Thursday, October 10, 2019

What Passes for Prophecy

This article is about a year old, but I somehow missed it back then. It recently circulated in my social media feed and... wow. Just wow. Kat Kerr is a self-proclaimed evangelical prophet who took it upon herself to tell her followers what Heaven is really like. And... I think I just have to let the article detailing Kerr's claims speak for itself. They're pretty bizarre.

•Heaven has different seasons.
•Heaven has a surf park with 80-foot waves (but don’t worry; you’ll be safe).
•Heaven has horses to ride.
•Each floor of Heaven has a different aroma.
•In Spring, the “trees sing, the flowers will dance with you, even the rocks cry out and worship Him.”
•Heaven has “flowercopters” to carry people into the air.
•Heaven has cows that drive tractors.
•In Heaven, kids take art classes taught by rabbits. Giant rabbits. Giant multi-colored rabbits. Who help the kids paint the eggs with “liquid light” so they can draw Minions on them. And inside the eggs are baby chicks or rabbits. Somehow.
•The kids sit on mushrooms that rise up into the air.
•The Easter traditions were invented in Heaven.
•There’s a city in Heaven made out of Jell-O where you can “eat the mailboxes.” Kids love it.
•Heaven has a roller coaster where you leap through the air and go under the sea.

More than anything else, this sounds like Kerr is smoking something that most evangelical Christians disapprove of. If Kerr is right - well, I'll put it this way. I went to Disney World once as a child and once as a teenager. When I was older, I thought some of the technology at Epcot was cool but the kiddie stuff was mostly boring. If Heaven is a giant Disney World with amusement park rides, teaching rabbits, driving cows, and Jell-O cities, I have to say that I have no desire to go there, in the afterlife or at any other time.

If Hell is the opposite of this - you know, cows that don't drive tractors, rabbits that don't teach art, and buildings that you're not expected to eat - it sounds a lot better to me than the messed-up acid trip Kerr describes. If Hell is eternal torment and Heaven is basically the above, I would suggest that we have to face the possibility that God might very well be more like the Gnostic demiurge than most of us would like to admit. Kerr's Heaven and the traditional notion of Hell pretty much consist of different qualities of awfulness, and as I see it only an evil God would force us to choose one or the other.

Or maybe Kerr's lifelong dream is been to reside at a messed-up amusement park where hallucinogens are widely available. Maybe that really is her own personal Heaven. But if so, I find it hard to take her judgement on anything else very seriously.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Losing the Mandate of Heaven

The last of couple of weeks have been extremely busy for me, and one of the things that surprises me is how quickly the issues surrounding the impending impeachment resolution vote against Donald Trump have been proceeding. This after what felt like a slow-walk of epic proportions over the summer. It's no secret that I'm a political lefty and personally can't stand Trump, so I'll leave the politics to others to debate. What I'm finding remarkable at this point is that some of the president's allies that I never expected to turn on him are, well, starting to turn on him - folks like evangelical heavyweight Pat Robertson.

On Monday, the Christian Broadcasting Network founder and “700 Club” host delivered an uncharacteristically strong rebuke of the White House’s announcement that it will stand by as Turkey prepares to invade northern Syria, leaving the American-allied Kurdish forces vulnerable to attack.

Slamming the decision, Robertson said he is “absolutely appalled that the United States is going to betray” the fighters, who have partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the battle against the self-described Islamic State. Continuing, Robertson invoked the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Turkey allegedly at the behest of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The President, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said. “And I believe ― and I want to say this with great solemnity ― the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.”

As I see it, the whole idea that Trump held "the mandate of heaven" in the first place is pretty silly. What's basically being alluded to here might as well be "the mandate of Pat Robertson." I will say, though, that it feels like something around Trump has shifted, as if the "rare Pepes" and 4chan sigils have finally worn off. Maybe the "binding spells" got through at last. Maybe somebody out there cooked up something a lot nastier and cast it in secret. Or maybe there's nothing paranormal to it at all, and Republicans are just getting the point where a significant number of them have had enough.

Whatever the case, I personally am entirely in favor of Trump's "mandate of heaven," whatever it really is, falling by the wayside. It never made sense to me anyway that up to this point Trump somehow has had more support among evangelical Christians than George W. Bush did - when Bush was basically one of them and Trump is, well, Trump. That means for once in my life, believe it or not, I actually hope Pat Robertson is right.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Nearby Black Hole?

About a week ago Salon put up an article suggesting the possibility that the hypothetical "planet nine" might be a small black hole. Small is relative here - planet nine is estimated to be between 5 and 15 times the mass of Earth based on gravitational anomalies measured by astronomers. But the size is also such that scientists believe said black hole would not be large enough to have formed from the usual process of stellar collapse. It must instead be a "primordial black hole" formed during the early days of our universe, an object that so far is only theoretical.

Now, a new scientific paper explores a very different theory: what if Planet 9 were not a planet at all, but rather a primordial black hole — a hypothetical type of small black hole that formed soon after the Big Bang, in the early Universe, as a result of density fluctuations. Such a novel idea might explain why powerful telescopes have never detected so much as a flicker from the theoretical distant, massive planet. Likewise, black holes do not emit visible light at all; rather, they absorb all photons that pass their event horizon, while occasionally emitting energy in the form of (theorized but never directly observed) Hawking Radiation.

In the paper, astronomers Jakub Scholtz of Durham University and James Unwin of University of Illinois at Chicago theorize that the elusive Planet 9 could be an old, very small black hole. "Capture of a free-floating planet is a leading explanation for the origin of Planet Nine, and we show that the probability of capturing a PBH [Primordial Black Hole] instead is comparable," the astronomers write in the paper. The two scientists reached this hypothesis in a novel way, by observing that two different phenomena could be related: first, the observation of peculiar orbits of trans-Neptunian objects (meaning bodies orbiting our sun beyond Neptune), which might be explained by the presence of a distant planet with 5 to 15 times Earth's mass; and second, the number of "microlensing events," meaning telescope images that had been distorted by gravitational lensing of the kind caused by black holes or other massive, compact objects.

"There is a growing body of observational anomalies connected to the orbits of trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs)," the paper states. "These observations have been taken as evidence of a new ninth planet in our solar system, called Planet 9, with mass of [about] 5 − 15 [Earth masses] and orbiting around the Sun at a distance of 300−1000" times the Earth to Sun distance. Second, there is set of gravitational anomalies recently observed by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE)," they continue. "The lensing objects are located towards the galactic bulge, roughly 8 [kiloparsecs] away. These events correspond to lensing by objects of mass [of about] 0.5 [Earth masses] to 20 [Earth masses] and could be interpreted as an unexpected population of free floating planets or Primordial Black Holes."

Monday, September 30, 2019

Via Solis Libra Elixir Rite - Year Three

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Libra Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday October 1st, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward we will be continuing to perform one of these per month 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 Libra. The sign Libra is attributed to "Works of Justice and Equilibrium." So those sorts of intents are most appropriate, and as this is a general and highly adaptable power, it can be used for many different purposes, from obtaining justice in the external world to balancing your internal magical energies and/or spiritual perceptions. 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.

All: MAKAShANaH

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.

All: ABRAHADABRA

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.

All: AUMGN

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.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Real Ghost?

The image above comes from a pretty impressive video that was made during a Facebook ghost hunt in Hull, UK. The image isn't nearly as good as the live video version, which you can watch at the link there. To my eye it shows a three-dimensional shadowy figure that doesn't look like it could be a trick of the light. So is it a real ghost?

Ghost hunters Lee Steer and Lindsay Sheeran held a live paranormal investigation on F acebook - and were stunned by the "spirit" they say they uncovered. The pair streamed it to their followers on their Ghosts of Britain group during a visit to Hull's derelict Lord lane building.

They got more than they bargained for and claim their specialist equipment recorded a spooky figure roaming the abandoned halls. Lee and Lindsay told the Hull Daily Mail that they had never been so scared by what they and other witnesses saw. "We live streamed our investigation to thousands and loads of people were commenting that they could see a shadow stood in the hallway in one of the rooms in the Lord Line building," Lee, 34, said.

"I was on the top floor of the building and felt like my legs were jellified. We do these kinds of investigations a lot but this one made me feel really uneasy. I felt scared, like I was sinking and it was a type of fear that's hard to explain - it just wasn't right."

As part of their visit, they asked the "spirits" to change the temperature by 5c. Upon their command, they say the room went very hot - then cold by 10c. "That's not something that we could have physically done," he added.

Looking at this like a skeptic, I would say this either has to be the real thing or a hoax. There isn't much room for ambiguity or misidentification. It wouldn't be that difficult to have someone stand there with a dark sheet over them and then step away from the camera in such a way that it looks like they disappeared. But if that isn't what happened, we could be looking at a real paranormal apparition or manifestation.

What the video most reminds me of is the figure captured on video by Ghost Hunters at Eastern State Penitentiary during the show's first season, but much closer to the camera. The Ghost Hunters apparition looked like a similar shadowy figure, but it comes into view further away and immediately runs off into the darkness. That one looked like it could only be a hoax or a real apparition too.

So is this a ghost? Maybe. It certainly is one of the best videos I've seen in awhile.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Kenyan Body Lotion Spell

Usually stories about witchcraft in Africa are depressing enough that I don't want to report on them. All too often they involve "witchcraft panics" and the like that result in the deaths of innocent people. But this story is mostly just funny. Apparently there are witches in Kenya casting spells that make people - or at least one criminal defendent - steal body lotion from local markets. Needless to say, the explanation was not taken seriously by the courts. He had previously been convicted of stealing the same brand of body lotion from the same store.

The 70-year-old suspect was caught with two bottles of lotion valued at Ksh1,720 which he had stolen from a local supermarket. Macharia, who is serving a three-year probation sentence, said the offence he committed on September 20, could only be blamed on witchcraft. He explained to the court, with certainty, that he had been bewitched by someone from his village.

The accused had been sentenced earlier in August for stealing the same brand of lotion from the same supermarket, pleading guilty to the charges. "I am very sorry for the offence and I cannot tell why I keep stealing the same lotion from the same supermarket," Macharia disclosed.

Magistrate Merisia Opondo, who sentenced him in August, was shocked to see him back in court having committed the same crime he was accused of. "At your age, it is shameful to be committing such offences," Magistrate Opondo said. Macharia promised to go back to the village if the court forgave him but Opondo forwarded his case to another magistrate.

So I guess in Kenya, "a witch made me do it" is actually a thing. Fortunately, though, the court doesn't take it seriously. That's good, and hopefully we won't see this incident escalate any further. Casting spells at people to make them steal body lotion seems like a pretty ineffective use of magick, despite the humor value. It seems to me that any spellcaster who can do this successfully should be able to do things that actually benefit them as opposed to doing little more than getting a neighbor in trouble.

This is especially true in Africa, where casting spells carries significant risk - you would think that if you were going to take that risk, you wouldn't just do it for a few laughs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Arnemancy Podcast Interview

Back in August I recorded an interview with Erik Arneson for his Arnemancy podcast. The full interview is now available here. We spent some time discussing Enochian magick and my books, but much of the conversation drifted into models of consciousness and how they can play a role in better understanding ritual. We also covered some topics relation to my quantum information model of magick and some of the scientific work that needs to be done before we can properly test many of its predictions.

Even though we talked less about Enochian magick than I expected going into it, I think that John Dee as a scientific-minded occultist would have approved. Much of the material I discuss with regards to my magical model is covered in these posts outlining much of my thinking on the matter and why I consider my model the best - at least for my own work, and possibly for the work of others. The conversation jumped around a bit, but at the same time it covered a lot of material.

Erik is a good interviewer and I had a lot of fun recording this episode. Hopefully I'll have a chance to appear again in the near future. Have a listen, and enjoy!

What About Eels?

Longtime readers of Augoeides should be familiar with my contention that the Loch Ness Monster could be an Atlantic sturgeon, as well as the work of Steve Feltham, a longtime Loch Ness researcher who disagrees with me and thinks it's a Wels catfish. But now a recent article from the British tabloid Mirror asks the question that neither of us are asking - what about eels?

Scientists now believe that they may have evidence that the creature could be a ‘giant eel’ after carrying a DNA investigation at the lake. Researchers have been taking samples from Loch Ness and constructing a list of the life that is in the waters by looking at genetic remnants.

Prof Gemmell, who worked on the project, said: ‘We found large amounts of eel DNA in the Loch Ness, every single site we went to had eels. Is it possible there’s a giant eel? Maybe. We don’t know if the DNA is gigantic or just many small eels.’

Let's take a look at this hypothesis. The largest eel by weight in the world is the European Conger, which can grow to almost ten feet long. That's big, but not as big as an Atlantic sturgeon or Wels catfish. I will say that a very large conger could in theory breach the water and explain some of the "hump" sightings of the creature. Looking at pictures like this one I have a much easier time seeing that as an eel than a catfish - even though it really looks more like the back of a sturgeon to me.