Dec 30, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Challenge of Love

Self-love is fundamental, but remains a Sisyphusian task for many. What would it take for you to respect, honor, and deeply value yourself? This is the challenge of love. To meet it we must choose to return to the Source, to reconnect with our purpose, and remember why we are here apart from our history and story. The challenge of love requires that we spend some time in actually loving actions to free the child from old wounds, to free the adult from the expectations of others, to individuate from parents, and to step out into the world as the someone that you love this elusive challenge of love is and how the challenge of loving your self evolves as you evolve in your own nature. This is a time of falling in love with why you are here, with the feeling of meaning and purpose that nourishes your heart and with the engaging mental challenge of bringing your gifts into the world.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Dec 26, 2014

Alchemical Perfume

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



I love Christmas ads. I know. Commercialism is ruining Christmas and making us forget about the baby Mithras Jesus. But they're festive, nostalgic, and sometimes quite beautiful. Yes, I worked in marketing for long enough that I actually appreciate the artistry of advertising. And the industry rolls out some of its best work at the holidays.

A couple of years ago I noted a perfume ad featuring Julia Roberts that resurfaces every year at this time. It is full of elegant, if not terribly subtle, allusions to Rousseau and the French Enlightenment.

Much of popular entertainment, of late, from movies and television to the Olympics, has me marveling at the imagery. Is the symbolism subconscious or deliberate? I don't know, but it's getting really hard to miss it. 

This new ad from Dior, featuring Charlize Theron, is nothing short of stunning. The past is nothing but a "dream," an illusion. "The future is gold" she says, ascending through an oculus into a "new world."

Dec 23, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Clarifying Your True Calling: The Visionary

"Follow your bliss" is really not enough to go on when we need to clarify a vision of our true calling and engage that path of mastery day by day. For most the vision of their "true calling" is wildly unfocused and impractical or it falls woefully short of the individual's true capabilities. However, consistent work with the Visionary in shamanic journeys encourages us to develop our visionary capacities: our perception, or seeing our external patterns; our insight, or internal viewing; and in engaging our imagination which encourages our intuition. Ultimately the Visionary's point is to get us to open our scope of seeing to all of our senses so that our sense of what "my vision" actually means expands to the point where we can actually clarify our true calling. Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, completes our four part series on using shamanic skills to awaken the true passions that guide you to your calling, clarify your vision, and take real steps toward living it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Dec 16, 2014

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Your True Calling and Power: The Teacher

To live your true calling requires you to maintain right relationship with power-your power and the power of others. Like the captain of a ship that get's the navigation off by half a degree, it is possible to live your life and never arrive at the port of your true calling. Just like that captain, you can't blame the storms and unexpected seas for never getting your ship to where you need to go. How you deal with other people's power is as important as learning to accurately and passionately mobilize with your own. With our contemporary focus on fame, fortune, and happiness as the markers for success we are looking the wrong way. Our true calling is a path of mastery, which requires that each of us discover the right use of our will. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, continues a four part series on using shamanic skills to find your calling and to use this winter solstice to take real steps toward living it. Join us as we explore what a path of mastery means in our fast and distracted contemporary world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Dec 12, 2014

News for the Soul Cancels James Ray

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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I got this in my email earlier today. News for the Soul's Nicole Marie Whitney has canceled an interview with James Arthur Ray which had been scheduled for Sunday. Here is her statement:

Wow. Ok. We started our day with quite the barrage of emails regarding my announcement yesterday.

The emails were regarding my announcement of the scheduled James Ray interview on Sunday which has since been cancelled.

I had planned to do this interview (not as a promotional fluff piece) from day one because I have questions and I felt our conscious community needed some closure and maybe even healing on this matter. And learning. Many teachers out there – some of them reading this right now – conduct very similar events and ceremonies. And some of them have almost had very similar things occur.

I am speaking from first hand knowledge and experience.

We all have questions and need some sort of closure on that event – none of which OUR community has had the hutspa to do as yet. A Pierce Morgan interview is no substitute for a conscious and real perspective on the situation. There is more to say but clearly our community (or at least a vocal section of it) is not ready for this to happen. Thus I have chosen to cancel the James Ray interview that I had announced for Sunday.


Dec 9, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Discerning Your True Calling: The Warrior

Shamanic skills can help us to turn the fears that stop us in life into the ability to discern the deeper truth that resonates with our true calling. There are so many great ideas out there, so many things we are passionate about and such great personal insecurity. Am I really the one to do it? And what of all of that is truly mine to do? And what if your true calling means you will be anonymous for all you have done? These questions are only part of the constant true warriorship needed to live a life shaped by your true calling. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, continues a four part series on using shamanic skills to find your calling and-more importantly-to live it. For those who are prepared, this winter provides a unique opportunity for sudden realignment with your path. Join us as we explore the warriorship required to face the fears and do what it takes to seize the moment of change and align with your true calling.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Dec 2, 2014

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Your Calling and Shamanism: The Healer

When we embark on finding our true calling we are first faced with all we must sacrifice, release, and let die in our current life. For some, losing everything initiates the quest for life's calling. Either way the fear that all we hold dear will be lost to us forever, stops most people. The fear of losing the familiar comforts that define us stops the rest. Shamanic skills can help us to turn these fears that stop us into the path of discovery. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, begins a four part series on using shamanic skills to find your calling and-more importantly-to live it. For those who are prepared, this winter provides a unique opportunity for sudden realignment with your path. Join us as we prepare to release the old stories that distort the guidance, power and teachings of the Healer on your path.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Nov 25, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Giving Gratitude for the Hard Stuff

We are not actually entitled to anything, not the water we drink or the air we breathe. Everything is a gift. For the gifts to flow we must give thanks. Gratitude is not only something that we needed to feel; it must take form. Gratitude must be part of the labor, love and wisdom of your day. It is not enough to say, "thank you"; gratitude must be made concrete through action and intent. How then do we show true gratitude for the gifts that come to us through the door of pain, betrayal, heartbreak, and less than perfect parents. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores how we give sincere thanks for the hard stuff in life. Gratitude as spiritual bypass sounds suspiciously like "everything is as it should be" and "they did the best they could" and it is still a bypass. How do we give thanks for those people, experiences, and events that show us what we do not want to see within ourselves?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Nov 18, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an issue of the soul, not the mind. To define PTSD as a psychiatric disorder is to miss the simplicity of what it is and how we can alleviate the suffering now for those who are trapped in a post-traumatic stress response to everyday. When we understand the soul loss involved in PTSD and include shamanic healing in the modalities prescribed, we can bring healing to those who have been damaged by their experience in terrifying ordeals, situations in which their life was threatened, or sustained situations that involve the constant threat of physical harm. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores what PTSD is, why it isn’t just getting triggered by unresolved issues of the past, and why we as a culture must begin to encourage suffers of PTSD to step beyond the boundaries of psychiatry to heal for themselves and for the next generations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Nov 12, 2014

Sturgeon's Law of Spiritual Practice

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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A friend asked me recently if the whole new age arena was just a lot of escapism for wounded people and ultimately another trap. It's become a recurring theme. A lot of what I'm hearing lately from people is frustration, fatigue, and even disgust with all things "spiritual." Many are feeling disillusioned and even betrayed. Some of them have actually been betrayed by spiritual practitioners, so that's quite understandable.

What I said to my friend, though, is that I feel I have learned and grown a lot through my experiences and study in things that fall under the very large umbrella of "new age." I have had some excellent teachers, but Sturgeon's Law applies.

Sturgeon's revelation, commonly referred to as Sturgeon's law, is an adage commonly cited as "ninety percent of everything is crap." It is derived from quotations by Theodore Sturgeon, an American science fiction author and critic: while Sturgeon coined another adage that he termed "Sturgeon's law", it is his "revelation" that is usually referred to by that term.

The phrase was derived from Sturgeon's observation that while science fiction was often derided for its low quality by critics, it could be noted that the majority of examples of works in other fields could equally be seen to be of low quality and that science fiction was thus no different in that regard from other art forms.

Given my own fairly extensive experience in what I shall broadly call new agedom, I feel very comfortable calling roughly ninety percent of it crap. Much of that crap, I ignore. I know my assessment is subjective and that one man's trash is another man's treasure. In other cases, where I think it's destructive, or even dangerous, I am not able to ignore it in good conscience. In particular, I have criticized The Secret and related law of attraction material. I have also included new age teachers such as James Arthur Ray and Teal Bosworth Scott Swan in discussions of religious abuse.

Nov 11, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Creating a Crucible of Transformation

Humans have an amazing capacity for change if they choose to access it. Even transformation, which is change we cannot go back from, is accessible when we risk engaging our hearts in the process of changes and allow inspiration to take over our minds. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, this week as she explores the elements required to create a crucible of transformation in our hearts and why our vulnerability as our great super power. Straight up, humans hate change... and they really hate transformation. But shamanism, with its robust relationship with the Trickster, offers us skills to be clever in the face of fear, to risk the Unknown when faced with the certainty of repeating patterns, and to be vulnerable so that we can engage the wisdom of our courageous hearts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Nov 9, 2014

The Cardinal's Demotion

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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It's official. Cardinal Burke is being demoted from a high court justice to a figurehead role. As discussed here, Burke himself had confirmed the rumored change. It is assumed that this is due to open criticism of the pope's more tolerant stance on social issues... and for being a firebrand.

Burke, who made waves in 2004 for saying that voting for a pro-choice candidate is “a serious sin,” has been an unusually outspoken detractor of Pope Francis since he ascended to the papacy in 2013. When the pontiff declared last year that the Catholic church was too “obsessed” with culture war issues such as abortion, for instance, Burke responded by saying that the church “can never talk enough” about the “massacre of the unborn.” And while Francis answered a question about gay priests by saying “who am I to judge?” last July, Burke told LifeSiteNews in October that homosexual acts are “always and everywhere wrong, evil.”

But on Saturday, the Vatican announced that Burke, who was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, has been removed from his influential position as head of the Apostolic Signatura — the Vatican’s highest court — and reassigned to a largely ceremonial role as the Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.

“The position of Patron of the the Order of Malta is usually given to a retired cardinal, or as a second task to an active cardinal,” Michael Sean Winters, a prominent Catholic journalist, wrote in the National Catholic Reporter. “It has almost no responsibilities. The demotion is unprecedented, and completely warranted: Cardinal Burke’s influence at the Vatican has been crushingly backward looking, and that influence has resulted in some unhappy appointments.”

Nov 4, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

The Heart of Fear

Everything has a heart, even fear. In our chronic, cultural avoidance of fear we miss the heart of the matter and in that miss the way through the fear and into a new way of living. Instead we delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped only to find ourselves cycling through our litany of fear-based stories, day after day, relationship after relationship. "With the intelligence that comes through us in shamanic journeying," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt, "We can get past the anxiety and panic and touch the heart of the matter. Once at the heart of things all manner of interesting
possibilities unfold." Join us this week as we explore the elemental nature of fear and path rarely taken through the heart of it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Oct 28, 2014

The Evolution of the Catholic Church

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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There's a lot about Pope Francis I like. I like that he's shifting the emphasis of the Church toward love, charity, and compassion and away from hate and judgment. I like that he's so outspoken on the issue of economic inequality. I like that he's at least flexible enough on GLBT issues that he apparently supported civil unions in Argentina. I like that he's driving Catholic hardliners crazy by giving tacit approval to a more gay, and divorce tolerant, direction. I don't like that he opposed same sex marriage in Argentina and equated gay adoptions with child abuse, only to make really lackluster efforts on the real child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

All in all, kind of a mixed bag, but when all's said and done, there's something about his face that makes me feel warm inside. There's an openness and a joy that emanates from Pope Francis that just makes me like him even when I'm disappointed in the lack of substantive progress. I get why the media loves him. He's loveable. I think, however, he's getting credit for radical changes in the Church that just aren't happening.

All day I've been watching stories pour in about how exciting it is that Pope Francis believes in evolution and the big bang. Such breathless headlines ignore the fact that there is nothing radical, revolutionary, or even new in his position. It's squarely in line with Church doctrine.

Said Pope Francis: 

The theories of evolution and the Big Bang are real and God is not “a magician with a magic wand”, Pope Francis has declared.

Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

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Grace in Transition

Grace in transition does not come easily to modern people who live in the climate controlled illusion that they have mastered nature, wilderness, and the Unknown. In transition we are neither here nor there and as a result we are either losing or gaining energy. This is why in the transitional seasons of spring and fall we often experience erratic emotions, "spring colds", and fall depressions. How we attend to these transitions determines the quality of energy we bring to our engagement with life. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores working with the seasons to draw the unique richness from each stage of the cycle of a year on earth. Each season is its own spirit. Akin to the spirits of the land, seasonal spirits have profound influence on us, regardless of our ignorance to their presence. To engage with the season spirits openly and honestly is to engage in simple elegance, rich blessings, and the refinement of presence.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Oct 21, 2014

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"Why Shamanism Now?" with Christina Pratt

Hoodoo Rootwork with Khi Armand

Hoodoo, a wellness modality and system of folk magic draws from many sources. It "is not New Orleans Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, nor Santeria, Palo, or any other religio-magical practices borne from the African diaspora," explains our guest Khi Armand. "...hoodoo is unique partly because of its lack of religious structure. It is not a religion... It is a powerful tool for creating change, no matter your creed or nationality." Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the roots and history of hoodoo, its contemporary manifestation, and current practices with Conjure in the City's, Khi Armand, from Brooklyn, NY.

This week's guest:
Khi Armand

Khi is a gifted and trained spiritual counselor and ritualist. He experienced psychic and supernatural phenomena from an early age, which led him on a journey to study the world's spiritual traditions and the energetic relationships between humans, plants, and other animal species. He holds a degree in Ritual Anthropology and studied animism and ritual at the graduate level.

A modern alchemist, Khi combines intuitive communication with the lifeforce in herbs, roots, stones, and bones with a thorough knowledge of their applicability in a variety of world magical practices (including hoodoo rootwork and Latin American curanderismo) toward helping his international clientele manifest both short- and long-term goals and intentions. Khi's alliances with helping spirits and his ability to channel and enlist Ancestral Helping Spirits lends his work tremendous efficacy and authenticity, drawing upon our most ancient wellness modalities as they regain worldwide recognition for their beauty, efficacy, and necessity.

Khi teaches workshops and presents at conferences across the United States. He performs time-honored and innovative rites that lead people into greater joy, purpose, and prosperity. Khi is a member of the Association of Independent Readers & Rootworkers (AIRR), a gathering of professional practitioners of African American folk magic who provide psychic reading and spiritual root doctoring services to the public.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Oct 19, 2014

Homophobic Cardinal Ousted By Pope Francis

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




It has been confirmed, by Cardinal Raymond Burke, that Pope Francis intends to demote him from the Vatican's high court.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a darling of conservative Catholics who is virulently anti-gay, has confirmed to BuzzFeed what rumors from Rome have said for weeks. He will be demoted by Pope Francis from the head of the Roman Catholic Church's version of the Supreme Court to a figurehead role as the Patron of the Knights of Malta, a chivalrous order known for its work among the sick.

Maybe he can do that job without spewing hate at ninety miles an hour. Let's hope none of those sick people are gay. He recommends shunning them.

Burke recently told an interviewer that legally-married gay and lesbian family members should be shunned from family celebrations during the upcoming holidays, asking “what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?”

Oct 14, 2014

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Creating Sacred Life: Shamanic Practice 6

The sacred is inherent in all things. Relationship with the sacred nourishes our deeper self, rekindles our passion for our soul's purpose, and opens the way for love to enter our lives. Yet we have largely lost the art of being in relationship with the sacred. In everyday life we starve our deeper self of the energies that nourish it, indulge our stories of isolation and separation and justify depression or aggression as appropriate responses to life and its teachings. The sacred, immune to our folly, is patient and present, waiting for us to remember how to tend our relationship with it. Join us this week as host and shaman, Christina Pratt, shares the basics of shamanic practice that retrain our intention, perception, and imagination to engage with the sacred as a natural course of our everyday lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Oct 13, 2014

The Ghosts of Clear Mountain

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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An old college friend of mine tagged me into a comment thread on Facebook the other day. Had I ever encountered any of these supposed ghosts when we were at Montclair State?

Montclair State is said to be one of the most haunted colleges in America.

For years there have been reports of doors and windows slamming, lights flickering on and off, constant cold, and even a ghost who hovers over the beds of the tenants.

It is believed that Montclair is built on top of Indian burial grounds and alumni say it’s a very scary school. So scary, that many refuse to go in the woods after sundown. There have been many reports of figures believed to be Native Americans spotted in the forests.

According to Classes and Careers, the worst stories come from the Clove Road Apartments. Tenants have reported electrical appliances turning on and off on their own, lights on the second floor flashing on and off by themselves, disembodied knocks on bedroom and bathroom doors, “unearthly” noises emanating from the woods behind the apartments.

I remember hearing about weird happenings at Clove Road. I never got terribly invested in it. I only visited apartments there once or twice. When you're me, everywhere is haunted, and the vast majority is really unthreatening.

What struck me, though, about this story is that it to some degree affirms something I've long suspected -- that Montclair State might well be on an Indian burial ground. I had no idea at the time that this had been rumored. I only knew that the years I spent there were miserable. I had health problems and battled depression the entire time. My grades suffered. I simply hated it there.

Oct 10, 2014

Former Insider: TEAL is "Deluded and Dangerous" – UPDATED

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Update: In Which Jess Calls Me Names (See Below)





First, a note on TEAL's moniker: I can't keep up. Teal Bosworth Scott Swan has simply changed her name too many times for me to keep updating and adapting. She now seems to be identifying as Teal Swan, but when she first married Sarbdeep Singh Swan, she announced that her professional name would be TEAL, in all caps. For a while she signed all her obnoxious self-quoting info-graphics that way. At some point, she changed that to Teal Swan, but I am past caring. Because I have no idea how many times her last name will change, I am sticking with her suggestion of a stand-alone first name. However, I refuse to do the all-caps thing all the time. It's annoying to keep cap-locking as I type a body of text, so what I have adopted instead is the use of her first name and in all one case. In titles and at the beginnings of sentences, that is all caps, and in other text, all lowercase. This also solves the problem of having her name constantly SHOUTED, as that is what all caps means in internet-speak. So, for the most part, she is now identified in most of my text as teal.

After I posted my first blog on then Teal Scott, which focused largely on her mistreatment of her ex-boyfriend Fallon, I learned of another member of her inner circle who was similarly targeted, scapegoated, and vilified. The name Cameron Clark came up repeatedly in comments. The Shadow House episode in which teal had subjected her to a range of verbal assaults had gone down the memory hole, but it was the stuff of legend. As she had done with Fallon, teal instigated a shaming and shunning among her followers that was gruesome. Anyone who defended Cameron also got scorched, in some cases directly by teal.

Some time later Cameron reached out to me and we discussed some of her teal related concerns privately. When she felt ready to break her public silence, she also made some comments on my blog, to the great relief of many people who had been very concerned for her well-being. I am thrilled that Cameron now feels ready to tell her whole story publicly. In the player above, she is interviewed at length by Jessica Schab.

It's a long conversation, over five hours, but for anyone who wants to know what life in teal's orbit is really about, it's worth taking the time to weed through it. For reasons that should be obvious, I do not agree with Jessica's framing. I don't think teal is emblematic of the new age, of non-traditional spirituality, or of any kind of religion. I think she falls firmly into the category of religious abusers.

That she abuses her authority was apparent to me when I read in her blog posts that she had erroneously diagnosed her own boyfriend as a psychopath, blurring the lines between lover and client, between uncredentialed healer and therapist, between reality and something else entirely.

Oct 8, 2014

Study Finds Consciousness Survives Clinical Death

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



Results from the AWARE Study were released yesterday and the evidence of continuing consciousness is compelling.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

Oct 7, 2014

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Enliven Your Spirit: Shamanic Practice 5

Sacrifice enlivens our spirit. It opens the way for miracles or the impossible or that which we truly desire to come into our lives. To enliven the spirit in our shamanic practice we must learn to step out of our comfort zones where we feel the simple exhilaration of surfing the surface wave and step into the deep soul satisfying discomfort of becoming people who will make a significant spiritual contribution to life on earth. Author, therapist, and internationally recognized teacher, Sandra Ingerman, joins host, Christina Pratt, this week to explore how we move our shamanic practices from serving our own visions to surrendering intimately to spirit and serving our part in the larger vision. Join us this week and discover who we need to become to engage in the transformations through love that are the needed medicines for our time.

This week's guest:
Sandra Ingerman

Sandra Ingerman, MA, is a licensed therapist and the author of numerous books including How to Heal Toxic Thoughts, Soul Retrieval, and Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins. She is also the author of several lecture programs produced by Sounds True. Sandra lives in New Mexico and can be found online at www.sandraingerman.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Oct 5, 2014

That Time Reza Aslan Smacked Down Bill Maher

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



I've never much cared for Bill Maher's commentary on religion. I think his views on the issue are shallow and reasoned backwards from the most extreme examples. So I very much enjoyed Reza Aslan's recent take-down of Maher's thoroughly ignorant, Islamaphobic rant. In the process he schooled the equally simplistic Don Lemon and Alisyn Camerota.

Comedian Bill Maher recently made some comments about Islamic countries that characterized them as more prone to violence, misogyny and bigotry, and now religious scholar Reza Aslan has called Maher out on his own “bigotry.” Aslan, who became famous when he skewered Fox News, appeared on CNN to pick apart Maher’s “not very sophisticated” and “facile arguments” that characterize Muslim nations as all the same. As is evident from the CNN bit, these arguments are not unique to Maher, making Aslan’s nuanced argument an essential one to keep in mind as we increase military action in the Middle East.

Here’s Aslan’s point: “To say Muslim countries, as though Pakistan and Turkey are the same… it’s frankly, and I use this word seriously, stupid!”

“The problem is that you’re talking about a religion of one and a half billion people,” he explained, “and certainly it becomes very easy to just simply paint them all with a single brush by saying, ‘Well in Saudi Arabia [women] can’t drive,’ and saying that’s representative of Islam. That’s representative of Saudi Arabia.”

In particular, Aslan took on Maher's misrepresentation of female genital mutilation as a Muslim practice.

Sep 30, 2014

Pagans and Satanists Explore Religious Freedoms

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.




As predicted, the recent Supreme Court decision to allow religious invocations in public meetings is already exposing the hypocrisy and discriminatory practices of conservative Christian defenders of "religious freedom." Turns out some religions are more equal than others. Shocker.

In Florida's Escambia County, a potential legal battle is heating up between Agnostic Pagan Pantheist David Suhor and the county school board over his right to perform the invocation. Other local institutions have hosted him and his absolutely beautiful invocation can be heard in the video posted above. But he has locked horns with school board member Jeff Bergosh over his proposed appearance.

David Suhor, 46, a Pensacola resident and musician, said he is ready to bring litigation against the school board after he made requests to several board members to lead an invocation but was turned down by all but one. Suhor describes himself as an agnostic pagan pantheist and wanted to lead a pagan prayer.

“If you’re censoring Muslims, pagans or even satanists, then you’re practicing discrimination,” Suhor told the board.

After Suhor and school board member Jeffery Bergosh engaged in a heated debate through their blogs — Bergosh on jeffbergoshblog.blogspot.com and Suhor on anapplebiter.blogspot.com — Bergosh asked the district’s attorney, Donna Waters, to look into the matter.

Both blogs are worth a look, but Bergosh's has the added value of being unintentionally hilarious.

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The Shaman's Mind: Shamanic Practice 4

We interpret the world and our experience through our mind. Ancient peoples understood this and were sophisticated enough to leave nothing to chance. The ancient mind was trained first by stories and then by ceremonial engagement with the invisible world and education in a cosmology that was as functional as it was accurate. The ancient mind was prepared to become the shaman mind and take on the challenge of interpreting altered states of consciousness. "The contemporary mind is weak and vulnerable to seductions," explains host and shaman, Christina Pratt, "where the story telling is left to the media and ceremony runs from vapid and self centered to empty and self destructive, there is no coherent cosmology to illuminate the way. The mind is utterly unprepared to accurately interpret life itself much less enter altered states reliably. Join us this week as we explore the shaping of the shaman's mind.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Sep 23, 2014

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Creating Shamanic Tools with Evelyn Rysdyk

There is nothing quite as powerful as making your own power objects and shamanic tools. Artist and shamanic teacher, Evelyn C. Rysdyk, joins us this week to share her new book, A Spirit Walker's Guide to Shamanic Tools. This is a beautifully illustrated guide to creating, decorating, consecrating, and using sacred tools in ritual and healing. Evelyn explores everything from how to use little known tools like shamanic mirror and wind staffs to responsible ways of obtaining your materials to the sacred process for creating your own drums, rattles, bundles and staffs. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she and her guest explore part three of the Shamanic Practice Series: creating shamanic tools.

This week's guest:
Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Evelyn C. Rysdyk delights in supporting people to remember their sacred place in All That Is. Whether through face-to-face contact with individual patients, workshop groups and conference participants, or through the printed word--Evelyn uses her loving humor and passion to open people's hearts and inspire them to live more joyful, fulfilling and purposeful lives.

She is a nationally recognized shaman teacher/healer, speaker, artist and author of Spirit Walking a Course in Shamanic Power, Modern Shamanic Living: New Explorations of an Ancient Path, a contributor to Spirited Medicine: Shamanism in Contemporary Healthcare and author of a regular column and numerous articles on shamanism, living in harmony with the Earth and how ancient healing methods support individuals to feel more whole, confident, connected and empowered. Evelyn's web site is www.evelynrysdyk.com.

In joint practice with C. Allie Knowlton, LCSW, DCSW at Spirit Passages (www.spiritpassages.org), their training center for advanced experiential shamanism, Evelyn offers a full complement of workshops, presentations and long-term trainings in advanced shamanism, eco-spirituality and shamanic healing. As founding members of True North, an integrated medical center in Falmouth, Maine, they collaborate directly with medical and other complementary health practitioners to bring healing of the spirit, mind and body to people who arrive at their center from across the USA.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Sep 16, 2014

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Igniting the Ecstatic Heart: Shamanic Practice 2

A spiritual life is nothing but dogma and deception without the heart's active presence. The heart's active presence will soon wander, bored to death with you, if you refuse to engage regularly and intimately with ecstasy. Ecstasy, the falling into the fire naked losing yourself to One surrender ecstasy that comes in union with your helping spirits is one of the great gifts of spiritual life in a shamanic practice. So then why are our shamanic practices so stodgy, precious, (frankly) boring, and ineffective in creating large-scale life change? Join us for part two of a series on creating an effective shamanic practice in your day-to-day life. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the necessary terror in igniting the ecstatic heart and how to keep the fire of true love burning at the core of your shamanic practice while you passionately engage the world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Sep 9, 2014

Graham Hancock Graces Cover of Om Times

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Readers of this blog know that I have something of a love affair with the work of Graham Hancock. As I wrote here, it began rather magically as I was preparing for what would be a life-altering trip to Mexico. That trip was made possible by my friend Jill Mangino, who connected me with the organizers of the Flower of Life teacher training, and otherwise helped me get my ducks in a row.

My trip to Mexico, and particularly my visit to Teotihuacan, catalyzed a process in me and not an entirely comfortable one. Through it all, the works of Graham Hancock have served as guideposts. They provided me with a kind of map through a netherworld of myth and mystery.

I am filled with gratitude for Graham Hancock, for his wonderful books, but also for the incredible generosity with which he shares his ideas in interview after interview, seamlessly weaving together the strands of a massive and challenging body of work.

I noticed last night that Hancock had posted a new interview with Om Times on his Facebook page. Imagine my delight when I discovered that the interviewer was Jill Mangino. It's a great interview. Hancock again shows his tremendous knowledge, his analytical mind, and his willingness to ask hard questions rather than provide pat answers. He and Jill discuss many of the hot button issues that Hancock has been unafraid to press through the years: the possibility of very ancient, forgotten civilizations; Ayahuasca and shamanism; the hard problem of consciousness and the dogma of reductionist materialism; and, of course, the TED fiasco.

How wonderful that Om Magazine has brought together two of my favorite people, both so instrumental in my spiritual development.

And so the circle neatly closes.


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Creating a Foundation for Wellness: Shamanic Practice 1

Knowing where you stand in life-and how to truly stand there-is essential if you want to live a spiritual or enlightened life. This is one of the many paradoxes of living life where the real energy that drives things exists under what is apparent. Those who cannot ground their visions will not live them. Those who invest too much in the physical world and cannot let their visions soar will never know why they are here. Join us for part one of a series on creating a shamanic practice in your day-to-day life. This week host and shaman, Christina Pratt, explores the cornerstones needed to create a foundation that will not crumble under the weight of the real life challenges life throws at you or collapse when you need it the most because your denial, like so many termites, has eaten through the beliefs you think support you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Sep 2, 2014

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Tacey: Part Two

Aboriginal elders warned the religious missionaries they encountered that if the trials of initiation were stopped then an even greater suffering would be unleashed on the uninitiated. We see this greater suffering unfolding today in the epidemics of depression, mental illness, addiction, sexual abuse, and suicide plaguing the contemporary "first world" and those who follow in our developmental and religious footsteps. In Gods and Diseases David Tacey explains what our ego-based society cannot understand, that it is "the task of culture to tell the person who he or she really is." And that it is through the trials of initiation that the person comes to believe that deeper truth and use it as the foundation for sustainable mental wellness. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she continues to explore the power in Tacey's work from his book, Gods and Diseases, which offers a an important way to look at mental illness and the possible new paths toward health and wellbeing that this point of view opens up.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 31, 2014

We Are Legion and We Are Tactless

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



One of the most consistently baffling things to me about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is their tone-deafness. Do these Church officials really not know how out of touch they seem when they answer outrage over vile abuses with platitudes about forgiveness for perpetrators? The rush to forgive their own brethren left countless children vulnerable to non-rehabilitatable criminals. This was nowhere more true than with one of the Church's most notorious offenders: Marcial Maciel Degollado.

And they're still doing it.

Even as they are wrestling with lawsuits from his victims, his children, and the descendents of elderly people his organization bilked out of their fortunes, the Legionaries of Christ scramble to protect his legacy and his name. And of course they do it in an attempt to do what Maciel did best: raise money.

They have already raised $40 million of a needed $100 million to support an outrageous land-grab in the Holy Land. On the ruins of an ancient temple, they intend to build a new complex including a luxury hotel -- how very Maciel of them.

At issue is a women's institute promoted with a brochure entitled Magdala: God Really Loves Women. Yes, it's so nice the way God keeps forgiving women for being sexual creatures. Worse, it equates the Magdalene with Maciel. (I actually got a little queasy just typing that sentence.) The brochure text is truly unbelievable.

Aug 28, 2014

Bergholz Amish Win Appeal

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



It brings me no joy to report that Sam Mullet and his Bergolz Amish followers have won a victory in an appeals court and may "become loose" against the express wishes of many local Amish.

A deeply divided ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals went against the jury's determination that the hair-cutting attacks, with which Mullet's minions terrorized the greater Amish community, constituted a religious hate crime.

The majority of those convicted had already completed, or nearly completed their sentences. The real issue, as ever, is with Bishop Mullet, whose fifteen year sentence offered his community a life free of his sexual demands on the women, physical abuse of their husbands, and the psychological control he exerts over all of his Bergholz Amish.

It is not illegal to run a cult. It is not illegal to extort sexual favors from adult women, in most cases. It is not even illegal to consign grown men to incarceration in chicken coops. It is illegal to terrorize neighboring communities with physical abuse and assaults on their dignity, and it is for this that Mullet and his co-conspirators were convicted.

The larger question from the beginning has been whether cutting off the hair and beards of other Amish constituted a hate crime, in other words, were the crimes motivated by religion.

Aug 26, 2014

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Tacey

What we diagnose as "mental illness" today grows ever more resistant to reason, logic, pharmaceuticals, or medicine. What if these are not illnesses of the mind, but diseases of the spirit? Author and scholar, David Tacey, explores how we would understand and treat mental illness if we understood that by shutting spirit out of our lives with our beliefs we have forced spirit to enter through the side door of illness. When we understand how spirit is trying to work with us through disease we can see that our suffering can be resolved or transformed only when we introduce the dimension of our soul into the healing equation. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she shares Tacey's work from his book, Gods and Diseases, which offers a powerful example of the way in which looking at mental illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 22, 2014

Negative Thinking Associated with Longer Life

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." ~ George F. Will


The data in support of "negative thinking" keeps piling up. I have posted a number of things about studies and assessments showing that staying positive doesn't necessarily bring positive results for either our physical or mental health, and can even be detrimental. See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for a start.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal addresses some of the newer findings that show pessimism and negativity can be better for you, depending on the circumstances and your natural disposition.

Experts say pessimism can at times be beneficial to a person's physical and mental well-being. Some studies have found that having a more negative outlook of the future may result in a longer and healthier life. Pessimism and optimism are opposite ends of a spectrum of personality traits, and people generally fall somewhere in between. 

One study found that older people who were pessimistic about aging had better health outcomes and greater longevity.

A study published last year in the journal Psychology and Aging found that older people with pessimistic views of the future were more likely to live longer and healthier lives than those with a rosier outlook. The researchers used data from a nationally representative survey in Germany of about 11,000 people. Among other questions, people were asked how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

Aug 19, 2014

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The True Root of Illness-Maté

One significant root of disease is the chronic stress created in the body by suppression or denial of emotions and the resulting abnormal release of emotions. "Complex unconscious psychological stresses underlie and contribute to all chronic medical conditions, from cancer and addiction to depression and multiple sclerosis," states Dr. Gabor Maté. . Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she continues to explore how looking at illness through a different lens opens up new possible paths to health and well-being. Given the message in Maté's work, an aspect of our path to health and well-being must be to learn to express our emotional life in timely, honest, and healthy ways. Since contemporary people have no idea what healthy emotional lives feel like, Maté offers us a template to investigate our emotional life and a standard for the emotional competence and honesty needed to support vital health and well-being.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 12, 2014

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A Shamanic View of Mental Illness-Somé

When we look at mental illness through a different cultural lens we can see something entirely different than the standard allopathic interpretation of the situation. There are other ways to look at what is actually happening to someone who has been diagnosed as "mentally ill." Malidoma Patrice Somé is committed to helping contemporary people to see that we can use ritual, albeit adjusted rituals, just as the Dagara people do to relieve the suffering at the core of "mental illness." Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, as she explores the current work of Somé that shows that a different perspective opens up very different possibilities. Ritual can open the way for the individual's healing relationship with helping spirits that supports a cure or definitive movement out of the "mentally ill" state of being and back into the world as an individual better equipped than most to give their gifts to the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 9, 2014

Dawkins Keeps Digging

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Does someone maybe want to take the shovel away from Richard Dawkins? 

His recent Twitter battle, discussed here, is having a ripple effect I don't think he expected or intended. It's rather interesting to see Richard Dawkins so completely on the defensive. He did, after all, set out to do what he does best -- use logic and reason to make sure everyone who disagrees with his world view knows how stupid they are. But it backfired and brought him a lot of negative feedback, even from some atheists. I think he may be learning the hard way that it's not as easy to get away with belittling women as it used to be.

His latest post on the issue shows him to be in full damage control mode and you know what they say: If you're explaining, you're losing.

I have briefly explained (it’s in An Appetite for Wonder) that, as a small boy, I was the victim of a pedophile teacher in the school squash court. He pulled me on his knee, put his hand inside my shorts and fiddled for about half a minute. It was very unpleasant, but it didn’t ruin my life and I had the temerity to say so in my memoir and elsewhere. I had the effrontery to downplay my experience and imply that it could have been worse. The teacher could, for example, have . . . well, I didn’t specify details, but anyone can fill in some of the appalling things that have happened to other children of both sexes.

Pandemonium in the Pigeon-lofts. Freethought Feeding Frenzy. “Dawkins actually said – I kid you not – that his experience in the squash court wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened. Wow, just wow. Where has he been these past few years? Doesn’t everyone nowadays know there are NO gradations? All cases are exactly equally bad. How dare Dawkins BELITTLE the horrors of pedophiliac assault?”

Aug 5, 2014

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Freedom From False Passions-Working with Water

When we focus on the element of water we are focusing on the quality of our relationship with our own emotions. Do they flow or not flow? Old emotions denied or future emotions feared don't flow. As transformational force water is the warrior who is willing to change form, to do whatever it takes to create freedom of flow and to transform the enemies into allies. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, for the new series, Working with the Elements. This week she explores how we can work with the element of water to create the space to open our hearts in life. Only with an open heart can we properly learn from life as the Teacher and gain wisdom from our experiences in life. There is big medicine to be found for those who are willing to do what ever it takes to cultivate a wise heart and become a force for healing, reconciliation, and peacemaking in the world.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Aug 1, 2014

The Richard Dawkins Problem

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.


Richard Dawkins has stepped on his crank. Again.

Another day, another tweet from Richard Dawkins proving that if non-conscious material is given enough time, it is capable of evolving into an obstreperous crackpot who should have retired from public speech when he had the chance to bow out before embarrassing himself.

“Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse,” huffs Dawkins. Seeming to have anticipated, although not understood, the feminist reaction this kind of sentiment generally evokes, he finishes the tweet: “If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.”

I've really written very little about Dawkins, the man, and restricted my criticism to his dogmatic atheism and his disingenuousness in that arena. He has a long history of intemperate, ignorant, and insensitive remarks, particularly in the areas of gender politics and sexual violence. I've never thought it deserved a free-standing post because it's not really relevant to discussions of his atheist views. This is, I think, for reasons articulated in that same article.

Dawkins’ narrowmindedness, his unshakeable belief that the entire history of human intellectual achievement was just a prelude to the codification of scientific inquiry, leads him to dismiss the insights offered not only by theology, but philosophy, history and art as well.

To him, the humanities are expendable window-dressing, and the consciousness and emotions of his fellow human beings are byproducts of natural selection that frequently hobble his pursuit and dissemination of cold, hard facts. His orientation toward the world is the product of a classic category mistake, but because he’s nestled inside it so snugly he perceives complex concepts outside of his understanding as meaningless dribble. If he can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist, and anyone trying to describe it to him is delusional and possibly dangerous.

I think there is a connection between Dawkins's scientism and a kind of emotional stuntedness. He's suspicious of subjective experiences and seems to think that our emotions should follow a logical process. If you were raped this way, you should feel like this and if you were raped another way, you should feel like that. I mean it's only logical. And why on earth can't you be ruthlessly analytical about rape? You must be stupid.

Jul 30, 2014

Are the Poles Shifting?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Revised Compass Rose photo RevisedCompassRose_zps50720ae7.jpg


I've been talking about pole shift for a while now. Several years ago, I started getting intimations that it was imminent. There's a little more on these messages here. I just didn't really know what to make of it. The gist was that things were going to shift in some very surprising ways, that the systemic injustice that I find so excruciating had reached the end of the line, and that this was somehow connected to or simply concurrent with pole shift.

I first learned about the idea of pole shift many years ago when I was reading a book on Edgar Cayce. I had no frame of reference for the idea so it rolled off my brain like beads of water from an oily surface. Years later, when I first became acquainted with the work of Drunvalo Melchizedek, I heard it again and thought, so is that what Cayce was talking about? I liked Drunvalo's take on this. It was fairly optimistic and tied the idea of pole shift with an expansion in human consciousness.

Drunvalo says all kinds of things and some I really do take with a grain of salt. But he always struck me as a sincere fellow and so much of what I learned from him has proved itself to me that I keep a lot of his more outrageous material on the maybe pile. His ideas on pole shift fall into that category.

Pole shift has been a subject of debate. It's an accepted fact that Earth's magnetic poles have shifted more than once, in the distant past. That this has caused crustal displacement is disputed by most experts. Charles Hapgood theorized that they did and that it was associated with changes in land masses. His theories have not gained wide acceptance.

Mainstream science has been as strident and dismissive of concern as it has been vague on the particulars. The simple truth is that there's a lot they don't know about how this works and the potential effects. As discussed here, some theories have us already in the beginning stages of shift. The message from officialdom has been that while the magnetic field of the planet has been weakening for over a hundred years, and while we are probably overdue for a pole reversal, the last known one having occurred about 750,000 years ago, the next is probably at least hundreds of years off and will occur gradually, probably over thousands of years. In other words, calm down, people.

Jul 29, 2014

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Freedom From False Passions-Working with Fire

When we focus on the element of fire we are focusing on the quality of the relationship we have with our own spirit. As a transformational force, fire is the healer who is showing us how to engage in the art of release and sacrifice. The fire helps us to free our hearts to love what truly matters to us and free our lives from the patterns of thinking, speaking, and acting that drain our hearts of their natural fullness for all life. Join host and shaman, Christina Pratt, for the new series, Working with the Elements. This week she explores how we can work with the element of Fire to kill our false passions that lead to the arrogance, aggression, and ambition that sickens our world. There is big medicine to be found in the Fire; it brings the blessing of freed energy so that you can feel and follow the true passion of your soul's longing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 11:00 AM Pacific

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Jul 28, 2014

Satanists Seek to Exploit Hobby Lobby Ruling

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.



The Satanic Temple has carved out quite a niche for itself in the fight for First Amendment protections, capitalizing on Satan's pariah status as it exploits legal loopholes and bad rulings that cater to Christian extremists. Last I heard they were riling up some Oklahomans by attempting to slip a giant statue of Baphomet onto State Capitol grounds, using the same "private funding" excuse used by the ten commandment enthusiasts who placed their own monstrosity.

Now, in light of the stunningly horrible Hobby Lobby ruling, the Satanic Temple is taking the opportunity they believe the Supreme Court has opened up to defy laws on the basis of religious belief. Has your state passed laws restricting abortion access and requiring doctors to regale women with unscientific claims about the dangers of abortion? These Satanists claim that junk science and restrictions on personal liberty are against their religion... and probably most people's. Therefore, they are making printable letters available to women everywhere whose religious belief in bodily autonomy precludes their being lectured about how abortion may land them in the mental ward.

Informed consent or “right to know” laws state that women seeking elective abortions be provided with information about alternatives to the procedure, often couched in language that attempts to personify the fetus. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 35 states currently have informed consent laws, and of those, 33 require that the woman be told the gestational age of the fetus.

In some states, that information consists of pro-life propaganda that links abortion to a higher incidence of breast and ovarian cancers, or discusses “post-abortion syndrome,” a mental condition not recognized by any major medical or psychiatric organization.

Because the Satanic Temple bases its belief “regarding personal health…on the best scientific understanding of the world, regardless of the religious or political beliefs of others,” it claims that state-mandated information with no basis in scientific fact violates its “religious” beliefs.

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