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Archive for the ‘11. Paranormally Speaking’ Category

This weekend, although we did go to T’s sister’s and his mothers, we weren’t able to go out on the 4-wheeler again into the woods for tree-spirit photos.  However, I did have an opportunity to visit an extremely enchanted tree. This was such an incredible experience – I’ve never seen anything like it, and yes… although my digital camera was absent of batteries, my iphone did a fine job of capturing the magick to be shared.

Osage Orange Tree Hundreds of years old, this tree was larger than life. It was inside of a park area and although I had no idea what we were turning in there for (other than, “Oh, you wanna see a tree?”), I spotted it as soon as the truck went through the gate. I couldn’t wait to get out for a hands-on experience with this magnificent wonder… and though I was able to catch a few precious snapshots, this tree holds many more mysteries than I was able to capture in a short visit. As quickly as I could, I made my way from truck to tree, slipped out of my flip flops, walked around the perimeter taking a few photos, then climbed on. If ever I get the chance, I’m going back… at a time when Rhythm can share the wonder, and will do a better job with photographs. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! All of these photos are from this one enchanted tree.

DragonThis is the first “face” T pointed out to me in this tree… it’s on the side of the tree you first see when approaching from the parking lot.

 He described it as a dragon’s face, pointing out its two eyes, its nostrils, and its “snarl”.

It impresses me more than I can say that I’ve found someone who can “see” the same things I see in nature. I’m used to trying to explain or justify myself (silly girl!), trying to get others to understand that there’s more to life than meets the eye… and now I’m experiencing this part of my life with someone who understands because he can see the same things I do, and I’m deeply touched that he had the insight and the desire to introduce me to this tree and its many faces.

I really wish Rhythm could have shared this with us… although I’m sure he’ll delight in the photographs. He’s got a special affinity for dragons, and I think this face in this tree would have been quite the thrill for him. That’s okay, though… there will be a next time.

I’m sure the picture would have been lots better if I’d have had a digital camera, but the iphone didn’t do a bad job at all… I’m calling this picture, “Dragon Magick”.

DinosaurThis is a neat one here, very distinct and emerging from the tree. The wood on this part was a lighter shade of brown, which really made the face stand out even more… and rather than being set in the trunk itself, this one is sort of protruding so it had a “coming at ya” appeal.

This reminds me of a dinosaur head… a vegetarian dinosaur.

He’s got a pensive look in his eye, almost as if he were questioning, “Friend or Foe?”.

Friend, of course.

Because of his supposed vegetarian status, I’m calling him “Herb”.

This next one is a turtle.

Tree Turtle

Gater, Snake, FishThis one’s what I call a “threefer” – three faces for one photograph. The most obvious, at least to me, is what looks like an alligator with its jaws open wide and preparing to clamp down. Just above the gator face, though, I can see the shape of a snake, and below the snake, a fish… it’s like this was the aquatic portion of the tree…

Then, if you look in the upper left corner of this image, there’s another face… that of an old man.

Actually, the more I look at this shot, the more I see…

 
Last but not least, here’s a shot T took of Stinkerbelle (left, standing) 
and me (baseball cap and barefoot comfort!) bonding with this tree’s energy.

Stinkerbelle and me in tree

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
2006

Pale skin; full, blood-red lips; sleek black hair; long, flowing cape over formal-wear; piercing eyes; sharpened teeth – Surely, you’d recognize a vampire if you saw one, right? We know things about them too, don’t we? We know they can’t stand daylight, that they shape-shift into bats, they have psychic powers to stun their potential victims for erotic blood-drinking, that they can be put off with garlic or a crucifix, or that we can remove their eternal un-dead status with a stake through the heart, right? Wrong. While these assumptions may be proven true in works of fiction, they have not much bearing in reality. That’s right, I said reality. Modern vampires are, in fact, a reality. However, much of what we think we know about vampires, how they live and what powers they possess, are deeply steeped in fiction and not at all true in the real world of modern vampires.

What about witches – would you know one if you saw one? Surely the green skin, wart infested nose, shaggy hair, pointed boots, cone-shaped hat, and bubbling cauldron would be clues, right? Wrong. While we all love, or at least relate to, the Halloween representation of the haggard witch, this stereotype is sadly misleading, as are the beliefs about the origins of a witch’s power coming from evil, such as devil-worship.

Grouped with vampires and witches are the infamous werewolves, humans who transform to wolves during full moons. Some say these transformations are involuntary and that they take place only after one has been attacked and bitten by another werewolf. Others suggest werewolves are nothing other than witches who use drugs, herbs, and ointments in conjunction with spells to consciously transform themselves to werewolves. But can werewolves be real in our modern world? Through mental illness, physical conditions, and other circumstances, werewolves do exist in the here and now.

Vampires, witches, and werewolves are often thought to be a form of satanic followers – evil concoctions created when a person has no morals and sells their soul to the devil in exchange for phenomenal powers beyond human reach. This is a misconception founded in fiction, stretched truths, or, with all due respect, ignorance. The truth is, there are modern vampires, witches, and werewolves intermingled with us every day and we rarely recognize them. They work at our banks, our doctors’ offices; they are postal workers, school teachers, housewives, and business men. Unlike myths and legends, these very real humans are not lurking in the shadows awaiting their prey. On the contrary, some may lurk in the shadows for fear of being discovered! Because they live unconventional lifestyles that are often ridiculed due to fear and lack of understanding, these lifestyles can be quite difficult to endure!

Abraham (Bram) Stoker did a spectacular job of romanticizing the image of vampires and shrouding the lifestyle in mystery and myth. Though Bram Stoker did his homework and began his writings based on research, his creativity played a dominant role in adding elaborate mistruths to the existence of vampires. Vampires of legend are said to be un-dead and immortal. During the supposed eternal existence of the vampire, they use their supernatural powers and prowess to entice and entrap their unsuspecting prey. Once the vampire has secured their prey, they use razor sharp teeth to pierce the neck of their victim and drain the blood and life-force. This act serves not only as food for the vampire, but also as procreation as the bite of a vampire thus transforms the victim into a vampire as well. According to the fiction tales vampires are afflicted by sunlight, sleep in coffins, can shape-shift into bats, can be repelled with garlic or a cross, and can be killed with a stake through the heart. None of these characteristics are attributed to or claimed by modern vampires.

Modern vampires can be divided into two categories, as different from one another as day and night. The first type of vampire is, indeed, a blood-drinker. The second type of vampire is known as a psychic vampire who preys on the psychic energies of their victims rather than blood.

Blood drinking vampires are nothing at all like what the fiction tales have portrayed. Not to be mistaken for “goth” lifestyles, modern blood-drinking vampires can and often do appear as normal as your next door neighbor or grocery store clerk. They are born, age, and die as every other human. They require the same nutrition as other people, and can get sick with any number of illnesses from the common cold to terminal cancer, and even AIDS. In fact, AIDS and other blood-related illnesses are a serious concern for modern blood-drinking vampires.

Modern vampires do not attack unsuspecting prey, nor do they seek to kill their “donors” or “partners”. Quite the opposite, blood-drinking vampires of this age seek permission from partners and usually consume only small amounts of blood. Because of the risks involved with blood transfers, partners in blood-drinking will often responsibly seek medical screening prior to partaking in the sharing of blood. Teeth are rarely used to make puncture wounds. Instead, a small knife is used, often by the “donor”, to make a small incision from which blood can be drawn. Many modern vampires state that there’s nothing erotic or sexual in the exchange of blood, but more that the need for blood is an overbearing physical craving. Such is the lack of romance in their lifestyle, they say, that they find it difficult, if not insulting, when others desire to be “turned” into a vampire.

Modern blood-drinking vampires, in most cases, claim absolutely no supernatural or psychic abilities. Most modern vampires will not draw attention to themselves by way of elaborate formal wardrobes or “costume” appearances. More often, true vampires are discrete with their lifestyles for fear of being misunderstood or treated abnormally. This is not to presume they are ashamed, but that they feel alienated and can experience great obstacles in personal relationships and otherwise ordinary circumstances.

Psychic vampires prey not on blood, but on energy. Unlike the permission-seeking blood-drinking vampires, psychic vampires are said to draw energy from unsuspecting victims through meditation and focused intent. To psychic vampires, not “feeding” on the energy of others can result in the same way as not eating a meal, leaving them weak and tired. Psychic vampires are much more likely to express flamboyant styles in their appearance, openly displaying their hierarchy in the “energy” food chain, which can be an intimidation tactic for unnerving potential prey.

Like the misconceptions with modern vampires, modern witches are largely misunderstood and wrongly judged based on stereotypes. Most belief systems existing before the advent of Christianity are grouped into one label: Pagan. This label is unjust because so many differing belief structures and lifestyles existed before Christianity and do not deserve to be grouped with one another. The modern conception of the word “pagan” is often associated through ignorance with devil-worship. The majority of modern witches don’t believe in the existence of Satan, or a devil. Modern witches are very connected with the natural seasons and cycles of the Earth, drawing on the Earth’s resources to increase energy, develop self-actualization, and for healing purposes.

Modern witches are attuned to the earth and its seasons; they embrace the gifts of the earth such as crystals, herbs, and the elements. Likewise, modern witches align themselves with planetary movements and lunar tides. It is the solstices and full moons in the wheel of the year celebrated by witches, traditions that have lasted since before the days of Christianity. Many of today’s mainstream holidays were originally pagan celebrations, having been absorbed and modified by Christianity in the days when Christians strove to abolish the ancient rituals.

Stories and legends may portray witches as turning people into toads or casting upon them evil spells, but these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are sometimes a few bad apples in a crop and not all generalizations apply to all people of a certain lifestyle, witches live life by the creed, “Do as ye will an’ it harm none”. Harming none is the foundation for any action taken by a modern witch. Sadly, it is the conflict between religions hundreds of years ago that spawned many of the misconceptions, fears, and stereotypes associated with witchcraft. The symbols and tools used by modern witches, when not understood by the general public, inspire unfounded negative reactions. With a little bit of research and open perspectives, many of the reservations associated with witchcraft would cease to exist.

Werewolves, perhaps, get the worst rap of these three lifestyles because being a werewolf, in modern terms, is harder to hide, more difficult to control, and is more often than not an unwanted affliction rather than a conscious choice. Why? Modern werewolves can be divided into two categories, or conditions known as Lycanthropic Disorder and Porphyria.

Lycanthropic Disorder is a mental condition in which the afflicted believes whole-heartedly that they are part wolf although there are no physical indications. In some cases, the condition is intentionally or unintentionally drug-induced, but it can occur in people who have never used drugs or alcohol and have, until the point of affliction, been considered “normal” by all standards. Unfortunately, if a person in this condition truly believes themselves to be part wolf, they can commit crimes against humanity, including their own family, in playing out their role as the hunter seeking prey. Because this is considered to be a psychological condition, medications can be effective in treating some cases of Lycanthropic Disorder.

Porphyria, unlike the mental condition of Lycanthropic Disorder, is a variety of physical conditions that can produce werewolf-like features in an otherwise normal and healthy individual. In some cases of Porphyria, excess body hair is developed in both male and female persons; fingernails can be discolored and misshapen, causing them to seem claw-like. Porphyria can also produce skin conditions in which the color of skin appears abnormal.

Many myths and legends do stem from some element of truth, but are often twisted and contorted into misconceptions and false understandings of real life experiences, lifestyles, and conditions. We cannot shun the creatives for their role in perpetuating such stereotypes and fears, but at the same time, we must accept our own responsibility in sifting fact from fiction. Living an unconventional lifestyle is difficult enough in its own right. When the public reacts to such lifestyles in harsh ways based on fear or ignorance, it can be extremely damaging to the individual who may not have a choice in the lifestyle they’re living.

Vampires, witches, and werewolves are not (in most cases) servants of the devil, nor do they feel they have a choice in who or what or how they are. It’s not always by bite or birthright that vampires, witches, and werewolves come to be. They simply discover in time that their lifestyle and needs are what most people consider “alternative”.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

America 1949: The first Emmy Awards take place, the country experiences its first television sitcom, George Orwell’s book 1984 takes the literary market by storm, Death of a Salesman hits the big screen, Frankie Laine and Bing Crosby top the music charts, the Civil Rights movement gains momentum, a US Air force crew completes the first round-the-world non-stop flight in a plane, NATO is formed, the first stored-program computer begins operation at Cambridge University, and the Cold War becomes a serious issue. We’re twenty years away from landing on the moon (assuming that really happened!) – and, oh, yeah… there’s an alleged UFO crash, involving eye-witness reports of alien bodies and a supposed government cover-up near Roswell, New Mexico. A conspiracy theory is born that will permeate the remainder of the millennium, stretching itself into the twenty-first century, dubbed The Roswell Incident.

Visit Roswell, New Mexico today and you’ll find yourself transported to a scene straight out of science fiction. The small town, once nothing more than a little known speck on a map, is now cashing in on the conspiracy, raking in an estimated $5 million per year on alien paraphernalia and propaganda. Even the fast-food chains promote alien-friendly environments. While there, you can visit an alien museum, scope out the scene of an alien autopsy, shop for alien souvenirs, or even have your photo taken with one of the little extra terrestrials – well, a replica, anyway. While the whole town is steeped in alien experience, the interesting thing to note is that the original “crash-landing” that inspired the boom didn’t even take place in Roswell, but about 75 miles away in another small town: Carona, New Mexico. Nonetheless, Roswell has staked its claim to fame and has put itself on the map as perhaps the most famous UFO site around the world.

Naturally, time has tainted the story, and hard facts are few and far between. However, the gist of it is that a Rancher by the name of William “Mac” Brazel discovered mysterious, allegedly unidentifiable wreckage somewhere between the end of June and the beginning of July of 1949. Shortly after, press releases went out with the words “flying disc”, and the military coughed up an explanation, calling the debris a weather balloon. That claim didn’t go over too smoothly.

Other witnesses made statements, and then retracted them, and the military changed its explanation once or twice as well. Some witness reports claim people saw alien bodies being carted away in body bags by the United States military. The military offered a come back by way of crash dummies being dropped from airplanes during top secret military tests. What was being carted off in body bags was claimed by military personnel to be these crash dummies, not aliens. Of course, that begs the question: Why would crash dummies be toted off in body bags? But, as with so many other questions spawned by the Roswell Incident, this one has no clearly defined answer.

Unexplained debris, conflicting stories, military involvement… bada boom, bada bing, it’s a conspiracy. Not really, though. The true conspiracy theory and popular propaganda about The Roswell Incident didn’t really take off until 1980, more than thirty years after the event, which awakened the sleeping tales and spawned UFOlogy interest. Other popular media outlets of the late seventies and early eighties helped build the momentum with popular Martian movies, sci-fi television programming, and literature.

In time, the military did come clean and admit that there were cover up attempts made at the site discovered by the rancher, however, they claimed that what was being covered up was not an alien craft, but a top secret military experiment having to do with the Cold War. Of course, once admittance of a cover up was offered, all theories were fair game, and dozens of books and articles were published promoting both sides of the story and fuelling the fires of conspiracy theories.

Whether or not alien beings crash landed on earth near Roswell, New Mexico in 1949 will likely never be a solved mystery. Too many theories have been launched, and sixty years have passed. Assuming the youngest “reliable” witness was around the age of 12, we can safely figure that most people involved in the original Roswell Incident are over the age of seventy, or in many cases, deceased. What’s curious, though, is that UFO sightings and alleged crash sites have popped up world wide for decades. What makes this one so popular and enduring?

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One of my favorite things to do is to photograph places where I think faeries may be hanging out, enchanted locations, inspiring landscapes.  Granted, I’m no photographer and I’m using a standard digital camera… but I enjoy gathering albums of faerie enchantments.  A few weeks ago, I had the honor of visiting Georgetown, Kentucky and being given a personal tour (via four-wheeler) of untouched forest area… definitely enchanted.  My host knew exactly what inspired me and had a few spots pre-determined for us to see, but was patient and gracious enough to “stop… no wait, back up… go forward… just to the left…. go that way!”

I took nearly two hundred photos that day – photos of flowers, vines, ponds, sunsets, butterflies, strange rocks, and then some.  What I found when I got home and reviewed the images stunned me.  I cannot deny that I felt the presence of beings from the Otherworld, and that some of the images were captured with intent, but many of them were magickally wonderful surprises when I viewed the pictures later.  Here are just a few…

I’m starting with one of the least prominent faces, one you have to kind of squint and look for (saving the best for last!). However, if you do look closely at the image above, you can see a profile image… a face looking rather nonchalant, as if yawning with mouth wide open and one eye open, yet seemingly unfocused. It was as if this tree spirit knew we were there and didn’t mind being seen, but he really wasn’t all that enthusiastic about the company. Perhaps we woke him from a nap!

The Narrator

I call this one “The Narrator” because he looks as though he has stories to tell. His features, at least to me, are very prominent. Unlike the sleepy profile from the image above, this face is a frontal view, eyes wide open, mouth clearly defined… looking open, as if in mid-sentence. While I cannot articulate or translate the stories I feel he’s telling because they never were audible, I do feel that in his own unique way, he shared wisdom with me. A telepathic connection, perhaps? I get the feeling that if he had been able to speak audibly, he’d have spoken poetically in a deep, grinding voice. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion from “The Narrator”, as if his mind were sharp and wise, but his heart was soft and loving.

CondemnedThis is another that I saw from a distance, squealed over, and focused on intently. The face at the bottom of the tree was crystal clear to me and instantly felt like a tortured or condemned soul. This spirit didn’t seem to be part of the tree, but bound to it, as if a punishment or a curse had been put on him. I took about fifteen shots of him, pointing out to my companion the way it looked like there was a right hand held palm out next to the face, as if to try to stop whatever magick was being worked on him. I felt the energy of this soul… but when I got the picture home on my computer and could look at it full size, I saw something more.

Here, it looks like the entire trunk of the tree is a forearm, wrist, and hand… one that is pinning the face to its place at the base of the tree… just to the right of the face I see the index finger of the “divine hand”, and to the left of the face looks like a thumb. I can’t help but wonder what this poor soul did to warrant being eternally bound in wood. Even the expression on his face appears to be fear caught in time, with his mouth open, eyes frightened, and the fingers of his hand curled forward. I had the instinctive feeling, though, that if this soul were ever set free, evil would follow.

Eye of the BeholderI’ve entitled this one, “Eye of the Beholder”. While the first few faces “felt” near human to me, this one feels much more animal… as if the eye of a dragon.

When I took the photo, I didn’t really see the “eye”, but was focused on what I called a “knot”… it captivated me and held my attention, but I didn’t see it for what it was. In retrospect, I believe that was intentional on the Spirit’s part.

This was the “watcher”, the one who wanted to see rather than be seen. Not so much curious, he feels like a guardian, watching over the goings on in his forest. He has a regal, authoritive feel to him… Looking at in now, I’m amazed at the detail in the pupil, the golden brown color of the eye, and the intensity and power behind the “glare” he’s giving.

Each of these trees had their own identity, their own energy, their own aura, if you will. It was almost as if I could sense a heirarchy amongst the trees – and in most cases, the ones that “felt” animal felt more dominant to me, stronger, more aware. Of course, I could just have an active imagination and a knack for seeing something in nothing. Then again, I could be right on my mark and have the gift of mystic vision. I guess the truth lies in the eye of the beholder.

Town CryerI call this guy “The Town Cryer”.

When I look at him, I can most certainly hear his “gasp”, utter shock that there were humans in the area.

There’s a flamboyant energy to him, an “Oh, my god, did you hear about the humans that had the audacity to walk the paths of our enchanted forest? (lip smack, eye roll)… The nerve!” He’d know every single detail and describe the events with crystal clarity, if not a few embellishments.

Want to know what’s going on in this forest? This guy has the answers… he’s the one that knows everyone’s name, who gets along, who doesn’t get along, who is stirring up trouble, or who is in the good graces of the Powers that Be.

If he could have an occupation, this guy would be the so-called journalist for a gossip mag.

I’ve referred to him as a he, but truth be known, he had both masculine and feminine energies.

The MeditatorThis one jumped right out at me. At first, I merely acknowledged, as if thinking “I’d hate to interrupt”, and I allowed my host to drive past this one, almost un-noticed. But, it got the better of me, I couldn’t help myself, so I asked if we could stop and reverse.

As soon as we’d backed up to the spot, my companion saw what I saw and merely grinned his appreciation for the magick of nature.

What’s odd about this one is that as I think about it in retrospect, I’m almost positive we reduced our voices to whispers while we were chatting during my photo-taking session. I didn’t get the feeling that this tree spirit was sleeping, but that it was much more a deep meditation, a connection to the all that is.

I saw this tree spirit as drawing in energy from a higher source, and being at great peace with the process.

I also feel as though the spirit was aware of our presence, but that she (and yes, this one is definitely a She), didn’t allow our being there to break her cosmic concentration.

MoralMuch more than a name or a voice, this image presents a moral.

I knew I HAD to photograph this, but I wasn’t sure why at the time. In fact, I didn’t even quite see it for myself when I was looking through the photos at home on my computer. It was my sixteen-year-old highly-attuned son who said, “Oh, wait… go back!”

His voice was one of awe as he pointed out what he’d seen in this image.

The tree on the left is the one with the face, almost monsterous looking. You can see jagged teeth in his open mouth, with his head tilted slightly back. However, the tree on the right represents something all together different.

The tree on the right looks like an arm… from the shoulder down, bent with elbow resting on the ground, and forearm – face up – with a hand that looks as though it’s feeding the other tree.

We’ve named this photo by the moral we see within it, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

SnoutI’ll end on a lighter note. This guy is one I call “Snout”, for obvious reasons. As mentioned above, some of these energies feel much more animal than human, or more like a combination of both (which almost doesn’t make sense considering that humans are animals!). He seemed more disgusted than anything at our presence, yet not at all aggressive. If I could describe his energy, I’d probably say he felt “stuck up”, as if he were too good to look in our direction.

As I said, I took literally hundreds of photos… some of holes in the trees, gnome mounds, flower faeries, etc. — but it was these tree spirits that demanded my attention. They didn’t have to show themselves, but I feel blessed that they did, even though some of them waited until after I was home to show their true selves.

True tree spirits, or an active imagination? Lucky shots or intentional displays of magick from an enchanted kingdom? You decide.

Life is good.

W

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

Have you ever felt like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time? Everything logical tells you that your being there is right, but internal alarms are sounding that something is out of kilter. Have you ever tried on an outfit and replied, “No, this just isn’t me” and been relieved to slip back into a wardrobe that best reflects your personality? These situations are an easy fix – you can always leave a place where you feel uncomfortable, and you can easily change your clothing. But what if these internal alarms were much more severe – what if you knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it wasn’t just the wrong place or the wrong outfit, but that you’d been born into the wrong body?

Can a penis or vagina be considered a birth defect to be corrected with surgery and hormones? Is it scientifically possible for a boy to be born into a girl’s body or vice versa? Or, are transgender persons suffering from some form of mental disorder in which they simply perceive themselves as having been born into the wrong body? Can it be that rearing can play a role in gender confusion? Are transgender persons considered gay?

We may be familiar with the stories of adults who “come out” to their spouses, employers, children, and friends when they can no longer live a life untrue to their nature. It’s one thing to announce that you’re gay, but it’s an entirely different situation when you desire to physically alter your body to transform from one gender to another. In such cases, you’re not just asking that loved ones and society accept who you choose as your partner, but you’re instead announcing to them that you are a completely different person than what they knew and loved. In a sense, it’s like death. One gender must die so the other gender can live in peace.

In adults, this may be hard for us to accept, and even harder for the transgender adult to endure, but what about when transgender confusion strikes in children?

How young is too young to define yourself as transgender? How old does a person need to be in order to confidently state they feel they’ve been born into the wrong body? Can we accept an eleven-year-old girl who lives her life as a boy, already taking hormones to stop the female cycle and enhance a male appearance? Can we understand the six-year-old who has suicidal tendencies because she feels her female body betrays her male heart and mind? Can we relate to the four year old boy who wants his penis to fall off so he can be the girl he sees himself as inside? What response is the right response by society, doctors, parents, and loved ones when a child is insistent that they were born into the wrong body? Do we accept, support, and encourage – or do we try to stop or change the “behavior” of the child?

When entering the realm of gender dysphoria (dysphoria defined as unhappiness), the questions are plenty and controversy prevails.

On her website (http://www.avitale.com), Anne Vitale Ph.D. answers some of the most difficult questions related to transgender dysphoria. In regard to whether or not gender confusion is a mental disorder she states, “Although gender dysphoria is listed in the DSM IV as Gender Identity Disorder, most mental health practitioners do not consider transsexualism to be a mental illness per se. However, due to the discrimination and prejudice they face, many transsexuals do suffer from mental health issues secondary to their GID. Some of the most common are clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety, depersonalization and substance abuse/dependence.”

If gender confusion is not a mental disorder, then what is it? Is gender dysphoria genetic? The answer is no. Parents are not responsible for passing on DNA that causes gender confusion. In addition, it is generally accepted that how a child is reared has little or no relevance on whether or not the child feels they are not of the sex they were born into. Parents, therefore, are not to be blamed for their child being born with gender dysphoria. However, there are theories suggesting that gender dysphoria is congenital – meaning a form of birth defect. It has been suggested that transgender cases actually develop during the first trimester of pregnancy in which the brain begins to develop as one sex while the body develops as the opposite sex. If this is the case, it becomes clear that gender dysphoria is not a conscious choice. No one chooses to suffer from gender confusion.

Parents are encouraged to be supportive, but not drastic in their reactions toward gender confused children because three results are possible before the child reaches adulthood. The child could grow up to be gay (yet content with their own sexual assignment); the child may grow up to seek gender reassignment surgery, or the child may outgrow the feelings associated with gender confusion as they age. Since any outcome is possible, no one can predict what the long term outcome of a gender confused child would be. Each case is different.

Those suffering from gender dysphoria do not believe themselves to be gay or lesbian. It would be natural for us, as outsiders, to assume that if a physical woman is attracted to another physical woman, there’s a lesbian nature to the relationship. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the transgender woman does not see herself as female, but as a male trapped in a female body. Forming relationships, for this reason, can be extremely difficult for gender confused persons, particularly prior to gender reassignment surgery.

Gender reassignment surgery is not an easy process. Prior to being eligible for such surgery, one must first undergo long periods of intense counseling, insuring that they’re not suffering from other influential factors such as mental illness or substance abuse, among other things. Secondly, they must live their life for one to two years as the opposite sex. For example, a male who feels he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body must live and function in society as a woman, proving that a greater quality of life is possible as a woman than as a man. This can be quite complicated prior to surgery or hormones when physical build, voice, and other contributing factors make it difficult to appear convincingly as a member of the opposite sex. If a man looks like a man dressed as a woman, he’s not nearly as likely to find social acceptance as he would be if his body and voice reflected appropriate female qualities.

Once mental stability has been established, as well as the ability to live and function as a productive member of society while appearing as the opposite sex, then hormone treatments can begin, leading ultimately to complete surgical gender reassignment. The path is neither quick nor simple. Years of struggle and probable ridicule and rejection must first be surpassed.

The legal system now supports transgender reassignment, making it possible to obtain a new birth certificate which helps avoid discrimination, as well as recognizing legal marriage following reassignment surgery, unlike the current controversy and legal battles surrounding the rights for gays and lesbians to marry.

Psychology, science, and law all seem to support, in part, the concept that gender confusion is not a mental illness or a lifestyle lived by choice, but can be described as a birth defect with no known cause or cure. Is this truly a “defect”, or is it possible for a soul to be born into the wrong body? What’s your opinion?

Sources Used:

http://www.avitale.com

Supporting Families

An Oprah Article

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Written by:
Wendi Friend 

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re falling and just as you are about to hit the ground, you wake up in your bed, your body poised for landing? Or perhaps you felt as though you were landing back into your own body? You’re not quite lying down, and not quite sitting up, but somewhere in mid “crunch” as if a great blow had been delivered to your abdomen. Have you ever had a dream that felt so real you swore it had to be – where you were simultaneously an observer and an unseen participant? What about dreams that carry you into the past and re-paint events so crystal clear that even the scents and sounds convince you that you’ve traveled back in time to the very moment? If you’ve ever had such dreams, there’s a good chance you’ve delved into the astral realm, knowingly, or in many cases, unknowingly.

My brother used to tell me stories about how he’d get up in the middle of the night to get a drink. This is back when we were kids. He’d climb down from his bunk bed carefully and quietly as not to disturb the sleeping body of our little brother on the bottom bunk. He’d tiptoe down the hallway, taking care to not alert the grown ups he was awake. But something would stop him before he ever reached his glass of water. Something drew his attention to himself, asking him why he didn’t open his bedroom door before going into the hallway, or why he couldn’t feel his feet planted firmly on the old shag carpet.

Looking down, he realized his feet were not on the ground. Looking behind him he became aware that the bedroom door had never been opened – and yet, somehow, there he was – in the middle of the hallway, no longer aware he’d been thirsty. The moment he became aware that he was “ghostly” he panicked, rushing back toward his room. Not knowing how he did it, he returned through the closed door to find his body sound asleep in the top bunk where he’d left it. Then, he felt a magnetic pull, or a strange “suction” sensation, and the reunion between body and soul took place.

Quite frankly, I thought he was pulling my leg, choking my chain, busting my chops to scare me since that had been of his favorite childhood pastimes. But, alas, another experience would force me to come to terms with the fact that there may be an inkling of truth in his tall, intricately woven tales.

In childhood, I shared a room with my older sister. Our beds were located parallel on opposite ends of the room – mine on the left, hers on the right, but we slept in opposite positions – my head nearest the windows, hers nearest the door. I think I was around the age of twelve or thirteen at the time. Late one night, I woke up with the feeling of someone watching me.

Rubbing my eyes to adjust to the darkness, I looked toward my sister’s bed, and there she was – sitting upright, her posture graceful, spine perfectly straight, hands resting in her lap. She looked like she was concentrating hard on something, but she wasn’t looking at me. In the dark, I studied her for a moment, and then began seeing a few peculiarities.

First, I noticed her nightgown. This was not the same set of pajamas she’d gone to sleep in and, to my recollection, was not a nightgown she owned. I’d never seen it before. Next, I noticed the length and style of her hair. My sister’s hair was always worn long – often what my mom would describe as “stringy” when it went uncombed for more than two hours. But now, her hair was cropped at shoulder length – shiny, well groomed — full of volume – and even more strange, bound with a blue silk ribbon that tied in a bow just above the bangs. My sister wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a blue silk bow in her hair, I said to myself. Then the thought frightened me – if this wasn’t my sister, who was it? And if it was my sister, was she dead?

Taking a chance, I whispered her name into the dark. She heard me. Slowly, almost eerily, she cricked her neck to look in my direction. Eye contact was made and she issued a grin that I couldn’t begin to describe and have never seen since. Without a word, she began to recline, and that’s when I saw the second version of her, the version I’d grown up with, lying asleep in the bed. Once the two parts had fully merged, my sister’s body sprang to life and she said, “Did you call me?”

My father, a man we’d never known in childhood, was able to clarify much for me once I’d grown to adulthood and met him for the first time. By this time, I had my first child who was nearing a year old and learning to utter small words. My father had arranged to visit my apartment in Las Vegas and was looking forward to seeing his grandson for the first time. When my father pulled into the driveway, and I, carrying my infant son went to greet him, my son excitedly squealed, “Hi, Papa Paul!” as though they’d been friends for lifetimes. I looked at my father, dazed. “It’s okay,” he assured, “I’ve visited him before. He knows me.” And with that, my son reached out for my father.

During that visit, my father explained to me that my ancestors have been astral traveling for many moons. It was a gift not many could understand, much less explain, but it was something I’d have to adjust to and accept – not for the sake of having an open mind, but because it was happening to me as well! He went on to tell story after story about how he’d learned to control his gift and could now travel at will to select locations, rather than doing it by accident and feeling lost and confused all the while. I had no idea these “accidental separations of soul and body” could be controlled.

What exactly is astral travel? Who does this, and why? Can it be done, or better yet, should it be done with intent and practiced precision? Could a person die from astral traveling? Could another traveling soul “kidnap” the body of an unattended astral traveler? Can other people see you visually when your soul is traveling out of body? Do we mistake astral travelers as ghosts? The questions were many. Some were answered by my father, some were learned through experience, and some – well, some of the questions linger still today, more than 20 years after my first experience with astral travel.

There is a theory presented by The Skeptic’s Dictionary that each of us actually has a total of seven “bodies”, one for each of the seven realms of reality. It’s not actually the spirit or soul that detaches from the body, but instead is the astral body. The Skeptic’s Dictionary states, “The astral body, according to Madame Blavatsky, is the one that has an aura. It is also the seat of feeling and desire, and is generally described as being connected to the physical body during astral projection by an infinitely elastic and very fine silver cord, a kind of cosmic umbilical cord or Ariadne’s thread.” However, to be fair, this source also clearly states there is little or no scientific proof that astral travel exists.

Can others see our “astral selves” when we’re traveling out of body? The answer, according to some, is yes – and the term for it is Astral Projection, where the practitioner consciously chooses to project their appearance to another. If more than one person is familiar and experienced in astral travel, two or more can even arrange to meet on the astral realm – anywhere the imagination can carry them. A meeting on the moon, perhaps? A joy ride on the Milky Way? Is that really possible? Perhaps, but if so, science cannot prove that it is. Because science has no hard evidence, the subject is often viewed with skepticism and the occasional scoff. However, there’s another form of astral travel that even the government is said to have dabbled with, and that is known as Remote Viewing.

Remote Viewing can be described, in essence, as a really sneaky way to spy on someone or something without being caught because you were never “really” there in the first place. According to the International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA) website, “Remote viewing is not used to give ‘psychic readings,’ ‘tell fortunes,’ ‘read auras,’ or other sorts of popular activities of this nature, but is rather a means of doing serious science research and for performing operational-type tasks in criminal investigations, government intelligence work, commercial applications, etc.”

Some people suggest that each and every one of us astral travels every time we sleep. Yet, this raises the eyebrows of skeptics who claim astral travel is nothing more than a dream. If we only astral travel while asleep, can it be assumed, as the skeptics suggest, that astral travel is nothing more than our subconscious minds painting pictures real enough for us to believe, or can it be argued that the dream state takes us into other dimensions without our conscious mind being aware?

Many people who still practice the “old ways” work consciously and willingly with astral travel. There are herbs, books, spells, charms, enchantments, methods, and meditations provided to help one learn to harness the ability to fly to any heights of the imagination and beyond, but more importantly, to do this safely and with a full account of responsibility.

One way I can tell the difference, personally, between “just a dream” and “astral travel” is a term I’ve coined as the “astral hangover”. I’ve discussed this with a few other people and have found it something we have in common. When we dream a dream that feels like astral travel, where we’ve felt like we “left” and “returned”, there’s a sense of disconnect from the body. For a small amount of time after waking, there’s clumsiness – an inability to hold an object without dropping it, a tendency to walk into walls rather than down the hallway unobstructed, slurred speech, unfocused thoughts. It’s a “twilight-zone” feeling that holds on for around an hour after waking, and then there’s a feeling of “sinking wholly back in” to my own skin.

So are these experiences just dreams or flights of fanciful imaginations – or is it really possible for the mind or spirit to separate from the body? Since there is no hard, scientific evidence, all we can do, really, is speculate.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend

How exactly did Dorothy get transported to Oz? Where did that portal come from that delivered Alice to her wonderland? Although their authors of fiction are the obvious first choice of answers, the tales do have something in common. Dorothy’s tornado and Alice’s doorway to wonder are both vortexes. We know the storylines of Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland are borne from fiction, but does the same hold true for the vortex?

There are two main definitions for vortexes. On one hand, there’s a simple and scientific definition. In the world of hard facts and proof, a vortex is defined as a swirling mass of substance such as air, water, or fire. Examples of these vortexes could be cited as tornadoes, whirlpools, and volcanoes. These vortexes are based on fact and science. But since the early 1920s, another definition of vortex has swirled to the surface of consciousness.

Steeped in New Age concepts, soaked in mystery, and bubbling with controversy; the new definition of vortex points to supernatural events, spiritual super-centers, and unexplained phenomena. Examples of this type of vortex can be found at Stonehenge, the Giza pyramids, and in sites of former civilizations such as the Incas in Peru. There are also several vortex sites in the United States, the most popular and abundant of which are located in Sedona, Arizona.

Spiritual vortexes are said to be cross-points between energy fields in the earth’s grid system, or intersecting ley lines. Where the ley lines intersect, in certain areas, the result is said to be a “hot spot” of energy that can produce a wide range of effects along the lines of spiritual healing, psychic enhancement, and anomalies in plant life such as two species of trees growing together as one. Of course, there are other theories circling vortexes and ley lines as well, including that ley lines are what UFOs travel along, much the way we drive our cars along highways. It has also been suggested that vortexes can be portals into other realms, much like Alice’s wonderland. To some, these vortexes are doorways into other dimensions. This type of vortex is where it’s said that swirling masses of electromagnetic energy come to the surface, similar to the way lava is expelled from a volcano.

Spiritual vortexes have been compared to magnets. A magnet can bring together metallic objects. In the same way, a vortex is said to assist in aligning spiritual properties, bringing together the pieces and parts of our spiritual make up to create balance and harmony in the body. The Chakra system is believed to consist of mini personal vortexes in the human body – energy centers that power our life force. Visiting a physical vortex is said to help align these personal vortexes for enhanced health as well as spiritual and emotional balance.

Before I go further, let me be clear about where I stand on the issue of vortexes. I am a believer. I believe in the chakra system, psychic abilities, alternate dimensions, elemental beings, and unexplained phenomena – although I’m none too quick to jump on the UFO bandwagon in regard to aliens using earth’s ley lines as the inter-galactic highway.

I have been to Sedona; I have visited the vortexes, and I am a full-fledged believer based on my own personal experiences. While a vortex cannot be seen or heard or perceived by the senses, it can be felt by those who have open minds and a desire to experience personal growth. When visiting the vortexes of Sedona, I felt energized, rejuvenated, and more peaceful than I’ve felt anywhere else on earth. I slept better, I smiled more, and I felt more “aware” and attuned to life. But, just because I can attest to my own spiritual experience doesn’t validate or prove the existence of these gateways of energy. I must look at all the information available in order to write objectively and avoid “blind acceptance”.

That being said, let’s look at the facts.

Some of the terms used to describe these spiritual vortexes sound extremely scientific: earth’s grids, ley lines, geomancy, and electromagnetic fields. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was experiencing scientific proof. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Let’s start with ley lines.

Ley lines are an invisible grid said to permeate the planet. These can almost be compared to the types of earth grids we see in geography on maps. However, the earth grids in maps are used for simple measurement and coordinates, and are not suggesting any physical force. Ley lines, on the contrary, do claim physical force by way of flowing energy. Words used to define ley lines are words like imaginary, alleged, and hypothetical.

Geomancy is another scientific-sounding word, but unfortunately, has absolutely no foundation in science. Geomancy is a form of divination, a way of scrying for energy using pendulums and dowsing rods, among other tools. While these tools are widely accepted in the metaphysical community, they’re often rejected by science.

Then, of course, there’s the electromagnetic field factor. Now here’s one area on which the science and metaphysical communities can and do agree. Electromagnetic fields are real. However, the effects of those fields are understood in completely different ways by scientists and metaphysics. What’s important to remember is that electromagnetic fields CAN produce a reaction, but the experience isn’t necessarily paranormal or metaphysical as much as it is medical. Electromagnetic fields have been known to cause reactions in the human brain that have hallucinogenic effects. Then again, who’s to say a hallucination can’t be interpreted as a spiritual experience?

Many of us don’t require proof to believe in things such as the vortex and its hidden powers. But, there is another caution that comes along with the popularity of vortex sites for spiritual quests. Nope, I’m not going to caution you to beware of hidden doors leading to otherworlds. I’m not going to advise how to communicate with a faerie or elemental should you bump into one. I won’t caution to keep your soul tethered tightly to your body in the event of unplanned astral travel, but I will offer caution about one serious concern. Tourist traps!

Because vortexes have become extremely powerful as a draw to the metaphysical community, so has the tourist trade at vortex sites – and tourist traps in the metaphysical realm are quite different from other tourist traps. Everywhere you turn in vortex areas is a psychic wanting to predict your future, a healer wanting to align your chakras or give you acupuncture, a seer who wants to give you a personal tour, a vendor who wants to sell you his crystals, and a channeler who wants to give you a message from your long lost Uncle Bernie. Because I am a believer in the paranormal, I do believe there are some genuine gifted souls who “set up shop” in these locations, but because I am also a realist, I know there are plenty of frauds willing to help part you from your money. Use common sense, trust your intuition, and don’t be too quick to part with a buck!

Vortexes will always be magickal places to me, regardless of what science proves or disproves. They may not whisk me away on yellow brick roads to sing and dance with the lollipop guild, or to wonderlands for tea with the Mad Hatter, but they certainly offer me a chance to cross over into peaceful spiritual dimensions and awe-inspiring landscapes.

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