Looking with New Eyes

Warning, this post contains some disturbing content. 

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What would you like to see on this sign? (photo source: Pixabay)

I was, I believe, about mid-way through my studies with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. Driving in my car, as I so often do, down a road so familiar cellular memory could take over and I could lose myself in my thoughts. How many of us have been down these types of roads? Lost in our own musings and not paying mind to what is happening around us?

That day, though, I was paying attention. I was looking with new eyes at what had become so familiar that, I realized, I had become accustomed to it to the point of acceptance. I was jarred into a reality that I found acutely disturbing. I was looking at the facade of a convenience store. A sight not at all uncommon, which is why I was deeply disturbed. Posters defaced the windows, calling eyes to drink in the alcoholic beverages held inside. Mouths to draw in the cancerous smoke of the tobacco sticks sold behind the counter. Bellies to fill with the carbonation of liquid chemicals laced with artificial sugars. Defile your body and numb your mind, they called out to every onlooker: man, woman, and child.

This is my world, I thought. This is what we have chosen for our life, collectively. I was deeply disturbed. Yet, I had also come to accept this, at least partially, driving along the roads and barely noticing my surroundings. Even, sometimes, stopping inside these stores to purchase a beverage or snack to fill my hungry body. And what about my mind?

Last night, while watching an episode of “The Crown,” which I’ll admit has become a bit of an addiction, I fell into a similar state of disturbance. Once we make the conscious effort to open our eyes to our surroundings, we cannot help but see what is before us. “Hold her still,” the voice of the handler demanded, while a stallion did the deed of impregnating a mare. “Well done,” was the response after the deed was complete, as the satisfied parties left the scene.

I, though, was infuriated and saddened. What of the mare? “Hold her still.” “So,” I declared out loud, “they essentially force rape her.” And, everyone applauds a deed well done. Once again I found myself thinking, And this is the world I live in?

This morning, while going through my email, I found myself clicking through the daily dose of petitions in the hope to instill change. It’s always disturbing, the barrage of cruelty that meets the senses head-on. A macaw shot for fun, a comatose woman raped for pleasure (another rape), but it was the face of a young woman that pulled my eyes into the layers held behind the scene. Her grin, an artificial high of delight, as she held the dog she calls “Momma” with bloodied feet. A thrill-ride of violence. A young woman who had taken her scooter and dragged her pet behind her. “Mission accomplished,” her eyes spoke. “Look what I’ve done!”

And yet, I thought, why should we be surprised? Look at the billboards we feast our eyes on? They come in myriad form. Books filled with glorified rape and violence. Big screens bringing to life pillage, greed, lust and more gloried rape and violence. I have never enjoyed reading horror novels, nor have I ever enjoyed watching their counterparts on the screen, yet so many of us do.  Perhaps, in part, because we can say, “This is not happening to me.” But is it not?

Look around you. What is your world like. Are you okay with it?

When I sent my visionary fantasy novel, The Labyrinth, to a young beta reader, she asked me if anyone was going to die. She expected violence and even murder. Why not? It’s everywhere. Glorified. Accepted. Welcomed into our homes through media, news, and entertainment. What we create becomes our realities. That, in itself, deserves some thought.

 

The Return of the Feathered Seer #setting #writphoto #suevincent

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The Feathered Seer hovers above the stones. Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Note: I started writing this post and then came across the #writephoto prompt post by Sue Vincent and opened it up to this image. Therefore, the blog post has now become my response to her weekly photo prompt

In April of 2017 I played the role of “The Feathered Seer” during the Silent Eye School of Consciousness’s annual ritual workshop weekend. Although acting is not my element, this role that I was asked to undertake did not feel like acting. It felt like home. Yesterday, I wrote about the concept of home and how I feel most aligned with that state of being when I am in England, walking the ancient lands. I have no doubt I have walked these lands, perhaps many times, in former lives. It’s a knowing so deep it goes beyond the visceral and straight to the heart of the soul.

The Feathered Seer is a part of me, woven into my being. She is my guide, but she is also me. Through the ancient lands she follows me, and I follow her. She takes my hand and leads me so I will remember. And, I believe, so that others will remember too.

In physical form, she adopts the form of the pileated woodpecker. That other-worldly creature who flies through the woods with her red head, calling the soul home to the roots of being, and drumming the language of the ancients back into the heart.

Last night she came to me during dreamtime as I stood atop a sacred Native American hillside. Flying her feathers of darkness before my face to peer into my eyes. Weeks prior, she had arrived in physical form. Flying before my path before the Silent Eye group gathered at Castlerigg.

Do not be afraid to see… she tells me

#writephoto

 

 

Castlerigg from a distance #acceptance

 

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Castlerigg at dawn. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

I went as far as the hills in dreamtime while they gathered to greet the dawn below. Disappointment comes in many forms and sometimes it reaches out to hold the hand of acceptance. I’m not going to lie. This has not been an easy one to come by. The land at Castlerigg calls to me in a language the predates words. It speaks to the very heart of my being and fills me with the irrepressible longing for home. Yet, it is not my time to return here, and I know when it is, this body I wear must accompany my spirit. Sometimes the cells need to remember wholly and completely. And, Casterligg has called my whole being to be present someday. But not yet.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson. I love how the blurred image reveals the faces in the stones.

 

I didn’t know you wanted to go so badly, my husband told me afterwards. After he overhear words spoken with my dear friend who was there. I had, though, already chosen the hand of acceptance months ago, although sometimes I held only its finger tips. What do you do for yourself. I mean, only for yourself. You know, just for you? A friend had asked me a week before while the tears called despair rained from my eyes.

England, I told her. I go to England.

Yet, I was born here in New England. A cruel irony it can seem at times when one feels like she belongs in another land. This, though, is where I am, right now, and I have chosen to take that hand called “acceptance,” along with the belief that there is a purpose for me being here, and not there, for most of my time. This past weekend, instead of visiting a landscape that feels like home, I was home with my family. And, that was okay. More than okay. Love is limitless, even when it feels as though it is being pulled apart by longing.

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The season of long shadows. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

I was here, but also there. You were never not with us, my friend assured me. I called your name as I walked up to the circle, you must have heard me.

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The hills that called me home years ago, still enfold me in wait. Photo credit: Lara Wilson

I was hovering in the hills, though. The stones below obscured by the body of giants. They called me back home before the stones did. Opening the body of the goddess to enfold. I can stay here for awhile longer. I can wait. Even though the head of the dragon beckons in stone.

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There is a deep sense of comfort knowing how much these stones and the land is loved, even though I am pulled with that longing. I read gratitude and love in the face of the stone gazing at Sue Vincent, while the guardian stone reminds me of the slow time of patience. Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

My lower body has been vibrating all week. Kundalini. The roots healing before the rise. We are often called to tend to the roots first. Healing the core of stability. Of origin. Our roots that bind us to one family, before we can return to another.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

Acceptance holds my hand. I have taken her grasp in a firm embrace and she is becoming a part of me. I can wait. You asked for patience, did you not? I am reminded.

How lucky I am, that I can return to this place that feels like home. That I can allow myself to become lost only to become found, over and over again, filling each cell of my being with the memory of home. Until we meet in this lifetime, Castlerigg, I will hold the hand of acceptance.

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Photo Credit: Lara Wilson

A special thanks to Lara Wilson for lending me the use of her gorgeous photographs, and  to her, as well as the others who were at the Silent Eye School of Consciousness event this past weekend for taking me with them in spirit. 

 

#Inspiration #3.2.1 Me Challenge

Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo kindly nominated me for the 3.2.1 Me Challenge, giving me the word “Inspiration” for my topic. Thank you, Sue. Do check out her response to the challenge, “Time.”

 

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The seemingly inert forms of rocks inspire me, even those found in New England. In this photo, taken at Acadia National Park in Maine, I can see dozens of faces, each with a different story to tell.

 

Did you know “inspiration” not only means “that which spurs creativity and action,” but also the “intake of breath?”  I rather like the link between these two definitions. What inspires you to breathe life in? Fully and completely, capturing its essence as you do so? Connecting your life to its life…Your form to another’s…

I think, perhaps, the key is a connection. Finding that which sparks the synapses to fire across the bridge of singularity. That moment when we inspire the breath and say to ourselves, “ah ha, there is a certain something here I need to explore,” and in that exploration don’t we inevitably discover something about ourselves? A deep-seated longing, perhaps, that we now cannot ignore?

While looking up quotes on inspiration, I came across these words attributed to Bob Dylan,”Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.” I find this rather sad and tend to disagree with it. Are we really that disconnected from life, and, one could extrapolate, the source of the air we breathe?

Mr. Dylan seems to be implying that inspiration is an elusive object, which is hard to obtain. I tend to think of it as just the opposite. Inspiration, I find, is everywhere, waiting for us to take notice. To take in the deep inhale of its life into our cells and allow them to spark fresh awareness. It’s a sad thought to think most of us spend our time breathing stale, shallow breaths without any sense of wonderment, but maybe Bob is onto something here…

While searching for actual quotes on inspiration (rather than “inspiration quotes,” which seem to occur in abundance), I came across this an interview with Ray Bradbury that appeared on Fresh Air, where he stated, “It’s lack that gives us inspiration,” he said. “It’s not fullness. Not ever having driven, I can write better about automobiles than the people who drive them. I have a distance here. … Space travel is another good example. I’m never going to go to Mars but I’ve helped inspire, thank goodness, the people who built the rockets and sent our photographic equipment off to Mars. So it’s always a lack that causes you to write that type of story.”

Again, I find myself in partial agreement. Lack of oxygen quite literally causes us to inspire, adding more air to our lungs. Bradbury, though, seems to be talking about what spurs creative inspiration. The lack of knowledge, causing us to seek. I suppose if we were full of all life, of all the answers to each and every question out there, there may, in fact, be nothing to inspire us. Why draw the breath in if the lungs are already full?

A full brain has nothing else to learn, but really, is that ever really possible? I may think I know the mechanics of driving, having driven for nearly 3 decades, multiple vehicles, with automatic and standard transmissions, yet I was still inspired to drive recently in England and found there was much to be discovered in this adventure of driving on the wrong left side of unfamiliar roads.

The ordinary became extraordinary, as I pushed past fears to find wonderment. Yet one need not, I believe, try driving on the opposite side of the road in a foreign land to find inspiration, one need only look with a little more depth at familiar surroundings, or breath in a little more air.

I often say I travel to England to find magic. In this ancient landscape, there is much that inspires me. It’s virtually effortless to find inspiration there, for me. Yet, here in New England, I find it is easy to fall victim to the mundane, or the Bob Dylan syndrome if you will. Yet, I realize, that is my fault, and not that of the landscape. There is magic in each blade of grass if you are willing to look at it more closely and marvel at the intricacy of its creation. Even the rocks here have much to offer, even those not aligned to the stars.

The key lies in the word itself. Allowing myself to inspire life, and breath deep its essence, even if that life is seemingly inert, there is always something new to take in and discover. Endless layers…endless molecules of air. The lungs always seeking more breath after exhaling that which has not been absorbed by the body.

While writing this post, a male cardinal appeared outside in my Rose of Sharon bush. It created quite a scene, as it flew in and out of the blooms and around the nearby foliage, as though it was trying to get my attention. Later, I thought about the cardinal feather I found years ago and had studied closely in a meditative state as part of a lesson with the Silent Eye School, discovering the feather was not merely red-orange, but filled with all the colors of the rainbow. “Now that’s something to write about,” Sue replied to my discovery.

One might say it was a joy to discover the rainbow in the red feather, and so I’ll leave the post with this word, “joy,” as the next challenge for three nominated bloggers if they choose to accept: Andrea Stephenson of Harvesting Hecate Julianne Victoria of Through the Peacock’s Eyes, and Colleen Briggs of Fragments of Light. Please write a post about “Joy,” including two quotes on the subject and nominate three other bloggers to blog about a word of your choosing.

Thank you again, Sue, for the “inspiration!”

 

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We receive the gift of a bat while watching Victoria & Abdul

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Night visitor. Photo Credit Pixabay

It was approximately 9:30pm, my husband and I seated on the sofa downstairs watching Victoria and Abdul, a bowl of popped buttered corn between us. Our son upstairs behind shut doors, our daughter and her friend taking a night dip in the pool after their evening run. The door dividing the screened porch open to the elements but screened from the bugs.  Or so we thought.

“How did it get in here,” my daughter later asked.

“Maybe it was following a moth. They eat moths, don’t they?” someone offered in reply.

We can’t say for sure what drew it in. It had never entered our house before, nor had any of its kind. It seemed to be in a hurry though, it’s beautiful, silent body flying soundlessly through the opened doors of the porch, past the mess screen to dance a circle around our heads in pursuit of an unidentified prey.

“There’s a bat in our house.” I don’t know who said it first. More husband or I. We were both equally startled. We’ve had uninvited visitors before, mostly courtesy of the cats, but no cat had invited the bat in. Nor had the dogs, which remained, somehow, blissfully unaware of our visitor for the 30-45 minutes it was with us.

And so began the pursuit of our graceful guest. How does one catch a bat? I am not sure. I got a net from the pool box used for retrieving frogs and the hapless rodents who have ventured over the edge. My husband, a pair of leather gloves from the basement. Thinking that the net might not be enough, I grabbed a thick cotton blanket from the closet and began to search the rooms with my husband.

Here’s the thing about bats. They are not only silent and swift, most of them, like this nocturnal flyer, rely upon echolocation for their sight. They are much better at navigating space than we are. It was a comical chase, to be sure, but we really didn’t think so at the time, well not all of us. Bats have a way of opening our fears, as well as our sense of wonder. I realized in those 45 minutes, what our unexpected visitors was triggering in each of us.

My daughter and her friend found amusement, laughing when they discovered what we were dealing with. They were also safely outside. My son seemed satisfied enough to stay behind the closed doors to keep the bat out of the room. Those of us tasked with the challenge of leading the bat back out to where it came from, were not as stable with our emotions. I was fine until it flew by, my husband less so. “I’ve been bitten by animals before,” he reminded me when I told him that our panicking would likely only increase the bat’s panicking.

When we stop to observe and watch ourselves in these moments when our fears are triggered, we can learn a lot about ourselves. Having had more practice in this than my husband, because of my studies with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, and yoga, I was able to step into that role of observer.

What if you get bit? I asked myself. I thought of rabies and decided I didn’t like that option, but I also thought about the bat as a teacher and as a guest who was there for a purpose that might not be entirely obvious at first. Here before me was this magnificent animal, a mammal like me, but with the ability to fly at will. We were, I realized, both night-flyers. While I released the weight of gravity while I dreamt, this night-flyer was showing me the beautiful blind dance of trust in my waking state. And, I realized, when I took the time to be still and let go my fear of being bit, that before me was a gift.

How remarkably beautiful you are I thought as the bat flew a millimeter in front of me in search of an exit. There were moments, many of them, when I had no idea where our visitor was until it soared past on its silent wings. There was even one moment when I was hunched in the hallway as it flew around me when I thought it had landed on me. It wasn’t, I discovered, an unwelcome thought. I had this crazy notion that if I remained calm and still, it would land on me if it chose to, and we would both be okay.

Or was it so crazy? When we choose to dance beyond our fears into that state of stillness and peace, the world has a way of responding in kind. Those zen-like moments you read or hear about, and maybe even have experienced for yourself, are just that. The letting go of what binds us to our bodies and minds and allowing our cells to dance in unity with all that is around us. It is, in essence, like flying without effort. This bat, I realized while it was with us, had been a welcome visitor after all. I was almost sorry when my husband declared after our second attempt at releasing it (we had at one point thought it had exited an open door only to discover after we had settled back onto the couch and our movie that it had not), that he had, in fact, watched it exit the same porch door from which it came from. It’s job here, it seems, was done.

 

A Briefly Guided Visit to The Spinster’s Rock

After our visit to The Hurlers, Sue and Stuart drove us to our car parked beside Brentor.  “Give our regards to the Spinsters,” Sue said with a mysterious smile before we received hugs and watched our guides return to their car for their long road ahead to Penzance.

As we loaded into our rental, Larissa remarked with astonishment at the generosity of Sue and Stuart for driving us to The Hurlers and back, adding hours to their day which would end at the tip of the Michael Ley line before it enters the sea. One of the many aspects that make the founders (Steve included) of the School so remarkable is their unconditional generosity and genuine desire to share their love and wisdom with others.

The Spinsters is a rather strangely situated dolmen, at least in the modern landscape. One can’t help but wonder what surrounded it thousands of years ago. Now it stands oddly in the middle of farmland, and seemingly out in the middle of no-where. There is no obvious signpost marking its spot, and we nearly passed it by driving the narrow and twisty roads of Devon.

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Spinsters Rock Dolmen

Considering its remote location, and lack of a parking lot — we pulled over into the hedges and hoped for the best — it’s not suprising we were the only visitors there. Or so we thought…

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The stones often have stories to tell, and its worth stopping to “listen”

Years ago, before digital photography, I visited the Poulnabrone dolmen. Arguably the most famous and visited dolmen in Ireland, the Poulnabrone dolmen is awesome to behold. The Spinsters appears lonely in contrast, with its small herd of cattle guarding it. Yet, there is mystery here too, and a bit of magic left in the site. The stones still feel alive and they seem to observe their surroundings with an eye of discernment. The capstone has a particular anthropomorphic quality to it, with its face looking outward as though placing judgement upon those who might wish to pass into its portal. I thought it had both a serpent and whale-like quality to its form, and I had a strange urge to crawl onto its back. It was a little difficult to resist. Perhaps others had also, as the stone has fallen at least once from its perch and had to be replaced.

 

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The sign at the gate to Spinsters Rock

 

Larissa and I spent no more than fifteen minutes at the site among the stones while the disinterested cattle grazed at a distance. As I mentioned above, aside from the cows, we thought we were alone, but as we turned and began walking the short distance back toward the way we came, Larissa and I stopped simultaneously in our tracks.

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The Mysterious Mark

 

The feather, we were both certain, had not been there when we entered the field to visit the dolmen. Yet, there it was, black as night, placed like a flag marking our path as we exited. Another corvid feather from an unseen guide. Too obvious to miss.

Turning Back Time: I visit the Hurlers

I am climbing the walls of an old church. There is only the outer fortification of stone, smoothed into mortared slabs. Each slab is chiseled with symbols, hieroglyphics of an ancient language my cells remember, but my mind has forgotten how to read. My hands grasp the hollowed frames of windows, climbing through the inside through levels until I know I have reached the 3rd floor. Here my hands let go of their grasp and I find I am hovering weightlessly. My body prone, I look down to the depths below. And then I begin to turn, like a clock. My body the hands of the hours going backward.

I had this dream about a week ago, and it has lingered with me since then. It has been more than a month since my return from England. My third trip there in as many years. I go to this land to turn back time.

After we descended from Brentor, and I paid my respects to the guardian stone, Sue graciously offered to take us along in her car to the next site, and Larissa and I accepted without negotiation. I was more than happy to take a break from driving on the wrong  left side of the road down the winding narrow lanes of rural England, and I knew Larissa shared my fear that there was a good chance we would get lost following Sue who drives with the skill and ease of a professional racecar driver.

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I drove down this lane and many like it.

So to The Hurlers we went, with Stuart navigating using a traditional paper map as Sue manipulated the stickshift gears on her race compact car. Larissa and I were impressed, to say the least, and kept breathing large sighs of relief that we were not in the front seats and could enjoy the views that flew passed by. And, we never got lost. Well, that is until we got there and I started to wander…

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A ewe leads the way to The Hurlers

To be honest, I rather wanted to get lost, but at that critical moment the brain won over the longings of the heart, and I turned around. But, I am getting ahead of myself…

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It’s difficult to describe just how vast and complex the landscape of Dartmoor is, which covers 368 square miles of moorland filled with the evidence of ancient civilizations. Pure heaven for someone like me.

The Hurlers is the remains of three large stone circles in the wild moorland landscape of Dartmoor, which just happens to be aligned with the star cluster Orion and sits on the Michael ley line. To say it is a place of magic is an understatement. I knew I was home before I stepped out of the car.

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The Hurlers are larger than they appear, and are perfectly aligned with the stars…

As tends to happen in these ancient lands, my feet began to move as though driven by some deep cellular memory, responding to the forces of the land. Find the seer’s stone, the command kept entering my conscious mind as it whirled with the energies of the land.

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The seer’s stone sits in the center of the Hurlers

The land was damp from rain, and a puddle had formed within the well around the central stone. I could not comfortably sit here, as I had at Bratha’s stone in the Peak last April, so my visit within the circle was brief. After paying my respects, I walked the perimeter stones in two of the circle, while my eye caught upon the portal stones, briefly. I will return after, I promised myself.

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Portal through time.

I could not ignore the intense pull to the land beyond. The hill with the balanced stones of giants felt like a magnet drawing me ever-closer to its energy. The land, as I have learned, beyond stone circles is filled with secrets of the past. Stones litter these ancient landscapes and each has a story to tell. There were too many to linger beside here, and my feet did not want to go slowly.

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One can imagine a gathering place here, where the stones do the talking.

The vegetation of the landscape of these sites is always worth noting. How it grows along the ancient tracts…when it is interrupted, swirled or corse…

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An uneven landscape that seems to have been modeled by deliberate hands.

There are many ditches around the Hurlers, as well as deep circular depressions. As Sue noted, it could be from mining the lands for ore, or for some other, perhaps ritualistic reason.  There is the sensation of falling inward to another realm near some of them, and the grass often swirls in imposing tufts which speak of disruption.

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Several depressions threaten to tumble the unsteady.

My feet, though, kept racing toward the hill beyond, where the Cheesewring sits like a giant stone bird. Was I following the Michael line to some sort of apex of energy? It felt like a force beyond logical reason. Yet, I stopped at the edge of the stone settlement, just where the land starts to dip before it climbs. I looked at the imposing hill just beyond with longing, before I turned around. I was far, quite far, from the other three I had come with and logic told me it would not be fair to follow my heart into the mist. And so the climb would have to wait for some other day, perhaps in the future.

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I got tantalizingly close before I turned away.

Something told me, though, that if I had stood long enough between those to standing stones, I would have gotten there sooner.

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