Tag Archives: United States

Rupert Sheldrake talks about “Science Set Free” (USA) / “The Science Delusion” (UK)

Yes, I know I said I was going into retreat for the rest of August!

But from the said retreat, lurking behind the sofa with a laptop, I found this short video of scientist Rupert Sheldrake talking about his new book

“Science Set Free” (USA) / “The Science Delusion” (UK)

and thought some of my followers might like to take a look.

As those of you dropping by here will know by now, I am as interested in science as I am in esoteric topics – and what I most admire in scientists apart from breadth and depth of knowledge is: open-mindedness, and generosity towards those with whom they may disagree. Rupert Sheldrake is one of those.

What I most dislike is dogmatic dismissal of others’ theoretical positions, knowledge bases or viewpoints, especially if that dismissal is rooted in ignorance of the body of knowledge or subject area which is being dismissed.

Astrologers know all about this!

I’ve now read and very much enjoyed “The Science Delusion” and would highly recommend it. Whom better than the author himself to let you know what it’s about?




200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2012

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page



Someone was having a bad day….

Do you make a point of binning Forwards on principle? I usually do, but my husband sent me this one the other day and insisted that I read it,  on the grounds that I was such a stroppy anti-authority person that it would be balm to my soul, grist to my mill, etc. And believe it or not, dear Reader, it truly is! Dedicated to all stroppy folk everywhere, check out this letter supposedly sent recently to the UK Passport Office….

Dear Sirs,

I’m in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.. How is it that Sky Television has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a bleeding satellite dish from them back in 1977, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was bloody born and on what date.

For goodness sake, do you guys do this by hand? My birth date you have on my pension book, and it is on all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30 years. It is on my National Health card, my driving license, my car insurance, on the last eight damn passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the plane over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother’s name is Mary Anne, my father’s name is Robert and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and when I die!!!!!!

I apologise, I’m really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I’ve had enough of this bullshit! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address!!!!

What is going on? Do you have a gang of neanderthal illiterates working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to dig up Yasser Arafat, for Gods sake. I just want to go and park my backside on some sandy beach somewhere. And would someone please tell me, why would you care a damn whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe you me, you’d be the last bloody people I’d want to tell !!

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to the other end of the poxy city to get yet another copy of my birth certificate, to the tune of £30. Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day?? Nooooooooooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, then have to find some moron to confirm that it’s really me on the damn picture – you know, the one where we’re not allowed to smile?! (bureaucratic  idiots) Hey, do you know why we couldn’t smile if we wanted to? Because we’re totally pissed off!


An Irate Subject

ps (from Anne W) I don’t know where this originated, but if the reader recognises it could they let me know and I will happily credit it.

550 words copyright Anne Whitaker/An Irate Subject 2012
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


This is the latest post from one of my favourite blogs,” Heroes Not Zombies “, which anyone out there interested in healing in the broadest sense will enjoy browsing – there is much to learn, and upon which to reflect….including a review of Rupert Sheldrake‘s latest book “The Science Delusion” which I am currently reading with great pleasure….

Heroes Not Zombies

When you stop to think about it, there’s an awful lot going on inside your brain that’s nothing to do with thinking. Well, when I say nothing to do with thinking, I don’t exactly mean that….after all, everything is connected to everything else in there. What I mean is that conscious thought and reasoning is only a small part of the function of the brain and the mind. Some of that is about sensory and motor function – your brain processes a lot of signals from the sensory nerves and a lot of those signals don’t make it as far as conscious awareness. Your brain also processes a lot of the muscle activity of your body…everything from voluntary movements eg picking up a pencil….to involuntary effects like heart rate and rhythm.

One interesting aspect of what goes on in the mind is emotions – by “mind” I do not mean…

View original post 496 more words

Homage to an ancient postmodernist….

……who displayed an attractive humility which is very evident by its absence in certain contemporary discourses, especially in the realms of eg science, and of religion…..

“The gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
All things to us, but in the course of time
Through seeking we may learn and know things better.
But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
Nor shall he know it,neither of the gods
Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
For even if by chance he were to utter
The final truth, he would himself not know it:
For all is but a woven web of guesses”

 Xenophanes (c. 570-475 BC)




My Really Big “Why?”

In my view, we all need to be humble in measuring what little we actually know against the vastness of what we contemplate. We need all the help we can get in our attempts to make sense of a vastness which a great and respected scientist has not long ago admitted may be beyond our comprehension. (He could be wrong, of course!) We need to co-operate with one another, as we all go about honing and sharpening the particular lenses through which we look out at mystery.

We need the perspectives of rationalist, reductionist science. But we also need the perspectives of those non-rational dimensions of the ceaseless human journey towards understanding where we came from, why we are here, and what, if anything, it all means. The great myths, the great religions, the arts – all these also give us a partial glimpse of  The Big Why.

So my Really Big Why is this:

WHY can we not learn to respect each other’s different lenses/disciplines, instead of – as so often happens – descending irrationally to the primitive level of the tribal carnivores from which we have slowly evolved over the last 100,000 years, and taking up fundamentalist, tribal positions – in which the futile attempt to declare only one lens right and all others wrong, is doomed forever to utter failure?

An example of a body of knowledge which seems to attract such fundamentalist irrationality is the great and ancient art and science of astrology.

It has combined those realms of logos (reason) and mythos (imagination, story-telling, creating of metaphors which help us to live with our deep flaws as humans, as well as celebrating our wonderful creativity) for at least six thousand years, since, in Arthur Koestler’s vivid words from The Sleepwalkers”:

“Six thousand years ago, when the human mind  was still half asleep, Chaldean priests were standing on their watchtowers, scanning the stars.”

So I found it most refreshing, as a life-long appreciator of the wonders of science, to have read Lord Rees’ admission that we may never be able to decode the universe. But let’s pool all our knowledge, shall we, on both sides of the current mythos/logos divide, to enable us to  concentrate on what unites us – rather than what divides us.

Reaching for the Moon....

Please note: comments on this post are welcome, but abuse and ranting have no place on this site and any such comments will be deleted.


400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2011
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

“Soul is about your friends” : an encounter with writer and therapist Thomas Moore

That  brilliant Canadian writer Margaret Atwood was quoted some time ago ( in the UK’s Guardian newspaper) as remarking drily that  “wanting to meet a writer because you like their books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pate”.

Bearing this in mind, I very tentatively approached the USA writer Thomas Moore (whose books I like….), who was giving an evening lecture in Glasgow recently on the topic of “Care of the Soul in Medicine”, his latest book. Having read and appreciated two of his other books, “Care of the Soul” and “The Soul’s Religion”, I wanted to ask him whether  an astrological perspective was part of  his broad and deep influences, rooted as they are in his studies of the world’s religions, his teaching of Jungian psychology and art therapy, and his work in music and art, as well as his practice as a therapist practising ‘care of the soul’. I suspected that it had  – which he confirmed, having in fact written another book called “The Planets Within” which I have not yet read.

I found meeting Thomas refreshing and cheering – found him humorous, laid back, wearing his erudition lightly. His very informal “lecture”, very much open to audience participation, was timeous in its theme: the importance of healing the whole person, rather than simply treating the body, within the health care system. Timeous because of revelations in the UK press, in the very week of his talk,  concerning the lack of compassion and due attention paid to individuals’ emotional needs and their dignity in too many instances in too many hospitals.

These revelations caused shock and much impassioned discussion and comment in the UK, which really values the NHS, appreciating all the good work and quality care which is also provided by hard-pressed nurses and doctors in a system increasingly squeezed by financial constraints and driven by mechanistic targets and bureaucratic box-ticking – all dehumanising.

Thomas made many important points, leaving us with much food for thought. He emphasised – as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus had done thousands of years ago – the mysterious, fathomless depth of the human soul, observing that in both his life and his work “I like to honour the mystery”.

Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse

Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse


He pointed out that there are various simple but profound ways to nourish the soul: the key, it seems, if you distil the essence of several thousand years of cross-cultural wisdom, is friendship. “Soul is about your friends”.

He made the point that friendship can range from a twenty-second friendly exchange, eg with the man or woman looking after the toilets in the local park (my example), to deep relationships that stretch over decades. He would like to see much more of this general friendliness across the whole of our society, including between “patients” and “professionals”. His view is that one does not have to set aside necessary professional boundaries in order to have this kind of exchange, and that professionals being less guarded and more open to the common humanity which links us all, could make eg the relationship between eg “patient” and “carer” much more nurturing on both sides.

He also stressed the importance to us all of a sense of being in the right place, of feeling that where we live is “home”. (Apparently the origin of the word “home” is “I am”) Soul nurturing also lies in the deep pleasures of “ordinary” life – cooking, shared meals, music, connection with Nature – and in  his case, window shopping!

I went along to Thomas Moore’s lecture with my friend and colleague, psychology researcher Emily Cutts. We left – having met and chatted with several old friends and acquaintances who were also there – feeling cheered, refreshed and uplifted. Judging by the snatches of conversation around us, and the general atmosphere of the departing audience, it was a view shared. Thomas, haste ye back!