Category Archives: 04 – New Posts: October 2012 onwards

Certainty versus mystery: where do you stand?

As anyone with even half a braincell tuned into current affairs will know, we are living in an era where humans seem to need the strong seasoning of certainty even more than ever.

Militant atheism seems hell bent (pardon the expression, a tad inappropriate in this context, eh what?!) on ramming down our collective throats their conviction that religion is pernicious rubbish. And militant religious fanatics have been turning to their usual tools, honed to a fine art  over many bloodsoaked centuries, of persecution and/or slaughter in the name of whatever faith they aver is ‘the one and only truth’.

When I grow angry, and weary of those pointless, destructive posturings, I turn to one of my enduringly favourite quotations for perspective and comfort, from the scientist David Eagleman  :

” But when we reach the end of the pier of everything we know, we find that it only takes us part of the way. Beyond that all we see is uncharted water. Past the end of the pier lies all the mystery about our deeply strange existence: the equivalence of mass and energy, dark matter, multiple spatial dimensions, how to build consciousness, and the big questions of meaning and existence….good scientists are comfortable holding many possibilities at once, rather than committing to a particular story over others. In light of this, I have found myself surprised by the amount of certainty out there….”

Northern Lights Treshnish Isles

Northern Lights Treshnish Isles

200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/David Eagleman 2013
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Not ANOTHER big bad comet! Here comes “ISON”….

Comets have inspired dread, fear, and awe in many different cultures and societies around the world and throughout time. They have been branded with such titles as “the Harbinger of Doom“ and “the Menace of the Universe.”

They have been regarded both as omens of disaster and messengers of the gods. Why is it that comets are some of the most feared and venerated objects in the night sky? Why did so many cultures cringe at the sight of a comet? 

To reflect on these and other questions concerning comets, check out

http://astrologyquestionsandanswers.com/2013/11/09/whos-afraid-of-the-big-bad-comet-answering-mems-question/

Comet Halle-Bop

Comet Halle-Bop

100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Even sceptics see ghosts !

Samhain Blessings!

Samhain Blessings!

Have you ever seen a ghost? Even when you did not believe in them? I would be interested to hear your stories as we enter the time when the ‘veil between the worlds’ is supposedly thin….here is my story….do leave yours as a comment on this post. 

An imaginative child, I found going upstairs to bed scary most nights, having probably heard too many ghost stories as I grew up in the storm-tossed Outer Hebrides – home to many a Celtic tale of the otherworld of the supernatural. 

There was the woman wrapped in plaid who jostled my maternal grandfather in the winter dark as he traversed the remote, eerie Uig Glen. There was my maternal great-grandmother’s hearing the wheels of lorries rumbling through her remote village toward a deserted headland – many years before they actually came, bearing the materials to build an RAF station there. There was at least one ghost car. There were the shades of the dead appearing to those few in possession of the Sight – sure harbingers of imminent family death. There were ghostly lights luring sailors to their deaths in stormy seas. More has been forgotten than I could ever now recall.

Fortunately for me, vivid imagination has always sat in tandem with a strongly empirical streak. So I was a true sceptic –– until the day I  saw a ghost for myself….

Perthshire, Scotland, Autumn 1977

It was the autumn of 1977. My twenties had been turbulent. Restless wandering – from one career to another, one city to another, one set of friendships to another, and one dwelling place to another – characterised the whole decade. Now, I was in a mood to settle. Time to face my dissatisfactions, rather than running away when novelty wore off and disillusion set in.

Resolution thus colouring my mood, I left Dundee in September 1977 to do my social work training at Glasgow University. Having been such a hippie in my twenties, all I owned could be fitted into several boxes and stowed in the back of my old blue Morris Traveller.

I set off to spend a night or two, en route to my new abode in Glasgow, with my boyfriend at the time who lived in the scenic market town of Perth, half way between Dundee and Glasgow. The Dundee to Perth road was mostly dual carriageway, and a distance of about twenty five miles. I drove happily through the area known as the Carse of Gowrie, which grew the best raspberries in Britain. “Pity I’m in a hurry”, I thought. “A few raspberries for supper would be nice.” It was a clear evening, around seven pm, growing dusk. There was very little traffic on the road. A few miles outside Perth, my headlights picked out a male cyclist on a racing bike, a little way ahead of me. I pulled into the overtaking lane to pass him – and he vanished.

I arrived at Peter’s flat very shaken by this experience. “I can’t believe I imagined it. What I saw was definitely a cyclist. He was as substantial on that road as you are, standing right now in your kitchen !”

Peter was quiet for a few moments. He looked thoughtful, as if trying to decide whether to say something or not. At last he told me that a young male cyclist had been killed on that stretch of road a year or so previously. This was something of which I had no knowledge. Why should his ghost appear to me?

“Firstly, because you’re so sensitive anyway. Cast your mind back to some other odd happenings which have occurred  since we’ve been together. Secondly, your life is in transition. I think at those times, normal consciousness is more porous, as it were. Impressions from other layers of ‘reality’ find it easier to seep through….”

I remember feeling quite relieved that I wouldn’t be travelling on that stretch of road for the foreseeable future….

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NOTE: this story is an extract from “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness – a sceptic’s take on paranormal experience “ which will be available as a downloadable pdf from this site shortly. If you’d like to be informed of the publication date, do send your email address to me at: info@anne-whitaker.com, titling the email “Dazzling Darkness book”.

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700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Treasure in the autumn sky….

No, I haven’t vanished from the blogosphere…. still resting my (much improved) tendonitis-afflicted wrist. However, I enjoy  emerging occasionally: this time, to share something which has lighted up my week.

I love the Northern Lights, those elusive magicians of the Northern dark. Here is a beautiful photograph sent to me last week which I have happily added to my collection. Enjoy!

Northern Lights

Northern Lights over Treshnish Isles, Scotland

(click on the image to enlarge)

….and...if you’d like to read some of my reflections on the joy and awe evoked by the Northern Lights, as well as watching a video of the most stunning Northern Lights sequence EVER, click below:

 https://anne-whitaker.com/2013/04/21/watch-this-clip-feed-your-soul/

Do treat your soul to an uplift by watching this clip. Forget the Measurers and the reductionists for a few minutes. Whatever they may do their best to tell us, there are and always will be sublimely mysterious dimensions to life for which materialist science with all its brilliance can provide only one dimension of the answer…..

200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Season of autumn, autumn of life….

I’m feeling philosophical as the autumn leaves start to fall….I feel wealthy in experience, in loving connections, in my talents, in such wisdom as I’ve managed to distil from life’s inevitable pains. My taste is to savour and treasure life’s small gifts: kicking through the first dry drifts of rich autumnal auburn, savouring my little granddaughter’s occasional impulsive loving hugs and kisses. My taste is also for taking time: to be quiet, be alone, to read, to walk in Nature, to reflect on what my life thus far has meant – and what may be to come.

You won’t find me in the gym, sweating it out with my peers whose main motivation is to keep age at bay. I’m not saving up for my first facelift. I don’t look enviously at fresh faces and taut bodies. Whilst celebrating their youth, I am glad to be no longer young.

Anne Whitaker

Anne Whitaker

In ancient times, when a woman reached menopause and began to feel the pull of death and rebirth into a new life phase, her tribe let her go free of duties for a year or so. She could wander, go deep into the forest, across the far hills, seeking solitude, time for reflection. She might gather roots and herbs only found in hidden places, to be used later. She had time to forge a deeper connection with Spirit than her busy life had previously allowed.

She would look at her lined face and grey hair in still river pools, sleep under the stars, slowly facing the fact that she was in the last phase of her life. By the time she returned she had deeply accepted the Great Round of birth, growth, maturation, decline, death and renewal. Having completed the mid life rite of passage, she was refreshed and ready to serve her tribe again.

Her experience, knowledge and wisdom was valued and recognised : healer, midwife, mentor to the young, spiritual counsellor, she had her place in her community till the day she died.

“ But this is the twenty-first century!” I hear you say. “Things are very different now.”

I wonder. Are they? It is certainly true that humans have never lived such comfortable, materially sophisticated lives as they do now, if they live in the affluent societies of the West. Within this current cultural phase, there is a powerful preoccupation with one stage of life. Youth.

It is possible because of huge advances in science, medicine and technology to delay the process of ageing. Death has come to be seen as a defeat, rather than a normal part of the whole life cycle.

From gnats to galaxies, everything is woven into the Great Round. Why should humans think themselves exempt ?

Everything passes, and we pass with it. Denial of this robs us of the opportunity to face and accept the flow of life as it is. Acceptance, which takes experience, courage, reflection, and time, can lead to happiness and spiritual peace. Denial of any kind usually trails misery in its wake.The  mid life rite of passage is presented to us all, the choice being denial or acceptance.

The latter road is slower and harder, but infinitely more rewarding in the end.

autumn

autumn

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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The sacred Isle of Iona: magical by full moon light

Last week we had a wonderfully restorative trip to the magical, mystical Isle of Iona, off the West Coast of Scotland, a place of pilgrimage for seekers from all over the world.

On the night of the full moon, I went out for a twilight stroll by the sea, from which rose an evening haar, creating a hazy filter through which the full moon glowed. I took some very atmospheric photos.Here is a moonlit image one of the spectacular High Crosses to be found on the island:

Iona Cross, Full Moon, August 21 2013

Iona Cross, Full Moon, August 21 2013

photo: Anne Whitaker

Today this ‘thin place’ offers the rare chance of escaping from nearly all of the unwelcome trappings of the twenty first century. To a great many people it is the desert island of dreams come true. Whether or not one is religious there is a spiritual peace to be found here, perhaps best reflected in the words of the composer Mendelssohn, after his visit to Iona in 1829:

“…when in some future time I shall sit in a madly crowded assembly with music and dancing round me, and the wish arises to retire into the loneliest loneliness, I shall think of Iona…”

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Can we foretell the future accurately?

Prediction has been around for a long time. Economists do it. Weather forecasters do it. Politicians do it. Physicists do it. Futurologists do it. 

Most of the foregoing direct scorn and derision at the people who have done it for longer than anyone else: astrologers.

Astrologer and Client - mediaeval style

Prediction – Mediaeval style

Read my musings on prediction, including a stunningly accurate one I was given when I neither invited nor wanted such a thing, on this week’s Mountain Astrologer Blog.