Astrology – Science or Art?

How would you define Astrology?

Would you define it as a science or as an art?

My thoughts are this, to be a good Astrologer you have to be aware of the movements of the Sun, moon and planets between the constellations. This is also what Astronomers do. I think that interpretation is both an art and a science.

By training and observation you can recognise people by their birth star sign. The Sun is the most influential of the heavenly bodies. The Moon is the second most influential. The Sun is our source of energy in the solar system and provider of life. The Moon exerts power over the tides, so why not on our development?

These interpretations are both an art and a science. You can look at famous people who were born around the same time of year and from observation, notice personality traits. Since science is observational, this is a scientific process.

It is also an art. Some people are born with the gift of interpretation or develop it through years of study.

Nearly all ancient religions contained Astrology. It seems strange that modern Christians reject Astrology, when the Bible is full of it.

“You will see signs in the Moon and Stars”.

“The morning star will rise”.

In Ezekiel, it describes wheels within wheels and four beings that we can identify with the cardinal signs of the ancient zodiac, starting with the Bull (Taurus, or Ba’al). In Vedic Astrology of the East they recognise that every 74 years the Sun moves 1 degree back through the zodiac, so this dates the book of Ezekiel back over 4000 years.

So later on, the Greeks placed Aries as the first cardinal sign, because at the spring Equinox the Sun at that time was in Aries. However, over 2000 years on the Equinox begins with the Sun in 3 degrees Pisces and soon will be in Aquarius. Modern tropical Astrology, however, doesn’t move the signs, even though the ancients did.

It is only in modern times too that the movements of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto have been considered in Astrology. The visible five planets were all named after Gods and with the Sun and Moon were assigned days of the week.

In the development of alchemy, each of these 7 planetary bodies were connected with elements, with Saturn representing lead (considered as the restrictions laid upon us) and the Sun gold (the ultimate goal of self actualisation).

#001 Druid Herbs – Vervain

Vervain has been used by Druids and other ancient cultures for thousands of years to promote sleep and combat depression. Despite being considered a modern ailment by the ignorant, depression is mentioned in ancient writings.

Unlike modern anti depressant drugs, vervain has no side effects and promotes a healthy, calm mind. It is sold today as Blue Vervain in tablet form and really is effective. Not many health shops sell it, so you may need to look online. If you have a diagnosed form of clinical depression, you need to seek medical advice first. However, for the majority of people with a range of depression this is THE best treatment available.

Please click here to find a stockist for vervain.

The Nature of Wolves – #07 Discovering Your Power Animal

Shamanism isn’t a religion as such because it is a Universal practice that involves connecting your spiritual sub conscious with your conscious state to see and interact with the spirit world and channel energies into this world. A Shaman usually enters into a trance state during a personal or public ritual, and practices divination and healing. The word “shaman” probably originates from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia.

A Shaman usually has guides to help them and sometimes these are spirit and power animals. The awenyddion of Wales are evidence of a native tradition of Celtic shamanism. The awenyddion were Celtic prophets and soothsayers who, when asked a question by those seeking divinatory guidance, would fall into a deep trance and utter the answers in their trance like state. On awakening, many would not even recall what they had uttered.

Finn MacCumhal is a shamanic figure in Irish Celtic mythology. From an early age, Finn undergoes training to become a fennid, being raised in exile in the wilderness by two mysterious foster mothers, one known as a druid, who train him in the arts of hunting and fighting. A fennid lives and functioning outside or on the margins of the tribes territory and community. A group of fennid combine to form a fian, or war band. Their leader is the rifennid, usually one known for his exceptional prowess.

Finn became adept in the arts of fennidecht (the hunting and martial arts of the fennidi), and eventually becomes rifennid of his own fian. Finn stands out from other fennidi as a fili, or poet/seer. Fili is one of the highest roles in Celtic Ireland and fili were hailed before kings, in contrast to Finn’s other role as outlaw mercenary. Finn lives both within and outside of the physical world and society. Finn’s gains liminal knowledge and power from the Otherworld sources, documented in the many tales of his journeys into the realms of the Otherworld.

In Celtic literature, Otherworld realms are not described as mysterious ephereal dim places, but as definitive, unique physical worlds, each vivid and unique. Some are filled with magical forests, with animals who act as guides, women of unearthly beauty, and sparkling, crystal seas. In this respect, the Celtic tradition corresponds with universal accounts of shamans, who describe the alternate worlds of their voyaging in specific and vivid terms.

One of the common features of Shamanism is connecting with power and spirit animals. Power Animals are strongly associated with the Native American Indian belief in Animism that is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. Nwyfre (pronounced “NOOiv-ruh”) is old Welsh meaning “sky” or “heaven.” As an element, nwyfre is the source of life and consciousness, and many refer to it simply as the life force. In most languages, air, breath and spirit have common roots; eg. the English word spirit itself comes from the Latin word “spiritus” meaning breath. All physical objects contain nwyfre and we are united by the spirit that brings all physical things into existence. We are all products of the same energy that created the Universe nearly 14 billion years ago. We also all have the ability to connect in various degrees to the spirit realm. For some, it is a natural ability. Others can develop it over time. So connecting with Power and Spirit Animals is well within our abilities.

Power animals are a supernatural power that embodies, attaches or conveys influence empowering a person with the powerful traits and characteristics of the animal. They represent a person’s connection to all life, qualities of character, and their individual power. Power Animals are guides who appear in dreams or guided meditations or Shamanic trances in the form of an animal. Power Animals walk through different stages of life with each of us, teaching and guiding and protecting us.

Over your lifetime you may unknowingly or knowingly have the help of several different Power Animals. Power Animals can come and go unexpectedly, especially after a few years. According to the beliefs of Shamanism all people have power animals, or tutelary spirits, that empower and protect them from harm, like a guardian spirit or angel.

Each Native American tribe had a group of Power Animals that are most prevalent among its people referred to as Tribe Totems. The Power Animals of a tribe usually live in the area inhabited by the tribe and have great medicine power. These tribal Power Animals are important in the life of the tribe, as guides to sources of food and other essential items or as guides to the changing seasons. The Egyptians ascribed animal powers to their deities, even using pictures to show their different animalistic attributes, even though they did not view them as animals, but used this symbolically.

A lot of Celtic tribes had their own tribal deities, such as the Brigantes, named after Brigantia (many of whom consider as a form of Brigid). Each tribal deity also has characteristics of a Power animal.

For members of the Order of Celtic Wolves our totem is the wolf. What then are the Power and Spiritual attributes of our adopted Power Animal?

Wolf Power Animal

The Wolf is the Pathfinder, symbolising intelligence and leadership. Dreaming of a wolf symbolises beauty, solitude, mystery, self-confidence and pride. As a social animal, you are able to keep your composure in a variety of social situations and can blend in with any situation with ease and grace. Some wolves leave their pack and become a lone wolf by choice. The negative aspects to be aware of are hostility and aggression within the pack. Vying for power and control because of our independent spirit. There is a primal force in a wolf, though, and although loving, we have to be aware of the double nature within us.

Exercise

Discover your power animal by: –

1. Paying attention to the animals you see in your dreams. Think about the people or situations they may represent, and ask yourself how they make you feel. Our dreams are intimately connected to our waking lives, so do some research into dream symbolism.

2. Think about your past connections. Your power animal may have been your favorite animal from growing up, a pet, or animal you have had repeated sightings of or have dreamed of. Pay close attention to the animals in your life, as this may well be the way your guides try to connect with, protect, and lead you through trouble.

3. Include Shamanic journeying or meditations in your personal or group rituals. Connect with the Otherworld to whatever degree you are able to.

4. Listen to what these animals are telling you. Once you discover your power animal, think about what you can learn from it. Apply its wisdom and nature in your day-to-day life.

After the exercise, make notes and share your experiences with others.

The Nature of Wolves – #06 Alpha, Beta and Omega

In the modern day, sadly the life span of a grey wolf is both difficult and short. In fact, many wolf pups do not survive the first year.
The pups that do survive only live on an average of three to five years.

In rare cases, some wolves can live up to ten years.

A wolf also mates with the same wolf for life, forming an alpha couple (as discussed previously). The mating season for grey wolves lasts from January through to April.

From a young age, cubs are taught to fend for themselves until they leave the pack looking for territory and a mate to start a new pack and become alphas. These are beta wolves. When an alpha pair is old, or dying some beta wolves will form a new alpha pair to replace the old. And thus the cycle goes on.

Some wolves stay with the pack as helpers. These are submissive omega wolves and often are the most playful members of the pack. They play a vital role in keeping young cubs entertained, but often are covered in bites and marks. However badly they are treated, though, they stay loyal with the pack.

Exercise

Think about your own family unit and other families you know (include your adopted family pets too). Think about what role do you play?

Write down on a piece of paper the importance of Alpha, Beta and Omega roles in social groups. Be honest, think about your workplace, or other group. What makes a good Alpha? Who are the ambitious Betas? And who is just content with their role and helps with new starters?

Why are all these roles essential?

The Nature of Wolves – #05 Strength of the Pack

For most of the 20th century, researchers believed that gray wolf packs formed each winter among independent and unrelated wolves that lived near each other. They had reached this conclusion from observing groups of wolves that had been taken from various zoos and thrown together in captivity.

Under these circumstances, researchers observed that wolves would organize the pack hierarchy based on physical aggression and dominance. The alpha male wolf, indeed, was the wolf that was the strongest.

Later researchers observed how pack formation happens naturally, outside of artificial settings.

Instead of forming packs of unrelated individuals, in which alphas compete to rise to the top, researchers discovered that wild wolf packs actually consist of little nuclear wolf families. Wolves are generally a monogamous species, in which males and females pair off and mate for life. Together they form a pack that typically consists of 5-11 members, the alpha mates plus their children, who stay with the pack until they’re about a year old, and then go off to secure their own mates and form their own packs.

The alpha pair shares in the responsibility of leading their family and tending to their cubs. By virtue of being parents, and leading their “subordinate” children, the mates represent a pair of “alphas.” The alpha male, sits at the top of the male hierarchy in the family and the alpha female, sits atop the female hierarchy in the family.

In other words, male alpha wolves don’t gain their status through aggression and the dominance of other males, but because the other wolves in the pack are his mate and offspring. And like any good family man, a male alpha wolf protects his family and treats them with kindness, generosity, and love.

After observing gray wolves in Yellowstone for more than twenty years, wolf researcher Richard McIntyre has rarely seen an alpha male wolf act aggressively towards his own pack. Instead, an alpha male sticks around until his pups are fully matured. He hunts alone or with his mate and children to provide food for the family (and sometimes waits for them to get their fill before he eats himself). The perceived bullying of Omega wolves is just preparation for when they leave the pack and have to defend themselves. The Alpha and Omega instigate rough play with the cubs and the Alpha lovingly lets them win. He even goes out of his way to tend to the runts of his pack.

Alphas, though, are fierce predators, and can even take down large prey like moose and bison. And when their family is threatened by outside enemies and competitors, the alpha will fiercely defend it — sometimes sacrificing their own life to save their mate and pups. They are the protectors of the pack.

Wolves do sometimes engage in displays of social dominance. Mature male wolves do have dominance encounters with other male wolves – fathers will stand up to a stranger alpha, or sometimes show their own offspring who is in charge. An older wolf brother will also demonstrate his superiority to younger members of the pack.

If you have two dogs, older and a pup observe how the younger plays with the older dog and bites his ears and ankles. The older dog plays patiently, but sometimes the pup will push him too far and the pup lies on its side in submission.

So an alpha wolf can indeed be violent and assertive when the situation calls for it. Yet for the most part, they lead not with noisy brashness and teeth-bared aggression, but steady strength, mettle, and heart.

Source: – How to Really be Alpha like the Wolf

Exercise

Observe dog walkers, or observe your own dogs in a family setting. The person who walks the dogs, plays with them and feeds them is their pack leader.

Watch the dog’s behavior when they are walked. Some younger dogs, or new family members try and pull on their lead, but after a while realise their place in the family. They are happy and the most loyal of animals. However, if another dog owner meets them, they will react in one of two ways to the other dogs.

Thinking about the terms Alpha, Beta and Omega and applying them to your observations, try and define each in your own words.

The Nature of Wolves – #04 The Domesticated Wolf

All modern dogs are believed to have descended from the Eurasian grey wolf, one subspecies of which branched off and began interacting with humans between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago. The wolves foraged around human campsites, gradually growing less inhibited. Once their potential as companions and workmates became apparent, they were domesticated and selectively bred.

Somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, the wolf had evolved into an animal genetically indistinguishable from the modern dog. Though today’s dog is closer genetically to its ancient ancestor than to the modern wolf, most specific dog breeds have roots that go back only about 200 years.

One site of dog burials in the Siberian Arctic contains more than 100 dog specimens and is the largest archaeological collection of dogs in the whole of the Arctic region. This burial ground contains early evidence of sled dogs, wearing harnesses, along with signs that reindeer were also harnessed.

Even though prehistory humans domesticated dogs for work purposes, they also ate dogs, as they have done at various times throughout history. Even the Celts used dog furs to recline whilst they feasted.
We don’t know the full story of humans, wolves and dogs and sometimes the pieces of the puzzle don’t easily fit. But Robert Losey hopes the archaeological record will ultimately help us better understand what lies at the heart of perhaps our most enduring interspecies relationship.

“The big question in the field now is when and where exactly dogs emerged from wolves, but I don’t think that tells us very much,” he says. “What can we learn about people’s relationship with dogs in the past? The history of our working relationships with animals, and our emotional relationships, is what interests me.”

Exercise

Call your pet to you, whether it is a cat or a dog and slowly stroke it. For cats, stroke from the top of the head from the ears to the neck. This imitates their mother licking them. Get the cat to totally relax and if it is responsive talk gently to it, staring into its eyes.

If you have a dog, to relax them make circular movements just below their ears. This is an area that calms them. Again, talk to them softly and look into their eyes.

Do this regularly and your emotional connection with your family pets (they are family!) will grow so strong. Love your pets and love will grow in your hearts for them.

The Nature of Wolves – #03 Wolves and Early Humans

Humans and dogs were constant companions well before our ancestors settled in villages and started growing crops 10,000 years ago. Partnership with early wolves and early breeds of dog made homo sapiens successful hunters.

Previously, it was thought that domesticated dogs worked on farms. However, there is growing evidence that dogs and wolves first befriended hunter-gatherers, rather than farmers. Our furry friends helped with hunting and keeping other carnivores away. One author claims humans and dogs teamed up to drive Neanderthals to extinction. Skoglund suggests that the Siberian husky followed nomads across the Bering Land Bridge, picking up wolf DNA along the way.

“It might have been beneficial for them to absorb genes that were adapted to this high Arctic environment,” Skoglund said.

Why are you personally attracted to wolves? Anyone who owns a dog is familiar with the hypnotic, eye to eye stare that connects us instantly. Even on a photograph the stare attracts us.

The look of mutual recognition between humans and wolves and dogs reflects thousands of years of evolution and is a bond programmed into our very body chemistry. Both humans and dogs species release a hormone called oxytocin when they look into each other’s eyes. This is the same hormone released when a human mother beholds her baby. A Japanese study showed that higher levels of oxytocin were released during eye to eye contact than during petting or talking. Eyes really are the window to our connected souls.

An excavation of dog remains between 5,000 and 8,000 years old at Lake Baikal, Siberia, revealed that dogs were buried alongside humans in cemeteries. This suggests dogs were held in the same high esteem as humans.

“The dogs were being treated just like people when they died,” says Robert Losey, an archaeologist from the University of Alberta. “They were being carefully placed in a grave, some of them wearing decorative collars, or next to other items like spoons, with the idea being potentially that they had souls and an afterlife.” In one instance a man was found buried in the same grave as his two dogs, one on either side. “Globally you can see that there are more dog burials in prehistory than any other animals, including cats or horses. Dogs seem to have a very special place in human communities in the past. As soon as we see skeletal remains that look like the modern dog—say 14,000 years ago—we see dogs being buried.”

Through chemical analysis of dog bones, Losey concluded that the Lake Baikal dogs were fed the same diet as humans. “Early on there’s evidence to suggest people loved and cared for their dogs in much the same way we do now, but they were also working companions, involved in all of our daily tasks,” he says. “Thousands of years ago there were even lapdogs—the Romans had them. Clearly, people long ago began breeding dogs for specific purposes.”

The Nature of Wolves – #02 Evolution of Wolves

On 21 May 2015, results of research into the genetic makeup and ancestry of wolves and dogs was published in the Current Biology Journal. Genetic evidence from an ancient wolf bone discovered lying on the tundra in Siberia’s Taimyr Peninsula reveals that wolves and dogs split from their common ancestor at least 27,000 years ago.

“Although separation isn’t the same as domestication, this opens up the possibility that domestication occurred much earlier than we thought before,” said lead study author Pontus Skoglund, who studies ancient DNA at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute in Massachusetts.

The genetic legacy of the now extinct prehistoric wolf that goes back 34,000 years lives on in Arctic sled dogs, such as Siberian huskies. One of the researchers Skoglund declared “It’s pretty amazing that there is a special genetic connection to a wolf that roamed the tundra 35,000 years ago.” Dogs from Greenland also carry some of this ancient wolf DNA, as do the Chinese Shar-Pei and the Finnish spitz.

Through genetic studies, researchers now know that dogs and wolves share a common ancestor instead of a direct lineage. Their common ancestor was a prehistoric wolf that lived in Europe and Asia between 9,000 to 34,000 years ago. Several subgroups of prehistoric wolves went extinct about 10,000 years ago, at the same time as the mammoths, giant sloths and sabre-toothed tigers.

Although we still don’t know what kind of wolf gave rise to all of the amazing dog breeds living today, the Taimyr wolf genome helps scientists fine-tune the genetic timeline (which they call a molecular clock). This measures the rate of genetic mutations that build up through time. Genetic evidence from this 35,000-year-old Siberian wolf rib suggests dogs split from their wolf ancestors much earlier than thought.

Mutations in the Taimyr genome revealed the wolf evolutionary clock ticks more slowly than previously thought. Skull changes leading from wolf to dog start to appear about 33,000 years ago.

The Nature of Wolves – #01 Reality vs Myth

The Nature of Wolves
#01 Reality vs Myth

The wolf is endangered. In what remains of Celtic territory today they are extinct. They were wiped out by hunters and this is continuing throughout the world today. Through ignorance, fear and misinformation wolves are seen by many as a danger to humans. However, there are so few documented attacks to back this up. In fact, wolves are more likely to avoid humans if they see them.

Admittedly, there are rare cases of wolves attacking, and even killing humans. But here are some things to keep in mind: –

  • These attacks are very rare isolated cases

  • Many of these attacks involve wolves that were rabid (a rabid squirrel will also attack humans) or sick

  • Other wolf attacks on humans happened because the wolf had grown too accustomed to humans, often because someone was feeding the wolf.

In North America there are just two documented fatal attacks by wolves in recent times. The first in Northern Saskatechewan in 2005 was because the victim had been feeding the wolves regularly and they had lost their fear of people. The second in 2010 was when a woman was found dead in Alaska after being attacked by wolves. To put these figures into perspective, the National Canine Research Council in the same areas confirmed 41 fatal dog attacks in 2014 and 32 verified fatalities in 2013.

The wolf is a creature of instinct and hunting. It has more in common with humankind than we care to admit. They are the ancestors of all domestic dogs.

Yellowstone Park has been transformed back into an eco-paradise following the reintroduction of grey Wolves in 1995. For the last few years Scotland is looking at reintroducing wolves and onyx. Others are being protected by conservation projects.

Celtic Mythology

Learning about Celtic Mythology can be a minefield. These are some articles that I have compiled from research that provide the bare bones of these ancient stories, along with some background articles. They are a great starting point for those interested in being a Bard. If you want to learn more, suggested reading is given at the bottom of the page.

Irish Mythology
#1 Primary Sources of Celtic Mythology

#2 Tuatha Dé Danann (Children of Danu)

#3 Inisfail, the Island of Destiny

#4 Nuada Airgetlám

#5 Lugh

#6 Samhain

#7 The Aes Sidhe

#8 Cian

#9 The Children of Lir

#10 Imbolc/ Brigid’s Day

#11 Cú Chulainn

#12 Tír na nÓg – Land of the Young

#13 Beltane

#14 The Death of Cú Chulainn

#15 Áenach Tailteann and Lughnasadh

Welsh Mythology

#16 Sources of Welsh Mythology

#17 Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed

#18 Teyrnon

#19 Pryderi

#20 Math and Gwydion

#21 Lleu

#22 Taliesin

#23 King Arthur

#24 Merlin

Scottish Mythology

#25 Scottish Mythology

#26 Scáthach

#27 Connla

#28 Hebridean Mythology and Folklore

Cornish Mythology

#29 Cornish Mythology

#30 Tristan and Iseult

#31 Mordred

Breton Mythology

#32 Breton Mythology

Further Suggested Reading

Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology

The Táin: Translated from the Old Irish Epic Táin Bó Cúailnge

The Mabinogion

The Lore of Scotland: A guide to Scottish legends

Cornish Legends

LEGENDS & ROMANCES of BRITTANY – 162 Breton Myths and Legends

KING ARTHUR – Ultimate Collection: 10 Books of Myths, Tales & The History Behind The Legendary King and His Knights