Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ken Ham's Scam

No, I'm not talking about Answers in Genesis and its uncritical promotion of the Ussher Chronology, which should strike even devout Creationists as absolutely ridiculous. I'm talking once more about Ark Encounter, Ham's Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky. With his latest move, Ham has pretty much put to rest speculation that the park has anything to do with sincere ministry. Apparently, it is little more than a gigantic scam designed to defraud his donors, evade taxes, and extract money from the state of Kentucky.

Not satisfied enough with winning a court battle worth $18 million in tax rebates after convincing a judge that his for-profit business, which is actively using religion as a form of employment discrimination, he has now sold the land the theme park sits on, worth $48 million, to his own non-profit entity, Crosswater Canyon, for $10. You read that right, ten dollars.

This allows Ham to claim his land is a non-profit and not subject to the new safety tax passed by city officials which would have collected 50 cents of every entry ticket sold. This move also worries local politicians and residents because it sets up the park to claim exemption from all other taxes as well that includes the funding of public schools.

When asked about the park’s move, and its ability to now avoid all taxes, Williamstown city councilman Kim Crupper said, “I believe this is the first step,” adding, “The impact would be far larger than just Williamstown.” When asked about their future tax plans, Ark Encounter officials declined to comment, according to

So did you get that? In order to get the tax rebates that Ham used to build the park, he incorporated it as a for-profit non-religious business because religious non-profits were not eligible for those rebates. But now that the park is complete, he has turned around and sold it to his religious non-profit for $10 to avoid paying future taxes. The article doesn't mention it, but I expect that this also nullifies the junk bonds that Ham used to fund part of the construction. The folks holding those bonds will now never see any return on their investment either.

It really amazes me that so many people are willing to tolerate this level of grift from their religious leaders. Ham's move here is especially sleazy, but there are plenty of other religious groups out there that seem to exist only to rake in donations and provide no spiritual benefits to their members. I think it's long past time the followers of these religious scammers showed them the door. Salvation doesn't have to be expensive, and it's pretty hard for me to believe that it can be facilitated by leaders who apparently lack any degree of personal integrity.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Holy Guardian Angel

This article is Part Ten of a series. Part One can be 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, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, and Part Nine can be found here.

According to Aleister Crowley, the first "real initiation" in magick is the successful invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Crowley's conception of the HGA was heavily influenced by the Abramelin operation, which is found in The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, also known as The Book of Abramelin. The grimoire date itself to 1458, but the oldest surviving manuscript dates back to the early seventeenth century. It details a long and involved operation that spans either six or eighteen months, depending on the translation. So this stage of the Path of Initiation is not the sort of thing where you can do one ritual and be done with it - at least, I've never come across anybody who's reported that happening.

The experience of the Holy Guardian Angel is highly personal. One of the reasons that the article I published in the Holy Guardian Angel anthology mostly just details a method for establishing initial contact is that most discussion of the experience is not very useful. It is a form of gnosis, and also the experience of contacting a particular being residing in the spirit world. So a bunch of exposition that might be highly valuable to one person might be entirely useless to another, and my own experience might not be typical. Those caveats are unfortunately necessary when addressing this stage of the journey.

One of the big misconceptions about the HGA is that it simply corresponds to your "higher self." That is, it's some sort of a psychological projection that emerges from the "unconscious mind." This fits in nicely with magick as a form of psychotherapy, but it doesn't match the reality that most practitioners experience if they legitimately engage in the work. In fact, what we know now is that while the brain does a lot of unconscious processing, that processing bears little resemblance to anything that we might call a "mind." An HGA has a fully-formed personality separate from your own, so how it could be a "projection" is anybody's guess.

The higher self idea is only true in one sense, the sense in which if we expand our consciousness high enough up the Tree of Life all things are interconnected and eventually collapse into each other. At that level, you and the angel are part of each other, but the same could be said about you and any other person, or even any other object. In practical terms, the HGA is a spiritual entity that has its own mind, it's own thoughts, and its own ideas. So the most effective way to get the work done is to assume that it is an entirely separate entity with which you are seeking to connect.

Crowley wrote up his own interpretation of the Abramelin rite, called Liber Samekh. It is so named because on the Kircher Tree of Life the path of Samekh connects Yesod and Tiphareth. It should be noted, though, that on other versions of the Tree the path is attributed to different letters. The point, though, is that Liber Samekh is designed to produce a transition in consciousness from Yesod, below the Veil of Paroketh, to Tiphareth, above it. This is facilitated by the initiations of Active and Passive Spirit, which serve as preparation for this operation.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Belle Plaine Monument Controversy Ending?

Back in April, I covered the Satanic monument controversy in the little Minnesota town of Belle Plaine, about 45 miles southwest of my home in Minneapolis. To recap, a Christian group put up a monument in the town's Veteran's Memorial Cemetery. The monument was tasteful, but explicitly Christian, as it depicted a soldier kneeling before a cross. The Freedom from Religion Foundation argued that if the city council was going to allow a Christian monument to remain, it would have to open the cemetery up to monuments placed by other religious group. The city council agreed to do so, since they wanted to keep the monument.

Naturally, this sort of thing brings The Satanic Temple out of the woodwork. The Temple submitted a proposal for its own tasteful Satanic monument consisting of a black cube with pentagrams inscribed around its sides. The city council approved the monument, which provoked waves of protest by the Poor Oppressed Christians of Belle Plaine. They wanted to keep their monument, and at the same time block other religious groups from putting up their own. Which, of course, is the way of the Poor Oppressed. They have to be special, so no one else can be. They are oppressed by the mere existence of beliefs other than their own.

But according to an article in Saturday's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the controversy may be ending. The city council removed the Christian memorial, and is reportedly planning to shut down the "free speech zone" that was previously set up in the cemetery for private religious memorials.

The 2-foot steel statue, entitled “Joe,” was removed by its creator’s family a day before dueling observances Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park. Its return now is threatened by a Belle Plaine City Council proposal that also would block an anti-religion group from moving ahead with plans to install a satanic monument nearby. That memorial, a black cube inscribed with pentagrams and topped with an upside-down soldier’s helmet, was proposed and approved after the city opened the door by removing, then reinstating “Joe” earlier this year. The satanic monument could have been the first of its kind erected on public property in the United States.

On Monday, however, the City Council is expected to act on a resolution rescinding a “public forum” area created in the park to allow for religious statues. It was there in a small grassy plot beneath a hill where “Joe” was installed and where the Satanic Temple’s monument would be erected. Atop the hill on Saturday, more than 150 people attended an hourlong “rosary rally” organized by America Needs Fatima, a Catholic nonprofit. They prayed, many on their knees, while some carried signs, one reading: “Satan belongs in hell, not Veterans Memorial Park.”

Monday, July 10, 2017

Via Solis Cancer Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Cancer Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday July 11th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This is similar to the Libra Elixir Rite I posted here back in 2014, but it includes some additional elements inspired by research that went into the Zodiacal Work posts. Going forward, we will be performing one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Cancer. The sign Cancer is attributed to "The power of casting enchantments." As I interpret it, this is related to the ability to magnetize or draw things into your life in accordance with your will. So those sorts of intents are most appropriate. This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.


Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.


Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.


Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.

Bell chime.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vatican Says No to Gluten-Free

Catholics with celiac disease are going to have a more difficult time with communion at Mass after the latest Vatican ruling, which forbids the use of gluten-free bread. It sounds like the idea is that bread used must not contain additives, which are often necessary to make decent gluten-free bread, but still. That's why GMO bread is still allowed, because GMO is basically just a faster version of what we call "breeding" in any other context.

Bread used to celebrate the Eucharist during Roman Catholic masses must not be gluten-free - although it may be made from genetically modified organisms, the Vatican has ruled.

In a letter to bishops, Cardinal Robert Sarah said the bread can be low-gluten. But he said there must be enough protein in the wheat to make it without additives. The new rules are needed because the bread is now sold in supermarkets and on the internet, the cardinal said.

Roman Catholics believe bread and wine served at the Eucharist are converted into the body and blood of Christ through a process known as transubstantiation.

The Roman Catholic belief in transubstantiation has a number of odd ramifications, and this is just one of them. It also leads to the belief that consecrated hosts must be protected at all costs, because Satanists could work powerful magick with the actual flesh of Jesus Christ. As I see it, it's actually the Anglicans who are closest to the truth. The communion ritual is not entirely symbolic (as one commonly hears in Protestant churches), but at the same time the presence that the bread is endowed with (called the "real presence of Christ" in Anglican Christianity) is a spiritual/magical transformation, not a physical one.

I suppose it should go without saying, but the Thelemic Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica is way ahead of Roman Catholicism on this issue, too. Our churches have no problem whatsoever with gluten-free cakes of light. After all, it's the magick that counts.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Killing the Devil

That's totally not Pastor Mboro up there.

A pastor in South Africa is claiming that he went to Hell and killed the Devil. No, seriously! Pastor Paseke Motsoeneng naturally made the claim on Facebook, because obviously anybody capable of such a feat is going to want to post it in their feed next to photos of what they just had for dinner. The post went like this:

“When I got to hell, there was a queue of millions of people waiting to be braaied by Satan. I even saw some prominent South African politicians.

“I was so shocked because they lived like angels here on earth. I thought they went to heaven.

“When Satan saw me, he panicked and directed his army to kill me. Like Samson in the Bible, I defeated them. Satan was my last victim.”

I don't know what "braaied" means, but since it's Satan I'm sure it must something pretty sick, maybe involving a pitchfork and a whole bottle of baby oil. Before you start celebrating, though, there are a few more things you should know about Motsoeneng, who also goes by the name Pastor Mboro. This isn't his first completely outlandish claim.

Last Easter, the pastor claimed that he “was so overcome by the spirit” that he went to heaven and took pictures on his cellphone. What did he do with those pictures? He sold them for R5000 each.

Sticking with the topic of money, Mboro told his congregants that he could get them into heaven, the cost this time? R10 000 for “guaranteed access” of course.

This pastor is so blessed that “God” once sent him a BMW i8 with a value of R2 million, all because Mboro helps the poor with his good deeds.

So yeah, this guy appears to be a total scammer. It also is kind of telling that his description of Heaven and Hell and Satan line up perfectly with oversimplified Christian metaphysics. The real spirit world doesn't work that way.

When I first read about this claim, I thought that perhaps Pastor Mboro had engaged a powerful chthonic spirit and defeated it in some fashion, and mistook that spirit for "the Devil." In Christianity, there's only one "Devil" and every evil spirit gets traced back to that single archetype. But there are many, many chthonic spirits and they can't easily be classed as "evil."

But no, it's probably not even that. Pastor Mboro is more likely just a scammer angling for donations, who knows full well that he's totally bullshitting everybody because it makes him sound impressive to his followers.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hobby Lobby Owners Busted for Stolen Artifacts

The owners of Hobby Lobby, the chain of craft stores best known for arguing that as a corporation it should share the religious beliefs of said owners, have been busted for buying stolen Iraqi artifacts. The Green family, who own the Hobby Lobby chain, are avid collectors of ancient artifacts, in addition to being evangelical Christians who think contraception is icky. The case concerns more than 3,400 objects, which were smuggled into the United States with false labels to various store locations. The family has offered the weak defense that they were "unfamiliar" with buying such artifacts and trusted the wrong people, which is laughable given the obvious effort they went to in evading customs and so forth.

Under any circumstances, this case would be wild: It involves thousands of ancient artifacts that seem to have been stolen from Iraq, where the pillaging of antiquities has been rampant. The longstanding trade in antiquities of dubious provenance has become an especially sensitive topic in recent years, and a target of increased law-enforcement scrutiny: ISIS has made some untold millions—or billions—by selling ancient goods. While nothing in the case indicates that these objects were associated with any terrorist group, the very nature of smuggled goods means their provenance is muddy.

But the case really matters because of who’s involved. The members of the Green family, which owns the Hobby Lobby chain, are committed evangelical Christians who are probably most famous for their participation in a 2014 Supreme Court case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which helped dismantle certain birth-control-coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The Greens are big collectors of ancient antiquities; they’re also the primary visionaries and contributors behind the Museum of the Bible opening in Washington, D.C., this fall. Steve Green is the chairman of the board. The family’s famous name, now tied to a story of dealer intrigue and black markets, is likely to bring even further scrutiny and attention as they prepare to open their museum.

Law-enforcement officials report that in 2010, Hobby Lobby’s president, Steve Green, visited the United Arab Emirates with an antiquities consultant to inspect more than 5,548 artifacts. The objects—which were precious and collectively worth millions of dollars—“were displayed informally,” the complaint stated, “spread on the floor, arranged in layers on a coffee table, and packed loosely in cardboard boxes, in many instances with little or no protective material between them.” They included cuneiform tablets, which display writing used in ancient Mesopotamia, and clay bullae, or balls of clay printed with ancient seals. Two Israeli dealers and one dealer from the UAE were present; the objects allegedly belonged to the family of a third Israeli dealer. One of the Israeli dealers sent Hobby Lobby a statement of provenance, claiming that the objects were legally acquired through purchases made in the 1960s. It also named a custodian who purportedly, in the 1970s, took care of the objects while they were being stored in the United States.

But that person never actually stored anything for the third Israeli dealer, the complaint alleges, and Hobby Lobby never contacted the custodian. The company went forward with the sale, even though it had retained an antiquities expert who cautioned against the purchase. “I would regard the acquisition of any artifact likely from Iraq … as carrying considerable risk,” that expert wrote in a memorandum shared with the company’s in-house counsel, according to the complaint. “An estimated 200-500,000 objects have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq since the early 1990s; particularly popular on the market and likely to have been looted are cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets.” Cultural objects looted from Iraq since 1990 are protected by special import restrictions that carry criminal penalties and large fines, the expert added.

That brings up the following argument. Granted, I doubt it will hold much water with the Supreme Court, but hear me out. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court established that closely held private corporations share the sincerely held religious beliefs of their owners. Since the owners of Hobby Lobby are totally down with theft, which is prohibited by the Ten Commandments, it means one of two things. Either (A) their Christian beliefs are not sincerely held, or (B) they practice a deviant form of Christianity in which theft is okay.

Since the corporation is now legally defined as holding the same religious beliefs as its owners, we can say that the following is true. In the case of (A), Hobby Lobby should not be entitled to any relief from the contraception mandate under Obamacare because those beliefs are not sincerely held. In the case of (B), Hobby Lobby must forfeit its ability to fire or penalize all employees who steal from its stores, under penalty of falling back under (A) and losing its religious exemption. (B) is clearly impractical, so (A) it has to be.

I may not be a lawyer, but that argument is logically sound. If the owners of a company engage in activity that demonstrates their religious beliefs are not sincerely held, it seems to me they should lose any exemption they were previously given. It also demonstrates what an absolute clusterfuck it is to legally define corporations as having religious beliefs. But it seems to me that since Hobby Lobby made this bed, somebody really should force them to lie in it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Chicago Library Seeks Magical Transcriptionists

According to an article from Smithsonian posted on Monday, a library in Chicago is seeking help transcribing three magical manuscripts. The first one in particular, the 17th century Book of Magical Charms, sounds the most interesting. It is described as including not only spells and rituals but various prayers and devotional liturgies associated with them. Depending on the quality of the work, that could be a real treasure trove of magical lore.

The Newberry Library in Chicago is home to some 80,000 documents pertaining to religion during the early modern period, a time of sweeping social, political, and cultural change spanning the late Middle Ages to the start of the Industrial Revolution. Among the library’s collection of rare Bibles and Christian devotional texts are a series of manuscripts that would have scandalized the religious establishment. These texts deal with magic—from casting charms to conjuring spirits—and the Newberry is asking for help translating and transcribing them.

As Tatiana Walk-Morris reports for Atlas Obscura, digital scans of three magical manuscripts are accessible through Transcribing Faith, an online portal that functions much like Wikipedia. Anyone with a working knowledge of Latin or English is invited to peruse the documents and contribute translations, transcriptions, and corrections to other users’ work. “You don't need a Ph.D to transcribe,” Christopher Fletcher, coordinator of the project and a fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, tells “[The initiative] is a great way to allow the general public to engage with these materials in a way that they probably wouldn't have otherwise.”

The three manuscripts now available online reflect the varied and complex ways that magic fit into the broader religious landscape of a shifting and modernizing West. The 17th-century Book of Magical Charms contains instructions on a range of magical practices—“from speaking with spirits to cheating at dice,” according to the Transcribing Faith website—but also includes Latin prayers and litanies that align with mainstream religious practices. An untitled document known as the “commonplace book” explores strange and fantastical occurrences, along with religious and moral questions. Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits by Increase Mather, a Puritan minister and president of Harvard who presided over the Salem Witch Trials, expresses a righteous condemnation of witchcraft.

For those of you wondering why I don't do it myself, I know magick but I can't do transcription. That requires things like the motor skills to type quickly while looking at something other than my keyboard - which I just don't have, despite typing on these computer things since the age of 8. So that 10,000 hours thing? It totally doesn't work unless you have talent to begin with.

Anyway, for those of you interested in checking out the manuscripts and possibly lending a hand, they can be found here at the Transcribing Faith online portal. It sounds like they might very well contain some good material that an enterprising magician could put to some use.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Spirit

This article is Part Nine of a series. Part One can be 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, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, and Part Eight can be found here.

Working with Spirit is the ninth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, Spirit is not attributed to any particular sephira. It is sometimes associated with the intersection of the paths of Samekh and Peh, but those attributions are specific to the Kircher Tree of Life and not particularly relevant to working with Spirit itself.

Spirit primarily represents the point of balance between Yesod, Hod, Netzach, and Tiphareth. On other arrangements of the Tree of Life, the paths that cross at that point are attributed to entirely different letters - but again, for the purposes of initiation, we are more concerned with the balance between those four sephiroth, regardless of the letters that you map to the paths.

Spirit has both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

From the #Unverified Files

Folks around here seem to love satire, conspiracy theories, and I suppose satirical conspiracy theories as well. If you're one of those folks, this one is for you. It explains so much about what's currently going on in politics in just a handful of words. When you read it, everything just falls into place. It just makes so much sense.

My name is Mitch McConnell and I am the Majority Leader of the United States Senate. As you may have heard, the health care bill I secretly drafted would result in 22 million Americans losing their health care coverage. I understand your frustration with the bill, but you also have to understand my side of things. I’m in a serious bind here. I owe Thanatos, the God of Death, exactly 22 million human souls and he’s come to collect.

My relationship with the God of Death began as these things typically do: I met him at a Republican donor event. We bonded over our mutual love of back deals and being drunk with power. Before I knew it, I had agreed to trade 22 million human lives in exchange for a sizable donation to several GOP congressional candidates. I made a terrible deal from which I cannot be unbound.

Ah, jeeze. You’ve really done it this time, Mitchy. If this were one or two lives that I owed to the God of Death, I could close out my tab the old-fashioned way: by murdering a couple of my summer interns. But, this is 22 million lives we’re talking about. That’s a sizable portion of the country, so the only way I’m going to kill that many people is through cruel, heartless, and targeted legislation.

Look, I get it. I really wish I could present a reasonable, fiscally-conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act. But, I promised a boat-load of lives to an angry, merciless demon-god of the underworld. That means I have to put forth a bill that’ll take healthcare away from poor people, disabled people, senior citizens, children, new mothers, and people hit hard by the opioid crisis. The streets must run red with blood for the pact to be complete. America shall be one big graveyard and then Thanatos will be pleased.

Let's run the standard analysis. Who has the power to get this done? Mitch McConnell, obviously. Who benefits? Mitch McConnell again. I can't imagine that defying the God of Death would work out very well for him. Finally, who has the power to cover it up? That would be Mitch McConnell once more. So it follows that this is obviously a true story, and that the Senate Majority Leader of the United States has entered into a pact with a death-dealing entity from the underworld. Right? Maybe it's also why he looks like a turtle.

Even posting the story on a satirical news site is the perfect cover. When you yell at me "But this is satire!" understand that that's exactly what Mitch McConnell wants you to say. The best place to hide is in plain sight, where his pact with the God of Darkness will easily be dismissed as the crank ravings of his political enemies. Or does it have to be covered on InfoWars before anybody out there is willing to consider it true? Mitch McConnell is clever in that regard, making sure that the story is only available through other outlets.

The point being that this story is way, way more plausible than half the garbage that gets covered by conspiracy shows like InfoWars. I'm not singling Alex Jones out, either. His show just happens to be one of the most popular, and there are many others lurking in the corners of the Internet. Exercise critical thinking, folks, before you wind up with a mind so open somebody can drive a truck through it.

The Pathless Void

This article is cross-posted from my Author Website.

My new science fiction novella The Pathless Void is now available to buy from Amazon and Smashwords. If you're a fan of old-school science fiction, check it out. I think you will like it. There's nothing paranormal in it like spells or psychic powers, just aliens and future technology if you're into those sorts of things.

The Pathless Void started out as an unofficial NaNoWriMo project from years ago. It was my first attempt at writing anything so quickly, and I was happy with how the first forty thousand words turned out. But while I did clear fifty thousand words during the month, I decided that the last ten or twelve thousand were not very good. So the project has languished since that time. What I've decided to do now is go ahead and publish the first forty thousand words as a novella in ebook format.

The original book was intended to consist of two sections about that length, each a mostly self-contained narrative, and what I've published now is the first of those two. It reminds me a lot of some of the "Golden Age" sci-fi that I read when I was younger, with speculative space travel technology based on our current scientific understanding but extrapolated into the future. Down the road I plan on serializing the story in order to continue it, but the second section will go in a different direction from what I wrote the first time around.

Check it out, and I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So They're LARPing?

I find this one a little hard to believe, even if I maybe shouldn't. So let's just say if it turns out to be a joke or a hoax I won't be surprised. If it's real, though, the ramifications are pretty terrifying. According to a study released by The Barna Group, an evangelical polling firm, the evangelical concept of "spiritual warfare" is mostly fanfiction for the television series Supernatural

A recent survey of self-identified American evangelicals found that the vast majority possess a view of angels, demons, spiritual warfare heavily informed by the popular CW television show Supernatural, a report released by The Barna Group Wednesday confirmed.

The influence of the show on the nation’s believers, laymen, and clergy alike, has been massive and far-reaching. According to the survey results, a full 80% of evangelical pastors recommend warding off demonic attacks using methods like shotguns filled with rock salt, complex devil traps carved into floors and ceilings, and “special” demon-killing knives.

Further, an overwhelming 92% of Christians believe the best remedy for the darkness that is overtaking America is sending demon hunters like Sam and Dean Winchester to battle monsters, ghosts, witches, and demons all over the nation.

“The Bible tells us that Satan is going about like a roaring lion,” one anonymous respondent wrote. “How do you take down a lion? Magic bullets fired from a specially enchanted 1836 Colt Paterson revolver—that’s how.”

The enchanted 1836 Colt Paterson is a magical weapon that was featured on the show for a couple of seasons. No such thing ever existed in real life. What's scary about all this is that if Supernatural wasn't a television program and Sam and Dean were running around doing what they do in the real world, they would pretty clearly qualify as psychotic murderers. "We had to kill him! He was a monster!" "We had to kill him! He was possessed by a demon!" and so forth. You get the picture.

The good news is that aside from a few nutters here and there, I haven't heard much about evangelicals turning into "hunters" and killing people they think are possessed. But if they really believe deep-down that it's the right thing to do, conditions could be right for another moral panic that might result in a significant number of deaths and injuries. That's why I hope this is a hoax, because the alternative is so much worse.

UPDATE: So yes, this is in fact satire. I can breathe a sigh of relief! Let's all of us do everything that we can to keep it that way. The last thing we need is a subculture of "Christian Hunters."