Feel Good Sunday: Home Sweet Home for Donkey Survivors of the Skin Trade | Straight from the Horse’s Heart

By the

The National Council of SPCAs in South Africa is delighted to report a positive, uplifting and heart-warming outcome relating to donkeys rescued from the horrific trade in their skins.

We report that five donkeys have arrived at a beautiful property in Bethlehem in the Free State where they will live out the rest of their lives. The donkeys were adopted according to the standard procedure, which involves a formal application to adopt an animal, including demonstrating that one is able to afford private veterinary fees and committing to looking after the animal for the rest of its natural life.

A further 14 donkeys will travel shortly to a new home. Their adoptions have been approved as all the required administrative procedures have been undertaken.

These donkeys were rescued in the Sani area in early 2017. They were initially cared for at the Sani SPCA, but since their operation is not far from the Lesotho border post, it was feared that the donkeys might be stolen. Their welfare and safety were top priorities, so a decision was taken to move the donkeys to other SPCAs.

The journey to their temporary homes started early on the morning of 24 February 2017, when they were safely loaded into trucks and their journey to the Benoni SPCA and the Kloof and Highway SPCA began. No issues were encountered. Several stops were made en route to Johannesburg to provide water and facilitate checks by our inspectors and veterinarian.

The end of the story is a very uplifting one not only for the donkeys, but for all the dedicated staff involved who worked tirelessly to ensure their safety and to secure their future.

Donkey hide contains a gelatine which is claimed to carry medicinal properties. The gelatine is a key ingredient in China’s ejiao industry, which produces tablets, tonics and a sweet syrup. Donkeys from all over the world are slaughtered, often illegally after being stolen, and their hides exported to China to fuel demand for ejiao.

The “donkey skin trade” continues, but so do our efforts to monitor situations, respond to information received and to take whatever steps may be appropriate when necessary. Criminal charges have been laid in several instances, cases brought before the Courts and convictions obtained. The National Council of SPCAs commits to combating the scourge of the donkey skin trade tirelessly and steadfastly.

http://animalpeopleforum.org/2017/04/22/home-sweet-home-for-donkey-survivors-of-the-skin-trade/

Source: Feel Good Sunday: Home Sweet Home for Donkey Survivors of the Skin Trade | Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Vinca – Good Witches Homestead

Source: Vinca – Good Witches Homestead

COMMON NAME:  vinca
GENUS:  Vinca
SPECIES:  V. major, V. minor; both perennial
FAMILY:  Apocynaceae
BLOOMS:  spring
TYPE:  perennial
DESCRIPTION:  Perennial vinca is a fast-spreading vine with blue flowers. V. major is a more vigorous grower and has larger leaves and flowers. The annual bedding plant vinca {actually Catharanthus roseus} has attractive five-petaled white and pink-to-red flowers and dark green, glossy leaves. The plants reach a height of 10 to 15 inches and spread almost 2 feet across.
CULTIVATION:  Annual vinca {C. roseus} is extremely heat and drought tolerant and thrives in full, hot sun. It blooms prolifically from early summer until frost. Perennial vinca is particularly useful as a ground cover because it grows equally as well in sun or shade. Blooming, which occurs in late spring, is much better in the sun, however.

Twelve species of this genus are native to Europe. V. major, also known as greater periwinkle, blue buttons, and band plant, and V. minor, known as common periwinkle, lesser periwinkle, and running myrtle, are the two species most widely grown.
Rosy periwinkle, a tropical species, contains an alkaloid necessary to make the drug vincristine, which is used to treat many forms of cancer.
The popular pink and white vinca used as a bedding plant is officially C. roseus, though it was known for many years as V. rosea. It is native from Madagascar to India and is known as rose periwinkle and old maid.
Vinca has been cultivated for centuries. The number of common names alludes to the variety of purposes for which this plant has been used and particularly to the magical powers it was thought to possess. Known as devil’s eye or sorcerer’s violet, vinca blossoms were sometimes worn in the buttonhole as protection against witches. If placed over the doorway, vinca was thought to keep away witches.
During the Middle Ages criminals on the way to the gallows traditionally wore garlands made from vinca blossoms. The Italian name for the plant is the flower of death, and it was often planted on the graves of children.
Belgians believed that the flower was a symbol of virginity and would spread vinca petals in front of bridal couples as they left the church.
It is from the pink and red vinca that the phrase “pink of perfection” originated. An old English book, The Vertues of Herbs, Stones, and Certain Beasts, suggests that “Perwynke when it {the leaf} is beate unto powder with worms of ye earth wrapped about it and with an hearbe called houselyck it induceth love between man and wife it it be used in their meales.”
Red vinca, also called joy of the ground, planted outside the garden gate symbolized an invitation to the passer-by to come in and look at the garden.
The medicinal uses of vinca are varied. Vinca tea made from the blossoms was used, according to an ancient herbal, if the “mother’s milk was running too full.” A tonic made from dried, full-grown leaves was used for intestinal problems. The leaves, mixed with other herbs, were thought to help diabetes. An ointment made from the leaves was used to treat skin disorders, particularly on the scalp, and the raw leaves were chewed to stop a nosebleed. The young shoots were boiled and eaten to prevent nightmares and to soothe nervous disorders and hysteria. Long strands of the creeping vine were wrapped tightly around the legs to ease muscular cramps. Perhaps the favorite reason for indulging in a daily dose of vinca was the superstition that it would help one be happy and comfortable and have grace.
Because it is evergreen, vinca has been chosen as the symbol of fidelity and friendship. The blue blossoms represent the pleasures of memory, red blossoms mean early friendship and white blossoms are symbolic of pleasant recollections.

Vinca has been chosen by the city of Geneva as its floral emblem.

 

On Keeping a Spiritual Journal | The Druid’s Garden

Recently, I took some time to go back through the many spiritual journals I have kept on my journey deeper into the mysteries of the druid tradition and my relationship with nature. These journals spanned over a decade. They included a bit of everything: garden interactions, meditations, nature observations, events in my life of deep spiritual significance, recipes, notes from gatherings and visits, stories, experiences with rituals, and much more. I am so grateful to have kept these journals and re-reading them allowed me to rediscover so many pieces about that journey. They allowed me to see not only my own growth over time, but reminded me of important events and encouraged me further on my path.

 

Journaling and writing down one’s journey doesn’t come easy for many, and I, too, have to work at it!  Further, in working with those new to the druid path through my work as an Archdruid with the AODA, I’ve come to realize that many folks don’t know how to keep a spiritual journal nor what it can be used for or why they should do it. In my professional work as a writing professor, I know how difficult it is for some people to write anything because they lack the tools, motivation, or inspiration to do so. So, given this, I thought I’d take the time today to write about spiritual journals, why we keep them, and tips and strategies for keeping them (and keeping them well).

 

Why keep a spiritual journal?

When you are engaging in a spiritual practice of any kind, it is really helpful to document that practice. So let’s start by exploring the reasons why you would want to keep a spiritual journal.

 

The difference between sacred spaces and mundane spaces. One of the aspects of spiritual practices is that we are in a different head space for the duration of those practices than we are in the regular world. This is true not only of meditation and rituals but also of visits to natural places. We may gain deep insights or have moments of clarity and awakening and retaining those insights are critical for our development. If we don’t write them down, we are very apt to lose them.

 

I have found that in order to “not lose anything,” I have to write down my experiences in ritual or meditation immediately after they happen (often, I will write in my journal before I even close a sacred grove in ritual or before I leave the forest). This allows me to write about these experiences while they are fresh and in the forefront of my head. If I put off writing down my experiences, the longer that time goes by, the less I will remember and remember accurately–especially because visits to wild places and rituals alter our consciousness.

 

Inaccuracy of memory. Our memories are imperfect instruments and we can forget many things. If we write our experiences and understandings down (or use one of the other methods I share here), we offer our future selves a record of those experiences, which is a powerful spiritual tool. Trying to keep everything in our heads is a sure way to lose some of the critically important details or insights we gain as part of our spiritual practices.

 

Some journals that are mixed media/collage with spiritual themes...

To illustrate this, I’ll share a story here. I was out foraging for the day by myself, and I ended up in a really brushy area that required me to slog my way through about a two-acre bramble and brush patch. During this experience, I was in a deep meditative space. I had a critical number of keen insights about nature–all in a row (it must have been the stars aligning). The problem is, I had too many at once! (One of those keen insights about nature became my earlier discussion of weedtending, weedwalking, and weedcrafting while a second became my discussion of first-aid responder plants). I had recently lost my small journal I usually carried in my crane bag (to a river–it carried it away!), so I didn’t have anything to write down my insights on that particular day. And so, lacking any other means, I tried to commit as many as I could to memory. When I finally got back later that evening, all had escaped except the insights on the two posts I included above. Try and meditate as I might, I could not find the other insights anywhere in my brain–they were left in the bramble patch!

 

Keeping a Record. Documenting your practices and experiences through journals offers your future self a record about what you are feeling, experiencing, and the things you are engaging with at that particular point in time. This is a wonderful tool for tracking and understanding your own spiritual development. I love going back and reading my old journals and seeing just how far I have come! It’s also helpful to look at the journals and get a sense of what I was struggling with then, what I’m still struggling with, and what new things have come up.

 

Focusing, Expanding, and Reflection on Your Thoughts.  Journaling is not just a process of writing down exactly what happened or what the insights were, but it’s also a powerful tool and opportunity to ponder or sit with those experiences further.  And so, we gain a double benefit from this work. Reflecting on experiences that just happened allows you another way, which I see as another form of meditation, into those experiences. First, I have found often that after I finish a physical journey, spiritual journey, meditation, ritual, or whatever, writing down what has happened and my thoughts and insights about what has happened allows me to further shape and expand those thoughts (and actually, this is why I got into blogging!)  Part of it is that you are not just getting the initial insight, but taking the time to think about it deeper and focus on it through the journaling experience. This helps the insights and experiences come into sharper focus. Second, reflection also allows us to slow down and think about what we experienced, synth sizing our experiences and our own understandings. We can pick things apart, turn them around, wonder about them, and really gain the ability to see them from multiple angles there in our journal.  It might be that this kind of work needs to happen over a longer period of time than one entry, and that is perfectly acceptable as well.  I’ll also mention here that research in writing studies strongly supports both of the above–we learn through writing and we gain much from reflection!

 

Content of the Journals: What to Write

The question of what should go into a journal is obviously a very personal one.  Here are some possibilities for you to consider:

 

Documenting regular practices. In many of the esoteric traditions, keeping a “magical journal” is a required practice. It’s very helpful to document regular practices and their effects, especially over time. For example, each day I do the AODA’s Sphere of Protection ritual. In the years I was really learning it, I wrote down daily what happened. Now that my practice has stabilized, I no longer find it necessary to write down each day’s sphere unless something out of the ordinary happens during the sphere; but I still find myself writing about it regularly. I do write about my regular meditations, and that’s part of my habitual journal practice.

 

Some more spiritually-themed journals with colorful watercolor pages...

Salient, important things. I once spoke with a woman who told me she was spending more time writing in her journals than in her spiritual practices and was frustrated with the length of time it took to journal. I inquired further and discovered that she was writing down literally everything she was doing. While this certainly is an approach that you can take to spiritual journaling, I’m not sure its one I’d advocate. You’d spend more time, as she did, writing than actually engaging in your spiritual practices! Instead, what I advocate is writing down things of meaning, of salience, and of significance. In other words, I don’t write down every little thing (“I drove to the park”) but I do generally document what I did, what happened, and what I thought about it (“in my walk in the woods, this struck me because of…”).

 

Ideas, Plans, and Goals. I have found it useful to write about goals, ideas, and plans. If you write goals, check in on them regularly and see how you are progressing with them (a simple goal might be to develop a regular daily protective practice, or to spend more time in nature, or to observe the full and new moons in some way).

 

Nature observations. I have found it particularly helpful to document my observations and interactions with nature, given that I’m on a path of nature-based spirituality. For this reason, I almost always take a journal when I’m going out and about (even a small one I can carry with me, although I have a propensity for small journals getting eaten by bodies of water!)

 

Some nice leather journals (both filled!)

Reflections over time. At the end of the journal, when I have only 10-20 or so pages left, I find it really useful to go back through the journal and record any patterns in my thinking, any changes, anything that sticks out of significance to me. It may take me a year or more to fill a journal, but is a very good practice and then helps me “launch” the next journal with a vision and goals in mind.

 

Photos, drawings, plant matter, and memorabilia. You don’t have to be limited to words alone–consider adding drawings, photos, plant matter, and other memorabilia.

 

The Look and Feel of Your Journal

Especially when you are starting out, the finding or making the right journal is really important. There’s something about opening up a fine journal, one that you are attracted to, and writing in it. It’s nice to see it sitting on our shelf, nice to hold and cherish. Your journal might be something you make or something you buy. (I can write a post on bookbinding and spiritual journal making if there is interest. Let me know!) You may also find that you may develop certain preferences (thickness of paper, lined or unlined, etc).

 

I think that there is something special about keeping a physical journal and I would strongly recommend you keep your journal physically. For one, if you are taking it into nature and into sacred spaces with you, the last thing you want is an electronic device in those spaces. The screens have a way of pulling you away and into them rather into the space. If the purpose of the journal is to record words, I would suggest using old-fashioned methods.

 

On the outside: If you are going to go with a purchased journal, You want a journal that lays flat, that is enjoyable to write in, and that is well constructed.  One place to look is on Etsy and similar places and seeing if you can purchase a nice journal that was handmade with care and love.  You’ll support an artist and also have a wonderful journal.   Some journal makers (especially those working in leather) can make a journal cover that you can then replace the insides. This means that you could buy one journal + cover, and then when you are done, put the cover on a new journal and keep going, placing the old journal on your shelf. This is a nice option and represents a limited investment.

 

On the Inside: One of my very early spiritual journals was a simple affair, but homemade. I began by purchasing some hot press, low quality watercolor paper and folding them in half, making signatures. I bound the journal using a Coptic stitch technique with two boards. Then, in each of the pages, I did a simple watercolor wash. The watercolor pages dried and then, when I opened the journal, I had a variety of colorful surfaces on which to write.

My first dedicated spiritual journal (made when I joined the AODA)

You can do the same thing with cheap watercolors and any journal designed for multiple media or mixed media (these are readily available in arts and craft stores). These kinds of journals will be thicker and contain less pages, but will be sturdy and wonderful for colorful washes and bold printing.

[…]

 

Source: On Keeping a Spiritual Journal | The Druid’s Garden

SSRI antidepressants increase risk of intracranial hemorrhage « Jon Rappoport’s Blog

From healthline.com: “Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) refers to acute bleeding inside your skull or brain. It’s a life-threatening emergency. You should go to the emergency room right away or call 911 if you think you or someone you know is experiencing ICH.”

By Jon Rappoport

The public has learned about the increased risk of suicide and violent behavior (including murder) stemming from the use of SSRI antidepressants. Now there is more:

Psychiatric News reports (4/7/17): “A study published in February in JAMA Neurology has found that patients taking antidepressants that are strong inhibitors of serotonin reuptake (SSRIs) may be at an increased risk for intracranial hemorrhage, particularly during the first month of use…”

“The results showed that compared with patients taking [the older] tricyclic antidepressants, patients being treated with SSRIs had a 17 percent increased risk of experiencing an intracranial hemorrhage. The risk was highest during the first 30 days the patients were taking the medications.”

SSRIs include: Celexa; Prozac; Paxil; Zoloft; Lexapro; Luvox.

Here are quotes from other Psychiatric News articles about SSRI use and bleeding:

“Physicians prescribing selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) should make patients aware of the possibility of gastrointestinal bleeding, especially if they have pre-existing risk factors or are taking other drugs that increase risk, said a University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist.”

From a January 2014 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry—“Short-term SSRI use—even as little as 7 days—elevated the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, especially in male patients. Just as with NSAIDs and aspirin, physicians should carefully monitor for this side effect.”

Note: Suddenly withdrawing from these drugs can be very dangerous. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin publishes this warning: “Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, sometimes including life-threatening emotional and physical withdrawal problems. In short, it is not only dangerous to start taking psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them. Withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done carefully under experienced clinical supervision. Methods for safely withdrawing from psychiatric drugs are discussed in Dr. Breggin’s new book, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families.”

rug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families.”

Source: SSRI antidepressants increase risk of intracranial hemorrhage « Jon Rappoport’s Blog