Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rethinking Prince Harry

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. - Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

This afternoon, news broke on the Drudge Report that Prince Harry has been serving with British troops in Afghanistan, and has even taken part in gun battles (photos). The young prince is third in line to the throne of the English monarchy. I remember reading news stories about his intention to serve in Iraq, and the ultimate decision to keep him out of combat due to fears that al Qaeda or an insurgent group would attempt to kill or kidnap the prince. Why would someone with so much to lose enlist in the fight against a deadly and ruthless foe? The answer has its roots deep in the masculine soul...

To some of my female readers, this may seem like machismo, but there is a ferocity, a wildness, and need for battle that surges just beneath the surface of man's outer life. In our modern, civilized world, men tend to feel, well...tame. If you have ever watched a tiger pacing back in forth in a cage at a zoo, you'll get a tiny inkling of what many men feel on a daily basis. There is a boredom that comes from feeling trapped in the machine of the average life. They wake up in the morning, go to work, manage accounts, try to keep the peace in their families, and after watching the news, fall asleep and dream about adventure.

Every man (and woman) experiences a call to adventure, to set out on a journey that will test our beliefs and our limits. Whether we accept the call or bury our hearts in the monotony of busyness makes all the difference in the world. Prince Harry has embarked on his own Hero's Journey. It may cost him his life, which would devastate a family that has already suffered much grief. I ask you, though, what is the alternative to following your heart?

When you have a moment, read The Initiation of Perseus.

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Rethinking Music

Music is powerful...isn't it? It has the ability to stir our souls in ways few things can. Like story, music is another language of the heart. It conveys truth in a way that is once beautiful and powerful.

The New York Philharmonic recently had the opportunity to play in Pyongyang, North Korea. The communist North Korea, sometimes referred to as the "Hermit Nation," is one of the most closed societies on our planet. Inside this tiny country, the views toward the West range from suspicion to hostility. The video clip below shows American musicians playing alongside their North Korean counterparts in a wonderful display of harmony and grace.

Truth and beauty, carried along by music, can penetrate even the most closed system. What a powerful metaphor for what can happen in our own lives and hearts when we open up to the beauty that is all around us. Opening up is a risk, but one that can change things in ways you never dreamed possible!

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Rethinking Starbucks

Myth and symbol surround us. Echoes of the ancients still ring in our modern ears. The yearning for the spiritual and mystical is ingrained in our hearts, despite our immersion in the modern, secular, world. Let's look at an example...

has been in the news quite a bit lately. Reported layoffs, financial woes, and temporary store closing Tuesday, have caused people to question this powerful Seattle coffee icon. The Starbucks logo is one of the most familiar corporate images anywhere in the world. What most coffee-drinkers don't know is that this mysterious female image depicted on the logo has its roots in the ancient past.

To better understand what we're talking about, it would be helpful to take a look at the evolution of the Starbucks logo over the years. Here is the current logo:

Here is the logo as it used to appear:

Here is the original logo pre-1987:

The image shown is that of a mythical mermaid-type creature, known as a melusine.

A melusine is a figure of European legends and folklore, a feminine spirit of fresh waters in sacred springs and rivers.

She is usually depicted as a woman who is a serpent or fish (much like a mermaid) from the waist down. She is also sometimes illustrated with wings, two tails or both, and sometimes referred to as a nixie (source: Wikipedia).

Here are some examples of the melusine from the past. If you look carefully, I'm sure you'll see the resemblence to the current Starbucks logo. The legend of the melusine was first told in 1394 in France. Take a moment and read the tale for yourself. Here is a collection of mermaid/melusine legends from across Europe, compiled by a University of Pittsburgh professor.

Myth and symbol are all around us...

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rethinking Eclipses II

As I stood outside in the freezing cold winter night, staring up at the night sky, I came to a profound realization. Even though science clearly explains the cause of a lunar eclipse, it can never explain away the mystery and awe of experiencing one. Watching the moon slowly being overcome by the shadow of the Earth briefly reminded me of just how small we are. We go about our days, consumed with our worries and cares as if they were the center of the universe. I think it is good to be reminded that our little stories are a part of a much larger story. On a heart level, it gives us a different vantage point (if only for a moment) from which to view our existence.

View some fantastic photos
of the lunar eclipse from around the world!

And still more...

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rethinking Antarctica

Out of whose womb came the ice?, And the hoary frost of Heaven, who hath gathered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. - Job 38:29-30

It's been called a barren wasteland of ice and snow. The Antarctic explorer, Douglas Mawson, once wrote, "We had discovered an accursed country. We had found the Home of the Blizzard."

As with any story, however, things are not always as they seem...

Apparantly, scientists have discovered that beneath the waters of the frozen wasteland exists a wonderland of life. Amazing and mysterious new life forms have been found in the icy depths, including giant sea spiders and huge worms.

See a photo gallery of these amazing new animals!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Rethinking Eclipses

Both lunar and solar eclipses were viewed in ancient times with a mixture of fear and superstition. The shadow of the Earth passing over the moon often gave an ancient viewer the impression that the moon was being swallowed or eaten by a great serpent. The ancients could predict eclipses, but had no real understanding of why they occurred. It was truly a time of mystery and magic.

Read an interesting article regarding the February 21st reappearance of a lunar eclipse that allegedly saved the life of Christopher Columbus over five hundred years ago.

The video below explains the science behind a lunar eclipse.

When can you see Wednesday's lunar eclipse? Click your time zone below:

Eclipse Diagram for AST (Atlantic Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for EST (Eastern Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for CST (Central Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for MST (Mountain Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for AST (Alaska Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for HST (Hawaiian Standard Time)

Eclipse Diagram for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Eclipse Diagram for GMT +1 (Greenwich Mean Time + 1 Hour)

Eclipse Diagram for GMT +2 (Greenwich Mean Time + 2 Hours)

View a chart detailing lunar eclipses to come over the next few years.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rethinking Apocalypto

I finally got around to watching Apocalypto last night. As an ancient history teacher, I immediately noticed several historical inaccuracies, however, the story ultimately captured me. Looking at the story through the lens of myth and ritual masculine initiation, it was very powerful.

Jaguar Paw, the Mayan hero, is taken against his will from the wildness of his jungle home, by an invading horde, and sets out on a forced journey to be sacrificed. One by one, the men chosen for the ritual Mayan sacrifice are dragged through a corrupt and chaotic Yucatan city. They are marched to the top of the pyramid and their hearts are cut out and offered up to the Mayan gods.

Civilization does this to the masculine soul, doesn't it? It civilizes a man and in essence, rips his heart out. Just like Jaguar Paw, we need to risk the pain, the wounds, and death to flee the things in life that kill our hearts. His heart was in the deep forest, his heart was with his wife and sons. The journey revealed the true meaning of his name, Jaguar Paw. Though dead, he united with his father in spirit and became one with the wild. The symbols and story were very powerful and bore real substance.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Rethinking Chaos

We plan and prepare, control and design, and still something goes wrong. Something ends up backwards. We plan a wonderful family outing, and then someone gets sick. A marathon runner paces his race perfectly, finds himself in a position to win, then slips and falls on the finish line. We invade a nation in order to free its people from the grip of tyranny, only to realize that they don't want us there. You arrange for a lovely, romantic evening for two, and then a bitter argument ensues. We try to bring a little bit of order to the chaos in our lives and the chaos always seems to break loose and we end up with an inverted night sky. What is going on here anyway? Could we be missing something? The answers may be all around us in plain sight.

Download a copy of Jay D'Ambrosio's new eBook for only $0.49 from

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