Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Magick War Post-Mortem

Click to enlarge. It's a great, great classy graphic, I guarantee it.

I have to admit, if magick wars become the new normal in politics, it probably will work out well for me. Over the weekend I managed to get through some of the aspects related to the Enochian Parts of the Earth that were vexing me for awhile, meaning that Mastering the Thirty Aires is that much closer to being finished. It includes the system of the Parts of the Earth as conveyed to John Dee and Edward Kelley, a powerful method for performing political operations that will likely be in demand in such a future.

Last Friday, on February 24th, a group of magicians performed a magical operation to "bind" President Donald Trump. The ritual was leaked to the Internet, passed around, and modified. I believe "2.1" was the final released version. I posted an article about it last week, and noted that while the spell itself wasn't very powerful, it was being cast at a time with a good final aspect and appropriate chart victor. I have no idea how many people actually performed it, and that will probably be the determinant of whether or not it has much of an effect.

Peter Carroll noted years ago that sitting politicians are extremely hard targets. In order to get elected, any politician needs a following, so to some degree that concentrated attention helps to repel negative spells. Even though only a small percentage of people have significant magical talent, you're still looking at approximately between one person in thirty and one person in fifty. So in a group of millions of supporters, you are going to have a significant number of talented individuals.

Magical rituals are force multipliers. If you happen to be a talented person, a focused intent can have an effect. If you learn to do magical spells, that intent can have a much greater effect with a properly constructed ritual. So it's safe to say that a trained magician is worth somewhere between, say, ten and a hundred talented individuals with no training. The problem, though, is that there are so few occultists in the world that they are far outnumbered by the merely talented.

On top of that, Trump is supported by Dominionists pushing for an extremist Christian theocracy, who pray for him constantly. Prayer is more effective than focused attention alone, though how much more effective can vary a lot. Years ago I provoked kind of a stupid argument on this blog when I suggested that magically talented people might have trouble getting along in restrictive religious systems like fundamentalist Christianity. I still think this is true, though my evidence is mostly anecdotal and could be colored by a small sample size.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Virgo

This article is Part Six in 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, and Part Five can be found here.

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be moving on to the sign Virgo. In Liber 777, Virgo is attributed to the powers of "Invisibility, Parthenogenesis, Initiation." Aleister Crowley famously experimented with the power of invisibility, writing in his magical diary that he could walk around the city dressed in outrageous costumes and the like and nobody would notice him if his invisibility spell was working. A number of modern authors have pointed out that maybe nobody interacted with him, but the people he encountered were probably just rolling their eyes at this weird guy walking around who thought nobody could see him.

The way invisibility spells work in real life is by directing the attention of others away from you. They won't turn you transparent or fool a security camera. They can be quite useful, though. I have been able to use invisibility spells to walk right past people I know on the street without them recognizing me, for example. They work even better with strangers, if you are going about your business and don't want to be bothered. But of course, dressing in ridiculous attire or doing anything to draw attention to yourself undermines the attention shift caused by the spell and will usually make it fail.

The power of Parthenogenesis can be used to create artificial spirits, which are generally called "servitors" in chaos magick and "telesmas" in Golden Dawn - influenced traditions. Contrary to what some chaos magicians believe, concentrated attention alone does not automatically create actual macrocosmic spirits. For example, people are not constantly creating spirits when they watch popular television programs or read books. The process of creation instead has to be deliberate and focused, and the conjured form must be endowed with coherence - consistency and self-referentiality - in order to truly come "alive."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Giants Versus Dinosaurs!

Ken Ham's Ark Encounter attraction has had some trouble matching the traffic that the Creation Museum attracted the first year it was open. I once commented that tourist visits to the Creationist theme park were fueled by the obvious truism that the only thing cooler than Jesus is Jesus riding a dinosaur. Last week, Ham tweeted images of the latest addition to his Ark - a diorama depicting gladiatorial combat between humans, giants, and dinosaurs. Because that's a pretty cool image too, as long as you ignore the established scientific fact that it never happened.

A new display going into the creationist Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky shows what appears to be gladiator-style fights involving humans, giants and a dinosaur.

Ken Ham, founder of the group that runs the attraction, tweeted images of the new diorama on Thursday:

"Exquisite design by @ArkEncounter artists for new Diorama depicting wicked population in the pre-Flood world to be installed @ArkEncounter pic.twitter.com/4JHQiTEWbG
— Ken Ham (@aigkenham) February 16, 2017"

The dinosaur is visible in the far right of the first image, which has a giant on the left apparently about to spear a human.

Ham, who believes in a strict literal interpretation of the Bible, claims the planet is roughly 6,000 years old, that humans existed alongside dinosaurs and that Noah even carried dinosaurs with him on the ark during a global flood roughly 4,300 years ago.

One of the reasons I decided to post more Ark Encounter stuff today is that I have a real beef with the media account here, which I keep mentioning in these articles and which nobody ever seems to pick up. Ken Ham does not believe in a strict literal interpretation of the Bible. He is an Ussher Chronology cultist. Any "strict literalist" who counts Ham among their number either hasn't read the Bible or doesn't understand it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Leo

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

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be moving on to the sign Leo. In Liber 777, Leo is attributed to the "Power of Training Wild Beasts." This power may be used to aid you in training animals, but it also has a deeper metaphoric meaning. When Buddhists talk about freeing yourself from attachments, what they are talking about is the "karma" of outdated conditioned responses that no longer serve your will. Conditioned responses build up throughout your life in a mostly mechanical way. Your brain's conditioning system simply tries to repeat behaviors for which you were positively reinforced in the past.

Since our circumstances change, running on conditioning is a poor way to become successful. In effect, you are always reacting to situations from a day or a year or even longer ago, whether or not the behavior makes sense in your current situation. As in Buddhism, one of the goals of Western Esotericism is to make our conditioned responses serve us rather than the other way around. This is accomplished by de-conditioning work combined with re-conditioning along more effective lines. In effect, conditioned responses may be thought of as a "wild beast" in this context.

In Qabalah, the signs correspond to the twelve single letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are so named because they correspond to a single specific sounds. The signs are all attributed to the sephira Chockmah, and are associated with paths only in the context of practical magical work. The sephiroth represent states of manifestation, whereas the paths represent the movement of energy between those states.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Let's Try That Again...

Way back in April, I covered the failure of a highly publicized attempt to curse Donald Trump. As far as I could tell, the spell maybe had a small effect, but it was limited to a couple weeks of bad news for the campaign. And clearly, since Trump went on to win both the nomination and the election, it has to be considered a flat-out failure. In my article, I posted a couple of critiques regarding the methods used, and why the operation might have failed.

So now another group is at it again. This binding ritual was recently posted on Medium, and is scheduled for next Friday. Reading through the ritual, I did see some elements that suggest somebody involved either (A) read my critique of the last attempt, or (B) just knows how to construct a ritual. Of course, the two are not mutually exclusive. Given the size of my audience, I would guess (B) probably explains it, but who knows?

A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him: February 24th Mass Ritual

This document has been making the rounds in a number of magical groups both secretive and public. It was allegedly created by a member of a private magical order who wishes to remain anonymous. I make no claims about its efficacy, and several people have noted it can be viewed as more of a mass art/consciousness-raising project (similar to the 1967 exorcism and levitation of the Pentagon), than an actual magical working. But many are clearly taking it very seriously.

If this is the sort of thing that interests you, go ahead and read the whole thing. It's a ritual, so clipping an excerpt won't really do it justice. For the record, I think the "mass art" thing is basically bullshit. If somebody needs to tell themselves that in order to do this ritual, I think it's very unlikely that they're going to raise any amount of magical power or have any real magical effect. But I digress.

There are a couple of suggestions I can make that might improve the effectiveness of this one, but I would also caution anyone performing it as a group ritual to avoid varying the structure too much. Mass rituals do derive some of their power from synergy between practitioners, and the closer your form is to that of the other participants, the better that should work. I would definitely add the operant field at the beginning if I were to perform it and close with a banishing pentagram ritual to send the created form on its way, but otherwise I would probably leave the rest alone.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Cancer

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

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be moving on to the sign Cancer. In Liber 777, Cancer is attributed to the "Power of Casting Enchantments." An enchantment is any sort of spell that calls something to you or into your life. In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is described as the "magnetizing power," which is the most accurate description I have come across in any esoteric system. An enchantment effectively turns you into a "magnet" for whatever you are casting for. It is a relatively general power, so it can be used to call business opportunities, relationships, employment, or just about any other desired circumstance into your life.

And enchantment can also be cast on external target, in order to call particular circumstances into their lives. As you can imagine, there are many potential applications for this. Cancer also rules enchantment in general, so the angel of Cancer can likewise be called to exclude some circumstance from your life or the life of a target. This makes Cancer quite potent for practical work of all kinds, since its sphere of influence is at least potentially so wide.

In Qabalah, the signs correspond to the twelve single letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are so named because they correspond to a single specific sounds. The signs are all attributed to the sephira Chockmah, and are associated with paths only in the context of practical magical work. The sephiroth represent states of manifestation, whereas the paths represent the movement of energy between those states.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Demon Goths!

So I finally did it. Pat Robertson now has his own tag here on Augoeides. The evangelist and 700 Club host has proved to be a remarkable source of ridiculous statements over the years, and to be fair, a couple of reasonable ones here and there.

Today's post falls into the former category. You know, like most of Robertson's comments do. On The 700 Club, a viewer told Robertson that she was worried about demons attacking her daughter, who dressed in typical Goth fashion and liked horror movies. Robertson went right along with it, explaining that demons were clearly behind this and the mother had to "rebuke Satan" to get rid of them. Which, really, seems pretty far off the deep end for what basically amounts to fashion choices that are out of the mainstream - and liking horror movies, which is totally normal.

Today on “The 700 Club,” a viewer asked host Pat Robertson how she should approach her teenage daughter who likes “‘dark’ things” like “horror movies” and “black lipstick and clothing.” “I fear that demons are working on her,” she added. Robertson responded that her daughter is being influenced by goth culture and recommended that she pray and “bind the spirits” that have taken her daughter captive.

“She’s dressing goth and it’s a whole fashion thing,” he said. “This is demonic and she needs to be delivered. You’re not going to talk her out of it, you’ve got to pray her out of it. I suggest that you begin to rebuke Satan, bind the power of evil and the forces of evil and bind Satan and the forces of evil and say, ‘I command you to leave my daughter.’”

Now here's what I don't understand, and you probably don't either. Let's say that Robertson is right, and this teenager is being attacked and influenced by demons. Don't you think they would have better things to do than make her wear black dresses and makeup and watch horror movies? From a metaphysical standpoint that's utterly pointless. I suppose Robertson probably thinks this is just because the demons are stupid, but still, at the very least they could be making her do things that are actually sinful, instead of just looking weird and liking a genre of film that happens to be quite popular.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ghost Sex on Television

Sure, why not? Sadly, this image is not actually a video.

There are certain things I look for in a good Augoeides weird news story. I recently came across this article, which manages to connect ghosts, sex, and Britist reality television. In short, it's absolutely perfect. According to several accounts, a contestant on the British reality television series The Jump was "sexually violated" by a ghost in her hotel room.

British paralympian Kadeena Cox and retired rugby star Gareth Thomas are two of the celebrities competing on “The Jump,” a British show where famous people compete in various snow sports ― a “Ski Jump With The Stars,” if you will.

The season’s first episode aired Sunday on the Channel 4 network. But the show is scaring up more attention for what’s happening in the celebs’ hotel rooms. During the episode, the 25-year-old Cox reportedly asked for a new room after allegedly being sexually violated by a ghost.

Another competing celebrity, Emma Parker-Bowles, the Duchess of Corwall’s niece, said on the show that Cox “was penetrated” by some sort of paranormal entity. Thomas, 42, concurred.

“She had a ghost going in and out of her. She had a sleep thing,” he said, according to the Sun. “She wishes it were a person… It was going in and out of her body.” The feeling was apparently so real to her, she asked for a room change, as did Thomas.

Now my degree is in psychology and I'm familiar with hypnogogic hallucinations and the like. It's possible something like that is going on here, maybe having to do with the conditions in that particular room. But what if it really is the work of a wayward spirit?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Nothing Magical About It

Lady Gaga's performance at Sunday's Super Bowl has been hailed by music critics as quite impressive. The singer performed a medley of some of her most popular hits, along with a coordinated dance number that included a wire flying harness and pre-programmed drones. And she sang the whole thing live while dancing (and flying above the stage) energetically, without any lip-syncing and without missing a beat.

But for conspiracy nut Alex Jones, the performance was far more sinister than an excellently executed musical number. Because Jones doesn't actually know anything about magick, he decided that the performance had to be a Satanic ritual and an act of "lesser magic." You know, whatever the hell that's supposed to be.

However, before the match started, infamous alt-right spokesperson and InfoWars founder Alex Jones took to Facebook to warn followers not to watch Gaga’s show because she’s the spawn of Satan and part of the ‘New World Order’.

After claiming Gaga “does rituals” and pointing out she once wore a meat suit, Jones said the Super Bowl “organisers are deciding to defile America and break our will by having us bow down to this.”

“They say she’s going to stand on top of the stadium, ruling over everyone with drones everywhere, surveilling everyone in a big swarm,” he said. “To just condition them to say ‘I am the Goddess of Satan’ ruling over them with the rise of the robots in a ritual of lesser magic.”

He continues to rant about the ‘New World Order’, how Trump has ruined Gaga’s Satanic plan to dominate the world, and slapping himself on the back for being a ‘free thinker’.

I'm convinced that a big part of where all this comes from is that Alex Jones is literally too stupid to recognize a magical ritual if it came up and bit him. Remember his ranting about the "Satanic Magical Ritual" performed by the Bohemian Society at their Bohemian Grove retreat? Here's what that bit of "magick" actually entails.

A group of people dressed in robes carry a fake body on a stretcher. They place the body inside a giant stone owl that speaks with the recorded voice of Walter Cronkite. It used to be the real voice of Walter Cronkite, who was a member, but after he died they have had to make due with a recording. All stand solemnly while the fake body burns inside the owl. The name of this ceremony is "The Cremation of Care." Its intent is to dramatize members setting aside their material and mundane concerns and just hang out with their brothers - and be, you know, Bohemian.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Gemini

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

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be moving on to the sign Gemini. In Liber 777, Gemini is attributed to the "Power of being in two or more places at one time, and of Prophecy." The first of those can be related to astral projection, and I have in fact heard of magicians being able to appear to others in astral form. Personally, I'm not sure how useful that is because it has some limitations, but Gemini would be the power to call upon in order to do it. Prophecy is to the ability to see into the future - in parapsychology terms, precognition - which has a wide variety of possible applications.

The usefulness of those applications is complicated by the structure of time. There is a big debate among quantum physicists as to whether the "one world" or "many worlds" interpretation of quantum theory is the most correct. From personal experience, what time looks like is something that I guess I would call "multiple worlds." It doesn't seem to branch nearly as much as strict "many worlds" predicts - that is, at every quantum interaction - but it does always seem to branch into several possible outcomes. This likely explains at least some of the inaccurate prophecies of the past - the prophet in question saw one of the possible timelines, but not the one that we happen to be on.

In Qabalah, the signs correspond to the twelve single letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are so named because they correspond to a single specific sounds. The signs are all attributed to the sephira Chockmah, and are associated with paths only in the context of practical magical work. The sephiroth represent states of manifestation, whereas the paths represent the movement of energy between those states.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Johnson Amendment Repeal a Bad Idea

On Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump once more promised to "destroy" the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law introduced by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson. The amendment prevents tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing or supporting political candidates, under penalty of losing their tax-exempt status.

The statement was not really a surprise, since Trump repeatedly promised to repeal the law during the campaign. But it also is a profoundly bad idea, and not just for the reasons that you might think.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly promised to seek the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, a rule that prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from supporting candidates for public office.

The law forbids ministers from endorsing candidates from the pulpit, i.e. in their official capacity as ministers. Trump, however, sometimes seems to believe it prohibits religious leaders from expressing any political beliefs at all and perhaps prohibits them from talking about religion itself. From a speech on Sept. 9:

"The Johnson Amendment has blocked our pastors and ministers and others from speaking their minds from their own pulpits. If they want to talk about Christianity, if they want to preach, if they want to talk about politics, they are unable to do so. If they want to do it, they take a tremendous risk, that they lose their tax-exempt status."

Like many Trump positions, his vow to “destroy” the amendment (which would require an act of Congress) seems to be less about policy specifics and more about channeling a vague sense of righteous backlash against liberal big shots. And Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast—at which he also engaged in a snide tangent about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Celebrity Apprentice ratings—Trump vowed to “destroy” the amendment.

Say this with me slowly: The separation of church and politics protects churches. People advocating for more political churches don't seem to understand this, and if they get what they want, I think they will be surprised and possibly even horrified about the circumstances that would unleash. Much like Trump's presidential campaign, they are so laser-focused on winning that they haven't given much thought to the ramifications of that win.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Could Star Collision Herald the Messiah?

So will the Messiah appear in 2022? That's the claim made by Rabbi Yosef Berger, citing passages from the Zohar, a principle text in traditional Jewish Kabbalah. According to the Zohar, the Messiah will come when several stars appear in the sky. Berger believes that this may be referring to two stars in the KIC 9832227 system that are predicted to collide in 2022.

It should be noted that the linked article's headline refers to Jesus returning, but Berger is Jewish and none of his quoted statements are related to Jesus. Most Jews do not believe that the Messiah has come in the past, but rather will appear at some future time.

In 2022, two stars in the Northern Cross – in star system KIC 9832227 will collide in 2022, in a blast which will be visible to the naked eye from Earth, Calvin College experts predict.

Rabbi Yosef Berger of King David’s Tomb in Mount Zion, Jerusalem, cited the 12th century Rabbi Moses ben Maimon – known as Rambam, or Maimonides.

Berger told Breaking Israel News, ‘The Rambam brings this verse about a star appearing as proof that the Messiah will come one day.

Berger refers to the Zohar – a collection of commentaries on the Jewish Torah, saying, ‘The Zohar states explicitly that the Messianic process will be accompanied by several stars appearing.’

As the collision will be visible to the naked eye, it will appear as of a new very bright star in the sky. But like all predictions based on prophecy, it is hard to ascertain how much of it is really in the text and how much lies in the interpretation. This has been the bane of fundamentalists trying to predict the date of the apocalypse since the nineteenth century.

The fact is that even if the text is correct, any number of astronomical events could produce what look like several new stars appearing in the sky. It could allude to a conjunction of bright planets, a comet, or a supernova. The predicted planetary collision is rare and interesting, but whether or not that makes it spiritually significant remains to be seen.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Chart Victors in Planetary and Elemental Work

Yes, it's another non-Monday magick post.

In my Zodiacal Work series, I address the use of the Chart Victor to determine the best time to perform a zodiacal operation. Similar determinations can be made for both planetary and elemental operations, based on the dignities and debilities of the planets in the signs.

Most obviously, the best time to perform a planetary operation is when the Victor matches the planet called upon in your operation. This creates the condition of Rulership, the strongest dignity, since every planet effectively rules itself. But in fact, you can work out which dignity or debility is produced by each combination of a particular Victor and a particular planet, based on the condition of the planet in the sign or signs ruled by the Victor.

Rulership, when the Victor and planet match, implies competence and power. A planet in its rulership "has it all together," so to speak, so this is the best set of circumstances for performing any ritual. if you can perform all of your operations under Rulership conditions, you will get the best results. Exaltation is not quite as strong as Rulership, but it is still positive and can work well for performing rituals. An exalted planet commands energy and attention, so chances for success remain elevated, but is not necessarily entirely in control of its circumstances.

So in effect, a ritual that is performed under a Rulership condition will most likely manifest in a manner that you expect. It is less likely to "go sideways," meeting the conditions of your charge but in an unexpected or less useful way than you anticipated. A ritual performed under an Exaltation condition will work, but the odds of it working in an unexpected way is higher. Since Exaltation is a dignity it is unlikely to manifest in a bad way, just an unusual one.

Detriment is the opposite of Rulership, implying incompetence and powerlessness. Fall is not quite as bad as Detriment, though it should likewise be avoided if at all possible. Fall is the opposite of Exaltation. In this condition, the Victor might be able to hold the ritual operation together, but its circumstances are out of its control and it amass enough attention or energy to get much done. Basically, Detriment causes failure due to lack of coherence, and Fall causes failure due to lack of power.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dueling Groundhogs

Over the years I've followed the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil, the country's most famous predicting groundhog. Years ago an article noted that Phil only appears to be right 39% of the time, and an astute commenter pointed out that Phil was in fact quite accurate, so long as you reversed every prediction he made. Today, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, which is apparently par for the course.

This year, though, Phil has some competition. Dunkirk Dave, a rival groundhog from New York, agreed with Phil, but General Beauregard Lee, a rival from Georgia, predicted an early spring. Since we have some data points to work with, we can finally see about testing Phil's accuracy against his peers.

Records dating to 1887 show Phil predicting more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year, the AP reports. There are no records for the remaining years.

Dunkirk Dave also predicted six more weeks of winter after emerging in Dunkirk, New York. Dave, actually a female groundhog whose non-stage name is Sidewinder, is claimed to be the world’s second-longest predicting groundhog.

But, Gen. Beauregard Lee, a resident groundhog at Georgia's Yellow River Game Ranch in Gwinnett County, predicted an early spring, along with a Super Bowl win for the Atlanta Falcons.

The Groundhog Day tradition has its origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues, the Associated Press reports. If not, spring comes early.

Where I live in Minnesota, you generally are pretty safe predicting six more weeks of winter at the beginning of February. February is always cold, so that's four more weeks right there. We did have one crazy year awhile back where we had summer temperatures at the beginning of March, but as far as anyone could remember that had never happened before.

This winter has been pretty mild here so far, so I'm wondering if Phil might be wrong again, or at least as wrong as he's likely to be given the climate of my state. It didn't really get cold until Thanksgiving this year, and we only have had one day below -20 so far, back in December. So we'll have to see this year how well the reverse-groundhogmancy method manages to work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Giant Meteor 2017?

During the 2016 Presidential Election, some of the folks who disliked both major party candidates came up with bumper stickers reading "Giant Meteor 2016." According to a Russian astronomer, all they got wrong was the date, because an asteroid is in fact due to collide with Earth on the 16th of this month. However, none of the data compiled by NASA on the object suggests that we are in any danger.

The object, known as 2016 WF9, is hurtling towards Earth and is being tracked by NASA. NASA says the object, which could be a comet or an asteroid, will safely pass Earth at a distance of nearly 32 million miles on February 25.

But Russian astronomer Dr Dyomin Damir Zakharovich has said the space agency is wrong. Dr Zakharovich believes the object could hit on February 16 sparking catastrophic tsunamis and causing the planet’s seas to boil.

The Russian says the mysterious object comes from the rogue planet Niburu, also called Planet X, on the edge of the solar system. Conspiracy theorists have long claimed Planet X will destroy Earth in 2017 and it is often blamed for natural disasters.

Dr Zakharovich said: “The object they call WF9 left the Nibiru system in October when Nibiru began spinning counter clockwise around the sun. Since then, NASA has known it will hit Earth. But they are only telling people now. We are all in peril.”

Let's put that in perspective. 32 million miles is really, really far away. Earth is 93 million miles from the Sun. At its closest point, the planet Venus is about 25 million miles from Earth. So it makes about as much sense to worry about Venus striking the Earth than it does to worry about this asteroid - that is, none at all. For reference, the Moon is about a quarter million miles away. You know, way closer.