start your engines

 

A new book from my longtime online acquaintance, Natalie J. Case. I’ll be ordering my copy soon, but just want to let everyone know this is a great story … There might have been a sneak peek a while back …

We’re getting closer to the release date of February 1st, and you can pre-order your Kindle version of Through Shade and Shadow right now.  You can also get a paperback from Amazon right now. If you have Amazon Prime, you could be reading it this weekend!

I find it a little amusing that I don’t even have my first copy of it (I should have it soon) and there are people who have purchased it and are reading it.

I wanted to do a local book launch party in February, but haven’t been able to secure a location yet.  I will, however, have a table at the Bay Area Book Fair in June in Berkeley.  For my Pagan fans, I will be at Pantheacon in San Jose February 17-20 and I’ll likely have copies on me, so if you see me and want one, please ask.

If you want a signed copy and aren’t local, I am working on getting a system set up to order directly from this site.  I hope to have it up and functional by the time I get my box of books.

I also have a giveaway set up on Goodreads.  It will open on the first of February.

And if you want to chat, come by my facebook page or hit up my Goodreads inbox.

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Source: start your engines

Echinacea 101 – Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

If you taste echinacea’s powerful root, you’ll be surprised by the tingling sensation that soon follows. While many herbalists enjoy echinacea’s root, the entire plant can be used for its immune boosting properties.* The alkyamides in echinacea help stimulate the immune system, but this is only one set of constituents that work in harmony with many others in the plant. Perhaps this is why it is one of the most studied plants in Western herbalism. The true identity of all the active principles still remains open, making echinacea’s true powers another plant mystery!

All the plants in the echinacea genus are indigenous to North America and originally dwelled in prairie lands. In the mid-1800s, the American Eclectic physicians began to use echinacea and its healing powers reached beyond the New World.  By the beginning of the 20th century, it was one of the most frequently used herbal preparations in the United States, and overharvesting of the wild perennial flower soon followed.

Fortunately, United Plant Savers works to restore native populations of plants, and echinacea can now be cultivated in many different regions of the world. The best way to start your echinacea seeds is to have them endure a period of cold, moist stratification. What’s that, you ask? Some seeds are very hardy and lay dormant until awakened by the cold weather. Stratification either stimulates or creates winter conditions to encourage germination or sprouting. In the wild, echinacea’s dormancy is naturally overcome by spending time in the ground and enduring long winters.

The easiest way to start echinacea at home is to sow echinacea seeds about ¼ inch deep in fall, cover with a thin layer of rich compost and let nature take its course over the winter. Another option is to place the seeds in a small jar with some sawdust, vermiculite or peat moss. Then moisten and place the jar in the refrigerator for about a month. Once spring arrives, the seeds can be planted a ¼ inch deep into a large pot or directly into the soil. These purple coneflowers enjoy partial to full sun, ample water (but can handle some drought) and good drainage. You can expect the perennial to bloom fully by the summer of its second year.

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The leaves of Echinacea purpurea sometimes have “covering trichomes,” which are hairs, emerging right from the skin (or epidermis) of the leaf. Our microscopist helps to identify plants and saves photos like the above to deepen our knowledge of key plant identification features.

If you think you have found this plant in the wild, you will be able to identify it by some of its most pronounced features. All members of the Echinacea genus are perennials that bloom with both disk and ray flowers. The purple ray flowers attach to a round, high and spiky cone – hence the common name “purple coneflower.” Technically speaking, this thick and spiky cone is actually hundreds of more flowers, all tightly packed together.

So when you’re feeling like you need a plant ally to give you a boost, think of echinacea.

Now when you see a beautiful echinacea flower while you are out and about, its radiant purple flowers and sturdy structure will remind you of just how powerful this plant really is.

echinacea02Cold Stratification of Seeds for Growing Echinacea Purpurea

Attract goldfinches and butterflies to your garden with a healthy stand of Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower. The plant is a native perennial that thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Purple coneflower grows from 2 to 4 feet tall, depending on variety, producing purple petals around a cone-shaped center in late summer that first draws butterflies, then finches as it becomes a bristly seed head. Once established, the plant is easy to care and readily self-seeds in place. When starting purple coneflower from seed indoors, you’ll get the best germination rates if seeds are cold stratified.

Cold Stratification

Cold stratification is a seed treatment developed to help gardeners mimic the winter conditions many seeds need to break dormancy and germinate. Many plants, both perennial and annual, that grow in a cold-winter climate evolved winter seed dormancy to keep them from sprouting when conditions are too cold or dry for sprouts to survive outdoors. Some seeds need only dry stratification — exposure only to temperatures between 33 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit — to germinate, while others need moisture in addition to the cold treatment. The length of stratification required also varies by plant species.

Purple Coneflower Stratification

Purple coneflower seed germinates best with moist stratification. Mixing the seeds with a small amount of sawdust, vermiculite or peat moss inside a plastic zipper bag or small jar for cold stratification keeps the seeds moist without hindering germination later. Seeds are sown one-quarter inch deep in containers of moist potting soil and covered with plastic to retain moisture. These containers go inside a refrigerator or other area where the temperature is consistently between 33 and 60 F for the entire stratification period. The temperature experts specifically recommend for E. purpurea coneflowers varies from 40 through 59 F, with the majority at the lower end of the range. Gardeners in areas with winter temperatures consistently in this range can place trays outdoors. Packaged seed often is pre-stratified and does not require any chilling to germinate.

Timing Stratification

The time required for stratification to be effective varies as well, from as little as two weeks up to a month for the seed to break dormancy. Planning for four weeks of cold prevents any question, as chilling for too long is not harmful to the seeds. Stratification time should be figured into your propagation time so that seeds are removed from chilling when it is time to sow. Seeds germinate in 10 to 30 days at 65 to 70 F and are often ready for transplanting within 30 days. The higher the temperature for both the seed and the seedling, the faster the germination and early growth. Purple coneflowers prefer slightly cool temperatures as seedlings and can be planted out just after the last predicted frost. Stems may be stronger and develop more flower buds when they experience cool temperatures of about 40 F after planting out.

Growing Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflowers grow in full sun to partial shade — dappled shade is ideal — in pH neutral, well-drained soil. Plants started from seed may not bloom for two years after planting. Transplants need at least 15 inches between them for the air circulation necessary to avoid disease, but no more than 24 inches to avoid spindly growth that requires staking. They are drought tolerant once established, but low to moderate water throughout the summer results in the prettiest plants. Like most natives, coneflowers have low fertilizer requirements, although a slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer, like a 12-6-6, is beneficial in early spring as new growth begins. Deadheading keeps the plant blooming and compact and prevents self-seeding. Basal foliage is evergreen in zone 9 but can be cut back in early spring if it needs to be refreshed.

Source: Echinacea 101 – Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Scotts-Monsanto GM Grass Threatens National Forests, Rivers, Ranchers, and Farmers

by ANH-USA

Now biotech companies want local residents to pay the costs of clean-up! Action Alert!

Over a decade ago, Scotts partnered with Monsanto to market a GM bentgrass resistant to glyphosate (Roundup). It was planted next to the Malheur National Forest in test plots ostensibly controlled by Oregon State University. Unbeknownst to most people, it was also planted all over the US—in California, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and seventeen other states.

It was supposed to be confined and controlled, but it very quickly escaped and spread out of the test plots in Oregon into Idaho, and crossbred with natural grasses to create new breeds that were also resistant to glyphosate. It clogged up irrigation ditches, threatening food crops and contaminating pasture-raised cattle with GMOs. In addition to the immediate threats to farmers and ranchers, grass seed—which is among Oregon’s top five commodities—is now under threat.

Initially, Scotts-Monsanto tried to stop the spread and clean up the contamination. But it was unable to do so because the original bentgrass (and now the other grasses it cross-pollinated with) are glyphosate-resistant. More toxic herbicides have been brought in to try to keep irrigation ditches clear, and to stop the grasses from clogging and eventually killing waterways important to wildlife and humans.

Now, according to The Oregonian, Scotts-Monsanto is walking away from the monster it created, leaving farmers, ranchers, wildlife, and eventually the fishing industry (if it spreads to the Columbia River) to deal with it. The current conundrum is that herbicides necessary to kill the invasive GM grasses are toxic to aquatic life, including fish. Soon the grasses will become resistant to even the most toxic chemicals, and nothing will eradicate the invasive grasses but heavy equipment.

Worst of all, the effects of GM products replacing natural grasses and plants on wildlife were completely predictable.

Scotts-Monsanto was fined $500,000, the maximum penalty under the Plant Protection Act, and agreed never to sell GM bentgrass. In addition, the companies were ordered to eradicate the GM nuisance in irrigation districts so farmers could continue farming.

But the federal government is apparently stepping in to help Scotts-Monsanto avoid liability. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently deregulated the GM grass, a move that shifts the burden of controlling GM bentgrass from Scotts-Monsanto to local landowners and American taxpayers.

The law is clear: if a plant poses a risk, the USDA is not to deregulate it. Scotts-Monsanto has already signed an agreement not to sell the product. So why is the USDA violating the law and deregulating GM bentgrass? Why would Scotts-Monsanto ask that it be deregulated when it has agreed not to sell it? It may be because GM bentgrass has been planted all over the United States, and when it’s discovered that the Oregon scenario is happening in every state, Scotts-Monsanto can pin it on the government and the taxpayers avoiding responsibility for costly clean-ups.

There are precedents for farmers and consumers holding biotech companies legally accountable in these scenarios. Midwestern corn growers filed a class-action lawsuit against Syngenta last year, claiming the company’s GM corn contaminated their crops and cost them billions in international sales. In 2011, Bayer paid $750 million to Southern rice growers in a similar scenario.

We hope justice is done in Oregon, and the parties responsible for this mess are forced to clean it up.

Action Alert! Tell the USDA to stop offering legal liability protection to biotech companies. Please send your message immediately.

Source: Scotts-Monsanto GM Grass Threatens National Forests, Rivers, Ranchers, and Farmers

Failed Former Wild Horse Sanctuary Attempts to Derail Rescue Operations

By Elaine Nash

The TruthOnce again, for the record. . .

ISPMB is circulating a rumor that Fleet of Angel and our partner organizations are trying to take the horses away from ISPMB. As we have said before, we have made no effort whatsoever to take the horses from ISPMB, and we don’t plan to. Our role in this massive mission is to protect the ISPMB horses from auction and probably slaughter IF the judge does remove them from ISPMB. It’s not fun in any way, it’s not easy in any way, and it’s not profitable for us to be involved in this effort. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
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In order to stop the auction of the horses that was scheduled for Dec. 20, we had to pay the hay bill that the counties, which was approximately $78,000.00. We did that. We also had to agree to cover the cost of hay and care going forward. We agreed to do that. We also had to agree to take the horses IF the judge ruled that ISPMB could not keep the horses, and we have also agreed to do that.
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Fleet of Angels and our associates do NOT ‘want’ the horses. What we do want is to do whatever we can to prevent any of the ISPMB horses from suffering or dying IF they are taken from ISPMB because of their inability to meet the requirements laid out in the court order that turned responsibility for feeding and caring of the horses over the the two SD counties the ISPMB is in. It is a massive commitment to accept and care for these horses while they’re being adopted and transported, and we’d love to not need to- but we may need to, in order to save them.
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We do not get involved in efforts to remove horses from anyone, but we do try our best to provide a safety net for horses that are at-risk of suffering or going to slaughter if they are in need of homes. In this case, we are willing to be the safety net for the ISPMB horses for long enough to allow their adopters to arrange for transportation for them to new homes- IF they are no longer owned by ISPMB, and need homes to go to.

The hearing on this matter is scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 27. If asked by the judge to take on Phase II of this mission, we will rely on you to help us help these horses. Thank you all for your support in this effort.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ISPMB.Adoptable.Horses/permalink/1224558907634903/

Source: Failed Former Wild Horse Sanctuary Attempts to Derail Rescue Operations

Wild Horses: Please Comment on BLM’s Plan to Reduce North Lander Complex in Wyoming Herds to Dangerously Low Numbers

Wild Horses in the North Lander Complex Herds in Danger of Extinction

The Bureau of Land Management’s Lander, Wyoming Field Office has released a Scoping Document for the North Lander Complex in Wyoming. The most current population count has the numbers of the wild horses in the North Lander Complex to be 1026. They do not differentiate between foals and adult horses in their number, they say 1016 “individuals,” so it is misleading – the BLM is not supposed to count the current year’s foal crop because mortality is high for foals in their first year.

Here are the four Herd Management Areas in the 368,000 acre Complex:
Conant Creek, Dishpan Butte, Muskrat Basin, Rock Creek Mountain
They call it a “complex” because “there is no geographic separation of the HMAs and the gates between them are left open a significant part of the year.”
This is the excuse given for bringing the numbers in 3 of the 4 herds down way below the level needed for genetic viability. However, if there is no separation at all, why are there four different herd management areas?
Horses tend to stay in familiar areas, areas they know where the waterholes, shelter and grazing are located. I would seriously doubt that there is very much intermixing of herds – when visiting the Red Desert Complex, where there are adjacent areas, the horses tend to stay in their range, and there is very little intermixing.

They plan to bring the herds down to these numbers:
Conant Creek 60
Dishpan Butte 50
Muskrat Basin 160
Rock Creek Mountain 50

and end up with a total number of horses for the North Lander Complex of 310.
According to Gus Cothran, the leading geneticist for wild horses, a herd needs a population of at least 150 adults to maintain genetic viability. This plan of the BLM’s which not only brings all but one of the herds down to dangerously low levels also includes giving birth control to all the mares that are released. If the herds are at dangerously low levels it makes absolutely no sens at all to give them birth control. Herds below the minimum number of wild horses for genetic viability should NOT be given any type of birth control. That is dooming them to extinction.
The other issue is that fall is the exact wrong time of year to give PZP to the mares – it should be done in January – March to ensure that it works – they are planning the roundup for the fall of 2017.

They are planning to use helicopters to round up the horses – using helicopters to terrify wild horses so that they run into traps and injure themselves is cruel and inhumane. If they need to round the horses up they should use the far more humane and far less costly method of bait trapping. And they need to keep the families of horses together – this is much less stressful for the horses.

Source: Wild Horses: Please Comment on BLM’s Plan to Reduce North Lander Complex in Wyoming Herds to Dangerously Low Numbers

ATMOSPHERE

SIMPLE SALT

Salt is one of the core skills any person engaged in magick especially beginners are encouraged to become familiar with.

Begin to learn when there are various rhythms in your home or many different types of vibrations surrounding you inside your place of peace and relaxation.

That need to go.

Think about who has been in your home lately of their own vibrations they have left behind in your home.

The room you entertained in and the people that occupied it.

Source: ATMOSPHERE

Travel Spotlight: Meet the Wild Burros of Oatman, Arizona

OATMAN, Ariz. (KGTV) — It was just beyond a weathered ‘Welcome to Oatman, Arizona‘ sign that we saw them — the famous wild burros we heard were a staple in the old mining town along historic Route 66.

“There they are!” I proclaimed excitedly.

My husband smiled and slowed the car, then rolled down his window to get a better look. One of the wild burros came straight to the window and my husband, completely bemused, reached out his hand to pet the animal.

After a quick hello, the burro rejoined the rest of its group and we followed them in to town. And like every other tourist who stops in Oatman, we took plenty of pictures with the burros. It’s what you do.

Oatman’s burros are quite used to travelers and we found them to be very friendly, although once they discovered we didn’t have any feed (which can be purchased in town), they started to lose interest.

Source: Travel Spotlight: Meet the Wild Burros of Oatman, Arizona

Crystal of the Week: Serpentine

Although it considered a common stone and is often overlooked, Serpentine or New Jade has a strong stone to work with. It is found in places such as New Zealand, China, Afghanistan, South Africa, The United States, and England and it’s associated primarily with the heart chakra.

Serpentine is a useful stone for aiding blockages in any chakras since it clears blocked or stagnant energies and it stimulates the arousal of the Kundalini energies. We’ll be talking more about Kundalini energies later on, so stay tuned!

This stone is known for helping the user understand the spiritual basis of their life and wonderful to help attract or manifest what we want in our lives.

Source: Crystal of the Week: Serpentine

The Ugly Duckling

 

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The Ugly Duckling is a beautiful story. Most people look at this story and think it’s about someone who just wants to fit in.  A story of someone who looks and acts different, so everyone makes fun of them.  That is the story for the masses, as you will see this is a story of enlightenment.

The original version of The Ugly Duckling was written by Hans Christian Andersen. He has stories where it is easy to see the moral like The Emperor’s New Clothes. Then he has other stories like this one where you need to be in on the secrets. Andersen was in on the secrets. He wrote “The Little Mermaid” which is full of occult history and symbolism(See Mermaid). I see him kinda like the Brothers Grimm. He wrote these stories to get some secrets out to ordinary folks like me and you. Writing all of these stories right under the nose of the establishment. If they were smart enough to have caught him they would not have burned him at the stake, but they would have found  a way to ruin him. Sometimes I wonder if it was because of him that the Wachowskis gave Neo the name Mr. Anderson. Calling him Mr. Grimm would have been a bit obvious.

Source: The Ugly Duckling

Thunderstorms in the Twilight

In Ukrainian traditional folklore the Pleiades are known as Стожари (Stozhary), Волосожари (Volosozhary), or Баби-Звізди (Baby-Zvizdy). Stozhary can be etymologically traced to “стожарня” (stozharnya) meaning reduced to the root “сто-жар”, (sto-zhar) meaning ‘hundredfold glowing’ or “a hundred embers”. The name for this constellation in Lithuanian is Sietynas and Sietiņš in Latvian. Both of which have a root word: sietas meaning “a sieve.” In both Latvian and Lithuanian folk talks, the Pleiades constellation is shown as an inanimate object, a sieve that is stolen by the devil from the god of thunder used to bring light rain by the thunder god’s wife and children. In some Lithuanian folk songs, Sietynas is depicted as a benevolent brother who helps orphaned girls to marry.

Known since ancient times with the popular name of Pleiades, Mother Hen with Chicks, also Dove, the seven brightest stars were designated by their mythological names from the Greek poet Aratus (III century BCE). In Japan, the Pleiades are known as Subaru. But almost all of the traditional and indigenous traditional stories reveal that the Pleiades shows symbolically that they are associated with loss, destruction and shadow.

Source: Thunderstorms in the Twilight