Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Zombie Nativity Scene Vandalized

For the last two years, I have been covering Jason Dixon's zombie nativity display. The Ohio man operates a popular haunted house attraction, and two years ago he decided to set up a nativity scene in his front yard using props from his haunted house. That is, zombies.

Predictably, his neighbors complained. Sycamore Township, where Dixon lives, worked to shut it down, but the sheer weirdness of the case generated a lot of publicity for his haunted house. So Dixon set it up again last year, and was met with similar complaints. This year, though, it sounds like Dixon's neighbors may have had enough, because the scene was vandalized Monday night.

Dixon’s display replaces religious figures with zombies, and the set’s “baby Jesus” figure has fangs and blood spilling from its mouth.

“We are not atheist,” Dixon says on a Facebook page about the display, which he claims is an artistic rather than a religious statement.

Dixon said he awoke Tuesday morning to find vandals had damaged the display.

The vandals had broken off the head from the “Mary” figure and kicked over other portions of the display and scattered items across Dixon’s lawn.

Now I know what you're about to say - knocking the head off is exactly what you're supposed to do with zombies. You know, before they eat your brains. And I suppose that's true. However, it does highlight that there are a lot of jerks out there who apparently feel the need to mess with anything strange or unusual. To be fair to Dixon's neighbors, it also is true that visitors might have been responsible, since the scene does draw a lot of attention in the news.

Personally, I think the whole idea of a zombie nativity scene is hilarious, and I hope Dixon persists in his efforts to keep the zombies in Christmas. It is, after all, a noble calling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Conspiracy Theories Can Kill

Well, I'm totally convinced - NOT!

Aside from my focus on religious freedom issues, I try to keep Augoeides relatively apolitical, but this is just getting ridiculous. On Sunday, a man armed with an AR-15 rifle walked into the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington DC to "investigate" the fake story that has come to be known as "pizzagate." According to this bizarre conspiracy theory, the Clinton presidential campaign was operating a child sex ring out of the restaurant's basement.

Washington police said Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, walked into the front door of the Comet Ping Pong restaurant Sunday and pointed an assault rifle in the direction of a restaurant employee, according to The Washington Post. The employee escaped, but Welch allegedly fired the rifle while inside, officials said.

Welch, who is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, told police he was there to "self-investigate" a conspiracy that likely involved internet rumors that Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign operated a sex ring out of the site's basement. The hoax conspiracy, known as "pizzagate," is a fake news story that emerged during the presidential election.

I have a number of thoughts about this incident. First off, this isn't a joke any more. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed this time around, but if we keep taking implausible nonsense like "pizzagate" seriously, I guarantee that somebody will be. Over nothing. Not only that, one of the people who isn't giving it up is Michael Flynn Jr., the son of Donald Trump's nominee for National Security Advisor. As reported by that Slate article, Flynn Jr. believes all sorts of crazy stuff, which suggests that critical thinking was not at all stressed while he was growing up.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Planetary Work - the Sun

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

Today I will be moving on to working with the Sun, the next planet in sequence according to the Chaldean Order. Liber 777 associates the Sun with "The Red Tincture" and "Power of Acquiring Wealth." So the Sun, like Jupiter, rules over spells related to financial gain. The difference is that Jupiter is more appropriate when status is involved, such as when seeking a promotion or better employment. The Sun is more appropriate when you are working for yourself in some capacity, such as running a business.

There is also a distinction to be made between "acquiring wealth" and getting money. Aaron Leitch put up a blog post over at Llewellyn discussing this very topic a week ago, pointing out that just bringing sums of money in the door doesn't necessarily translate into wealth - at least when you're working with Jupiter as he does. In my experience, the magical solution for transitioning money into wealth is to work with the Sun.

So the Sun is also more appropriate than Jupiter for investments, finance, and so forth. For a complete "financial success" spell, the best way to go is to perform operations for both Jupiter and the Sun. The Jupiter operation bring in money and status, while the Sun operation transitions that money and status into lasting wealth. This gets around the problem These should be performed as two entirely separate operations, as multiple planets rarely combine well in a single rite without very careful design and calibration.

The Red Tincture is related to alchemical operations, which are somewhat beyond the scope of this series. Allegedly, the Red Tincture is a substance capable of transmuting base metals into gold. From the standpoint of the path of initiation, it may also be thought of as representing the transference of consciousness from Lunar (passive frame) to Solar (active frame) consciousness, or from personal to transpersonal realization. So even though we are dealing with the path of the Sun rather than the sephira, there are potential applications here related to the mystical path.

To review, in Qabalah the planets correspond to the double letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The letters are so named because they correspond to two specific sounds each, and this is reflected in the dual nature of the planets. On the Tree of Life, each planet corresponds to both a sephira or a path. Many magicians refer to the sephiroth as "spheres," and you may catch me doing that sometimes as well. It is, however, not a direct translation. The word actually means "emanations" - as in, emanations of divinity. But they are drawn as circles on most diagrams of the Tree of Life, and in addition, "sephira" and "sphere" sound very similar in English.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fear of a Black Santa

Seriously? They're scared of THIS guy?

Apparently, too many people out there still don't read Augoeides, which is a real shame. Back in 2013, I covered this very same topic when Megyn Kelly of Fox News tried to explain that both Jesus and Santa were white men. Which, as I'll get to in a minute here, is just plain wrong.

So the latest stupidity surrounding this issue comes from a bunch of racist morons making a fuss about the Mall of America, right here in the Twin Cities, hiring a black man to play Santa Claus. Which, according to racists assholes on the Internet, is Just Not Right.

Three years after Fox’s Megyn Kelly definitively explained to America that both Jesus Christ and Santa Claus were white men, Mall of America dismissed her advice and hired Larry Jefferson, a retired U.S. Army veteran from Irving, Texas to spend four days at the mall listening to the wish lists of children of all colors.

According to the editorial editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, comments on black Santa became so offensive the paper shut down their online comments on the article about it.

“Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America’s first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!” Scott Gillespie wrote.

That didn’t stop people whose world was rocked by a non-white Santa from finding other venues to rage against the Claus, including Twitter and other comment sections.

As has become all too common when conservatives are offended, a boycott has been called for, with Peter Morgan on CBS Minnesota writing, “Stupid. Incredibly stupid. Santa is WHITE. BOYCOTT Mall of America. Maybe they should change their name to MALL of RAGHEAD LAND.”

I'd like to be able to say that I had no idea such deep prejudice existed, but since I read the Internet I don't have that luxury. The whole "controversy" is still pretty idiotic, though, and here's why.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Face of Trump

Pareidolia, we do so love you here at Augoeides. For anybody unfamiliar with the term, pareidolia describes the tendency of our minds to see human-like faces in the patterns of ordinary objects. The most famous of these, of course, involve seeing the face of Jesus in all sorts of odd places, stories that I've been covering for years.

But today, Huffington Post is reporting on a British woman preparing chili who saw a much more sinister face when she cut open a red pepper, a face perfectly suited to the current American political conversation - the screaming face of Donald Trump.

A woman in southern England was slicing up a red bell pepper when she spotted what she said was the image of President-elect Donald Trump screaming straight back at her.

“A discussion about Trump and the state of the world was going on while the veg was being sliced up,” Janet Ayers told The Register. “It was as if the pepper was mirroring the conversation.”

Ayers posted a photograph of her curious find to Facebook on Nov. 26, and it’s now setting the British media abuzz.

The image appears above, and while funny, it does highlight an interesting point. Prior to all the media exposure generated by Trump's presidential campaign, would anyone have noticed the resemblance? Jesus is a popular figure in majority Catholic countries because Catholic lore allows for the images of Jesus, Mary, and hardly anybody else to appear all over the place. So if anybody sees a face, they figure it has to be Jesus. And let me tell you, some of those images look like totally generic faces and don't really resemble renderings of Jesus at all.

The media outlets have been fixated on Trump as he assembles his administration, prompting the conversation about him - which is probably really what triggered the identification. Meanwhile, you think that it looks like Trump because I just told you it was in the headline, before you had a chance to process the image. But that's exactly how it works, and why this pepper totally wants to make chili great again.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not the Bees!

Now this sounds like a fun spell that I totally have to learn. According to Kenyan news outlet Tuko, a man hired a witchdoctor to summon a swarm of bees to hunt down a stolen motorcycle. This reminds me of the "mystical snakes and bees" unleashed against Boko Haram back in 2014, so it sounds to me like there are a number of folks in Kenya and Nigeria who know how to cast it.

Residents of Mbooni, Makueni County were left in shock after a man sent a swarm of bees to recover his stolen motorbike.

The unidentified man is said to have been robbed of his motorbike and went to consult a witchdoctor in order to recover his property.

In an incident that has shocked many, the man is said to have sent a large swarm of bees that invaded the local market and landed on the stolen motorbike.

The bees sent the thief running for dear life as they settled on the motorbike.

This spell has all sorts of potential applications. Somebody messes with your family? Bees! Something gets stolen? Bees! Somebody is making your life miserable at work? Bees! It's not just regular vengeance, it's amusing vengeance - though I expect for anybody with an allergy to bee stings, facing it would likely be pretty terrifying. African bees are more aggressive than their European counterparts, and they can sting multiple times without injuring themselves - so that can't be good.

Liber 777 associates bees with Binah, the sephira of Saturn. So that would probably be one approach. Nema also associates bees with the goddess Ma'at, so that might mean the path of Libra is a possibility. Another might be the path of Leo, the "Power of Training Wild Beasts." Clearly, some experimentation is required. But if I can really manage to figure it out, just deploying it once would make all the work totally worth it. You know, as long as I could watch the whole thing unfold. Because awful though it is, summoning a swarm of bees is also pretty darn funny.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ipswich Accepted by Moonfire Publishing

Cross-posted from my author website.

It's been a while since I published my last fiction piece, but that's not because I haven't been writing any. Arcana, my first novel, was published by Pendraig back in late 2009. At the time, Pendraig was primarily an esoteric press, and my debut novel was their first fiction release. Arcana did what most indie novels do - it racked up some sales the first year it was released and then tapered off substantially.

Pendraig would go on to publish my Enochian series, but over the last couple of years the company made the decision to focus on esoteric titles rather than pursuing more fiction releases. As their esoteric titles are their best selling books, that probably is a good business decision for them. But it also meant that Ipswich, the second novel in my Guild series, was without a publisher. Fortunately, that has now changed. Ipswich was picked up by Moonfire Publishing, a new independent press here in Minnesota. The novel has been scheduled for a spring release if all goes according to plan.

Ipswich was shaped by some of the feedback I received from Arcana. The biggest problem with my debut novel is basically that people either loved or hated all of the technical magical exposition. All of that is in there by design, but treating urban fantasy more like hard science fiction was not what mainstream readers were used to, and resulted in a book that mostly appealed to folks already interested in esotercism. And the fact is, statistically speaking, there aren't very many of those. So the idea behind Ipswich was to write a novel that was less heavy on the technical magick side and structured more like other urban fantasy titles that are currently popular.

I suppose time will tell how popular Ipswich turns out to be, but so far my trial readers have agreed that it is more readable, more fun, and less technical than Arcana. It tells the story of Sara Winchester, a young heiress and newly empowered magician. With the help of the Guild, she explores her newfound powers and the mystery of her mother's untimely death. In her search for answers, she confronts a killer who can control the spirits of the dead and the machinations of a rival order seeking the Guild's destruction. It also introduces some of the alternate history of the Guild universe, in which the direct Winchester family line never died out and the Winchester corporation became one of the world's major multinationals.

I am currently in the process of working with an editor on the manuscript, but once it is released you'll be the first to know. Watch this space for future announcements.