Monday, May 30, 2016

A Simple Pathworking Induction

Back when I put up my original post describing a simple pathworking ritual, one of the points I made was that my magical working group does pathworking in a more freeform style than many other groups, in that we do not make use of elaborate prewritten guided meditations explaining what we should or should not be seeing as we explore the paths.

While we do not use any sort of guided imagery once we have entered the paths, we do employ a shorter guided meditation that we use as a preliminary induction to get the process started. We find that using the induction makes it go smoother and produce a more complete sense of immersion, rather than jumping right in as my pathworking ritual post implies. So this induction text goes at the beginning of step 5 in the pathworking ritual template, after all the ceremonial forms are in place.

The original version of this induction was based on this meditation from the Copenhagen Qabalah website, which is a fantastic resource for studying hermetic qabalah and the various attributions of the sephiroth and paths. If you do pathworking I highly recommend checking it out. As you will see, some of the same verbiage remains in our version along with the same general idea, but over the years it has changed substantially as we have worked with it.

The induction that we currently are using reads as follows. While it might useful to do some sort of recorded version, I never have gotten around to making one and generally one of us just reads it. When working alone, you can either read it to yourself, or listen to a recording of yourself reading it if you are so inclined, prior to exploring the chosen path.

Sit or lie comfortably. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Feel it flowing in and out of your body at its own natural rhythm. Relax your abdomen and allow it to expand as you breathe in, and contract as you breathe out. Feel the breath flowing, allowing it to sink into your abdomen and deepen at its own pace.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Satanic Mormons?

Every couple of years, fundamentalist Christians attempt to revive the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's. I've written a number of articles on this topic, but apparently the folks pushing this nonsense don't read them. Either that, or they consider me some sort of disinformation agent. Regardless of my what motivations might be, though, my criticism of the entire notion is based on real brain science that wasn't understood thirty years ago.

Today's example is this article from Charisma magazine, a fundamentalist publication that seems to produce more than its share of this sort of weirdness. The subject of the article is a woman named Beth, an "ex-witch" who claims she was subjected to Satanic Ritual Abuse by the Mormon church she grew up in.

In the last nine months, ex-witch Beth says the Holy Spirit used inner healing to uncover deeply repressed memories from her childhood, including ritual satanic abuse in the Mormon church.

"As I started to follow the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, I started to understand (my childhood)," Beth says in a recent video blog. "At the Mormon church, I was a victim of satanic rituals."

While the revelation may shock some, Beth says the abuse is not limited to the Mormon church.

"Satan is evil and divisive and very tricky, so as long as it looks good and light, then he can find a way to sneak in there and work his evil ... ," Beth says. "It happens in places we would least expect."

As a point, I was corrected by a reader a while back that real Mormons don't call their church the "Mormon Church." They call it the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS Church for short. If Beth really refers to it by the former name, it makes me question if she grew up in the church at all. But I'll assume she's sincere, because individuals reporting Satanic Ritual Abuse generally are. They just erroneously believe that their "recovered memories" are reliable.

First off, what needs to understood about the whole concept here is that there is no such thing as a "deeply repressed" accurate memory. To understand why this is, I direct you to this article. The headline is slightly misleading, as the brain does process information for some definitions of "process information." However, the key point still stands - the human brain does not have much in common with a digital computer, especially as far as memories are concerned.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

God Wants Trump

At least, that's what evangelist John Hagee told his followers last week. Hagee has been featured here on Augoeides before, when his "blood moon" apocalypse prophecy totally fizzled back in September. One wonders if he's at it again, hoping that electing Donald Trump president will finally bring on a real apocalypse as opposed to a totally made up one.

As I'm not a Trump supporter, here's hoping that Hagee's endorsement of Trump's campaign is about as effective as his endorsement of that "blood moon" business - that is, not at all - and the campaign likewise fizzles out on election day.

On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," Pastor John Hagee urged Christians to get out and vote and made it abundantly clear that he'll be casting his vote for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

After mangling Dietrich Bonhoeffer's famous "not to speak is to speak" quote and falsely attributing it to Martin Niemöller, Hagee informed his viewing audience that "God will not hold us harmless" and so they have an obligation to vote.

"I'm going to vote for the candidate that's going to make the U.S. military great again," he said. "I'm going to vote for the party that is going to solve the immigration problem, not the one that has created the immigration problem. I'm going to support the party that brings jobs back from China ... I'm not going to vote for the party that has betrayed Israel for the past seven years."

"If you can read a newspaper, you know who I'm talking about," Hagee said. "No candidate is perfect, but I want you to go vote and may God give us a leader who has the courage to put America first and stand up for we the people."

The interesting thing about Trump is that, while Christian, he's not much of a religious conservative. Ted Cruz was an actual Christian Reconstructionist, and Trump defeated him easily for the Republican nomination. Not only that, in the primary more than half of evangelicals backed Trump over the guy who theoretically was their ideal candidate.

So Hagee is not alone in his support. This sort of lobbying is pretty ridiculous, though. Hagee can't say "Donald Trump" without losing his organization's tax exempt status, but literally everybody knows exactly who he's talking about as he practically quotes Trump's campaign slogans. And the idea that God is in favor of of a "great military" and opposed to immigration seems kind of silly if you actually read the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus.

The comments about Israel are kind of ironic too, given the actual political situation and the evangelical worldview. First off, the United States has continued to provide aid to Israel over the last seven years even during a massive recession, so how that constitutes "betrayal" eludes me. And second, the only reason evangelicals like Hagee have any interest in supporting Israel is so that it can be blown up during the apocalypse. That's some qualified support right there.

Based on my understanding of the Christian religion, it seems to me that if God were to pick a candidate it sure wouldn't be Donald Trump. But then, they do say that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Still No Aliens!

With the exception of television programs like Ancient Aliens, which I'm convinced many people watch simply to see how weird that Centauri guy can be, the hypothesis that space aliens were involved in the building of ancient monuments is on the decline. The whole idea is kind of insulting to ancient people, who from a biological standpoint were no less intelligent than we are today. They had a different knowledge base with respect to technology, but that's about it.

Not only that, some portions of that knowledge base have still not been worked out by modern scientists. It's not because there's anything mysterious about it, but rather because those solutions were arrived at in such a different cultural context. For years nobody knew how the Egyptians got their saws to run so fast without melting, until a clever engineer figured out that you could fix that problem by running the saw through water. We now use a modern version of the same technology to cut stone, and it works better than our previous methods.

Along those same lines, archaeologists are now claiming to have solved the mystery of how the gigantic stones used to build Stonehenge were transported long distances. They discovered that by loading the stones onto a simple sledge constructed out of logs, and then running the sledge over other logs laid out on the ground, the stones were much easier to move than the group expected.

In fact the one tonne stone whizzed along the make-shift silver birch track when pulled by just 10 people, moving at around 10 feet every five seconds – which works out faster than one mile per hour if pulled continually, rather than in the short bursts of the experiment.

The Preseli stones from Stonehenge are approximately double the weight as the experimental block, but it is possible that one huge stone could have been brought by a group of just 20 people. The community living in the area during the Neolithic would have numbered several thousand so the absence of just a few dozen people was unlikely to cause any hardship.

Doctoral student Barney Harris, who conducted the trial in Gordon Square, London, a stone’s throw from UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, said he was surprised that so few people had been required to move the block. “We were expecting to need at least 15 people to move the stone so to find we could do it with 10 was quite interesting,” said Mr Harris.

Experts have proposed for years that the stones may have been dragged along tracks made from timbers, but even then the friction would have been high enough to require more people than seemed feasible. But the addition of the sledge reduces the friction a lot, and according to this experiment allows the stones to be moved by reasonably-sized groups of people.

I imagine it's kind of like that science museum demo where you take a crushed car weighing almost two tons and put it on a compressed air lift that elevates it a tiny fraction of an inch off the ground. Even though the car weighs almost as much as the stones used to build Stonehenge, one person can push it pretty easily once the friction is no longer an issue.

The sledge doesn't work nearly that well, but apparently it works well enough that alien help is probably off the table for good. That's a positive thing, because we do ourselves no favors when we assume ancient people were any less intelligent than we are today. Clearly they were smart enough to work with the resources they had and get the job done.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Field Ritual

Here's another ritual from our Leaping Laughter Lodge ritual workshop. The initial idea was to create a single ritual that could stand in for the four fields that I propose in my operant field model of magick. The way I've done these for years is to use combinations of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram and the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, or of the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire. But we wondered if we might be able to get the same effect with something a bit shorter and more concise.

The field created by this ritual is not necessarily identical with that represented by the traditional magick circle design shown above, but I am convinced that it is intended to represent a similar idea, as I outlined in my article on Goetic Circles and Operant Fields. Notably the pentagrams (microcosmic) are placed outside the circle, while the hexagrams (macrocosmic) are placed within it. This inversion of microcosm and macrocosm is central to the magical field concept as outlined in the operant model.

Laid out step by step, the Field Ritual just looks like a mash-up of the LRP and LRH. But there are a lot of different ways to combine those rituals, and we experimented with many of them. Most just don't work very well. Some of the things we tried to add didn't work in practice and have been removed, and the importance of the additions have been established by sustained experimentation. This one creates a field that feels just as strong as the LRP followed by the LRH, whereas none of the others quite did.

So the ritual starts just like the LRP in Aleister Crowley's Liber O, all the way up to "For about me flames the pentagram." Then you make the Sign of Osiris Risen with the keyword IAO, and from there you trace the four Lesser Hexagrams with the keyword ARARITA and the Sign of Rending the Veil. Finally, you extend your arms in the form of a cross once more, make the final declaration, and then make the Sign of Closing the Veil with a final repetition of the keyword ARARITA. Then, like the LRP, it concludes with the Qabalistic Cross.

This combined ritual has two main speed advantages. First, it omits the unwieldy Keyword Analysis, instead using IAO/Osiris Risen and the sign of Rending the Veil to signify the transpersonal realm. Second, it eliminates all of the repetition aside from the Qabalistic Cross at the beginning and very end of the rite. By changing the invoking/banishing orientation of the pentagrams and hexagrams, you can use this ritual to create all four fields defined by the operant model.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

So Did I Win? Already?

Not a sample, folks. This is the only post for the entire month!

Back in February I discovered that Watcher of the Dawn, a website previously dedicated to snarking on the various Golden Dawn orders, seemed as if it were trying to become the new Augoeides, putting up a whole bunch of posts about various news stories that touched on the paranormal - you know, just like I do! I was coming off a very slow January, in which I started a new job and had only had time to put up four posts, so I wondered if they might be trying to take advantage of the slack.

By the end of February I had the posting frequency back to where it was, and added more actual magick commentary to up my game a bit. Watcher out-posted me in February and March, but then April came around. Watchers put up one post. For this month they haven't put up any. Meanwhile I put up sixteen in April and this one will make it fourteen for May. So, I guess, it looks like I won without much of a fight. I'm still here and posting. Watcher seems to have mostly given up, and returned to snarking on initiatory groups if the April post is any indication.

So what happened? When you look up the site on Google, the tagline for Watcher says "the world's first New Age tabloid." I beg to disagree. Augoeides has been a New Age tabloid since 2007 at the latest, which was nine years ago. World's first? Try Johnny-come-lately. When I dug into what was going on with Watcher, it sounded like somebody had decided to try and monetize it in some fashion - which is weird, because I didn't see ads or anything on the site. I don't know how they were expecting that to work.

Now to be fair, ads don't work. Back in the day when I was still experimenting, I tried putting some Google ads up on Augoeides. It was a long time ago, so unless you are a longtime reader you probably never saw them. Google had a ten dollar threshold before they would send you any payments, and it took me two years to get above $9. Then Google changed the program and I never got paid, so they essentially stole my $9. That's why you'll never see any more ads from those clowns around here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

"Demonic Possession" Strikes Peruvian School

This last week up to eighty children were affected by an outbreak of "demonic possession" at a Peruvian school. The children suffered from seizures, exhibited bizarre behavior, and reported visions of a "man in black" who was trying to kill them. In addition to the possession explanation, the outbreak has been blamed on spirits haunting the school and the favorite non-explanation of skeptics, "mass hysteria."

Elsa de Pizango, a concerned mother whose daughter has experienced some of the symptoms, said: 'She fainted in school. They didn't say anything at the hospital. She just fainted. She keeps on spitting froth from her mouth.'

Describing her experience, a pupil not named in local media, said: 'It's disturbing for me to think about it. It's as if someone kept on chasing me from behind.

'It was a tall man all dressed in black and with a big beard and it felt like he was trying to strangle me.

'My friends say I was screaming desperately, but I don't remember much.'

Another schoolgirl said she had trouble breathing and was desperately holding her neck as if someone was strangling her. According to her friends, she kept screaming: 'Take it out.'

Another anonymous girl, aged 13, told local media: 'Several children from different classrooms fainted at the same time. I got nauseous and started vomiting. I heard voices. A man in black chased me and wanted to touch me.'

Franklin Steiner, a parapsychologist who investigates paranormal and psychic phenomena - said: 'It is known that years ago there were many victims of terrorism here. When this school was built, some say bones and dead bodies were found.'

Locals believe this is a case of demonic interference, saying some children must have played games that invoke demons such as using a Ouija board.

Now as I've said before, "mass hysteria" is a bullshit explanation. It's what skeptics rely on when they can't easily explain away something that seems paranormal, and there are no experiments whatsoever that demonstrate how it works. There's actually more scientific evidence for psychic powers and ghosts, because there's no scientific evidence for "mass hysteria" or any model that explains how it's supposed to work.