Monday, September 26, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Five

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, and Part Four can be found here.

At this point, we start to diverge into more speculative territory than the last few posts. These are the sorts of speculations that most "quantum paranormal" models are built on, but they rarely are acknowledged as such. They may wind up as part of quantum physics at some point in the future, once we develop instruments that can measure quantum information more directly. On the other hand, the uncertainty principle might conceivably make such devices impossible to build.

We left off last time talking about meta-awareness. The concept itself is not particularly controversial in psychology; while it is difficult to measure directly, there is substantial evidence for the development of this sort of cognition in the works of psychologists such as Jean Piaget, and the concept has proved useful in education theory and a number of other areas. Ken Wilber has proposed a model in which Piaget's general idea can be extended beyond normal mundane consciousness to include mystical states.

Wilber's model is too complex to recount here, but the basic idea is that each developmental step consists of a level of meta-awareness that includes all the levels that preceded it. Piaget's model ends with Formal Operational, which is a level of meta-awareness that includes Concrete Operational, and likewise, Concrete Operational is a level of meta-awareness that includes Pre-Operational. Wilber proposes that mystical consciousness is essentially a series of levels of meta-awareness that include and transcend Formal Operational.

As I also mentioned last time, this idea is not at all foreign to the various mystical traditions. Buddhism speaks of levels of enlightenment, in Christianity you find the ideas of metanoia and gnosis, and so forth. These are merely examples. Every contemplative tradition has some version of this concept - a sort of meta-awareness that transcends mundane consciousness and opens our consciousness up to a greater and more expansive world than the one we experience through our physical senses.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Witches! Alll the Way Down!

Evanglist and potato soup huckster Jim Bakker's show is back in the news here on Augoeides, and for once he's not even the craziest guy on it. For a recent episode, that honor goes to his guest, Richard Maginnis of the Family Research Council. After Bakker went off on one of his usual tirades about the Obama administration favoring Muslims, apparently because the administration has refused to violate the constitution by barring Muslims from all political posts, Maginnis added that the "senior leadership" in this country is being influenced by witches. Because of course it is.

Bakker had a segment on his show yesterday where he brought up President Obama‘s recent nomination of a Muslim federal judge as proof that his administration is giving “preferential treatment” to Muslims… which is an absurd notion. As if Abid R. Qureshi was nominated because he was a Muslim and not because his credentials are impeccable. Meanwhile, Christians make up every branch and twig and leaf of government, but Bakker doesn’t think there’s anything weird about that.

Anyway. That wasn’t even the worst part of the segment. His guest, Robert Maginnis, a senior fellow with the Family Research Council and a former Army lieutenant colonel, responded to Bakker’s claim with an even more ludicrous one:

"… I know that there’s demonic forces in that city. I have personally met people that refer to themselves as witches, people that say they advise the senior leadership of the country. We invite within the federal government people to advise us, and often some of those advisers, I think, have evil motivations, things that you and I would not approve of."

Now I do want to point something out here. To a fundamentalist like Maginnis, somebody who reads the Bible different that he does is a Satanist, and Satanists and witches are the same thing. So most likely, the "witches" he's talking about are Episcopalians, or Methodists, or Presbyterians. Don't believe me? Hillary Clinton is a devout Methodist and these folks have been calling her a witch from day one. And isn't Donald Trump a Presbyterian?

Seriously, though, I don't know of any Pagan or occultist who might describe themselves as a witch in any senior advisory position whatsoever. Look what a stink gets put up when a Muslim gets nominated for something. Can you imagine how bad it would be for an actual Pagan? Legally there's no religious test, but for minority religions like Paganism there might as well be.

Sadly, though, the Family Research Council was quite influential during the second Bush administration. Because unfortunately, there's no similar test for reactionary fanatics.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Illumi-NOT

If this is the best the Illuminati have to offer, let's just say they might want to rethink that whole world domination thing. San Diego man Titus Colbert Jr. has appeared in court on multiple occasions on charges of attempting to murder police officers last November. Instead of mounting a legal defense, though, Colbert started shouting about being a member of the Illuminati on his first appearance. Then, during a subsequent appearance, he started singing about it.

The first time Titus Colbert Jr. appeared in a San Diego courtroom after his November arrest he started shouting. “May 1, 1776!” he said — a reference to the founding day of an Enlightenment-era secret society, the Illuminati. He then made references to “a new world order” and Benjamin Franklin.

Colbert, who is accused of toting a handgun and a couple of rifles to a Bankers Hill condo complex, then shooting at police after they were called to the scene, was kicked out of the courtroom after he ignored warnings to keep quiet.

When Colbert returned to court the following week, he again refused to be silent. This time, he sang. “We are the Illuminati, we stand for a new world order!” he repeated in a loud baritone. Again, he was he removed from the room.

All of this made for some interesting moments in the earliest days of Colbert’s case in San Diego Superior Court. He faces a string of felony charges, including four counts of attempted murder on a peace officer, stemming from the Nov. 4 incident. No one was injured.

While I'm happy that no one was injured, from an evil Illuminati standpoint the case is a complete disaster. Not only is this guy an idiot, he's a total failure. Presumably he was supposed to murder those officers to somehow further the mysterious plans that the secret, not-at-all-secret, Illuminati society is attempting to set in motion. Those plans were clearly thwarted by Colbert's arrest, probably largely because he's such a dim bulb.

You know, the sort of bulb that's not illuminated at all.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Regarding Magical Models - Part Four

This is Part Four in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, and Part Three can be found here.

Now that we have taken a look at some of the basics of quantum physics, we can move on to examining the nature of consciousness. Consciousness is a vital component of every magical operation, and because we still do not really understand how it works, the same is true of magick. While we have no current instrument to measure consciousness, I expect that if such a thing were ever developed we would be able to generate an accurate model of magical processes with a few years of dedicated research, if that.

Consciousness studies is a relatively new discipline that brings together experts in the various fields that contribute to cognitive science, along with philosophers and even a few esotericists here and there. The discipline is currently trying to unravel what is called the "hard problem" of consciousness, and has been at it for over a decade. Simply stated, the hard problem has to do with going from the biochemical "machinery" of the brain and nervous system to the subjective experience of self-awareness.

I have some ideas about that, which I will be touching on in this section, but I want to be clear that none of those ideas can currently be objectively validated, because of the lack of a consciousness measuring instrument that would let us examine the phenomenon experimentally. The first piece is what has been dubbed "quantum consciousness," which refers to the idea that consciousness is somehow related to the brain and nervous system interacting with quantum-scale events.

I'll repeat the same caveat as last time. Even if some form of quantum consciousness turns out to be the best model, it does not prove that consciousness works the way esotericists like me think it does. There isn't necessarily anything paranormal about it at all. I believe that there is based on my experiences as a magician, but "quantum" doesn't make it paranormal. Quantum simply refers to scale in this context, without implying anything else.

And just as a point, it's a bit annoying that there's so much nonsense and misinformation out there about quantum physics and the paranormal that I have to keep going over this, but it's really important because so many people don't seem to understand the concepts clearly.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Goat Yoga?

So perhaps this is the real reason fundamentalist Christians think yoga, even when stripped of all vestiges of Asian religion, is evil - because it's better with goats. It always has confused me that non-sectarian yoga is still considered problematic by certain Christians, because without any of the Asian religious trappings, it's just stretching. And if God hates stretching, there are a lot of other things the truly devout would have to eliminate from their lives. Like, say, movement.

But now it all makes sense. Christ is the lamb of God, and the Bible tells us that Jesus will come to separate the sheep from the goats. It should be clear that anyone who engages in goat yoga has taken a side, and it's not the side of Christ. The goat is Capricornus, who is, of course, the devil of the Tarot - Levi's rendering of Baphomet. So if goats like participating in yoga classes, what's the message? Clearly the devil loves it, which means that by definition God must hate it. Or something like that.

Goat yoga is the brainchild of Oregon resident Lainey Morse, who recently started holding yoga classes at her goat farm. The goats enthusiastically joined in, and it now looks like goat yoga could be a hit. But that's the whole point of evil, right? It's fun, so it's tempting - and therefore it leads all who participate into damnation. And probably the goats as well. You know, if you happen to buy that sort of thing.

But here's a better idea. How about we end this whole "war on stretching" nonsense, and focus on issues that really affect people's lives? That way, anybody who disapproves of yoga can just not do it without making a fuss, and those who want to do it can - including those who would rather do their yoga with goats.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

It's Finally Available!

When people discuss anything technical with me about the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, the conversation usually comes around to, "and there's this fantastic book on it by Colin Campbell, but unfortunately it's a pricey limited edition that has been out of print for years." But that's not true anymore. Colin D. Campbell's The Magic Seal of Dr. John Dee is finally available in paperback from Weiser Antiquarian Books.

Back when the original limited edition came out, Campbell did a presentation of his findings at the National OTO Convention. I make it a rule to attend all of those conventions, and if there's an Enochian presentation I always am sure to check it out. Reading over the description, I was expecting to hear the usual speculative interpretation of how this or that might be some sort of error or inconsistency in Dee's work, which usually are not very illuminating.

This presentation was different, though. The scholarship was actually solid, and for perhaps the first time in my life, I came away from one of these presentations with the impression that Campbell was on to something. There really are some inconsistencies in the traditional arrangement of the Sigillum that most magicians use today. Whether the inconsistencies are mistakes or deliberate on Dee's part remains an open question, but there is nothing it the diaries that explains the differences.

I'm not going to re-hash the entire argument because it would take a while, but suffice it to say if that sort of thing interests you, you should go out and pick up a copy now that you can buy one for a reasonable price. The book walks you through the entire process of crafting the design of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth, and even if you don't accept Campbell's analysis, it is totally worth it just for that exposition.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Atheists Aren't That Weird

Towards the end of the Republican primary race, Ohio Governor John Kasich basically looked like the last normal person standing. Largely, this was because of the contrast between him and the other two remaining candidates - Donald Trump, who needs no explanation, and Ted Cruz, a flat-out Christian Reconstructionist theocrat. Kasich, though, is apparently not nearly as reasonable as that comparison made him seem.

Last week, while stumping for Chris Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican, Kasich couldn't help running his mouth when he noticed the Harry Potter series on the shelf at a bookstore. For some reason that was never explained, he wondered aloud about Daniel Radcliffe's religion, or more to the point the actor's lack thereof. Radcliffe identies as an atheist, which Kasich seemed to have difficulty comprehending.

John Kasich’s reputation as the “normal” Republican comes, in large part, from a lack of serious media scrutiny. But over the weekend, one intrepid reporter, Allie Morris of the Concord Monitor, captured a telling Kasich moment as the Ohio governor stumped for Chris Sununu, a Republican running for governor of New Hampshire.

“Inside a bookstore he didn’t much discuss Sununu’s candidacy,” Morris wrote. “Instead he looked at the latest Harry Potter book and pondered why British actor Daniel Radcliffe is an atheist.”

Morris continued:

“You know that Daniel Radcliffe has declared himself an atheist?” Kasich said to no one in particular. “I’m serious. What a weird thing. Why would a guy who has had all that success just, I mean, what the hell is wrong with him?”

It is true that Radcliffe gave an interview in 2009, at age 19, when he said, “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do.” Further research revealed that Radcliffe was not kidding about the “relaxed” part, as he has hardly ever spoken publicly about his unbelief in a deity.