Youngblood Blog

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Taking the Summer (S)Train—Leaving July to its Own Fine Madness

MONTHLY INSECURE WRITERS‘ CRY~~LeavME.BE~~
or Leaving on the Next Train

“From all I’ve learned, there’s no religious revelation more satisfying than hard-won food of simple understanding—no liberation compares with seeing oneself as the illusions/delusions of the Age we live in.”
Terence McKenna b. November 16, 1946, Paonia, CO. d. April 03, 2000, San Rafael, CA
R.I.P. SweetSpirit

1959783_859329230761341_1448992354_nFifteen years after the death of ‘Altered Statesman’—colleague and ethnobotanist partner in triumvirate of Berkeley LSD scientists—of whom only Baba Ram Dass survives, Terence McKenna progressed Timothy Leary’s ‘sixties psychedelic débût by experiencing 15 years as an Amazon Ayahuasca Shaman.

Finally he planted his own Hawaiian paradise, where his life cycle terminated.

Living in a Time-Wobble
McKenna was convinced that Western society lives in a kind of a time-wobble. With fantasy worlds available via Internet and Cell 24/7, we have essentially relinquished control over what our subconscious has already (collectively) devised for us.

“Time and our consciousness are speeding up. We are being drawn closer to the Attractor at the End of Time”

He called this our Eschaton.

Media-eye-view of the World

Media-eye-view of the World

Add to such real human identity crisis the madness of July, revved up by today’s SuperMedia as three continents celebrate historical nationalism—French Bastille Day, U.S. Independence fireworks, Vedic Purva Ashadha.

If we are already in the thrall of a winking blinking (fantasy-internet-Muse) light at the end of a metaphorical Tunnel, the only antidote for these Cosmic surprises is laughter.

Thunder Moon Jupiter-Venus Conjunction
Before we get to the funnies, however, let’s take a quick look at how indigenous cultures in the Americas call on ancestral Spirits, to aid them through each Moon’s wax-wane cycle.

Vedic Ganesh holds tonight's July 1st Full Moon between his Tusks, shines Light of Clarity into Waters of our Soul

Vedic Ganesh holds tonight’s July 1st Full Moon between his Tusks, shines Light of Clarity into Waters of our Soul

A clustering of Native American Tribal Full Moons—Algonquin, Chickasaw, Okanagan/Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota, Hupa, Yurok, Chumash, Hawaiian, Lucayan, Modoc and Tsurai—share similar Devic angelic view

January: Wolf Moon (end December) Old Moon
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon
March: Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sap Moon, Lenten Moon
April: Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Goose Egg Moon, Fish Moon
May: Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Corn-Planting Moon
June: Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, Thunder Moon
July: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon
August: Corn Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
September: Harvest Moon, Full Corn Moon
October: Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon
November: Beaver Moon, Frosty Moon
December: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Nights’ Moon

Alternate Avenues through Muse Moodswings
When all else fails, #Humor never fails to do the trick. Even the saddest, most died-in-the-wool ‘LeaveMeAlone~I’m going away to eat Worms’ Muse-abandoned writer—the Mole—cannot fail to pause—if only for a blogging millisecond—and let out a chuckle.

If this apology for a monthly moan will suffice, dear Reader, and dear Cap’n-@our-Ninja-helm, Alex J. Cavanaugh 😉
then let me regale you with an Alternative Alphabet, conceived somewhere along those truly ephemeral airwaves our war-torn parents/grandparents constructed to amuse themselves, after a hard day’s work.

In their precious evenings, RADIO sprang to life. All kinds of fantasies might be fulfilled, all sounds and frequencies attempted.

Fantastical ‘Forties Fantasies over the R.A.D.I.O
For my sins, I grew up in a ‘Forties household, shielded from The Woah by a protective parent who—child polio victim, unable to serve—made all broadcasts [aka News] top priority. It became evening entertainment for the whole family—as there was only one radio!
Among a plethora of sounds emanating from the small walnut-cased glowing-dial box in the corner of the sitting room, after homework was done, we were allowed to hear a few tidbits.

One of these—probably altered beyond reasonable comprehension, to any but a native Scot—a rare glimpse into a smattering of hilarious popular culture of the time, a mingled brew—indiscriminate. But it has to make you laugh.

Give me this. You will at least allow yourself a giggle.

And, with all the crazies going on out there—Full Moon tonight, Jupiter and Venus in close conjunction, solar flares mixed in with Fourth of July weekend yet to come—you know it’s the best medicine~lol

‘FORTIES FORTITUDE: Adversity Kindling the Common Heart
Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right.

“Yet, from it all I have learned that there is no religious revelation more satisfying than the hard-won food of simple understanding.”

Om, Omega, Oversoul

VERSOUL: that Unity within which every man’s Being is contained and made one with all other; that common heart

ALTERNATIVE ALPHABET
A is 4 ‘orses
Beefor Mutton
C For Th Highlanders
Deef or Dumb
Eve or Adam
F for Vescence
Geoffery Farnol
H for Scratch
Ivor Novello
Jefferson Airplane*
Kay Fr-ancis
L for Leather
M for a Pie (Dundee accent, pie=peh)
N for a Pint (probably home brew: post-War booze was in short supply)
O fer the Sea to Skye
P fer Sninks ???

At anchor in Dundee, HMS Discovery, flagship of Robert Falcon Scott's tragic Antarctic expedition, 1910—symbol of Brit fortitude/failure against all odds

At anchor in Dundee, HMS Discovery, flagship of Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition, 1910—symbol of Brit fortitude/failure against all odds


Q fer the ‘tippenies’ (cheap tuppenny seats Saturday matinée local cinema)
Rfur Askey
S for Williams
Tea for Two
U for me
V for Victory—this WAS the ‘Forties
W for Quits
X for Breakfast
Y for No?
Z for the Abbulance [nasal voice]

*[inserted by TimeMaster Alien, ‘cos.I can’t remember 1940s’ original]

I dare some Elder from the Olde Countree of Great Memory NOT to remember at least some of these [North-of-the-Border] Vaudeville gems.
©2015 Marian Youngblood

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July 1, 2015 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, culture, festivals, fiction, Muse, New Age, novel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Solar Radiation Storms and Crossroads in Time

Erupting solar flares send spaceweather to Earth, but electromagnetic field changes also affect human temperament

On November 28th, 2011 a massive radiation storm hit Earth’s electromagnetic field — a direct hit from the sun’s Earth-facing side, exaggerated by the Northern hemisphere’s attitude to our solar parent. Freak storms have been experienced in the last week in all northern latitudes — from Southern (!) California to Oregon to the Midwest to New England to the mid-Atlantic ridge (including Iceland), following on previous eruptions in the Canary Islands (El Hierro, November 10th), and Nyamulagira, Congo. The current European and Asian storms stretch north through Great Britain, Orkney and Scandinavia to the Russian steppes. There have been spectacular aurorae borealis.

Most remarkable of all is that Northern Scotland (57ºN latitude) was almost the last to be hit. Throughout November, temperatures remained a balmy 50ºF. Even (spring-flowering) gorse burst into bloom. It recalled an equally abnormal episode in April this year, where temperatures in the same corner of Scotland hit all-time highs.

Then Nature descended in spades. 160mph winds hit the Hebrides, mainland Glasgow, Clyde and central Belt, the Highlands; hurricane-force gales funneled east to hit everything not tied down — trees included. Nobody was spared.

This example of ‘freak’ weather coursing through the northern hemisphere may not be considered memorable, when the current solar cycle is through with us, but it is unusual, to say the least.

And, as we know, other consequences of seismic disturbance — earthquakes — such as the ongoing and terrible nuclear waste toxicity spreading through the Pacific ocean in the aftermath of Fukushima — are still fresh in our minds.

If Katla caldera erupts, the icemelt from its glacier would spill billions of gallons of water through Iceland's east coast into the Atlantic

The current concern is that the massive six-mile-wide crater of Katla caldera near Reykyavik will explode, melt its overhanging glacier and spew billions of icemelt over the eastern seaboard of Iceland and into the Atlantic ocean.

Eyjafjallajokul ejected enough ash to halt air traffic over Europe/N.America in 2010

By comparison, the ash cloud precipitated last year by Eyjafjallajokull which halted all air traffic over Europe and North America, would seem like a minor incident.

Traditionally it was thought there was no connection between solar storms and terrestrial seismic activity — earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and their tendency to precipitate hurricanes, tornadoes, and wind storms round the globe. But this received wisdom is changing. Looking at the past year alone, much seems to have occurred following the Sun’s elevated status to ‘active’ (NOAA sidebar two below, right) in line for solar maximum, 2012. Solar activity in the last two months shows increasing frequency of M- and X-class flares at an alarming rate.


“I hear hurricanes ablowin’
I know the end is comin’ soon
I hear rivers overflowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin”
— Credence Clearwater Revival, 1969

CROSSROADS IN TIME
One of the most insightful prophecies/predictions of the Maya elders for this time is the message of change.

4 Ahau: Food scarcities. Half the katun good, half bad. The return of Kukulkan

In the 20-year period (katun) which began in 1991 and will complete in 2012, they anticipated this katun would bring ‘scarcity and the arrival of great leaders’. It is also the katun of ‘remembering knowledge and writing it down’.

In their words, we are fully immersed in a time of ‘change and conflict’. Change comes externally from weather, elecromagnetic fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field, natural phenomena, celestial disturbance (solar flares) and trauma inflicted by others unable to stop themselves ‘exploding’ their own inner drama. Conflict stirs in the form of personal challenge, grief, bewilderment, depression, anxiety, and fear. Many are going through these experiences at this time.

The Maya (through indigenous ancestral transmission and present-day descendants) believe that it is not a time to fear. We are at a crossroads. “Now it is time to choose a new path, decide on a new Self and community direction, to venture into the unknown, to find our true identity of being”. While devotees are already flocking to this ethos in droves, others will choose to stay on the same path, console themselves with the familiar, and invest a great deal of effort in maintaining the status quo.

Photons, zero-mass light particles, (Gamma Rays), detected in space by the Fermi Space Telescope in earth orbit

The Electric Universe theory (Thunderbolts publications, lectures, symposia) explores the direct connection between the Sun’s storms — M-class solar flares, CMEs — and their effects on Earth systems: electrical, radio, television, power supplies. Certainly in 1859, the Carrington Event that produced world telegraph blackout and spontaneous fires, has provoked discussion ever since, particularly as a similar event now would create culture-wide chaos; but it is only in recent years that the solar electrical connection has extended outwards into the Universe to encompass plasma filaments, stellar explosions and the plasma tails of comets; and to explain that, contrary to former belief, the void is not empty, but teeming with electrical charge.

Richard Feynman explains most graphically:the Nature of Nature

We on planet Earth are also electrically-charged beings. The conduit which transmits charged particles from the Sun to humans is the same conduit which steers weather through the Earth’s electromagnetic field, and into the human electromagnetic field.

Solar activity is known to influence human consciousness (from the simplest seasonal affective disorder –SAD– to extreme summer joy and productivity) and, this logically extends to the effect photons have on our human DNA.

Radiation affects the central nervous system, brain function and balance, along with human behavior, and all psycho-physical response in between. So flaring from the same star can cause us to feel nervous, anxious, jittery, dizzy, irritable, lethargic, exhausted, and suffer short-term memory lapses. We can sometimes even feel nauseous, distracted, and suffer headaches.

The Thunderbolts project encourages inter-disciplinary knowledge and collaboration of astronomers, physicists, archaeologists, mythologists and biologists bringing together understanding of previously unrelated subjects. They plan to address some of their ideas during their multi-faceted Symposium next month, January 6-8, 2012 in Las Vegas: The Electric Universe: the Human Story.

According to the Electric Universe theory as proposed by Thunderbolts scientists, solar flares and photon waves are changing the fabric of our very reality and have a powerful effect on our cells, causing our cellular memories to awaken and clear.

Veil nebula, constellation Cygnus the Swan, traditionally described as a 'cloud of ionized dust'; in Electric Universe theory seen as electromagnetic plasma filaments

They are also convinced, like Maya experts, that “cultural archetypes of world mythology can now be understood through the sciences.”
‘Thunderbolts of the Gods’ David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill (2005)

“Photon energy is capable of resonating at much higher frequency than normal human emotion. It can calibrate the human system to this higher frequency, bringing consciousness into line, so that we begin to remember our soul’s purpose.”

Many believe that this speeding-up of consciousness — instant manifestation of the desired object or circumstances — is what has triggered such great interest worldwide in systems like the Law of Attraction, the Abraham-Hicks movement and the revival of New Age consciousness-raising techniques.

Photon energy connects instantly — at the speed of light — affecting all human electrical systems, most especially thought processes, so that with this new influence it is important to exercise discipline; that in expressing what we want, we practice care in not expressing what we don’t want. Or that will manifest instead. If one is in process of change and transformation, this energy works well. On the other hand, for those stuck in the past through victimization or anger, more of that will continue to manifest.

Philosopher, psychonaut and astral traveler, Terence McKenna, before he died in 2000, believed that we would become consistently and more purposefully attracted by the Eschaton — his anomalous state of ‘unknowing’, a ‘transcendental object at the End of Time’, which draws us into awareness of the ‘New’ — and that time would speed up to such an extent that in those End-days, we might be unable to experience the passage of time in the same way we did even one decade ago; indeed, compared with the concept of time of a generation, a century ago, we are already surpassing such reckoning monthly, weekly, daily. He believed this ‘Attractor’ will speed us up even more. Hence those of us aware that the phenomenon is happening are better equipped to handle the transition from ‘old human’ to New Human.

It has been suggested that, particularly during the winter months when we feel light deprivation and shortening daylight hours, we make the most of every opportunity to ‘breathe in’ available sunlight, in snatches throughout the day, in order to refuel the body’s resources. It is only twenty days until the turning of the year. Then, after solstice, the days will lengthen once more.

Before we know it 2012 will be here and with it the fulfilment of Maya prophecies: it is an exciting time to be alive — with more revelations in store.
©2011 Marian Youngblood

December 3, 2011 Posted by | consciousness, earth changes, nature, seismic, sun, volcanic, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

2010 Odyssey Two: Space Weather

Festive gingerbread 'helpers'

The cookies are baked, the turkey/veg-burger (goose) is cooked, the Christmas pudding has been scoffed and the Festive Season is still with us. Not only that, Mother Earth seems to be taking charge, so we may have to stock up on a few more supplies and stores to see us through: it may be some time before this cold snap is out.

I am being a little self-driven here, but the temperatures in Northern Scotland recently have been a little more akin to Estonia and the temps in Estonia rather more like Scotland. Estonia had a rapid freeze over Christmas, but by Boxing Day it was blazing sunshine and thawing. We in the northern isles, on the other hand, had a solstitial temperature of -16ºC (approx. 25ºF) and more snow descended. One day of sunny plus degrees and then a refreeze. It’s down to minus something awful again tonight.

It all has something to do with that great author Arthur C Clarke who first predicted a new civilization with his 2001: A Space Odyssey and then followed it with the lesser-known sequel 2010: Odyssey Two.

Or, it could just be that dreaded winter high pressure over Iceland.

All summer long we prayed, begged, cajoled the elementals in Mother Earth’s atmospheric arsenal into giving us a high pressure over Iceland. These little devas may have been listening but they weren’t about to hand one over. A high pressure over Reykyavik in July and August just about guarantees the eastern and northern portions of the Scots peninsula temperatures like you would not believe!

We did have one tiny blip; I do remember. It came and hovered over this long-forgotten plain for two weeks around the time of Wimbledon. I remember this because when it’s Wimbledon, they are serving strawberries to the punters in the interval while the rest of us are craving the taste, the whiff of that red juice; our gardens are trying their best to ripen the much sought-after fruit, and it usually comes two weeks later after everybody has forgotten who won.

Not this year.

When Wimbledon was being served strawberries, the huge luscious berries in my strawberry bed were at their ripest. They were more delicious than any I can remember. So, some of us poor misguided souls thought the summer of 2009 was going to be another nine on the global-warming scale of one to ten.

It was short-lived.

I am not ungrateful. Those berries tasted so delicious, I can sense the tingle in my mouth even now. But two weeks after Wimbledon, two weeks into the height of strawberry harvest, we in Scotland were plunged into rain. And it rained from the end of July until the end of November and then the snow came. I think you might call that a little unfair of Santa’s little helpers in the department of the stratosphere over Iceland.

I should explain.

Stylized Jet Stream flows

The jet stream, just like the Gulf Stream, whooshes perennially by these shores. It arrives from the west and comes in a kind of wavy motion, following the temperature boundaries where, for example, cold from the polar Arctic region meets warmer air masses from the tropics. Jet streams are caused by a combination of atmospheric heating – solar radiation – and the earth’s rotation on its axis. The main commercial relevance of the jet stream, naturally, is in air travel, as flight time can be dramatically affected by either flying with or against the jet stream.

Meteorologists use the location of the jet stream as an aid in weather forecasting. But, as we know, weather is no longer predicted as you and I do it, looking at the sky and feeling the wind change; cloud-watching; most weather forecasting nowadays is predicted by computer with numbers on charts.

Forecast for the first week of January 2010, courtesy Unisys


But there is something comforting about looking at a temperature gauge or a barograph or barometer and seeing the wavy line change from low to high. If the movement is rapid, excitement is tangible: good weather is on its way.

This is where the high pressure comes in. High pressure attracts warm and warm brings clearing skies and clearing skies make clouds disappear, dissolve, evaporate and we get that yellow glowing thing in the sky called the solar orb, sunshine. I know, I sound as if I haven’t seen it since July. It is almost true.

A high rotates as a cyclone with isobars travelling in a clockwise direction; northerly air stream (wind from the north) heralds the end of a low pressure and the start of a high; ; So when a high pressure sits overhead, in the cyclonic centre it is a still, clear day. High pressures centered over Iceland tend to sit; generate another friendly high and sit again. So the northern isles of Great Britain benefit by osmosis. By contrast, if the high pressure of June, July and August lingers (as it did throughout the summer of 2009) over the Bay of Biscay, then the edge of the high is too far away from our northern shores and all we get is the edge spin, suggested above: the following edge of a counterclockwise low drags after it a high; and conversely the following edge of a high brings an anticyclone low. Bay of Biscay high equals northern Scotland low, low low. That translates as cloud: rain, rain, and more rain.

July through November the lows bred more lows and hung over us like a meteorological hangover.

Arctic illusion or high pressure reality: snow in the North

Now, rather late on the scene, the high pressure has arrived; and because it is winter, those clear open skies are so clear and open we are receiving Arctic conditions daily. No cloud to keep the temperature from falling. Below zero freezing conditions more usual in eastern Europe at this time of year. Snow-clad landscape; white mountain ranges sparkling in clear air fifty miles distant.

At times like this our forebears would gather round the fire after a splendid seasonal feast and tell stories. Nowadays, of course, there is tele: and after New Year, if the snow is still with us (forecast is for it to continue) there will be more TV: for our American cousins and for those with satellite reception it will be Rose Bowl season: days on end of watching the sport of bling: football. I don’t begrudge the fans: we all need something to exercise the mind when the body is hibernating and adjusting to the rigours of winter.

We as a society have become near-immune to what is called in meteorological circles ‘severe weather’. But let’s think about that for a moment.

We have been subject lately to some pretty severe space weather. I heard (but it’s only a rumour) that another solar surge is on its way. We know that during the current solar minimum sunspots are infrequent, but, like the unexpected flare which took us by surprise on July 7th this year, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can play havoc with our geomagnetic systems. Now that we are (practically) all on the same grid (electrical, telecommunications, satellite, computer, transport, GPS navigation), power-driven systems are extremely susceptible to solar storms. It’s not just snow freezing the light cables and clogging the plumbing: a mass power failure would not be a good thing while temperatures are as low as they are at present. We might suddenly come to the scary realization that the wall is very thin between us who are dependent on our winter heating systems for warmth and the homeless man lying wrapped in newspaper under the freeway.

Let’s look, just for example, at the strongest geomagnetic storm on record: the Carrington Event of September 2nd, 1859.

Auroral oval over Europe

This CME is named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the solar flare with unaided eye while projecting an image of the sun on a screen. Geomagnetic activity triggered by the solar explosion electrified telegraph lines, shocked technicians and set fire to their telegraph papers. Aurora Borealis, (Northern Lights) spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning.

God forbid we should have another Carrington Event. We are ill-equipped as it is. In Northern Scotland, where there is no such thing as a motorway, autostrada or freeway, it takes council services all their time to grit icy roads to fragile outlying communities. People’s boilers and gas central heating break down and service technicians can’t reach remote districts because roads are impassable. This is what our society now expects: instantly accessible power; we are failure- and breakdown-intolerant. We do not expect the unexpected and yet the signs around us all point to Mother Nature giving us a shakedown.

I consider myself to be one of the fortunate ones: in that I have a winter store of homegrown vegetables, chickens that lay when it’s not too bitter, and an accessible supply of wood and (dare I say it, that politically-incorrect fuel): coal. If we get a severe storm warning, either earth weather or space weather, I shall, with angelic help, get by. I am not so sure about the flimsy-skirted, T-shirted commuter driving home in her mini without her winter boots, a hat or gloves, who gets caught out in the snowstorm or marooned in a drift.

If the devas are showing us signs of natural occurrences as we enter that long-heralded epoch beginning in twenty-ten, to keep us on our toes, may I suggest we prepare ourselves for what might be a year to remember.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | environment, gardening, nature, organic husbandry, seasonal, sun, weather, winter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nirvana & Light withdrawal: chop wood and carry water

Sunset time in Lerwick is 3p.m.

Two days to go until the sun stands still for 24 hours! That’s how it looks in the northern hemisphere, in places like Lerwick in the Shetlands; Trondheim in Norway, Reykyavik in Iceland and Juneau, Alaska. Then as if on cue or by some cosmic wind-up mechanism, the solar orb starts rolliing again, adding another four minutes of light to each day once more. It allows us hibernators to come out of our winter caves and surface to the sun. If, like me, you live anywhere above Scotland’s ‘Central Belt’, I can assure you the return of the light is such a welcome curve.

There used to be legal ‘lighting-up times’ in Britain: this wasn’t a comical reminder to smoke a cigar or kindle the wood burning stove; it was a law that drivers should switch on headlights 30 minutes after sunset and off 30 minutes before dawn. These laws no longer exist. Legally drivers must simply switch lights on in vehicles whenever visibility is reduced.

snow in time for solstice

i rather miss the old ‘lighting-up times’. It was a way of keeping us in alignment with the hours of the day, with sun times: it helped us tune into the ‘real world’; you know that one out there that’s chucking down snow at us right now and freezing the pipes and causing animals in fields to die if they don’t have shelter; not really that a motorist these days has much time for such banalities. If you are driving in Sheffield or Sacramento, night time looks the same as day because all the lights are on anyway.

Just in case no one believes me, here are some sunrise and sunset times for Britain at the moment: if you live in Bournemouth, or the Isles of Scilly, the sun goes down at 4pm: you are blessed to be able to have a whole hour more light than someone living for example on Unst, the most northerly of the British Isles. Sunset there is 3pm. You get it at the other end of the day, too. You have the blessing of daylight as you drive to work in, say, Dover because the sun comes up at 8am. Pity the ferryboat captain in Wick harbor who doesn’t see the sunrise until 10 minutes to 9am and has to have his lights switched on again at 3pm for sunset.

Sunset at Wick happens at three o'clock

I started writing this at sunset: on the Moray Firth that’s 3:14pm and the day has ended. Night time activities begin. Living in the country, if you haven’t got all your animals inside, fed and watered, you’re going to have to do it in the dark. This was a way of life for thousands, perhaps millions, in days of yore, but few give it a thought these days. I won’t see sunlight again for another seventeen and one-half hours. That’s a remarkable amount of night time, if you really think about it.

There are compensations. Aurora Borealis, for one. Displays at these latitudes can last for hours. And, of course at the height of summer this far north, there is the most awesome array of light showered from above in a day which lasts equally as long as this winter night. Seventeen hours of light in summer; seventeen hours of dark in winter. No wonder they say the Norwegians, Icelandic poets and Scots bards have a poignancy in their work like no other, except perhaps the Russians.

Aurora can last for hours

Nevertheless, because of the snowstorm, this writer is focused more at the moment on keeping body and soul together and that means the old Nirvana adage: ‘before and after achieving Nirvana, chop wood and carry water’.

And while that is a really poor excuse for an introduction to another poem about trees, wood, and burning logs; it’s all I’ve got right now. Days are short; birds and animals bring other demands. Night is a hard taskmistress.

I gave the wonderful wood-burning rhyme in a previous blog ‘for a Queen to warm her slippers by’. This one has slightly different meter, but it includes a more diverse array of woods.

I am particularly fond of the admonition toward the end. The writer (our perennial friend Anon) is quite clearly a supporter of the ancient Caledonian Pine, Pinus sylvestris now in short supply, although being gradually re-introduced and replanted privately.

For a country (Caledonia) which the Romans described as ‘thriving in Pine’, because the origial Caledonian Pine Forest stretched from coast to coast, we have been remarkably careless with this beautiful native tree.

Robert I Bruce, of course, was the main culprit: he burned his way from Kelso to the Comyn stronghold of the Earl of Buchan near Fraserburgh in 1308. This ‘herschip’ or harrying of Buchan was a treatment from which the country never recovered.

It is encouraging to note that the charity Trees for Life is replanting this and other native trees in considerable numbers in a northerly enclave of the original Caledonian Forest.

That little divertissement was a mere sidestep for tree-lovers. For wood-burners, here is the rhyme by our friend Anonymous.

Enjoy.

Logs to Burn

Logs to burn, logs to burn
Logs to save the coal a turn;

Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodman’s cries
Never heed his usual tale
That he’s splendid logs for sale

Scots pine, the 'Scotch log' of the rhyme

But read these lines and really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell
But the sparks will fly.
Beech logs for Christmas time
Yew logs heat well
‘Scotch’ logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.

Ash worth their weight in gold

Birch logs will burn too fast
Chestnut scarce at all.
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the fall.
Holly logs will burn like wax
You should burn them green.
Elm logs like smouldering flax
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs
They will scent your room
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.
But ash logs all smooth and grey
Burn them green or old
Because of all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in gold. Anonymous

December 19, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, consciousness, culture, environment, nature, popular, seasonal, sun, trees, weather, winter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solstice: It’s About Light

Aurora borealis or Northern Lights

As December moves towards the shortest day, we all panic a little. It’s not the present-wrapping still to do, the festive mince pies to bake, the cards to write: though those and other events on the to-do list seem endless and we’ll never get it done.

We will. That’s the point: we’ll get there.

But there is something else. Somewhere deep in the collective unconscious (thank you Carl Jung) there is an unfounded fear that when the shortest day arrives, the sun will not only stand still but may never rise again. That may sound crazy to someone who doesn’t look up at the sky much; who sees ‘light’ as something akin to the strange offerings on Photobucket under that search item: a neon tube.

But there are others among us, myself included, who look to the skies in these fast diminishing days and wonder if the light will return. I miss it so. In the so-called temperate zone, we lose the light at a rate of roughly four minutes per day until December 21st, when the sun ‘appears’ to stand still. And then it turns round and light increases at the same rate until equinox. I blogged last week about how the light-deprived Scots celebrate solstice in Burghead at the latitude of Alaska. No Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for them

The Norwegians, too, know all about that latitude: over half their huge country lies north of the 57º parallel. In Murmansk, on the White Sea, they keep the street lights on from October until April. They’re not just street lights either, they are specially formulated UV, designed to trigger serotonin in the SAD population and offer some hope to a city starved of sun for five months of the year.

Yes, serotonin is the hormone secreted by the human brain in the process of joy. It’s what we as a species need to keep going. Joy and light. And at this season when all the shops are declaring it is time to be ‘merry’, joy may be hard to find, unless we consciously engender it.

So it may be relevant to fostering a little joy that I give you a small ditty which appeared in today’s Daily Mail and one which the people of Norway are still pondering over.

I won’t add the comments from the unbelievers (failed Russian spacecraft, holographic searchlight); the positive view is that it is – in the middle of Arctic winter – a light in the sky. Not exactly aurora borealis, but something electromagnetic and atmospherically-unusual. A spiral of light in the sky. There’s hope.

Light over Tromsö, Norway

Aurora, now. That’s another delight we may witness at our latitude if we’re lucky, at this dark time of year. It might even be seen as a magical mechanism devised by solar wind and earth’s magnetosphere to whisper awe into our unresponsive consciousness.

But to stand on a hill on a starlit night, hot water bottle wrapped round kidney region, three scarves and wool hat in place, furry boots and six layers of woolly jumpers over frail human body, and watch as the firmament wheels for an hour in cathedrals of light, is something not to be missed.

For that I will go through another dark winter in this wild northern latitude.

On January 12 last year the population of Siguida, Latvia experienced the light equivalent of an ice storm: over the city’s streets hovered a cloud of light which then descended into pillars. Scientists attributed the columns of light which hung suspended in air for more than five minutes to frozen crystals of water or minute particles of ice. But to a child it must have looked like a winter fairy’s magic wand had waved.

Ice pillars of light over Latvia last January

There will always be the view of the jaded reporter, the overworked NASA scientist, the prosaic explanation of a failed Russian nuclear test to write off phenomena like these.

I fancy the childlike fairytale explanation myself.

In the dark days of what amounts to a period of hibernation for humankind in the northern hemisphere, isn’t it wonderful to know that the Cosmos is still bringing us its own version of Son et Lumière? Those unexplained shimmering beams of light bent by electromagnetic forces relatively few of us yet understand, spinnning constantly round our Blue Planet.

You thought Crop Circles were cool: in midwinter, Light is even Cooler.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, consciousness, environment, nature, sun, weather | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments