Why Witches Thanksgiving should be everyone’s thanksgiving

Witches Thanksgiving

I believe that Witches Thanksgiving should be real Thanksgiving. Let me explain why. Mabon, also known as the Autumn Equinox, falls around September 20-22 every year. It marks the real beginning of autumn when, in the northern hemisphere, the daylight hours are even. From here, the days grow shorter. 

Mabon has always been a day of gratitude. It’s a time to give thanks for the bountiful harvest we’ve enjoyed through the spring and summer months, and to be thankful for the good things around us. Because, in old times, looking towards the long dark winter brought feelings of worry and concern. Did we stock up enough food to get us through the winter? Will we have famine? Is it all going to be enough?

In the United States, Thanksgiving is in November, and we all know the story of how the pilgrims supposedly sat together with the Native Americans and peacefully ate a feast. We now know that this pleasant scenario is mostly false. The Thanksgiving story that we’ve all learned in school is wrong and that the real history between the Pilgrims and “Indians” was far bloodier than we’ve been taught.

This is why celebrating the beginning of Autumn in September with a thanksgiving feast is far better than November. This is the time it was celebrated in ancient times, and this is the time it’s celebrated by many pagans today. 

In many parts of the world, its still warm in September but the signs of autumn are everywhere. Here in Southern California, we don’t get a change in the leaves, and we are still feeling a few triple digits as far as weather. We don’t typically get four seasons anyway, so any ‘feelings of autumn’ we get around here is mostly artificial and highly commercialized. 

But imagine if we could enjoy Thanksgiving in September. It would mean more to honor the equinox rather than a massacre. Most kids go back to school in August, so they’d enjoy a short break for Thanksgiving a month into their calendar, rather than so close to the winter holidays. It would be an excellent time to get the family together as well.

One significant benefit I can think of is that we could enjoy our Thanksgiving. There would be no Black Friday to usher in the Christmas season. Christmas often overshadows Thanksgiving since stores are getting ready for the holiday consumerism before the turkey is even finished. Imagine being able to slow down and enjoy the turkey, not having anxiety about the frenzy to follow.

And the best part? The retail worker in your life will actually get to join you for Thanksgiving. They won’t be giving up their Thanksgiving to risk getting trampled by the hordes of Black Friday shoppers. 

So consider celebrating the day of gratitude in September. The Autumn equinox falls around September 20-22 every year, and in the southern hemisphere, they will be celebrating the Spring equinox. After all, pagan festivals like Yule and Ostara have already been brandished into Christmas and Easter. 

If you don’t like how commercialized Thanksgiving has become and you don’t agree with covering up the terrible history behind it, Mabon is perfect. You can still have your turkey and mashed potatoes, you can still celebrate the magic of autumn and have a chance to celebrate gratitude and being thankful for what you have, but you will also be honoring the ancient past by honoring the true spirit of autumn.


The history of Mexico: Origin of the Aztecs

Mexican Independence Day

Monday, September 16th, was Mexican Independence day. From September 16th, 1810 to September 27th, 1821, Mexico fought an eleven year battle for independence from Spain. It was a long bloody decade that cost more than 250,000 lives. 

Mexico has had a long, tumultuous history since becoming an independent country. While I was studying history, I took a class on the history of Mexico up until the Mexican Revolution, and much of what I know about Mexican history comes from that class. 

As those who pay attention to my blog posts on my personal beliefs should know by now, my ancestors are a significant part of my beliefs. I am always looking for ways to honor my forebears. My heritage is mostly Spanish, Native American, and Irish, but my most recent origins are in Mexico. 

So as part of a chance to honor my ancestors, I’ve begun to incorporate celebrating important events in Mexican, Irish, Spanish, and Native American history into my wheel of the year festivities. And Mexican Independence day is an important one. Another one is an important event during the Mexican American war, which few Americans are even aware of. That is the Battle of Chapultepec on September 12th and 13th, 1847.

These two events were significant in Mexican history, yet aren’t known well by most Americans. Mexican history is American history since Mexico boasted some of the largest and most complex civilizations on the continent, and Spain’s involvement in Mexico happened long before England became involved in the Americas.

So in honor of Mexican Independence Day, I am going to introduce a series of blogs on Mexican history starting with the Aztecs. I’m also going to do a historical series on Irish history from the Celts and Spanish history from the earliest mentions of the Iberian peninsula.

So let’s talk about the Aztecs. First off, it’s important to note that the Aztecs were not the first inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico. They were immigrants themselves. Civilizations like the Toltecs, and further down in the Yucatan, the Maya and the Olmecs had lived in what is now Mexico before the arrival of the Aztecs. But by the time the Spanish arrived in 1519, the Aztecs were the dominant civilization in the region, having conquered many of the surrounding tribes.

The Aztecs arrived in the Valley of Mexico around the beginning of the 13th century. When Europe was marred in the turmoil of the crusades and Asia was feeling the wrath of Genghis Khan, these wanderers from the desert had begun to arrive in the region that would one day become Mexico City.

It’s uncertain where the Aztecs came from, just that they came from Northern Mexico. They speak Nahuatl, a Uto-Aztec language. The Uto-Aztecan language family is one of the largest language families in North America and includes such languages as Hopi, Piman, and Zuni. Some archaeologists think that the Aztecs are some of the descendants of the ancient Anazasi people whose civilization in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest had begun to decline around the same time as the Aztec’s exodus from the area. 

The Aztecs called themselves the Mexica, the people of the sun. They spend generations wandering before they came to the Valley of Mexico; they were searching for a new homeland. When they arrived, they were treated harshly by the Toltecs, who were the dominant power in the region. They were relegated to living on a small swampy island infested with snakes where the Toltecs hoped they would die out.

But, as the Aztecs struggled in this harsh land, they saw an omen. They believed in a prophecy that said they would know they had reached their homeland when they saw a hawk feasting on a snake while perched on a cactus. This was their omen, and this is what they saw when they got to this island. This hawk and snake omen is the symbol seen on the Mexican flag today, and it has its origins with the Aztecs.

Once the Aztecs, or the Mexica as they called themselves, saw this symbol, they knew their long years of wandering was over, and this was their new home. So they worked hard, despite the Toltecs attempt to exterminate them. They reclaimed land from the lake and began building one of the largest cities ever to exist in Pre-Colombian North America: Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan became the center of the mighty Aztec Empire which spread out all over the valley of Mexico. The Aztecs may have traded with the Maya, and the Maya heavily influences their culture. They were very spiritual people who believed in a duality in nature: light needs the dark and life needs death. This yin and yang philosophy governed their spiritual lives.

So the origins of the name Mexico and the Mexican flag come from the Aztecs. Even though the Spanish aimed to destroy them, they persisted, and their legacy is seen everywhere. The November festival the day of the dead has its origins in Aztec belief.

So that is the first of a series in Mexican history which I’ll post about at random intervals alongside other Wednesday topics. In the meantime, feel free to honor Mexican Independence Day because, without Mexico, civilization on the North American continent may be quite different.

Sources: Wikipedia, my classes, and the documentary 500 nations produced in 1995 by CBS and hosted by Kevin Costner.

Childfree isn’t wrong

In this day and era, we’ve made massive progress in gaining acceptance for things that may not have been as acceptable not so long ago. Women’s rights, racism, LGBT rights, all of these are good things, and while we have a long way to go, we’ve certainly come a long way. But there remains one lifestyle choice that remains so taboo that few people can stand even talking about it. And that is the choice of whether or not to have children.

Why is this still considered so controversial? The choice to have children or not to will never affect anyone except the people making the decision, so why is it still so wrong to even talk about it? Why must people who are undecided about having children often feel pressured by society or made to think that there must be something wrong with them if they realize that becoming a parent isn’t for them?

The choice to reproduce or not is still the one thing in women’s rights that has yet to be challenged. Yes we can use birth control, yes we have access to abortion services (if we don’t live in Alabama), but things like voluntary sterilization are still something we have to fight for. And our decision and choices are always being questioned by people around us.

But many friends I’ve talked to are not as fortunate as me. Their own families have villainized many of these women because they decided they don’t want children. As if a simple life choice could be so terrible. 

And my thought is, isn’t it better to choose not to have children if you aren’t sure you want them, rather than give in to social pressure to have them and risk regretting it? It’s not exactly something you can take back, and children deserve to be wanted.

I’m not going to get into the reasons why I don’t want to have children myself. That isn’t relevant, and really, I could write a novel listing the reasons why, but the only reason that matters is simple: I don’t want kids. I mean no one goes around asking each other why they do want kids, do they? So why is the reverse alright?

What’s important is that this remains a considerable barrier to true social tolerance. People can choose to be vegan, they can choose what religion they want to be part of if any, they can make these sorts of lifestyle choices for themselves, and while many of them receive questions and judgments over these decisions, they are becoming more and more acceptable. Vegans are even marketed as a niche group now. But being childfree is still such a taboo subject that some of us fear to come ‘out’ for fear of judgments and questions and even attacks. 

People call the childfree selfish, but the decision to have or not to have children is inherently self-motivated. You can’t be asked ‘why do you want or not want’ children without responding with some sort of ‘I want’ phrase. I want to carry on my family line. I want to give my mother grandchildren. I want to pass on my genes; I want to teach the younger generation my beliefs. I want someone to take care of me when I get old. I think it will save my marriage. 

Those are all reasons to want children. And I’m certainly not going to stand in anyone’s way if they have one of the above reasons. Because your life choices should be about you in the long run. Sure, it’s good to be environmentally and socially aware, to care about the Earth and all its inhabitants, it’s important to feel compassion for others, but you are the only one who can live your life, so it’s important that your decisions make you happy. No one should have to be a martyr. 

And maybe you don’t have a reason for wanting kids, maybe you just want them, and that’s okay too. But understand the other side of it. It’s perfectly okay to decide to opt-out, and it’s okay if your neighbor chooses to opt-out. They don’t need to justify their decisions to you. For me, I just don’t want children. I do have reasons, but they are my reasons.

I think it’s important for people to start talking about this decision. We need to make it not taboo. Express to the younger generation that they don’t have to choose parenthood if it’s not something they feel right about. There would be a lot less unwanted children in this world if we were honest about our desires and did what made us happy instead of caving to social pressure. 

I also leave with this double standard: It was a lot easier for my husband to choose to get a vasectomy than it would have been for me to convince a doctor to tie my tubes. I’ve heard dozens of stories of women spending decades trying to persuade a doctor to take her seriously, but all my husband had to do was sign a waiver, no doctor questioned his decision, no doctor refused his request, and no doctor tried to talk him out of it. All they did was make sure he understood it was permanent and that they weren’t liable for him changing his mind somewhere down the line. Because it is so much more taboo for a woman to not want children than for a man, if a woman doesn’t want children, there much be something wrong with them, and maybe they’ll change their minds later because they don’t really know what they want.

And maybe they will change their minds, but people change their minds about their lives all the time. It’s called being Human. It’s okay to change your mind about things. It’s okay to regret things. It’s okay to wonder about the road you chose not to take. But your regrets shouldn’t end up harming another person, especially one who is dependant on you.

Censorship breeds extremism

As a historian, I studied instances of censorship enacted by totalitarian governments such as fascist Italy and the military-dominated government of Imperial Japan. Governments control the media and oversee what sort of information gets to the public, often filtering what their population learns about the outside world and about the government itself.

In this era of social media, we live in a world where information is at our fingertips. The internet is becoming essential in everyday life; it’s brought the whole world together in a way never before possible. 

The internet is becoming as important as electricity or other utilities. But with all of this free-flowing information, there is still the danger of having that information censored, not only by governments but by the very services which bring us this information. 

Access to unbiased facts and the right to free speech must be preserved on the internet because when we exclude people, we create an environment which breeds extremism. Extremism thrives wherever people’s voices are being suppressed, and where people are being singled out and excluded in the group collectiveness. 

Social media has become a forum for hot debates and the rise of the so-called ‘keyboard warriors’ who take it upon themselves to police the internet.

Democracy is built on the belief that the common people should have a say in those who lead them. In Ancient Greece and Rome, all citizens could be allowed to voice their opinions and in fact, were obligated to do so. But even in those ancient times, certain people’s right to expression was often suppressed, and it’s that suppression that leads to revolts, revolutions, and upheaval. Human beings are social, and when you exclude certain groups, you create an environment for hostility and resentment, which in turn leads to a rise in violence.

On social media, it’s becoming common practice to ban or eliminate those whose ideas might be considered hate speech. No one likes to hear hate speech, but by suppressing the right to say it, you force people to seek an audience with those who will listen to them- people who agree with them. And here, they find a voice for their hatred while they are relegated to the outskirts of society, and this is where resentment, intolerance, and extremist views will gain a foothold. So by banning hate speech, you essentially create the perfect environment for the rise of extremism and more hatred. 

I may be teetering on the edge of some controversial thoughts here, but I believe in my own right to free speech as well. I’m no activist, I’m no social justice warrior, but I am someone who feels strongly in speaking up when I see problems in society. And the biggest problems I see in society today is the divide that is continually forcing us apart. The “them and us” mentality is what keeps progress from happening. There should be no “us and them” there should only be “all of us” we are all human beings in the end.

We, as human beings, have an inherent right to be heard. And yes, that even means people who might be people who have a different opinion than you. This is how you learn acceptance, and this is how they learn acceptance too. If the racist guy in your group offends you, you are within your rights to be offended, as long as he isn’t crossing that line of trying to hurt others, he still has free speech. We all have the right to ignore him and not be his friend, but he still has the right to say his piece without censorship. Because if he is suppressed, he will seek company in the only people who will accept him- more racists. And there, he’s voiced his resentment, fueled by being suppressed and censored, and his frustration will grow, and that’s how you make more racists.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and you might think it’s right to have those racist, sexist, homophobes excluded from society but that won’t make them go away. It will just make them angrier. 

I’m not saying that someone should have to be forced to be attacked by these types of people, but instead of banning, the better option might be to ignore. As children, we learn that bullies are often just trying to get attention and this is true on the internet as well. When you engage them, you just give them more ammunition, and when you exclude them entirely from society, you relegate them to the outskirts where their resentment grows. But if you just do nothing, give them no attention at all, maybe they’d begin to reevaluate their own behavior.

This is why censorship has no place in this modern internet world. No one should be denied access to the free-flowing information, and no one’s words should be suppressed. Being heard and being able to assemble and peacefully voice our opinions is what will bring tolerance for the other side. We’d all learn to accept one another’s differences and learn what we have in common. This is how progress is truly made. 

Neptune signs

Continuing with the three-part introduction to generational planets in astrology, we are going to be talking about Neptune.

Neptune takes 164 Earth years to orbit the sun. It’s at some of the furthest reaches of our solar system, a distant world discovered by Urbain Le Verrier and Johann Galle in 1846. 

In astrology, Neptune represents the planet of illusion and mystique. It defines the hopes and dreams of entire generations. It’s seemingly serene blue appearance prompted scientists to call it Neptune after the Roman god of the sea.

Later studies discovered that the massive ice giant is less like a sea of tranquility and more like a raging gale of a planet. It has the strongest winds in the solar system. It’s this turbulence that acts on our unconscious and gives us a need to push boundaries and break free of the norm.

Neptune signs define a generation’s need to look beyond ourselves and into the realm of mystical possibilities. Where Uranus gives you momentary flashes of inspiration and insight, Neptune governs the realms where those insights come from. 

With Neptune, everything is an illusion, reality may be elusive, and things may not always be what they seem. 

I only focused on my own sign for Uranus, but I’m going to talk a little about the Neptune signs that came after me because I was born at the latter end of my Neptune sign and I may fall into a cusp. A cusp happens when you are born so close to the end of your sign that the next sign may influence you. 

Like Uranus, Neptune was also in Sagittarius at the time of my birth. Those of us born between November 6th, 1970 and January 19th, 1984, are Neptune in Sagittarius signs. 

Those of us Neptune in Sagittarius people tend to view belief and illusion with a more opened and tolerant lens. We are a generation that values tolerance and freedom. We have to be careful not to become too idealistic because our sense of freedom may cause our sensitivities to cloud our sense of reason.

Since Neptune governs our beliefs and Sagittarius is a sign that values independence, those of us in this generation tend to look at the world of the metaphysics with more of an open mind. And this makes sense. We were the sign that was born after the sixties, after the counterculture hippie generation. 

I was born in December of 1983, and in January of 1984, Neptune entered the sign of Capricorn where it remained until June 23rd where it reentered the sign of Sagittarius in retrograde. Then, on November 21st, it reentered Capricorn where it stayed until January 29th, 1998.

So for this reason, I’ll talk about Neptune in Capricorn signs as well. 1984 was a bit of a turbulent year for Neptune signs. If you were born in the brief period between January and June, and then after November, you are a Neptune in Capricorn. Your generation is refined, prudent, and reserved. 

While Neptune in Capricorn signs have a desire for wealth, they also tend to value professions that help others. Even though Capricorn is a sign known to be reserved, this generation also values thinking outside the box and unconventional thinking.

If you were born between June and November of 1984, like most of my high school graduating class was, you are a Neptune in Sagittarius retrograde sign. Many of us may be aware that the planet Mercury goes into retrograde quite often and that it’s retrograde periods tend to be a time of upheaval and chaos. But Neptune’s retrograde tends to look inward at itself, and your traits may be more muted as a result.

Sagittarius is a sign that tends to like to value independence and pushing boundaries and those who were born when Neptune was in retrograde may still possess those qualities; they may just be a little more muted; perhaps buried in your subconsciousness. 

So that’s the Neptune sign. Next time, I’ll talk about Pluto signs, and then I’ll probably also do a post to bring all three generational signs together.

Sources: https://space-facts.com/neptune/, https://www.astrology42.com/neptune-sign/#sag, http://www.siddhantika.com/ephemeris/neptune-sign-table?year=1983, https://cafeastrology.com/natal/retrogradesinthenatalchart.html

Venus’s Greenhouse

When we talk about greenhouse gases, we often look to the planet Venus as a prime example and with good reason. 

Before 1962, when the Mariner 2 space probe became the first probe to reach Venus, and the Venera 7 probe became the first probe to land on Venus in 1970, we had always thought that Venus was our sister planet. 

Venus is the brightest star in the dawn and evening skies because it’s the closest to us. It’s also almost the same size as the Earth. We thought we’d find a tropical paradise, lush with life. But the truth turned out to be terrifying. The similarity in size seems to be the only thing this evil twin has in common with the Earth.

Venus’s surface is so hot; it can melt lead. Temperatures can reach over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and the atmospheric pressure can crush a human body flat in seconds. The toxic atmosphere is a thick, suffocating blanket of carbon dioxide. Oh, and it rains sulphuric acid, and it snows lead.

There have been theories and ideas as to how Venus came to be the monstrous hellhole it is today. Some say its slow rotation may be the cause. It takes Venus 243 days to spin on its axis- that’s longer than it’s 225 day year. It’s also much closer to the sun than the Earth, and as a result, receives more sunlight and heat.

The most accepted cause is Venus’s atmosphere. It’s mostly carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a known greenhouse gas, and that is what should worry us here on Earth. On Venus, the carbon dioxide is caused by volcanoes. The greenhouse gas is so thick in the atmosphere that it creates a thick blanket around the planet, trapping heat from the sun, causing the surface to get hotter and hotter.

Venus could be a grim look at our future. And it’s thought that the planet wasn’t always like this. Scientists theorize that the planet may have once been a lot like Earth. It probably had oceans, oxygen, and maybe even life. But for whatever reason, the carbon dioxide, however it got there, caused the oceans to evaporate and whatever life might have been present to die out.

And on Earth, we have the potential to become even worse than Venus because we have another potential heat source- water vapor. If our oceans were to melt away, the vapor in the atmosphere could also act as a greenhouse gas and Earth could very well not only reach Venus’s hellfire temperatures but exceed them. The Earth could quickly put Venus to shame.

Venus is a glimpse of our future, whether we change our ways or not. We all worry about how Humanity affects the planet, and we certainly do. We can undoubtedly cause the greenhouse effect we see on Venus, but if we work together, we can avert this scenario- for a time. Because we still have one other enemy that could make us the Venus, we don’t want to be- the sun.

As the sun ages, it is getting brighter, and in a few billion years, it’s energy and heat could cause the runaway greenhouse to affect we fear. Hopefully, by then, we will have found a way to leave- or maybe we will have managed to kill ourselves off by then. No one knows, but one thing is for sure, we certainly don’t want to be around to find out.

The moral of the story is that even the Earth isn’t immortal. We only have a finite time with our planet, and we should probably try to take care of it for as long as we can. No need to turn it into Venus before it’s time, right?

Sources: https://www.universetoday.com/22577/venus-greenhouse-effect/, https://space-facts.com/venus/

Blog update and thoughts

Every so often, I’d like to talk about the future of this blog and where I see it going. It’s always changing and evolving and one thing is that I’m trying to focus on it being more organized. I cover a lot of different categories and I tend to pick them at random, but I think I’d like to begin to organize the categories a certain way.

The categories have always been: identity and society, writing, graphic design and art, science and history, travel, and paganism and spirituality. With identity and society, I talk about topics that are relevant to me and my own identities. Whether it be racial, gender, spiritual, etc. I talk about autism, being childfree by choice, and many other things. This is the category where topics may be controversial and politically influenced but I always try to keep a balanced perspective. I think when it comes to this sort of hot topic, it’s important to keep to reason and logic because emotion can cloud your judgment.

I try to keep my blog positive and unbiased, but I still have my own opinions and sometimes I need to be honest. Honesty is very important. I don’t always know the facts and I never claim to be an expert on anything. Even in areas where I know a lot, like writing and history, it’s impossible to know everything and it’s okay to admit you don’t know. I’m always in pursuit of knowledge and always open to learning new things. No one is an expert on everything.

So my blog is going to be a little more organized in that certain categories will only come out on certain days. On Mondays, it’s all about identity, society, and travel. I’ll talk about autism, being childfree by choice, racial and gender identity, what it means to be part of certain identities in this society, etc.

There are a few important things to remember about Identity Mondays. I only write about my personal identities, not anyone else’s. I am a left-leaning moderate politically and it’s important to know this because while I believe in freedom for everyone, I don’t believe any of my identities are superior or inferior to one another.

Let me explain more about what that means and I’ll use ethnicity as an example. I am mixed race, ethnically. I identify as Hispanic. I was born here in the United States and I am the fourth generation in my family to be born in the United States. But Mexico is not the only place of origin for my ancestors.

According to my DNA test, the largest ancestry I have is Native American, Celtic, and Iberian. This accounts for 90% of my ethnicity. I also have some trace North and West African in me, and a few other random origins.

Being mixed race is why I am generally not a fan of identitarian politics because they tend to exclude mutts like me. Here in the United States, most of us are mixed. I’m 75% European and 20% Native American so is 75% of me more privileged than the rest? Should I cut that portion off? And what about the fact that my siblings have the same blood as me but we all look slightly different? I have lighter skin and more European features but my siblings are browner than me. We have the same parents, the same family, the same origin.

So this is why I tend to be against identitarian politics because I am mixed and I have the right to be proud of ALL of me. Not just certain parts.

That’s just racial identity. There’s also gender identity, spiritual identity, lifestyle identity, and many others. We all fall into categories of marginalized vs. privileged in one identity or another and I think it’s important to understand that it’s not a competition. We are all individuals with differences and similarities and that’s what’s important.

So that’s all the theme of Mondays. Identity. And also travel. Restaurant critiques, museums, flight experiences, etc. I’ll post about those as they come up. I don’t travel much but when I do, you will hear about it.

On Wednesdays, you can expect a few things. Wednesday is learn stuff day. I’ll talk about writing as a craft, talk about character, plots, world-building, and being a writer in this society. And you’ll get some free science and history lessons.

I love the most about history and science because it’s always being challenged. Science is at it’s best when it’s constantly self-critiquing. In science, my favorite subjects are astronomy, geology, paleontology, and the environment so those are what I’ll focus on. I love doing research, and of course, in every history and science lesson, I’ll include my sources.

Friday is spirituality day, and also critique day. I’m still doing Star Trek critiques and I’m working through season one of The Next Generation, a new critique will be out soon. I’m doing Star Trek, Supernatural, X-files, and Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit so I have enough material to keep me busy for years.

Other than critiques, Friday is for spirituality. As a pagan, on Fridays, I’ll talk about astrology, my altar, sabbats, my pantheon, and a whole host of other topics. I will not teach you how to do spells because I don’t believe there is a wrong or right way to do witchcraft and because spellwork is private: between me and the Universe.

So there you have it, that is the new set up of this blog. Identity and travel Mondays, Learning Wednesdays, and spiritual Fridays. I hope everyone is enjoying this blog so far, and one thing I want to mention is that I am always open to guest bloggers. If you have a topic you think fits the theme and would like to say something, please feel free to contact me and we’ll see what can happen.

Critique of TNG “Where none have gone before”

This episode has always been one of my favorite episodes of season one because of it’s philosophical aspects. 

In the episode, the crew meets Kosinsky and his assistant the Traveler, who have come to run experiments on the Enterprise’s engines to upgrade them and make them more efficient. But a mysterious mishap during the first test sends the Enterprise soaring out of the galaxy at incredible speeds to end up millions of lightyears away with no idea how it happened or how to get back.

A second attempt sent them even further away from home, to the very edge of the galaxy. It’s after this attempt that we learn that the Traveler, an alien from a distant planet, was responsible for the astounding leaps through space. 

The Traveler can channel thought, energy, and matter, and through him, the thoughts of the crew began to manifest themselves as reality. This idea that thought can become a reality is something that has genuine power. 

There have been countless studies and theories about the mind and the power of thought. Scientists use the placebo effect in experiments because it’s proven to be very useful. There are even conditions like false pregnancies where your mind believes something so much that your body can have physical symptoms. 

This episode is the first time I’ve seen of anyone exploring the idea of the power of thought. But as the Traveler becomes a reoccurring character in later episodes, this idea comes up again quite often in the show.

As a pagan, I believe in the power of thought. This is what magic truly is. This unseen powerful energy, the essence of every being and every object in this universe, it’s all connected, and it can be affected. This is what spellwork and witchcraft is all about. This is also what prayer is. When you put your desires out into the universe, you affect the essence and the vibes around you, and you can make things happen in your life and others. 

Take love spells, for instance. If I were to do a love spell, it wouldn’t be with the intention that someone I liked would fall in love with me, it would be to bring love into my life. Witchcraft operates on the idea of the power and magic of thought, just like the placebo effect works on tricking the mind. 

This theory is based on metaphysics and belief, but there must be power behind it if scientists and spiritualists both find a use for it. I think there is a lot of truth to what the Traveler is talking about in this episode. Of course, since this is science fiction, this theory is being put into a more tangible aspect, but it’s certainly applicable in the real world. 

This is the power of Star Trek. It’s more than just a science fiction show full of things that could never be real; it makes you think. A lot of it is very relevant for the real world, and even the farfetched technology like warp drive and transporters operate on scientific theory. 

The Traveler even implies that we, as humans, are evolving towards a future stage where our power of thought maybe more than just a theory or speculation of its power. Perhaps in the future, we will develop to be able to harness or tap into this essence, and then what seems like magic to us now will be our reality. This is why I think it’s vital that even in our current stage of evolution, it’s essential to use this power for good and responsibly. 

So that’s my thoughts on this critique. We’re moving through this season, and there will only be a few episodes left, and then we will start doing the first season of Supernatural. There are a lot of fandoms to get through, so I’m planning to stagger them out a little. And as I said before, I won’t be doing every single episode, only a handful of my favorites every season. 

The Bombs

This is an important week in history because on August 6th, and August 9th, it commemorates the day the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan during World War Two. 

This happened 74 years ago, so I think it’s important to realize that this terrible war has begun to pass from living memory. Most World war two vets still alive are now in their 80s and 90s, and their numbers are falling. Many of us who were born in the 80s or earlier got to grow up knowing at least one World War two vet, but later generations won’t have that privilege. 

I think it’s important to understand the toll this war had on everyone involved and not just who you might perceive as ‘the good guys’ and ‘the bad guys.’ 

Before I talk about the war and its impact on the world, I wanted to tell a story that I learned in one of my history classes about the USS Indianapolis

The parts of ‘Little Boy’ were compiled in various parts of the country, transported in unmarked trucks across the country, then loaded onto the USS Indianapolis in July of 1945. In a top-secret mission, the ship departed the Hunter’s Point shipyard in San Francisco carrying highly enriched uranium and various parts needed for assembly. It traveled across the pacific to deliver the parts to the naval base on Tinian Island. 

After delivering the parts for the bomb, the Indianapolis departed for other missions, but on July 30th, it was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese. Many of the crew went down with the ship, but many were left adrift in the ocean where they spent the next nearly four hours. The navy wasn’t aware of the sinking right away, so survivors were left to succumb to exhaustion, dehydration, exposure to the elements, and shark attacks. 

I learned about this story when I was in college, and it’s something that’s always stuck with me. If the ship had been sunk just a few days earlier, the bomb would have gone down with it. It was one of those historical near misses that could have changed everything.

Getting back to the bomb itself, it’s always been a question in my mind as to whether or not the bomb was really necessary. In grade school, at least when I was going to school, we were taught that the bomb was a grim necessity because the Japanese would have fought to the last man and an invasion would have cost more lives than the bombs did. And many of us had parents or grandparents who have confirmed this speculation.

And that is the theory that has always been taught. And perhaps there was some truth to it; we’ll never truly know because the invasion never happened. It’s easy to look in hindsight and make assumptions about what could have happened, and what should have happened; but no one can know for sure because there is only one choice: the one you chose. You can’t go back and do it over again.

One suggestion I’ve heard is that this ‘fight or die’ mentality of the Japanese wasn’t as accurate as initially thought. The military was running the country; it was an ultra-nationalistic military state. And like many totalitarian regimes and dictatorships throughout history, the government-controlled the media. The Japanese people weren’t told the truth about what was going on in the war. 

Everyone makes use of propaganda to rally support against the enemy and for your cause; the United States was no different. But the totalitarian government in Japan at the time controlled what the people heard through strict censorship of the media.

The other thing to note is that even in this last part of World War Two, the Cold War was beginning. After Hitler’s defeat and victory in Europe in May 1945, the USSR soon turned it’s attention to the Pacific. It entered the war on August 9th- the same day that we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. One theory is that the bombs were the first shots of the Cold War and the United States’ chance to demonstrate it’s newfound dominance of the world to the Soviet Union. 

No matter what information the Japanese military might have been providing to their public, it’s reasonable to assume that they knew they were finished. The US had taken everything all the way to Okinawa, and they knew an invasion was imminent. They were defeated, and the USSR entering the war and invading Manchuria meant that now Japan was surrounded. So, knowing those facts, it’s hard to say that the bombs were justified. Maybe Japan was just a convenient way to show our new toys off to Russia and to warn them how powerful we were.

Whatever the reason, the bombs were dropped, and Japan became the first casualty of the new Nuclear age. It’s something we should never forget, and we should always remember the human cost of war. The bombs killed almost a quarter of a million Japanese civilians; and who knows how many people still suffer from things like cancer as a result of exposure. 

If there is anything to be learned from this terrible loss of life is that we need to take steps to make sure it never happens again. Nuclear weapons and their development have changed Humanity from being dependent on the Earth and the environment to a species that now has the power to destroy the entire planet. The United States alone has enough nuclear weapons to cause a nuclear winter and bring about the end of all civilization on Earth. We are just as dangerous to the Earth as an asteroid or a supervolcano, and it all started with World War Two. 

It’s essential to take steps to never get to this point again. We, as a species, are vulnerable to many natural disasters — volcanoes, asteroids, earthquakes, etc. But nuclear war is entirely preventable if we take steps to work together as people instead of stay divided and continue to fight each other. If another bomb ever drops again, anywhere in the world, it would be a dishonor to the memory of everyone who died in World War Two.

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Indianapolis_(CA-35)#Secret_mission, https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/hirohito-1, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet%E2%80%93Japanese_War

Meltdowns and shutdowns

I’ve often heard the term meltdown used when referring to temper tantrums autistic children have in public. Sure it can be irritating for everyone in the store to have to listen to it, but maybe instead of getting frustrated, it might be a good thing to figure out what causes them in the first place.

I was an autistic child in the 80s and 90s when autism wasn’t very well known yet. My mother knew there was something different about me, but no one quite knew what it was until I was much older. 

So what are shutdowns and what are meltdowns? I can tell you that for me, they both have specific triggers. Autism affects us all differently because we are all individuals, but, at least for me, it’s caused by one of two things: noise and crowding. I don’t handle too much noise well; I have noise sensitivity issues. Some of the things that affect me the most include shrill sounds like alarms, children screaming or crying, and screeching ‘nails on a chalkboard’ type noises. Also, anything that’s just too loud, like music that’s too loud or a noisy, crowded room.

I recall my noise sensitivity was a problem early on in life. I was terrified of school fire or earthquake drills. On one occasion, I remember the fire drill startled me so much that I refused to move, and my teacher had to carry me out. And sometimes, my mother had to be informed when there was going to be a fire drill so that I could be prepared. 

I don’t have meltdowns anymore; I have shutdowns. I cope with the noise and the crowds by withdrawing into my mind, disengaging from the world around me. It’s like my mind becomes a shield, and I stop talking and interacting with everyone around me. With meltdowns, I went into panic mode and cried, screamed, and sometimes tried to run away from the situation. I can’t think clearly when I get like that.

The most important thing that my family did for me was knowing that noises and crowds cause this problem, but also, not treating me different than my non-autistic siblings. If I acted out in public, I’d be removed from the situation immediately, just like my siblings would. And really, that’s the best way to handle it; if I’m having a meltdown or a shutdown, I need to be removed from whatever is causing it for my own sanity, as well as everyone else’s.

Now, as an adult, I take responsibility for my own sensitivities. I don’t go to places where I know there will be noise or crowds. I don’t go to noisy clubs, I’ve never even been to a rock concert, and I tend to stay away from situations where there will be a lot of children. It’s part of my need to be independent that I learn how to deal with these situations on my own. I can’t expect other people to accommodate me all the time, so I have to be my own advocate. 

Sometimes being in these situations are unavoidable, so I have my own strategies. When I have to be in a crowd, it helps if I sit down and stay in one spot. If I have to get up and move around and have people moving all around me, the anxiety gets to me, and I wouldn’t be able to cope. So when I’m at social gatherings, I find a place to sit and I avoid having to get up, and I tend to guard my seat, so if I have to get up, I can make sure I have somewhere to come back to. This strategy helps a lot.

I also always bring headphones with music to drown out children crying or screechy noises. The isolation helps me withdraw from crowds as well. I take my headphones and my phone with music with me everywhere I go, and they are handy at canceling out the noise around me.

My friends and family also help by understanding. They know I don’t handle noise or crowds, so I tend to be exempt from having to attend things like kids birthday parties and stuff like that. It helps a lot to know that they understand me and know when I need to back out of a situation. 

I still have shutdowns, but they don’t often happen because I know what causes them, and I know how to avoid situations where I know they might happen. And I haven’t had a meltdown since I was a young child because shutdowns tend to be my first line of defense and I am usually able to remove myself from the situation before it gets to that point. 

I think that this is the best strategy for coping for those of us with autism. If your child or anyone else is having a meltdown or shutdown, get them out of the situation! A meltdown is often a reaction to intense anxiety caused by certain outside stimulants, and if the stimulant doesn’t stop, the meltdown won’t stop. 

It’s important to remember that autistic children become autistic adults and just because we grow up, doesn’t mean now have the ability to deal with these sort of anxiety-inducing stimulants. I think that learning to be courteous of people around you can go a long way towards being more understanding of those with autism. 

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve always been able to remove myself from a shutdown causing stimulant. I have a strong flight instinct that has served me well. The idea of being stuck in a situation where I couldn’t escape noise or crowds when I need to is one of the worst situations I could imagine being in. 

So don’t force autistic adults to endure these situations just because we happen to be adults. Autism doesn’t go away; it’s with us forever, and its something we deal with every day of our lives. A little understanding goes a long way. Don’t force your autistic friend to go to a club with you and if you see someone walking around Target with their headphones on, don’t judge them. And don’t engage them. That screaming kid in the store might have driven them to the edge of meltdown mode, and the headphones are working to calm them. 

No one expects unreasonable accommodations for their condition. I don’t. But merely extending a level of understanding, and some common human courtesy goes a long way. Don’t let your kids crowd strangers, and remove autistic children from whatever is affecting them, and don’t bother autistic adults. That’s all we ask, just some understanding. We aren’t asking you to bend over backward for us; we just need to be able to cope with our environment in our own way.