Saturday, December 31, 2016

Apocalypse Countdown

Nope, not 1844. Or any time since then...

Here we go again! Earlier this month, I posted an article about Nora Roth, a Christian computer programmer who converted her own variant of William Miller's scriptural countdown to the end of days into a software program. According to Roth's software, the end of the world would take place by the end of 2016. Which happens tonight, in about four hours.

In the previous article, I once again brought up my issues with Miller's interpretation-heavy reading of the Books of Daniel and Revelation, pointing out that he makes all sorts of logical leaps that might or might not have anything to do with real events. To be clear, I'm not a capital-S skeptic, and have no problem considering paranormal claims. But the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Miller finished his system in 1818, so for nearly two hundred years preachers have kept trying to use it to make predictions.

Obviously, the world is still the world, and has not been remade into the paradise that Revelation claims will follow the apocalypse. In fact, nothing even resembling an apocalypse has taken place on any of the days predicted by those who still support the Miller method. And tonight, when we toast the New Year, one more failure will be added to what is becoming a pretty thick pile. Unless, I suppose, the world really does end before midnight tonight - but suffice it to say that I'm not holding my breath.

Happy New Year, everyone. 2016 has been hard for a lot of folks, and here's hoping that 2017 will be better.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Heresy!

Back in June I posted an article about Paula White, Donald Trump's alleged "spiritual advisor." White is, of course, a "Prosperity Gospel" preacher, since I imagine there's nothing Trump would rather hear besides being told that his wealth means he's favored by God. So it should be no surprise that White will be speaking at Trump's inauguration in January.

But conservative blogger Erick Erickson is outraged at White's planned appearance - not because her ministry is likely just a big money-making scheme, but because she's a heretic. Not because she's a prosperity preacher - apparently, that's okay in Erickson's world - but because he managed to dig up a video of her appearing to suggest that human beings are children of God, just like Jesus.

Most people concerned about White’s appearance are criticizing her sleazy claims that people who give her money will magically receive divine blessings. That’s apparently not what really bothers Erickson, however. Instead, he’s concerned that she is a “trinity denying heretic” who allegedly doesn’t share the view of the divinity of Jesus that Erickson does.

Erickson found an old video somewhere in the bowels of the internet in which White appears to say that all humans are “begotten” of God, just like Jesus Christ. Based on that, Erickson went into high-dudgeon mode over the possibility that Donald Trump, a man literally no one considers to be a devout Christian, might give incorrect spiritual guidance to the American people:

“The President of the United States putting a heretic on stage who claims to believe in Jesus, but does not really believe in Jesus, risks leading others astray,” Erickson wrote on his personal blog. “Trump letting this heretic pray in Jesus’s name should offend every Bible believing Christian.”

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Demon-Haunted Drugs

Vehement opposition to drugs among devout Christians has always confused me. If you read the Bible, there is little mention of any sort of drug prohibition. In fact, one of Jesus' early miracles was changing water into wine, and quite frankly the arguments put forth by anti-alcohol Christian groups - "It was really grape juice!" - are about as unconvincing as they come. Likewise, the Eucharist, the single ritual Jesus charged all Christians to perform, involves the consumption of wine.

I realize that wine is not an illegal drug, but the reason I bring it up is that alcohol is a mind-altering substance. And seeing as it makes absolutely no sense that God would care one way or the other about what goes in which column according to the Controlled Substances Act, the logical conclusion is that while taking illegal drugs may be a bad idea, there's really no consistent way to argue that it is sinful from a spiritual perspective.

But this article from Raw Story set me straight. Apparently, the real problem is that illegal drugs are magically enchanted with demons!

Marcos Quinones, a New York State chaplain, tells the Post that he believes drug dealers are casting magical spells on the narcotics they sell to make their users more open to demonic possession.

“Many drug traffickers practice forms of the occult,” he explains. “They incorporate voodoo or black magic that gives them the power to succeed. It makes the product more powerful and creates a stronger addict. In essence, they’re doubling the curse the drugs cause anyway… If demons exist and you take a drug that changes your thinking pattern, that opens itself up to the entities of these Demons.”

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Planetary Work - the Moon

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

Today I will be moving on to working the Moon, the final planet in sequence according to the Chaldean Order. Liber 777 associates the Moon with "The White Tincture, Clairvoyance, Divination by Dreams." So working with the Moon is useful for developing skills such as scrying, lucid dreaming, and psychic perception. Much of what parapsychologists refer to as "psychic ability" falls under the Moon's sphere of influence, such as mind-reading, remote viewing, and so forth.

Parapsychologists also study abilities like telekinesis and precognition, which are slightly different. The Moon is associated with psychic abilities related to perception and information. Precognition is more properly grouped with Prophecy, which is attributed to Gemini. Telekinesis is more difficult to categorize. You could group it with Fire (Evocation, Pyromancy) on the grounds that there is a connection between kinetic and thermal energy. Or you could group it with Taurus (The Secret of Physical Strength) as physical energy projected into the macrocosmic realm.

The White Tincture is mostly beyond the scope of this article, but according to alchemical lore, the White Tincture and Red Tincture are manufactured separately, and then combined to create the Philosopher's Stone. In an esoteric sense, the symbolism is that of lunar consciousness (White Tincture) merging with solar consciousness (Red Tincture) to produce transpersonal realization (Adeptship). This process is also analogous to the mystic marriage between the human magician and the Holy Guardian Angel, the accomplishment of which is the mark of an Adept in the Thelemic tradition.

Scrying is probably the most common ability related to the Moon that magicians are looking to improve. Accurate scrying seems to be more talent-driven than many other magical skills, and seems to be correspondingly harder to cultivate. While I can personally do it after many years of work, I still find it difficult and get better, more accurate results with astral techniques such as "traveling in the spirit vision." Still, if scrying is an ability that you are looking to improve, the Moon is the right aspect to work with.

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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Poor Oppressed Christian Propaganda

Who's the real Scrooge here, anyway?

I suppose, with everything that's gone on this year, it was too much to hope for a holiday season without any stupid nonsense from the Poor Oppressed Christian crowd. The latest is what turned out to be a highly distorted story pushed by Breitbart and picked up by Fox News. According to the initial version of the story, a Jewish family "shut down" an elementary school production of A Christmas Carol. In fact, all the family did was ask that their child be excused from participating in the play, and the school later shut down the production for unrelated reasons.

Centerville Elementary School has put on a production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for years, but educators have grown concerned that the play requires 20 hours of classroom time to produce. Changing state educational standards no longer allow for that luxury, Principal Tom Kramer noted in a post explaining why the school had cancelled the play. Educators also called off the production because they wished “to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students.” (A Christmas Carol is unmistakably Christian.)

By coincidence, a Jewish family had requested that their child be excused from performing in the play back in September. They did not complain or ask that the play be cancelled, and the school insists that their request had nothing to do with the decision to cancel the production. But as Breitbart and Fox News’ Todd Starnes reported the story, “unnamed parents” complained about the line “God bless us, every one” and essentially forced the school to scrap the play.

These untrue claims fit neatly into both outlets’ “War on Christmas” narrative—and, as intended, sparked outrage among readers. “It would be nice if we had the addresses of those concerned citizens and, I bet, this info is known to people living in the area,” one commenter wrote in response to the Breitbart story. Several commenters posted the address of the school, and a self-professed white nationalist urged others to “take action.”

What I find pretty remarkable about this whole thing is that even if the original story were true as reported, in what world would something like this rise to the level of national news? I suppose, answering my own question, it would be the world of the Poor Oppressed Christians, who totally jumped the shark last holiday season with their outrage over Starbuck's holiday cups for not including ancient, traditional symbols of their religion like snowmen and reindeer (Wait. What?).

These same folks always want to be able to request that their kids opt out of school activities like nonsectarian yoga (that is, stretching) and nonsectarian mindfulness meditation (even though meditation has a long history of practice by contemplative Christians). And I think that's fine, even though I disagree with their reasons. But look what they do when a Jewish family tries the same thing. National outrage! Religious freedom has to be for everybody, folks. There can't be any exceptions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"Blood Miracle" Fails

AS 2016 comes to an end, the general consensus appears to be that it was a pretty bad year. Not only was this the year of one of the weirdest presidential elections in American history, it also was the year of a seemingly unusual number of unexpected deaths. Some of this is probably standard cognitive bias at work - people have a tendency to fixate on the recent past and idealize or forget things from longer ago. But this last Friday, something ominous took place at an Italian cathedral.

In Naples, Italy, a vial of dried blood kept in a cathedral crypt is said to spontaneously liquefy three times a year. Dec. 16, the anniversary of the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, is one of the liquefaction days. So far, so good! But last week, on the appointed day, the blood remained stubbornly dry. “We must not think of disasters and calamities,” the local abbot said in response, which is exactly the kind of thing that makes one think about disasters and calamities.

The blood supposedly belongs to Saint Januarius, also known as San Gennaro, who was martyred around the turn of the fourth century, according to lore. As the Italian newspaper La Stampa reports, previous occasions of the miracle’s failure coincided with the beginning of World War II and a local cholera outbreak.

It gets worse. Baba Vanga, a blind clairvoyant from Bulgaria who died in 1996, apparently predicted the recent failure. Believers say Baba Vanga also predicted that Barack Obama would be the last American president, which suggests something alarming will take place before inauguration day. “The Nostradamus of the Balkans” also supposedly predicted the 2004 tsunami, the rise of ISIS, and 9/11: “Horror, horror! The American brethren will fall after being attacked by the steel birds.” (It’s not clear why she didn’t just call them “airplanes.” Do not question Baba Vanga.)

So to apply a little critical thinking here, it's hard to determine how accurate these prophecies are when presented with only snippets and interpretations. I will grant that if the "steel bird" prediction was specific enough to name New York City or September 2001 it might be an impressive hit. However, I'll bet that it didn't, and not only that, I suspect that the phrase "steel bird" was used precisely so it could just as easily apply to planes, missiles, or pretty much anything else that flies - making the prediction more likely to "come true."

As far as the blood miracle itself goes, it's hard to say what might be going on. Scientists have argued that the "miracle" is a natural phenomenon, and even if we consider it paranormal anyway, the start of World War II and a local cholera epidemic are nowhere near the same scale of event. In fact, if you look closely enough at just about any day you can find something bad that happened somewhere in the world. So the liquefaction could depend on some natural factor and have nothing to do with any calamities.

Seeing if anything unusual happens between now and Donald Trump's inauguration will make for a good test. As is generally the case with these predictions, they usually fall apart the moment that they are subjected to strict scrutiny. But I suppose we'll be able to say for sure in a month.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

No White Horse After All

Sorry, Mittens. No White Horse for you!

As I mentioned in my previous article about the White Horse Prophecy, the Electoral College overturning the election of Donald Trump was always an incredibly long shot. So-called faithless electors are rare, and for the Electoral College to reject Trump, 37 individuals specifically selected for party loyalty would have had to defect. In addition, 29 states have laws requiring electors to vote for the state's popular winner.

As I expected, this did not happen - the total number of faithless electors turned out to be ten. In two of those cases, Democratic electors cast votes for Bernie Sanders, and in another a Democratic elector cast a vote for John Kasich, but because they were from states requiring them to vote for the state's winner, their votes were ruled improper and changed to votes for Hillary Clinton. So seven electoral votes for candidates other than Trump and Clinton were allowed to stand, making Trump's win official.

Of the faithless votes that were allowed to stand, two Texas Republican electors defected from Trump, one voting for Ron Paul and the other for Kasich. Four Washington Democratic electors defected from Clinton, three voting for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and one voting for Native American elder and activist Faith Spotted Eagle, who now has the distinction of being the first Native American to ever receive an electoral vote in the history of the United States. In addition, Sanders picked up one vote from a Democratic elector from Hawaii.

The two Democratic electors who attempted to cast votes for Sanders hailed from Maine and my home state of Minnesota, and the one who attempted to cast a vote for Kasich was from Colorado. So even though the official count of faithless electors was seven, it really should be counted as ten, since historically state "pledge laws" have not applied. Minnesota changed its laws after 2004 when an elector cast a presidential vote for John Edwards, the Democratic candidate for Vice President. I'm not sure when similar laws passed in Maine or Colorado.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Planetary Work - Mercury

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

Today I will be moving on to working with Mercury, the next planet in sequence according to the Chaldean Order. Liber 777 associates Mercury with "Miracles of Healing, Gift of Tongues, Knowledge of Sciences," which means that this is the planet to work with for healing and learning of whatever sort, including both sciences and languages. Thus, this article may be thought of as an updated version of this one. Note that, as with the others, back in 2008 I was still working with the sephira godname rather than that attributed to the path.

Healing is considered one of the most important forms of magick in the Rosicrucian tradition. In the Fama Fraternitatis, the first obligation of those belonging to the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross was "That none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the sick, and that gratis." At the same time, healing is one of the most difficult areas in which to assess magical success. It is well-known to medical researchers that the mind has some natural ability to heal the body on its own, a phenomenon called the placebo effect.

In order to determine whether or not a medicine or treatment is truly effective in and of itself, the treatment must be evaluated according to double-blind experimental techniques. This is necessary because it allows researchers to distinguish between the healing effects arising from belief in the treatment, and the healing effects arising from the treatment itself. In that way, I have maintained for years that healing is perhaps the worst possible field to focus on if you want to try and demonstrate the effectiveness of practical magick in a rigorous fashion.

People are generally less interested in spells for obtaining knowledge or language proficiency, but both are quite applicable to magical studies. Magick is called a Science and Art because it includes elements of both, and especially on the science side, Mercury operations can help you gain a greater understanding of magick itself. Likewise, understanding languages can be extremely useful when conducting any sort of antiquarian research involving original magical texts.

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Staring at Goats

This article is re-posted from my author website, from all the way back in 2010. The subject came up in the comments on my article from Sunday, so I thought today might be a good time to revisit it.

In Arcana the Central Intelligence Agency operates a top secret “Magick Office” that developed out of the remote viewing experiments that started in the 1970’s. Last weekend I saw the film The Men Who Stare At Goats which draws its inspiration from actual paranormal experiments conducted by the United States Army beginning in 1979. The film is based on a BBC documentary series called The Crazy Rulers of the World by Jon Ronson and his accompanying book from which the film takes its title.

This last week I tracked down a copy of The Crazy Rulers of the World and was surprised at how many events from the film appear in nearly the same form as they do in the documentary with only the characters fictionalized. As the opening quote of the film states, “More of this is true than you would believe.” Apparently this is indeed the case, and it makes the conspiracy theorist in me wonder if this is just the material that the government was willing to declassify what else might be going on. Could there really be a CIA or Army Magick Office?

One of the more interesting sections of the documentary, at least to a ritual magician like myself, was Ronson’s interview of Guy Savelli, the man who claimed to have stopped the heart of a goat through the psychic power of “remote influencing.” In the following transcribed section Savelli explains to Ronson how he did it:

“I picture a golden road going up in the sky, and I, because I’m Christian, I picture that the Lord is up there. And I picture myself walking up into the arms of the Lord and I picture His arms around me. And when He does it I get a chill inside of me and I know it’s right. So I did that, and I’m kind of asking for a way to knock this goat down.”

Savelli thus starts out with a godform assumption just like any ritual magician would. So far this sounds more like kind of a freeform spell than how psychic power is usually described by parapsychologists.

“So it comes to me that, probably, there’s this one picture that we have of Saint Michael the Archangel with his sword in the air like that. So I got that picture in my mind and I kind of sent it over with my mind to where the goat was. In my mind I pictured that Saint Michael got this sword and was going through the goat and knocking it down to the ground.”

So the resulting paranormal effect was accomplished by conjuring an Archangel! That’s magick, folks, and I’m willing to bet that if this really worked at all ceremonial forms would substantially improve its effectiveness. If I were an Army official who knew anything about Western esotericism and heard someone describe their powers to me in the way that Savelli does, the very next thing I would do is start rounding up funding for a Magick Office!

I suppose in the end you can never really can tell, since fiction does occasionally veer surprisingly close to the truth. But I’ll be as amazed as anyone if it comes out twenty years from now that sure enough, the Magick Office was for real.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Planetary Work - Venus

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

Today I will be moving on to working with Venus, the next planet in sequence according to the Chaldean Order. Liber 777 associates Venus with "Love-philtres," which can be generalized to love and relationship spells of whatever type. As I mentioned in my previous article on love spells, there are two main approaches that people tend to use when working this kind of magick. The first is a love spell cast on a specific person, and the second is a love spell designed to bring you and a suitable person together.

The second of these is both more ethical and more effective. Generally speaking, a love spell cast on a specific person is going to violate their will in some way, since if they were already interested in you, you wouldn't need to be casting a spell. Spells that violate the wills of others are among the hardest to cast, simply because your magical power needs to override your target's inherent resistance. While it's true that a lot of people are fairly susceptible to magick, the probability shifts involved are still challenging.

The second form works by subtly influencing events in such a way that you and a suitable partner are brought together. This is easier to do because mostly, the things that keep us and potential lovers apart are little more than random circumstance. I don't care how lonely you are, or how unattractive you believe yourself to be. If you live in a city with millions of people, there are going to be at least a handful of people out there who would be happy to be in a relationship with you. The trick is bringing those people into your sphere of activity.

The nice thing about this more general method is that if such a person is already in your life, the second form of the spell will still influence circumstances so that a relationship between the two of you becomes possible - so long as it is in harmony with the will of said individual. Otherwise, it will affect circumstances so that you are brought together with somebody else. So in effect, if you're in one of those situations where you are attracted to a friend and want them to think of you in that way, you can get the same effect as you would casting a specific spell on them so long as being involved with you is in harmony with their will.

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 11, 2016

The White Horse

To be fair, Mormons don't drink, so the wine probably wasn't that tempting.

As I mentioned in my post on the "pizzagate" conspiracy, aside from my focus on religious freedom issues, I try to write most of my articles from a neutral political perspective and only delve into political issues that touch on the general themes of this blog. Today I'm going to deviate from that a bit, in order to touch on a bit of religious lore that could become relevant to the current situation - this is, if a whole series of relatively unlikely events actually takes place.

Still, given all that's gone on in 2016, you never can tell. The bit of religious lore that I'm talking about is a prophecy attributed to Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church, dubbed the White Horse Prophecy. From Wikipedia:

Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith went to Washington, D.C. in November 1839 in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain help for his persecuted followers. Pat Bagley of the Salt Lake Tribune writes that from then on, Smith and his followers "considered themselves the last Real Americans" and "the legitimate heirs of the pilgrims and Founding Fathers", who would be called upon one day to save the U.S. Constitution. Smith is believed to have then said, in 1840, that when the Constitution hung by a thread, Latter Day Saint elders would step in on the white horse to save the country.

According to a diary entry made by John Roberts of Paradise, Utah in 1902, Joseph Smith gave the White Horse Prophecy in early May 1843, during the period in which the Latter Day Saints were headquartered in Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith is recorded as saying that the Mormons "will go to the Rocky Mountains and will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety." Adding that "I shall never go there" and predicting continued persecution by enemies of the church, Smith reportedly said that "You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.... I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense."

The article goes on to explain that the prophecy is not official doctrine of the LDS Church, as aside from the diary entry that was written years after the fact, there is no other historical evidence of Smith actually making the recorded comments. It easily could have sprung up from misremembered quotes and evolving oral tradition. There was talk that during the 2012 election, Mitt Romney considered the possibility that he might in fact be the White Horse - though again, I have no idea whether that was really the case, or if it was just a rumor.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Possessed By Ghosts?

That's right. If you've ever wondered why some people are gay, look no further. The Spiritual Research Foundation, a group that bills itself as a paranormal research organization, has the answer. According to their apparently meticulous but entirely undocumented research, 85% of gay people are gay because they are possessed by ghosts.

To think, it was that simple all along!

The main reason behind the gay orientation of some men is that they are possessed by female ghosts. It is the female ghost in them that is attracted to other men. Conversely the attraction to females experienced by some lesbians is due to the presence of male ghosts in them. The ghost’s consciousness overpowers the person’s normal behaviour to produce the homosexual attraction. Spiritual research has shown that the cause for homosexual preferences lie predominantly in the spiritual realm.
  • Physical causes (5%): Due to hormonal changes.
  • Psychological causes (10%): Having an experience with a person of the same sex as a teenager or young adult that was pleasurable and therefore wanting to experience it again.
  • Spiritual causes (85%): Mainly ghosts.
That sounds like a lot of people, but it isn't so many when you consider that in the introduction to this article, we are told that 30% of the world's population is possessed by ghosts! That's a whole lot of ghosts, many more than would account for the entire population of gay folks. So it makes sense, right? You know, in some twisted, alternate, demon-haunted world.

Let me first state right here that even though I'm going to address this article as though it were sincere, I honestly hope it's a joke. Anybody who seriously believes this has at least few screws loose, and if this is the conclusion reached by this group's research, well, let's just say that I don't think much of that research and I'll leave it at that. But I honestly doubt that any real research was done to support this bizarre assertion.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

It's About That Time!

I was wondering when one of these would pop up again - a new date for the apocalypse! Daily Mail reports that according to computer programmer Nora Roth, the apocalypse will occur by the end of 2016. So you know, this month! Roth is using the same old Millerite model, built into a computer program. When are people going to accept that Miller was just wrong? His methodology has been applied numerous times, all failures. Given that, the odds are strong that this one will be as well. But decide for yourself.

Nora Roth, a Christian computer programmer, says she has performed complex calculations which suggest the apocalypse will occur by the end of 2016. At that point, 'everlasting righteousness will be brought in', and Earth will be 'left to rest' for a millennium.

The claims have been made on Ms Roth's website, MarkBeast, in a post called '2016 The Time of the End.' Ms Roth writes: 'In the fall [autumn] of 2016, the 6,000 years of sin on earth will come to an end, everlasting righteousness will be brought in, and Jesus will come again to take His people to heaven.'

'Then the Earth will begin its 1,000 years of rest.' Ms Roth believes that each person has a probation time on Earth. Ms Roth's calculations are based on an excerpt from the Bible's Book of Daniel, which tells the story of the Jewish people's forced relocation to Babylon.

They're not, actually. More like "inspired by." As I said above, it's based on Millerism, which built on the seventeenth century Ussher Chronology.

I have personally read the entire Bible, and nowhere in it does it say that the Earth's lifespan is six thousand years. Nowhere. Ussher's interpolation is based on a verse from Daniel stating that a day to God is as a thousand years are to man. So since there are seven days of creation in Genesis 1, Ussher decided - completely at odds with the order in which the text reads - that the days of creation were not days of creation at all, but thousand year periods starting at the beginning of known history.

This completely ignores that a literal reading of the Bible makes it clear that the days of creation happen before the beginning of human civilization, which is why it always amazes me when supposed literalists try to explain that the Ussher or Miller interpretation is the closest possible reading. It's not. If you buy the Ussher breakdown, we're currently in the sixth day, which means human beings were created a thousand years ago. Because the text literally says that humans were created on the sixth day.

I'm not a Biblical literalist. I'm a Thelemite. But it never ceases to amaze me when I know the scriptures better than so-called literalist Christians. In fact, the closest literal reading would place the Garden of Eden story at the beginning of the sixth day, which places the creation date around 9000 BCE. I'm not a creationist so don't believe that either, but at least it's scripturally sound.

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.