Monday, September 24, 2018

A Portable Gnostic Mass Altar

I promised this post a while back, but it's taken me some time to get it in order. For the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica convention in August I built a portable Gnostic Mass altar and enclosure to be used at the hotel. My post on the enclosure can be found here.

In my opinion the biggest difficulty with building a portable altar suitable for the Gnostic Mass is making each piece light enough for a single person to move. I'll admit I'm a little biased on this point - years ago when Leaping Laughter built its first portable altar, we were doing the Gnostic Mass at a Masonic temple in Saint Paul. It was a beautiful space, built in 1915 - so pretty much the exact sort of temple Aleister Crowley was probably thinking of when he wrote the Mass. However, the problem with it was that we had to store all of our equipment in the attic and bring it downstairs before we could do the ritual. Then, when we were done, we had to reverse our steps and put it all away.

And let me tell you, when you're one of only a couple of people actually willing to haul stuff, it's hard moving big, heavy pieces around that require multiple people to safely move. The old altar was strong and broke down into pieces, but most of those pieces could only easily be moved by two people. I intended to avoid this problem when I designed the altar for the convention. With wood the issue is almost always that the stronger it is, the heavier it is. So this posed a bit of a challenge. Here's how I overcame it.

For the top, you can use half-inch plywood. The plywood itself doesn't need to hold a lot of weight. Stick to 1/2 inch - thicker plywood makes the whole thing much heavier. The top should separate into two pieces, so you need two pieces that are either 3 x 3 feet or 3 1/2 by 3 feet. The latter will make the altar full regulation size (7 x 3) while the former will give you a slightly shorter 6 x 3 altar - which is what I did for the convention. Some of the Masses were going to be done in an upstairs conference room rather than the main ballroom, so the slightly shorter width worked better.

To each of the two top pieces you attach a 3 foot square made from 1 x 6 boards. The boards are aligned vertically so that they can take the weight of the Priestess on the altar. The squares are held together with 1 5/8 inch screws at each corner, the plywood is screwed into the top with 1 inch screws, and on the bottom of each corner you should use a metal L-brace for greater strength. We rushed the construction and skipped the L-braces, but that meant we had to brace the altar in the middle when a couple of the screws stripped on one side. The L-braces prevent this from happening by making the bottom of the squares substantially stronger without adding much additional weight.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ban the Banned Books!

If a banned book is banned from a display of banned books, does the universe implode or something? Hopefully we won't have to find out. A library in Maine set up a display of banned books for Banned Books Week, an annual event set up to draw attention to censorship and related issues. But a group of pastors is now trying to get books banned from the display of banned books. Truly, somebody out there has a dizzying intellect.

A group of pastors in Rumford, Maine are attempting to have LGBTQ books banned from the Rumford Public Library’s display of banned books. The library is holding a board meeting today, where the controversy will be discussed. The National Coalition Against Censorship and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund support Rumford Public Library’s display and freedom to choose how best to serve their community. NCAC and CBLDF oppose efforts to limit a whole community’s access to books based on the personal viewpoints or religious beliefs of some groups or individuals in that community. As public institutions, libraries are obligated not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or sexual orientation.

The display coincides with Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read, highlighting books that often draw challenges in schools and libraries. Half of the books on this year’s American Library Association Top 10 Banned Books list tell stories of LGBTQ characters. Books representing a wide variety of experiences and voices allow readers, particularly children, to find connection, safely explore unfamiliar ideas, and broaden their understanding of the world.

The bottom line is this. Public libraries currently cannot discriminate in favor of particular religious beliefs. If these pastors succeed, it will set up a dangerous precedent. Do any of us really want public resources restricted whenever they don't fit the agenda of some small but vocal religious group? It seems to me if these pastors are opposed to these books the obvious thing to do would be to not read them. Preventing people who don't share their beliefs from seeing them is a clear violation of those other religious beliefs - that is, the belief that it's perfectly okay for material like this to be read and displayed.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Seb-Hed Ritual for 2018

Today's Magick Monday post is the full script for the Seb-Hed Ritual that we will be performing on Friday, September 21 for the Autumnal Equinox at Leaping Laughter Oasis here in Minneapolis. The Seb-Hed is based on a rite of renewal practiced for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, updated with modern ritual forms and so forth. It invokes the balanced energies of Set and Horus, who in ancient times represented Upper and Lower Egypt. Note that I am not the author of this rite - it was written by another member of our magical working group who may identify himself if he wishes.

0. The Temple

The Set altar is in the North, and Horus altar is in the South. The material basis is placed on each altar; red wine or juice for Set, white wine or juice for Horus. A statue of each deity is placed on the corresponding altar. A third larger altar with a chalice is placed between them and slightly to temple east. This allows the Officiant and other participants to stand directly between the Set and Horus altar during the ritual. The invoking wand and banishing dagger are placed on this central altar.

I. Opening

Officiant performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram using the banishing dagger.

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: AUMGN

Officiant: We take refuge in Set-An, the secret Black Flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened nature, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.

All: XEPER
(pronounced KEH-fer)

Officiant: We take refuge in Har-Wer, 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: THELEMA.

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

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

All: So mote it be.


Officiant performs the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram (Comselh Ananael or standard version) using the invoking wand, replacing ARARITA with SOTHIS.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Week in Bigfoot

I haven't posted a Bigfoot story here on Augoeides in a while, but a couple of stories have recently popped up on the Internet. First off, from Canada, a lawsuit brought by a Bigfoot hunter named Todd Standing was thrown out by a court in British Columbia.

Todd Standing tried to get the province to acknowledge that the giant, ape-like figure was "an indigenous mammal living within British Columbia". He also claimed the province infringed on his fundamental rights regarding his concern for the creature.

The province argued the civil claim lacked "an air of reality". In a recent decision, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Ball found no reasonable cause for the lawsuit and said the court had no power to compel the province to conduct scientific investigations of its flora and fauna.

The judge also dismissed the claim that Mr Standing's rights were being violated, stating that the province had never placed restrictions on his Bigfoot-related interests. The "non-acknowledgement of the sasquatch does not in any way prohibit or restrict the plaintiff's ability to express his thoughts, beliefs, and opinions regarding the sasquatch," the decisions states.

As much as I find the whole idea amusing, it seems to me that there was never any real standing for the case. Canada doesn't restrict anyone from being interested in the mysterious cryptid, and it's hard to see how Standing could be doing this for any reason besides publicity.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, a regional Bigfoot conference is coming up next weekend. If you're a Bigfoot fan, it sounds like this could be the place to check out.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Et Tu, Twitter?

Last month Alex Jones and Infowars were kicked off Facebook, YouTube, and Apple. This month Twitter has followed suit, permanently banning the conspiracy theorist or performance artist or whatever Jones is calling himself these days from its platform. Jones problems have been long in the making. In order to keep his audience happy, he has made more and more outrageous suggestions about various nefarious goings-on and finally, over the last couple years, some members of his audience have started committing crimes based on segments from his show. Given the harassment of and attacks on innocent people, it seems to me that it's about time.

On Thursday, though, Twitter said it would permanently suspend Mr. Jones’s account, as well as the account for Infowars. The social media company said Mr. Jones had posted messages within the previous 24 hours that violated its policies, which prohibit direct threats of violence and some forms of hate speech but allow deception or misinformation.

“Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope,” the company posted on its Safety account. “We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations.”

Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope. We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations. https://t.co/gckzUAV8GL
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 6, 2018

Twitter announced its decision after weeks of will-they-won’t-they scrutiny on whether it would remove Mr. Jones and Infowars from its service. When Facebook, Apple, YouTube and others took down Mr. Jones’s content in early August, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, said Mr. Jones’s posts had not violated the company’s policies. That prompted criticism, since Mr. Jones has regularly spread lies, including that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.

Company policies aside, the bottom line is that while Jones has free speech rights, they do not extend to "inciting speech." And it's pretty ridiculous for Jones to try and argue that information from his program that incited real people to commit real crimes for which several of them have been convicted somehow doesn't qualify as "inciting." The bottom line is that Jones has gotten a lot of attention and made a lot of money posting eyeball-grabbing awful stuff that plays to peoples' worst impulses. Infowars is basically a whole channel of clown sex stabbings, and for a while Jones was rewarded accordingly.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Pat Robertson's Hurricane Shield

There are literally so many images on the Internet of Pat Robertson making weird faces that it's hard to pick just one. So I decided to re-use the above image from Comedy Central because it illustrates my point so clearly.

During a recent broadcast, the evangelist led his congregation in conjuring what he described as a shield of protection that would cause Hurricane Florence, currently predicted to hit the southeastern Atlantic coast Thursday night, to move out to sea. It should be noted that since he did this, the hurricane has shown no signs of changing course. If you live around where it is expected to make landfall, you should be ready to evacuate whether you're a believer or not.

But the East Coast of the United States can rest easy, because Pat Robertson is on the case. That’s because Robertson thinks he’s some type of wizard who can cast shields of protection over his church’s campus in Virginia, and the East Coast as a whole. Robertson asked the congregation to assist him in casting the spell, by raising their hands whatever direction the Atlantic is (he appears to not know in the video), and shouting loudly into the microphone:

"In the name of Jesus, you Hurricane Florence, we speak to you in the name of Jesus, and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic. Go up north away from land and veer off in the name of Jesus. We declare in the name of the lord that you shall go no farther, you shall do no damage in this area. We declare a shield of protection all over Tidewater, and we declare a shield of protection over those innocent people in the path of this hurricane. In Jesus’ holy name, be out to sea! In Jesus’ name!"

He then asked the crowd to praise and thank god, but didn’t specify what to thank him for. I have to assume the full statement would be “thank you god for creating this massive storm capable of causing hundreds of millions of dollars in destruction and likely killing many who choose to not evacuate, you must really love us!”

Then, he promises that the crowd will remember the day that they thwarted the angry cloud monster. But, he offers a caveat to his promise. He says that the spell will only work if those present don’t doubt it in their hearts. So it gives him a convenient explanation for why the spell didn’t take when, according to every indication from the scientific and meteorological data available, the storm smashes into the Carolinas in a couple of days.

While the article's angle is to make fun of Robertson because he thinks he's "some type of wizard," my point is totally different. Robertson is a wizard here because he's casting a spell. The type of wizard he is? A completely hypocritical one. Skeptics can argue that spells don't work and all that, but to me what's really telling about Robertson is how he believes spells are totally, irredeemably evil unless he and his congregation are casting them.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Via Solis Virgo Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Virgo Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday September 11th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will be continuing to perform 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 oasis 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 Virgo. The sign Virgo is attributed to the powers of "Invisibility, Parthenogenesis, Initiation." Magical invisibility is more about avoiding being noticed than transparency, parthenogenesis can be used to create artificial spirits such as the servitors made by chaos magicians, and initiation is a general power that can be employed to set in motion just about anything in your magical or mundane life. 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.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Regarding Magical Experiments

Over the last couple of weeks I have been asked by several people regarding differences between the work I publish here and the works of other authors, or differences between how I teach rituals versus how the various Golden Dawn groups or other orders teach them. While I would say that the majority of my work with the ceremonial forms is pretty much the same as the work done by Aleister Crowley, the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the Stella Matutina, there are some differences that you will come across once you start studying my work more seriously.

I make a pretty big deal out of the "operant field," the idea that you can increase the effectiveness of practical magick by combining a general pentagram banishing ritual (LBRP or Star Ruby) with and general pentagram invoking ritual (LIRH or Star Sapphire). Most current teachers will tell you to the banishing forms of both rituals together, a combination that I personally use sparingly. In my books, I attribute the angels and cacodemons of the Enochian Watchtowers differently than most other authors. And just today, I had a commenter ask about my non-traditional use of the rending and closing of the veil signs.

In each of those cases, I have answered the question the same way. I experimented with various attributions for the different ceremonial forms and stuck with the methods that worked the best for me. That's what I publish here, for the most part - techniques that have worked best for me the way I do them. Blindly trusting in traditional teachings strikes me as unwise. Magical and mystical realization may be incommunicable, but that doesn't mean spiritual technology is not like other technology. There should be a "best way" to do everything, and the advantage of doing practical magick right from the get-go is that it helps you find out what that "best way" is for you. That's the way I teach. Learn the pieces of tech that you need to make stuff happen, and then start making stuff happen.