Posts Tagged ‘Lunar Eclipse’

News & Submissions 12/8/2011

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Arts & Entertainment:

Retrospective: BBC’s ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’
Britain’s adoption of Halloween as a season for all things ghoulish is a relatively recent phenomena, gathering momentum by minute gradations, but still is somewhat fleeting compared to the glorious renditions accorded to that season by our friends in the U. S. of A. This has little to do with any discontent at larkish shenanigans generally, nor prudishness at a festival so rooted in things Pagan, naught a scintilla with disinterest in all things macabrely malignant. It has simply to do with the fact that for Brits, Christmas – with its long, dark nights – has long been established as the time for fear and it’s been that way multos annos. In terms of what we would today consider popular culture, the man most directly responsible for this unlikely paradigm is a chap known in his own lifetime, affectionately, as ‘Boz’. Mr. Charles Dickens, like many a Victorian, was obsessed with the supernatural. As editor of ‘All the Year Round’, one of Victoriana’s most popular ’zines, he published not only his own unheimlich offerings, but a plethora of others by some of the best in the genre. The most important of these, by far, was Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. But the techniques Le Fanu pioneered – the slow escalation of narrative, the meticulous use of suggestion, the excessive under-statement, the well-used psychological underpinnings, the almost obsessive use of folklore would prove far less important in his own lifetime than they were to become to his most renowned protégé – M.R. James, who always placed Le Fanu “absolutely in the first rank as a writer of ghost stories”. Read full story from


Saturday’s Lunar Eclipse Will Include ‘Impossible’ Sight
This year’s second total lunar eclipse on Saturday (Dec. 10) will offer a rare chance to see a strange celestial sight traditionally thought impossible.

Ringside seats for the lunar eclipse can be found in Alaska, Hawaii, northwestern Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and central and eastern Asia. Over the contiguous United States and Canada, the eastern zones will see either only the initial penumbral stages before moonset, or nothing at all.

Over the central regions of the United States, the moon will set as it becomes progressively immersed in the Earth’s umbral shadow. The Rocky Mountain states and the prairie provinces will see the moon set in total eclipse, while out west the moon will start to emerge from the shadow as it sets. Read full story from


‘Witch’s cottage’ unearthed near Pendle Hill, Lancashire
Engineers have said they were “stunned” to unearth a 17th Century cottage, complete with a cat skeleton, during a construction project in Lancashire.

The cottage was discovered near Lower Black Moss reservoir in the village of Barley, in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Archaeologists brought in by United Utilities to survey the area found the building under a grass mound.

Historians are now speculating that the well-preserved cottage could have belonged to one of the Pendle witches. Read full story from


Psychology lecturer is also a practicing Wiccan
Laura Wildman-Hanlon, a practicing Wiccan, is not your Hollywood witch. She doesn’t wear a pointed hat or have green skin, and she certainly doesn’t turn men into frogs. This she says, is not at all what real Wicca and witchcraft are about.

“Wicca is a modern form of witchcraft,” said Wildman-Hanlon, office manager for the psychology department at the University of Massachusetts. “It’s more of a religious component. It is earth-based spirituality that acknowledges the divine in many forms.” Read full story from

Black, atheist and living in the South
(CNN) – Benjamin Burchall first realized how different his experience in the South was going to be while looking for something to watch on television on a Sunday night.

“I couldn’t find anything on television but religious programming,” says Burchall, 38, a former Christian minister and agricultural consultant who moved from Long Beach, California, to Atlanta for work, “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, where am I? Is this all that is on television here?’”

And he quickly found other differences from West Coast living.

“I was not used to meeting someone for the first time and having their first question be ‘what church do you go to?’”

Burchall’s proud response to such queries was, “None.” He is part of an increasingly visible minority – black atheists living in the Bible Belt. Read full story from

Camp Pendleton Cross Does Not Honor Non-Christian Fallen Marines
The United States military is highly diverse. According to a 2010 analysis, many different Christian denominations are represented in the ranks, but some personnel are Humanist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan or followers of other traditions. One survey found that as many as 25 percent cited no religious preference at all.

Thus, when a group of marines at Camp Pendleton erected a large cross on their California base as an unofficial memorial to soldiers wounded or killed in combat, they left out a lot of their comrades. A cross may honor Christian service personnel who died, but it doesn’t include those of other faiths and those who follow no spiritual path at all. Read full story from

Study: Some atheists with children attend with religious services
Washington (CNN) – Nearly one in five atheist scientists with children involve their families with religious institutions, even if they personally do not agree with the institutions teachings, a recent study says.

The study, conducted by Rice University and the University at Buffalo, found that these scientists affiliate with churches for both social and personal reasons. Additionally, the scientists indicated a strong desire to prepare their children to make educated decisions about their personal religious preference. Read full story from


  • Pagan Culture – Witchy Books Reading Challenge 2012
  • Patti Wigington – Yule Countdown: Customs Around the World
  • The Wild Hunt – Oberon Zell and Kenny Klein Cut Ties With Revived American Council of Witches

Feel free to leave comments regarding the articles posted.

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Thanks for stopping by! Well wishes to you all, have a great day!


News & Submissions 12/23/2010

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The Medical Power of Ritual
Harvard researcher Ted Kaptchuk trained for five years in traditional Chinese medicine, but then became one of the leading researchers into the placebo effect. In his hands, the fact that patients with some kinds of illnesses get better with dummy pills is a gateway into the ways that other aspects of medicine, including the capacity of doctors to generate feelings of hope, are overlooked in our technology-obsessed health care system.

This morning, Kaptchuk is out with his latest salvo in this research: a study that showed that patients with irritable bowel syndrome improved more if they were given inert sugar pills – even though they were told the pills had no active ingredients and the bottles were labeled “placebo.” Fifty-nine percent of patients who got the obviously fake pill got adequate symptom relief, compared to 35% of those who got nothing. In a press release put out by the Public Library of Science, the medical journal that published the study, Kaptchuk’s co-author, fellow Harvard professor Anthony Lembo, says: “I didn’t think it would work. I felt awkward asking patients to literally take a placebo. But to my surprise, it seemed to work for many of them.” Read full story from

An atheist view of December
“Christians don’t deserve a monopoly on holiday cheer,” reads a simple yet loaded statement on the American Atheists’ website.

But how could Christians monopolize a holiday that is based on their beliefs?

It turns out that traditions associated with Christmas have morphed into social norms adopted even among nonbelievers.

Everywhere you turn there are decorations, cookies, and music. But for many of the 5% of Americans who say they don’t believe in God, December is not that different from what it’s like for those affiliated with a Christian religion. Those who don’t believe in the reason behind the holiday still celebrate the season’s concentration on values, family, and kindness. Read full story from

Colossal pliosaur fossil secrets revealed by CT scanner
The innermost secrets of a colossal “sea monster” skull are being revealed by one of the UK’s most powerful CT scanners.

The X-rays are helping to build up a 3D picture of this ferocious predator, called a pliosaur, which terrorized the oceans 150m years ago.

The 2.4m-long (7.9ft) fossil skull was recently unearthed along the UK’s Jurassic coast, and is thought to belong to one of the biggest pliosaurs ever found.

The scans could establish if the giant is a species that is new to science.

Pliosaurs are aquatic reptiles belonging to the plesiosaur family. Paddle-like limbs would have powered their huge bulky bodies through the water, and they had enormous crocodile-like heads, packed full of razor-sharp teeth. Read full story from

French village threatens to call in army amid flood of doomsday survivalists
Residents of a tiny French village say it is being overwhelmed by outsiders who are intrigued by reports of aliens in the area and believe that the peak looming above may be a sacred mountain that will be a shelter at the end of human civilization.

Villagers in Bugarach, population 189, told The Daily Telegraph these visitors believe that the end of the world corresponds with the conclusion of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, and that the Pic de Bugarach, highest mountain in the Corbieres wine region, could provide some sort of sanctuary. Read full story from

Do Supernova Explosions Impact Earth Every Few Hundred Million Years?
A University of Kansas research team is exploring the energy of cosmic rays and a possible link to massive prehistoric extinction events. Fossils and cosmic rays appear to have nothing in common. But Adrian Melott, a professor at the University of Kansas, is doing work with high energy cosmic rays to investigate the possibility that one may be linked to the other.

“There are a lot of things that can happen to the Earth that would cause it to get hit by more high-energy cosmic rays,” says Melott. “A supernova fairly nearby (within about 30 light-years) is an obvious one. Another one would be a gamma ray burst in our galaxy that’s pointed at us. And some people think that as we move up and down in the disc of the galaxy, when we get to the top we would get hit by more high-energy cosmic rays. So we don’t know. We have a general idea of the effects on the atmosphere, but people haven’t modeled it very much. Normally they don’t matter, because most of the cosmic rays that hit us are medium and low energy.” Read full story from

Genome of Mystery Human Relative Revealed by 30,000 Year-Old Fossil
A 30,000-year-old finger bone found in a cave in southern Siberia came from a young girl who was neither an early modern human nor a Neanderthal, but belonged to a previously unknown group of human relatives, called “Denisovans” after the cave where the fossils were found, who may have lived throughout much of Asia during the late Pleistocene epoch.

Although the fossil evidence consists of just a bone fragment and one tooth, DNA extracted from the bone has yielded a draft genome sequence, enabling scientists to reach some startling conclusions about this extinct branch of the human family tree. Read full story from

Slideshow: Winter Solstice, lunar eclipse met by Druids at Stonehenge (photos)
The winter solstice, lunar eclipse combination may have been a wonder to some, but for Druids at Stonehenge it was a significant spiritual experience.  The winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s axis is tilted the furthest from the sun and marks the first official day of winter.  The day is often referred to as midwinter and the winter solstice is marked by being the shortest day and longest night.  Winter solstice 2010 occurred on December 21, 2010 at 6:38 pm ET.  The lunar eclipse of 2010 ushered in the solstice as the eclipse was completed by approximately 5:00 am, December 21, 2010. Read full story from

‘Christmas is evil’: Muslim group launches poster campaign against festive period
Fanatics from a banned Islamic hate group have launched a nationwide poster campaign denouncing Christmas as evil.

Organisers plan to put up thousands of placards around the UK claiming the season of goodwill is responsible for rape, teenage pregnancies, abortion, promiscuity, crime and paedophilia.

They hope the campaign will help ‘destroy Christmas’ in this country and lead to Britons converting to Islam instead. Read full story from

‘John of God’: Faith healer? (source cnn)

‘Seinfeld’ actor reminices about Festivus (source cnn)

Godless Christmas (source Pat Condell)

News & Submissions 12/20/2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Total lunar eclipse on December 20 or 21, depending on time zone
There is a lunar eclipse on the night of December 20 or 21 – depending on your time zone. See below for the date in your location. This December solstice eclipse is also the northernmost total lunar eclipse for several centuries.

There won’t be a total lunar eclipse this far north on the sky’s dome until December 21, 2485.

That’s because this eclipse is happening almost simultaneously with the December solstice – which in 2010 occurs on December 21 – when the sun will be southernmost for this year. Remember, a totally eclipsed full moon has to lie exactly opposite the sun. The winter sun rides low to the south now, as it crosses the sky each day. So this December full moon is far to the north on the sky’s dome. It rides high in the sky – much like the June solstice sun. Read full story from

Whose Holiday Is It, Anyway?
It’s fundamental to who we are and how we behave. Humans are hard-wired for it.

It brings pleasure to those engaging happily in it, and grief to those who don’t.

Both war and Facebook are rooted in it.

We first become aware of it as toddlers, and spend the rest of our lives either trying to perfect it, wondering why we can’t, or both.

And until individuals understand its evolutionary underpinnings, we’ll never learn how to truly get along with each other.

It’s called ethnocentricity: the tendency to measure other groups according to the values and standards of our own, especially with the belief that one’s own group is superior to others. Read full story from

The ‘zombie theology’ behind the walking dead
Some people find faith in churches. David Murphy finds them in zombies.

Murphy, the author of “Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead,” says Americans’ appetite for zombies isn’t fed just by sources such as the AMC  hit series “The Walking Dead” or the countless zombie books and video games people buy.

Our zombie fascination has a religious root. Zombies are humans who have “lost track of their souls,” Murphy says.

“Our higher spirit prevents us from doing stupid and violent things like, say, eating a neighbor,” Murphy says. “When we are devoid of such spiritual ‘guidance,’ we become little more than walking bags of flesh, acting out like soccer moms on a bender.” Read full story from

Ending ‘Don’t Ask’ Will Take Time
Congress has repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but the task of lifting the ban against gays serving openly in the military would likely take months, officials said.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said in a statement after the Senate voted Saturday to end the policy that he would “approach this process deliberately.”

Once the change becomes law with President Barack Obama’s signature, the military will need to revise policies and regulations that govern everything from leadership training to standards of conduct. And before the policy officially ends, the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff must sign a letter certifying that the changes wouldn’t affect military readiness. Read full story from

President holds pre-meeting with select tribal leaders
WASHINGTON – A select group of tribal leaders from some of the 565 federally-recognized tribal nations invited to join President Barack Obama at his Dec. 16 tribal summit were summoned to meet with the president a day before the main event.

The White House announced the evening of Dec. 15 that 12 tribal leaders had met earlier in the day with the president in the Roosevelt Room. The meeting was closed to other tribal leaders, as well as press.

The president was in the room for approximately 15 minutes. His aides listened to tribal leaders speak for much longer, according to sources familiar with the event. A photo of the session was taken by a White House photographer while the president was in the room.

Complete details of the meeting were unavailable due to the closed nature of the event, but the White House released a statement to publicly document it. The National Congress of American Indians also released a statement. Read full story from

Got the Winter Blues? Weather’s Effect on Mood Revealed
New research into the connection between weather and moods has started to chip away at old myths as well as uncover some potentially powerful treatments for the winter blues.

The first myth to die is the idea that everyone feels bad when the weather gets foul. It turns out that most people might fall into one of four categories when it comes to their moods and weather, say researchers who have studied more than 2,000 Germans by way of daily questionnaires about their moods and other happenings in their lives.

“We saw differences and we actually categorized people according to their differences,” said Jaap Denissen of Humboldt University in Berlin. He and his colleagues have submitted their latest work, an expansion of an earlier study, to the journal Emotion. Read full story from

Beam Me Up: ‘Teleportation’ Is Year’s Biggest Breakthrough
Thanks to physics, and the truly bizarre quirks of quarks, those Star Trek style teleporters may be more than fiction.

A strange discovery by quantum physicists at the University of California Santa Barbara means that an object you can see in front of you may exist simultaneously in a parallel universe — a multi-state condition that has scientists theorizing that teleportation or even time travel may be much more than just the plaything of science fiction writers.

Until this year, all human-made objects have moved according to the laws of classical mechanics, the rules governing ordinary objects. Toss a ball in the air and it falls back to Earth. Drop a coin from your roof and it falls into your yard. But back in March, a group of researchers designed a gadget that moves in ways that can only be described by quantum mechanics — the set of rules that governs the behavior of tiny things like molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.

And the implication — that teleportation and even time travel may someday, somehow be a reality — is so groundbreaking that Science magazine has labelled it the most significant scientific advance of 2010. Read full story from

Sun’s gravity could be tapped to call E.T.
Our own sun might represent the best communications device around, if only we could harness its power, scientists say.

If the sun’s gravity could be used to create a giant telescope, people could send and receive intensely magnified signals that could allow us to call an alien civilization, some researchers propose.

According to Einstein’s general relativity, the sun’s behemoth mass warps space-time around it, which actually bends light rays passing by like a giant lens. If a detector was placed at the right focal distance to collect the light, the resulting image would be extremely magnified. Read full story from

Celebrate the return of the light with ice lanterns
The way light refracts through ice is fascinating. Forget the science — it’s just plain fun to look at. Flickering light, captured inside an ice lantern, adds a warm and distinctive ambiance to any winter setting. And the gentle glow of fire and light cutting through the dark of winter can take the chill out of the coldest days — at least in spirit.

In Norse mythology, the space where the worlds of fire and ice meet is the place of creation — a place of light, air and warmth. With the arrival of winter solstice and the sun on its slow return, ice lanterns are an easy and fitting way to welcome brighter days.

The formula is simple: Add water to any mold and set it outside or in the freezer. Five-gallon buckets work well if you like the look of a traditional lantern. If you prefer globes, balloons are the way to go. Start now, and with a few supplies and a little patience, you’ll have your own creation ready in time for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. The amount of water you’re freezing and the air temperature will affect how long it takes to make your lantern. The more science you apply — tap vs. distilled water, temperature variances, thin vs. thick walls — the more varied outcomes you can achieve. Read full story from

Why doesn’t the latest sunset fall on the longest day of the year?
If the summer solstice falls on the longest day, why doesn’t it also coincide with the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset?

We all know that the summer solstice, the moment when the sun reaches its most southerly point in the sky, falls on the longest day. So it seems logical that the day would coincide with the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset of the year. But the earliest sunrise tends to happen in early December, while the latest sunset is on another day in early January.

This phenomenon is created by a combination of the Earth’s oval-shaped orbit and its tilt of 23.5 degrees, says Professor Fred Watson, astronomer-in-charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

“These two things together have a real effect on the sunrise and sunset times and they skew them so you don’t have the longest day, the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset all on the same day,” Watson explains. Read full story from

My Take: Religious Cities are Among the Most Violent
In one of the more jarring passages in God is Not Great, the celebrated atheist Christopher Hitchens writes of being asked a “straight yes/no question” by the conservative Jewish broadcaster Dennis Prager. Hitchens was to imagine seeing a large group of men approaching him in a strange city at dusk: “Now – would I feel safer, or less safe, if I was to learn that they were just coming from a prayer meeting?”

Hitchens’ answer, of course, is that he would feel less safe. And the rest of his polemic, which is subtitled “How Religion Poisons Everything,” is an extended attempt to explain why.

Whether religious people are more prone to criminality than unreligious people is, of course, an empirical question. So in some sense it doesn’t make all that much sense to argue about it. Just go instead and look at the data. Read full story from

Is There An Afterlife? Christopher Hitchens vs Shmuley Boteach (source Daily Hitchens)

News & Submissions 12/16/2010

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Celebrating paganism with a winter solstice
A solstice is the celebration of the sun’s rebirth. Every year, Sudbury’s pagan community celebrates a summer and winter solstice, noting the longest and shortest days of the year.

Kristan Cannon-Nixon, one of five organizers who helps run both annual events, said its a way for pagans of all denominations to celebrate their beliefs together, and celebrate the shifting of seasons as it’s happening.

She said it’s “absolutely beautiful” that people who hold varying beliefs can get along at one celebration. Read full story from

Black Plants and Twilight Zones: New Evidence Prompts Rethinking of Extraterrestrial Life
Astronomers have long searched for a planet that could harbor life outside our solar system. When reports came in earlier this fall of the not too hot, not too cold exoplanet Gliese 581g, it was like the answer to a dream. “If it’s confirmed, I think it’s definitely the planet we’ve been waiting for, for a long time,” says Rory Barnes, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington who wasn’t involved in the research.

The wait may continue for a while. Soon after University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomer Steven Vogt and his collaborators reported the “Goldilocks” exoplanet, a rival Swiss group said it could not find evidence for Gliese 581g in its own data set. Confirming the new find, based on 11 years of subtle and indirect telescope-based measurements, could require several more years. Read full story from

Why haven’t we found aliens yet?
The question of whether or not we are alone in the galaxy is one that has fascinated everyone from mathematicians to conspiracy theorists.

But, if extra-terrestrial life forms are abundant in the Universe – as some people believe – why have they not been in contact?

From Doctor Who to Superman, ET to Marvin the Martian, fiction has regularly brought aliens to Earth as friends or enemies but, as yet, no-one has proved they have ever seen an alien apart from on film or TV. Read full story from

EcoAlert: Ancient 2-8 Million Year-Old Forest Discovered in Canada’s Arctic
Ohio State University researchers and their colleagues have discovered the remains of the northermost  forest buried by a landslide that lived on the island two to eight million years ago, when the Arctic was cooling. The remains could offer clues to how today’s Arctic will respond to global warming.

The Ohio State team believe the trees — and exquisitely preserved – will help them predict how today’s Arctic will respond to global warming. They also believe that many more such forests could emerge across North America as Arctic ice continues to melt. As the wood is exposed and begins to rot, it could release significant amounts of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -and actually aggravate global warming. Read full story from

Lunar eclipse and solstice to overlap
This year’s winter solstice -an event that will occur Tuesday -will coincide with a full lunar eclipse in a union that hasn’t been seen in 456 years.

The reappearance of the celestial eccentricity holds special significance for spiritualities that tap into the energy of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and a time that is associated with the rebirth of the sun.

“It’s a ritual of transformation from darkness into light,” says Nicole Cooper, a high priestess at Toronto’s Wiccan Church of Canada. “It’s the idea that when things seem really bleak, (it) is often our biggest opportunity for personal transformation. Read full story from

’Tis our season
Some stores no longer put up a tree because they say it represents Christmas and not the whole “holiday season” in general. However this is not completely true, contrary to popular belief. The use of tree and lights began way before the birth of Jesus. Not in any way desecrating Christmas, I’m just shining a candle light on the subject.

The origin of the Christmas tree and lighting up our houses are ancient traditions that date back to more than 4,000 years in Egypt with palm branches celebrating the 12 months of the sun with a 12-day festival during the winter solstice. Evergreens, mistletoe, holly and ivy are the few plants alive during the cold winter months and are ancient symbols of eternal life which gave our ancestors hope for the coming months. Read full story from

Column: Local Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll bashes yoga and ‘Easternism’
Last fall, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, received national attention for an article he posted on his website arguing that Christians should not practice yoga. His argument was that yoga is rooted in the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Therefore, he believes that practicing yoga is corrupting to people that consider themselves Christians.

I guess you can lump yoga together with religion. However, most people just show up for their one-hour class at the local health club and then go back to their busy lives when it’s over. It is not necessary to debate the merits of Christianity versus another religion because commercialized American ‘yoga’ has hardly any religious significance. Making yoga into the enemy of Christianity is silly and paranoid. Read full story from

Statue ‘Cemetery’ Found Near Egyptian Tomb
Two statuary fragments recently uncovered at the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III in Luxor. On the left is the head of the baboon god, Hapi, and on the right are the legs of another red granite statue. (Photo: SCA)

Egyptian archaeologists believe they have found a type of cemetery of broken and damaged ancient statues near the northern side of the funerary temple of King Tut’s grandfather on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor.

A team excavating the site, which has recently yielded many statues, has unearthed two red granite statue fragments.

One is part of a larger statue of Amenhotep III, believed to be the grandfather of King Tutankhamun, and features two legs. The other is a 2.73-meter (9-foot) high head of the god Hapi. Read full story from

A Winter’s Tale: Afghans Take Pride In Turning Away Occupiers
Afghans have a winter tradition that goes back centuries — they put hot coals in a pot under a table and put a quilt over that. It’s called a sandali. Everyone sticks their feet under the blanket and the freezing temperatures don’t seem so bad — as long as you don’t leave the table. Stories help pass the time

“We’d sit around the sandali and my grandfather told stories while we ate raisins and dried mulberries.” says Sayed Mushtaba Frotan, a 54-year-old former guerrilla fighter. Read full story from

Fish Thought to Be Extinct for 70 Years Rediscovered
In 1940, a hydroelectric dam was constructed in northern Akita Prefecture, Japan. The project, it was known at the time, would destroy the only native habitat of the black kokanee salmon by making the waters too acidic for the fish to survive. Still, developers went ahead with their plans.

A concession was made to protect the species: 100,000 eggs were transported to nearby Lake Saiko. Unfortunately, the transplanted eggs did not hatch and the species quickly became extinct. At least, that’s what was thought.

Now, a new discovery suggests that a small population of kokanee salmon may have survived. Read full story from

Change is afoot for 800-year-old whirling dance (source cnn)

News & Submissions 12/01/2010

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Christian Colomnist: We’ve Won the War on Christmas
Despite renewed attacks on Christmas, one Christian columnist says in the grand scheme of things “it’s not a war” because Christian principles are deep within U.S. and world customs.

Gary McCullough, director of Christian Newswire, says he is annoyed and bothered by the latest atheist attacks on Christmas and the story of Christ’s birth. He asserts that Christians have already won the culture war by using their principles to “co-opt” rituals and holidays in America and abroad.

“We take them over, we make them our own and we mock their pagan roots,” insisted McCullough. Read full story from

Seneca Nation files FERC notice for Kinzua Dam license
SALAMANCA, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation of Indians has taken the first step toward becoming the owner-operator of a massive hydroelectric facility built on land expropriated from the nation more than 50 years ago.

Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter has announced that the nation filed application documents with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Nov. 30 for the license to operate the Seneca Pumped Storage Project at Kinzua Dam.

Seneca will be competing for the permit against the current owner, FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron, Ohio. The current 50-year license to operate the pumped storage project expires in 2015. Read full story from

Midweek Musings: Four steps to remember in saying good-bye
This holiday season will be the first one in my family without our father in this world.

He passed away in June, and I know from working with other families that the first holidays after a death are often layered with sadness. Last year, I wrote a column about one of our final conversations with my dad while he was still lucid.

This year, remembering some of what he said has helped us through our grief. As I mourn him, all the things I’ve said to people as a pastor over the years are coming toward me, now. It’s strange and beautiful to be on the receiving end of comfort. Holidays are special markers in communities, large and small: who is still with us, how we have changed, where are we now, who we are becoming. Read full story from

World AIDS Day 2010: Rates of new HIV infections are slowing, but what now?
Scores of cities and communities all over the world will dim the lights this December 1st to mark World AIDS Day as part of the Light for Rights campaign which focuses on human rights, HIV and AIDS.Significant progress has been made in advancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care over the past ten years, but putting human rights approaches at the centre of the response is crucial to further progress. The 2010 Global Update on the AIDS Epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that in 2009 the pace of new infections had declined by almost 20% compared to 1999, but still outpaces treatment success by two to one. There are still major gaps in the implementation of human rights commitments at national and regional levels according to the report. For many people living with HIV – and the people most affected by it – human rights can help to guarantee access to health services, work, education and community participation. Read full story from

December Skies
This month we’ll lead off with news of a spectacular lunar eclipse that will be visible from all of North America during the night of Dec. 20-21. This is going to be a beauty with totality lasting for an hour and 12 minutes. We will be able to see the entire eclipse from beginning to end. Mark your calendars because this won’t happen again for North America until April 2014. Read full story from

Full-Scale Replica Of Noah’s Ark Planned For Grant Co.
PETERSBURG, Ky. — The Creation Museum will announce details Wednesday afternoon of its planned expansion.

Answers In Genesis, which built and operates the religious-themed attraction, plans to build a full-scale wooden replica of Noah’s Ark based on biblical descriptions. Read full story from

What does it mean to be human?
Calling someone a “Neanderthal” in the heat of an argument may not be such an insult after all. Last May, scientists announced they had completed a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome, and found evidence that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred, likely sometime 80,000 to 50,000 years ago when modern humans left Africa and ventured into Eurasia — Neanderthal territory. Those encounters left a mark in the modern gene pool: As much as 4 percent of the DNA in people with European or Asian ancestry may be Neanderthal DNA, the researchers reported in Science.

The discovery of our intimate history with Neanderthals received tremendous press last spring, but another implication of the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome also deserves attention, says the study’s lead author, Richard Green, a genome biologist now at the University of California at Santa Cruz. “The hope is to be able to use the Neanderthal [genome] to shine a flashlight on recent evolution in humans,” he says.

Until now, scientists had been limited to comparing human DNA to the DNA of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. It was impossible to know, however, when any detected difference arose in our evolutionary history: Did it occur right after the split with the chimp lineage (sometime about 8 million years ago), in australopithecines, in other now-extinct species in the genus Homo? Or is it a change only found in Homo sapiens? By comparing our genome to that of Neanderthals, researchers can now look for the genetic changes that make modern humans unique among all hominins. Read full story from

Olmecs to Toltecs: Great ancient civilizations of Mexico
It always strikes me when I travel in Mexico how many foreign visitors don’t know the Olmecs from the Toltecs, never mind the Totonacs. Most of what we’ve learned about Mexico’s ancient cultures begins and ends with the Aztecs and the Maya. Those justly renowned civilizations arose relatively late in the country’s history, building on traditions that came before and incorporating influences from other peoples near and far.

Mesoamerica at its height was home to more than 25 million people. The 280 languages still spoken in Mexico today show that despite shared traditions and influences, many distinct civilizations arose because of geography, climate and contact with other cultures. Read full story from

Catholic League counters atheist billboard
Take that, atheists.

New York Catholics, furious about an atheist-sponsored billboard calling Christmas “a myth,” lashed out with a counter-attack today — a billboard of their own that defends the celebration of the birth of Christ.

The billboard erected by the Catholic League went up near the New York side of the Lincoln Tunnel, at Dyer Avenue and 31st Street, in a bid to offset the anti-Christmas billboard at the tunnel’s New Jersey entrance. Read full story from

Moon Helps Astronomers Corral Elusive Cosmic Particles
Search for ultra high energy neutrinos from space turns the moon into part of the ‘detector’

Seeking to detect mysterious, ultra-high-energy neutrinos from distant regions of space, a team of astronomers used the Moon as part of an innovative telescope system for the search. Their work gave new insight on the possible origin of the elusive subatomic particles and points the way to opening a new view of the Universe in the future. Read full story from

Radiation Rings Hint Universe Was Recycled Over and Over
Most cosmologists trace the birth of the universe to the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. But a new analysis of the relic radiation generated by that explosive event suggests the universe got its start eons earlier and has cycled through myriad episodes of birth and death, with the Big Bang merely the most recent in a series of starting guns.

That startling notion, proposed by theoretical physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford in England and Vahe Gurzadyan of the Yerevan Physics Institute and Yerevan State University in Armenia, goes against the standard theory of cosmology known as inflation.

The researchers base their findings on circular patterns they discovered in the cosmic microwave background, the ubiquitous microwave glow left over from the Big Bang. The circular features indicate that the cosmos itself circles through epochs of endings and beginnings, Penrose and Gurzadyan assert. The researchers describe their controversial findings in an article posted at on November 17. Read full story from

Sacred run and sacred paddle provide solemn memorial for Massachusetts Natives
BOSTON – “I hope our ancestors regain some of their pride stripped from them here on this island that is now a sewer treatment plant for the City of Boston. I am honored they watched over us,” wrote Annawon Weeden, Wampanoag, who finished a 20-mile sacred paddle Oct. 30 to memorialize the internment of indigenous people on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in 1675 as well as the path they were forced to travel: 12 miles by roads, 20 miles by river to the open sea and then to barren Deer Island.

A cheer went up in the crowd of more than 150 people who had gathered in the meeting hall, the sacred paddlers’ destination, at the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Facility, when they recognized that Troy Phillips, Nipmuc, had entered the room. “They’re here, they’re here,” was shouted by many for the people knew how dangerous the journey was for all the paddlers and runners and they had already waited several hours later than expected. Read full story from

Native women caucus focused on increasing awareness
ALBUQUERQUE – Native leadership gathered for the fourth Womens Caucus focused on women and children’s issues during the National Congress of American Indians conference held in Albuquerque Nov. 14 – 19.

Nearly 160 women turned out for two events, the first all-day Women’s Forum, and an evening Women’s Caucus Reception where they decided to make issues affecting women and children a higher national priority.

“I’m so excited about the NCAI Women’s Caucus. Finally our women – the life givers, culture bearers and caregivers of our nations – have a national voice,” said Susan Masten, co-president of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, who co-chaired the caucus with NCAI Secretary Juana Majel Dixon. Read full story from

Bizarre Insects Inspire Unintentionally Surreal Art
In the first half of the last century, a German blacksmith named Alfred Keller began crafting some of the most surrealistic, alien-seeming sculptures the world had ever seen — delicate works which took months to complete. These incredible creations, meticulous in detail, rivaled even the most imaginative pieces from contemporary artists — but they weren’t inspired by some absinth-induced vision or fit of madness. Indeed, Keller’s muse was nature itself — and these bugs are quite real.

As an employee of Berlin’s Natural History Museum, Keller was charged with creating lifelike models of insects to be placed on display — a challenge he took very, very seriously. The master artisan worked tirelessly fashioning his creepy, crawly creations from common materials, producing breathtaking works that did incredible justice to the real thing. Read full story from

A monster of an exhibition: First handwritten draft of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein goes on display
The handwritten first draft of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, has gone on display in Britain for the first time.

The exhibition also includes a never before seen portrait of the author alongside belongings and literary work from her family – one of Britain’s most renowned literary dynasties. Read full story from

Nearly half of Britons believe in aliens, research has found. (source

News & Submissions 6/25/2010

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Couple get hitched Pagan style
Steve Beedan, 50, and Kerry Church, 18, invited 70 of their friends and family to their home in Rectory Road to share their Wiccan wedding with them. Read full story from

Lunar eclipse ‘magnified’ in US
A partial lunar eclipse taking place on 26 June will appear magnified in the US by an effect known as the “moon illusion”.

The eclipse will begin 10:17 GMT when the Moon enters the shadow of Earth. Read full story from

Vatican expresses shock over police raids following sex abuse claims
The Vatican is expressing “shock” over the manner in which raids were carried out Thursday in Belgium following accusations of child sex abuse involving church figures. Read full story from

Richard Fahey talks about the Burning Times
Richard Fahey, pagan, scholar of religion and history, and resident of Chelmsford MA, shares with the Boston Pagan Examiner his knowledge of the Burning Times, the period in European history between the 15th and 18th centuries when people were accused of Witchcraft and killed, often by being burned alive. Read full story from

German court legalises euthanasia with patient consent
A top German court has ruled that it is not a criminal offence to cut off the life support of a dying person if that person has given their consent.

The Federal Court of Justice acquitted a lawyer who had advised the daughter of a comatose woman to cut off her feeding tube. Read full story from

Court: same-sex marriage is not universal right
BRUSSELS—The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that countries are not obliged to allow gay marriage, rejecting a bid by an Austrian couple to force the state to let them wed. Read full story from