Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mass of Nuit and Babalon for 2018


"Babalon" by the amazing Kat Lunoe. Check out this and other works by her here.

Today is the Summer Solstice, and tomorrow we will be performing the Mass of Nuit and Babalon to celebrate it. This is the full script for the ritual, which we have been celebrating for a number of years now with some pretty impressive results.

This year the ritual will be taking place at Leaping Laughter Oasis in Minneapolis at 7:30 PM on Friday, June 22. This is a public ritual, so if you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to attend you are welcome to do so. Contact me or someone else from the Oasis for details.


0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with the Holy Table and Sigillum Dei Aemeth in the center. The banishing dagger, invoking wand, and bell chime are arranged on the Table. The chalice containing the Eucharist is placed in the center of the Sigillum. Holy images of Our Lady Nuit and Our Lady Babalon, including the Star of Babalon, may be prominently displayed. The Lust card from the Crowley/Harris Thoth Tarot can be used as a meditation focus, if desired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Yoga. Meditation, and "Ego Inflation"

The occult community tends to be a little behind the times with respect to modern psychology. As I've covered here before, the psychoanalytic model of cognition is still something that some occult traditions work with, or at the very least a model on which some esoteric ideas are based. The trouble is that the psychoanalytic model doesn't work. Not only has it been shown to be ineffective under controlled conditions, it is mostly rendered meaningless by what we now understand about memory and so forth.

One psychoanalytic concept that has a lot of staying power in occultism is the idea of "ego inflation." After all, who hasn't seen idiots going on and on about how awesome and powerful they are, especially on the Internet? And one of the ideas is that, in theory, spiritual practices are supposed to prevent this. The problem is when people don't really understand how egotism works, or where it comes from - usually because they accept one or more of the many incorrect assumptions that are endemic to the psychoanalytic model.

Today's story is a perfect example. Two Australian studies claim to show that practicing yoga or meditation leads to "ego inflation." This is an interesting area to look into, but it seems to me that both studies have significant problems. The biggest is that it appears the researchers have assumed that high self-esteem is the same thing as an "inflated ego." On the other hand, I don't think this is true at all. While it is possible to evaluate egotism from a behavioral perspective, treating "the ego" as a "thing" that gets bigger or smaller has almost nothing to do with how cognition really works.

In the paper, published online by University of Southampton and due to be published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers note that Buddhism’s teachings that a meditation practice helps overcome the ego conflicts with US psychologist William James’s argument that practicing any skill breeds a sense of self-enhancement (the psychological term for inflated self-regard.) There was already a fair bit of evidence supporting William James’s theory, broadly speaking, but a team of researchers from University Mannheim in Germany decided to test it specifically in the context of yoga and meditation.

As a point, yoga as currently practiced in Western countries does no such thing. It's not really even Buddhist. It's (sort of) Hindu, and the spiritual goals of Hinduism are different than those of Buddhism. Furthermore, modern yoga is not even a traditional Indian spiritual practice. It is a synthesis of poses illustrated in Hindu scriptures combined with European calisthenics that was really only assembled into a system in the 1960's. Yoga from before that time was very different than what we have today. Yoga was practiced during meditation, which is maybe where the authors' confusion comes from, but meditation is a discipline in its own right that was performed in addition to holding the poses for long periods of time.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Culture War Loses Southern Baptists

Remember back when Donald Trump signed an executive order signaling his intent to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from endorsing political candidates or parties? And remember how I said that if it goes through, "non-political" will most likely become a selling point for Christian churches on par with what "non-denominational" has been for many years?

It's happening, folks. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), America's largest Protestant denomination with fifteen million members, has moved to distance itself from the Republican Party. According to The Atlantic, the denomination is shifting to accommodate younger members, many of whom reject the (fundamentally ridiculous) "culture war" rhetoric that the SBC has been pushing for decades.

“The generational shift happening in the SBC has thrust the group into the middle of an identity crisis,” says Barry Hankins, the chair of the department of history at Baylor University and co-author of Baptists in America: A History. “The younger generation thinks differently than the old-guard Christian right about culture and politics, and they are demanding change.”

To enact this change, young Baptists nominated 45-year-old pastor J.D. Greear from North Carolina to be president of the denomination. In a campaign video, Greear called for “a new culture and a new posture in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Refusing to cede power without a fight, fundamentalist Baptists nominated Ken Hemphill as an opposition candidate. But Greear won with nearly 70 percent of the vote, becoming the youngest SBC president in 37 years.

Greear has promised to lead the denomination down a different path, which, he has said, must include efforts both to repent of a “failure to listen to and honor women and racial minorities” and “to include them in proportionate measures in top leadership roles.” If the meeting in Dallas is any indication, his vision is resonating with a large number of the next wave of Baptist leaders.

Of course, this doesn't mean the Southern Baptists will become liberal overnight or anything like that. Much of their membership is still quite conservative. But as I've noted here many times, there's a difference between being Christian and a conservative, and being a "Christian conservative." The former is a set of religious belief and a set of political beliefs. The latter pretty much means you're a Poor Oppressed Christian who is "oppressed" by the mere existence of different beliefs and doesn't see anything wrong with suppressing them - all the while claiming special rights and privileges for the Poor Oppressed only.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Via Solis Gemini Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Gemini Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday June 19th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. We will continue the momentum of last year by performing one of these per month for each of the twelve signs. 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 Gemini. The sign Gemini is attributed to "The power of being in two or more places at the same time, and of Prophecy." As I interpret it, the former is related to astral work and the latter is related to precognition in all its forms, the ability to see into the future. In a mystical sense, it also corresponds to prophetic consciousness in general. Therefore, these 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 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, June 16, 2018

"Ringmaster" Ghost Torments Wannabe Exorcist

This story sounds simultaneously so over-the-top and so plot-of-a-bad-eighties-sitcom that I think it's probably fake, but what the heck. According to this article from the British tabloid Daily Mirror, a woman broke up with her exorcist boyfriend after a ghost followed him home. It wasn't just any ghost either - it was the ghost of a "seven foot circus ringmaster." Cue the hordes of evil undead clown minions!

A heartbroken man says his girlfriend dumped him because the ghost of a 7-ft tall circus ringmaster followed him home from an exorcism. Ed Booker, 37, took part in the sinister ritual to rid a home of evil spirits - but he never realised the horrifying consequences it would have on his life.

He claims his health rapidly went downhill and unexplainable things started happening after he participated in the paranormal cleansing. He says 'DIE' was scrawled on the inside of his windows and he even snapped an image showing the menacing circus worker lurking down a darkened corridor.

You know, I take that back. It's not a bad eighties sitcom. It's basically a bad eighties horror movie that's unintentionally hilarious. Now maybe that photo is of a ghost. Or maybe it's just a shadow that freaked the guy out. It sort of looks like the outline of a person, but it could be a lot of other things too.

I understand that being around the paranormal can seriously unnerve people, and that spirits can get pissed off at people and basically harass them. Spirits can usually read minds, so if they have the power to manifest something and they want to mess with you, it usually will be something you're already scared of.

So that makes me wonder if this guy has a circus-related phobia. Probably not just a fear of clowns - that's way too pedestrian for a case like this.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Illuminati Heart Attack Gun

Here's another guy who's giving Alex Jones a run for his money in the crazy department. Pastor Paul Begley recently claimed that the heart attack suffered by Donald Trump's economic advisor Larry Kudlow could have been caused by "Illuminati assassins" wielding a "heart attack gun." Because of course, in the real world, seventy-year-old men never have mild heart attacks that require three-day hospital stays. Right?

During a livestream broadcast yesterday, right-wing pastor and rabid conspiracy theorist Paul Begley raised the possibility that “Illuminati assassins” may have targeted White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow with a “heart attack gun.”

Kudlow was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack earlier this week and Begley wants to know if it was somehow related to his criticism of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit.

“I want to know,” Begley declared. “Are there Illuminati assassins and would they kill people to continue their agenda? I’m wondering, are there such things as heart attack guns?”

Begley claimed that right-wing publisher Andrew Breitbart mysteriously died of a heart attack the night before he was supposedly going to release a damaging video and wondered if the same forces may now be targeting Kudlow.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Movie Review: To Dream of Falling Upwards

This is both a magick post and a movie review, for the film To Dream of Falling Upwards by Anterro Alli, author of Angel Tech and several other works on modern occultism. As I've mentioned previously, Hollywood movies tend to get magick hopelessly wrong. The usual practice is to replace the "science of the magi" with lots of flashing colored lights and garish CGI, with sigils flying all over the place and things exploding. Real magick doesn't work that way. It is less flashy, but deeper and far more profound than anything mainstream films usually address.

Here's some background before I get started with my review. Have you ever wondered why the world now has both New Falcon Press and Original Falcon Press, which look like they sell books from some of the same authors? That's a story unto itself - two weeks before the death of Christopher Hyatt, his estranged biological son somehow managed to get him to sign over the company. The folks who were previously running New Falcon along with Hyatt started up Original Falcon, and recounted their side of the preceding events here.

To be clear, I have no inside information regarding the veracity of these claims and am not trying to push one side or the other. I don't know if the legal issues are still ongoing or if they have been mostly resolved now, ten years later. If you really want to know, you'll have to read up on the situation and decide for yourself.

But the story as presented by Original Falcon is significant to my review because Alli loosely bases the setup for To Dream of Falling Upwards on it, replacing a publishing company with a Thelemic magical order. When the Chief Magus of the Temple of Horus dies, his estranged son takes over the order with plans to commercialize its teachings. Jack Mason, the Chief Magus' chosen successor, is thus cheated out of his rightful position and vows to take revenge. He performs a sex magick operation against the son and hires a Russian hit man to have him killed. The assassination succeeds, but Mason finds himself haunted by a demon that takes the form of the deceased son and must find a way to exorcise it.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Stuffed Lion Provides Bad Legal Advice

Some stories are so ridiculous I can't help but share them. According to this article from the Edmonton Journal, a "religiously extreme" Christian couple lost custody of a child after they refused legal aid and instead accepted the assistance of a stuffed lion that they believe came "directly from God." There's that old saying - a person who acts as their own attorney has a fool for a client. But what about a person who lets a stuffed lion act as their attorney? Clearly, it did not prove to be a winning legal strategy.

After the woman found she was pregnant, she told a social worker her husband sometimes choked her to make her stop crying, had once tied her hands and covered her mouth with tape, which scared her, and occasionally beat her, court heard. She told the worker her husband grew up in a cult and believes sexual relations between children should be encouraged and that they “role-play” sins where she plays the victim and he plays the perpetrator, court heard.

When interviewed by police about the allegations, she denied them. Her husband said that once, when he was frustrated with her and had had a few drinks, he put one hand over her throat and the other over her mouth. This led to a complaint to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. It appears that, due to their strong religious beliefs, they are intolerant of those who do not espouse identical views. This includes other Christians.

After the birth of their daughter, the parents refused all medical tests and procedures for her, including a hearing test, blood test, eye drops and a vitamin K shot. The mother also said she was unwilling to have her vaccinated. Because of concerns over family violence and mental health, the ministry monitored the family. The couple refused to have parental capacity assessments, despite a court order.