Astronomy Explained to Audiences Through Music and Photography

When Jose Francisco Salgado was growing up in Puerto Rico and deciding on a career, he was torn between astronomy, music and photography. Today he pursues all three in his role as astronomer with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and his worldwide travels to communicate science through the arts incorporating visual artistry and music.

Dr. Salgado appeared most recently at Wolf Trap Farm Park where the National Symphony Orchestra performed Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” in HD to talk about the accompanying film he created from NASA images and other visual resources. The program opened with themes from space-related films to whet appetites for the visual treat accompanying Holst’s orchestral suite.

“For the past ten years, I’ve been combining science and art by using art as a hook to get attention, then adding science through astronomical images and photographs I take of the night sky when visiting places around the world,” he said.

Salgado is passionate about astronomy and the idea of presenting it with classical music, so when he was first asked to produce a backdrop for ‘The Planets,’ he decided to create a film to closely follow the music, rather than merely having a slide show.

To begin, he collected images by space probes, from telescopes on earth and animations based on scientific explorations. Then he listened closely to the music to tell a visual story line in a logical order to match visually what was happening in the music. While he was working on the first movement, he was researching the second and teaching himself video editing.

Following that initial project, Dr. Salgado prepared an astronomical version of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” by creating a virtual gallery and using the paintings as portals into space. He has presented both programs since then with major symphony orchestras in more than 50 concert halls in thirteen countries. Last year, the 400t h anniversary of Galileo, his Science and Symphony orchestral films were named by the International Astronomical Union as a Special Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009).

Not long ago, Dr. Salgado was inspired to view time-lapsed images of the night sky while listening to “Spirit,” a song by musician/composer Tom Bailey, formerly of the British pop group Thompson Twins. Bailey was so pleased to learn how well his music suited Salgado’s project that he is now composing a work of four movements to accompany a film about the night sky photographed from earth.

The biggest thrill for Salgado is starting with a blank page and interpreting what he is feeling and how the music conveys the visual. For instance, Holst’s Jupiter movement is very jolly and reminded him of being on a carousel with a circular motions, so he used photographs from a camera placed above Jupiter to show its satellites in orbit. Then he showed one hemisphere rotating, followed by the other hemisphere.

He is thrilled to hear people coming out of the concerts saying they didn’t know Jupiter had so many moons. Once the seed is planted, the next step is up to the viewer to get an astronomy book, visit a planetarium, and watch TV documentaries.

Emily Cary is a prize-winning teacher and novelist whose articles about entertainers appear regularly in the DC Examiner. She is a genealogist, an avid traveler, and a researcher who incorporates landscapes, cultures and the power of music in her books and articles.

The Evolution of the Television Satellite

Everyone remembers how horrifyingly huge the dishes for satellite TV used to be. Not too long ago they were a feature of the typical lawn set of tacky ornaments — which included a few statues or figurines and that strange, iridescent, decorative orb that sits in a birdbath of sorts. But then again, to say that the old satellites were a part of the lawn set is an understatement; they completely dominated it. Driving down your average small-town road in the eighties, lawn after lawn would look like a extraterrestrial data feed station. If you didn’t know otherwise, it wouldn’t be illogical or out of line to assume that everyone had a serious hobby in astronomy.

If you were that person uninitiated to the satellite phenomenon, it would surely come as a surprise to you to discover that the real purpose of the giant, metal bowl angled towards the sky and equipped with a rod at the center is to allow a household to tune in to additional sports games on TV, or watch the latest popular songs synched to music videos. Yes, behind all that clunky technology there existed one simple purpose: to watch television. It seemed like such a huge effort — literally — to satisfy an outwardly simple task of accessing TV stations beyond the standard four. Needless to say, it was a great sacrifice for the yard. Any gardening guru or lawn care aficionado must have either vehemently protested the giant grey equipment or, if they caved, battled with a serious moral dilemma.

Somewhere along the way, scientists came to the realization that the massivity of the satellite dish was superfluous. In fact, about nine tenths of it was dispensable. What this has meant for the 2000s is that lawns have been restored and the outer space launching pads in our backyards have disappeared. Today our satellite television consists of a much smaller dish — a serving bowl, if you will — that can easily be hidden from view by tucking it away on the back side of the garage roof.

Ironically, along with the advent of the smaller satellite came an inflow in abundance of more stations. Television genres have branched off and multiplied so that not only do there exist more types of shows on more stations, but we have stations dedicated entirely to one genre alone, no matter how niche or seemingly limited the genre may be. There are dozens of stations each for sports, sitcoms, music, movies, news, kids, and then there are the food stations, animal stations, women stations, men stations. And, to boot, all these channels can be transmitted to a TV with snazzy features such as surround sound and high definition, making the whole setup one that would kick the old satellite and its sister big-box, antennae-eared TV of the past to the curb. Now we can look back on the retro satellite and safely say it came, it went, and now it’s gone for good.

Don’t Let Life Just Pass – Enjoy It!

The next time you’re in a supermarket, or on a subway or in a large group, take a look around. How many of the people around you look like they’re really enjoying life. How many look enthusiastic and full of joy? I’m willing to bet that it’s not many. Most are probably rushing to work or home from work, and don’t have time to worry about enjoying life. They’re too busy. But you should make time to enjoy life. You should do things you really enjoy every day.

Optimism and enthusiasm are two of the major traits of people who enjoy life. Enthusiasm is, in fact, critical for a full life, and if you’ve got enthusiasm you will also have an optimistic outlook. Both can make a big difference in your life, and both are needed to really enjoy it.

An enthusiastic outlook is not something you are born with. You have to have the right attitude for it, and it will only happen if you let it happen. Do you wake up in the morning full of zeal — raring to go and looking forward to the day. Or do you drag yourself out of bed dreading what is ahead, grabbing a quick breakfast and heading for a job you hate? If so, you need to develop enthusiasm and the best way to do this is cultivate a love of living, a love for people, and a love of beauty. Tell yourself you’re going to be enthusiastic and believe it. Then act enthusiastic.

A friend of mine has enthusiasm written all over him. Every time I see him he’s smiling and cheerful. One day he said to me, “I’ve been retired for almost ten years now, and I’ve had a ball every since the day I retired.” I laughed, but I was sure it was true. All people should get this much joy out of life.

One of the things needed to enjoy life, particularly as you get older, is keeping busy. Keeping busy and not being bored is one of the keys to a happy life. And indeed there are so many things to do with your free time — you never need to get bored.

Below I give a list of things that should help you enjoy life more.

1. Enjoy the Little things

Everything you try to do for enjoyment doesn’t have to be a big event: a vacation at a famous resort, a fishing trip to Alaska, a cruise in the Caribbean, or sky diving. They’re all great, but you can only do them once in a while (if you’re lucky). It’s the little things that really count; they’re the things that keep your enthusiasm up and give you a feeling of joy every day, and they are easy to come by. The old saying, ” Stop and smell the roses” may be worn out, but it’s still worth thinking about.

By little things I mean things like enjoying your first cup of coffee in the morning — in particular, leaning back, savoring the taste and smell, and really enjoying it. Also, enjoying the morning sunlight streaming in through the window, enjoying beautiful sunsets, and a walk down the garden path. Nature always makes you feel good and melts away stress. So enjoy the view of snow on a distant mountain, or just a drive or walk in the country.

2. Enjoy the People Around You

People are critical for enjoyment. Surround yourself with positive, enthusiastic people; enthusiasm and joy are contagious, so talk and laugh with them. Enjoy a night out with your spouse. Play with your kids (play games with them). And pets also bring a lot of joy into your life.

People are usually the happiest when they’re around other people — particularly, optimistic, enthusiastic people (in fact, it’s a good idea to avoid pessimistic, negative people. Some of it may rub off on you).

3. Make Up an “Enjoyment” List

One of the best ways to get enjoyment out of life is to make up a list of the things you really enjoy doing. Then read through them and think about them. How many of them have you done lately? Probably very few. Why? Not enough time? Make time.

In fact you should make up two lists. The first should be a list of everything you love to do, and the second should be a more specific list of when you will do these things.

Can’t think of anything? When was the last time you went dancing, biking, fishing, skiing, big game hunting, golfing, playing tennis or mountain climbing? I’m sure you can come up with a good list. (The rest of the things in my list may give you some ideas.)

4. Learn Something New

Learning, happiness and satisfaction with life all go hand in hand. People are never bored when they’re learning something new. You could take a course at night school, or just read a “how-to” book.

A few suggestions are:

Learn to write. Begin by writing in a journal or dairy. Then after you gain some confidence, try submitting articles to magazines. You may surprise yourself.
Write poetry. Poetry isn’t a big seller, but millions of people enjoy writing it.
Learn to use the computer if you don’t already know how (this won’t apply to many young people). If you already use the computer develop a blog.
Learn to cook. Try out new recipes.

5. Learn to Sing or Play a Musical Instrument

Music plays such a large role in our lives. They say there are people who do not enjoy music, but I find it hard to believe. Just listening to music can bring a lot of joy into your life. But there is so much more you can do.

Singing makes everyone feel good. Maybe the only singing you do is in the shower, but the opportunities for singing in public are much greater today than they were a few years ago, and the reason is karaoke. And you don’t have to be a particularly good singer. Furthermore, as you sing more and more you’ll find that your singing will improve significantly. Karaoke groups are active in every city and town across America — in cafes, recreation centers, churches and so on.

Another thing that will likely bring you a lot of satisfaction and joy is learning to play a musical instrument. You may have taken piano lessons when you were young, and forgotten most of what you learned, Now is the time to begin again amd really learn it. Or maybe you would prefer the guitar. The important thing is to enjoy it (don’t worry about becoming a professional). But it’s equally important not to become discouraged — keep at it

6. Try a New Hobby

A new hobby is a great way to spend your spare time, and it will likely bring you a lot of enjoyment. The list of hobbies is endless. Photography is particularly enjoyable, and it has become easier and cheaper with digital cameras (you don’t have to worry about wasting a lot of film). And there are the old standbys: stamp and coin collecting. Gardening is another hobby enjoyed by millions of people, and it has a dividend — fresh vegetables. Others are bird-watching, restoring old cars, amateur astronomy, beadwork, jewelry making, model trains, and model planes, to name just a few.

7. Limit Your Time Watching TV

I love certain programs on TV as much as anyone, but sitting in front of the TV night after night and on weekends, watching everything that comes on is merely letting life pass. You’re spending all your time watching other people’s lives, and even though they might be exciting lives, you’re not living them. You’re just watching. What you want is to “live” life, not just watch it pass. You want to enjoy life.

Everyone loves certain programs — sports events and so on — and there’s no problem with that. The problem is becoming a “couch potato” in front of the TV.

8. Take “Enjoyment” Breaks

It’s a good idea every so often to take a break and do something you really like to do. This is particularly important if work takes up much of your time. These breaks can be relatively short: 15 or 20 minutes, or up to an hour. If you’re an avid photographer, for example, you could take your camera to work and take a few minutes at lunch to take some photos. There are, in fact, a lot of things you could do over the lunch hour: take a quick swim at a nearby pool, visit a nearby art gallery or museum. Or you could just go shopping, if that’s what you enjoy the most.

9. Make Time for Laughter

Laughter always makes you feel good. When you’re laughing, you’re enjoying life. Furthermore, it relieves stress, and makes you happy. If you surround yourself with happy, enthusiastic, optimistic people, you’ll likely do a lot of laughing as you talk to them. You can also get laughter from reading humorous books, watching TV or humorous videos or CDs. The important thing is to bring as much laughter into your life as possible.

10. Keep Your Body Fit and Healthy

You can’t enjoy life if you have aches and pains, or can’t get around easily. The three things you need in the proper amount to keep your body working well are;

Exercise. You should exercise every day, and make sure you do both aerobic and weights. Aerobics keep your lungs and heart in shape, while weights keep you muscles in shape. Stretching is also important.
Sleep. You need at least 7 hours (some people need 8) of sleep each night. Keeping a regular sleep schedule (the same bedtime and rise times) helps you sleep better.
Nutrition. Make sure you get the proper vitamins, minerals and so on. Vegetables, fruit and whole grain are particularly important.

11. Consider Stopping Things You Don’t Enjoy

Are there things that you do, but don’t enjoy doing? I’m not talking about yardwork or chores; most people don’t care for them, but if you’ve got a yard they’re something you have to do. Also I’m not talking about going to school. But maybe your job gives you little enjoyment. If possible, make changes so that you enjoy it more. Enjoy the people at work.

Educational Opportunities in Retirement: No Retiree Left Behind

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Henry Ford – Industrialist

Retirement is a time of exploration and one very important element of this involves educational opportunities. What things would you like to know more about, but have not had the time to learn? For me, I would like to understand how the economy works, learn to speak Spanish, and further a lifelong interest in astronomy. Because of my work schedule, I have been unable to take advantage of the numerous courses offered as part of the local junior college system on these topics. However, in retirement, I will have the time to explore.

In this article, I will review several educational options for seniors. These are options that are low or no cost. One of the advantages of getting older is that you are more likely to seek educational opportunities because you want to learn about the topic, not to attain some sort of certification. If this describes you, then there is a world of possibilities that are open. Let’s take a look at some of the options.

STATE COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES

Most states have either formal policies or actual state statutes that allow residents over the age of 60, 62, or 65 (depending on the state) to attend colleges in the system free or at a substantially reduced cost. Most of these are on a space available basis and do not offer credit for completion of a course. But, if you just want to explore and learn, this could be perfect for you.

The states that have these no- or low-cost education policies for seniors are:

Two year colleges only: Alabama

Four year colleges only: California, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, South Dakota

Both two- and four-year colleges: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming

In some instances, there might be restrictions, but check with the specific state to determine the limitations. This can be a good option depending on the content you are after and whether you need the structure of a formal class.

ON-LINE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Over the last couple of years, educational opportunities delivered on-line have blossomed. These run the gamut from formal classes delivered through streaming video lectures, multiple-video modules focused on general topics, or relatively short video clips focused on a narrow topic. Let’s explore a couple of these possibilities.

Coursera

Coursera is an example of a growing number of educational opportunities available on-line. I will use Coursera as the example, but you can Google On-Line Courses Free and find others as well. Several courses are offered for free although you have the opportunity for certification for a fee that varies from $30 – $90 per course. These courses run over the course of an academic semester and have periodic lectures and “out of class” assignments similar to what you would find in a regular classroom. The difference is that you are attending on-line, not in person.

The courses that are offered change over time, but are taught by renowned faculty members from top public and private universities. The content of these courses run the gamut across the sciences, math, humanities, and social sciences. They vary considerably in terms of the background you need to understand the information. However, generally they should be comprehensible by the reasonably educated person. Here are some examples of courses currently being offered and the universities that are producing them:

Find, Fix, and Prevent Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities (University of Maryland)

Climate Change in Four Dimensions (University of California)

Computer Networks (University of Washington)

Social & Economic Networks (Stanford University)

Write and Produce Your Own Music (Berklee College of Music)

Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition (National University of Singapore)

The Power of Macroeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World (University of California)

Global Sustainable Energy (University of Florida)

This list is just a small sampling of courses that are offered. Go on-line to read detailed descriptions of the courses offered and the background you will need. After that, all you will need to do is to sign-up and view the on-line lectures as they are scheduled. The Coursera home page can be found at www.coursera.org.

The Khan Academy

This is a website that offers videos covering topics in math, science, economics & finance, and the humanities. This site originally was developed by Sal Khan to assist his niece in grade school. It has expanded substantially from that. Go on to the site and you will have access to video clips ranging from around 5 – 20 minutes each explaining a specific topic. Need a basic refresher on high school algebra – this is the place. Need to understand some basic economic concepts – Khan will provide what you need. These topics are explained in very simple detail. There are, of course, Khan Academy knock-offs. However, no one does it like Sal Khan. Google or Bing Khan Academy for the link the website.

YouTube

YouTube is a resource that I have just discovered recently. This website provides access to streaming videos that explain nearly any topic that you would like information on. Do you need a video on how to check the oil level in your car? There are several videos on YouTube for that. Need to understand how to set the clock on your VCR – this is the place? Need to know how to hook up your home sound system – well you get the idea. You can find videos on virtually any topic of interest. However, YouTube goes far beyond these simple topics. Many university professors as well as high school AP teachers’ video tape their lectures and put them on YouTube. Just search on the topic you are interested seeing and all of the available videos will be listed. Click on those of interest and they will stream on your browser. The offerings vary in quality, but I have generally found what I was looking for and gotten the content I needed.

You can spend hours searching this site and viewing videos. It’s both entertaining and educational. The YouTube home page can be found at www.youtube.com

Here’s an idea. If you find a course on Coursera that you want that requires a background you don’t have, go to YouTube or the Khan Academy and view videos to get you up to speed on those required background topics. After that, go back to Coursera and sign-up.

In the world of your youth, if you wanted to learn about something your options were to read a book or attend a class. Sometimes these were at considerable expense and might not be readily available. In the new world, the educational options are nearly endless, free or low-cost, and available 24/7. All you need is the time to learn and explore. Welcome to retirement.

Dr JJ Hurtak – A Man Ahead of His Time

We live in an age where everything has its place! Science is one thing, quite separate from religion which is another. Dr. J. J. Hurtak, however, has integrated these seemingly disparate fields of study and uncovered the harmony between them.

The best-selling book “The Da Vinci Code” prompted many scholars to look to the similarities between science and religion and how they may complement each other. Dr. Hurtak has been doing this for years.

Prior to Dan Brown’s best-seller, Dr. Carl Sagan discussed the conflicts between scientists and theologians in his book “Contact” and the movie made from it. This discussion has raged for over a century between academics of different disciplines, with no one giving an inch.

For over 35 years, Dr. J.J. Hurtak has been pointing out the commonalities and reinforcing nature between comparative religion and the social sciences. Disciplines like anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics and the hard sciences of mathematics, physics, biology, neurology, astronomy and cosmology are complementary, Hurtak claims – and he has spent his professional life proving it. Often when experts in different fields are brought together, they feel at odds with one another. Dr. Hurtak, however, through his diverse scholarship and study, has worked to bring divergent disciplines together. He builds consensus in an evolutionary move toward synthesis, hoping that bridging these disciplines will introduce a more harmonious life for all humankind through the synergy and insight of multiple disciplines.

In other words, what Hurtak is asking us to do is to open our hearts and minds to other academic disciplines, other cultural ideas and different religious and political viewpoints for the mutual benefit of creating a better future for all of us. What follows is my interview and interpretation of Dr. Hurtak’s work and why some of it is misunderstood.

One of his positive visions for planet Earth is to see the unity of peoples and a movement to establish peaceful relationships among all of us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called out this same message in church and from the head of protest lines during the peace movement of the 1960’s, and other progressives did the same. Some people are now carrying that same banner into the new millennia, and Dr. J.J. Hurtak clearly is one of them.

Hurtak is not just a beauty pageant contestant spouting platitudes about unity and world peace. He is a world renowned scholar asking other experts and scientists to see the similarities between religion and science and to consider how they can work together for positive change.

Yes, he’s trying to get science and religion to work together! Historically, anybody who has supported the more speculative sciences or tried to combine multiple disciplines and theories met with considerable resistance and malice from the general academic community.

How hard was it to get doctors to consider the germ theory of disease, after hundreds of years of agreement that disease arose spontaneously from the ether. Although the germ theory was resisted at first, it is now a cornerstone of modern science.

Dr. J.J. Hurtak, Ph.D., Ph.D. (University of California and University of Minnesota) is opening minds to new ways of looking at the world, and this includes religion, science, history and the human condition.

Hurtak is a scholar and academic with no particular axe to grind, but if you were to try to distill his work into a short phrase, it would be that he is a futurist working to bring people together and raise consciousness. And he is meeting with considerable success with this all over the world.

In his desire to bring people together Dr. Hurtak taught courses on African studies at the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and was privileged to be a participant at the historical reception of the Chinese Ping-Pong team at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1972 with Governor Edmund Brown. This was the start of open door relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

In a side chapter on American-Far Eastern relations, Dr. Hurtak worked to bring Chinese acupuncture texts to America. He helped to advance Chinese acupuncture medicine, which is now a serious and acceptable discipline, acknowledged by the American medical profession and a legitimate practice recognized by legal and medical experts throughout the world.

Also in the 1970’s, Hurtak was able to work with scholars behind the scenes in helping to microfilm sacred Tibetan texts, an important historical move in preserving some of the world’s most ancient texts of astronomy and medicine. This has helped to further the understanding of an important early chapter in global history.

For 30 years, Hurtak has visited South Africa and worked with the Zulu Shaman, Credo Mutwa, to promote and preserve African culture and music, long before the end of apartheid.

Hurtak’s work has continued to span many disciplines in seeking ways to create a positive dialogue for our future. In the 1980’s he was a director of Technology Marketing Analysis Corporation (TMAC) and helped to establish a strong dialogue between engineers, scientists and government leaders looking for answers to the oil embargo and the need for real energy alternatives. With Hurtak’s encouragement, TMAC became well-known through its creation of the annual Renewable Energy Technology Symposium and International Exposition (RETSIE) Conference at Anaheim, California, where thousands of leading engineers and businessmen were brought together to look ahead and to honor Nobel Prize winners like Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg who changed the meaning of the energy equation. Hurtak took action to meet the energy challenge and to help young and old to see the importance of sustainability.

More recently, Dr. Hurtak along with his organization The Academy for Future Science (AFFS) has been helping the Xavante people of Brazil with ways of improving agriculture and educational futures, working to provide for genuine sustainability with new agricultural centers and opportunities for preparing their young people to go on to higher education.

Working with many musicians around the world, Hurtak has introduced humanistic and spiritual musical themes. Some of these musicians have included Gilberto Gil from Brazil and Alice Coltrane, wife of famous jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Hurtak’s work with Alice at the New Jersey Center of the Performing Arts was written up in The New York Times (2006) in an article regarding the introduction of “supersoul” music, but Hurtak prefers to see it as a spiritual renewal of unity through song and the celebration of “mantric” language.

In the field of literature, Hurtak consulted with the internationally known writer, Sidney Sheldon, on changes within the human psyche for the novel “The Doomsday Conspiracy”. Sidney Sheldon’s books have sold millions of copies throughout the world.

Sheldon came to Hurtak because Hurtak was the first to confirm extraterrestrial experiments with the human race. In 1979, in an El Universal news conference (Mexico City), he pointed out the need to talk openly about these and other important issues facing humanity. In 1995, he was a speaker at the historic first disclosure conference in Washington D.C. “When Cosmic Cultures Meet” sponsored by the Human Potential Foundation. This special gathering discussed the reality of cosmic visitations. Hurtak continues to encourage scholars, governments and scientists to talk openly about these controversial subjects.

As a well-known lecturer and author, Hurtak is respected for his knowledge of anthropology, future science and social science. Hurtak is working hard all over the world in an effort to unite rather than divide. As with all who preceded him in this endeavor, he has found many detractors. Some people misstate Hurtak’s words to forward their own position. Others have misunderstood Hurtak’s meaning because they do not have the background to be able to understand his writings.

Hurtak has always respected and found points of mutual agreement in his comparative religious studies and other studies. It is the misinterpretations of his religious scholarship that detractors have criticized him for the most.

For example, while teaching classes on the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the 1960’s, Hurtak pointed out that it was the Muslim world’s academics and scientists who helped to pass on the heritage of the Classical and Hellenic world to Europe.

Hurtak has unceasingly worked to build bridges between peoples. This task is no small undertaking. He travels the world as a lecturer, speaking publicly together with his wife who shares his philosophy and environmental concerns.

Inclusion not Exclusion

He is the author of over fourteen books. His latest book is “The End of Suffering” with co-author Russell Targ.

His books are sociological and rarely political. In fact he tries to steer clear of politics to avoid the divisiveness and polarity that is attached to politics.

Hurtak’s most recent travels show what he has accomplished lately. Much of his fame stems from work he did years ago in comparative religion, and while he still works in this arena, he is now very involved in more comprehensive things. He just returned to the United States from the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Australia, where he was an honorary ambassador, as well as a speaker.

Hurtak has achieved recognition through this worldwide organization as well as through his ongoing scholarly contributions in comparative religion with an emphasis on commonalities between different religions. Yet his detractors attack his reputation regardless of his good works.

Much of Hurtak’s work is of a metaphysical nature. He uses concepts involving ancient history and languages. Part of the problem with his critics is that they often misinterpret Hurtak’s work by trying to simplify concepts that are not simple.

His extensive work in comparative religion cannot be reduced to simplistic phrases and cliches. Hurtak speaks, for example, of the black stone in Mecca as representing the energies of our changing life and changing three-dimensional universe, an assessment that is in accord with Muslim legends that the black cube contains something sacred that fell to earth at the time of Adam and that has absorbed the sins of humanity. Misrepresenting Hurtak’s words out of context, detractors have tried to use this statement from his book as a charge against him: Rather than relating his statement to the world’s traditional mythologies and religions and to modern science, with its ongoing investigation of the nature of dark energy and dark matter of which more than 95% of our universe is composed, they label Hurtak as critical of the Moslem faith.

His position, stated in the voice of a metaphysicist, is not a political opinion. Hurtak’s statements, taken in context, point out similarities in the major religions of the world: European Christians make pilgrimages to one of the Black Madonnas, to be cleansed of sins and to make a new start on their spiritual paths, while Moslems make the rigorous pilgrimage to Mecca to the presence of the black stone, housed in the Kaaba, for purposes of worship and purification.

Visions and Revelations

The misstatements of Dr. Hurtak’s critics create the divisions he is trying to heal. When challenged as to specifics, these critics become evasive. Some critics and detractors have tried to characterize the source of Hurtak’s mystical writings as “channeling”. For the student of comparative religions there are many synonyms for wireless communication with something God like. “Channeling” can be used as a catch-all term for any and all revealed extrasensory messages coming from some unexplainable source. Yet, in reality, channeling is only one method of receiving information; a vision is another. And there is another way of gaining higher knowledge, called by the ancients a “Revelation”.

A vision may be anything from a physical and mental experience induced by drugs – i.e., Carlos Castaneda and the Piute nation (as well as other Native peoples who use drug assisted experiences) – to that of a greater understanding given as a Divine Gift. Visions may be induced by physical stress, fasting, physical exhaustion or fevers, but they can also be induced by religious disciplines: yoga, meditation, etc.

A “vision” is clearly a more general term than a Revelation. Revelation, be it by the presence of an angel or higher entity, such as a religious epiphany, is an inspirational awakening that imparts an understanding or knowledge. A vision can be a revelation. Channeling, in contrast, is the receiving of information given to a person by means of a controlling entity spoken through the party that is channeling.

Regardless of whether it was a vision, an epiphany or a revelation, Hurtak had such a wakeup call and tried to explain it in a book, over three decades ago, called “The Keys of Enoch “. His book is a scholarly work that does not lend itself to easy, glib explanations.

It has been suggested that Dr. Hurtak would be well served if he wrote up something along the lines of Dr. J.J. Hurtak Explained so it would be clearer what he is getting at.

When I interviewed Dr. Hurtak in California he had just returned from lecturing in Australia and was heading out to speak at universities around South Africa to try to bring a positive future. My goal was to get a clearer handle on this guy and then try to put in plain language what causes the confusion about him, his writings and his positions in the public consciousness.

People with doctorates, from my experience, sometimes isolate themselves by using a specialized language that attends their field. Dr. J.J. Hurtak has two doctorates and is an expert in several disciplines and has even muddied the waters further by mastering many languages both modern and ancient.

Unfortunately, complicated language or the technical use of terminology may be used against any author to further an agenda or to discredit the scholar.

As stated above, the terms vision and channeling have often been misapplied with regard to Hurtak who has openly and publicly stated that he does not support channeling.

Therefore, it is very easy, when dealing with the work of scholars such as Hurtak, Carl Gustav Jung, Carl Sagan and others, for conmen, charlatans, pundits and academic spin doctors to take catchphrases out of the context of a scholarly work and misunderstand the meaning of the author.

More often than not, disinformation is not necessarily used for disinformation purposes alone, but for slandering a topic and those who support that field who are trying to make a positive move forward in society. In reality, disinformation is false information or damaging information, generally untrue, used to discredit enemies.

In analyzing Hurtak’s work it is important to understand that as a lawyer may use a specialized vocabulary, the anthropologist, archaeologist, or comparative religion specialist (Dr J.J. Hurtak) will likewise use terminology with a more precise meaning than that meaning generally understood by the public.

Dr. Hurtak wrote his book “The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of Enoch” based upon a revelation he had regarding: mathematics, history, comparative religion, archaeology, anthropology and linguistics for the future of humankind.

Revelation

Specifically, in 1973 Dr. Hurtak had what I would define as a “revelation” which means that a supernatural or rather, an infinite source “reveals” some information to the natural man who may then try to explain that information to others. This notion of getting insight from the supernatural, or God, if you will, was accepted during earlier eras as a given by many people that God or the gods revealed His (or their) will to humankind in some form or another. Since the dawn of classical modern philosophy, philosophers such as Kant and Plato have had discussions on the Noumena world (meta-physical real world beyond the five senses) vs. the phenomenal world (known by the five senses”). Nonetheless, especially since the Age of Enlightenment, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this belief in metaphysics has become less well-accepted among a growing segment of the population.

Hurtak had a personal revelation or epiphany and wrote a book to explain it. The subtle difference between channeling and revelation is important.

Neither Hurtak nor his organization, the Academy for Future Science have ever endorsed channeling. Though Dr. J.J. Hurtak is familiar with several famous channelers and may even respect their work, he does not endorse the process of channeling. Not surprisingly, there are just as many individuals who use Hurtak for their own credibility by tying their views, writings and opinions to Hurtak’s work or to Hurtak himself, oftentimes without any real association with Dr. J.J. Hurtak or the Academy for Future Science.

Although Dr. Hurtak explained his experience in The Book of Knowledge: Keys of Enoch, this revelation and experience have been loosely described in various books by Hurtak’s detractors in pursuit of their own interpretation and agendas. But these same people fail to point out the amazing facts he had in this book that were unknown at the time of writing.

For one, he calls our sun a ‘variable star’ in his book over thirty-six years ago. This important data was just recognized by NASA this past year (2010).

Second, he points out that there will be an unusual recognition of a change in the rotation of Saturn. This was noted by NASA with its comparison of the Voyager and Cassini probes, conducted in 2004. He also was the first to point out that star shafts of the Great Pyramid point to specific stars, “Mintaka, Aniltak, Anilam” in Orion, a point that Robert Bauval’s co-author Adrian Gilbert from the book The Orion Mystery takes note of in his subsequent books. These are just a few of the myriad details that were written by Dr. Hurtak in the early 1970’s that are now accepted and understood.

Consequently, Hurtak can be seen as a type of scientific prophet who is finally being understood by a humanity no longer dissuaded by scientific thinking having to be at odds with religion. In fact, he points out that the Name of God as the Tetragrammaton (Hebrew name of God) has a corresponding relation to the codons of the human DNA.

Certainly, there are those who completely do not understand what Dr. Hurtak is trying to say especially in the re-evaluation of important symbols. And The Keys use myriad symbols and pictures to illustrate consciousness development.

I like to think that is where the conflict and confusion comes in. For example, The Keys of Enoch speak of such terms as “Christ race” which is describing a people who have compassion and demonstrate a culture of peace just as Christ attempted to show. This represents an avant-garde people who use the Light of Christ consciousness as a spiritualized people of Light. Those who don’t understand this have said Hurtak is speaking of a “Master race.” The term “Race” has such a loaded meaning today that had Hurtak written the book today he may have used “Christ consciousness” since he was talking about the outlook or mindset of a group of people, not their genetic, religious, or national heritage.

Sometimes in discussion of the supernatural very important ideas get blurred. The popular press tries to make the controversy as accessible as possible to the widest audience. Hurtak and other scholars have entirely different audiences and are not necessarily seeking populist acceptance. He is not trying to answer the questions for everyone but is posing the question for everyone. Academics process their experiences through their training and come out the other end with their version of what happened, explained in their own words.

I have concluded that The Keys of Enoch is not a channeled work. It is a scholarly reporting of an experience the author had with a higher being wherein he experienced a great deal of information with his conscious mind (higher consciousness), and then reported it as filtered through his scholarly background.

It seems reasonable to any educated person that the reason Dr. Hurtak was chosen for this experience was that he, through hard work, scholarship, and willingness and openness to spiritual development, was qualified to reveal this experience to the world.

Being a somewhat skeptical reporter, I take all of the philosophical and metaphysical schools of thought with a grain of salt. However, I do take exception when journalists use sloppy writing style, poor or no fact checking and broad stroke characterization of other people’s work; especially when they inject colloquialisms and imprecise language to explain spiritual matters.

Stargate Nonsense?

In researching this article I read many articles that had pros and cons about Dr. Hurtak. One of the most “uninformed”, in my opinion, is “The Stargate Conspiracy” (by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince) which lumped together a bunch of people who separately decided to investigate some of the archeology in Egypt as being involved in some ‘secret conspiracy.’ They took out of context fragments of Hurtak’s work along with misstating his views to come to a conclusion that was more in accord with their own agenda as expressed in their multiple writings.

In my view, the irony about discussing “The Stargate Conspiracy,” is that it elevates the authors’ mis-interpretation as if it were a work of fact-checked scholarship. It is not!

Throughout the book, there is a lot of this kind of free associative writing in this genre. And correcting the conclusions is frustrating because they don’t concern themselves with accuracy. The tabloids come to mind.

Why should anyone care? The only reason scholars try to set the record straight is that the record is their reputation.

A scholar and lecturer’s reputation must be kept clean and highly polished to maintain credibility in order to continue working in the field.

Hurtak takes the trouble to guard his reputation regardless of the seemingly futile nature of the battles he has to fight to bring unity between the scientific mind and religious viewpoint.

Most careful readers of Hurtak appreciate his integrity. His detractors seem to disregard integrity in favor of hoped for mass audiences.

The “Nine” Confusion

A perfect example of this is the use of the terms “The Nine”, “Lab Nine”, “Council of Nine”, from which the Stargate authors and others have determined, due to a reference in The Keys of Enoch, that Hurtak is associated with “THE NINE”.

Strangely, Stargate wants you to think that “THE NINE” are some human governmental conspiracy group. Hurtak uses only the term “Council of Nine,” in a very normal religious, scholarly context as relating to a Jungian archetype comparable to the nine Egyptian gods as mythological teaching figures and the nine ancient Greek gods again as Jungian archetypes.

Specifically, it is a metaphor or at least a description of angelic realities that probably would have nothing to do with governments on earth!

Hurtak’s reference must be taken in context of scholarly writing. Hurtak is an academic in comparative religion, mythology, and anthropology, not a conspiracy buff. Hurtak defined the Council of Nine “as a tribunal of teachers governing our immediate super galactic and galactic region subject to change in evolving ‘new programs’ of the father’s kingdom. ” Although I struggle to understand his definition I am clear that he ain’t talking about a quasi-governmental committee of humans.

In simple language, Hurtak is writing about an experience with an angelic or infinite type of being expressing knowledge from a creator source. We are talking about the infinite with our finite mind and limited language.

Further, Hurtak, through hard work earned two Ph.D.s, a fact that any journalist could confirm, if they would bother. Hurtak’s background is not only comparative religion but anthropology and history. He is putting this group of nine teachers in the context that we have historically put messengers of the gods, or archetypes in.

Dr. Hurtak’s metaphor is not “the Nine.” Dr. Hurtak does not use that term in his book. He uses the term “Council of Nine.” It makes no sense to conclude that he is talking about nine extraterrestrials or corporeal beings pulling the strings on humankind or that he, Dr. J.J. Hurtak, would qualify or choose to be one of this council since he considers himself a man, not an incorporeal being.

If one goes on the internet and types in “The Nine” or “Lab Nine” they would get many hits for a video game. They also might get a reference to the nine original gods of Greek Mythology or a whole set of conspiracy sites that confuse Dr. J.J. Hurtak’s work with science fiction writers such as Gene Rodenberry and popular psychics such as Uri Geller and other writers such as Phyllis V. Schlemmer, who did write about “The Nine “.

Since Phyllis V. Schlemmer, Uri Geller, and a man named Puharich did work in parapsychology in the 1960’s and 1970’s, some authors jump to the conclusion that because Hurtak associated with and ran in the same circles of academics studying parapsychology; that they all had the same agenda, same beliefs, and are working with words of art in the same manner. This is obviously not true. He is trying to educate and inspire our world to think in terms of not only global ethics and human understanding, but an outlook that can embrace other galaxies and universes in their consciousness. Toward this end, he is concerned and active with both earth science and space law. He has published papers on a new set of space laws for peace on the “high frontier” and discussions about the multinational colonization of space.

Optimistically, I believe Hurtak is part of a new movement toward environmentally and socially active public consciousness.

If one reads the news, they could infer that over the past thirty years the Western world has lost its bearings and has begun to wager its future and lost its moral values. Ethics have given way to cynical opportunism in business, in finance, in politics and in life in general.

Guilt by Association

Finally, I cannot close this article without also laughing at the assertion that Hurtak worked for the C.I.A. based upon his association with Puharich.

It is alleged that Puharich worked for the C.I.A. I cannot say as he has been dead for over 15 years. In a recent interview and in discussion with people who have known Hurtak for several decades; it becomes clear that Hurtak was unaware of any association that Puharich may have had with the C.I.A. when they worked together.

Further, Hurtak’s work in parapsychology included reviewing work by scholars all over the world, not just the U.S. He reviewed the works by other scholars in Russia, Sweden, Brazil, South Africa, Britain and all available information in the U.S.

If we were to believe modern movies, or just general common sense, we might conclude that our government and every other modern government in the world monitor the work of research scientists in various fields without ever directly contacting those scientists. Particularly if they knew that a scientist wouldn’t feel comfortable working for a government intelligence agency.

Fact Checking

That is why good journalists try to talk with their subjects, check facts, and attempt to derive reasonable conclusions based upon facts.

Readers need to do the same and not believe everything written on the internet because it might be disinformation to keep them from delving deeper into the ideas of those who herald positive steps for making the world a better place.

Society prefers to keep the status quo, which means keeping you blocked from moving forward in your thinking. If we are blocked by not discerning “disinformation” when we see it, you remain locked in the old box of perpetual negativity. That is something I learned from Dr. Hurtak, who prefers to move people out of the old box into an informed and creative understanding.

In conclusion, Dr. J.J. Hurtak is a free-thinker, not anti- any religious group! He never worked for the intelligence community. And, he is working in a capacity to unite divergent philosophies not dominate them or lead them.

Hurtak is a scholar, a teacher, a lecturer and a man who should be honored for his contributions throughout the world. Although he challenges the normal paradigms, he goes to pains to offer explanation of his writings or ideas when asked.

He’s a visionary and a good guy working for unity from east to west, north to south and should be given the respect he has earned. Pieces like this one, I hope, merely attempt to clarify any unintentional misunderstandings and direct the reader to make up their own mind after going to the source.

Your New Retirement Lifestyle – Using the Tools of Technology

In my last article I began a discussion of how the tools of technology can make life more accommodating. At the same time, you can readily continue to learn and grow. Here are some additional suggestions:

CONTINUE THE LEARNING PROCESS
Since it is well known that we are living longer, healthier lives, why not make the most of our time. That is, we have the time to reinvent and rediscover our passions. We can readily afford to experiment with new things. Hence, in that sense, the learning process never ceases.

These days, you do not have to leave the comfort of your home or office to take courses. This is where technology, and in particular the Internet, serves us well. A plethora of course offerings is available for enrichment purposes or for matriculation. Let’s examine some of the options.

Distance Education – The easiest way to understand distance education is to think of it as simply a learning situation in which the teacher and learner are separated. The technologies used in distance education are most often one of the following:

• Print – books, study guides, and other materials
• Audio – radio, telephone, cassette/cd, audio conference
• Video – TV medium, video conference, recorded video

The most common types of distance education courses include:

• Correspondence conducted through the regular mail
• Internet conducted
• Telecourse/Broadcast where content is delivered via radio or television
• CD-ROM where the student interacts with computer content
• Pocket PC/Mobile Learning where content is offered through a mobile device

A great place to explore distance learning opportunities is at Yahoo Distance Learning Directory (dir.yahoo.com/Education/Distance_Learning). Here, you’ll find links to Adult Education (ranked according to popularity), college and university offerings, general online courses, television courses, and more.

Peterson’s has an easy to use search mechanism that allows the user to enter the intended course of study, intended degree level (if any), and any on-campus requirements. You can also search by college if you have a particular institution in mind.

The University of Phoenix Online (online.uofphx.info) is one of the largest online higher education programs in the country. The areas of matriculation include associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. You simply fill out a questionnaire on the site, and then get directed to available programs to fit your needs.

Online Museums and Virtual Tours – Many museums offer an interesting online presence through their respective links. Ultimately, you can pull together a vast array of exhibits and collections including classic art and architecture.

A great site to visit is The Museum of Online Museums. Here you’ll find many links to brick-and-mortar museums. Most of these sites will present multiple exhibits from their collections. There really is something for everybody at this site including the Smithsonian Art Museum, a link of Russian museums, art treasures from Kyoto, the Van Gogh Gallery, even a skateboard museum.

VLMP (Virtual Library Museum Pages) is a worldwide directory of online museums that are organized by country.

Museums of the World, boasts a staggering variety of educational links accompanied by a large amount of interactive virtual exhibits with links to dozens of museum shops. Most of their links are topically arranged.

HOBBIES AND ENTERTAINMENT
Mp3 Players – If you are a music buff, times have really changed. From the early days of listening to records, to the supposed advanced technology of eight track tapes it’s so easy to now listen to any song at anytime with an MP3 player and a computer.

Satellite Radio – Satellite radio offers you an enormous array of music and entertainment channels with clear reception. This is of particular interest if you travel and desire consistent reception. The kind of satellite radio you get depends on your intended use.

Music Software – GarageBand is a specific software application that allows users to create a piece of music. At this point in time, it is for Mac computers. It is intended to help amateurs easily produce music. The application comes with about one thousand pre-recorded sampled and sequenced loops and fifty synthesized instruments which can be played using a MIDI keyboard connected to a computer or an on-screen virtual keyboard. Using a microphone, you can also record an instrument or a voice-over to the loops.

Podcasts – A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of files, that is distributed over the Internet for playback on portable media players (such as an iPod) and personal computers. Files can be audio or video. Listeners can subscribe to this feed by submitting a feed address (like the iTunes store). In this way, when new “episodes” become available in the podcast they can be automatically downloaded to that user’s computer. The content is not real-time so users can check out the material at their leisure.

Digital Scrapbooks – Digital scrapbooking utilizes computers, software, and digital photos to create beautiful scrapbook pages. Basically, you store your photographs in albums or individually on your computer hard drive. Depending on how fussy you are about details, you would use any of the more popular software packages to edit your photos.

Hobby Websites – There are a variety of websites that cater to your interests. If you are interested in hobbies that have to do with space and associated technology, then you should certainly visit the Hobbyspace site. The discussions here include satellite building, rocketry, modeling, astronomy and much more. There are also links to space art and music. A major goal of this site is to reach the general public who are interested in space but do not actively pursue that interest. Studium is a cyber magazine website that provides the general hobbyist with information relative to varied fields of collecting and study. So, for example, you’ll find articles on collecting miniatures, counterfeit coins, and movies.

Jeffrey Webber is the author of three books. The first is entitled The New Professional Person’s Retirement Lifestyle. The second is Technology & Your Retirement Lifestyle: Tools For The New You. The most recent book is RVing & Your Retirement Lifestyle: A Cost Effective Way to Live Your Dreams

Mr. Webber was a public school educator for thirty-three years.

Also, he has traveled extensively around the world and is a veteran of RV travel throughout the U.S. He is an avid hobbyist, classical musician, dancer, and is devoted to the cultural arts. Additionally, he volunteers extensively for Heifer International, and maintains a fervent devotion to physical fitness activities.

Gifts For Your Astro Lover

No matter how many years go by, so many of us will join the mass population of shopping at the last minute and in many cases the eleventh hour! I know the feeling, you’ve know this person all your life or perhaps only since last month – Why not shower that special someone with the gifts that they’ll appreciate? If you know their Sun sign you’re likely to get it if not on the mark to a satisfying smile of gratitude close to it….maybe even more!!!!

ARIES March 21 – April 19

Aries buys the first thing that catches their eye. For the Aries in your life, a little red sports car is always a good standby. Anything in the color red is important and things made of iron – bar bells, fireplace accessories, equipment for their personal gym. Perhaps a day when their wish is your command. This is the sign of the daredevil; they are in a hurry to get everywhere and set the world on fire. Aries loves being first; anything unusual and likely to make them stand out from the pack is going to be appreciated. Aries rules the head.

For women hair accessories, earrings, sunglasses and stylish organizers are going to be popular. For the men gadgety “toys” will win their approval as will anything that confirms his status as an action man. Tickets to a sporting event are also likely to be popular with the Aries male.

TAURUS April 20 – May 20

Taurus knows how to appreciate the finer things in life. They enjoy classic home and garden decorations. They don’t mind the old standby – money. It really does talk to them. Other ideas: perfumes, aromatherapy, scarves, jewelry. They get good energy from things made of copper or anything sensual. Emerald green is a great color for them.Comfort features largely in the Taurus home and any gift that allows them to wallow in luxury will go over well.

Taurus rules the throat and vocal cords so music will always make a popular gift. A hamper full of tempting and delicious delicacies will also win you their approval. For women necklaces would be suitable. For either sex gifts that allow them to express their own creative natures would be appreciated.

GEMINI May 21 – June 20

Gemini rules the mind and these people are usually driven to investigate and discover everything they come across. You could almost argue that there needs to be two of them to cover all the ground they do.Ruled by Mercury, they’d like anything silver or yellow. A Gemini might prefer a bicycle; no, make that made for two with his/hers cell phones!! Nothing that will make them stay in one place too long is for this sign.They may also prefer a personally written book, telling how you feel about them and adding some of your favorite poems, songs, etc. Diaries, calendars, calligraphy lessons or pens are all good choices.

As they are always on the go, travel accessories would be popular with both sexes. Interesting and informative books and videos should also be well received. Their ruler Mercury is the planet of communication so telephone and Internet accessories are likely to be popular as well.

CANCER June 21 – July 22

Ruled by the Moon, Cancerians are very attached to their family and their homes. Cancer knits sweaters and makes fudge for the neighborhood. With your Cancer, it’s time to go ahead and hand down the family silver or give them family photos for their desks in antique silver frames. They appreciate a romantic evening at home with a home-cooked dinner, candlelight and a fine wine. Pearls, silver, perhaps new cookware, or a scrapbook with memories of the two of you. Rest assured that your sentimental Cancer will appreciate the heirlooms and pass along the stories that go with them. They tend to be very close to their mothers or estranged from them. There tends to be no real middle ground with them in this area.

Cancer loves to be pampered and coddled. Hand-made and personal gifts that show that you really have gone out of your way to pick something just for them will win you lots of points here. Food and cooking are usually popular with both sexes so a hamper packed with their favorites would be appreciated. Backing this up by whisking them away for a romantic picnic or a weekend away will go over incredibly well.

LEO July 23 – August 22

Leos quite naturally think of themselves as the King and Queen of their personal jungles.Ruled by the sun, don¹t forget things like a beach chair, sun porch accessories, sun glasses, gold, and things in yellows and oranges and ambers. Leo makes charitable donations on behalf of their loved ones. They are often rather dramatic and are likely to have a following of loyal friends who appreciate their rather regal charms.

Anything that helps them stand out from the crowd will please both the lions and lionesses. Just make sure it is quality and you will have a big old pussycat on your hands here. Fine champagne, gourmet cheeses and chocolates would be appropriate, as would gold jewelry. Vouchers for a massage, facial or manicure will also be well received.

VIRGO August 24 – September 23

Virgos are the most picky however practical sign of the zodiac and are likely to appreciate gifts that they can use and that help to keep their life in order. Your picky Virgo is the organizer of the zodiac. How about color-coded coat hangers for the perfectly organized closet? No? Then a leather desk set or matching sweaters for the Virgo and their pooch: they adore their four-footed children. Perhaps a gift certificate for their favorite health food store. They enjoy what I call ‘care packages’: a big box full of many small gifts. Desk organizers, personalized stationery, the colors khaki and peridot look well on them.

A leather briefcase or Filofax/DayTimer would make good presents. Gift certificates for a facial or manicure would also be well appreciated. Books are likely to be well accepted by both sexes although you may be better off buying non-fiction as opposed to fiction. Remember this: Virgo’s gifts don’t matter quite so much as their impeccable wrapping.

LIBRA September 24 – October 23

This sign more than any other strives to create a balance in its life and needs harmony and peaceful surroundings to help them leave the sometimes too hectic world behind.You can bet your Libra will not be alone – ever: so something like his/hers tanning beds or a day at the day spa and whatever the equivalent would be for a guy. The blue topaz is their signature color/stone. A gift certificate for a local renowned designer would not be sniffed at, nor would designer bed sheets, jewelry boxes or chests.Ruled by Venus the planet of love and beauty you can’t go wrong by buying gifts that reflect an inner peace and harmony.

Elegant and tasteful knickknacks for around the home would be appropriate, most particularly in pairs. Two beautiful candle stick holders, silver photo frames or twin book holders will delight women born under this sign. An elegant watch or dinner at an exclusive restaurant will appeal to both sexes, as would a basket of gourmet goodies.

SCORPIO October 24 – November 22

Dark and mysterious Scorpio more than any other sign inspires fear in the other signs and with good cause. Your Scorpio would probably prefer a regression session or a talk to the other side with that medium that helped JLo. Their colors are blood red and black and sometimes white. They will enjoy the sexy lingerie you purchase, or leather clothing – anything sensuous.A good and loyal friend, they will never forget a kindness but they also find it next to impossible to forgive an injury.

For either sex dark sunglasses to conceal just who or what they are looking at while they are about and about would be appropriate. Known for their passionate, sensuous side, in a close relationship, intimate lingerie as long as it is expensive and classy will also be well received. Scorpio also likes to know things – all things, so books and videos on unusual and little-known but interesting subjects are likely to appeal.

SAGITTARIUS November 23 – December 21

Ruled by Jupiter, They love to travel and hate to be tied down. Sagittarius distributes strange souvenirs from exotic locations. They are also likely to be quite sporty and active.A race horse for your Sagittarius will be a hit. One or two tickets to Europe will be promptly used. A set of “The Great Books” or nice luggage is great. A new snow ski outfit, titanium golf club, or gym equipment will please your sporty Sag. Their colors are orange or purple, sometimes, but rarely together.

Travel equipment or books and videos on travel to different exotic places will appeal to this sign. They are also likely to be quite interested in sport. Exercise equipment or gym membership will also be well received. This sign can also be prone to accidents, so a traveling medical kit would also be quite appropriate.

CAPRICORN December 22 – January 20

Capricorn has an appreciation for history and tradition. Plant a big hardwood tree for your Capricorn. Then put a solid gold knocker on their door engraved with their name, and title, as well. Their colors are navy, brown and black. Important stones for them are onyx, lapis and diamonds. Get your favorite Cappy an old fashioned pocket watch. Give them autobiographies of powerful people and mountain -climbing paraphernalia.They like things to be done in the correct manner. They are consistent and conscientious workers.

Antiques will be well received and a welcome present for a Capricorn. Anything that has a stamp of class and good breeding on it will also be appreciated. Gifts should be practical as well as beautiful.

AQUARIUS January 21 – February 19

Aquarians are known for being “out there”.The Aquarian on your gift list will be easy. Just be sure it is the latest gadget, gizmo or electrical fad. The palm held computer or a tv/wristwatch are sure winners. Movie passes, club memberships, motorcycles, New Age books, or sky-diving gift certificates keep them from getting stale. Their colors are azure, turquoise, sky blue and aquamarine. They are unusual and individualistic and are often surrounded by friends. This sign can come across as a little impersonal at times as they often feel more content within a crowd of friends than in a one on one relationship.

Anything unusual and one of a kind will please the Aquarian in your life. They are likely to be into new age therapies so you may try your luck with a gift certificate for aromatherapy. Astronomy is usually very popular with Aquarians so telescopes are likely to be a very popular gift. To really impress an Aquarian you could have a star named after them.

PISCES February 20 – March 20

The dreamy types and anything romantic or sentimental will appeal to them immensely. Send a contribution to the “save the baby seals fund” in their name. Well, what about a UFO vacation trip? Pisces will enjoy an aquarium (something similar to the one in Chattanooga should do), a stained glass window, a lily pond or a psychic reading. Their colors are purple, amethyst, and blue-green.

Photographic equipment and frames would make good gifts for the Pisces. Luxury bath oils and scents will appeal to the women as will perfume. Water accessories for surfing, diving or swimming should be well received. Pisces often have some musical talent as well so music and or musical equipment are likely to be a good choice.