Thursday, July 30, 2015

Creature of the Month: Plantimals by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart


The slender delicate palpi, with the fury of starved serpents, quivered a moment over her head, then as if instinct with demoniac intelligence fastened upon her in sudden coils round and round her neck and arms; then while her awful screams and yet more awful laughter rose wildly to be instantly strangled down again into a gurgling moan, the tendrils one after another, like great green serpents, with brutal energy and infernal rapidity, rose, retracted themselves, and wrapped her about in fold after fold, ever tightening with cruel swiftness and savage tenacity of anacondas fastening upon their prey.
(—Carl Liche, South Australian Register, 1881, regarding the fabled Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar)17

0. Man-eating plant from Red Sonja comic

Today we tend to think of the demarcation between the plant and animal kingdoms—Flora and fauna—as quite distinct. However, it has not always been so.  Medieval Bestiaries contained a number of creatures that straddled the borderline, possessing features and qualities of both plants and animals. We call these animate plants, vegetable animals, or “Plantimals.”
        Russian biologist Dr. Dmitri Bayanov has pointed out that there no botanical equivalent of cryptozoology, because plants cannot actively hide themselves, as hidden animals do.1 Nevertheless, as the following items will attest, there are a goodly number of legendary and mythical plants reported throughout the world that have not yet been brought into the light of scientific scrutiny. I believe that cryptobotany deserves to be elevated to a sister discipline, and that its subjects demand inclusion in any compilation of fabled organisms.

Carnivorous Plants and Man-eating Trees

        The first Venus Flytraps (Dionaea muscipula) were received with incredulity when they were first presented to botanists in the 1760s. The idea that a plant could move to catch and devour insects seemed inconceivable. But once the reality of the known carnivorous plants—especially those that can actually move to trap or enfold their prey, such as flytraps and Sundews (Drosera)—was accepted by the scientific community, the possibility of larger-scale versions became plausible.
        Although flytraps, with their blood-red fanged maws and trigger-snap action, are certainly famed as the most dramatic of carnivorous plants, they are quite rare, occurring naturally only in the meteorite-gouged oval bogs called the Carolina Bays, around Wilmington, North Carolina. And, like vampires, they must be bedded in their native soil if they are to survive elsewhere. These facts certainly raise the question of a possible extraterrestrial origin for these unique little plants!

Fig. 1. Venus Fly Trap and Cape Sundew

        But I think that the tentacled Sundews, of which over 170 species are known worldwide, are really the most fascinating of the floral carnivores. All species are able to move their tiny glandular tentacles, tipped with sticky secretions, upon contact with prey. This response to touch is called thigmotropism, and can be quite rapid in some species. The outer “snap-tentacles” of D. burmannii and D.  sessilifolia can bend inwards toward prey within seconds after contact, while D. glanduligera can bend these tentacles in toward prey in mere tenths of a second! In addition to tentacle movement, some species, such as the Cape Sundew (D. capensis), are able to curl their long thin leaves, or laminae, completely around prey in order to maximize contact.21

Fig. 2. Tentacles of Cape Sundew (Drosera capensis) enfolding an insect

        Given the reality of such carnivorous plants, it doesn’t seem to be too far a stretch to imagine larger versions existing in some far-off jungle or undiscovered island. Large enough, perhaps, to attack and consume human prey! But no such plant is known to exist; the carnivorous plant with the largest traps is the Giant Malaysian Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes rajah) of Borneo, which produces pitchers up to 14-inches tall and will consume small mammals, reptiles, and birds if they happen to fall in.21 This is most likely the basis of the Indian Mouse-Eating Plant, a specimen of which, according to Chase Salmon Osborne, was supposedly exhibited at the London Horticultural hall in London in the 1920’s.17


Fig. 3. The Giant Malaysian Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes rajah) of Borneo

        The Tepe, or Man-eating Tree of Madagascar (Crinoida) is a fantastic carnivorous plant first reported in 1878 by one “Carle Liche,” who said that it resembled a fossil crinoid, or sea-lily, and claimed to have witnessed the sacrifice of a native girl to it by members of the Pygmy “Mkodo tribe.” The trunk, he said, was like an 8-ft-tall pineapple, topped with eight long broad leaves 11-12-ft long that drooped to the ground. In the center of these was a liquid-filled hollow, surrounded by “a series of long hairy green tendrils” 7-8 ft long, tapering from 4-in to ½-in diameter. Above these were six translucent white palpi, 5-6 ft long, that twirled and twisted incessantly. Liche reported that the sacrificial victim was forced to climb the tree and drink from the hollow, whereupon the tentacles and then the leaves enveloped and crushed her.5

Fig. 4. The Man-Eating Tree of Madagascar

        The January 12, episode of Science Fiction Theatre
, “The Killer Tree,” featured a similar tree.
        The legend was firmly established by Chase Salmon Osborn, former Governor of Michigan, in his 1924 book, Madagascar, Land of the Man-eating Tree. He reprinted the Liche report, and added that both tribes and missionaries on Madagascar knew of this monstrous tree. However, in his 1955 book Salamanders and other Wonders, science author Willy Ley determined that the “Mkodo tribe,” Carle Liche, and the Madagascar man-eating tree itself all appeared to be fabrications.21
        However, in a 1998 letter to Karl Shuker, Ivan Mackerle, the Czech explorer/cryptozoologist, reported from his own Madagascar expedition that: “We found the killer tree ‘Kumanga,’ which is poisonous when it has flowers. We took gas-masks for protecting ourselves, but the tree did not blossom at that time. We had seen a skeleton of a dead bird and a dead turtle under the tree. The tree grows only in one place in Madagascar and it is rare today. It was difficult to find it.”
20

Fig. 5. Ya-te-veo from Land and Sea

            Shuker adds that the New Brunswick Watchman of May 29, 1995 claimed to have discovered an account of the Man-eating Tree dating back to 1875—three years earlier than the “Liche” report. This account placed the legendary tree in New Guinea rather than Madagascar.
        Similar carnivorous trees have additionally been reported in Central America, South America, Mexico and elsewhere. Like the Tepe, the vampiric Ya-te-veo (“I can see you”) of Central America is also said to have multiple squid-like tentacles, or shoots, atop its short, thick trunk, with which it captures prey in the same manner as a sea anemone. Edged with sharp teeth, the shoots hang down to the ground, appearing immobile until prey steps within range. Then the tentacles spring into action, wrapping around the victim like serpents and pressing him to the trunk, where his body is pierced by the dagger-like thorns and drained of blood—which is absorbed by the tree. The name of this plant supposedly derives from the hissing noise made by the agitated rasping of its toothy tendrils against each other.5

Fig. 6. Man-eating plant by Alexis Rockman, 2000

The Brazilian Devil Tree, or “Octopod Tree,” was described by Harold T. Wilkins in 1952:22 “Native to the Matto Grosso, it is said to be as big as a willow, but hides its branches deep in the earth or the surrounding undergrowth. Should anything (or anyone) go near to it or trip over its concealed branches, however, this diabolical plant will stealthily draw them out from under the soil or bushes and snare its unwary victim in the grip of their ever-tightening tendrils.”20
The Nicaraguan Dog-Devouring Tree is yet another example of this legend, as reported by naturalist Dr. Andrew Wilson in the Illustrated London News, Aug. 27, 1892. This “plant or vine seemed composed entirely of bare, interlacing stems, resembling more than anything else the branches of a weeping willow denuded of its foliage, but of a dark, nearly black hue, and covered with a thick, viscid gum that exuded from the pores.” As with other such plants, it will entrap prey with its mobile tendrils and drain all the fluids from their body.20

Fig. 7. Nicaraguan Dog-Devouring Tree

Wilson also described the Mexican Snake Tree, with movable sucker-covered branches of a “slimy, snaky appearance.”  Allegedly found in the Sierra Madres, it was said to seize birds that landed on its branches, and absorb their blood via the suckers. An apparently identical “Vampire Plant” was reported in 1933 by the French explorer Baron Byron Khun de Prorok, from the Chiapas jungles of southern Mexico. De Prorock claimed to have witnessed its capture of a bird: “The poor creature had alighted on one of the leaves, which had promptly closed, its thorns penetrating the body of the little victim, which endeavored vainly to escape, screaming meanwhile in agony and terror.”20
In his Carnivorous Plants (1974)19 Randall Schwartz reports on the Brazilian Monkey-Trap Tree, which lures its victims with an attractive scent, then envelops them with its leaves. After three days, the leaves open, dropping the fleshless bones to the ground.
While it is not entirely impossible that some such large-scale predatory plants may eventually be brought to light, it seems likely that at least some of these fabulous carnivores with their octopoid tentacles may have been inspired by Africa’s weird-looking but harmless Welwitschia mirabilis, named after Dr. Friedrich Welwitsch who discovered it in 1860, preceding the above accounts. Living 2,000 years or more, Welwitschia’s two broad sprawling leaves continue to grow throughout its life, eventually reaching 13-ft or longer, and splitting into several strap-like sections, surrounding a wide central bowl on a short thick trunk.

Fig. 8. Welwitschia

Taking a more passive approach than the tentacled predatory plants described above is the legendary Death Flower of the South Pacific. According to Captain Arkright, a 1581 explorer, it dwelt on an island called El Banoor (“Island of Death”) amid an archipelago of coral atolls. The huge flower exuded a narcotic fragrance that seduced unwary victims to lie down to rest upon its great rainbow-hued petals. But none would awaken from this drugged sleep, for the petals would then close over the victim and digest him with acidic juices. Cryptozoologist Roy Mackal has suggested that this could be a distorted account of the Sumatran Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest flower in the world. At least three feet in diameter, its blood-red cream-speckled petals are leathery in texture, surrounding a spiny central bowl containing several pints of dirty water.13 However, the nauseating rotting-flesh stench of the Rafflesia—popularly called “Corpse Flower”—is so revolting that it is inconceivable that any human would be drawn to it, rather than repelled! Its carrion aroma is actually designed to attract scavenging blowflies, its pollinators.

Fig. 9. Rafflesia

        An equally sinister sleep-inducing predatory plant is called el Juy-Juy by the Indians of the Chaco forest bordering Argentina and Bolivia. Wilkins says its soporific perfume lulled humans and large animals to sleep in its shade, whereupon “the floral canopy overhead sends down masses of lovely blossoms, each flower of which is armed with a powerful sucker, which draws from the body all its blood and juices, leaving not even a fragment to tempt the vulture to shoot down from the skies to gorge on a bare skeleton.”22
        And finally, the Upas Tree, or “Tree of Death” is a poisonous tree of Java, said to be so deadly that any creature approaching would be killed by its noxious exudations. The region around it is said to be desolate for miles, the ground littered with skeletons. Also called Mancenillier, Manchineel, or Manzanilla, in actuality, this is the Arrow Poison Tree (Antiaris toxicara), whose sap is used in making poison arrows. But the deadly emanations attributed to it are actually carbon dioxide emissions from volcanic fissures on this island. A similar poisonous tree, Hippomane mancenilla, grows in the West Indies, where its sap is also used for poison arrows.12

Fig. 10. The Upas, or poison-tree of Java, with a Rafflesia flower in the foreground. (—Buel 472)

Plant-Animal Hybrids

        A Mandragora (also called Mandragore or Mandrake) is a humanoid effigy formed from the Mandrake plant (Mandragora officinarum), which is a member of the psychotropic Nightshade family (Solanaceae). White mandrakes are considered male, and black ones female. The leaves are used as a narcotic, a laxative, and for magick. It was said that in order to conceive, the female elephant must eat some mandrake root. It used to be held that mandrakes grew only beneath gibbets, deriving nourishment from the gory exudations of hanged men, and that this is what gave the plant its potency when ground into powder and used as a philter. Dioscorides called this an Anthropomorphic powder, meaning the ground body of a man-shaped natural object.

Fig. 11. Mandragora

        This is how a Mandragore is made: Early in the plant’s development (at about two months), the magician must dig it up carefully and modify its branching root to resemble a human figure, pinching a constriction a little below the top to form a head and neck, removing all but two of the upper branches, which are left as arms, and leaving the lower two branchings as legs. The semblance can even be improved with a bit of judicious carving. Then the mandrake is replanted until it grows to full size and produces fruit, at which time it is harvested.
        The mature Mandragore is said to shriek in pain when it is finally pulled from the ground, and this hideous shriek can deafen, madden, or even kill an unprotected person. Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 ce) gives the following instructions for harvesting it safely: A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear.” (Modern mages prefer to just wear hearing protectors!)

Fig. 12. Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

        The Barliate, also known as Annes de la mer, Barchad, Barnacha, Bernekke, Bernaca, Bernicle, Barnacle Goose, Tree Goose, or Boumgan, is a type of Goose that was believed to begin life as a kind of fruit growing from trees or attached to driftwood. It is based upon actual “goose-neck” barnacles (Lepas anatifera).8
        There is quite a history behind this legend, for the Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) is a real bird, common along the north-western coasts of the British isles. However, it nested afar off, in an unknown location (Novaya Zemlya—an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean north of Russia), and its eggs and young were never seen, giving rise to speculation as to their true origins.

Fig. 13. Goose-neck Barnacle (Lepas anatifera)—exterior and internal anatomy (from Ray Lankester, 
Diversions of a Naturalist, 1915) (Costello-142)

        However, pieces of driftwood occasionally washed up on northern shores, with clusters of goose-neck barnacles attached to them. These look uncannily like miniature geese in their exterior shape, even down to the feathery gills within the outer shell which resemble embryonic wings. (Fig. 12) Thus was born the widespread belief in a species of tree in a remote land which produced avian fruit just as other trees produced apples or plums. These goose-trees were believed to grow along the coast, where this fruit, falling into the sea, would continue to develop into adult geese. Sometimes, it was believed, storms would break off branches with the strange fruit still attached, and the currents would carry them to foreign shores.

Fig. 14. Barnacle Goose tree, from Aberdeen Bestiary (12th Century)

        The earliest recorded account of the Barnacle Goose dates from the year 1186, in Gerald de Barri’s Topography of Ireland, where he refers to it as Bernacae, and recounts its development in some detail—though omitting the tree (that part of the story first appeared in the widely-read encyclopedia of Vincent of Beavais, c.1190-1264), and merely stating that “they are produced from fir timber tossed along the sea, and are at first like gum.” Because of their supposed botanical origin, these birds were deemed not to be “flesh,” and were thereby permissible to eat during Lent and other Church-designated fasting times. It should also be noted that bernacae is the Celtic term for barnacles, which are, of course, mollusks.

Fig. 15. Barnaculised goose from Mycenaean pot (from Schliemann)

        Interestingly, Heinrich Schliemann’s excavations of the ancient Greek city of Mycenae in the 1870s turned up a number of objects with depictions of what Ray Lankester (in Diversions of a Naturalist, 1915) later called “barnaculised geese.” Note in his illustration, the odd leg of this creature—which is actually the seminal duct of the barnacle, as shown in Fig. 11.
        While the Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) is the one specifically identified with this legend, ancient writers did not distinguish that bird from the Brent Goose, which has, in fact, been given the scientific name of Branta bernicla. Peter Costello recounts this entire fascinating tale in great detail in his marvelous book, The Magic Zoo (1979).8

Fig. 16. The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary

        The Barometz (Tartar, “Little Lamb”) is also called the Tartary Lamb, Barbary Lamb, Scythian Lamb, or Vegetable Lamb, Lycopodium. In Hebrew legend, this is a woolbearing sheep-like creature from the Middle East that is half vegetable. Formally called Agnus scythicus or Planta Tartarica Barometz, they are produced from little gourds, which ripen and open to reveal little lambs.  These remain attached to their shrubs by very short stems, allowing them to graze around the plant. Once they have consumed all the grass within reach, both the lamb and the plant die of starvation. Barometz was considered a delicacy as its meat supposedly tastes like crab, and its blood like honey. Its bones were used in rituals to give the power of prophecy.

Fig. 17. Classic depiction of the Barometz.

        The legend of the “vegetable lamb” originated in the popular 14th-century book, The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: “There groweth a manner of fruit as it were gourds, and when it is ripe men cut it a sonder, and men fynde therein a beast as it were of flesh and bone and blood, as it were a lyttle lambe without wolle, and men eat the beast and fruit also, and sure it seemeth very strange.”15
        This marvelous plant is generally assumed to be the cotton shrub (Gossypium), and this is probably the most likely basis for the legend. But it has also been explained as a Wooly Fern (Cibotium barometz) that grows in the Middle East and is used as a styptic. But a better candidate is Polypodium barometz, an Asian fern with thick roots growing along the surface of the ground, which are covered in a dense wool, and when cut, ooze a blood-red fluid. In China and Indonesia, these roots were commonly fashioned into the form of little toy dogs, called Caw-tieh and Kew-tsi (“Cutsie”?).8
        As with the story of the Barnacle Goose, I must recommend the reader to Peter Costello’s book, The Magic Zoo (1979).

Fig. 18. Toy dog from China, made of Polypodium Barometz

        The Jidra is a voracious plant-animal hybrid mentioned in Zoology des Talmuds, by L. Lewysohn (1858), as well as various Medieval traveler’s tales and folklore of the Middle East. Growing on a long vine from roots implanted in the ground, the Jidra is a kind of human-shaped gourd, with magickal bones prized as aphrodisiac when powdered and added to wine. It would devour anything it could reach within the radius of its vine, but if the umbilical vine were severed, the creature would die screaming, with blood spurting from the severed ends. This latter similarity with the legend of the Mandragore is worth noting.

Fig. 19. The Jidra

Other Peculiar Plants of Myth and Legend

Peridexion Tree— (Latin: Peridixion, also Circa dexteram, Environ destre, Paradixion, Pendens, Perindens) A tree growing in India that attracts doves, who gather in its branches because they like its sweet fruit. There they are safe from the Dragon, who would eat the doves if he could. But he fears the shadow of the tree, and stays on the sunny side of it. Doves that remain in the shadow are safe, but any who leave it are caught and eaten by the Dragon.

Fig. 20. Peridexion Tree (British Library, Harley MS 3244, Folio 58v)

Leontophontes— As described in the Physiologus, these are “certain creatures of moderate size” which people burn to sprinkle their poisonous ash onto meat to kill lions, “should the lions eat the least little bit of it.” These may actually be plants rather than animals, as Arnica is also known as Leopard’s Bane, and Dandelion belongs to the genus Leontodon.

Jumpin’ Yuccy is the popular name for Schuss-yucca, a variety of chaparral yucca supposedly found throughout the southwestern US. Its name derives from the German schuss (“to shoot up”), a reference to its amazing ability to grow a stalk 10-20 ft high, blossom, and then die, all in a few minutes or even seconds. Botanist Gustav Albrecht claimed to have documented this plant’s remarkable growth cycle in a series of photos taken at one-second intervals (Fig. 19) that accompanied his Oct. 1952 article in Scientific Monthly.10

Fig. 21. Life cycle of Schuss-Yucca, by Gustav Albrecht (1952)

Solar Complexus Americanus are heat-generating plants supposedly imported from Venezuela. The Scandinavian botanist responsible for discovering these hot-air producers was said to be Professor Olaf Lipro (an anagram of “April Fool”). A news report of this discovery was an April Fool’s Day joke launched by the Glasgow Herald in 1995.

Other mythical plants include:
·     Austras Koksa tree in Latvian mythology which grows from the start of the sun’s daily journey across the sky.
·     Golfballia ambusta a rare mushroom said to have originated in Scotland. Growing in fields of partially-mown grass, its small, hard, fruiting bodies resemble the spheres “employed by the Caledonians in certain tribal rites, practiced at all seasons.”10

Fig. 22. Golfballia ambusta

·     Lotus treea tree described in The Odyssey as bearing a narcotic fruit that caused a pleasant drowsiness. It may have been real (a type of Jujubeperhaps Ziziphus lotusor possibly even the Date Palm).
·     Molya magic herb of Greek myth with a black root and white blossoms. In The Odyssey, Hermes gives it to Odysseus, enabling him to resist the enchantments of Circe.
·     Raskovnika magic plant in Serbian mythology which can open any lock.
·     Yggdrasilthe mighty World Tree of Norse mythology. Its three main branches support the nine realms of the Gods, and its three roots delve deep into the Underworld.21

Fig. 23. Yggdrasil, the Norse World-Tree

        And finally, we must include Ents (Anglo-Saxon, “Giant”). Historically referring to any number of large, roughly humanoid creatures, Ents are best known today as the ambulatory humanoid trees from J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-Earth. A wise and ancient race, they appear to have been inspired by the talking trees of many of the world’s folklores. Their appearance and size varies according to the species of trees they shepherd. The long-lost females are called Entwives.

Fig. 24. Treebeard, from The TwoTowers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Monster Movies: Plantimals
        After the hostile animated apple trees of The Wizard of Oz (1939), the next plant monster to appear on-screen was The Thing from Another World (1951). Unfortunately, it looked just like a human. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and the 1978 remake, featured Jidra-like “pod-people.” Audrey Jr. was a ever-growing man-eating plant in the 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors. Day of the Triffids (1962), from the 1951 novel by John Wyndham, featured ambulatory carnivorous plants with whip-like poisonous stingers. The 1963 Japanese film Matango, Fungus of Terror (released in America as Attack of the Mushroom People) featured mutated mushroom-people. Another giant carnivorous houseplant starred in the 1977 comedy Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet. The Mutations (1974) featured mutated plant-people. John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) was a remake of the 1951 film, with much more impressive special effects. The Dark Crystal (1982) included several animate plants. 1986 saw a remake of Little Shop of Horrors as a campy musical. Also that year, Troll had a hornrim-glasses-wearing teenage magick-user named Harry Potter, Jr. battling vine-grown “pod-people.” The 1989 Japanese movie Godzilla vs Biollante featured a monstrous mobile mutant plant. Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (2002) introduced Mandrakes and the aggressive Whomping Willow, shown again in Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Pan’s Labyrinth (2007) also included a Mandragore.

Fig. 25. Day of the Triffids movie poster

Oberon Zell-Ravenheart is a renowned Wizard and Elder in the worldwide magickal community. In 1962, he co-founded the Church of All Worlds, a Pagan church with a futuristic vision. First to apply the term “Pagan” to the newly emerging Nature Religions of the 1960s, and through his publication of Green Egg magazine (1968-present), Oberon was instrumental in the coalescence of the modern Pagan movement. He has had many adventures around the world, including raising Unicorns and diving with Mermaids. Oberon designs beautiful figurines and jewelry for The Mythic Images Collection , and is the author of A Wizard’s Bestiary and other books. He is also the Founder and Headmaster of the online Grey School of Wizardry: www.GreySchool.com 

References


1.        American Monsters, http://www.americanmonsters.com/monsters.html (2007)
2.        Bayanov, Dmitri, “Why Cryptozoology?” Cryptozoology, 6:1-7, 1987
3.        Boese, Alex, The Museum of Hoaxes, Dutton, Penguin Group, 2002
4.        Borges, Jorge Luis, The Book of Imaginary Beings, 1957; 1967 (Penguin Books, 1974)
5.        Buel, James William, Sea and Land, Historical Publishing Co, 1887
6.        Clark, Leonard, The Rivers Ran East: Travelers’ Tales Classics, Harpercollins, 1953
7.        Cohen, Daniel, A Natural History of Unnatural Things, McCall Publishing, 1971
8.        Costello, Peter, The Magic Zoo: The Natural History of Fabulous Animals, St Martin’s Press, 1979
9.        D’Amato, Peter, The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants, Ten Speed Press, 1998
10.     “Gallery of Tall-Tale Creatures,” The Museum of Hoaxes, www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/animals/P20/ (2007)
11.     Lankester, Ray, Diversions of a Naturalist, London, 1915
12.     Ley, Willy, Salamanders and Other Wonders. Viking Press, 1955
13.     Mackal, Roy, Searching for Hidden Animals, Doubleday, 1980
14.     Matthews, John & Caitlin, The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, Harper Element, Harper Collins, 2005
15.     Mitchell, John & Rickard, Robert J.M., Living Wonders: Mysteries & Curiosities of the Animal World, Thames & Hudson, 1982
16.     Nigg, Joseph, The Book of Fabulous Beasts: A Treasury of Writings from Ancient Times to the Present, Oxford University Press, 1999
17.     Osborn, Chase Salmon, Madagascar: Land of the Man-Eating Tree, Republic Publishing Co., 1924
18.     Rose, Carol, Giants, Monsters, and Dragons, W.W. Norton & Company, 2000
19.     Schwartz, Randall, Carnivorous Plants, Avon, 1975
20.     Shuker, Karl P.N., The Beasts That Hide from Man: Seeking the World’s Last Undiscovered Animals, Paraview Press, 2003
21.     Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org (2007)

22.     Wilkins, Harold T., Secret Cities of Old South America: Atlantis Unveiled, Library Publishers, 1952

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Positive News of the Week



Attack of the ReMote Boss

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Lighting Strikes Man Twice!

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Woman Rescues Toddler from Locked Car

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Weird News of the Week



Giant Carp Got Stuck

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Chicken Church

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Jersey UFO Silences Barking Dogs

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A look at Joy, an excerpt from The Energy of Abundance by Phyllis King

The Energy of Abundance is a fresh, insightful, and often humorous view of life, spirituality, and the creative process. It explains in accessible language the "energy game," and how each of us can play it to invite more happiness, love and abundance into our lives. 

"In this inspiring book, Phyllis King, shares the world from her unique perspective, offering us a peek into the underlying energetics of life and of love. With great passion and care, she empowers us to heal old hurts and transform current changes into fuel for our growth and expansion."
-Katherine Woodward Thomas, New York Times best-selling author of Calling in "The One"


Please find below an excerpt from Chapter 13 on Joy

Expansion is what we are here to do in life. It takes a lot of energy and can be tiring. Each of us is born with the ever persistent determination to eradicate suffering. Yet unless something really forces us to ask “Who am I?” or “How is happiness created?” we don’t do it. It’s not fun to be pushed to the wall to find out what you are made of, but it’s a method that works.

The game on the planet is to master the dance of duality. It is a challenge that requires courage. When we talk about the idea of infinity, life after death, and reincarnation, we can hear these ideas, but inherently the mind and body cannot comprehend eternity, or the idea of infinity. We can hear these ideas but we only understand them to a certain point. Something else has to take over before we know it on a body level. We have to feel inspired to embrace expanded consciousness.

Enlightened masters say the point of having spiritual leaders like Jesus or Buddha is to inspire us, not to explain to us. It is inspiration that helps moves us into another reality. Charismatic spiritual teachers are meant to touch some part of ourselves that makes us realize what is possible. Therefore, they talk to us about God in terms and conditions we already know.

For instance, we all have deep longings in our heart. We have a deep longing for love, and a longing to be understood and seen and comforted. We want to be appreciated and supported. Enlightened masters will talk about everyday things we do to help us connect to possibility. They will reduce eternal conversations to topics like friendship and romantic love. Romantic love especially will move us into a discussion that allows us to talk about and have interest in enlightenment. All of us can understand waiting for love and having that special love come in. The heart understands that. The thousands of love coaches on the planet are a testament to this. In my business, it is relationships I am asked about most often. The enlightened masters, instead of trying to tell stories to get the definitions right for our mind to grasp, have us connect to the feelings we have of longing or disappointment. These feelings speak a language the heart can understand. They motivate us to continue the expansive journey in the human experience.

 We all live in a state of restlessness. Life is not quite what we want. Many of us have conversations with our self, such as “Should I settle for such and such?” “Should I try for something else or someone else?” “This job isn’t what it’s supposed to be,” “This person doesn’t quite fulfill it for me,” or “I think I’ll go over there and try that situation on.” We are restless by nature. Where ever we are standing it’s never enough. Where ever you stand it will never be enough. Until we reach enlightenment we will not feel complete. It isn’t that you can’t shift and try to find a situation that’s a little nicer. Ultimately, we have to contend with our internal world and examine our expectations and whether we a projecting those on to a situation. When we focus on possibilities, whether it’s a new love or a new job we remain inspired to keep on with our task of expansion in the human experience.

The embodiment of joy is the purest form of connection to consciousness I know. When we allow joy to permeate our perspective those frequencies bring more to the world than anything else. We unequivocally say “I trust and honor life. There is a reason and purpose for all experiences. I honor that.” Through that awareness we connect more fully to God. In that connection we know our purpose, and we feel our impact on the whole. We are at peace. Joy is attainable. We should have it. We can practice getting there through simple tasks such as:

o   Learning to laugh at life. All of us could take a crash course in not taking life so seriously. Even when it is serious, still being able to find something to laugh about, even if it is ourselves, is meaningful.
o   Practicing spirituality. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Too often people use spirituality as a buzz word. They read about it in a book, or talk about it in a community group, then go out and express in the world as if no book were read and no topic was discussed with any other person. Practice makes perfect.
o   Being generous (when you don’t have to). Giving for the sake of giving is profound. That’s the reason. Too often we give to get something. Getting is fun. Giving is the best way to receive. It fills you up from the inside.
o   Seeing life through the eyes of a child, (or just remember to be childlike).
Children see the wonder in everything and every moment. When we slow down to marvel at all the miracles life provides we feel happier. When we notice a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or appreciate the unconditional love of an animal, or look at the beauty in nature, we feel more connected to life, and it reminds us what a miracle life is. That inspires us.

All these types of activities help us practice the feelings we want to embody. The more we go there, the less we will want to be other places. That’s the inspiration the heart needs to continue its journey to wholeness through expansion.

Phyllis King is the founder of the King Mastery Institute. She has mentored tens of thousands of people in 20 different countries. An intuitive coach, speaker and radio host, she is known for her practical and down-to-earth approach, using humor and compassion to deliver her information. Phyllis has been featured on CBS and NBC TV, radio programs across the country, and published in more than 70 print and online publications. She holds a BA in Sociology and lives and practices in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Positive News of the Week




Woman Brings Rescue Dog on Final Adventure

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Gregory Patrick Knits for Food 

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Captain Jack Visits Some Kids

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Weird News of the Week



Sunburn Art? Greatest Bad Idea Ever

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Japan Mourns Famed Feline

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Bigfoot Suffers Stage Freight… In Bed

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015



The Feistiest cat in the West 

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Boy Designs T-Shirts For Autism Awareness

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Legend of The Blind Calico Hiker

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