For the Love of Valentine

The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.     ~Rumi

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alentine’s Day is one associated with lovers, couples and many may argue….commercialism.   As with any other public opinion, it requires examination so that one may evaluate and respond in a way that honors our path and our relationships in a way that feels authentic and productive. 

There are as many types of love as there are people with the most remarked on and notable being:  Eros (sexual, passionate, romantic), Agape (universal love/heart chakra centered), Philia (friendship and goodwill), Storge (familial/parental),  Ludus (playful activity, flirting, seduction),  Philautia (self-love: both the healthy and unhealthy kind), and Pragma (practical and compatible).  Despite Valentine’s Day being associated with lovers, through the ages it has been a day to celebrate love and friendship of all kinds.

For many of us, our introduction to Valentine’s Day and love outside of the home began in grade school.  It is a holiday full of creativity and social/emotional growth, but at times could be a bit painful as well.  For me, Valentine’s Day was exciting because I loved art and V Day meant access to new art supplies of red and pink paper, hearts, sequins and delicate lace paper doilies.  As a class, we worked diligently creating homemade collages loosely representing a Valentine’s card, most often to our parents.  We would then practice our spelling and fine motor skills to write out our classmate’s names on flimsy store-bought cards sporting cheesy pictures to later take to school and hurriedly place in construction paper mailboxes taped to our desks.  If we are lucky some generous parent would include a little chocolate, a box of candy hearts or a sticker.  After the cards were passed out, everyone would excitedly open the cards.  I was psychoanalytical even as a small child and so would evaluate each person’s message by their choice of card. Did I get cards from all my friends, was there a special crush card from someone I didn’t know that liked me?   Potential hurt would be present when someone didn’t give me a card as I couldn’t understand why.    

In later grades, our minds are stretched in figuring out how to express words of caring to our friends without sounding stupid or giving someone the wrong idea, while in turn telling someone we like them…..without actually admitting it in the event we are rejected.  Our social and emotional skills are tested as we are told by our parents that we must write a card to every student on the list, even when we don’t want to.  As we get older our personalities begin to develop as do conflicts and we don’t necessarily want to include everyone in our circle of love.  We begin weighing our like and dislike of each other based on how we’ve been treated, hurts experienced (imagined and unimagined) to withholding a piece of ourselves in not sharing a card with the feelings of what it felt like when we didn’t receive a card.  At this time (hopefully) conversations begin around what is love, kindness, generosity and compassion?  How do we deal with people who don’t treat us well or return affection?  How do we deal with emotional related hurts and disappointments?  It all can become complicated very quickly and have lasting benefits or consequences depending on what tools we are taught.

Eventually ‘Will you be Mine’ hearts and paper doily cards give way to roses, chocolates and more adult overtures or expressions of love.  Depending on our past experiences we can choose this to be a time of joy and celebration or a time of jaded pessimism.  Valentine’s Day has no shortage of celebrants and is one of the most popular holidays in the United States.  Despite its popularity, many detractors denounce V Day as simply a commercial holiday designed to make people just spend more money.  To that, I would say that nobody can make you feel or do things you don’t want to.

In reality, Valentine’s Day occurs during the Season of Imbolg, a time where the weak light starts quickening the seeds of life within.  We start waking up from the hibernation and slowly stretch our delicate tendrils to the light in an effort to leave winter behind. It is interesting to note how V Day occurs during this time of the year.

There is much in the way of controversy surrounding the origination of Valentine’s Day.  One theory postulates St. Valentine was a 3rd-century Roman saint who started out as a priest, ministering to persecuted Christians.  He was imprisoned, whereby he fell in love with a young girl to whom he allegedly penned a letter and signed “From your Valentine”.  Valentine was martyred and then commemorated in death on February 14th.

Another theory stems from the actions of Emperor Claudius II, who decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives, therefore outlawing marriage for young men. Valentine felt this was unjust and married young lovers in secret. When Claudius learned of this deception, he ordered the death of Valentine.

The romanticism of either myth has not been forgotten all these years later.  It does, however, beg the question of whether or not it was initiated by the Christians in an effort to usurp the fertility festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to Faunus, the god of agriculture?  This fertility ritual occurred in the middle of February in conjunction with the beginning of birds’ mating season.  There is the soft fragrance of early lily of the valley, witch hazel, redbud and forsythia as well as the returning sounds of birds.  There is a flurry of activity in the pairing up and nest building of these birds as well.  Those in rural areas see this quickening result in new beginnings: the birth of lambs and early calves as well as chickens starting to lay eggs (another seed of life) after a long dark winter.

As pagans in tune with the cycles of the earth, we understand the need for her balance and upkeep.  Our voice and power to effect change are expressed through what we spend on consumables.   While there are a lot of consumables to be indulged in during Valentine’s Day, one does not have to sell the farm and buy up the store to show love.  Many argue that loving-kindness and the generous nurturing of a relationship needs to be shown to our partners all year long, not just on one day a year.  I do not believe any person truly engaged in a relationship would argue that statement.  A relationship is a living co-creation that requires daily mindful attention of all people involved, as a whole year of maintenance and attention cannot be crammed into one day.

I liken the group mind energy of Lupercalia/Valentine’s Day to that of Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas, in that the magic felt during the Solstice season is big and heartfelt with energy for spell working much easier to raise because people have open hearts and are largely of the same group mind.

Valentine’s Day is all about choices.  The value is in the micro choices taking place each day in how you choose to show up in your relationship.   How one approaches Valentine’s Day is a personal choice and like anything else in life-you get out of it, what you put in.  Valentines Day can be as unique as the couple celebrating and one can choose to view V Day as another commercial holiday or one can take the opportunity of the curated Valentine’s venues to tap into the love vibes and cast a spell on each other for deeper connection and another memorable year.  At this time of year, I build an altar for the love of my family and friends.  I make special treats and pen cards to hand out as a personal expression of how I feel and want to make others feel.  Valentine’s Day does not need to be fancy, just genuine.

Love is the Law of the Land and Love is the most powerful force on earth.  Even more amazing is this year it falls on Friday-that day ruled by Venus, the Goddess of Love.  Any reason to celebrate love in all of its forms is worthy of time and attention in my book!

However you choose to celebrate-may the Goddess bless your love thricely now and in the coming year!

Cheers and Blessed Be

 

 

The Magic of 2o2o-Age of Aquarius

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t redhe beginning of a new year can be a time inspiring change in our lives.  We don’t know what the year holds for us, but we hold in our hearts the hope for new opportunities to move us forward.  It is said that it is darkest before the dawn and 2o2o is just such a moment.  We all have the amazing fortune to be not only witnessing but experiencing a historically pivotal time of spiritual and social transition.

For the World-2020 is the year where the Age of Pisces ends and the Age of Aquarius begins.  We all know in life, beginnings and endings are never black and white.  Ingrained world views and systems of belief cannot be changed overnight and thusly been quite apparent in the political, racial, social, environmental, civil, religious and spiritual upheavals taking place worldwide, especially in the last 50 years.   Never has the world been so divided on every level.

The Age of Pisces values money, power, technology, and control; hence the destruction of our planet in the name of greed and the almighty dollar, oppressive social structures, over consumerism and demonization of anything or anyone directly connected to the Gods, the Old Ways, the Divine Source.  As Sandra Weaver said, ” Throughout most of Pisces though this spiritual side is for the most part seen as the truth hidden behind the five senses. Spirituality was seen in relation to the world, not through an innate knowing of divinity“.

The Age of Aquarius values love, compassion and integrity of self which kicks off a time of healing our planet, our society and ourselves through humanitarian efforts.   It is a time that brings us back to our ancestral roots and strengthens the need to participate in our local communities.  Just as Pisces started out with the strengths of the sign, growth peaked and then became consumed in cycles perpetuated by its weaknesses; something that needs to be safeguarded against with the Aquarian traits if we are to be successful in healing our planet, society and ourselves.

While  It can be very difficult to be a spiritual person in society with its currently held beliefs, the Age of Aquarius has the potential of ushering in a more spirit-centered/connected existence.  This is now the time of embracing daily spiritual practices revering a higher power/intelligence and using our pagan understanding of our interconnectedness to the cosmos and natural systems that impact and inform our spiritual and earthly realities (which science is finally recognizing to be a truth).  The question for the year and even possibly the decade is “Who am I going to be?” “How am I going to show up?” during this time of great change and transition.

It appears as if 2o2o is going to be a year of opportunity in reforming ourselves and aligning ourselves with more profound spiritual wisdom.  For us, at Rosethorn Manor we have opted to focus our magical workings on maintaining the balance necessary in times of tumultuous change while weaving in the unique requirements of each individual.

How do you plan to ‘bring it’ for 2o2o?

‘Familiar’ Loss

“We never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.”

― Gail Caldwell

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Witch’s Familiar is something of tall tales as told in history books and still a very integral part of spiritual practice for many of us.  In April, we lost our beloved Familiar, Ms. Lyra, and it’s taken me this long to be able to share.  Lyra was a huge part of our every day in every-way life and the loss is a particularly deep and painful one.  I have sustained the loss of dogs, cats, horses, grandparents and both of my parents; the list goes on.  As pagan peoples bearing close ties to the energies and frequencies we live and work with, the loss is deeply felt and a familiar is extremely hard.  Every place I turn in my bedroom, in the garden, in the barn, on the front porch is ghosted with her presence and constant reminders at every turn.  Our lives were enriched by her presence, by her nurturing nature, by the flash of her golden eyes and her sassy chatter.  Ms. Lyra would watch over me wherever I went: while I slept, she patrolled the land; when I was up in the morning, she raced through the dog door to have a morning meditation; when I went running, she frequently insisted on running 2 miles or more with me through the woods (which is highly usually for just a regular cat and  indicated I needed to be on the watch for something); when sick she would give her healing energy to whomever needed it.

Our spiritual practice was enriched through her awareness of that which could not be seen and her supportive presence during circle.  Her energy and frequency added another layer of power and connection to our workings that is much different now that she is gone.

Almost everyone has experienced a serious loss of some sort in their lives, whether it be a family member, friend, home, job, beloved pet or familiar.  Loss is always hard unless it’s the last five pounds of winter weight.  It is a feeling I have become far too familiar with and therefore know what to expect, though I do not believe that it is an experience one ever truly gets used to.  “They” say that time heals all wounds, however, one would need to define ‘heal’.  Loss is an oxymoron, in that one has less of something, yet somehow feels heavier in our grief.

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The process of healing is different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way to grieve, other than ignoring it. In the face of grief remember to be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and honor life and loss in your own way.

All these months later and our loss still feels heavy and fresh.   We have honored her presence in our Samhain Season rites and will continue to remember Ms. Lyra equally as we acknowledge any family member.

Ms. Lyra-the lives of those at Rosethorn Manor and been blessed by your presence and will never be the same again.  May your soul ride gently and safely on the joyful breath of Bastet until we meet once again my beloved.  RIP

If you have lost a beloved Familiar, we would love to hear your story.

Women’s Spirituality Trilogy

celticThroughout history, much of what has been written on paganism, witchcraft and alternative spiritual practices has led to much in the way of misunderstanding.  Witches and Heathens, as portrayed in movies sends one down the road of a bumbling idiot, maniacal evil sorcerer or vampy succubus and everything in-between.  While at times amusing and entertaining, most are based on unflattering stereotypes that hold little value in their representations.  We previously listed out some of our favorites on the Pagans and Media post, however, wanted to touch on a really great set of videos with a more authentic and respectable historical approach.

 

There are a series of videos called the Women’s Spirituality Trilogy. The three videos… The Burning Times, God Has Remembered, and Full Circle. The Burning Times provided an in-depth look at the diverse history of 15 to 17 centuries considering the worship of the goddess, manipulations of the clergy, and witchcraft of yesterday and today. Terrific numbers of witches and non-witches burned my other types of torture reminding.

God Has Remembered, examine varieties of goddess worship in different places around the world. There was footage of caves, deserts, temples, carvings and statues. The writers also touched on the resurgence of forgotten values and worship currently being practiced by both men and women.

Full Circle dealt with the manifestation of the many forms of women’s spirituality. It showed women coming together out of the shadows of men, clergy, fear and uniting in trust once again. The many points of equality and respect between the two genders were shown.

 

Watching these videos is time well spent. It was wonderful to recognize many rituals and songs that we do in our own circles. These videos had great people such as  Starhawk and Margot Adler. The dances and music were beautiful and all of the videos were represented in an informative and intelligent manner without divulging too much. The resurgence in forgotten values and practice of the old ways are alive and through this path our futures hold hope. For people newly answering the call it is a great entry resource and for those already familiar it is wonderful to see it happening in somebody fantastic ways and in living color.

Pagans and Media

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ecently, a newbie to paganism asked my husband and I for some of our favorite pagan media titles.  For pagans and people of alternative spiritualities, it used to be quite a challenge to find anything of quality that wasn’t steeping solely in stereotype.  This day and age, however, there are quite a few movies and series that are enjoyable to watch-some with historical significance, some with kernels of truth as seen in one’s peripheral vision and of course stereotypes as well and some are just purely entertaining!  There are others that may not be pagan or craft related but serve to inspire or help one think outside of the box regarding faith/spirituality/religion and subsequent moral or philosophical connotations.

Here are a list of just a few of our favorites:

Practical Magic            Ladyhawk                          The 13th Warrior
The Princess Bride     The Deceivers                   Pan’s Labyrinth
Mists of Avalon           Legend of the Witches     The Watcher in the Woods
The Witches of Eastwick-Movie and Series            The Mistress of Spices
GRIMM                         The DaVinci Code               I Married a Witch
Like Water for Chocolate                                            Book, Bell & Candle Avatar
The Cloud Atlas           Wish Upon A Spell             Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Stardust                        The Good Witch Series and Movies
The Witches                The Gift                                  Mulan
Witchcraft: Rebirth of the Old Religion                     Sorceress
Eve’s Bayou                The Spirit of Albion              My Neighbor Totoro
Thor Lord of the Rings                                                  The Pagan Queen
Hocus Pocus               The White Queen                  Harry Potter
The Seeker                 The Littlest Witch                  The Craft
Arranged                    Chocolat                                  Agora
The Celestine Prophecy                                            Anchoress
Spellbinder                  The Magicians                     The Shannara Chronicles                                           Dresden Files
The Wicker Man-Old and New version. (If you watch them back to back you will notice the differences between representations of God/Goddess as well as how female sexuality is portrayed. It struck me as quite curious).

You-tube has many documentaries & lectures as well as radio and TV interviews with pagan notables on the path of the Old Ones.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive or complete.  I did not include horror or satanic flicks.

We would love to hear about some of your favorites!

Tarot Tuesday

                                       the TOWER

“After a great blow, or crisis, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over.”
― Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men

Tower Tarot Card

celticT he Tower-change is a coming-blessed or be damned.  The Tower is a difficult card representing turmoil in our lives, there are no two ways about it.  We are trucking along thinking everything is going okay and ‘bam’ the Tower shows up, usually at the most inopportune times.  The Tower is generally known to mean danger or crisis is on its way as well as unforeseen change.  The Tower arrives to challenge the narrow structure that defines our lives or our security based on false beliefs about ourselves and our world.  It is a situation or occurrence sent to wake us up because up to this point nothing else has worked.

The major arcana cards are always an indication that our spirit is trying to speak with us…..the Tower is telling us that Spirits knocking has gone unheeded and will be ignored no more.

The Tower has always brought to mind the old stories of alchemists in the tower working furiously at magic, attempting to challenge currently held beliefs regarding the scientific order of things in the Universe as well as dabbling with otherworld energies for the wrong reasons.  The overstepping due to ignorance or ignoring the warning signs cause the Tower to explode sending everyone overboard.  Inner and outer realities collide with real-world consequences……what inner red flags have you been ignoring regarding what is right for your soul?

 

 

 

What do Witches Look Like?

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What do Witches look Like?  This is a question that we often get asked and one that has no specific answer.

There are many preconceived notions of what witches are supposed to look like, however, these notions are more often than not a big departure from reality. Depending on how we dress or present ourselves in the moment, we receive responses that range from yes you’re everything I expected a witch would look like or huh?!, you’re not what I expected.

It can be amusing and I know I don’t let myself be bothered by it as we’ve all had similar notions on other subjects until we are educated. Being a witch is not about how we express our spirituality through the clothes we wear (though we often do). The reality is witches and pagans come from all walks of life and upbringings: we are construction workers, bartenders and teachers, dignitaries who work in the White House, ambassadors, doctors, psychiatrists and everything in between.  We are not defined by what we wear or what our profession is, but who we innately are inside.
We are curious as to other witches and pagans experiences?

 

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What Witches Look Like

Adventures of the Two of Wands

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y card for today…. Two of Wands. This card leaves me hopeful. Oftentimes read as a card on the precipice of stagnation due to feeling hemmed in from the steadfast structure and empire we have created for ourselves and those around us. I often see this at times when people are restless and unsure of what to do next because they’ve held so tightly to beliefs about what they should be doing or how they should be doing it both for themselves and perceived by others. Generally, this card has a character with a crystal ball or the Earth the Heart Center which means I am hopeful that today will bring about information where my heart and mind can come to some alignment or agreement about the next steps I need to take on my path.
How do you all read the Two of Wands?

Dark Time….in like a Lion out like a Lamb. 

Dark Time-by Holly King

March 2000

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irthdays are among the most sacred of personal holidays and more often than not greeted with mixed emotions.  Some people await the day with bittersweet anticipation, while others look upon the day with dread.  For many there is the apathetic acceptance that it is just another day full of yet more wrinkles with a foot in the grave.  Unfortunately, the lack of proper understanding around this sacred day means a missed opportunity for deeply quiet rest and self-reflection.

History has shown that birthday ceremonies of past potentially began as a form of protection.  It was believed that people were more susceptible to the influence of evil spirits and demons as the veil is thought to be thinnest for people close to the time of their birth.  It is plausible given the vulnerable place that people find themselves in the weeks preceding a birthday.  I would also entertain the possibility that it offered an explanation of peoples out of character actions.

As pagans, we live our lives attuned to both the nature around us as well as the sun, moon and stars above us.  The more attuned we are the more we feel the impact of the movement of the planets that went into our creation and also affect our daily lives.  In our natal charts and daily horoscopes, primary attention focuses on what role the sun plays in our lives with less acknowledgment of the other planets.  In this instance it is to the stars we can look to help us understand the science of what we experience as we listen to our intuition to help us navigate this sacred liminal time.

Each year, approximately six weeks before our birthday’s changes start occurring as the transiting sun progresses towards the natal sun in its solar return.  The activating presence of the sun normally stimulates us into action and provides the outward expression of our moon personality. It is also an important aspect in foretelling the conditions and activities of the coming year.  As it heads toward the same position it held at birth, it slows the stimulation and physical activity as it transitions to a new cycle.

This slowing of the suns stimulation makes way for a period known as the Dark Time. This period is associated with the Moon as well as Saturn.   The Moon represents the continuing cycles of ebb and flow and governs our internal dialog. Saturn is the planet of obstacles and self-undoing, destroying false ideals. The two together draw our center of attention inward and perpetuates a need for spiritual and physical hibernation.   It is very similar to what occurs during a woman’s menstrual time or the 2-3 day period when our birth moon occurs in the month, though on a much grander scale.  When one pays close attention, the very real sensation of the inward spiral can be felt as the protective veil of the birthing womb is drawn around us and the outer senses become numbed.  We struggle as we buck the demands of others to engage our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves and do what or essence is intuitively inclined to do.

Being renewed and prepared for birth is an exercise in trust and letting go.  There is not a choice given as to whether it will happen. Rest assured, whether it is by grace or force, it will.  The only choice is how we engage this sacred period proceeding rebirth.  Engaged properly we are provided with a period of purging, cleansing, healing and renewal on all levels.  It is a time to dream, rest, reflect, meditate and follow the meandering path where intuition often takes us.  It is a time to process the old year and listen to what your essence is telling you about what does or does not work in the progression of your spiritual journey.  It is at its simplest, the time to just be and allow the natural unfolding of yourself so that recovery of your soul may take place.  It is a time to be gentle with yourself. This is not a time to enter in and out of relationships, bind yourself in contracts and agreements, take risks or make big life-altering decisions.

Realistically, in our busy world, it sneaks upon us unaware as we fight what we don’t understand. When this happens we invite chaos, apprehension, anxiety, and feelings of impending doom into our lives.  People get divorced, depressed, commit suicide, get into accidents, become clumsy and make bad decisions on a whim-only to find the hole of despair a deeper place than remembered.  The Dark Time, no matter how one chalks it up, is frustrating.  The very strengths that we rely on are gone.

What does this look like in the real world?  I am sure if you look back over the time preceding your birthday a pattern will emerge.

I am both cursed and blessed to experience my Dark Time in the fall.  My birthday falls on or near Mabon and this time is extremely busy making the most of the harvest season.  My ‘burning daylight, need to keep going till it’s done’ mentality that usually works for me causes me to be slapped upside the head as my hibernation period descends and I’m left wondering what the hex and hades is going on.  I move forward in action like everything is normal, unaware that I am losing pieces of myself little by little.  Over the years this has expressed itself in many ways as it seems all of the very things I excel at, all of my strengths I take for granted, are gone.  I am left feeling defenseless.  My ability to organize-gone, ability to cope-gone, language, spelling, communication skill-not happening, my easy going nature:-(limited as it is) not there.  I get along with most everyone because I’m only half functioning.  Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  The amazing thing is that if you don’t consciously turn inward your body will do it for you.  I found myself half functioning like a zombie while my body did the turning inward for me.  It’s like walking in a thick fog with droplets of water here and there working like a telescope magnifying the outside world.  One also learns that when stripped of the very skills we take for granted we are forced to find and discover one(s) we weren’t aware of.  Even while we go within we are still being taught awareness. I have experienced an inability to communicate, I couldn’t write what I was thinking, I couldn’t spell, and my flow of thoughts was garbled.  It has resulted in stupid actions such as backing over a bucket of newly dug potatoes in my jeep.  It was one of those things where I put them in the way so as to remember to put them away.  Needless to say, I didn’t see them as I stepped around them to get to the jeep, them remembered them just before the potatoes went flying and the bucket shot out from under the tire….obviously too late. I have proceeded to blow a small hole in the roof corner of my porch with my 22.  in my angry haste to scare the horses off the fence because I didn’t stand out far enough on the porch.  Those are just a few highlights.

When I finally started recognizing the signs of my impending dark time and wanting to take that time for myself, it seemed as if there never was any available.   In reality, one must make the time.  This is not an act of selfish need, but one of necessity. If not, you’re turned in by force.  Our bodies will do the work even if we won’t.  This ancient call goes beyond any calendar. In retrospect, I always come out on the other side with a burst of energy and a new appreciation for my life.  I’ve been burnt and stripped of everything, only to arise from the ashes like the Phoenix, though the beautiful feathers apparently were not included in the packed deal.

Blessed be!

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Dark Time Oils

Remember….

The quieter you become,                                                                                 the more you can hear.                                                                                            ~ Ram Dass

Mysteries of the Dark Moon, by Demetra George

Moon Watching, by Dana Gerhardt

Parkers Astrology, by Julia & Derek Parker

Myth, Ritual & Religion, by Andrew Lang

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