A Foiled Friday Fun

Sad news from across the pond today. . . Richard Griffiths, the actor who played Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter movies, has passed on to the Great Theater in the Sky.  Today’s Friday Fun is in memory of a terrific award-winning actor who brought a tremendous character to life on the big screen.

Here’s your creative writing prompt for this week.  First, think of a hero for a story.  You won’t necessarily be writing about your hero; just come up with a basic idea of him/her.  Your real assignment is the foil.  A foil is character who makes your hero seem greater by comparison.  In a paragraph or so, describe your foil.  Give us the physical details as well as the personality traits.  Show how your foil would be opposite to your hero.

Happy writing, Muggles!


The Stories that Bind Us

I think that I am so drawn to symbolic thought because, to me, it shows the interconnectedness of everything.    Much as I like to tell myself that I am an island and “I don’t need no one!” in reality, there is a god deal of comfort in knowing that we are all in this together.

One of my favorite movies, About a Boy, opens with a brilliant monologue by Hugh Grant about the virtues of “island living” as he calls it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2y6KU02Q6cI.   By the end, though, he realizes that we are more like an archipelago–still kind of islandy but actually connected under the water.

In educating myself about different philosophies and symbols, I have learned that the same stories are woven through all cultural fabrics.  For example, almost all cultures have a Flood Story, like Noah’s Ark.  There is also a fascinating version of the Arthurian legend that focuses on the Merlin but combines elements of the Genesis story.  In this version, Jesus is sent to earth to free the world from evil.  When the Adversary learns of this plan, he sends an Antichrist to earth to foil Jesus.  This Devil or Antichrist comes in the form of a dragon or serpent, and “takes” a young woman who had sought refuge in a sanctuary.  The resulting child is the Merlin, who has characteristics of both his earthly mother and his supernatural father–he is both human and magical.  It also illustrates how Initiates into the Mysteries (like Merlin) have considered themselves sons of both Nature (the human mother) and Wisdom (the serpent or dragon).  How cool is it when legends and stories combine and overlap like this?

I am in awe that we humans, no matter how far apart we are separated by time or space, come up with the same stories and symbols.  It’s Carl Jung’s collective unconscious.  And to me, it’s reassurance that we are all connected, even if it’s under the water.




I’m not a doctor; I don’t even play one on TV.  Just passing along some information I learned about a nifty little plant.  No diagnosis, suggestion for treatment, or claims of miracle intended.

Those familiar with Ayurvedic medicine probably know about neem.  The neem plant has been called  the “healer of all ailments,” “the village pharmacy,” and “the tree of forty cures.”  Western researchers have been studying neem for the past 50 years or so, and discovered several beneficial properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-viral
  • Antihistamine
  • Antioxidant

Neem oil is used in toothpaste, bug repellent, lotions, and pain relievers.  It’s considered generally safe and has a relatively low toxicity.  You might need to make a trip to the local health food store to find it, but it will be worth it.

For more information, check out this blog:  http://usingneem.com/.


West Side Friday Fun

Happy Birthday, Stephen Sondheim!  Musical theater legend Sondheim was the lyricist for one of my all-time favorite shows, West Side Story.  This brilliant re-imagining of Romeo & Juliet showcased the stunning choreography of Jerome Robbins, and went on to run for 732 performances in its original production.

For today’s Friday Fun, describe the plot of your ill-fated love story.  What two groups, clans, or teams are at odds?  Who are the lovers, one from each camp?  Tell us your romance in a paragraph!  For inspiration, here’s the opening sequence from West Side Story (thank you, YouTube).


Spring has Sprung!

Happy Vernal Equinox!  Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Vernal Equinox means that the Sun has moved into the constellation (sign) of Aries.  Fiery Aries represents new beginnings.  The Earth is waking up,  the trees are beginning to bud, and colorful flowers are peeking out!

There are lots of symbols associated with springtime, including rabbits, birds, and eggs.  And just about every culture had a Goddess of Fertility who was honored in Spring celebrations.  Here are a few Spring symbols and their meanings:

Robin:  new growth, creative life force (the powder blue color of robin’s eggs is associated with the throat chakra, suggesting that one should sing one’s song)

Wren:  resourcefulness, boldness; considered sacred to the Earth Gods and Goddesses

Rabbit:  fertility, new life (because young rabbits are able to be out on their own within a month of birth, rabbit is also associated with the moon)

And just for fun, why not make an Egg Cream to toast the arrival of Spring?!  Egg Creams do not actually contain eggs (or cream, for that matter), but it seems like a perfect drink for this time of year.  Simply combine 1 cup of seltzer water, 1/2 cup of milk, and 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup in a glass.  Stir and enjoy!



Intention: Does it Matter?

I wish I were smart enough to understand quantum physics.  But alas, even simple math eludes me.  I’d really like to understand the theories about frequencies and waves and particles, though, because I think they are connected to the idea of “intention.”

Intention has become popular lately because of The Secret and The Laws of Attraction.  The notion isn’t new, though.  In the documentary What the Bleep Do We Know? (www.whatthebleep.com) the filmmakers present a brief history of metaphysics and spirituality, covering old and new thought on neurology,  molecular biology, and physics to show that we create our own universe.

One of the presenters in the movie was Dr. Masaru Emoto (www.masaru-emoto.net).  He wondered about the effects of words, music, and even environmental location on water.  He exposed water to words like “thank you” and “love” (written on paper and placed under the container of water).  Then he observed the frozen crystals of that water to see if the various stimuli would have any effects on it.  Here is what the water looked like when shown the word “wisdom,” for example:

water crystal of dr. masaru emoto

Wisdom (from masaru-emoto.net)

When the water was exposed to words like “you disgust me” or when it was taken from polluted areas, though, the crystals were deformed.  Dr. Emoto concluded that since we humans are mostly water, when we think badly of ourselves or expose ourselves to unhealthy conditions, we are “deforming” ourselves in a similar way.  But by thinking of the positive, we will create beauty in ourselves.

I am not qualified to speak to the scientific authenticity of Dr. Emoto’s work.  But I do wonder if it is so simple as that?  I would love it if it were.  I think that perhaps one’s intention is only part of the equation.  If it were as simple as “think good thoughts and good things will come to you,” then I’m guessing a lot more of us would be rich and happy and peaceful.

Maybe the concept of “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” comes into play here too.  It can’t all be sunshine and roses, right?  There is no growth without friction, right?  Just ask a diamond.

Maybe I am misunderstanding the concept of intention, but it seems to me that there is the danger of “blame and shame” too.  What happens if you attempt “good intentions” but it goes awry somehow?  Does that mean you messed up and did it wrong?  Did you not believe hard enough?  Did it fail because you are unworthy?  Then “intention” just becomes another way to feel badly about ourselves.

What do you think?  Are good intentions enough?  How do someone else’s intentions come into play?  Do you get back what you put out there?  Have you ever asked for something and NOT gotten it back?  Was there a silver lining in the thing that you got instead?


An Eccentric Friday Fun

On Wednesday, I wrote about Uranus, which symbolizes non-conformity, unpredictability, and genius.  Then this week we also had the birthday of Albert Einstein, Pi Day, and the Ides of March.  Hmmm…… I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that there must be some originality and innovation in the air that we can tap into for today’s creative writing prompt.

Write the first sentence of a science fiction novel using the words unexpected, challenge, and scientist.

Happy Writing!

Uranus: The Puller of the Rug

On this date in 1781, William Hershel discovered Uranus.

There is an expression about getting the rug pulled out from under you.  We use this expression when our world is unexpectedly turned upside down.  In astrology, Uranus plays the part of the rug puller.

According to astrologer Kevin Burk, at this stage of human evolution we are living in a Saturn-ruled world (Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart, p. 38).  Saturn is a very structured, concrete, Earthbound sort of planet.  It represents the physical world that we can see and touch and hear.  Uranus, though, as the first of the so-called outer planets, symbolizes our first and often traumatic realization that there is more to the universe than we believed (39).

Uranus reminds us about our attachments.  It sends us messages, usually in the form of an unpredictable upset or a bolt from the blue, that cause us to re-examine the foundations of our lives.

The orbital cycle of Uranus is 84 years, and so it spends about 7 years in each sign.  Right now, Uranus is in the sign of Aries.  It was last in Aries during the Great Depression (1927-1935).  Aries is a fiery warrior who isn’t afraid to take chances and create new beginnings.  During the Great Depression, it took a pioneering spirit and a self-motivation to survive.

What structures could you re-examine in your life?  Where could you let loose your individual drive and release yourself from restrictions?  Some herald the Age of Aquarius as a boon time for humanity where we will all coexist peacefully in a harmonious “oneness,” but I think that we also need to remember that we are still unique individuals within that group.  Use the “eureka” energy of Uranus in Aries to find YOUR spark.



New Moon

It’s a New Moon in Pisces today.  New Moons traditionally represent a new beginning or a fresh start.  During the two weeks of the New Moon phase, then, it’s a good time to start new projects and put things into play.

The Sabian Symbol for this particular New Moon is “A prophet bringing down the new law from the mountain.”  Pisces is very concerned with spirituality, and so if we take the two meanings together, this is a good time to look at our spiritual beliefs and articles of faith.  Are they serving us well?  Is it time for a new law?

The next two weeks are a good time to ponder your connection to the Universe and your true self.





Finish the Friday Fun!

Spring is just around the corner, Wisdom Warriors!  Days will be getting longer, brown will turn to green, and fleece give way to cotton.  It’s the beginning of a new cycle!

For today’s Friday Fun, complete the sentence:  If I got a do-over in life, the first thing I’d do is _______________________________.

Happy Writing!