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Losing Your Mind To Find It



Before the rain stops we can hear a bird. Even under the heavy snow we see snowdrops and some new growth.  – Shunryu Suzuki

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There & Back Again

When my wife and I were first married, we spent a summer on Madeira Island with her family. They lived three hours from the airport in a small, poor farming village, high up in the mountains. After a hair raising 3 hour taxi ride on winding, narrow mountain roads with drops of 1,000 feet or more, we arrived at the family home. I noticed quickly that there were no phones, no TVs or radios, no refrigeration, and only sporadic electricity. There was one road in and the same road out.

In my time there, I discovered many interesting things about the skills and attitudes of the villagers. One characteristic in particular has stayed with me all these years. The shortcut to the center of town was a narrow, single file path along the side of a ridge with a drop of about twenty feet to the ravine below. In pitch darkness, townspeople could travel barefoot along this path at high speed, with no flashlights and without hesitation. No one, including the older folk, seemed to fall or fear the trek. It was as if they could see in the dark. My attempts to do this myself were met with polite smiles and giggles as I stumbled and demanded a flashlight. They couldn’t quite grasp what my problem was.

Madeira 3Three weeks into our stay, we were visiting relatives higher up the mountain. We stayed longer than anticipated and had to start down the mountain in the pitch dark. There was no road, only a primitive path with crevices, holes and boulders jutting into the path. It was a steep descent. As we started down, I could feel the fear of falling and being injured growing. In spite of that, I was moving faster and faster down the mountain. And then it happened. It was as if one part of my mind turned off and another turned on. I began to run. Incredibly, it all seemed to be in slow motion. I could see every crevice, every stone along the path. I neither tripped nor stumbled during the entire descent. Some part of me knew where to step. I leaped over crevices, dodged boulders and all at top speed. I saw the world in a totally new way; somehow I was aware of everything around me despite the darkness. My mind was clear, focused and in command. But it was not my conscious, everyday mind. There were no words or concepts, only awareness. It was what I have come to call the Instinctual Mind. A mind in which the world appears seamless and our senses fully integrated. But more of that later.  Let me get back to the story.

Upon arriving at the relative’s home, we partook of the obligatory homemade Madeiran wine and crackers while sitting for hours talking about the farm, the children and past experiences. There was little food to share but the Portuguese hospitality was magnificent. My mind was placid and content in the here and now, primed for a new experience.

Years later, after a career at the university and in private psychotherapy practice marked with the stresses of incessant multitasking, sitting for hours at computers, and driving in massive traffic jams, I began to jealously reflect on the extraordinary skill of the Madeirans.  How could we be so different?  Was their ability to use the Instinctual Mind inherently human but lost to us through some social or mental atrophy? Could regaining this ability contribute a clarity and focus to life that seemed long lost in my fast paced, technology dominated world? I couldn’t help but wonder if the ability of the Madeirans to harness the Instinctual Mind could in some way rekindle a sense of place, a deeper awareness of my surroundings, of purpose and a greater sensuality. I began to look into ways, some common, some not so common that could contribute to awakening that other mind that seemed so hidden and elusive.

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Hiking the Mountain

It may be helpful to look at hiking the mountain as a way of awakening the Instinctual Mind. If you have ever gone hiking, you know that it takes some preparation. You need supplies and proper clothing and a sense of direction. For me the preparation for ascending the mountain was three weeks of being free of all technology or knowledge of the world. Only the simple facts of everyday life were real. Once on the path upward, you need water, food and proper shoes so the journey can be completed. For us the hike up was hot and demanding. We had to negotiate the crevices, holes and boulders. All of this to reach our goal.

Many believe once you reach your goal at the summit the journey is over. You see the sky and the vistas. But for me reaching the top was only the prelude to the descent. Sometimes what we think is the goal is only the gateway to something more.  It was the descent that shattered my mind and opened it to a new dimension. Each of us must find the path and journey that suits us. For some it may be the climb up or reaching the peak. For others it will be the journey down. The only way to know is to start preparing and taking the first steps along the way.

Awakening the Instinctual Mind is allowing what is already in you its full expression. You are not adding something new to yourself. This awakening can bring changes in your relationships, worldview and health. Instinctual Mind is a mind of compassion and healing. But those are stories for another day.

Beginning The Climb

Here are a few ways to begin preparing for the climb:

  • Make a decision to free yourself, temporarily, from your cell phone and IPad or all technology for that matter. You might choose one hour a day so you can sit without the devices. Wean yourself from the constant clatter. Start to become accustomed to sitting, speaking to family, friends and colleagues without technical interruptions. You can expand this time as you grow stronger.
  • Limit your time listening to the news. All the calamities of the world will still be there when you get back. Cut the ties to 24 hour cable network news. Re-traumatizing yourself all day long is unhealthy and destroys composure.
  • Learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Relaxing is a good preparation to stilling your everyday mind that chatters on and on.
  • Go hiking, take up Tai Chi. These practices allow you to put aside the ordinary mind. Being in nature can be very helpful in the journey.
  • Start a meditation practice. There are many forms of meditation. Choose one that suits your temperament. Sitting is a path to awakening. Meditation is a way of scratching away at all the obstacles to knowing and giving expression to our true mind.
  • Find a teacher, group or someone you trust who can help you along the way.

Tools for the Hike

Ram Das:

Original Mind:

Centering Prayer:

Beginner’s Mind:

Go Wild:

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Alternative News

It’s Almost Halloween! Here’s What Black Cats Actually Symbolize



In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Black cats, for most people have been associated with bad luck. The truth is, black cats can symbolize many things, and have throughout history.

  • Reflect On:

    Have you been seeing black cats? Do they have any particular symbolism for you? It is often said, what you truly find meaning in, is where the significance lies.

Cats have had a special bond with humans and have been domesticated since ancient Egyptian times. In fact, they were even regarded as gods in these times and treated with the utmost care and respect. It seems that for those of us who really know cats, we understand that there is something special about these animals, so much so that we too are willing to feed them, scoop up their poop, and let them destroy our furniture… seems like perhaps not much has changed since ancient Egypt after all.

Throughout history, many people have been superstitious about black cats in particular, and will avoid them whenever they see them. If you are thinking this is just a silly superstition and people don’t actually believe that black cats are bad luck, then you should know that they are the least likely to be adopted from an animal shelter. There are stories that they are sometimes tormented, captured and even killed on halloween night.

So, where does this superstition come from? Should we be wary of black cats? If so maybe I’m screwed because I have been the proud owner of my handsome black kitty I call Salem, (I know, how original, right?) for the past 5 years. This also brings up the point of how black cats and witches seem to go hand in hand. So, why is this and what do we need to know about these furry black creatures?

My handsome boy holding my page.

First, Some History

Throughout history black cats have generally been associated with occultism. According to Hebrew and Babylonian folklore, cats are compared to serpents, coiled on the hearth. In ancient Egypt, the act of killing a cat was punishable by death, and when a cat would die it would be mummified followed by the family entering into a period of mourning. Roman cultures considered the cat to be sacred and brought this animal into Europe. The vast majority of countries in Europe consider a black cat crossing one’s path to be bad luck and the church has long since associated black cats with witchcraft.

These animals were also believed to be shapeshifters and that witches were able to transform into them with their spells and do evil things without being noticed. Many people believed that the devil himself would take the form of a black cat and sadly on holy days like Easter, in the Middle Ages, black cats were often hunted down and burned.

Luckily, in some cultures the perception of the black cat began to change and it went from being seen as bad luck to good luck in countries like Scotland who still regard a strange black cat on your porch as a sign of prosperity to come. In England, fishermen’s wives would keep black cats in their homes while their husbands were away in the belief that these animals would prevent danger from occurring to their husbands while they were off at sea.

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I often refer to him as my “Halloween Cat.”

Some More Updated Theories

There is no doubt that superstitions regarding black cats are some of the most widely known and popular. One has to wonder what witches really saw in black cats and why they had a relationship with them in the first place, because by now many people realize that witches were not evil, but just more connected to the power of the universe that lies within us all. The powers that be did not want this information getting out, hence the massive crusade against witches and pretty much any intuitive woman during the middle ages. So why did the witches really keep black cats?

According to a website called Witches Lore, a black cat is a good companion to have around because it will double the power of any spell, black cats are witches themselves and are more connected to the mysterious powers of the universe. You can learn everything about magic just from talking to your cat.

Black aside, the cat represents the following attributes, according to

  • Patience, waiting for the right moment to react
  • Independance, yet enjoying social connections
  • Spirit of adventure, courage
  • Deep, relaxed connection with self
  • Healing from the inside out
  • Curiosity, exploration of the unknown or the unconscious

“Another way to see the meaning of the cat as a spirit animal or totem is to pay attention to its ability to see in the dark and be at ease when most other animals and humans are not. If the cat shows up in your life as a spirit guide or you have this animal as totem, you may be inclined to start exploring areas in your life or aspects or yourself that you do not know well yet.

When we observe cats, we see that they are characterized by the flexibility and agility. No matter the circumstances, it will always manage to fall back on its feet. By affinity with the cat totem, you may be encouraged to develop your flexibility at many different levels, whether it is in your physical body, mind, emotions, or spirit.

The cat totem is a source of inspiration to renew your perspective and have the courage to act or integrate it into your life. If the cat spirit animal shows up in your life, it may be time to explore new ways to look at things.”

Here’s another interesting point made by the Archives of American Art,

“It’s not all bad for the black cat though. Black cats aboard ships at sea are a longstanding tradition associated with good luck. From pirate ships to naval vessels, cats have been welcomed on board because they keep the rodents away from the ship’s food supply and provide companionship for an isolated crew. Unlike in the United States, where they typically have negative connotations, other nations—like the United Kingdom and Japan—believe that black cats can bring prosperity, bless a marriage, ensure good harvests, and even help bring success to a theater production.” 

Do Cats Show Up In Your Dreams?

Of course some people perceive the presence of cats in their dreams as bad omens, others believe that the cat represents your feminine essence and sensuality. These dreams may be a reminder to let your inner mischievous and mysterious nature shine through. If a black cat shows up, this is a message to pay attention to what your intuition is telling you. The Ancient Egyptians believed that cats could travel between dimensions, so it would not be that strange to see a black cat in your dream with a message for you.

It seems as if there has been an heir of mystery and wonder around black cats since their relationships with humans began. I believe they are just as special as any other cat and my boy, Salem, just happens to be the friendliest cat I’ve ever met, he crosses my path on a regular basis and as far as I know, I’m doing just fine! Perhaps these superstitions are what you make them.

Much Love

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Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid To Overturn Landmark Cancer Verdict, But Slashes Award



In Brief

  • The Facts:

    School groundskeeper Dewyane Johnson was awarded $289 after a jury found Bayer (Monsanto) to be guilty of causing/contributing to his terminal cancer. Monsanto requested a new trial, and a lower amount has been requested by the corporation.

  • Reflect On:

    How are these companies allowed to put these products on the market still? At the end of the day, it's me, you and your neighbour who are buying them. We are the solution to stop this crisis. It's time to wake up.

Glyphosate is the new DDT. DDT was a similar sprayed chemical as an agricultural and household pesticide. Decades later it’s been ban, despite that it was used for years, it had tremendous environmental and health consequences. The sad thing is that the manufacturers of these products are well aware of it, and through their control over government policy, these products are approved and only banned after many years of litigation, red-tape, and the overall collective awareness of what’s actually going on.

Once we become aware of it, despite the fact that the manufacturers’ were already aware, it can no longer be used. Awareness kicks off the process of these substances being phased out of existence, despite the fact that it may take decades, without awareness there are no initiatives.

We are seeing the same thing with Glyphosate right now, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Now, it’s important to mention that the pharmaceutical industry completely dominates medical literature, that’s where all the modern day medical literature that’s deemed ‘significant’ has its roots in. Do you think it would be easy to have a product manufactured by the pharmaceutical company to be deemed hazardous in the medical literature when that same pharmaceutical company controls medical literature?

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”  Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (source)(source)

Judge Affirms Initial Verdict

This is why when a U.S. judge on Monday affirmed a verdict against Bayer AG (owner of Monsanto) that found glyphosate-based weed-killers are responsible for a man’s terminal cancer illness, it was great news. It’s also vital to mention that there are thousands upon thousands of cancer cases against this product.

Originally, the case of school groundskeeper Dewyane Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. Any Jury on the planet would probably come to the same conclusion. It’s nearly impossible not to after going through all of the corporate corruption, scientific fraud, and science showing glyphosate is indeed wreaking havoc on human health.

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Dwayne Johnson was awarded $289 million for damages. It’s likely Monsanto put forth the motion to have the case overturned as it’s a dangerous precedent to have set against Monsanto. This will mean many more millions in damages down the road and they will have to take responsibility for their actions. Monsanto also asked the judge to through-out her original verdict with regards to the punitive damages portion.

Now what’s happening? Judge Suzanne Bolanos said she would cut the damages to $39 million. Bayer said that the decision to reduce the damages was a step in the right decision, as they continue to claim that decades of science shows that it’s safe for us. This science strongly contradicts an overwhelming amount of science and fraud that says otherwise…

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691

Lawyers for Johnson in a statement on Monday said they were still reviewing whether to accept the reduced award or retry the punitive damages portion.

If Johnson accepts the reduced damages, the final verdict would order Monsanto to pay a total of $78 million, split equally between compensatory and punitive damages.

Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate is used every year on more than a billion acres. (Cherry, B., “GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States,” Science in Society 45, 44-46, 2010) (source)

Johnson and his team are currently deciding whether or not to accept this proposal from the company.

The Takeaway

Science has illustrated that Glyphosate is clearly not good for humans or the environment. What will it take for its use to be completely banned? There are thousands of lawsuits, thousands of scientists and researchers and papers all pointing to the same thing, yet the industry continues to ignore it and claims otherwise.

On top of this, we have numerous examples of corporate corruption. Corporations like Bayer have amassed so much power in finance and politics that they can literally pay and lie their way through the system. How regulatory agencies approve these products is a complete mystery but becomes less of a mystery when you realize these government regulatory agencies are completely controlled by the company. For something that’s becoming as clear as this, the solution is easy, don’t use these products, and refuse to use these products. That’s the only solution here.

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Full Moon In Taurus: Surprises, Changes & Breakthroughs



We are having a Full Moon in Taurus on October 24th/25th depending on where you are located in the world. This marks the peak of the Lunar Cycle that began on October 8th/9th with a New Moon in Libra. The energies of a Full Moon gradually build up earlier in the Moon cycle and become more noticeable on the day of and days surrounding it. It is also a part of the backdrop of the other astrological energies over the following 2 weeks.

At every Full Moon we feel a push-pull between the two opposite signs where the Sun and Moon are located, in this case being Taurus and Scorpio. However, with this specific Full Moon, Venus retrograde and Uranus are directly connected to the opposition which brings its own energy in a strong way which will get into in the next part of the article.

Scorpio season began the day before this Full Moon, yet we’ve already been getting a taste of it prior with other planets being located there. Scorpio is about power, transformation, intensity, sexuality, passion, regeneration, fears, and depth. It can be complex, mysterious, vengeful, manipulative, calculated, compulsive, and obsessive. As a water sign, it is emotional and intuitive.

This Full Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus brings its themes to the equation. This sign is practical and simplified. It is associated with physical things, beauty, and stimulating the senses. Taurus is about the natural world as well as food, money, values, worth, and resources. It can be slow, thorough, indulging, deliberate, reliable, cautious, yet lazy and procrastinating. As an Earth sign, Taurus is grounded and realistic.

Full Moon Conjunct Uranus Opposite Sun & Venus, Saturn In The Mix

Normally in the above paragraph, I would have mentioned how Taurus is stable and routine oriented. However, this Full Moon is aligned with Uranus which is the complete opposite of that. Uranus is a big factor of this Full Moon and it overrides some of the general Taurus themes. Uranus is unpredictable and can bring surprises, shakeups, breakthroughs, sudden happenings, separations, rebellion, and sometimes even accidents.  It can also be revolutionary, innovative, scientific, metaphysical,  non-conforming, awakening, insightful, exciting, and bring new experiences. Uranus is associated with originality, freedom, and change.

Venus is the ruler of Taurus and has been retrograde since October 5th/6th (until November 16th) in the opposite sign of Scorpio where the Sun is at this lunation. This retrograde period is a time of re-orientation of things connected to Venus which could include relationships, friendships, love, values, money, beauty, pleasures, fun, art, or creativity. You can read more about this Venus Retrograde here.

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This Venus retrograde energy is strongly highlighted at this Full Moon because Venus rules Taurus and it will be joining the Sun exactly a few days following which is always a significant part of a retrograde as it is a ‘seeding’ period. Things that occur or thoughts that we have during the last 10 days of October (especially 25th – 27th) can somehow contribute to how things play out over the following 10 months when it comes to some Venus-ruled areas mentioned above.

This Full Moon and Venus retrograde are in harmonious aspects with Saturn. Although Uranus energy is kind of dominating this period, perhaps this can bring some sort of realistic or practical energy to the themes mentioned throughout this article and can also be tied into surprises and shakeups as mentioned above. Or alternatively, we may experience these energies manifest in separate ways.

Venus is also moving towards an opposition with Uranus which is activated at this Full Moon but could play out more strongly as we get closer to October 31st. The Uranus energies mentioned in the first paragraph of this section could affect Venus matters in either a challenging or exciting way. However, keep in mind that any new relationships or aesthetic undertakings maybe be short-lived, unstable, or be faced with surprises. These things can be sudden but not stable. We also need to be careful of being too impulsive with spending resources and there is also a higher risk of loss if we are not careful.

Full Moon Square The Lunar Nodes Which Are Changing Signs Soon

This Full Moon is in a tight square with Lunar Nodes which marks the halfway point between the last series of eclipses this past summer and the next series of eclipses in January. The Lunar Nodes are karmic points in astrology and considering that this lunation is aligned with Uranus with Taurus’ ruler Venus in retrograde motion, this Full Moon is very significant which could mark a turning point or significant changes for many people.

It is possible that the energies of the summers previous eclipses and retrogrades may be activated during this time as well which depends on how those eclipses interacted with your natal astrology chart.

The Lunar nodes will be changing signs on November 6th/7th just before the next New Moon. They have been in the Leo-Aquarius axis since May 2017 and will be going into the Cancer-Capricorn axis for the following 18 months. I will cover this more in my next article, however, this factor also signifies a shifting of energies along with Jupiter changing signs shortly after this, and Uranus also retrograding back into Aries soon.

Mercury Conjunct Jupiter In Scorpio, Both Trine Chiron

Jupiter is in a trine with Chiron which is exact on November 1st and still plays out in the week following. This can be a great energy for learning, healing, and acquiring some sort of holistic awareness. We can learn and understand our wounds, blockages, and fears better to help us overcome or transform them into something more positive.

Mercury is moving towards this configuration and will be aligned with Jupiter exactly on October 28th/29th. This can help us to be more broad-minded and see the big picture. Communications can be growth-oriented, educational, expansive, and fun. However, we can also be scattered minded and more easily overlook mundane details.

With this conjunction happening in Scorpio, it can also be deep, psychological, and connected to looking at things that are hidden or beneath the surface. In some cases, this can be a great energy for transactions and financial matters depending on how it is interacting with your chart. Short trips or travel plans may also play out at this time.

Things To Consider During This Period

What has been coming for you recently regarding your relationships or how you approach your relationships, either socially or romantically? Are you experiencing a shift in your values or a conflict between personal and shared values? Or perhaps this is connected resources, finances, and worth? Have you been having any breakthroughs, and if so, how should you proceed based on that? Do you feel like you need to liberate yourself from a restricting situation?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up during this period, however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up at this Full Moon, it is best to do so anytime over the two weeks following, when it is waning. The exact moment of this Full Moon is on October 24th at 4:45pm Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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astrology, astrology readings, carmen di luccio

Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order.

A Quick Important Notice:

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

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