Monday, January 30, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Taurus

This article is Part Two in a series. Part One can be found here.

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be moving on to the sign Taurus. In Liber 777, Taurus is attributed to "The Secret of Physical Strength." This power is relevant to physical conditioning of whatever sort, whether for athletic purposes or otherwise. Note that this is specifically related to strength rather than health, as the path of Mercury is more appropriate for curing illnesses. Still, a Taurus evocation might be used to augment a Mercury evocation for addressing certain illnesses or injuries.

As Taurus rules physical strength, a Taurus evocation can likewise be used to physically weaken an external target. Generally speaking, I would think that such an application would have limited utility unless you are wanting to use it to influence sporting events and the like - and even then, you might get better results by strengthening the person or team that you support rather than weakening their opponents. Still, if you were a really dedicated fan, I suppose you could two separate operations to strengthen one party and weaken the other.

In Qabalah, the signs correspond to the twelve single letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are so named because they correspond to a single specific sounds. The signs are all attributed to the sephira Chockmah, and are associated with paths only in the context of practical magical work. The sephiroth represent states of manifestation, whereas the paths represent the movement of energy between those states.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Progressive Witchcraft?

Witches! All of them, witches!

You know how I always am talking about how few occultists are out there? According to Christian commentators Rick Joyner and Lance Wallnau, I've got it all wrong, because the Women's March on January 21st, the day after President Trump's inauguration, was "witchcraft." Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, all three million who participated were witches, and only the witches with the means to attend at that.

This begs the question that I'm sure is on the mind of every good and true Augoeides reader - if there really are that many occultists out there, why aren't I selling more books?

Wallnau claimed that the Women’s March represented “the unmasking of the nature of the progressive spirit”–which at bottom has a desire to “control and intimidate, manipulate.” Therefore, Wallnau said, the progressive spirit was “the spirit of witchcraft,” which is the same as the spirit of Jezebel. That spirit is reportedly enraged by the ascendancy of Trump, whom Wallnau once claimed was chosen by God himself to be our next president.

Joyner and Wallnau were speaking in code–a code that is all too familiar to me. As many of my longtime readers know, back in my college days, I was deceived into joining an incredibly controlling hypercharismatic ministry that was aligned with the New Apostolic Reformation, a blatantly fascist offshoot of the religious right that believes it can bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world. Joyner and Wallnau are reckoned as “apostles” in that movement.

Many people in these circles were positively giddy at Trump’s rise. Wallnau, for instance, said that a Trump presidency represented a golden opportunity to gain “serious influence” over the culture with a view toward taking over the “seven mountains,” or forces, that influence it. These people also believe that anyone who dares stand against them should be presented with two options–convert or perish.

That prospect led Joyner and Wallnau to join other fundies in convincing 81 percent of their followers that Trump’s misogyny didn’t matter because he made the right clucking noises on abortion and marriage equality. In so doing, they made it clear that they intended to build a “culture of life” on the backs of domestic violence survivors–many of whom actually triggered during the campaign and on Election Night.

And now, to hear these “prophets” talk, those women who were in Washington to stand against a man who openly bragged about groping women and treating them like objects are showing “meanness” and “rage?” They do so out of a desire to “control and intimidate, manipulate”? Calling for women to be respected and not objectified is a sign that you’re influenced by ” a spirit of witchcraft”? I can’t even.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Honey Jar

I have always found it pretty amazing how people claim to not believe in magick, but then freak out when they run into anything that looks like it. Many years ago now, our house in St. Paul was broken into. The thieves clearly started going through stuff on the first floor, but took one look at my temple and promptly left. I don't know if they ran out screaming or anything like that, but it's fun to imagine that they did.

At any rate, here's a story of some folks who were out digging in their back yard and came across a mysterious buried item. It was a sealed coffee jar filled with some sort of sweet-smelling goo and an old picture of their landlord. It had clearly been in the ground for a long time. They immediately decided that the jar must be some sort of witchcraft curse.

Someone had clearly placed the jar in the garden deliberately. And they wanted to make sure whatever was inside would stay there undisturbed. And naturally, curiosity got the better of him. Really, though, you can’t blame him. Of course, there is something to be said about not opening up mysterious containers. This one was full of a strange, gooey substance that he describes as smelling “sickly sweet” and looking like “runny marmalade.” And that’s not even the weird part.

Also inside the jar, in the goo, was a photo. It was a couple, and on closer inspection, ValjeanLucPicard realized that he knew the people in the photo. The woman was his landlord, but it looked like this photo was taken well over a decade ago. At this point, ValjeanLucPicard’s wife went to get the landlord. “She knew right away it was some brujeria.” Brujeria is Spanish for “witchcraft.” Also in the jar was some kind of fabric shred, which they think came from a dress. There was also a slip of paper that had writing on it that was now illegible. They think it was probably a curse.

So what do you do when you find a jar full of witchcraft in your backyard? You strike back with some of your own! The landlord, who thinks this “project” was the work of the woman who lived in the building some 15 years ago, insisted the whole thing be burned immediately to “lift the curse.” After the fire burned out, the landlord tossed some holy water over the ashes and into the hole where the jar was dug up. And that’s how what started out as simply beautifying the garden turned into cleansing it of bad juju.

One of the big problems with having so few occultists in the world is that most people don't know one to ask when they run into something like this. The jar wasn't a curse. It was a "honey jar" spell, and there was nothing at all dangerous about it. Also, just as a point, the minute the photo came out of the jar the spell would have broken. That's the whole point of sealing it up - if the items get separated, the spell quits working.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bad Priest!

This is not Father Contin. He probably looks nothing like this guy.

So there's this genre in film dubbed "faux-Catholic" by academics who study such things. This the form of Roman Catholicism that gets shown in horror movies, which often has little to do with the actual religion. This concept is closely related to the Christianity is Catholic and Fantastic Catholicism tropes. Along with the fantastic awesomeness ascribed to faux-Catholicism, there usually is fantastic evil as well, propagated by "bad priests" who use the might and magic of the church for nefarious aims.

These sorts of films have led to the propagation of anti-Catholic apocryphal stories along the lines of priests secreting engaging in orgies, black magick, and other such nonsense, weird tales which generally are entirely false. But if this case turns out to be true, I suppose that would make it the exception that proves the rule. There's no evidence that the case involves anything magical or paranormal, but it still represents some really bad publicity for the Roman Catholic church.

A priest in Italy is under police investigation for allegedly organizing orgies in his rectory and pimping out up to 15 of his lovers, the Independent reports.

Police are investigating Father Andrea Contin, a parish priest in northern Italian city Padua, on suspicion of living off immoral earnings. He is also accused of pimping out several of his loves on wife-swapping websites.

According to the Independent, authorities seized a variety of sex toys and videos at the San Lazaro church, purported to belong to Contin. He also concealed pornographic material in covers labelled with the names of popes.

Police investigated after three female parishioners complained to the local police. They first told the local bishop, but church authorities failed to notify the cops.

A volunteer who said she had an affair with Contin reportedly told a local Italian paper, “there were a lot of women hovering around him. I didn’t understand that at first, only later.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Traditional and Kamea Sigils

No, it's not Monday. But this post is about magick anyway.

Twice in the last couple of days, I have been asked about using traditional spirit sigils versus deriving kamea sigils. For my elemental, planetary, and zodiacal work posts I have been using the kamea method, which (to my knowledge) was first published by Agrippa. At the same time, traditional sigils also exist for many of the same spirits that I am calling upon in those operations.

To be clear, the kamea sigils do not replace traditional sigils, or necessarily work better, or anything like that. Both the traditional sigil and the kamea sigil can be used to connect with the spirit, just like calling a person who has multiple telephone numbers. The advantage of the kamea system is that it is general enough to apply to any spirit, whether a traditional sigil is available or not.

There are even variations within the kamea method that can produce different sigils for the same spirit. In the Saturn installment of the planetary work, I include two possible sigils for Cassiel, as there is some disagreement regarding the traditional spelling. I have no trouble getting results with the version I use, but I expect that the other version likewise works for the magicians who employ it.

As another example, for the zodiacal work series, you can take a look at the Magical Calendar over on Esoteric Archives, you can find sigils for the same angels of the signs whose names I am mapping onto the kameas. Those sigils will work too, so you can go ahead and use them if you like them better. And this is true of just about any sigil, from just about any grimoire, that is attributed to the spirit with which you want to work.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

"Megastructure Star" Ate a Planet

Nope, not comets!

In 2015, scientists working with the Kepler Space Telescope announced that they had discovered something strange about a star called KIC 8462852. According to their observations, the star's light pattern was very strange, and appeared as if a large amount of matter was orbiting very close to the star, causing it to dim over time.

At first, it appeared to be a planetary accretion disk, except that the star appeared to be far too old to still have one. Then, the idea was floated that perhaps the light could be obscured by some sort of alien megastructure, which was reported by just about every media outlet. Over time, the consensus settled on a large collection of cometary fragments orbiting the star closely, though the question why the comets were positioned so strangely still prompted questions.

But earlier this month, scientists announced that they may have come up with a possible explanation. It's not aliens, but it's awe-inspiring nonetheless - they believe that KIC 8462852 "swallowed" a planet.

Planets don’t usually fall into their stars, but one could if, say, a large body like a comet knocked the planet out of its orbit and sent it to its doom. They reason that when a star swallows something as large as a planet, for a cosmologically short period, between 200 years and 10,000 years, its brightness increases as it burns away the planet’s matter. Then it would decline again. So if we happen to have started watching the star towards the end of such a period, it might explain the 14% fall in brightness over 100 years.

Also, an eaten-up planet could leave behind large debris, such as its moon or large pieces of the planet that for some reason weren’t sucked in. These large bodies could be passing in front of the star in orbit, blocking some of its light and causing the brief dips seen by the Kepler space telescope.

As with all the other explanations about KIC 8462852, this is still just a hypothesis. However, if KIC 8462852 is indeed gobbling up planets, some other stars must do it too. Finding another one would be one way to throw away the alien-megastructure hypothesis. (Unless, of course, the other star also just happens to have a Dyson sphere being built around it.)

Jason Wright of Pennsylvania State University at University Park, who suggested the alien-megastructure hypothesis, believes that the planet-gobbling explanation from Metzger and his colleagues is a strong one. “This paper puts a merger scenario on the table in a credible way,” he told the New Scientist. “I think this moves it into the top tier of explanations.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Aries

This article is Part One in a series.

The work of the Zodiac is neglected by most magical resources intended for beginners. The reason for this is that in the tradition, students start out studying the elemental work, move on to the planetary work, and only after that explore the system of the Zodiac. But in the context of practical work, the signs are important, because they represent half of the practical magical powers listed in Liber 777.

When going through this series, you can refer back to my Angels of the Zodiac presentation for additional information. The presentation goes into greater detail regarding some aspects of the zodiacal work, as does my Evoking Zodiacal Angels article in Liber Spirituum.

Today I will be starting off with the sign Aries. In Liber 777, Aries is attributed to the "Power of Consecrating Things." This is a relatively expansive power than can be used in many different contexts. It can be used to consecrate tools of whatever sort for magical work, to consecrate a temple space for ceremonial workings, or to consecrate a talisman prior to empowering it with a specific task. The magician may even employ it to consecrate him or herself in appropriate ritual contexts.

In ritual magick, the basic function of consecration is to attune some person, place, or thing to magical work in general. A general invocation such as the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram may be thought of as a consecration, just as a general banishing such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram may be thought of as a purification. In addition, a number of magical systems include the concept of purifying by Water preceding consecration by Fire.

In Qabalah, the signs correspond to the twelve single letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These letters are so named because they correspond to a single specific sounds. The signs are all attributed to the sephira Chockmah, and are associated with paths only in the context of practical magical work. The sephiroth represent states of manifestation, whereas the paths represent the movement of energy between those states.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

To The Incoming Administration

No, Augoeides is not going full-on political for the next four years. My focus will remain the same as always - the magical, the religious, the paranormal, and the just plain weird.

This is not because I'm politically disengaged, but rather that others generally make political points far better than I do, and today's post is a case in point. I was going to write up a defense of the principle of religious freedom today, in solidarity with the ongoing protests across the country, and address it to those in the incoming administration whose history shows their support for granting the Poor Oppressed Christians special privileges that are denied to members of all other religions.

But then, I remembered this article that a friend shared with me a few weeks ago. In my opinion it is spot-on, and makes my point far better than I ever could. Folks who are not very bright commonly whip out the statement that anybody who is in favor of tolerance, religious or otherwise, has to tolerate their intolerance, a sort of Godel's Formal Systems Theorem for dumbasses. But the thing is, tolerance is more like a methodology than a formal philosophical principle. As the article puts it, tolerance is a peace treaty, not a moral absolute.

Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

When viewed through this lens, the problems above have clear answers. The antisocial member of the group, who harms other people in the group on a regular basis, need not be accepted; the purpose of your group’s acceptance is to let people feel that they have a home, and someone who actively tries to thwart this is incompatible with the broader purpose of that acceptance. Prejudice against Nazis is not the same as prejudice against Blacks, because one is based on people’s stated opposition to their neighbors’ lives and safety, the other on a characteristic that has nothing to do with whether they’ll live in peace with you or not. Freedom of religion means that people have the right to have their own beliefs, but you have that same right; you are under no duty to tolerate an attempt to impose someone else’s religious laws on you.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Dalai Lama Will Live 100 Years

China is not having a good year. With today's inauguration of incoming President Donald Trump, who railed against China as a "currency manipulator" and set aside years of American diplomatic policy by taking a call from the president of Taiwan, the Chinese government can't be happy. Furthermore, Trump's pledge to rein in outsourcing to Chinese firms could put a significant dent in the country's economy, should it come to pass.

And now there's this. At a festival celebrating his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama, a longstanding thorn in the Chinese government's side, declared that he would live to be at least 100 years old. If accurate, that means he has at least twenty more years to spend advocating for a free Tibet, an issue that the Chinese government would dearly love to see just go away.

“Today, the people and deities of Tibet have made prayers for my long life. Doctors also suggest that I could live another 20 years or more. I’m 80 now; let’s plan to celebrate again when I’m 90,” His Holiness told the thousands of Tibetans and devotees, who welcomed the statement with a thunderous applause and cheers.

“Although there is no freedom in Tibet, people there too are praying for my long life, even if they can’t do so openly, but they have faith, devotion and a special connection with me. I’d like to thank you all,” His Holiness said, greeting Tibetans inside Tibet.

The grand two-day celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was attended by a battery of top Indian leaders including Cabinet ministers Dr. Mahesh Sharma and Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister Mr. Nabam Tuki, Ms. Viplove Thakur, Member of Parliament among others.

In fact, it was the first time in the history of Tibetan exile that a cabinet minister from the central government of India has visited Dharamshala to attend a Tibetan function. The leaders on their part also expressed their prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and implored him to take care of his health.

China has made some premptive moves to prepare for when the Dalai Lama finally passes away, such as writing into a law a ban on unauthorized reincarnation. Granted, it's hard to see how such a thing could be enforced, but the idea is to undermine the legitimacy of whoever is recognized as the Dalai Lama's next incarnation. Before that, they spirited away the child recognized as the next Panchen Lama, who traditionally "certifies" each of the Dalai Lama's incarnations.

Chinese government officials are likely hoping that the Dalai Lama passes away sooner rather than later, so they can put into practice these plans to undermine traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Twenty more years of the status quo will only frustrate them further, which provides a great incentive for the Dalai Lama to take care of his health and keep on living.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Donald Trump's Prayer Shield

Evangelicals will tell you that they don't use magick, but that's not true in any meaningful sense. They call it "prayer," but when it's done towards any specific defined objective it's the exact same thing. The only difference is that ceremonial magicians optimize ritual procedures to make them work better, while the "prayer" method seems to rely on simple visualization combined with strong emotions.

That doesn't mean it can't work, though, and apparently a bunch of evangelicals are coming together to create a magical "prayer shield" around President-Elect Donald Trump at tomorrow's inauguration. Naturally, these folks want to bring America "back to God," presumably by driving all forms of religious expression but their own from the public square.

It is our time to storm heaven for a New America, revival in our land, and to bring our country back to God! We are the redeemed of the Lord who are coming to raise up a shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.

The Lord has summoned a prolific council of prelates and prophets to convene in Washington, D.C. one week prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. These servants of God are especially gifted to discern the times and to prophesy the Word of The Lord, even so as we seek to prepare the way for transformation, reformation, and revival in our nation.

We are called to gather in the nation’s capital and to raise up a shield of prayer and prophetic understanding, grounded in the firm foundation of the immutable Word of God, and inspired with fresh revelation by the Spirit of The Lord. These proven leaders are convening to release the Word of the Lord, and to lead this anointed assembly in powerful prayers, intercession, declarations and decrees over the White House, the Supreme Court, and Capitol Hill.

I have seen many Trump supporters complaining about people who want "safe spaces," but really, that's exactly what the Poor Oppressed Christians are asking for when they pray like this. Apparently, their faith is so fragile that they find the mere existence of other beliefs horrific and traumatizing. It's rather hypocritical of them to argue that they, and they alone, are entitled to special protection from having their feelings hurt.

Remember when I mentioned that the Moon can be used to conjure a sort of "magical cloak" that protects you from psychic influences? That's basically all a "prayer shield" is. So if there are any magicians on here interested in casting through the thing, you can call upon the angel of the Moon to take it down or punch a hole through it, and then cast whatever else you want once it's bypassed.

You know, for entertainment purposes only - and because today just happens to be the day of Jupiter, which is perfect for political operations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Weirdest Scandal Ever?

Probably not. But it's still pretty weird.

Slate has an article up today about a Seattle neuroscientist named Larry Farwell. Farwell was one of the early researchers exploring the possibility of EEG-based brain-computer interfaces, technology that led to the development of my Emotiv Insight consumer EEG headset. Slate published the article in the first place because Donald Trump's nominee for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was briefly involved with one of Farwell's companies. So it's actually not that much of a scandal per se, but it still makes for fascinating reading.

Farwell got his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University. For 10 years after graduation he invested in real estate and studied transcendental meditation, among other avocational pursuits. (He’s also been a semiprofessional swing-dance performer and a broadsword-wielding black belt in kung fu with a penchant for the flying kick.) Finally, in 1984, Farwell went back to school for a Ph.D. in neuroscience in the lab of the brain-electrode pioneer Emanuel Donchin.

Farwell produced extraordinary work while a student in the Donchin lab. In 1988, four years before completing his graduate degree, he and Donchin devised one of the first brain-computer interfaces for converting thought directly into speech. Their system worked through electroencephalography, or EEG—the measurement of broad oscillations in the brain’s electrical activity by electrodes placed atop the scalp.

Donchin had expertise in a particular EEG brain-wave pattern called the “P300,” which corresponds to a brief change in voltage that shows up on neural traces about half a second after people are presented with a meaningful or surprising stimulus. (The name P300 refers to the fact that this signal can appear as soon as 300 milliseconds after the triggering sound or image.)

So right off the bat, Farwell sounds like quite the character. Farwell and Donchin employed the P300 response to develop their brain-computer interface, which presented subjects with a series of letters. The subject would then concentrate on the letter he or she wished to communicate. When they did, an EEG would pick up the P300, which tightly correlated with concentrated attention.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Brazilian Vampire Bats Feeding on Humans

For the most part, vampire bats get a bad rap. Even though the creatures helped to inspire Bram Stoker's famous novel Dracula, in real life vampire bats are not know to seek out humans as prey. That is, until now. Thanks to DNA analysis, Brazilian scientists have recently identified a species of vampire bat that appears to have developed a taste for human blood.

However, recent reports have confirmed what humans dread the most—that some of these wild creatures have been proven to include people’s blood in their diet. According to the New York Post, some species of the winged-mammals, which are commonly found soaring across America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, have indeed been secretly sucking human blood.

Scientists at Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil claim that a colony of hairy-legged vampire bats are the culprits, after tracing human DNA from 70 feces samples of these bats. Enrico Bernard, the lead researcher from the university, said he and his team “were quite surprised” by their recent findings. “This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals,” he revealed.

The chilling revelation contradicts previous experiments on the air-gliding critters, which reflected that they would rather starve than eat any other mammal blood. Bernard said that its no longer the case with these bats, who seemed to discover that human blood is thicker and higher in protein than the fatty bird plasma.

There's no word as of yet on any connection between this strain of bat and actual vampires, or any increase in the numbers of the Brazilian undead. But scientists do fear that this new strain of vampire bat could contribute to the spread of diseases. The bats fly and are also far tinier than what vampire hunters are used to, so driving little bat-sized stakes through their hearts is quite impractical.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Introduction to Enochian Magick

This article is the text of my presentation given on Saturday, January 14 2017, at my local Ordo Templi Orientis body, Leaping Laughter Lodge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Welcome to Leaping Laughter Lodge. My name is Scott Stenwick, and I am the author of Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy and Mastering the Great Table. Tonight I will be presenting an introduction to the Enochian magical system of John Dee and Edward Kelley.

The Renaissance and Middle Ages produced many grimoires, a term referring to books of magick that include spirit names, sigils, hierarchies, conjurations, and so forth. In recent years, grimoire magick has grown in popularity. But where exactly did the material found in those grimoires come from? Generally speaking, it seems reasonable to suggest that such books were written down by magicians who obtained their methodologies from working directly with the spirits named in, or associated with, the grimoire in question.

This process, though, remains largely mysterious with one key exception. In the late 16th century, John Dee spent seven years working with a scryer named Edward Kelley, and together the two men transcribed one of the most remarkable systems of magick in all of history. Dee was one of the most learned men in England, and owned one of the largest libraries in Europe at his home in Mortlake. He undertook magical work with Kelley because he sought insights into the nature of spiritual reality that he could not find in his books.

Dee meticulously documented his work with Kelley, along with all of the material that the two of them received from the various angels that they conjured and communicated with. The records that we have span the full seven years, and include all of the back and forth that went on between the two men and the angels. So in effect, the Enochian system is the only grimoire, or set of grimoires, on the planet for which we have the underlying “source code,” to use a computer programming metaphor. It is likely that such processes produced other grimoires as well, but we are not privy to any records of those operations because they have been lost over time – if they were ever even written down at all.

Neither Dee nor Kelley ever referred to the resulting system as "Enochian." This term was coined much later, as in the diaries documenting the work, Dee expressed a desire to walk with God as did the mythological Enoch. Also, the spirits revealed to them an opening prayer that was described as the "Prayer of Enoch." Dee and Kelley usually referred to the magical system and the unique language found within it as "Angelical" - that is, "Angelic" in modern parlance - when they referred to either by name at all. I refer to the system as Enochian in my own works only because that is the name that modern people best know and associate with the system.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Monkey God City Still Cursed

Here's something that Indiana Jones never had to contend with. Following the legend of a cursed 16th century city in Honduras dubbed "the City of the Monkey God," explorers considered themselves especially fortunate when they worked out its location in 2015. But recently, when they arrived at the site, they discovered the totally mundane reason that the city was abandoned. The place turned out to be infested with a rare flesh-eating parasite that devours the faces of those it infects.

Legend has it that the locals fled Honduras’ City of the Monkey God in the 16th century fearing that it had been cursed with disease. Five-hundred years later, a group of explorers excavating the lost city became the latest victims to incur the wrath of the monkey god when they nearly lost their faces to a rare flesh-eating parasite.

“The parasite migrates to the mucous membranes of your mouth and your nose and basically eats them away,” Doug Preston, an author who documented the trip, said. “Your nose falls off, your lips fall off, and eventually your face becomes a gigantic, open sore.”

The group, made up of American and Honduran explorers and archeologists, announced they found the lost city, also known as the Ciudad Blanca or the White City, in 2015. The city earned its name, according to American explorer Theodore Morde, because of indigenous legends stating it contained a giant buried statue of a monkey god. Morde claimed to be the first to find the lost city after returning from an expedition, but died before he could return.

So yeah, that sounds like a pretty nasty curse to me. If people in my city started losing their faces, I would leave too. The takeaway, I suppose, is that many of these abandoned sites were abandoned for perfectly good reasons. Sometimes those reasons have to do with events that are long over, but sometimes they endure. Presumably, the city was built too close to where these parasites live, and the residents began to become infected at an accelerated rate before the mass exodus.

The article also notes that in order to reach the site, the explorers had to contend with Indiana Jones' most feared and hated foes, poisonous snakes. So at least that's one place where the movies tell it like it is.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Why "Gingers Have No Souls"

It's funny, she looks pretty soulful to me...

At this point I think just about everybody has seen the South Park episode where Cartman becomes the leader of an "anti-ginger" hate group, and explains to his followers that "Gingers have no souls." When I saw the episode, I was convinced that Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the whole thing up in order to build an episode around the most ridiculous hate group imaginable. But then, I recently came across this article, which claims that there is in fact a long tradition of prejudice against redheads, dating back to ancient times.

During the Middle Ages, a child born with red hair was thought to have been conceived during ‘unclean’ sex, or during menstruation.

In ancient Egypt, redheaded men were sometimes burned alive as a sacrifice to the gods.

Redheads were particularly persecuted during the witch trials in Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the colour was linked to the devil and the pale skin most redheads have was seen as deathly and unnatural.

Even though grimoire traditionalists will tell you that the older an idea is, the more likely it is to be correct, it should be obvious that this one is clearly pretty dumb. Much like the ludicrous African idea that the body parts of albinos have special magical powers, there's nothing particularly infernal or for that matter magical about having red hair. In fact, I can't say that I've ever come across any evidence that traits like hair color correspond to anything spiritual at all, one way or the other. The same is true of ethnicity.

The reality is that if you are talking about genetic variation, the differences between individual humans are tiny compared to those found between individuals of many other species. A little over a hundred years ago, Theosophists developed a complex metaphysical theory involving "the races," but at a genetic level, all "race" represents is a set of adaptations to local environmental conditions. Skin gets darker towards the equator to protect against skin cancer, and lighter as you move away from the equator to help the body synthesize vitamin D from limited sunlight.

So amazingly, it turns out that "anti-ginger" prejudice is or at least was a thing. But like most forms of prejudice, it is an ill-informed idea based on superficial characteristics that should be done away with.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Swedish Palace Haunted

I suppose it's no surprise to report that Drottningholm Palace, the private residence of the Swedish royal family that dates back to the late 16th century, is allegedly haunted. Not only is the palace hundreds of years old, giving it centuries to accumulate paranormal presences, castles are also traditionally home to ghosts and other spirits in Gothic fiction. Sweden's Queen Silvia claimed to be sharing the palace with ghosts in a documentary that was aired last week.

Queen Silvia of Sweden believes her royal palace is haunted, according to a documentary to be aired on Swedish public television on Thursday. She said she shares 17th-century Drottningholm Palace, with "small friends ... ghosts".

"It's really exciting. But you don't get scared," she said. The building, near Stockholm, is the permanent residence of the queen and her husband, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The documentary, Drottningholm Palace: A Royal Home, was made by public broadcaster SVT and airs in Sweden on Thursday. "You sometimes feel that you're not completely alone," the queen told the filmmakers, insisting her alleged cohabitants are "all very friendly".

I know it's too much to ask the Swedish royal family to let teams of paranormal investigators tromp through their home with a bunch of equipment, but it would be awfully interesting to record evidence of the palace's ghostly residents. Queen Silvia's anecdotes are vague, and without more detailed stories and better knowledge of the palace's architecture, it's hard to say whether something paranormal is going on, or if some other explanation can be found for her experiences.

Since Queen Silvia is not bothered by the ghosts, I expect it's pretty unlikely that an investigation will be conducted any time soon. The palace is apparently a popular tourist destination, though, and looks lovely in pictures. If I ever wind up in Sweden, I'll have to check it out and see if I sense anything unusual about the place.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Is "Meme Magic" a Thing?

Suffice it to say I'm not a Trump supporter. Can you tell?

Memes have been a staple of Internet culture for almost two decades now. The term was originally coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, referring to ideas that propagate themselves along the same lines as the natural selection of genes. In Internet parlance, a meme generally consists of an image or images combined with a text phrase of some sort. Those with wide appeal "go viral," and are copied and shared everywhere.

This article from Vice was published back in November, a week after Donald Trump's election win that surprised everyone but the psychic animals. Apparently, a group of online Trump supporters credited "meme magic" for Trump's victory. Meme magic appears to be a mixture of usual Internet meme culture and the chaos magick practice of sigilization. But does it really work?

On the morning of November 9, Théodore Ferréol sat in front of his computer in Paris and wondered what had just happened. Ferréol is not an American citizen and so hadn’t voted for Donald Trump personally. But as an occult researcher, he knew about those who claimed responsibility for Trump’s upset election victory: an online group that spreads images of a cartoon frog.

This group largely identifies with the so-called “alt right”, a white nationalist group, and believes the frog, named Pepe, is imbued with a magical power to bring Trump into office—as long as devotees plaster the frog’s image everywhere, like a flyer for takeout food.

“I've been observing [this phenomena] first hand for quite some time now,” Ferréol told me. “And I'm fascinated at the way internet folklore is turning into something new—not exactly activism, not exactly religion, but something close to a new form of magic and animism in an era when communities have transformed into tribes. And they are savage, creative and, as we now know, really powerful,” he added, referring to the online communities where Pepe is literally considered a god.

Ferréol is detailing what he calls “memetic warfare.” The technique involves charging a symbol, which will then act as a proxy for a clandestine plan. In occult tradition, this is known as chaos magic. The image could be something as abstract as a hieroglyphic doodle, which a group decides will bring them, say, jobs or food or spouses. The image just has to be widely seen, even subliminally, so that it can seed the minds of the larger population and bring about real world results. (If you think this sounds a bit like hypnotism, you’re right.)

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Chart Victor Calculation

So I went and changed my mind. I was going to kick off the Zodiacal Work with Aries this week, but since next Monday I'll be posting the text of my Introduction to Enochian Magick talk, I decided that I would post Aries the week after that so I can post all of the zodiacal work in an unbroken 12-week series.

If you are disappointed that Aries isn't up today, though, you can go ahead and take a look at my Angels of the Zodiac presentation from last August. I use Aries as my example, so the Aries post is going to look a whole lot like what I have outlined there, including the sigil on the Kamea and the selection from Liber 963.

Instead, I decided to go ahead and post the Chart Victor calculation, because I have found that knowing your Chart Victor is important when performing any sort of zodiacal operation. In Arabic, the Chart Victor is called Al-Mubtazz which means "the victor" or "the winner." This gets corrupted into English as "almuten," which is what most commercial astrology programs that perform the calculation call it. In simplest terms, for every given chart there is generally one planet that is stronger than all the others. That planet is the Chart Victor.

I originally learned how to perform this calculation from Benjamin Dykes, who found it in among the works of Abraham ibn Ezra. Dykes' book, The Search of the Heart, goes into great detail regarding the application of the method and includes never-before-translated astrological material from the Twelfth Century. This article will cover the calculation and briefly discuss its basic application for zodiacal operations, but if you want to know more I highly recommended picking up a copy of the book for yourself.

The magical application of this method for zodiacal operations has to do with the dignities or debilities acquired by the Chart Victor when it is in the sign with which you are working. Ideally, you want to perform a zodiacal operation for a particular sign when the Chart Victor is the ruler of the sign, or exalted in it. Rulership is the most favorable dignity, followed by Exaltation. You should always avoid performing an operation for a particular sign when the Chart Victor is debilitated in the sign by Detriment or Fall.

The condition of the Chart Victor should be examined along with the application of simple electional timing. That is, you should not perform operations on a void-of-course Moon or when the Moon's final aspect is a square or opposition. If that doesn't make sense, go ahead and review the electional timing article before proceeding further into this one.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Modeling the Zombie Apocalypse

A group of undergraduate students at the University of Leicester recent put together an analysis of how quickly a zombie apocalypse would overtake the planet. Using calculations based on zombie films and television series, they found that it would only take about a hundred days to reduce the current population of the world down to a mere few hundred.

In the new analysis, the University of Leicester undergraduates assumed that each zombie would have 90 percent success at finding and infecting one human a day, a rate that would make the zombie virus twice as contagious as the Black Death, the plague that devastated Europe in the 1300s. The researchers further estimated that each zombie could live 20 days without braaaaaains.

Assuming a starting population of 7.5 billion people, approximately the world's population today, the students calculated that it would take 20 days for a single zombie to start an epidemic of noticeable proportions. At that point, the pandemic has begun. Assuming no geographic isolation, in fact, the human population would drop to 181 by day 100, with 190 million zombies roaming around.

With some geographical isolation, the situation would be a tiny bit better for humans. Assuming the zombie virus had to spread through contiguous regions and that zombies were somewhat limited in their ability to travel (not leaving their current region until there were 100,000 zombies roaming there), human survivors would number 273 by day 100.

A more realistic model might assume that each zombie could find fewer human victims over time, the students wrote, because there would simply be fewer humans to find. "We have also not included the possibility for the humans to kill the zombies," they wrote.

There are actually a couple of reasons this model is not that realistic besides those mentioned, and of course besides the fact that the kind of zombies being discussed here were only invented by George Romero in the late 1960's. If you cut the likelihood of infection in half to match the black death, my guess is that humans still get mostly wiped out, just in a longer time frame. As we know, that didn't happen. The black death killed about a third of Europe's population, which is a lot of people, but nowhere near enough to practically wipe out humanity.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tesla Wins Again

Yesterday I was reminded by a Facebook commenter that Thomas Edison was not the only inventer who tried to build a device for communicating with spirits in the early twentieth century. Nikola Tesla, Edison's famous rival, built one in 1901, twenty years before Edison constructed his. The Tesla device employed a crystal radio circuit that was sensitive to a wide range of electromagnetic signals, connected to a speaker that transformed those signals into sounds.

Tesla’s Spirit Radio uses a simple crystal radio circuit connected to a computer sound-in jack to generate spooky sounds from all kinds of electromagnetic sources. As you will see, it creeped the hell out of Tesla himself.

“My first observations positively terrified me as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night.”
– Nikola Tesla 1901

“The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand. I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet. There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me.”
– Nikola Tesla 1918

So basically, it worked a lot like a modern EMF detector, except with a speaker rather than a needle showing the field's intensity. Edison and Tesla were at odds in the "war of the currents" back then, which resulted in Tesla's superior alternating current system eventually being adopted for the modern power grid.

I think it's safe to say that with the current popularity of EMF detectors among ghost hunters, Tesla has won this round as well. I haven't heard of any paranormal investigators trying to use a light-beam based device like Edison's, which by all accounts didn't really work for Edison anyway.

I imagine that a sensitive enough version of the Edison device would be so susceptible to dust that it would be hard to use, especially in abandoned buildings and the like where paranormal investigators like to hunt for ghosts. On the other hand, an EMF spike in a building without power is a lot more unusual.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Edison's "Spirit Phone"

Huffington Post has an article up today about one of Thomas Edison's weirdest experiments, an attempt to construct a "spirit phone" that would allow communication with the dead. The device was first proposed at the height of the spiritualism craze, and developed over subsequent years.

Was Edison making a joke? Was he merely looking to grab headlines during the Spiritualism craze?

Many believed this was the case, but a 1933 article in Modern Mechanix magazine reported on a secret demonstration in his darkened laboratory with several scientists present. According to the article, “Edison set up a photo-electric cell. A tiny pencil of light, coming from a powerful lamp, bored through the darkness and struck the active surface of this cell, where it was transformed instantly into a feeble electric current. Any object, no matter how thin, transparent or small, would cause a registration on the cell if it cut through the beam.”

The team of scientists spent hours closely watching Edison’s prototype for any sign of movement from beyond. But none came.

In theory, this isn't a bad idea - except that as most magicians know, you usually have to explicitly conjure spirits in order to get them to come around and it sounds like Edison did nothing of the sort. Spiritualists of the time believed that you could just randomly call out to anything in the universe and something would show up, a practice Aleister Crowley once derided as "low-grade necromancy."

One set of experiments that I have performed myself involved the use of an EMF detector, which seemed to show some capacity for detecting spirits within the limits of a small sample set. What I find myself wondering is how well Edison's machine could detect slight shifts in the frequency of the light, which is more like how an EMF detector works, rather than just reacting to obstructions.

Also, I wonder how large objects would really have to be to set off such a device. Unless Edison tested it in a clean room, which was difficult to set up in the 1920's, the same dust in the air that shows up as "orbs" in photographs should have passed through the beam. That makes me think the device may have been nowhere near as sensitive as Edison appears to have thought.

Still, it's an interesting piece of history from a time when mainstream science did not consider anything paranormal entirely off limits. Strict scrutiny of results is important, but if you don't do the work in the first place you're left with nothing to evaluate but anecdotes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Get This Right!

Creation Museum and Ark Encounter founder Ken Ham recently took to Twitter to defend the notion that dinosaurs were in fact on board Noah's ark. This has turned out to be a dispute among creationists, some of whom believe that dinosaurs are no longer among us because they died out in the flood and some of whom believe that they were on the ark.

Ham, who believes the Earth is about 6,000 years old, fired off several additional tweets directed at the Post over the story.

Indeed, the Ark Encounter doesn’t claim all dinos died out during the flood. Rather, it features dinosaurs living in cages like the other animals. His organization has said most dinosaurs died in the flood, which it claims took place 4,300 years ago.

“Those descended from the ones which got off the Ark eventually succumbed to the same sorts of pressures which cause extinction in animal populations today,” a 2011 blogpost said.

Ham's devotion to getting his entirely-other-than-facts right is pretty amusing up until the point you realize how seriously he and his organization take their interpretation of Genesis. In the past, Ham has accused other prominent creationists of not being "real Christians" because they disagree with him on various trivial points of the creation story.

Of course, according to all available scientific evidence, none of them are correct. But apparently, that doesn't stop these folks from vehemently arguing over which version "real Christians" should believe in.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Planetary and Elemental Work - Epilogue

In putting together my Planetary and Elemental Work series, various questions have come up on the different posts. Rather than requiring people to go back through those posts and the corresponding discussion points, this week I will be doing my best to summarize my answers to those questions, along with providing some addition information on them. As such, this article covers a lot of disparate points and jumps around quite a bit. But hopefully, in the end, it will all make sense as part of a whole.

The Kamea of the Moon is used for the elemental sigils because in Qabalah, the Moon is Yesod, the Foundation. It corresponds to personal realm below the Veil of Paroketh and is the ruler of the elemental realm, just as the Sun is the ruler of the planetary realm. There is thus no need to assemble a "Malkuth Kamea" for them based a 10 x 10 square, or anything like that. You can also use other traditional sigils for the elemental kings if you so desire. The Kamea method is just one way to generate their sigils, not the only way. They are intelligent spirits that will recognize your call according to any of the traditional techniques. This is also true with regard to the planetary angels.

The pentagram is a microcosmic figure, and the hexagram is a macrocosmic figure, but the elements have macrocosmic aspects just as the planet have microcosmic ones. The idea of using microcosmic aspects to influence macrocosmic aspects by employing some sort of resonance between the internal and external is pretty much how all practical magick works, and also the basic idea behind the operant model. So it would not be correct to argue that elemental operations are by necessity psychological, or that planetary operations are by necessity practical. Both classes of rituals can be used both ways, which is especially evident in initiatory work.

With regard to the Lesser, Greater, and Supreme classes of ritual as laid out in the modern Golden Dawn magical system, I dislike the nomenclature because there isn't really a progression from one to the next, or a hierarchy on which they all have places. They are different kinds of rituals that do different things, not steps on a ladder or positions in a hierarchy. Therefore, the idea that one is better than another doesn't really make sense. I have wondered over the years if the idea might have originated as a sort of marketing idea for beginning initiates. You learn the "lesser" forms with the promise of eventually getting your hands on the "greater" forms.

But essentially, Lesser means general and Greater means specific. Based on the example of the Supreme Pentagram, it looks as if Supreme might mean sephirothic, since the Supreme Pentagram is basically a Greater Ritual of the Pentagram for Malkuth employing all four elements. But that doesn't really fit either, unless you decide that the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram is just for paths, and when it is used for sephiroth it becomes a "Supreme Ritual of the Hexagram." And even if that were the case, I strongly believe that there really should not be a hierarchy set up between magick (paths) and mysticism (sephiroth) if we really want our terminology to be accurate.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Illuminati for Trump

Almost one month ago now, McSweeney's reported on a story that was entirely ignored by the corrupt mainstream media, but which may have dire ramifications for our country. The author, writing under the obvious pseudonym "Jason O. Gilbert," announced to the world that he would be leaving his position with the Illuminati Order and joining the incoming administration of President-Elect Donald Trump.

Ever since I first triggered a worldwide recession in order to profit a select group of industry titans and Connecticut-based financiers, I knew I wanted to work in American government. I’ve manipulated the stock market, housing prices, and several seasons of Top Chef. Now, as the new Head Economic Advisor to the President, it’s time for me to manipulate America.

Now, I know that there will be some concern that I — a monocle-wearing tax evader who owns a mega yacht called the S.S. Poor People Deserve It — will not act with the interests of the lower class at heart. To them, I will say the same thing I said at a 2008 emergency meeting of American bank CEOs worried they’d face jail time for crashing the economy: “Trust me.”

While I can’t promise that all of our proposals will go through — you’d be surprised how tricky it is to repeal child labor laws! — I can promise that I’m going to work just as hard to revitalize the American heartland as I did to establish a secretive country club for kleptocrats located 200 miles beneath the surface of Liechtenstein.

Read the whole thing. Not because you want to, but because you have to. It's that important.

Sure, I know the immediate impulse is to cry "Satire!" and "Fake News!," especially given McSweeney's history of posting almost exclusively satirical pieces. But look at the facts - it's not even remotely difficult to imagine how positions in the new Trump administration could appeal to those whose life's work is to promulgate the forces of darkness.