Monday, February 28, 2011

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Smoking out foreclosures

‘Witch’ brews up remedy for homes

By Jerry Kronenberg

Lori Bruno wants to help people who are caught up in the Bay State foreclosure crisis and don’t know witch way to turn.
A self-described strega — or “witch” in Italian — from Salem, Bruno uses her powers to attempt to remove what she calls the “negative energies” that surround many foreclosed homes.

“People cry when they’re going to lose their house to foreclosure, and the residual energies from all of those tears are still there even after they move out,” said Bruno, a 70-year-old who works as a psychic at a Salem shop called Hex. “What we do is clear that out with prayer.”

Bruno, who believes she’s descended from a strega burned at the stake during medieval Europe’s bubonic plague, is one of a handful of Salem witches who have begun claiming to possess the powers needed to exorcise foreclosed properties.

She’s performed some two-dozen such house “blessings’’ over the past year or two, refusing to accept money but encouraging recipients to donate to charity instead.

The witch has long said prayers for “regular” home buyers, but got involved with foreclosures when a Hex customer wanted help removing “negativity” from a foreclosed condo.

Since then, Bruno has blessed foreclosed properties for customers of Peabody real estate broker Janet Howcroft, a fellow strega.

“A lot of people who lose homes to foreclosure are sad and angry when they’re leaving — and you can feel that negative spirit in the house,” Howcroft said. “But after Lori blesses the place, you can feel the peacefulness and happiness coming back.”

Bruno says she removes “bad vibrations” from foreclosed homes through a ceremony that lasts about 30 minutes and involves the passing of a sword over doorways, the burning of candles and incense and the sprinkling of salt and water. She also recites incantations such as: “Let nothing negative enter here, but only good things from year to year.”

John Runnals, who recently bought a Beverly rental property from Howcroft, let Bruno bless the place because he figured it couldn’t hurt — and might even make it more attractive to renters.

“Part of me thinks (home blessings are) a little out there, but you need to be open to things,” Runnals said. “Who am I to say in the grand scheme of things what works and what doesn’t?”

Original Article

A Meeting with Gerald Gardner

In the early days of working on Night of the Witches, a friend of mine, close to eighty years in age (We’ll call her "P") asked what it was going to be about. "Walpurgis Night," I told her, point-blank. I had told anyone else who asked that it was simply a book about witches, since "Walpurgis" gets you funny looks in most company. But, I figured this particular friend could handle it, and I was right.

Not only had P heard of Walpurgis Night, she had been to Germany’s Harz mountain region—ground zero for Walpurgis Night—on a school trip shortly before the outbreak of World War II. She had found the place creepy for reasons that had nothing to do with witches. Would I be writing about witches, she wanted to know. Yes, a lot, I assured her. She then remarked: "I once had tea with a witch."

I must say that I could not have been more surprised had she told me she’d danced with the Prince of Wales. Outside the context of Harry Potter, we had never before spoken of witches.

"He was very pleasant," P went on. "He was very, very old and he had a lot of white hair. I had tea with him in his house, which was also very old and very dark."

"Where?" I knew she’d spent time in Tennessee, so I was guessing the encounter had taken place in some woodsy holler. But P surprised me again.

In England," she said. "Well, actually it was on the Isle of Man."

Wait a minute. Hadn’t I skip-read something about someone like that in Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft?

"What was his name?"

"Oh, I don’t remember," P confessed. "It was such a long time ago. He’d written a book that I’d found interesting at the time. I was going to be in England that summer, so I wrote him a letter, and he wrote back and invited me to visit him. He had a museum. . ."

Oh, this was all too much! I rifled through Rosemary’s Encyclopedia until I found him, looking very, very old and very white of hair.

"Yes, that’s him!" P smiled as if I had shown her the photo of a long-lost friend. I’m afraid I’m making her sound a little flaky here, which she patently is not. But there are a handful of subjects that bring out P’s inner child. England is one and witchcraft, as it turns out, is another.

"But that’s Gerald Gardner!" I informed her.

"Is it? I didn’t remember his name."

"P! You had tea with the Father of Modern Witchcraft!"

"Well, he was very nice."

Happily, P still had her first American edition of Gardner’s Witchcraft Today. The next time we met, she had the book in hand, as well as the two letters Gardner had sent her, a yellow newspaper clipping, and her autographed copy of a little booklet entitled, The Story of the Famous Witches Mill at Castletown, Isle of Man.

I have to admit I didn’t spend much time on this little treasure trove. I gave the letters a cursory read, wincing at the typos (though one can hardly call "excentrick" a typo) and flipped through the booklet, wondering whose idea it had been to surround Ye Olde Lucky Wishing Well with giant fake toadstools. I gave Witchcraft Today just enough of a look to know it wasn’t really relevant to my research. My book was about the witch of folk and fairytale, more like the pointy-hatted old dame riding atop the Witches Mill sign than "today’s" Witch.

In fact, I had decided to make a conscious effort to avoid Modern Witch writings for the time being because I didn’t want them to cloud my own vision of what a witch was. I wanted to bring something new to the scene, for Wiccans and non-Wiccans alike, by bringing something old. I wanted to write in my own voice—that is, the voice of one who stood wholly outside Wiccan tradition. Or so I thought.

I come from a long line of rationalists, but because they were working-class rationalists, they never thought to call themselves that. I reacted to my non-churchgoing upbringing by lusting after the trappings of religion: candles, incense, challah, habits. As a child, I entertained visions of becoming a nun (mostly because I wanted a hat like Sister Bertrille’s) but these did not survive puberty. When my middle school French teacher, on whose every word I hung, criticized the social studies department for educating us only about the Big Religions, my ears perked up. Why, he lamented, couldn’t they teach us about animism? Animism? What was that?

I gave up coveting the Big Religions. I learned that there were people in the world who believed that rocks, combs, and lamps had souls. Imagine my excitement when I found out that my own ancestors had once had a piece of this animist pie.

I finally fetched up as a heathen, in the sense that my aunt recently used the word when I inquired if my cousin and his wife had had their son baptized in the same church where I had attended their wedding. "No, he’s a heathen," she’d replied cheerfully.

The nice thing about being a heathen is that you can pretty much do, read, write whatever you want. So, after I’d completed Night of the Witches, I decided to release myself from my earlier vow and take a closer look at Modern Witchcraft. It made sense that Witches might want to read about witches, and I wanted to educate myself about my potential audience. To this end, I turned to Ronald Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, supplemented byA History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics and Pagans by Jeffrey B. Russell and Brooks Alexander, as well as the neglected entries in Rosemary’s aforementioned Encyclopedia.

As I read, it gradually dawned on me that, though I had made a point of not reading Gardner’sWitchcraft Today, old G. B. G. had nevertheless guided my hand. I’m not talking about ghostly intervention; what I mean to say is that while mainstream culture continues to look askance at Wicca, it has nevertheless absorbed much of its mythology. I had taken for granted that the concepts of coven and sabbat, of a Horned God and a Triple Goddess, were widely held ones, and they are. But they were not so before Gardner came along. He did not originate these concepts—we mustn’t forget Margaret Murray and Robert Graves—but he did articulate and package them in such a way that Western culture eventually found highly appealing even while opposing them.

Margaret Murray herself wrote the introduction to 1954’s Witchcraft Today. By that time, her own book, The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921), had long been out of print. It was the energetic and press-loving Gardner who got the stone that was Modern Witchcraft really rolling. He got it rolling so fast, in fact, that I, non-Witch that I am, had unwittingly internalized its now moss-covered tenets.

Now that I could better put her visit into context, I wanted to have another look at P’s letters. It took place in the summer of 1961, three years before Gardner’s death and the same year that Gardner himself paid a visit to Robert Graves in Majorca. Gardner would have been rather frail by then, and he looks it in the photographs in the Witches Mill booklet.

Frail or not, he was still up to his usual tricks. In his first letter to P, postmarked 30 November, 1960, he states, “. . . having the Craft in my family, I managed to persuade them to let me write a little about it, from the inside.” (Gardner consistently used a lowercase “l” in place of a capital “I.” Though I’ve corrected this when quoting him, I leave his other errors intact.) In Witchcraft Today, his stance was that of an anthropologist, not a hereditary Witch. Had he forgotten his story or simply decided to change it?

There is humor, too, in his letter. Of the "Big Halloween festaval [sic]" at St. Albans, he says, "The secret rendezvous is so secret, that if you want to get there, you ask a Policeman." Of his museum, he advises P, "Its closed in the winter, but if you ring Castletown 2248 they will always arrange to open it, and take you round."

With the November letter he had enclosed an article detailing the nuptials of Pat Dawson and Arnold Crowther. "PAT CAST HER SPELL ON ARNOLD: Now it’s black for the bride at witches wedding," wrote Trevor Reynolds in the Daily Herald, November 9, 1960. Gardner commented, "I enclose cutting, There were a large number of people at the wedding, and at the reception afterwards, including a number of reporters, what the latter say is nonsence, of course, but there is no disapproval."

It’s touching to think of the Father of Modern Witchcraft clipping newspaper articles and diligently pecking at his typewriter in reply to his American reader. "Just ask for a Taxi to take you to Castletown, Witches Mill, and all will be well," he advised P. "If Ime not at the Mill twll them to send for me & Ill be up in a few minutes."

Was P initiated into Gardner’s coven? No, though she admits that, at the time, she might have liked to be. Perhaps it just didn’t come up. She would have been in her mid-thirties at the time of her visit, several years younger than I am today. Had I been alive and writing fifty years ago, I too might have rung Castletown 2248 and arranged to have tea with "Dr." Gardner, as he styled himself. I would have brought with me a copy of Witchcraft Today and asked him to sign it, as it had slipped P’s mind to do back then. Then, with a flourish, I would have presented him with a copy of my own book, perhaps with the sly suggestion that he carry it in Ye Olde Gift Shoppe.

Or would I have? Certainly, by 1961, Gardnerian Witchcraft had grown legs, but they were probably not yet long enough to have so deeply influenced an American writer such as myself. Had I writtenNight of the Witches fifty years ago, chances are it would have been a completely different book. Even greater is the chance that I would not have thought to write it at all.
Linda RaedischLinda Raedisch
Linda Raedisch (New Providence, NJ) writes and lectures on a wide variety of arcane topics. She is a longtime library employee and professional crafts instructor who teaches classes on candle making, broom making, and other oldtime homemaking arts....  Read more

Native American groups sue to stop solar projects

BLYTHE, Calif. – Native Americans are clashing with the federal government over plans to fast-track approval and construction of massive solar energy projects that the Indians fear will harm sacred and culturally significant sites in Western deserts.
Recent lawsuits by two native groups pose a threat to half dozen proposed solar developments that the Obama administration has identified as a high priority in its quest for more clean energy production. One suit already has halted work on a major solar farm in Southern California.
Land use and legal experts say the lawsuits mark a new phase in a historically troubled relationship between the federal Bureau of Land Management and American Indians, who in the past have gone to court to block oil, gas, mining and other energy projects on public lands managed by the agency.
"There is this sense that there is this rush to renewable energy that's politically motivated and when tribes are consulted their concerns aren't being taken seriously," said Michelle Raheja, interim director of the California Center for Native Nations. "There's no guarantee that once the project starts that they won't harm something."
President Barack Obama's goal of generating 80 percent of the nation's electricity from clean energy sources by 2035 has led to numerous projects proposed on millions of acres of federally owned lands, most in Western states. The administration has put some of the most promising, shovel-ready projects on the fast track for BLM permitting, although the process still could take years of environmental studies and public scrutiny.
Federal officials say they have consulted with multiple tribes and have either made sure the massive solar projects will not harm any historic works or have determined that certain sites are not worthy of protecting.
"The BLM takes very seriously its responsibilities to ensure that these projects are sited and developed in the right way and in the right places, and that we honor our responsibilities to Indian nations and the law," said Kendra Barkoff, a Department of the Interior spokeswoman, who could not comment specifically on the suits because they are active litigation.
Dave Singleton with the California Native American Heritage Commission, which advises local, state and federal agencies on issues involving indigenous communities, said he's heard from at least 10 tribes in the Colorado River area concerned about various renewable projects. The problem is in part cultural: while a site may not be registered as historic, some tribal leaders say they know it's sacred because of oral history accounts.
"The tribes are saying you've consulted us, we've identified sites and you're saying it doesn't matter," Singleton said. "There's a rising anger that they're being treated with disrespect."
While the concept of using renewable sources of energy such as sunshine aligns with nature-based principles that have historically guided Native communities, members say the projects are simply in the wrong place. Some of 56,000 acres proposed for fast track solar projects in California are near abandoned villages, native drawings and other cultural landmarks.

Southern California, for example, has one of the most significant collections of geoglyphs in the world. In order to communicate with their ancestors, certain tribes created drawings, some as big as football fields, by scraping the dark gravel back to reveal pale dirt below. The wide lines of the drawings were often used for ceremonial dancing.
"There's plenty of desert out there to build solar panels," said Boma Johnson, a former archaeologist who worked for the BLM in Yuma for 25 years studying the drawings. "We have something in the Southwestern desert not matched almost anywhere in the world except southern Peru and northern Chile. We really have a national treasure here in this lost area."
Alfredo Figueroa, whose group La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle filed three lawsuits last month against five fast-tracked projects including a 1,000 megawatt project in Blythe, said the government is not giving their concerns as much weight as is given to federal archeologists.
Where Figueroa sees an ancient throne in a pile of rocks and a thousand-year-old flute player carved into the desert floor, for example, federal experts see something less profound. BLM archeologists believe the flute player and so-called Throne of Quetsequatle are less than 50 years old, with modern concrete used in the throne's construction.
Despite the suit to stop Solar Millennium's proposed 7,000 acre project in Blythe, the plan is moving forward, said Andrea Elliott, a company spokeswoman. She said the footprint of the solar farm had been shifted many times to address tribal and environmental concerns, and note she noted that no federally recognized tribes have joined La Cuna's suit.
"Native American representatives from area tribes have been, and will continue to be, present on site to monitor activities involving cultural resources during project construction," Solar Millennium said in a statement.

About 100 miles to the southwest, the Quechan tribe got an injunction in December against the Imperial Valley Solar project planned on 6,000 acres of public land near the Mexican border. Preston J. Arrow-weed, a tribal leader, said that despite this victory the fast-track projects are advancing so quickly they are "hitting us from everywhere.
"They seem to want to do it at the price of destroying our history," said Arrow-weed. "It's an assault. They've already wiped out a lot of things and now they want to wipe out the desert and any evidence of our past."
Tribes seeking injunctions against projects on federal lands often do not get far, so when a judge does issue an injunction it is indicative of a serious issue, said Patrick Parenteau, an environmental law professor at Vermont Law School's Natural Resources Law Clinic.
"BLM should be doing more to reach out to the tribes and understand the areas they're permitting these projects in and what artifacts might be there and what oral traditions exist," said Parenteau, who tracks the lawsuits filed by tribes. "There is some value to be gained from this.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

BP Oil Spill May Be Linked to Dolphin Deaths in Gulf

Large numbers of bottlenose dolphin carcasses are washing up on shore along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama leading scientists and researches scrambling to find out why. Since Jan. 1, an abnormally high number of stillborn and infant bottlenose dolphins have washed up on shore. That number could soon beat out the 89 total from all of last year. Additionally, adult dolphin carcasses have been found as well, with only one being a different species. In this past week alone, 24 baby dolphins have been found and now the total count is 67.
As of now, scientists are questioning whether or not the high number of dolphin deaths is linked to cold weather or disease. However, they have not yet ruled out the possible link to the BP oil spill last year. Tissue samples from each carcass are being studied and several of the bodies are undergoing full necropsies to determine the cause for their death. Although none of the bodies had obvious signs of oil toxicity, scientists are sure in-depth studies of the tissue samples could reveal whether or not abnormally high levels of chemicals were present in the dolphin's body before it died.
For bottlenose dolphins living in the Gulf, this time of year is calving season. Roughly 2,000 to 5,000 dolphins live in the Gulf region and with the current death total, the number of dolphin carcasses found on shore is now ten times higher than normal.
The carcasses were discovered by park rangers, beach-goers and even BP cleanup crews. The deceased dolphins varied in age and some of the bodies found were barely 3 feet long, indicating that they possibly died soon after being birthed or were born stillborn after dying in the mother's womb before reaching maturity.
Although the cause of the dolphin deaths is still in question, scientists still believe the answer may be within the BP oil spill. On Feb. 20, a prominent marine scientist, Samantha Joye, presented the results from a study she conducted on the Gulf ocean floor. Her research revealed oil from the spill is suffocating aquatic life with 4-inch layers of thick oil and microorganisms are not consuming the excess oil as quickly as they were expected to. What many scientists do agree on is that it may take years, even a decade, to see just whatkind of long-term effect the BP oil spill has on marine life. Even if the dolphin deaths can be attributed to the oil, it's likely that the oil could affect bottlenose dolphins and increase the number of deaths in the Gulf for years to come, especially within the upcoming months as new dolphin carcasses are discovered on Mississippi and Alabama beaches every week.
Rachel Krech provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

Healing Earth’s Water

Music and Meditations for the Earth’s Water (March 20, 2011 – Spring Equinox)
The Spring equinox is a time for new beginnings. It evokes thoughts of renewal and new hopes for a better future.  It is the time when the Earth rests in stillpoint between the reflective, inward energy of Winter, and the outgoing, external energy of Summer. It is the perfect time to send regenerative energy to the waters of the Earth and to personally replenish ourselves.
 The authors of Dancing with Water in conjunction with Tom Termotto, National Coordinator for the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference, Theta Healers, Debbie Cavette, and Kathryn Scott, and acoustic guitarist, John Joseph invite you to join them in 45 minutes of music and meditation for the Earth’s waters.  There is no charge to participate. 
The meditations and music have been specifically designed to help participants focus loving attention on the waters of the Earth in support of her healing efforts. They will also be personally regenerative.
If you would like to participate in this opportunity to connect with the water in meditation and love, leave us your email in the form below.   We will follow up with further instructions, a sneak preview, and a final reminder of the event with conference number and pin. Feel free to pass this invitation along to other conscious individuals.

Pagans campaign for Census voice

Pagans are campaigning for druids and witches to declare their religious affiliation in next month's Census to gain greater recognition for the group.
The Pagan Federation says it wants the same recognition as other faiths.

Secularists say the optional question about what religion people are could lead to artificially large numbers identifying themselves as Christian.

That in turn could lead to an over-provision of faith schools, the British Humanist Association argues.
Jedi Knights
In the 2001 Census, more than 70% of people described themselves as Christian.
The Pagan Federation insists druids, wiccans, witches and other pagans constitute a serious and growing religious group.
Ten years ago 42,000 people declared themselves as Pagans - the seventh highest number for any UK religion - but some experts believe the true figure was nearer 250,000 - and is significantly higher now.
BBC Religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said the 42,000 figure was still only a fraction of those describing themselves as Jedi Knights.
Pagans do not worship one single god, but look for the spiritual in nature.
Some groups concentrate on specific traditions, practices or elements such as ecology, witchcraft, Celtic traditions or certain gods.
Wiccans, druids, shamans, sacred ecologists, odinists and heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community.
In October, the Charities Commission granted the Druid Network official status as a religion.

Old stuff can find new uses

Recycling is mandatory at many Berkshire landfills, but questions of what to do with some items can draw puzzled reactions.

For example, the other day at our house, we were unsure what to do about some dietary supplements we were no longer taking. They were not outdated, but should we toss them? Or was there a better option?

I knew our local landfill had medication collection days --but certainly not in mid- February. Take them back to the druggist? Maybe.

Then I noticed in a 2009 issue of Big Y Supermarket's "Going Green" magazine (It's surprising what I can dredge from my Eagle desk) that some unused medications -- antivirals, antifungals and TB drugs in particular -- will be accepted by the Starfish Project, which sends them to clinics in Nigeria. Visit www.thebody .com
They will send you a prepaid shipping label to forward the drugs you have.

You needn't toss old, barely wearable sneakers away either. (I have a pair of those in my gym locker). Nike accepts all brands of worn-out sneaks to convert them into sports courts around the world. Visit for information.

Wine corks accumulate in our kitchen drawers. We always think we'll use them again. We never do.
Yemm & Hart LTD at 425 North Chamber Drive in Frederickstown, MO 06365 accepts natural corks for composting or to be converted into wall or floor tiles.  Mark the package "Wine Cork Recycling."

Broken crayons can be given new lives rather than end their days in the garbage. The National Crayon Recycle Program melts them down and remolds them into new ones. (Check out for information.)

Carpeting, which I often see dumped at the landfill, can be recycled. Visit Carpet America Recovery Effort's website www.carpetrecover .org and click on "What can I do with my old carpet?" to see if a facility nearby will take it.

Finally, that old backpack your teen has outgrown can find a second life furthering scientific research as a donation to the American Birding Association, whose scientists use them in the field. Visit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bacteria Living on Old-Growth Trees

ScienceDaily (Feb. 23, 2011) — A new study by Dr. ZoĆ« Lindo, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at McGill University, and Jonathan Whiteley, a doctoral student in the same department, shows that large, ancient trees may be very important in helping forests grow.

These findings highlight the importance of maintaining the large old-growth trees in the coastal temperate rainforests that stretch from Southern Alaska to Northern California. Lindo's findings suggest that it is the interactions between old trees, mosses and cyanobacteria, which contribute to nutrient dynamics in a way that may actually sustain the long-term productivity of these forests.
"What we're doing is putting large old trees into a context where they're an integral part of what a forest is," says Dr. Lindo. "These large old trees are doing something: they're providing habitat for something that provides habitat for something else that's fertilizing the forest. It's like a domino effect; it's indirect but without the first step, without the trees, none of it could happen."
There are three players in this story:
1) large, old trees;
2) mosses that grow along their branches; and
3) a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria associated with the mosses.
The cyanobacteria take nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to plants-a process called "nitrogen fixation" that very few organisms can do.
The growth and development of many forests is thought to be limited by the availability of nitrogen. Cyanobacteria in mosses on the ground were recently shown to supply nitrogen to the Boreal forest, but until now cyanobacteria have not been studied in coastal forests or in canopies (tree-tops). By collecting mosses on the forest floor and then at 15 and 30 metres up into the forest canopy, Lindo was able to show both that the cyanobacteria are more abundant in mosses high above the ground, and that they "fix" twice as much nitrogen as those associated with mosses on the forest floor.
Moss is the crucial element. The amount of nitrogen coming from the canopy depends on trees having mosses.
"You need trees that are large enough and old enough to start accumulating mosses before you can have the cyanobacteria that are associated with the mosses," Lindo said. "Many trees don't start to accumulate mosses until they're more than 100 years old. So it's really the density of very large old trees that are draped in moss that is important at a forest stand level. We surveyed trees that are estimated as being between 500 and 800 years old."
The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Romania's witches may be fined if predictions don't come true

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - There's more bad news in the cards for Romania's beleaguered witches.

A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country's soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don't come true.

Superstition is a serious matter in the land of Dracula, and officials have turned to witches to help the recession-hit country collect more money and crack down on tax evasion.

Witches argue they shouldn't be blamed for the failure of their tools.

"They can't condemn witches, they should condemn the cards," Queen Witch Bratara Buzea told The Associated Press by telephone.

Critics say the proposal is a ruse to deflect public attention from the country's many problems. In 2009, Romania needed a euro20 billion ($27.31 billion) International Monetary Fund-led bailout loan to pay salaries and pensions when its economy contracted more than 7 percent. Last year, the economy shrank again. However, this year a slight recovery of 1.5 percent growth is forecast.

European Union and Romanian officials say local authorities are hampered by political bickering and bureaucracy. The centrist government is unpopular, the opposition is weak, the press thrives on conspiracy and personal attacks, and EU officials say the justice system needs to be reformed. Romanians are jaded and mistrustful.

"The government doesn't have real solutions, so it invents problems," said Stelian Tanase, a well-known Romanian political commentator. "This is the government that this country deserves."

In January, the government changed labor laws to officially recognize the centuries-old practice of witchcraft as a taxable profession, prompting angry witches to dump poisonous mandrake into the Danube in an attempt to put a hex on them.

The latest bill was passed in the Senate last week, but must still be approved by a financial and labor committee and by the Chamber of Deputies, the other house of Romania's parliament.

Bratara called the proposed bill overblown. "I will fight until my last breath for this not to be passed," she said.

Sometimes, she argued, people don't provide their real identities, dates of birth or other personal details, which could skew a seer's predictions. "What about when the client gives false details about themselves? We can't be blamed for that."

The new bill would also require witches to have a permit, to provide their customers with receipts and bar them from practicing near schools and churches.

Tanase has a solution.

"Maybe they should put a spell on (Prime Minister Emil) Boc and (President Traian) Basescu, so they can find the solutions," he said.

Original Article

Friday, February 18, 2011

China Bans Reincarnation Without Government Permission

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation." But beyond the irony lies China's true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region's Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.
At 72, the Dalai Lama, who has lived in India since 1959, is beginning to plan his succession, saying that he refuses to be reborn in Tibet so long as it's under Chinese control. Assuming he's able to master the feat of controlling his rebirth, as Dalai Lamas supposedly have for the last 600 years, the situation is shaping up in which there could be two Dalai Lamas: one picked by the Chinese government, the other by Buddhist monks. "It will be a very hot issue," says Paul Harrison, a Buddhism scholar at Stanford. "The Dalai Lama has been the prime symbol of unity and national identity in Tibet, and so it's quite likely the battle for his incarnation will be a lot more important than the others."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Will Apophis hit Earth in 2036? ... Don't worry, asteroid won't hit Earth ... oh wait!

NASA sees little risk of Apophis smacking into us; Russian experts disagree 

In 2004, NASA scientists announced that there was a chance that Apophis, an asteroid larger than two football fields, could smash into Earth in 2029. A few additional observations and some number-crunching later, astronomers noted that the chance of the planet-killer hitting Earth in 2029 was nearly zilch. 

Now, reports out of Russia say that scientists there estimate Apophis will collide with Earth on April 13, 2036. These reports conflict on the probability of such a doomsday event, but the question remains: How scared should we be?

“Technically, they’re correct, there is a chance in 2036 (that Apophis will hit Earth)," said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office. However, that chance is just 1-in-250,000, Yeomans said.

The Russian scientists are basing their predictions of a collision on the chance that the 900-foot-long Apophis will travel through what’s called a gravitational keyhole as it passes by Earth in 2029. The gravitational keyhole they mention is a precise region in space, only slightly larger than the asteroid itself, in which the effect of Earth's gravity is such that it could tweak Apophis' path.

“The situation is that in 2029, April 13, (Apophis) flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,” Yeomans told Life’s Little Mysteries. “On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Yeomans said.

The chances of the asteroid going through the keyhole, which is tiny compared to the asteroid, are “minuscule,” Yeomans added.

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Aurora Borealis to light up the night sky

Astronomers have said the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights in Scotland has increased after the sun unleashed a giant solar flare.

Scientists said the burst of radiation and magnetic energy could also disrupt communications equipment.
The phenomenon is caused by charged gas particles that flow away from the Sun as a "solar wind" interacting with the Earth's magnetic field.
The particles "excite" gases in the atmosphere and then make them glow.
The colours depend on the type of gas - a red or green glow is oxygen and the blue and purple colours are produced by nitrogen.
Dr Martin Hendry, senior lecturer in astronomy at Glasgow University, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Sometimes the aurora can be a little bit indistinct but on other occasions it can be a very vivid colour.
"In fact the different colours reflect the different chemical elements in our atmosphere being effected and they then interact with the discharge from the sun.
He added: "So if it is a bright one, and the evidence suggests that this might be, it is a large solar flare. It really should be unmistakeable."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bewitching Buxom Sorceress Beguiles with Inaugural Album

Witch singer spellbinds listeners with ancient themes and haunting rhythm.

PALMDALE, CA, February 01, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Local artist Rebelle Jacobs, introduces her new album titled Grimoire. Drawing inspiration from her practice of witchcraft, Ms. Jacobs lyrics are steeped with occult references and celebrate her individualism. Her message is straightforward "Rebel against the expected and most of all, think for yourself." With a voice that mixes traces of the Wilson Sisters, Maria Callas and Stevie Nix, she beckons the listener into her Wiccan world. The title track "Grimoire", features her supernaturally calm and smooth delivery extolling a world of unearthly pleasures.

The second track, "Witch" starts with a low vibrating guitar lead counterpoised with her lilting voice that invites all to follow her "to the magick anywhere". The next track is "Witchcraft" a rocking anthem that features wailing metal guitar licks and layered vocals that show this artist range.

Never failing to think for herself and defy a predictable heavy metal bend, the album's fourth track, "Forbidden Fruit" is a deeply spiritual song with roots that tap the soul of SADE. It is a call for love "one more time before it's time to die". The song is surprisingly soulful and bluesy for this black leather costumed Siren.
A subsequent track, "My father" is a homage to the strong ever-present guiding force that protects her. That song is followed by "The Daughter of Fortitude" which blends shades of reggae rhythms and vocals riffs that gently go where only the 80's hairbands dared. It lyrically celebrates a liberated wiccan strength unbound by traditional values. Finishing the album are three tracks "Sun", "Freedom" and "Chaos". The last two explore themes that are regnant in Wiccan culture, freedom from the terrestrial, the mundane and the structured world.
For downloads of these tracks, the press and the public are invited to visit her myspace page

About Rebelle Jacobs:

Rebelle Jacobs is a Singer and Witch residing in Palmdale CA. Born in the Mojave desert, from an early age she knew that the performing life held her fate. As she matured she found that a routine structured existence held little appeal. A presence that was with her from birth, took her slowly to the world of "magick" as she cast aside the values held by a post puritan American culture. On occasion, she performs live in and around Palmdale CA. For more on her next show or to learn more about her life's philosophy visit

Steampunk, Magick

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