Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 23rd

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk with More on Gatekeeping. The donation link is here. The post I mention in the talk on "Blinds and Innovation" is here and my Path of Initiation articles can be found here.

I find the whole notion of gatekeeping in the esoteric world pretty silly. The whole notion of "occult authority" is fraught with pitfalls and always has been. Your best guide is to approach magick in as scientific a way as possible and let your results be your guide. Traditions have a place because they give you a starting point for your practices, but to really become good at magick you have to make it your own.

Gatekeeping is problematic because it can keep people from starting a magical practice until they fulfill whatever requirements the gatekeeper deems "worthy" or "good enough." But really, the requirements are just that you learn how to do the rituals and start practicing them. You're not likely to be a virtuoso right out of the gate, but hardly anybody is. And the way to get better is to practice as much as you can.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Exorcise Your Cat!

No, not exercise, exorcise. Today's article can't help but remind me of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters 2 pushing his no-budget paranormal TV show. "Next week on World of the Psychic, hairless pets. Weird." The joke, of course, being that there's nothing paranormal or psychic or ghostly or demonic or whatever about having an unusual-looking pet.

Now that joke would be even funnier if there weren't clueless people out there taking it way too seriously. The article concerns a cat named Pixel who is a Cornish Rex. Cornish Rexes are a breed with far less hair than regular house cats, and they're fairly rare so a lot of people aren't that familiar with them. Pixel's owner, Alyson Kalhagen, recently posted some photos of the cat online and got some pretty bizarre responses.

One such message was from an exorcist who told Kalhagen that a demon was using her pet as a 'puppet' and instructing her to keep Pixel caged and pray 'over and over' in front of him to get the demon out. 'I had a message from this person telling me that they were an 'exorcist' and Pixel had been 'taken over by a demon that was controlling his face'.

'I think he was trying to tell me that's why my cat is making all of these crazy faces,' Kalhagen said. 'In that photo he's got kind of a blank stare with his weird little grin on his face - like maybe the lights were on or no one was at home, or whoever was at home wasn't up to any good.

'All the time people say 'this is the creepiest cat I've ever seen', 'my sleep paralysis demon has come to life' and if they saw him in the middle of the night they'd have a heart attack and it would scare them to death.

'People say all the time that he's a 'demon cat' who 'must be possessed' and that the devil's taken control of him. It's kind of a recurring theme. I think it's pretty funny because I usually just say 'imagine coming face to face when you're trying to scoop the litter box'.'

Friday, February 19, 2021

Praxis Behind The Obscure Interview

Yesterday I sat down for an interview with the Praxis Behind The Obscure podcast and covered a bunch of stuff related to my Enochian work and magick in general, plus my current ideas about consciousness and scientific approaches to magick. It was a good talk - give it a listen.

Since I mention it on the podcast, I'm in the process of working with my publisher to get the final technical issues resolved with Mastering the Thirty Aires, which means it should be out soon now. I know I've said that before and I apologize for the delays getting it out, but the book is going to be worth the wait.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 16th

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk, on Doing Magick Right. The donation link is here.

As a follow-up to last week's talk on Doing Magick Wrong, here's my take on Doing Magick Right. In this talk I explain what I have found to be "best practices" when approaching magick, especially as a beginner. A big part of that is ignoring wannabe gatekeepers trying to police your practice and doing what works for you.

To be clear, I'm not trying to come across that way myself either. If you have a practice that's working for you, keep it up - regardless of what I or anyone else tries to tell you. But if you're not sure where to start, I can recommend some good jumping-off points and basic rituals to get you on your way.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 9th

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk, on Doing Magick Wrong. The donation link is here.

Lots of folks on the Internet will tell you that you're doing magick wrong, no matter what you're doing. From authors arguing over whose book is the right way to do it, to people pushing their own special secrets that only they can teach you, these sorts of argument - especially online - are to be avoided as a beginning practitioner. It's much more important to do the work than it is to worry about making minor mistakes.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

More Legal Trouble for Museum of the Bible

Whatever happened to "Thou Shalt Not Steal?" The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC is owned by the oh-so-Christian Green family of Hobby Lobby Craft Stores fame. It also has a serious antiquities theft problem going back many years involving stolen and illegally trafficked artifacts. In the latest chapter of this entirely un-Christian saga, the museum has been forced to return over five thousand Egyptian artifacts that were illegally smuggled into the United States.

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC has returned some 5,000 artifacts to the Egyptian government, after years of talks between agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The objects have been held at the Museum since its opening in 2016. Egypt has been seeking repatriation of the objects, which it says were smuggled illegally out of the country, for just as long.

The objects include funerary masks; fragments of coffins; a set of portraits of the dead; heads of stone statues; manuscripts of Christian prayers written in both Arabic and Coptic, and just Arabic; and pieces of papyrus with text in Coptic and Greek, as well as hieratic and demotic script. The pieces will be displayed in Cairo’s Coptic Museum. According to Hisham Al Laithi, who heads the country’s antiquities registration center, the objects were not taken from Egyptian warehouses or museums. Instead they were smuggled after being illegally excavated.

The Museum has been plagued by issues of suspicious and incomplete provenance and has returned thousands of artifacts to Iraq and Egypt since opening in 2017. Founder and board chairman Steve Green is also the president of Hobby Lobby craft stores, and has a personal collection valued at $30 million, which he began amassing in 2009.

In 2015, the Green family was investigated for importing looted clay tablets from Israel, which were shipped in 2011 to Oklahoma City, where Hobby Lobby is headquartered, with plans to be displayed at the museum when it opened. The shipment was labeled as “tile samples.” Despite the fact that the museum maintained that clerical and paperwork errors were to blame, Hobby Lobby returned more than 5,000 artifacts smuggled from Iraq and paid a $3 million fine.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Werewolf Trials in France

One of my claims to being fame-adjacent is that I was in college with Mark Rein-Hagen, creator of the World of Darkness series of role-playing games including Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The reason I bring this up is to point out that the World of Darkness was one of the first places in popular culture where the vampire and werewolf myths were combined into a single story. This trope has gone on to become a mainstay of modern paranormal fiction - vampires and werewolves are treated as part of a single unified myth, often as adversaries.

In real life, though, it should be pointed out that werewolves and vampires are separate myths and come from completely different parts of Europe. The vampire is myth is from Eastern Europe, which is why in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is originally from Transylvania, a region in modern-day Romania. The werewolf myth is from Western Europe, particularly France. And I will say that I'm getting kind of sick of the whole "paranormal slush" genre that lumps vampires and werewolves together, and then brings in basically every other paranormal creature on the damn planet. It makes a good scenario for a role-playing game in which you want players to have a lot of options, but in terms of real-world mythology it's kind of a mess.

At any rate, I came across this article today about the Beast of Gévaudan and the "werewolf trials" that took place in sixteenth and early seventeeth-century France. I was familiar with the story of the Beast of Gévaudan from cryptozoology circles and also with a couple of the most famous werewolf trials, but I was quite surprised to find out just how many actually went on. You'd think that a "werewolf panic" would be even more implausible than the witch panics that happened in other parts of Europe. It's one thing to accuse someone of casting spells or "communing with the devil," which can't be proven by empirical means, but these trials purported to be about observable physical transformations - which either happen or don't.

As Dangerous Minds notes, the period between roughly 1520 and 1630 saw “France’s version of Europe’s witch trials and executions, but with werewolves. For 110 years, 30 thousand people were accused of being werewolves, tortured in exchange for their confessions, or lack of admission of guilt, and died at the stake.” The panic persisted long afterward. In the most famous case of wolf terror, La Bête du Gévaudan, or the Beast of Gévaudan, supposedly killed and partially ate over 100 people in the span of three years, beginning in 1764.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

QAnon Has Lost Its Shaman

This article is from a week ago, but with Donald Trump's second impeachment trial not yet underway, it's still relevant to current news events. After not receiving a pardon for storming the capitol on January 6th along with a violent MAGA mob, the (apparently now former) "Q-Shaman" has announced that he is willing to testify against the former president.

"QAnon Shaman" who was seen in pictures of the Capitol riot wearing horns and red, white, and blue face paint is willing to testify against former President Donald Trump — because he feels "betrayed" he didn't receive a pardon for what he thought was following Trump's orders. Jacob Chansley, of Arizona, is accused of breaking into the Senate chamber and leaving a threatening message for former Vice President Mike Pence — who became a target of the rioters' wrath due to his refusal to overturn the election certification using a fringe legal theory.

"Lawyer Albert Watkins said he hasn't spoken to any member in the Senate since announcing his offer to have Jacob Chansley testify at Trump's trial, which is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8. Watkins said it's important for senators to hear the voice of someone who was incited by Trump," said the report. "Watkins said his client was previously 'horrendously smitten' by Trump but now feels let down after Trump's refusal to grant Chansley and others who participated in the insurrection a pardon. 'He felt like he was betrayed by the president,' Watkins said."

One of these days I hope to be able to quit posting about all this QAnonsense, but it's important to keep it in perspective at the moment. The fact that people believe in it at all is ridiculous, and I should point out that "Q-Shaman" must not have believed it that much if he's now willing to excuse the child-torturing and adrenachrome-huffing that he was advocating against only weeks ago. Is he now suddenly okay with torturing children?

I mean, so much of this QAnon stuff isn't really happening, but it's a serious question. If he really believes it's a thing, or even really believed it was a thing, would he just give it up the minute he felt betrayed by his beloved president? I think - or at least hope - that on some level a lot of the people involved realize it's not happening and were just pushing the narrative because they thought it helped Trump, the focus of their obsessed personality cult.

Every movement has dead-enders, and I expect QAnon will be no exception. But if the whole thing really was mostly a cynical ploy to demonize liberals, at least it means a lot fewer people have completely lost their damn minds - even "Q-Shaman," who sure looks like he has in the footage from the insurrection.