Borealis Meditation

Science and Spirituality

Category: blog (page 1 of 3)

How to pick a price?

One of the things I have always been a little uncomfortable with is the exchange of money for my work. Not that I am against the exchange of money for my work, but what to charge. I don’t want to undervalue practitioners who do it for a living, but I also don’t want to charge too much. See I have a full time job, and I am big on gifting. When I make things I like to share, and I have never been able to find the Goldilocks price range.

But I also find making small batches isn’t as easy as a medium size batch of spray, soap… etc. So how to price what I have been making recently? Some are my own recipes and some are based on recipes I found in New Orleans, and if I charge too little it devalues it, but if I charge too much that feels like taking advantage.

So I was stuck until the other day I had an idea. What if I convert the prices on the notebook from the Pharmacy Museum into modern day prices! I wonder what that would be.

My thinking is this: the formulations are in a notebook from a early half of the last century. They are written in pharmacist shorthand. Documentary evidence exists that hoodoo formulations were sold by white male pharmacists, who may or may not have worked with hoodoo practitioners. But this is the actual physical ingredients with a price so it is possible that the pharmacist was just mixing them and selling them on his own. So if you consider the price of the item to be physical object + intangible value added we can think of these prices as the physical object +/- intangible. So, this was considered a fair price at the time so let’s see how this all works out with the numbers! Math time!

The price listed range from $0.1/oz to $ 0.25/oz

Now the actual date of the artifact but the displays on the ground floor of the museum that opened in 1950 are referred to as “mid 19th century” but there is also a sign in that section that mentioned someone who was convicted for selling hoodoo wares in the 1930’s. Googling around it and looking at old pharmacist notebook pictures the sheets look on the early side and not 1930’s maybe closer to 1900. (finding the actual date range will require more research) So we have a range from 1850 – 1930 a pretty wide range, so I went wit 1910.

  • What cost $1 in 1913 (earliest year in the inflation calculator) would cost $25.90 (I like rounding so lets make it $26) in 2019 so $0.10 becomes $2.60 per oz. and $0.25 becomes $6.50 per oz
  • Everything is in metric where I am now so lets round to 30mL per oz (glass bottles are sold as 30mL or 1 ounce)
  • so the price per mL would be $0.09 per mL – $0.21 so lets be nice and change it to $0.10 /mL and $0.20/mL
  • Now we have the price in adjusted for inflation as $0.10 /mL – $0.20/mL Doesn’t that work out nice?
  • This is based on the prices being from ~1913 (but we don’t know if they are earlier or late). Also we don’t know if the original prices I found were sold with or without the “intangible value added” so 3 to 6 dollars for a 30 mL bottle of my sprays would be the range.
  • Essential oils here are on the expensive side here and mine come with the intangible value added part, so I think I am comfortable with the $6 price. But is this reasonable?
  • Lucky Mojo sells Fast Luck oil for $7.50 USD and my Lucky Mojo bottles look like they are 1/2 ounce. This sounds like around the same range as what I got other oils in New Orleans when I was there for, so for someone who uses a different cheaper base (sprays not oils) I think I am in the right range.
  • If I add on a $1.5 bottle charge then I also get $7.50 USD or ~ $10 SGD.

I hope that was an interesting discussion for you. It’s a little bit into my brain and how I use tools from my research work in science in my practice. I also think this type of research/thought experiment can help decisions like “how much should I charge for this” be based in historical precedent.

We should never devalue our work, even if money makes you uncomfortable. But we also shouldn’t take financial advantage of customers by over charging. I think that having a range like $3-6 in mind allows for a range of different price teirs from gifts (close friends and family) to a lower price (friends and lower income) and average customers, that doesn’t devalue the effort I put in. Also I think it shows that the current range of prices out there from whole sellers like Lucky Mojo who know what they are doing, and small individuals like Candle Smoke Chapel (they are awesome check them out), are actually very reasonable based on historic price data we have.

So if you are in Singapore right now you will soon be able to get my sprays for $10 in the bottle or 0.30 SGD/mL with your own bottle. I am also a big fan of making things yourself so when I have a formulation I am happy with feel free to ask.

Also remember the difference is in the “intangible value added” of each maker and how much that is worth to you should be considered when you are assessing the reasonableness of a price.

Make things! Support each other!

Peer Reviewed Magic: Moringa

Moringa is everywhere in Singapore it is THE superfood right now. Moringa also known as drumstick tree is native to northern India up into the foothills of the Himalaya. It is widely cultivated in the tropics where the young seed pods and leaves are eaten. Benzoil is derived from its seeds, a powder of its leaves is seen as a super supplement, used as herbal medicine and water purification.
Wait what? Water purification? No…..

That was my reaction when I was reading a description at Bollywood Veggies this weekend. It can be used to make dirty water drinkable? You have got to be kidding me. So when we got home we looked it up. Crushed moringa seeds are put in cloudy water, reduce bacteria and other impurities and within hours it is drinkable.

 

Dirty water + Moringa seed = clean water?????

That is a pretty impressive claim. That is the idea but does it work and if yes… how?

Moringa in action!

I found a press release on a study at Penn State. On the use of Moringa seeds to purify water the article says:

“That has been known for some time,” says Stephanie Butler Velegol, environmental engineering instructor at Penn State. Women in ancient Egypt reportedly rubbed Moringa seeds on their clay water pots, and dried powder from crushed seeds has been used as a handwash for many years.”

So how does it work? It appears that when you crush the seeds a positively charged protein called Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (that is the scientific name of the plant, cation means positively charged ion, and protein pretty descriptive) MOCP from in the seeds is introduced to the water. This protein kills some of the microbial organism and causes them to clump together and settle to the bottom of the container. You can’t however then store this water, the organic matter from the seeds will remain and become a food source for bacterial that haven’t been killed.
So. The protein in the seeds causes clumping and kills bacteria (but maybe not all of it) and then settles to the bottom leaving clear water at the top. Wanna see it in action? I did!

How cool is that!? Sounds like that is some serious magic that actually is backed up by peer review and now we know a little more how it works.

Here is the Penn State article

Here is the paper it is talking about (if you are interested in the PDF of this and can’t get a copy just contact me and I will download one and pass it along!)

The divination tool

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

I was having a hard time figuring out where to start this discussion. Maybe the best place to start is what I think divination is not. I use runes and tarot for my divination work and I do not think I am psychic, I do not think I can see or predict the future, and I don’t think I can glean anything I didn’t already know. What I think I am doing is changing the context of my question.

Your brain and my brain are wonderful problem solving machines. However, sometimes they get stuck on a problem, and need a jump start to start churning away again. For me, this is where divination comes in. When I am feeling like I am thinking in circles I will pull out the cards or runes and do some readings. Usually the subjects of the cards and runes will start me thinking from another direction. In this way, divination helps change the context of my problem by adding other elements or ideas I hadn’t considered. Another way I use divination is to break the “haze”. I write code/scripts for work and after a day of nothing but trying to communicate with computers sometimes I feel like my whole brain is frozen. The act of casting runes and then trying to make sense of them wakes my brain up a bit.

Tarot is a tool I have used for many years. I am a fan of the Celtic cross layout. Usually I start with my problem or the general “context” in my head but unclear. Either I don’t know what to do next, or I have a problem and I am stuck on it, or just this area of my life has been causing a lot of stress. Normally the cross section of the spread helps bring my problem more into focus for me. The addition of the meaning of the cards as a parameter in the problem equation generally serves to clarify my thinking. Those last 4 cards generally leave me with a more firm understanding of my issue. All this new information helps my epic problem solving machine chug away. Sometimes by the time I get to the end of the reading, I know the solution. The cards didn’t tell me. The cards helped guide my own natural problem solving ability.

My usual layout

This doesn’t mean that there is no “magic” when I read cards. I think on the contrary, the fact that the cards always seem to tell me exactly what I need to know is magic. It is uncanny, too how one deck is always positive and the other always negative (like having an optimistic and pessimistic friend to talk your problems through). Because I “know” I am just using cards with different meanings to help clear my brain and solve my own problems, and I don’t “believe” there is a guiding hand, I am always left with a feeling of awe. What controls how the cards fall is the shuffle, and I control the shuffle. What always astonishes me is how no matter how stuck I am, the cards have a way of clarifying my thinking.

Pessimistic deck on the left and cheerful one on the right. 
I use the booklet for interpretations. 

I guess what you could say is that the runes and cards don’t tell me anything I don’t already know… its just finding where it is hiding in my brain, and that is magic.

I am reading a book on traditional runes, which I will need to make a new set of. My old set I made in high school with pebbles and a sharpie. I have a set of “witches runes” that were made when I first moved to Hawaii. I like them. Simple. These because they are so simple have far less instruction on how to interpret them and work best when my brain is not all muddy.

These are my runes I currently use. I find it much more challenging with so few,
 and I love a good challenge!

I am out of writing time for today, so I guess I will have to revisit this topic! I am already enjoying sharing my views and exploring them myself. I think this blog series will be good for me!

Just remember, my views are my own, subject to change at any time and without notice and in no way an attack on your own.

November Meditations: Intro

This November I am challenging myself. I want to blog more and write more so why not challenge myself to write every day? Obviously I am a day behind, already…. I waffled about if I would have time to do this yesterday, and you know what? If I don’t make time, I won’t have time, and if I make time, I will have time. Enough with the excuses!

This month for my writing challenge I am going to examine my Path. The idea is that, in writing my thoughts on different topics I can take a census of what I believe, and where my path is headed. I am calling this series:

“Meditations on the Path of Knowledge”

At first I thought that name was too pretentious. Who am I to say I am knowledgeable? But then I realized it is a path about knowledge, a quest for knowledge, and an appreciation of knowledge that drives my life. I will not claim to be wise, but I will own striving for more knowledge at all times.

I think it is healthy sometimes to take out our beliefs and roll them around in our hands, examine and question them. That is how we learn and grow. You are free to disagree with me at all times, and I am free to change my mind. That is what makes life so much fun! Things always change (and I guess that is also terrifying).

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change -” ― Heraclitus

If you have followed me for a while you will no doubt have learned that I have considered myself on this path my whole life. I started using the name “pagan” to describe myself over 15 years ago, and I still consider myself a beginner. I am beyond the “101” books (I never cared for them much in truth) but haven’t found my next step. Maybe in a month of exploring what makes up my path, my next step will be more clear to me.

We all have our own unique paths, and our own truths. I truly feel that each of us are enriched by exploring our similarities and differences. We can always stand to learn something new, and embrace the ever changing world around us!

Peace Love and Knowledge,

~ Kathleen

School magic

I have been cleaning my office today and I noticed something I guess I have noticed before but not given voice to. The energies of my different classes. Before every class starts I buy a notebook to take notes. Binders come later when I get a feel for the paper load and therefore size of binder required for the class. These notebooks I have only ever used for 1 class. Occasionally, I will pick one up for some random notes but it just feels wrong. I also stopped taking the note pages out and putting them in the binders because that also feels wrong.

So I started thinking about this. Why is there such a repulsion of other notes by these notebooks? I think its because of the energy I put into my studies. I am a lifelong student. I love my classes. I pour my heart and soul into my work. So these notebooks embody the energies of the class I took them too. When I pick up the volcanology notebook for my undergrad it is still filled with the energy of that specific class.

So I guess you could say I have charged notebooks. I change them with energy specific to the class I used them in. Does anyone else have a similar experience?

Kathleen
Student

Back from the ocean!

It feels like the next episode should be on water since that’s what I spent my week in… but its not, it is the second “earth” episode! My life should take on a semi-regular rhythm for the next few months so hopefully I can crank some episodes out! I have a large to do list for the next one though!

First up please look back at the contest for this episode: here

We are going to be discussing earthquakes in the geology 101 and I am going to go over some of the new information that has come out about the Japan earthquake. I was only sort of in touch with the world this last week so I need to catch up before I write that segment.

For the earth segment: please send me lists of correspondences and associations for the element earth! I am going to take all the ideas from the two earth episodes and write something up for the blog so its all in one place!

Spring may have come to Alaska finally! I can hear the snow melt and it’s a wonderful time of mud and sun! I am going to collect a last batch of snow water from north of me and it should be for sale on the etsy shop soon! 🙂

I am looking forward to some regular blogging and podcasting so keep your eyes and ears open!

I will leave you with the signature from my work email, a quote that has rung true this last week.

“Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.”
– William James Durant (1885–1981)
American philosopher, historian, and writer

Re-inventing the holidays

Before you say I can’t reinvent the holidays, that’s sacrilege let me remind you I am pagan, not wiccan or any specific path that has its own outline of rules. Also known as the I’m a “I DO WHAT I WANT” pagan. I like it that way. I’m also a scientists, I in general hate being told how to do things or what something means. I want to do it myself, explore myself, try myself. This is what I think but please, think for yourself. Ok disclaimer over.

Living in Alaska I have found that the traditional association of seasons presented with the wheel of the year does not fit. For example, this week is Imbolc, yay spring? No. Its still winter. VERY winter. There are no little flowers poking their heads up nor will they until May maybe April at the earliest. We don’t have “spring” where I live, we have break-up. Break-up is when the ice on the rivers break up, everything melts, and everything is wet and muddy. For about 2 weeks and then BAM its summer! Ok maybe not 2 weeks but it seems like you blink and break-up is over, the snow is gone and summer is here.

Until then it is most definitely winter. So for me Imbolc is not the coming of spring. It has nothing to do with spring. Spring is very far off. However, I live in the land of the midnight sun, or no sun in the winter. The days are getting longer. They are everywhere but when you live somewhere that the minutes gained a day is 6 or 7 it is very noticeable.

Today the sun rose at 9:40am. It was beautiful and I snapped a photo from work. The sun set today at 4:30pm. That is almost normal hours for most places! We are starting to have a civilized amount of sun. That is what Imbolc is for me this year. Fortunately the return of the sun is one of the big parts of Imbolc, so my change is not that different.

My advice for anyone struggling with celebrating the holidays is: if it feels stale or wrong or something is just not right, think about how the holiday corresponds with the seasons where it comes from, and then what your seasons are locally. That might be where the conflict is. I’ve historically had a lot of trouble getting into the holidays and once I decided to calibrate them to my local environment I feel much better about them.

So yes, I change the holidays, but the “letter of the law” regarding holidays is not important to me, it’s the marking of time as the earth goes through its annual cycles.

And that is the beautiful thing about being a pagan. If something doesn’t feel right, well find some way to change it so it does! Not like more strict religious… for an example as a kid it always bugged me the obvious fact that Jesus was not born in the dead of winter. It just doesn’t fit. That part of Christmas never felt right. I would have preferred to figure out when his real birthday was and celebrate that, and leave Christmas to its self. To me those were always separate. I guess that’s why I still don’t have a problem with Christmas. To me its not a Christian holiday.

So to wrap things up, and summarize: The holidays are for marking the passage of time, if the seasonal associations don’t match your local seasons think about what is happening locally and review your definition of the holiday. Revisit, revise, edit. I think you will be much happier when you are celebrating the changes around you.

I will be sure to write about all future holidays and how I celebrate them in the land of the midnight sun.

~Kathleen

Egypt

“Egyptian Christians said they will guard the Muslims from the police while they on Friday Pray.” Amazing solidarity. #Egypt #Jan25
I saw this tweet by @edsetiadi that was retweeted by @JosephMagnuson

A very cinematic and moving image came to mind, Muslim bothers and sisters praying with Christen brothers and sisters standing watch glaring a distant police in riot gear.

Just an amazing show of unity and respect! It warms my heart. Suck love and understanding in an uncertain time. This is how it could be, if we put aside our differences and embraced out similarities!

On past lives and memories

If we are reincarnated, why don’t we remember our past lives? – my current thoughts (subject to change at any time with addition of new data)

Memories are data that are stored by connections in our brain, and memories are a LOT of data. So if we do have memories from a past life then that data has to be stored in the soul, and most if not all is lost with the loss of the physical connections of the physical brain. How’s that for mixing science and religion?

There actually has been a lot of scientific research into the soul in the past, and I think that the spark that makes us, well us and who we are has to be more then just the connections in our brain. I don’t think that if you mapped someone’s connections exactly to another brain you would get the same person.

As always, this belief is not set. None of mine are. As a scientist I am trained to be flexible, what is true now and fits the current data may prove to be wrong or close but not the whole truth according to the next new improved data set.

I can expand on this by looking up some of the old studies (I either heard it on TTBOOK or RadioLab).

I started listening to Ariel’s “A Witch’s Primer” since I have never had a very strong guided introduction to the craft. I figured now is a good time to revisit the basics and focus like I didn’t do 10 years ago. I got excited, jumped in and started thinking big thoughts and ignoring the work 😉 I also jumped between books a lot (I still do that) and never really finished reading any of them! Anyways the past memories came up, he was talking about traumatic experiences and loss of memory my wind went OH! Data! SOTRAGE! Physical! AH! *light bulb* This is generally how I form my current beliefs on anything, I get an idea and think about it for a bit. I just thought I would share this time!

Project Pagan Enough.


1. You are Pagan Enough, because you try fervently to explore what it means to be pagan and apply it to your life, despite your physical appearance, personal tastes, level of experience, or other factor that others might use to say you are not pagan.
2. You recognize others are Pagan Enough despite how they may look, act, or believe, as long as that person feels they are fervently seeking the divine on a pagan path.
3. You attempt to debate those that have opposing viewpoints, learning from one another despite how passionate the debate becomes, instead of simply writing others off for not being up to your standard of ‘pagan’.
4. You welcome, befriend, and encourage others in the pagan community despite their physical appearance, level of experience, age, or other physical or superficial characteristic.
5. You promise to treat members of other religions and spiritual paths with equality, fairness, and grace, setting a good example for the Pagan community both in and out of the community, not judging the individuals based on fringe members of their same faith.

To be blunt and honest, the kind of behavior PPE seeks to point out and eliminate from the pagan community is why I never got involved when I was younger.

I am not the traditional pagan
I question everything
I never accept things at face value – and I don’t care who wrote it
my ideas and beliefs evolve with time
I am a scientist
I accept other religions
I hate no one before they deserve it
I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve
I wear jeans and t-shirts
I don’t wear a pentacle every day
I don’t wear goth make-up
I don’t even run naked in the woods
I break all your stereotypes
But I am pagan
I am a student of the earth
I walk my own path
I am proud to be pagan
I am pagan enough for me.

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