Friday, December 17, 2010

Listen to Penney's Latest Radio Interview

You can stream or download Chai with Nanice Ellis, recorded this week on LA Talk Radio, with the theme of "The Power of Transparency" at:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Numinous In Wordsworth's Poetry

My friend, Rod McDaniel, in Heidelberg, sent me a copy of an old essay from 1930 from The Hibbert Journal, which was evidently quite popular in its day. It is titled, "The Numinous in the Poetry of Wordsworth," by W. A. Clayton. There are some good points in it, which I want to pull out for you. It is so refreshing to read and feel the deep spiritual experiences of the sensitive and thoughtful people who have lived before us.

First, the author describes the numinous as: "that which is non or supra-rational in religious experience," which excludes those elements that can be precisely conceptualized—ie, religion's innermost core, the ineffable of the mystics. It is something that fills the mind with blank wonder and astonishment. He calls the faculty of our mind that can apprehend the numinous: "divination."

The author then describes how the numinous experience is stimulated and brought about by appropriate sense impressions. This higher, visionary experience is often incited by beauty and sensual experience in the world, until becoming "gradually purer, it disengages itself from this and takes a stand in absolute contrast to it."

"Wordsworth's experiences were not gained by his opposing himself to the outside world; they came naturally as he abandoned himself to his environment. The mountains of the Lake Country, with their austerity and severe economy of sense impressions, favored the evocation of the numinous experience, which was frequently stimulated in addition by that which baffles sensory apprehension—darkness, mist, the void sky, vastness without clear shape, silence or the formless and incessant murmur of the winds." Wordsworth "valued his environment above all for the knowledge it gave him of the Uncreated."

Wordsworth speaks of "aesthetic intuition" that gives rise to the perceptions that lift him,

". . .the gentle agitations of the mind
From manifold distinctions, difference
Perceived in things, where to the unwatchful eye,
No difference is."

Here is a powerful passage that demonstrates the connection of aesthetic intuition to something deeper or beyond. Wordsworth is describing the horizon as a craggy ridge, and "Far above/Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky," until suddenly the grim shape of "a huge peak, black and huge" towered up between him and the stars, and seemed to pursue him as he rowed away from it.

"After I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Worked with a dim and undetermined sense
Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts
There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colors of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the mind
By day, and were a trouble to my dreams."

Wordsworth gave "a moral life" to every aspect of nature, and linked his aesthetic and moral intuitions, so that one constantly evoked the other. He was a passionate lover of natural beauty, especially that beauty that "hath terror in it" and which could inspire the noblest associations—"thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

Wordsworth's writing, as his friend Coleridge reminds us, "was intended for such readers as had been accustomed to watch the flux and reflux of their inmost nature, to venture at times into the twilight realms of consciousness, and to feel a deep interest in modes if inmost being, to which they know that the attributes of time and space are inapplicable and alien, but which yet cannot be conveyed, save in symbols of time and space."

Finally, a few words about Wordsworth's conception of the imagination: "Before (imagination) the vision of the senses melts and dissolves, but melts into a revelation of permanent supersensual realities." To him, imagination is not just the aesthetic faculty, however heightened in its functioning. In the supreme moment the message of the senses is forgotten for the revelation of the invisible world. Imagination is but another name for divination.

". . .In such strength
Of usurpation, when the light of sense
Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed
The invisibe world, doth greatness make abode,
The harbors; whether we be young or old,
Our destiny, our being's heart and home,
Is with infinitude, and only there;
With hope it is, hope that can never die,
Effort, and expectation, and desire,
And something evermore about to be.

photo copyright by Penney Peirce

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Future of Print

The University of Cincinnati magazine features this article on our evolving print media by John Bach. Thinking about coming innovations seems really good to me because I think we must now do everything to stimulate our imaginations and really use our imaginative ability to create possibilities for our own new lives. Here's the first part: Imagine a mobile device that looks and feels like paper yet delivers books, your morning news and even high-resolution color video. Now picture yourself rolling it up and stuffing it into your pocket.

UC experts say that is an accurate description of where publishing is headed over the next decade. Furthermore, research in UC electrical engineering labs is helping to get it there.
Using a technique called electrowetting, UC's Andrew Steckl is sleuthing a way to print complex circuitry on bendable paper stock or e-paper. Unlike competing devices, Steckl's rollable display — which stacks pixels as opposed to arranging them side-by-side — will show more than washed-out grays and deliver full-color multimedia, while being easy on the eyes, even in bright-light conditions.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Social Networking Increases Oxytocin

In an article in the July/August issue of Fast Company magazine, Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love, by Adam Penenberg, we learn a surprising finding. . .

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has discovered, for the first time, that social networking triggers the release of the generosity-trust chemical in our brains. Here is an excerpt: "The question is simple: Will social networking increase my levels of oxytocin? Will my brain react to tweeting as it reacts to, say, a dinner conversation with good friends? I start tweeting and alert my followers that I'm engaging in a Twitter experiment with a neuroeconomist. I leave wondering whether anything of value could come of such a short, typical, and somewhat dull dip into my tweet stream.

Yet six weeks later, when Zak shares the results with me, my blood tells a more dramatic story. In those 10 minutes between blood batches one and two, my oxytocin levels spiked 13.2%. That's equivalent to the hormonal spike experienced by the groom at the wedding Zak attended. Meanwhile, stress hormones cortisol and ACTH went down 10.8% and 14.9%, respectively. Zak explains that the results are linked, that the release of oxytocin I experienced while tweeting reduced my stress hormones. If that's the case, says Zak, social networking might reduce cardiovascular risks, like heart attack and stroke, associated with lack of social support. But there's even more to our findings. "Your brain interpreted tweeting as if you were directly interacting with people you cared about or had empathy for," Zak says. "E-connection is processed in the brain like an in-person connection."

Other studies support this idea. One Australian experiment discovered that people with a sizable network of friends were less likely to pass away over a 10-year period than those with a small circle of friends -- and that the distance separating friends made no difference. Another study showed that people with friends get sick less often than those without. Again, proximity didn't affect the result. Two researchers from Washington University in St. Louis scanned the brains of fiction readers and discovered that their test subjects created intense, graphic mental simulations of the sights, sounds, movements, and tastes they encountered in the narrative. In essence, their brains reacted as if they were actually living the events they were reading about.

Taken with my Twitter test, all of this research reinforces the idea that we are biologically driven to commingle, and suggests that online relationships can be just as real as those conducted offline.

Cityscape Art by Mary Blair

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Aesthetic Meditation

Randy Williams, an artist and professor, suggests trying "aesthetic meditation"—looking at objects with a concentrated focus. Experience your own visceral response to the object and at the same time, refrain from naming, categorizing, or describing it. In other words, stay out of your left brain for a few minutes! By not comparing the object to something else in your internal dialogue, you maximize direct experience. Just let the thoughts come in and go right out again, while "feeling into" the object.

Another technique Williams uses is to write for a maximum of 10 minutes about a recent event. Then distill the writing into 12 essential words, then six, then 3, and finally, one. This final word is the true essence of the experience. I suspect that a similar sort of exercise could be done with abstract drawings that distill the essence of feelings.

Principle of Astrology Proven to Be Scientific

Here is part of an interesting article from

Skeptics must be further bewildered by the new research published in Nature Neuroscience and conducted at Vanderbilt University, which unintentionally provides scientific support for the fundamental principle of astrology — namely, that the position of the planets at your time of birth influences your personality. In this study, not only did the birth month impact personality; it also resulted in measurable functional changes in the brain.

This study, conducted on mice, showed that mice born in the winter showed a "consistent slowing" of their daytime activity. They were also more susceptible to symptoms that we might call "Seasonal Affective Disorder."

The study was carried out by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two additional undergraduate students, none of whom believe in astrology, apparently. They do, of course, believe in science, which is why all their study findings have been draped in the language of science even though the findings are essentially supporting principles of astrology.

"What is particularly striking about our results is the fact that the imprinting affects both the animal's behavior and the cycling of the neurons in the master biological clock in their brains," said Ciarleglio. This is one of the core principles of astrology: That the position of the planets at the time of your birth (which might be called the "season" of your birth) can actually result in changes in your brain physiology which impact lifelong behavior.

Learn more:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Penney on LA Talk Radio Dec 13

I will be a guest on "Chai with Nanice" live on Channel 2, at 4pm PT, Tuesday Dec 13.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two Views

At times I see the world situation as hopeless—the hatred, poverty, sickness, ego, greed, inhumanity, control games, corruption—it seems like it feeds on itself and will go on forever. When I try to deal with the political craziness in the world with my mind alone, I get so frustrated that I feel like that old commercial where an egg is frying in a red-hot skillet: "This is your brain on drugs." Except that it's "This is your left brain on fear."

But when I shift out of my left brain into my right brain, home frequency, and heart perception, and remember that I'm a soul living in a field of light and love (pure consciousness and perfect cooperative interconnection with the All), when I saturate with THAT field, the whole view turns inside out and suddenly it's not so difficult. The Field can do the work of shifting the fear patterns, Love is bigger than all of it, and can suck the reality out of suffering with such finality that we will think we just dreamed it, a long time ago. . . It's evident when I'm in my "right mind" that all the difficulties and pain I see in the world are a result of the bad habit we all have of feeling separate and perceiving through a filter of separation.

photo by Nick Brandt

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Prayer from 1993

I pray: When I die, let me feel very happy about how full my time has been, how many chances I took, how many commitments I made, how many times I let go when it was time. Please bring me out of my old point of view and bring my awareness to: the perfect next level, episode, people, work, interests. I will not hesitate to act, as soon as I am shown. I keep my eyes, ears, and skin open for the clues, for what lights up. Please help me change the View so I can let the new lines and dots and waves of the new circuitry shift into being in my living body: HERE.

copyright by Penney Peirce

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Penney Radio Interview Dec 7, 7-8pm PT

I'll be a guest on the radio show, Living in the Quantum Field, with Katie-Lynne Garnett, 7-8pm PT, Tuesday night, Dec 7, on Please tune in or pick up the interview on their archives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tune in to the Astrological Time

I thought this latest announcement from astrologer Jacqueline Lasahn covers some important points that line up with what I've been experiencing energetically.

Sagittarius New Moon December 5, 2010 9:37 am PST
Uranus direct December 5
Mercury retrograde December 10 - 29

Universe of chaos,
Universe of divine design.
Instability. Surprise. Opportunity.
Seek the higher ground
Choose wisely.
Challenge to realize the uneasy truth
and translate it into a conscious outlook
and careful speech.
Ethics, morals, manipulation,
righteousness and justice
are in the headlines;
we each have our own story.
The power of truth
pushes each one of us to reach higher,
dig deeper, search farther.
Claim your authority.
Beware of fanaticism and "pushing the river."
The cosmic river has been moving swiftly
and we're riding the rapids.
Be mindful, be awake, be aware.

11/27 Pluto conjunct Moon's North Node
12/4 Mercury conjunct Moon's North Node
12/5 Mercury conjunct Pluto, Uranus direct, New Moon Sagittarius
12/10 Mercury retrograde
12/13 Mercury, Mars and Pluto all line-up in Capricorn

More than simply a notorious Mercury retrograde.
We are called to live with purpose, meaning and integrity.
There is energy to harness, power in focus.
Grabbed by tension, pulled in opposite directions,
plans may be immobilized
or willfully forged ahead.
Be aware of where you are persisting
and what you are resisting.

Squeezing through the eye of a needle,
assimilate what is essential,
shed the excess.
Avoid sharp attitudes, harsh, tactless speech.
Consider your mind as a laser,
your tongue as a sword
and your will as a transformative agent towards our future.
The consciousness and practice of intentions is of the utmost importance now.

Sagittarius New Moon Contemplations and actions:
What is the truth emerging at this time? What is my truth?
How may I focus my aspirations with integrity?