanation, as it may have just been the mist. I’m never frightened by any of this because it’s outdoors, and my ability to see and respond is much greater than inside of a house or building. These sounds and voices are somewhat ethereal, and again that sounds like the stereotype-manifestation I mentioned above, and that probably prevents people from sharing their experiences.

I won’t share my indoor experiences, but after one such event that was pretty above board as far as clarity--in other words… impossible to deny—I thought that it may be some type of “protective spirit.” That’s another common theme… spirits who look after you. Beyond this “spirit world” concept, I think the bigger picture shows more of an “energy world.” For example, "thoughts” and “words” are energy. Living people can even create poltergeists or energy stamps in a place.

Samhain in Spring

Last spring, while hiking in that same park, I had an experience throughout the entire hike. I had one like this before, but this was far beyond that. It was during an unusually warm night. I’m not going to write about what happened now, but the park was crazy-active! I just soaked in the experience. It was amazing. At the time I was reading ‘Secret of the Runes’ by Guido von List--who was a mystic and had experiences like this—and that may have given me the spiritual impetus to connect with something like this.

Unlike the other times, the energy was actually interacting with me. It was an ominous and beautiful experience. There were also some bizarre synchronistic type of happenings tied to this experience, and I’m just not ready to share it. I think I would only do it verbally. I know I’m not crazy. I just had a very powerful psychic-connection with a particular place. This is why I don’t advocate spells or magic. You can tap into things using your own natural abilities. It’s like the difference between “being invited” and “banging on the door.”

I will share that experience at some point. Even right now after ten months, I can hardly believe that I had the experience. Some experiences are synchronistic, which means they are specific to YOU and your connection to the universe. Although wonderful, synchronistic connections don’t make you special. Other experiences go beyond that, and I would guess that there is some type of blessing involved somewhere. I wanted to end this with a question-and-answer quote from the movie ‘Mothman Prophesies’, which was based on a true story, and a quote that I was thinking about while I was typing this.

Q: “Why me!?”

A: “You noticed them… and they noticed that you noticed them.”


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 6

A Wiccan group finally get it right

On an episode of ‘A Haunting’ from season four (2007) entitled ‘Echoes from the Past’, finally the “white witch” hypothesis--in relation to house/property cleansing and dark spirits—was proven to be true. This episode tells the story of the Johnson family who in 2005 purchased a house in Chester, Vermont which was built in the 1700s. After the house undergoes renovation, dark spirits begin to terrorize them. That’s another common theme. When houses or possibly properties are altered, spirits—perhaps dormant--become unsettled. Probably only a small percentage of those cases would unleash dark energy strong enough to create this type of “haunting,” which includes continuous intimidation, as opposed to occasional benevolent paranormal activity.

After attempting the use of burning sage around the property for cleansing purposes to no avail, the family turned to a Wiccan paranormal group called “Isis Investigations.” This particular team included three women and one man. Each member is a gifted psychic: Patricia Gardner, Co-founder and Co-director; Angela Kaufman, Co-founder and Co-director; Dayna Winters, Psychic Sketch Artist; and Justin Staley.

I’ll just give a brief summary of what they did in this case, and this was a tough case. I forgot if they used sage or salt. Upon arrival, the first thing they did was gravitate to a tree in the backyard and it’s energy. That tree figured prominently in past events, so they tapped into that as well as photographs which were found in the house of what ended up being some of the spirits there. Not all of them were of negative energy. Prior to looking at the photographs, Dayna Winters sketched the spirits which she was psychically tapping into, and they were a perfect match for those in the photographs, as well as those seen by the family.

Then they performed something called “casting a circle,” which witches use to protect themselves before rituals. I had always thought that this phrase basically meant “opening a door,” which it may in some cases. I don’t know. In Odinism, "casting a cirlce" is part of some ceremonies, but I don't know how that may tie into other related traditions. Next candles of different colors and scents were lit to absorb negative energy and replace it with positive energy. Incense is then burned to prepare the mind and body before the ritual. I guess they meant before “the main ritual.”

Finally, everyone—including the inhabitants—joined hands and formed a circle. They then began to chant… something about protection against evil. They called upon guardians called “Watchtowers” to protect “the four directions of the circle” and create “sacred space.” I don’t know what exactly all of that means, but it seems to be “eastern” because they used that word in their chant. However, as I believe is proven by the series in this blog entitled ‘Arctic Home in the Vedas’, sometimes “eastern” traditions have folkish tie-ins to our culture. Incense is then offered to the Watchtowers in exchange for their protection.

Lastly, the ritual leads to crossing the soul-spirits in the house over to the next phase in their journey. I don’t claim to know what that process is, but Guido von List sure had a whole lot to say about that subject. Then graphics are used to portray in this episode… the spirits being transported to where they needed to go… and it’s an emotional and powerful portrayal. It was like, their time had finally arrived to be redeemed in some way… “acknowledged.”

In Wicca, that place is called “the Summerlands.” At the end of the ritual—which indeed worked—a feeling of calm and peace replaced the heavy negative energy according the the narration. The concept that some places just "don’t feel right," while other places feel tranquil, is something that most people probably struggle with. I know that I do, because we can’t always choose where we want to be. In other words, at what point is that “feeling” valid enough to make issue with?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 5

First off, I just wanted to say again that I believe that the ‘A Haunting’ series was the best series of its type that I know of. Although others have done good research, this one ended up touching upon all of the main themes and realities of the spirit world. I can’t regress all of them in one sitting. For example, in one of the pilot episodes, ‘A Haunting in Georgia’, the literal science of residual soul energy was explained in some detail. That is different than a “ghost,” which is more genuinely interactive and may respond with very relevant EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) answers to questions. Those EVPs are I think the strongest evidence for the spirit world. Using scientific method to gauge this reality, it would be impossible for it not to be real. Impossible! The spirit world is real, although this reality isn’t absolute “proof of God”; however it goes in that direction with soul spirits “crossing over.” So… what is the next step in that process?

I wanted to look at two facets to all of this that I personally find fascinating. One is in regards to EVPs. These spirits are just like living people. Sometimes they are cold, eerie, and blunt. Other times they are surprisingly childish! One common theme is that the negative spirits are all talk. They put out EVPs or energy that they hate the inhabitants of the house and that they want to kill them, which sounds ominous enough, but 99% of the time they don’t have the power to do anything. They seem to clearly have the ability to pick up when someone is plotting against them or at least going to investigate them. The second facet that I find most interesting is that there are good spirits who actually protect the occupants of the house, sometimes from dark spirits. That came out strongly in one episode of ‘The Dead Files’.

“Fear Feeds”

One clear reality of negative spirits is simply that they like to scare people because they can absorb that “fear energy” to make them stronger. In one episode of ‘Ghost Adventurers’, an EVP was captured that stated flatly: “I want your energy.” Concurrent with the spirit world is a world of revolving energy. “Thoughts,” for example, are energy; as is “love” or “hate.”

A benevolent spirit

In one episode of ‘The Dead Files’ (season 1 – ‘The White Widow’), a two-hundred year old New Orleans house was being haunted by the spirit of a young widow named Louisa Clay who hanged herself in the attic in 1888. Although active, this spirit was actually very benevolent. Amy Allen, a very gifted clairvoyant and spirit medium, saw her and a sketch artist drew her. Louisa Clay was a beautiful young brunette, and her eyes seemed to reflect her benevolence. Not quite an “angel,” she did seem to at least be a positive spirit. The children would see her in a white gown at night, but she was probably just checking them. She had been a mother after all. Of all the episodes of any of these programs since 2005, this was the only one which emotionally moved me. I rarely make comments like that I “felt a tear in my eye,” but in this instance I did. It was easy to make the leap of seeing her as something of “a fellow spirit being.”

Sage and salt

Spirits respond to ritual, whether Christian or Pagan, theist or polytheist, etc. Whatever the religion of the inhabitants of a home are, negative entitles will respond to those rituals and leave 95% of the time. However, even if a ritual is not the religion or spiritual traditions of those inhabitants, respect for that traditional ritual is enough.

Rituals very, but one common theme is the use of burning sage to cleanse a home or property. Also, the use of salt to form a protective barrier around a house or property; and also to cleanse. This ties into what I mentioned in earlier posts about “a metaphysical science” developing from trial and error.

To look at this wide open subject as a study, and a study which should be one of the most important endeavors of the human race. It’s not just something that’s interesting to look at. It’s of the utmost importance, and it clearly should not be restricted to religious dogma as it would even tend to support those traditions. Only Atheists—possibly, if their beliefs are politically-driven—could feel threatened by this metaphysical science.

Are “hate” or “fear” always bad?

Lastly, I just wanted to look at the emotions of “hate” and “fear.” Hate is a strong energy. Often it is a very valid response to something. Hate—if turned inwards—can be a big problem for an individual. However, if that hate-energy can be redirected outwards into positive action, then it can be a positive. Obviously, sometimes that may be a hard thing to do. Especially if you are under constant pressure from something negative. However, you must do it for your health.

“Fear” is also an energy. Have you ever heard the expression, usually sports-related, “fear is your friend.” It can be. It’s an energy! It can be redirected if it is understood as an energy-force. Lets just say that you had to make a speech in front of five-hundred people, and you feel some “fear” about it. That fear-energy can be redirected and used to give a great speech. It sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t if you understand it.

In other words, just allow yourself to be nervous, and you may find that the fear-energy will turn into hopefully “a controlled emotional energy” that will translate into your speech. Sometimes if you just admit something like “I am afraid,” it can be the first step in gaining control over that energy force.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 4

Again, the issue of “witchcraft” came up in an episode of ‘A Haunting’ from from season four. The episode from 2007 was entitled ‘Spellbound’.  The events took place from 1965 through the late 1970s. Sandra Waldron, her son Gene, and his stepfather, moved into an old house in Geneva, Ohio. I will just give a very brief summary, since there are many sub-plots and unusual circumstances involved.

There was a grave marker in a corner of the front yard, of a schoolmaster who had died on the property when it was a school or part of a school many years earlier. A strong spirit was present in the house; most likely this man. This spirit, Sandra’s interest in magic spellcrafting, and a very strained relationship between the stepfather and his wife and her son—all seemed to merge to create a perfect storm of much paranormal activity for years.

After divorcing, Sandra and Gene moved and rented a house in Texas City, Texas where they had relatives. Two interesting synchronistic connections were that she had a reoccurring dream about driving and arriving in Texas City, of which she didn’t make that connection until she actually traveled the route. The second irony was that there was a large pentagram crafted into the hardwood floor of one of the rooms.

Just as in their previous home, there likely were other factors which may have contributed to the negative events that were to follow. For example, the previous owner of the house may have practiced dark magic. This may well have cursed this particular pentagram. Also, when Sandra—who had become a Wiccan at this point--began practicing on it, she seemed to have released negative energy when she evoked “Isis.” When people use words like “the occult” or “rituals,” they have no real meaning in my opinion because what culture/spiritual traditions are we really talking about? Isis was part of Egyptian mythology, which is a different culture than other traditions under those same “labels.”

To make a long story short, things went very badly. She performed a ritual for her son, which consequently led to him being attacked in his room; as well as other eerie occurrences. I think it’s obvious that the former practitioner of that pentagram was the real culprit. Watching this episode, it’s was pretty clear that “witchcraft” was blamed for all of these negative events. This was further highlighted with Gene turning to the Church for strength from an early age; and finally became a Minister. So to him, this was all just point-blank-Satanism. At one point he returned home from the Air Force, and this docudrama portrayed a painting of a goat-like Devil figure on the wall of his former bedroom, and he referred to it as “a picture of the Devil in my room”….. which sounds suspiciously like perhaps the actual image was one of Cernunnos. It also portrayed Celtic-designs, so is that “the Devil” too?

I’m not necessarily trying to be an apologist, but there can be other explanations for negative paranormal experiences. If someone conjures up four evil spirits—who cause much mayhem—and who are historically associated with say.. ancient Oman, one couldn’t say that it is a reflection of say.. Druidic tradition if they had a momentary ounce of intellectual honesty. “Moloch” is another evil entity tied to the Middle East, and would have absolutely nothing culturally to do with Heathenry. However, it can exist in a Universalist way, so nobody is completely safe from it.

Sandra Waldron eventually became a published author, and her books are available at She is no longer Wiccan; having given up on it at the time these events came to a close. I am not Wiccan. I think some very good things have come out of it; as well as some very bad things. I just think it’s a good testing ground. Since Wicca is universal and eclectic, we can learn what positive or negative energy comes out of some of these rituals. Wicca can serve as a spiritual gauge.

One simple and interesting alter that was portrayed showed the elements of “Earth” as represented by a container of soil; “Air” as represented by incense; “Fire” as represented by a candle; and “Water” as represented by a container of water. “Spirit” is not an element. I also wanted to add, since Isis was mentioned earlier, that the “dollar sign” (“$”) that we use is the symbol for Isis. So countless millions, more likely billions, of people have used a magical symbol all of their lives and didn’t even know it.


Friday, January 18, 2013

'The Seven Ravens'

'The Seven Ravens'

There was once a man who had seven sons, and still he had no daughter, however much he wished for one. At length his wife again gave him hope of a child, and when it came into the world it was a girl. The joy was great, but the child was sickly and small, and had to be privately baptized on account of its weakness. The father sent one of the boys in haste to the spring to fetch water for the baptism. The other six went with him, and as each of them wanted to be first to fill it, the jug fell into the well. There they stood and did not know what to do, and none of them dared to go home.

As they still did not return, the father grew impatient, and said, "They have certainly forgotten it for some game, the wicked boys!" He became afraid that the girl would have to die without being baptized, and in his anger cried, "I wish the boys were all turned into ravens." Hardly was the word spoken before he heard a whirring of wings over his head in the air, looked up and saw seven coal-black ravens flying away. The parents could not recall the curse, and however sad they were at the loss of their seven sons, they still to some extent comforted themselves with their dear little daughter, who soon grew strong and every day became more beautiful.

For a long time she did not know that she had had brothers, for her parents were careful not to mention them before her, but one day she accidentally heard some people saying of herself, "that the girl was certainly beautiful, but that in reality she was to blame for the misfortune which had befallen her seven brothers." Then she was much troubled, and went to her father and mother and asked if it was true that she had had brothers, and what had become of them? The parents now dared keep the secret no longer, but said that what had befallen her brothers was the will of Heaven, and that her birth had only been the innocent cause. But the maiden took it to heart daily, and thought she must deliver her brothers. She had no rest or peace until she set out secretly, and went forth into the wide world to trace out her brothers and set them free, let it cost what it might. She took nothing with her but a little ring belonging to her parents as a keepsake, a loaf of bread against hunger, a little pitcher of water against thirst, and a little chair as a provision against weariness.

And now she went continually onwards, far, far to the very end of the world. Then she came to the sun, but it was too hot and terrible, and devoured little children. Hastily she ran away, and ran to the moon, but it was far too cold, and also awful and malicious, and when it saw the child, it said, "I smell, I smell the flesh of men." On this she ran swiftly away, and came to the stars, which were kind and good to her, and each of them sat on its own particular little chair. But the morning star arose, and gave her the drumstick of a chicken, and said, "If you thou hast not that drumstick thou canst not open the Glass mountain, and in the Glass mountain are thy brothers."

The maiden took the drumstick, wrapped it carefully in a cloth, and went onwards again until she came to the Glass mountain. The door was shut, and she thought she would take out the drumstick; but when she undid the cloth, it was empty, and she had lost the good star's present. What was she now to do? She wished to rescue her brothers, and had no key to the Glass mountain. The good sister took a knife, cut off one of her little fingers, put it in the door, and succeeded in opening it. When she had gone inside, a little dwarf came to meet her, who said, "My child, what are you looking for?" "I am looking for my brothers, the seven ravens," she replied. The dwarf said, "The lord ravens are not at home, but if you will wait here until they come, step in." Thereupon the little dwarf carried the ravens' dinner in, on seven little plates, and in seven little glasses, and the little sister ate a morsel from each plate, and from each little glass she took a sip, but in the last little glass she dropped the ring which she had brought away with her.

Suddenly she heard a whirring of wings and a rushing through the air, and then the little dwarf said, "Now the lord ravens are flying home." Then they came, and wanted to eat and drink, and looked for their little plates and glasses. Then said one after the other, "Who has eaten something from my plate? Who has drunk out of my little glass? It was a human mouth." And when the seventh came to the bottom of the glass, the ring rolled against his mouth. Then he looked at it, and saw that it was a ring belonging to his father and mother, and said, "God grant that our sister may be here, and then we shall be free." When the maiden, who was standing behind the door watching, heard that wish, she came forth, and on this all the ravens were restored to their human form again. And they embraced and kissed each other, and went joyfully home.

--Brothers Grimm; translated by Margaret Taylor 1884


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 3

‘A Noble Attempt’ – Part 2

After not being taken seriously by local churches, Randy and his family then turned their trust to a local Wiccan “White Witch” named Mike Bosick. A White Witch is someone who believes in God, but I think there are other definitions; but in any case, all define it as only being involved with positive energy.

Now this was in 1974, so if we think there was a negative association to pagan magic now… it must have been much moreso then. Immediately, while watching this, I thought it to be something significant. It should be noted that dark spirits and negative energies respond to “ritual.” In other words, they respond to whatever religion or spiritual tradition the person--or family which is being affected--is.

Naturally I found myself rooting his man on, so to speak. I was hoping that it worked. His job was to “close that door” and form a “ring of protection” around the family. This was his first attempt at this type of spiritual cleansing. He stated that it was like "a leap of faith," as he was following a ritual which was like an old blueprint.

In the dark of night, he walked outside to begin. I don’t recall if the episode stated the time. Often it would take place at midnight. When he began, a sudden strong wind started. I have personally witnessed strong winds occurring on calm days during key moments of socio-religious ceremonies like weddings. That would have been due to positive energy, while in this case it was negative energy.

The White Witch—armed with only a ritual robe, lantern, and a book of White Witchcraft—set about trying to seize control the the situation. This wind phenomena would not have taken place if these entities did not feel threatened by this positive-energy ritual. Once completed with the closing-of-the-door ritual, he went back into the house.

Next came the ring of protection. A pentagram was laid onto the floor with candles placed around it, representing the elements of Earth, Air, Spirit, Water, and Fire. With the family standing inside of it until completion, a ring of salt was poured around them and the star to form a protective seal.

Normally this ritual would have worked I believe, but these particular negative-energy entities are extremely powerful. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Ultimately the family was able to find a Christian medium who was able to cleanse their home. I still feel that this was a great early attempt.

As stated earlier, negative forces do respond to whatever religion or spirituality that the person or family feels close or closest to. I think it’s like a “ritual command” to leave their home; as well as the particular positive spirit entity.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 2

‘A Noble Attempt’ – Part 1

I wanted to bring to issue, part of one episode of ‘A Haunting’ from 2006 entitled ‘The Unleashed’.  This case took place in Standish, Michigan. To make a long story short, in 1974 a series of happenings prompted a young man named Randy to “dabble in the occult.” He purchased “a book on witchcraft” and attempted a spell in his bedroom at around midnight.

The reason that I placed quotations around those two items is because I believe that many phrases don’t necessarily mean anything! For example, “the occult.” What “occult?” There is a lot of occultism in Christianity. Also, “witchcraft!” What “witchcraft?” Witchcraft from Yemen? Borneo?

Randy cast a spell to four deities: Anastosia, Lavoriki, Corozinia, and Semosani. These deities are sometimes put in text under varied spellings. However, it’s easy to see in internet searches that very little information about them is online. I have no idea of what their origin is. In fact, most of the very limited information online was in reference to this very episode. But they were in a spell from Randy’s book, and to say the least, it was a nightmare for him and his family.

Never chant an incantation to any or all of the following spirits: "Anatosia, Lavoriki, Corozina, and Semosani. Also, never use a Ouija board at any time, and for any reason. You don’t know what door that you’re opening up! Negative entities have followed individuals for years, no matter where they move. This doesn’t always happen, but it often does. I wouldn’t even cast circles. Sometimes overzealous Christians inadvertently open doors to evil, including demonic possession. Naturally, over time, people see what spirits that we can place our trust in—such as Jesus, Odin, Budda, etc. Randy just took it upon himself to jump into something he knew nothing about.

One interesting item from the episode was that the book described, as part of this particular chant, about it helping the person change from “dark to light.” That’s interesting in that most people just naturally perceive “light” as being “good”; while “dark” perceived as “evil.” I don’t think that is any innate rule at all; although sometimes metaphysical symbolism follows these types of patterns. It’s just important to remember that sometimes “the light” represents evil. It should be pointed out that “dark,” “black,” and “night” represent different concepts from one-another.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 1

In 2005, the Discovery Channel produced two feature-length docudramas  about “hauntings” entitled ‘A Haunting in Connecticut’ and ‘A Haunting in Georgia’. The popularity of these specials gave way for a program called ‘A Haunting’, which ran for four seasons; which itself served as a springboard for numerous type programs on numerous networks since, and is still going strong.

‘A Haunting’ was so well-made that I believe it encouraged a lot of people--of all religious, spiritual,  agnostic, or atheist backgrounds—to take a closer look at this phenomenon, which if proven, would literally be proof of “life after death.” I would guess that the Christian concerns would either see the issue as: 1) “I don’t believe in ghosts”; or 2) A good way to show literal proof of an afterlife to combat the atheist argument which has been coming on strong in recent years.

The existence of ghosts or spirits, which I believe is real, would not make or break any theist or non-theist concern. It really is an issue for the truthseeker at large! To restate the main point, proof in this area would most literally be proof of some type of existence after death. Therefore, in my opinion, it represents one of the most important issues for humanity right now. It should be noted that the vast majority of spirits are positive energy, but human nature has a strong tendency to just happily accept good things; and only the negative experiences get the press.

Outside of the ‘A Haunting’ series, I think that the best programs of this type are or have been ‘Paranormal State’ and ‘The Dead Files’. What is interesting is that one can start to piece together the bigger picture, which is more involved than what it appears on the surface. For example, some spirits were never human. Occasionally, some are created inadvertently by people from their emotions and experiences. Sometimes a house or property develops a spirit of it’s own. It’s as if spirits can be developed from energy and the right conditions… almost like a plant.

The Society for Psychical Research was founded in London in 1882. Its stated purpose was to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way." Two years later, the affiliated American Society for Psychical Research was founded, so this endeavor is nothing new.

The Discovery Channel's special 'A Haunting in Connecticut', which was really the initial kickstart to these programs, was made into the movie 'A Haunting in Connecticut' in 2009. Also, this past October, the 'A Haunting' series returned--after a five year hiatus--for a fifth season with ten new episodes; only this time it is airing on the Discovery-affiliated Destination America network. Of course, you can buy this series, or any other. The entire first four seasons can be purchased together.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Movie Review: ‘White Mischief’ (1987)

‘White Mischief’ is a British movie portraying a well-known (in the UK) murder case which occurred during World War II. During the German “Blitz,” British elitist Jock Delves Broughton, and his much younger wife Lady Diana Broughton, escape to Colonial Kenya.  They quickly fit in with a particular well-established crowd of their peers in the rural countryside. I guess that even the Westernized capitol of Nairobi was too close to the war front, although there were scenes shot along the coast.

This resort-like atmosphere seemed to be all fun-and-games, as there was little open concern of the prospect that the UK may lose the war and be colonized themselves. It sort've reminded me of the accounts of the Roman elites enjoying themselves as Rome fell to the barbarian hordes; or even the elites on the Titanic, who partied as the ship was sinking. The British had colonies the world over, and it would have been easy for the wealthy to hide out in many places. I suspect that they were investing and planning what they may do. It should be noted that the word “English” refers to the ethnic group, while the world “British” refers to the whole of the United Kingdom.

The Kenyan countryside portrayed was not the typical sub-Saharan landscape that most think of. It looked more like New Mexico; dry, somewhat mountainous. It seemed like an unlikely atmosphere for the unfolding debauchery among the social circles of these aristocratic personalities. I think that this movie reflected the final days of the globe as being just a big playground for this type of elitist. In other words, the days of wandering the exotic globe while the home front--which they may return to at any time--remains secure and unchanging, is gone. Sure they may still travel--even easier--but the entire world as a whole is less welcoming to their whims in a new world where they are a small minority of competing races, religions, and cultures.

The Broughtons soon met the philandering Josslyn Hay, who almost immediately partakes in an non-discrete affair with Lady Broughton. That is the basic storyline, and I won’t do a spoiler for this. Suffice to say, there is conflict and drama. It’s a pretty easy watch, as there are no deeper storylines. Jock Broughton is more-or-less the protagonist, and he is played by British actor Joss Ackland whose face I have seen in numerous movies. Lady Broughton is played by a young beautiful Greta Scacchi. Joslyn Hay is played by British actor Charles Dance, who is also a familiar face.

Greta Scacchi was born in Milan, but grew up in the UK. She is half Milanese; and I think half English. Naturally her Lombardian ancestry is why I am writing this review, and she is someone very familiar to the English-speaking world. Her mother was an English citizen, as she then became as a girl. The word “great” is thrown around so often, but I objectively say that she is a very good actress. I perceive her performance in this movie as being somewhat like Kathleen Turner in ‘Body Heat’ (1980). The storylines are similar, and the sultry-sophisticated performances of both actresses are pointed to by some as quasi-real/fictional “perfect tens.” However, Scacchi has been a much better actress than Turner. In 1995, Greta Scacchi became an Australian citizen.

~Warning: Spoiler alert beyond this point!~ 

White Mischief (Wikipedia)

White Mischief is a 1987 film dramatizing the events of the Happy Valley murder case in Kenya in 1941, when Sir Henry "Jock" Delves Broughton was tried for the murder of Josslyn Hay, Earl of Erroll.

Based on a book by the Sunday Times journalist James Fox (originally researched with Cyril Connolly for an article in December 1969), it was directed by Michael Radford.


With much of the rest of the world at war, a number of bored British aristocrats live dissolute and hedonistic lives in a region of Kenya known as Happy Valley, drinking and indulging in decadent sexual affairs to pass the time.

On a January day in 1941, Josslyn Hay, the philandering Earl of Erroll, is found dead in his automobile in a remote location. The Earl has a royal pedigree but a somewhat sordid past and a well-deserved reputation for carrying on with other men's wives.

Lady Diana Broughton is one such woman. She is the beautiful wife of Sir John Henry Delves Broughton, known to most as "Jock," a man at least twice her age. Diana has a pre-nuptial understanding with her husband that should either of them fall in love with someone else, the other will do nothing to impede the romance.

Diana has indeed succumbed to the charms of the roguish Earl of Erroll, whose local conquests also include the drug-addicted American heiress Alice de Janze and the somewhat more reserved Nina Soames. It appears that Diana expects to divorce Broughton and marry the Earl, and, true to his word, Broughton publicly toasts their affair in front of them at a club in Nairobi.

The resentment he feels privately is known only to Broughton and possibly to old friend Jack Soames. In any case, the Earl's murdered corpse is found not far from Broughton's estate, and before long Broughton is charged with the crime.

Diana is distraught over losing her lover, as is Alice, who openly masturbates near his coffin. A local plantation owner, Colville, quietly offers Diana advice and solace, ultimately surprising her by proposing marriage.

Broughton stands trial. There are no witnesses to the crime and the physical evidence is incriminating but circumstantial. He obviously had the motive and means, but is found innocent and the scandal comes to an end.

Related article of interest:
'White Mischief' murder finally solved after 66 years (


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Raven Grimassi on Tradition

[Borrowed from the "StregaNola - Stregheria - Nature Speaks" blog]

Raven Grimassi on Tradition

November 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all good wishes,



Monday, January 7, 2013

Sacred woods, the Allmother, and Elderflower

I'm basing this post partly on an article by our friend Deep~Glade entitled 'The Nine Sacred Woods of the Bonfire'. One of the sacred woods listed there is Elder wood, from the Elder or "Goddess tree." This tree is never to be cut or burned in any way if you are a magical-heathen. This is because the "old crone" of the Triple Goddess lives within the Elder tree. I think of the "Triple Goddess" as three separate goddesses, with the Mother (Lunar/Moon) called "the Allmother" (or "Almother" and "All-Mother"); the same as Odinists calling Odin (Solar/Sun) "the Allfather."

The pre-Germanic/pre-Mediterranean Europeans seemed to clearly be more maternally-oriented in a spiritual way. This partially translated to everyday life. The husband/father [Law] was the "provider in charge of the economic-component" to the family and "head of the family; while the wife/mother [Justice] was "matron" and "head of the household."

I believe that male and female were more-or-less equal, as the tribal and clan leaders [Law] may have been male; however, the spiritual leaders [Justice] were female. Whether great or small, I don't believe that they got in each others way in the same way that we might think of in modern times. For example, men had their world away from the home, and had friendships and rivalries among each other. Women, closer to village life, had their world, and also had friendships and rivalries among each other. To make myself clear, I am referring to pre-Celtic Europe.

If they lived within more of a larger clan, then it was basically the same dynamic except that the economic and home life responsibilities would be shared. Family, clan, and tribe. The tribe was usually a small "nation," unless it was a large tribe or the tribe was part of some type of federation; in which case there would have been some type of geographical-administrative system.

From the article:

The one tree Wiccans are admonished NOT to burn in a sacred fire (or any fire for that matter) is the Elder. As the Wiccan Rede says:

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them quick a’ burn them slow. Elder be ye Lady’s tree; burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.

This is because Elder is the Goddess’s tree, strongly connected to Goddess spirituality and also because within the tree lives the Elder Mother or Hylde-moder. The elder is the Old Crone aspect of the triple Goddess, a wise old energy at the end of the year’s cycle. One should NEVER cut down any part of an Elder tree without the explicit consent of Elder Mother, lest you bring downfall upon yourself.

Many food and beverage products are made from cultivated Elder trees. Of course that brings up the question as to whether or not this is okay according to ancient tradition? I asked Deep~Glade this question.

Joseph: Thank you Deep~Glade. I wonder if it’s okay to cultivate the Elder tree for it’s dried flowers and beverages?

deepglade: Yes, I think it is ok to cultivate Elder as long as you do it with due respect. Here is some information I’ve found on the cultivation and harvesting of Elder – It is a perennial to Zone 5. Germination is in 10-20 days. Soak seed 2 months at 60-65F, stratify then sprout at 40F. Space 10 feet from each other, or grow smaller herbs beneath it. Soil temperature 65-70F; soil nitrogen-rich, moist or with high water table. pH: 5.5-7.5. Partial shade preferred or full sun. Compost around the base of the plants is ideal for continued health and productivity. Also sow ripe berries 1 inch deep in a pot outdoors. Plant seedlings out in a semi-shaded position when large enough.Usually propagated by cuttings or sometimes root division of young plants. Flowers with the supporting peduncle are harvested as they are just starting to open, usually in early summer. They should never be harvested soon after they have gotten wet as this will cause them to blacken. Flowers are harvested with pruning shears. Fruits with the peduncle are harvested in the fall by hand when they are ripe and juice. A harvest is usually possible the second or third year after planting. Flowers should be dried carefully with as little bruising as possible. Drying time is 7 to 10 days.

Hope this helps


I think you may find the following link interesting: search for "elderflower" products


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Monarch butterflies back at Fremont grove

Monarch butterflies back at Fremont grove 

[see above link for images]

Carolyn Jones - San Francisco Chronicle - January 6, 2013

The monarchs are back, and so are their mysteries.

Great hordes of the vivid orange-and-black butterflies have descended upon a eucalyptus grove in Fremont, as they have for decades, but with every awed gasp from observers Sunday morning came just as many questions.

Such as why, for example, the numbers vary so widely from year to year. Two years ago, about 1,600 monarchs spent the winter in the eucalyptus forest at Ardenwood Historic Farm. Last year 4,000 made the trek, and this year naturalists counted about 1,700.

"There's many factors, but it's really hard to say what exactly triggers things with these butterflies," said Spencer Freidin, a naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District, which runs Ardenwood. "There's just a lot of mysteries, which is why they're so fascinating."

Weather, herbicides and habitat are the main variants. But how these factors interact is complex, scientists said. Worldwide, monarch populations are dropping steeply, according to the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.

The key, however, appears to be milkweed, a scrappy bush that's toxic to just about everything but monarchs. It's the only plant on which monarchs lay eggs, and without it, they can't reproduce. As goes milkweed, so goes the monarch.

Ardenwood has plenty of milkweed, thanks to the staff, and a broad stand of quiet eucalyptus that provides shelter from wind. It attracts the Bay Area's largest monarch congregation every winter, although the charismatic insects also show up in smaller numbers at Point Pinole, a golf course in San Leandro and Albany Hill. Pacific Grove, north of Monterey, gets so many monarchs the town throws an annual Butterfly Parade.

The butterflies at Ardenwood probably started their migration 800 miles north, in British Columbia. That's another of the great monarch mysteries: Because the butterflies live only a few months, how do new generations know to return to the same spots year after year?

The answer probably has something to do with temperature variations, waxing and waning daylight hours, milkweed flowering, and maybe some secrets only the butterflies know, Freidin and his colleague Kelsy Jorgensen said.

In any case, they captivated the few dozen observers who braved the mid-40s temperatures, even forgoing an afternoon of football, to see the insects Sunday afternoon. As the crowd oohed and aahed at the spectacle, the butterflies huddled in clusters of several hundred in the trees, occasionally fluttering loose before re-congregating.

"When I was a little kid, there were so many butterflies I'd just lie there for hours watching them float on little updrafts of air. It seemed like they could do that for hours," said Gloria McClain, 75, of San Jose, a retired electronics technician. "Now, every butterfly I see seems to be flying frantically, like it's just trying to stay alive."

Gavin Riley, 6, was celebrating his birthday with the butterflies. He and some friends watched them through a small telescope and got to see a few close up, too.

"I like them because they fly, and I like their colors," he said.

His mother was a little more effusive.

"They're gorgeous. They're amazing," said Kathryn Riley of Fremont. "I'm really glad the kids get to see this."

For Freidin, the most interesting facet of monarchs is not their migration but their reproduction. After the eggs hatch on the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars eat the milky sap in the flowers and then encase themselves in tough little chrysalises for about two weeks.

"Inside the chrysalis is this green goo," he said. "Somehow, on a cellular level, it restructures itself into a butterfly. ... I never quite got this process until I got here and saw it. It's fascinating."

The butterflies are expected to stay at Ardenwood through mid-February before heading north again. For information, go to


Three images, which give some idea of these gatherings, are 1 ,2, and 3.