Friday, March 27, 2015

Office of the Readings for 2015

Happy Thelemic New Year, everyone! It's that time again, for the Office of the Readings.

The Thelemic dates that you may see written online are arrived at by counting the number of 22-year cycles since 1904 to obtain the upper case Roman numeral, and then counting the years of the current cycle to get the lower case one. Within each 22-year cycle, many Thelemites ascribe the Major Arcana trumps of the Tarot to the years in order starting with The Fool and ending with The Universe. So the year that we're about to enter into is V:i and is thus attributed to the Magus card.

This post will remain the top article here for the duration of the Thelemic High Holy Days, from March 20th to April 10th. The Rite of the Office of the Readings is performed for all of the readings beginning on March 20th.

This year I'm pleased to announce the the Office of the Readings will be presented at Leaping Laughter Lodge, the Minneapolis local body of Ordo Templi Orientis. I'm looking forward to offering this series to the larger local OTO community. In order to synchronize our series with the Lodge's equinox ritual scheduled for March 21st, the Invocation of Horus will precede the Office for the second night rather than the first. Also, this year the Prologue of the Unborn will be read preceding the ritual for March 20th rather than on March 19th.

In addition to those changes, we've revised the order of readings and created a new Lectionary. Generally speaking, the First Readings have remained the same as in previous years, but a number of the Second Readings have been rearranged. We also have standardized the series to have two readings per day rather than the old version that had more on some days.

Rituals

The Invocation of Horus
The Rite of the Office of the Readings

Readings

March 20 - Saturn/Earth, The Universe

Liber VII, Prologue of the Unborn (Preceding the Ritual).
Liber LXV, Cap I.
Liber VII, Cap II.

March 21 - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon

Liber LXV, Cap IV.
From "The Four Zoas" by William Blake.

March 22 - Sol, The Sun

Liber VII, Cap IV.
From "A Mithraic Ritual" Translated by GRS Mead.

March 23 - Pisces, The Moon

Liber VII, Cap VI.
From “Dark Night of the Soul”, Book II, Cap 8 by San Juan de la Cruz.

March 24 - Aries, The Emperor

Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus.
From the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu, Cap 37 and 39.

March 25 - Mars, The Tower

Liber VII, Cap I.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 16th Æthyr.

March 26 - Capricornus, The Devil

Liber A'ash.
Relevant to Liber A'ash is my solution to the mystery of the duck.
From Liber CXI, Cap 174-175.

March 27 - Sagittarius, Art

Liber DCCCXIII, Cap VII.
From “The Vision of the Universal Mercury” by G.H. Frater S.R.M.D.

March 28 - Scorpio, Death

From Liber Arcanorum.
From Liber CXI, Cap 192-194.

March 29 - Water, The Hanged Man

Liber LXV, Cap III.
"I. N. R. I." by Frater Achad.

March 30 - Libra, Adjustment

Liber Libræ.
Selections from “The Spiritual Guide” by San Miguel de Molinos.

March 31 - Jupiter, Fortune

Liber VII, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 20th Æthyr.

April 1 - Virgo, The Hermit

Liber VII, Cap V.
"The Emerald Tablet of Hermes" by Hermes Trismegistus.

April 2 - Leo, Lust

Liber Stellae Rubeæ.
From “The Daughter of Fortitude” Received by Edward Kelly.

April 3 - Cancer, The Chariot

Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni.
"Maha Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra" (The Heart Sutra, Buddhist text. Translation by the Kuan Um School of Zen).

April 4 - Gemini, The Lovers

Liber LXV, Cap II.
From Liber DCCCXXXVII, The Law of Liberty.

April 5 - Taurus, The Hierophant

Liber LXV, Cap V.
From “On Christ and Antichrist” by Hippolytus, Cap 2.

April 6 - Aquarius, The Star

Liber DCCCXIII, Cap VI.
From “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” (Gnostic text).

April 7 - Venus, The Empress

Liber VII, Cap VII.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 7th Æthyr.

April 8 - Luna, The Priestess

Liber AL, Cap I.
“Vajrasattva, Primordial Buddha of Diamond or Rainbow Light” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 9 - Mercury, The Magus

Liber AL, Cap II.
“Visvapani, The Bodhisattva and Spiritual Emanation of Amoghasiddhi” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 10 - Air, The Fool

Liber AL, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 22nd Æthyr.

If you would like to perform this series and have questions, feel free to e-mail me here. All Office of the Readings posts may be viewed here. Our Office of the Readings series is based on this ritual series by the Companions of Monsalvat.

Get Your Yeti Cave Air, Right Here!

Yes, this amazing new product is exactly what it says on the tin - you know, if you can read it and all that. The image above shows tins of "yeti cave air," which in fact do contain air from a cave associated with the yeti myth. I have no idea who's buying the stuff, but the fact that it exists at all is equal parts hilarious and disturbing. For only $3.00 you can own a (very) small piece of the yeti myth - air the creature might have breathed!

If the recent news that purported samples of "Yeti hair" were actually sourced from ordinary Himalayan brown bears is still bumming you out, here's a novelty item to cheer you up: canned air from Azasskaya Cave, ground zero for Abominable Snowman sightings in Siberia.

The region has, in the past, been known for using its cryptozoological legend to drum up publicity. According to the Siberian Times, the cans are sold for $3 and come complete with some rather dubious claims:

"Vladimir Makuta, head of the local Tashtagol district, said the areas are 'famous for stunning mountain scenery and crystal-clear air'. The air is 'full of goodness and has a healing effect, helping to strengthen the immunity and positively impact of the mental state'."

Let me just point out here that Reinhold Messner showed pretty convincingly that the Nepalese term "yeti" does refer to the Himalayan brown bear once you get past the language barrier. If that's the case, "yeti hair" from a Himalayan brown bear is in fact totally authentic. But I also realize that cryptozoologists are still holding out for the yeti to be some sort of giant ape, so to them Messner's findings were disappointing.

If you're one of those cryptozoologists, maybe breathing in a fresh can of yeti cave air will help cheer you up. At the very least, it's a great conversation starter for all your monster-hunting friends.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Indiana "Religious Freedom" Bill Signed

It sounds like The Satanic Temple may have a new target, and it's a big one. Today Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into a law a bill that prohibits state or local ordinances that "substantially burden" religious beliefs. The bill was modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which activists have used to promote non-Christian invocations at government functions and non-Christian holiday displays based on the Supreme Court's ruling that the law must apply to all religious beliefs equally in order to be constitutional.

The bill, co-authored by State Sen. Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis), was approved by the Indiana House of Representatives Monday with a vote of 63-31 and the Senate concurred Tuesday, voting 40-10 along party lines. The bill that would prohibit any state or local laws that "substantially burden" the religious beliefs of an individual, business or religious institution.

"The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action," Pence said in a statement.

The bill is modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by Congress in 1993. Supporters say it protects religious liberty from government intrusion, but opponents say it's a license to discriminate.

The bill was widely opposed by a number of organizations on these grounds. Both the Disciples of Christ and Gen Con threatened to relocate their conventions if the bill passed, so now we'll see if they follow through on those threats. Software vendor Salesforce has likewise cancelled all programs that might require travel to Indiana.

While the bill's advocates claim that it won't be used to promote discrimination, I'll believe that when I see it. Generally speaking, the Poor Oppressed Christians come in and ruin such laws for everyone by insisting members of other religions, even other Christian denominations, "substantially burden" their religious beliefs by merely existing. It doesn't get much more discriminatory than that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ground Broken for Icelandic Pagan Temple

Back in January I announced that construction plans were underway for a new Pagan temple in Reykjavík, Iceland, which will be the first such place of worship built in any Nordic country in almost a thousand years. Last weekend ground was broken on the project, and the construction phase is now underway. This was preceded by a ceremony timed to coincide with Friday's solar eclipse that fell on the Vernal Equinox.

Ásatrú, which is registered as an official religion in Iceland, posted on Facebook that the chapel marks a milestone in Northern European religious and cultural history.

The chapel will be 350 square meters and have room for 250 people. Construction is expected to be completed in September next year. High Priest of Ásatrú, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson described the breaking ground ceremony as, “A big day for us. This will change everything for us as we have never had facilities big enough for what we do.”

The ceremony began at 08.38, at the start of the eclipse, whereby the boundaries were ceremonially marked out, candles lit in each corner, and local landmarks honored. When the darkness was at its height, at 09.37, a fire was lit in what will be the center of the chapel.

“There we can create an iconic Reykjavík building. It will be a place of congregation first and foremost, but we will also have office facilities,” Vísir quoted.

This is a big step for religious diversity, in Iceland as well as the rest of the world. A dedicated temple facility will enable the Icelandic Ásatrú community to expand services, put on more elaborate events, and operate in a more business-like fashion as its congregation grows. It also will serve as a landmark to raise awareness of the religion. I wish the Ásatrú community the best, and I am happy to see this project underway.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Catholic Warrior" Charges Dropped


If anybody out there still believes that Christians are oppressed in the United States, I draw your attention to this story. Remember Susan Hemeryck, the "Catholic Warrior" who destroyed a holiday display put up by The Satanic Temple? Even though Hemeryck admits that she deliberately destroyed the display, and there's even security footage of her doing it, prosecutors dismissed all charges against her on the basis of "lack of evidence."

Hemeryck in a statement said "I am very grateful to God for giving me the grace to take a stand against Satan and those who invoke his name even if they do not fully know what they are doing."

"I was not afraid of going to trial," she added. "I wanted the jury to know that I did not act criminally as wrongly portrayed, but a devout Catholic following the Church's teaching for non-violent and peaceful opposition of evil."

No, Hemeryck did commit a crime - a hate crime. She destroyed a symbolic display belonging to a religion that she just didn't like, and the fact that she apparently has gotten a free pass is a complete travesty. Can you imagine what would have happened if a non-Christian had destroyed a nativity scene, or I suppose for that matter even made fun of one? You don't have to, because thanks to this story we have a pretty good idea.

As you all know by now, a 14-year-old boy from Pennsylvania has been the subject of a lot of media attention over the past few weeks because he took pictures with a local Jesus statue as if he were getting a mock-blowjob from the Lord.

He was facing up to two years in prison for this supposed desecration, a charge that was wildly out of proportion for what he did. As I said before, I don’t condone his actions, but bad taste and immaturity aren’t crimes. And this blasphemy law had no business being in the books in the first place.

The good news is that the boy managed to escape prison, but he was placed on probation for six months and ordered to perform 350 hours of community service. He did no damage whatsoever to the statue, he just took some stupid photos with it and shared them on social media. And this is the sentence he received from juvenile court, so had he been tried as an adult he likely would have gone to prison.

This is always the way situations like these go, and that's why I make so much fun of the Poor Oppressed Christians. They totally don't get that they can get away with all sorts of stuff that members of minority religions can't, and as long as they claim to be "acting on their beliefs" they get free passes to commit whatever sort of criminal mischief they find appropriate against members of other faiths.

That's not oppression, that's privilege, plain and simple.

UPDATE: I have been informed by a friend on Facebook who is a defense attorney that prosecutors commonly use the phrase "lack of evidence" as a catch-all for various behind-the-scenes deals and so forth, even when said evidence does exist. So it may be that there's more to this story, and I'll keep you all posted if I learn that something of that sort went down.

I still contend, though, that had Hemeryck been a Satanist who wrecked a Christian display, she would have been treated with far less leniency.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Not That Kind of Sasquatch

There are many stories told by hunters of encountering the legendary sasquatch in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, and I'm familiar with a lot of them. This one, though, is among the weirdest I've seen, and not because it involves any actual cryptozoology or paranormal phenomena.

Oregon hunter Jeff McDonald was looking for deer when he spotted a naked man wandering in the woods carrying a pruning saw. McDonald assumed the young man was confused and asked what he was doing in the forest. The naked man, Linus Norgren, explained that he was a sasquatch. Then, when McDonald offered to help the man find his way out of the woods, Norgren tried to kill him.

In October 2013, 58-year-old Jeff McDonald ventured into the woods of Manning, Oregon for a chance at bagging some venison. It was an area that he was familiar with, and known to be popular with other hunters as well. That was why when McDonald first saw 22-year-old Linus Norgren, the hunter’s initial reaction was to wonder why Norgen was dressed in tan clothing in the middle of deer season. However, it turned out that McDonald mistook Norgen’s completely nude body for flesh-colored clothes. The only thing the other man carried was a pruning saw in one hand.

“I was armed with a high-powered rifle,” McDonald told The Oregonian. “I thought he’s probably not going to do anything.” Staying calm, McDonald asked the young man his name and what he was doing in the forest. Norgen simply responded that he was a Sasquatch from a family of Sasquatches. At this point, the hunter recalled making sure his gun was pointed away from Norgen to avoid upsetting him. McDonald even offered to help guide Norgen out of the woods. It was a bad idea. As the two men turned to leave, Norgen struck McDonald in the back of the head with a rock and the hunter lost consciousness.

When McDonald came to, he was on the ground and Norgen was attempting to strangle him. The hunter said that Norgen tried to gouge out one of his eyes and even shoved a fist through his mouth. With his shoulders dislocated from the fall, McDonald had a hard time fighting back, but managed to keep his attacker from inflicting further injuries. When the older man asked why Norgen was trying to kill him, the 22-year-old replied chillingly that “Sasquatch kills the hunter.”

Last week Norgren was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. At sentencing, he claimed that the attack was motivated by untreated mental illness and that he was irrationally terrified of McDonald when the two met in the woods. He made no mention of his sasquatch heritage. But I suppose it would explain why sasquatch are so hard to find. Apparently they look just like everyone else.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ten Commandments Attacker Explains Himself

Back in October the Oklahoma City Ten Commandments monument was destroyed by a man named Michael Reed, who rammed the display with his truck and shattered the stone tablets. At the time there was speculation that Reed was somehow involved in the ongoing dispute between the state legislature and The Satanic Temple, which was suing the state to allow a "competing" statue of Eliphas Levi's Baphomet, who is often (incorrectly) identified with Satan.

However, in a letter recently issued to the local press, Reed explained that he suffers from schizo-affective disorder, a serious mental illness, and was under the influence of delusions when he attacked the monument. Also, the attack was not the extent of Reed's bizarre behavior that day.

After watching a movie about the fictional Dracula, Reed states he was convinced to follow Satan. “The voice kept having me do things to show my obedience starting with my hair being shaved to next tearing up my guitar my father gave me,” he wrote.

Reed blamed his missing keys on a theft by an angel and ended up walking to a river to throw in his wallet, phone and shoes. Once getting to his mother’s home, he destroyed all her electronics. His sister was able to calm him. But after she left, he headed to Oklahoma City after withdrawing all his money from a bank. He was convinced he was the reincarnation of British occult leader Aleister Crowley.

Reed states how to ran into the monument, set the cash on fire before running away and drawing a symbol on his forehead to reach Satan’s priestess called Gwyneth Paltrow. As he walked around the grounds, he saw a dinner occurring in a Capitol room and a person waved him away.

“I thought it was the church of Satan awaiting me so I made a gesture of (Crowley’s) to identify myself,” he wrote. “I left and kept thinking I would be taking (sic) up in a UFO and given a new body.”

Reincarnations of Crowley are basically a joke in the Thelemic community, as so many of them have come forward and most have turned out to be suffering from mental illness. It's not clear to me why Crowley is such a magnet for such individuals, but it probably has something to do with his largely exaggerated reputation as "the wickedest man in the world" (he was a contemporary of both Hitler and Stalin) and a Satanist (which he certainly was not in the modern sense, as the Church of Satan was founded decades after his death).

I have to admit I do find it amusing that a "Crowley reincarnation" went ahead and smashed the monument, completely defusing the controversy. It's totally something Crowley himself would have done, so perhaps Reed really was in contact with the man's spirit after all.