Monday, October 30, 2017

My Latest Ritual Template

One of the things I do here in the Twin Cities at my local OTO body is run a Ritual Night workshop class every Tuesday night. It gives me a chance to teach the rituals that I post about here on the blog, and also to experiment with various ideas that sometimes make it into articles (if they're any good) and sometimes don't (if, say, they don't work at all). So this is probably a little underwhelming for my Magick Monday fans after the Path of Initiation series that I just wrapped up, but it is a handy document for anyone looking to construct their own rituals from scratch.

Ritual Night attendees keep asking for all of this information, so I decided to write up this short outline that shows the full structure for ceremonial operations using Aleister Crowley's versions of the Golden Dawn and Thelemic ritual forms. That way, I can just refer them here. I also am putting together a handout with the same information to give out tomorrow night. Note that there are reasons for why each piece goes where it does, and sometimes those reasons are technical enough that they do not need to be fully understood in order to start working with practical magick. In my opinion, waiting until you completely understand everything that you're doing is just one more way to put off the work. You can get good results from these operations long before your comprehension of them is complete, and your understanding should continue to deepen as you work with them.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Practical Magic Was Cursed

Here's an interesting tidbit of Hollywood lore about the 1998 film Practical Magic. In a recent interview published by Vulture, director Griffin Dunne claimed that the film was cursed by a real witch. The film did poorly at the box office when it first came out and critics hated it, but it apparently has developed something of a cult following over the years. You know, just as if somebody threw a curse that waned over time. In the article, Dunne explains how it happened.

There’s something that I’ve never told anyone about before, it’s an interesting story and kind of scary too. I had a witch consultant on the movie. While I was developing it, I was never quite sure I had a real handle on the movie because, quite honestly, witches had no great interest to me. But I loved the book and I liked the setting and when I was working with this witch consultant, it occurred to me that I was making a movie about something I do know a lot about — strong women. I grew up in a house with a strong mother and my grandmother. These were formidable women. And my sister was no slouch.

So I had three generations of formidable women and when I got that into my head, I realized it’s not really about spells and spell books and all that — it’s about a legacy being passed from one generation to another. That helped me understand it, and that understanding came out of these conversations I had with this witch consultant. I thought she was a really intelligent person and I invited her to come to Los Angeles to observe the rehearsals with Sandy and Nicole. I had my producer make her a reservation at a nice hotel, and call her, and the witch goes, “You’re not going to buy me off with a hotel room. I want a percentage of the movie. I’m going to have my own Practical Magic cookbook.” She was paid quite well, and she says, “I want an additional $250,000 dollars.” The producer told her that’s just not possible. And she goes crazy and scares the shit out of the producer.

She says, “I’m going to put a curse on you. I’m putting a curse on this movie, and I’m putting a curse on Griffin.” So the producer comes back to my rehearsal, white as a ghost, and she tells me, “That call did not go well. She’s really really angry.” I had no idea quite what happened, so I get back to my office on the Warner Bros. lot and I listen to my voice-mail. [Drops voice to a growl.] “How dare you sic that shrew on me? You think you can buy me off, well let me tell you something? There is a land of curses!” And then she slips into tongues. It was terrifying. I listened to as much as I could and then I hung up. Within minutes, Warner’s been served with papers. She’s suing Warner Bros.

The movie flopped, Dunne never worked as a director again, and Warner Bros. would go on to settle the suit for an undisclosed sum. So there's really no way to say that the curse didn't work. The witch got everything she wanted. As for the cult status of the film, I've never seen so I have no idea if it's any good. But all curses wane over time, so if the film was good and its quality was at first being obscured by a curse - well, everything would work out pretty much as it has. I do find it bad form, though, to make threats if you're planning on cursing someone.

For one thing, threats render your results unscientific. If your target knows they're cursed they might change their behavior, and that means whatever happens won't necessarily be the result of paranormal action. So it makes your results hard to compare with those of other pure-probability spells that don't involve people. As I see it, a magician who threatens is doubting his or her ability to get the job done with magick alone. Magicians who are confident in their abilities simply curse, say nothing, and then sit back and observe the results.

In the interview, Dunne also mentions that in response to the curse he added the line to the film, “Curses only have power when you believe them.” That's a common New Age trope, but don't buy it for a second. It's true that a curse with no paranormal power, that works only by fear and suggestion rather than probability manipulation, won't work if you don't believe in it. But a real paranormal curse shifts probabilities around a target, so belief doesn't matter at all.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Vampires in Malawi

Vampires are on the loose in the African nation of Malawi. At least, that's what vigilantes who are running around killing these suspected blood-suckers believe. The government of Malawi is attempting to crack down on the vigilantes, since obviously they're just running around killing regular people rather than protecting their nation from the undead.

Vigilante killings started on 16 September when three people suspected of being blood suckers were killed by a mob. Traditional leaders in southern Malawi believe the vampire rumours started across the border in Mozambique where rumours of blood sucking have led to violence this week.

In Mozambique, protesters have targeted police because they believe they are protecting the supposed vampires, leading a northern town's administrator to flee the city. The villagers in these areas believe human blood sucking is a ritual practised by some to become rich. They also believe they are failing to catch the blood suckers because they use magical powers.

If these communities believe in "mysterious magical explanations for things, then people will tend to attribute their difficulty on what they call blood suckers," Dr Chioza Bandawe, a clinical psychologist at the University of Malawi, said. For some that represents "the life of the hope being sucked out of them," he said. But this has been "expressed on innocent people or on people who are different".

So basically, this is the same old witch-hunting hysteria that pops up in way too many parts of the world. The police are protecting these vampires because they are not really vampires, but simply innocent people who are disliked by their neighbors. And this whole thing is way too familiar - a fanciful rumor gets started, and anybody who's different pays the price.

Here's hoping that the government crackdown succeeds, and that this violence can be stopped in its tracks. One thing the world doesn't need is a whole crop of delusional vampire hunters.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Conclusion

This article is Part Twenty of 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, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, Part Sixteen can be found here, Part Seventeen can be found here, Part Eighteen can be found here, and Part Nineteen can be found here.

Over the course of the last nineteen articles in this series, I have tried to communicate my understanding of the path of initiation into Western Esotericism as it has worked for me, and as I expect it will work going forward based on my practice and study. In previous series I discussed the practical magical work of the elements, planets, and signs, and that was done for the specific reason that a focus on mysticism over magick seems to be the default approach of many teachers.

This is not to imply that I think practical work is necessarily more important than mysticism. Mystical practices like the path of initiation outlined here should elevate and illuminate your consciousness and also make you a more effective practical magician, while practical magical work should align your life in such a way that it becomes easier and more convenient to do those practices with greater regularity and focus.

So as you can see, engaging in both approaches at the same time results in each strengthening the other. This also suggests, for example, that a person who gets to some point in the path and decides they are "done" with practice, both mystical and practical, is making a big mistake. These practices should be ongoing and you should maintain them throughout your entire life. Much as a Buddhist who does no meditation is not much of a Buddhist, a magician who does no magick is to my way of thinking not much of a magician.

But let me clarify that a bit. I don't necessarily mean that a period of practice focused on mystical work is somehow inferior or lacking. If we define magick as Aleister Crowley did, as "the science and art of causing change in conformity with will," mystical operations are simply magical operations in which the target of your work is yourself - your own physical body, energetic body, and consciousness. There are points along the path where such a focus is highly appropriate.

Friday, October 20, 2017

That's Not How Any Of This Works

"Evil for evil's sake" has to be just about the dumbest human motivation ever proposed. What's even dumber is when religious people insist that "obviously" this is what motivates anyone they disagree with. Like, say, people who make movies - you know, good movies as opposed to the wretched genre of "Christian film." According to Rodney Howard-Browne, a pastor who was involved with other evangelical leaders in a "laying on of hands" prayer ceremony for President Donald Trump, had this to say about - I guess - the entire Hollywood film industry.

“These people are full of the devil. These people can’t even be reasoned with,” Rodney Howard-Browne said in a sermon over the weekend. “They have already given their soul to the devil. Are you with me? These people go through seances, these people drink blood, these people sacrifice children.” In a clip posted online by Right Wing Watch, Howard-Browne added:

“They sacrifice children at the highest levels in Hollywood. They drink blood of young kids. This is a fact. That’s why the next thing to be exposed will be all the pedophilia that is going to come out of Hollywood and come out of Washington, D.C. The human sacrifice and the cannibalism has been going on for years.”

When someone told Howard-Browne that “they don’t do that,” he insisted that “it’s worse than what you think.” Howard-Browne then described the supposed satanic rituals that go on in Hollywood. “Many of the Hollywood actors that you go see on a screen, what you don’t know, they bring a witch, they do a big seance right there on the set and they worship devils and they allow devils to come into them before they take the part of what they’re going to act,” he said. “It’s a fact what I am telling you.”

Let's go down the list. In real occultism, "the devil" doesn't want to buy your soul so obviously you can't sell it. Some California New Agers do seances, so you probably could find a lot of people in the film industry who have at least attended one. But blood-drinking and human sacrifice? Sorry. Those are from horror movies, not real life. They also are pretty pointless for casting actual spells - you know, like the what most occultists really do.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Church of Trump?

In my new satirical novel Trump Card, members of a laughably inept religious cult calling themselves the "Sons of Kek" make repeated failed attempts on my plucky teen heroine's life because she poses a threat to their beloved President Trump. But according to a man named Greg Piatek, his support for Donald Trump really does constitute a religious belief. Piatek is suing a New York City bar for religious discrimination after he was criticized for wearing a Make America Great Again baseball cap and eventually ejected from the establishment.

Piatek claims he spent his time at The Happiest Hour wearing the most controversial hat in the world, the red Make America Great Again baseball cap. According to him, he was called a “terrible person” by one bartender, that another the bartender ignored him, asking if the hat was a “joke” while serving him and yet another cut him off. Ultimately, he alleges, a bouncer kicked him out at the manager’s request. The management at The Happiest Hour denies every part of Piatek's story.

Now, Piatek has slapped the bar with a “discriminatory conduct” lawsuit alleging “anxiety and severe emotional distress,” according to the Gothamist. This he said-they-said legal kerfuffle has taken on religious proportions as the Trump supporter is claiming his reverence for the president — signaled by his red hat — should have the same legal protections as any religion.

"A religious belief can appear to every other member of the human race preposterous, yet still be entitled to protection,” say the legal briefs field on behalf of Piatek. As part of a claimed “protected class,” Piatek was "adhering to his closely held spiritual beliefs by adorning the hat in question,” says his attorney. According to him, the MAGA hat, emblazoned with a logo for a race the highest political office in the nation “transcends the political realm.” Eighty-sixing Piatek, the lawsuit claims, is little different than, say, denying service to a believer because they wore a veil, cross or yarmulke.

As mentioned, the manager of The Happiest Hour denies Piatek’s story, reasoning that he must have had a good time because of his tip noted on the receipts provided. Piatek, however, says the night at The Happiest Hour was “the most discriminatory, humiliating and 'Saddest Hour' of his life."His attorney says his client has "such a good heart that he’s going to tip no matter” the service or discriminatory treatment.

First off, the Constitution is pretty clear that political affiliations and religious beliefs are two entirely separate things. Second, even if Piatek's story is true, the missing piece is how he behaved in response to the bartenders not thinking much of his hat. It seems to me that if Piatek's political affiliation was why he was thrown out, why did the bartenders serve him at all? On the other hand, if he became belligerent or highly intoxicated, the managers of the bar had every right to throw him out.

This would also be true in a more unambiguous case involving religion. Let's say that a fire-and-brimstone preacher showed up at the bar and started arguing with patrons. The preacher in that case would obviously be motivated by religious beliefs, but those beliefs don't confer the right to act out and make other patrons uncomfortable. I have no idea whether Piatek did anything like that, but it's also not clear that any of it happened as Piatek claims.

To be clear, even though I'm about as far from a Trump supporter as you can get, I don't think it's cool for a business to refuse service to someone based only on their political beliefs. At the same time, though, I don't think it rises to the same level as religious discrimination or that it ever should.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Santa's Grave

The modern-day version of Santa Claus has a lot in common with the version of Jesus found in modern Christianity. Santa Claus was originally based on a real historical person, Saint Nicholas, a Turkish bishop who lived during the fourth century and was known for helping the sick and the poor. However, Santa Claus has accumulated so much additional baggage over the last few centuries that he would be unrecognizable to anyone who knew the real Saint Nicholas.

Now Turkish archaeologists claim that they have discovered the grave of Saint Nicholas, and plan on excavating the site in order to confirm the existence of his remains.

Turkish publication Daily Sabah reported Tuesday that an undisturbed gravesite discovered under a church in the Antalya province may belong to the saint. The head of the province’s monument authority said the gravesite was discovered as archaeologists performed digital surveys of the ground below St. Nicholas Church. St. Nicholas Church is in Antalya’s Demre district, which is known as the birthplace of Santa.

“We believe this shrine has not been damaged at all, but it is quite difficult to get to it as there are mosaics on the floor,” Cemil Karabayram said, according to the Daily Sabah. Each tile in the mosaics has to be scaled, one by one, and removed as a whole, Karabayram said. He said he is optimistic that St. Nicholas’ remains can be reached.

Newsweek reported that the claims conflict with previous narratives that placed the saint’s bones, known as his relics, in Italy. Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe that the Basilica di San Nicola, in Bari, Italy, is where his remains lie.

St. Nicholas was initially buried in 343 A.D. at a church in Demre, but his bones were taken during the Crusades in the 11th century, Newsweek said. The belief was that the relics were taken to Italy at that time. Turkish experts now believe that the bones stolen centuries ago actually belonged to an anonymous priest, the news magazine reported.

I personally believe that the modern story of Santa Claus is a lot like what happened with the story of Jesus. Some historians believe that no historical Jesus ever existed, but personally I think it's more likely that there was a historical person who led the sect established by John the Baptist when he was imprisoned by the Romans. It's not even unlikely that his name was Yeheshua, as it was a common Jewish name of the period.

However, I also think that the Jesus story in the Gospels was compounded with so many additional mythological elements that many of the events attributed to him probably never happened - just like how the real Saint Nicholas never lived at the North Pole, flew around in a sleigh, kept reindeer, or distributed presents around the world. He apparently did have a white beard and gave poor children gifts, but that's where the resemblance ends.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Three Veils

This article is Part Nineteen of 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, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, Part Sixteen can be found here, Part Seventeen can be found here, and Part Eighteen can be found here.

Initiation into the Three Veils of Negative Existence is the final step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. This realization lies beyond all formal degrees and classifications, and the corresponding mystical vision is "The Supreme Attainment, or Vision of No Difference." The Three Veils also lie beyond the sephiroth, as they form the complement to the "positive existence" of the potential and manifest universe - that is, the force that we refer to as God prior to manifestation into any particular spiritual realm.

The Three Veils are called Ain, Ain Soph, and Ain Soph Aur. Ain means nothing, Ain Soph means limitlessness, and Ain Soph Aur means endless or limitless light. In Liber 777, the Three Veils have the key scale value of 0 and have few defined attributions. But this is because in a sense, they correspond to any and all attributions, even those outside what we generally consider our spiritual universe.

As with practical magick, aligning the macrocosmic and microcosmic components of the spiritual path 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. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

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.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Twin Cities Book Festival This Saturday!

Cross-posted from my author website.

This Saturday, October 14th, I will be appearing with Moonfire Publishing at the Twin Cities Book Festival brought to you by Rain Taxi. Click the link for more information about the festival, including directions, maps of the site, and the event's programming schedule.

The festival will be held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and runs from 10 AM to 5 PM. Moonfire Publishing will be at table #205, with information about upcoming titles, current titles, submission guidelines, and more. If you are local to the Twin Cities area, or for that matter just passing through, I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ghost Girl at the Stanley Hotel?

Colorado's Stanley Hotel is famous for paranormal activity. In addition to many ghost sightings over the years, the hotel is also famous for inspiring the Stephen King novel The Shining. King and his wife stayed at the hotel at the very end of the season in 1974, and were the only guests in the place. That experience gave King the idea for the book. As with many other allegedly haunted sites, the Stanley Hotel hosts "spirit tours" in which guides recount various paranormal incidents while walking guests through a tour of the premises. It was on one of these tours that the the digital photo above was taken.

The Mausling family of Aurora, Colorado, participated in a “spirit tour” at the 108-year-old Stanley Hotel in Estes Park last month. After returning home, they noticed a photo taken by John “Jay” Mausling that seemed to show a young girl walking down the stairs.

John Mausling and his wife, Jessica Martinez-Mausling, told HuffPost via email that there were no young girls in their 11-member party or on the tour. “At first we tried to be logical and think we somehow missed her so we asked our kids, their girlfriends and our friend if they remembered seeing a little girl,” they wrote. “Nobody did. We do not remember seeing anything on the stairs when we took the picture.”

Ben Hansen, former FBI agent and host of “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files,” said a careful analysis of the photo turned up no obvious signs of trickery. “I really like this photo,” Hansen said. “Assuming that it’s not doctored, it ranks up there as one of the best photos of possible paranormal evidence I’ve seen. If it is faked, I’ve got to hand it to them for their level of detail and creativity because there’s usually enough easy signs to suggest hoaxing.”

So is this a ghost? My first thought is that it looks like some sort of artifact from a bad cell phone camera. There's blurring all over the photo, which suggests something like that might be what happened. However, it also is true that the girl looks a lot more blurry than anyone else in the picture. That could be because she was moving when the picture was taken, but according to witnesses there was no girl on the stairs at that time. If those witness accounts are accurate, we could be looking at something paranormal.

I will say that the picture doesn't look faked, but my guess is that there was someone coming up the stairs right when the picture was taken that the witnesses just don't remember. Memory is less reliable than we like to think. For that matter, it could have been a grown woman who just looks like a girl because of the blurring - so anybody asked if there was a girl present would honestly reply that there was not. Still, I could be wrong, and if I am this is one of the best paranormal photos that I've seen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Calendar Truthers?

I can't believe that I never came across this idea sooner. The ominously named "Phantom Time Hypothesis" has been around since 1991, and yet it never once showed up on my fringe history radar. The idea is this - adjustments to our calendar during the Middle Ages resulted in the disappearance of 297 years, which means that the "real" year is 1720. That's pretty convenient for all those fundamentalists who thought the world would end in 2000 and were proved completely wrong, isn't it? I expect that we'll start hearing from those neo-Millerite idiots again soon if this idea gets enough coverage.

According to Illig’s hypothesis, Pope Sylvester II, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, and Constantine VII changed the dating system to place Otto III’s reign comfortably at the millennial year 1000, a more meaningful time than, say, 999 (although “Party like it’s 999” still holds the record for the most requested Gregorian chant in history).

Altering existing documents, creating fraudulent historical events (even people, such as the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne who, it is claimed, was simply a King Arthur-type myth), and tampering with physical evidence, this cabal inserted 297 years into our dating system. Two hundred ninety-seven years that don’t exist.

To back up his hypothesis, Illig said an inadequate system on dating medieval artifacts, and historians relying on written (and if Illig is correct, forged) documents, make the years 614 and 911 a bit dodgy. Mathematical errors between the Julian the Gregorian calendars further complicate matters, making a 297-year gap possible. Illig also claimed the fact that there was Roman architecture in 10th Century Western Europe shows the Roman Empire is more modern that what is currently thought.

Illig is not alone in this. University professor Dr Hans-Ulrich Niemitz published the paper “Did the Early Middle Ages Really Exist?” in 1995 in which he claims, “NO, the early Middle Ages did not exist.” “Between Antiquity (1 AD) and the Renaissance (1500 AD) historians count approximately 300 years too many in their chronology,” Niemitz wrote. “In other words: the Roman emperor Augustus really lived 1700 years ago instead of the conventionally assumed 2000 years.”

Like Illig, Niemitz discusses the discrepancies between the Julian and Gregorian calendars to prove his point, but also brings up the fact that, per accepted history, Byzantium and the Islamic realms were warring at this time. But Niemitz asserts, “nothing can be said about this period, because no historical sources exist for the supposed reform in this period."

Just as a point, regardless of how plausible this idea might be, I do appreciate the proper use of "hypothesis" here. It drives me nuts when writers of popular articles replace it with "theory" to match the vernacular, since a "theory" is a totally different thing in the sciences.

At any rate, it's certainly not inconceivable that several powerful leaders could have gotten together in the Middle Ages and decided to change the calendar dates. But the thing is, let me just add the phrase "in Europe" to that last statement from Niemitz. Because we have all sorts of records from around the world that show those 297 years did happen, even if record-keeping in Europe during the period in question was poor. Also, the timing of eclipses and the like does not show a bizarre 297-year gap - and it would. While there are discrepancies between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, there's nothing anywhere near that magnitude.

William Miller would have loved it. His 1843 doomsday prediction could still happen - you know, because according to the Phantom Time Hypothesis it still is more than 120 years away!

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Kether

This article is Part Eighteen of 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, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, Part Sixteen can be found here, and Part Seventeen can be found here.

Initiation into the first sephira, Kether, the crown, is the eighteenth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. It corresponds to the grade of Ipsissimus (10=1) in the A.'.A.'. system. The corresponding mystical vision is "Union with God." On the Kircher Tree of Life, Kether is attributed to the fixed stars and the primum mobile, the stellar realm beyond the zodiac. It represents the fundamental unity of all things in the universe, both manifest and potential.

This is one of those areas where I find beginning students are sometimes led astray. Idea like "all is one" and that division is "illusion" are true - from the point of view of Kether. But they are not true anywhere else on the Tree, even in Chockmah. It may be useful suggest them to keep students' "eyes on high," so to speak, but what I see so often with New Agers and the like is that students decide that if all is one, and division is illusion, they don't need to do any actual practice. This is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of Kether, since practice is essential.

The sephiroth 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. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

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.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Evidence Against "The Simulation"

I've made no secret of my disdain for the "simulation argument" - the idea that we are actually living in some sort of artificially constructed universe as seen in the film The Matrix instead of a "real" universe. Recently, two physicists have claimed to have proven that we could not possibly be living in a simulation because as least one sort of quantum interaction would take far to much computational power to ever simulate on a large scale.

The pair initially set out to see whether it was possible to use a technique known as quantum Monte Carlo to study the quantum Hall effect – a phenomenon in physical systems that exhibit strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures, and manifests as an energy current that runs across the temperature gradient. The phenomenon indicates an anomaly in the underlying space-time geometry.

Quantum Monte Carlo methods use random sampling to analyse many-body quantum problems where the equations involved cannot be solved directly. Ringel and Kovrizhi showed that attempts to use quantum Monte Carlo to model systems exhibiting anomalies, such as the quantum Hall effect, will always become unworkable. They discovered that the complexity of the simulation increased exponentially with the number of particles being simulated.

If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of partices would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale – where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added – then the task quickly becomes impossible. The researchers calculated that just storing information about a couple of hundred electrons would require a computer memory that would physically require more atoms than exist in the universe.

Now I have read a response to this article pointing out that this result is not "proof" - and frankly, despite my opinion of the whole simulation argument, I have to agree. It is possible that, say, the quantum Monte Carlo method used here is not the most efficient possible algorithm for calculating this sort of quantum behavior. It is often possible to model something that initially looks exponentially complex with something simpler than the most obvious method - and as a matter of fact, professional programmers like me come up with stuff like that all the time.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Slender Man" Case Finally Over

One of the things you learn pretty quickly trying to cover court cases is that the darn things move really slowly. Back in June of 2014, I covered the case of two Wisconsin girls charged with stabbing a classmate in order to appease Slender Man, a fictional character from a series of online horror stories. The girls were twelve years old at the time of the attack. A preliminary hearing was held eight months later, in February of 2015, and the case finally moved forward eighteen months after that, in August of 2016.

Now, finally, the case appears to be wrapping up, more than three years after the original attack. Morgan Geyser, the instigator of the attack, has reached a deal with prosecutors in which she will plead guilty in exchange for being committed to a mental hospital rather than being sent to prison. Her co-defendant Anissa Weier was already found to be mentally ill at the time of the attack, and was sentenced to at least three years of treatment.

The deal calls for doctors to evaluate 15-year-old Morgan Geyser and report to a judge to determine how long she should remain in a state mental hospital. Geyser's co-defendant, Anissa Weier, faces at least three years in a mental hospital after a jury this month determined she was mentally ill at the time of the attack on classmate Payton Leutner. All three girls were 12 at the time.

"It's been a tragic experience for everyone," Geyser's attorney, Donna Kuchler, said after the brief court hearing. "Our hearts go out to the victim and her family. And we're very grateful that the district attorney's office gave this case the considering it deserves."

Weier and Geyser lured Leutner into the woods at a park in Waukesha, a Milwaukee suburb. Geyser stabbed Leutner 19 times while Weier urged her on, according to investigators. Leutner survived after she crawled out of the woods to a path where a passing bicyclist found her. Both Weier and Geyser told detectives they felt they had to kill Leutner to become Slender Man's "proxies," or servants, and protect their families from him.

This case was a weird one from the beginning, and not just because of the "Slender Man" angle. Leutner survived the attack, and usually kids charged with attempted murder are not tried as adults. The decision to do so anyway probably had to do more with the media attention the case garnered than with the crime itself. And this probably is the right verdict - no person in their right mind thinks that a made-up character from online horror stories is going to come after them, as these two girls believed.

Geyser will be confined and faces mental health evaluation, and the reality is that if she's genuinely dangerous she's going to stay locked up. But if she recovers following treatment, she has a better chance of getting out as an adult than she would have if she were sentenced to a long term in an adult prison. Whatever happens there, like Slender Man himself, I imagine that this story will have a long life as a horror tale in its own right on the Internet.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Updating My Book Links

It's been a while since I've made any major changes to Augoeides. This latest one doesn't necessarily count as major, but I still wanted to call your attention to it. Over on the right sidebar, I have updated the links for my published books so that rather than going directly to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and so forth, they now link to dedicated pages on my author web site with more information on the books. Those pages include links to order copies from all of the various online vendors that sell them, in both print and ebook editions.

I mostly did this because I can't fit full descriptions of my books in the sidebar without taking up way too much space, especially as I add more titles, and it's completely understandable for readers to want to know a little more about what they are buying before clicking on "order" solely based on a title and book cover. Also, having dedicated pages lets me share other information like reviews, links to book trailers, and so forth from a single online location.

So now, when you click on the link or the image for any of my five published books, you will be sent to the book's dedicated page over at my author site:
If you want to support what I'm doing here at Augoeides, buy my books. I went through a period where I hosted ads on the site years ago and hated it. I would much rather support Augoeides with book sales than with some other online revenue scheme that probably will just annoy everyone, myself included. So when you buy my books, you really are supporting my work here on an ongoing basis. I do think that I share a lot of material here for free that is hard to come by elsewhere in the magical community.

One other point - I also have links on the below on the sidebar for the two anthologies that include my articles, Holy Guardian Angel and Liber Spirituum. They both are good books and I encourage you to buy them, but since I was paid up-front for my contributions they don't generate ongoing royalties for me like my other books do. So if you want to buy a book in order to support the site, I recommend that you pick up something else.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Satan Cakes" May Become a Thing

Devil's food, naturally

Now this is just plain hilarious. As usual, The Satanic Temple has come up with a plan to deal with the whole "same-sex wedding cake" issue. If the Supreme Court allows bakers to discriminate against same-sex couples, they will go ahead and start ordering "Satan cakes" from bakeries that refuse to make cakes for same-sex weddings. And since religion is established as a protected class, the bakers will be legally required to make them.

TST spokesperson, Lucien Greaves, explains: “Our organization has received a lot of concerned messages from people who are upset by the prospect of an environment in which the LGBTQ community are openly and legally treated as second class citizens. The laws of the United States require that no one may discriminate by way of refusal of service against an evangelical theocrat for their religious beliefs, but the evangelical theocrat may discriminate against LGBTQ people because of who they are. Because religion is a protected class, a baker may refuse service to LGBTQ people, but they may not refuse service based upon someone’s religion. If they aren’t willing to make a cake for same-sex unions, let’s have them make a cake to honor Satan instead.”

The Satanic Temple proclaims that if the right to discriminate against the LGBTQ community is codified into law by the Supreme Court, aggrieved parties who face discrimination should contact them. “If you can’t get a cake for your same-sex union,” Greaves said, “we’ll host a party in your honor at The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem and order a cake that praises Satan from your offending discriminatory ‘religious liberty’ enthusiast.”

The whole wedding cake argument is super-stupid anyway. If we're talking about a same-sex marriage that will presumably be conducted by a religious denomination with different beliefs than those held by the bakers, the same religious freedom argument that works for "Satan cakes" should apply. And if we're only talking about a civil ceremony, there's no reason for religion to enter into it at all. Legal marriage and religious marriage are two entirely separate things - or at least they should be. That's because in America, we don't have a state religion.

As funny as the idea of "Satan cakes" may be, the most obvious solution is to outlaw discrimination against same-sex weddings. I'm hoping that when they take up the case, the Supreme Court sees it that way, too.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Path of Initiation - The Logos

This article is Part Seventeen of 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, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, Part Fifteen can be found here, and Part Sixteen can be found here.

The speaking of the Word or Logos is the seventeenth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. According to the A.'.A.'. system, this is considered the task of the grade of Magus (9=2). To properly speak your Word you must be initiated into the second sephira, Chockmah, which means Wisdom.

We are almost at the end of this series now. The final step of initiation, union with the divine, will be covered in the eighteenth and final installment, and then I'll be moving on to something else. The point of writing this all up is related to my comprehension of the task of the Exempt Adept, who is supposed to publish a thesis synthesizing hsi or her comprehension of the magical path.

As I mentioned in the preceding article in this series, on the Kircher Tree of Life Chockmah is attributed to the zodiac as a whole, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of God Face-to-Face." Chockmah represents active engagement with the universe at a cosmic level. It is the active counterpart of the third sephira, Binah or Understanding, which represents receptive comprehension of the universe at a cosmic level.

The sephiroth 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. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

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.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Via Solis Libra Elixir Rite

I know I said last week that I would be putting up a new Path of Initiation post this week, but I realized that I completely forgot that the Libra Elixir is tomorrow. So I'm putting the script up today to share with folks who might like to attend. However, I'll also try to get the next Path of Initiation article up tomorrow if I can get it finished by then so folks don't have to wait for it until next week. After all, I can put magick posts up on days other than Mondays, right?

Anyway, this post is a full script for the Libra Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday October 3rd, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This is an updated version of the Libra Elixir Rite I posted here back in 2014, but it includes some additional elements inspired by research that went into the Zodiacal Work posts. 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). 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 Libra. The sign Libra is attributed to "Works of Justice and Equilibrium." So those sorts of intents are most appropriate, and as this is a general and highly adaptable power, it can be used for many different purposes, from obtaining justice in the external world to balancing your internal magical energies and/or spiritual perceptions. 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. The Via Solis Elixir Rites were written by Michele Montserrat in 2010 for the Comselh Ananael magical working group.

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.

Bell chime.