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The Evolution Of Consciousness – Are All Creatures Conscious?

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Before we can begin to consider the evolution of consciousness, we have to ask when consciousness first arose. Are human beings alone conscious, or are other creatures also conscious? Is an animal such as a dog, for example, conscious?

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Dogs may not be aware of many of the things we are aware of. They are not conscious of much beyond their immediate world, the world defined by the span of their senses. They know nothing of lands beyond the oceans, or the space beyond the earth. Nor can dogs be aware of much beyond the present time.

They know nothing of the course of history, or where it might be headed. They are not aware of their inevitable death in the same way that we are. They do not think to themselves in words, and they probably do not reason as we do. And they do not seem to have the self-awareness that we do; they certainly do not get caught up in concern for their own self-image, with all the strange behaviors that engenders. But this does not mean that dogs have no awareness at all.

Dogs experience the world of their senses. They see, hear, smell, and taste their world. They remember where they have been. They recognize sounds. They may like some people or things, and dislike others. Dogs sometimes show fear, and at other times excitement. When asleep, they appear to dream, feet and toes twitching as if on the scent of some fantasy rabbit. They clearly are not just a biological mechanism, devoid of any inner experience. To suggest that they are not conscious is absurd — as absurd as suggesting that my neighbor across the street is not conscious.

Where dogs differ from us is not in their capacity for consciousness but in what they are conscious of. Dogs may not be self-aware, and may not think or reason as we do. In these respects they are less aware than we are. On the other hand, dogs can hear higher frequencies of sound than we do, and their sense of smell far surpasses our own. In terms of their sensory perception of the world around, dogs may be considered more aware than humans.

A useful analogy for understanding the nature of consciousness is that of a painting. The picture itself corresponds to the contents of consciousness; the canvas on which it is painted corresponds to the faculty of consciousness. An infinite variety of pictures can be painted on the canvas; but whatever the pictures, they all share the fact that they are painted on a canvas. Without the canvas there would be no painting.

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The pictures that are painted on the canvas of consciousness take many forms. They include our perceptions of the world around, our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs, our values, our feelings, our emotions, our hopes, our fears, our intuitions, our dreams and fantasies — and more. But none of this would be possible if we did not in the first place possess the capacity for consciousness. Without it there would be no subjective experience of any kind.

Are All Creatures Conscious?

If dogs have the faculty of consciousness, then by the same argument so must cats, horses, deer, dolphins, whales, and other mammals. Why else would we require veterinarians to use anesthetics?

If mammals are conscious beings, then I see no reason to suppose birds are any different. Some parrots I have known seem as conscious as dogs. If birds have the capacity for consciousness, then it seems natural to assume that so do other vertebrates — alligators, snakes, frogs, salmon, and sharks. What they are conscious of may vary considerably. Dolphins “see” the world with sonar; snakes sense infrared radiation; sharks feel with electric senses. The pictures that are painted in their minds may vary considerably; but, however varied their experiences, they all share the faculty of consciousness.

Where do we draw the line? At vertebrates? The nervous systems of insects may not be as complex as ours, and they probably do not have as rich an experience of the world as we do. They also have very different senses, so the picture that is painted in their minds may be totally unlike ours. But I see no reason to doubt that insects have inner experiences of some kind.

How far down do we go? It seems probable to me that any organism that is sensitive in some way to its environment has a degree of interior experience. Many single-celled organisms are sensitive to physical vibration, light intensity, or heat. Who are we to say they do not have a corresponding degree of consciousness?

Would the same apply to viruses and DNA? Even to crystals and atoms? The philosopher Alfred North Whitehead argued that consciousness goes all the way down. He saw it as an intrinsic property of creation.

Consciousness & Biological Evolution

If all creatures are conscious in some way or other, then consciousness is not something that evolved with human beings, or with primates, mammals or any other particular degree of biological evolution. It has always existed. What emerged over the course of evolution were the various qualities and dimensions of conscious experience — the contents of consciousness.

The first simple organisms — bacteria and algae — having no senses, were aware in only the most rudimentary way: no form, no structure, just the vaguest glimmer of awareness. Their picture of the world is nothing but an extremely dim smudge of color — virtually nothing, compared to the richness and detail of human experience.

peterrussellWhen multicellular organisms evolved, so did this sensing capacity. Cells emerged that specialized in sensing light, vibration, pressure, or changes in chemistry. These cells formed sensory organs, and as they developed, the ability to take in information increased. Eyes are not only sensitive to light; they react differently to different frequencies, and can tell from which direction the light is coming. The faintest smudge of the bacterium’s experience had begun to take on different hues and shapes. Forms had begun to emerge on the canvas of consciousness.

Nervous systems evolved, processing this data and distributing it to other parts of the organism. Before long, the flow of information required a central processing system, and with it a more integrated picture of the world appeared. As brains evolved, new features were added to consciousness. With reptiles the limbic system appeared, an area of the brain associated with emotion. Feeling had been added.

In birds and mammals the nervous system grew yet more complex, developing a cortex around it. With the cortex came other new abilities. A dog chasing a cat around a corner holds some image in its mind of the cat it can no longer see. Creatures with a cortex have memory and recognition; they can pay attention and show intention.

With primates the cortex grew into the larger, more complex neo-cortex, adding yet more features to consciousness. The most significant of these was the ability to use symbols. Not only did this ability enable simple reasoning, it also led to a new form of communication — symbolic language.

Chimpanzees and gorillas may not be able to speak as we do, but this is not because they lack something in their brains; they lack a voice. They have no larynx, or voice-box, and cannot move their tongues as freely as we can. But they can use other forms of symbolic language. When taught sign language, such as that used by the deaf, they show a remarkable ability to communicate. Coco, a gorilla in California, now has a vocabulary of more than a thousand words, and composes sentences in sign language.

Language & Consciousness

For one reason or another, human beings evolved slightly differently. We have a well-developed voice-box, and after the first year of life the tongue frees up, permitting the complex sounds necessary for speech. With these two seemingly small advances, everything changed.

Being able to speak allows us to share our experiences with each other. Whereas a dog learns principally from its own experience, and builds up its knowledge of the world from scratch, we can learn from each other. We can build up a body of collective knowledge and pass it on from one generation to another — the foundation of a cohesive society.

This new ability has expanded our consciousness in several ways. Our experience of space expanded as we learnt of events beyond our immediate sensory environment. And as we learnt of events that had happened before our own lives, our experience of time expanded.

As well as using speech to communicate with each other, we can also use it to communicate with ourselves, inside our own minds. We can think to ourselves in words. Of all the developments that came from language, this has probably been the most significant.

Thinking allows us to conjure up associations to past experiences. When we think of the word “tree,” images of trees readily come to mind. Or if we think of a person’s name, we may find ourselves remembering past experiences with that person. Other creatures may well experience associations to past experiences, but their associations are almost certainly determined by their immediate environment; what is out of sight is out of mind. Thought liberated human beings from this constraint. We can deliberately bring the past back to mind, independently of what is happening in the present.

In a similar way, thinking expanded our appreciation of the future. We can think about what might or might not happen, make plans and take decisions. A new inner freedom had been born — the freedom to choose our future and so exercise a much greater influence over our lives.

Thinking in words opened our minds to reason. We could ask questions: Why do stars move? How do our bodies function? What is matter? A whole new dimension had been added to our consciousness — understanding. We could form hypotheses and beliefs about the world in which we found ourselves.

We could also begin to understand ourselves. We could think about our own conscious experience. We became aware not only of the many aspects and qualities of our consciousness, but also of the faculty of consciousness. We are aware that we are aware — conscious of the fact that we are conscious.

Consciousness could now reflect not only upon the nature of the world it experienced, but also on the nature of consciousness itself. Self-reflective consciousness had emerged.

Self-Consciousness

As we reflect upon our own consciousness, it seems that there must be an experiencer — an individual self that is having these experiences, making all these decisions, and thinking all these thoughts. But what is this self? What is it really like? What does it consist of?

Questions such as these have intrigued and puzzled philosophers for centuries. Some, like the Scottish philosopher David Hume, spent much time searching within their experience for something that seemed to be the true self. But all they could find were various thoughts, sensations, images and feelings. However hard we look, we never seem to find the self itself.

Not finding an easily identifiable self at the core of our being, we look to other aspects of our lives for a sense of identity. We identify with our bodies, with how they look, how they are dressed, and how they are perceived by other people. We identify with what we do and what we have achieved; with our work, our social status, our academic qualifications, where we live and who we know. We derive a sense of who we are from what we think, our theories and beliefs, our personality and character.

There is, however, a severe drawback to such a sense of self. Being derived from what is happening in the world of experience, it is forever at the mercy of events. A person who draws a strong sense of identity from their work may, on hearing that their job is threatened, feel their sense of self is threatened.

Someone else, who identifies with being fashionably dressed, may buy a new set of clothes every time the fashion changes, not because they need new clothes, but because their sense of self needs to be maintained. Or if we identify with our views and beliefs we may take a criticism of our ideas to be a criticism of our self.

Any threat to our sense of self triggers fear. Fear is of great value if our physical self is being threatened. Then we need to have our heart beat hard, our blood pressure rise, and our muscles tense. Our survival may depend on it. But this response is totally inappropriate when all that is being threatened is our psychological self.

Having our bodies repeatedly put on full alert is a principal cause of stress. We can easily end up in a permanent state of tension, opening us up to all manner of physical illnesses. Our emotional life may suffer, leading to anxiety or depression. Our thinking and decision making can likewise deteriorate.

Fear also leads to worry. We worry about what others might be thinking of us. We worry about what we have done or not done, and about what might or might not happen to us. When we worry like this, our attention is caught up in the past or the future. It is not experiencing the present moment.

Perhaps the saddest irony of all is that this worry prevents us from finding that which we are really seeking. The goal of every person is, in the final analysis, a comfortable state of mind. Quite naturally, we want to avoid pain and suffering, and feel more at peace. But a mind that is busy worrying cannot be a mind that is at peace.

Other animals, not having language, do not think to themselves in words, and do not experience many of the worries that we do. In particular, they do not experience all the worries that come from having a vulnerable sense of self. They are probably at peace much more of the time. Human beings may have made a great leap forward in consciousness, but at our present stage of development we are no happier for it — quite the opposite.

Transcending Language

There is, it would appear, a downside to language. Language is invaluable for sharing knowledge and experience — without it human culture would never have arisen. And thinking to ourselves in words can be very useful when we need to focus our attention, analyze a situation, or make plans. But much of the remainder of our thinking is totally unnecessary.

If half my attention is taken up with the voice in my head, that half is not available for noticing other things. I don’t notice what is going on around me. I don’t hear the sounds of birds, the wind, or creaking trees. I don’t notice my emotions, or how my body feels. I am, in effect, only half-conscious.

Just because we have the gift of being able to think in words does not mean that we have to do it all the time. Many spiritual teachings seem to have recognized this. In Buddhism, for example, students are often advised to sit with a quiet mind, experiencing “what is” without naming it in words or putting it into some category — to see a daffodil as it is, without the labels “daffodil,” “flower,” “yellow” or “pretty.” To see it with the mind in its natural state, before language was added to our consciousness.

Sat Chit Ananda

Returning the mind to this simple pre-linguistic state of consciousness is not easy. A lifetime of conditioning makes it hard to stop thinking and let go. This is why many spiritual teachings include practices of meditation designed to quieten the voice in the head, and bring us to a state of inner stillness. In Indian philosophy, this state is called samadhi, “still mind.”

Furthermore, it is said that when the mind is still, then one knows the real self, and the nature of this self is, according to the ancient Vedic teachings, sat-chit-ananda.

It is sat — “the truth, unchanging, eternal, being.” It is always there, whatever our experience. It never changes. It is not a unique self; it has no personal qualities. It is the same for everyone. It is the one undeniable truth — the fact that we are conscious.

It is chit — “consciousness.” It is not any particular form or mode of consciousness, but the faculty of consciousness. It is that which makes all experience possible.

And it is ananda — “bliss.” It is the peace that passeth all understanding, that lies beyond all thought. It is the state of grace to which we long to return; from which we fell when we began to fill our minds with words.

This is the self that we have been seeking all along. The reason we have had such difficulty finding it was that we have been looking in the wrong place. We have been looking for something that could be experienced — a feeling, a sense, an idea. Yet the self cannot be an experience. It is, by definition, that which is experiencing. It is behind every experience, behind everything I see, think, and feel.

What the mystical traditions around the world seem to be saying is that the self, that sense of I-ness that we all feel, but which is so hard to pin down or define, is actually consciousness itself. The pure self is pure consciousness — the faculty of awareness common to all sentient beings.

Moreover, when we come to know this to be our true essential nature, our search for identity ends. No longer is there any need to buy things we don’t really need, say things we don’t really mean, or engage in any other unnecessary and inappropriate activities in order to reinforce an artificially derived sense of self. Now we discover a deeper inner security, one that is independent of circumstances and events. Here is the peace we have long been seeking. It is right here inside us, at the heart of our being. But as with the self, we have been looking for it in the wrong place — in the world around.

Our Evolutionary Imperative

With the advent of human beings, the awakening of consciousness took a huge leap forward. Consciousness began becoming aware of itself. But at present this leap is only partially complete. We may be self-aware, but we have not yet discovered the true nature and potential of consciousness. In this respect our inner evolution has some way to go.

Throughout history there have been those who have evolved inwardly to higher states of consciousness. They are the saints and mystics who have realized the true nature of the self. Such people are examples of what we each have the potential to become. There is nothing special about them in terms of their biology. They are human beings, just like you and me, with similar bodies and similar nervous systems. The only difference is that they have liberated themselves from a limited, artificially derived sense of identity and discovered a greater peace and security within.

In the past the number of people who made this step was small, but the times we are living through make it imperative that many more of us now complete our inner evolutionary journey into full wakefulness.

The many crises that we see around us — global warming, desertification, holes in the ozone layer, disappearing rainforests, polluted rivers, acid rain, dying dolphins, large-scale famine, a widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” nuclear proliferation, over-exploitation, and a host of other dangers — all stem in one way or another from human self-centeredness. Time and again we find decisions being made not according to the merits of the situation at hand, but according to the needs of the individual or special interest groups. Governments strive to hold on to power, businesses seek to maximize profit, leaders want to retain their status, and consumers around the world try to satisfy their own needs for identity and security. In the final analysis, it is our need to protect and reinforce an ever-faltering sense of self that leads us to consume more than we need, pollute the world around, abuse other peoples, and show a careless disregard for the many other species sharing our planetary home.

Even now, when we recognize that we are in great danger, we fail to take appropriate remedial action. We continue driving our cars, consuming dwindling resources, and throwing our waste into the sea because to do otherwise would inconvenience ourselves.

The global crisis now facing us is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness. The essence of any crisis, whether it be a personal crisis, a political crisis, or, as in this case, a global crisis, is that the old way of functioning is no longer working. Something new is being called for. In this case the old way that is no longer working is our mode of consciousness. The old mode is destroying the world around us, and threatening the survival of our species. The time has come to evolve into a new mode. We need to wake up to our true identity, to make the step that many saints and mystics have already made, and discover for ourselves the peace and security that lie at our core.

With the advent of human beings, evolution has ceased to be a blind affair governed by random genetic mutations. A new degree of freedom has appeared; we can think ahead and determine our own future. Our further evolution is now in our own hands — or rather, in our own minds.

Our next step is to rise beyond the handicaps that came with the gift of language and discover who we really are. Then, free from the need to reinforce an artificially derived sense of identity, we will be able to act in accord with our true needs — and with the needs of others and the needs of our environment.

Relieved of unnecessary fears, we will be in a much better state to cope with the many changes that we will undoubtedly see over the coming years. Liberated from unnecessary self-centeredness, we will be free to care for each other, to offer others the love we so much want for ourselves. And we will be in a much better position to build a new world — one that is not so driven by this halfway stage in the unfolding of self-consciousness.

Our task is to manifest this change on earth, now — both for our own sakes and for the sake of every other creature.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Scorpio: Practical Thinking Versus Intense Feelings

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We are having a Full Moon in Scorpio on May 18th which will fall on the 19th for those in the Eastern part of the world. The energies of it are strongest in the days before and after, however, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle which began on May 4th/5th with a New Moon in Taurus.

This is a ‘Seasonal Blue Moon’ which is when we have 4 Full Moons in one season (instead of 3), with the 3rd one being the Blue Moon. This is the original definition of a Blue Moon with the term first being coined by the Farmer’s Almanac over 100 years ago.

We have been in Taurus season since April 20th and this Full Moon occurs in the last 2.5 days of it before the Sun enters Gemini. Taurus is about practicality, thoroughness, food, beauty, and nature. It enjoys sensual pleasures and is a grounded energy. As a ‘Fixed Earth’ sign, it is like a rock, and is the most invested in the physical/material world in comparison to the rest of the signs. It can also be slow, rigid, and lazy.

This Full Moon is in its opposite sign of Scorpio, triggering a push-pull or integration effect between both of these signs. Scorpio is deep, complex, passionate, intuitive, driven, powerful, calculated, observant, primal, regenerating, transformational, mysterious, intense, desiring, and sexual. It is associated with fears, shadows, death, secrets, and the extremes of Love and Hate. Scorpio energy can also be controlling, obsessive, jealous, aggressive, vengeful, and manipulative.

Both signs are associated with money, resources, values, and worth; with Taurus’ expression of these things being more ‘self-oriented’ and Scorpio being more ‘relationship/shared oriented.’ Scorpio is associated with taxes, debt, credit, investments, inheritance, which all include more then one party to be involved. Both signs also share qualities of being loyal, stubborn, and possessive.

Full Moon Opposite Sun and Mercury Aligned With Algol

This Moon opposes Mercury hours prior to peak of it being Full. We may feel a conflict or a push-pull between our thoughts and feelings, or between our minds and intuition. This can can also manifest in our relations with others in which one person or party is perceiving things mentally and the other emotionally.

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The potential intensity of the Scorpio moon can also reflect verbal conflicts with this configuration. Similarly, to the themes of Taurus-Scorpio opposition mentioned above, it’s wise to try to integrate or collaborate between these two sides of the mind and emotional instincts/needs.

The Sun and Mercury are close to the fixed star ‘Algol’ which has some similar themes as the sign of Scorpio such as passion and intensity. The most positive quality of Algol is that it is a highly creative star. It is also associated with rage, hysteria, and the expression of shadows. Throughout history there sometimes has been catastrophes and significant war related developments during major planetary alignments with Algol.

Mercury Superior Conjunction on May 21st

On May 21st Mercury makes its exact conjunction with Sun in what is called the ‘Superior Conjunction’. This is sort of like the peak of the Mercury cycle which has been building up since its last conjunction in March during the previous retrograde.

Mercury will be initiating its next phase in which it travels ahead of the Sun over the next month and a half. We are transitioning into a period where we can have greater clarity regarding certain issues that have been playing out or seeded since March.

In comparison to these last few months, our minds can be more aligned with our true needs and self-expression from May 21st onward. During this next phase, we can better implement our ideas and whatever we have been thinking about with greater confidence and direction. Some people may notice some significant developments during this day or the days surrounding it.

It is occurring right at the beginning of Gemini which could emphasize potential beginnings that it may bring to certain people. It may be connected to both Gemini and Pisces themes such as communication, writing, taking a multifaceted approach, learning, adaptability, creativity, spirituality, empathy, and compassion.

Mars in Cancer is Out Of Bounds, Sextile Uranus, and Square Chiron

Mars, the traditional ruler of Scorpio, has recently entered Cancer and will stay there until July 1st/2nd. Although this isn’t something that we may notice very strongly, Mars in Cancer (in comparison to other signs) can make our actions more fuelled by our emotions and sensitivity. We can be more protective, defensive, less directly assertive and more passive aggressive.

In late April, Mars went ‘Out of Bounds’. This is when a planet travels outside of the boundaries in which it usually orbits from our Earth based perspective. It will stay like that until mid-June. This energy is about doing things differently and taking an unusual approach outside of conventional norms. This is good for exploring new territory and tapping into originality.

Mars is moving towards a sextile with Uranus which is strongest from May 21st-23rd. Although this energy is short term, it has similarities to being ‘Out of Bounds’ and can trigger some of the themes mentioned above. This is great for trying new things. We may want to take an unconventional, innovative, liberating, or technological approach to something. It could be good for making positive changes and in some cases we may experience pleasant surprises.

Mars is also moving towards a square with Chiron which is strongest from May 22nd-24th and overlaps with the energy mentioned above. At best, this can be good for taking action towards healing and personal growth. It can support the Mars-Uranus and ‘Out of Bounds’ influence in helping us to do things in a different way. However, this energy can also trigger issues or wounds connected to anger, aggression, or sexuality.

Venus in Taurus Conjunct Uranus

Venus, the ruler of Taurus, recently entered its home sign of Taurus where it will stay until June 8th/9th. Just like Mars in Cancer, this isn’t something that we will notice strongly. Venus in Taurus (in comparison to other signs) can make us seek pleasure more so around stimulating the senses, material things, luxury, and food/substances. We may value quality and practicality more so than usual.

Venus makes an exact conjunction with Uranus hours before the Full Moon, however it may have even been a bit noticeable in the few days prior. This energy can be exciting, stimulating or surprising either socially or romantically or we may meet people who are interesting and unique.

We may be more drawn to, or participate in, unusual or fun experiences or do something that makes us feel free and liberated. We may want to make aesthetic changes to something and this can even be good for expressing creative energy in new ways.

There may be some surprising developments around money and resources which can be positive or negative. In some cases, there can also be a shift around certain values or how we value something. This energy can also reflect instability, disruption, rebellion, or a sudden change in our relations, financially, and can even happen in other ways not related to Venus.

Things To Consider At This Time

What are your feelings telling you at this time and do they conflict with your mind? How can you integrate deep or complex feelings with practical or rational consideration? Do you need to make any changes around values or finances? What are your true desires?

Do you need to take a different approach or shake things up in your social relationships or love life? Do you feel like you need to take a chance and apply yourself in a new or unconventional way? Is there anything that you can be doing that can potentially help you to feel more liberated? Does anything need to be purged or transformed?

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 the night of May 18th at 9:11pm Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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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. 

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Consciousness

Scientists Find That Six In Ten Grieving People ‘See or Hear Dead Loved Ones’

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    University of Milan found that there is a "very high prevalence" of people who have experience with receiving messages from their deceased loved ones, like seeing or hearing them.

  • Reflect On:

    Does consciousness exist outside of the body? Is biology necessary for for consciousness to thrive?

What happens when we ‘die?’ We can’t quite answer that question, but we can perhaps say that something indeed does happen. The evidence for reincarnation, for example, is quite unbelievable. There have been a number of cases of children who clearly remember their past lives, describing in detail their previous family members as well as how they died and other factors that have been confirmed by their supposed past families. This is precisely why Carl Sagan said that reincarnation is worthy of “serious scientific study.” Other near death studies have suggested that consciousness does not depend on our biology, as those who are close to death or pronounced dead and then come back to life have told tales and described details about their surroundings at the time that would have been impossible had they not been ‘outside’ of their bodies. This information was presented to the United Nations, and you can read more about that here and watch the full video presentation.  

There could be multiple things that happen when one passes away. Perhaps their soul can go multiple routes, as if it has a choice? Perhaps consciousness is something separate from the soul? Perhaps bits and pieces of our consciousness stick around while our soul goes off to a new experience? Who knows, but again, the evidence suggesting something does indeed happen is pretty interesting to say the least.

A study conducted a couple of years ago added to the mystery, as researchers from the University of Milan found that there is a “very high prevalence” of people who have experience with receiving messages from their deceased loves one, like seeing or hearing them. The study, however, labels these as “post-bereavement hallucinatory experiences,” and the researchers don’t seem to be open to the idea that these experiences could actually be real.

Through their work, they believe that 30 to 60 percent of people experience this type of thing, or at least widowed subjects.

They published their findings in the Journal of Affective Disorders. 

Jacqueline Hayes, an academic at the University of Roehampton, has studied the phenomenon for a long time. She’s been interviewing people from across the UK who have lost spouses, parents, children, siblings and friends. She told the Daily Mail: “People report visions, voices, tactile sensations, smells, and something that we call a sense of presence that is not necessarily related to any of the five senses. I found that these experiences could at times be healing and transformative, for example hearing your loved one apologise to you for something that happened – and at other times foreground the loss and grief in a painful way.”

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The report follows research from the University of Southampton, which suggested there might be such thing as life after death. That study, published in 2014, found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after clinical death, which was previously thought impossible.

Russel Targ, a renowned physicist and co-founder of the US government/Stanford remote viewing STARGATE project also shared an interesting experience he had with his deceased daughter. During a formal meeting with other people that he was not involved in, his daughter asked one of those people to give a message to her father, Russel. This is one experience he had that convinced him that consciousness does indeed survive after death. He expressed this in an interview with UFO researcher Richard Dolan. You can watch that here in its entirety.

The scientific investigation of mediumship actually started approximately 150 years ago. Members of the British and American Societies for Psychical Research studied it heavily, which involved many prominent physiologists, psychologists and scientists.

Over the past few years, scientific research on mediumship has gained more popularity too. This could be due to the fact that recent research has confirmed that mediumship is not associated with conventional dissociated experiences, psychosis, dysfunction, pathology or over-active imaginations. (source)  In fact, a large percentage of mediums have been found to be high functioning individuals. (source)

“Most prior research on this phenomenon has focused on whether mediums can genuinely report accurate information under blinded conditions, and whether their personalities deviate in significant ways from population norms. But little is known about their physiological and electrocortical processes. Scientists have long proposed and used electroencephalography to study mediums in trance (deeply dissociated) states (Prince, 1968Mesulan, 1981Hughes and Melville, 1990Oohashi et al., 2002Hageman et al., 2010), but to our knowledge mental mediums who do not experience trance states have not been studied using these techniques.”

A team of researchers, including scientists from the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), published the very first paper on mediumship in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology in 2013. (source)

Paul Mills at the University of California, San Diego, Julie Beischel and Mark Boccuzzi at the Windbridge Institute, and Arnaud Delorme, Dean Radin and Leena Michel from IONS teamed up to design and conduct a study to collect psychometric and brain electrophysiology data from six individuals. They had all previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions, and did so again in this study. Correlations between the accuracy of mediums’ statements and their brain electrical activity were examined, and the differences in brain activity were studied when they intentionally evoked four subjective states: perception, recollection, fabrication, and communication.

Each participant performed two tasks with their eyes closed. In the first one, the participant was given only the first name of a deceased person, and was then asked 25 questions about them. After each question, the participant was asked to quietly perceive information that was relevant to the question for 20 seconds and then respond verbally. Each response was recorded and then scored for accuracy by individuals who knew the deceased people.

Out of the 4 mediums, the accuracy of 3 of them was significantly above chance, and the correlation between accuracy and brain activity during the 20 seconds of supposed communication with the dead was outstanding. Researchers discovered that brain activity during the 20 seconds of silent mediumship communication was significant in the frontal theta for one participant.

These results (and researchers) don’t point to this as definitive proof of mental communication with the deceased, but the accuracy ratings in the tasks and the unique brain activity measured in the second activity certainly call for further scientific inquiry into this under-studied phenomenon.

The Takeaway

The idea that consciousness exists beyond the physical realm is still greeted with harsh skepticism, but with all of the interesting evidence out there, this shouldn’t be the case. It should actually be studied further with an open mind, but the fact remains that no matter how strong and plausible the evidence is for something, if it upsets and disrupts the current accepted framework of knowledge, it will often be greeted with harsh opposition and ridicule. Countless amounts of ‘sane’ people have had experiences that suggest to them that their loved ones aren’t really ‘gone,’ but are simply in another place, so why do we assume that these are only hallucinations? Why do we instantly jump to that conclusion instead of actually entertaining the idea that there is indeed some sort of life after death, regardless of the fact that we may not be able to fully understand it yet?

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Consciousness

New Moon In Taurus: Being Innovative and Practical

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We are having a New Moon in Taurus on May 4th and 5th, depending on where you are located in the world. This is initiating a 29.5-day Lunar cycle and a new wave of energy for the coming month, however, its energy will be strongest over the following 2 weeks. This cycle will peak at the Full Moon in Scorpio on May 18th.

This New Moon occurs during Beltane which is the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It has been traditionally celebrated by the Celtic people and has been adopted by Pagans and others over the years. It is more widely celebrated on May 1st, however the actual halfway point of Spring occurs on May 4th-5th when the Sun is at 14-15 degrees of Taurus.

Beltane is a celebration of the peak of Spring season, the increasing light of the Sun, and a potently fertile period ushering in new life. The Celtics perceived it as the beginning of Summer when dividing the year into two halves instead of four quarters. Since it originates in the Northern Hemisphere, it does not make sense for those in the South to observe it in the same way due to the seasons being reversed.

New Moon In Taurus With Uranus In The Same Sign

Taurus season began on April 20th, however, this New Moon helps to kickstart it even more so. This sign is about values, worth, the material world, sensuality, money, food/substances, security, beauty, and nature.

As an Earth sign, it is physical, practical, and realistic. Taurus is thorough and also likes stability and routine. It is short like a rock; slow, grounded, and solid. Negatively, Taurus can be too rigid, lazy, habitual, greedy, possessive, stubborn, materialistic, and very slow.

This is the first New Moon in Taurus with Uranus in the same sign as the Moon made a conjunction with it prior to the new cycle beginning. Last year’s New Moon in Taurus occurred hours before Uranus entered this sign.

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For the next seven years, we are going through a period of revolutionizing values and this lunar cycle could trigger that energy. Uranus’ energy can also manifest in other ways as well this month. We may want to try new things, express ourselves differently, be innovative, experience surprises, liberate ourselves from something, embrace technological developments, or potentially be rebellious.

New Moon Trine Saturn and Pluto Near The South Node, Sextile Neptune

Saturn recently went retrograde 5 days prior while aligned with the South Node in Capricorn and Pluto close by. Over the last month, we could of felt a need to purge, release, or end certain things in our lives that could be holding us back. It can be connected to our social lives, physical possessions, detoxification, career/ambitions, desires, jealousy, issues around power dynamics, or in other ways as well.

In recent weeks, Saturnian themes have been strong. We can be dealing with limitations, obstacles, restrictions, or perhaps issues around boundaries. We may feel a need to make changes around the responsibilities, commitments, and structures in our lives. Things that were initiated in the past could come up that may require our attention.

Ultimately this process is also about bringing endings to these things which can be connected to some of the other themes mentioned. Saturn will be traveling near the South Node until early October which is when this energy concludes.  However its themes will also be strong during early Summer. ⁣⠀

This New Moon is making a trine to this energy and therefore it should be less heavy and more harmonious towards making constructive change to some of these themes mentioned. It can be easier to fix or somehow deal with issues, dynamics, or behaviors connected to the past that are not serving us. Alternatively, we can also see projects, ambitions, commitments, or responsibilities surface (or resurface) now to help us with the process of making necessary changes over the coming months.

This New Moon is in a sextile with Neptune in Pisces in which for some people may be tied in to the energy mentioned above. This can be great for spirituality, creativity, healing, or relaxing and sensual activities oriented around self care. It can be inspiring, selfless, and compassionate. alternatively, it can also be about grounding our dreams, ideals, or imagination into reality.

Venus Square Saturn, Pluto, The Nodes and Trine Jupiter

The ruler of Taurus, Venus, is in Aries forming a hard aspect to Saturn and the Lunar Nodes which is strongest from May 6th-7th. We may need to shift something or get realistic around issues pertaining to Venus themes such as love, friendships, social circles, values, aesthetics, pleasures, or money. We can experience some complications that ultimately push us to make necessary changes and we can potentially experience some sort of turning point around these issues.

On May 9th, Venus will square Pluto and Trine Jupiter in Sagittarius. This can have some similar themes as May 6th-7th, however, it can be easier and have an expansive tone when it comes to the Venus themes mentioned.

It can be good for learning, understanding others, relationship growth, making new social connections, travel, creative marketing, and perhaps positive developments around money, possessions, or values. In some cases, there can also be power struggles. You may start to notice this energy build up in the days leading up to it.

Mars Opposite Jupiter, Mercury Conjunct Uranus

Mars in Gemini is opposing Jupiter in Sagittarius which is strongest from May 4th-6th. We can easily overextend ourselves, try to take on more than we can handle, and be scattered with our physical energy. Our efforts can cover a large or broad area but we can lack addressing the details.

This can also manifest as conflicts around beliefs, opinions, perspectives, and judgements. Alternatively, this energy can also be good for applying ourselves towards our visions or anything explorative.

Mercury will enter Taurus and form a conjunction with Uranus which is strongest from May 7th-8th. We can be more inventive, innovative, and intuitive at this time. Information, thoughts, or communications can be stimulating, exciting, progressive, and potentially change the way we think about something. In some cases their can also be some sort of liberation, sudden change, or disruption. It can also be harder to focus during this time.

Making Intentions and Things To Consider

What can you do to be more practical? What areas of your life are calling for a realistic, disciplined, grounded, or thorough  approach? Where can you make constructive change? What limitations in your life do you need to address? What do you need to let go of? What aspects of your past do you need to sort out? What are your true values? What do you need to change when it comes to matters of love, social dynamics, or finances? How can you grow in your relationships?

These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time; however, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment of it will be occurring between 10:45-10:46pm Universal Time on May 4th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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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. 

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