Thursday, March 31, 2016

Call the Church Police!

Or, on second thought, maybe don't.

A new bill working its way through the Mississippi legislature called the “Mississippi Church Protection Act” would allow members of religious congregations to be endowed with the same "shoot to kill" authority currently extended to police officers. If the bill passes, killing someone while acting as a participant of a church or other house of worship will be treated as justifiable homicide.

The Bill passed the Mississippi House in February and, on Wednesday, the Senate approved it, making one minor amendment. It is now scheduled to go back to the House where it will then find its way to the governor’s desk. This Bill legally recognizes actual “soldiers of Christ” and grants them the power to kill. What’s more, there is no justification for granting churches extra rights that other citizens do not have. By passing this bill, the state of Mississippi effectively recognizes churches as their own sovereign entities — mini-states that are tax-free and immune from their acts of violence carried out in their official duties.

“The ‘Mississippi Church of Protection Act’ is well deserving of the title for ‘Worst State Bill.’ This legislation would put ‘soldiers of God’ above the law, allowing them to act as judge, jury, and executioner,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Religious institutions are already exempt from taxation, financial transparency, and many civil rights laws. The Mississippi Church Protection Act would constitute an unprecedented and dangerous next step. Belonging to a church should not afford anyone the same rights and protections as law enforcement. This legislation emboldens extremists by creating a legal means for radical preachers to enlist their congregants into ‘God’s army.'”

Let me also point out that the bill would authorize "Soldiers of Thelema" as well. Does Mississippi really want that? My guess is that there will all sorts of hemming and hawing the moment any non-Christian religion tries to do this, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, and the law will be declared unconstitutional because the state will try to argue that it only should apply to Christians. But that's just not allowed. Either everyone has to be able to do it, or no one can.

Me, I vote for no one. We already have enough trouble dealing with police officers who kill civilians. Why would anybody want to extend that to members of religious congregations? As a point, if somebody barges into a church with a gun and starts shooting people, members of the congregation who happen to be armed are already allowed to shoot back in self-defense. So I fail to see what this bill could possible accomplish.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bend Over for the Jesus Shot

Okay, I'll admit it. This article is not as dirty as my headline implies. It's still pretty disturbing, though, in a totally different way. Just in time for Easter, an Oklahoma doctor who spent time in prison for fraud is being investigated for offering his patients something he calls "the Jesus shot." Nobody knows what's in it or how it works. But for $300, Dr. John Michael Lonergan claims that it will take away pain for life, regardless of the source.

Recent e-mails sent to News 9's newsroom claim the doctor is actively injecting people across the state with a mysterious formula called the "Jesus shot." News 9 tracked Lonergan to Full Circle Health in Edmond as well as Doorway To Health in Moore.

A receptionist at the Edmond clinic answered questions in a recorded phone call with News 9.

News 9: "Why is it called the Jesus shot?

Clinic: "I don't know why [Lonergan] calls it that."

News 9: "What's in it?"

Clinic: "You would have to sit down for a consultation with [Lonergan]. I do not know what the formula is."

Full Circle Health Clinic Director Barbie Schrick says Lonergan is a part-time employee. Schrick promises to investigate Lonergan's "miracle injection." The "Jesus shot" is described as an injection that takes away pain for life. It costs $300, according to the clinic.

"I am so glad you're telling me about this," Schrick told News 9's Michael Konopasek. "Thank God for the news that investigates and finds things out for people. Thank you."

Backing up a bit, one of the blogs I've been following for a number of years is Mike Sententia's Magic of Thought. Mike and I have similar backgrounds - we're both computer programmers with strong interests in exploring the overlap between magick and conventional science.

One of the main differences in our perspectives is that he comes from an energy healing background, and he's convinced that healing is one of the best areas to explore in terms of proving magick to skeptics. I disagree with that assertion entirely, because even in conventional science, healing is a mess. Introducing magical and/or spiritual concepts into it only makes that worse.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Now Poor Oppressed Christians Can't Win

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has complicated what I consider the stupidest religious freedom case ever brought before the court, Zubik v. Burwell. In the case, a charity called Little Sisters of the Poor is trying to argue that filling out and mailing a form violates their religious rights. What's so especially dumb about the case is that all the form in question does is assert said rights.

As a religious charity, Little Sisters of the Poor is eligible for a religious accommodation from the employer mandate to cover contraception for its employees. Little Sisters is a Roman Catholic charity, so they are opposed to providing this coverage. Thanks to the accommodation, all they have to do is fill out a form that tells the government they are opting out, and coverage is provided at no cost to the employee on a separate rider.

The entire process is simple and balances the religious rights of the employer with those of the employee, who may or may not have any religious objection to contraception at all. But in true Poor Oppressed Christian fashion, Little Sisters claims that unless they can deny all contraception coverage to their employees and prevent anyone else from doing so as well, their rights are still being violated.

Like I said - really, really stupid. All of the lower courts have ruled against this nonsense by wide margins, as they should.

An evenly split ruling, with the court's four liberals backing the Obama administration against the four conservative justices, would leave in place lower-court rulings rejecting challenges brought by the Christian organizations that oppose providing contraception coverage for religious reasons.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, appeared more aligned with the court's three other conservatives in favoring the challengers, which primarily were Roman Catholic including the archdiocese of Washington.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Good to Know!

Have you ever wondered how long it would take for a vampire to drink all of your blood? If so, a group of science students with too much time on their hands at the University of Leicester claim to have figured it out. According to their calculations, it would take a little under six and a half minutes to drain 1.3 pints of blood - and at least forty-two minutes to drain a human body completely.

To make their calculation, students at the University of Leicester used fluid dynamics to estimate how long it would take for the blood to flow out of a hole in the carotid artery.

They assumed the external carotid artery itself would have a diameter of 0.2 inches (0.5cm) and calculated the speed of the blood flowing into it travels at 1.34mph (0.6 metres per second).

They then calculated the pressure difference should a hole be punctured into the artery by comparing the average human blood pressure in arteries to air pressure. By factoring in the density of the blood at room temperature, they calculated that the blood would leave the puncture wound at 11mph (five metres per second).

The students also assumed their fictional vampire's fangs would leave puncture holes just 0.02 inches (0.5mm) wide and factored in the density of the blood at room temperature.

They performed the calculations to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Tod Browning's 1931 horror film Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.

Now I'm not a vampirologist or whatever it is they call themselves, but even I can see the problem here. These calculations assume that the vampire doesn't suck - which, of course, everyone knows they do, in more ways than one. So comparing the pressure of blood in the carotid artery to regular air pressure will yield a value that's too slow. Still, movies and television programs often show vampires draining their victims in a second or two, which is unrealistic even if they can create a perfect vacuum.

Maybe Anne Rice had it right all along - vampires can drain their victims almost instantly because they have super-speed relative to everything else in the world. But could that effect really extend to the speed at which they can extract blood from their victims?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Pay to Pray?

So called prosperity gospel evangelists are well-known for running what is essentially a scam, claiming that donations to their ministries serves as "seeds" that will be multiplied by God many times over if only their parishioners have enough faith. Because of the way religious freedom works in the United States, they are free to make such claims because people are allowed to believe whatever they want, and donate to anyone they choose.

Seattle businessman Benjamin Rogovy, though, seems to have taken this idea a little too far. He was recently ordered by a judge to pay back millions of dollars raised by what is described as a "Pay to Pray" website that promised to pray for visitors in exchange for small donations ranging from $11 to $35.

Rogovy’s websites — and — offered to pray for desperate English and Spanish speakers if they paid between $9 and $35 for the service. He created fake ministers who would assist with religious ceremonies and were available for consultation. The CPC also used the name “Pastor Eric Johnson”; according to the attorney general’s office neither Pastor Johnson nor Pastor Carlson exist.

In addition, Rogovy locked his hapless victims into recurring monthly payments through a “deliberately confusing website”.

“The AGO investigation found that once consumers submitted and paid for a prayer request, they were directed to a Web page that gave them the option to receive ‘continued blessings’,” Ferguson’s statement said. “Between 2011 and 2015, CPC collected more than $7 million from 125,000 consumers nationwide. Some of these consumers were charged repeatedly, resulting in a total of over 400,000 transactions.”

Consumers must file a complaint with the Washington state attorney general’s office by 12 June to receive a refund. They can do so online, and will receive an e-mail from the Christian Prayer Center by 6 April informing them of the process.

The problem with the operation appears to be that it was built on a bunch of fraudulent claims. Rogovy's site claimed that he had ministers on staff who were actually doing the praying, except it came out that this was not true. His "ministers" were aliases created by Rogovy himself who never did any praying. Also, the website apparently operated in a confusing fashion that led to visitors being signed up for ongoing monthly charges.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fired Over Kim Davis

Kim Davis, the anti-gay Kentucky county clerk who became briefly famous for refusing to let her office do its job, hasn't been in the news much lately. But according to Vatican sources, her case has led to serious repercussions for apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Viganò arranged for Davis to briefly meet Pope Francis during his last visit to the United States. Davis and her supporters immediately issued a false public statement that the Pope supported their position, which provoked an online firestorm of controversy. Since the Pope didn't support Davis in any sense of the word, he was not amused.

So now rather than Kim Davis, it looks like the person set to lose their job over this whole mess is Viganò, who is slated to be removed as apostolic nuncio.

During the pope’s visit to the U.S. last year, Viganò arranged for him to meet with Davis, the Rowan County clerk, who shut down all marriage operations in her office to avoid serving same-sex couples after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. After she was sued and disobeyed a federal judge's order to resume marriage operations, she went to jail for contempt of court before agreeing that her office would serve all eligible couples.

Davis and her attorneys at Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT legal group, said she and her husband met privately with Pope Francis, who told her to “stay strong.” After news reports appeared about the meeting, held at the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., Vatican officials said the session was not private — the Davises were among several dozen people in a papal reception— and that the pope did not discuss the details of her situation. “His meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” a Vatican spokesman said at the time. Davis is not Catholic but a member of the Apostolic Pentecostal Christian faith.

Davis is an elected official, so she can't just be fired. But the state actually worked out a pretty simple compromise that wasn't widely publicized and which I actually don't have much of a problem with. Davis does not have to personally sign off on applications for the same-sex marriages she opposes as long as she lets somebody else from her office do it. To be legally valid, the applications never needed to be signed by her personally.

It's a pretty sad testimony to the psychology of religious extremists in this country that instead of just handing same-sex marriage applications to the person next to her to sign, she had to make a huge stink in the media, whining about how her rights were being violated if anyone in her office was allowed to sign off on them. But apparently, nobody else in her office has any problem doing that.

The point was never that Davis had to personally sign, which she considers to be against her beliefs. The point was that as a public servant, she was not allowed to demand that her office prevent others from exercising rights that her religion condemns. As I've pointed out many times, religious freedom isn't free. If you want to claim those rights for yourself, you have to be willing to extend them to everyone else.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Simple Pathworking Ritual

Normally I put up all of the technical magick posts on Mondays, but a reader asked me how I would go about doing a pathworking for path 11, which corresponds to the Fool card of the Tarot and the element of Air. Once I worked on that for a bit, it became clear that I could just as easily write up a general article describing my methods for doing this basic magical practice.

The term "pathworking" refers to aligning your field of awareness with one of the twenty-two paths on the Tree of Life and experiencing what that state of consciousness/portion of the universe has to offer you.

Often, in addition to the landscape of the path itself, you will encounter various entities along the way of whom you can ask questions related to the nature and function of the path, both generally and in the context of your life and magical practice.

Donald Michael Kraig talks about pathworking in Modern Magick, and my main complaint about his presentation is that nowhere in his book does he include the Greater Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram. You can do pathworking without them, by prolonged meditation or intricate navigation up the Tree of Life, but the Greater rituals make the process much cleaner and simpler.

Some books present pathworkings as elaborate guided meditations in which you are instructed to experience various specific aspects of the path in a particular order. I don't use those. They are far too constrictive, and I have found that even with a bit of practice, it is easy enough to explore the path on your own "in the spirit vision" without much external guidance.

So here's the method. The temple should be set up with a cushion or chair in the center suitable for meditation rather than any sort of table or altar. If there is an altar, it should be placed in the east. The Tarot card corresponding to the path you will be exploring may be placed on this altar so it can be easily seen. Then the ritual proceeds as follows.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Mystery Tradition for the Modern World?

Mystery traditions are as old as human civilization. Nobody has any idea who first came up with the concept of exploiting the human brain's reaction to uncertainty in order to create stronger memory impressions, but it has proved to be an effective method for creating changes in consciousness. I belong to two organizations that make use of this technology, Ordo Templi Orientis and Freemasonry, which are not so much secret societies as societies with secrets.

People sometimes question why members of both organizations keep the details of our initiation rituals secret, and some conspiracy theorists have proposed that it is because said initiations involve everything from criminal actions to communion with the alien lizards who secretly rule the world. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the reason that we keep the initiations secret is simply because that's how they work. When you walk into a situation that is entirely unknown, your brain and mind react differently than they do if you know what's about to happen.

The rituals of Masonry in particular have been published in many places over the years, and if you look hard enough you can probably find them, or at least enough information about them to figure out what's going to happen. But if you ever plan on becoming a Mason, I highly recommend that you don't do this. Without the element of uncertainty, the degrees are far less effective, and if you read ahead you're not putting anything over on the fraternity - all you are doing is cheating yourself out of the experience.

In that context I found this article from Vice especially interesting. It details the operations of a group called The Latitude Society that was essentially a tech startup designed to take advantage of the mystery tradition playbook. Its products were unique experiences based on the structure of the secret societies of old, and in this respect it was a secret society specifically tailored to the Internet age. It eventually failed, but while it was operational it represented a fascinating experiment in group dynamics.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Leaked Daesh Documents Really, Really Boring

Daesh, the Islamic State group currently waging a civil war in Iraq and Syria, has shown itself to be pretty effective at managing propaganda, portraying itself as an organization of religious purists fighting for their Islamic faith. However, continuing with Friday's "banality of evil" theme - or alleged evil, in the case of the Bohemian Grove - I came across this article posted on the aptly-named website War is Boring.

According to the article, a cache of leaked Daesh documents show the group to be little more than another petty bureaucracy. Not only that, despite the image put forth of a principled band of holy warriors, it seems that the group's recruiters did not particularly care how well new recruits understood Islam or how obedient to the faith they appeared to be. Much of the time, the questions regarding Sharia law and religious obedience were simply left blank.

The bulk of the files are personnel documents, a kind of job application or file a recruiter fills out when a fighter first joins Daesh. It’s basic — just 23 questions that tells readers all about the new recruit.

Name, address, blood type and birthday are all required. So is information about the wannabe jihadi’s family. The Islamic State also wants to know how its recruits made their way into the Caliphate, which routes they took and who recruited them.

The more interesting questions come later when the registrar must explain the applicant’s level of understanding of Sharia law, how obedient they appear and what special skills they possess. The people doing the paperwork often left these spaces blank.

Which is hilarious and humanizing. I immediately imagined two normal schmucks sitting at a table in a dry desert town. “Have you heard of Sharia?” the interviewer asks.

“No,” the other replies. “But I want to fight.”

“That’s OK,” the first responds. “I’ll just put you down as a ‘beginner.’”

So it would seem that in the end, Daesh is just another fighting force trying to carve out their own piece of the Middle East. The leaders of the group may consider it the vanguard of a new Islamic Caliphate, but as far as the recruits doing the actual fighting, how they see Daesh is anyone's guess. The personnel files sure don't help to make much sense of their attitudes, though the recruiters themselves don't seem to care much about who they're bringing in. I suppose they must have quotas or something, which override any real principles.

It leaves me wondering if all of Daesh's atrocities are simply a giant version of the Milgram experiment, in which the foot soldiers go about following orders without question because their commanders absolve them of all responsibility. It's especially easy to tell people that their religion demands they kill a bunch of people if they don't actually understand what their religion has to say about it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Exposing the Bohemian Grove

San Francisco's Bohemian Club figures strongly into conspiracy theories of all kinds. Part of the reason is that it legitimately is the domain of the rich and powerful, attracting prominent politicians and business leaders, and it is famously exclusive. It's hard to imagine any secret organization with such an exclusive clientele not attracting the attention of anyone looking to expose the actions of the American global elite. And yet, one mistake that so many such folks make is to assume that such people are evil geniuses employing occult powers or alien technologies or whatever to secure their power and status.

They don't do any of that. I kid you not, I went to high school with children of the super-rich and politically connected, and the fact is that they're just like everyone else. They just have a lot more resources, and a lot less understanding of what it's like to try and get by without that kind of support. I have yet to hear a hardcore conspiracy theorist agree with me on this, but anybody who's willing to approach the topic with an open mind should check out this article from Gawker.

The author worked as a server at the notorious campground, and reports that my assessment is basically correct. Most of what the global elites do at this exclusive three-week camping event is drink and urinate on trees. I kid you not. They also put on awful theatrical productions and perform silly ceremonies that raise about as much magical power as your garden-variety community theater group. Basically, rather than plotting world domination, they do their best to have what they consider a good time. And that's it.

The sprawling grounds contain dozens of individual camps, which range from incredibly rustic, with canvas tents on wooden platforms that barely have electricity, to straight up stand-alone structures with personal chefs and full bars. (Camp Mandalay had a funicular.) Members wander between these camps, getting progressively drunker as they go, peeing on trees as they please, even in the designated no-pee zone where the employee shuttles would bring us down to our cars. “Once, as I was driven the quarter mile distance between the dining hall and the parking lot I witnessed a dozen drunk men stumbling around,” said Stephen, who worked as a dishwasher in the kitchen. “They were peeing on trees which were only feet from the road. Others would not yield to our employee truck. We had to drive behind them at a snail’s pace.”

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Power of Prayer...

...isn't quite enough to stop a charging lion, as a Prophet of the Zion Christian Church in Ghana recently discovered.

Alec Ndiwane was praying at Kruger National Park when he seemed to be overcome by the spirit and began speaking in tongues. He then suddenly ran toward a pride of lions eating the remains of an antelope. As soon as they noticed him the lions charged at Ndiwane, who came to his senses as they approached and finally ran away. Unfortunately, he did not escape the encounter unscathed.

The Zion Christian Church Prophet was at the park with his fellow church members when, according to GhanaWeb, he went into a trance and began speaking in tongues. The group approached the pride of lions while they munched happily on an antelope, but that’s when Ndiwane ran toward the lions.

Out To Africa lists humans as the major predator to lions, so it’s no surprise that the lions took on the challenge. Once he realized what was happening, Ndiwane made an about-face and immediately ran away. Unfortunately, lions are fast and fierce animals and when one of the lions snapped her paws on him, Ndiwane sustained injuries to his buttocks.

The ranger fired his gun into the air to scare the lions off and rushed the prophet to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery to ensure he didn’t lose most of his buttocks.

The moral of this story? You can pray and pray and be filled with the light of the spirit. The Lord can favor you in all your deeds, and fill your heart with love. You can be the best, most pious Christian ever, and your faith can be a beacon to your followers.

But even then, you should always be smart enough to cover your ass.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chinese TV Now Even More Boring

Back in 2011 I wrote about China's attempts to ban everything interesting on television. The guidelines issued back then prohibited basically all science fiction and fantasy, leaving viewers stuck with shows about ordinary people doing ordinary things. But apparently, even that wasn't good enough for Chinese censors. Now, in addition to prohibiting anything speculative or paranormal, the latest guidelines prohibit all sorts of things ordinary people do as well.

Under government's General Principle of Television Drama Production Content - which was released in December - producers will be urged to avoid prohibited content, according to Li Jingsheng, chief of television drama under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

This will include storylines which are seen as promoting superstitions - such as reincarnation, witchcraft and spiritual procession.

It also extends to content which is deemed to promote promiscuity, including 'pornographic' scenes or shows that display "abnormal sexual relationships or sexual behaviour".

Affairs and one night stands are also understood to be banned under the initiative, as well as teen romances, smoking, fighting and more.

So now Chinese television is stuck showing ordinary people doing ordinary things, as long as none of those things include smoking, fighting, or having relationships - unless said relationship consists of two opposite-sex adults married to each other (and, apparently, who never fight). How the heck is anything dramatic supposed to happen? I suppose that's kind of the idea, but I have a hard time imagining anybody wanting to watch the sort of content that would actually pass these restrictions.

This is exactly why I'm so down on people who want to censor American television. Once censorship gains a foothold, where does it stop? That argument is sometimes derided by censorship fans as a slippery slope fallacy, but right here we have a real-world example of just how far this sort of thing can slide.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Just for the Headline

I can't imagine that this story has a whole lot of significance in terms of spiritual technology or whatever it is I'm supposed to be covering here at Augoeides. It is tangentially related to religion, though, and the headline is just too bizarre to pass up. After all I'm in competition with a tabloid site these days and I pass up such stories at my own peril.

Check it out: Catholic priest Fr Stephen Crossan 'caught snorting cocaine in Nazi room'.

Fr Stephen Crossan is reported to have sniffed coke through a £10 note on a night of drinking in July 2015 in Banbridge, County Down. He was in a room with Nazi memorabilia and seemed to say "I shouldn't" as he snorted, the Sun on Sunday reported.

The bishop of Dromore said in a statement that he had no knowledge of the incident. It allegedly occurred in the parochial house last July after a party.

The Sun on Sunday said it happened at what was then Fr Crossan's parish home in the grounds of St Patrick's Church, Banbridge, in July 2015. Father Crossan told the newspaper that he took the drugs but said: "It was just the one night and that was it."

A source said that a group ended up back with Fr Crossan after a party and found Nazi memorabilia including flags, hats and an eagle with a swastika on a plinth on his mantelpiece. In his defence, Fr Crossan told the paper that he was no Nazi and that he collected historical items from every country.

It's not just that he's a priest snorting cocaine. He's doing it after a night of drinking, though a £10 note. And here's the kicker - he's doing it in a room full of Nazi memorabilia. There's got to be some kind of "evil overload" or something going on there. Oh, and the whole thing was recorded on video. I'm not sure if that makes it worse or not.

Crossan was apparently suffering from depression at the time, and I know from personal experience that depression can make you do some pretty weird things, especially in combination with alcohol and drugs. He has taken a leave of absence from the church with the support of the parish to seek treatment, and I hope that he makes a full recovery and goes on to generate no more lurid headlines.

One of the takeaways from this, though, is how unhealthy the whole "culture of guilt" that some churches seem to cultivate really is. It doesn't make people moral, it makes them miserable. Not only that, but it makes anything "naughty" seem appealing in ways that it otherwise would not. Crossan's comment "I shouldn't" as he goes for the cocaine says to me that this dynamic is at work.

Of course he did in a room full of Nazi artifacts. It would be less evil otherwise, and that's part of the thrill. Maybe that's why he recorded it as well, for the thrill of possibly getting caught - which he of course happened.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chimpanzee Rituals?

No, not rituals involving chimpanzees, rituals performed by them. Chimps are our closest living relatives and share more than 99% of their DNA with humans. And recently, a group of biologists in the Republic of Guinea happened upon a group of chimps who engage in what might be some form of ritual behavior, which has previously only been identified in humans. After a wildlife camera captured a chimp picking up a stone, fixating on a particular tree, and then hurling the stone at it in such a way that the stone landed in a hollow within the tree, they investigated further and found that this was far from a unique occurrence.

I spent many months in the field, along with many other researchers, trying to figure out what these chimps are up to. So far we have two main theories. The behaviour could be part of a male display, where the loud bang made when a rock hits a hollow tree adds to the impressive nature of a display. This could be especially likely in areas where there are not many trees with large roots that chimps would normally drum on with their powerful hands and feet. If some trees produce an impressive bang, this could accompany or replace feet drumming in a display and trees with particularly good acoustics could become popular spots for revisits.

On the other hand, it could be more symbolic than that – and more reminiscent of our own past. Marking pathways and territories with signposts such as piles of rocks is an important step in human history. Figuring out where chimps' territories are in relation to rock throwing sites could give us insights into whether this is the case here. Even more intriguing than this, maybe we found the first evidence of chimpanzees creating a kind of shrine that could indicate sacred trees. Indigenous West African people have stone collections at “sacred” trees and such man-made stone collections are commonly observed across the world and look eerily similar to what we have discovered here.

The latter theory is the more compelling of the two, though it will need to be confirmed by subsequent research. It makes sense that if humans are built to perform rituals humans might be as well. But going a little further, what if these rituals confer some paranormal benefit upon the chimps that perform them? That's not something we're likely to hear a biologist address any time soon. But I could see where, for example, the rocks could serve as some sort of offering to forest or tree spirits who respond by providing them with good fortune. That might explain the survival benefit of performing them, and would provide one more piece of evidence testifying to the effectiveness of magical operations.

Or maybe these aren't rituals at all. It's just interesting to speculate on the ramifications if that's what they turn out to be.