Saturday, April 30, 2016

Like an Insult to Lucifer

Last week former Speaker of the House John Boehner was asked his opinion of Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Boehner replied by describing Cruz as "Lucifer in the flesh." Satanists then announced that they were offended by that characterization, on the grounds that comparing Lucifer to Ted Cruz is insulting to Lucifer.

Has this been like the weirdest election year ever, or what?

When asked for his opinion about the Texas senator, Boehner said, “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” It turns out that the Satanic Temple agrees with Boehner’s sentiments — but they said there’s no way Cruz is the living incarnate of Satan.

When asked by the Friendly Atheist, Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves bashed Cruz. “Cruz’s failures of reason, compassion, decency, and humanity are products of his Christian pandering, if not an actual Christian faith,” Greaves responded. “It grows tedious when pedophile priests and loathsome politicians are conveniently dismissed as Satanic, even as they spew biblical verse and prostrate themselves before the cross, recruiting the Christian faithful. Satanists will have nothing to do with any of them.”

It's not that politicians aren't routinely referred to as the embodiment of Satanic evil. I remember back in the 1980's when Ronald Wilson Reagan was supposed to be 666 because his first, middle, and last name all had six letters. More recently, of course, Obama has been accused of being the Antchrist. But I have to say, this is the first time I've heard of Satanists being up in arms over the comparison.

I guess Ted Cruz really is just that awful.

Friday, April 29, 2016

It's Goatman!

Recently a new photograph of Maryland's Goatman has been circulating on the Internet. So is it real? Goatman is a completely goofy urban legend, a half-man half-goat created by 1970's genetic research gone wrong who now haunts the woods of Prince Georges County on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

The urban legend itself is absolutely absurd. The creature haunts Maryland make out spots, and leaps out at passionate young couples brandishing an ax. The creature was also blamed for locally high-profile pet mutilations in the 1970s.

Many reputable sightings of strange creatures do occur in Bowie, Baltimore, and several other densely populated areas in and around the Washington area, though almost all of the sightings describe large, upright, hairy hominids which sound much more like the equally legendary Bigfoot. Literally hundreds of these sightings have been collected in Mark Opsasnick’s essential book, The Maryland Bigfoot Digest. Hardly any of the people who’ve allegedly seen what they call the Goatman, actually describe a creature like the one in the photo.

I do not agree with WBAL’s assertion that the photograph depicts a bear carrying a dead goat. That’s asinine. The Goat’s head clearly belongs to the body of the hairy creature pictured. I do not, however, believe this to be a legitimate photograph of Goatman. I would never accuse the photographer of being untruthful, but I do believe he, himself to be the victim of a hoax. The whole thing is just too good to be true.

Sadly, I have to agree. The photograph is "real" for what it is, but it's also pretty obviously somebody running around in a costume. It should also be noted that Goatman's iconic fire axe is nowhere to be seen in the picture. An omission on the part of the hoaxer, perhaps?

Goatman is a funny enough legend that maybe for once I agree with an argument made by sasquatch skeptics back in the late 1970's. There very well could be more people out there running around in costumes than anyone realizes.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ken Ham is a Piker

Creation Museum founder Ken Ham is continuing to plug away on his "Ark Encounter" exhibit, a full-size replica of Noah's Ark that he hopes will become a major tourist attraction. His efforts to secure funding for the project have bordered on comical, including junk bonds and tax incentives that he later lost because he insisted on discriminatory hiring for everyone involved in the project.

But here's the thing - Ham's ark, which still is not complete, isn't the first replica of Noah's Ark to be built. Dutch creationist Johan Huibers finished his in 2012, after first building a half-scale replica as a proof of concept. Huiber's ark is no landlocked tourist attraction either - it's a totally functional ship.

So it's way cooler than anything Ham has proposed. Not only that, plans are in the works for "Johan's Ark" to sail across the Atlantic ocean later this year and make stops along the coast of the United States and Brazil. While I don't personally believe that Bible story of Noah is literally true, the voyage should put to rest the idea that the original ark could not have been seaworthy.

The ark, which was created by Dutch carpenter Johan Huibers, will stop at several port cities in Brazil and make four stops along the coast of the U.S., according to the Ark of Noah Foundation, which is working to raise funds for the ark’s journey.

According to the organization, which was founded by Huibers, the idea to build the ark came to Huibers after he dreamt that a massive flood covered the province of Noord-Holland in the Netherlands.

"That dream marks the start of an exciting adventure in which Johan overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve his ultimate goal: The building of a replica of Noah’s Ark," the organization said online. The modern ark, dubbed "Johan’s Ark," is a fully-functioning replica of Noah’s Ark, as described in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

Huibers has identified himself as a creationist, but I have no idea if he's what Ken Ham considers the "right kind" of creationist - somebody who literally believes in the interpretation-heavy totally-not-literal Ussher Chronology from the seventeenth century. Last year ago Ham got into a big argument with evangelist Pat Robertson when he dared to criticize Ussher, claiming that Robertson was not a "real Christian."

But whether or not Huibers agrees with Ham, one thing is indisputable. Johann Huibers has the best ark, by far.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Those Trump-Hexers Sure Messed Up

After big wins in yesterday's so-called "Acela Primary," Donald Trump is in a good position to win the Republican presidential nomination over his remaining rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Back in September, a group of self-proclaimed witches attempted to hex Donald Trump with the intention of ending his campaign for president. While I'm not personally a Trump supporter, as a student of magick it is my duty to call this like I see it - those hexers somehow really messed up.

Their spells, very clearly, have not accomplished a thing. Trump is stronger than ever. Cruz and Kasich attempted to form an alliance to deny him an outright win, but it collapsed practically overnight. I should also point out that as a Christian Reconstructionist, Cruz would probably be a worse president than Trump from where I'm sitting as a member of a minority, non-Muslim religion. In my opinion, Trump is mostly a pragmatist while Cruz is a dangerous ideologue.

So looking back on the spell and how it was put together, what went wrong? All I have to go on is the video that this group of witches posted on YouTube, and some of the "spells" performed are amusing but don't look very magically effective. A few of them, however, looked like traditional Hoodoo-type methods that in theory should have worked. They just didn't. Since September, Trump has vanquished rival after rival in primaries all over the country.

From the video you can see that each member of the group did their own thing, employing a wide variety of methods, rather than pooling their efforts into any sort of a group rite. You can make an argument either way; a bunch of smaller rituals could take advantage of the shoaling effect, with many smaller operations targeting various aspects of Trump's campaign all at once. But at the same time, without coordination it is very possible that the few effective spells in the bunch may have gotten in each others way.

I also think that posting the video on YouTube was probably a mistake. It got hits, and parts of it were funny, but it also gave Trump even more free media coverage - something he excels at exploiting. In cultures where belief in magick is widespread, you can sometimes increase your spell's effectiveness by telling your target they have been cursed, but in the Western world belief in magick is so sparse that I doubt it has any effect. If anything, it usually provokes skepticism and little more.

Personally, I think the wisest course is always to keep your casting secret while your spell does its work. Either the magick works or it doesn't, and then even if it fails it can provide you with valuable experimental data. On the other hand, if you publicly announce what you're doing or what you did before the spell has a chance to run, you potentially are skewing your sample with all sorts of suggestion effects and so forth. And in a field as media-heavy as politics, you run the risk of making people who don't like "witches" more likely to support whoever it is you're hexing.

I do perform political operations, as I will be covering in more detail in my next Enochian book, Mastering the Thirty Aires. I also cover some of that material in my Introduction to the Thirty Aires lecture that I have transcribed here on Augoeides. I always keep them secret, never announcing to anyone outside my magical working group what I'm doing. We have also found that we seem to get better results when we pool our efforts rather than trying to rely on shoaling, but I still am not sure why that has been the case.

So next time, I suggest that these would-be hexers take this critique into account. It's possible that Trump, as a master media manipulator, is something of a special case, but I still think my points stand. By adhering to them, I have gotten good results on a pretty reliable basis.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Scientology Expose on the Way

L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology has been the target of critics for a long time. Last year, HBO released a documentary critical of the church and leaders of the Belgian branch of the organization were charged with fraud and extortion.

Now Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley and a longtime Scientologist, is believed to be behind the promotion of a memoir written by Ron Miscavige, father of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Ron will be appearing on ABC's 20/20 on April 29th to discuss his experiences in the church, and the book is slated to be released next week.

Lisa Marie is using her media savvy and connections with other celebrities and other important figures inside Scientology to release explosive revelations about Miscavige, while keeping her own role quiet. The result, so far, has been the skillfully timed release of media stories that have damaged Miscavige at the same time that Scientology is in a long term decline.

In Lisa Marie Presley, David Miscavige has cultivated a powerful enemy. And in this story, we explain how things got to that point.

Yesterday, we described how David Miscavige’s family has been ripped apart by Scientology’s toxic policy of “disconnection,” which has left David and his twin sister, Denise Gentile, cut off from other members of the family, including their father, Ron Miscavige.

On May 3, Ron will release a memoir titled Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me. On April 29, he will be interviewed by ABC’s Dan Harris as part of a full hour 20/20 is dedicating to Scientology. The book and interview come as the result of series of events that began with Ron’s escape from Scientology’s International Base near Hemet, California in March 2012.

Ron had been a Scientologist for about 40 years, and was a well liked and popular member as the Sea Org’s musical director. But by 2012, he could no longer take the deprivations of Sea Org life under his dictatorial son, and with his wife Becky Bigelow, he “blew” from the base, as Scientologists say. We’re looking forward to reading in his book just how he managed that escape.

It's not clear whether Presley's goal is to bring down the church or simply to damage Miscavige, with whom she's been engaged in a long-running feud. It's hard to deny, though, that Miscavige is largely responsible for much of the cultish behavior reported with regard to the group. At the very least, he continued all of Hubbard's most paranoid policies and jacked up fees to ridiculous levels during his tenure.

As I've mentioned before, Scientology does have some beliefs I consider weird, but then so do most religions. My problem with the group has nothing to do with what it teaches, but rather with how it goes about suppressing dissent, threatens legal action and engages in outright harassment against anyone who tries to leave, and soaks its members for huge sums of money that are really out of line compared to every other initiatory religious organization.

Maybe new leadership is just what the church needs. On the other hand, if Miscavige is pressured into stepping down and the new boss is the same as the old one, the criticism of the church is probably going to continue.

Monday, April 25, 2016

More on Linguistics and Magick

So my comments about linguistics in my article on Qabalah have prompted a larger discussion on Facebook. I suppose it's to be expected; I did slip a hyperbolic statement in there with my comment "linguistics as a discipline is not only overrated by magical practitioners, but furthermore has practically nothing to do with magick as it is commonly practiced."

That statement clearly is not literally true, as I would guess the majority of practitioners probably do make use of at least a few linguistic models and concepts in their practice. I want to be clear that in no way was I telling anyone to stop doing that. My first rule, above all else, is that if it works it works. As it says in The Book of the Law, success is your proof. I do think, though, that if those models and concepts are held up as essential to effective magical practice, it fails to take into account real differences in cognition among the human population.

I suppose, then, that this is the "Linguistics is Overrated" post I mentioned wanting to write for years, or at least part of it. The entire conversation is much longer and more involved than anything I can do justice to in a format that anyone would be willing to read, as like the science of cognition itself, it touches on many different disciplines. But I'll do my best to be concise.

When I was a kid I read George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and was absolutely stunned that anyone could believe the idea behind "Newspeak" - that by eliminating words from the language, the Inner Party could control people's thoughts. I just figured it had to be satire, Orwell commenting on how stupid the leaders of the Party really were. Because, obviously, language is how you talk to other people, not how you think. It took me years to realize that there are people in the world who think like that, and after that I no longer knew whether Orwell meant the concept to be satire or if he found it plausible.

I imagine verbal thinkers are the exact same way, wondering how somebody could possibly think without using words or symbols. I've been told by more such people than I care to recount that obviously I must think in language and my direct perception of my thoughts has to be wrong - though how they could possibly know, I have no idea. My guess is that they're operating from the same "generalizing from self" fallacy that I fell into when reading Orwell.

Now I would normally just chalk all this up to individual differences and leave it alone, except that in my opinion generalizing a linguistic model of magick can create more problems than it solves.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Is this a Ghost?

Colorado's Stanley Hotel is famous for inspiring Stephen King's horror novel The Shining, which was adapted into the iconic Stanley Kubrick film that starred Jack Nicholson. The hotel also is an alleged hotspot of paranormal activity, and has been featured multiple times on paranormal investigation shows such as Ghost Hunters. Recently a hotel visitor snapped the photo shown above, which looks like it contains a human figure at the top of the stairs. But the visitor saw nobody on the staircase while the picture was being taken. So is it a ghost?

Henry Yau took a panoramic image of the lobby of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, this week.

When he snapped the photo, there was no one at the top of the staircase, he claims — but when he took a look at it later, he saw a ghostly figure in what looks like period clothing coming down the stairs.

“When I took it, I didn’t notice anything,” Yau, director of public relations at the Children’s Museum of Houston, told

One paranormal expert said the photo shows not one, but two spirits.

“When we blew up the picture, we immediately saw a second anomaly just to the left of the first figure,” Kevin Sampron, a paranormal expert at SPIRIT Paranormal Investigations in Denver, told WUSA. “To us it looks like the first figure is a lady dressed in black and to the left of her it looks like a child.”

Looking at the picture myself, finding two figures in it is a bit of a stretch. It also is hard to say whether the figure is dressed in period clothing or anything like that. It just looks like a dark, human-shaped outline to me - like someone dressed all in black. I'm thinking that spotting two figures in the picture is more likely to be a mosaic effect.

Skeptics have argued that the figure is an artifact created by the cell phone camera's panorama function, which is possible - except that in my experience when that happens you usually see a more defined line where the images splice incorrectly. I can't find a line like that in the photo, but I'm also not familiar with the version of the software used to take it.

So without access to the camera and the location to try and replicate the shot, it is difficult to say whether or not this is some sort of artifact. The panorama function adds another layer of complexity to the shot, where something like that could have been introduced. On the other hand, it does look a lot like a classic ghost photo, so the camera may have captured something paranormal or at least unusual.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Satanic Giants Built Stonehenge

Evangelist Jim Bakker's television program is at it again, this time hosting a creationist who believes that "Satan's giants" are responsible for building the iconic megalithic site Stonehenge. Last week on the program, theologian Dr. Dennis Lindsay explained that in ancient times Satan created a race of giants to destroy Israel, and that this same race of giants is responsible for building Stonehenge and other megalithic sites.

Let's unpack that a little from the standpoint of Biblical scholarship. The references to "giants" in the Bible refer to the Nephilim, the offspring of angels who disobeyed God, took human wives, and fathered children with them. But whether the word really literally means "giant" has not been settled, and there is considerable debate regarding its etymology. So whether or not Nephilim were huge enough to pick up and carry enormous stones is anyone's guess.

Lindsay seems to have anticipated resistance to the notion of giants in world history, given the complete lack of historical records or fossil evidence. So he offered this explanation as proof:

“Why and what is the evidence for giant beings on this Earth? We all know about Stonehenge, right? And that’s just one out of hundreds and hundreds of gigantic places around the world that testify that some sort of supernatural power or giants were involved in its construction.”

The full discussion on “The Jim Bakker Show,” which includes Bakker’s promotional spots for $150 water filtration pitchers, can be seen here.

Lindsay also ignores the fact that at this point we have managed to test a number of Neolithic techniques and have found them fully capable of moving and erecting gigantic stones. Maybe the building of Stonehenge was mysterious back in the 1970's when In Search Of was on the air, but most archaeologists consider those mysteries basically solved. The debate continues over the function of the site, but these days nobody really thinks aliens or giants or whatever built the place.

That is, except for creationists like Dennis Lindsay. But that's probably why he's showing up on Jim Bakker's cable show rather than on a more reputable, widely known program.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Is Qabalah Overrated?

My friend Frater Barrabbas posted an interesting question on Facebook the other day, essentially asking if Qabalah was overrated among magical practitioners. I use Qabalah extensively in my own practice, but at the same time I have seen plenty of people who take the system more literally than they should. So my qualified answer is both a yes and a no, depending upon how you approach it.

Qabalah as I use it is a map, plain and simple. It does not literally define the structure of the universe or anything like that. I'm not alone in this either - Aleister Crowley once commented that a student once told him that the Qabalah was the structure of the universe, and he responded by stating that such a notion was akin to asserting that a cat simply consisted of the letters C, A, and T arranged in a particular order.

For years, I've contemplated putting together a long and exhaustive post on how I believe that linguistics as a discipline is not only overrated by magical practitioners, but furthermore has practically nothing to do with magick as it is commonly practiced. Yes, I'm aware that "grammar" and "grimoire" have a common linguistic origin, just like "spelling" and "casting spells" do. But I am of the opinion that these linguistic conventions are simply based on popular misunderstandings of how magick works.

In the Middle Ages, relatively few people were literate, and magick was the domain of clergymen and aristocrats. This was because in order to learn magick from a book, you had to be able to read. And there have never been all that many magical practitioners around, so learning directly from a teacher was probably not an option in many cases. So it was only natural to associate reading - a linguistic pursuit - with the practice of magick. Language is important for the transmission of basic concepts and procedures, but once that information is internalized I remain convinced that it is practically irrelevant to getting magical results.

This is because magick, properly practiced, is the stuff of consciousness. Consciousness is not made up of words. This has always been clear to me because I don't think in words, but apparently there are a lot of people who do. If that's what your internal landscape looks like, I imagine it's an easy mistake to make. It might even be that a profoundly linguistic thinker might need to work through some internal dialog to access the states of consciousness employed in working magick. I'm just not one of them, and never have been.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tennessee Governor Vetoes Bible Bill

One of the lessons that we can learn by studying countries with official state churches is that from the standpoint of spirituality, treating the church as an extension of government does not work out very well. Fundamentalists who call for an end to the separation of church and state don't seem to have learned this lesson, and I think that America's founding fathers were quite wise in insisting that the Establishment Clause be included in the Constitution.

The separation of church and state has worked out very well for churches and religious organizations. Among developed nations, the United States is one of the most religious and has among the highest rates of church attendance. Countries with state churches come in near the bottom of that list. It seems like if you turn a church into an extension of government, the result is that people start treating that church like any other government bureaucracy. And there's nothing spiritual about that.

Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Haslam, is one Christian who seems to understand this. He recently vetoed a bill that would have made the Bible the official book of the state of Tennessee, on the grounds that such a designation would trivialize the sacred nature of the text.

One week after he formally received a bill to designate the Bible as Tennessee's state book, Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed the measure. Critics say the bill isn't constitutional — and that it equates the Bible to the Tennessee walking horse or the Tennessee cave salamander.

The bill's backers are pledging to try to override the veto, which comes a year after similar legislation failed.

Explaining his veto in a letter to state Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, Haslam writes that in addition to the legal issues about the bill, "this bill trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text."

In the letter reprinted by The Tennessean, Haslam adds, "Our founders recognized that when the church and state were combined, it was the church that suffered in the long run."

Legislators supporting the bill have pledged to override Haslam's veto, and make the case that the printing of Bibles is a big industry in Tennessee, as Nashville is home to several large Bible publishers. Still, I applaud Haslam's action here and I think he's right. From a religious standpoint, the state cannot endorse one religion over another, and if this designation is not being made on religious grounds I do see it as trivializing. Given every example we have, the last thing fundamentalists should want is a state religion, or a state religious book.

Conservative Christians sometimes claim to be under attack by those who don't share their beliefs, but measures like this one is why. If they would just quit demanding special privileges for their religion above all others, the rest of us would leave them alone. It's that simple.

Monday, April 11, 2016

For Great Justice

A reader asked me about writing up an evocation for Libra. The magical power attributed to Libra is "works of justice and equilibrium," so this operation has a wide range of applications.

As I practice it, zodiacal magic is quite similar to planetary magick. The Lesser Rituals of the Pentagram and Hexagram are employed, along with the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram for the sign. The figure for this is the hexagram of ruling planet, and the color and godname attributed to the sign. In the case of Libra, the color is green, just like for Venus. The godname is the permutation of Tetragrammaton for Libra, which is VHYH, pronounced something like "weh-YAH" or "veh-YAH." You vibrate ARARITA while tracing the hexagram in green, and VHYH while tracing the symbol of Libra in red.

According to Liber 777, the Geomantic Intelligence - that is, the angel conjured for this ritual - is Zuriel (Zayin Vav Resh Yod Aleph Lamed). You draw the sigil on the magic square (or kamea) of Venus, because Venus rules Libra. To do this, first convert each letter to its value in Hebrew gematria.

Zayin - 7
Vav - 6
Resh - 200
Yod - 10
Aleph - 1
Lamed - 30

Once you have converted the name to a series of numbers, there are a number of different ways to trace the sigils onto the kamea. The rules that I use are as follows:
  1. Your first choice should always be the exact number.
  2. Any number too large for the square must be reduced by as many factors of 10 as necessary to match one of the numbers in the square. But do this as few times as possible. So, for example, Resh is 200 and the largest value in the square is 49. So you could reduce Resh to 20 or to 2. I go with 20, because it requires only a single tenfold reduction rather than two of them.
  3. The sigil may touching any point within the individual number square. So while I usually default to the center of the square, as it turns out I can draw a more aesthetically pleasing sigil by touching the 1 square and the 30 square on the lower left.
  4. I start with a circle and end with a straight line perpendicular to the line of the sigil. Not every magician does this, and it's not clear whether it's really necessary. To me, though, it alludes to John Dee's comment in the Monas Hieroglyphica that all things in nature are generated by the circle and the straight line. It also alludes to the Thelemic principle of 0=2 and a model of manifestation. The circle has zero explicit points, and the straight line connects two points. The direction of manifestation, then, is from the zero to the two, or from the circle to the straight line.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Office of the Readings for 2016

Happy Thelemic New Year, everyone! It's that time again, for the Office of the Readings.

The Thelemic dates that you may see written online are arrived at by counting the number of 22-year cycles since 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 V:ii and is thus attributed to the Priestess 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 beginning on March 20th.

This year I'm pleased to announce that like last year, this year's Office of the Readings will be presented at Leaping Laughter Lodge, the Minneapolis local body of Ordo Templi Orientis. In order to synchronize our series with the Lodge's equinox ritual scheduled for March 19th, the Prologue of the Unborn will be read preceding the Invocation of Horus on that date.


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


March 19

Liber VII, Prologue of the Unborn.

March 20 - Saturn/Earth, The Universe

Liber LXV, Cap I.
Liber VII, Cap II.

March 21 - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon

Liber LXV, Cap IV.
From "The Four Zoas" by William Blake.

March 22 - Sol, The Sun

Liber VII, Cap IV.
From "A Mithraic Ritual" Translated by GRS Mead.

March 23 - Pisces, The Moon

Liber VII, Cap VI.
From “Dark Night of the Soul”, Book II, Cap 8 by San Juan de la Cruz.

March 24 - Aries, The Emperor

Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus.
From the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu, Cap 37 and 39.

March 25 - Mars, The Tower

Liber VII, Cap I.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 16th Æthyr.

March 26 - Capricornus, The Devil

Liber A'ash.
Relevant to Liber A'ash is my solution to the mystery of the duck.
From Liber CXI, Cap 174-175.

March 27 - Sagittarius, Art

From “The Vision of the Universal Mercury” by G.H. Frater S.R.M.D.

March 28 - Scorpio, Death

From Liber Arcanorum.
From Liber CXI, Cap 192-194.

March 29 - Water, The Hanged Man

Liber LXV, Cap III.
"I. N. R. I." by Frater Achad.

March 30 - Libra, Adjustment

Liber Libræ.
Selections from “The Spiritual Guide” by San Miguel de Molinos.

March 31 - Jupiter, Fortune

Liber VII, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 20th Æthyr.

April 1 - Virgo, The Hermit

Liber VII, Cap V.
"The Emerald Tablet of Hermes" by Hermes Trismegistus.

April 2 - Leo, Lust

Liber Stellae Rubeæ.
From “The Daughter of Fortitude” Received by Edward Kelly.

April 3 - Cancer, The Chariot

Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni.
"Maha Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra" (The Heart Sutra, Buddhist text. Translation by the Kuan Um School of Zen).

April 4 - Gemini, The Lovers

Liber LXV, Cap II.
From Liber DCCCXXXVII, The Law of Liberty.

April 5 - Taurus, The Hierophant

Liber LXV, Cap V.
From “On Christ and Antichrist” by Hippolytus, Cap 2.

April 6 - Aquarius, The Star

From “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” (Gnostic text).

April 7 - Venus, The Empress

Liber VII, Cap VII.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 7th Æthyr.

April 8 - Luna, The Priestess

Liber AL, Cap I.
“Vajrasattva, Primordial Buddha of Diamond or Rainbow Light” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 9 - Mercury, The Magus

Liber AL, Cap II.
“Visvapani, The Bodhisattva and Spiritual Emanation of Amoghasiddhi” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 10 - Air, The Fool

Liber AL, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 22nd Æthyr.

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

Thursday, April 7, 2016


So I just received word today that my Emotiv Insight headset is finally going to ship. For those of you don't who remember me talking about this a couple of years ago, my wife and I are Kickstarter backers for the Insight, a new high-performance consumer EEG headset. At the time, Emotiv Systems was selling the Epoc, an EEG headset that worked but which had several drawbacks that the Insight was supposed to improve upon.

Kickstarter can be hit or miss. My wife is still waiting on a 3D printer she backed years ago, and the Insight has also taken a long time to develop. But I will finally be getting the darn thing, which means that I can move on with a particular project that my lack of a functional headset has been holding up. It will still be a couple weeks before I have it, but have it I will. My research will be able to go forward.

Here's the idea. In my original Operant Magick manuscript, I proposed a simple model of the brainwave changes that may occur during magical operations, derived from studies of advanced meditators as reported in James Austin's 1999 book Zen and the Brain. The model was pretty simple - overly simple, as it turned out, based on subsequent research done during the following decade.

The model relied on the idea of tonic - that is, synchronized - brainwaves starting off in the low-alpha/high-theta range induced by basic relaxation meditation, and then shifting into full alpha, beta, and finally gamma at the climax of the ritual before shifting back to the alpha-theta baseline. It made sense with the information I had available, but that information dated back to the late 1990s.

Austin published Zen-Brain Reflections in 2008, which included more studies that thoroughly muddied the picture presented in Zen and the Brain. Better EEG technology meant that specific areas of the brain could be monitored with axial positioning sensors, which revealed that aggregate brainwaves gave a massively oversimplified view of what was going on.

In order to really break down the brain correlates of magical consciousness, areas of the brain in which firing increases and decreases in response to particular subjective states of consciousness must be mapped. Crucially, the Insight has a positioning sensor, unlike the Epoc which only tracked aggregate values. Without a positioning sensor, I'm limited to working with something like my old model.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pornography = Occultism?

Many fundamentalist Christians are utterly convinced that the world is full of occultists and magical practitioners. This belief appears to be held without evidence of any sort; any occult author, myself included, will tell you that we wish the world was full of as many occultists as these Christians claim.

Real data from book sales, though, tells a completely different story. Occultism is in fact an incredibly niche interest. A magical title that sells a few thousand copies is effectively a bestseller in the occult market. Compared to the population of even the United States, let alone the world, that's a minuscule percentage.

But this article sheds some light on where the idea that occultists are everywhere comes from. According to Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, pornography and occultism are the same thing. And since most adults have looked at pornography at least a couple of times in their life, most adults are occultists. See what he did there?

"In order to understand the power of pornography, we must ask why Jesus warned us that lust is wrong. This is not because God is embarrassed about sex (see "Solomon, Song of"). God designed human sexuality not to isolate but to connect. Sexuality is intended to bond a wife and a husband and, where conditions are met, to result in newness of life, thus connecting generations," Moore said.

"Pornography disrupts this connection, turning what is meant for intimacy and incarnational love into masturbatory aloneness. Pornography offers the psychic thrill and biological release meant for communion in the context of freedom from connection with another. It cannot keep that promise," he continued.

Because sex is basically for procreation. Got it. No wonder I didn't last as a fundamentalist Christian. I swear, nobody is better at wringing all the joy out of life than fundamentalists - and I mean that in the general sense. Fundamentalists are largely the same everywhere, regardless of what religious tradition they follow. The one thing they can't stand is that somebody, somewhere, might be having a good time.

Moore, citing biblical evidence, further explained why pornography is more than just immorality but occultism.

"In the ancient city of Corinth, the warning was given about prostitutes in the pagan temples of the city. The prostitutes were paid for sexual activity, disconnected from covenant. They were part of a cultic system that ascribed almost mystical powers to the orgasm. How is that any different from the pornography industry of today?" he asked.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

FLDS Apocalypse Tomorrow

Once again, sorry about the late notice. I just found out myself today. 

According to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the world will end tomorrow. Of course, accepting that prophecy requires believing that Warren Jeffs, a man who has abused his position as Prophet of the Church for years and is currently serving time in prison for child rape. Let's just say that on my list of self-proclaimed prophets alive in the world, he's one of the folks at the bottom of my list.

Elissa Wall, who escaped the FLDS years ago, told The Guardian that on Wednesday, the FLDS people have been told that Warren Jeffs, the man they consider their prophet will be freed from jail when an earthquake crumbles the walls of the prison where he is jailed. At the same time, his brother Lyle Jeffs, who ran the FLDS community in his absence but was recently jailed on fraud charges, will break free from the Salt Lake federal court house when he appears for a hearing.

Tonia Tewell, Executive Director and Founder of Holding Out For Help, a group that helps about 200 people escape polygamy every year, said she too has heard about the end-of-the-world prophesy and she feels confident Warren Jeffs sent that message to his followers from his Texas prison cell. "I think it's very convenient that April 6 is the apocalypse," said Tewell.

She said her gut tells her that Warren Jeffs made the prophesy because he needs money for the legal defense of his brother Lyle and ten others who were also recently charged with committing food stamp fraud -- duping the government out of millions of dollars. Tewell said in the past, when Jeffs predicted doom for his people, he also asked them for money. In the past, some FLDS people have reached out to her group desperate for loans to fulfill the requests of their leaders.

It's not just the money. Lots of evangelists raise money on false promises and while I have a fair amount of contempt for them, it really doesn't rise to the level of contempt I have for Jeffs. When he took over his FLDS group it was already insular and conservative, but it was Jeffs who went full cult-leader on its followers. He issued dictates prohibiting basically everything members of the group enjoyed and at the same time used his position to enrich himself. Even among false prophets, the guy is pretty clearly a scumbag.

So here's my prediction. Tomorrow will come and go with no Apocalypse, and no miraculous escapes for Jeffs or his brother. Because there's absolutely no way that God would tell Warren Jeffs about the Apocalypse. You know, unless God was pranking him or something.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Antchrist Riseth

Today is a dark day for humanity.

When Barack Obama first sought the presidency of the United States we were all warned. There were questions regarding the circumstances of his birth, and allegations that he was not even human and therefore ineligible to hold the country's highest office. Obama overcame all this and rose to power, ruling over our nation since January of 2009.

But as this chilling illustration shows, Obama is the Antchrist.

Ants are no friends to humanity. We massacre them by the millions with insecticides, borax, and diatomaceous earth. It should come as no surprise, then, that the savior of the ant species will see human beings and their religious traditions as enemies. In the Apostle Paul's first letter to John, he warns us of this calamity in Chapter 2, verses 18-22:

18. Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antchrist is coming, and already many such Antchrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come.

19. These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.

20. But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.

21. So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies.

22. And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an Antchrist.

In stark terms, the Apostle Paul outlines that great and final battle we may know as the Antpocalypse, in which all of ant-kind will rise up against their human oppressors under the leadership of he who is currently known as the President of the United States. Now having completed the seventh year of his reign, the Antchrist is reaching the pinnacle of his supernatural powers and will soon move against us all! Let it be known that a terrible danger now stands before us.

As the weather warms, we may find ourselves surrounded by billions of tiny soldiers, all pledged to seek our destruction at the behest of their leader. Consider every ant you see a potential enemy, and do what you can to reduce their numbers. In this way, we can hope to survive the oncoming storm, and drive the Antchrist back to the place from whence he came.