Let there be light!

Stonehenge at Winter Solstice, Wikimedia Foundation.

Stonehenge at Winter Solstice, Wikimedia Foundation.

The winter solstice is the longest night of the year. This year, here in New England, this occurs, on December 21st (so close to midnight that many calendars say it is the 22nd). Though, we have been collectively feeling its effects for some weeks. There are a few events that seem to affect us as we move towards this day; some celestial and one quite terrestrial. The first is the Autumnal Equinox. After that day, the day wanes and the night waxes. We begin our inward descent. Darkness overcoming light becomes unmistakable at the point between the Equinox and Solstice known as Samhain. At that point, we speak of the veil between the realms.

Another event that affects us gravely around this time of year is “time change.” Time change was invented because our way of measuring time is inadequate. Day and night are not equal but twice a year… and then, only exactly equal, if you live at the equator.

Because of this, some thinkers got together, as the story goes, and invented an artificial time change, known as "daylight savings time," to our already artificial time. Like that of leap year, the concept of daylight savings time arbitrarily changes our collective clocks an hour forward in the spring and an hour back in the fall.

Our bodies are not designed to make this "leap" forward or back. We are organic beings living in an organic world. We are a part of the natural organism we call Earth. When we artificially augment our rhythms to meet societal demands, we suffer.

Time change is a bit like a whiplash on the body’s sleeping and waking cycles. More so, it is like jet lag. Jet lag, long believed to be more psychosomatic, than an actual condition - is now accepted in the medical and scientific communities as a real condition caused by a disruption the natural circadian rhythms. Hence, it's official name, "desynchronosis."

"De" means the removal of. "Syn" is with or together... and "chronos" is time.  Desynchronosis - to be [taken] out of sync with time.

Though one could argue that the propulsion of our bodies across great distances, at extreme speeds, and through the air - might leave the body feeling, "some type of way." We can show through measurements of body temperature, plasma levels, [midichlorians] and hormone secretions - that rapidly changing time zones introduces new algorithms for our bodies to adjust to.

I experience time change just like that. While some report that they enjoy the autumnal change and suffer the spring, I have seen the negative effects on our collective health in both directions. It is disconcerting, to say the least, to suddenly wake and it's dark outside, when days prior it was not that way. I think someday soon; we will have to speak of "time change lag" or induct its effects into the pathology of desynchronosis.

A chart showing the quarters and cross quarters of the year with the waxing and waning of night and day. Chart and photo by author.

A chart showing the quarters and cross quarters of the year with the waxing and waning of night and day. Chart and photo by author.

Our bodies are governed by the cycles of the sun. The Sun tells us when to wake and when to go to bed. In ancient times, the sun was worshiped as the great giver of life, for this very reason. In the spring, we see the sun growing brighter and brighter. The days begin to wax, to grow longer and fuller. Even in a very long, harsh and cold winter by the spring equinox people are so reassured, convinced of the sun's return it is not uncommon to hear the phrase, "He is risen!"

But we are not yet there. Not now, not today. We are in the darkest of days, the longest of nights.

Behind your eyes, inside your brain lies a sacred place known to the Taoists as the Crystal Palace. This “palace” is both metaphysical and also quite anatomical. In anatomy, this section is divided up into the thalamus, the hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands. Collectively, they control the body’s clock, our reproductive cycles, pregnancy, birthing and breastfeeding, orgasm, trust, and they have a great deal to do with consciousness itself!

Most of this Crystal Palace is a part of the endocrine system, the hormone producing system in our bodies. Hormones control everything! They are the biochemical signals for everything from growth and development, puberty, ovulation and menstruation, digestion, sleeping and waking cycles… like everything! Hormones control us from fetus to crone!

Do you remember your first solar powered calculator? As a young child, I was fascinated with the idea that the sun could power my calculator. Okay, I’ll admit, I still am! Well, we are solar powered people! The sun is the “great-great master gland” of our endocrine system. It produces the hormone, “solar energy” which sets up our clock… much like this laptop, I am typing on is synced to some clock somewhere in the ethers… We link up to the sun for our internal clock.

The sun’s rays reach our Crystal Palace by two routes. One route is through penetration of our flesh and bone. To check a fertilized chicken egg for fetal development, there is an age-old process of shining light through the egg in a dark place to see what structures have developed. This process is called candling, as it is far older than flashlights.

Photo of LED light from phone penetrating through thumb. Photo and thumb by author.

Photo of LED light from phone penetrating through thumb. Photo and thumb by author.

If we could candle our own bodies, what would we see? How far does light penetrate into our body? Do this… hold up a flashlight to your hand… turn out all the lights and see how the light penetrates through skin, fascia, muscle, bone, back through the fascia, and then skin. The light has changed color, but it makes it through! The sun is a very powerful light, and it penetrates through our bodies and into our Crystal Palace.
I think of various religious practices involving head coverings, head shaving, growing the hair out, etc. Are these attempts to block, filter, or capture etheric energies in route to the Crystal Palace? Does shaving one's head allow for more light penetration? Does growing one's hair act as an antenna for esoteric energies? Does a headdress, cap, or other device act as a filter in some way?

Light is carried throughout the body via fascial and nerve tracts. One specialized optical-tract light-pathway is known as, "the retinohypothalamic tract." This organic fiber optic cable carries light from the retina into the Crystal Palace. This tract is a more direct route.

There must be a reason that the ancients would do morning rituals and exercises, such as yoga and chi gong, facing east. That reason is simple… to link up to the sun! Our system must be constantly connected to the great-great grand master to be in balance.

Furthermore, this area has the esoteric significance of being known as, “The Third Eye Chakra.” This chakra is associated with being able to see through the veil, into the spirit world, psychic vision, etc. For that reason, many attempts have been made to “open” the third eye. If you were ever a fan of the band, Tool (or if you have ever been subjected to a fan of that band), you might have heard the lyrics, “prying open my third eye.” Prying a chakra open, is not a recommended path.

Instead, I would try being in balance with the natural rhythm of things. Taking care of your body and eating healthy food. Listen to your body, to your environment, the seasons, and the sun.

Currently, as we experience this Winter Solstice, the sun is being reborn. The night is at its longest and day is at its shortest. If you were able to decipher the messages from the sun to your circadian rhythm, what might it say?

To be continued…


The Spirit Haus

Tree trunk resembling a paracardium. Photo by the Author.

Tree trunk resembling a paracardium. Photo by the Author.

The pericardium, often referred to as the fluid filled "sack" where the heart resides, is actually an awesome connective tissue (or fascia) which has many amazing qualities. One interesting thing about this so-called sack is that it seems to arise from the diaphragm. The two are inseparable, in the absence of a scalpel or butcher knife.

When your diaphragm contracts (for in-breathing) the pericardium is pulled downward, massaging the heart. As the abdominal muscles contract, they push the guts in and upward, the ribcage is pulled inward by a series of muscles I call the "in breathers" and the pericardium is squeezed between the lungs (which it is also interconnected with).  Thus, out-breathing is the return [massage] stroke.

So if the pericardium can be seen as arising from the diaphragm perhaps the lungs are arising from that. A good image for this new pericardial paradigm is the image of a fascial butterfly.  Imagine a butterfly, upside down, so that the head is bellow the body. The forewings of the butterfly form the form the diaphragm, the hindwings pleura (fascia) of the lungs,  and the thorax of the butterfly becomes the pericardium.

Pericardium "glued down" to the diaphragm. Image from Gray's Anatomy, public domain.

The lungs oxygenate! They in-spire! The lungs connect us the earth by way of trees. In fact, inside the lungs we can see a microcosmic reflection of trees. We even use tree terminology to describe the lungs, like bronchi (branch) and bronchioles (little branches or twigs). Do you remember from grade school that lungs breathe in what trees breathe out; we breathe out what they breathe in? I have reflected on this throughout my life.

The heart thinks! It works together with the lungs to circulate nutrients and discharge toxic gasses while the nervous system and fascia produce and distribute electricity. Imagine this complex structure glowing in the dark… a lighted butterfly shaped vortex in the central core of our being.

This energy epicenter is home to such things as the heart chakra (the metaphysical sphere where our ability to love originates; the thymus gland (the master gland of the immune system), the Wei Chi (the energetic defense shield), and the Shen, you know, the Spirit!

Upside down butterfly. Showing "doctrine of signatures" to the daphragm, paracardium, lungs. Image altured by the author.

Spirit, soul, and psyche are intertwined words throughout cultures and histories. They are not the same. They are the same. Sometimes having separate meanings and other times not. The Spirit is the seat of emotions. It is consciousness. When it is gone, "you" are gone. Though Spirit is not the same as the soul. There are connections between the two. I think it is easier to think of it in this way; the soul is the everlasting bit of the human that resides somewhere in the Ethers. The soul is the subject of religion. The Spirit is the place where the heavens and earth come together. It is much like our concept of mind. In fact, the mind has a lot of correlations to the pericardium. The word for taking a breath is "inspiration." In-spirit-ation. "Ation" means action, "in" is the direction it is going and spirit… "spirit" means… spirit. So, we are taking "spirit" into our lungs. And when you exhale, what are we doing? Spirit also speaks to a gracious quality. Thus the connection between out breathing (taking away) and spirit. It is etheric, mysterious, mystical. When we are full of spirit, we are said to be "inspired."

One of my favorite questions to ponder is, "where is my mind?" Culturally, people point to different areas of their body when speaking of the mind. Some point to the head, behind the eyes. Is that the place you thought of? Others point to their hearts. Strangely enough, no one points to other random parts of their bodies. No one points to their thighs, for example.

The heart contains tiny nerve structures known as sensory neurites. There are 40,000 of these bad boys! What makes them so cool? They are so similar to the nerve structures in the brain that some call them, "the little brain in the heart." As you know, brains think. So, hearts think… right?

Cross-culturally there is a connection with consciousness and emotions (Spirit) and the heart.  The Spirit might best be seen as a "psycho-soma" or mind-body [complex] where you can honor the instinct and emotion that seems to come throughout the body as well as the obvious central nervous system processor we call the brain.

This pericardium would be electric and hormonal.

It would include the heart and lungs; diaphragm; the heart and solar plexus chakras; and bridges the elements of air/metal and fire. It has relationships with the respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and energetic systems. While I am out on a (figurative) limb pontificating as I am about the various relations of this energetic pericardium, let us not forget the close proximity (and fascial connection) to the thymus gland, the master gland of the immune system.

The Spirit is said to live in the heart and the heart lives in the pericardium!

To be continued...