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How Do You Know If You Are Being Spiritual?

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I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn ….

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On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1955)

What does it mean to be spiritual today? Does it mean meditating six hours a day every day and never saying an unkind thing or even squashing a mosquito as it tries to impale you? Or does it mean living life to its fullest, chasing the mad ones, being the mad ones? Or does it mean something in between, living the prudent life of a normal person, contributing to one’s community, raising a family, caring for one’s elders?

Or all of this?

Since I became interested in spirituality in my early 20s, particularly Buddhism, Taoism, and Vedanta Hinduism, I’ve found that perhaps the most beneficial aspect of exploring these spiritual traditions is the ability to maintain a center of equanimity even in tough times. I’ve also had various peak experiences, some with the help of sacraments (“drugs”) and some without. My general view has been that to lose one’s cool, to give in to strong negative emotions, is a spiritual failure.

But I wonder continuously about all of this. I’ve been advised by friends and lovers that there’s a risk in being too spiritual, too Buddhist, too calm, too detached. Can romantic love spring forth from equanimity? Maybe, but it’s doubtful.

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More generally, is the even keel of equanimity really the best way to live one’s life? Alan Watts, a spiritual and intellectual hero of mine for many years now, who studied and wrote about many spiritual traditions from East and West, suggested frequently in his talks and books that to be truly spiritual was to be a complete human being, to live the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the black and the white, because only through experiencing the opposite of something can we know anything.

tamhunt-solarI’ve been very challenged recently in maintaining my cool, my center, my equanimity, by helping my father as he struggles with cancer, selling his house and all of the frustrations of old age. I haven’t spent more than a few days with my father in any one stretch for years, intentionally (sorry Dad), because he can often be very hard to be around.

On a recent visit, however, to his home in England (where I was born and where he is from), we spent a full two weeks together, including a three-day road trip to France in a little car. I haven’t yelled at someone at the top of my lungs that many times in two weeks ever, in my whole life. In fact, I make it a point to not yell at people at all generally. I’m not really a yeller, is my point. During this time with my father, I felt like I had regressed spiritually by a good twenty years—and I told him this too in one of these heated arguments.

Family doesn’t always bring out the best in us. It can all too often bring out the worst. I’m not really sure why this is the case, but perhaps it has to do with old wounds, old memories, ingrained habits, laziness, resentment, all of the above. I literally told my father on at least two occasions on our road trip in France, at the top of my lungs, to “shut the fuck up!” So spiritual.

Why did I behave like this? For a lot of reasons, but mainly because my father is a mad one, a whirlwind of verbal activity and mildly autistic cluelessness about the reactions of people around him, combined with an increasingly poor ability to control his impulses, his anger, or his verbal diarrhea. The man is undeniably brilliant. Beyond the ability of anyone else I’ve spent significant time with, he has the ability to expound on topic after topic in great detail and with no pauses for thought. It just flows, fact after interesting fact, the result of decades of traveling everywhere, reading, talking, and watching documentaries about every topic under the sun.

Our dynamic is unusual in that I actually am interested in most everything that he’s interested in too. I’m a huge nerd and proud of it. But what I can’t handle is being talked/lectured to continuously for hours and days on end with limited to no chance of injecting my own thoughts into the discussion. I’m all for dialogue but unless I’m sitting in a classroom or watching a documentary I’m not so much into one-sided monologues.

Combined with a true penchant for delivering monologues, my father seems unable to hold his thoughts until after a thought is finished by someone attempting to engage him in dialogue. And when I point out this irritating verbal behavior for the ten-millionth time in our relationship he gets angry and accuses me of not letting him speak. Then I ask for silence for a while, which provokes another angry outburst about my trying to shut him up. And when I try to discuss the problem of him getting angry that makes him angry and he’s yelling at me again.

I guess I was mad for inviting him on this road trip.

At least France was nice. We visited the Limousin and Dordogne regions of central France where there are surprisingly cheap and gorgeous little homes. Papa may end up settling there after selling his home in England. And I’ll come and visit. But I’ll keep my visits short…

Back to my main point: how to be spiritual? It’s no surprise to anyone that family interactions can be extremely trying. Even as I was yelling at my father for the tenth time, because I felt that I had to yell to be heard over his monologues and harangues, I felt terrible about my own behavior but at the same time, even then, I felt a certain calmness at the center of it all.

The “witness” is a term often used in Buddhist or Vedanta meditation practice to refer to this calmness that does, lo and behold, exist even during the most difficult times, if we know where to find it. The witness is, in my preferred interpretation, the process of consciousness and the root of consciousness at the same time. It’s our source. It’s always there, always loving, always calm, always kind.

The witness is me, is you, is us, no matter what we’re doing at any particular moment.

This discussion gets tricky when we consider people who behave badly more as a matter of course rather than (ahem) in rare moments that may feel like they’re justified by unusual events. Steve Jobs comes to mind because yet another biopic is coming out about him, based on the Walter Isaacson biography (called simply Steve Jobs) that pulls no punches in describing Jobs’ bad behavior toward his partners, his employees, and his family. It’s not at all unfair to describe Jobs as an asshole, and even a bit proud of his ability and willingness to be an asshole. And yet Jobs considered himself to be a Zen master.

The book doesn’t go too much into Jobs’ understanding or practice of Zen, so it’s not very clear how serious Jobs was about Zen or his claims of being a Zen master. Regardless, it does prompt the question: can one behave badly, even cruelly, and still be a realized human being, a spiritually advanced human being?

Frankly, I don’t know. It all gets a bit murky and highly subjective. Pu Tai (Budai), the chubby Chinese Buddha who is depicted on a million wood statues and paintings in China and elsewhere, was known for his girth and his mirth because he didn’t see any contradiction between spiritual practice and good food, good wine, humor and ribaldry more generally. Alan Watts certainly saw nothing wrong with combining a type of hedonism with spirituality. And yet many spiritual teachers and traditions advocate abstinence as a general lifestyle.

At the end of the day, I try to remind myself of my true identity, our true identity, as Source, the One, the All, as a basis for spirituality and the good life. If we at all times try to behave with the best interests of the whole in mind, recognizing that we are both individual and the whole at the same time, it seems that we are living not only a spiritual life but also the complete life that Watts himself advocated as the highest form of spirituality.

So, Papa, my apologies for yelling at you. But even then I hope you realized that I was acting with love.

Tam Hunt is a lawyer and writer based in Santa Barbara, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

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Consciousness

How Collective Consciousness Can Change The Entire Human Experience

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Science has demonstrated that there is an energy field that connects us all, and that at its core, all matter is consciousness. Collective Consciousness plays a huge role in how our world functions.

  • Reflect On:

    What do you believe is possible for yourself and for humanity? Do you feel we are capable of creating a world where we can thrive? Do you find yourself thinking humans are not capable of much? These beliefs affect the world around us deeply.

Want to see change in the world? We have to change collective consciousness. And in order to do that, we must change ourselves.

This has been the core message of Collective Evolution since our humble beginnings in 2009. Why? Because collective consciousness is something at the centre, or core, of what connects all of us. In post material science we are beginning to understand that we are not entirely just a brain inside a body, and that consciousness is who we truly are. Beyond that, consciousness is also at the crux of everything.

We sit at an interesting time in our history where the need and desire to change our world has become something almost all of us feel. Whether we witness the apparent chaos of daily life, the turmoil that happens in areas around the world, or whether we witness the challenges in our own life, we feel this need for change. Deep down, something about the human experience, as it is, seems outdated and almost stale.

We’ve grown tired of suffering, pain, war, poverty, doing the same thing over and over again. We want to experience something new, rich and deep. This is showing up in political activism, the search for who we are beyond our identities, the search for meaning in life and wanting to do careers that we love.

Ultimately, we are searching for peace and a deeper understanding of our reality. So how do we do this? How do we change our world, change the various daily structures we deal with like our economy, government, career paths, as well as the limited idea of what life is and should be. How do we end our suffering and war with one another to truly create a world where we can thrive and have abundance?

Collective Consciousness

If you are gaining curiosity reading this, great. You are feeling something that has been growing within you, and all of us, for quite some time. If you think these ideas are laughable, and that none of this change is possible, then great, because the video below is for you too. Because your disbelief is playing a role in why our world is this way, and it’s time to explore what that truly means.

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Collective consciousness is an energy field, if you will, by which groups of people or all humans connect to and share ideas, beliefs and understandings about our world. This is not a physical space, but one that is energetic or conscious.

Below is a video I created to help explain how something called collective consciousness functions, so we can begin to understand why we must change ourselves to change our world, and how our limited belief of what our world is and can be, plays a role in keeping it that way.

Post Material Science & Consciousness

The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory has been trying to wrap their heads around the subject and have concluded that the human mind does, in fact, have a capacity to influence the output of devices known as Random Event Generators (REGs), on a collective scale, or via collective consciousness.

A project that initially started when a student was curious to study the effects of the human mind and intention on the surrounding environment, turned into a rigorous testing lab where Dr. Robert Jahn and his lab assistant spent many hours experimenting to determine whether or not the mind has an effect on our physical world. Jahn and his assistant were able to determine that the human minds interactions with the machines demonstrated a relationship that was not physical in nature. The mind was able to affect and change outcomes of the machine in ways that were beyond standard deviations. In essence, consciousness was having an effect over the physical world.

To determine the effects of the mind’s intention on the physical world, they built several machines called a random number generator. The machine would essentially mimic a coin flip and record the results over time. The machine performed 200 flips per second and produced an average mean of 100 as one would expect. Left unattended, the machine would continue to produce results that suggested a 50/50 chance of producing either heads or tails. The interesting results came when human intention started to interact with the machine. What was once a random 50/50 chance of producing heads or tails began to deviate from expectation as the observer began to intend for the numbers to be higher or lower. While the effects of the mind over the machines was not large, it was enough that contemporary physics is unable to explain what exactly is happening. Perhaps this is where the quantum world can shed light?

The implications of this research on humanity is quite fascinating given it could reach into the realms of creating a world of peace, a thriving world and abundance. If intentions and thoughts can impact something the way it has been demonstrated above, why not explore the boundaries of how far this can go? It is my feeling and understanding that we create our realities with our intentions and state of consciousness and I feel science is starting to confirm this. In time we will realize the true power of our minds and intentions.

The video below is a very brief synopsis of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory of Princeton University, whose research into mind-matter interaction forms the foundation of Psyleron Technology.

If we wish to understand collective consciousness more deeply, and how we are all truly connected, a great place to start is to begin exploring what we are discovering in the field of post material science as we study consciousness.

We have a great deal of content to explore on that by clicking here. 

To explore deeply who you truly are, you can listen to this CE Podcast episode.

Sources:
Princeton PEAR Lab

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An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

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Awareness

The Health Benefits Of Reading Books Compared To Reading From Screens

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Numerous studies show the scientific benefits of reading. These benefits tend to increase when reading from actual books rather than screens.

  • Reflect On:

    Do screens consume the majority of your time? When was the last time you read a book? Reading is akin to exercise for your brain.

In the age of information we are being bombarded left, right and center with quick facts, fake news, censored information, video images and so much more. This is greatly affecting the span of our attention. To many the idea of picking up a book, when we could just as easily listen to it, or read segments on our phones is completely absurd. However, there are many benefits that come along with reading books that just might make it worth it to you.

Consider just the very act of reading a book in itself, holding it, turning the pages, seeing your progress in the development of the story, it’s almost as if you are a part of it.

Benefits Of Reading Books

Reading requires patience and diligence, which is not something required from a glance and a click on a quick headline. Reading a book  is almost a kin to running a marathon for your brain, I mean if you can finish a whole book!

Reading stimulates imagination and creativity.

Research has shown that reading helps with comprehension and emotional intelligence as well as fluid intelligence — meaning the ability to reason and have flexible thinking. This leads to smarter decision-making regarding yourself and others.

As we age, our memory will decline, but regular reading can help keep minds sharper longer according to research published in Neurology. Frequently exercising your mind was also proven in that same study to lower mental decline by 32 percent.

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“Our study suggests that exercising your brain by taking part in activities such as these across a person’s lifetime, from childhood through old age, is important for brain health in old age,” study author Robert. S. Wilson of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said in a statement. “Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”

Reading can help make you more empathetic — researchers from the Netherlands designed two experiments showing that people who were “emotionally transported” by a work of fiction experienced boosts in empathy,

“In two experimental studies, we were able to show that self-reported empathic skills significantly changed over the course of one week for readers of a fictional story by fiction authors Arthur Conan Doyle and José Saramago,” they wrote in their findings. “More specifically, highly transported readers of Doyle became more empathic, while non-transported readers of both Doyle and Saramago became less empathic.”

Even More Reasons Read Books

Aside from these deeper reasons to read books, here are some more basic ones:

Books are a lot easier on the eyes than screens, which will provide a nice break for many of us as we are spending an increasing amount of time staring at screens at work, at home, on our smartphones while watching Netflix — your eyes could use the break.

One survey of 429 university students revealed that nearly half had complained of strained eyes after reading digitally. Electronic books can cause screen fatigue, which may lead to blurred vision, redness, dryness, and irritation. With print books, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

If you are reading an actual book, there is less of a chance that you will be distracted compared to reading on your phone. A book has no notification pings, buzzes or pop-ups, and you can ensure this distraction free time by leaving your phone in another room or putting it on silent or on airplane mode while reading.

Another great thing about books and the wonderful byproduct of less screen time is less exposure to electromagnetic frequencies, if you don’t have your phone on you, and perhaps you even have your Wi-Fi turned off while not in use you are giving your body a bit of a break from the constant bombardment of these frequencies.

Reading books before bed can help you sleep better, the main reason being — they do not emit blue light, or any kind of light at all actually, which has been shown to interfere with a good night’s rest. Not only that, but personally I find in general, reading a book tends to make me sleepy, so I enjoy reading a few chapters before putting my head down for the night.

Who doesn’t love the smell of a good book? You know that lovely, kind of musty smell old books give off? Or the fresh, crisp paper smell of a brand new book?

Final Thoughts To Consider?

Will reading books become an outdated thing of the past? Or will we be able to stand by the benefits of books and keep collecting them for generations to come? Only time will tell! To finish off, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the late, great, Dr. Seuss,

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

Much Love

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Gemini: Learning, Healing, & Inspired Action

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We are having a Full Moon in Gemini on December 11th-12th, depending on your location. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon in Sagittarius on November 26th. The energies of the Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations still play a part over the following two weeks. You may also start to see its themes build up following the New Moon prior to it.

Interestingly this Full Moon occurs on 12/12 for most of the world and at 12:12am in the EST time zone. The year 2019 adds to 12 as well (2+0+1+9= 12). This can be interpreted in different ways, however, the thing that I would like to point out is that 12 is associated with completion and astrologically with Pisces which is the final and 12th sign.

This is not only the last Full Moon (and complete lunar cycle) of the year but the last one of the decade. In the Universal time zone it will be occurring at 5:12am, with the number being associated with change. This Full Moon will be followed by eclipses that are ushering in the new decade which also fits with this 5-12 energy.

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Gemini and Sun in Sagittarius. It can play out as either a conflict, integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs.

We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Sagittarius side and others expressing the Gemini side. In some cases, Full Moon’s can also reflect/trigger some sort of change which may apply more in this case when considering some of the other factors mentioned in this article.

Gemini is a Mercury ruled Air sign with a strong mental orientation. It is communicative, articulate, informative, social, inquisitive, clever, multifaceted, versatile, witty, agile, and dualistic. This sign is also associated with the immediate environment, the neighbourhood, siblings, commuting, reading, audiobooks/podcasts, mail, and writing. Negatively, Gemini energy can be scattered, superficial, gossipy, inconsistent, two faced, and lack emotion.

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Sagittarius is a Jupiter ruled Fire sign motivated by passion, exploration, and beliefs. It is broadminded, freedom loving, philosophical, optimistic, visionary, expansive, aspiring, risk taking, and big picture oriented. This sign is also associated with higher education, media, sales/marketing, religion, morals,  travel, foreign lands, and other international matters or pursuits. Negatively, Sagittarius energy can be unrealistic, pretentious, judgemental, excessive, blunt, preachy, and have a hard time comprehending limitations.

Both of these signs within this polarity are about learning and communicating what they know. The difference between them is that Gemini leans more towards sharing/learning knowledge from a variety of sources while Sagittarius leans more towards developing its own perspective based on the synthesis of what has been learned and experienced. Gemini can also be more factual in comparison to the idealistic Sagittarian energy.

Full Moon Square Neptune & Quincunx Venus-Saturn-Pluto Conjunction

This Full Moon is separating from a square with Neptune which is strongest in the day leading up to it. This can be good for creative, spiritual, compassionate activities especially if they are linked  to the Gemini-Sagittarius themes mentioned above. However, this can also reflect confusion, impracticality, delusion, escapism, and unreliability.

Venus is separating from a tight conjunction with Saturn and moving towards Pluto at the time of this Full Moon. In the days leading up to this, there could have been more serious or restrictive energy around Venus ruled areas of love, friendship, money, values, or pleasures.

Perhaps a need to be more disciplined, responsible, committed, restraining, or realistic could be a theme. Obstacles, limitations, cautiousness, or endings may have also come up. This can be good for stabilizing, solidifying, building, or taking a mature approach towards things pertaining to Venus.

Pluto in the mix can add more heaviness to this energy. However, Venus makes its conjunction to Pluto in the following two days, after its interaction with Saturn. The themes mentioned above may be followed by or combined with intensity, passion, obsession, secrets, empowerment, evolution, transformation, or even some sort of purging and release. This can also be a period of revealing or getting clear around Venus issues.

This Full Moon is in a quincunx aspect to this Saturn-Venus-Pluto conjunction. This can create a disconnect between these issues (mentioned in the last two paragraphs) and our feelings or other things going on in our lives. This can also reflect challenges and irritations which may  require adjustments.

Jupiter Newly in Capricorn Trine Uranus in Taurus

On December 2nd, Jupiter entered Capricorn and will stay there for the next year. It joins Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node in which it will be making conjunctions within 2020. Overall, Jupiter in this sign connecting to these planets can be good for different types of growth around worldly goals, ambitions, structures, and towards building anything with the long term in mind. It can also bring some endings around these things as well.

Jupiter forms a trine with Uranus in Taurus which is strongest from this Full Moon until the following week with it peaking on December 15th. This can be good for learning or expansiveness towards something new, unusual, unconventional, technological, metaphysical, scientific, or perhaps even revolutionary.

It can also be connected to beliefs, travel, and other types of exploration. For some people it can manifest as sudden luck or bring some sort of freedom. Considering that this aspect is occurring in Earth signs, it can play out around material, physical, financial, or practical matters.

Mars Trine Neptune, Sextile Saturn, Pluto

Mars in Scorpio is in a trine with Neptune in Pisces in the day leading up to, and few days following, this Full Moon. This can reflect actions that are inspired, creative, spiritual, imaginative, or compassionate. Activities or efforts involving art or water may also be a theme. For some people it can be magical on a sexual level, however this also depends on how the Venus-Saturn-Pluto aspect (mentioned earlier) is playing out which can bring some heaviness to relationships in some cases.

Mars then moves towards a sextile to Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn which peaks from December 17th to 23rd. This is good for applying ourselves in a way that is practical, realistic, responsible, thorough, stable, focused, tangible, or purposeful. Efforts towards bringing more structure or building towards something may be a theme. This can help us to be more focused, overcome obstacles, making productive changes, and uncovering things to assist us in making progress.

Eclipse Season is Approaching with Neptune, Chiron, and Uranus in Transition

In the two weeks after this Full Moon we will have a Solar Eclipse in Capricorn on December 25th/26th followed by a Lunar Eclipse in Cancer on January 10th/11th. Neptune recently ended its retrograde, Uranus finishes its retrograde in a month, while Chiron is transitioning out of retrograde at the time of this Full Moon.

All of this combined shows that the period from mid-November until mid-January is a time of transitions, changes, and new developments. Eclipses can reflect beginnings, endings, and even evolutionary developments in specific areas of our lives that can begin to play out in the six weeks prior up until the six months following. (I will be writing separate articles on these eclipse, join my mailing list here to ensure that you are notified when they are published)

Planets, and other celestial bodies like Chiron, going from retrograde to direct can help us progress forward in new ways in areas connected to what they represent and how they are interacting with our personal astrology charts. I covered Neptune going direct in my previous article and will be covering Uranus going direct in an upcoming eclipse article. However, the most significant one at this point is Chiron as it is transitioning during this Full Moon phase. Its themes will be coming up more strongly.

Chiron is associated with old wounds, trauma, blockages, negative patterns, and other issues getting in the way of our potential, self-expression, and the embodiment of our highest selves. It is also associated with the solutions to our healing, awareness, and achieving wholeness.

It is about developing a different relationship with our wounds by turning them into strengths or working with them in a more positive way. Chiron is the maverick, it is unorthodox, holistic, and can bridge things together that are normally separate and are not thought to be compatible with each other.

Things To Consider During This Period

Is there anything new or different that you’d like to learn at this time? What have you been inspired to do in the last few weeks? Do you need to take into consideration certain facts, instructions, or details in order to fulfill your aspirations?

What has been coming up for you in regards to Venus issues of love, friendships, values, creativity, aesthetics, money, and pleasures? Do you need to address anything pertaining to these things? Have any issues or themes connected to your wounds or negative patterns come up? What do you need to do to heal/address this and move forward in a more empowered way?

These are just some examples of what you may be experiencing during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon or as it is waning over the following two weeks. The exact moment of it will be on December 12th at 5:12am Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

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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. 

Holographic 2020 Lunar Calendar

An art piece and lunar calendar all in one. This calendar features moon phases for every day of the month for the entirety of 2020.

Hologrpahic foil set on a dark 11" x 11" poster makes the moon's phases shimmer as light strikes them in this unique art piece.

Buy yours here!
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