Advocating for a friend

Hi everyone –

We can’t all be JUST pagan all the time. We’re so much more than our religions, although they may certainly drive us towards certain lifestyles. As such, although this is a blog about pagan stuff, I wanted to share my friend’s endeavor with you. My friend is a scientist who’s trying to get some crowd-funding for her research project, to finish her Ph.D, and save a rare butterfly. If you can, please give her video (below) a watch, and if you’re interested, please donate. Every little bit, even just $5, can help her help these butterflies.

Brightest Blessings,



Yuletide Update

Happy Yule!

Yes, its that time of year.  In a way, this Yule was the first time I got to celebrate with someone for Yule.  I’m going to my parents’ house for Christmas, and leaving the boyfriend here, so we celebrated by opening (the rest of) our gifts early today.

I then spent the afternoon making cookies and fighting off a migraine.  Done with the cookies, not with the migraine.  I’ve had an exciting, busy, and fun week, but its been full of that murky “real life” and “adult” stuff, too.

As a scientist, I am sometimes confronted with situations that are less than ideal.  This week, for example, I had to kill some caterpillars.  A little bit last week too, but the bulk of it was this week.  These were lab-raised caterpillars that wouldn’t have even existed in nature at this point in time (look outside… do you see snow?  I do).  But it’s always hard to be the one to do stuff like that.  Just like it’s hard to put a dog down.  And I know they’re “just” caterpillars but they’re still pretty damned cute.

Yes, it was for the good of science.  What we’re doing will hopefully inform us about the relationship between these caterpillars and their host plants.  But it always makes me realize, when I have to do the killing, just how much killing goes on in the name of science.  Some of it — anything on vertebrates — is regulated, but invertebrates like insects and arthropods have no protection.

I don’t mind giving crickets to my bearded dragon — he kills them quickly, he needs them to survive, and they do have chances to get away.  But these caterpillars didn’t.  I put them in tubes and put them in the freezer.

But I’m not a vegetarian, either.  I eat meat.  Hell, I eat plants, and fruits of plants, and some of them die during my eating them, too.  It’s just that I’m not used to doing the killing.  I would probably eat a lot less meat if I had to kill what I wanted to eat.  At least, until I got used to it.

So I was struggling with that science guilt, a little, this week.  I was also struggling with the Connecticut tragedy.  Suddenly, a lot of what I do for fun seemed… wrong.  For example, the day before the shooting, I wrote a song which turned a children’s rhyme into a song about kinky sex.  It felt so wrong to sing it after the shooting.

But when I try to think about it, I find that there aren’t any words, really, that can describe how the world should feel about the shooting.  I can’t sing that song.  I can’t write that song.  Others can.  For example, this woman, Jami Lunde, wrote one that I haven’t been able to get through yet without crying:


Hold your family close, friends.  We all meet the Lord and Lady someday, and it comes to some of us sooner than others.

Immortality is the overarching theme of Yule.  Yule is the longest night, the trials and tribulations.  It’s about rebirth.  What will you do throughout this year to reinvent yourself?  What difference will you make?

Thinking About Science and Magic

I’m going to attempt to make my return to this blog.  This year was hard on me, but as far as the rest of my life, keeping up should be relatively easy, except you know, grad school in a year.  Ah, well.

Okay, onto the topic of the day.  Something that I never pursued, but would like to, is relating our magic potential to the process of photosynthesis.  For all of you non sciency people, photosynthesis is when plants take water, carbon dioxide, and light, and create sugar(their food) and oxygen.

So magically, this could relate to our process of taking a situation and conforming it to our desires.  I wanted to get more into the technical processes and relate everything, because as we know, the world works in both macro and micro cosms. 

Anyway.  So let’s take a loot at this diagram.  ATP, or adenosinetriphosphate, as well as NADP/H are both energy sources for the plant.  NADPH is specific to plants, but ATP is universal.  NAD/H is the version of NAD that we use in our systems(without the phosphorous).

To recharge energy so we can use it, we need to split water with light.  There are two types of systems that do this.  The first.  photosystem II, gets an electron from breaking water.  It’s passed to photosystem I which uses the electron to produce ATP and NADPH.  Oxygen is also produced.

I’m *really* summarizing here.  This diagram doesn’t really get into the details.  Anyway, you can read through the diagram on your own.  I’m getting distracted.  Okay.   So let’s look at the macroscopic view.  You have to put in energy and molecules to get anything out of it.  In terms of magic, this could return to the sacrifice that is required for change to occur.

The sacrifice of water, and the use of light, allow previously uncharged molecules to become charged.  Your sacrifice creates a potential!

Now check out where the charged molecules go.  They require a starting material – CO2, but then we get to go through the calvin cycle, in which the CO2’s are converted into a few different formats before reaching a final format.  Notice that the final format can be any number of things – and as such, we should be ready to accept all possibilities of our actions.  Our energy will go to where it’s needed most.

If a plant needs an amino acid or some other compound, it will activate and create the enzymes necessary for producing that instead of just storing the object made as sucrose(food).

It’s looking at scientific models with magic and life in mind that really help me get a new perspective on life.  The last time I took a look at photosynthesis as a magical process, my conclusions were different than above.

Collecting Knowledge – Old Books

Does anyone else have the underlying feeling that if they just collect the old books and the classics, the videos and the DVDs, and fill their surroundings with “intelligence,” it might rub off?  There has to be something in the idea, I know more people than myself do it.

I will occasionally pick up one of my “smart people” books – whether it’s a classic like John Milton’s Paradise Lost or a total nerd book like Neuroscience in Medicine – and read or skim my way through some parts.  I’m no better with pagan books – I love resource guides like Cunningham’s Magical Encyclopedia of Herbs(not sure on the name there).

It’s really cool to start using them though!  And being around someone else’s collection – whether you’re in a library or a church or someone’s house – is fascinating!  I’m housesitting right now, so I look up and I see all of these plant and math and business and classic books of literature.  It just makes me so happy that for these two weeks, I have the opportunity to surround myself with knowledge and learn something new every day.

Magically, does this have any influence?  I’d say it does.  A brand new book doesn’t have any sort of energy really attached to it, except the new book smell.  But handling a book creates an interaction – reading is projective(You’re speaking those words, either in your mind or aloud).  And as my high priest says, where attention goes, energy flows.  And so, we’re in essence, charging the book.  Used books come pre charged, if you will. And then you’ll be sleeping in the room with that book.  Or playing on your computer with that book.  Or at least, in the same house as that book.  Which is now reinforcing what you learned.

So, if you find old books that represent something you want in your life, think about purchasing them.  They might *actually* help your motivation towards learning new things.

Calling All With Brains!

Hey guys –

Since 2003, I have been blessed with the creation and management of what my co-administrator and I deem “our baby” with full affection. The Order of the Gecko is a group dedicated to the research and discussion of various religions and philosophies. When I went into college and my partner began a new business however, the Order suffered. It is a dead site, now, but I am looking to rejuvenate it.

Previously, the Order was little more than a forum and a small database of information regarding the different subjects at hand. It was a small community of friends. You can view the old site, here.

On March 28th, 2008, and perhaps earlier, we will be launching a brand new version of the website. This new version will be using Moodle, a course management system, and will be intended for a more teach-learn-discuss website than it has ever been before. I am extremely impressed with Moodle, and it fits very well with the site’s objectives and purpose.  The link I have provided is that of our test server – which is completely functional.

Traditionally, the Order requires certain things of its members: You must be over 13, you must be willing to contribute to the forums or the research, you must have a religion, and you must have an IQ score greater than your age(lol). I am easing the registration and application process for a while – which required an interview for entry.

We are looking for teachers and students. For teachers, you must be relatively knowledgeable about your topic. You may teach about anything under the topics presented on the site – Spirituality, Religion, Philosophy, Technology, Science or History – and design the course as you see fit. For students, all we ask is a willing heart and an open mind. Keep in mind, also, that you can be both!

I look forward to this new era of the Order of the Gecko.   I hope that you, my loyal readers – can join me on my quest to make this a great community of thinkers.  If we – the young, the old, the generation of *now* – do not change the world for our children – who will?

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming now.

The Right To Life?

I’m not talking abortion here, sorry! I’m sure I’ll hit that topic in a while, though I suppose it is, in a way, connected. As I am now in Sarasota, Florida, I find myself presented with the idea of invasive species and pests. We have them in New York, of course, but it is always more noticeable when you enter into a different culture. I pose the following question: Do those species which compete – and win – and are not native to an area have a right to flourish in that area?

Take the Muscovy Duck – its adorable! I encountered them this morning. But, according to Wikipedia, they’re considered pests by Florida residents. Now these guys aren’t really harming anything – they just happen to shit a lot, and mate. Don’t we all?

So what do we – as biologists, in this case, and witches – do to control these problems? If its an invasive plant, do we have the right to kill it? Will I be able to stand before my gods and say I knowingly committed plant genocide? Duck-i-cide?

I think, in this case, yes. The plants and animals that flourish and choke out other species – they could use a limit. If our natural resources are depleted and the cycles are thrown out of balance by these species – that, too, is our responsibility as caretakers of the earth in which we live. I would rather stand before my gods and tell them I took out an entire pond’s worth of an invasive grass, than stand before them with no pond or life at all because the grass had taken over.

Balance, balance, balance.

Any comments?