Friday, November 30, 2012

Bigfoot DNA Sequenced?

For years, bigfoot hunters have been gathering samples of biological material that they believe come from the elusive creature. Ever since the advent of DNA testing technology, cryptozoologists have also been claiming that they're about to sequence DNA from the samples and prove that the Sasquatch is a real animal - and then are never heard from in the media again. Finally, Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum claims to have done it, and that her results prove the Sasquatch is an ape/human hybrid.

Ketchum's team consists of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology. The researcher said she believes that over the past five years, the team has successfully found three Sasquatch nuclear genomes -- an organism's hereditary code -- leading them to suggest that the animal is real and a human hybrid.

Ketchum's study showed that part of the DNA her team sequenced revealed an unknown primate species, she said, which suggests that Bigfoot is a real creature that resulted from this primate "crossing with female Homo sapiens."

"They're not any of the large apes -- they branch off as a separate lineage," Ketchum said. "My personal theory is that it probably branched off and evolved in parallel with the rest of the primate lineage."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pat Robertson Actually Makes Sense

Here's a "man bites dog" story - 700 Club evangelist Pat Robertson giving a reasonable answer to a question about creationism. As recently as 2007, Robertson promoted the Creation Museum, which puts forth the idea that since the Earth is thousands rather than billions of years old humans and dinosaurs must have been alive at the same time in the not so distant past. But when questioned recently by a viewer, he gave a completely scientifically accurate answer. That has to be a first.

“Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years,” the TV preacher explained. “It just didn’t. You go back in time, you’ve got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you’ve got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.”

“They’re out there,” he continued. “So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don’t try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That’s not the Bible. If you fight science, you’re going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was.”

Seventeenth-centurey Archbishop James Ussher famously dated the creation to 4004 BCE based on the chronology of the Bible. This date is still accepted by some young-Earth creationists. These same creationists also claim that radiocarbon dating is inaccurate because in the past the oxygen level in the atmosphere was higher (it was, based on bubbles found in amber, but (A) that was millions of years ago and (B) oxygen levels have no effect on radioactive decay). At the same time, many Christian denominations accept the real age of the Earth. Up until now, I just didn't think that Robertson's was one of them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ancient Vampire on the Prowl in Serbia

Eastern Europe is home to the original vampire myth that inspired John Polidori and Bram Stoker. While the modern vampire fiction canon has incorporated a number of foreign elements, such as the incredible speed that was first described in the works of Anne Rice, mentioning Transylvania still evokes the vampire in the popular imagination. Bram Stoker's Dracula is the most famous vampire of all time, having been featured in countless films, and in real life the legend lives on in that part of the world. Recently, villagers in the Serbian town of Zarozje fear that a local vampire named Sava Savanovic may resume his attacks after lying dormant for several centuries.

Legend has it he would kill and drink the blood of the peasants who came to grind their grain at his watermill on the Rogańćica river. A local family bought the building in the 1950s and re-opened it as a profitable tourist attraction. But they were so terrified by what may be lurking within that they refused to go near it — even to perform repairs. Recent trouble began when the old mill collapsed due to decades of neglect.

Now that the mill lies in a pile of rotted wood, everyone is terrified. Particularly since mayor Miodrag Vujetic told Orange UK there had been numerous reports of "strange growls, neither animal nor human" coming from the mill, along with sightings of a "dark tall individual" standing next to the mill in the "dead of night." "People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened," Vujetic said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Demons are Trying to Turn You Gay

You know, like Stephen Colbert's baby carrots. According to Christian author Contessa Adams demons are coming for your sexual orientation. These foul creatures launch their attacks in the form of nightmares and erotic dreams and apparently have some sort of vested interest in turning people gay. So far nobody has come up with an adequate explanation of what cultivating gayness does for demons, even in an occult or magical sense, but many Christians like Adams are convinced that they are at it nonetheless. This belief is at the root of a number of harmful practices, such as performing exorcisms on gay people in hopes of turning them straight. The idea that maybe these nightmares and erotic dreams are just nightmares and erotic dreams never really seems to be considered plausible among these folks, though attributing them to supernatural forces strikes them as completely reasonable.

These spiritual rapists, as Adams describes them in her book, Consequences, often prey on people by performing sexual acts through nightmares and erotic dreams. Some people become so dependent upon these demonic experiences that they actually look forward to them. "Anybody that has been attacked by them will tell you ... they're worried [that] they could not find that pleasure with mortal people," says Adams, who claims she was once possessed by sexual demons.

The two most identifiable sexual demons are the incubus, which is a male sexual demon that traditionally assaults women, and the succubus, which is a female sexual demon that assaults men. Sometimes they also lure people into homosexual behavior. Adams notes that one evangelist, whose name she would not divulge, was so troubled by the sexual pleasure the succubus gave her that she even contemplated suicide. Adams says the succubus spirit that used to attack her confused her so much that she contemplated becoming a lesbian.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Rare Witch-Hunting Manual Uncovered

The most famous witch-hunting manual used by secular courts during Europe's "witch craze" was the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Hammer of the Witches." It outlined various ideas about witchcraft drawn from the popular culture of the day and detailed the general procedure used for witchcraft prosecutions. However, the Malleus, published in 1487, was not the only such book in use, but rather the most widely disseminated and thus the most well-known today. It drew on more obscure works such as Johannes Nider's Formicanus published fifty years earlier, and despite its fearsome reputation in fact rejected some of the most fanciful and ridiculous claims regarding the activity of witches.

Recently a more lurid and detailed witch-hunting manual was found in the University of Alberta library. This book was published twenty years before the Malleus in 1465 and is extremely rare, with only three other copies known. Its claims are also considerably more far-fetched. It includes descriptions of the supposed powers possessed by witches such as flying on broomsticks and conjuring lightning along with a comprehensive guide to extracting confessions from them under torture. Andrew Gow, the medieval history professor who discovered the book, admitted that he finds its contents so distasteful that he does not even like to come near it.

Entitled, Invectives Against the Sect of Waldensians — a name for a Christian sect that was confused with witches in 15th-century France — the manuscript is thought to have been written around 1465 by a monk in what is now France’s Burgundy region, possibly for England’s King Edward IV, said Gow. It is exceedingly rare — one of only four copies known to exist — and is thought to be one of the founding texts in the modern conception of witchcraft.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Angolan Catholic Church Calls for Witchcraft Ban

On the list of things for which I am thankful, one entry that keeps coming up year after year is that I don't live in Africa. In Angola, the Roman Catholic Church is calling for a new law banning "witchcraft" - that is, traditional spiritual practices. Witchcraft laws vary throughout Africa, with some countries banning related practices and others banning the witchcraft accusations that can lead to lynching at the hands of angry mobs. Perhaps the Church is worried about the accused, who usually bear the brunt of this violence. However, it seems to me that if they were genuinely concerned about innocent lives they would be calling for a ban on accusations. Such laws, while not perfect, have helped reduce violence against accused witches in other African nations. Instead, it sounds like the Church's real goal is to preserve what remains of its spiritual authority.

The Roman Catholic Church in Angola on Wednesday demanded new laws to outlaw witchcraft, claiming the practice had reached "chronic" proportions. "It is affecting more and more followers, it destroys family ties and affects relations among people," said Francisco Viti, the archbishop of the central city of Huambo.

Angola does not have laws against witchcraft, leaving communities to deal with the issue as they see fit. Suspected witches have been lynched. "There is a legal vacuum with regards to witchcraft, which does not constitute a crime -- yet the consequences are killings, violence, libel and slander," said Jose Manuel Imbamba a Church spokesman. "This is a chronic problem in Angola, but nobody has the courage to confront it," he added.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

British Bigfoot Spotted in Kent

Not really Bigfoot, and not really Kent

One of the arguments for the existence of the Yeti and Sasquatch is that southeast Asia has produced some fossil remains of a creature named Gigantopithecus Blacki, a very large apelike creature that could fit the description of the enigmatic "abominable snowman." More controversially, part of a fossilized skull was found in California that some primatologists believe may have come from Gigantopithecus or a close relative. Given the "land bridge" that connected Asia and the Americas during the last ice age, it is at least plausible that this large ape could have found its way to the Pacific Northwest.

The main problem with this hypothesis, grounded as it is in the fossil record, is that the last remains of Gigantopithecus date back around a hundred thousand years ago. For the creature to have survived up to the present day a population would have to have lived for a very long time without producing any verifiable remains. Another blow to the hypothesis is the discovery that the "Yeti" relics of Asia are generally the remains of the Himalayan Black Bear, which does in fact walk upright more often than other bear species and can be mistaken for an ape at long distances. Some investigators have hypothesized that the North American Bigfoot might likewise be a kind of bear, which would imply some of the most famous evidence for the creature such as the Patterson film must have been faked. The Patterson Bigfoot might be a special effect, but it clearly is not a bear.

At any rate, none of this is really relevant to today's story because it concerns a Bigfoot sighting in England, a country that has no large fossil apes and in which wild bears have been extinct for many centuries. So what's left? Presumably it's either a guy in a suit or the real thing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Real Illuminati Exposed!

I've decided to try running a new feature here on Augoeides - "Magick Mondays." While I comment on a lot of weird news articles, I'm hoping to get back to writing more original pieces on various topics related to occultism in theory, practice, and history. Last Monday I posted an article on Qabalistic Ritual Construction, and this week I'm writing about the reality behind the dreaded Illuminati Order of Christian conspiracy theorists.

The mysterious secret society known as the Illuminati haunts the dreams of many a fundamentalist fanatic. According to Christian conspiracy theorists, the Illuminati are behind virtually every powerful group and celebrity in all of Western civilization and are busy at work promulgating the agenda of Satan against the true children of God - that is, the aforementioned Christian conspiracy theorists. The Illuminati are obviously involved in anything related to occultism, and my guess is there are readers of this blog out there who consider me one of their agents.

A while back I addressed this in a tongue-in-cheek manner, demanding my millions of dollars from the Illuminati for whom I supposedly work. I figured if I was doing the job, I should get paid for it. And, if the conspiracy theorists are right, the Illuminati are incredibly rich and powerful. They certainly should be able to afford to subsidize my writing and blogging - you know, like the aristocratic patrons of old. That post led to this clever practical joke that I'm fairly certain was pulled by one or more of the members of my magical working group - though none of them have ever fessed up, which I will say is a testament to their power to keep silence.

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Evidence for the Sundaland Hypothesis

Back in March, Gordon posted an article discussing, among other things, the Sundaland hypothesis. The idea is this - many cultures have stories that seem to indicate the existence of some older civilization that was swallowed up by the ocean, with Plato's tale of Atlantis being the most famous in Western folklore. New Agers have taken the idea and run with it, some imagining a mythical Atlantis complete with all the science fiction technology one could imagine that nevertheless found itself powerless to deal with widespread flooding. I will point out to anyone who finds this concept believable that much of the Netherlands is below sea level and the people who live there have been managing ocean levels for centuries, even before the existence of early industrial let alone modern technology.

Still, the essential idea of a sophisticated ancient civilization that sank into the ocean is not completely ridiculous, just the science fiction bits. At the end of the last ice age, the glaciers that covered much of Europe and the Americas melted, resulting in the ocean rising hundreds of feet in a relatively short time. Enter Sundaland, part of the area that we now call Indonesia. Today it consists of a series of disconnected island, but the seas around those islands are relatively shallow and would have been fertile dry land during the last ice age - a perfect place for a sophisticated civilization to arise. According to the Sundaland hypothesis, this civilization was the world's oldest, and when the sea levels rose its inhabitants migrated to the Indus Valley and rebuilt there. As evidence, proponents of the hypothesis have noted that in the Indus Valley it seemed that civilization came into being quickly and all at once, implying that the people who settled there may have migrated from elsewhere.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

When Priests Attack

When Jesus told his disciples to love their neighbors I'm pretty sure he was talking about the diametric opposite of this. Last weekend two elderly Australian priests living in the same building complex got into a fight over a parking space. In a scene one would usually expect to see in B-movie involving demonic possession or something, the altercation ended with one of them biting off the other's ear.

Father Thomas Byrne, 80, battled 81-year-old Father Thomas Joseph Smith in their building complex yesterday in Perth, Australia, police say. After the fight, Byrne told Smith to pick something up off the ground; only when he got home did Smith realize it was his ear. So he wrapped it in a towel and rushed to a hospital for surgery.

When the two showed up in court, Byrne was sporting a black eye and Smith his newly reattached ear. A judge charged Byrne with grievous bodily harm and imposed tough bail restrictions: no going within 30 feet of Father Smith, no threatening him, and no communicating in any way.

I suppose it's a good thing that Byrne was polite enough to remind his adversary to take his severed ear with him. Perhaps he has his spiritual practice to thank for this, as I imagine it would be difficult for most people to act with even marginal grace after a fit of ear-biting anger. At the same time, wouldn't it have been infinitely better still if he hadn't bitten it off in the first place?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Satan's Toaster

This old video from the Today Show has been making the rounds on the social networks over the last couple of days, but it's just too good not to post here. In a segment on supermarket tabloids, we meet a woman who had sex with aliens, a man who was rescued from drowning by his ventriloquist's dummy, and a woman who claimed her toaster was possessed by the devil. It's important to keep in mind regarding the latter story that this aired in the mid-eighties when a substantial group of people actually believed that objects like household appliances could be possessed and that the devil was lurking everywhere, and this belief is part of what fueled the bogus "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare.

Personally, I used to love the Weekly World News back before it went online-only. I didn't believe much of it, but that wasn't the point. It was the so-called news source that gave us Bat Boy, conservative columnist Ed Anger (possibly a predecessor to Stephen Colbert, and to my knowledge the writer who coined the phrase "pig-biting mad"), Elvis Presley sightings, and more fortean accounts of monsters, aliens, and so forth than one could ever want. It also reported many sightings of the devil, such as stories accompanied by images of devil faces photoshopped over thunderstorms and debris clouds from natural disasters. As you might expect, image manipulation technology was an absolute boon to the tabloid industry, and the Weekly World News in particular.

The three stories covered in the video are all quite weird, but as you might expect the only one that includes any sort of demonstration or evidence - Satan's toaster - is obviously a hoax. The piece of toast reading "Satan Lives" has clearly had the letters cut into it rather than burned during the toasting process. The toaster does shoot up a two foot flame, which is pretty impressive, but if you watch the video you can see the woman push the toaster away from her the moment she gets the toast in - you know, like she had some idea of what was about to happen. Finally, the last line, "it makes good toast," sounds way too much like a punchline to a bad joke and pretty much lets anybody who's paying attention in on the gag.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Qabalistic Ritual Construction

While Augoeides has only been around since 2006, I've had an esoteric web site of some sort online since the late 1990's. Many of the items were simply links to rituals I liked and so forth, but a few were original articles on various magical subjects. I've gotten a few questions via e-mail recently regarding the use of Aleister Crowley's Liber 777 for the construction of rituals such as the various planetary rites I have posted on this blog. My old site was the home of the following article, and I'm reposting it here because the only way to link to it prior to now was to dig into the Internet Archives. Building rituals using Liber 777 is not nearly as complex as it seems at first when you pick up the book and flip through the tables. It is my hope that this article will lay out the process in more explicit detail and dispel some of that confusion.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Proof of Precognition?

One of the advantages of quantum consciousness models is that so far they seem to be just about the only thing that explains some of the weirdness researchers have discovered with respect to the mind and how it appears to interact with the world. A recent example of this can be found in a study by a group of researchers at Northwestern University, who seem to have discovered a rudimentary form of precognition that they have termed "presentiment."

The Northwestern University researchers analyzed the results of 26 studies published between 1978 and 2010 to look into whether humans have the ability to predict future important events without any clues as to what might happen, said Julia Mossbridge, lead author of the study and research associate in the Visual Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern.

Her example is that a person playing a video game at work while wearing headphones can’t hear when his or her boss is coming, but they may be able to anticipate it.

“But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand and close your video game,” Mossbridge. “You might even have a chance to open that spreadsheet you were supposed to be working on. And if you were lucky, you could do all this before your boss entered the room.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Demons Hate This Film

Up until a year or two ago I used to find a lot of my weird news stories on the British news site Metro. More recently, though, the paranormal items have practically vanished from the weird news section and been replaced with animal stories and coverage of oddities like the world's largest ball of string. Imagine my surprise, then, to come across this gem - a film afflicted by demonic possession. Producer Bil Bungay is convinced that an "evil presence" affected screenings of his movie When the Lights Went Out, and organized a mass exorcism to combat it.

Two screenings of the chiller at London’s Soho Screening Rooms have been hit by blackouts, leading Mr Bungay to conclude the film was suffering ‘the effects of a demonic possession’.

He decided on a mass exorcism, with the help of 100 men and women of the cloth – who happen to be his friends.

The film is based on an alleged haunting that took place in a Yorkshire council house that was home to director Pat Holden’s aunt, Jean Pritchard in the early 1970s. Mr Bungay said: ‘It was one thing to put the first power failure down to a bit of bad luck.

‘But to move cinemas and have exactly the same thing happen 20 minutes into the movie when the evil presence is first felt, was beyond coincidence, and has caused much concern for the production.’

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So the Ayahuasca Was Right

The day before the United States presidential election a group of Peruvian shamanic practitioners (note: not "shamans" - the term is culture-specific to northern Asia) issued their prediction for the race. Following a ritual that involved the consumption of the hallucinogenic plant ayahuasca and coca leaves, they concluded that President Obama would be re-elected - and he was.

Members of the group placed flower petals on photos of the candidates that were also swept over with tobacco smoke. The shamans chewed coca leaves, a traditional ceremonial and medicinal plant since Inca times that helps fight altitude sickness.

And the crew took some swigs of ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew used widely among Amazon basin indigenous people. At least one thing was clear, they said: Obama should defeat Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

It seems that the Mormon prayers supporting Governor Romney fell short in the end. However, a pretty good case can be made that they did something. In early October it looked like the Republican nominee was on the verge of being put away for good, but a fortuitous set of events coinciding with the prayer initiative gave his campaign new life.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Physics and the Elder Gods

Back when I was in college a group of folks calling themselves the "Campus Crusade for C'thulhu" was going around telling people that rather than voting for the lesser of two evils, they should vote for the greatest of all possible evils. They may still be around someplace, though I haven't heard from them in awhile. Here in the United States it's election day, so I want to remind my American readers to get out and vote. Even if it's for the greatest of all possible evils - or, for that matter, Aleister Crowley.

In the meantime, here's an amusing article regarding the aforementioned greatest of all possible evils. It's a serious-sounding scientific treatment of the "non-Euclidean geometry" that H. P. Lovecraft associated with Elder Gods such as C'thulhu in his stories, and it's brilliant. Here's a sample from the abstract:

In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen’s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston’s collection of documents.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What the Maya Officially Believe About 2012

I've already mentioned a number of times on this blog that actual Mayans think the whole "2012 apocalypse" being promulgated by the New Age community is ridiculous and has nothing to do with their beliefs. Now there's finally an official announcement to that effect.

Maya alliance spokesman Felipe Gomez has issued a statement to the media explaining how his people interpret the new calendar cycle that begins on December 21 of this year. The statement was issued in response to Westerners attempting to turn a profit off these far-out doomsday predictions in the form of books, films, songs, and even an expensive "doomsday" bike tour.

Doomsday and catastrophic predictions related to the Mayan calendar, which hits a symbolic turning point on Dec. 21, 2012, aren't new. They already permeate pop culture through films, songs and hundreds of books. But as the new year approaches, interest has spiked. A Reuters survey in May found that one in 10 people believe that the Mayan calendar could signify the end of the world in 2012, and 15 percent of people believe the world will end in their lifetime. Web sites and message boards promoting the "Mayan doomsday" date have proliferated, and at least one company is selling $5,300 tickets for a 28-day "La Ruta Maya" bike tour that will begin in Costa Rica and end on Dec. 21 in Belize.

Gomez said the Dec. 21 "doomsday" is actually the beginning of a new time cycle on the Mayan calendar and "means there will be big changes on the personal, family and community level, so that there is harmony and balance between mankind and nature," according to the AFP.

Gomez's told the AFP that his group is organizing what it sees as more respectful and sacred events to mark the turn of the new Mayan calendar in five cities. He suggested that the government instead support these gatherings, the AFP reported.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The World's Happiest Man?

Brainwaves are at best an indirect measure of consciousness, but that fact alone does not render them useless for assessing an individual's degree of realization. Back in 1999 neuroscientist James Austin reviewed the existing studies on advanced meditators and concluded in Zen and the Brain that the intensity of brainwaves in the gamma range seemed to correlate closely with the reported quality of spiritual experiences. Brainwaves are a measure of the overall firing rate of neurons as recorded by an electroencephalograph (EEG). Researchers classify these waves into six frequency categories. Delta has a frequency of up to 4 Hz, Theta from 4-8 Hz, Alpha and Mu from 8-13 Hz, Beta from 13-30 Hz, and Gamma 30 Hz and above. The latter, therefore, represent the highest frequency waves that EEG scans have found.

Researchers have now announced that during deep meditation the brain of Matthieu Ricard, a colleague of the Dalai Lama, appears to produce the highest level of gamma waves ever measured. This prompted popular media outlets to announce that Ricard had been identified as "the world's happiest man," which is perhaps a bit of a stretch given the subjectivity happiness. Based on the previous research, though, a solid case can be made that at the very least he is one of the most realized. The EEG may not be a genuine consciousness measure, but it certainly provides a great deal of insight into the states of consciousness reached during meditation and other similar practices.

The brain scans of Matthieu Ricard, a renowned Buddhist thinker, show that his gray matter emits a quantity of gamma waves "never reported before in the neuroscience literature" when he meditates on compassion, a scientist says. Gamma waves are associated with memory, learning, attention, and consciousness.