Astronomy Picture of the Day for Thursday, Feb. 9th

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Nobels for a Strange Universe
Image Credit: High-Z Supernova Search Team, HST, NASA

 

Explanation: Thirteen years ago results were first presented indicating that most of the energy in our universe is not in stars or galaxies but is tied to space itself. In the language of cosmologists, a large cosmological constant is directly implied by new distant supernova observations. Suggestions of a cosmological constant (lambda) were not new — they have existed since the advent of modern relativistic cosmology. Such claims were not usually popular with astronomers, though, because lambda is so unlike known universe components, because lambda’s value appeared limited by other observations, and because less-strange cosmologies without lambda had previously done well in explaining the data. What is noteworthy here is the seemingly direct and reliable method of the observations and the good reputations of the scientists conducting the investigations. Over the past thirteen years, independent teams of astronomers have continued to accumulate data that appears to confirm the existence of dark energy and the unsettling result of a presently accelerating universe. This year, the team leaders were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. The above picture of a supernova that occurred in 1994 on the outskirts of a spiral galaxy was taken by one of these collaborations.

Green Tip – Healthy Valentine’s Day Cards & Gifts

Healthy Valentine’s Day Cards & Gifts

  • Jessica Kellner

Whether you’re making valentines for your child’s school party or going the traditional romance route with flowers and chocolate, don’t let Valentine’s Day make you abandon your principles of living wisely and well. Here are a few tips for a fun and romantic holiday that keep your health and the health of the planet in mind.

Handmade, Recycled Valentines
Every year around Christmas, we at Natural Home & Garden offer tons of tips for wrapping gifts in recycled materials you have around the house. Use those same principles to create adorable valentines made from items otherwise bound for the landfill. Brown paper sacks can become a beautiful canvas when embellished with fun cutouts, scraps of ribbon or fabric, multicolored buttons or costume jewelry. Consider finding pretty colors or images to cut out from old magazines.

Instead of spending money on disposable valentines, spend that money at the craft store on design tools you can use again and again, such as heart-shaped paper punches, pretty stamps and a red ink pad, calligraphy pens or specialty paints. Not only are you helping teach your kids a lesson about reducing waste, you’re also enhancing their capacity for creativity.

Fair Trade Chocolates and Organic Flowers

Sad but true: Conventional chocolate often relies on slave and child labor. As reported by Green America, the State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons report describes children being traded as labor for West African cocoa plantations. Major American chocolate manufacturers such as Hershey rely on cocoa from these horribly run plantations. Fortunately, many types of certification exist to help you sort out the good chocolatiers from the bad. You can download Green America’s chocolate score card and guide to certification labels here and tuck it in your wallet for use at the grocery store. It’s true that Fair Trade and organic chocolate costs more than the other stuff. But when you consider that the low price of conventional chocolate is only possible because of child slaves, you’ll realize its true cost.

Conventionally grown bouquet flowers are sprayed with toxic pesticides and other chemicals both when they are being grown and afterward to keep them pesticide-free. If you want to purchase a bouquet for a loved one, look for those that are Veriflora-certified, which ensures the flowers were produced sustainably and with fair labor practices. Some national retailers such as Organic Style and Organic Bouquet offer certified flowers. Otherwise, assemble your own bouquet from pretty items plucked from nature. A collection of pretty boughs with winter berries in a vase might make a lovely centerpiece, or choose a locally grown cactus or a seedling from a local nursery that can be transplanted to the ground when spring weather hits in a few short weeks.

Think Outside the Chocolate Box

You don’t have to be a master of creativity or romance to come up with a great idea for a less conventional Valentine’s Day gift. Consider a piece of vintage costume jewelry, then have it engraved at a local jeweler for a low cost. Visit Etsy to search for handmade jewelry or other items. This “Lover Letter Bird Sparrow” locket necklace would make a perfect gift, as would this gold-plated “Love Birds” customized initial necklace.

Want to toast your loving relationship? Pick up a bottle of organic or biodynamic wine or organic champagne.

If you want to make something yourself, consider some simple bath salts or a pain-relieving massage with this homemade herbal muscle rub. If your love is a nature lover, make one of these simple homemade terrariums. If food is the way to your sweetie’s heart, try whipping up a batch of these handmade truffles (free of refined sugar!) or homemade candy hearts.

Is Your Body at Peace?

Is Your Body at Peace?

  • Deepak Chopra

Put fear in perspective. Realize that positive outcomes are possible. Discuss how you feel with others; work together to change the stress. Be in control where you can. Don’t let chaos dominate. Stay centered, and whenever you are thrown off center, take time to return there. Find an outlet for your anger and anxiety.

These are common-sense suggestions, but I wonder how many people use them. For every lunch meeting where two friends fret over living in a time of war and terror, there should be one where they speculate about the best way to find peace. In a time of crisis, putting your body at peace can seem like a full-time job.

Spiritual life is all about finding a center and holding on to it. Negativity can feel like your center. You must confront the fact that not just your body, but the body politic is affected by violence. When you find yourself fixated on war and violence you are empathically drawing in what others feel. This osmosis isn’t healthy per se. Collective consciousness is part of you. But it isn’t your real self, and if you mistake what others feel for what you feel, you are putting your body at war for a bad reason; because everyone else is doing it.

You have to put your own body at peace, and then, in the absence of turmoil, you can find out what you want to hold on to. Spirituality without a core of peace is very limited.

Adapted from: Peace is the Way, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2005).

 

Can Meditation Help You To Accept Changes in Life?

Can Meditation Help You To Accept Changes in Life?

  • Eden, selected from AllThingsHealing.com

by Donna Bloom, Contributor to All Things Healing Meditation

As we move deeper into Fall, change is in the air. Children are involved in the school year, some experience a professional change and people come and go into our lives. Change is everywhere. How do we embrace change is the question. Do we resist or welcome new situations in our lives?

Meditation can help one gracefully accept changes on the horizon. Meditation is all about surrendering and accepting the present moment. In that state of grace, we get to be the observer of our own life. We get to rise above and know all the goodness waiting for us. Meditation connects you to You. Meditation is a pathway to know who you truly are inside. It allows one to be with oneself in a loving, accepting, compassionate way. By really understanding ourselves, we learn our own resistance patterns. Why do we unconsciously put obstacles in our own way? We are then able to discern if there is an underlying lesson or something to heal.

Why do we resist change? Sometimes it’s simply the fear of the unknown. Ego likes the familiar. When we let go of resistance and tap into our imagination, we can magically create beyond our expectations.

With regular meditation, we can look forward to change, as meditation fosters a safe environment to explore ourselves. What new opportunities and people will spirit bring my way? What can I learn? Sometimes change is spirit’s way to push us out of our comfort zone.

Meditation allows us to tap into our own universal source of love, wisdom and knowledge. Surrendering is about accepting the present moment as is. It’s not giving up or giving in.

So how can meditation help, when there is resistance or fear of an impending change? With patience and practice, meditation can help you detach from the emotional aspects accompanying the situation. It will help you to look at a situation from a place of non-judgment. Meditation allows you to see a situation from a broader perspective. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned or a gift to be received? To quote Esther and Jerry Hicks, “it’s all about alignment.” When you are in alignment, it’s all downstream and it’s easy sailing. When one is in alignment with oneself, there is no fear—only love and acceptance. When one is aligned with one’s higher self, there is no resistance. Change can be welcomed as a beautiful sunrise on a clear, crisp morning.

Yes, you can meditate and quiet the mind. It does take some practice and persistence, but the rewards are unlimited. You are worthy of the best possible guidance–the voice of your inner self. Embrace change with appreciation and gratitude.

A Little Witchy Tip of the Day for Feb. 9th

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments I am sure everyone already knows this. But just in case there are any new Witches visiting today…….The Full Moon this month was on the 7th. The powers of the Full Moon extends three days before till three days after. Right now is a fantastic time to do your house blessings and also wardings. The Full Moon gives your blessings, spells, rituals, wardings and etc., an extra boost. Personally I like doing my house blessing during the Full Moon. You can feel the energy inside your home and you feel nice, safe & cozy!

~Magickal Graphics~

Correspondences for Thursday, Feb. 9th

Fantasy Comments & Graphics

Correspondences for Thursday

Magickal Intentions: Luck, Happiness, Health, Legal Matters, Male Fertility, Treasure and Wealth, Honor, Riches, Clothing Desires, Leadership, Public Activity, Power and Success

Incense: Cinnamon, Must, Nutmeg and Sage

Planet: Jupiter

 
Sign: Sagittarius and Pisces

Angel: Sachiel

Colors: Purple, Royal Blue and Indigo

Herbs/Plants: Cinnamon, Beech, Buttercup, Coltsfoot, Oak

 
Stones: Sugilite, Amethyst, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire

 
Oil: (Jupiter) Clove, Lemon Balm, Oakmoss, Star Anise

Jupiter presides over Thursday. The vibrations of this day attune well to all matters involving material gain. Use them for working rituals that entail general success, accomplishment, honors and awards, or legal issues. These energies are also helpful in matters of luck, gambling, and prosperity.

 
~Magickal Graphics~

Calendar of the Moon for Thursday, Feb. 9th

Calendar of the Moon

Rowan Tree Moon

Color: Orange-red
Element: Fire
Altar: Upon a cloth of orange-red set a row of red candles, Brigid’s cross, and a bell.
Offerings: Votive candles. Quicken a newborn idea into birth.
Daily Meal: Hot drinks with every meal. Keep food warm.

Luis/Gamelion Invocation

Call: Now is the quickening of the year.
Response: Now is the time of the first movement.
Call: Now the child stirs in the womb.
Response: Now the seed stirs in the earth.
Call: Now the plains flood and our fire is threatened.
Response: Now the cold water drowns our spark.
Call: Now is the time of the hard struggle.
Response: Now is the month of desperation.
Call: Now is the time of desperation to live.
Response: Now is the time of desperation to be born.
Call: We turn in our sleep as the earth turns.
Response: We dream with the sleeping earth.
Call: Each of our dreams is a lit candle in the dark.
Response: Each of our dreams is a single point of hope.
Call: They shine faint and alone in the night of struggle.
Response: They are alone as we are alone.
Call: Yet we are not alone in our dreams.
Response: We are not alone!
Call: We will keep our fires burning.
Response: We will burn against the night!
Call: We will warm our dreams with the force of life.
Response: We will not die alone in the cold!
Call: We will ward off all evil.
Response: Only good shall pass our gates.
Call: We will care for each other.
Response: We will never cease to care!
Call: We will survive the winter.
Response: We will survive!
(Repeat last two lines twice more.)

Chant:
Protect the flame that warms your dreams
And dreams shall never die.

Calendar of the Sun for Thursday, Feb 9th

Calendar of the Sun
9 Solmonath

Day of Nerthus and Wuldorfader

Colors: Green and blue
Elements: Earth and Air
Altar: Lay with a green cloth, and place upon it pots of earth in which has been drawn the runes Feoh, and Berkana, and Jera, and seeds to be planted, and a wooden tray of small cakes marked with the runes Sigil, and Tyr, and Ansuz, and a horn of mead, and a pitcher of rain or snow water.
Offerings: Planting seeds. Doing something to clean the earth or air.
Daily Meal: Vegetarian, with wholegrain bread and vegetables. Mead and honeyed tea to drink.

Invocation to Nerthus and Wuldorfader

Great Mother Earth beneath our feet
Who gives forth all our sustenance,
Who feeds us from your breast,
Never let us forget
How much we owe
Your eternal fertility.
Father of Glory above us,
You who send the rain
To grow your bride’s crops
High enough to touch your hand,
May you be generous to us this year.
Earth and Rain, we beg you
To move in a joyful dance together
And never spend too long apart.

(Chant wordlessly as each person digs a hole in the pots of earth, places in a small cake, sprinkles seeds over it, tamps down the earth, waters it, and sends energy into the seeds. Then pass around the horn of mead, drink to Mother Nerthus and Wuldorfader, and pour out the remainder as a libation.)

Cosmic Calendar for Thursday, Feb. 9th

Even though Saturn is still virtually motionless since its station and shift into reverse two days ago, it is Uranus that keeps trying to run the celestial show. Every day so far this week, Uranus has been playing the game of interloper and shock-master by stirring up trouble as it tries to de-crystalize the blocks, limitations and restrictions that Saturn has made more entrenched on the world scene during the past few months. Following an inspirational, 72-degree link from Mercury to Jupiter this morning (3:51AM PST) – an alignment that provides a boost on the communication, literary and educational fronts – Venus forms a parallel to Uranus (5:16AM PST) some 13+ hours before these two planets make their annual union (6:30PM PST) – this year at 3 degrees of Aries. Yikes! Uncertainty, surprises and the unknown coming out of left field are up for grabs. Circumstances beyond your control can easily be in the cat-bird seat. Lunar parallels to Venus (2:37PM PST) and Uranus (3:29PM PST) act as stereo amplifiers whereby the unexpected takes charge, and you may have to temporarily function as a witness to events and experiences that are odd, bizarre and more in keeping with the Twilight Zone. It doesn’t help that the Moon makes its monthly union with the often feisty and volatile red planet Mars in Virgo (9:13PM PST) – simultaneously igniting a void lunar cycle that lasts until 11:55AM PST on Friday when the Moon enters sociable Libra. Escape the clutches of vampire-like associates who are more likely to drain you of life-giving energy than restore the innocent qualities of your heavenly soul. Say no to legal matters, key signings and long-term commitments during the void Moon mayhem happening for over 14 hours.