Thursday, April 28, 2011

Celebrating Beltane!

With Beltane on the Horizon this weekend we thought we'd do a post in celebration of this holiday. This comes from Ashleen O'Gaea's Celebrating the Seasons of Life: From Beltane to Mabon. Rather than giving you Lore & Rituals of the holiday which will probably be more widespread on the web we wanted to share some activities for the holiday. This excerpt comes from the section on Beltane entitled Activities.

Beltane Activities

Dancing the Maypole is the best-known Beltane activity, but not everyone has the opportunity to arrange it. Happily, there are other activities that everyone can enjoy, which almost equally capture the spirit of the day. That spirit goes beyond the wink-wink, noodge-noodge interpersonal merry-making that makes Beltane so popular, and includes creativity of all sorts, along with an openness to the Other World that can further inspire us.

While Samhain’s popularly associate with the dark side of the Other World, with the serious responsibilities that come with what we might call the trans-dimensional power of Fairyland, Beltane impressions are more often of its light-hearted and wondrous aspects. We may swallow hard before we part the veil at Samhain, but at Beltane, we’re through with just a hop and a skip.

A Veil Between the Worlds

One way to symbolize the Veil Between the Worlds, and our passages through it is to make a Veil! You’ll need a small-diameter tension rod, long enough to span a hall or a doorway in your home, or to fit between patio pillars if you’ll be using it outside. Garden arches, too, make a lovely setting for a Veil.

You’ll also need a piece of netting—either nylon net or tulle—twice as long as the distance between the floor and where you’re placing the tension rod. (Check the width of the net or tulle, too; you might need two lengths to cover the width of your tension rod.) White, gold, or silver are the best colors: you’ll be able to use this again at Samhain, if you want to.

Fold the length of net or tulle over the tension rod and secure it with matching thread, yarn, or embroidery floss; in a pinch, staples or safety pins will do, and even bread ties will work. Now, separate the layers, spreading them in opposite directions on the floor, with the tension rod in the middle. Cut each side of the “veil,” nearly to the top, but not directly up the middle. Offset the cuts a little, so that the layers will be a little overlapped when you part them. Neither the net nor the tulle should fray, but if you want to, you can trim all the long edges with narrow rickrack, with sequin trim, or with anything else that’s not too heavy. Again, gold or silver are the best colors for any edging.

To decorate the veil for Beltane, use silk flowers or other notions that trail or dangle. Silk wisteria, ivy, and bridal notions are good, for they’re all graceful with gentle movement. Take a trip to your local craft store and look around; you can find appropriate decorations in party stores, too: for instance, silk flower necklaces, cut into shorter lengths, work well. Save a few blossoms to sew or glue onto one side of the veil, as if they had drifted down.

You can decorate both sides for Beltane, leave one side plain, or decorate the second side for Samhain, when it would be appropriate to turn the veil and use it again. You’ll find a ritual to use with this Veil in the previous section, and you’re invited to adapt it for Samhain as you see fit. Meantime, hang it in a doorway or across a hall on May Day, to remind yourself that the realm of Faerie is always open to you, and to give yourself permission to enter it and bring back a renewed sense of joy from your visit.

Maybe you don’t have a hall or a doorway where you’re comfortable hanging up a Veil—or maybe you have the ideal place but your cats make the project impractical! Never mind; there are other things you can do to evoke the sense of a Veil. One such activity is making Fairy Flags.

Fairy Flags

When they’re done, you display them like Yule cards, on your walls maybe, or taped or strung along bookcase shelves…even attached to the fridge with magnets. Tape them up on doors, or behind the glass panels on cabinet doors, or anywhere else in your home they can brighten your days and thoughts.

Make them with tissue paper, in bright colors and patterns. Each one should be about 8" by 12"–14". Make them longer if you’d like to shape the bottoms in curves or points or crenellations. Fold them like paper dolls and cut designs into them, and/or “draw” designs on with glue and glitter. When any glue you’ve used is quite dry, hang up your flags!

Where else can you put them? In your garden, hanging right from plants (use the very small clothes pins you can find in craft stores—they’re so small they won’t hurt most plants, and they come in bright colors to match or contrast with your flags), or hanging from strings, taped to fences or to garden poles you already have. If you have decorative lights strung on your patio, Fairy Flags can go between the bulbs.

There’s a Mexican influence in these flags, which is not surprising, because I live just about 60 miles from the Mexican border, and have long taken great delight in the similar “flags” I see displayed here for a variety of festivals. But our Fairy Flags have a twist, because in addition to decorating them with cutouts or glitter, we can attach lengths of curling ribbon to each side of ours. And on those ribbons, we can write a few words of appreciation for the inspiration we’ve had from the Other World.

For Wiccans, those ribbons can symbolize the Maypole’s ribbons, their colors standing for the same qualities, and our choice of colors a declaration of our openness to their particular blessings. Flying the flags welcomes the Sidhe into our lives, and the colored ribbons we decorate them with pledge our attention to and appreciation of their blessings.

Fairy Dust

Some of us do live in places and circumstances where any bright displays might be problematical (though generally speaking, non-Pagans like May Day and find its celebration more quaintly endearing than threatening). We can still make Fairy Dust, though, and use it privately.

All you need is some talcum powder and some colored sugar—which you can find in the bakery aisle of your grocery store. You might also like to use a bit of glitter. Mix the powder and the sugar and/or glitter together, and voila! you have fairy dust. There are other “recipes” for it, too: you can use finely ground cornmeal instead of talcum powder, or even whole-wheat flour.

If you use cornmeal or flour with the colored sugar, you don’t have to worry about where the dust lands: in your underwear drawer, in your hair, on the kitchen counter—it’s organic and non-toxic. (Yes, alright, the sugar might be a bit pokey in your underwear or your socks, but the worst that’ll happen is that your sweat will dissolve it, possibly leaving a small colored mark on your or your socks or underpants. Call it a fairy touch and let it inspire you according to the symbolism of the color!)

May Morning “Dews”

In an article originally written for the Ostara/Beltane 2004 issue of the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan Network’s quarterly newsletter, Tapestry, Adventure priestess Chandra Nelson talks about the old tradition of washing your face in May-morning dew:

The fair maid who, the first of May

Goes to the fields at break of day

And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree

Will ever after handsome be —Mother Goose

Okay, if hawthorns aren’t available, the outside temperature doesn’t reach the dew point, and/or getting up at dawn is impractical, what’s a maiden to do? Here are some alternatives to the famous May dew that will help keep your complexion beautiful.

If you don’t have dew, try steam! Boil two cups of water. Add two or three drops lavender essential oil, two or three sliced strawberries, and one teaspoon of red clover leaves (from a capsule or tea bag from a health food store). Turn off the heat, drape a towel over your head, and hold your face over the steam six to eight inches away. This will help open pores and remove impurities. Lavender brings happiness, peace, and love (what’s more beautiful than that?) and strawberries and red clover bring love.

Here’s a good facial cleanser: Grind one cup of oatmeal, one-quarter cup at a time, in a coffee grinder. Put the oat flour in a sealable container. Next, grind two tablespoons dried lavender to a powder. Add to the oat flour. Add a tablespoon of betonite clay, if you wish. Mix well. To use, wet your face, take approximately a tablespoon of the powder in your hand and add warm water to make a paste, and massage the paste over your skin. Rinse well. Oats hold in moisture, lavender has antibacterial properties, and clay tones the skin. Oats bring prosperity, and betonite brings love and clarity, while clay in general suggests creation.

And here’s a lovely toner. This one is wonderfully easy to make; the only two ingredients are rose water (found at health food stores and some drug stores) and witch hazel (found at grocery and drug stores). For dry or mature skin, mix two parts rose water to one part witch hazel; for combination skin, a 1:1 ratio; and for oily skin, one part rose water to two parts witch hazel. Store in a bottle or jar and apply to your face with a cotton ball. Rose water helps to restore your natural moisture balance, while witch hazel is an astringent with antibacterial properties. Roses, of course, mean love and beauty, while witch hazel brings protection and power. Thanks, Lady Chandra!

Wand of Discovery

The popular image of using a wand comes from movies like Walt Disney’s Cinderella, wherein the Fairy Godmother waves one and makes things happen. Oh, golly, don’t we wish! For most Wiccans, though, a wand is for inviting and guiding energy, a more gentle Tool than the athame, which most often commands. But the wand performs another function, appropriate for children as well as for adults, and that’s discovery. A wand’s work is to “draw attention to,” and not always in terms of drawing attention/energy to work magic; sometimes the idea is to draw attention to a magic that’s already been worked.

When we point a wand at something, we might be guiding working energy toward that object; but we might just as well be direction awareness to that object, pointing it out as already magical. That is the exclusive function of a Wand of Discovery, and that makes it an ideal craft for both children (who can always use validation of their natural talent of seeing things as magical) and adults (who often need reminding to see things as magical). Best of all, a Wand of Discovery is easy to make.

You need a length of very small doweling, the narrowest you can find. Sometimes you can get a 36" piece where lumber is sold, but more reliably, you can find it at a craft store. (You’re looking for something less than a quarter-inch in diameter.) If you can’t find wooden doweling, wire will do—and you can find that at nearly any hardware store—but if you’re using wire, it’s imperative to make a handle for the wand, so that the sharp cut end won’t hurt anyone.

For each wand you need a length of dowel or stiff wire to match the distance between the tip of your middle finger and the pointy bone in your elbow. Of course you need some craft glue, and also “pony” beads and glitter and bits of ribbon, and perhaps some leather scraps to make a handle; perhaps you’d like to use very small bells, or even very small faux flowers. A bead or two makes a nice tip for the wand, and the rest can be decorated any way you like. Allow plenty of time for the glue to dry before you use the wand.

Explain carefully to small children that the wand is not to be used for things like poking pets or batting siblings. (If it’s ever used that way, remove it from the offending wielder immediately, matter-of-factly rather than angrily, and allow him or her to try again tomorrow to use it properly. This teaches not only respect for the pets and siblings, but also respect for magical Tools.)

For those who haven’t the opportunity to go out and buy the materials for this project, or who want to use the idea more immediately, I should say that you can make a wand from rolled paper, too, using glue or tape, or even string or a rubber band, to keep it from unrolling. You can color the paper before you roll it, or glitter it afterwards. A paper wand won’t be as durable as one made of wood or metal, though, so if yours is paper, expect to make a new one every Beltane, or more often.

Use this wand to discover the magic in the world around you. Touch the stems of blooming roses with it, and say, “Beauty is magical.” Point toward fluffy clouds with it, say what they look like to you, and say, “Imagination is magical.” Wave it through the air as if it’s dancing—dance yourself while you wave it!—and recognize that “motion is magical.” Listen to music on the radio or stereo, and use the Wand of Discovery like a conductor’s baton, and learn or remember that “music is magical.” Touch the leaves of the vegetables in your garden, and discover the magic in both growth and food; touch the soil, and discover the magic in plain ol’ dirt! Touch the bubbles in the bathtub, for water and cleansing are magical. Touch the image in the mirror, and discover the magic in yourself.

Don’t stop there, and don’t think you must have that wand with you to recognize the magics you encounter every day, in every aspect of your life. Imagine yourself holding the wand at school or at work, and think what you could touch with it there. Language itself—speaking (and reading!) is magical: it lets people communicate complex ideas, share information over time and distance, and connect cultures and generations. Wow! Computers are magical, too, aren’t they? What about the cooperation it takes to complete a class or an office project? Or the patience it takes to deal with a difficult schoolmate or co-worker? Things like cooperation and patience are hard to touch with a physical wand, but you can touch them with the wand in your mind, and recognize them as magical, too.

Beltane Recipes

Where I live, it’s usually warm enough by Beltane that we’re looking for cool meals, or at least dishes that don’t require much baking, as warming up the oven heats the whole house. Here are a few ideas.

Peach Shortcake

For sweet treats, find little sponge cake cups—not the molds, but the cup-shaped cakes themselves—in your store. They make an excellent base for more than strawberry shortcake (which I think is better suited to Lammas than Beltane). Fill them with peach puree, made from fresh or (drained) canned peaches, and top them with “real” whipped cream, or the ready-made kind, or with just a little sugar or honey. Quick and easy, these are satisfying whether the peach puree is room temperature or chilled.

Peach Leather

Another treat to make with peach puree—which you make by chopping fresh or canned peach sections into small pieces and blending the heck out of them, till they’re the consistency of applesauce (or, if you have a food processor instead of a blender, setting it on “puree”)—is fruit leather. This isn’t at all difficult, but it does take a day or so if you want to avoid using your oven.

On a cookie sheet, spread the puree thinly over wax paper or plastic wrap. Cover the whole thing with cheesecloth or a towel, being careful not to let it sag into the peach puree, and set it aside to dry out. If you did this in the oven (without the cloth), you’d put it on low heat and check it every hour or so, leaving it to get leathery. I think it’s nicer when it’s sun-dried, but you do want to keep bugs and plant-bits out of it, so to dry it in the sun, you do cover it. Hereabouts, leaving it out for a day is usually long enough; check yours in the morning to see if your climate’s had long enough.

When it’s dry, it’s dark and leathery. You can tear bits off and munch them, or, if it’s too tart for you—if you made it from fresh peaches, it’s unsweetened—you can put a touch of honey on it. You can also roll up a piece, with honey or a bit of whipped cream inside.

Fairy Ke-bab Wands

No, this isn’t about barbecue! (It is about sugar, so indulge in moderation.) What you need is a bag of miniature marshmallows and a packet of small wooden ke-bab sticks. If you can find the marshmallows in pastel colors, so much the better. If you can’t, not to worry: dip them in marshmallow cream (or honey) and roll them in colored sprinkles. Give them time to dry (on wax paper on a flat surface), and then push four or five of them onto the end of a ke-bab stick. If you’re making these ahead of time for a party, you can dress them up even more by painting the holding-end of the ke-bab sticks gold or silver—but leave the tip unpainted so that the marshmallows don’t touch it.


You already know how to make floats, I’m sure, so this isn’t as much a recipe as a reminder of what a delightful beverage this is. They’re refreshing all Summer, from Beltane right through Lammas and till the end of August!

All you need is some fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt and your favorite soda. People argue about whether to put the “ice cream” in first and pour the soda over it, or put an inch or two of soda in the bottom of a tall glass, add a hefty scoop of the frozen vanilla yogurt, and then fill the glass with more of the soda. I think it works both ways—so I guess you’ll just have to try it more than once to decide which tastes best to you!

(I suggest fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt and put “ice cream” in quotes because this is one time you can use the fat-free alternative without depriving yourself of any flavor. I used to make a face when anyone suggested substituting fat-free frozen yogurt for real ice cream. Then, after Canyondancer’s heart attack, we got serious about reducing the fats in our diet, and rather than give up my chocolate ice cream, I took a deep breath and tried the fat free frozen yogurt. Now I don’t care for real ice cream anymore, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty about indulging my “chocolate tooth.”)

Now that their son the Explorer is all grown up, Ashleen O’Gaea and her husband Canyondancer share an adobe home northwest of Tucson, Arizona, with their three cats and a bald dog. O’Gaea and Canyondancer are the founders of Adventure Wicca and for 13 years led Campsight Coven in that Tradition. O’Gaea is the author of Raising Witches; Family Wicca, Revised Edition;, and Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weird News of the Week

Jet-Propelled Surfboard Battles the Breakers

Click Here to Learn More

New Graphene Material is Paper-Thin
and Ten Times Stronger Than Steel

Click Here to Learn More

Rabbi Uses Giant Blowtorch to
Eradicate Leavened Bread Before Passover

Click Here to Learn More

Remote-Controlled Car That Runs on Aluminum Soda Can Tabs

Click Here to Learn More

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fall 11 - New Title Announcements

Though we're just beginning to hear the birds upon their return and the trees and flowers are just beginning to bud - in the publishing industry it's time to announce our Fall season and have we got a great season in store for you!

Ancient Mysteries

Using painstaking archaeological research and evidence from the writings of Plato and Aristotle, Erich suggests that the Greek “myths” were, in fact, very much a reality, that the Greek “gods” were actually extraterrestrial beings who arrived on Earth many thousands of years ago.

Analyzing the historical and archaeological evidence, Philip Coppens demonstrates that there is substantial proof that our ancestors were far more technologically advanced than currently accepted, and that certain cultures interacted with non-human intelligences. Our ancestors were clearly not alone.

Were Atlantis and Lemuria factual places? Who built the pyramids and for what purpose? How advanced was the technology of ancient cultures?
All this and more is covered in Exposed, Uncovered, & Declassified: Lost Civilizations & Secrets of the Past—the latest in the all-original series that is already sparking lively debate.

What if the old spiritualities and religions weren’t just legends? What if there was something living and breathing beneath the surface, a tangible interlinking of religious thought and spirituality, science and myth, inter-dimensionality and cold, hard fact? The Nephilim walked among us... and still do today.

Ghostly legends abound wherever history has made its mark. Battlefields, prisons, asylums, national monuments—all of them have stories to tell. Their ghosts still lurk, demanding that we remember the past. They’re real. They’re out there. And Jeff Belanger has found them.

Dr. Bob’s travels range widely—from his native Ireland and through the empty deserts of the Middle East, to the misty hills of Tibet and back through Europe to America. He’s not only looking for ghosts, but also for sinister people, vampires, the living dead, doorways to other worlds—even venturing close to the Gates of Hell itself!

Fall is the perfect time for a ghost story and a campfire, so be sure to get your hands on this new book by America’s top paranormal podcast host, Jim Harold! Listeners from all around the world have shared their spooky stories on his programs. Join Jim around his ghostly campfire as he recounts true tales.

Area 51, Hangar 18, the Montauk facility, the Dulce Base, the undersea world of Sanya, HAARP in Alaska, Pine Gap, Fort Detrick, Rudloe Manor, and the Zhitkur underground realm. Whether situated deep under the oceans, far below the ground, or within the heart of remote, fortified desert locales, these and many other supersecret places are guarded with a near-paranoid zeal by those in power who wish to keep their secrets buried and locked far away from prying eyes. And they have succeeded – Until Now!!

New Thought
Lightworker by Sahvanna Arienta
It is the Lightworkers’ mission to lend their light energy to a planet heavy with fear and negativity. But Lightworkers aren’t all well known spiritual gurus. They are musicians and artists, shopkeepers, accountants, stay-at-home moms, and people you pass on the street. They share their gifts by speaking out for those who have no voice and they create glorious works of art that beautify our planet or write music that elevates our spirits. Many have forgotten their divine purpose; they live among us unaware of who they really are. Although it’s not always obvious who these Lightworkers are, nor is it easy to recognize or understand their special qualities, one thing is certain: the Earth is more in need of them than ever before.

Synchronicity by Dr. Kirby Surprise
The experience of meaningful coincidences is universal. They are reported by people of every culture, every belief system, and every time period. Synchronicity examines the evidence for the human influence on the meaningfulness of events, and the way the modern computational model of the mind predicts how we create meaning. It demonstrates that these events, based on the activity of the mind, are caused by the person who perceives them.

IBD isn’t a disease but rather the umbrella term for two major intestinal disorders that might sound more familiar: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both deal with inflammation in the digestive tract that can produce a wide range of unpleasant symptoms and lead to other health conditions.
You will quickly learn what IBD is and what you can do to limit the impact of unwanted symptoms. In addition, you’ll get dozens of mouthwatering recipes from knowledgeable RDs that will make implementing the nutritional advice a bit easier.

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Celebration of Earth Day

In honor of Mother Earth we share an excerpt from Jesse Wolf Hardin's Gaia Eros. Jesse is among the best artists to share his love of the earth. This excerpt comes from Chapter 3: The Song of Gaia: The Living Earth as Source and Mentor.

We must not expect that we can simply use the...image of Gaia to meet emotional, religious (or) political needs without allowing it to transform us in unexpected and radical ways. The spirituality of the Earth invitation to initiation, to the death of what we have been and the birth of something new.
—David Spangler

It was said that in the beginning nothing existed but the Great Mother, Chaos—a dark swirling of the elements in a vast cauldron of time. Atomic matter spun about wildly in a mad dance of self-absorption, as spiraling gases mixed and stirred within her being. It was said that from the disorder of this tempestuous womb, a child of order was born, cast at an ideal temperature at the perfect distance from the sun, a body, heart, and soul spun into a globe of minerals and chemicals, land and sea, fur and feather, tears and laughter. They spoke of it as a living entity manifest in intricate patterns that constantly rearranged themselves in service to the Whole, a breathing planet delivered into the black sands of a cosmic desert.

The ancient Greeks proclaimed this geobiological composite a goddess, and named this goddess “Gaia.” In Piraeus, Dodona, and Delphi they built beautiful marble temples to honor her—the source of life, wisdom, and thus of joy—places where she spoke to and through those oracles able and willing to make out her whispered guidance. Plato described the Earth as “a living creature, one and visible, containing within itself all living creatures,” and according to Xenophon, teaching “justice to those who can learn.” “The better she is served,” he counsels, “the more good things she gives in return.” Here is a relationship worthy of Homeric verse:

To Gaea, mother of all life and oldest of gods, I sing. You who make and feed and guide all creatures of the Earth, those who move on your firm and radiant land, those who wing your skies and swim your seas, all those you’ve given birth Mistress, from you come all our harvests, our children, our night of day. To you who contain everything, to Gaea mother of all, I sing.

Those people living closest to the land have always placed the Earth deity foremost in their system of worship. It’s easier to accept the primacy of an inspirited Earth when it’s directly providing one with all the things needed for a healthy and aesthetic life. Yet as late as the 17th century, these essential truths continued to surface:

The whole world is knit and bound within itself: for the world is a living creature, everywhere both male and female, and the parts of it do couple reason of their mutual love.
—Della Porta, 1658

This understanding survived the ascension of the sky gods and the new soteriological (salvational) religions, persisted even as humanity clustered more and more in its swelling cities, and receded only after the last of our connections to the land had been severed by the shears of scientism in the “age of reason.” Ideas are trivialized that betray the dominant system, while those ideas that serve its bent are encouraged and, in time, institutionalized. The model of the world that worked best for the merchants and corporations, the developers and colonizers, was no longer that of a living being requiring our respect and forbearance. The new model was one of a planet machine with gears and pulleys—a giant watch awaiting our enlightened improvements. The emotional, intuitive, instinctual self was increasingly discouraged in favor of the rational, the functional, and the quantifiable. The tribal dances largely gave way to marches, and the songs were forgotten.

While the Greeks abandoned their mythology of an Earth goddess long ago, it is by the name they gave her that the symbol of “Earth Mother” has reemerged in contemporary consciousness. This universal symbol has been powerfully revived thanks to Oberon Zell-Ravenheart’s 1970 paper “TheaGenesis: Birth Of A Goddess” and the subsequent writings of NASA researchers James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, whose “Gaia Hypothesis” postulates a self-regulating and intentional living planet. In a synergy of the scientific and the metaphysical, we find an increased recognition of the Goddess just as humanity seems to need the wisdom and alliance of the Earth the most. In 1985, a refreshing new conference asked the question: “Is the Earth a living organism?” committing what heretofore had been considered scientific blasphemy, while inquiring about something taken for granted by most indigenous peoples. To our “primitive” ancestors, intimate with the energies and physique of the planet, the Earth was almost universally experienced as a sacred living being and as their extension, source, and destination.

Scientists trained to focus exclusively on the parts, advised to specialize in a narrow field such as industrial chemistry or molecular biology, can hardly be faulted for a failure to envision the incorruptibility of an interactive whole. However informed they might be, professionals find themselves at a distinct disadvantage next to the broad vision of Earth-based peoples and the open minds of children. The sciences have narrowed their focus a bit like a flea, and while well versed on the nutritional offerings of a stretch of skin, they are likely oblivious to the overall form and function of the animal that bears them. The disappearance of general physicians able to diagnose and treat the entire patient is an analogy for this specialization of the sciences. No expert in one area is likely to be proficient in the other important studies, and few have opportunities for the cross-disciplinary experience necessary for a subsequent understanding of the symbiotic Whole.

Lovelock called the Earth’s regulatory self-controls, including both temperature and the composition of the atmosphere, “the song of life.” We participate by co-creating the very air we breathe, in alliance with the volcanoes and microbes, the various plants, and our fellow aspiring and perspiring animals. We might think of each individual being as a cell, grouped with others into cohesive organs of the planet body, each with specific innate functions that contribute to the overall balance and health of the Whole. When speaking of the human body, such a condition of collaborative balance would be called “homeostasis.” In the language of song, we refer to this interactive condition as multipart harmony, with all the performers delivering their diverse individual parts in key, and in perfect pitch with the rest. In our spiritual vernacular, we call this state “resonance.” It’s interesting that Lovelock’s conjecturing began with his contemplation of atmosphere, the “breath of God.” The air’s suspended molecules form the connective tissue, the bridge between our bodies and the trees behind us, the buildings ahead and those clouds floating languorously above. The song is the collected vibrations of every Gaian form and process, transported across a membranous transparency, carried through the air to every willing ear.

Because of the collaborative nature of this song, it could be said that we work in concert to maintain the composition of life—life orchestrated by a unifying presence, performed by a wide range of inspirited constituents with complimentary instrumentation. Lovelock himself saw no clear distinction between the proactive performers—rocks and whales, life and “nonlife”—“merely a hierarchy of intensity.” What he was describing was a scientifically posited reality previously expressed solely as a religious idea.

The Earth has developed systems that somehow recharge each other in the process of interaction, reacting and exchanging elements with no overall loss. In a natural state of balance, living beings actively give back to the Whole, equal to what they take, managing to consume their environment without degrading it. Gaia forms a single system that miraculously recycles its resources without quantitatively or qualitatively depleting its parts. While it lives off the sun, the sun doesn’t run down any faster as a result of the Earth utilizing more of its available energy. Gaia has set an example of nonexploitive partnership, an example for the planets of distant galaxies, and an example for us as well.

To the ancient Greeks, we were both blessed and cursed with the unique ability to self-reflect, and thus to imagine ourselves distinctly apart from the rest. The great oral tragedies told of the anguish of recognizing the importance of our individual assignments, coupled with an un-animal like awareness of our impending mortal demise. The key to inner peace was always in aligning oneself with the will of Gaia, adapting to her patterns, tapping her prevalent energetic momentum in the accomplishment of selfhood, the fulfillment of role. To this end, they regularly sought out divine guidance. Not “divine” as in other-worldly, but as in “divined”—derived from the greater, larger self, channeled directly from the inspirited planet holon. Those accepting of the living Earth have always moved close to it to hear the Shamans of Tuva throat-singing on the dirt floors, AmerIndians vision-questing in dug-out pits, and the early Irish opening to signs inside the “Tigh’n alluis,” the Celtic sweat lodge. Believing in Gaia, whether as a working mechanical model or as an inspirited being, it nonetheless becomes increasingly difficult to recognize her needs and communications as we tend to live further insulated from the land and the elements, further from the unobstructed Gaian presence we call “nature” or “wilderness.” The most valid impressions of the workings of Gaia are more likely to result from personal intimacy with the flesh of her being than from clever extrapolation. Our role within this Whole is clarified not by taking charge, but by adjusting to its organic tendencies, and by directly sensing the extant will of the planet organism.

Gaian consciousness is likely a synesthetic process in which it synthesizes the perceptive field of all its constituent beings. Consider the Earth made conscious through the combined complimentary perception of its parts, through the eyes of the hawk, the responses of plant life, the comprehension of deer, the sensation of fruit in a desert tortoise’s mouth, and the burgeoning hearts of children. I believe Gaia knows the galaxy through the dreams of its seekers, the magnetic-field sensitivity of migrating mallards, the holophonic echolation of whales, the wind-tugged strands of spiderwebs and the probing fingers of the blind: Gaian “body language.” If this exchange of information were between unconnected entities, we would call it “communication,” but because it occurs between constituent elements of a connective Whole, it is more a matter of “communion”—an open, simultaneous, wordless sharing with our living context, with the rest of the inclusive All. Communion is the immediate awareness of our immersion, while the rest of the time our subconscious body continues its exchange with the world minus any conscious acknowledgement. An awakening to the full experience is inevitably blissful and transformative, the state of self-realization and intense mindfulness also known as satori, samadhi, or enlightenment. It’s about reentering the depths of Gaian reality, deep seeing, tasting, smelling, dreaming, touching, and shaping the world that is us. A fully informed world.

We know the instruction and will of the inspirited universe through the deep empathic experiencing of Gaia, and we access the truth and experience of Gaia through the portals of the feeling heart. It thus appears we do ourselves as well as our evolving communities a disservice if we merely substitute a goddess Gaia for the more conventional, omnipotent sky god in our metaphysical pantheon. She is not some removed authority or elevated reference point, but the fact of and means for our sacred oneness. She is inseparable from the miraculous Whole, as we are inseparable from the song and miracle of her.

For all the readings of his sensitive instruments, Lovelock may have come closest to capturing the essence of Gaia when he spoke of that “song” of life. With the destruction of life form and terraform, there’s a loss of communicants. Notes are missed, then whole stanzas vanish forever from the summer winds, and from the curling faded page. Devoted to its modality, the value of its parts and the integrity of its composition, Gaia responds by innovating substituting passages—extending the bridge between codependent parts, speeding up or slowing down the tempo as necessary, drawing on the strengths of the remaining parts to fill out the texture of the Whole. It is the Whole that decides when our pitch is too sharp or too flat, and it is up to us to spot the key and meter signs, the signature that marks our entry into the piece in progress, our place in the arrangement.

The opus surrounds us, beckoning us to participate. Encouragement the acoustics of our bioregion, the overture of thunder, the rain’s riffs and licks, the bagatelles of the arroyos’ short-lived floods, the ocean waves’ tireless refrain. In the fugue of mating frogs, the counterpoints of shore birds, the ravens’ stuttering arpeggios, and the suite of wind-whipped pines. Each earthen entity responds from its own being, to the directives of its form, its place, its purpose: the soil slow, adagio, and the granite peaks adagissimo. The mourning doves, funerale. Delicato, little ladybugs. The soft flowers, sotto voce. Fiero, bold elk, challenging fellow suitors, whistling for your mate. Furioso, uncaged fire. Comedic coyote, burlesco, if you please. The bear, the volcano, fortissimo, hombres. And the people, when they must talk, make it important, make it poetic, parlato. And as long as you’re at it, why not make the delivery as sweetly as you can: dolce, dolce? From the dawn’s glorious fanfare to the sunset’s climactic coda, from life’s bold opening to its decrescendo and finale, we ultimately have no choice but to proceed from one movement to the next.

In time, we as a species, or at least we as individuals may be able to tell when our mortal expression lives up to that organic, inherited consonance. Like the Earth herself, we endeavor to find our perfect rhythms. To express ourselves in the key of life. To discover and enjoin the holy grail of song...the sacred song of Gaia.

Jesse Wolf Hardin is an internationally renowned artist, musician, and presenter on Earth-centered spirituality, and Pagan and magical practice. As founder of The Earthen Spirituality Project, a sanctuary and teaching center, he’s spent the last quarter century restoring and re-inhabiting an ancient place of power in New Mexico’s wild and enchanted Southwest. He is the author of numerous books, including Kindred Spirits: Sacred Earth Wisdom (2001).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Travel and Tales of the Templars - Karen Ralls

As it's April, Easter eggs and spirituality are in the news nearly everywhere now, so naturally, tours, travel and pilgrimage often come to mind even more… as does planning for our future spring or summer holidays!

But you're not alone…doing a bit of "time travel" back to medieval times, the time of the High Middle Ages (12th-14th centuries)… the illustrious "white knights" of the Crusades - the Knights Templar- naturally feature strongly. These famed monastic warriors of the Crusades have long been shrouded in mystery; they were believed to conduct mystical rites, guard the Holy Grail, and perhaps possess the lost treasures of Jerusalem….and more. Bankers to kings, trusted diplomats, efficient land managers and farmers, brilliant businessmen, navigators, and far, far more, the Templars' "mythos" through the centuries, it seems, will never die, resonating on into our own times today, often featuring in Hollywood films or famous novels like the Da Vinci Code. Umberto Eco wrote in a famous essay back in 1986 that ever since medieval times, Western culture has been "dreaming" the Middle Ages, and that our current fascination with all things Templar, Cathar, Grail, Arthurian, etc is part of a a modern-day quest for our Western roots. I'd add that yes, we're still "dreaming" the Knights Templar, too - and that their fascinating story is far from over!

So back then, Easter of 1119, some months before travelling, many travellers would have been anxiously awaiting a chance to go on pilgrimage to the sacred holy sites in Jerusalem or Rome, often boarding a Templar ship in the process - if they were lucky enough to get a place via the safest way to travel. Or, by using the other secondary travel options, all of them upon arrival in the Holy Land area would still be hoping beyond hope to desperately avoid any violent attacks on their group during their trip on the highways and byways of Jerusalem. So why all the fear? Well, everyone knew - and had heard - terrifying stories about how bandits were nearly everywhere on the pilgrimage routes and that travel was usually very dangerous for Christians in specific areas - and especially close to Easter, for instance. Having arrived by land or by sea, as more and more pilgrims tried to make their way further on to Jerusalem, increasing numbers of pilgrims through the years were often 'ambushed', tortured or killed on the pilgrimage routes, especially at night.

Yet one Easter stands out among all others as it 'made history', in a sense -- Easter Sunday of 1119, the early twelfth century. Following the earlier First Crusade, many more pilgrims started to flock to Jerusalem, desperate to have a chance - safely - to see the sacred shrines, especially the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, for ex. Judging from eyewitness accounts in the medieval documents from many sources from this period, any travel along certain pilgrimage routes was very hair-raising and dangerous, i.e., bandits lurked around every corner, and robberies and attacks were rife. One eyewitness traveller, on one of the major pilgrim's routes, reminiscient of a scene from a Stephen King horror novel, said he saw a number of previously robbed bodies, all now dead, lying by the side of the road, all of the partially-decomposed corpses gnawed by wild animals, i.e., so inevitably, in such a climate, many would not even bother to wait to bury the dead, as they simply kept on walking as fast as possible, in case they, too, attacked themselves.

So an already tense situation had by then become unbearable. On that particular Easter day itself, the Saracens killed 300 Christian pilgrims and took 60 others as prisoners, a very provocative incident. Obviously, the Church was very concerned about yet another violent incident and diplomatic nightmare, but as this was also Easter Sunday itself, they basically decided that, well, this incident was the 'last straw'. Something absolutely *had* to be done about this constant problem for their pilgrims - and soon. This particular incident was given as one of the key official reasons by the Pope and Church for solving this dogged problem of constant dire dangers to medieval pilgrims -- to start a military religious Order to help protect them, among other things. By a bit later that year, 1119, the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon - better known today as the Knights Templar - then officially emerged into the public domain, a now- legendary military religious fighting force that lasted, incredibly, for well over two hundred years at its peak. Yet, of course, these first nine knights certainly could not have 'policed' all of the pilgrimage routes themselves, as they had nowhere near the numbers or time to do so - but among a number of other things that they were undoubtedly also up to at the time, not all of which are known for certain even today, this was not merely only a 'cover' story, as has sometimes been alleged, as it is known that they and other Christian orders at the time did indeed help pilgrims when they could.

But the Templars were certainly one of the best military Crusading orders of the entire Middle Ages - 'second to none' on the battlefield, as even acknowledged by their own enemies, the Saracens, as well as many of the other key Christian crusading orders that fought bravely alongside them, i.e., the Knights Hospitaller, for example. The Order of the Temple was officially founded with the initial aim of protecting pilgrims going to and from Jerusalem, but many believe they were in all probability also searching for hidden treasures under the long destroyed Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the place where the first nine knights of this tiny, fledgling Order were originally installed. Strangely enough, the official historian of the area at the time makes no mention of any of these nine knights there; however, a number of other chroniclers of the times do mention them to some degree, but reports are often rather conflicting. As the early Templars began whatever their key mission(s) were, as they flourished, the Templar order developed into one of the richest and most powerful organizations of the entire medieval world, and had a huge network of thousands of preceptories and commanderies throughout Europe and the Middle East. Ever used a safe deposit box at the bank or got traveller's checks on a trip? Well, you can thank the medieval Knights Templar for that concept, too, as they were instrumental in further developing those new finance ideas and introducing these concepts to Western Europe.

The Order lasted for nearly 200 years at its height, before its suppression by a joint effort of both the French king and Pope Clement V - who issued the papal bull Vox in excelso on 22 March 1312 which finally suppressed the Order. The initial event was sudden and brutal - in the early hours of Friday, 13th October 1307, the French Templars were arrested by the officials of King Philip IV in the name of the Inquisition and their property was confiscated by royal representatives and later granted to the other great military order, the Knights Hospitaller. This event also led to the arrest of Templars elsewhere, but the situation was most severe in France. (The sudden arrest of the Templars on Friday 13th reminds us of the old saying "Friday the 13th, unlucky for some.")

The Templars were then arrested, brutally tortured, charged with serious heresies, and brought to trial -- in fact, a series of arrests and 'trials' that lasted over a period of about seven years, in a number of different countries, as I outline in the Knights Templar Encyclopedia in great detail. It was a complex situation overall, and, contrary to popular belief, there was never only 'one' Templar trial. They were accused by the Inquisition of many things, for example, of trampling on the cross and worshipping a strange head named Baphomet - again, all of which I outline, in addition to what known relics the medieval Templars were known to have had. Many historians believe that most of the confessions of "heresy" against the knights are extremely questionable, since they were extracted by heinous torture; yet, this varied greatly, country by country, which isn't always understood today. The last, courageous remaining Templar officers finally came before the papal representatives in March 1314 and were sentenced to perpetual imprisonment - a nightmare situation. But, even so, Grand Master Jacques de Molay and Geoffroi de Charney, the Preceptor of Normandy, bravely continued to protest their innocence and, in revenge, that very evening in Paris, King Philip IV ordered that they be immediately burned at the stake on an island on the river Seine.

Many theories - and myths - abound about whether, or how, the Templars might have survived, which I go through one by one. Even more tantalising for many today is the question of where the Templars hid their treasure, and whether it will ever be found, and, if so, if it should be revealed, and under what circumstances, and so on - and, perhaps as or more crucially, what the exact definition of 'treasure' truly is, or should be. Perhaps the 'real treasure(s)' of the Templars is timeless indeed. A number of medieval Templars did manage to escape or survive, in certain areas here and there, but were understandably quite traumatised and had to be extremely careful and go undercover in order to avoid further trouble or perscution, a situation yet to be fully unravelled, as we continue to translate and work on some of the remaining medieval documents and manuscript fragments today. I outline what is known, for sure, after the 1312 suppression, from historical documents in the Encyclopedia, country by country. Obviously, more will hopefully come to light, in due course….even soon.

In 1340, a German priest on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, while walking along the shore of the Dead Sea, came upon two elderly men who turned out to be former Knights Templar! ("surprise!") At the time of the initial Templar arrests in 1307, these knights were already languishing in prison, having been captured after the city of Acre's tragic fall to the Saracens in 1291. After their release, they had "roughed it" in the mountains for years. They had seen no one at all from Latin Christiandom for some time and were absolutely shocked to learn -- 33 years later -- of the French king's attack on their great Order, its subsequent suppression by the Pope on what many felt were trumped-up charges gleaned by torture, and the dramatic burning at the stake of their beloved Grand Master, Jacques de Molay. These two Templar knights illustrate now - like the warriors of the film Highlander, who live forever -- the memory of the Knights Templar lives on, even today. During the time of the official historical order of the Templars (1119-1312), "history" and "myth" were already becoming intertwined. Legendary accounts about the crusaders and their amazing feats made the rounds; back then, too, people whispered about how the Templar may have found the actual Ark of the Covenant, or the Holy Grail, or, even the gold of Solomon's Temple itself…no one was quite sure exactly what it was, but nearly everyone agreed that they must have had something. (sound familiar?!)

Today, their history as well as their powerful "mythos" lives on. Step through the portal of time, back to the Middle Ages, and read the Knights Templar Encyclopedia, if you would like to have a comprehensive view of the facts about this extraordinarily powerful Order - then and now - A to Z. From more than 16 years of meticulous scholarly research and gleaned from a variety of reliable sources, the Encyclopedia is a great way for anyone - no matter what their own particular views about the Templars are - to at least have the most important, key historical facts and information right at their own fingertips, at any time….to be 'well armed' on your own quest!

I've covered not only all of the key areas about the Templar order itself, but also, other key medieval topics also of great interest today too, and how they relate to the Templars -- subjects like Mary Magdalene, the Grail, the Black Madonnas, King Arthur, Templar sites, Rosslyn Chapel, key Templar symbolism, seals, and relics, Gothic cathedrals, the Jolly Roger flag, alchemy, Freemasonry, the Guilds, chivalry, stained glass, Bernard of Clairvaux, the origins of the Order, Templar archives, Assets, Treasuries, Loans, Maritime trade and ports, Farms, Feast days, to name but a few entries. In the back of the book, I've included four key Appendices: a Templar Chronology of Events; Grand Masters of the Knights Templar; key Templar Sites; and Illustrations. There is also a special 'Recommended Reading' section, under specific Templar-related subject headings, to also help you with your own research and/or just plain curiosity. So…'happy hunting!'

Because in the end, it is *your* Quest, too, that also matters the most. Although I have had extensive years of academic research and experience, and was even the deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel art museum exhibition for six years - prior to the Da Vinci Code! - I've never felt that knowledge shouldn't be shared, so I've tried to reach out and offer this initial encyclopedia to you. I write my books for all of you, and hope that you, too, find the Templars - and the Middle Ages - as timeless and inspiring as I do - even today, in our early 21st century! Blessings on your path.

Karen Ralls, PhD, medieval historian and world religious scholar, obtained her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, was Postdoctoral Lecturer and Fellow (Edinburgh) and also Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel museum exhibition (1995-2001) prior to continuing with her work in Oxford, England. Originally from the USA, Dr Ralls lectures internationally and has appeared on many History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic TV documentaries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Positive News of the Week

Why you're not crazy if you don't like
the sound of your own singing voice

Click Here to Learn More

"Ums" and "Uhs" can be helpful in learning

Click Here to Learn More

Glasses that can pick Guilty Faces out of a Crowd

Click Here to Learn More

New Information about Zebra Stripes

Click Here to Learn More

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vitamins - An Informational Perspective

There have been a number of discussions going around the web this month in regards to the number of people who take vitamins, who should take vitamins, what are vitamins?

We thought we'd give you some insight from our recent release Supplements Exposed: The Truth They Don't Want You to Know About Vitamins, Minerals, and their Effects on Your Health by Dr. Brian Clement Director of the Hippocrates Health Institute. This excerpt is from Chapter 1 Misconception #1: Food Contains all the Vitamins You Need

Vitamin Development History

At this point you may be wondering what exactly a vitamin is and how we initially became aware of how important they are to our health. A concise answer to the first part of that question is that vitamins are organic micro-nutrients essential to normal human metabolism. Unlike fats, carbohydrates, and some proteins, vitamins are not metabolized to provide energy. Most are not manufactured by the body but are present in minute quantities in natural foodstuffs. Each of these naturally occurring organic compounds performs a specific vital function and is required by the body for disease prevention and good health.

The known vitamins are divided into four fat-soluble types (A, D, E, and K) and nine water-soluble types (eight B vitamins and vitamin C). The fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and do not need to be ingested every day. Because the fat-soluble vitamins are not eliminated from the body through the urine, ingesting too much of them can create toxicities. The water-soluble vitamins are more easily eliminated and can be taken in larger amounts without much danger of toxicity. Vitamin C and the eight B vitamins (except for vitamin B-12 and folic acid) are water soluble. They cannot be stored and must be consumed frequently for optimal health.

As an initial convention, vitamins were given letters to go with their chemically defined names. Not many people may know about the form of vitamin E d-alpha tocopheryl succinate, but most people know what “Vitamin E” is and how it can be used. Some nutritional factors were originally given “B” names but turned out not to act as vitamins at all. You may not have heard of vitamins B-4, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, which were ultimately rejected as vitamin factors.

Although our knowledge and awareness of vitamins as important nutrients came about relatively recently, most of the ancient healing traditions dating back 5,000 years demonstrated some recognition that certain herbs and vegetables contained an invisible substance with an energy or life force that could reverse serious health conditions.

In both ancient Egypt and Greece, for instance, it was known that night blindness could often be successfully treated with carrots. Today we know this old remedy works because of the naturally occurring vitamin A found in that vegetable. Whether by common sense, the power of observation, or by intuition alone, these ancient cultures understood the principle that a life force within the foods of nature could maintain human health and even restore it.

Our understanding of this principle took a quantum leap forward in 1747, when a Scottish naval surgeon, James Lind, discovered that an unknown substance in lemons, limes, and several other fruits and vegetables prevented scurvy, which was a serious problem for sailors of that period. This nutrient would eventually be identified as vitamin C.

Between 1650 and1850, half of all seamen on transoceanic voyages died of scurvy. Back then it was a common and deadly disease, and more British sailors were actually lost to scurvy than to the wars they fought. In 1753, James Lind published his Treatise on Scurvy, but because he was ignored for another 40 years, more than 100,000 British sailors died from the disease. Later, his work was recognized and appreciated by the Royal Navy, which eventually required that all ships carry citrus and other foods that contain high levels of vitamin C.

Scurvy is a serious hemorrhagic disease that causes lack of energy, immune deficiency, and spontaneous bleeding, often leading to death. Although those who used citrus fruits or chickpea sprouts to prevent scurvy had no concept of “vitamins” as we do today, they did know that there was something in the citrus fruit or vegetables that prevented scurvy. Since limes traveled well, they were the common choice of sea captains, who distributed them to the sailors and crew. The use of limes by the British Navy and other British commercial shipping companies created the slang term “limeys,” referring to British sailors and citizens of the British Isles. It was also discovered that raw potatoes, which contain small amounts of vitamin C, could also prevent scurvy.

In the 1860s Louis Pasteur demonstrated that many diseases were linked to microscopic organisms. Soon after, the concept of infection caused by “germs” became the basis of the Western theory of medicine and disease. Around this time, beriberi and pellagra were believed to be infectious diseases. Beriberi can cause mental dysfunctions, weakness and numbness in the extremities, weakening of the cardiac muscles, and heart failure. Pellagra caused indigestion, skin rashes, loss of memory, hallucinations, and eventually death if not treated with B vitamins. It was later discovered by Dr. William Fletcher and others that consuming whole grains, which are rich in B vitamins, prevented this disorder.

The discoveries of the effects vitamins have upon human health developed further around 1905 when an English doctor, William Fletcher, experimented on asylum inmates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Beriberi was a nutritional deficiency disease common in the rice cultures of Asia back then. Fletcher believed that special nutrients contained in the husk of the rice could prevent beriberi. Fletcher showed that nearly 25 percent of those who received polished rice (white rice) devoid of B vitamins developed beriberi, while less than two percent of the 123 patients who received unpolished rice (brown rice) containing B vitamins developed beriberi. His experiments proved his theory, and this led to the discovery of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and other B vitamins.

In 1912, while working at the famed Lister Institute in London, the 28-year-old Polish-born biochemist Casimir Funk took Fletcher’s thinking a few steps further. Funk demonstrated that vitamins were vital for good health. He formulated the hypothesis of vitamin deficiency diseases, which stated that a lack of a particular vitamin could cause illness. He isolated the active substances in the husks of unpolished rice that prevented beriberi, and coined the term “vit-amine,” which he defined as important substances in food that are vital for life—vita meaning “life” and amine from nitrogen compounds found in the thiamine (vitamin B1) isolated from rice husks. (The nitrogen compounds were thought to be similar to amines, but the chemical parallel was later disproved.) However, the name and concept of vitamins captured the public’s imagination, and later the “e” was dropped and the term vitamin was adopted.

The year 1913, however, marked a significant and simultaneously positive and negative turning point in the history of nutritional sciences, when an influential group of scientists turned their attention to finding and isolating the vitamin factors in food.

Thomas Osborne and Lafayette Mendel conducted experiments at Yale University and determined that butter contained a factor necessary for natural growth and development. This factor became known as fat-soluble vitamin A. Its chemical character was established in 1933, and a fractionated form of it was synthesized in 1947. Other vitamin discoveries soon followed. Cow’s milk was found to contain growth-promoting factors, which include the water-soluble multiple vitamin B family: Before the 1930s it was only known as “B” vitamin; now we know it as the “B-complex” family of multiple B vitamins.

In 1928, recognizing nutrition as a newly emerging specialty within the biological sciences, a group of visionary American biochemists and physiologists formed the world’s first scientific society focused on nutrition. All of its founding members were actively engaged in teaching and writing textbooks and academic articles defining the new discipline, and their new “Nutrition Society” brought much attention to the use of vitamins.

Named the American Institute of Nutrition, the society’s original purpose was to publish a journal containing research reports in the newly emerging field of nutrition. Its charter members comprised the editorial board for the Institute’s magazine, Journal of the American Institute of Nutrition. The society was opened to other researchers in 1933, and held its first scientific meeting at the Cornell Medical School in 1934. In 1941 it was officially affiliated with the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Today the society, renamed the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (1996), is the world’s oldest and foremost nutritional science society.

In the 1930s, a flurry of scientific discovery demonstrated the biochemical functions of various vitamins and established the body’s requirements for them. Since then, forms of vitamins have been widely available in thousands of processed foods produced on a massive commercial scale. These synthetic vitamins are fortified into many of our breads, cereals, pastas, and other grain products, as well as many dairy products, drinks, and desserts. In fact, it is nearly impossible to find any fortified food product that does not contain some form of synthetic vitamins.

Although this early scientific community made many valuable contributions in understanding the role of individual vitamins in health, the process of identifying and isolating vitamins led to an incorrect assumption (now shared for nearly a century by a majority of nutritional scientists) that vitamins are as effective and health-promoting in their isolated state as in their natural whole-food state.

These scientists meant well, but they did not realize that their focus and work would help create a flawed foundation upon which the field of nutritional science is built. They simply lacked the understanding that a vitamin’s efficacy depended on its cofactors, which are only present when the vitamin is in its naturally occurring state in whole foods, or in the supplements made from them.

Unfortunately, this generally accepted but incorrect “truth” or paradigm remains the guiding philosophy behind modern health, nutrition, and food-science protocols that focus solely on isolating and repairing parts of the whole, without regard to the whole itself.

In spite of the abundance of nutritional knowledge, scientists still lack an ability to observe and understand how nutrients work. Quantum science has provided data demonstrating that multitudes of cofactors exist within and around these vital nutritional structures (vitamins) that are essential to its correct functioning. These microscopic and often invisible factors may be as nutritionally important as the vitamin itself. Even at the most basic level, vitamins and minerals will never perform fully without their cofactors. This is why isolated, man-made chemical supplements do not provide the nutrition the body requires. Sadly, they can also weaken the immune system, potentially fostering an environment for disease, which is why we refer to them as toxic.

Fortunately today more people are embracing a natural lifestyle that includes organic whole foods and naturally occurring whole-food supplements as the best path to health and happiness.

Brian Clement, PhD, NMD, LNC, is co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dr. Clement, who has graduate degrees in both nutritional science and naturopathic medicine, has spent three decades researching and practicing nutrition. He has traveled to more than 40 countries conducting lectures, seminars, and educational programs on nutrition and health. He has been commissioned by government-supported organizations to organize and direct health programs in Greece, India, Ireland, Switzerland, and Denmark. The author of six previous books, he and his wife live in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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