Evaluation

The Summerland is the name given by Wiccans and other earth-based religions for their conceptualization of an afterlife. The common portrayal of the Summerland is as a place of rest for souls in between their earthly incarnations. Some believe that after one experiences life to its fullest, and has come to know and understand every aspect and emotion of physical human life, usually after many reincarnations, their deity will allow them to stay in the Summerland for an eternal afterlife.

Another common element is that the soul has little, if any, recollection of the Summerland once it arrives on the mortal plane again. The Summerland is also envisioned as a place for recollection and reunion with deceased loved ones.

As the name suggests, it is often envisaged as a place of beauty and peace, where everything people hold close to their hearts is preserved in its fullest beauty for eternity. It is envisioned as containing wide fields of rolling green hills and lush grass. In many ways, this ideology is similar to the Welsh view of Annwn as an afterlife realm. However, the Summerland was also viewed in traditions of Spiritualism, where Wicca got the term itself.

The essence of the Summerland is that it is a resting ground where souls can reflect on the life they led, see if they learned the lesson they had intended on learning, and then try again in due course. The Summerland is not seen as a place of judgement, but rather, as a spiritual self-evaluation where a soul is able to review its life and gain an understanding of the total impact its actions had on the world. Some may believe each particular lesson and life is chosen and planned out by the soul itself while in Summerland, whereas others may believe that lessons are planned by an external party such as deities or spirit guides.

Being

The “dream argument” is the postulation that the act of dreaming provides preliminary evidence that the senses we trust to distinguish reality from illusion should not be fully trusted, and therefore any state that is dependent on our senses should at the very least be carefully examined and rigorously tested to determine if it is in fact “reality.”

While people dream, they usually do not realize they are dreaming. This has led philosophers to wonder whether one could actually be dreaming constantly, instead of being in waking reality, or at least that one can’t be 100% certain that he or she is not dreaming. In the West, the philosophical puzzle is referred to in writings as early as Plato and Aristotle. Having received serious attention in René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, the dream argument has become one of the most popular skeptical hypotheses.

In the East, this type of argument is well known as “Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly”. It relates that one night Zhuangzi dreamed that he was a carefree butterfly flying happily. After he woke up, he wondered how he could determine whether he was Zhuangzi who had just finished dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who had just started dreaming he was Zhuangzi. This was a metaphor for what he referred to as a “great dream.”

He who dreams of drinking wine may weep when morning comes; he who dreams of weeping may in the morning go off to hunt. While he is dreaming he does not know it is a dream, and in his dream he may even try to interpret a dream. Only after he wakes does he know it was a dream. And someday there will be a great awakening when we know that this is all a great dream. Yet the stupid believe they are awake, busily and brightly assuming they understand things, calling this man ruler, that one herdsman ‑ how dense! Confucius and you are both dreaming! And when I say you are dreaming, I am dreaming, too. Words like these will be labeled the Supreme Swindle. Yet, after ten thousand generations, a great sage may appear who will know their meaning, and it will still be as though he appeared with astonishing speed.

Vessel

A gourd is a name given to the hollow, dried shell of a fruit in the Cucurbitaceae family of plants of the genus Lagenaria. It is in the same family as the pumpkin. Gourds are the product of the calabash or African bottle gourd, native to Africa, which at a very early date spread throughout the world by human migration. This species may be the oldest plant domesticated by humans.

Gourds were originally used by people as containers or vessels before clay or stone pottery. The original and evolutional shape of clay pottery is thought to have been modeled on the shape of certain gourd varieties.

In addition to utilitarian uses, gourds have seen other functions throughout history in various cultures. Very early specimens of squash shells discovered in Peru indicate the use of squashes as means of recording events of the time. In North America, the carving of pumpkins and some other squashes into Jack-o-Lanterns is a popular cultural activity during Halloween.

The shell of the gourd, when dried, has a wooden appearance. Drying gourds, which takes months in some cases, causes the internal contents to dry out completely, although seeds are often still capable of germination. For the uninitiated, cutting open a dried gourd can present hazards. The resulting dust is extremely fine and can cause respiratory problems.

It has also been found that gourd skins were used to replace missing portions of skulls in Neolithic times as part of surgery. This is seen as evidence of prostheses made of very fine gold sheet and gourd skins, which were inserted in the skull under the skin or to cover the hole left by an operation.

Generally, gourds are used more for utilitarian uses than for food. Only a few varieties are harvested for consumption, mostly in Asia. White gourd juice is a common beverage retailed in China and Chinese outlets outside China. It has a unique, smokey taste.

Plenty

The Feijoa, also known as Pineapple Guava, is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing 4 to 20 feet in height, originating from the highlands of southern Brazil and parts of Colombia, Uruguay and northern Argentina. It is named after botanist João da Silva Feijó, a Brazilian botanist.

The fruit, maturing in autumn, is green, ellipsoid and about the size of a chicken’s egg. It has a sweet, aromatic flavor. The flesh is juicy and is divided into a clear jelly-like seed pulp and a firmer, slightly gritty, opaque flesh nearer the skin. The fruit drops when ripe, but can be picked from the tree prior to the drop to prevent bruising.

Feijoa is usually eaten by cutting it in half, then scooping out the pulp with a spoon. The fruit have a juicy sweet seed pulp, and slightly gritty flesh nearer the skin. The flavour is aromatic and sweet. Like the closely-related guava, the fruit pulp is utilized in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant.

It can also be used as an interesting addition to a fruit smoothie, and can be used to make feijoa wine or cider. It is also possible to buy Feijoa yogurt, fruit drinks, jam and ice cream in New Zealand. The Feijoa can also be cooked and used in dishes where one would use stewed fruit. It is a popular ingredient in chutney.

Fruit maturity is not always apparent from the outside as the fruits remain green until they are over-mature or rotting. Once the seed pulp and surrounding flesh start to brown, the fruit is over-mature but still can be eaten. However, these over-mature but not rotten fruits can be used to make a delicious juice very popular in the Colombian Highlands.

Feijoa has been spotted in Georgia and both flowering and fruiting in Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas and California. It is widely cultivated as a garden plant and fruiting tree in New Zealand, and can be found as a garden plant in Australia, Israel and China. The shrub has very few insect pests. In northern California, robins, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, starlings, scrub jays, towhees and grey squirrels feast on the flowers and assist with pollination.

Outcome

Metaphysical naturalism refers to a belief about the totality of what exists. It is a belief that nature is all that exists and assumes that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes. It entails that all concepts related to consciousness or to the mind refer to entities which are reducible to or supervene on natural things, forces and causes. More specifically metaphysical naturalism rejects the objective existence of any supernatural thing, force or cause, such as are described in humanity’s various religions and mythological accounts.

Most metaphysical naturalists agree that the fundamental constituents of reality, from which everything derives and upon which everything depends, are fundamentally mindless. So if any variety of metaphysical naturalism is true, then any mental properties that exist are causally derived from systems of nonmental properties, powers, or things.

Humanity’s existence as conscious and intelligent animals, is explained not as the outcome of intelligent design nor as a mere accidental combination of chemicals (such as originated life), but as the product of a dynamic, random system that generates highly complex order on its own, without any guidance. Since this entails that the properties of living organisms have been derived from random generation of diversity, genetic drift and natural selection, naturalists interpret individual organisms and species as not having any theleological purpose whatsoever, moral or otherwise, as nature is the cause and nature has no plan.

One major way in which naturalism explains things better than alternatives is that if the supernatural exists, whether as gods, powers, or spirits, it is so silent and inert that its effects are almost never observed, despite vast and extensive searching. Even the relatively few alleged observations take place only under dubious conditions lacking in sound empirical controls or tests, and on those occasions when they are subsequently subjected to sound controls or tests, they turn out to be false. Our inability to uncover clear evidence of anything supernatural is somewhat improbable if anything supernatural exists, but very probable if nothing supernatural exists, and therefore metaphysical naturalism is probably true.

Future

Questioning the parameters of being human and its relationship with nature has been of philosophical interest before and since Socrates. Questioning the future of the human brings to light moral, religious and philosophical belief systems and, especially, ethical concerns regarding tampering with human nature and what is considered by many, especially in Western culture, to be natural.

The etymology of the term Transhuman goes back to futurist FM-2030 (born Fereidoun M. Esfandiary) who, while teaching new concepts of the human at The New School university in 1966, introduced it as shorthand for “transitory human”. Calling Transhumans the “earliest manifestation of new evolutionary beings,” FM-2030 argued that signs of Transhumanism included physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.

Many thinkers today do not consider FM-2030’s characteristics to be essential attributes of a Transhuman. However, analyzing the possible transitional nature of the human species has been and continues to be of primary interest to anthropologists and philosophers within and outside the intellectual movement of Transhumanism.

Jeffrey McKee of the Ohio State University said the new findings of accelerated evolution bear out predictions he made in a 2000 book The Riddled Chain. Based on computer models, he argued that evolution should speed up as a population grows because population growth creates more opportunities for new mutations; and the expanded population occupies new environmental niches, which would drive evolution in new directions. Whatever the implications of the recent findings, McKee concludes that they highlight a ubiquitous point about evolution: every species is a transitional species.

Potency

Manuka or Tea Tree is a shrub or small tree native to southeast Australia and New Zealand. It is particularly common in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales and on the drier east coasts of New Zealand. Manuka is the name used in New Zealand, and Tea Tree is a common name in Australia because Captain Cook used the leaves to make a tea drink.

It is a prolific scrub-type tree and is often one of the first species to regenerate on cleared land. It is typically a shrub but can grow into a moderately sized tree, up to 40 feet in height. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves. The flowers are white, occasionally pink, with five petals. The wood is tough and hard, and was often used for tool handles. Manuka sawdust imparts a delicious flavour when used for smoking meats and fish.

Manuka products have high antibacterial potency for a limited spectrum of bacteria and are widely available in New Zealand. Similar properties led the Maori to use parts of the plant as natural medicine. Kakariki parakeets use the leaves and bark of Manuka to rid themselves of parasites. Apart from ingesting the material, they also chew it, mix it with preen gland oil and apply it to their feathers.

Manuka honey, produced when honeybees gather the nectar from its flowers, is distinctively flavoured, darker and richer in taste than clover honey and has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. The finest quality Manuka honey with the most potent antimicrobial properties is produced from hives placed in wild, uncultivated areas with abundant growth of Manuka bushes. However a very limited number of scientific studies have been performed to verify its efficacy.

Primal

icon_02Dragons are legendary creatures that feature in the myths of worldwide cultures, typically with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits. They are usually shown in modern times with a body like a huge lizard, or a snake with two pairs of lizard-type legs, and able to emit fire from their mouths. The European dragon has bat-type wings growing from its back. A dragon-like creature with no front legs is known as a wyvern. 

Dragons are often held to have major spiritual significance in various religions and cultures around the world. In many Asian cultures dragons were, and in some cultures still are, revered as representative of the primal forces of nature, religion and the universe. They are associated with wisdom, often said to be wiser than humans, and longevity. They are commonly said to possess some form of magic or other supernatural power, and are often associated with wells, rain, and rivers. In some cultures, they are also said to be capable of human speech.

Although dragons occur in many legends around the world, different cultures have varying stories about monsters that have been grouped together under the dragon label. Some dragons are said to breathe fire or to be poisonous. They are commonly portrayed as serpentine or reptilian, hatching from eggs and possessing typically scaly or feathered bodies. They are sometimes portrayed as having especially large eyes or watching treasure very diligently, a feature that is the origin of the word dragon, from the Greek drakein meaning “to see clearly”).

Some myths portray them with a row of dorsal spines. European dragons are more often winged, while Oriental versions of the dragon resemble large snakes. Dragons can have a variable number of legs: none, two, four, or more when it comes to early European literature. Also, some dragons in Greek literature were known to have millions of legs at a time. Modern depictions of dragons tend to be larger than their original representations, which were often smaller than humans, but grew in the myths and tales of man over the years. Following discovery of how pterosaurs walked on the ground, some modern dragons have been portrayed without front legs and using the wings as front legs pterosaur-fashion when on the ground.

Chance

Automatic drawing was developed by the surrealists as a means of expressing the subconscious. In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move randomly across the paper. In applying chance and accident to mark making, drawing is to a large extent freed of rational control. Hence the drawing produced may be attributed in part to the subconscious and may reveal something of the psyche, which would otherwise be repressed.

Artists who practised automatic drawing include Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Jean Arp and André Breton. The technique was transferred to painting, as seen in Miró’s paintings which often started out as automatic drawings, and has been adapted to other media. Most of the surrealists’ automatic drawings were illusionistic, or more precisely, they developed into such drawings when representational forms seemed to suggest themselves.

In the 1940s and 1950s the French-Canadian group called Les Automatistes pursued creative work based on surrealist principles. They abandoned any trace of representation in their use of automatic drawing. This is perhaps a more pure form of automatic drawing since it can be almost entirely involuntary. To develop a representational form requires the conscious mind to take over the process of drawing, unless it is entirely accidental and thus incidental.

The computer, like the typewriter, can be used to produce automatic writing and automatic poetry. The practice of automatic drawing, originally performed with pencil or pen and paper, has also been adapted to mouse and monitor, and other automatic methods have also been either adapted from non-digital media, or invented specifically for the computer. For instance, filters have been automatically run in some bitmap editor programs such as Photoshop. One of the newest applications of this approach is Dynamic Painting by San Base.

Linkage

Usonia is a word used by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright to refer to his vision for the landscape of the United States, including the planning of cities and the architecture of buildings. Wright proposed the use of the adjective Usonian in place of American to describe the particular New World character of the American landscape as distinct and free of previous architectural conventions.

Usonian is a term usually referring to a group of approximately fifty middle-income family homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1936 with the Jacobs House. The Usonian Homes were typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage, L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on odd (and cheap) lots.

They were environmentally conscious with native materials, flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling, natural lighting with clerestory windows, and radiant-floor heating. A strong visual connection between the interior and exterior spaces is an important characteristic of all Usonian homes.

Variants of the Jacobs House design are still in existence today and do not look overly dated. The Usonian design is considered among the aesthetic origins of the popular ranch tract home popular in the American west of the 1950s.