Gem of the Day for June 14 – LAZURITE (LAPIS LAZULI)


SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: Lazurite is a silicate of sodium calcium and aluminum, with some sulfur. It is a member of the sodalite group. It’s chemistry is (Na, Ca)8(Al,Si)12O24(S,SO)4. The color ranges in shades of blue from violet blue and azure blue thru greenish-blue. Lazurite is distinguished from sodalite by its deeper color and fine grain. It is also softer and lighter in weight than lazulite. It is dull to greasy and the streak is pale blue. The hardness ranges between 5 and 5-1/2.

ENVIRONMENT: Crystals are rare. It is usually granular, compact, massive. It forms in association with pyrite, calcite, and diopside in hornfels of contact metamorphic rocks. The opaque, vivid blue, light blue, greenish-blue, or violet-blue stone, consisting largely of lazurite but with appreciable amounts of calcite, diopside, and pyrite, is a rock called [lapis lazuli.] The stone is usually veined or spotted. Its value depends largely upon excellence and uniformity of color and absence of pyrite, although some purchasers prefer lapis with pyrite.

OCCURRENCE: Lazurite is a rare mineral in North America, but it does occur on Italian Mt. in the Sawatch Mts. of Colorado; on Ontario Peak in the San Gabriel Mts., Los Angeles Co., and in Cascade Canyon in the San Bernardino Mts., San Bernardino Co., California. The finest lapis lazuli has come from Badakshan in Afghanistan, and less valuable material has come from Russia and Chile.

NAME:  The name is from the Arabic [lazaward], “heaven,” which was also applied to sky-blue lapis lazuli.

LEGEND and LORE: Lapis Lazuli was a favorite stone of the ancient Egyptians. In the past Lazurite has been burned and ground to form the pigment “ultramarine.” It was consider an aid to childbirth, and has long been associated with altered states of consciousness and trance work. Lapis is sometimes designated as a birthstone for December, although turquoise is most common.

MAGICAL PROPERTIES: To quote Cunningham: “This stone is used in rituals designed to attract spiritual love. Take an untumbled piece of lapis with a sharp edge.  Empower the stone and a pink candle with your need for love. Then, using the lapis lazuli, carve a heart onto the candle. Place the stone near the candleholder and burn the candle while visualizing a love coming into your life.” Actually, the most important magical aspect of lapis is it’s ability to strengthen psychic awareness. Cunningham says “Despite its somewhat high price, lapis lazuli is one stone every stone magician should own and utilize.”(2)

HEALING: This stone is used at the Ajina, the Brow Chakra. It’s related gland is the pituitary. The pituitary gland is also referred to as the “master gland” because it regulates all of the others. This location is also the center for the eyes, ears, nose and brain.

1. Scientific, Environment, Occurrence and Name are from (or paraphrased from) “The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals”.
2. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En- cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.
3. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.


Herb of the Day for June 14 – Echinacea


Echinacea purpurea

MEDICINAL:  Echinacea, also known as Purple Coneflower, is a natural antibiotic and immune system stimulator, helping to build resistance to colds, flus, and infections. It  increases the production of white blood cells, and improves the lymph glands. The tea from this herb should be used in all infections, and has been used in treating skin cancers and other cancers. Please note that if you suffer from any auto-immune disorder, you should use Echinacea, or any other immune stimulant herb, only under the guidance of a professional, such as a naturopathic doctor, TCM practitioner, etc.

RELIGIOUS:Echinacea is used as an offering to the spirits or gods and goddesses to strengthen a spell or ritual.

GROWING: Echinacea likes the prairies and other open, dry places.  It adapts to most soils, in full sun, except wet ones. It grows over most of North America. It is a perennial, and reaches to about 2 feet tall. The root is used ground, and the leaves are used for teas.

Deity of the Day for June 14 – Apollo

Greek all-rounder. The son of ZEUS and LETO, he has his Godly fingers in every pie.

Sun God. Music God. Archery God. Poetry God. Painting God. Prophecy God. Plagues and Healing God. Animal Welfare God. God of Radiance. God of Ploughing. And much much more!

Send for free brochure with no obligation. See him conduct the Holy Choir of MUSES, tickets available at the box office. Book now for Apollo Space Mission.

Also, he has undiminished Beauty and Virility. You name it, he has it. Thoroughly sickening to us mere mortals.

But he is not entirely the Mr Nice Guy he would have us believe. There are women he pursued who won’t talk due to transformation or worse. Daphne is now a laurel tree and Clytia is a sunflower.

Sudden deaths are not uncommon when he is around — and don’t try to compete with him musically. It’s all very well to be played alive but not flayed alive like poor old Marsyas. Or to be given the ears of an ass like poor old King Midas. CASSANDRA never got another chance either, nor was he very pleasant to the SIBYL-OF-CUMAE, granting her immortality but leaving out the age clause.


His son ASCLEPIUS was the result of another unfortunate lapse. Having had an affair with the mortal daughter of a king, APOLLO was consumed with jealousy when he discovered she had another suitor, and, out of control, he killed her. In a fit of remorse he was just in time to rescue her unborn child and have him brought up with the best education to be ASCLEPIUS, the Deity Doctor.

He met his match in ZEUS, and a tussle for power earned him a period in exile; but as ZEUS had zapped his son ASCLEPIUS, zapping the Cyclope thunderbolt makers seems justifiable. It can be very tough at the top and all in all APOLLO handles it very well what with ZEUS being his dad, having ARTEMIS for a twin sister, etc.

Why women lose interest in sex

By Jennifer Abbasi, LiveScience


Study: The longer a woman is in a relationship, the more her sexual desire decreases. Men reported no such decrease.


New research is demonstrating what many people already knew from experience: Women lose interest in sex over time, while men don’t.

The finding has the potential to help couples, the researchers said. Knowing that many women’s sexual desire diminishes over the course of a relationship could encourage both partners to be more realistic about their sex lives, and could help them weather the changes in desire as they occur.
Sex researchers Sarah Murray and Robin Milhausen, both of the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, asked 170 undergraduate women and men who had been in heterosexual relationships for anywhere from one month to nine years to report on their levels of relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction and sexual desire. Desire was scored using an established model called the Female Sexual Function Index, which ranges from 1.2 to 6.0.
The participants reported being generally satisfied with their relationships and sex lives, but women reported lower levels of desire depending on the length of their relationship. “Specifically, for each additional month women in this study were in a relationship with their partner, their sexual desire decreased by 0.02 on the Female Sexual Function Index,” the authors wrote online Jan. 23 in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
In fact, relationship duration was a better predictor of sexual desire in women than both relationship and sexual satisfaction. While the 0.02 decrease in female desire was small, it contrasts with male desire, which held steady over time, the researchers said. [6 Scientific Tips for a Happy Relationship]
Evolution of desire
Scientists have disagreed on what happens to desire over the course of a relationship. “Some researchers suggest that both men’s and women’s desire would decrease over time as relationships move from passionate love to compassionate love,” said Murray, the lead study author and a doctoral candidate in human sexuality.
Yet evolutionary theorists predict that male desire should remain perpetually high in order for them to produce many offspring, while female desire should decrease as their attention turns, historically, toward child-rearing.
The new research points toward the latter theory, although longer-duration studies on different groups of people are still needed, Murray said.
Men consistently report higher levels of sexual desire than women. Differences in levels of hormones — testosterone, specifically — are believed to at least partially explain the gender divide.
Hormonal changes that occur as couples move from the passionate early stage to the compassionate later stage into monogamous relationships sometime between six and 30 months may also mediate changes in desire over time. Pharmaceutical companies are currently researching the impact of testosterone on women’s desire, but so far, the results have been inconclusive.
Hormones are only part of the story, Murray told LiveScience. “Although they are one piece of the sexual desire puzzle, focusing too heavily on hormones can remove the contextual factors that play into desire, such as whether or not a woman is in a satisfying, loving relationship, and if she has time to feel relaxed, playful and sexy,” she said.
Keeping the spark alive
The results could help researchers understand why women who seek sex therapy complain of low desire more than any other problem. Differences in levels of desire within couples, known as desire discrepancy, is a growing area of interest for therapists.
“The concept of an absolute level of ‘normal’ or ‘low’ sexual desire is being replaced by the view that low sexual desire is relative to one’s partner’s level of desire,” Murray said. But although desire discrepancy is known to negatively affect overall sexual and relationship satisfaction, very little else is understood about it, such as whether it contributes significantly to infidelity or breakups.
The new research could also help couples manage their relationships over time. In an earlier study, Murray found that women who reported more realistic expectations about what sex would be like in a long-term relationship also had higher levels of desire than those with less realistic expectations. “I think that individuals who expect to maintain the high level of excitement and passion that often exists in the first few months of a new relationship are setting up unrealistic expectations about what is to come and will be more disappointed when the desire and passion take on different forms,” she said.
She added that normalizing the fact that sexual desire may decrease over time may help both sexes to understand that this decrease does not necessarily mean anything is intrinsically wrong with their relationship, and may help couples put more effort into their sexual relationship.
“When an individual has had sex with their partner over the course of many, many years, it takes creativity and openness to keep things fresh and exciting,” Murray said. “Making time to be together and keep one’s sex life as an important part of one’s relationship is very important, and putting in effort and keeping things fun and interesting are crucial components.”
A long-term trend?
The researchers cautioned that longer-term studies of desire that include older couples could show different results. Younger women may report decreased desire as they experience their first relationship move away from the “honeymoon phase,” for example.
They may also not have experienced some of the benefits of longer-term relationships that may increase desire, such as going on romantic vacations, getting engaged, learning more about their sexual likes — and feeling comfortable sharing those likes with their partner.
Murray added that the self-reported nature of the study could have also skewed the results. “It has been theorized that men may be less inclined to admit that they have low desire as this is considered against male gender norms and masculinity,” she said. “Thus, it may be that men are not accurately reporting their level of desire and they may too experience a decrease.” Murray is preparing to study whether men accurately report their levels of desire.
Follow Jen Abbasi on Twitter @jenabbasi. Follow LiveScience for the latest in science news and discoveries on Twitter @livescience and on Facebook.




A pill that creates the desire to exercise?

By Melissa Breyer

Scientists have discovered a compound that could make sit-ups and StairMasters as attractive as snacks and the sofa.


More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions (heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetesand certain types of cancer) comprise the nation’s leading causes of death. When it comes to the competition between food and exercise, food clearly wins the blue ribbon.

But it’s not for lack of desire. Type in “motivation to exercise” in Google and prepare yourself for 61,900,000 results. It’s just hard to get into the rhythm of going to the gym. So hard, in fact, that people often opt for wacky weight loss fads (diet goggles, anyone?) and questionable diets instead (hello, feeding tube diet). Or, they simply surrender to obesity.
But as researchers are struggling to create safe and effective weight loss drugs, what if there was a pill to make you want to work out? As science fiction seemingly comes to life, it may become a reality. A team of Swiss researchers found that when a hormone in the brain called erythropoietin (Epo) was elevated in mice, the mice were more motivated to exercise.
“Here we show that Epo increases the motivation to exercise,” said Max Gassmann, D.V.M., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Veterinary Physiology, Vetsuisse-Faculty and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
Pop a pill and champ at the bit to hit the gym? This would have remarkable benefits for a wide range of health problems — obesity, obviously, but also mental health disorders for which exercise is known to improve symptoms.
“If you can’t put exercise in a pill, then maybe you can put the motivation to exercise in a pill instead,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the research. “As more and more people become overweight and obese, we must attack the problem from all angles. Maybe the day will come when gyms are as easily found as fast-food restaurants.”
Now if they can just come up with a pill that motivates you to clean the house.


Deadly bat fungus spreads to Iowa

by Russell McLendon

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome has been found on a hibernating bat in Iowa, possibly making it the 21st state in a growing wildlife epidemic.


In a dank limestone cave below eastern Iowa, a single hibernating bat harbors a fungus called Geomyces destructans, state wildlife officials announced Wednesday.

This might not be newsworthy if it was any other fungus, but G. destructans happens to cause white-nose syndrome (WNS), a devastating epidemic that has killed nearly 7 million American bats since 2006. And until now, it had never been found in Iowa — raising fears that it’s on the verge of exploding across the U.S West.
WNS has already infested four Canadian provinces and 20 U.S. states, with Iowa possibly the 21st. The outbreak began six years ago in New York, and earlier this year federal authorities confirmed it has spread to Alabama and Missouri, with a suspected case as far as western Oklahoma. The Iowa report is tentative, since only low levels of the fungus were found on a single bat, with no signs of full-blown WNS.
But since G. destructans is so fast and fatal — it has a 100 percent mortality rate at some sites — bat experts are wary of underestimating it. “The level is so low it’s difficult to say what this detection means,” says Daryl Howell of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “It may be at a level low enough that it may not infect the bats at all, or it could be just the beginning of an outbreak that we will see in the future.”
Either way, the discovery of G. destructans will be a game-changer at Iowa’s Maquoketa Caves State Park. “We now go from trying to prevent the fungus from getting into the cave to trying to prevent it from getting out,” Howell says.
WNS spreads mainly from bat to bat, although scientists think hikers and spelunkers inadvertently help it spread among caves when fungal spores stick to their clothes, shoes and equipment. The caves at Maquoketa had been closed to the public for the past two years as a precaution against this, but the Iowa DNR decided earlier this year to open them, citing new funding to hire staff and install decontamination mats. That decision will stand even though G. destructans has been detected, parks bureau chief Kevin Szcodronski says in a statement.
“Education is probably the most effective tool we have to prevent the spread of the disease,” he says, noting that Maquoketa staff will teach visitors about the spread of WNS, explaining why they shouldn’t visit other caves with any clothing or gear that was used there. The park is also adding mats with a decontamination solution at cave entrances, hoping to kill any fungal spores on visitors’ shoes as they arrive or leave. “We were fortunate in that the Legislature appropriated enough money for us to be able to offer this kind of service to the public,” Szcodronski says. “We simply didn’t have the funding the previous two years to be able to do this.”
But while keeping the Maquoketa caves open could raise public awareness about WNS, some conservationists say it’s too risky. “Opening a tourist cave when white-nose syndrome was documented in a neighboring state was questionable, but keeping a known contaminated cave open to a high volume of tourists is irresponsible,” says Mollie Matteson, a bat specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement released Wednesday. “Iowa state park officials need to reconsider their decision to open Maquoketa, in particular, because Iowa, along with Missouri and Oklahoma, now represents the western front of this catastrophic epidemic.”
It remains unclear how exactly WNS kills bats, but it typically wakes them up from hibernation too early, sending them on futile midwinter hunts for food. Scientists only recently traced the disease to G. destructans, a fungus that’s native to Europe but doesn’t kill bats there. It’s now deemed an invasive species in North America, where it may have been accidentally imported on a traveler’s clothes or equipment.
WNS is undeniably an ecological problem, threatening not only common species like little brown bats, but also endangered ones like gray bats. Yet it could also have dire consequences for the U.S. economy, since bats play a key role in controlling insect populations — from disease carriers like mosquitoes to agricultural pests like beetles and flies. According to the CBD, bats eat enough bugs to be worth $22 billion annually to American farmers. “The spread of this pathogen to Iowa is terrible news for our bats and for us,” Matteson says. “It’s a disaster for farmers, too, who depend on bats to control crop pests by eating millions of insects.”