Astrology Forecast for February 2023

Mercury and Venus, conjunct in the chart,
Bring together communication and the heart.

A harnonious blend of words and feeling,
Diplomacy and understanding, a rare and special

A love of beauty, aesthetics and art,
An eye for detail, a creative heart.

Luxury and and indulgence, the finer things in life,
With this placement, so much joy and beauty rife.

–ChatGPT, A.I. robot

The Astrology Podcast • Jan 31, 2023 A look ahead at the astrological forecast for February of 2023, with astrologers Chris Brennan, Austin Coppock, and Bear Ryver. February is the final month of Saturn transiting through Aquarius and Mars through Gemini, and so it is a month of bringing things to completion and reflecting on how far you’ve come since those two transits started. At the top of the episode we talk about the astrology of some recent events in the news, such as the release of Avatar 2 under the Jupiter-Neptune conjunction, AI starting to ramp up as a prelude to Pluto in Aquarius, and an entire generation successfully completing their Saturn return. In the second half of the episode we get into the astrology of February, which includes Mercury finally moving into Aquarius after a long retrograde period in Capricorn, a Full Moon in Leo, and a new Moon in Pisces. This is episode 385 of The Astrology Podcast:

Italy is reopening an archaeological treasure and it holds secrets about gay sex in Ancient Rome

By Daniel Villarreal January 28, 2023 (

After a long period of restoration, one of Italy’s most famous archaeological treasures — the House of the Vettii — is reopening to the public.

The house’s extensive collection of fresco wall paintings includes lots of erotic art. But while some commenters have claimed that the house’s original owners were preoccupied with sex or even running a brothel, a gay Roman historian has said that those claims show a misunderstanding about the role queer sex played in ancient Rome.

The house was originally constructed for two freed male slaves who were likely owned by the same master. These men became wealthy from selling wine, and their now-famous house included numerous scenes of sex and mythology, painted on wet plaster and preserved in wax.

Mount Vesuvius buried the house in volcanic ash in 79 AD, but it has since been restored, giving art history fans a time capsule of wealthy Roman social life.

The house’s entrance includes an image of Priapus, the god of fertility and abundance, showing off an uncut penis that’s as long and thick as his arm. It rests upon a scale, balanced by a bag filled with money. Other scenes show different couples having sex.

Complete article at:

João Florêncio, a gay researcher who examines visual depictions of sexual cultures throughout history, says that it’s a mistake to assume that Roman men resembled modern-day gay men just because they owned art of a well-hung god and often had sex with other men.

“Same-sex relations among Romans were lived and thought about in very different ways from our own,” Florêncio wrote in a recent article about the House of the Vettii’s reopening.

“Roman sexuality was not framed in terms of the gender of partners but in terms of power,” he added. “An adult free man could have sex as the penetrating partner with anyone of a lower social status—including women or slaves and sex workers of both genders.”

The researcher said that evidence of same-sex intercourse has been preserved in Pompeii’s sexually explicit artifacts and graffiti, but a lot of it has been disavowed or at least purified by mainstream modern culture. A lot of these artifacts were designated as “pornography” and moved to “secret museums” in the early 1800s.

While a modern man wouldn’t likely display the image of a well-endowed man in his home unless he was gay, Florêncio points out that phallic imagery in Roman culture was associated with machismo. Some men might have desired Priapus’s large dong, but far more men would’ve likely envied it for their own, as a sign of their own potency and power.

Florêncio also noted that, while some historians believe the house doubled as a brothel, he said the sexual images may have just functioned as domestic symbols of power, wealth, and culture, especially since sex wasn’t taboo in Roman culture. Indeed, images of sex were “everywhere in Rome, including in literary and visual arts,” he writes.

While you’re here, learn more about gay sex in Ancient Rome in the video below…

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)

“It Was Beginning Winter”

It Was Beginning Winter     
It was beginning winter,
An in-between time.
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow. 

It was beginning winter,
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones.
Swinging in the wind. 

Light traveled over the wide field;
The weeds stopped swinging.
The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence. 

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)


How Expectations and Conditioning Shape Our Response to Placebos

Kathryn Hall, an expert on placebos, considers the ways that expectations and learning affect our response to them.

By: Kathryn T. Hall


It was time for Dr. Musavi to convey the sad news. With her health rapidly declining, his patient, Mrs. Ozra, had less than two weeks to live. Summoning the family together, he encouraged them to make arrangements. Although it was obvious to the clinician, this news came as a surprise to the family. Ozra’s oldest son, Arman, had been living in exile for the last 20 years, and it would be hard for him to return to say goodbye. They begged the doctor to do all he could to extend her life until they could get Arman home. Musavi paused for a moment, “There is a new treatment that I could try,” he said, “It’s been having some promising results. I could try it on your mother.” With hope and relief, the family gave Musavi permission to proceed.

This article is excerpted from Kathryn T. Hall’s book “Placebos

It took over a month for the family to get Arman home. By the time they brought him to his mother, the transformation was evident. Ozra had a surprising return to health. When she passed over a year later, the family contacted Musavi to thank him for the lifesaving treatment. “Can I tell you a secret?” he asked, in a hushed tone, “It was only sugar cubes.”

What if what you expect to experience from a treatment influenced how well the treatment works? If this were true, then past experiences, observations of the experience of others, and verbal suggestions could also influence your symptoms. And what if you were unaware that the treatment was inert, that it was a placebo? Would your experience of the treatment’s effects be more like the treatment you think you are getting or like a placebo?

There is considerable experimental evidence that expectations drive our experience of treatment regardless of whether the treatment is a drug or placebo. When the treatment is inert, the experience of benefit is called a placebo effect. A popular model of how placebo effects work proposes that expectations lead to psychophysiological effects, which in turn reduce symptoms. In addition to expectation, placebo effects can be shaped by associative learning. Associative learning or conditioning is the process by which a symbol (i.e., a bell or pill) is repeatedly paired with a stimulus (i.e., food or pain reduction), and as a result, the symbol or cue alone elicits the effect of the original stimulus. Conditioning and expectation are not separate processes but rather represent a continuum by which information is processed and used consciously or unconsciously by an individual to guide perception and response.

Associative Learning from Mice to Men

Classical conditioning, the process of training or habituating a human or animal to respond to a stimulus in a certain way, derives from the methodology laid out by the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov in the early 1900s. In his famous experiment, Pavlov repeatedly paired the sight and smell of food, which naturally causes dogs to salivate, with an unrelated neutral but novel event like a buzzer or metronome (not a bell, as commonly believed, according to Pavlov biographer Daniel Todes). After a number of repeated pairings, the sound alone induced salivation independently of the presence of the sight or smell of food. Although the connection of Pavlov’s finding to placebo effects is patently clear in hindsight, it would take another half century before we made the leap to conditioning drugs in humans.

Although the connection of Pavlov’s finding to placebo effects is patently clear in hindsight, it would take another half century before we made the leap to conditioning drugs in humans.

In 1962, Richard J. Herrnstein (who would coauthor the controversial “The Bell Curve” 30 years later) reported the conditioning of placebo effects in rats. By repeatedly pairing saline injections with scopolamine, a drug that depresses muscular movement and coordination, Herrnstein was able to depress movement in the rodents by saline injection alone. In subsequent conditioning experiments, other researchers demonstrated that animals could be conditioned with other drugs like morphine or amphetamine. But not every drug had the expected effect.

In 1971, Robert Pihl and Jack Altman paired saline with the tranquilizer Thorazine. Instead of conditioning depressed activity, the rats were more active than ever with the subsequent saline injections. Pihl and Altman reasoned that there is likely an interaction between the nature of the drug being studied and the response being measured. Thorazine inhibits dopamine signaling in the region of the brain involved with learning. Could Thorazine be an exception to the conditioning paradigm because it blocked the acquisition stage of learning? Could Thorazine be one of those drugs like naloxone that can perturb a placebo response?

While exceptions to the conditioning paradigm remained a curiosity, studies rapidly progressed to conditioning the immune function. As with many important discoveries in science, the finding that immunosuppression could be conditioned in animals occurred by chance through taste aversion studies in rodents date back to the 1940s. The British Army, trying to eradicate rodents from foxholes during World War II, observed that rats would sparingly sample a poisoned food and then assiduously avoid subsequent exposures to it. Rats are unable to vomit to purge themselves of toxic substances, and hence taste aversion is an important adaptation that helps them avoid drinking or eating potentially noxious substances. Taste aversion is rapid and persists for over a month, and thus provided researchers with an excellent animal model for studying associative learning with other drugs like lithium chloride, morphine, and cyclophosphamide.

Early studies pairing saccharin with cyclophosphamide, an immunosuppressant drug, found that many of the conditioned animals died when they were rechallenged with saccharin. As it was well known that saccharin did not kill rodents, these findings suggested that the conditioning protocol caused an overactive immunosuppressant response to the saccharin, which in turn led to the demise of the animals. In 1975, Robert Ader and Nicholas Cohen followed up on these initial findings, and demonstrated that indeed pairing a drinking solution of saccharin with an injection of the immunosuppressant cyclophosphamide could induce immunosuppression when the animals subsequently drank saccharin alone. This study inspired a series of experiments in which specific immune function changes, like the reduction in white blood cell count, weight reduction in the spleen and thymus, and changes in cytokines, could all be conditioned by varying the specific immunosuppressive drug. The inverse was also true. Enhanced immune function could be conditioned by pairing saccharin with drugs that activate white blood cells.

Immune modulation in animals was soon translated to humans. In 1992, Angelika Buske-Kirschbaum and colleagues paired sherbet with an epinephrine injection, which is known to elicit an increase in natural killer cell activity. When given sherbet with a saline injection, the conditioned group showed an increase in natural killer cell activity. In subsequent years, the conditioning of placebo effects became an established protocol. Today, researchers are actively exploring using conditioning, or as it is currently termed, associative learning, to reduce the use of opioids. In these “dose-extension” studies, placebo pills are interspersed with verum opioids, and through associative learning, the dose of pain treatments can be gradually reduced and replaced with a placebo.

Although compelling as the mechanism by which placebos mediate their effects, classical conditioning falls short of explaining key features of placebo effects. In the clinical setting, the response to a placebo can be induced by less deliberate processes than conditioning. Further, potent pharmacological drug effects can be modified by suggestion. For instance, the pain-killing effects of morphine are substantially reduced when its administration is hidden from the patient.

For a while there was a robust debate regarding the difference between conditioning and expectancy. This debate, however, resolved with the understanding that both expectation and conditioning require some level of association between the “inert” (e.g., a placebo pill) and “active” (e.g., a drug) stimulus that requires cognitive processing. After all, Pavlov had to pair the smell and sight of food with the buzzer, or he could ring the bell till the cows came home and nobody would salivate.

Great Expectations

One of the most striking examples of how expectation can influence symptom relief is the mirror cure for phantom limb pain. The amputation of an arm or leg can leave many patients still experiencing the limb as if it were present, and sometimes this causes extreme pain in the “phantom limb.” In 1992, Vilayanur Ramachandran developed a simple and ingenious treatment. He placed patients beside a mirror box in which they could see their remaining limb reflected in the mirror. This gave the patients the impression that they were viewing their real and healthy original limb.

The mirror box for treating phantom limb pain. Source: V. S. Ramachandran and E. L. Altschuler, “The Use of Visual Feedback, in Particular Mirror Visual Feedback, in Restoring Brain Function”

While looking at the image of their hand in the mirror, the patients were instructed to send movement commands to both of their limbs and make symmetrical movements that one would typically make with both limbs. In the case of an amputated hand, they could make the motions of conducting a band, or opening and closing both hands. Quite miraculously, as they watched “both their hands” seemingly functioning normally, they experienced an amelioration of the pain. Thus mirror visual feedback (MVF), as this procedure is called, builds an experience of their phantom hand as functional, pain free, and able to enact commands that shift the expectation of how their hands feel. MVF, which is remarkably effective at ameliorating phantom limb pain, is by no means inert and is not formally considered a placebo treatment, but this therapy underscores the power of our perceptions in having a hand in modulating our symptoms.

Image of the boot of 29-year-old construction worker who accidentally landed on a seven-inch nail that went right through his boot. He was admitted to the hospital in severe pain. When the boot was removed, it was revealed that the nail passed between his toes, not through his foot.

Expectations can relieve as well as induce pain. In 1995, a 29-year-old builder was rushed to the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary after jumping down onto a seven-inch nail that went right through his boot. He was sedated with midazolam and fentanyl as the slightest movement of the nail was extremely painful. After carefully removing the boot, it was immediately apparent that while the nail had entered proximal to the steel toe cap, it had slid between the builder’s toes, and his foot was entirely unharmed. This information immediately relieved the man’s pain.

In a Word

The term expectancy is common in the placebo literature and refers to the unconscious predictions that individuals hold. Just as Ozra expected benefit from Musavi’s treatment, and the builder expected pain from the seven-inch nail in his boot, expectations in the context of a placebo (response expectancy) is theorized to elicit the suggested or believed response because the subject expects it to do so. Expectations are shaped by learning from past experience, informed by contextual verbal and nonverbal cues, and can be either positive or negative. Thus through placebo mechanisms, expectations can enhance or minimize the effects of a treatment.

Expectations are shaped by learning from past experience, informed by contextual verbal and nonverbal cues, and can be either positive or negative.

The effects of expectation on pharmacologically active treatments was elegantly demonstrated in a study in which Ulrike Bingel and colleagues used three different conditions with verbal instructions to manipulate the effects of the powerful painkiller remifentanil. Remifentanil is a fast-acting opioid analgesic administered by infusion and used to manage pain after surgery. In this experimental setting, healthy individuals were hooked up to an infusion pump, and asked to rate a painful thermal stimulus that was administered before and during the infusion at various time points. Throughout the experiment, the information given to the participants about the infusion was changed to modulate expectancy, but the level of the thermal heat pain stimulus remained the same across the whole experiment.

At the baseline when the saline infusion was initiated, the participants were asked to rate their pain on a scale of zero to 100. The average pain rating at the baseline was 66. Without the awareness of the participants, the remifentanil infusion pump was then turned on and ran for the duration of the experiment. After 30 minutes of “hidden” remifentanil infusion, the second thermal pain stimulus was administered. Again the participants were asked to rate their pain. This time, they rated their pain slightly lower, at around 55, suggesting only a small benefit from this potent drug. The investigator then told the participants that the infusion was about to begin, even though it had already started. With this “open” remifentanil infusion, a positive expectancy was created. When, once again, the same pain stimulus was administered, the participants rated their pain to be much lower, at around 39. Hence there was significantly less pain experienced with “open” compared to “hidden” remifentanil. Finally, the participants were told that the infusion was being stopped and they might expect an increase in pain with the next thermal stimulus. Although the infusion was not stopped, when once again they got the same pain stimulus, as a result of negative expectancy, they now rated their pain significantly higher, at about 64.

The pain rating with this second “hidden” remifentanil condition was almost back to the baseline level before the remifentanil infusion was initiated. The researchers also measured unpleasantness and anxiety, and found similar results to the pain ratings. By concealing the identity of the infusions, Bingel and colleagues were able to isolate the effect of verbal information and visual cues on pain and unpleasantness ratings, and demonstrated that these cues modulate treatment outcomes significantly. While positive expectancy dulled the participants’ pain, negative expectancy actually exacerbated pain, in spite of the powerful analgesic.

The Bingel study was not the first to document the malleability of pharmacological effects; it was preceded by numerous studies that demonstrated that verbal suggestion could induce the opposite of the expected effects. For example, verbal suggestion could reverse the analgesic effects of nitrous oxide, elicit sedative effects with epinephrine, amphetamine, and aspirin, and induce stimulating effects with the sedative chloral hydrate. Using the open-hidden paradigm, with informed consent, the effects of powerful drugs like diazepam were reduced by 50 percent if the administration was hidden. Similarly, when the administration of the drugs buprenorphine, tramadol, ketorolac, and metamizole was hidden, 50 percent more drug was needed to elicit the typical analgesic effects observed when these drugs were administered openly.

The labeling of drugs can also have a strong influence on expectation and consequently treatment outcomes. A good example of this is the migraine study done by Slavenka Kam-Hansen and colleagues comparing the effects of labeling a placebo and Maxalt (the brand name of rizatriptan, an effective headache medicine that works by narrowing the blood vessels in the brain). In the study, matching bottles containing a placebo or Maxalt were labeled as “placebo,” “Maxalt,” or “placebo or Maxalt.” Thus the bottles were either correctly, incorrectly, or ambiguously labeled. The order in which the patients were supposed to use the pills from each of these bottles was randomized for each participant; for the next six migraine attacks, they would use pills from the bottles in the order that they were assigned. The patients were asked to report their level of pain 30 minutes after the onset of a headache (the baseline) and then take study pills from the designated bottle. Two and half hours after a headache onset, they were asked again to record their level of pain. After 459 headaches, the results were in. Maxalt labeled as Maxalt was the most effective at treating the headaches, but there was no difference statistically between Maxalt mislabeled as a placebo and a placebo mislabeled as Maxalt.

One Gets What One Pays For

The influence of expectations on treatment outcomes is not limited to explicit manipulations of information in the clinical encounter. Studies examining manipulations of cost, branding, and subtle cost-related cues have found that patients hold subconscious associations between cost, branding, and treatment efficacy that influence treatment outcomes. Study participants who receive a treatment that “costs more” tend to experience a greater benefit as compared to when they receive a treatment that “costs less,” even when the treatments are identical and inert. Even switching between brands, especially from a name-brand to a generic, has been shown to modify subjective and objective outcome measures of efficacy.

Even switching between brands, especially from a name-brand to a generic, has been shown to modify subjective and objective outcome measures of efficacy.

Expectation-related effects can also be transmitted by social observational learning. Social observational learning occurs when the observation of a demonstrator’s behavior modifies the behavior of the observer. When combined with other nonverbal cues, conditioned social learning can enhance placebo responses. This effect can cause negative responses too; a good example of this phenomenon in clinical trials is the increased likelihood of patients’ experience of side effects after hearing about them from other patients, even if the patients are taking a placebo. These nocebo effects are somewhat common in clinical trials. In an influential study, patients were randomized to a placebo or montelukast, an active treatment for asthma, with neutral or positive treatment expectations. Strikingly, participants given literature that mentioned headaches as a possible side effect of montelukast experienced headaches more frequently, even if they were taking a placebo.

Given the influence of expectations on clinical outcomes and side effects in a wide cross section of studies and conditions, more attention could be paid to the information that patients are exposed to during clinical trials. On the one hand, there is an ethical imperative in shared decision-making between the patient and clinician that calls for the patient to be fully informed about the potential benefits and risks involved in a study. On the other hand, the very act of informing the patient about the benefits and risks of the study shapes the benefits and risks of the study. How to balance these competing ethical imperatives to provide what is truly of benefit to the patient remains in question.

Kathryn T. Hall is Deputy Commissioner for Population Health and Health Equity at the Boston Public Health Commission and Assistant Professor (part-time) in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Molecular Biologist in the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is the author of “Placebos,” from which this article is excerpted.

In ‘This Other Eden,’ a Historical Tale of Paradise Lost


In his latest novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding reimagines the history of a small mixed-race community’s devastating eviction from their homes.

Credit…Day Brièrre

[I really want to highlight the graphic in this review by Day Brièrre. It illustrates the review of This Other Eden. I’m fascinated by the archetypal imagery: the bright globes in the trees of knowledge, the snake, she’s standing on the water with the fish under the water.  –M. Kelly]

By Danez Smith

Jan. 24, 2023 (

When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission.

It’s 10 pages into Paul Harding’s new novel, “This Other Eden,” when I must surrender to the author’s lyric.

Harding’s latest animates the story of Malaga, an island off the coast of Maine that was once the home of a mixed-race fishing community until the island’s inhabitants were evicted by the state in 1912. Harding reimagines that history, transforming it into the fictional Apple Island, where the descendants of a formerly enslaved man, Benjamin Honey, and his Irish wife, Patience, have settled since the late 1700s.

“This Other Eden” explores the contours of life on Apple Island in 1911, a little more than a century after the community’s founding and on the eve of its destruction. A few families live on the island: There’s the Honey family, made up of the matriarch Esther (who is haunted by the ghost of her father), her son, Eha, and Eha’s three children; the McDermott sisters, who spend their days washing the laundry and looking after three orphans; Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a hermit who spends most of his days carving Bible scenes inside a hollowed tree; a woman named Annie Parker, who lives alone; and the Lark family, made up of two siblings who have swapped vows and gender roles, and their four ghostly, nocturnal children who roam the island like kind but hungry specters. All are rendered humble, human, particular and luminous in Harding’s long, poetic sentences.

I was unsure as I entered “This Other Eden”; the story opens with images of apples, the raging white of winter and tattered flags, which all felt grossly American. I didn’t trust the symbols circling the story’s Black characters. Knowing of their impending doom, I worried their humanity would be flattened, leaving us not with any embodied story of Black people but with yet another tale about pain inflicted on Black bodies. I started to tense, weary of wading deeper into this story that I knew must end in violence and displacement for its poor, Black cast.

Yet the passages that put me on guard are the same ones that disarmed me. Harding’s prose is mesmerizing. As Esther tells the tale of the flood that once consumed the island, the novel flashes to her ancestor Patience’s perspective: “I could no longer hold my breath. Just as I had to give out and inhale the Atlantic into my lungs and swallow it into my guts like a last meal of seawater soup, the whirlpool began to uncoil from around my hand and the flag and the water began to lower.” As the account switches from third-person telling to first-person memory, Black descendant and Irish ancestor meet, Patience’s voice transforms into Esther’s own, and their stories become one in dazzling fashion. Whatever apprehensions I had were outweighed by Harding’s powerful music.

The book jacket of “This Other Eden,” by Paul Harding. On the cover, there is an image of a house, and on the walls of the house, there are scenes of clouds, the sea and ocean spray.

In the 1800s, the Honeys face a flood; in the 1900s, they face Matthew Diamond, a white missionary and schoolteacher. Matthew comes to the island every summer to teach the children, but admits to feeling “a visceral, involuntary repulsion” when he’s around Black people. He’s disgusted by the island’s adults but enamored with the children who prove themselves smart and talented. When Matthew escorts a government committee around the island to study its inhabitants, he passively assists in the destruction of the colony. It’s his immediate regret and feeble attempts to delay what the committee plans for Apple Island that make Matthew so complex and fascinating a character — he is at once an embodiment of white supremacy and white guilt, a conduit for white power that would like to excuse himself from his responsibility in the episode of violence his well-meaning intentions made possible.

Via Matthew and the violence of colonialism and racism he brings with him, the novel wrestles with the monsters of eugenics and white Christianity, the faulty logics of which fall most confoundingly on the shoulders of Ethan Honey. Ethan, Esther’s eldest grandchild and the most white-passing member of the Honey clan, is a gifted painter who is “saved” from the violence of the coming eviction by being sent to study art at the estate of a friend of Matthew’s, Mr. Hale. Upon arriving at Mr. Hale’s estate, Ethan enters a friendship and romance with a young Irish maid, Bridget, and we are swept into a beautiful, innocent love story until Bridget finds Ethan’s photos and drawings of his Apple Island family, bringing their fantasy romance to a halt.

Despite Harding’s lush prose, there is a curiosity to these characters, to this world: Until their foreshadowed displacement, it seems the residents of Apple Island move about with little to no awareness of the racial politics of their day. The more I sank into this novel, the more I found myself asking where were the warnings that I’m sure Black folks of this time must have had. Was this absence a lack of imagination? And if so, whose? The writer’s? The characters’? My own? Why were so many of these characters unflinching as their lives crumbled under the gaze of whiteness? Why did it feel like these Black characters were in a world where things just happened to them?

Where I arrived: To live in Eden takes a little ignorance. Like Adam and Eve, blissfully ignorant of their nakedness before the fruit, these Apple Islanders had to stay unaware to imagine a paradise for themselves. This novel could be more focused on the turbulence of their eugenics-fueled expulsion, but instead we’re offered moments of family, connection and resilience, which only make the instances of violence and extrication more unsettling and explosive. With the fall of this Eden looming in the wings of the novel, what a careful and caring choice to spend so much time in the grandeur of the lives of the banished.

Not without complication, not without terror, “This Other Eden” is ultimately a testament of love: love of kin, love of nature, love of art, love of self, love of home. Harding has written a novel out of poetry and sunlight, violent history and tender remembering. The humans he has created are, thankfully, not flattened into props and gimmicks, which sometimes happens when writers work across time and difference; instead they pulse with aliveness, dreamlike but tangible, so real it could make you weep.

Danez Smith is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently “Homie,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the NAACP Image Award.

THIS OTHER EDEN | By Paul Harding | 221 pp. | W.W. Norton & Company | $28

(Contributed by Michael Kelly, H.W.)

“Pink Bucket Thinking”

The Book

Pink Bucket Thinking: A Guide to choosing your day-to-day thoughts so you get more of what you want in life!

Book written by Tony Burgess and Julie French, illustrations by Debbie Perkins.
Available for purchase in paperback and in kindle format on Amazon

Chapter headings:

  • A simple idea that caught on!
  • Why bother to examine your inner world?
  • Noticing how much of your think is pink
  • Keeping yourself in the driving seat!
  • Creating a strong positive self-concept for yourself!
  • See the diamond in people
  • Optimism, calamity and solutions
  • How do you mean?
  • Clarity about what you do want
  • Your relationship with the past
  • Let go of neediness
  • Be willing to flex and adapt
  • Compassion and kindness bring immediate returns
  • Living in love and the attitude of gratitude
  • Doing it your way when living in the pink!

Living in the Pink Bucket – It’s all about empowered choice!

A gift from us to you.

You can download a free e-copy of the book in pdf file format by clicking on the book graphic below:

“Pink Bucket Thinking – Simple yet powerful. It works. It sticks”

Marisa Jerrison, HR Director, Zenith Vehicle Contracts Ltd.

(Contributed by John Atwater, H.W.)

Tarot Card for January 31: The Chariot

The Chariot

The Chariot is numbered seven and usually depicts a warrior driving a chariot triumphantly home. The chariot is drawn by powerful and wild creatures. These creatures are our Will – a wayward beast to control at the best of times!

The Chariot represents the principle that the human Will functions only when the whole being is behind it. This card is about the struggles we have with ourselves and with life. It promises that with diligence, honesty and perseverence we can overcome the most insurmountable of obstacles.

This is a hopeful and encouraging card, reminding us that we can climb to the heights if we want to. Here we are taught how to master the opposing forces within us, in order to bring them and thus ourselves into harmony. We are cosmic warriors, unfurling, learning and growing – divine and vital parts of the Universe.

The Chariot

(via and Alan Blackman)

Celebration of the life of Jacob Needleman

Jacob Needleman

1934 – 2022

Jacob Needleman obituary, 1934-2022, Oakland, CA






San Francisco State University


Celebration Of Life

Feb. 26, 2023

1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

San Francisco State University

Send Flowers


Jacob Needleman

October 6, 1934 – November 28, 2022

Dr. Jacob Needleman, author and beloved professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University died on November 28, 2022, at home in Oakland, CA.

Born in Philadelphia, PA., he was educated at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Freiburg, Germany. His many books include “The New Religions,” a pioneering study of the new American spirituality, “The American Soul,” and “Why Can’t We Be Good?”

A follower of the ideas of G. I. Gurdjieff, he sat on the Council of the Gurdjieff Foundation of California, San Francisco.

His first marriage was to potter and author Carla (Satzman). His second wife, folklorist Gail (Anderson) predeceased him in 2022. He is survived by his children, Rafe Needleman and Eve Hill, brother Michael, and two grandsons.

A celebration of Dr. Needleman’s life will be held at San Francisco State University on February 26, 2023, 1-4pm, Seven Hills Conference Center. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Gurdjieff Foundation of California or The SFSU Philosophy Department

Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22, 2023.

To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

©2023 All rights reserved.

Book: “The Gift”

The Gift

HafezDaniel Ladinsky (Translator)

More than any other Persian poet, it is perhaps Hafiz who accesses the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Because his poems were often ecstatic love songs from God to his beloved world, many have called Hafiz the “Tongue of the Invisible.”

With this stunning collection of 250 of Hafiz’s most intimate poems, Daniel Ladinsky has succeeded brilliantly in capturing the essence of one of Islam’s greatest poetic and religious voices. Each line of THE GIFT imparts the wonderful qualities of the spiritual teacher: an audacious love that empowers lives, profound knowledge, wild generosity, and a sweet, playful genius unparalleled in world literature.


(Contributed by John Atwater, H.W.)