Plastic-eating machines, tiny hemp houses, alien painters, pagan herbalists and crystal meditation.

Monday May 8th - Sunday May 14th
Stories from Motherboard, The Cannabist, Mysterious Universe, The Wild Hunt & OMTimes.

Dear curious cats,

I hope you have unraveled the yarn this week, finding at least a melody if not the answers. Also how was your weekend?

And now, the stories:

PLASTIC OCEANS

Machines cleaning plastic in the oceans get a new look.

Inspired inventor Boylan Slat wowed the world with his creative solution to buildup of plastic in the ocean. Back then it was nothing by a cool concept, a floating trash filter. Now it’s been redesigned, going from stationary and anchored to rotating and weighed down by a submerged buoy which controls its speed.

His foundation has raised $31.5 million since its inception in 2013, with $21.7 million coming in since November 2016. The influx of funds will allow them to deploy the plastic catchers by the end of this year. With the advantages coming from the new, more versatile design, they now believe they can remove over half the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch over the next five years.

Despite the creativity and idealism of Slat’s vision, the plan is not without critics, who say that the money raised for the project would be better used to treat the problem at its source: waste management.

That being said, the garbage patch isn’t going anywhere without The Ocean Cleanup, which is made up of a fleet of slow moving machines which will gradually move across the entire area.

HEMP LIFE

A Colorado-based company will help you make the hemp tiny house of your dreams.

Tiny Hemp Houses, founded by carpenter John Patterson, offers consulting and workshops for hemp home builders. Patterson has long been an advocate of sustainable building practices, and five years ago, after meeting Steve Allin of the International Hemp Building Association, he immersed himself in learning the system of building using hempcrete.

Hempcrete is a concrete-like construction material using the inner core of the hemp plant mixed with water and lime. The resulting pulp can be molded into bricks, or it can be poured into frames to create walls. As a construction material, hemp is both durable and fire resistant.

“One of its number-one qualities is its ability to breathe,” points out Patterson on a call with The Cannabist.

Due to its association with cannabis, hemp has been illegal to grow in the United States since the Controlled Substances Act of the 1970s, despite it being the material used to print the constitution on. But the 2014 Farm Bill finally started to open up production again, allowing states to approve limited use of industrial hemp. As of last year, 16 states have legalized production with 20 more running some kind of pilot program.

Nonetheless, Patterson gets his hemp from Europe, part of a $500 million import industry. To build one of his tiny homes, it takes around 125 bags of hemp, each weighing around 30 pounds for a total of two tons. The result: a building somewhere between 120 and 400 square feet.

“It’s not for everybody, but some people are looking for smaller,” says Patterson. “It’s less expensive. The younger crowd, they don’t want to be tied to a mortgage and they realize they can live with less space. And if you organize that space better it’s amazing how much you can accomplish in a smaller home.”

EXTRATERRESTIAL PORN

An artist who lost his virginity to an ET now paints them.

72-year-old David Huggins, now of Hoboken, New Jersey says he was first visited by aliens in the 1950s while living in Georgia as a child. At the time, he was unsure of what they were, but later realized they were Grays, a common type of alien. When he told his parents, they called it his vivid imagination.

The visitations changed when Huggins was 17. He recalls meeting an extraterrestrial on a walk named Crescent who he found himself attracted to. According to Huggins, they got naked and had sex. This scene much later appears in one of his paintings with Crescent resembling a human female.

Huggins claims not only to have had intercourse, but also to have become a father. Over the years, he’s claimed to have sired over 50 hybrid children over his life so far. He says he went to abductee meeting in his 40s, calling it “a club that no one wants to belong to.”

Huggins is getting newfound recognition now with the release of Love & Saucers, a documentary from filmmaker Brad Abrahams who heard Huggins on the radio in 2014. The film was screened in Hoboken this spring, with other screenings listed on the film’s Facebook page and website.

PAGAN GARDENS

A conversation with author and herbalist Paul Beyerl, known for his garden near Seattle.

24 years ago, Beyerl and his partner Gerry purchased the land which is now the one acre Hermit’s Grove garden and the site for The Rowen Tree Church, a group which follows the strand of paganism Beyerl teaches called Lothloriën.

Beyerl became interested in Wicca and herbalism while involved in the “back to the land” movement in northern Minnesota. Shortly after, he transitioned to becoming a full time priest and author, now known for books like The Master Book of Herbalism (1984), A Wiccan Bardo, Revisited (1999), and most recently, On Death and Dying (2015).

“Modern physics, old religion; I was transcending worlds,” he said. “I’m always a little amazed how many Pagans and Wiccans don’t really grasp these things as realities.”

Beyerl considers his own life as an example of the principle that the natural world is the primary reality and that magic is only as powerful as how an individual lives. “Things just happen in my life,” he said.

But after decades of building in the Hermit’s Grove, Beyerl is planning on selling his longtime home due to heightened property taxes. The area around them is now million-dollar homes on large lots.

Nonetheless, Beyerl is happy to return to Minnesota where the Lothloriën traditional was born, the “sacred heart of the cosmology,” in part because the area’s “drift less” character, having been untouched by the last Ice Age.

CRYSTAL CLUB

This is how you do a group meditation with crystals.

First off, sorry it took so long to discover this gem. I don’t know how I made it this far in life without this technique, but I digress. Now, how to achieve unity in conscious thought.

Using a crystal cluster in particular for a group meditation emanates energy, says Andrew Pacholyk at OMTimes. Pacholyk suggests a basic quartz crystal as the ideal stone for this practice, describing quartz as the “Master Healer” and the “stone of power." He also points out that the natural tendency of quartz is harmony, and that it is useful to both send and receive energy.

Other clusters like geodes, thunderstones, tourmaline, conglomerate stones or apophyllite, azeztulite or auralite are all good options says Pacholyk, but choose one based on the specific intentions of the meditation.

Start by placing the crystal cluster in the middle of the group, followed by having everyone take a few deep breaths. Next, slowly move focus into the Third Eye, and from there start to feel the crystal’s pulsating energy.

At this point, start to connect more deeply with the crystal matrix, allowing it to impart cosmic wisdom. When you’re ready, slowly bring the group up out of the meditation.

THE QUOTE BOX

”The world is a school. We are here to learn, and our presence here proves our need of instruction. Every living creature is struggling to break the strangling bonds of limitation - that pressing narrowness which inhabits vision and leaves the life without an ideal. Every soul is engaged in a great work - the labor of personal liberation from the state of ignorance. The world is a great prison; its bars are the Unknown. And each is a prisoner until, at last, he earns the right to tear these bars from their moldering sockets, and pass, illuminated and inspired, into the darkness, which becomes lighted by that presence.“
— Manly P. Hall,
The Lost Keys of Freemasonry



That's all for this week. Look out next Monday morning!