Sunday, April 30, 2017

Satanic Monument Controversy Comes to Belle Plaine

Yeah, I know what you're thinking - where the hell is Belle Plaine? Since I'm a Minnesotan, I'll tell you. Belle Plaine is a small town forty-some miles southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota where I currently live. It's classic small-town Minnesota, with a population of about 6,700. That's mentioned in the section I clipped from the article below, but I figured I would lead off with it to give you a sense of place - since unless you're from around here, you'll have no idea where it is.

Anyway, a Christian group put up a monument to honor veterans in the town's Veteran's Memorial Park. No surprise, the monument featured a cross. City leaders decided that the monument needed to be taken down in case someone decided to sue - and to be clear, no one actually did. A lot of people in Belle Plaine liked the monument, so they protested its removal. The city's response was to set up an area where monuments from all religious traditions could be erected, including the Christian one. Which is actually quite reasonable, as I see it.

The symbol in this case was a modest but poignant 2-foot steel war memorial called “Joe,” which features a cross in its tribute to soldiers in Belle Plaine’s Veterans Memorial Park. City leaders, fearing a lawsuit rooted in the constitutional separation of church and state, in January ordered the removal of the cross. But more than 100 residents rallied to restore the full memorial. To defuse the turmoil, the city then decided to designate a small area in the park as a “free speech zone,” open to 10 or fewer temporary memorials, as long as they honor veterans.

The cross was reinstalled on the monument this month. And it’s about to have company: The Satanic Temple in Salem, Mass., is planning to erect its own memorial: A black cube, inscribed with inverted pentagrams and crowned by an upturned helmet. “Everyone understood this could happen,” said Belle Plaine resident Andy Parrish, who led the charge to restore the cross. “It’s more annoying than it is offensive.”

In Belle Plaine, a town of 6,700 about 45 miles southwest of Minneapolis, the original decision to remove the cross proved deeply unpopular. For nearly a month, flag-toting protesters occupied the park each day, often staking their own handmade crosses into the ground out of defiance. Almost overnight, small wooden crosses popped up in business windows, on mailboxes and front lawns. “The residents feel a sense of duty,” Parrish told an overflow crowd at a February City Council meeting. “Our veterans defended us and it’s our duty to defend them.”

City officials decided that night to authorize the public forum on park grounds. Councilman Ben Stier wondered aloud if the change would be worth it to veterans if they had to share their parcel with, say, a satanic group. They answered with a reluctant yes. The Satanic Temple was first in line to test their resolve.

I want to emphasize that all of this had to do with fears of a lawsuit on the part of city leaders. Nobody filed suit demanding that the monument come down. They were just worried that at some point in the future, somebody might. So they ordered it taken down of their own volition, not in response to any legal demand.

And the thing about this is that I totally support what looks like the outcome here. I'd rather drive by a public park and see a whole bunch of monuments put up by people of different religious traditions than drive by and see nothing. I also think that in this particular legal context, atheism needs to be treated as a religious belief as well - even though in reality, atheism is absence of one particular belief (in a God or gods) than it is a coherent set of beliefs. Atheists need to be given the rights as believers, so any atheist group should likewise be free to put up their own secular display.

The Christian monument in question is tasteful and I don't see any reason to remove it. However, if one religion is allowed to put up a monument on government land, every other religion needs to have the right to do the same. Whether they exercise it or not is up to them, but they need to be given the right to do it if they want. The Satanic Temple's monument is not offensive either, and it should be allowed to stand. And I think that's a better state of affairs than insisting that any monument with religious content be removed from government land.

Let's celebrate our religious diversity rather than trying to sweep it all under the rug.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Published in Denver Witch Quarterly

This article is cross-posted from my author website.

Even though I don't live in Denver and don't consider myself a witch, my article "Against Book Piracy" has been published in the latest issue of Denver Witch Quarterly.

The current issue has a bunch of material about the now-infamous Donald Trump binding spell, but my article doesn't have anything to do with that. If you're interested in my thoughts on the binding spell and the "Trump Magick War," they can be found here.

My article is more along the lines of my Truth About Writing post in the context of occult books and people who pirate them under the mistaken belief that we occult authors are making tons of money from our work. To be clear, we're not. The occult is a tiny market, and at this point it's pretty much impossible to make enough money writing occult books to live on, even at a minimum wage level.

The latest issue of Denver Witch Quarterly can be purchased here, from Smashwords.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A Skeptic Reviews America's Psychic Experiments

New Republic has a review up today of a new book on psychic experiments conducted by the United States Government, Phenomena: The Secret History of the U. S. Government’s Investigations Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis by Annie Jacobsen. I'm including the Amazon link because if you take a look at the critical reviews, there are several that point out inconsistencies and omissions in the narrative that sound legitimate. The reviewer, on the other hand, appears to be a smug capital-S Skeptic who seems to generally like the book itself, but spends most of his time going on about what a waste of time all these programs were because, of course, psychic abilities don't exist.

This experiment is only one of the strange stories—many of them recently declassified—in Annie Jacobsen’s Phenomena: The Secret History of the U. S. Government’s Investigations Into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis. As with her previous books on Area 51, Operation Paperclip (the secret project to bring Nazi rocket scientists to the U.S. after the war), and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which develops new technology for the Defense Department), this one begins with the fallout of World War II and the extreme measures the military-industrial complex took to unlock and weaponize psychic abilities in the early days of the Cold War. Spanning over 50 years, Jacobsen’s tale takes us from the immediate postwar years to the CIA’s experiments in the 1960s and ‘70s. The Defense Department, she tells us, began its own experiments in the 1980s and ‘90s, before their final incarnation, Project Stargate, was finally decommissioned in 1995.

Later in the article, which I'm not going to quote, the reviewer tries to debunk remote viewing by citing a single failed experiment. However, if you dig into the Stargate material, there were also plenty of successful experiments that produced some reliable intelligence. I am not convinced everyone can be trained to do remote viewing effectively, but I think anybody talented enough to do practical magick should be able to develop a reasonable level of skill at it. One of the problems with trying to deploy these abilities on a large scale is identifying talented people in the first place who are worth the investment of time and money.

Although Jacobsen’s book demonstrates an alarming pattern of government activity, the phenomena themselves are what makes her book so fascinating, and often troubling. “My intention … for this book,” she writes, “was not to prove or disprove anyone or any concept, but to report objectively on the government’s long-standing interest in ESP and PK phenomena.” That being said, she cuts these charlatans a great deal of slack while subtly undermining their critics, creating a reading experience that’s alternately frustrating and exhausting. And while she couldn’t have predicted this before finishing the book, Phenomena arrives at the beginning of a presidency that is thriving on conspiracy, distortion of fact, the discrediting of reliable sources, and outright paranoia. With the President of the United States quoting the National Enquirer as a legitimate news source, we’re in desperate need of a thorough account of the overlap between the government and the occult—but given our current climate, such a book also requires greater moral clarity.

I guess "moral clarity" to this reviewer means that the book should make it clear that the James Randi, capital-S Skeptic position is obviously correct and that any believer in psychic or paranormal phenomena is hopelessly deluded. Obviously, I don't subscribe to that viewpoint. Personally, I like that the author of the book took a more neutral position, because arguing over the existence of psychic powers can consume a great deal of energy and is ultimately boring. People experience them. Of course they exist in that sense. So what we should be trying to figure out is what's going on, not "whether it's real." As a point, the Skeptic favorite "mass hysteria" is precisely as poorly understood as "psychic ability," and is really no more credible as I see it.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Presenting at NOTOCON XI

This article is cross-posted from my author web site.

I was originally asked to hold off on making this announcement until the official schedule was posted online, but since it's up now I figure I can go ahead with it. This summer, I will be presenting on Heptarchial Evocation at NOTOCON XI, the eleventh biannual conference of Ordo Templi Orientis, in Orlando, Florida. The presentation is scheduled for 9 AM on Friday, August 11th of 2017. It might have been nice to do the presentation a little later in the day, since I'm not really a morning person, but it's also pretty cool to be kicking off Friday's track of ritual presentations.

The presentation will include a condensed version of my Introduction to the Heptarchia Mystica talk and a full Heptarchial evocation ritual done according to the procedure laid out in Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy, with a few additional tweaks for a Thelemic audience. After the conference, I will be making the text of my talk available over on Augoeides as per my usual practice. If you would like to buy a copy of my book to peruse before the presentation, just click on the title there to order.

So if you will be attending the conference, I hope that you'll resist the urge to sleep in on Friday morning (which, to be fair, I might very well do myself if I wasn't presenting) and come check it out. It should be a good time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bermuda Triangle Still a Mystery?

For quite a few years now, a possible scientific explanation has been put forth for the large number of ships that have allegedly disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle - a rough triangle with points at the tip of Florida, the island of Bermuda, and the island of Puerto Rico. The ocean floor in this region is known to occasionally release methane bubbles, which some scientists believe can temporarily lower the density of the ocean water and sink a ship. However, physicist Helen Czerski has studied this phenomenon and concluded that its ability to sink a ship has been profoundly exaggerated. In fact, she contends that it poses little if any danger.

For decades, reports have claimed ships and aircrafts have vanished while traveling through the mysterious region of the Atlantic Ocean known as 'The Bermuda Triangle.' Some sailors call it the 'Devil's Triangle', claiming the area is plagued by supernatural powers or possibly extraterrestrial visitors.

However, there is a scientific explanation. "This idea that if you had a whoosh of methane bubbles from the sea floor, it could sink a ship," Helen Czerski, physicist and oceanographer from University College London, said. So the tiny bubbles really don't threaten the ship?

"The first thing is that this whoosh of gas is going to break up into small bubbles, really, really quickly. It doesn't rise as one massive, great big bubble." Czerski said. "It pushes up on the ship, much more strongly than the ship is falling into the bubbles. The bubbles actually make the ship go up, not down."

In fact, the Bermuda Triangle isn't really much of a mystery. As I keep harping on here on Augoeides, even very intelligent people routinely estimate or calculate probabilities wrong. The Bermuda Triangle is (A) one of the areas most strongly affected by Atlantic hurricanes and (B) crossed by one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. The storms somewhat increase the risk to ships, but more importantly the sheer number of ships passing through the area mean that there seem to be an unusual number of disappearances. Several studies now have shown that the rate of lost ships in the region is not that unusual if you control for the level of traffic and compare it to other shipping routes.

So once again, this is a case where a failure to understand probability means a failure to understand life, and not just with probability manipulation technologies like magick. If you want to live your life to the fullest, it helps a great deal to accurately assess risk, and a little knowledge in that area can go a long way.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

An Aurora Named Steve

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that I must look like a "Steve." Nobody ever calls me anything else besides my real name, and if somebody can't remember "Scott," "Steve" is always what they guess. Thanks to a group of Canadian aurora borealis enthusiasts, it sounds like I now share my fake name with a mysterious phenomenon lighting up the sky over Canada - a strip of aurora light that these enthusiasts decided to name "Steve."

The story started with a group of Canadians who were enthusiastic about finding and photographing the most stunning displays of the aurora borealis, or northern lights. They formed a Facebook group called Alberta Aurora Chasers to share information about the best and brightest displays. A few years ago, some began to notice that Steve — a strip of light that appeared a bit farther south than the northern lights — was something special.

After that, scientists began to take notice. “The really cool thing about this is the social media providing a nice bridge between the scientific community and these amateurs, who are incredibly talented observers of the night sky,” Dr. Donovan said. He explained that Steve is a strip of ionized gas moving through the air at about four miles per second, with temperatures as high as 10,800 degrees Fahrenheit — as hot as the earth’s core. It is about 16 miles wide and thousands of miles long, flowing from east to west across Canada.

Photographs of the phenomenon, most of which show Steve as a glowing ribbon of neon light, have captivated aurora borealis enthusiasts in Canada and far beyond.

I bring this up here on Augoeides in part because I'm a science enthusiast, and in part because as I see it, this is an example of a "paranormal phenomenon" as I employ the term. It's not "supernatural," but rather an unusual observation that doesn't fit the normal pattern. Scientists know that it's there and know what it's made of, and so far they haven't figured out why it behaves the way it does. But I'm confident that they eventually will.

As I see, the same is true of magical effects. Spell results aren't necessarily as obvious as, say, a glowing strip of light running across the sky - though that would be pretty damn cool to cast. The point is that anybody with a modicum of talent who has done the work should know firsthand that there's something to it. The nature of magick remains an open question, but I'm confident that once we work out consciousness, we'll be close to a definitive explanation.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Earth

This article is Part One of a series.

Working with the Earth element is the first step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the mystical aspects of all four elements correspond to the tenth sephira, Malkuth, which represents the material world. The elements have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

I have been very clear in my practical magick series that magick is more than just psychology. However, since your first and most important magical tool is your mind, it is with psychology that you should begin. This is not to say that I necessarily agree with Israel Regardie's contention that all aspiring magicians should start by getting years of psychotherapy. Much psychotherapy is quite frankly not that useful to mentally healthy individuals.

On the other hand, it also is true that mental illness afflicts about a quarter of the population in one form or another, and if you do suffer from such issues therapy can be useful in some cases. You will want to find a therapist who is up on modern, scientifically valid methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy, since most of the psychoanalytic methods have not been shown to work under controlled scientific conditions.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Aries Elixir Rite Intent for Leaping Laughter OTO

This post might be a bit obscure if you live outside the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) or have no interest in Ordo Templi Orientis, the order I was initiated into more than twenty years ago. It's important to me, though, so that's why it's here.

Tonight Leaping Laughter will be holding a business meeting where our incoming master will be setting out priorities and such for the local body going forward. At Tuesday's Aries Elixir Rite, I issued the following intent in hopes of consecrating our local body to expanding into the greater community, and providing hospitality to all who seek us out in good faith.

As Aries is related to "The Power of Consecrating Things," I felt that this was the appropriate rite in which to issue such an intent, especially since it was the first of twelve zodiacal operations planned for the upcoming year. My intent consisted of five points, designed to dedicate and consecrate the Leaping Laughter community on all levels.

1. To strengthen and enhance Leaping Laughter’s relationships with the artistic and alternative spirituality communities in general, and increase positive attention to our work in all relevant contexts.

2. To bring members, guests, and visitors to Leaping Laughter who will contribute to our work in whatever capacity they can, who are committed to expanding the body and the order in general, and who are committed to maintaining fraternal relations with their brothers and sisters.

3. To protect Leaping Laughter from any person or situation that might undermine our hospitality, our work, and/or the personal safety of our members, such as those who are unable or unwilling to behave in a fraternal manner towards members, guests, and/or visitors.

4. To maintain Leaping Laughter as a welcoming and comfortable space for all who choose to attend our rites and events and abide by our policies, and to guard against the arising of any situation that might detract from this.

5. To extend the quality thus cultivated here at Leaping Laughter so as to inspire the healthy expansion of the order in general, in the United States and all across the world.

As I see it, these are all basic factors that go into making any group, and particularly a group dedicated to magical and alternative spirituality, a place where people will want to congregate, spend time, and hopefully support in whatever manner they are able. These are all qualities that I want to see cultivated going forward, and to be clear, none of these were issued because I find them lacking in the body as a whole or anywhere else.

I don't travel very much but I do attend the national conferences, and the people I meet there are generally awesome. That awesomeness is something that I hope every contact with our order can reflect, and as I'm sure you all know, I'm not shy about sending out magick to help wherever it's needed. After all, what's the point of learning magick if you don't put it to good use?

If all these tenets sound good to you and you're interested in checking us out, feel free to stop by. Most of our events are public, and our website can be found here with our calendar and other particulars.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Russia Bans Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses with their door-to-door proselytizing can be a little annoying sometimes, but I've never considered them dangerous. Russia, apparently, disagrees. Russia's Supreme Court has now declared the religious denomination an "extremist group," putting them in the same category as radical Islamic groups and other religious sects that support terrorism and violence. Since there's no evidence that Russian Jehovah's Witnesses have ever been involved in anything of the sort, it's hard to see this as anything other than a case of religious persecution.

Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday declared Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian denomination that rejects violence, an extremist organization, banning the group from operating on Russian territory and putting its more than 170,000 Russian worshipers in the same category as Islamic State militants.

The ruling, which confirmed an order last month by the Justice Ministry that the denomination be “liquidated” — essentially eliminated or disbanded — had been widely expected. Russian courts rarely challenge government decisions, no matter what the evidence.

Viktor Zhenkov, a lawyer for the denomination, said Jehovah’s Witnesses would appeal the ruling. He said it had focused on the activities of the organization’s so-called administrative center, a complex of offices outside St. Petersburg, but also branded all of its nearly 400 regional branches as extremist.

“We consider this decision an act of political repression that is impermissible in contemporary Russia,” Mr. Zhenkov said in a telephone interview. “We will, of course, appeal.” An initial appeal will be made to the Supreme Court’s appellate division, Mr. Zhenkov said, and if that fails, Jehovah’s Witnesses will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France.

Religious freedom in Russia has been seriously curtailed for years. Under an "anti-extremism" law passed in 2002, any religion that claims to offer a "true path" to salvation - other than the Russian Orthodox Church - can be banned. That's flat-out bizarre, the sort of law that you would find in the sort of radical theocracy that the Christian Reconstructionists want to establish here in the United States. It's just one more reminder of how thankful we should be that the Constitution of the United States protects freedom of religion.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cannabis Church Opens on 4/20

For the longest time, this idea was basically a joke thrown around in response to the rise of "religious freedom" laws. Kind of like the version of Satanism practiced by The Satanic Temple, it was primarily intended to ruffle the feathers of fundamentalists who are vehemently opposed to the use of any illegal drugs.

The thing is, though, recreational cannabis is now legal in Colorado, so Steve Berke and Lee Molloy decided to give it a go. They are opening the doors of their International Church of Cannabis in Denver today - which is, of course, 4/20, alluding to "420" as slang for cannabis. They even have a name for their religious philosophy, Elevationism, which they describe as "elevating one’s life and spiritual self-discovery through the sacrament of cannabis."

The church’s stated purpose is to serve as “a home to adults everywhere who are looking to create the best version of themselves by way of the sacred plant.” Just how that will be achieved is still up in the air, but church leaders told 9News that programming is expected to include guest speakers, comedians, artists, musicians and film screenings.

And while city officials ― and skeptical neighbors ― are concerned that founders Steve Berke and Lee Molloy are merely exploiting a legal loophole to create a cannabis club, the two promise the church isn’t just a smokescreen for illegal activities. No marijuana will be sold at the church.

“First and foremost, this is a community church,” Berke told Denver publication Westword. “There are rumors that this is a rasta smoking lounge or a nightclub. It’s not. It’s a safe place to congregate and consume.”

“Elevationism is about elevating one’s life and spiritual self-discovery through the sacrament of cannabis,” Molloy added. “I grew up in an evangelical, Pentecostal religion with people speaking in tongues and falling on the floor. If those people are considered a real religion, then why not us?”

Many people consume mind-altering substances as part of their spiritual or magical practices. Aside from sacramental wine, such as that used in Tuesday's elixir rite or the Gnostic Mass, I don't go that route because I find mental clarity important for my magical work. Still, my education in experimental psychology included a bit of psychopharmacology, and I find models like Timothy Leary's "set and setting" to be entirely plausible. So if this works for folks, I think it's great, even though it wouldn't interest me personally.

As far as legality goes, the "gateway drug" hypothesis was debunked by the LaGuardia Committee Report in the 1940's and has no scientific basis. Beyond that, there's no scientific evidence showing that cannabis is more harmful than alcohol, so it seems to me the most reasonable approach to regulating it should be something like the system they now have in Colorado. At the very least, it should be removed from Schedule 1 at the Federal level, since the key criteria there is that a drug have "no medical uses" - and cannabis has several.

On one level, I would really like to see somebody try to challenge the legality of the church and take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. I think there's a reasonable chance that Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Religious Freedom, might rule in the church's favor, and then the fundie heads would really explode.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Alex Jones Says He's Stephen Colbert

Alex Jones' InfoWars is the epicenter of many a conspiracy theory movement. Generally speaking, most people either consider Jones to be completely nuts, or a misunderstood truth-teller who dares to call out the mainstream media. But now, according to Jones' attorney, both of those interpretations are entirely wrong. Essentially, Jones is now at least officially claiming to be a fraud. Or a fake. Or maybe a joke.

In a custody dispute with his ex-wife, Jones' legal team is now saying that he is a "performance artist" who is "playing a character." In other words, they're trying to argue that he basically is Stephen Colbert - not the Stephen Colbert who currently hosts The Late Show, but the "Stephen Colbert" who hosted The Colbert Report on the Comedy Central network for nearly a decade.

InfoWars host Alex Jones may have built his media empire off of unhinged comments — from propagating innumerable conspiracy theories to using homophobic slurs and threatening violence against California Rep. Adam Schiff — but now his lawyer in a custody battle wants us to believe that this is all an act.

“He’s playing a character. He is a performance artist,” said Randall Wilhite, Jones’ lawyer in a custody dispute with Jones’ ex-wife Kelly Jones, according to a report by the Austin American-Statesman. By contrast, Kelly Jones insists that “he’s not a stable person. He says he wants to break Alec Baldwin’s neck. He wants J-Lo to get raped.”

She added, “I’m concerned that he is engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress. He broadcasts from home. The children are there, watching him broadcast.” According to District Judge Orlina Naranjo, this case is going to be about Jones’ capacity to be a good parent to the three children he shares with Kelly Jones, not the content of his controversial show InfoWars.

It should be noted that after this story originally broke, Jones posted a video completely contradicting his lawyer's statements - on the way to divorce court while he was allegedly under a gag order, which technically is not allowed. So which is it, Alex? Are you some sort of clown, or are you really as paranoid and messed up as you sound on your show?

A disturbing number of people in the occult community take Jones' nonsense seriously. One would like to think that sustained magical practice would lead to greater self-knowledge, which in turn would lead to better critical thinking. But much of the time, I have found that this is not the case. Maybe my error in thinking there is that I'm assuming anybody who claims to be a magical practitioner should at least be doing some work. But that's a whole other discussion.

Even as a performance artist, Jones is different than Colbert for one key reason - he's dangerous. I was a fan of The Colbert Report from day one, and one thing I never saw was "Stephen Colbert" inciting his fans to level threats and engage in actual violence against innocent people. Jones does this all the damn time. Frankly, if his whole show is a big joke, it's not a very funny one.

That's why, to my way of thinking, Jones deserves to lose this custody dispute, big time. Either he's lying in his statements to the court and really is nuts, or he's telling the truth and he's the sort of person who thinks that unleashing hundreds of fans to harass parents of the kids killed at Sandy Hook, or motivating an armed gunman to attack a pizza parlor full of children, is funny. Neither of those options says "good parent" to me.

UPDATE: On April 28th, Jones lost his custody case. My guess is that he would have been better off keeping his mouth shut and letting his lawyer push the "playing a character" argument. Then, he could have denied it on his show afterwards, rather than immediately releasing a video undermining his whole case. But nobody has ever tried to argue that the guy is smart.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Egg Roll Salvaged

As you all know, I've never been a fan of Donald Trump, but never let it be said that I'm not willing to give credit where credit is due. The Trump Administration has successfully dodged its biggest challenge yet, pulling off Monday's annual White House Easter Egg Roll at basically the last possible minute.

The event was much smaller than last year's, which was attended by 35,000 people and featured numerous celebrity guests. The White House claimed that it was focusing on "quality instead of quantity," which is what you say when you send out all the invitations too late for you to have any chance at quantity.

Some 21,000 people were invited to attend the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, one of the year’s largest events held at the mansion and one that attracted additional attention this year after the newest occupants of the most famous house on Pennsylvania Avenue got a slow start planning the party.

But despite concerns, all seemed to go off without a hitch. It was lower key and less flashy than in years past. First lady Melania Trump wanted to focus on the more traditional aspects of the longtime Easter Egg Roll, her spokeswoman said.

Children and families roamed the lawn and stopped at picnic tables to make drawings that would be sent to troops overseas. They tossed beanbags and practiced soccer at makeshift goals set up by D.C. United. And some tried their hand at what has arguably become one of the more challenging jobs in the Trump administration: They stood in for Sean Spicer at a miniature press secretary podium set up on the lawn.

The success of the event was ensured by hundreds of volunteers, who stepped up and did the work normally done by White House staffers - many of whom Trump has not gotten around to hiring. That's most likely why everything had to be done at the last minute in the first place, because until the volunteers showed up there was no one to do the organizing work.

For all my snark, though, it does sound like the kids who attended had a good time, and really that's what the whole event is about. Events like these don't need to be huge, star-studded affairs so long as everybody involved is having fun.

Now, about North Korea and Syria...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Via Solis Aries Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Aries Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday April 18th, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This is similar to the Libra Elixir Rite posted back in 2014. Going forward, we will be performing one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). The Via Solis Elixir Rites were written by Michele Montserrat in 2010 for the Comselh Ananael magical working group. I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Aries. Items to be consecrated may be placed on the altar by any of the attendees, as Aries is attributed to the Power of Consecrating Things. This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.


Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.


Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering. 


Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present are and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence. So mote it be.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

War on Easter?

In the time-honored Augoeides tradition of bringing you the most ridiculous news items featuring offended Christians over-reacting to the most trivial possible slights, for Easter Sunday I present this story from the New York Times. British candy maker Cadbury, the manufacturer of the creme eggs popular during the Easter season, decided to remove the word "Easter" from the name of an annual egg hunt that the company sponsors. And British Poor Oppressed Christians, naturally, completely freaked out.

The “storm in an egg cup,” as the network ITV put it, began after the confectionary giant Cadbury decided to omit the word “Easter” from the title of an annual egg hunt it sponsors, calling the event “Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt.”

The event, which has been around for a decade and has been known as the Easter Egg Trail, is co-sponsored with the National Trust, a conservation charity. It sends hundreds of thousands of children hunting for Easter eggs on historic properties across the country on Easter weekend.

The decision was considered such an affront to traditionalists that none less than the archbishop of York and Prime Minister Theresa May intervened to express dismay. The archbishop, John Sentamu, lamented that omitting an explicit Easter reference was akin to “spitting on the grave” of John Cadbury, a Quaker who founded the company, which initially sold cocoa and drinking chocolate, in Birmingham in 1824.

“If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “He built houses for all his workers, he built a church, he made provision for schools. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin.”

Now I do understand that the whole "Easter is really Pagan!" thing that gets thrown around on Facebook during this time of year is basically bullshit. At the same time, the truth is that rabbits and eggs and all that are European folk traditions that have been associated with Easter for a long time, but which have little to do with the Christian religion itself. For example, many Pagans and Neo-Pagans also color eggs, hold egg hunts, and the like in the spring, so it is accurate to suggest that Christians do not have a monopoly on those activities.

But the Poor Oppressed can't have that. They need their monopoly in order to feel special, so any hint of losing it turns them into whiny babies - and, apparently, this goes on in Britain as well as in the United States. In the United Kingdom, people explicitly don't have constitutionally protected freedom of religion like they do in the United States, so it is even more telling that Cadbury made this decision entirely on its own. It's logical, really, that if you want your event to appeal to the most people, limiting it to members of one religion is kind of silly.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Featured on Thelema NOW! Podcast

This article is cross-posted from my author web site.

This week my introductory lecture on Enochian magick is featured on Thelema NOW!, the official podcast of US Grand Lodge OTO. The Thelema NOW! homepage is here, and a direct link to the podcast is here.

The prepared text of my lecture was published here on Augoeides back in January right after I presented it, but one of the things about checking out the recording is that I don't always stick to my prepared talk one hundred percent. Also, I usually allow people to ask questions throughout my presentations, and the answers to those are not included in the prepared text.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Augoeides Theme Update

People have told me on more occasions than you might think that I can be a bit of a fuddy-duddy about technology for a professional software developer. The way I see it, you don't fix things that aren't broken. Blogger has worked just fine for Augoeides for more than a decade, and it continues to serve its primary function. While I'm sure some folks come here and ask themselves if anybody who's still running a version of "Thisaway Rose" could possibly be serious, the only real issue I see is that the site doesn't look quite as modern as I might like.

The good thing is that I never got a site going on one of those hells of spinning skulls, animated lightning, and dripping blood bars, Geocities and Tripod. If I had, I might still be running it, and it would basically be guaranteed to look terrible. I would be used to it, though, so all I would have to say is "It doesn't quite look modern." Truly, that would be a sad, sad day, both for me and for those of you who would have to put up with the spinning skulls in order to read my articles. So in that sense, it's a good thing that I got into the blogging game as late as I did.

At any rate, Augoeides was running the out-of-the-box "Thisaway Rose" theme from 2006 to 2011. In March of that year, I hacked the template to be wider and to have two sidebars instead of one. In April 2011 I added Pages when Blogger finally implemented them. Wordpress had already supported them for a long time, so it was nice to finally be able to create some.

Then, in July 2012, I went through the site and made it less pink. Now I did have a rationale for choosing the colors that I did - "Clear Pink Rose" is the King Scale color for Tiphareth, Beauty, the sephira of the Sun in Liber 777. And besides, I was sick of the black on black "scary" look popular back then with occult blogs and websites. I kept the pink for links and headers, and it is of course reflected in my banner image.

So as you can see, today I have gone ahead and updated the site template one more time to give it a slightly more modern look. First I widened the site to 1020px from 900px. When the blog went online it was at 760px, and when I added the second sidebar I expanded it to 900px. But as monitors have kept getting bigger, it had looked skinnier and skinnier, which is not ideal for reading longer articles. And besides, even at 1020 it will still display fine on a 1024 x 768 monitor - you know, for anyone still using those.

I also have entirely dispensed with the image that used to shade the sidebars light gray and provide the rose-colored border for the page. Now the content background is plain white and it just floats on the screen rather than being contained within a border, which matches more modern trends in website design. I'm still keeping the pink link text and headers to match the banner, at least for now.

Without that background image, I can finally move my page links up to the row below the banner without it looking silly. It didn't really work right with the shading behind it still suggesting three columns, which is why it wound up at the top of the left sidebar. What I'm planning on doing in the near future is putting together a second page gadget for "Featured Resources" that will point to new pages summarizing my various rituals, presentations, and so forth. It is getting to the point here that I could assemble an entire magical curriculum by organizing the material posted on this site, so that's my eventual goal.

Thanks again for sticking with me here on Augoeides, and I hope you all like these revisions to the look and feel.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Easter Egg Roll a Looming Catastrophe

Forget Syria and North Korea. The latest looming catastrophe for the Trump White House is the annual Easter egg roll, scheduled for this coming Monday. According to this article from Salon, it looks as if the administration may be dropping the ball on this event, which has gone on for more than a century - 138 years, to be precise.

Now I do realize that Salon is a partisan news outlet, and that there are many more important things going on in the world. Still, since the Poor Oppressed Christians who back Trump were incensed over Starbucks Christmas cups not bearing ancient symbols of their religion like snowmen and sleds, shouldn't it stand to reason that they would reserve the same level of stupid vitriol for an event based around venerable Christian symbols like rabbits and eggs?

Warnings and finger-nudges to get the White House moving are coming in from many of the working parts of the annual event. The supplier of the wooden eggs that are a party favor staple, sent a tweet out in February tagging the first family with a message: “Please reach out!”

@FLOTUS @realDonaldTrump @POTUS @MELANIATRUMP @IvankaTrump FYI manufacturing deadlines for the Easter eggs are near. Please reach out!

— Wells Wood Turning (@WellsTurning) February 20, 2017

Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump’s communications director, told the Times, “Plans for the Easter Egg Roll are well underway, and the White House looks forward to hosting it.” But public schools in the Washington area have heard nothing from the White House, even though they are typically allocated up 4,000 tickets for children.

What about military families, which used to account for 3,000 tickets? “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has not reached out about it,” Ashley Broadway-Mack, the president of the American Military Partner Association told the Times. Congress members have also not been contacted about tickets for their constituents.

In fact, it's likely that this has little to do with Trump's political leanings and more to do with the fact that unlike previous presidents, he has not devoted much time or effort to staffing hundreds of positions at the White House that are still vacant. So these tasks may just not be getting done because there's nobody there to do them. That's why they call a presidential administration an "administration" and not "a guy with a Twitter account."

So it seems to me that Trump needs to get on this, ASAP. Not because an Easter egg roll is super-important in the overall scheme of things, but because it shows the need for staffers who should be on hand when a real crisis strikes. If the White House can't handle a simple public event like this one, what does that say about more pressing situations?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peak Insanity for "Pizzagate?"

Wait... Whut?

Here I thought that "pizzagate" reached peak insanity months ago. But apparently, I was wrong.

Clearly demonstrating the recently proposed hypothesis that exposure to contradictory facts makes some people more convinced of their erroneous beliefs, a few hardcore idiots out there are still convinced that there's something to this bogus conspiracy theory. For those few folks who haven't heard of it, the conspiracy was made up by some guy on Reddit who proposed that since "pizza" is apparently a code word used by pedophiles, this particular pizza place must be part of a satanic pedophile ring. Yeah, if that sounds like a ridiculous reach to you, you're not alone.

Now these folks are going further. Because the owner of this particular pizza place appeared on a cooking show hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fiori, it clearly follows that Fiori must be part of the conspiracy. As if a satanic pedophilia cult leader who owned a restaurant couldn't appear on a cooking show, just because they happen to own a restaurant, without the show being complicit. That would even be true if the restaurant owner in question was a satanic pedophilia cult leader, which it's obvious at this point that he's not. I know, critical thinking is not the forte of this bunch.

Months after the Pizzagate shooter conceded that “the intel on this wasn’t 100 percent” and Alex Jones apologized for his misleading coverage of the topic, a group of hardcore conspiracy theorists remains convinced that a satanic pedophilia cult with many elite Democrats as members operates out of Comet Ping Pong, a formerly unassuming pizza shop in Washington D.C. Just yesterday, the Trump-approved Gamergate muscleman Mike Cernovich was tweeting about a “deep state pedophile ring.” And if you haven’t been following closely, you might be surprised to learn that the Pizzagaters have accused Guy Fieri–Food Network host, human meme, American icon–of being in on the action.

The accusation stems from an old episode of Guy’s show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, which featured the host chopping it up with Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis in the restaurant’s kitchen. Pizzagaters have been rumbling about Fieri’s supposed involvement for a while: “COMET PIZZA WAS ON DINERS, DRIVE INS AND DIVES, GUY FIERI, VIDEO TAKEN DOWN. ALAFANTIS SAYS HE HARVESTS 10 TONS OF TOMATOES, CANS THEM AND STORES THEM IN HIS BASEMENT,” reads a comment on the apocalyptic financial “news” site ZeroHedge from December. (If you’re unclear on the sinister intimations of harvesting and canning tomatoes in your basement, you’re just not deep enough into PizzaGate yet.) And this week, the satirical Twitter account @lib_crusher tweeted screenshots to a post about Fieri and Comet Ping Pong on the Facebook group “Pizzagate – Stop the Ring.” “They even put these sick molesters on the food network,” the Facebook poster wrote.

So after all the crazies have disavowed it, this nonsense is still going strong thanks to a handful of true believers. Or are they trolls, maybe, trying to see if they can keep it going? In the end, I suppose the answer to that is "who cares?" If somebody does wind up getting hurt over this bullshit story, it really doesn't matter whether the person perpetrating it was stupid or evil. All of these dead-enders will be culpable. Of course, I'm hoping it doesn't come to that, and to this end I want to make it clear that this whole thing was a big con dreamed up by some guy on Reddit. Or maybe it was a joke. But again, who really cares?

The saddest thing about this is that "satanic pedophile rings" aren't even a thing. They were dreamed up by fundamentalist Christians in the 1980's in an attempt to ban all minority religions, and that plan failed catastrophically. Pedophiles for the most part aren't Satanists because statistically, hardly any Satanists exist. Most follow normal, mainstream religions - which, when you think about it, is a lot scarier.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Office of the Readings for 2017

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

The Thelemic dates that you may see written online are arrived at by counting the number of 22-year cycles since 1904 to obtain the upper case Roman numeral, and then counting the years of the current cycle to get the lower case one. Within each 22-year cycle, many Thelemites ascribe the Major Arcana trumps of the Tarot to the years in order starting with The Fool and ending with The Universe. So the year that we're about to enter into is V:iii, attributed to the Empress card.

This post will remain the top article here for the duration of the Thelemic Holy Days from March 20th to April 10th. The Rite of the Office of the Readings is performed for all of the readings beginning on March 20th.

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


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


March 19

Liber VII, Prologue of the Unborn, preceding the Invocation of Horus.

March 20 - Saturn/Earth, The Universe

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

March 21 - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon

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

March 22 - Sol, The Sun

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

March 23 - Pisces, The Moon

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

March 24 - Aries, The Emperor

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

March 25 - Mars, The Tower

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

March 26 - Capricornus, The Devil

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

March 27 - Sagittarius, Art

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

March 28 - Scorpio, Death

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

March 29 - Water, The Hanged Man

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

March 30 - Libra, Adjustment

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

March 31 - Jupiter, Fortune

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

April 1 - Virgo, The Hermit

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

April 2 - Leo, Lust

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

April 3 - Cancer, The Chariot

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

April 4 - Gemini, The Lovers

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

April 5 - Taurus, The Hierophant

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

April 6 - Aquarius, The Star

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

April 7 - Venus, The Empress

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

April 8 - Luna, The Priestess

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

April 9 - Mercury, The Magus

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

April 10 - Air, The Fool

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

If you would like to perform this series and have questions, feel free to e-mail me here. All Office of the Readings posts may be viewed here. Our Office of the Readings series is based on this ritual series by the Companions of Monsalvat.

The Zodiacal Work - Pisces

This article is Part Twelve 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, Part Nine can be found here, Part Ten can be found here, and Part Eleven 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 Pisces. In Liber 777, Pisces is attributed to "Bewitchments, Casting Illusions." So what we're talking about here is mind-to-mind type magical operations. The power of casting illusions can be used to alter the perceptions of others, and the power of bewitchment can be used to influence the thinking of others. "Mind control" would perhaps be too strong a term for this power, but "Mind Influence" would probably be an appropriate description.

As you can probably discern, this is another of the zodiacal powers that has many applications with potentially broad implications. Especially in the modern world, perception is incredibly important. And for most things that lie beyond our abilities to control via normal means, the decisions of others are generally paramount. Being able to shift both of these functions to our advantage can lead to great success in all manner of endeavors.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spirit Communication Devices Video

Here's a fun video I came across about Ouija boards and other spirit communication devices. It's from back in 2015, but I apparently missed it when it first came out. Brandon Hodge, who appears in the video, is a well-known expert on Ouija boards, planchettes, and automatic writing devices, and the video includes footage of various items from his remarkable collection. We generally just think of Ouija boards when we imagine these devices, but in fact there were many other designs back in the day that had substantial followings among spiritualists.

Morbid Anatomy presents this short film by Ronni Thomas exploring Brandon Hodge’s incredible personal collection of planchettes and other devices used to communicate with the spirit world. From his profile on the Talking Board Historical Society:

"Brandon Hodge is a collector, author, historian, and the prevailing authority on automatic writing planchettes and early spirit communication devices. Long fascinated by the bizarre occult world of tipping tables, séances, Spiritualism, and ghostly encounters, Brandon acquired his first automatic writer—a boxed E.I.H. Scientific Planchette—nearly two decades ago. He has since traveled the globe documenting, collecting, and lecturing on the world’s rarest séance artifacts."

For more, check out his website at

I spent a number of years working with homemade "talking boards" of various designs when I was a teenager, and I will say that my experiences there still inform some of my work with spirits today. Over the course of those years, I worked out how to test spirits you get in contact with, how to recognize real channeled material versus made-up stuff, and so forth. That's super-important when you get into astral work and things like that, because especially when you're starting out, you can run into entities who are not the spirits they claim to be.

The biggest takeaway for me was that the easiest spirits to get in contact with are generally the dumbest, and they will tell you anything you want to hear to keep you talking. And, of course, that the board itself isn't dangerous at all, unlike fundamentalists claim. It's just a focus for your own psychic ability or that of whoever you're working with, and nonsense like burning the board won't accomplish anything if a spirit decides to come after you - which, I will add, is usually pretty rare.

Talking boards can be used in the context of magical ceremonies, too. You just have to go through the same sort of diligence that you do with a ceremony - observe the proper prayers, or forms, or whatever it is that you usually employ, and set up a proper link to the spirit that you want to contact so you can be reasonably sure that you're communicating with the right one. You do want to avoid is a random procedure, the "hey spirits, come and get me" method. It's still not dangerous for the most part, but you're unlikely to learn anything useful from it.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Zodiacal Work - Aquarius

This article is Part Eleven 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, Part Nine can be found here, and Part Ten 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 Aquarius. In Liber 777, Aquarius is attributed to "Astrology." From the standpoint of divination, you can use this power to help you gain insight into any particular astrological chart, or obtain information about particular planetary aspects that may influence other operations. Also, from a practical perspective, this power can be used to energize magical effects that are primarily based on astrological aspects, or conversely, to mediate their effects.

One example of an effect based on astrological timing would be the sort of alchemical work taught by the Philosophers of Nature and published by Jean DuBuis in The Experience of Eternity. This style of working eschews ceremonial forms entirely, relying on "exposing" talismans to astrological influences at key points in time. An Aquarius operation could be theoretically be combined with this method to enhance the astrological effects on the talismans and other materials.

Likewise, operations from The Picatrix are heavily dependent upon astrological aspects and timing. I've mentioned in the past that I haven't had success with Christopher Warnock's Picatrix rituals, but perhaps employing an Aquarius operation in conjunction with one of those might make it work better. At this point I have enough on my plate that I'm not going be running experiments along those lines any time soon, but if anyone wants to give it a shot, I would like to hear their results.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Trepanation President?

All the way back in 2007, before I really even knew how to properly clip source articles, I put up this post about trepanation, the controversial practice of drilling holes in your head in order to increase your level of spiritual realization. The photo above, which has been going around the Internet for about ten days, has raised some questions about whether or not President Donald Trump is considering taking up the practice.

Tracing the photo back to its source, though, it turns out the captured incident with the power drill was just the latest attempt by Trump to remove a listening device from his skull that he believed was placed there by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Rushing toward the president as he pressed the eight-inch bit into his temple, several White House aides managed to wrestle a drill from Donald Trump’s hand Monday while he attempted to remove Obama’s listening device from his skull. “Obama implanted a microphone inside my head to record everything I say!” Trump reportedly shouted shortly before three White House staffers pinned him to the floor and pried apart his fingers to seize the power tool. “You don’t understand, he can hear everything we’re saying! Obama can even hear my thoughts! I have to get it out! I can feel it! I can feel it! I can feel it!”

While it is something of a relief that we don't have a president who thinks drilling holes in his head will make him more enlightened, his obsession with the alleged listening device is still troubling. If Obama really was able to implant a listening device inside Trump's skull, nobody is safe. It's hard to even imagine how it would work.

Some sort of earwig-like micro-drone that could be piloted into the ear canal remotely, maybe? It's not completely beyond the realm of current technology, but it would require some pretty expensive miniaturization work. Or maybe it was snuck into his hair while he slept, then anesthetized the skin and burrowed its way in. There are no pain neurons in the brain, after all.

Still, the president could be wrong about the whole thing. He is wrong a lot, after all. Or, maybe it's just still April Fool's Day somewhere in the world.