Friday, June 23, 2017

"Satanic Panic" Victims Exonerated

Back in 2013, I covered the case of Dan and Fran Keller, who were finally released after 21 years in prison. The couple ran a daycare center and were accused of "Satanic Ritual Abuse" during the "Satanic Panic" of the early 1990's. That is, the crimes they were convicted of were entirely imaginary, the product of what some therapists now call "false memory syndrome." Four years later, the Kellers have finally been exonerated of the lurid and bizarre crimes for which they were convicted all those years ago. After 25 years, it's been a long time coming.

“I still can’t believe it’s happening,” Fran, now 67, said on Tuesday morning while driving with her husband to sign the legal paperwork. She’s still wary; they’ve been waiting for this day for so long she isn’t yet sure it is real. “I guess I’m just tired of having to hang on for so long.”

Dan, 75, is slightly more upbeat — he always thought this day would come. He recalled a sleepless night in prison in 1995 when he said he heard God. “He said, ‘You’re going home, but I have some things to sort through first.’” Dan said he slept soundly that night. “We have to try to not have doubt in our life.”

The exoneration is the first for the nascent conviction integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office under the new DA, Margaret Moore. Court documents filed Tuesday announced that there is “no credible evidence” against the Kellers. Moore said she personally reviewed the case and believes exoneration “to be a just outcome.”

Fran and Dan Keller were each sentenced to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl who was an occasional drop-in at their home daycare center on the rural outskirts of Austin. The child initially accused Dan of spanking her “like daddy” used to, but under intense and repeated questioning by her mother and a therapist, the story morphed to include claims of rape and orgies involving children.

From there, the number of children alleging abuse increased and the accusations grew even more lurid and confounding: The Kellers had sacrificed babies; they held ceremonies in a local graveyard; they put blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; Fran cut off the arm of a gorilla in a local park; they flew the children to Mexico to be sexually assaulted by military officials.

As a point, there's no "Satanic" or even magical reason for anyone to do most of those things. You might hold a ceremony in a graveyard to communicate with spirits of the dead buried there, but that's about it. Most of the "Satanism" in these cases has to do with "evil for evil's sake," a concept that really only makes sense according to the inaccurate Manichean view of the spirit world found in Christianity. If God is good and Satan is evil, and those are the only two options, Satan might want you to be "more evil" - but seriously, that's not how any of it works.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

4 Years for "Pizzagate" Gunman

North Carolina man Edgar Welch has been sentenced to four years in prison for storming into the Coment Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. Welch was armed with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, and claimed he was there "to investigate" the so-called "Pizzagate conspiracy." According to the conspiracy popularized on conservative talk radio, Bill and Hillary Clinton were running a pedophile ring out of the imaginary basement of the restaurant (which doesn't have a real one). And yeah, the whole thing is just as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds. It apparently fooled Welch, though.

Welch said court to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “I wish there were a way that I could offer something other than an apology... I realize mere words can’t undo what happened...but I am sorry,” said Welch, wearing an orange prison suit and standing with his hands clasped behind his back. “I am sorry for anything I have caused,” Welch said.

In imposing the sentence, the judge said she was handing down a penalty she said was needed to uphold the rule of law against vigilante justice. “I hope you understand and see how much people have suffered because of what you did,” Jackson said going on to say “I am truly sorry you find yourself in the position you are in, because you do seem like a nice person who on your own mind was trying to do the right thing. But that does not excuse reckless conduct and the real damage that it caused.”

In a previous letter filed in court, Welch said he had not intended to “harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was.” His attorney, assistant federal defender Dani Jahn, had said in court records that Welch “does not seek to minimize the impact his reckless and frightening actions had on those who encountered him. . . . Rather, Mr. Welch is hopeful that those victimized by his actions can forgive him.”

While I'm a parent and I can understand getting worked up about an alleged pedophile ring, I also have critical thinking skills. Point number one is that the physical details of the conspiracy don't make any sense. The building has no basement, and it would have to in order to accommodate the space required. There were also no suspicious people coming and going to and from the restaurant. Conspiracy supporters said they used secret tunnels to connect with the imaginary basement. You see where this is going.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Creationist Fan Fiction

Creationists don't spend all their time arguing with scientists about how the existence of the banana proves that God created the world in seven literal days. Lately some of them have been writing what can only be called Creationist fan fiction. A new novelization of the life of Noah is set in the bizarro world of Answers in Genesis, in which giants and dinosaurs roamed the Earth alongside humans a mere five thousand or so years ago.

The biblical Noah faces off against a giant and a dinosaur in a gladiator-like setting in a new novel that a creationist group is promoting.

Noah: Man of Resolve is the second book in a promised trilogy by Tim Chaffey and K. Marie Adams, and it’s available for sale from Answers in Genesis, which runs the Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky.

The group has claimed that Noah not only survived a global flood in his ark some 4,300 years ago, but did so with two of every creature aboard including at least some dinosaurs (which in reality died out some 65 million years ago).

The attraction shows dinosaurs living in cages aboard the ark, and features a diorama that shows a gladiator-style fight involving giants and dinosaurs.

The new book is a novelization of Noah’s life, and includes a scene where a giant holds him captive and in an arena, where he faces a dino-like “grendec.”

I'm all for creativity, and who knows? Maybe Noah: Man of Resolve is actually a well-written, compelling story that's fun to read. The point is that it's a story. It's not real history. Every piece of scientific evidence we have says that the strict Ussher Chronology favored by Answers in Genesis can't possibly be correct. In fact, it's not even scripturally accurate without a bunch of the same goofy interpretations that the Creationists accuse modern Christians of relying upon.

And you know, there's probably even a movie in the works, and that movie might turn out to be fun. It probably will be awful from a technical perspective. But as a big B-movie fan, I can tell you that sometimes movies like that are the most fun. That's especially true when the awfulness is made with the kind of earnestness I see from the Answers in Genesis crowd, who I imagine would be utterly convinced they were doing God's work by filming a guy in a tunic fighting an obviously fake CGI dinosaur.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Hod

This article is Part Seven of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, and Part Six can be found here.

Working with sephira Hod is the seventh step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the eighth sephira is attributed to Mercury, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of Splendour." This corresponds to the vision of Ezekiel found in the Bible. The word Hod means splendor or majesty, and in working with this sephira we expand upon the material foundation developed in our work with Malkuth, the Kingdom, and Yesod, the Foundation, further into the magical universe.

The sephira have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mass of Nuit and Babalon


"Babalon" by the amazing Kat Lunoe. Check out this and other works by her here.

So it's not Monday, but this is a magick post anyway. This is the full script for the Mass of Nuit and Babalon which we will be performing tomorrow at Leaping Laughter Oasis in Minneapolis. The ritual is scheduled for 3 PM. This is a public ritual, so if you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to attend you are welcome to do so.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with the Holy Table and Sigillum Dei Aemeth in the center. The banishing dagger, invoking wand, and bell chime are arranged on the Table. The chalice containing the Eucharist is placed in the center of the Sigillum. Holy images of Our Lady Nuit and Our Lady Babalon, including the Star of Babalon, may be prominently displayed. The Lust card from the Crowley/Harris Tarot can be used as a meditation focus, if desired.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Those Meddling Atheists!

Creationist Ken Ham recently put up a blog posts blaming atheists for the failure of his Ark Encounter attraction. More specifically, his Noah's Ark replica theme park has attracted a lot of visitors, but they don't appear to be spending any money in the surrounding area. Instead, it's all going to Ham and his organization.

In a recent blog post to his Answers in Genesis website, leading creationist Ken Ham laments the supposed power of atheists and the “secularist media,” complaining that they are damaging the reputation of his Ark Encounter, and the economy of the surrounding local businesses, writing:

"Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking."

In other words, Ken Ham blames atheists for his trouble. Ham is refusing to take responsibility for his own failure, and refusing to take responsibility for his broken promises to the citizens and business community of Grant County, Kentucky.

Ham is desperate to counter the narrative that his Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are not delivering on the promises he made. He is particularly upset with a recent article from The Lexington Herald Leader that explores Ham’s failure to deliver on financial promises made to community members and local businesses.

In reality, this should have all been obvious from the start, atheists or no atheists. The tax incentive deal that Ark Encounter got was basically the same thing as the deals sports stadiums get from cities - and those are almost always a bad deal for everybody else in the community. The supposed "economic activity" never shows up, or when it does it's far less than initially promised.

I can only think of a handful of times in the last century where one of these deals has actually produced wealth for the local community. My home city of Minneapolis got reamed on one of these a few years back for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which is costing taxpayers a fortune to subsidize. My point is that this is a much bigger problem than the media making fun of Ham's Ark, and it has nothing to do with religion.

So no, Ken, it's not the atheist meanies keeping the "economic activity" away. It was never going to show up regardless.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Wow!" Signal a Comet?

It's one of the most famous stories in the search for extraterrestrial life. In 1977, astronomers working with a large radio telescope in Ohio recorded a mysterious signal from space. It fit all the criteria for a likely alien communication, and while it was brief, the transmission was extremely strong. It was dubbed the "Wow!" signal, after a notation on the data printout made by one of the astronomers. But over the years, the signal became less of a "Wow!" and more of a mystery.

Radio telescopes have scanned the same area of the sky for decades and recorded nothing even remotely similar, which doesn't exactly shout "aliens." At the same time, astronomers had yet to work out any natural phenomenon that could have produced the signal. So it became a staple of extraterrestrial conspiracy books and the like. But now, a Russian astronomy professor may finally have worked it out. According to a recent paper, the signal was generated by a particular comet.

The signal was so strong and focused that the professor on duty during its discovery, Jerry Ehman, saw the monster signal on the printout, circled it and wrote “Wow!”— thus bestowing upon the signal a name which has stuck. Since then, however, telescopes have aimed themselves at the Wow! signal’s origin and turned up nothing. But now a new scientific paper from St. Petersburg College astronomy professor Antonio Paris may have solved the four-decade mystery once and for all.

So what’s the likely culprit of the Wow! Signal? A comet.

The Center for Planetary Science, which Paris helps run, previously put forth the notion that a passing comet and its tailing cloud could be the possible source for the Wow! signal. Indeed, comet 266/P Christensen —which was not yet known to astronomers at the time that the Wow! signal was recorded— is predicted to have been in the same region in the sky in 1977 where the Wow! signal was recorded.

To test this hypothesis, the Center pointed a 10-meter radio telescope at comet 266/P Christensen and recorded the signal. Over 200 observations, they saw a signal appear at precisely the same frequency as the Wow! signal, which disappeared when moved even 1° away from the comet.The resulting paper, recently published in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, provides a compelling answer to the mystery of the Wow! signal.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Yesod

This article is Part Six of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, and Part Five can be found here.

Working with sephira Yesod is the sixth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the ninth sephira is attributed to the Moon, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe." The word Yesod means Foundation, and in working with this sephira we expand upon the material foundation developed in our work with Malkuth, the Kingdom, further into the magical universe.

The sephira have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Canada to Kill "Zombie Laws"

Just like the United States, Canada has some weird laws that are profoundly out of date. Canadian legislators are planning to do something about that, with a push to kill so-called "zombie laws." One of these is a law against "pretending to practice witchcraft." Back in 2009, I covered a case in which the law was used to prosecute a confidence artist running a scam. Also to be repealed are laws against dueling and publishing crime comics.

But once the Liberal government’s updates and changes to the code pass through Parliament, Canadians across the land will be free to challenge whomever they wish to a duel, pretend to practise witchcraft — or even publish crime comics (the legacy of a moral panic in the 1950s).

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Tuesday announced some “obsolete” and “redundant” Criminal Code provisions the Liberals intend to remove.

This is part of a broader suite of amendments to the code Wilson-Raybould said will strengthen sexual assault provisions and ensure every new government bill tabled in the House of Commons is accompanied by a “Charter statement” laying out effects the new bill could have on Charter rights.

Canada’s Criminal Code – the law setting out most of the country’s criminal offences – was first enacted in 1892, when the country, its citizens and their customs were, well, really different than now.

To be clear, fraud will still be illegal in Canada. There just won't be a separate witchcraft-specific law against it. Likewise, it will still be illegal to shoot at someone or kill them in a duel. The point is that these old statutes are weird special cases that are already covered under existing, functional laws. As for the prohibition on crime comics, that one is just pointless censorship and its repeal won't hurt anyone one way or another. I'm not sure that it's even enforced - you can get comics in Canada, right?

Simplifying the penal code helps everybody here, except maybe prosecutors who rely on its complexity to get more convictions. Repealing the "pretending to practice witchcraft" law also closes the door to possible religious persecution. Defrauding someone is defrauding them, full stop. There's nothing about magick or witchcraft that warrants special treatment.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Brain Heist

Normally when you think of a heist, you think of conventionally valuable targets like money or jewels. But a thief in Italy recently made off with a far more unusual item - the remains of a Roman Catholic saint's brain. A glass case containing fragments of the brain of Saint John Bosco was recently stolen from a church near Turin that houses his relics.

Police set up roadblocks in northern Italy after a thief posing as a pilgrim stole tiny fragments of the brain of John Bosco, one of the country’s most revered saints.

The thief entered the church, named after the 19th century saint in Castelnuovo, near Turin, last Friday (June 2), and left with a glass case containing the relic of the saint, who is also known as Don Bosco.

Devotees often visit the church to pray before the relic kept behind the altar. On Sunday, pilgrims gathered at the Don Bosco Basilica to pray for its return.

“I invite whoever took it to give it back immediately, without any conditions so we can close this painful page and continue to honor the memory of Don Bosco worthily in his birthplace,” said Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin.

While relics like this are unique, it seems to me that they would be hard to sell. For one thing, they're instantly recognizable. A collector might be interested, at least in theory, but it would have to be the kind of collector who's fine with never actually displaying their relics to anyone. So the ransom angle probably makes the most sense. It's a way to make some money from the theft that doesn't require the thief to find a buyer.

There's also an outside possibility that the relic might have been stolen for some sort of magical purpose. Personally I'm not sure what I would do with part of a saint's brain preserved since the late 1800's, but someone particularly devout might consider it powerful. I suppose someone could use it to connect with the spirit of the saint, but if said saint doesn't approve of theft (which is likely) they may not be able to do much besides make him angry.

Catholics around the world are praying for the relic's safe return. It should go without saying that if you do somehow happen to come across it, notify the church immediately so it can be returned to its proper place.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Robopriest

When people talk about robots stealing jobs, they usually are talking about factory jobs that are being automated. But in Wittenberg, Germany a church is experimenting with a new robot priest. The somewhat goofy-looking robot named "BlessU-2" can move its arms around and recite blessings based on Bible verses in seven languages.

BlessU-2 is a robot priest that can lift its arms, wiggle its eyebrows, flash light from its hands and deliver blessings in seven languages ― including German, English, French, Spanish, Polish and a local German dialect.

The project, spearheaded by the Protestant Church in Hesse and Nassau, is meant to be a provocative way to ring in the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which was sparked by Luther in 1517.

Volker Rahn, a press officer for the church, told HuffPost that BlessU-2 is meant to challenge people to think about what a blessing is, and whether it can be delivered by a machine. “The idea is to stimulate debate and thinking about the future of the church in a world full of electronic devices – all that with a twinkle in our eye,” he told HuffPost in an email.

The church turned to Alexander Wiedekind-Klein, the founder of a German robotics magazine, for help creating BlessU-2. Users can choose what type of blessing they wish to receive and whether to hear from a male or female voice. The robot then chooses a special blessing for the user, based on more than 40 Bible verses. BlessU-2 can even print the blessing out for users to keep.

From a spiritual technology perspective, a real blessing requires the activity of consciousness to be effective - basically, it's a very simple spell. So there's obviously no way a robot like this could do it. While I'm not willing to rule out the possibility of creating a self-aware, conscious robot - a true artificial intelligence - our technology is nowhere near that point yet.

Still, as conversation piece the robot is attracting attention, which is what its creators were looking for. I would also point out that if any priests out there think that a blessing just consists of reciting some words without any real intent behind them, they should probably watch out for robots. That part of the job can easily be performed by a machine.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Via Solis Gemini Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Gemini Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday June 6th, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This is similar to the Libra Elixir Rite I posted here back in 2014, but it includes some additional elements inspired by research that went into the Zodiacal Work posts. Going forward, we will be performing one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Gemini. The sign Gemini is attributed to "The power of being in two or more places at the same time, and of Prophecy." As I interpret it, the former is related to astral work and the latter is related to precognition in all its forms, the ability to see into the future. Therefore, these sorts of intents are most appropriate. This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.

All: MAKAShANaH

Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.

All: ABRAHADABRA

Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.

All: AUMGN

Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.


Bell chime.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Another Bad Psychic

In Monday's post I commented that using magick to make a living was pretty difficult. Magick can certainly help you do better and make more money at whatever you do, but it's no substitute for regular work. Now there is one exception to that rule of thumb, but I don't recommend it. You can become a fraudulent psychic. Fraudulent psychics can make big money, at least until they get caught by the authorities.

Detectives say their investigation began in November of 2016, when the first victim, a 33-year-old a military veteran, approached detectives during a fraud awareness seminar hosted by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The man reported he had been scammed by 31-year-old Gina Wilson. He began seeing her in 2015 to help with “emotional distress.” According to the sheriff’s office, Wilson told the man to stop taking his prescribed medications, alter his bank accounts and to stop seeing his therapist and doctor. The victim says he paid Wilson approximately $92,000 before he realized he was being scammed.

During the investigation detectives, learned of a second alleged victim, a 61-year-old Palm Harbor woman, who began seeing Wilson for help with her grief after her husband passed away. PCSO says Wilson assured the woman that she could help her late husband “pass over to the other side.”

The victim says when Wilson asked for a large sum of money to perform a ceremony at the grave site, she realized she was being scammed and contacted authorities.

No legitimate alternative healer, let alone a legitimate psychic, is ever going to tell you to stop taking medication or ceasing conventional medical treatment. If they do, they're probably fraudulent. This applies to faith healers and the like as well. Since magick manipulates probability, it's going to work better along with mundane steps such as conventional medication. With any sort of spell, you want more avenues of probability open for it to work, not less.

Also, money has no special magical significance besides simply being money. So even for a ritual that requires cash, the amount is never magically significant. From a ritual perspective, you can do the exact same thing with ten dollars as you can with thousands. One of the classic fake psychic scams is have a client bring some large sum of money for a ritual and make a show of burning it. The psychic uses some sort of stage magic trick so that the money is not actually burned, and then pockets it after the "ritual."

For the most part I find the capital-S Skeptics annoying, but this is one area in which they do good work - exposing frauds who are exploiting belief in magick and psychic powers to scam clients. Criminals like Wilson give both psychics and magicians a bad name.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Malkuth

This article is Part Five of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, and Part Four can be found here.

Working with sephira Malkuth is the fifth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the mystical aspects of all four elements correspond to this tenth sephira which represents the material world. The elements have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Today, I'll be focusing on Malkuth, the Kingdom. Malkuth corresponds to all four elements operating in a balanced configuration. So we find all four states of matter, all four classical powers, and all three systems of my psychological model plus the physical body working together. Balance of these forces within your life is vital to walking the path of operant magick. My system is not a classical Gnostic escape from matter, but rather a skillful means by which the material and spiritual worlds can be turned to your advantage.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Documentary on Psychic Spies


Hopefully this new documentary is as good as the trailer makes it look. It covers Project Stargate, the remote viewing program that was operated by the CIA until 1995. The CIA recently declassified a bunch of information about the program, and the makers of this documentary have taken advantage of it to take a look inside what really went on there.

From everything I've studied over the years, Project Stargate did produce some successes. Some of the remote viewers they recruited and trained produced remarkably accurate information. The program was done in by several converging forces. First, the rise of satellite photography made some remote viewing entirely unnecessary. Second, the program became politically unpopular within the Clinton administration, which led to funding cuts. Finally, the CIA was never quite able to put together a protocol by which anyone could be trained as a successful remote viewer.

That last bit shouldn't have been surprising to anybody, but apparently it was. The idea that psychic ability is unlike any other human ability, in that all of us are precisely and equally psychic, is ridiculous. Obviously some people are more talented than others, and it should be recognized that getting accurate information is hard. That is, it requires a high level of natural talent in addition to training. The New Age movement has a lot invested in the "equally psychic" idea, and that's probably where the CIA got it from. Still, it's just wrong.

What you see in the records of Project Stargate is amble proof that ESP exists - that is, proof that at least some individuals can use psychic means to obtain accurate information at much higher rates than chance would predict. However, what you also see is that most of the best hits came from a handful of individuals. Most people can be trained to do remote viewing. Some of those people will get accurate information. And of the people who get accurate information, some of them will be able to do it a significant amount of the time. And the percentage of people who fall into that last group is a pretty small number.

But so what? I've mentioned before that I think the American obsession with creating studies that "prove ESP exists" is kind of silly. We should be investigating these phenomena to see what is happening in each case. For a lot of people, I'm pretty sure the answer is going to come out that they're usually making it up. Others are going to be flat-out frauds running scams. The point, though, is to identify those who are having legitimate experiences. Trying to convince a bunch of skeptics that "it's real" before you even get started on more important work is practically guaranteed to be a losing strategy.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Orb of Power

The question has been on everyone's mind since last Sunday. Well, everybody on the Internet anyway. What is that glowing orb of power thing in Saudi Arabia, and why is President Donald Trump touching it? Speculation online has ranged from a magical Illuminati world domination device, to a mysterious power source salvaged from an alien spacecraft, to a particularly goofy-looking decoration.

But what's the truth? Is it even out there?

On Sunday, an image exploded across the Internet of Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi placing their hands on a glowing orb, surrounded by pleasant onlookers. No one, even those who claim to, really understands why.

Newsweek promised to demystify the viral orbgasm in an article published Sunday called “Why Donald Trump Touched a Glowing Orb in Saudi Arabia.” The article cooly explains that the image depicts Trump at the opening of the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology in Riyadh. But why is he touching a glowing orb? “During the center’s opening ceremony,” the article goes on, “the leaders placed their hands on the globe in a gesture of solidarity to launch the center.” No, I am not satisfied with this explanation. Glowing orbs conjure images of sorcery, Middle Earth, and Sith Lords. They are not symbols of global solidarity.

Literally anything else makes more sense.

As a point, the orb shown here isn't what real magical items, tools, and devices look like. It's what magical items, tools, and devices look like in fantasy movies and Dungeons & Dragons. I have seen a few practitioners put lights under their scrying crystals, which is about the closest thing you'll find that a real magician would use, but still.

Keep in mind I don't really care whether or not the President touches somebody's glowing orb, as long it's all consensual. I just want to know what the darn thing is. Saudi Arabia is known for its anti-witchcraft squad, so maybe the orb is an implement of forbidden magick that they retrieved while trying to keep their kingdom safe from the ravages of evil wizards.

I think King Salman there in the middle knows the true dark origin of the orb. Look at his expression - he looks really, really nervous about touching the thing. Trump, on the other hand, looks entirely oblivious.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Megastructure Star" is Dimming Again

KIC 8462852 sure is weird. The star is the subject of speculation as to whether or not some sort of "alien megastructure" might be constructed around it. This is because it shows a pattern of irregular dimming that has yet to be fully explained, despite several alternative hypotheses. Up until now, we have not been able to study the star as it undergoes the dimming process. But astronomers are seeing the star start to dim once more.

Star KIC 8462852, or Boyajian's star (also nicknamed "Tabby's star," for astronomer Tabetha Boyajian, who led the team that first detected the star's fluctuations), has demonstrated an irregular cycle of growing dimmer and then returning to its previous brightness. These changes were first spotted in September 2015 using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which was built to observe these kinds of dips in a star's brightness, because they can be caused by a planet moving in front of the star as seen from Earth.

But the brightness changes exhibited by Boyajian don't show the kind of regularity that is typical of a planet's orbit around its star, and scientists can't see how the changes could be explained by a system of planets.

Scientists have hypothesized that the changes could be due to a swarm of comets passing in front of the star, that they're the result of strong magnetic activity, or that it's some massive structure built by aliens. But no leading hypothesis has emerged, so scientists have been eager to capture a highly detailed picture of the light coming from the star during one of these dimming periods. This detailed view is what scientists typically call an object spectra. It can reveal, for example, the specific chemical elements that are in a gas. It can also tell scientists if an object is moving toward or away from the observer.

Observing the star as it dims allows us to make additional observations that may resolve the mystery. Spectroscopy can help identify characteristics of whatever is blocking the star's light. It should be able to establish whether the obstruction is a cloud of gas or dust. But if neither of those wind up matching the measurements, we could be back to the megastructure hypothesis. That would be supported by an observation that the light doesn't seem to be passing through anything - if we can assume that said megastructure is not transparent.

So I'm looking forward to whatever these new observations will detect. As usual, the paranormal explanation shouldn't be the default. But you never know - it just might be space aliens after all.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Not a Nightmare After All

The week before last, I reported on the so-called "nightmare house" in South Carolina. The house was placed on the market with a mysterious note stating that the upstairs unit "cannot be shown under any circumstances." The note added that the buyer would assume responsibility for the upstairs tenant, who had a lease but had never paid rent.

At the time, I said that despite the note, there probably was a more normal explanation than a ghost or a gateway to Hell or something out of a horror movie. And I was right. As reported by The State newspaper in South Carolina, the upstairs tenant is not a ghost or a demon. He's an artist and illustrator who's an old friend of the family that owns the house.

The State newspaper in South Carolina said the real reason is anything but a nightmare. The paper reports the upstairs apartment belongs to tenant Randall McKissick, a once world-renowned artist and illustrator. McKissick lives with his three cats, and is a father of two daughters and is a grandfather.

McKissick has been friends with the owner of the home since junior high school, according to The State. The artist fell on hard times and moved into the upstairs unit nearly 10 years ago. “He never asked for any money,” McKissick said. “He never mentioned money. I would like to pay him, but I don’t have any.”

The owner of the home said he wanted to rent the bottom floor for money, but it needs repairs he can’t afford. “We don’t really have much choice but to sell the house; my parents need to sell it,” the current owner said. “But it’s been in the family for so long, we don’t really want to. And we want Randy to be able to stay there.”

It just goes to show that usually there's a normal explanation. Phenomena like ghosts are paranormal precisely because they are rare. But it also is true that people are drawn to weirdness, and everybody loves a good mystery. That's probably why the house went viral in the first place. I know that's why I picked it up. It would have been more fun for me if it had turned out to be paranormal, but paranormal should never be the default position.

I hope that the situation with McKissick and the homeowner turns out for the best. If nothing else, the "nightmare house" article has drawn a lot of publicity and raised awareness of McKissick's work. You can't buy coverage like that, unless you have a lot to spend.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Fire

This article is Part Four of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, and Part Three can be found here.

Working with the Fire element is the fourth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the mystical aspects of all four elements correspond to the tenth sephira, Malkuth, which represents the material world. The elements have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Today, I'll be focusing on the element Fire. The Fire element corresponds to the plasma state of matter, and in the ancient Greek system of the elements is related to union of the Hot and Dry powers. The Cool power unifies and the Hot power separates. The Dry power reinforces structure, and the Moist power breaks it down. So the fundamental nature of Fire is separating and structured. A more detailed overview of the four classical powers can be found here, and that article includes a link to John Opsopaus' Ancient Greek Esoteric Doctrine of the Elements, which is where I was first exposed to the system.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The White Horse of the Apocalypse


That arrow is tipped with something particularly hilarious about tiny hands.

According to disgraced evangelist Jim Bakker, the apocalypse is upon us. How does he know, you might ask? Why, he's already see the first horse, the White Horse of the Apocalypse, with his own eyes. In fact, it would have been hard to miss, because according to Bakker the White Horse is actually people making fun of Donald Trump. By that logic, there's a whole lot of apocalypse going around right now, and it shows no signs of letting up.

Bakker now sells survivalist food and gear to doomsday preppers on his “Jim Bakker Show.” In a clip from Thursday that was posted online by Right Wing Watch, he claimed there was a “hatred among peoples and this is satanic.” Then he went full “Sleepy Hollow” on his audience:

“This is the White Horse of the Apocalypse. The White Horse of the Apocalypse is the first horse. It’s a horse of speech. It’s a horse of spirit. And the spirit of Antichrist is out now. This is what you’re seeing. You want to know what the Antichrist spirit looks like? That’s what’s going on in America. These people mocking the president, the words they use, the speech they use, that’s the spirit of Antichrist. That’s the spirit of hatred.”

Bakker had a popular ― and lucrative ― TV ministry in the 1980s, but resigned in shame after a sex scandal. He eventually did five years in prison for fraud.

With the usual caveat that I have no real issues with Christians who aren't nutters like Bakker, I'm going to ask the obvious question here. Why should anybody worship a God who can't take a joke? That's So Sad! There, I made fun of one of Trump's tweets. Did I unleash the destruction of the world? It doesn't look like it. What's genuinely sad is watching Bakker carry all this water for Trump's thin-skinned authoritarian nonsense.

A reminder - this is America. We have the right to make fun of the president's hair, or his hands, or his diction, or his tweets. Every single president has been poked fun at over their personal foibles. And, if I want to say that I think Trump is incompetent and unqualified for the job, that's my right, too. Dealing with jokes and opinions like those is part of being a public figure, and as the old cliche goes, if you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

Bakker should go back to selling potato soup to survivalists before his schtick degenerates into self-parody. By all accounts Trump is not a particularly religious man, so there's no reason to think that God is going to give him any special treatment. That being so, there's no reason to think there's anything theologically special about jokes targeting this particular president. And around here, mocking the president is practically a national pastime.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Literal Word of God?

Huffington Post has an article up today reporting the results of an ongoing Gallup poll of American's beliefs regarding the Bible. The poll has been taken since the 1970's, and found that belief in the Bible as the "literal word of God" is at its lowest point since that time.

Twenty-six percent of Americans view the Bible as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.” And Gallup found that roughly half of American adults say the Bible is “the inspired word of God” but that it shouldn’t be taken literally.

Gallup polled a random sample of 1,011 adults, aged 18 and older and living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, between May 3-7, 2017.

The survey revealed that the number of Americans who view the Bible as the literal word of God has dropped from 38 percent in 1976 to 24 percent today. The percentage that defines the Bible as a book of fables and stories has doubled since then.

This has coincided with a larger shift in the American religious landscape in recent decades. Belief in God has wavered, and the percentage of Americans who identify as Christian has dropped from over 90 percent to roughly 70 percent. More and more Americans are religiously unaffiliated, meaning they do not identify with any formal religious group.

In fact, the idea that the Bible is the "literal word of God" is kind of ridiculous. The Bible contradicts itself in many places, and it only takes one counterexample to disprove such an absolute statement. The idea that the Bible is a holy book inspired by God, but which should not necessarily be taken literally, is a far more robust belief. As you can see above, the percentage of Americans who view the Bible that way has barely budged.

What I find most interesting is that as the literalist position declines, the increase shows up in the "book of fables" percentage. Some of this likely has to do with an increase in members of minority religions who don't follow the Bible, at least on the surface it seems that what's going on is not "literal" changing over to "inspired," but "literal" transitioning to "fable." Maybe if you're raised as a literalist, once you discover contradictions in the text you can't unsee them.

Still, it seems a little surprising to me that instead of transitioning to more liberal forms of Christianity, literalists might instead reject the Bible altogether as a holy text. To be clear, without a breakout of Christians versus members of other religions, you can't necessarily draw that conclusion from the poll. That's just what it looks like from a surface reading of the results.

Another possibility is that "literals" are transitioning to "inspireds" at the same rate that "inspireds" are abandoning Christianity for other religions and therefore placing the Bible in the "fable" camp. Or there could be some even more complex set of dynamics at work. It's good to see the literalists on the decline for whatever reason, even though 24% still translates to a lot of people who would be fine with killing me just for being a non-Christian - or, I suppose, are hypocrites about the whole thing.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Air

This article is Part Three of a series. Part One can be found here, and Part Two can be found here.

Working with the Air element is the third step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the mystical aspects of all four elements correspond to the tenth sephira, Malkuth, which represents the material world. The elements have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Today, I'll be focusing on the element Air. The Air element corresponds to the gas state of matter, and in the ancient Greek system of the elements is related to union of the Hot and Moist powers. The Cool power unifies and the Hot power separates. The Dry power reinforces structure, and the Moist power breaks it down. So the fundamental nature of Air is separating and unstructured or dissolving. A more detailed overview of the four classical powers can be found here, and that article includes a link to John Opsopaus' Ancient Greek Esoteric Doctrine of the Elements, which is where I was first exposed to the system.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

He Picked the Wrong Water

Even though it sounds like something out of The Onion, this story from back in March is from Zimbabwe Today, which as far as I know is a legitimate African newspaper. According to the story, a pastor trying to demonstrate "walking on water" was instead eaten by crocodiles.

It is said that Pastor Mthethwa walked into the water and when he was 30 meters inside the river, he attempted to ascend above the water so he can start walking, but the 3 crocodiles appeared out of no where and started feasting on him.

"They finished him in a couple of minutes. All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water." said Deacon Nkosi.

ER24 responded to the scene 30 minutes after, but upon arrival there was not much they could do as the man of god was already dead, digested by the crocodiles.

Above and beyond the irony factor, what I find interesting about this story is how the pastor's actions are described. Instead of just walking across the water from the shore, he walked 30 meters in and then attempted to "ascend?" I can do that trick. I just have to be in the right place, and I only know of one that fits the bill - the Gulf of Mexico coast off Sanibel Island in Florida. But I'm sure there are many others around the world.

The deal is that off Sanibel island, there's a shallow sand bar about that far out from shore. So I could walk out into the ocean and then appear to rise until I was only knee-deep or ankle-deep in the water and walk for a ways. Obviously, anybody who followed me would discover they could do the same thing - but if, say, the body of water happened to be infested by crocodiles so nobody ever went in? That would keep the secret pretty well.

I don't know whether the pastor really believed he could do it, or if he was pulling a trick that meant he had to do at that precise location. Either way, luck was not with him. Even in waters with a lot of crocodiles or alligators, they usually are willing to leave people alone for a short period of time unless they are especially hungry - time enough to wade out, walk around on a sand bar or, I suppose, on the water itself, and then wade back. But not this time.

Maybe if he really was trying to pull a trick on his congregation, the crocodiles were just God's way of saying "no."

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Movie Review: A Dark Song

I rarely post movie reviews on here, since most Hollywood films about magick are hopelessly clueless when it comes to how it's supposed to work. Either it's this comic-book thing where wizards shoot beams of light all over the place, or something like Harry Potter where the magic is a bunch of fairy tale folklore mixed in with bits and pieces of real occult ideas and terminology. But A Dark Song, a new Irish horror film written and directed by Liam Gavin, at least puts some effort into trying to get it right. That alone is praiseworthy, hence this review.

The film stars Catherine Walker as Sophia Howard, a grieving woman who sets out to perform a fictional version of the Abramelin working. We'll get to that in a moment. It also stars Steve Oram as Joseph Solomon, an experienced magician Sophia hires to help her with the ritual procedure. Much of the film takes place just between the two of them, and both turn in excellent performances. The film manages to be creepy, suspenseful, and at a couple of points genuinely scary, and it accomplishes this without relying on a huge special effects budget or anything like that. The otherwise positive top review on IMDb complains about the low budget, but I have to say, I watch lots of films and I really don't see where spending a ton on effects would have made it much better.

The fact is that when you do real magick you don't see laser lights all over the place, or crackly energy like a plasma ball gone crazy. Magick is about doing the work, day in and day out, with all of that practice leading up to eventual success. The movie gets that completely right, showing the sustained effort and intent required to perform an operation that lasts for months. There's no "Hollywood magick" here, and I found the film better for it. There are a lot of misconceptions that beginning practitioners bring with them, and that sort of "shoot laser light" or "levitate feathers" nonsense is to blame for a lot of it.

So as a film, I enjoyed A Dark Song very much. As for the magick itself, I imagine that how I felt watching parts of the film must be how physicists feel when they watch movie scientists go on about how to solve whatever physics problem is driving the storyline. Much of the exposition is close to the real thing - much closer than in any film I have previously seen. It's refreshing to hear Joseph Solomon talking about how these are "real angels" and "real demons," and that those "people on the Internet" who say the Holy Guardian Angel is your "Higher Self" are just wrong. That's an actual conversation I see all the time. But many of the details of the ritual are misinterpreted, and some are just wrong.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nightmare House With Mystery Tenant

Huffington Post has an article up today about a "Nightmare House" that apparently was being sold complete with a mystery upstairs tenant. The listing is no longer available, but it was pretty bizarre while it lasted. According to the listing, the house came complete with an upstairs apartment that could never be shown that was occupied by a mysterious tenant who never paid rent on the unit - and still somehow still had a lease.

The first red flag shows up in the very first sentence of the description, “Please read carefully before scheduling showings.” And you’ll want to read carefully, or you may almost miss the buried tidbit about the mystery tenant who has never paid:

"Upstairs apartment cannot be shown under any circumstances. Buyer assumes responsibility for the month-to-month tenancy in the upstairs apartment. Occupant has never paid, and no security deposit is being held, but there is a lease in place. (Yes, it does not make sense, please don’t bother asking.)"

Can you ever meet this person? How on earth does this no-pay lease work? Did said upstairs tenant have anything to do with this?

Various theories about the upstairs apartment have been floated, including speculation that the "upstairs tenant" is actually a ghost and the sellers are trying to cover up evidence of a haunting. Personally, I don't know what to think. Some of my relatives invest in real estate, and have run into one situation where the seller's family members were occupying the house and insisted that they weren't going to leave even if the place was sold. But this "mystery tenant" business is a whole other level of weird.

That's what makes this story drift into paranormal territory. The situation of the house probably has a mundane but strange explanation, like a family member who made some sort of agreement to stay there indefinitely. Still, why all the secrecy? Why can't the unit be shown "under any circumstances?" Is the tenant an evil wizard, or some weird old dude who has to remain in the unit to guard a portal to some other dimension? If this were a movie, it would totally be something like that.

Since the listing has been taken down, I don't know if the house sold or if the seller just gave up. I know that I wouldn't want to buy a house with half of it entirely unseen and occupied by a stranger, and I think most buyers feel the same way. Either that, or the seller went upstairs to try to work something out with the tenant and wound up falling through the portal to Hell.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Watcher of the Dawn At It Again

Last February, it came to my attention that Watcher of the Dawn was trying to transition from snarking about the various Golden Dawn orders to setting itself up as the new Augoeides. Since the big Golden Dawn flame wars seemed to have died down, it was understandable that they might be looking to do something else. But as I said at the time, this is my beat. I stepped up my posting, both on the weird news side and the serious magick side, and it appeared that I won quite quickly. Watcher was back to only a couple of posts a month by last May.

But it looks like they've decided to try again. In April, the posting frequency jumped back up and the site is posting some of the same sorts of stories I have on here again. Thankfully, the "World's First New Age Tabloid" tagline is gone, because that was a lie. I was here first, folks. And while Augoeides is much more than a New Age tabloid, with serious magick articles and the like, a lot of my weird news and religion news posts certainly count as exactly that kind of subject matter. The monetization angle looks to be gone as well, which is smart. As I pointed out last year, there's no way to make any serious money blogging about the occult.

And I joke, sort of. It's not like Augoeides is the only paranormal blog in the world, and there's certainly room for more than one. But I also can be stubbornly competitive when I put my mind to it, which generally works out better for my readers. After all, who doesn't want to see more posts and more content? So that's what I'm going to do - I'll see if I can step up my game a little more here and vanquish Watcher once more. You know, in the metaphoric sense. Tracking down articles to post every day or even every other day takes time and effort. I'm used to that. But are they? Last time it seemed like they ran out of steam pretty quickly.

To be fair, there are some areas that Watcher could conceivably cover that I generally ignore. For example, I don't cover a lot of scandals involving religious leaders because they usually don't touch on the topic of "spiritual technology." It's not that, say, stories about religious leaders engaging in the sexual abuse of children or parishioners aren't important, but there's also not much to say besides pointing out that such leaders are simply awful human beings - and I shouldn't even need to say that since it's so obvious. But it does fit with Watcher's previous "scandal sheet" aspirations, and I would think that widening the focus from the Golden Dawn to religion in general would yield a lot of stories that I probably won't cover here.

As far as mainstream Christianity goes, one of my biggest targets is the "Prosperity Gospel" movement precisely because I think their tech is hopelessly broken and simply can't work. If you donate money, God isn't going to magically give you more. But prosperity preachers keep trying to convince people that this time, for sure, it will work, when as a magician I know that it never will. Also, the blog has become more political since the presidential election, in part because I really dislike our current president, but mostly because his administration seems determined to enshrine religious discrimination into law under the guise of "religious freedom." I've been fighting against that bullshit for years, and I'm not about to give it up now.

At any rate, Watcher, game on. Again. Let's see if you can keep up this time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Via Solis Taurus Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Taurus Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday May 9th, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This is similar to the Libra Elixir Rite I posted here back in 2014, but it includes some additional elements inspired by research that went into the Zodiacal Work posts. Going forward, we will be performing one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Taurus. The sign Taurus is attributed to "The Secret of Physical Strength," and therefore intents related to strength, healing, vitality, and so forth are most appropriate. This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.

All: MAKAShANaH

Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.

All: ABRAHADABRA

Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.

All: AUMGN

Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Happy May Day 2017!

I'm sure your first thought here is that May Day was last week, and it's already May 7th. But for folks like me who live in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, May Day is always the first Sunday in May, the day of the May Day Parade and Festival, a tradition that dates back to the 1970's. This year just happens to be the latest that it can possibly fall, with the side effect that it was an absolutely beautiful day.

The May Day Festival is an interesting case of a pagan-ish festival that went mainstream by way of the hippie movement of the 1970's. The parade was originally planned as a Vietnam War protest, but the war ended in 1975 just before the parade was set to take place. The organizers went ahead with the parade anyway, as a progressive demonstration and general celebration of spring. Over the years, the parade and festival have grown to the point where they attract as many as 50,000 spectators, and what's noteworthy is they're not all witches, pagans, or ceremonial magicians. Many are regular folks who like attending a fun spring festival.

So whether you celebrated May Day last week, or joined in the festivities here at Powderhorn Park today, or did both, here's wishing you a happy holiday and what looks to be a glorious spring season here in the Midwest.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Watch Out for Book Demons!

My friend and brother Lon Milo DuQuette has written tons of books on magick and Thelema, but I think this is the first time anyone has accused one of his books of causing demonic possession. Or, at least, the first time anyone has bothered to put together a whole story explaining how it allegedly happened in this Amazon review of Lon's book My Life With The Spirits. Now I will start off by saying that the first thing I think when somebody starts out with "this is not a joke or troll review" is that it totally is. But judge for yourself:

First off, I want to say this is not a joke or troll review- these events are described exactly as they happened. Anyways the book is interesting and I read the whole thing in one sitting. However, after reading the book, I went to take a shower and noticed in the mirror the appearance of dark circles under my eyes which are unusual for me, I'm a devout Christian and my eyes never have dark circles under them- even when I don't have time to sleep that day and have been awake for 24 hours. I also noticed they were not as glassy, or 'glowing' as usual- my eyes usually have a shine, but they looked dead. IMMEDIATELY upon my noticing this fact, I felt a HEAVY sense of dread- SHEER terror, and the feeling that I was not alone, the feeling as if the whole room had 'shook' and the floor had fallen out from under me. I've dealt with this sort of thing in the past, but never nearly so strong a feeling- so intense and so real. It was as if whatever demon had become mad that I had spotted this change. I might have panicked and made the situation worse, but instead I stayed calm, prayed, and used my power of will to believe in my prayers and that they would work. I'm thankful that two hours later, my eyes are returned to their previous state- however I would not be surprised if I'm still having trouble sleeping tonight.

Someone who didn't notice the apparent possession or reacted differently may be in big trouble at this point. I still doubt that I am out of the woods entirely.

Taking this person at their word, there are tons of things that can cause dark circles under your eyes that will last for a couple of hours, and "demons" aren't usually on that list. Beyond that, all that really happened is that they got totally freaked out. That sounds to me like "devout Christian" - that is, fundie - programming that attempts to inculcate irrational fear of any spirit or spiritual force that isn't explicitly Christian and approved as non-heretical.

In other words, the odds that this person was freaked out by a demon rather than their own basically broken programming strikes me as very unlikely. Here's my thought - the reader picked up the book even though it was officially "forbidden" by his or her brand of Christianity. Reading through the book in one sitting, this triggered anxiety that started to build. Anxiety, in fact, can cause dark circles under your eyes. Then, the moment he saw something that looked weird, the anxiety came on in full force.

So my diagnosis there is that maybe people who are as "devout" as this individual should stay away from My Life With The Spirits unless they want to get freaked out. But that's where it ends. The book isn't going to cause a problem for anybody who's not triggered by the idea of magick as EVIL. I mean, the book isn't even a book of spells, just an account of Lon's experiences with magick over the years. And it is a fun read for those of us who know what we're talking about with respect to the occult.

Friday, May 5, 2017

"Religious Liberty" Executive Order Signed

As it turned out, the "Religious Liberty" executive order signed by President Trump yesterday wasn't anything like the laughably unconstitutional draft order leaked earlier this week, which singled out specific conservative Evangelical Christian beliefs as the only form of "religious liberty" worthy of protection. Instead, it turned out to be a totally different bad idea, a move to weaken the Johnson Amendment that limits the political activity of churches.

Trump approved the measure in the Rose Garden at the White House surrounded by clergy and leaders of faith organizations during a National Day of Prayer event. “Today my administration is leading by example as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America,” the president said. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

The measure is designed to ease enforcement of a provision in the federal tax code known as the Johnson Amendment that bars religious institutions from endorsing or opposing political candidates and parties. It directs the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” of the amendment, according to the White House. Additionally, it orders regulatory relief for those who object to ObamaCare’s preventive service mandate on religious grounds.

Trump is fulfilling a promise he made to social conservatives, who strongly backed him during the 2016 campaign. Those groups have long argued that the Johnson Amendment violates their First Amendment rights. Scrapping the amendment was a major rallying cry for Trump on the campaign trail and he made it one of his earliest promises once he took office.

It is not exactly clear what "maximum enforcement discretion" will mean in the context of real-world cases, and the executive order does not have the force of law. To overturn the Johnson Amendment, Congress would have to pass legislation. But the order does signal that overturning the amendment remains one of the administration's priorities, as Trump repeatedly promised it would be during his campaign.

I won't re-hash my argument against repealing the Johnson Amendment in this post, since you can read it here, but basically, I expect that if the repeal goes through, many churches will start becoming more explicitly political and therefore less religious. For sincere spiritual seekers that would just be bad news, and it wouldn't surprise me to see "non-political" become a selling point for churches soon after - kind of like "non-denominational" did back in the 1980's.