Friday, July 21, 2017

Just For The Headline

I mean, seriously. Can you come up with anything that beats "Reptile Cult Feud Ends in Death?". That's an actual story today on The Daily Beast, and the story is just as weird as the headline makes it sound. It also hearkens back to the dangers of poor critical thinking skills and conspiracy theories, which I've covered here a number of times. Barbara Rogers and Steve Mineo were members of a cult led by a woman named Sherry Shriner. Here's how The Daily Beast describes her:

Mineo and Rogers were followers of Sherry Shriner, a self-proclaimed granddaughter of King David who calls herself a “Servant, Prophet, Ambassador, Daughter, and Messenger of the Most High God.” Shriner preaches that the “New World Order” is colluding with aliens and demons to take over the world; that a mystical substance called Orgone can kill zombies; and that reptilian aliens pose as humans and dump snakes down people’s throats to “scalp” their souls.

So let's see, in order: (1) The "New World Order" is made up of wealthy business folks who are not occultists and have nothing to do with demons. (2) Orgone is a thing, but there's no reason to think it would kill real zombies - that is, the ones from Haitian folklore. George Romero zombies only exist in the movies, not real life. (3) There are no reptilian aliens. They didn't exist in real UFO accounts until the miniseries V in the 1980's, which depicted reptilian alien invaders. (4) Even if they did exist, how dumping a snake down someone's throat "scalps their soul" is anybody's guess. So Mineo was clearly not a critical thinker. He seems to have bought into the whole thing, along with a bunch of other nonsense.

Mineo had been a disciple since at least 2004, he said in a video for his YouTube channel, where he also videos on 9/11 conspiracy theories and “Concentration Camps in America.” Some friends challenged his beliefs in reptilians. “I had messaged him with concerns, like ‘I want you to take a look at what she’s saying. It’s insanity,’” Laurie Alexander, one of Mineo’s friends told The Daily Beast. “I have to look at things from a biblical point of view, and biblically, what she’s saying is crazy. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that there’s some magic rock that’s going to protect us from aliens, demons, and other things. I’ve challenged him to find me the passage. He couldn’t.”

Yeah, that's really not going to work. The problem is that there are tons of things that aren't in the Bible that are real, even if Mineo's beliefs were ridiculous. First off, you can make a pretty good case that anything related to magic would not be included in the Bible, which takes a dim view of it. The Bible also makes no mention of aliens, but the fact is they probably are out there somewhere - we just haven't found any yet. So it's pretty easy to shoot that down.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ken Ham's Scam

A friend on Facebook called Ham's ark a "douchecanoe." Yeah, that's about right.

No, I'm not talking about Answers in Genesis and its uncritical promotion of the Ussher Chronology, which should strike even devout Creationists as absolutely ridiculous. I'm talking once more about Ark Encounter, Ham's Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky. With his latest move, Ham has pretty much put to rest speculation that the park has anything to do with sincere ministry. Apparently, it is little more than a gigantic scam designed to defraud his donors, evade taxes, and extract money from the state of Kentucky.

Not satisfied enough with winning a court battle worth $18 million in tax rebates after convincing a judge that his for-profit business, which is actively using religion as a form of employment discrimination, he has now sold the land the theme park sits on, worth $48 million, to his own non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for $10. You read that right, ten dollars.

This allows Ham to claim his land is a non-profit and not subject to the new safety tax passed by city officials which would have collected 50 cents of every entry ticket sold. This move also worries local politicians and residents because it sets up the park to claim exemption from all other taxes as well that includes the funding of public schools.

When asked about the park’s move, and its ability to now avoid all taxes, Williamstown city councilman Kim Crupper said, “I believe this is the first step,” adding, “The impact would be far larger than just Williamstown.” When asked about their future tax plans, Ark Encounter officials declined to comment, according to Kentucky.com.

So did you get that? In order to get the tax rebates that Ham used to build the park, he incorporated it as a for-profit non-religious business because religious non-profits were not eligible for those rebates. But now that the park is complete, he has turned around and sold it to his religious non-profit for $10 to avoid paying future taxes. The article doesn't mention it, but I expect that this also nullifies the junk bonds that Ham sold to fund part of the construction. The folks holding those bonds will now never see any return on their investment either.

It really amazes me that so many people are willing to tolerate this level of grift from their religious leaders. Ham's move here is especially sleazy, but there are plenty of other religious groups out there that seem to exist only to rake in donations and provide no spiritual benefits to their members. I think it's long past time the followers of these religious scammers showed them the door. Salvation doesn't have to be expensive, and it's pretty hard for me to believe that it can be facilitated by leaders who apparently lack any degree of personal integrity.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Holy Guardian Angel

This article is Part Ten 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, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, and Part Nine can be found here.

According to Aleister Crowley, the first "real initiation" in magick is the successful invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley's conception of the HGA was heavily influenced by the Abramelin operation, which is found in The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, also known as The Book of Abramelin. The grimoire date itself to 1458, but the oldest surviving manuscript dates back to the early seventeenth century. It details a long and involved operation that spans either six or eighteen months, depending on the translation. So this stage of the Path of Initiation is not the sort of thing where you can do one ritual and be done with it - at least, I've never come across anybody who's reported that happening.

The experience of the Holy Guardian Angel is highly personal. One of the reasons that the article I published in the Holy Guardian Angel anthology mostly just details a method for establishing initial contact is that most discussion of the experience is not very useful. It is a form of gnosis, and also the experience of contacting a particular being residing in the spirit world. So a bunch of exposition that might be highly valuable to one person might be entirely useless to another, and my own experience might not be typical. Those caveats are unfortunately necessary when addressing this stage of the journey.

One of the big misconceptions about the HGA is that it simply corresponds to your "higher self." That is, it's some sort of a psychological projection that emerges from the "unconscious mind." This fits in nicely with magick as a form of psychotherapy, but it doesn't match the reality that most practitioners experience if they legitimately engage in the work. In fact, what we know now is that while the brain does a lot of unconscious processing, that processing bears little resemblance to anything that we might call a "mind." An HGA has a fully-formed personality separate from your own, so how it could be a "projection" is anybody's guess.

The higher self idea is only true in one sense, the sense in which if we expand our consciousness high enough up the Tree of Life all things are interconnected and eventually collapse into each other. At that level, you and the angel are part of each other, but the same could be said about you and any other person, or even any other object. In practical terms, the HGA is a spiritual entity that has its own mind, it's own thoughts, and its own ideas. So the most effective way to get the work done is to assume that it is an entirely separate entity with which you are seeking to connect.

Crowley wrote up his own interpretation of the Abramelin rite, called Liber Samekh. It is so named because on the Kircher Tree of Life the path of Samekh connects Yesod and Tiphareth. It should be noted, though, that on other versions of the Tree the path is attributed to different letters. The point, though, is that Liber Samekh is designed to produce a transition in consciousness from Yesod, below the Veil of Paroketh, to Tiphareth, above it. This is facilitated by the initiations of Active and Passive Spirit, which serve as preparation for this operation.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Belle Plaine Monument Controversy Ending?

Back in April, I covered the Satanic monument controversy in the little Minnesota town of Belle Plaine, about 45 miles southwest of my home in Minneapolis. To recap, a Christian group put up a monument in the town's Veteran's Memorial Cemetery. The monument was tasteful, but explicitly Christian, as it depicted a soldier kneeling before a cross. The Freedom from Religion Foundation argued that if the city council was going to allow a Christian monument to remain, it would have to open the cemetery up to monuments placed by other religious group. The city council agreed to do so, since they wanted to keep the monument.

Naturally, this sort of thing brings The Satanic Temple out of the woodwork. The Temple submitted a proposal for its own tasteful Satanic monument consisting of a black cube with pentagrams inscribed around its sides. The city council approved the monument, which provoked waves of protest by the Poor Oppressed Christians of Belle Plaine. They wanted to keep their monument, and at the same time block other religious groups from putting up their own. Which, of course, is the way of the Poor Oppressed. They have to be special, so no one else can be. They are oppressed by the mere existence of beliefs other than their own.

But according to an article in Saturday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the controversy may be ending. The city council removed the Christian memorial, and is reportedly planning to shut down the "free speech zone" that was previously set up in the cemetery for private religious memorials.

The 2-foot steel statue, entitled “Joe,” was removed by its creator’s family a day before dueling observances Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park. Its return now is threatened by a Belle Plaine City Council proposal that also would block an anti-religion group from moving ahead with plans to install a satanic monument nearby. That memorial, a black cube inscribed with pentagrams and topped with an upside-down soldier’s helmet, was proposed and approved after the city opened the door by removing, then reinstating “Joe” earlier this year. The satanic monument could have been the first of its kind erected on public property in the United States.

On Monday, however, the City Council is expected to act on a resolution rescinding a “public forum” area created in the park to allow for religious statues. It was there in a small grassy plot beneath a hill where “Joe” was installed and where the Satanic Temple’s monument would be erected. Atop the hill on Saturday, more than 150 people attended an hourlong “rosary rally” organized by America Needs Fatima, a Catholic nonprofit. They prayed, many on their knees, while some carried signs, one reading: “Satan belongs in hell, not Veterans Memorial Park.”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Via Solis Cancer Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Cancer Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday July 11th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, 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 Cancer. The sign Cancer is attributed to "The power of casting enchantments." As I interpret it, this is related to the ability to magnetize or draw things into your life in accordance with your will. So those 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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vatican Says No to Gluten-Free

Catholics with celiac disease are going to have a more difficult time with communion at Mass after the latest Vatican ruling, which forbids the use of gluten-free bread. It sounds like the idea is that bread used must not contain additives, which are often necessary to make decent gluten-free bread, but still. That's why GMO bread is still allowed, because GMO is basically just a faster version of what we call "breeding" in any other context.

Bread used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic masses must not be gluten-free - although it may be made from genetically modified organisms, the Vatican has ruled.

In a letter to bishops, Cardinal Robert Sarah said the bread can be low-gluten. But he said there must be enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives. The new rules are needed because the bread is now sold in supermarkets and on the internet, the cardinal said.

Roman Catholics believe bread and wine served at the Eucharist are converted into the body and blood of Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.

The Roman Catholic belief in transubstantiation has a number of odd ramifications, and this is just one of them. It also leads to the belief that consecrated hosts must be protected at all costs, because Satanists could work powerful magick with the actual flesh of Jesus Christ. As I see it, it's actually the Anglicans who are closest to the truth. The communion ritual is not entirely symbolic (as one commonly hears in Protestant churches), but at the same time the presence that the bread is endowed with (called the "real presence of Christ" in Anglican Christianity) is a spiritual/magical transformation, not a physical one.

I suppose it should go without saying, but the Thelemic Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is way ahead of Roman Catholicism on this issue, too. Our churches have no problem whatsoever with gluten-free cakes of light. After all, it's the magick that counts.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Killing the Devil

That's totally not Pastor Mboro up there.

A pastor in South Africa is claiming that he went to Hell and killed the Devil. No, seriously! Pastor Paseke Motsoeneng naturally made the claim on Facebook, because obviously anybody capable of such a feat is going to want to post it in their feed next to photos of what they just had for dinner. The post went like this:

“When I got to hell, there was a queue of millions of people waiting to be braaied by Satan. I even saw some prominent South African politicians.

“I was so shocked because they lived like angels here on earth. I thought they went to heaven.

“When Satan saw me, he panicked and directed his army to kill me. Like Samson in the Bible, I defeated them. Satan was my last victim.”

I don't know what "braaied" means, but since it's Satan I'm sure it must something pretty sick, maybe involving a pitchfork and a whole bottle of baby oil. Before you start celebrating, though, there are a few more things you should know about Motsoeneng, who also goes by the name Pastor Mboro. This isn't his first completely outlandish claim.

Last Easter, the pastor claimed that he “was so overcome by the spirit” that he went to heaven and took pictures on his cellphone. What did he do with those pictures? He sold them for R5000 each.

Sticking with the topic of money, Mboro told his congregants that he could get them into heaven, the cost this time? R10 000 for “guaranteed access” of course.

This pastor is so blessed that “God” once sent him a BMW i8 with a value of R2 million, all because Mboro helps the poor with his good deeds.

So yeah, this guy appears to be a total scammer. It also is kind of telling that his description of Heaven and Hell and Satan line up perfectly with oversimplified Christian metaphysics. The real spirit world doesn't work that way.

When I first read about this claim, I thought that perhaps Pastor Mboro had engaged a powerful chthonic spirit and defeated it in some fashion, and mistook that spirit for "the Devil." In Christianity, there's only one "Devil" and every evil spirit gets traced back to that single archetype. But there are many, many chthonic spirits and they can't easily be classed as "evil."

But no, it's probably not even that. Pastor Mboro is more likely just a scammer angling for donations, who knows full well that he's totally bullshitting everybody because it makes him sound impressive to his followers.