Thursday, March 30, 2017

One Million Pageviews!

A couple of days ago, Augoeides finally hit ONE MILLION PAGEVIEWS. It took more than a decade of blogging, but we finally did it. If only pageviews were actual money, right? We bloggers would be totally set. Yes, I know I could put ads on here, but I hate that - and, as I've mentioned before, many years ago Google basically stole my almost-ten-dollars in advertising revenue that took me two years to build up. So screw that.

I do this because it's fun, and because I like sharing information on magical techniques, not because I ever expect to get rich from it. I don't have a "donate" button or anything like that because I would rather you buy more copies of my books if you want to contribute money to support the site. Remember, even if you already have your own copy, they do make great gifts for the holidays - whatever tradition you happen to follow.

At any rate, this has been a long and amusing journey so far, and I plan on keeping it up as long as I keep enjoying it. And the fact is that I do. Maybe one of these days I'll think about updating the theme, or changing stuff around a bit. I do realize that the site mostly looks like it dates back to 2006, when I started blogging, but as I like to tell anyone who will listen, at least it's not hosted on GeoCities or Tripod.

So I want to take this opportunity to thank all of my readers for supporting the site, either by just being willing to read and comment on what I write, or better still, buying my books. I finally have a new novel that will coming out this spring or summer, and one of these days I really will finish Mastering the Thirty Aires to complete my Enochian magick trilogy. And as always, you, my loyal readers, will be the first to know.

Thank you all for reading, and I look forward to many more years of bringing you the news - you know, such as it is.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bigfoot Causes Car Crash?

It's been awhile since one of these articles showed up on here on Augoeides. But it's good to know that sasquatch is apparently not entirely gone from the forests of the northwest. According to an Idaho newspaper, a recent car accident has been blamed on the creature, which was seen chasing a deer along a highway.

According to Pullman Radio, the woman, who was not identified, told the Latah County Sheriff’s Office that she saw a Sasquatch chasing a deer on a stretch of US-95 outside of Potlatch. She said the creature was “shaggy” and between 7 and 8 feet tall, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.

The woman checked her mirrors to see the Bigfoot, but as her eyes re-adjusted to the road she hit the deer with her Subaru Forester, the newspaper said. Pullman Radio reported that the woman continued driving, picked up her husband from work then drove to the sheriff’s office to report the incident. Officers did not find any evidence of Bigfoot at the scene of the crash.

One thing that does occur to me is that a hunter in a ghillie suit would look a lot like what this woman is describing, aside from the height - but that can be very difficult to judge, especially if said hunter happened to be kind of tall. A ghillie suit is a modern form of military camouflage, which has a shaggy appearance. A hunter might also be following a deer.

As a matter of fact, back in 2012 a Montana man was hit by cars and killed while trying to perpetrate a bigfoot hoax by walking along a highway wearing one of these suits. It's possible that somebody else had the same idea, though doing it along a highway is particularly dangerous as that Montana man tragically found out. It's also not the best idea for hunting, since it can make you really hard for other hunters to see.

Or maybe this is the real thing. It does seem a little odd, though, since most bigfoot sightings happen in back country and not along busy stretches of road. If bigfoots or bigfeet or whatever hunt for deer along highways, you would think that there would be more sightings. Maybe one of them would even have been hit by a car at this point, which would prove once and for all that the creature really exists.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Capricorn

This article is Part Ten in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, and Part Nine 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 Capricorn. In Liber 777, Capricorn is attributed to "The Witches' Sabbath so-called, the Evil Eye." The Evil Eye is a kind of general curse that cast by gaze. It was believed to cause injury and/or general misfortune, so in a sense it behaves like a weaker version of a Saturn curse. This is generally coherent and makes sense, because Saturn rules the sign Capricorn.

"The Witches' Sabbath so-called" requires further explanation. From Wikipedia: "The Witches' Sabbath or Sabbat is a meeting of those who practice witchcraft and other rites. European records indicate cases of persons being accused or tried for taking part in Sabbat gatherings, from the Middle Ages to the 17th century or later. Distinguishable features that are typically contained within a Witches' Sabbat are assembly by foot, beast, or flight, a banquet, dancing and cavorting, and sexual intercourse."

Many experts who have studied the witchcraft trials of the Renaissance period have concluded that in most cases, these "Sabbats" never really occurred. Instead, they sprung from the imagination of repressed inquisitors, and people confessed to taking part in them under torture. So we probably are not talking about real magical operations, at least not historically. Some modern witches do perform rituals that draw on aspects of this folklore, so Capricorn would likely be an appropriate aspect for such rituals if ceremonial forms are being employed.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Remote Viewing Mars

The Central Intelligence Agency has recently declassified more information from its remote view program, called Project Stargate. This program was started in the 1980's and ran until it was shut down in 1995.

According to accounts from people who worked with the program, one of its most important contributions to parapsychology research was a protocol by which a significant percentage of people could be trained as effective remote viewers. This is an old idea in the occult community, referred to as "astral projection" or "travel in the spirit vision." According to the lore, if you can learn to do it correctly, you can obtain all sorts of information about faraway places that you otherwise could not possibly know.

Slate reported this week that in with this latest batch of declassified material is an account of an attempt to remote view the planet Mars, which apparently took place in 1984. That was early on in the program, and my understanding is that at that time the protocol was still in development. Nonetheless, a transcript of the session contains some interesting and possibly testable pieces of information - once humans finally are able to travel to the red planet.

After this introduction, you’ll find a seemingly unedited transcript of the interview, a dialogue that reads like some fragment of a lost Samuel Beckett play. You need not crawl through the full seven pages of dialogue to get a sense of its strangeness. Here’s a representative sample from the start. (All ellipses in the following are original to the document and seem to indicate long pauses.)

"[Subject]: … I’m seeing, ah … It’s like a perception of a shadow of people, very tall … thin, it’s only a shadow. It’s as if they were there and they’re not, not there anymore.

[Monitor]: Go back to a period of time where they are there.

Sub: … Um … (mumble) It’s like I get a lot of static on a line and everything, it’s breaking up all the time, very fragmentary pieces.

Mon: Just report the data, don’t try to put things together, just report the raw data.

Sub: I just keep seeing very large people. They appear thin and tall, but they’re very large. Ah … wearing some kind of strange clothes."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Church Police?

Salon is reporting today that a bill has been proposed in the Alabama State Senate that would allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to hire its own police force, “invested with all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state.” Besides alluding to a Monty Python sketch, this would set a dangerous precedent regarding the separation of church and state if the bill is passed and signed into law.

“The sole purpose of this proposed legislation is to provide a safe environment for the church, its members, students and guests,” the church said in a memo sent to Salon after requests for comment. The memo also mentioned the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut, claiming that the church needs “qualified first responders” in case such a thing would happen there.

This particular church does not sit in some kind of lawless territory without access to the same law enforcement services available to other Alabama citizens. As NBC News has noted, the church is served by the sheriff’s departments in both Jefferson and Shelby Counties. “This proposed legislation seems like a clear violation of church-state separation, and a clear violation of the Constitution,” Alex Luchenitser, the associate director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a phone call. “Government bodies must not delegate official power to religious entities.”

Luchenitser cited a 1982 Supreme Court case, Larkin v. Grendel’s Den, in which an 8-1 majority found that states could not give churches the official authority to grant and deny liquor licenses. The ACLU of Alabama cited the same decision in a memo sent, upon request, to Salon. “Indeed, allocating any quintessential governmental power to a religious institution plainly violates the Establishment Clause,” the memo said, warning the state of Alabama that giving a church its own police force “would not survive a legal challenge.”

The thing that I find weird about the idea is that it's a solution in search of a problem. There are no laws on the books that would prevent the church from hiring private security, even armed private security. Hiring "qualified first responders" is likewise not an issue. So it's not clear to me what this church is trying to do, or why they specifically want to set up a "police force." It's not like the church couldn't hire police officers as private security officers. That happens all the time at large organizations.

My guess is that given all this, the bill probably won't go through. There's really no need for church police that can't be served by private security and/or private first responders, and the constitutional challenges that the concept poses are substantial. What I'd like to know is whether the deal is just that the church didn't think it through, or if there's some ulterior motive at work that nobody from the church wants to talk about.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Sagittarius

This article is Part Nine in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, and Part Eight 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 Sagittarius. In Liber 777, Sagittarius is attributed to "Transmutations" and the "Vision of Universal Peacock." The latter will be addressed in greater detail in the context of the Path of Initiation. In brief, it refers to the transition from lunar to solar consciousness and is represented in laboratory alchemy as a stage called the "Peacock's Tail" because of the iridescent oil produced at that point in the process. Transmutation also alludes to the alchemical nature of the path of Sagittarius, which connects Yesod (The Moon) and Tiphareth (The Sun) on the Tree of Life.

Transmutation is an extremely useful power with practically unlimited applications. It can be used in its literal sense to aid laboratory alchemical operations, or in a more metaphoric sense to transmuted one situation or state into another. As the fundamental point of magical operations is to produce change in conformity with will, this power may be thought of as a relatively basic one that overlaps with a number of other powers. For example, you could use it for healing, to transmute a state of illness into that of health. Or, you could use it for financial purposes, to transmute a state of poverty into that of wealth. And so forth.

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, March 19, 2017

Containment Structure

This is not ritual magick in the usual sense, but it still is pretty amusing. Artist James Bridle came up with this design for a "magic circle" designed to trap self-driving cars. The dotted line on the outside of the circle means the car can drive in, but the solid line on the inside means that it can't drive out. So it's sort of like a roach motel for these vehicles. Essentially, the car behaves like a spirit conjured into a containments structure.

In a picture posted to Flickr by artist James Bridle—known for coining the term, "New Aesthetic"—a car is sitting in the middle of a parking lot has been surrounded by a magic salt circle. In the language of road markings, the dotted white lines on the outside say, "Come On In," but the solid white line on the inside says, "Do Not Cross." To the car's built-in cameras, these are indomitable laws of magic: Petrificus Totalus for autonomous automobiles.

Captioned simply, "Autonomous Trap 001," the scene evokes a world of narratives involving the much-hyped technology of self-driving cars. It could be mischievous hackers disrupting a friend's self-driving ride home; the police seizing a dissident's getaway vehicle; highway robbers trapping their prey; witches exorcizing a demon from their hatchback.

Self-driving cars aren't there yet, but the artist-philosopher-programmer's thought-provoking photo is a reminder that we'll have to start thinking about these things soon. If a self-driving car is designed to read the road, what happens when the language of the road is abused by those with nefarious intent?

The answer to this is actually quite simple. Never build a car that a person does not have the option of driving. I'm thinking self-driving cars like they had in the I, Robot movie - the car can drive on its own, but you can also can drive it yourself. I would never buy a car I wasn't able to drive at all, and it's not just because of circles like this.

Where I live, far from the always-warm weather of Silicon Valley, we have these things called "Snow Emergencies." In order to allow plowing, we have to move our cars around to different streets, or the other side of streets. If you can't just get in the car and drive it, that's kind a of a pain to do with software. The same is true of a lot of short trips, like from the driveway to your street, or for that matter, to move the car so it's on the other side of the driveway.

And all of these issues are avoided if you can just drive the damn car, even if it has a self-driving mode. The "trap" then becomes trivial. The software doesn't even have to figure it out, because all you have to do is grab the wheel and drive off. It really is the best solution all around.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Eclipse or Apocalypse?

Next fall, much of the continental United States will experience its first total solar eclipse in almost a century. American astronomers are looking forward to the event and are getting ready to take advantage of the opportunity to observe one of these eclipses without having to travel around the world. Total solar eclipses in general are unusual, but not that rare. What's rare is to see one without leaving home, since they only are total from particular locations.

Of course, it's not just the scientists who are interested in the event. Some apocalyptic Christians believe that the eclipse is yet another sign of The End of the World. You know, like that "blood moon" series of lunar eclipses in 2015 that heralded precisely nothing, unless, I suppose, your idea of an apocalypse is the election of the Trump Administration.

Gary Ray isn't worried about just travel plans and adequate eye protection. He's focused on the Rapture. Ray, a writer for the evangelical Christian publication Unsealed, views this eclipse as one of several astronomical signs that the day when Christians will be whisked away from the Earth is fast approaching.

"The Bible says a number of times that there's going to be signs in the heavens before Jesus Christ returns to Earth. We see this as possibly one of those," Ray said about the eclipse. He is even more interested in another astronomical event that will occur 33 days after the eclipse, on Sept. 23, 2017.

The Book of Revelation, which is full of extraordinary imagery, describes a woman "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head" who gives birth to a boy who will "rule all the nations with an iron scepter" while she is threatened by a red, seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

Ray says that image will be created in the sky on Sept. 23. The constellation Virgo - representing the woman - will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo - in her womb, in Ray's interpretation - will move out of Virgo, as if she is giving birth.

The first big problem there is that the whole idea of the Rapture is poorly supported in scripture. It's an innovation interpretation that came out of Millerism and only dates to the early 1800's. It's very likely that the original First Century Christians would likely have not even recognized the doctrine. The Book of Revelation doesn't say anything about Christians vanishing or flying up into the air aside from the 144,000 elders, which doesn't fit the "Rapture timeline" that the Neo-Millerists like so much. The idea comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which to me and many mainstream Christians doesn't read like a literal statement.

But if we ignore that part, and treat September 23, 2017 as the date of Christ's return, I suppose what we really have is yet another date for the apocalypse. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man," remember? That's from Mark, the oldest of the Gospels. Revelation, on the other hand, only dates back to the Second Century. Based on that, I'm going to go ahead as usual and make my prediction. The eclipse will come and go, September 23rd will come and go, and nothing particularly revelatory or apocalyptic will happen.

That's the prediction I always make, and longtime readers know that I've never been wrong. The same can't be said for the apocalyptic doomers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"MormonLeaks" is a Thing

These days just about everybody has heard of WikiLeaks. I recently found out about MormonLeaks, a website dedicated to posting leaked documents from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The 66 leaked documents posted so far mostly concern the inner workings of the church, and really aren't much of a bombshell. Nonetheless, the church has formally issued a DMCA takedown notice to the site, whose attorney accused the church of attempting censorship.

Gizmodo reported that the church responded with a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice demanding MormonLeaks remove PowerPoint presentations. The group responded via their attorney (PDF) that the group obtained the information legally and is entitled to use and distribute it as a journalistic source. Attorney Marc Randazza cited the church’s response to the musical “Book of Mormon,” which celebrates religious tolerance and free speech.

“Where most religions react to mockery with anger, and sometimes even violence, the LDS Church embraced what others might have considered to be an insult,” he explained in his letter. “There is no better way to demonstrate the strength of your beliefs than to tolerate criticism and mockery of them.”

He went on to argue that the efforts of the LDS church will ultimately be fruitless. Even if his clients deleted the information from their website the documents would still be distributed all over the world. “You tried to blow out a single candle, but in the process, you knocked it over into a field of dried leaves,” he wrote. “You may have extinguished that initial flame. However, your attempted censorship simply caused the document to be further reproduced and redistributed that even a hypothetical divine being could not possibly undo the dissemination.”

Here's one point that the linked article doesn't cover. A lot of people don't realize that you are required by law to defend any and all copyrights you hold, or you could lose them. The first step of that process is a DMCA takedown request. So this may not be about censorship at all. Rather, the leaders of the church may have been informed by their lawyers that they were opening themselves up to potential legal problems by not taking action against MormonLeaks.

The Book of Mormon musical is a totally different thing. The beliefs and history of the LDS church are not under copyright, and the musical is an original composition that is not affiliated with the church in any way. So the same legal burden does not apply, and judging from the response of church leaders, they don't seem to care very much about being made fun of or embarassed or anything like that. So I wonder if the same action would have been taken against MormonLeaks in a world where copyright law is treated differently.

The intent of the church could be more sinister than that, of course. But it doesn't sound like there's much in the leaked documents that is particularly weird or that I haven't heard before from other sources. As "leaks" go, it's actually pretty tame, at least so far. Of course, the church may be issuing the takedown notice now in advance of anything more incriminating that they fear the site might put up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Identifying the Poor Oppressed

I spend a lot of time here on Augoeides making fun of the Poor Oppressed Christians, primarily because as I see it, they're pretty ridiculous. But one thing that has remained unclear over the years is how many of them there are. A new survey from PRRI, though, helps shed some light on the real numbers. The chart above shows the results of the "Poor Oppressed" survey question. People were asked whether Christians or Muslims faced more discrimination. The accurate answer is obvious - Muslims have it way worse, especially in the current political climate.

So basically, anybody who answered "Christians" is a Poor Oppressed Christian, and thus a target of my ongoing ridicule. The only religious group with a majority of the Poor Oppressed is White Evangelicals, but they can be found in other traditions as well. Since I like numbers and statistics, I figured I would break this all down with some help from the Pew Forum Religious Landscape Study.

The most hardcore Poor Oppressed are White Evangelical Protestants. According to Pew, Evangelical Protestants make up 25.4% of the American population, and according to PRRI, 57% of them are in the Poor Oppressed category. This yields 14.478% of the total American population. The same calculation can be applied to the other groups as well.
  • Evangelical Protestant - 25.4% population, 57% Poor Oppressed. Total 14.478%.
  • Mainline Protestant - 14.7% population, 30% Poor Oppressed. Total 4.41%.
  • Nonwhite Protestant - 6.5% population, 40% Poor Oppressed. Total 2.6%.
  • Catholic - 20.8% population, 26% Poor Oppressed. Total 5.408%.
The PRRI survey also questioned the religiously unaffiliated, but as I see it you have to be a Christian to be a Poor Oppressed Christian, because being a whiny baby about how oppressed you personally are is part of the package. "Unaffiliated" and "Nothing in Particular" sum to 38.6% of the population, and all other religions sum to 5.9% - which includes Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Paganism, Wicca, Thelema, and other esoteric religions barely even register, which is why I find it so funny that the Poor Oppressed are apparently afraid of us.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Scorpio

This article is Part Eight in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, Part Six can be found here, and Part Seven 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 Scorpio. In Liber 777, Scorpio is attributed to "Necromancy." Necromancy refers to communication with the spirits of the dead. So this power is appropriate for any operation dealing with those who have passed beyond this life, such as work with deceased ancestors or straightforward mediumship - the real kind, mind you, not the "cold reading" trickery practiced by many professional self-proclaimed psychics. Ceremonial forms help a great deal when communicating with the spirits of the dead, since they usually are quite difficult to reach unless they are recently deceased, and without a clear, focused method, it is all too easy to contact the wrong spirit or entity.

In my opinion, the modern Christian model of the afterlife is almost certainly wrong. For example, there are a handful of cases in which some objective evidence exists for reincarnation, and the Christian model is absolutist enough that even a single counterexample effectively disproves it. This doesn't necessarily undermine Christian teachings per se, aside from removing the incentive to "be good" due to fear rather than virtue - which I can't imagine any deity would be particularly pleased with anyway. If somebody needs the threat of Hell in order to refrain from randomly murdering people, I want to stay as far away from them as possible.

The practical point here, from the standpoint of necromancy, is that dead don't just "hang out" in Heaven or Hell for all eternity, and that means that you can't always get ahold of a particular ancestor because their soul may have moved on in one sense or another, whether reincarnating into the world, dissolving into the infinite, or whatever. The "End" collect in the Gnostic Mass includes many different possible final outcomes, depending on the nature of each individual will. This is important because there are such things as earthbound spirits, who you can always reach and who like to lie. They'll say whatever will keep you talking, and they are entirely willing to impersonate ancestors or anyone else.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Actually, Probably Not

So the "prayer warriors," no surprise, are still in the tank for President Donald Trump. Preacher Lance Wallnau recently told his flock to join him in fasting and praying during Purim so that God would destroy liberals, the media, and the "deep state" opposing Trump. Let me be the first to offer a prediction - this will never work. Not because prayers can't be effective, but because by targeting such a large group, Wallnau and his followers are casting their "prayers" all wrong.

Last night, right-wing preacher Lance Wallnau called on his followers to join him in fasting and praying for President Trump during Purim so that, like Esther, Trump can turn the tables on what Wallnau says are the “sabotaging, sniping and snarling” enemies in the media and progressive movement that seek to destroy him.

In a video streamed on Periscope, Wallnau said that liberals, the media and the “deep state” are all working together to undermine Trump’s presidency, but “we’re not playing games, [so] we are fasting and praying so that the Lord will turn the tables” and destroy them instead.

“Our prayer, at this time, is corresponding to the time that Esther mobilized the Jews to pray and fast for their deliverance from Haman,” he said. “And Haman was a government adversary who wanted to annihilate the people of God and God’s influence in the government. So there is a spirit behind the protests of the liberals, the hate, the assassination tweets, the mind control that is so evident in the media, the bizarreness, the toxicity … of the pissed-off progressives.”

I've seen a few people throwing the idea around of praying or casting spells to "destroy Trump's enemies," and as a magician I want to make it as clear as I can that this is bullying nonsense. There is no way that the people opposing Trump are even going to notice a spell cast at them as a group. In addition, as I'm going to delve into shortly, this was also a problem with the "mass Trump hex," in that it named Trump and "those who abet him" - a very large group of people.

To break this down and explain further, a directed prayer is a spell. It's exactly what we ceremonial magicians do when we call upon spirits by divine names, except people who pray aren't doing any conjuring so their probability shifts are smaller. They're just directing their will towards an objective, and the strength of that will comes from their faith. Focused on an individual person, it can have a significant effect. But against a very large group, not so much. Note that even in Wallnau's Biblical example, the Jews prayed against Haman, a single individual.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Against "Beauty and the Beast"

This whole thing is all so predictable. Disney recently announced that its new live action revival of the film Beauty and the Beast will include a gay character, and both the Russian government and the Poor Oppressed Christians completely freaked. This is despite the fact that the freakiness of the Beauty and the Beast storyline goes way that of a character who is merely gay.

Beauty and the Beast creators have prompted uproar after it was revealed that the live-action remake would feature an exclusively gay moment for 'the first time in Disney history'. LeFou, the sidekick to antagonist Gaston, is set to come to terms with his sexual feelings for Belle's suitor throughout the course of the film, director Bill Condon revealed.

Since his announcement, Russian MPs and Christian-run cinemas in America have threatened to boycott the film because of its inclusion of a gay character. Christian owners of a cinema in rural Alabama said they would only show "family-orientated films" so its customers were "free to come watch wholesome movies without worrying about sex, nudity, homosexuality and foul language".

Meanwhile Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky is facing mounting pressure to assess whether the film violates the country's controversial 'gay propaganda' law which prohibits children from material "advocating for a denial of traditional family values". One thing that seems to have been overlooked by critics of the film's gay sub-plot, however, is the films main storyline that sees Belle, the protagonist, fall in love with a buffalo.

One of the absolute truths I have seen with respect to the Internet is this. If a news story gets posted about, say, a guy having sex with a dog, one of the earliest comments on that thread will be "was it a boy dog or a girl dog?" The implication is obvious. There are a whole lot of folks out there who are just fine with bestiality as long as it's not gay bestiality.

Which frankly, strikes me as totally bizarre. But I wonder if the deal is that the Poor Oppressed Christians have spent so much time and energy trying to portray the only real sins in the world as homosexuality and abortion, nobody remembers that bestiality is on that list too if you actually read the Bible - which, I realize, too few of the Poor Oppressed really do.

I won't be seeing the movie because I don't personally much care for Beauty and the Beast as a story, but it has nothing to do with a character being gay. As I see it, people should be able to be with any consenting adult they fall in love with. But I draw a line at buffalo.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Libra

This article is Part Seven in a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, and Part Six 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 Libra. In Liber 777, Libra is attributed to "Works of Justice and Equilibrium." Longtime readers will recognize this operation as very similar to this Libra ritual that I posted last year. My methods have not changed much since then. Justice and equilibrium are concepts you can employ to do rituals like the "karma spells" that some folks prefer to flat-out curses. The idea is that instead of heaping more negativity on a target, to instead perform a ritual to get them "what's coming to them." Like the "binding versus cursing" argument, much of the time this is put forth by people who believe in silly superstitions like the "threefold law" or the toxic Theosophical version of "karma" that no Buddhist or Hindu would recognize.

Still, that is not to imply that Libra rituals are worthless in any sense of the word. In fact, there are a number of cases in which they are extremely useful. If you have an enemy that you want to push back against but are unsure of what would be a proportional response, you can go with Libra rather than Saturn or Mars. As the angel's sphere of expertise concerns balance and equilibrium, they should be able to make the call based on the objective nature of the opposition rather than a knee-jerk reaction. Libra rituals can also be used for legal victories, so long as you are in the right. If you really did commit a crime or offense and are trying to get away with it, a Libra operation won't help you nearly as much.

In your personal work, balance and equilibrium can also help you with establishing conditions suitable for the "work-life balance" vaunted by self-help gurus and human potential experts. It can help you stabilize your mind such that the foundation of your magical practice is more firm and above disturbance by events that are relatively minor in the overall scheme of things. It can help to create balanced circumstances in your relationships and, if applicable, your family life. In short, it is an extremely useful power with many possible practical applications.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Not a Real Religion?

American liberals like to talk about how progressive Canada is compared to the United States. In some respects this is true, but religious freedom is apparently not one of them. According to this article from Patheos, Wicca, Paganism, and other polytheistic religions like Hinduism have no religious rights at all. They are not recognized by the government, so they are not considered "real religions." This has all sorts of legal implications, from a lack of protection under hate crime statues to no legal recognition as charitable religious organizations.

So essentially, in terms of Canadian law what you have is akin to the situation that Dominionists are pushing for here - a sort of de facto "Christian supremacy" in which they can get away with whatever they want as long as they are going after members of minority religions. The article covers the case of Dominique Smith, the owner of a metaphysical shop catering to Pagans and other occultists in Winnipeg. Christians have targeted the shop since it opened and have vandalizing the place with seeming impunity. But because of the dubious status of Pagan religions in Canada, police have apparently been hesitant to take action.

Dominique’s window has been broken three times since she opened her shop six years ago. She is just a small store owner, trying to serve a small but visible community in Manitoba. She can’t afford to replace her windows, which cost thousands of dollars, every year. If the bullies who are attacking her store are trying to drive her out of business because they don’t like what she’s selling, they’re succeeding. The Winnipeg Police Department told CBC that to them, a hate crime involving property would require the commission of the mischief to be based on bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin. But Dominique can’t get equal protection under the law because, apparently, witchcraft is not a real religion. Canada still has laws on the books about “defrauding people with witchcraft.”

In many ways, Canada is a very progressive country. But in some ways it’s deploringly backward. For instance, did you know that there is no Pagan faith organization that is officially recognized as a Religious Charity by the Canadian federal government? Religious Charities get a variety of tax breaks under the law; but more importantly, they cannot be denied access on the basis of religion. And there are other benefits that are subtle and not well-known. For instance, the clergy of any recognized Religious Charity are welcomed as Chaplains in the Canadian Armed Forces. This was a career path I seriously considered, but that’s when I found out that you had to be part of a recognized Religious Charity to do it. The Wiccan Church of Canada has been trying for this recognition for more than thirty years. Incidentally, the Hindu Cultural Society in Vancouver doesn’t have this status either. No polytheistic religion, to my knowledge, does.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Turkey Ritual

Over the last five years or so, wild turkeys have been making a comeback here in the Twin Cities metro area. These birds are large, social, far more intelligent than their domestic cousins, and known for their skills in magick. When a coven of wild turkeys comes together to perform a spell, the power that they can raise rivals that of...

Wait a minute. What the hell is going on here?!

The image above, taken from Twitter video, does not appear to be staged, and is exactly what it looks like - eighteen wild turkeys circumambulating deosil around a dead cat in the middle of a road. Are they trying to resurrect the cat? Or perform a necromantic operation to contact its spirit? Various theories have been proposed, but what everybody agrees on is that the whole thing is pretty strange.

Here are 18 turkeys tracing a patient, steady circle around a dead cat. “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” the film’s creator says, and while that is not exactly true in a world where (say it with us) a racist orange reality-TV steak grifter is the president, it is still extremely valid and strange!

The Verge sought out explanation for this strange phenomenon from a biologist, who suggested the turkeys were doing a thing called “predator inspection,” in which they take a look at an animal higher up on the food chain, except in this case that predator is a fucking dead cat, so why would they be inspecting him? This is a line of thinking that lead to another, even more unsatisfying conclusion:

"What could be happening is that the turkeys are stuck in some kind of never-ending circle, with each bird following the tail in front of it. “It’s not unusual for them to get into those dances where they chase each other around,” Scott Gardner, a turkey expert with the California Department Of Fish And Wildlife, tells The Verge."

Sure, that might be the case. Or they might be locked in a pagan resurrection rite, or they might have killed the cat themselves and are now taunting its family, or maybe this is a duck blood orgy, or maybe they have sensed and are earnestly attempting to warn us humans of our own impending doom via climate change.

I don't know that the "predator inspection" thing is necessarily that far-fetched. I can see a domestic cat going after a wild turkey, though I can't see a cat actually killing one given the size difference. A cat will sometimes go after a goose, which is about the same size as a wild turkey - and wind up regretting it because geese are nasty. And maybe they are doing some kind of a dance following each other around, but why deosil around a dead cat? That's the big question.

I'll keep an eye out for any more cases of apparent turkey spellcasting to see if this constitutes a trend. If so, the birds may be more powerful than we know - even though, according to reports, the cat did remain dead.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Well, If Pat Said It...

Demonization of his political opponents is nothing new to evangelist Pat Robertson. And by "demonization," I don't mean the usual garden variety insistence that said opponent is entirely malevolent and devoid of any positive traits. I mean that he literally thinks they are demons, or the actual devil, or sometimes both. Pat's latest whopper from his 700 Club program is the claim that anyone who doesn't support Donald Trump is doing the bidding of Satan.

Today, a “700 Club” viewer asked him “why so many people do not support” Trump and his drive to “Make America Great Again,” and Robertson again claimed that resistance to Trump is motivated by Satan.According to Robertson, while Trump’s election represented God giving America a “reprieve” from judgment, Trump’s opponents are doing the bidding of Satan, who wants to destroy America:

"There’s a desire on the part of some, and I think it’s satanic, it really is spiritual, to destroy America. America is the great hope of the world. If America goes down, the lamp of freedom goes out. There’s no other champion of freedom anywhere in the world and we would be engulfed in chaos.

"We were heading that way. Obama was bringing it on. Another four or eight years of Obama-style government and we would have been consumed with a socialist mentality and the freedom that we’ve enjoyed would be blotted out so God gave us a reprieve and this thing is spiritual. It really is spiritual. We need this land, it’s so important. I counsel you: Pray for this nation, pray for the president, pray for this nation, what’s being done against him surpasses—it’s not human, it’s a spiritual thing."

So Trump's administration is "pro-freedom?" While I do think that folks out there accusing his administration of flat-out Nazi-level fascism are exaggerating things, I find it pretty confusing to frame banning travel, increasing deportations, ramping up the "war on drugs," walling off the border, opposing abortion rights, opposing net neutrality, discriminating against Muslims and other minority religions, opposing LGBT rights, and so forth as "pro-freedom." You know, because as I see it, none of those things are "pro-freedom" at all.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Zombies Attack Indiana?

The only rule that a zombie apocalypse seems to follow is the same as that followed by Biblical ones - "no man shall know the day or the hour." According to the most authoritative horror films, a zombie plague can strike just about anywhere without much warning. Yesterday around noon, a radio station in Winchester, Indiana, began broadcasting an emergency alert warning of an impending zombie attack. The sheriff's department investigated, and to everyone's relief the alert turned out to be a hoax, probably perpetrated by hackers.

The broadcasts, which were “replayed frequently” on a Winchester station around noon on Wednesday, warned of the flesh-eating attack as well as a related disease outbreak from dead bodies, authorities in Randolph County announced on Facebook.

“There is no local emergency,” the sheriff’s department assured in a statement. “We have contacted the radio station and notified the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Again there is no emergency or disease outbreak in Randolph County.”

After hearing the repeating broadcasts on station WZZY 98.3, the county’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management team reached out to the state’s DHS to see if it was a planned training exercise. Once determining that it was not, the station, as well as its sister stations, were taken off the air until they could regain full control, the sheriff’s department said in an earlier release.

Not everyone was buying it, however. “Stay vigilant, folks, odds are the zombies would go straight for the sheriff’s department Facebook account first,” one Facebook user cautioned in the post’s comment section.

See, I don't know if I agree. Zombies are not particularly intelligent, and the idea that they would understand social media is probably pretty farfetched. It's hard to imagine any of the slow, shambling creatures from Night of the Living Dead gleefully checking it's Facebook and Twitter, if you know what I mean. That's probably a good thing, since it gives humans a chance to organize in the wake of an attack - at least until the power goes out.

So there probably are no real zombies in Indiana, but if you happen to live in the Winchester area you may want to keep an eye out just in case.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Weirdness Versus "The Simulation"

Weirdness is everywhere. This past year has seen a couple of unusual events that were considered highly unlikely. Donald Trump was elected president, despite most the polls leading up the election showing him behind. The Super Bowl featured the biggest comeback win in the history of the game. And recently, the Oscars ceremony screwed up the award for Best Picture by handing the presenters the wrong envelope. The New Yorker has an article up that claims this weirdness supports the "simulation argument." That is, the scenario explored in the film The Matrix is true and we are all components in an elaborate computer simulation. I've complained a number of times in the past about how dumb this idea really is. And, I have no problem whatsoever doing it again.

And so both of these bizarre events put one in mind of a simple but arresting thesis: that we are living in the Matrix, and something has gone wrong with the controllers. This idea was, I’m told, put forward first and most forcibly by the N.Y.U. philosopher David Chalmers: what is happening lately, he says, is support for the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation and that something has recently gone haywire within it. The people or machines or aliens who are supposed to be running our lives are having some kind of breakdown. There’s a glitch, and we are in it.

Once this insight is offered, it must be said, everything else begins to fall in order. The recent Super Bowl, for instance. The result, bizarre on the surface—with that unprecedented and impossible comeback complete with razzle-dazzle catches and completely blown coverages and defensive breakdowns—makes no sense at all in the “real” world. Doesn’t happen. But it is exactly what you expect to happen when a teen-ager and his middle-aged father exchange controllers in the EA Sports video-game version: the father stabs and pushes the buttons desperately while the kid makes one play after another, and twenty-five-point leads are erased in minutes, and in just that way—with ridiculous ease on the one side and chicken-with-its-head-cut-off panic infecting the other. What happened, then, one realizes with last-five-minutes-of-“The Twilight Zone” logic, is obvious: sometime in the third quarter, the omniscient alien or supercomputer that was “playing” the Patriots exchanged his controller with his teen-age offspring, or newer model, with the unbelievable result we saw.

And actually, that's a great big nope. Who says the "real world" isn't weird? Certainly not magicians. We mess with this stuff all the time. It may even be that as more of us work out how to do more effective magick, the weirdness is going to multiply. There were a whole bunch of people who bragged about doing magick to get Trump elected. I've been asked a number of times how to do magick to influence sporting events, so there must be people out there doing it, probably on all sides. And is it really such a stretch that magicians might want to mess with the Oscars? I mean, I personally think the whole thing is silly, but there are apparently a lot of people out there who consider them incredibly important.