Saturday, December 22, 2018

Santa of the Forest

Merry Solstice Time!
I will make a more thorough post on the Solstice later, I want to start with this: 

This links to a PDF posted on the accompanying website to this blog:
The PDF has a pretty holiday boarder that gives the poem a festive feel, much more festive than block text on a blog!
If you have ever been frustrated with the commercial aspect of this Season, with all the fuss over plastic-junk-toys from box stores, the insane amount of shipping and accompanying packaging, or the cultural obsession with lying to children to 'believe' in American Santa while also believing in the story of the birth of Jesus as the Christian God's son only to find out Santa is pretend but the culture  insists the God is real, then I encourage you to narrate your own family myth. You can use this as an example or template, but we all have different paths and encourage all to vary from this. 
In Early Winter Season 2008, while my spouse was heavy with our first child, we decided we could not impress on our children all the things we despise about the season but also give extra emphasis to the cheer, joy, and sharing of the season. 

More on this later. :) After the Longest Night of the Year and a Full-Moon tonight (a rare occurrence of overlap, about every two decades) I'm headed out to the Owyhee River and a place of personal power for some solitary ritual. The sun is rapidly coming up, so I better get going! 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The World of Crystals all around Us

written for HedraNews October 2018 issue (Vol 29 issue 10), reprinted (posted) with permission

Image of the Earth from Apollo 17
image credit: NASA, Apollo 17 crew

The World of Crystals all around Us
by Sammy Castonguay,
Often we find access to a plethora of gemstones and crystals when visiting shops related to alternative medicine or spirituality. As a budding young geologist, I would simultaneously scoff at ‘rock shops’ while drooling over rare or exquisite samples found within: covellite, sphene (titanite), huge ammonite fossils, iron-meteorites, or gigantic amethyst lined Brazilian geodes. I now own a wonderful assortment of such crystals, as so many do, including many rocks and minerals I have collected on my research excursions. Here I want to bring our focus from the gem-quality, pretty shop-samples to the world of crystals all around us. 

The geosphere of the Earth System is primarily composed of the base mineral ionic group Silicates or [SiO4]-4 which account for 90% of earths crust. Most of the average minerals you come into contact with are of this group. In fact, one of the most popular crystal groups that are a hot sale at any shop is the Quartz Point Crystal composed of a pure framework of these ions formed in hydrothermal environments. Quartz is one of the primary minerals in the igneous rocks granite (Bogus Basin, Sawtooth, Seven Devils) and rhyolite (much of the Owyhee Plateau and canyons) where they formed from cooling magma or lava. Yes! That is right, the quartz points and many other silicate-based minerals we might ogle over in a gem store are actually contained in the rocks of earth all around us! Furthermore, quartz is a fairly chemically inactive material on earth surface so when rocks are being eroded down from these landscapes the quartz is often times re-precipitated in the cavities. These become the varieties precious jaspers, agates, and opals depending on the concentration of dissolved ions, temperature of water, and time of formation. 

My point here is to illuminate the crystal world around you is composed of the same materials you may already work with—although at different concentrations and harmony arrangements. Recently, I have encountered an increase in awareness of the practice known as ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing’, which is both an ancient and modern practice. This practice is tapping into the crystal world of a local landscape. Wilson Alverez, a rewilding advocate, has offered “a culture is a reflection of a landscape”.  If you are familiar with the Role Playing Game “Magic: The Gathering” this idea is reflected as Mana sourced from Land cards. In other words, connecting with the Earth element of your local landscape provides us with a Mana. If you are neglecting this Mana source and are not aware, you may be causing yourself minute harm physically, emotionally, mentally or sexually. I beckon you to familiarize yourself with the World of Crystals you live on!  

Blessed Be!

Science. Spirit. Practice. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Always Forward: Time

Many sun rotations and revolutions since I've focused any energy here, but I hope to change that behavior in the coming months. The website  is where I have been focusing online presence, but intend to write here for more detailed material than what will be posted on site.

A bit inspiration of beginning this blog was my third or fourth re-reading of Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, which sent me for the first time to connect with other enthusiast. I had reached out to Daniel asking for direct permission to post direct text from My Ishmael on my Facebook, to which he responded warmly (yes!). I reached out to the Friends of Ishmael for local interest and began a good discussion relationship with Howard, an admin of the network. Early on I had asked him about the method that Ishmael used in those books to find pupils (the classifieds and famous statement "Teacher Seeks Pupil with Earnest Desire to Save the World." and if anyone [he knew of] had ever tried it. Not to his knowledge and I thought I'd try. I chickened out... well, OK, I realized it would not be very helpful in my area and I could not fill a role like the gorillas. Instead, I started a reading group that met a few times all of folks that were already familiar with Quinns work. The group was more interested in this work as literature and not the ideas presented... then basically went on to become a book club. I advertised the first and second meeting her on this blog, then used the blog to begin collecting my thoughts in writing and 'publishing' somewhere. Feels good just to get stuff out. However, while working as intensely at the College as I was (teaching between 19-21 credits per term, with labs) I was not able to keep up with the editing of my writing and ended up with plenty of un-started or un-finished posts. 
Now I am quite a different place, having been laid-off (non-renewed) from the college mere weeks after my faculty committee granted my tenure. After my arduous 10-yr brain-labor (college, grad school M.Sc., first teaching job, tenure-track job) to acquire the experienced I needed to be a great community college teacher, I have become disillusioned with that path, that system, and my effectiveness in it. The first three-months of no-job over the summer (besides University of Oregon Geology Field Camp), was a little chaotic as I was not sure what to do now? Over time (and many conversations: spouse, friends, family, strangers, deities, even Howard from Friends of Ishmael) a theme began to emerge and I am still working on honing in on what I can offer if Im not in the classroom. Now, still have the fortune to teach adjunct classes for the college that fired me and seeing as that is what I have done [well] for so long, Im still teaching two classes per term (a general geology with lab and a course I created called Violent Earth). DONT WORRY! Im still teaching in the traditional classroom sense, but I am expanding my ability to engage in informal education as well as branching out to audiences that need/crave these discussions more that the 20-something college students I'm used to. But most of my daily energy goes into three things, and most days not equally: 1) my hearth: spouse, kids, house, yard; 2) myself: from indulgence to deprivation, and health to degradation Im actually experiencing my own life rather than using my life for others to experience theirs; 3) my website of information and shop of crafts. 
Im still doing a bunch (too much, at this place in life) for other organizations and putting too much pressure on myself to professionally perform... but I am getting a lot better at saying "no" and not stealing time from my children to give to others for free.
Daniel Quinn impacted millions of people with his radical way of thinking about the data that had been emerging regarding our past. Last month I read, for the first time, "If They Give you Lined Paper, Write Sideways" and found it one of the most easy to digest of his materials. I suspect this is because I am 1) really familiar with all of the concepts by now and 2) I felt myself closely aligned with the 'Quinns way of thinking' that emerged for him through the interview. While I have looked at he world differently after the first reading of Ishmael, over they years I have begun processing the 'world' in a deeply different way. How I was able to balance my professional scientific pursuits while evaluating the world this way baffles me. Hypocritical in a way, but of course we all must walk through out life in this civilization as a balance of the 'best of two evils'.
More later.