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The Sun Through The Signs

The Sun Through The Signs

The Essential ‘I’- Your sense of Identity – Your Will and Purpose in Life – Your level of Vitality and Self-confidence – Conscious Self Expression – Your Blind Spot

AriesEnergetic and direct, with a strong sense of individuality, enjoys a challange and initiating action; hates giving up; needs to learn patience and moderation.

Taurus Patient and determined, with lusty physical appetites; values stability and possessions; dislikes upheaveal and being rushed; needs to learn to be more adaptable.

Gemini Alert and communicative, with a ‘switchboard’ capacity for learning; thrives on variety and novelty; resents mental drudgery; needs to learn the power of commitment.

Cancer Emotional and intuitive; with a strong sense of personal attachment; loves familiarity; dislikes confrontation and emotional quagmires; needs to learn to be less touchy.

Leo Warm and generous, with a flair for dramatization; flourishes when centre stage; dislikes authority and being ignored; needs to learn to soften pride and accept criticism.

Virgo Conscientious and methodical, with a fine eye for detail; loves to be of service and to create order: ‘hates not being into the know’; needs to learn self-worth and to trust feelings.

Libra Gregarious and considerate, with a strong social sense; yearns to please and to be pleased; recoils from injustice and disharmony; needs to learn to handle conflict firmly.

Scorpio Strong-willed and self-contained, with a talent for probing; prizes loyalty and total involvement; deplores indifference and superficiality; needs to learn to be more open.

Sagittarius Optimistic and sincere, with an insatiable thirst for ‘exploration’; cherishes freedom and aiming high; hates detail and hypocrisy, needs to learn discipline.

Capricorn Resourceful and persevering, with a strong sense of duty; believes fervently in tradition and order, distrusts the untried and untested; needs to learn compassion.

Aquarius Companionable and quirks, with a humanitarian streak; loves originality and independence; shuns practicalities; needs to learn to accept ‘darkside’ of emotions.

Pisces Sympathetic and impressionable with a poweful imagination; value giving, escaping and mystery; resents drab reality and suffering; needs to learn to be less self-pitying.

Reference: The Instant Astrologer: Felix Lyle-Bryan Aspland

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Neptune Is Going Direct & It’s Time To Manifest Your Dreams

Neptune Is Going Direct & It’s Time To Manifest Your Dreams

Neptune, a planet with an otherworldly and ethereal quality to it, began the six-month planetary moonwalk on 28th June – otherwise known as Neptune Retrograde. The veil over our eyes was lifted, allowing us to see relationships and situations for who and what they truly are. When Neptune turns direct on 3rd December, it’ll take us down the rabbit hole again: hoodwinking, brainwashing and tricking us in its deceptive ways. Don’t be surprised if you get lost in your emotions and believe in the impossible dream. Not only that, but our intuition and paranoias are going to skyrocket, while old wounds have the capacity to heal.

Known as “the divine discontent,” Neptune represents longing, glamour and fantasy. Visualise this: Imagine looking at distant ships that highlight the horizon across the ocean. From a faraway perspective, they may look like beautifully painted art in the sea. Up close, the big vessels full of cargo look like heaps of metal that aren’t as picturesque as we imagined. It may not always be truthful, but we believe in Neptune because it represents the facade we choose to believe in. The mind is a powerful thing and it can fool even the smartest person at times. Remember, often things, situations, and people look different from afar and, at times, we wholeheartedly want to believe that they are what we believe them to be — even if they’re not. The deceptiveness of Neptune is something we’ll be feeling when the illusive planet turns direct.

Like all planets, Neptune has wonderful qualities as well as its shadow side. Neptune is escapism at its best and worst, encouraging art, music, theatre, fashion, makeup, sacrifice, loss, obsession, addiction and seduction. Often, we can use the high or low vibration of the planet without thinking about the repercussions; so it’s important to understand how to harness the creative energy to benefit oneself.

Narayana Montúfar, astrologer and author of Moon Signs: Unlock Your Inner Luminary Power, says, when Neptune “wakes up from its long nap, its powers… could create major confusion in relationships and communication. We must be careful by practicing discernment and double-checking our work since this combination is classic for making us miss important details.” Montúfar also stresses the importance of being careful in how we use the energy during the mutable astrological seasons (such as the current Sagittarius days ahead, as well as the upcoming months of Pisces, Gemini and Virgo). She adds: “The Sun will also be squaring Neptune from 8th December to 18th December, so we should tread with care until then. After this date, Neptune’s influence will become weaker and intermittent, being active mostly during Pisces season in the Spring, and Gemini season, in the summer of 2023.”

Use the imaginative and emotional nature of Neptune to write a book or to enhance your personal style. As long as you are not leaning into the lower vibration of the planet, it’ll be easy to implement and manifest your visions into reality. Neptune is a dream maker, which is why it is important to embrace the all-encompassing sentiments that Neptune brings from our subconscious to our hearts and minds. Therefore, we should be careful and mindful in how we use this intense energy as Neptune moves forward.

But don’t feel disheartened, the magical power of Neptune can help us manufacture amazing results as well. Neptune’s waves don’t always represent doom or gloom. We can experience pure and unconditional love under the gaze of this planet, as well as understand our own emotions. Through self-care, meditation and patience, we can use the Neptune energy to help create the world we want, one soft baby step and daydream at a time.

Next year, Neptune retrograde begins again on 30th June and turns direct on 6th December, 2023. This gives us plenty of time to feel our feels and get lost in the fog, until we can conquer our fears and understand our emotions during the next Neptunian backspin.
Reference: Refinery : Story by Lisa Stardust •

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How feelings of joy and gratitude can co-exist with pain and anxiety

Having conflicting emotions can be overwhelming and confusing.

How can anger and joy, for example, exist in the same space?

It’s a common experience though, to juggle two sets – if not more – of emotion at once.

While it might feel like your brain is messy, it’s a very ‘normal’ thing to experience – and it can tell us more about the nuances and complexities of our lives.

Rarely, things are back and white.

Dora Kamau, a mindfulness meditation teacher for the Headspace app, is keen to spread this message and help people find greater ease in conflicting emotions.

Speaking to, Dora says: ‘Generally speaking, most emotions last for 90 seconds – they come in waves and are transient.

‘One moment we may be experiencing something painful and the next moment, we may be laughing and experiencing a sense of joy.

‘How we can recognise joy is by allowing those feelings to come and go.’

So how to you allow them to do that?

She answers: ‘Giving ourselves full permission to feel how it is we’re feeling in the moment, without attaching a story or identifying with what we’re feeling.

‘What makes emotions last long is rumination, our fixation and overthinking spent on what we’re experiencing in the moment.’

Creating space for positive and negative feelings

The mind has a natural bias towards negative emotions, so we’re able to spot and identify states of pain, anger or grief much easier than we can joy and happiness.

‘This is where mindfulness can be powerful by shining a light on how we’re feeling and helping us to recognise joy amidst the anger,’ Dora adds.

Rather than view a negative emotion as ‘bad’, mindfulness teaches us to allow the emotion in and observe or feel it without judgement.

When we assign labels such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we can become stuck.

It’s much easier to embrace moments of gratitude – while also feeling unhappy about an aspect of our lives – when we can step into acceptance, according to Dora.

‘When we allow ourselves something, we’re giving ourselves permission and we’re opening ourselves up to possibility,’ she says.

‘When it comes to allowing ourselves to experience happiness while in a state of upset, we’re giving ourselves the permission to feel what we’re feeling and honouring what we’re feeling as well.

‘When we limit our emotional expression, this can create more resistance and tension in the mind and body, which can actually prolong that state of upset.

‘Regardless of the emotions, it’s important that we allow ourselves to feel and process our emotions.’

We might feel anxious about a situation, for example, but also find pleasure in aspects of it.

The pleasure doesn’t discredit the adversity you’re experiencing, but the anxiety doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel moments of joy.

Dora says: ‘It’s okay to let in those feelings that may feel contradictory, but can help us move through heavier and denser emotions.

‘As human beings experiencing many mixed emotions at once is quite normal.’

Tips for allowing conflicting emotions to co-exist:

Establish a routine of meditation and switching off from your phone. Pick the same time or same place when you meditate. You can even book time in your calendar so that people can’t schedule anything over this dedicated period. Start with two to three times a week, for five minutes each time and you can always build on this.

Mindfully walking around your house, garden, or your local area can prevent the mind from being distracted from stressful thoughts by allowing you to focus on the rhythm of the gait, just like a sitting meditation can enable you to focus on the breath.
Self-compassion can also allow us to feel happiness while also feeling sadness. Reminding ourselves that we are worthy and deserving of feeling joy even while upset.

If you find yourself experiencing moments of joy while also grieving, try holding both experiences instead of choosing one or the other. You can validate what you’re experiencing by placing a hand on your heart, taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling.

Reference: Metro: Tanyel Mustafa

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Love drugs could be the cure for failing marriages

Love drugs could be the cure for failing marriages

“Love drugs” could soon be used to help save failing marriages, according to an Oxford University academic.

Provided by The Telegraph Love drugs
Love is something humans do uniquely well as a species, underpinned by a battery of chemicals in our brain. Scientists have yet to master the art of bottling liquid love, but Dr Anna Machin, an evolutionary anthropologist at Oxford University, believes that feat is fast approaching.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, the author of Why We Love: The New Science Behind Our Closest Relationships, discussed the four key chemicals in the human brain behind the mechanics of love: oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine and beta endorphin.

A cocktail of these potent molecules is released when a person is in love, or falling in love, and this changes our thoughts, behaviour and emotions.

Oxytocin is known as the “cuddle” hormone and reduces inhibitions, dopamine is our “reward” hormone which makes us feel good, serotonin is what makes us obsess over another person, and beta endorphin is an opiate that makes us addicted, literally, to an individual.

These four chemicals are responsible for love, which itself evolved as a mechanism to help people raise children.

Love evolved as form of ‘biological bribery’
Evolutionarily, Dr Minchin said, women want childcare, while men want sex. This “unequal currency” was offset by the evolution of love as a form of “biological bribery”.

She believes enough is now known about brain chemistry that certain chemicals could be prescribed to “enhance your abilities to find love or to increase the possibility that you will stay in love when it is getting a bit tricky”.

“One of the frontiers of love research commercially – because can you imagine how much money you would make – is in exploring possible love drugs.

“There’s lots of ethical questions about love drugs, that love drugs are certainly on the horizon. And there is certainly research going into them.”

Speaking after her talk, Dr Machin added: “Love drugs used in couples’ therapy could be available within three to five years.”

These chemicals are likely to be based on the four neurotransmitters, like pure oxytocin, or a drug which can elicit greater production of one of them, like MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
“Oxytocin is very popular with commercial companies right now as it could help people become more confident when dating and help them fall in love,” she added.

“Oxytocin could be available within a decade for people to squirt up their nose before they go out on a Saturday night, at the same time as having a glass of prosecco.

“MDMA, for people who go clubbing, makes them feel like they love everyone else in the room.

“But users also have a surge in empathy, so it could be used to help those struggling in their marriage.

“There are more ethical questions surrounding MDMA, so that is likely to take longer.”

David Nutt, a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, agreed that oxytocin and serotonin were likely involved in love but is less convinced by dopamine and beta endorphin’s roles. However, he does concur that pharmaceutical love aids, such as MDMA, may be available soon.

“MDMA was widely used in the 1970s by couples counsellors in the US to help people put their marriages back together – with anecdotal good outcomes.”

Chemicals to blame for tough break-ups
Dr Machin also explained why some people take break-ups harder than others, with beta endorphin, the lesser-known of the four neurochemicals, to blame.

“Beta endorphin is an opiate. It is produced by your body and, just like heroin, it is addictive,” she said.

And when the source of the drug, a loved one, disappears, the person goes cold turkey and physically struggles at the loss of the chemical.

“That’s actually the reason why when you get dumped it feels awful because you are going into opiate withdrawal,” she said.

“Obviously, if you’re dumped, you don’t get a slow withdrawal and that is why it is so unbelievably physiologically and psychologically painful when a relationship ends in that way.

“You go from existing at quite a nice high level of all these lovely neuro chemicals and suddenly it is gone, you’ve gone full cold turkey, and all those lovely chemicals disappear and that’s why being dumped is so physiologically painful, actually painful, it can feel like your heart is breaking.”

Dr Machin added that around one in 50 people also possess a particular gene which makes them more sensitive to this process, and for them being dumped is much more hurtful.

“Some poor people who carry a version of the new opioid receptor gene, feel social rejection much, much more powerfully than the rest of us. When they get dumped it is like a million times more painful than the rest of us.”

Reference: The Telegraph: Joe Pinkstone

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What’s your love language after 60? Relationship specialist shares exercise to find out

What’s your love language after 60? Relationship specialist shares exercise to find out
Lohani Noor is a psychotherapist who specialises in sex and relationships.

She spoke exclusively to about what each love language means – and how you can discover your own.

Lohani told that as people go through different stages of their lives, they may require different things from their partners.

“As we grow and age, we may well find that how we experience ourselves and the world around us changes as does how we want to be validated.

“In your 20s receiving affirmation through physical touch may be the most important demonstration of love, however this may change during your 30s and 40s when children come along to acts of service and again in your 50s and 60s to spending quality time together.

“Our changing sense of ourselves directly impacts how we give and receive love. Using the love languages exercise will help couples navigate their changing needs over the years.”

She continued:”Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, defines five distinct ways in which people demonstrate love to one another.

Giving and receiving words of affirmation (compliments) – Spending quality time together – Giving and receiving gifts – Acts of service – Physical touch.”

Perhaps you feel that you aren’t connecting with your partner at the moment, or you don’t know how best to communicate your feelings.

Lohani’s technique to discovering your love language might just be the trick.

“I do a simple exercise with couples that helps them understand their own and their partner’s love languages.

“Sometimes one or both partners are working very hard to show the other person that they love them but their words and actions aren’t recognised, as they are not on their partner’s love language radar.”

This practical exercise hopes to make the discussion around relationship needs much easier.

“I ask both members of the couple to create three columns each.

“In the second column they are to list all the ways in which they think that their partner shows or tells them that they love them.

She continued: “This exercise not only helps people zone into their partners more it also helps them to receive the love that is being offered.

“I ask couples to commit to a few of the ways in which their partner wishes to have love demonstrated to them, in column three.

“Even if you don’t feel the love vibe from doing the thing, be it sending text messages or taking out the bins, be mindful that your partner has expressly informed you that that specific action speaks of love to them.”

This exercise is all about selflessly listening to what the other person needs.

And for those that are sceptical of the exercise, what are the benefits of it?

“As such they are much more likely to be emotionally and sexually available to you if you action their love language desires.

“Why would you not want to…?”

Lohani outlined a few ways of showing each love language for some inspiration.

Love languages: Gift giving© Getty Love languages: Gift giving – Words of Affirmation – Telling them how wonderful they are and how grateful you are for them –

Congratulating them on milestones and achievements – no matter how big or small – Leaving a voice note to wish them a nice day – Remembering their big days at work and – wishing them well.

Popping a surprise card in their suitcase or hand luggage if they are going away so they will find it whilst on their travels

Quality Time

Having breakfast together before heading off to work – Going for a walk together – Having a date night away from friend, family, work and children –

Maintain eye contact when talking – Setting time aside in the evening to catch up on the day

Receiving gifts

Buying them their favourite sweet or chocolate – Gifting them something that reflects their interests – Picking up heartfelt souvenirs for them on your travels

Giving random gifts just because

Acts of service

Getting their car washed – Doing household tasks they may usually do, like laundry or ironing – Picking up dry cleaning – Filling the car up with petrol – Making them a packed lunch for work.

Physical touch

Cuddling while watching TV – Kissing hello and goodbye – Giving public displays of affection – treating them to a back rub – Holding hands on a walk.

Reference: Daily Express: Anna Barry

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Four eerie Nostradamus predictions for 2022 including the invasion of France to deadly AI

Michel de Nostradame, often simply known to Nostradamus, was a French astrologer, occultist and doctor who wrote a number of grim predictions about the future in his 1555 book Les Propheties.

Although his predictions were often vague, based on astrological observations, many believe that of his 942 forecasts many have come true.

From foreseeing the horrors of the Second World War to predicting the French Revolution and the Great Fire of London, the accuracy of Nostradamus’s eerie prophecies means people continue to heed his writings hundreds of years on.

The way his accounts of the future are written, a lot of what he predicts can be applied to several different scenarios.

Nostradamus was a man shrouded in mystery

It has been claimed that he knew that John F Kennedy would be assassinated and about the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.

As a doctor in the time of plague, famine and war, Nostradamus was exposed to the most horrifying and apocalyptic conditions, even losing his first wife and two children to the plague.

Many have interpreted his macabre writing as predictions of doomsday events including a zombie apocalypse, an asteroid hitting the Earth and a deadly solar storm.

Indeed, one of Nostradamus’s prophecies almost came true this year when he referred to “Fire do I see that from the sky shall fall”.

In April of this year, the Earth did have a near-miss with the Asteroid 2021GW4, which came within 12,324 miles of the surface of Earth as its closest point of approach, the Mirror reports.

In April of this year, the Earth did have a near-miss with the Asteroid 2021GW4, which came within 12,324 miles of the surface of Earth as its closest point of approach, the Mirror reports.

France has faced invasion many times since Nostradamus made his prediction
The Print Collector/Getty Images France has faced invasion many times since Nostradamus made his prediction

In April of this year, the Earth did have a near-miss with the Asteroid 2021GW4, which came within 12,324 miles of the surface of Earth as its closest point of approach, the Mirror reports.

This has been proved correct a few times over the centuries, with Russian, Prussian and Austrian troops swarming Paris after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, the Prussians invading France’s Alsace-Lorraine region in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 and of course the Nazi invasion in World War II.

His prediction goes as such: However, the following prediction is speculated to be referring to the spring of 2022:

“Blue-head shall white-head

harm in such degree,

As France’s good to both shall e’er amount.”

The highly vague predictions could be referring to World War III or France’s qualification for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Could Nostradamus have predicted rising sea levels?
Rising Sea Levels

Global Warming

Nostradamus was apparently ahead of many people today in terms of understanding the dangers of rising global temperatures.

The 1555 prediction reads:

“Like the sun the head shall sear the shining sea:

The Black Sea’s living fish shall all but boil.

When Rhodes and Genoa

Half-starved shall be

The local folk to cut them up shall toil.”

With coral reefs being bleached by rising ocean temperatures, crop cycles being affected by unseasonal heatwaves and supply chains disrupted, this prediction does feel far from the truth.

Inflation, Starvation and Cannibalism

If it wasn’t a bleak enough picture, Nostradamus predicted rising food costs causing widespread hunger and even cannibalism:

“No abbots, monks, no novices to learn;

Honey shall cost far more than candle-wax”

“So high the price of wheat,

That man is stirred

His fellow man to eat in his despair”

Empty shelves and increasing food prices have become a part of daily life in the past year but it’s all we can hope that no one will be required to take more desperate measures.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

On a slightly lighter note, Nostradamus may have predicted the plot of Terminator.

He wrote:

“The Moon in the full of night over the high mountain,

The new sage with a lone brain sees it:

By his disciples invited to be immortal,

Eyes to the south. Hands in bosoms, bodies in the fire.”

Man’s creation of robots may be both a help and a hindrance.

His words could be interpreted as artificial intelligence helping humans reach immortality or a violent end.

Reference: My London: Rory Bennett:

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Blue Moon: Why August’s Moon will be unlike any other this year – and what it actually means

The night sky is about to see something so rare that it’s best known as a saying: the fabled Blue Moon.

The Moon won’t look any bluer than usual, and in fact nothing will happen to the Moon itself. And it is not even a Blue Moon in the way the phrase has come to be used recently.

Instead, it is the original meaning of Blue Moon – a “true” Blue Moon – that gave rise to the saying.

The original Blue Moon occurred when a season has four full Moons in it, rather than the traditional three. When that happens, it is the third one that takes the name the Blue Moon, as will happen this August.

That was the description given in the Maine Farmers’ Almanac, which is often used as the source for the names used traditionally for the Moons in the US.

Among other things, referring to the Moon in this way helps keep the traditional way of referring to specific Moons – the last of the season can keep its name as the “late” Moon, for instance. But extra Moons can cause all sorts of problems besides, including in the calculation of the date of church festivals, which may have given rise to the popularity of the phrase.

Such an event happens roughly every 2.7 years. The last one is in February 2019, and after this one there will not be another until August 2024.

But this is not how most people use the phrase today. The more modern definition refers to a time when one particular month has two full Moons within it.

The confusion has been traced back to a mistake made in 1946, when a contributor to Sky & Telescope misread that original description and made reference to the twice-in-a-month kind of Blue Moon. The magazine recognised its mistake in 1999, in another article, but it was too late, and the newer definition has mostly stuck around.

The next chance to see a Blue Moon by the more modern definition will come in August 2023.

More often than not, the phrase Blue Moon is not used to refer to either kind of Blue Moon, or a literal Blue Moon. It is often used in songs with the aim of recalling the sense of the word used in the blues, of loneliness or sadness.

The Moon only turns the actual colour of blue very rarely indeed. Occasionally, the eruption of volcano or large fires can put smoke in the sky that changes its colour.

Reference: Independent: Andrew Griffin : Fri, 20 August 2021

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‘World’s biggest sapphire stone’ worth £72m accidentally found by workmen

Workmen digging a well in a man’s back garden in Sri Lanka have accidentally unearthed what is believed to be the world’s largest cluster of sapphire.

The incredible stone has been valued at an eye-watering £72million as it weighs a staggering 510 kilograms and has the equivalent of 2.5 million carats.

The cluster, which has been named the “Serendipity Sapphire”, was found in the home of gem trader Mr Gamage.

While the pale blue stone is bound to attract the attention of private investors and museums, it officially belongs to Mr Gamage as it was found at his property in Ratnapura, the gem capital of the South Asian country.

a close up of a hand holding a glass with a blue background: Rocks that fell from the stone while it was being cleaned have been found to high value sapphire stars
 Rocks that fell from the stone while it was being cleaned have been found to high value sapphire stars

Mr Gamage said the stone was found by workers who alerted him to the extraordinary discovery.

“The person who was digging the well alerted us about some rare stones. Later we stumbled upon this huge specimen,”  Mr Gamage told the BBC

Mr Gamage, who doesn’t want to disclose his address for safety reasons, went on to describe how some rocks fell off the cluster during the cleaning process and were found to be high quality sapphire stars, the BBC reports.

The stone had been found in 2020 but it took months to clean it from the mud and for experts to assess and certify it as sapphire.

The rock, which has now reportedly been transferred to a safe at the Bank of Ceylon, will have to be assessed by international experts before it can be safely sold to anyone interested.

“I have never seen such a large specimen before. This was probably formed around 400 million years ago,” Dr Gamini Zoysa, a renowned gemmologist told the news outlet.

World’s largest Sapphire

“It is a special star sapphire specimen, probably the biggest in the world.”

Sri Lanka is renown around the world for its export of sapphires and other precious stones used for jewellery.

Here in the UK, the precious rock is known as a ring made of blue sapphire famously belonged to Princess Diana before it passed on to the Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince William gave Kate Middleton the ring, estimated to be worth £300,000, as an engagement gift, after a “selfless” Harry gave it up so his brother’s future wife could have it.

Reference: Mirror: Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

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Buck Moon: Why tonight’s full Moon has such an unusual name

The full “Buck Moon” is set to rise in the sky.

But the name doesn’t refer to anything special about the Moon itself. Instead, it is the name it takes whenever the full moon arrives in July.

As such, there won’t be anything notable to see about the Moon when it is visible in the sky, beyond all the usual view that comes with any full moon. Unlike a super moon, or a lunar eclipse, or similar celestial sights, the Moon will look the same as normal.


(As noted by some US news organisations, however, the Moon could look a little red or orange – but because of the wildfires that are burning across the west of the country, rather than any astronomical reason.)

The name Buck Moon is supposedly Native American in origin, and comes from the fact that it is around now when buck deer begin to sprout antlers from their foreheads. The Maine Farmer’s Almanac is the source of many of the names for the Moon that have become popular, which run from the Old Moon in January to the Cold Moon in December.

It is also known under a variety of different names. In Europe, it is sometimes called the Hay Moon because it comes at the time it is harvested, or the Mead Moon; those names are sometimes applied to the Moon in June too, however.

It is also the Guru Full Moon, or Guru Purnima, for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. As noted by Nasa, that is celebrated as a “time for clearing the mind and honoring the guru or spiritual master”.

And for Theravada Buddhists, the Moon is known as Asalha Puha, Dharma Day or Esala Poya. Its arrival marks an important festival that celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon.

While this year has seen a run of supermoons, there won’t be another one for almost a year – the next one will occur on 14 June, 2022.

Reference: Independent: Andrew Griffin 

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‘I fell in love with a psychopath con man who stole my £850,000 life savings’

It was coming up to closing time in the clothes shop where I worked, when in walked a handsome stranger. That jacket in the window,” he inquired, brown eyes twinkling. “Do you have it in my size?” Impeccably groomed, wearing a crisp white shirt with no tie, a suit and designer glasses, he exuded confidence. I loved meeting new people. After being made redundant from my pharmaceuticals job, I sold up and moved from Buckinghamshire to the Cotswolds town of Tetbury.

My two daughters, Lara and Emma, had flown the nest and, at 54, I was loving my independence following my divorce nine years earlier. As we chatted, Mark Conway – as he introduced himself – held my gaze and smiled. The atmosphere felt electric. So when my friend Uma popped in to tell me about a house she thought I should buy, I wished she’d leave so I could talk more to this charismatic Mark, who said he was 46 and divorced. Now I wish now I had closed the shop early and never met him.

Instead, after Uma had gone, I told Mark I’d sold my own place and was renting a cottage while looking to buy. Later, I realised this signalled how much cash I had at my fingertips.

a person standing in front of a building: Carolyn Woods

He asked for my mobile number and the next evening we sipped champagne at a local hotel. After Eton and Oxford, Mark said he was now a tax exile working for a Swiss bank. When he said he’d flown back from Geneva that evening just to see me I was flattered.

His lifestyle sounded so luxurious. He liked only “the best” and happily paid for it. The first time we made love, two days after we met, Mark pulled himself away from me. “I’m falling in love with you,” he murmured. “This is insane.” Soon, we were calling each other by the pet name “Bubba”. “You are so beautiful,” he’d text. One evening, four days after we met, he pulled up outside a lovely empty house with electric gates.

He told me he was thinking of renting it for us. My jaw dropped. “We’re going to live together. It’s what we both want,” he said. But Mark was always flying off somewhere. He revealed that his banking job was actually a cover for his work with MI6.

This made sense. He’d “let slip” how he flew his own plane and spoke seven languages. He explained that secret agents weren’t supposed to have relationships and it would take him 18 months to get out of his MI6 contract. Would I wait for him? Hook, line and sinker, I’d fallen for him, and said I would.

Robert Jarni wearing a suit and tie: Mark Acklom had been a fraudster since he was a teenager

Lies and spies

Mark went to great lengths to seem like a spy. He asked his driver to pull into a side street next to the MI6 building in Vauxhall, London. “Wait for me here,” he instructed, disappearing inside. He “bought” me a Volvo XC60 SUV – later I would discover it was leased – and gave me a new iPhone and laptop. Then Mark announced he wanted to buy a Grade I-listed house set in stunning grounds on the outskirts of Bath.

I was thrilled, although he wouldn’t let me visit until the renovations were complete. “I want it to be a surprise for you, Bubba,” he grinned. But less than a month after I’d met him I overheard him discussing a cash-flow problem regarding the contractors. Since I had money sitting in my bank account, I offered him the £26,000 he mentioned. It was the first of 70 transfers over the next few months. I wasn’t thinking straight. That’s what falling in love does to you.

His lies became more elaborate. He told me he knew Vladimir Putin and Hillary Clinton, and once interrupted our lovemaking to take a call he said was from the King of Spain. He’d pick me up for dates in a helicopter and everything was ridiculously expensive. At Harrods food hall he picked up a whole ham costing £1,500. Yet whenever we went to pay, he just looked straight at me and I produced my bankcard.

Mark promised me a fairy-tale wedding and to repay me once the cash-flow problem had been sorted. I never doubted him. Another time, in August 2012, Mark phoned. “Fancy going flying, Bubba?” He took me to see “his” collection of classic aircraft in Gloucestershire. It looked so romantic, but I was surprised to learn that I would be flown by Mark’s business associate, James Miller, even though Mark claimed to be an experienced pilot himself.

How could I doubt that he would one day pay back my money when impromptu treats like this were possible?

Desperate and depressed

One night, just as I was watching Homeland – a TV show I had become addicted to since Mark’s confession that he worked for MI6 – he suddenly appeared dressed in full desert combat gear. “Darling, I had to see you,” he said. “I’ve left a group of men I’m training in Syria.” Because I couldn’t talk to anyone about his work, I just became increasingly isolated.

Spending all my time alone, waiting to hear from him, I lost my confidence and slid into depression. Then that autumn, Mark told me he had a brain tumour and needed an urgent operation abroad. I was worried sick. Why was everything going so wrong? All the bills were in my name, but I couldn’t hassle Mark to give me any money when he was so sick. I ended up moving out of the house and relying on friends to put me up.

I didn’t want to live. I spent hours on the internet researching how I could commit suicide. But part of me clung to the hope that I was overreacting, and that my new life with Mark would be wonderful. By April 2013 there was still no money. Mark blamed his lawyers. He rang me every day, telling me he hoped we’d be together soon.

I tried to end the relationship, but he guilted and gaslighted me into staying with him. By June I’d had enough. In desperation, I rang James Miller – the plane pilot. I barely knew him but hoped for some reassurance. Instead, he dropped a bombshell. James said his business had been destroyed by Mark, a serial fraudster whose real surname was Acklom.

He’d made headlines in 1991 when, aged 16, he’d stolen his father’s credit card, flown to Paris by private jet and treated his friends to champagne. I remembered reading about it. He’d then embarked on a criminal career and had been jailed for fraud in the UK and Spain.

Also, he was married with two young children, one of whom he’d introduced to me as his “niece”. Plus, he wasn’t 46, only 38. Lie after lie – I felt sick I’d slept with him. And ashamed and horribly embarrassed I’d fallen for his charm and James Bond story.

That night, I went to my daughter Lara’s flat in London, where my younger daughter Emma joined us. I told them everything, trying to absorb it all. Lying on Lara’s sofa, I just wanted to die. “That f*****g b*****d!” Next morning, Mark rang. “Baby, I love you so much,” he said. “Just give me my money,” I replied. The line went dead and I never heard from Mark Acklom ever again.

I went to the police as soon as I could, but it took six years to bring Mark to justice in a British courtroom. With his name on the list of the UK’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, he was finally arrested in Switzerland and extradited back to the UK in February 2019. That August he appeared in court, pleading guilty to five charges of fraud. He was sentenced to five years and eight months.

I’ve since realised he is a psychopath – without remorse, guilt or empathy. I lost every penny of my £850,000. The one good thing was meeting James – we got together at the end of 2013  and now rent a home in Scotland. Our match was made in hell, but we have each other. Mark ruined both our lives, but we laugh about the audacious lies. What else can you do?

I always dreamed of writing a book. This is one story I could never have made up. Sleeping With A Psychopath by Carolyn Woods (HarperCollins £8.99) is out now

Reference: Mirror: Carolyn Woods (talking to Susanna Galton)  11 hrs ago