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April 1st to April 3rd 2004
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THURSDAY April 1
A Psychic Parrot by Rupert Sheldrake
Of all the animals I have investigated, some of the most psychic are parrots. Most remarkable of all is Nkisi, who lives with his owner Aimee Morgana in New York. This African Grey now has a vocabulary of 950 words and speaks in sentences. And, no, despite today's date, this is not an April Fool's spoof: Nkisi is probably the most accomplished language-using animal in the world.
Aimee first got in touch with me because she noticed that Nkisi seemed to be reading her mind. For example, one day she was in another room looking at a picture of a purple car. She told me "He said at that instant, "Oh, wow, look at the pretty purple.'"
Nkisi even responds to some of Aimee's dreams. She said: "I was dreaming I was working with the audio tape-deck. Nkisi, sleeping by my head, said out loud, 'You gotta push the button,' as I was doing exactly that in my dream. His speech woke me up."
This was off the end of the scale of anything I had heard before. I went to visit Aimee and Nkisi as soon as I could, and was impressed by the closeness of their bond and Nkisi's amazing command of English. We did a test there and then in which Aimee looked at a picture in a separate room. She was gazing at a card with an image of a girl. After a few seconds, Nkisi said, "That's a girl."
We subsequently set up a series of controlled experiments in which Aimee looked at pictures that she took out of sealed envelopes in one room, while Nkisi was in another room on a different floor, with all the doors closed. Both of them were filmed continuously. Sure enough, in many of the trials Nkisi actually said what she was looking at. For instance, when the picture was of a man on the phone, Nkisi said, "What'cha doing on the phone?" I describe these experiments in detail my book The Sense of Being Stared At.
People often say of their pets, 'If only they could talk'. Here is an animal that can, and we have much to learn from it.
would like to hear from readers with parrots or, indeed, any other birds that seem to read their minds. Email Rupert Sheldrake's researcher, email@example.com with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.
NEW Rupert's book The Sense of Being Stared At has just been published in paperback in the USA and Canada (Random House, US$13.95) The Sense of Being Stared At : And Other Unexplained Powers of the Human Mind. His website is: www.sheldrake.org.
FRIDAY April 2
Mars 'squares' Jupiter by Bernard Fitzwalter
Bernard Fitzwalter writes: Next Tuesday Mars 'squares' Jupiter. Some astrology books say that squares are a bad thing, and some say they add vital energy to a situation, but five minutes looking at the night sky will show you exactly what's going on.
Face south, after sunset when the stars are out. On your right is Venus, bright and easy to see; and up a bit and to the left from her is Mars, now quite faint, though identifiable from his orange-pink colour. He's much, much dimmer now than he was last summer, but he's still there.
On your left, on the other side of the sky from Venus and Mars, is Jupiter, clear and bright like Venus. Jupiter and Mars both have something to say, but they are at ninety degrees to each other - hence the term 'square' - and so they are talking across each other. Imagine trying to hear what someone standing in front of you is saying when there's another person at your shoulder saying something quite different, right into your ear; what you see and what you hear aren't the same, and you get confused. It's exactly the same here. Face Jupiter, and Mars shouts into your ear; face Mars, and Jupiter does it. The effect is like being at a party where you're trying to have a conversation with someone you've just met, but the music and other people's conversations are louder, and you have to try to filter them out.
Jupiter and Mars are both energetic planets which take things forward, and to have them both visible in the sky at once is no doubt a good thing; but when they turn up the volume like this it can get a bit hard to handle, and you find yourself looking for somewhere quieter to continue your conversation - or waiting until they are no longer square to each other. This week is going to be loud; next week will be quieter.
Can't find Jupiter? The moon pays him a visit today, so look out any time this evening and you'll see them together. Around them are the stars that make up Leo.
SATURDAY April 3
No thought for the Day