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Talking to the Departed with the Wind Telephone

Wind telephoneNow here is something I think we can all use. In Ōtsuchi-chō, Japan a disconnected rotary phone is available for "calling" lost loved ones. This "Wind Telephone" offered a unique way of dealing with grief in disaster-stricken Japan. This is a form of channeling that can be done with anyone anywhere.

As reported in Atlas Obscura:

When Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010, he decided to build a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative, to help him deal with his grief.

Only a year later, Japan faced the horrors of a triple disaster: an earthquake followed by a tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown. Sasaki’s coastal hometown of Otsuchi was hit with 30-foot waves. Ten percent of the town died in the flood.

Sasaki opened his kaze no denwa or “wind phone” to the now huge number of people in the community mourning the loss of loved ones. Eventually word spread and others experiencing grief made the pilgrimage from around the country. It is believed that 10,000 visitors journeyed to this hilltop outside Otsuchi within three years of the disaster.

The phone is, of course, meant as a one-way communication. Visitors dial in their relative’s number and catch them up on their current life or express the feelings necessary to move on. Some find comfort in the hope that their relative might hear them. As the residents of Otsuchi work face the slow progress of rebuilding their city, this little phone booth helps to also slowly rebuild their own lives too.

Horoscope for the Week of May 29, 2017

Miley cyrusWe get to take a wild ride while this crazy world ramps up its spin. Three personal planets move through Gemini and step into mushy and emotional Cancer, entangling our emotions and setting off a garden variety of responses. Lettuce just calm down.

(Miley Cyrus has Mars in Cancer)

Never miss your horoscope again -- free sign up here. Here is my favorite book on astrology and a "must" for anyone interested in learning more: Secrets from a Stargazer's Notebook: Making Astrology Work for You and here's a guide to the best books available this month. This column is (c) 2017 MADAM LICHTENSTEIN, LLC., All Rights Reserved. For Entertainment Purposes Only. Madam Lichtenstein is the author of the best selling astrology book “HerScopes ” now in its 10th printing and available as an eBook

You may think that your home is your refuge. But think again, Aries. In fact your domestic agenda may be voted down by others in the house. So be very careful in any household based decision and make sure that everyone is in agreement with any grand plan. You will have time and opportunity to gain the upper hand later in the summer. So for now, chill.

Taureans often enjoy being the strong and silent type. But now you cannot help yourself - you simply must say what is on your mind. All good as long as you can remain diplomatic and charming. But for those who want to be bulls in a china shop, consider the aftermath. Speak softy now and you will find the perfect time for your tirade later.

Money and the wonderful things it can buy might be too tempting now for Geminis, especially those on a tight budget. Do you really need that thingamajig? Carefully consider what is essential and what is just nice to have. you will want to pace yourself for later in the summer when there might be a romantic moment that sends you into ecstasy ... and credit card overdraft.

If you are seeking quiet repose and solitary contemplation for the next few weeks, just forgetaboutit, Cancer! The world will beat a path to your door and create a rousing ruckus. Maybe the cosmos is telling you that this is really what you need right now. Don’t sit on the sidelines and watch all the action. Get into the communal flow and live life to the fullest, if not the noisiest.

Going with your intuition can lead you to some very interesting and offbeat situations now, Leo. Mischief is in the wind and may sweep you up in it. You could become tempest tossed and upside down. Don’t panic. This might be the time to let loose and see where the fates carry you. Who knows? It could be to Paris. But on the other hand, it could be to Podunk.

Your social life gets a jolt as suddenly you are everyone’s guest list. Good for you, Virgo! Now how do you maximize your exposure? Which invitations will you accept? What new groups should you join? The decisions you make now can impact your summer plans. Will you decide on the A list or the D list? Oh how to choose? How to choose?

All of your hard work may start to be recognized now by the big bosses, Libra. Start plotting now to find ways of maximizing this profitable attention. This may be your entry into the higher echelons of upper management to become a big shot yourself. But life is not just ambitious corporate climbing, private jets and big fat paychecks.... or is it?

You need to get out of your routine and boring habits, Scorpio. The fates encourage to get out of your comfort zone to feel fully refreshed and energized. So take a trip around the world, if time and money permit. Otherwise, enjoy the expansion of your horizons closer to home by exploring some new hot spots, different cuisines or a tasty new hot treat.

Even jaded Sagittarians can’t help but feel perky, peppy and a bit spicier now. You are rough and ready for anything and anyone. Quaff your sexual thirst in some bubbly watering holes throughout the summer and see who floats by. But try hard to be choosy. Your choice will be limitless but you should favor quality over quantity. Right??

Relationships and how to make them strong and lasting will hold more of your attention now, Capricorn. And this is a good thing because your attention might have been focused on other things for a while. Remember, no one is an island unto themselves. Sometimes it is nice to have a castaway wash up on your shore and stoke a roaring fire.

If you have been feeling tired and a bit off your game, this is the time to concentrate on health, fitness and rejuvenation. Find ways to recharge and generally upgrade your diet and stress reduction techniques. Aquarians have been fighting the good fight but it is important to rest a while before you start in all over again. Okay now start again.

Find time to just have fun now, Pisces. That can mean festive parties, a secret romance or something artistic. Your imagination will run wild and you need to capture a few tantalizing morsels of it for your personal statement. Try an new art form and see how it works out. Is nude body painting with fresh fruit creative enough? Try not to spoil.



Lucky Numbers for the Week of May 26, 2017

Lottery ads tell us you only need a dollar and a dream. But it is also helpful to have a list of lucky numbers to help spur the good fortune ... or fortunes. So with that in mind, here are some lucky numbers that can be used in any helpful way. I gazed into a pool of water, Nostradamus-like, and contemplated the cosmos. Then I mixed the tarot cards and allowed the spirits to guide me to the cards that represent the lucky numbers for this week. Nothing is guaranteed but who knows ....?

I choose eight numbers because 8 is the number of wealth.

Here are the lucky numbers for the week of May 25-June 1, 2017:

2, 15, 17, 27, 40, 41, 63, 76

There are many ways to delve into your own consciousness to find luck and intuition. Try reading Dream Power/Improve Your Luck (Super Strength Series) and see if your dreams give you any clues and premonitions. Here's a guide to the best books available this month

A Photographer’s 16-Year Project to Capture the Contemporary Séance

SeanceLily Dale is a town dedicated to the spirits. It is located in upstate New York and is a pilgrimage to those who wish to receive messages from those who have passed through The Seance. Shannon Taggart started photographing the mediums of Lily Dale in 2001, and for 16 years after has documented the séances and practices of modern Spiritualism.

As reported in Hyperallergic:

More than perhaps any other religious practice, Spiritualism has an iconography rooted in photography. Emerging in the 19th century from New York’s “Burned-Over District,” so nicknamed for its intensity of religious fervor, Spiritualism was centered on communicating with the dead, particularly through mediums and séances. It reached its popularity in the mid to late 1800s, when converts included Arthur Conan Doyle and Thomas Edison, and the Fox Sister mediums were gathering huge crowds at their popular Manhattan séances. Yet in Lily Dale, New York, thousands of believers still arrive annually for readings, healings, and messages from the mediums who live there.

It was one of those Lily Dale messages that inspired photographer Shannon Taggart to spend 16 years documenting contemporary Spiritualism. Currently, the Brooklyn-based artist is crowdfunding on Unbound for a book called Séance: Spiritualist Ritual and the Search for Ectoplasm that will coalesce her years of research and experience into a work that’s part art project, part ethnographic study. She states on the funding page that she “first became aware of Spiritualism as a teenager, after my cousin received a reading from a medium who revealed a secret about my grandfather’s death that proved to be true.” That relay from the afterlife occurred at Lily Dale’s Inspiration Stump, where mediums have been interpreting messages since 1879. In a 2012 photograph by Taggart, the place is eerily seen by night, its spectator benches lined up like waiting specters.

“Spiritualism and photography, they came about almost in the same time in the mid-19th century,” Taggart told Hyperallergic. “Almost immediately, they were brought together in an attempt to prove the Spiritualist dimension. It came about at this time that science was showing all these other hidden realms, like X-rays and bacteria, why couldn’t it show this spirit realm?”

Nineteenth-century photographers used double exposures or composites to insert “ghosts” into spirit photographs; their portraits of ectoplasm forming on a medium’s face during a séance visually evoked a phantom presence. Nearly from the beginning, photography and its complicated images were entwined with the public perception of Spiritualism.

“There are even these very uncanny geographical connections,” Taggart added. “The first séances with the Fox Sisters — the first time the women spoke to spirits on stage [in 1849] — was in Corinthian Hall. It’s down the street a half a mile from where Kodak built its headquarters in Rochester.” And she pointed out that this US-born practice is very much embedded in the country’s culture. For instance, the ectoplasm of the Ghostbusters films came about because co-writer Dan Aykroyd is a fourth-generation Spiritualist, and drew on its terms.

Shannon Taggart, “First Photo Anomaly—Dorothy with a purple orb that she interprets as her deceased husband Bob’s presence, Lily Dale, New York” (2001) (courtesy the artist)

When Taggart began photographing Spiritualists in 2001, she was mainly working as a photojournalist. “When I started, I was photographing very straightforwardly,” she said. “Then I had this big purple orb show up, and I brought it back to this woman in the photograph, and she said, ‘Oh that’s my husband Bob.’ The more I had these happy accidents, the more they were articulating something about the invisible that I wasn’t expecting.”

While some of her images for the Séance book are more documentary, such as a 2002 overhead shot of spoons and forks that the medium Willa “bent with her mind,” others use the blurs, light distortions, and other photographic manipulation to represent the unseen energy of the subject or scene. A 2014 photograph of medium Kevin Lawrenson has his body transparent on a chair, a strange shape erupting out of his stomach like lightning.

“I’m doing things that are classically considered very unprofessional, really playing with the inherent mistakes in the process, flare, overexposure, underexposures,” she said. “I’m really trying to delve into the edges of the process. I’ve been finding all these metaphors for the invisible experience that are really synchronistic.”

In her work, there’s also a sort of meta echo of photography’s role in Spiritualism, with the red light of a séance appearing similar to the red illumination of a dark room, with images materializing in both. Over the years, as she got more access and engaged with the Spiritualist community, she traveled to a center for physical mediumship in France, and learned how to use a medium’s cabinet in the UK. While no longer quite the sensation it was in the 19th century, Spiritualism remains as a bridge between life and death, and as a way to emotionally engage with that divide.

“I feel that the kind of stereotypical view often is, oh, these people are just a bunch of charlatans, and it’s all fake, and they’re just trying to get money,” Taggart said. “I found it was more about healing and contemplating the transition from this world to the next. I think that almost everybody I met were very sincere practitioners. Once I could wrap my brain about what people were doing, I saw it as legitimate as any other religious practice.”

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