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

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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.

Lammas

Lammas or Lughnasadh is an ancient Saxon holiday and part of our eight sabbats as we travel along the wheel of the year. It usually falls on August 1st or August 2nd.

Lammas is the first of three harvest festivals which include Mabon and Samhain. This is the time of the grain harvest, and in ancient times, people took this time to share the bread they’ve waited all year to enjoy. It’s a time to appreciate the abundance around you. In the old ways, the very first bread was baked and shared with the whole village.

Symbols of Lammas include wheat sheaths, corn, and the corn dolly. It’s a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and to appreciate what you have. And it’s a time to begin to prepare because it’s a reminder that summer is passing and the dark days of winter will soon be upon us. 

There’s a myth of John Barleycorn, a ceremonial deity which mimics the process of brewing ale. A British folksong talks about the life of John Barleycorn, who is the personification of the cereal grain, which must be sacrificed at this time to mill the wheat into flour and to brew it into ale. The lyrics to this folksong vary, but it goes something like this: 

There was three men come out o’ the west their fortunes for to try,

And these three men made a solemn vow, John Barleycorn must die,

They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in, threw clods upon his head,

Til these three men were satisfied John Barleycorn was dead.

The idea of the sacrifice of the grain god who must die for the good of the people- only to be resurrected in the underworld later in the year- is a common theme in pagan myths around the world. In Greek mythology, Persephone, the daughter of the fertility goddess Demeter is captured by Hades and taken to the underworld. Demeter’s grief marks the beginning of a long period of barren fields, darkness, and cold, AKA autumn and winter. Persephone’s return marks the coming of Spring.

In Celtic mythology, there is the eternal struggle of the kings of holly and oak. At Litha, the oak king is at the height of his power, and from that point, his strength begins to wane, and the oak king begins to gain control. The oak king will dominate over Autumn and Winter.

Lammas is at the cusp of all these struggles and sacrifices, and it’s a time to appreciate the abundance of summer before the world plunges into darkness. 

Around this time of year, many agricultural communities have fairs. This is an excellent time to attend fairs because its a way to honor the height of agriculture. 

Some gem correspondences of this sabbat include aventurine for fortune, peridot for energy, and citrine for cleansing and healing. Herbs include aloe, corn stalk, calendula, frankincense, heather, and sunflower. Incense includes frankincense and sandalwood.

Decorate your altar with sunflowers, heather, wheat, and lavender. Dominant colors of the celebration are browns, oranges, and yellows. I keep a plastic loaf of bread on my altar to honor the sacrifice of the grain gods at this time. 

I would also include bloodstone on the altar just for myself because even though here in Southern California, I don’t have to prepare myself for the long dark, cold winter, bloodstones represent courage and that’s what you need to prepare for the chaos and frenzy that is the holiday season. This was especially true when my husband used to work at a major retail chain, and he needed to fortify himself in preparation for Black Friday and beyond. 

I wasn’t a practicing pagan when I was in school, but this is also a good sabbat to honor before many of us return to school after the summer break. Whether it’s kids going back to elementary school or high school, or you are returning to college for the autumn semester, it usually happens sometime in August so you’ll certainly need the energy and cleansing of Lammas to prepare you for that.

So enjoy your harvest, whatever harvest that may be, and remember to honor the eternal sacrifices and struggles of the divine if that’s something that’s part of your path.

Sources: http://wiccaliving.com/wiccan-oak-king-holly-king/, https://owlcation.com/humanities/Demeter-and-Persephone, https://sacredwicca.com/lammas, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barleycorn

Why I’m not an activist

I know that there is a lot to be worried about and to be involved in these days and it’s easy to feel like you have to do something to make a change for the people and creatures around you but I think that what people need to understand is that not all of us can or will do the same.

I do feel strongly about a lot of things, but the thing is I’m not the type of person who seeks conflict and activism by its nature is something that encourages conflict. Not all of us want to seek out conflict, and that’s okay.

Whether it’s going to protests or trolling people on the internet as the so-called ‘social justice warrior’ many feel they need to be, sometimes I think we all need to understand that not everyone is interested in being so outgoing and that doesn’t mean we don’t care.

I certainly care. I care about a lot of things. I care about humans being treated fairly; I care about the environment; I care about everyone having a voice and the freedom to control their own lives, bodies, and minds. But here’s the thing: I don’t need to be threatened or pressured into activism.

Too often I see people use social media to pressure others using aggressive, threatening messages like ‘reblog or I’ll unfriend you’ or ‘if you don’t reblog you don’t care’ and that’s not the way to rally people to your cause. That only makes you seem militant.

If there’s one thing that makes me uncomfortable, it’s extremists. Whether extreme conservative or extreme liberal, it doesn’t matter, extremism never leads to anything good. As history has shown us over and over again, extremism leads to tragedy, and innocent people get caught up in the crossfire.

The other thing to realize is that all through human history, there’s always been a cause. There’s always been something to fight for, something to struggle against. There’s been wars and injustices since humans evolved into a civilization. Today is no different; the only difference is that now we have the internet to bring the whole world to our attention, and we have new technology with which to hurt each other with. But the fight, the struggle isn’t new.

That doesn’t mean we should give up and not resist oppression and injustice, that just means that there will always be people who are willing to do the activism and some who simply want to live their lives and be left alone and there’s nothing wrong with that. Not every American colonist fought in the Revolutionary War; some just wanted to go about their lives.

I do feel strongly about specific issues and concerns, and I do feel like there are things that need to change. But I’m not going to be pressured or bullied on places like Tumblr or Facebook. I’m not going to reblog your sad little kid meme telling me I don’t have a soul if I don’t reblog. Because I know what I stand for and I don’t need to prove it to everyone around me by reblogging and heckling people. I stand up for things in my own way. Like my writing. This blog is how I do my part. My novels, my art, that’s how I do my part. Reblogging and sharing and threatening everyone on my feed if they don’t do the same is not how I do my part.

It’s easy to badger people from behind a computer screen, but a lot of time those efforts can seem shallow and insincere. How many people are actually taking their fight beyond the internet? And that’s not the point. If you go to protests and wear buttons and bumper stickers, that’s all great. But don’t pressure others to do the same.

I’m an introvert who tends to shy away from conflict and other people. I’m not the kind of person who has the mental or emotional stamina to be the kind of activist that others pressure me to be. That doesn’t make me any less brave or courageous than you, because I do make a stand in my own way. You can’t push people into the spotlight if they don’t want to be there. That does nothing for your cause.

Just remember that in the end, you are only accountable for your own actions, not anyone else’s. So instead of passing along threatening, passive-aggressive clickbait, focus on yourself and your own actions. Because you can only speak for yourself, you don’t speak for anyone else. And let the rest of us do what we can in our own way.

Generational Astrology: Uranus

Millennials, Boomers, Gen-Xers, which one are you? It seems like the so-called ‘experts’ tend to move the dates around so it can be difficult to know where you stand. Especially if you are like me and you don’t like being categorized and stereotyped. 

So instead of relying on some expert, and really, who are these experts anyway? There’s a better way to define where you fit as a generation: astrology. 

Now before we begin, I’d like to point out that I’m not an astrology expert by any means. I haven’t spent years and years exploring star charts and interpreting people’s houses or anything like that. Astrology plays a role in my path, but not a huge one, and I tend to focus on the planets and their meanings more than anything else.

I’m a beginner, but for my own interpretations, for defining your true generational identity, I want to focus on the three outer planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. And yes, I still consider Pluto a planet, I don’t care that it got demoted.

Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are important because they are the outermost of our solar system so while they may seem not to have a significant influence on our astrology, they do have some. They all have retrogrades, and they all move through the zodiac like all the other planets. The difference is that they take so long to orbit the sun that they tend to spend a long time in each zodiac. This is why they can be useful to define generations because they don’t represent the exact date you were born so much as they can determine the whole year, and a couple of years out.

So I’m going to do a little interpretation based on my own research. Like, I said, I’m no expert, I’m just relaying to you the information I found in my research. I used several websites, as well as my handy book The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. All of these sources will be sited at the end so you can look them up yourself.

This is going to be one of three blog entries on this subject, and for this blog, we are going to be talking about the planet Uranus. Uranus is interesting because it’s the first planet that is not a naked eye planet. Meaning, you can’t see it from Earth without using a telescope. Sir William Herschel discovered it in 1781.

Uranus orbits the sun every 84 years. It’s tilted on its axis to a point where it’s almost horizontal, in other words, it’s poles are where its equator should be. For this reason, half the planet is in darkness for half the year while the other half faces the sun for half the year. It’s strange, and unique orbit is what characterizes it in astrology. It’s seen as the planet that describes your sense of independence, freedom, and uniqueness. It symbolizes your sudden spark of creativity, your insights, and your moments of clarity.

From the year 1919 up to the year 2003 was one full rotation of Uranus. This is the bulk of most of the people alive today, minus the very young and the very old. So within this 84 span period, Uranus put a sense of individuality and freedom into each generation. 

I’m not going to go through the entire 84 years; I’ll just talk about my own Uranus sign and provide you with the means to look up your own. 

When I was born, Uranus was in the sign of Sagittarius. If you were born between November 16th, 1981, and February 14th, 1988, you would share my Uranus sign. This makes sense because when I started high school as a freshman back in the school year of 98/99, the students that were seniors at the time were born around 1981. When I became a senior, the students who were freshmen were born around 1988. This is a generalization, of course, but on average, this is the case. So most of the students who were in my age and grade bracket shared my Uranus sign. My brother and sister share my Uranus sign, but my youngest sister does not.

So if you are a fellow Uranus in Sagittarius sign, we may share some similarities. We are a generation of double freedom because since Uranus dominates that aspect of our personalities, the zodiac Sagittarius is often defined as a sign which also values free-thinking and individuality. We Uranus in Sagittarius people don’t like to be put into categories. We march to the beat of our own drum. We strive to be original and unique. We tend to be adventurous, have a good sense of humor, and are known for our brains, as well as our humanitarian spirit. 

So Uranus is the first of your generational sign. Embrace your inner Uranus! I’ll tell you all about Neptune and Pluto in another blog. If you want to find out your own Uranus sign, I found mine here: http://www.siddhantika.com/ephemeris/uranus-sign-table?year=1983.

Sources: http://www.siddhantika.com/ephemeris/uranus-sign-table?year=1983, https://space-facts.com/uranus/, https://www.astrology42.com/uranus-sign/

Woolfolk, Joanna Martine. The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2006. Print.

Use big words

I saw a thread in a writing group the other day where a writer was told that her large vocabulary made her seem pretentious and that readers didn’t appreciate having to look things up while reading. Some commenters in the thread defended her but most seemed to think that using difficult vocabulary in writing wasn’t the way to go.

I have to disagree with that sentiment. Reading is the best way to improve your vocabulary and to encourage intellectual curiosity, especially at a young age. 

I learned to read at an early age. And growing up in the 80s and 90s before the era of Google and smartphones, if I encountered a word I didn’t know, I had to look it up in a dictionary. I didn’t mind doing that, and I picked up that habit early. I’ve been watching Star Trek since I was 3 and the show utilizes a lot of high-level vocab, and it sparked my need and my curiosity to learn things.

I may not have had the internet growing up, but I knew how to do my research. I always had dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, and a host of various reference books at my disposal. And I knew how to utilize my local library. If I encountered a word or a subject I didn’t know, and I didn’t have the resources at home, I’d wait until we could go to the library and I’d seek out books I needed. Even as a kid. 

This is a habit that has carried on to this day. I still have an extensive collection of reference books at home, but now I also have the internet. And so do most other readers. Information is so easily accessible these days, anyone can have knowledge, and that’s extremely powerful. There is never a reason to shy away from learning something new. 

So if this is the case, why is it such a hang-up to encounter a word you don’t know when you are reading? It’s not the author’s fault you don’t know that word, and it’s not so hard to pick up your smartphone and look it up on google.

As an author, I keep a thesaurus on hand on my bookmarks at all times, and I constantly have google on standby in case I need to research and look things up. I rely heavily on facts and information when I write, and I’m not going to invalidate those efforts by lowering my vocabulary to appease to the masses. 

This is the age of instant gratification, and people expect to get the results immediately without having to do much work themselves. They want everything handed to them, and they want authors to spoonfeed them their words, and I find that attitude of entitlement to be counterproductive to both the reader and the writer. 

There really is nothing better than knowledge. I’ve believed that from an early age. It’s the one thing to be treasured and protected and sought after. Humanity is driven by the need to know. There’s a certain sense of gratification that comes with pursuing and acquiring knowledge, and it’s a pursuit that never ends. You can be learning until the day you die and just barely scratch the surface of what the universe has to tell you. Knowledge is the real source of wealth, and with it, you can achieve anything. It’s the epitome of what it means to be human.

If you don’t have an extensive vocabulary, with a little hard work, you can change that by building a habit of seeking out facts and knowledge. If you see a word you don’t know, look it up. If you encounter a subject you don’t know a lot about, learn it. Make the extra effort yourself and appreciate the author for presenting your mind with something that challenges it. If you don’t have the internet at your disposal, turn to your library. That’s all I had growing up, after all. Keep a notepad on you at all times and jot down words and subjects you want to look into and then, when you get the chance, go to the library and look it up.

My mother can vouch for the enormous late fees I racked up and the stacks and stacks of books I’d carry out of the library as a child. It was my favorite place to be; I could literally spend hours there. 

So, as a writer, don’t shy away from using challenging vocabulary words. You aren’t pretentious; you are doing your reader a favor whether they want to admit it or not.