Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Voodoo Doll for the Aspiring Technomage

Now this is just plain silly. It's a USB Compatible Voodoo Doll. I have no problem with using computers and technology in a magical context, but there's really nothing magical or spiritual about this.

Upon stabbing this voodoo doll with a pin, knife, icepick, etc it will spout out "nastygrams" on the computer screen that it is connected to.

So I suppose this would be the perfect gift for people too dumb and/or inarticulate to compose their own "nastygrams?" I can't imagine this device catching on - unless of course it can actually unleash spiritual forces over the Internet and the ad copy is just a cunning cover.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Shellac for Tools and Icons

One of things that you learn about when renovating Victorian houses is technology that was the rage a hundred years ago but which has been replaced by more modern innovations. Before the rise of petrochemicals there was no polyurethane that could be used to treat hardwood floors. The Victorians made due with varnish and a substance with a lot of potential for magical work, shellac.

A lot of people don't know that shellac is a natural substance. It is resin secreted by insects, and it shares many properties with industrial plastics. However, synthetic plastics differ in one key way from natural occurring materials, even those with similar chemical structures - in my experience, plastic will not hold a magical charge. There is no obvious reason why this should be true, since plastics are hydrocarbons just like the molecules that make up natural materials, but I have never been able to enchant a piece of plastic and neither has anyone else I've worked with. It may be that the molecules were never alive in their current configuration, or that their link to the animals and plants that died and became oil is millions of years old. In either case, the chemical formula alone does not seem to be the only relevant factor.

That this is the case is really pretty annoying. A number of very nice statues of different deities can be found online, for example, but many of the prettiest are made from some sort of plastic resin. Such icons make fine focal points for meditation on the deity, but even with a lot of work they will not accumulate significant magical energy. Also, with plastics it is possible to make really nice-looking magical tools, but good luck making an empowerment "stick" to them.

Shellac is a possible solution. It will coat just about anything, including plastic, and can be bought in a clear formula that will not change the color of whatever it coats. Even if a tool or icon is made from a non-magical material it will hold a charge if the surface is covered with a material that will. Incidentally, some kinds of acrylic paint use tints that contain significant amounts of metal, and these can work in much the same way. Especially with highly magical metals such as gold and silver you don't need very much to produce the desired effect.

Shellac has one more interesting property, and that is that it dissolves in alcohol. That means, for example, that you would not want to dip a shellac-coated statue into a goblet filled with Everclear, though I can't imagine any reason why anyone would want to do that. It also means that fluid condensers can be mixed into the shellac to increase its magical effectiveness for holding certain kinds of energies. Here is a simple overview of making herbal fluid condensers for the elements. The basic methodology is similar for producing planetary and zodiacal condensers.

At one point our magical working group did a series of operations in which we made planetary fluid condensers. A fluid condenser is essentially a preparation of specific herbs that correspond to the planet dissolved in some sort of solution, usually alcohol, and empowered by certain magical rites. The herbs themselves are empowered and then they are placed into an alcohol solution along with a small amount of gold and heated for a specific period of time. The site above does not mention the use of gold, but this is a step that has been highly recommended by others in the Western magical tradition. The result is an alcohol-based solution that contains the essence of the element, planet, or zodiac sign to which the herbs correspond.

Since the fluid condenser is alcohol-based, it can be mixed right into the shellac. Since most tools and deity icons are associated with a specific element, planet, or sign, this makes for a nice touch - coating the object in question with materials that are in specific harmony with the desired magical effect or affinity.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Magical Spam?

So let me get this straight - magick is the latest new twist on the old Nigeria 419 spam? You know, the one where you get this e-mail offering you a percentage of millions of dollars in exchange for helping someone get the money out of the country illegally. Apparently the latest spam concept to come out of Africa is an e-mail threatening to curse the recipient unless they pay up.

Now you listen very carefully for your own good I am an African from Kenya take me by name (as mr edwin orobosa) and you don’t know me I am the sole spiritual leader of the Harica Witchcraft and Wizard society of Kenya and the grand master of the Zone B & D. Kenya Occult and Mystic order since 1987- up till date – 2006 also presently the ritual leader of the West and East African – Voodo confraternity presently I am out of Kenya on an assignment of initiation of new members in Nigeria and also to part take some Voodo rituals which will last for 3weeks, the ritual date is the subject of this letter to you, now you are to take my orders and simple instruction or else you will have yourself to blame. As the ritual leader of the Africa Voodo I have been asked by the head man to get 6 fresh eyes and 4 bleeding hearts for a ritual purpose and presently I have 13- pictures numbered 1 – 13 and I am suppose to use 10. So you are the 5th person on the list numbered 1 -13- so in other for me to ignore you, you are going to pay $500 U.S. dollars failure to pay this money I am going to chose you.

Oh no! Don't chose me! I wonder if this really works on Americans. My guess is it will be a lot less successful than the old 419 just because most people are willing to accept corrupt regimes moving millions of dollars in illicit cash around, but a lot fewer take magick seriously. To be fair, in this case that's probably as it should be.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Qigong and Ultrasonic Levitation

In Asian films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon martial artists can do all sort of incredible things. One of the most amazing of these feats is to fly through the air while fighting and somehow become almost weightless. Levitation has a long history in the Eastern mystical schools and, in theory, is accomplished by the manipulation of the human body's natural qi or internal energy. Could such a thing actually be possible?

In China scientific studies have been made of Qigong, which has a long history as a traditional medical practice in that country. Most research suggests that the main medical benefits of Qigong are healthier breathing and greater joint flexibility in addition to the usual benefits of increased physical activity. However, some study has also been made of Qigong masters to see if there is any validity to claims that qi can be "emitted" from one person to another. These studies have found that Qigong masters emit infrasonic waves. Infrasonic waves are sound vibrations that are below the frequency level normally perceived by the human ear. In effect, when a Qigong master "infuses" a patient with qi, what appears to be happening is that the master is causing the patient's body to vibrate at these infrasonic frequencies.

So what does this have to do with levitation? Well, it turns out that small animals can be levitated using sound waves. Scientists have developed a way of suspending objects in the air using ultrasonic waves. Ultrasonic waves are sound waves that are above the frequency level that human ear can normally hear. The system used in these experiments used 20 millimeter wavelength sounds and was thus limited to objects of that size or smaller.

The infrasound waves generated by Qigong masters peaked at between 8 and 12.5 hertz, which means that the wavelength is about 30 meters. That value is obtained by dividing the speed of sound at sea level, 334 meters/second, by the frequency of the waves. If a 20 millimeter wavelength sound can levite objects 20 millimeters across or less, could a 30 meter wavelength be used to levitate objects 30 meters across or less? It probably could if enough energy could be imparted to the wave.

It does not seem likely that the human body could produce enough energy to enable a Qigong master to levitate. However, it is an interesting coincidence that Chinese folklore teaches that qi can be used to levitate, that Qigong masters emit infrasonic waves, and that sound waves can in fact be used to levitate small objects and animals.

Perhaps this bit of folklore is based on a kernal of truth after all.

Monday, December 4, 2006

First Known Human Ritual?

Scientists believe that they have discovered evidence of the first known human ritual dating back about 70,000 years. This is much earlier than original estimates that suggested ritual practices among humans developed around 40,000 years ago.

Scientists find first known human ritual

The site appears to be some sort of simple temple with a stone icon carved in the shape of a python, which is kind of amusing given the role of the serpent in later mythologies. The statue appears to be a religious icon of some sort to which arrowheads and other items were offered.

My question here is pretty simple: what were these apparent rituals supposed to do, and did they work?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

War Widow Dedicates Wiccan Plaque Symbol

It took her more than a year, but Roberta Stewart, widow of Patrick Dana Stewart who was killed in Afganistan on September 25, 2005, finally has a Wiccan symbol installed on her husbands war memorial.

This is a very good thing. All veterans should be honored for their service to our country, and if Christians are going to be honored with their own holy symbol, everyone else should be extended the same courtesy based on their religious beliefs.

Roberta Stewart, widow of Sgt. Patrick Stewart, and Wiccan leaders said it was the first government-issued memorial plaque with a Wiccan pentacle -- a five-pointed star enclosed in a circle. More than 50 friends and family dedicated the plaque at Northern Nevada Veterans Cemetery, about 30 miles east of Reno.

You can see the entire article here.

Atheists are represented by an atomic spiral. How do you think magicians should be represented?