Tag: Grant

Sheldan Nidle – February-14-2017

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The Angels – November-05-2016

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Roll Up Your Sleeves Folks: 271 New Vaccines in Big Pharma’s Pipeline

Gary Kohls, Green Med InfoAs of 2013, Big Pharma has had plans for the development of 271 new vaccines covering an array of diseases.  Into Whose Bodies Will They be Injected?“No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable…for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.” – President Ronald Wilson Reagan, as he signed The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, absolving drug companies from [...]

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10 Mysterious Biblical Figures No One Can Explain






listverse.com

The canonical Bible is filled with mysterious characters, many of whom drop in for a cameo, do their thing, and then slide out, never to be heard from again. Some are merely extras, but some have a contextual presence that begs further examination. And some are, well, just weird.

10  Melchizedek

01
 

Probably the single most mysterious figure in the Bible, Melchizedek was a priest-king of Salem (later known as Jerusalem) in the time of Abram (Abraham), suggesting a religious organization, complete with ritual and hierarchy, that predated the Jewish nation and their priestly lineage from the tribe of Levi. He is only portrayed as active in one passage, although he is alluded to once in Psalms, and several times in the New Testament’s Epistle to the Hebrews.
Some Jewish disciplines insist that Melchizedek was Shem, Noah’s son. He is thought of, in Christian circles, as a proto-messiah, embodying certain traits later given to Christ. New Testament writings assert that Christ was “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek,” indicating an older and deeper covenant with God than the Abrahamic-Levite lineage.
Hebrews 7, though presents him in a more unusual light. In verses 3 and 4:
“Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”
Not only do these verses grant Melchizedek a hierarchical level above the most important Jewish patriarch, they assign him mystical qualities. Some take this to mean an earlier incarnation of Christ. Others see it as an ancient manifestation of the Holy Spirit. His identity, role, and theological function have long been debated.
The paucity of scriptural references have added to the mystery, making him a somewhat spectral figure. As such, newer spiritual traditions, as well as New Age quacks, have taken liberties with his persona. Gnostics insisted he became Jesus, and he is cited as a high-level priest in Masonic and Rosicrucian lore. Joseph Smith wrote that he was the greatest of all prophets, and Mormons still trace their priesthood back to him. The Urantia, a 20th-century pseudo-Bible that claims to merge religion, philosophy, and science, insists he’s the first in an evolutionary succession of deification manifestations, with Abraham being his first convert.
There is even a school of thought that Melchizedek is a title or assumed character name, sort of a theological 007, played by a series of Judeo-Christian James Bonds. 

The lore of Melchizedek is confusing but deep and fascinating. Apocryphal books give us more details, some cryptic, some relatively mundane. The Second Book of Enoch is particularly informative, insisting Melchizedek was born of a Virgin. When his mother Sophonim (the wife of Noah’s brother Nir) died in childbirth, he sat up, clothed himself, and sat beside her corpse, praying and preaching. After 40 days, he was taken by an archangel to the Garden of Eden, protected by angels and avoiding the Great Flood without passage on Uncle Noah’s ark.

9  Cain’s Wife

02
 

Cain was, according to Genesis, the first human ever born. He later killed his younger brother Abel in a hissy fit over his sacrifice of meat being more favored than Cain’s sacrificial fruit basket. God put a mark on Cain and cursed the ground he farmed, forcing him into a life as a wandering fugitive. 

That part of the story is fairly well known. Later, though, we read that he settled in the Land of Nod, and, all of a sudden, he has a wife. Absolutely nothing else is mentioned about her. We don’t even know where she came from. In fact, the question of where Cain got his wife, when his immediate family were apparently the only people in the world, has sent many a perceptive young Sunday schooler down the road of skepticism. 

Some have posited a mysterious other tribe of people, maybe created after Adam and Eve, maybe even another race or species. But the standard response is that Adam and Eve had many other sons and daughters to populate the Earth. The only way to keep the human race going would be to mate with siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

In fact, though the Holy Bible is silent on her identity, the apocryphal Book of Jubilees tells us exactly who was Cain’s wife: his sister Awan, who bore his son Enoch.

8  Joseph Barsabbas

03
 

After Judas Iscariot turned in his resignation by selling out his boss, Jesus’s disciples rushed to fill the open position and bring the number back up to a more theologically apt 12. The remaining disciples, including the newly convinced Thomas, looked over the candidates from the 120 or so adherents who followed Jesus. Then they cast lots to pick who would fill the position. 

It went to Matthias, a fairly mysterious character himself. We don’t know where he came from or his previous occupation. Some think he was actually the diminutive Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed a sycamore tree to get a better glimpse of Jesus’s ride on the donkey.
The man who lost out was Joseph Barsabbas, also known as Joseph Justus. We know nothing solid about him, even less than we know about Matthias.
There is, however, one bit of interesting speculation. A list of names presented in Mark 6:3 includes some of Christ’s earliest and most loyal adherents. One of these is a man named Joses, and another is James the Just. Biblical scholar Robert Eisenman suggests that James carried on Jesus’s work, and the writer of the Book of Acts assigned him an alias to minimize his importance.

7  The Beloved Disciple

04
 

In the Gospel of John, several references are made to “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This particular favorite is present at the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and after the resurrection. The writer of the Gospel of John even states that the testimony of this disciple is the basis for the text. But there is considerable debate over the identity of this mystery figure.
The most obvious nominee is John the Apostle, one of Christ’s inner circle of 12 and the namesake of the Gospel. But none of the 12 apostles were present at the crucifixion, so that crosses him off the list. Lazarus, resurrected by Christ, is also considered. He seems to have been present at the cited events and is referred to specifically, in the story of His death and resurrection, as “he whom Thou lovest.”
Mary Magdalene, Judas, Jesus’s brother James, or an unnamed disciple, possibly even a Roman or governmental official, have all been considered. There is even a school of thought that John is an interactive gospel, with the reader being the beloved disciple.

6  Simon Magus

05
 

“Simony” is the selling of church position or privilege. It is named for Simon Magus, or Simon the Magician, who makes only a brief appearance in the Bible, in Acts 8:9–24. Simon has since become synonymous with heretical thought, and religious exploitation.
He is presented as a powerful magician with a large following of in Samaria, who converts to Christianity and wishes to learn from apostles Peter and Phillip. When he sees the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including speaking in tongues and an ecstatic spiritual state, he offers the men money if they will give him the secret to passing these gifts to others. They are not amused.
Apocryphal texts reveal quite a bit more, like his alleged ability to levitate and even fly, emphasizing that he was something akin to a cult leader in his hometown. It is suggested that his conversion is more for economic purposes than spiritual, and he set himself up as a messianic figure himself, competing for the Jesus dollar with his own homespun theology.
He is thought by some to be a founder of Gnosticism, a patchwork of various religious systems that relied heavily on Judaic and Christian symbolism.

5  Onan

06
 

Not unlike Simon Magus, Onan’s brief appearance inspired a name for a particular action.
He was the second son of Abraham’s grandson Judah, the patriarch and namesake of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. His older brother, Er (yes, just “Er”) was “wicked in the sight of the Lord,” so God killed him. What he did to deserve such an execution remains a mystery.
Tradition at the time dictated that Er’s widow, Tamar, become Onan’s wife. Onan had to impregnate her to keep the lineage alive, but he was not as wild about the idea. Maybe it was the thought of impending fatherhood, or Tamar just wasn’t his type. So, taking matters into his own hands, he committed the first recorded act of coitus interruptus. Or, as Genesis 38:9 so poetically put it: “And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.” God was displeased and slew Onan.
The whole tale gets even more sordid. Onan had a younger brother, Shelah. Customarily, he would have been next in line to impregnate Tamar, but Judah forbade it. Tamar, rather than graciously accepting forced spinsterhood, seduced Judah and (became pregnant) by the old man. Judah fathered twins Zerah and Perez, the latter of whom was listed by Matthew as an ancestor of Jesus’s earthly father Joseph...
Some have even suggested that Onan’s death warns that sex is meant only for purposes of reproduction, and not for pleasure.

4  Nicodemus

07
 

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, a council of men who ruled on Jewish law and governance. He became a friend, follower, and intellectual foil for Jesus, whose egalitarian teachings often ran counter to the Sanhedrin’s rigid decrees. He was also a Pharisee, a leader within the Jewish community who toadied up to the Roman government at the time of Christ’s arrest and subsequent crucifixion.
He is mentioned three times in the New Testament, all in the Gospel of John. He subtly defends Jesus as the Pharisees discuss His impending arrest. Later, he helps prepare Jesus’s body for burial, indicating he had become an adherent to Christ and His teachings.
The first time he is mentioned, however, is in dialogue with Jesus, and these conversations reveal some of the most important aspects of Christian theology, such as the notion of being “born again” and the most famous reference to the divinity of Christ, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This detailed conversation explores the divide between the Old Covenant’s dogmatic and exclusive Jewish Law and the New Covenant’s spiritually inclusive concepts. But for a vital contributor to such an important passage of the New Testament, Nicodemus remains a mysterious figure. Some scholars have suggested he may be Nicodemus ben Gurion, a Talmudic figure of wealth and mystical power. Christian tradition suggest he was martyred, and he is venerated as a saint. His name has come to be synonymous with seekers of the truth and is used as a character in many works of biblically inspired fiction.

3  James The Just

08
 

He is considered, next to Paul and Peter, the most important apostolic figure in the Church’s history. The Book of Acts specifically names him the head of the Christian church in Jerusalem, and he is frequently cited, both scripturally and apocryphally, as being consulted by both Paul and Peter. So who is he?
Traditionally, he is thought of as Jesus’s brother (or, more precisely, His half-brother). Jesus is listed, in the Gospels, as having siblings, some younger than Him. One was named James.
But James was a common name, and there are several mentioned in the Bible. Two of the 12 disciples were named James, but both are listed as having different fathers than Jesus, and neither went on to become James the Just. James the son of Zebedee went on to be known as James the Great, and James the son of Alphaeus was called James the Less.
It is known that he was a contemporary of Jesus, although he seems to have had no real inner-circle status during Christ’s ministry. The apocryphal Gospel of Thomas says Christ Himself designated James to lead the movement upon His death. The Apostle Paul initially seems respectful, even subservient, to “James the Lord’s brother,” calling him a “pillar” of the movement, even though he was later to disagree with him on matters of doctrine.
Some, though, have suggested the “brother” designation was spiritual, rather than physical. St. Jerome, among others, suggested that the doctrine of perpetual virginity indicated James could be a cousin, which, given the tribal associations and clannishness of the Jewish community of the time, seems valid. Such a relationship would indicate a certain social proximity without necessarily being a true sibling.

2  Simon The Zealot

09
 

Of Christ’s 12 disciples, none are more mysterious than Simon the Zealot. His name was meant to differentiate him from Simon Peter and has come to symbolize, for some, that he was a member of a similarly named political movement that advocated Jewish defiance to Roman law. Some have speculated that he acted, within Christ’s inner circle, as a political adviser. His presence then indicated that Jesus had a revolutionary political agenda.
The truth is much less exciting. The “Zealot” movement did not take place until long after the time that Christ would have given Simon his sobriquet, and there has never been any serious evidence that Simon, despite the designation, was a political radical. The name, and the word upon which it is based, did not take on those aggressive undertones until the movement itself was in full swing. More than likely, Simon was given his name because of intense spiritual devotion, rather than any radical political stance.
Nothing else is known of him, at least not with any surety. The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions him as possibly being a brother or cousin of Jesus, with no real evidence. The Eastern Orthodox tradition says he developed his zeal when Jesus attended his wedding and changed water into wine. Some legends say he was martyred; the philosopher Justus Lipsius somehow got it into his head that he was sawed in half.

1  Og

10
 

Cited twice specifically, but alluded to frequently in general terms, the Nephilim were a race of violent giants that lived in the pre-Flood world at the same time as humanity. Were they, as some suggest, the offspring of demons and human women? Fallen angels themselves? Or simply the descendants of Seth mentioned in the Dead Sea scrolls, a tribe of cranky cases cursed by God for their rebelliousness? Regardless, they evolved and became known by other names, like the Raphaim, and frequently battled humans for land and power.
The most storied of them was Og, the King of Bashan. He was killed, along with his entire army, and his kingdom was ransacked. All of the survivors—men, women, and children—were put to death, and the strongest and most powerful line of Nephilim descendants was eliminated. Some Nephilim bloodlines continued to do battle with the Israelites, though they were becoming less powerful and dying out. One tribe, the Anakim, allied themselves with the human tribes in Philistia. Goliath was thought to have been one of the last few descendants of the Nephilim.
Goliath’s height is given in the earliest manuscripts as 275 centimeters (9′). That’s hardly as awe-inspiring as the creature laying in Og’s bed, which measured, according to Deuteronomy, 400 centimeters (13′ 6″). That’s basically Yao Ming sitting on Shaquille O’Neal’s shoulders.
Biblically, descendants of the Nephilim could not have survived the Flood, even though Og and other giants are post-Flood figures. Some biblical literalists have attributed their later existence to the descendants of Noah’s family hooking up, once again, with demons. Or, being fallen angels and not human, they did survive the flood.
Jewish tradition gets deeper into information about the Nephilim and their descendants, going against the grain of the biblical account. It tells of Og booking passage on the Ark by promising to act as a slave to Noah and his family. Other accounts have him hanging on to the side of the Ark and riding the flood out rodeo-style.

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Dinosaur Researchers Say They’re in a ‘Golden Age’ of Discovery Due to the ‘Jurassic Park’ effect




Excerpt from nbcnews.com

This was a great year for dinosaurs. Dreadnoughtus, "Jar Jar Binks," and a swimming Spinosaurus all made headlines — and 2015 could hold even more surprises. 

It wasn't always like this. From 1984 to 1994, there were about 15 new dinosaur species named per year. This year, nearly one species was discovered every week. 

"We're absolutely in a golden age of dinosaur discovery," David Evans, who oversees dinosaur research at the Royal Ontario Museum, told NBC News. "It is probably a better time to be a dinosaur paleontologist now than any other time in the last century." 

The 'Jurassic Park' effect

When it comes to finding dinosaurs in the dirt, paleontologists are using the same tools that they were 30 years ago. Satellite images might give them a better view of dig sites, but for the most part the process has not changed much. 

So why are there so many dinosaur discoveries these days? More people are looking for them. Evans estimates that the number of dinosaur paleontologists has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. 

Every paleontologist interviewed for this story pointed to one catalyst for the paleontology boom: Steven Spielberg's 1993 blockbuster "Jurassic Park." 

"It put the most lifelike, scientifically accurate dinosaurs ever on the big screen," Evans said. "That helped the public moved beyond the classical view of dinosaurs as slow, dim-twitted creatures."
Famed Montana State University paleontologist Jack Horner admits he has a special affection for the film. He served as scientific adviser for the original "Jurassic Park" and was the inspiration for Dr. Alan Grant, the movie's protagonist. He also consulted on the upcoming "Jurassic World" starring Chris Pratt.

"'Jurassic Park' attracted an incredible number of people to the field," Horner told NBC News. "I'm hoping that we put together something cool with 'Jurassic World' that people will really like and get more children interested in paleontology." 

Increased interest led to increased paleontology budgets for museums and universities, Evans said. That has made a big difference in places like China and Argentina, relatively unexplored areas where a new generation of paleontologists has unearthed most of the recent headline-grabbing discoveries. 

"The number of dinosaur researchers is much higher now than in the '90s," Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland, told NBC News. "Anytime you are exploring a region and a slice of time that hasn't been sampled before, chances are that everything you are finding is new."

2014 and beyond

Some of the biggest discoveries of the year were not new species. Instead, they were more complete fossils of dinosaurs the scientific community knew very little about. 

Take Spinosaurus, a massive carnivore that was even bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex. While its teeth indicated it ate fish, scientists were divided on whether it roamed the land and water looking for prey.

This year, the matter was settled. A new paper showed that the dinosaur's unique body structure — tiny hind limbs, dense bones, crocodile-like receptors in its snout — was best suited for the water and caused it to waddle on land. 

"That was probably the most significant find of the year," Horner said. 

There were other big discoveries in 2014. Dreadnoughtus fossils discovered in Argentina belonged to a creature that measured 85 feet (26 meters) long and weighed about 65 tons (59 metric tons), or about as much as a dozen elephants. 


Image: Deinocheirus mirificus, the largest known member of a group of ostrich-like dinosaurs 
This undated handout image provided by Michael Skrepnick, Dinosaurs in Art, Nature Publishing Group, shows a Deinocheirus mirificus, the largest known member of a group of bird-like dinosaurs.

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The Mystery of the Toxic Lady



Excerpt from

discovermagazine.com

(Some years ago), two dozen emergency room staff were mysteriously felled by fumes emanating from a dying young woman. Investigations turned up nothing--until a team of chemists from a nuclear weapons lab got involved.

About 8:15 in the evening on February 19, 1994, paramedics wheeled a young woman into the emergency room of General Hospital in the southern California city of Riverside. They shot through two sets of double glass doors, veered to their left, and parked her in a small curtained space marked trauma room one. The woman, clad in shorts and a T-shirt, was awake, but she responded to questions with only brief and sometimes incoherent utterances. She was taking shallow, rapid breaths. Her heart was beating too rapidly to allow its chambers to fill before they pumped, so her blood pressure was plummeting. The only thing unusual about her was her age, recalls Maureen Welch, a respiratory therapist who was assisting in the trauma room that night. Most patients who show up in an emergency room with such symptoms are elderly people, Welch says. This woman, the paramedics reported, was 31 years old and had cervical cancer. Her name was Gloria Ramirez.
The medical staff hovering over Ramirez injected her with a host of fast-acting drugs that were part of the standard protocol for her condition: Valium, Versed, and Ativan to sedate her, and agents such as lidocaine and Bretylium to quell her aberrant heartbeat. Welch, meanwhile, forced air into Ramirez’s lungs with an Ambu-bag, a football-size rubber bladder connected to a plastic mask that’s placed over the patient’s nose and mouth, serving as a sanitary alternative to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When it became clear that Ramirez was responding poorly to treatment, the staff tried to defibrillate her heart with electricity. They stripped off her shirt and pressed padded electrodes against her chest; at that point several people saw an oily sheen covering Ramirez’s body, and some noticed a fruity, garlicky odor that they thought was coming from her mouth.
To obtain blood for analysis, a registered nurse named Susan Kane swabbed Ramirez’s right arm with rubbing alcohol, inserted a catheter, and attached a syringe. And that’s when the frenetic yet orderly routine of the emergency room began to break down. As the syringe filled, Kane noticed a chemical smell to the blood. Kane handed the syringe to Welch and leaned closer to the dying woman to try to trace the odor’s source. Welch sniffed the syringe and smelled something, too: I thought it would smell like chemotherapy, the way the blood smells putrid when people are taking some of those drugs. Instead, Welch says, it smelled like ammonia. She passed the syringe to Julie Gorchynski, a medical resident who noticed unusual manila-colored particles floating in the blood--an observation echoed by Humberto Ochoa, the doctor in charge of the emergency room, who was helping treat Ramirez.
Kane turned toward the door of the trauma room and swayed. Catch her! someone shouted. Ochoa lunged for Kane, caught her, and gently guided her limp body to the floor. Kane said that her face was burning, and she was put on a gurney and taken from trauma one. Gorchynski too began feeling queasy. Complaining that she was light-headed, she left the trauma room and sat at a nurse’s desk. A staff member asked Gorchynski if she was okay, but before she could respond she slumped to the floor. She was now the second member of the Riverside emergency room staff being wheeled away from the trauma room on a gurney. Gorchynski shook intermittently; over and over again she would stop breathing for several seconds, take a few breaths, then stop breathing again--a condition known as apnea. Meanwhile, back in trauma one, Welch became the third to succumb. I remember hearing someone scream, Welch says. Then when I woke up, I couldn’t control the movements of my limbs.
That surreal night would throw Riverside General Hospital into newspapers and tv news broadcasts for weeks, as the frightening possibility of a human body releasing toxic fumes captured the public’s imagination. It also triggered one of the most extensive investigations in forensic history--medical detectives from ten local, state, and federal outfits examined dozens of potential culprits, from poisonous sewer gas to mass hysteria. So far, all the suspects have beaten the rap, except for one extraordinary hypothesis: a team of researchers think that a chain of chemical reactions may essentially have turned Gloria Ramirez’s body into a canister of nerve gas.
After Welch collapsed, several other staff members began to say they felt ill, and hospital administrators declared an internal emergency. Ochoa ordered the staff to evacuate all emergency room patients to the parking lot outside the hospital. A skeleton crew stayed behind to help him in a desperate struggle to save Ramirez’s life. Her blood pressure continued to drop, and her pulse was growing fainter. Ochoa and three others repeatedly administered electric shocks and drugs, but their efforts to stabilize Ramirez failed. At 8:50 Ochoa pronounced her dead. Two staff members moved the body to an isolation anteroom adjacent to trauma one.
Outside, in the parking lot, hospital staff were treating patients and ill colleagues under the dull orange glow of sulfur lamps. Because of concern that the stricken staff had been felled by a noxious chemical, they were stripped down to their underwear, and their clothes were bundled into plastic bags. Gorchynski continued to experience tremors and apnea. Kane flailed her arms and kicked, and her face still burned. Meanwhile, Sally Balderas, a vocational nurse who had gone back inside to help take Ramirez’s body into the isolation room, began retching and felt a burning sensation on her skin. Soon she was in such bad shape that she too was laid out on a gurney.
In all, 23 of the 37 emergency room staff members experienced at least one symptom. Five were hospitalized for the rest of the night. Balderas endured bouts of apnea during a ten-day hospitalization. Gorchynski, the most severely ill, spent two weeks in intensive care, where in addition to apnea she suffered from hepatitis, pancreatitis, and avascular necrosis, a condition in which bone tissue is starved of blood and begins to die. In her case the avascular necrosis attacked her knees, restricting her to crutches for months. It takes a really damn potent toxin to do all that, says Sheldon Wagner, a clinical toxicologist at Oregon State University.
First on the scene, arriving at the hospital at around 11 p.m., was a Riverside County hazardous materials team. The hazmat team was after a smoking gun--some volatile toxicant that might yet be lurking in the air of the emergency room. They searched for any of a host of noxious chemicals, including hydrogen sulfide (also known as sewer gas), an insidious poison that smells like rotten eggs and at high concentrations can kill a person after one or two whiffs, and phosgene, a gas with a dual identity--on the one hand, a law-abiding ingredient used in the preparation of many organic chemicals, and on the other a terrible weapon for chemical warfare that tears open capillaries in the lungs, drowning its victims in blood. To the relief of hospital administrators, the hazmat crew detected none of these chemicals in the emergency room.
The hazmat team’s lack of suspects was not a relief, however, to the Riverside Coroner’s Office, whose pathologists were now left with the unnerving task of performing an autopsy on Ramirez without a clue as to what the body was harboring--perhaps a fugitive pathogen, a toxic chemical, or nothing at all. Taking no chances, they put on airtight moon suits and disappeared into a sealed examining chamber to work on the body. They emerged 90 minutes later with samples of blood and tissue along with air from the body bag and aluminum crate holding the body.
The coroner’s office has remained tight-lipped about the analysis it conducted in the days that followed. One thing, however, is certain: several days after the autopsy, the Riverside coroner had still found nothing remarkable and had begun to solicit help.
One consulting group was an obscure outfit called the Forensic Science Center, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Livermore, situated about 60 miles east of San Francisco, is rooted in the nuclear arms buildup that started shortly after World War II. But in the past decade, as the production of nuclear weapons has tapered off, Livermore and its fellow labs have attempted to find an identity better suited to a post- cold war world. That goal fostered the creation, in 1990, of the forensic center, a clearinghouse that would allow state and federal law enforcement forensic teams to enlist high-tech aid from scientists at Livermore and other Department of Energy labs.
The forensic center took up the Ramirez case in early March, when a Sacramento criminologist put the Riverside Coroner’s Office in touch with the center’s deputy director, Pat Grant. On March 25, after some preliminary discussions, the office officially requested Livermore’s help and shipped autopsy samples, on dry ice, to the lab.
We had a meeting on the very last day of the month to determine our exact game plan, says Brian Andresen, the center’s director. The plan they developed was straightforward: analyze the compounds, both organic and inorganic, in the blood, bile, and tissues from Ramirez’s organs, including her heart, liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys. The team would also check for any gases that may have vented off the samples into the headspace, the pocket of air separating the samples from the tops of their containers.
Andresen suspected that the headspace would be a likely retreat for a noxious gas--particularly in the container holding the bile, a yellowish secretion of the liver, where poisons often concentrate. But when he warmed the bile to body temperature to pull out any gases still lurking in it, all he found was nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and argon--normal constituents of air. I was hoping to see a chemical, some small molecule that’s going to knock everybody down, but nothing was showing up there, he says.
Next Andresen analyzed the samples using a high-powered tool known as a computer-guided combined gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer. The procedure was as follows: First Andresen inserted a drop of a prepared sample into the chromatograph. The drop, containing hundreds of chemicals, was vaporized and shunted into a chromatography column, where it was slowly heated to 570 degrees. As the vapors grew warmer, chemicals began to migrate along the column, sorting out along the way according to their electric charge and vapor pressure. Andresen measured their concentrations and then piped the vapors into the mass spectrometer chamber, which fires electrons at the chemicals. The electrons shatter the molecules into all types of pieces, says Andresen. The shattering pattern, unique to every substance, is called a mass spectrum.
By studying the mass spectra, Andresen divined the identity of a number of compounds that had been circulating in Ramirez’s system just before her death; among them were the drugs lidocaine, Tylenol, codeine, and Tigan, an antinausea medication. Andresen also found a lot of hydrocarbons, chemicals that had leached into the samples from their sterile plastic containers. Medical personnel think of sterile as being without bugs, not without chemicals, Andresen says. So the products they use are superclean and sterilized but covered in chemicals. A trained forensic eye can quickly dismiss such misleading signals.
Ignoring the red herrings, Andresen found a few interesting anomalies. One was an unidentified amine, a derivative of ammonia, that may have contributed to the ammonia-like smell noted in the emergency room. The investigation by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health had also found this amine and had suggested that it was a possible culprit, despite its minuscule levels in the autopsy samples. Andresen’s team had a more likely explanation for the amine, though: they said it formed as Ramirez’s body broke down the antinausea drug Tigan.
A second peculiar find was nicotinamide--a compound, like phosgene, with a dual personality. It’s a B vitamin crucial to human health, but it’s also mixed into illegal drugs like methamphetamines. Since nicotinamide is relatively inexpensive and can cause euphoria, dealers can extend their expensive drugs with it and make a larger profit. It’s an unusual compound for someone to be taking if they’re very, very sick, says Andresen.
A third odd chemical signal defied being pigeonholed as either trivial or important: dimethyl sulfone. Dimethyl sulfone is a molecule composed of one sulfur atom, two carbons, six hydrogens, and two oxygens. It is manufactured as an industrial solvent, but it is also sometimes produced naturally in our bodies from amino acids that contain sulfur. Broken down by the liver, dimethyl sulfone has a half-life in the body of less than three days, so healthy people never have measurable amounts in their system. But in Ramirez’s blood and tissues there was a hefty concentration of tens of micrograms per milliliter, about three times higher than the codeine in the samples. At this point in the mystery, the only unusual thing we’re seeing is dimethyl sulfone, says Andresen.
But dimethyl sulfone itself couldn’t knock out an emergency room, so when Andresen flew to Riverside on April 12 to brief the coroner, his conclusion was that he had found nothing that looked like a poison. Andresen recalls some anxious questioning by the coroner’s office in hopes of finding a smoking gun, but he insisted that it appeared Ramirez had simply taken a lot of codeine and Tylenol, which in large, sustained doses can damage the liver. He also highlighted the findings that had intrigued him: the amine that might have caused the ammonia-like odor, the nicotinamide, and the dimethyl sulfone. There clearly was something unusual going on, but nothing that could have resulted in Ramirez’s death or the emergency room symptoms, Andresen says. He was discouraged. I remember thinking, ‘How could I spend this much time and not find anything?’
The riverside coroner’s office felt it had reached the end of the road, too. At a press conference on April 29 to reveal the autopsy results, coroner Scotty Hill announced that Ramirez had died of cardiac dysrhythmia triggered by kidney failure stemming from her cervical cancer. The investigation into her death, Hill said, was finished. As for the illness in the hospital workers and how that might be linked to Ramirez, Hill concluded that exhaustive toxicological studies have not identified any external toxic substances that would have contributed to her death.
Although the books on Ramirez’s death were now officially closed, there was no explanation for the outbreak of illness among the hospital staff. The county health department called in California’s Department of Health and Human Services, which put two of its top scientists on the case, Doctors Ana Maria Osorio and Kirsten Waller. They interviewed 34 hospital staff who had been working in the emergency room on February 19. Using a standardized questionnaire, Osorio and Waller found that the people who had developed severe symptoms such as loss of consciousness, shortness of breath, and muscle spasms tended to have certain things in common. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people who had worked within two feet of Ramirez and had handled her intravenous lines had been at high risk. But other factors that correlated with severe symptoms didn’t seem to match a scenario in which fumes had been released: the survey found that those afflicted tended to be women rather than men, as well as people who had skipped dinner that evening rather than those who had a full stomach.
Those findings, coupled with the autopsy results, the hazmat analysis, and unremarkable blood test results from the stricken hospital staff, led to an official report that the health department released on September 2. The conclusion: The hospital staff most likely experienced an outbreak of mass sociogenic illness, perhaps triggered by an odor. In other words, they’d been felled by stress and anxiety. In support of this mass hysteria theory, Osorio and Waller cited the lack of evidence for a poison and the fact that women were more likely to suffer severe symptoms, both hallmark signs of mass hysteria. In addition, they pointed out, neither paramedic who had treated Ramirez in the ambulance became ill-- despite the close quarters and their having touched her skin and some of her blood after starting an intravenous line. However, Osorio and Waller did not rule out the possibility that some substance poisoned emergency room staff who had worked directly over Ramirez.
The health department’s report triggered another flurry of news reports; these featured Gorchynski and her lawyer, physician Russell Kussman, who denounced the mass hysteria conclusion. By this time Gorchynski had filed a lawsuit against Riverside General Hospital, the coroner’s office, and several others, seeking $6 million in damages. A report suggesting Gorchynski experienced psychosomatic symptoms would certainly not play well for her in court. The report may be based on politics or ignorance, but it’s not based on science, Kussman told the New York Times. These are all professional emergency room workers. They don’t become hysterical because of a heart attack.
The state report also angered some of the other emergency room staff, including Welch. She was convinced that neither she nor anyone else that night had been party to mass hysteria. She wanted someone to look at the case more closely, and in her opinion Livermore was the only laboratory involved without a vested interest. Welch called Andresen at Livermore and implored him to take another look. To help lure him back to the case, she sent him a copy of a scrapbook of material she had accumulated, including news stories, the Riverside coroner’s report, legal briefs, and toxicology reports.
Andresen asked Grant, his deputy director, to sift through the file. To refresh Grant’s memory of the case, he also showed him his results, including the puzzling compounds he had identified. Andresen laid out a paper with the gas chromatography-mass spectrometry results, a graph with spikes similar to earthquake readings on a seismograph, and pointed at the dimethyl sulfone peak.
Grant was a bit hesitant. I’m a nuclear chemist, and my organic chemistry knowledge truthfully is minuscule, he says. Grant mistook dimethyl sulfone for dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO--the only difference between the two chemicals is that DMSO has one oxygen atom, not two. Grant was more familiar with dmso because, he says, I’d used dmso in a former life as an athlete. DMSO is sold in a gel form at hardware stores as a heavy-duty degreaser, and it has long been a folk remedy among athletes for achy muscles and joints. Andresen corrected him, saying the spike was dimethyl sulfone. Grant didn’t get to Welch’s file until a few days later when he was on a flight to a business meeting in Washington, D.C. There were a lot of things we hadn’t seen before, he says. One thing that particularly struck him was a speculation in the autopsy report about the source of the garlicky odor of Ramirez’s body and its oily sheen: DMSO.
DMSO has a checkered past. During the mid-1960s a flurry of research showed it had remarkable healing powers, easing intractable pain and reducing anxiety. But the rise of this potential wonder drug was stopped suddenly when animal tests showed that prolonged exposure to DMSO altered the lens of the eye. Fearing that a DMSO drug might ruin people’s eyesight, the Food and Drug Administration ordered companies to cease clinical trials of the drug in 1965. The FDA later relaxed that policy and in 1978 approved a 50 percent solution of DMSO as a treatment for interstitial cystitis, a condition marked by painful urinary tract lesions that occurs predominantly in women.
Meanwhile, over the past 30 years, DMSO gained an underground following as a home remedy. Not only did Grant use it, but Andresen as well remembers the DMSO rage from his days during the 1970s as a pharmacology professor at Ohio State University. It seemed that everybody in the athletic department was using dmso on injuries, he recalls.
Nor has its use been limited to athletes. People use it for a variety of ailments, from arthritis to muscular strains, says George Rutherford, California’s state epidemiologist. But given its potential side effects, it’s a dangerous remedy because in its readily available hardware- store grease-cutting form, it’s 99 percent pure. Alarmed by the growing cult of DMSO users, the FDA issued a warning to physicians in 1980: Counsel patients against purchasing dmso of unknown quality and medicating themselves.
Even if Ramirez had applied DMSO to her body to ease her pain, however, and even if it had combined with oxygen to form the dimethyl sulfone Andresen had found, that still didn’t explain the outbreak among the hospital staff. Grant decided to find out more about DMSO and dimethyl sulfone, so when he got back to Livermore he looked up the two compounds in the Merck Index, a chemist’s bible that describes the characteristics of more than 10,000 chemicals, drugs, and biological substances. Since DMSO can react with oxygen and form dimethyl sulfone, Grant began to wonder what other compounds might be formed when oxygen is added to the chemical. On the same page of the index he had been reading, he found the answer: dimethyl sulfate. It was one of those deals that was pretty fortuitous, Grant says.
In chemistry little changes can sometimes lead to big results. Add one oxygen atom to DMSO and you get dimethyl sulfone--you change one solvent to another. But now add two oxygen atoms to dimethyl sulfone--which in chemical notation is written (CH3)2SO2--and you get dimethyl sulfate, (CH3)2SO4, a truly nasty chemical. Vapors of dimethyl sulfate, the index explained, kill cells in exposed tissues, such as the eyes, mouth, and lungs. When absorbed into the body, dimethyl sulfate causes convulsions, delirium, paralysis, coma, and delayed damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. In severe cases, the vapors kill. Like many other chemicals, dimethyl sulfate has a good side and a bad side. Industries use dimethyl sulfate to tack methyl groups onto organic chemicals. But the index also said dimethyl sulfate is a war gas.
Here finally was a chemical that could cause some real damage. Realizing dimethyl sulfate was their best lead yet, Richard Whipple and Jeffrey Haas, chemists at the forensic center, searched among the thousands of papers that have been written about these compounds. One reference was particularly enlightening, if grisly--a classified Department of Defense document, issued in 1987, called the Reference Book on Chemical Warfare Information. It reported that a ten-minute exposure to half a gram of dimethyl sulfate dispersed in a cubic meter of air can kill a person. (Although dimethyl sulfate has been tested as a nerve gas, it has apparently never been manufactured for use in war.)
The Livermore team was able to cull details about the symptoms of dimethyl sulfate exposure from the reference book, as well as from a safety sheet that accompanies any dimethyl sulfate purchased by industry. (A liter of liquid dimethyl sulfate sells for around $32.) The match between the symptoms experienced by the hospital staff and the symptoms of dimethyl sulfate exposure was uncanny. Of the 20 types of symptoms reported by the staff, from the fainting to the convulsions to Gorchynski’s hepatitis, only one--nausea and vomiting--is not a symptom of dimethyl sulfate exposure. When there was such a nice match on the symptoms--that was the first indication that we might really have had something, Grant says.
Still, the forensic team realized they needed to answer some tough questions--and do an important experiment--before they would feel comfortable explaining their theory to the Riverside coroner. And despite their desire to press forward, they had to put the Ramirez case on the back burner for the rest of September. The Livermore scientists had been working on the case for free as a public service, after hours and on the weekends. Now they were under the gun to finish a technical report to the organization paying their bills--the U.S. Department of Energy, Livermore’s parent agency--by September 30.
In early October, when the Livermore scientists took up the Ramirez case again, they first had to decide whether her body could have generated the dimethyl sulfate. That Andresen had found evidence of dimethyl sulfone in Ramirez’s blood and organs pointed to her having first been exposed to DMSO. Other precursors of dimethyl sulfate, like sulfur-bearing amino acids, probably couldn’t produce enough of the chemical to wreak so much havoc.
The researchers could think of two scenarios that would explain how Ramirez had been exposed to DMSO. In one, Ramirez spread a cream on her skin that contained phencyclidine (better known as PCP, or angel dust) dissolved in a DMSO carrier base (a common way to take the drug). According to an August report on the Riverside incident by Tam Smalstig, an industrial hygienist with California’s Department of Industrial Relations, the Riverside Coroner’s Office had told the department, without elaborating, that Ramirez’s body had indications consistent with phencyclidine use. This scenario would explain the presence of the nicotinamide that Andresen had found in Ramirez’s blood and tissues--it had been mixed in with the PCP to extend it. But if Ramirez had taken PCP, someone should have found some traces of the drug itself. No one had, and so the Livermore team decided that this scenario was impossible.
Rather, the Livermore team thought the more likely event was that Ramirez had rubbed DMSO on herself to relieve the pain from her cancer. That would account for the oily sheen and garlicky odor observed by the staff. Ramirez’s family has since denied she was using DMSO or PCP before her death, but if she did use a DMSO gel for her pain, it would have been far from unusual--it’s been estimated that two-thirds of cancer patients use some kind of unprescribed home remedy for their disease.
When Ramirez collapsed (presumably from cancer-related kidney failure) and was put in an ambulance, the paramedics put an oxygen mask on her face. Oxygen molecules flooded her bloodstream, combining with the DMSO in her system, the researchers hypothesized, to form high levels of dimethyl sulfone. The higher the concentrations of the ingredients required, the more efficiently chemical reactions will run; thus, with so much oxygen, no DMSO was left untransformed.
Now the Livermore team needed to figure out the next step: how the relatively harmless dimethyl sulfone could have been converted to the extraordinarily harmful dimethyl sulfate. This is where we were afraid we might find a showstopper that would kill the theory, says Grant.
They conducted an experiment to see how much dimethyl sulfone could accumulate in the blood at normal body temperature. They dissolved the compound in a transparent liquid called Ringer’s solution, which is basically all the ingredients of blood minus red blood cells. We found we could load it up in the Ringer’s solution to an appreciable extent without any sweat, says Grant. (The autopsy, the researchers note, had found that Ramirez had a urinary tract blockage. That could have aggravated the buildup of dimethyl sulfone by preventing it from being flushed out of her system.)
When they cooled a vial of this Ringer’s solution crammed with dimethyl sulfone to room temperature (about 70 degrees), they were greeted by a good sign. The solution became supersaturated, and dimethyl sulfone began to form beautiful white crystals, says Whipple, who did the experiment with Grant. In real blood those crystals might have appeared manila-colored. Thus this process could have produced the crystals that had been observed in the syringe in the hospital, particularly since emergency rooms tend to be cooler than most rooms--about 66 degrees.
So far, so good. But how did the dimethyl sulfone convert to the nerve gas dimethyl sulfate? The Livermore chemists envision a reaction--which hasn’t yet been observed--in which some of the molecules of dimethyl sulfone in Ramirez’s blood broke apart. What had been (CH3)2SO2 became CH3, CH3, and SO2. Sulfates (SO4) are common in the body, so the two CH3 molecules may have linked up with them to form (CH3)2SO4--dimethyl sulfate. But in her warm blood, the dimethyl sulfate was unstable and quickly fell apart into its hydrocarbon and sulfate components. There was not yet a sufficient amount of nerve gas to harm the paramedics.
When Susan Kane drew blood at the hospital, however, the cool temperature had slowed the breakdown of the dimethyl sulfate. Appreciable amounts of it built up in the syringe, and some of it vaporized out of the blood. This was the gas that poisoned the emergency room staff. Dimethyl sulfate doesn’t vaporize easily--the Merck Index lists its boiling point as 370 degrees. Nevertheless, according to Grant and other chemists, some fraction will still vaporize at room temperature. The crystals of dimethyl sulfone turned into dimethyl sulfate as well and vanished from sight. In the end, all of the dimethyl sulfate either vaporized or broke back down in the blood into its constituents. And thus the macabre chemistry of that night hid most of its traces from investigators.
It’s a really clever piece of detective work, says Oregon State toxicologist Frank Dost. It would seem to me that it would take a hell of a lot of DMSO, but in that stage of fighting for her life, Ramirez may have really overloaded on it, he says. The Riverside Coroner’s Office apparently agrees--it released the Livermore report last November, hailing its conclusion as the probable cause of the hospital workers’ symptoms.
But the theory has provoked a backlash from other scientists. Several organic chemists have scoffed at the step-by-step change of DMSO into airborne dimethyl sulfate. I’m pretty skeptical, says Hans Reich, an organic chemist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Reich doubts that dimethyl sulfone would split apart in the human body’s relatively cool environment. I have used it as a solvent up to at least 300 degrees, he says. Other scientists don’t see a match between the symptoms of the hospital staff and some of the symptoms of industrial workers who have been accidentally exposed to dimethyl sulfate. The stuff is like tear gas, says Jack de la Torre, a physiologist and professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico. When you’re exposed to dimethyl sulfate vapors, the first thing that happens is it makes you start to cry. None of the hospital staff reported tearing or other eye irritation. Furthermore, many other known effects of dimethyl sulfate usually take several hours to hit, and yet the fainting spells and other symptoms at the hospital began to occur minutes after the supposed exposure.
One of the harshest critics of the Livermore theory is a scientist who did much of the clinical research on DMSO in the early 1960s. Stanley Jacob, a physician and medical researcher at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, doubts that significant quantities of the suspect chemicals could have been produced from dmso. In fact, Jacob says, the Livermore scientists should never have allowed the Riverside coroner to release their report. It’s like that silliness with cold fusion, except this has the potential to hurt people, he says. His office has received dozens of calls from worried women being treated with DMSO for interstitial cystitis. I just tell them the dimethyl sulfate theory is a chemical impossibility, says Jacob.
But other scientists come to Livermore’s defense. Marc Micozzi, director of the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C., is one. Micozzi is a forensic pathologist who has helped investigate dozens of unusual deaths. He points out that forensic investigations often fail to find the actual smoking gun, but they can still come to valid conclusions. No one clue gives a perfect fit to explain a death, but when all the clues are added up, you get a pattern. Sometimes it’s a pattern that we’ve never seen before, he says, such as the Riverside case. But even though there’s no way to prove Livermore’s scenario, I think they gave us a report that’s quite interesting and analytical, he says.
Andresen thinks some of the backlash was avoidable. We just wanted the coroner’s office’s opinion, and they took it and said, ‘This is the answer.’ It caught us way off guard. We’ve never said this is what happened, just that people should look into it. And people still go nuts.
Nevertheless, he thinks the hypothesis is a good one. I’ve gotten messages on my answering machine from chemists who say it’s an impossible conclusion, says Andresen. But most hadn’t even read our report, and some of them change their minds after I explain our hypothesis. It is true, he notes, that no one has done experiments to show that dimethyl sulfate is produced when dimethyl sulfone breaks apart and recombines with the body’s sulfates. Yet chemists have on several occasions discovered that seemingly impossible reactions turn out to be quite possible.
Andresen’s team is going to conduct more experiments and check Ramirez’s blood again; soon they hope to turn their preliminary report into a paper they will submit to a refereed forensic journal. Then, thanks to the publicity of the Riverside case, they’ll have no problem shifting from one eldritch tale to another. They’re swamped with calls and letters urging them to get to the bottom of a host of mysteries, from Gulf War syndrome--the symptoms suffered by some U.S. soldiers who fought in the Persian Gulf--to sudden infant death syndrome. People are frustrated and want us to look at these cases from a chemistry point of view, says Andresen.
Fourteen months after the incident, the Riverside case’s legacy remains peculiar and shadowy. If Andresen’s team is right, one has to wonder whether the outbreak was unique. For now, researchers can’t find a similar poisoning in the medical annals, nor can they say whether hospitals should fret about future cases. The Livermore scientists do offer a cautionary note in their report, which recommends that hospitals be made aware of the possible consequences of such a chemical reaction occurring in their emergency rooms. Other scientists are more convinced that action is necessary. This is likely to occur again--DMSO is not uncommon, asserts Barry Taylor, a microbiologist at Loma Linda University School of Medicine who has followed the case closely.
In the end, the Riverside case leaves us with a warning and a puzzle. The warning is that the human body can be a place where bizarre--and potentially deadly--chemistry can occur. The puzzle is that if the Livermore investigators are wrong, then what did happen in the Riverside emergency room on February 19, 1994?

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Does Astrology Work? The Testimonial of a Scientist Turned Astrologer




Does astrology work ? It is quite a perilous exercise to write an article stating a few truths drawn from actual experience, a risky but interesting challenge for the author of this site. But without danger, where would the adrenaline be? It is so good to try to talk about astrology upstream, and not only to discuss how it functions, for a person who has spent a lot of time using its techniques.
This is what we have done for Astrotheme's visitors, trying to use everyday words devoid of technical jargon, with no historical or specialised argumentation, and with the only aim to reach to as many persons as possible, yet without proselytizing. Just a few judgments coming from experience, a pragmatic vision of this tool for knowledge, which is what astrology is all about.
For the illustration of this non-technical article, it became rapidly obvious that astronomy images are needed... The staggering sight of certain galaxies or nebulae is not only splendid but enables to open one's mind towards... more consciousness and a more intense feeling of being alive.
For the illustration of this non-technical article, it became rapidly obvious that astronomy images are needed... The staggering sight of certain galaxies or nebulae is not only splendid but enables to open one's mind towards... more consciousness and a more intense feeling of being alive.

Incidentally, this article was written in slightly more than two hours, with no preparation and no plan. For this subject, and for some reason which probably lies in my subconscious and comes from the desire for purity and complete spontaneity, I was most eager to express a sort of rough opinion, a testimony coming from… the guts and sheer experience; it is easy to realise it when a text is written as it comes, and for the author, it is a rewarding exercise because genuineness always has a unique sparkle. For the reader, it is also a token of sincerity.
Of course, the purpose is not to convince. Indeed, in politics as well as in spirituality, to change direction is a complex issue. As far as the quite bizarre field of astrology is concerned, irrational behaviours occur quickly, usually with a little disdainful smile from those who, obviously, have been beyond the naive propensity to believe anything, to dream blissfully, and to delude themselves about a necessarily silly system because it offers off the beaten path possibilities, which other human disciplines do not.
The list of the authors of scornful smiles towards astrology is quite long, just as long as the list of more open-minded people who, either have tried themselves to learn this tool which astrology is – which, like psychology or history, is not a science – and became convinced that it works or at least has some degree of efficiency, or because they no time or no interest, leave the door open, thinking "finally, why not?", after all, one does not know much, would it be solely in the area of the spouting of the thought – WHO handles thought at the moment it emerges... - or about physical laws for which the 21th century is mere prehistory, as all scientists know. Indeed, life is evolution, knowledge is not static, and the only mistake which must not be made is to gorge oneself with certainties, including that which consists in associating "too good" results with absolute scientific impossibility.
I believe that my experience is quite similar to that of everybody, i.e. that of a person who, a priori, before discovering it, was "against" astrology and considered it... crap meant for gullible people, or in the best case, an idle fancy with a tinge of poetry in which all the intellectual energy spent was finally used to create a nice virtual world and arouse pleasure.
Paradoxically enough, relatively few astrologers are interested in astronomy. This is not my case. I even dreamed I would become an astronomer when I was small, and nowadays I feel the need to have a telescope at home, even though... I seldom use it because, unfortunately, the sky above the region of Paris is too polluted.
Paradoxically enough, relatively few astrologers are interested in astronomy. This is not my case. I even dreamed I would become an astronomer when I was small, and nowadays I feel the need to have a telescope at home, even though... I seldom use it because, unfortunately, the sky above the region of Paris is too polluted.

As luck would have it, I was in the bookstore where I used to go several times a week to get all sorts of books according to my quite strong curiosity and my need to understand hidden things, and I stumbled on an astrology treatise, the famous one authored by André Barbault (André Barbault is a respected French astrologer and author who devised a computer-generated astrological portrait in the early '70s.).
As I flicked through the pages, I was a bit amused to see the natal charts of historical personages, quite rigorous rules, an apparently sound functioning, and I thought that for once, I ought to read an astrology book, and at least, this one does not seem too naive.
In addition, there were a few recipes for the compatibility of couples, and since I was in love of one of my school comrades, in that Terminale C class (In the French education system, the last year of secondary school with a maths option), I thought, well, I am going to have fun and see whether, according to astrology, my compatibility with this beautiful brunette, the sight of whom would pierce my heart, is good or not!
With a good dose of scepticism and quite negative preconceptions, I started to learn to erect a natal chart, interpret it, and become initiated into all the predictive techniques, synastry, and other relishes having the charm of that which is unknown.
Since this article is not a book, it is necessary to get to the heart of the matter. Actually, I realised quickly that among the concepts of signs, houses, planets, houses in signs, planets in signs, rulership, aspects, nature of the planets, etc. it would take some time before being rewarded, venturing into uncertain territory alone, and interpreting charts without opening astrology books every thirty seconds.
Indeed, to my view, the first obstacle for anyone willing to get an idea about astrology is the huge contrast between serious astrology on the one hand, and on the other hand, the ordinary media and its horoscopes by signs or by decans – which are of no value, it is necessary to say so, absolute void, and the biggest hoax because a natal chart cannot be reduced to the position of the Sun in one of the zodiacal signs. Absurd columns with equally stupid predictions – here again, and it is difficult to refrain from giving names, be it to quote people who saw Kerry as the winner of the American elections in Telestar (A popular French television weekly) or in other magazines, or in general a little bit everywhere because it cannot be repeated often enough that there are two types of astrology, that of horoscopes in magazines which are nonsense, a mere commercial lottery. From this perspective, it is easier to understand the disdainful smiles of those mentioned earlier, and I particularly think of Guy Carlier (A French TV presenter and humorist), whom I nevertheless find quite pleasant, and of Alain Gillot-Pétré (He was a French TV meteo presenter), a declared enemy of astrologers. I remember for instance a TV programme featuring Paco Rabanne (He became famous as a fashion designer. He is not an astrologer but a weird visionary, also quite nice), and gorgeous Elisabeth Tessier (A professional French astrologer whom the late President François Mitterrand consulted. The thesis she defended at La Sorbonne University was the subject of a hot controversy) who was castigated by Guy Carlier... Thus, there is a big discrepancy between junk astrology and genuine astrology. The latter consists in extracting information from an exact natal chart based on a date of birth and location, and whenever possible a time of birth, and to deduct relevant results from this chart.
The weird and unique feeling of infinity which emerges from the sky when one gazes into space is one of the numerous methods for starting a meditation on the purpose of one's life.
The weird and unique feeling of infinity which emerges from the sky when one gazes into space is one of the numerous methods for starting a meditation on the purpose of one's life.

Indeed, commercial astrology and horoscopes published in the media are nonsense and above all, unfounded, but genuine astrology, which includes several schools and requires many years of learning, is difficult to grasp.
Therefore, a lot of time is required because without learning by rote numerous dozens of basic notions, it is very difficult not to get lost. Of course, one can have fun, but if one expects some degree of proficiency or just wants to be able to follow the rules of this tool, one will have to spend several months studying.
I shall briefly address a few other obstacles which claim so-called scientific bases and may prompt doubts, discouraging people who are curious about astrology even before they get a chance to start studying it. I think for instance of such a statement as "astrology is bullshit since everyone knows that owing to the precession of the equinoxes, and when one says that the Sun is in Aries although in fact, it's been a long time since it has left this constellation." This is obviously stupid because by definition, in astrology, signs do not represent the constellations bearing the same name, but they refer to the immutable cycle of the seasons. Thus, the sign of Aries corresponds to the spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere, and not to the stretch of space occupied by the constellation of Aries.
But I will not elaborate any further on these technical details because they are not the focus of this article, the purpose of which is only to give a testimony and to state that astrology works, in the light of an experience and a practice which cover a span of thirty years plus.
So, after a few weeks, astrology became clearer for me. Actually, I understood that finally, there were three essential functions and a fourth one as the wild card, if I may say so. First, there is the astrology which analyses the personality, the character, the motivations, the typology, and the behaviour. Then, there is a second astrology, well-known, which checks the past and analyses the present by superimposing the positions of the planets at a given period on the planets of the natal chart, using various techniques such as transits, solar revolutions, progressions, etc. Lastly, there is the astrology which compares two charts in order to understand the relations between two individuals who may be more or less compatible.
After the feeling of infinite in space, the questioning about... whatever pre-existed automatically arises.  The sensation of the infinity of time, the research of the causes, and the voyage back beyond them necessarily makes a normally constituted human being feel dizzy. Such vertigo arouses a stronger desire to understand the meaning of all this and therefore, the commencement of spiritual quest.
After the feeling of infinite in space, the questioning about... whatever pre-existed automatically arises. The sensation of the infinity of time, the research of the causes, and the voyage back beyond them necessarily makes a normally constituted human being feel dizzy. Such vertigo arouses a stronger desire to understand the meaning of all this and therefore, the commencement of spiritual quest.

These three types of astrology, or rather, these three functions of astrology, are the three major sections of this discipline. The fourth one, which I referred to as the "wild card" earlier, is mundane astrology which forecasts or explains certain global events such as wars and peace between countries, periods of growth or periods favourable for the evolution of a given area – science, humanism, religion, spirituality, etc. - assassination attempts, natural disasters, inventions, etc.
For all four sections, it is clear that people don't have the same propensity to "believe" or not. Many people have no problem acknowledging that astrological portraits are mind-boggling because they are so accurate. I leave out the cases which present no problems, i.e. most of them, or the cases of people of good faith, again the majority, and I address only the case of sceptical people.
Regarding forecasts, it is slightly more delicate. Recalcitrant people are usually more numerous, and there are even some astrologers who want to limit astrology to the functions of personality analysis and are adamant about this. The good-looking and talented Françoise Hardy (A famous French composer and singer of the '60s. She authored a book on astrology) is one of those people. The other sections of astrology seem too risky or difficult to them, unless they deem them... impossible for x reasons known to themselves only.
Regarding couple's compatibility, also referred to as synastry, the subject is less known and better accepted because if one considers that astrology can analyse the personality, why couldn't it analyse two personalities and see if those two get along well or not...
Astrology is a mere set of efficient techniques for those who practice it and those who seek advice from it. However, although astrology and spirituality are disjoint, questions on human being, which the former necessarily indirectly arises, create... a bridge towards the quest for Reality.
Astrology is a mere set of efficient techniques for those who practice it and those who seek advice from it. However, although astrology and spirituality are disjoint, questions on human being, which the former necessarily indirectly arises, create... a bridge towards the quest for Reality.

Lastly, there is mundane astrology, which is the most difficult one. It must be acknowledged that using astrology to forecast global events equates to taking up an almost impossible challenge. Certain facts are mind-boggling, but I would only say that, to my view, this field pertains to research, and it is important that one does not believe what one reads here and there... Those who talk rubbish are definitely more numerous than those who really make predictions. Does this mean that mundane astrology does not work? Not necessarily, but there still is a long way to go. It is probably too early for our time, at least this is my opinion, formed after 35 years of experience and hindsight.
Let's get back to astrology learning. Once the two obstacles mentioned above are overcome, i.e. the venom of the ignorant mass and its bitter judgment, castigating with a conceited smile any effort made towards the shameful direction in which astrology is, and the fact that many long months will have to be spent to understand and master the concepts and the rules – actually, in my view, this is not enough, and I believe that after a whole year of reading and practice, one gets a good idea. After 5 years, one is able to make a few interpretations, after 15 years, one has good bases, and after 30 years, although one still keeps on learning, one has some good reflexes which enable to avoid making mistakes. It is after this period that amazement starts...
Bewilderment starts with the portraits. The hurdle lies in establishing the hierarchy of values and discarding whatever is superfluous. Indeed, the beginner tends to look at tons of details and get lost in a whole set of numerous meanings. Once this difficulty is solved, it is true that, if the sceptical person has paid the price and dedicated his time to learning, he usually loses his incredulity and the self-satisfied smile of the person who cannot be taken for a ride...
Having said this, unless one is particularly sensitive and vulnerable, getting to know oneself better, or having an idea about the meteorology, is rather helpful for evolving more rapidly. So, astrology would not be useless.
Having said this, unless one is particularly sensitive and vulnerable, getting to know oneself better, or having an idea about the meteorology, is rather helpful for evolving more rapidly. So, astrology would not be useless.

I wish to reassure those who are starting to learn. Actually, within a few days, as one reads the charts of acquaintances, one finds it mind-boggling. But once all the notions are well understood, one rapidly enjoys astrology and its batch of wonderments.
This is precisely what happened to me after a few months. Then, if one does not want to stop while on such a good path, one buys books and learn... during years. To me, astrology is a tool, and not a religion or something important. It is one discipline among others, such as history or psychology. Of course, it is more helpful and somehow prompts to ask questions upstream. This is what constitutes its charm, even though in no circumstances, does it answer these questions.
Astrology is anything except a spiritual path, a religion, or a moral code. It is just a tool which enables to understand our personality, our compatibility with people, and, with caution, to forecast climates, the meteorology of our evolution.
Some people have understood that astrology worked well and prefer… to avoid predictions. However, they are very few. There is indeed the auto-suggestion issue whereby the very fear of an unfortunate event might trigger it. Although there may be some truth in it, the amount of risk is minimal.
Some people have understood that astrology worked well and prefer… to avoid predictions. However, they are very few. There is indeed the auto-suggestion issue whereby the very fear of an unfortunate event might trigger it. Although there may be some truth in it, the amount of risk is minimal.

In my experience, right from the beginning, I observed that it worked. As everyone, one starts to read the charts of one's close friends and relatives, then one looks at the compatibilities, and above all, one plays at being God and analyses the future after having analysed the past. To understand the past, using the transits or any other techniques with a view to validating the rules, constitutes the best method.
Regarding this last point, my opinion is simple: forecasts work fine, provided that two major conditions, absolutely impossible to ignore, are met:
This recalls the nice philosophical tale of Samarkand which can be summed up as follows: a Vizier walks across the city to work at the Sultan's palace. He sees an ominous woman dressed in black, the sight of whom makes his blood curdle... As she gets nearer, he notices her glare and her expression and understands that she is Death. He is in a state of terror and thinks that she is coming to take him... more below
This recalls the nice philosophical tale of Samarkand which can be summed up as follows: a Vizier walks across the city to work at the Sultan's palace. He sees an ominous woman dressed in black, the sight of whom makes his blood curdle... As she gets nearer, he notices her glare and her expression and understands that she is Death. He is in a state of terror and thinks that she is coming to take him... more below

The first one is that when you analyse a period of time, many interactions or influences are noticeable. But all of them are far from being equally important. One thing that we must never hesitate to say is that "strong" events are obvious, even though the way in which they will manifest does not always exactly match what we think. Nevertheless, the general tendency can be described accurately, assuming the practitioner is seasoned enough.
Regarding minor, or "average" events, caution is required. There is a "scattering" of results, as if some people were more or less sensitive to certain transits etc. There are evidences that astrology should not be thrown out the window. The effects of very important forces at play are practically always noticeable. This is something I have observed on thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands cases, and each time, it is mind blowing because it completely rules out a vision at random of the period concerned. One must experience it to believe it: it is the number of disconcerting facts, totally incompatible with coincidence, which prompts to understand that one is not wasting time with this discipline. If one remains humble enough to accept that for less important events, or forces at play, there is some degree of uncertainty, and that one deals with probabilities of more or less favourable tendencies regarding such or such point, then, one remains on the safe side.
Does it mean that astrology is deterministic and fatalistic? No, definitely. Everything unfolds as if there was a "tendency", some sort of more or less imposed, yet partial, structure. It seems that free will enables to react differently to the planetary climates undergone, and as the old saying goes, "The stars impel but do not compel". Many questions obviously arise on this subject, but the purpose of these lines is to share my practical experience, in all simplicity, without starting to give a structured explanation for each concept addressed, which would require several books.
Thus, he is terrified and starts to run like a madman to the palace, where he arrives out of breath to see the Sultan. "What's wrong with you my friend?" said the Sultan. "My Lordship, I saw Death! She came to fetch me, I am very sure... I don't want to die, I am too young, I have a family. Would you allow me to take a dozen days off and go somewhere very far because I don't want her to find me, I don't want to die!" "No problem", answered the generous and nice sultan. "You have always been loyal and reliable. Go to Samarkand, it is such a beautiful city, it will take your mind off things.
Thus, he is terrified and starts to run like a madman to the palace, where he arrives out of breath to see the Sultan. "What's wrong with you my friend?" said the Sultan. "My Lordship, I saw Death! She came to fetch me, I am very sure... I don't want to die, I am too young, I have a family. Would you allow me to take a dozen days off and go somewhere very far because I don't want her to find me, I don't want to die!" "No problem", answered the generous and nice sultan. "You have always been loyal and reliable. Go to Samarkand, it is such a beautiful city, it will take your mind off things.

The other necessary and unavoidable condition, too often overlooked by many practitioners, is that our destiny develops only according to... what we are and therefore, according to what the natal chart describes, a natal chart which evolves, I need to underline this. Astrology obviously integrates this notion of evolution. There is no static state, no irreversible or fatalistic conditioning. A natal chart is mobile, and the human being is meant to blossom according to his basic characteristics, definitely with some degree of free will.
In plain words, it means that the astrological natal chart is fundamental. Predictive techniques use two charts, the natal chart, which represents our personality, our earthly self with its usual features: affectivity, intellect, capacity of action, inter-personal capacity, vitality, sexuality, behaviour, psychological facets, blockages, etc.
The Vizier sets off straight away with a few servants, a dozen camels. During four days and four nights, he hastily heads towards mythical Samarkand, fleeing the woman in black and running away from what he believes to be his fateful destiny. After four days, he eventually reaches Samarkand, a splendid city bathing in an extraordinarily beautiful light... He quickly takes a bath, changes clothes, and, without taking any rest, he gets out to have a mint tea and visit the city.
The Vizier sets off straight away with a few servants, a dozen camels. During four days and four nights, he hastily heads towards mythical Samarkand, fleeing the woman in black and running away from what he believes to be his fateful destiny. After four days, he eventually reaches Samarkand, a splendid city bathing in an extraordinarily beautiful light... He quickly takes a bath, changes clothes, and, without taking any rest, he gets out to have a mint tea and visit the city.

By superimposing the chart – or planets' positions – of the period analysed on the natal chart, one identifies the forces at play, in hierarchy and categories, which have an intrinsic meaning but which, at the same time, depend mainly on the natal chart; this is what is often referred to as "resonance" with the natal chart.
Let's take a concrete predictive case using transits for instance. One of the rules of thumb for predictions is to understand that transiting influences will fully manifest only if they are also found in the natal chart. Let's consider the difficult case of a transit of Uranus squaring natal Mars, with Mars in the 2nd House in Aries, and Uranus in the 11th House in Capricorn. These two planets are the most energetic ones, and at some time, their square triggers a blow-up in terms of behaviours or events, because the balance is too hard to maintain by the chart owner and meant to explode since the vibration does not correspond to his nature. Therefore, this explosive transit indicates that there is a probability that the financial area, or the way one earns a living, undergoes a very strong and unexpected jolt when the transit becomes exact or during Uranus' various passages as it retrogrades and squares natal Mars. This jolt may involve friends – it would be necessary to look at the rulerships. Now, there are two alternatives: if Uranus and Mars are connected in the natal chart, transiting Uranus will resonate with the natal chart, and it is most likely that important events, or the way they are felt by the chart owner, will be strongly experienced. The other alternative is that Uranus and Mars are not linked to each other in the natal chart, in which case it is clear that the effects of transiting Uranus, though violent, will have a less significant impact than in the first case.
The sun lights up the picturesque narrow streets, females are good-looking, and the shadows stretching their darker shape at this time of the afternoon increase the charm of the mythical city. The Vizier walks, deliriously happy to have escaped his fate. As he strolls and looks aside, he does not watch his steps and bumps into somebody! He immediately turns around and, to his stupefaction...
The sun lights up the picturesque narrow streets, females are good-looking, and the shadows stretching their darker shape at this time of the afternoon increase the charm of the mythical city. The Vizier walks, deliriously happy to have escaped his fate. As he strolls and looks aside, he does not watch his steps and bumps into somebody! He immediately turns around and, to his stupefaction...

Similarly, a stern, wise and sometimes slightly solitary Saturnian, meaning a person with Saturn in his planetary dominant, who has an upcoming transit of Jupiter passing over his Venus will not turn into Julio Iglesias or Rocco Siffredi during the few weeks of this very nice transit!
Provided these two conditions are met, i.e. some level of analogy with the natal chart, and caution whenever the influences at play are not very strong, astrology never disappoints, or almost never, as far as predictions are concerned.
Regarding couple's compatibility, there are very important rules. It is not because a synastry is exceptionally good that it means, on the one hand, that one will fall in fall, and on the other hand, that the relationship will be successful. Let me explain:
When one analyses the chart of a couple, one actually analyses three charts: the natal chart of each partner and the chart of the relationship. The latter is compared to the two natal charts and assessed using various possible techniques (composite chart, mid-space / mid-time chart, mutual planets-houses interactions, etc.). In addition of course, one must take into account the planetary climate of each partner, which is not simple.
In couple's compatibility, here are the principles that must be borne in mind:
Firstly, a fantastic compatibility between two persons never implies that they will fall in love with each other. Indeed, synastry only reflects how easy a relationship is in various areas. Conversely, a disastrous synastry does not mean that two persons will not fall in love with each other!
It is important to highlight the above because a host of visitors wonder and sometimes e-mail us asking "I met with so and so, our rate was 80% but nothing happened, the relationship has not materialised, etc.", which is normal! Astrology, at least synastry, is unable to determine whether two persons will love each other. Love eludes the comparison of charts!
Once again, if and only if, a relationship has already started, synastry will tell whether it will flow smoothly or not. In my view, that's already quite considerable!
A gorgeous and very pale lady, all dressed in black, stares at him with an almost astonished look and said, "Well, well, it's you, you are early. I did not expect you before several days yet." As she takes him by the hand, the Vizier, in a state of complete terror and at the same time strangely resigned, does not resist and follows Death, in great distress and without any possibility to rebel.
A gorgeous and very pale lady, all dressed in black, stares at him with an almost astonished look and said, "Well, well, it's you, you are early. I did not expect you before several days yet." As she takes him by the hand, the Vizier, in a state of complete terror and at the same time strangely resigned, does not resist and follows Death, in great distress and without any possibility to rebel.

Now, like with predictions, it is necessary to take natal charts into account. It is simple to understand: if in his natal chart, anyone has a difficult affective structure, as in the case of a man having an exact Saturn-Moon square, with the Moon in the 7th House and Saturn in the Midheaven, and for instance, Venus square Pluto. His marriage should a priori take place late – if he ever marries, which is not quite sure – and the context of the marriage should not be very easy. Besides, it is most likely that in the affective area, he imagines nice things and that in real life, he undergoes a few disappointments. Although it is true that there are no such things as good charts or bad charts, there are still a few tendencies which are noticeable on the manifested plane.
Let's imagine that this gentleman meets a lady with whom the compatibility is extraordinarily good. What would happen?
If he falls in love, and his feelings are reciprocated, the odds are that things will not develop smoothly. Actually, because the synastry is good, which is the hypothesis we have chosen, in order that his destiny unfolds according to his natal chart, certain obstacles will crop up. Such hurdles probably obey some necessity in terms of evolution etc., but this is another topic... Nevertheless, the relationship is most likely to be pleasant and easy. The rest of the context will have to be assessed: what are the active transits of the moment for both partners, what is the natal chart of the lady in question, etc.
As we can see, a relationship is a whole entity, a juxtaposition of five factors which already form a whole when taken separately: two natal charts, two forecasts or current planetary climates, and one synastry or couple report.
The analysis of these five factors is the only process which enables to understand and offer predictions about what is to follow, and even then... solely if the magical spark is born between them. Regarding the spark, let's say that transits enable to forecast whether the chart owner is likely to fall in love during the considered period.
It is true that one can try to bail out of what is deemed ineluctable, especially during loaded periods such as under Uranus' tensed transits. However, as one believes that one is escaping one's fate, one might also jump into it with one's feet together even faster!
It is true that one can try to bail out of what is deemed ineluctable, especially during loaded periods such as under Uranus' tensed transits. However, as one believes that one is escaping one's fate, one might also jump into it with one's feet together even faster!

The lines above emphasise, I hope, how difficult it is to make a diagnosis and the large scope of the work it requires.
My experience, once again with regard to this third section – since we have already addressed personality analysis and predictions – is that astrology works, provided that the natal chart is taken into account along with transits, progressions and solar revolution influences.
Which experience? It is simple. When one is interested in this tool, one quite quickly makes interpretations, thousands of charts in several years. Therefore, each time one gets the confirmation that "heavy" or major events occur according to the rules used, and that in most cases, portraits are quite accurate although of course, certain scattered charts are much more difficult to interpret than others. One also knows that humility is a must and that for lighter things, i.e. minor aspects, less important or fast transits, one really deals only with probabilities, but... that's already quite appreciable.
The last section, that of mundane forecast, is unrewarding. I will not enter into the details of the methods used, and I will only say that once again, my experience is quite a pessimistic one. Individual astrology offers results ranging from satisfactory to very satisfactory, but mundane astrology seems risky to me and, to state it clearly, not yet perfected enough.
There may be a fifth section, that of prediction of success for business companies, projects, etc. The principle is to take the exact date of creation of a project as its moment of birth and cast a chart exactly as it is done for a human being. This method can also be applied to an animal, why not.
As expounded in this article, my experience prompts me to think that there are two types of outer events: the fundamental ones, which are very rare through a lifetime, and the others. The former seem to bear some form of determinism affecting the way events unfold, because the way we experience them in our inner self is a different thing and gives our free will every latitude in making decisions, including that to grant them importance or not.
As expounded in this article, my experience prompts me to think that there are two types of outer events: the fundamental ones, which are very rare through a lifetime, and the others. The former seem to bear some form of determinism affecting the way events unfold, because the way we experience them in our inner self is a different thing and gives our free will every latitude in making decisions, including that to grant them importance or not.

The fans of this technique are often optimistic. Now, in my opinion, the real difficulty lies in identifying the exact date and time of the beginning of the project or a company. Let's take for instance the creation of a company, and why not, in France, the most difficult country regarding this topic, owing to all kinds of administrative hurdles: firstly, the date, time, and place of the "idea". Then, the determination of the name of the company. There may be also the date at which all the partners reached an agreement. Or the date at which the company's capital was deposited into the bank, or the date of the application or the official registration of its statutes! Or else, the date at which the premises for its head office are found...
Actually, if one ponders a little bit more, for every case, the same questions apply because the exact date and time are not really significant. The same holds true also for the birth of a country, etc.
As a result, examples are not easy to study, even though they are interesting for the astrologer as a matter of curiosity. I believe that great caution is needed in this area.
Getting back to the example given at the beginning of this article, you may want to ask about the young lady, "So, was she compatible with you?" According to the analysis of the time, no! And actually, nothing happened, except in my head. Thus, astrology started to work well in those remote days despite the sadness of the conclusion.
More seriously, the purpose of these lines is to say that the irrational refusal of some people, be they scientists or not, to consider that there might be something accurate in this discipline constitutes a real sign of laughable blockages on their part.
These questions would take us too far… Nevertheless, the Samarkand tale is a classic which tends to show the limits of free will in the field of real experiences. It is important to add that, as far as death is concerned, even though there are techniques which try to determine its date, no serious astrologer will claim to be able to do so. Why? Because, and it cannot be reiterated strongly enough, astrology describes a climate and probabilities, and nothing else. I would also add that this is at the same helpful, crucial, and an excellent thing. Nothing would be worse than absolute fate and shutting the door on hope.
These questions would take us too far… Nevertheless, the Samarkand tale is a classic which tends to show the limits of free will in the field of real experiences. It is important to add that, as far as death is concerned, even though there are techniques which try to determine its date, no serious astrologer will claim to be able to do so. Why? Because, and it cannot be reiterated strongly enough, astrology describes a climate and probabilities, and nothing else. I would also add that this is at the same helpful, crucial, and an excellent thing. Nothing would be worse than absolute fate and shutting the door on hope.

Obviously, it is easy to understand its cause, which is certainly somehow the issue of how astrology works.
Here, I have talked about concrete topics and experience, and not at all about the "why". Actually, being a scientist myself, in the beginning, what I wanted to know above all was whether astrology worked.
Over 35 years of experience have answered my question although after six months or one year, I already got the answer, thus positive, just in case some visitors would directly start to read from this point on.
The topic of why it works is completely different. Here are my impressions, given in a personal capacity: at first, I would consider astrology to be a small square of life, a bit like a helpful discipline, but without –let's say, directly – spiritual connotation.
It is efficient, useful, but it offers no answer to the real questions of life, under no circumstances. What are we, what are we made of, what is Reality? Beneath thought, feelings, sensations, there is the consciousness of being, which is the only real thing, upstream. The intellect is unable to understand itself. A blind man cannot describe the colour red. Similarly, the intellect can but go round in circles when it comes to asking "who am I?", since we are not our thought and we are upstream of it or... of them, because one can rather talk about thoughts in the plural, which are like bees continuously buzzing, with an actor behind who undergoes and at the same time has the illusion of control... Of course, there is a link between these thoughts and our consciousness to exist, but... I should stop here... This is just to show that astrology answers none of these questions, that its field applies to the earthly sphere, to human psychology, to the explanation of behaviour, to the cautious forecast of the meteorology of events, and to the assessment of the smoothness, if any, of a relationship in a couple.
There is also the topic of the astrologer who analyses his future. Can he really change it? The wisest answer is that yes, one can strengthen the periods of invulnerability and thus, one's successes etc. One can also be careful and thus lessen the impact of risky periods, for practically all events.
There is also the topic of the astrologer who analyses his future. Can he really change it? The wisest answer is that yes, one can strengthen the periods of invulnerability and thus, one's successes etc. One can also be careful and thus lessen the impact of risky periods, for practically all events.

I would say, and I believe so, that this is already quite considerable. The fact that it works is sufficient in itself, even though one would like to understand the whys in terms or physics or energy etc.
Second reflection: we know only four forces in the universe: strong interactions (the cohesion forces of atomic nuclei), weak interactions (the cohesion forces of nuclei and particles), gravitational forces, and electro-magnetic forces. We are able neither to define the consciousness of being, nor to give a definition of thought and of ourselves. To imagine giving an answer to the whys of the functioning of astrology would require a better understanding of these two planes: the first one is that of physics, which is not as advanced as it is believed to be. The second plane is that of knowledge of human nature, which does not seem too advanced either...
The first answer is that indeed, there is no known physical explanation as of today.
There are statistics, sometimes disputed, and astrologers' experience dating back to the dawn of time – and the different schools, etc. which I have not addressed here of course – which are dismissed by detractors of astrology who are so stupidly and mechanically indoctrinated with their own certainties that they self-intoxicate themselves with their own rubbishes when... they do not act in bad faith.
Regarding major events, which can probably be counted on the fingers of the two hands throughout a lifetime, I think that the astrologer himself cannot avoid a few compulsory chapters of his destiny. This may be found disgruntling or laughable, but those who make numerous predictions are aware that it is difficult, or practically impossible, to escape very powerful configurations, be they harmonious or tricky. It should be borne in mind that what is tricky brings about awareness whereas on the contrary, what is felt as nice often yields spiritual numbness. Nothing is good, and nothing is bad; there is only a succession of tests, happy or unfortunate, and the will, or lack of, to increase one's consciousness of existing with them.
Regarding major events, which can probably be counted on the fingers of the two hands throughout a lifetime, I think that the astrologer himself cannot avoid a few compulsory chapters of his destiny. This may be found disgruntling or laughable, but those who make numerous predictions are aware that it is difficult, or practically impossible, to escape very powerful configurations, be they harmonious or tricky. It should be borne in mind that what is tricky brings about awareness whereas on the contrary, what is felt as nice often yields spiritual numbness. Nothing is good, and nothing is bad; there is only a succession of tests, happy or unfortunate, and the will, or lack of, to increase one's consciousness of existing with them.

Of course, if anyone says to you "You practice astrology because you are in a fog, your mind is weak, you are indoctrinated, or you are Machiavellian, you do it for money, you are a poor insane person", there is nothing to answer since this blindness probably stems from a very irrational behaviour and above all from a pre-determined choice.
Some detractors of astrology, perhaps less obtuse than others, may imagine, during a too short-lived stroke of intuition, that not all astrologers are in a complete fog, not all malevolent, not all interested in power or money, and even that the majority do not waste their time, simply because hands-on experience has shown them the evidence, that is does work, provided due caution is observed as mentioned earlier.
Therefore, for these people, the following problem remains: "Well, let's suppose that it works and that there is some truth in it, but since there are no explanations to it, it cannot work, can it?"
A logical mind would answer back "It works of course. It is not because we don't know yet why, that it can't work, since on the contrary experience proves that it does work..."
Besides, the fact that one possesses a few assets like knowledge of astrology, or the mere fact of seeking advice from it, is part of the protections which can be found in the natal chart. The person who never doubts anything, who remains narrow-minded and keeps on his superior smile in front of concealed knowledge –astrology is not the only one – this person usually has several tensions in fixed signs in his natal chart. Indeed, fixed signs are excellent and often endow with a strong will and persuasion power, to the detriment however of open-mindedness, or rather, the swiftness to precisely adjust to whatever is new to him. Once adjustment is achieved, he will become a fierce defendant of the very cause which he fought in the first place, at least in the best cases (smile).
Besides, the fact that one possesses a few assets like knowledge of astrology, or the mere fact of seeking advice from it, is part of the protections which can be found in the natal chart. The person who never doubts anything, who remains narrow-minded and keeps on his superior smile in front of concealed knowledge –astrology is not the only one – this person usually has several tensions in fixed signs in his natal chart. Indeed, fixed signs are excellent and often endow with a strong will and persuasion power, to the detriment however of open-mindedness, or rather, the swiftness to precisely adjust to whatever is new to him. Once adjustment is achieved, he will become a fierce defendant of the very cause which he fought in the first place, at least in the best cases (smile).

The tradition does not hesitate to put forward such answers as "As above, so below.". This explanation is based on symbolism, the human being partly incarnated and partly spirit, and there is a connection between these two worlds, etc. But obviously, this is not an explanation.
Astrology works although we still don't have its explanation in terms of forces. My opinion is that it will come. It constitutes an interesting subject, but not a fundamental one. The main point is to avoid talking nonsense and to be pragmatic. It seems to me that being open-minded is the only correct attitude.
Although one can live without astrology, its offers much help to those who practice it or to those who seek advice from it. It is already very appreciable. Indeed, although astrology claims neither to give an answer about the purpose of life, nor to be absolutely reliable, and in spite of the fact that the explanation of its functioning is unknown... it nevertheless delivers obvious results.
This is what justifies its practice. To my view, the only good attitudes are, either to use it with caution if it is helpful on a punctual basis or more, or to ignore it and ask "Why not, but in any case, I am not interested." The only totally ridiculous attitude is to display the self-satisfied smile of those who cannot be taken for a ride...

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Health Ranger interviews former Economic Hitman John Perkins, about 2012, government corruption and more

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by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) Mike Adams, the Health Ranger and editor-in-chief of NaturalNews, sat down recently with John Perkins, a self-styled "economic hitman" and best-selling author who says his mission in life &q...

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NESARA History – True Story

{mainvote} This is a repost... EagleEyes   Tuesday, August 31, 2010 Fourwinds10 With all their power and money the bankers thought themselves to be above the law, but cracks were now appearing in their foundations. Angry Americans were beginning...

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Soaking in the Yellow Solar Sun

Just now I did what I usually don't: I went outside to sit in the sun and do nothing. Didn't work.....

Came up with this ordering of a number of concepts we are all very familiar with:

I have figured out that it is possible to make such clusters of many related words. Not that you invent them, but for me it is a method of gleaming knowledge from the Akashic Records in a clear, concise format, that certainly warrants further research. Anybody got a hefty grant?

Love your Light,

Dré

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