Words Inspired By Animals

Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound. Animals, being the noisy creatures that they are, are a rich source of sounds. Dogs inspired the words yap and woof. Bees gave us buzz and birds are responsible for cuckoo. Animals are behind hundreds of other non-onomatopoeia words in the English language, too. Let’s go on a safari through the dictionary.


The clue—lion—is in the name. No, lions don’t eat this plant, although the leaves are edible. Instead, the shape of the green leaves reminded someone of a lion’s teeth. Thus, the Frenchdent de lion, “tooth of the lion,” became the name of the pretty yellow weed everyone loves to pull from their lawns.


What’s your sign? In Western astrology, the year is divided into twelve periods associated with constellations. Most of the constellations are represented by an animal, such as the Taurus bull, Pisces fish, or Aries ram. Zodiac means “circle of little animals,” which is what you see when you look at the zodiac diagram. Continue reading “Words Inspired By Animals”

Word Origins: Why Do We Call It That?

Why do we call football “soccer”?

During the late nineteenth century, leaders of a dozen football clubs gathered at a London tavern to establish the rules of football and created Association Football. Association football was shortened to soccer because the addition of -er to nouns was popular in British slang at the time. Soccer has remained in the American lexicon, but although the term originated in the UK, the British no longer use it.

Why do we call autumn “fall”?

In the sixteenth century, the phrase fall of the leaf was used to describe the season known as autumn. It was later shortened to fall and replaced autumn as the main word to describe the season in the US, although autumn is still in use. Continue reading “Word Origins: Why Do We Call It That?”


Orchids In History and Mythology

Who would have guessed that this beautiful flower’s name comes from the ancient Greek word for testicle, ‘orkhis’. It gets even weirder! In classical Greek mythology, Orchis, the son of a satyr and a nymph, was at a feast in celebration of the wine god, Bacchus. At the feast he tried to rape a priestess, and as punishment, he was torn apart by wild beasts and turned into a flower, the orchid. 

Maybe you see testicles when you look at an orchid, or maybe, like me, you see vulvas, but nobody can deny it- this is a sexy flower, so it’s no wonder that throughout history people have associated this flower with sexuality and fertility. Continue reading “Orchids In History and Mythology”


Oscar Wilde on Art

The Sun just left Libra and moved into Scorpio, and what better way is there to say goodbye to a Libra month than to meditate over some of (favorite Libra) Oscar Wilde’s musings on art.

“If a man approaches a work of art with any desire to exercise authority over it and the artist, he approaches it in such a spirit that he cannot receive any artistic impression from it at all. The work of art is to dominate the spectator: the spectator is not to dominate the work of art. The spectator is to be receptive. He is to be the violin on which the master is to play. And the more completely he can suppress his own silly views, his own foolish prejudices, his own absurd ideas of what Art should be, or should not be, the more likely he is to understand and appreciate the work of art in question.”

“An educated person’s ideas of Art are drawn naturally from what Art has been, whereas the new work of art is beautiful by being what Art has never been; and to measure it by the standard of the past is to measure it by a standard on the rejection of which its real perfection depends. A temperament capable of receiving, through an imaginative medium, and under imaginative conditions, new and beautiful impressions, is the only temperament that can appreciate a work of art.

True as this is in the case of the appreciation of sculpture and painting, it is still more true of the appreciation of such arts as the drama. For a picture and a statue are not at war with Time. They take no count of its succession. In one moment their unity may be apprehended. In the case of literature it is different. Time must be traversed before the unity of effect is realized. And so, in the drama, there may occur in the first act of the play something whose real artistic value may not be evident to the spectator till the third or fourth act is reached. Is the silly fellow to get angry and call out, and disturb the play, and annoy the artists? No. The honest man is to sit quietly, and know the delightful emotions of wonder, curiosity, and suspense. He is not to go to the play to lose a vulgar temper. He is to go to the play to realize an artistic temperament. He is to go to the play to gain an artistic temperament. He is not the arbiter of the work of art. He is one who is admitted to contemplate the work of art, and, if the work be fine, to forget in its contemplation and the egotism that mars him – the egotism of his ignorance, or the egotism of his information.


No spectator of art needs a more perfect mood of receptivity than the spectator of a play. The moment he seeks to exercise authority he becomes the avowed enemy of Art and of himself. Art does not mind. It is he who suffers.”

“With the novel it is the same thing. Popular authority and the recognition of popular authority are fatal. … A true artist takes no notice whatever of the public. The public are to him non-existent. He has no poppied or honeyed cakes through which to give the monster sleep or sustenance. He leaves that to the popular novelist.”

“People sometimes inquire what form of government is most suitable for an artist to live under. To this question there is only one answer. The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all. Authority over him and his art is ridiculous. It has been stated that under despotisms artists have produced lovely work. This is not quite so. Artists have visited despots, not as subjects to be tyrannized over, but as wandering wonder-makers, as fascinating vagrant personalities, to be entertained and charmed and suffered to be at peace, and allowed to create. There is this to be said in favor of the despot, that he, being an individual, may have culture, while the mob, being a monster, has none. One who is an Emperor and King may stoop down to pick up a brush for a painter, but when the democracy stoops down it is merely to throw mud. And yet the democracy have not so far to stoop as the emperor. In fact, when they want to throw mud they have not to stoop at all. But there is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad.”

Oscar Wilde Portrait taken from the British Library website

“There are three kinds of despots. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the body. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People. The Prince may be cultivated. Many Princes have been. Yet in the Prince there is danger. One thinks of Dante at the bitter feast in Verona, of Tasso in Ferrara’s madman’s cell. It is better for the artist not to live with Princes. The Pope may be cultivated. Many Popes have been; the bad Popes have been. The bad Popes loved Beauty, almost as passionately, nay, with as much passion as the good Popes hated Thought. To the wickedness of the Papacy humanity owes much. The goodness of the Papacy owes a terrible debt to humanity. Yet, though the Vatican has kept the rhetoric of its thunders, and lost the rod of its lightning, it is better for the artist not to live with Popes.


There is danger in Popes. And as for the People, what of them and their authority? Perhaps of them and their authority one has spoken enough. Their authority is a thing blind, deaf, hideous, grotesque, tragic, amusing, serious, and obscene. It is impossible for the artist to live with the People. All despots bribe. The people bribe and brutalize. Who told them to exercise authority? They were made to live, to listen, and to love. Someone has done them a great wrong. They have marred themselves by imitation of their inferiors. They have taken the scepter of the Prince. How should they use it? They have taken the triple tiara of the Pope. How should they carry its burden? They are as a clown whose heart is broken. They are as a priest whose soul is not yet born. Let all who love Beauty pity them. Though they themselves love not Beauty, yet let them pity themselves. Who taught them the trick of tyranny?”

“Individualism does not come to man with any sickly cant about duty, which merely means doing what other people want because they want it; or any hideous cant about self-sacrifice, which is merely a survival of savage mutilation. In fact, it does not come to man with any claims upon him at all. It comes naturally and inevitably out of man. It is the point to which all development tends. It is the differentiation to which all organisms grow. It is the perfection that is inherent in every mode of life, and towards which every mode of life quickens. And so Individualism exercises no compulsion over man. On the contrary, it says to man that he should suffer no compulsion to be exercised over him. It does not try to force people to be good. It knows that people are good when they are let alone. Man will develop Individualism out of himself. Man is now so developing Individualism. To ask whether Individualism is practical is like asking whether Evolution is practical. Evolution is the law of life, and there is no evolution except towards Individualism. Where this tendency is not expressed, it is a case of artificially-arrested growth, or of disease, or of death.”

“What is true about Art is true about Life.”

Vincent Van Gogh: "Soleil du Midi ou Le Jardin du Poète", 1888

Le Soleil In The Eternal Winter

As winter floats closer each day, I think of the Sun. When the air begins to shiver and the days get shorter and the nights longer, that is when we are most forced to find the Sun inside of ourselves. This is the time to begin creating our own light, our own heat.

The inspiration for this thought came from Vincent Van Gogh’s book, Le Soleil En Face

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers
Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers
Vincent Van Gogh's Le Soleil in The Eternal Winter
Vincent Van Gogh, Le Soleil
Photo taken off of Pinterest

New Moon In Libra

Written by Chani Nicholas

I need you. Against my better judgment. Against all odds. Against the winds of my mind that want to carry me away so I can live out my fantasy of being an island in need of no one. Against my inner tyrant who believes it is a “rugged individual” that can do everything on its own. Against rejecting my need for you. Against every survival tactic I have up my sleeve.

I like having you around.

You balance me. My thoughts are made more complete with your addition to them. Your brilliance sparks whatever similar currents move through me. You inspire me. You are a vessel of victorious vitality and I revel in your righteousness.

We are better together. I am more with you than I ever was or would be alone.

We are stronger united. We tend to be taken down more easily when we stand only for ourselves. And besides, that shit is boring.

You complete me. The sentiment is trite, it’s tired, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I try to stay away from you, try to block you out, figure you out, take you out of my experience because caring about you causes me untold amounts of pain and suffering.

But even the suffering you can ignite contains some sentiment that I need to learn from. It contains something I need to face. It contains some central truth that can set me free. Because blaming you won’t fix me. Because projecting everything on to you never makes me feel better.

Even though in the depth of my defensiveness I want my suffering to be your fault. I want it to be your fault because then maybe you can fix it. My pain. My loneliness. My heartbreak.

But you can’t.

Only I can. But you help me get there. You help me by reminding me of what I still need to work on. You remind me of the places where I still need to grow. You remind me of all the ins that I still try to get out of. And for that, I fucking love you.

If you do your work and I do mine then somewhere along the line we might achieve some kind of balance. Some kind of perspective. Some kind of justice. We might be able to right some wrongs. We might build a place where we both belong.

Because we both belong here, together. Said every Libra always.

Libra is a sign that initiates relationship. This Monday, October 12th at 5:06 PM PDT, the moon will renew itself and begin a new lunar cycle in Libra.

Libra wants to make life beautiful, pleasing and harmonious. Libra is sweet, likable and refined in its tastes. Whatever Libra touches becomes somehow more appealing.

Libra aims to please. Libra aims to connect with you whether you want to or not. Libra leads with charm, is ceaselessly charismatic and can turn any opportunity into a meet and greet. If you are alive, a Libra nearby would like to say hi.

Libra’s symbol is the scales of justice. Libra aims for equanimity. Libra has to sometimes go to extremes to find the peace. Constantly weighing options, situations and possibilities, Libra can become paralyzed when faced with a decision. Which will be the right way to go?

Libra wants equality and is tortured by injustice. Libra will go to any length to remedy such inequity. If Libra has something it is pained at the thought of others going without the same.

Libra wants balance and this is the perfect season and perfect new moon to reflect on the imbalances in our lives, especially the ones that surface in our relationships.

This new moon is directly opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto. Uranus has a tendency to throw a wrench in the works, spark revolt and make a smooth road potholed. Uranus couldn’t care less about your balance.

Read more here.


Girls And Their Cats

Alison, Blixa, and I were photographed by Brianne Wills for her wonderful project, Girls and Their Cats.  I want to be a cat lady when I grow up.

IMG_9708 (1)


Carl Sagan, portrait. Photo by Eduardo Castaneda

Who are we? What are we?

“For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions, and by the depth of our answers.”

Carl Edward Sagan

Botticelli's Mystical Nativity

Botticelli’s “Mystical Nativity”

Botticelli’s Mystical Nativity was hidden for many centuries. Once found, it earned its name from both the unusual Nativity symbolism and Greek inscription at the top.

Botticelli believed he was living through the Tribulation, which is clear in the mysterious inscription:

This picture, at the end of the year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, I Alessandro, in the half-time after the time, painted, according to the eleventh chapter of Saint John, in the second woe of the Apocalypse, during the release of the devil for three-and-a-half years; then he shall be bound in the twelfth chapter and we shall see [him buried] as in this picture.

It is the only surviving work with his signature.


Five Ways to Break a Dream Drought

Have you ever lost touch with your dreams? Is your dream recall limited to fragments that fade away as you hurry off into the business and traffic of the day? Here is some advice from Robert Moss’s book, Active Dreamingon how to give fresh breath to your relationship with your dreams.

  1. Set an intention for the night. Before sleep, write down an intention for the hours of dream and twilight that lie ahead. This can be a travel plan (“I would like to go to Hawaii” or “I would like to visit my girlfriend/boyfriend”). It might be a specific request for guidance (“I want to know what will happen if I change my job”). It could be a more general setting of direction (“I ask for healing” or “I open myself to my creative source”). You might simply say, “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember.”

Make sure your intention has some juice. Don’t make dream recall one more chore to fit in with all others. If you like, you can make a little ritual of dream incubation, a simple version of what ancients seekers did when they travelled to temples of dream healing, like those of Asklepios, in hopes of a night encounter with a sacred guide. You can take a spacial bath or shower, play a recording of sounds of nature or running water, and meditate for a while on the object or picture that relates to your intention. You might want to avoid eating heavily or drinking alcohol within a couple of hours of sleep. You could get yourself a little mugwort pillow- in folk tradition, mugwort is an excellent dream bringer- and place it under your regular pillow.

2. Be ready to receive. Having set your intention, make sure you have the means to honor it. Keep pen and paper (or a voice recorder) next to your bed so you are ready to record when you wake up. Recording something whenever you wake up, even if it’s at 3am. If you have to go to the bathroom, take your notebook with you and practice doing two things at once. Sometimes the dreams we most need to hear come visiting at rather anti-social hours, from the viewpoint of the little, everyday mind.

3. Be kind to fragments. Don’t give up on fragments from your night dreams. The wispiest trace of a dream can be exciting to play with, and as you play with it you may find you pull back more of the previously forgotten dream. The odd word or phrase left over from a dream may be an intriguing clue, if you are willing to do a little detective work.

Suppose you wake up with nothing more than a sense of a certain color. It could be interesting to notice that today is a Red Day, or a Green Day, to dress accordingly, to allow the energy of that color to travel with you, and to meditate on the qualities of red or green and see what life memories that evokes.

4. Still no dream recall? No worries. If you don’t remember a dream when you first wake up, laze in bed for a few minutes and see if something comes back. Wiggle around in bed. Sometimes returning to the body posture we were in earlier in the night helps to bring back what we were dreaming when we were in that position.

If you still don’t have a dream, write something down anyway: whatever is in your awareness, including feelings and physical sensations. You are catching the residue of a dream even if the dream itself is gone, As you do this, you are saying to the source of your dreams: “I’m listening. Talk to me.”

You may find that, though your dreams have flown, you have a sense of clarity and direction that is a legacy of the night. We solve problems in our sleep even when we don’t remember the problem-solving process that went on in our dreaming minds.

5. Remember, you don’t need to sleep in order to dream. The incidents of everyday life will speak to us like dream symbols if we are willing to pay attention. Keep a lookout for the first unusual or striking thing that enters your field of perception in the course of the day, and ask whether there could be a message there.