Tuesday, April 30, 2013

As Bad as it Sounds

Brazilian evangelical pastor Valdeci Sobrino Picanto was recently arrested. His crime? Convincing his congregants that his penis contains "sacred milk." And yes, that's just as bad as it sounds. The British press can rail all it wants about allegations of OTO being a "sex cult," but the fact is that if anyone in the Order tried a stunt like this it would never go anywhere because they would be laughed out of the lodge. Or, if anything non-consensual occurred, expelled outright.

Picanto told his followers that the Holy Spirit would secrete from his penis in the form of “sacred milk“. This pastor said that his penis was blessed and that “the Lord had consecrated him with divine milk of the “Holy Spirit,” reports Vatican Crimes.

One of Picanto’s followers stated, “He convinced us that only God could come into our lives through our mouth and that’s why he would do what he did. Often, after worship, pastor Valdeci would take us to where the funds were kept at the back of the Church and asked us to have oral sex with him until the Holy Spirit would come through ejaculation.“

I suppose this constitutes a novel interpretation of Matthew 15:11 - "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." Seriously, though, where do churches find these people? Settlements related to sex abuse scandals have cost churches billions over the last decade or so. You would think at some point these pastors would just wise up and keep it in their pants.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Occulture on the Real OTO

The recent flap over British celebrity Peaches Geldof's possible involvement in OTO has returned Aleister Crowley's special relationship with the British press corps to the spotlight. This relationship dates back more than a century, and can best be described as one in which given a chance to vilify Crowley, the British press leaps to do so at the slightest possible opportunity. One example is the awful Guardian article that I linked to in my previous post, but here are more:
Some are worse than others, but all contain substantial inaccuracies and they aren't the only articles out there. A number of other tabloids and celebrity gossip sites have picked up the story using the above as their sources, spreading the nonsense far and wide. Occulture has now responded to these articles with - gasp - accurate information about Crowley and the Order, noting that among other things the reporters working on the above stories apparently couldn't even be bothered to look up Ordo Templi Orientis on Wikipedia. That's some crack reporting right there.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Augmentation, Not Replacement

Magical healing has a long tradition throughout human history. Before the rise of modern medicine illnesses were treated holistically, incorporating herbal remedies along with various spiritual and energetic practices. Today many of these alternative healing methods are still practiced, and some such as acupuncture have been found effective by scientific studies. In addition, many modern pharmaceuticals were originally developed from herbs that date far back into antiquity.

This is all fine and good, but unfortunately a sort of exclusive dichotomy has arisen between "alternative" and "conventional" medicine that far too many people accept. The natural foods movement puts forth the idea that somehow there's a difference between a chemical that comes from an herb versus one that is manufactured in a lab, even if their composition is identical. And on the other end of the spectrum, faith-healing churches teach that prayer should be employed in place of any sort of medical treatment, with the predictable result that many people who receive such treatments get worse, not better.

Recent a couple in Pennsylvania who belong to one of these faith-healing denominations lost a child after attempting treatment with prayer rather than medicine. What makes the situation even more tragic is the fact that this same couple had already been convicted for involuntary manslaughter in the death of another child back in 2010.

A Philadelphia couple – serving 10 years’ probation for the 2009 death of their toddler after they turned to prayer instead of a doctor – has violated their probation now that another of their children has died. Herbert and Catherine Schaible belong to a fundamentalist Christian church that believes in faith-healing.

Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner said at a hearing they violated the most important condition of their probation: to seek medical care for their remaining children.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Censoring Magick

The other day I was looking through new movie reviews and came across this one for Rob Zombie's new horror film, The Lords of Salem. Normally it's not the sort of thing I bring up on this blog, since while I am a fan of cheesy horror films they're not truly magical or paranormal in any sense of the word. If anything they distort the concept of magick nearly beyond recognition, and frankly the film loses points with me right off the bat for its deliberate association with the set of clown shoes that is the Salem, Massachusetts witchcraft scene. However, it was this bit at the end of the article that captured my attention:

“The Lords of Salem” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) for language, nudity, gore and spell chanting.

I'm familiar with Rob Zombie's work, and as such the idea that a film from him would ever get a lower rating than R seems pretty farfetched. Nonetheless, I had no idea before now that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave movies that depict "spell chanting" a more restrictive rating. That's yet another area where the Poor Oppressed Christians are so utterly non-oppressed. Has a film ever had its rating increased for depicting prayer for a specific intent? Of course not - even though casting a spell is essentially the same thing once you remove the sectarian associations.

Now the MPAA is in fact a notoriously messed up organization. Between its bungling attempts to combat movie piracy and its insistence that depictions of sexuality are apparently far more damaging to children than depictions of extreme violence, it seems to me that the organization's bad reputation is deserved. In an interview years ago, Trey Parker of South Park fame explained that when he and Matt Stone made Team America: World Police they filmed an unbelievably extended and graphic version of the film's well-known puppet sex scene with the full knowledge that most of it would have to be cut - just so that the MPAA's raters would have to endure watching the whole thing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Demon Test

Bob Larson thinks you might have a demon. Seriously. Evangelist Larson first made a name for himself stirring up false accusations of Satanic Ritual Abuse back in the early 1990's and soliciting donations to combat this non-existent threat. More recently Larson assembled the Teen Exorcist Squad and now has an online test you can take to find out if you "have a demon." I went to take the test just for the humor value, but true to Larson's money-grubbing form just taking it costs ten bucks. So forget that.

You would think that this would be less transparently a scam, that the test would be free but then recommend various "services" after concluding you in fact have a demon that Larson's squad can deal with for a nominal or more likely not-so-nominal fee. But I suppose the profit margin is better for his organization if even the test has a price attached. Clearly churches that conduct counseling and exorcisms for free are in the wrong business. According to the web site, here's what you can do if the test finds you to be afflicted.

#1 Consider visiting our Center for Spiritual Freedom in Phoenix, Arizona to spend a full or half day with me personally for an Intervention Intensive. We'll carefully address a wide range of spiritual issues, including anxiety, emotional exhaustion, anger management, rejection and abandonment issues, health challenges, and spiritual oppression.

#2 Attend one of our Spiritual Freedom Seminars in selected cities (our latest schedule is at www.boblarson.org) and arrange for a one-hour Encounter session. We'll help you find direction in life and quickly get to the root of whatever is holding back your health, finances, or relationships.

#3 Receive a referral from one of our DWJD® (Do What Jesus Did) inner healing and deliverance teams, located in more than 100 cities worldwide. They will arrange a time to meet with you and minister to your spiritual needs.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How Far They've Fallen

Remember Saudi Arabia's deadly anti-witchcraft squad, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices? After being responsible for a series of brutal executions of accused magical practitioners, the Saudi government reined in the organization last October. They likely did so because the religiously motivated prosecutions looked a little too much like classic witch hunts and they were getting a lot of bad publicity. That's a good thing for any Saudi in danger of being targeted, but at the same time this is just pathetic.

At least three men attending an annual culture festival in Saudi Arabia were kicked out of the country after religious police officers deemed them "too handsome" to stay. The men, delegates from the United Arab Emirates, were minding their own business at the Jenadrivah Heritage & Cultural Festival in Riyadh when members of the mutaween suddenly "stormed" the pavilion and removed the men by force.

"A festival official said the three Emiratis were taken out on the grounds they are too handsome and that the Commission [for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices] members feared female visitors could fall for them," the Arabic-language newspaper Elaph reported this week. The Emirati delegates were subsequently deported back to their home country.

I mean, seriously? This is a group that used to inspire fear by beheading suspected witches, and now they're busy chasing good-looking people out of the country instead. That's like a former President of the United States speaking at a shopping mall opening. Apparently, instead of the formerly dreaded anti-witchcraft squad the Commission for the for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices is now little more than the eminently mockable sex appeal police. I suppose that means they can still chase after witches, but only if they happen to be attractive ones.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Wickedest Cult in the World

This one's for the Poor Oppressed Christians out there who think that they're being oppressed whenever somebody says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" during the winter season. These fools have absolutely no idea what it means to be a member of a minority religion. When Christianity is mentioned in the Western media it is treated with kid gloves. Sure, fringe Christian groups that are engaged in genuinely hateful activities like the Westboro Baptist Church attract condemnation, but for the most part? Religious beliefs are almost always accorded the special status of being above criticism - that is, so long as those beliefs are Christian.

I'm a Thelemite and an initiate of OTO. The order has been in the news recently because Peaches Geldof, a British celebrity who I have to confess I had never heard of before the current flurry of publicity, is apparently an initiate and has not been shy about announcing it to the world. This prompted British media outlets - who a century ago were busy smearing Aleister Crowley with wild abandon - to start looking into what the heck this "Thelema" thing was all about. What this incredibly offensive article from The Guardian reports is that Thelema is a "stupid cult" which is also apparently worse than Scientology. If Huffington Post putting up a single article listing books about Paganism represents a mortal offense to Poor Oppressed Christianity, I can't even imagine the level of whining that an article like this one about their religion would provoke.

Here's a sample. When was the last time a widely-circulated publication purporting to be an actual news outlet treated any mainstream religion as disrespectfully as this?

So why is it in the news? Why are stupid cults ever in the news?

Ah. Because of a famous stupid cultist? Bingo. In this case, Peaches Geldof.

Daughter of Bob? Yes, that Peaches Geldof, former dabbler in Scientology and present owner-operator of a heart-shaped "OTO" tattoo.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gateway to Hell

Here's a horror movie just waiting to happen. Archaeologists claim to have recently discovered an ancient portal to the underworld once known as "Pluto's Gate" in southwestern Turkey. Italian archaeologist Francesco D'Andria led the team that discovered the site, a cave that produces toxic vapors from deep underground capable of killing any person or animal that inhales them. The digital reconstruction shown above illustrates what the site may have looked like in ancient times.

D'Andria also found the remains of a temple, a pool and a series of steps placed above the cave -- all matching the descriptions of the site in ancient sources. “People could watch the sacred rites from these steps, but they could not get to the area near the opening. Only the priests could stand in front of the portal,” D'Andria said.

According to the archaeologist, there was a sort of touristic organization at the site. Small birds were given to pilgrims to test the deadly effects of the cave, while hallucinated priests sacrificed bulls to Pluto. The ceremony included leading the animals into the cave, and dragging them out dead.

It's easy to see how this natural phenomenon could have been interpreted as an entrance leading to the realm of the dead. The Greco-Roman concept of the underworld was associated with underground sites such as caverns, and this particular cave would kill any animal brought inside - almost as if its spirit were taken from it as it passed through the opening. Today the site mostly lies in ruins, just waiting to be disturbed by a party of hapless but attractive young spring breakers who it can then kill off one by one.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fake Illuminati Sacrifice

Up to now my coverage of the fake Illuminati has focused on the silliness of the beliefs surrounding this long-extinct organization. Back in December, though, the convergence of a particularly stupid individual and these ridiculous beliefs nearly turned deadly. Aspiring rap performer Wafeeq Sabir El-Amin somehow got it into his head that in order to become a star he had to join the Illuminati. He also somehow came up with the notion that in order to do this he had to perform a human sacrifice. So, naturally, he decided that the most logical thing to do was to shoot one of his friends. El-Amin, though, proved to be just as terrible a shot as he was a judge of the procedures of secret societies. El-Amin's "sacrifice" was hit in the hand, after which he managed to take away the gun and shoot the would-be Illuminati in the stomach before making his escape.

Both men survived, and El-Amin is now going on trial in Virginia for "malicious wounding" and, unsurprisingly, related drug charges. At the initial hearing in March, El-Amin was denied bail after Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Thomas Johnson successfully argued that the would-be rap star was a danger to the public. The trial is scheduled to begin in June.

Johnson said in court Thursday that the trial will delve into the hip-hop music culture and the notion that a secret society called the Illuminati has control over the success of some performers.

It was the belief that a sacrifice had to occur in order to join the Illuminati that allegedly incited El-Amin, Johnson said. Investigators recovered more than a pound of marijuana from the Athens Avenue home, according to the search warrant, as well as literature dealing with the Illuminati and its alleged connection to the music industry.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Office of the Readings for 2013

We survived 2012 - you know, just like I knew we would. So what is my working group doing to celebrate that we're all still here for the Equinox of the Gods? Why, the same thing we do every year - the Office of the Readings!

For those who aren't familiar with the system, the Thelemic dates that you may see written online in the format "IV:xix" are arrived at by counting the number of 22-year cycles since the original Equinox of the Gods in 1904 to obtain the upper case Roman numeral, and then counting the years of the current cycle to get the lower case one. Within each 22-year cycle, many Thelemites ascribe the Major Arcana trumps of the Tarot to the years in order starting with The Fool and ending with The Universe. So the year that we're about to enter into is IV:xxi and is thus attributed to the Universe card.

This post will remain the top article here for the duration of the Thelemic High Holy Days, from March 20th to April 10th. The Rite of the Office of the Readings is performed for all of the readings following The Invocation of Horus on March 20th. It may also be used with The Prologue of the Unborn on March 19th at your own discretion. We've done it both ways over the years.


The Invocation of Horus
The Rite of the Office of the Readings


March 19th - The Prologue of the Unborn
March 20th - Saturn/Earth, The Universe
March 21st - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon
March 22nd - Sol, The Sun
March 23rd - Pisces, The Moon
March 24th - Aries, The Emperor
March 25th - Mars, The Tower
March 26th - Capricornus, The Devil
March 27th - Sagittarius, Art
March 28th - Scorpio, Death
March 29th - Water, The Hanged Man
March 30th - Libra, Adjustment
March 31st - Jupiter, Fortune
April 1st - Virgo, The Hermit
April 2nd - Leo, Lust
April 3rd - Cancer, The Chariot
April 4th - Gemini, The Lovers
April 5th - Taurus, The Hierophant
April 6th - Aquarius, The Star
April 7th - Venus, The Empress
April 8th - Luna, The Priestess
April 9th - Mercury, The Magus
April 10th - Air, The Fool

If you would like to perform this series and have questions, feel free to e-mail me here.

All Office of the Readings posts may also be viewed here. Our Office of the Readings series is based on this ritual by the Companions of Monsalvat.

Meth-Dealing Monsignor Pleads Guilty

Monsignor Kevin Wallin, the former priest arrested back in January on charges of dealing methamphetamine, has pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to possess the drug with intent to distribute. Wallin's story is one of those "you can't make this stuff up" news items, which includes allegations that he purchased a sex shop in order to launder drug money, much at odds with the behavior normally expected of religious leaders.

Kevin Wallin, of Waterbury, admitted to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was scheduled to be sentenced June 25. The agreed-upon sentence is 11 to 14 years.

Prosecutors said the 61-year-old Wallin had meth mailed to him from co-conspirators in California and sold the drugs out of his Waterbury apartment last year. He sold nearly four pounds in all, prosecutors said. He also bought an adult video and sex toy shop in North Haven named Land of Oz & Dorothy’s Place, apparently to launder the drug money, authorities said.

Wallin was suspended by his diocese in May 2012 after reports of "bizarre behavior," which I can't help thinking may have been due to dipping into his own supply of product. Methamphetamine use also may have fueled the risk-taking that led to his arrest. In all, Wallin's drug dealing apparently took in as much as $300,000 over the course of about six months, a pretty good haul if he could have kept it going and avoided criminal charges.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A State Religion for North Carolina?

A new bill proposed in North Carolina would allow the declaration of an official state religion. While it's unclear whether or not the bill will pass the legislature, it should be obvious to just about everyone that the very idea is not only misguided but fundamentally unconstitutional. The sponsors of the bill argue that the prohibitions that prevent the government from favoring one religion over another apply only to the federal government, which means that states are free to endorse particular denominations.

Republican North Carolina state legislators have proposed allowing an official state religion in a measure that would declare the state exempt from the Constitution and court rulings.

The bill, filed Monday by two GOP lawmakers from Rowan County and backed by nine other Republicans, says each state "is sovereign" and courts cannot block a state "from making laws respecting an establishment of religion." The legislation was filed in response to a lawsuit to stop county commissioners in Rowan County from opening meetings with a Christian prayer, wral.com reported.

Apparently the Poor Oppressed Christians feel so oppressed by having no special legal status that they are now lobbying for an official declaration that enshrines their privilege into law. Somehow, the fact that this has not been done makes them the victims here. The bottom line here is that states are not allowed to pass laws that violate the Bill of Rights. If this bill were to survive a court challenge it would mean that all the other freedoms enumerated in the Constitution can likewise be overridden by state law. That, of course, is why it will never be upheld. My guess is that this also why regular Christians of the non-oppressed variety have never bothered pushing for such a thing.

UPDATE: So it looks like the North Carolina legislature is not run by theocrats after all.This morning the sponsors of the state religion bill were told that it would not even be be brought to a vote, killing the measure. It's nice to know that there are still some politicians out there who are familiar with the Constitution.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pat Robertson on Miracles

Before delving into today's topic, I want to point out that unlike a certain subset of occultists I have no problem with Christianity as a spiritual system. When I was younger I was Christian and quite religious, and the reason that I drifted first into Hermeticism and later Thelema was that I wanted to know how to manipulate the "levers" that make the universe run, not out of any sort of rebellion. I do have some problems with fundamentalists and with individuals who treat their spirituality as a social club, but neither of those impulses is exclusive to Christianity. I issue this disclaimer because lately it seems to me like a lot of recent articles here have either been critical toward or making fun of Christians, and I want to stress that this is not because they're Christians and I'm a Thelemite. It's because some of them keep doing such ridiculous things.

With that being said, to work. Today's silliness comes once more from influential televangelist Pat Robertson, who has been featured more than once here on Augoeides. On a recent broadcast of his 700 Club television series, Robertson explained to a viewer that the reason miracles happen in place like Africa and not here in the United States is that we're too well educated and know too much about science.

“People overseas didn’t go to Ivy League schools,” the TV preacher laughed. “We’re so sophisticated, we think we’ve got everything figured out. We know about evolution, we know about Darwin, we know about all these things that says God isn’t real.”

“We have been inundated with skepticism and secularism,” he conintued. “And overseas, they’re simple, humble. You tell ‘em God loves ‘em and they say, ‘Okay, he loves me.’ You say God will do miracles and they say, ‘Okay, we believe him.’”

“And that’s what God’s looking for. That’s why they have miracles.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Uncharitable Politician Denied Communion

The Daily Currant reports today that Republican congressman and former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan was refused communion at Easter Sunday Mass. A spokesperson from the church explained that as the budget Ryan recently proposed defunds much of the existing social safety net for the poor, the plan stands in opposition to Roman Catholic teachings on social justice and compassion for the less fortunate. Therefore, allowing the congressman to take communion would be inappropriate.

The church's commitment to the poor strengthened with the ascension of Pope Francis I to the papacy, who while a bishop in his native Argentina was known for his deep devotion to fighting poverty. Despite his Catholic faith, Paul Ryan is the author of a budget plan that directly contradicts these core values, tearing up the existing social safety net America has built for the poor. Last year the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called Ryan's budget "unjustified" and "wrong."

In an exclusive interview, Ryan says he rejects the bishop's criticisms and argues his viewpoint should be allowed within the Church. "I'm a big fan of the Old Testament," Ryan says. "I like the parts where God is punishing people with plagues and locusts, and killing people's first born children. The verses where he sanctions rape and genocide are just brilliant.

"But I'm not really big on this hippie New Testament thing. Too much peace and love, not enough hatred and violence. But hey, it's all God's word. So I don't see why I am excluded from Catholic services just because I like some parts better than others."

If the Roman Catholic Church is going to refuse communion to politicians over their support for particular measures, as it has done for a number of pro-choice bills and amendments, it seems completely logical and consistent to apply this same concept to other initiatives that contradict Church teachings on poverty issues. Of course, it's April 1st and this article is a parody, so in reality they're not about to do it any time soon.