Thursday, August 23, 2007

Evidence that Egyptian Curses Really Work?

It's long been established that the hysteria that sprang up around the opening of the tomb of Tutankhamon and the ancient curse that supposedly claimed countless lives has been massively exaggerated. Still, there's something mysterious about these ancient spells that appeals to the modern mind. A German man recently returned a carving to the Egyptian embassy, claiming that it had unleashed a curse upon his stepfather.

Paging Mr. Indiana Jones

From the article:

The stepfather had stolen the piece while on a visit to Egypt in 2004 and on his return to Germany suffered paralysis, nausea, unexplained fevers and cancer before dying recently, the anonymous man said in the note.

That's some curse. I would love to see the carving itself to determine if a spell was actually put upon it and if so how it works. Of course, a more likely scenario is that the stepfather already had undiagnosed cancer when he stole the carving and the symtoms of the "curse" merely followed the progression of the disease - but the coincidence does make one wonder.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Conservative Christians Really Do Cast Curses

I've been hearing rumors about Christian prayer groups casting curses at their enemies for years. Of course, they call what they do "praying" rather than "spellcasting" but for all intents and purposes it's the same thing. Recently this phenomenon was documented over at Orcinus.

American Fatwa

It seems that those rumors were probably true. So what can be done about it?

Here's what Dr. Wiley S. Drake, pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in California urged his followers to do via his radio program after a complaint was filed by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State over Drake's public endorsement of Alabama Governor Mike Huckabee for the Republican presidential nomination. Federal election law prohibits non-profit religious organizations from endorsing political candidates.

Pastor Wiley Drake Calls for Imprecatory Prayer against So-Called Religious Liberty Watchdog Group

Here is the response from Americans United, including some of the language found in the Biblical passages recommended by Drake.

Calif. Pastor Prays For Demise Of Americans United Staff, Following Watchdog Group's IRS Complaint

There's already plenty of traffic out there about the political implications of church and state separation issues. I'm more interested in looking the the spiritual technology employed here in what is essentially a magical war - though granted, one likely conducted by poorly trained casters. Many Evangelical Christians tend to downplay technical magical considerations since they simply believe that there are no real limits to God's power and that nothing aside from genuine faith determines whether or not their prayers are answered (that is, whether or not their spells succeed). For example, in Drake's press release the name of one of the Americans United staffers to be targeted is misspelled. That's a huge error to a ritual magician, and believe me, if I'm casting a spell I make sure that the target's name is spelled right.

What all practitioners of alternative spirituality should keep in mind is that this is probably not an isolated incident. It's likely that we, as "enemies of God" in the eyes of these Christian sorcerors, are being cursed all the time. Granted, vague curses are not that effective, but it also does not pay to be ignorant of what is going on and a generally negative spiritual environment might be part of the reason I don't meet very many wealthy pagans. Here are some ideas for dealing with hostile prayers - that is, spells.
  1. Daily banishing rituals are a good idea for a lot of reasons, this being yet another. Most magicians don't do enough of them.
  2. The mirror shield. Start with a banishing pentagram ritual and follow it with an invoking hexagram ritual. Then visualize your aura like an "egg" of light surrounding your body. Imagine the boundary of your aura shifting into a reflective surface that repels negative and destructive energy. Visualize this as vividly as you can for between 30 seconds and a minute. Close with the Qabalistic Cross or something similar.
  3. The transformer. Enchant a magical tool or implement so that it catches all inbound negative energy, transforms it into raw magical force, and stores it for your own future use. There are a number of ways to do this, and it's kind of a cool way to go because the more energy gets sent your way, the more you wind up with. By contrast, the mirror just bounces the energy back to the caster.
  4. The "whack-a-mole." This is really the ultimate magical weapon in a conflict such as this one. It's complex enough that it requires a skilled and trained magician to cast it properly and, in effect, it completely shuts down any of these "prayer groups" that appear within its area of influence. What you do is build a telesma or servitor that follows a simple program: (1) Watch for any "imprecatory prayers" to be sent out, (2) absorb the energy of those prayers to strengthen itself, and (3) unleash the most powerful curse possible at whoever sent out the prayer.
Let's hope that more of this comes to light and can be documented. The more we know about these insidious folks, the better we can be at protecting ourselves and those around us, not to mention taking care of these dark sorcerers if necessary.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Norwegian Angel School Opens

Norwegian Princess Maertha Louise, fourth in line to the throne, has opened a school for students seeking to "get in contact with their angels," which she describes as "forces that surround us and who are a resource and help in all the aspects of our lives." Her Astarte School opened at an undisclosed location because of controversy in the Scandinavian country.

Norwegian princess's 'angel school' opens

The controversy is kind of interesting because actually this sort of school for alternative spirituality strikes me as pretty tame. It certainly would not be out of place in California's New Age community, but I guess that's too much for some Norwegians. Some have simply called the idea "wacky" while others have called for Maertha Louise to renounce her title and get some form of professional help.

The whole thing is rather ironic because Protestant Christianity, Norway's official religion, embraces plenty of similar ideas whether or not the the church talks explicitly about angels. I wonder if the school would be nearly as controversial if she had simply described it as teaching people how to pray. Christian prayer certainly is directed toward "forces that surround us and who are a resource and help in all the aspects of our lives."

People who get up in arms about new religious ideas should take a look at their own beliefs. New religious ideas are often no more strange than those accepted by mainstream world religions - the only difference is that the mainstream beliefs have been around longer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Somehow, I Don't Think This Ritual Succeeded

A Wisconsin woman arrested by police for disorderly conduct claims that her religious freedoms were violated because she is a Wiccan and was performing a ritual. She had built a bonfire in her back yard approximately ten feet from her home. Waukesha police captain Mike Babe further described the situation thus:

Neighbors called police shortly after midnight Tuesday and, after an officer arrived, he heard the woman yelling in the backyard and found her wearing headphones, a T-shirt and underwear.

Note the complete absence of robes, implements, or any other magical tools. As for the bonfire, in it the woman was burning rubber car mats and a cooler, which probably are an acceptable sacrifice to deity in some twisted alternate universe. She was supposedly "chanting," though from the description of the scene I suspect that it sounded more like incoherent yelling. Like maybe a bad attempt to sing along with whatever was playing in her headphones?

After all that, I suppose I don't even need to add that the woman's breath smelled of alcohol.

Woman faces charges after yelling chants

As I see it, this is an obvious attempt to game the system and bring religion into a situation in which it has no place. Normally Wiccans either wear robes or go skyclad - I have yet to come across a coven that operates in t-shirts and underwear. They don't burn coolers and car mats in their ceremonial fires - if nothing else, the toxins created by such a fire are pretty inimical to the pro-environment views held by most Wiccans.

In my opinion this is a person who got drunk, put on some music, and decided to yell and burn stuff in the back yard. Then, when she got in trouble for it, she decided to give respectable Wiccans a bad name by associating her behavior with their beliefs. On the other hand, perhaps I just have not been initiated into the sacred esoteric mysteries of burning rubber and plastic.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

National Ordo Templi Orientis Convention

This weekend I will be attending the sixth National Ordo Templi Orientis Convention in Salem, Massachusetts. I attended the first convention back in 1997 and haven't missed any of them so far. I'm looking forward to seeing some of the people I know from around the country who I pretty much only see at these conventions and a lot of interesting presentations on all sorts of subjects related to magick, occultism, and Thelema.

I will be returning next week and will post an update then to let everyone know how it went.

Update [2007-8-16 13:56:33 by Ananael Qaa]: I'm back from the convention, and it did not disappoint. It was a great weekend, but I'm still pretty tired - with everything there was to do, I don't really feel like I've been on vacation but instead running around like crazy. Thanks to everyone who made this year's convention a big success!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Regulating Reincarnation

For centuries China has been ruled by bureaucracy in one form or another. The rules and regulations put in place by the Imperial government were byzantine and exacting, and the current communist government is no different in this regard. China has one of the few governments in the world that actively censors Internet content, and in fact this article could result in Augoeides being blocked in all of China.

The communist government of China is officially atheist and is particularly harsh to religions of all sorts, from modern movements like Falun Gong to ancient systems of spiritual practice such as Tibetan Buddhism. The latest move by the Chinese against Tibetan lamas rises to the level of the ridiculous - the Chinese have recently passed laws that, in theory, regulate reincarnation.

China tells Tibet's living Buddhas to apply for reincarnation

Aside from the offensiveness of the very idea, the technician in me wonders how this could possibly work. I suppose you could construct a nationwide magical field that would be the reverse of the "butterfly net" that Aleister Crowley wrote about in Moonchild - it would only allow the incarnation of souls within its boundaries that matched certain criteria defined at a master control point. There a number of ways to set this up, but they all are pretty advanced magical operations and I'm guessing the Chinese have not in fact built such a thing.

That means that aside from political posturing guaranteed to offend Tibetan Buddhists everywhere the law is essentially pointless. Without some magical means of blocking reincarnation it seems to me that this is one of those regulations that will prove impossible to enforce. In fact, given the current political situation it surprises me that any Tibetan lama would choose to be reborn in Tibet. There are certainly less risky options in the world, considering that at least one reborn lama was simply spirited away by the Chinese never to be seen again.