Monday, December 31, 2018

Of Magical Personas and Cartesian Dualism

Whither Magick Mondays. I know that the last few months have been pretty erratic, with the magick posts showing up in the middle of the week about half the time and occasionally not at all. I'm hoping to get better at that in the New Year. It's not a "resolution" because I think those are dumb, but rather the observation that I should be less distracted going forward than I have been during the latter part of this year. I have several projects that are wrapping up soon, and once they do I should be able to do a better job of keeping up with things here.

At any rate, earlier this month Frater Barrabbas put up a new post covering what he sees as the necessary components for getting a good start as a magician. It is a long and very informative article that I recommend any beginning magician should read it its entirety. I agree with the vast majority of it. What I'm going to talk about here, though, is one key point on which my operant magical system differs from Barrabbas' work.

To be clear, Barrabbas and I are friends and many of his ideas have informed my practice over the years. The difference that I want to highlight here is not a case of me being critical or thinking that his perspective is somehow objectively wrong. The operant system, though, does have a slightly different emphasis that works better for me, and if you are wondering which way you should go I invite you to try out both approaches and see which one works best for you. As always, my first rule is that if it works it works. Here are the points in question, with my comments.

The first objective is to elevate the self-image so a person is able to establish the credible belief and confidence that he or she can perform magical rituals that produce effective results. In this fashion a person assumes and becomes the persona of a magician with all of its associated practices and expectations. This means that the individual undergoes some kind of change or basic transformation that allows for paranormal phenomenon to occur, and it colors the way that he or she perceives themselves and the world around them. Self development of a particular kind, such as meditation practices, yoga and breath-control can help to build a foundation; but at some point the erstwhile magician must adopt the persona of a practicing magician.

Now I wouldn't say this first paragraph is that different from what I do if what we are talking about is the beginning magician developing confidence in his or her ability to produce paranormal change. It also is not that different if what we are talking about is dispelling doubt - remember, as per the operant equation magick is not powered by belief, but rather inhibited by doubt. I do this by pushing people into working practical magick as soon as they know the basic forms, because the best way to become confident in your ability to make things happen is to make things happen.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Read Your Bible!

I've mentioned a number of times here how my opinion of any Christian always goes way down when I realize that I know the Bible better than they do. I'm a Thelemite. I did grow up Christian, but liberal ELCA Lutheran rather than literalist Evangelical. That being said, I attribute much of the disparity between my knowledge of the Bible and that of conservative Evangelicals on the fact that I've read the whole thing. Twice, as a matter of fact. The implication there is obvious - for all their claims to follow the literal Word of God, they usually haven't read very much of the text that they consider holy.

I don't necessarily think that's a blanket statement, as I have met conservative Christians who are extremely knowledgeable about the Bible, its history, its context, and so forth. But one of the things I have observed about these folks is that they generally don't want anything to do with the modern "Religious Right." As I see it, the problem is pretty simple - organizations like Focus on the Family and the Christian Coalition of America are not driven by the values of Christianity as found in the Bible, but rather by the agenda of the Republican Party.

Don't take my word for it, though (which will be a recurring theme throughout this post). Check out this article from Vox by former Tea Party activist Cindy Mallette who voted Democratic for the first time ever this last November. What changed her mind, you ask, in this age of extreme partisanship? She sat down and read the Bible.

Like many Christians, I looked to the Bible for moral guidance. But I wasn’t relying on my own reading of the Scriptures. I was relying on the interpretations of pastors and evangelical leaders like James Dobson, whose readings happened to line up nicely with the Republican Party platform. This is not a coincidence; these same individuals have been politically active in the GOP for decades, going back to the 1970s, and their understanding of scripture informs the Republican Party platform.

My experience with the Bible was on par with the majority of American evangelicals: We have this perception that we know a lot about the Bible, but we hardly read it. In 2015, I decided to read the entire Bible on my own. I read from Genesis to Revelation in one year. I was astounded that so much of what the experts emphasized as good, godly living was not at all what God had in mind.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Why Canada's Witchcraft Law Needed to be Scrapped

Canada has finally struck down its archaic "pretending to practice witchcraft" law. In a previous post, I pointed out that existing fraud laws are sufficient for prosecuting scammers and confidence artists whether they defraud clients by claiming paranormal abilities or not. It made little sense to me how opponents of the law could claim otherwise, since Canada does have comprehensive laws prohibiting fraud that would have applied to every case I had previously come across.

But then there's this. Tiffany Butch of Timmins, Ontario, was charged under the law only two days before it was due to be repealed. I don't know all the facts of the case, but if the account from the article is true it sounds like the law is being applied in a discriminatory and problematic manner. That's why it needed to be scrapped.

Authorities have charged Butch, 33, of pretending to practice witchcraft over an incident that allegedly occurred in October, weeks before the law was scrapped last week. Police in Timmins, in northeastern Ontario, described Butch as a “self-proclaimed spiritualist, medium and clairvoyant.” They say she promised to protect a client from “some form of potential danger” to her family and tried to elicit payments in return.

Butch contends that she’s not a witch, but a psychic, and that she has been one since she was 11. Her alias was merely a “cute name” her friends and family called her, she said. She said she never advertised herself as someone who practices witchcraft. The charges against her are false, she said, and fellow psychics — her rivals — have conspired to frame her, though she declined to name anyone.

She said that sometime in October, a woman came to her office in Timmins and asked for a crystal ball reading. But, Butch said, she told her that she was not in business at that time. “I don’t believe that I even read for her,” Butch said. “I don’t believe I even provided this woman a reading.”

Putting these two accounts together, the sense I get is that something like this happened - the woman approached Butch and asked if she was a psychic and could give her a reading to help protect her family. Butch replied that she was and could do a reading for some sum of money. The woman refused to pay, and when Butch refused to read for her, the woman reported her to the police. That's not fraud - no money changed hands. But because Butch replied that she was psychic, she still committed a crime under this stupid law.

Many religions including my own accept the existence of paranormal and/or psychic abilities. And if I were in a position where a lot of people were getting on my case to cast spells for them I would of course charge for my time. I don't because I make plenty of money at my day job already. If I lived in Canada, though, I apparently could be charged the moment I asked for even a dollar or something ridiculous for my services. As I mentioned before, the law doesn't include any way to show that you are an actual spellcaster rather than "pretending."

So repealing the law and using existing fraud laws instead means that this wouldn't be a case, which is a good thing. There certainly is good reason to charge psychics and the like who bilk clients out of large sums of money through various scams. On the other hand, just charging a reasonable rate for time spent casting a spell is not the same thing at all, and the idea that it should be criminalized basically suggests that members of esoteric religions are all scammers by default. That implication is not just wrong, it's offensive.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Dragons

Yes, it's true. Some people really do have too much free time. Diana Rowland likes dragons so much that she used inflatable dragon lawn ornaments to set up a holiday display in her front yard four years ago. The dragons appeared to be a hit with the neighborhood. But this year, Rowland received an anonymous letter calling on her to take them down.

The inflatable lawn ornaments, black and red, purple and green, were the epitome of cool to the former police officer and morgue worker, who is now a writer of sci-fi books. And after what Rowland says was a smashing debut one Halloween, she decided to set the dragons up again for Christmas, outfitting them for the holiday season with garland, Santa hats and blue shawls meant to evoke biblical stories. The neighborhood loved them, she said. And she did, too.

This year was scheduled to be the fourth that the dragons would uneventfully grace her yard for Christmas. But then an anonymous letter came in the mail.


It continued.


Rowland did what any normal person would do in 2018; she posted the angry letter on social media. “Our dragon holiday display got fan mail!” she wrote on Twitter, posting a photo of both the letter, and, it must be acknowledged, the dragons somewhat demonically lit up at night.

A couple of points here. First, cartoony inflatable dragons are in no way demonic. Actually, they're kind of cute. The only sorts of people who might think otherwise are fundies who know less than nothing about demons and/or cults. Second, the "true meaning of Christmas" is basically so much bullshit. If you really are such an abject busybody that you feel the need to police how others - and especially others who don't share your religious beliefs - celebrate the holiday season, there really is no help for you. Minding one's own business is a real virtue.

According to Rowland, she lives in a neighborhood where people talk to each other if they have a problem rather than leaving anonymous notes, so I'm wondering if the note even came from a neighbor. Fundies of the "poor oppressed" variety really are the worst, and it would not surprise me one bit if the note was sent by one of them that happened to pass through the neighborhood and felt oppressed by a display that did not contain ancient symbols of their religion like mistletoe and snowflakes. Hey, they've done that before!

Personally, I think the dragons are cool. Instead of taking them down, Rowland went ahead and added a couple more. Clearly she understands the right way to deal with religious nutters.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Auto-Talismanic Ritual for 2018

Today's Magick Monday post is the script for the Auto-Talismanic Ritual that we will be performing at Leaping Laughter Oasis on Friday December 21st for the Winter Solstice. This ritual is a group invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel that we perform at this time every year, and which incorporates some of the same elements as the elixir rites. As with the Via Solis series and our other seasonal workings, this is a public ritual that is open to all.

0. The Temple

The temple is set up with an altar in the center, on which sits the Table of Art. A chalice, initially filled with salt water, is placed in the center of the Table. The banishing dagger, invoking wand, and bell chime are placed on the altar. Magus stands to the west of the altar facing east. Sophia stands to the east of the altar facing west. Magus wears white and Sophia wears black. Throughout the ritual, Sophia and Magus face each other across the altar, moving appropriately throughout the various ceremonial forms.

I. Opening

Magus takes up the banishing dagger and performs the Star Ruby.

Sophia: 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.


Magus: 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.


Sophia: 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.


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

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

All: So mote it be.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Get Some White Christian Love

Pastors getting busted for sex offenses is practically a cliché these days, but according to this article from Patheos a case from Oklahoma takes it one step further. A pastor there was busted for running a white supremacist brothel, which is one of those things that I didn't know existed until now. In addition to the quote below, the original article has a roundup of press coverage regarding the case.

An Oklahoma pastor is under arrest after being caught running a prostitution ring with a white supremacist. Pastor Walter Eugene Brazington Jr. is “being charged with procuring for prostitution and possession of a firearm while in the commission of a felony,” according to a report from Tulsa World.

The Oklahoma pastor was caught running a massage parlor that was being used as a front for a prostitution ring. His partner in crime was white supremacist Tiffany Roach, an HIV positive prostitute who calls herself “Aryan Woman” and professes to have “Whitegirl Pride.” Brazington is listed as an apostle and prophet for the All Nations Evangelistic Team, a preaching group based in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

It's not clear from the news coverage how the white supremacist angle played into the prostitution business or how it was run. But really, who cares? The story is bizarre enough without additional details, and it's probably more fun to use our imaginations. What is clear is that this is something that no evangelical pastor should be up to, given the teachings of conservative Christianity on sexuality. The white supremacy angle also doesn't seem to line up with a denomination that professes to serve "all nations," though I suppose that could be code for "all white nations." With evangelicals these days, you can't be sure.

One wonders how many of these folks that make the news for their blatant hypocrisy would live happier, more honest lives if they would just take up a religion that doesn't revel in sex shaming. On the other hand, maybe they feel like they need conservative teachings to keep their sexuality in line - which is sad, and obviously doesn't work. Or maybe they just enjoy shaming others too much to give it up, and like most criminals figure they will never be caught.

At any rate, the shutdown of the brothel means that it's that much harder to find some white Christian love in Oklahoma. Despite my support for decriminalization of sex work in general, under the circumstances that probably is a good thing.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Not That Kind of Nativity Play

Ah, the holiday season - a time of sad consumerism, cheesy music, and bad school pageants. At first I thought this one might be a fake story, but I dug into it just enough that I see no obvious signs of it being a parody article. Even if it is, it's too funny not to share. A mom in Scotland bought a shepherd costume for her son's nativity play, which came with its own "blow-up sheep." Apparently nobody vetted this product all that carefully, because as it turns out the sheep in question was in fact a sex doll. The picture above really says it all. Imagine that as part of your school's pageant, and try not to laugh.

46-year-old mum of two Helen Cox from Alloa, Scotland, decided to shop online for a fancy dress costume for her son Alfie’s nativity play. Seeing a shepherd costume advertised on Amazon for only £16.99, Helen was even more delighted when she realised the product came with its very own blow-up sheep to complete the look. However, when Alfie returned home from school telling his mum a teacher told him to take the sheep home, Helen was puzzled.

Her confusion only grew when upon blowing up the sheep she found it had red lips, eyelashes and best of all, a huge hole in its bottom. Doing some research, Helen found the same sheep advertised on Amazon as a ‘naughty inflatable sheep doll with backdoor pleasure hole ‘perfect for a gag gift’. Elsewhere it was being sold as a ‘stag night bonkin’ sheep’ because apparently that is a thing people want in their lives.

I really have no idea who the idiot was who thought that pairing a shepherd costume with an inflatable sex doll sheep was a good idea, but frankly I don't care. The result is just too damn funny. A couple of points that make me think story might be real are (1) the costume itself is shoddy and hand-made, probably ordered from a crafting website or something similar, (2) the mom did not actually inflate the sheep before sending it to school with her son, so she might have missed the whole "sex doll" aspect if it were, say, folded up, and finally, (3) a fake news article would probably say that the kid performed in the pageant with the inflatable sheep and nobody knew what it was because they were a bunch of clueless prudes.

At any rate, whoever came up with this costume or the story itself has added a little cheer to my holidays. I hope it adds some to yours, too, however you choose to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Evoking Hillary Clinton to Visible Appearance

As a progressive I'm not a huge fan of the Clintons, seeing as their legacy had a lot to do with the Democratic Leadership Council moving the Democratic Party in a more conservative direction in the early 1990's. However, what I don't understand at all is the ridiculous mountain of nonsense that conservatives have been sending their way since then. David Brock flat-out admitted that the "dirt" published by American Spectator during the Clinton administration was made up, but that doesn't seem to stop anybody's crazy uncles from sharing those stories over and over again. "Pizzagate" and "Qanon" still have some traction even though the respective folks who made those up have publicly admitted doing so as well.

But here's a new one that kind of blew my mind. When the CBS television series Strange Angel debuted, a bunch of folks I know in OTO were concerned that the show got so many things wrong that it probably would feed conspiracy theories. It did get people looking into the life of Jack Parsons, which is generally a good thing. But that has the potential to spawn conspiracy theories as well, and given their conspiracy magnet status, it was really only a matter of time before some nutter linked the Clintons into all of it. That nutter's name is Tom Horn, and he happens to be the CEO of Christian television network SkyWatch TV.

Today, SkyWatch TV posted a program in which End Times author and SkyWatch TV CEO Tom Horn suggested that Hillary Clinton is the “Whore of Babylon” who was conceived during a ritual carried out in 1946 by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Horn claimed that stolen emails posted by Wikileaks revealed that Clinton had filled her 2016 presidential campaign with “occultists” who believe her to be the biblical Whore of Babylon who will usher in the Antichrist.

Citing a ritual that took place in 1946 called “The Babylon Working” in which Hubbard and others allegedly attempted to conceive a goddess through “ritual sex magic,” Horn claimed that Clinton may have been the result of that effort “to bring through, into our reality, the archetype divine feminine, the Whore of Babylon.”

“She’ll grow up, she’ll become an influential worldwide-known feminist who will help give rise to the Antichrist,” Horn said. “They believed that that was Hillary Clinton.”

“It’s been announced now that Hillary Clinton is very likely going to run for president again in 2020,” he continued. “Guess what? In 2020, she will be 72 years old. This is, again, one of the most important occult marker and it is going to again cause the occultists around her to believe that she is the incarnation of that entity.”

Horn went on to say that Jack Parsons, one of the main participants in the “Babylon Working” ritual, reported that he had a vision in 1947—the year that Clinton was born—in which the spirit of this goddess visited him, telling him that she was now on earth to fulfill her destiny to “grow up and help the Antichrist come to power” and that her name was Hilarion.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Via Solis Sagittarius Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Sagittarius Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday December 4th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will be continuing to perform 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 Sagittarius. The sign Sagittarius is attributed to the power of “Transmutations." It is also the only sign attributed to a vision, the "Vision of Universal Peacock." This vision is a significant step in alchemical processes. Transmutation is a general power with many applications, since in a sense all magical operations represent attempts to transmute or transform some aspect of yourself, the external world, or both. So any intent along those lines would be in harmony with the power of the sign. 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.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Celene Dion's Satanic Clothing Line

Canadian singer Celene Dion has been accused of Satanism. Not because she worships the devil or practices witchcraft or supports religious freedom or anything like that, but because she has recently released a line of unisex clothing. Oh, the horror! Apparently, all you need to do to become a card-carrying Satanist is to sit on the sofa in sweat pants. Maybe that's why fundamentalists are up in arms about Satanists being everywhere, because let's face it - sweats are very popular.

“I’m convinced that the way this gender thing has spread is demonic,” said Msgr. John Esseff, a priest and exorcist in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “It’s false. I don’t even know how many genders there’s supposed to be now, but there are only two that God made.” The article also accuses Dion of hiding occult iconography in the clothing itself (“one pair of sweatpants has a number 3 on one knee and a 6 on the other. Three 6’s?”), suggesting that the range is not only “disturbing” but also “hideously ugly”.

“Who would pay $77 for a baby blanket with skulls or $161 for a jacket that looks like a trash bag?” asks the article’s author Patti Armstrong, a statement that suggests she is seemingly unfamiliar with the work of Demna Gvasalia. While Dion is yet to comment on the whole fiasco, she has previously said that the line was intended to enable “younger people to grow on values of equality with the freedom to strengthen their own power of personality based on mutual respect.” Which sounds a lot more reasonable than an evil spirit attempting to manipulate children through a range of casual, unisex leggings but there you go.

It also makes for smart sales. If you don't need separate versions of your clothes for men and women you can save a lot on production costs. Then, when you sell it at the same prices as comparable gender-typed clothes you make more money. As if you really need separate versions of sweatpants for men and women - the whole point of them is that they're loose and comfortable, so they don't need to be fitted.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Books for the Holidays!

Cross-posted from my author web site.

With the holiday season upon us, it's good to keep in mind that the gift of books never goes out of style. Of course, I'm talking about my books. My first novel was published in 2009 and since then I've put out additional fiction and non-fiction titles. Naturally, if I do say so myself, they make great gifts.

The Mastering Enochian Magick Series

Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy

Volume I of the Mastering Enochian Magick Series is still the only book I know of dedicated to exploring the Heptarchia Mystica, an early portion of John Dee and Edward Kelley's work that precedes the better-known Great Table and Aires or Aethyrs. The Heptarchial system works with sixteen spirits total, a King and Prince for each day of the week plus a King and Prince who rule over the entire system. This book makes a great introduction to Enochian magick that can get the reader started right away without a lot of the complexity normally associated with the Enochian system, and produce impressive practical results.

Click here to find out more and order your copy today!

Mastering the Great Table

Volume II of the Mastering Enochian Magick Series is my own exposition of the attributions of the Great Table or Watchtowers. It is more controversial than Volume I because the attributions I use are based on my interpretation of the Dee diaries and they don't line up with the attributions used by the Golden Dawn, the Aurum Solis, or Aleister Crowley. Even other "Dee Purists" don't necessarily agree with my reading of the original texts, so this book is not going to be a re-hash of other Watchtower systems that you will find elsewhere. It is, however, rooted in decades of practical work and experience, and the rituals and structures contained therein have been proved highly effective.

Click here to find out more and order your copy today!

Mastering the Thirty Aires - Coming Soon!

Volume III of the Mastering Enochian Magick Series is my exposition of the Aires or Aethyrs based on my work with the Dee diaries rather than the modern attributions derived from the various Golden Dawn-based systems. Mastering the Thirty Aires has been submitted to my publisher but is not available at this time. Watch this space for an announcement once it is ready to order!

Enochian Master Classes

This is not a book but it makes a great gift anyway. I recently participated in a set of Enochian Master Classes along with Jason Augustus Newcomb and Aaron Leitch. These classes are a great opportunity to hear me lecture on my system of Enochian magick and at the same time hear the perspectives of two other longtime practitioners. You can sign up for the course here, and the coupon code STENW-ENOCH7-50 will give you 50% off the registration price.

Click here to sign up today!

Friday, November 30, 2018

More Evidence Against "The Simulation"

I never have found the simulation hypothesis - that is, the contention that we all are living in some sort of artificial reality simulated by computer systems - particularly compelling. As I've pointed out in previous posts, Nick Bostrom's 2003 philosophical argument that we might be suffers from the same logical error as Gambler's Fallacy, which is a proposition that can easily be disproved with a few coin flips. Nonetheless, there are otherwise smart people out there who take it seriously, and that makes me question their smarts. Now yet another test has shown that the simulation idea is unlikely. Specifically, physicists have found that quantum interactions cannot be modeled by classical computers.

Scientists have discovered that it’s impossible to model the physics of our universe on even the biggest computer. What that means is that we’re probably not living in a computer simulation .

Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhin from the University of Oxford and the Hebrew University in Israel applied Monte Carlo simulations (computations used to generate probabilities) to quantum objects moving through various dimensions and found that classical systems cannot create the mathematics necessary to describe quantum systems. They showed this by proving that classical physics can’t erase the sign problem, a particular quirk of quantum Monte Carlo simulations of gravitational anomalies (like warped spacetime, except in this case the researchers used an analogue from condensed matter physics).

Therefore, according to Ringel and Kovrizhin, classical computers most certainly aren’t controlling our universe.

Now I know what you're thinking - what about quantum computers? The issue there is that quantum computers model quantum interactions as quantum interactions. So you could model the world using a quantum computer and get all the quantum interactions, but only if said computer was the size of the world and contained as many particles and so forth. In that scenario, the world would be its own simulation and basically we would just call it "reality." We perhaps could be left with a Douglas Adams scenario of the world being the computer and all of us being part of it, but that's as far as it goes.

I never have understood what makes the simulation argument compelling. The Matrix was fun as a movie, but it was a Gnostic allegory rather than a world you would want to live in. Likewise, if we really did live in a perfectly simulated universe, what would be the point of knowing? Everything would work exactly the same, and it would confer no advantage upon us. So what's the appeal? That still mystifies me, and I'm going to assume that the world I live in is the world I live in until somebody provides me with compelling evidence otherwise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

This Noah's Ark Floats

Forget that piker Ken Ham and his "Ark Encounter" attraction. Anybody with enough money and free time can build a giant replica of the famous ark from the Bible. But whereas Ham built his in the middle of a field with no thoughts of any kind given to seaworthiness, Dutch businessman Johan Huibers built an ark replica that actually works - you know, as a ship. The vessel is currently parked in Holland and Huibers now has plans to sail it to Israel - a homecoming, as it were, for the recreated ark.

Devout Christian businessman Johan Huibers built the huge vessel, which has already sailed on Holland’s Maas River. He built the boat over five years ago to the exact specifications listed in the Bible – making it 390ft-long, 75ft-high and containing 12,000 trees worth of wood.

And now, he is ready to take it to Jesus Christ’s birthplace after announcing plans to set sail to Israel. He said: “My preferred destination for the ark is Israel. This is a copy of God’s ship. It only makes sense to take it to God’s land.”

Maybe that right there is the reason that Ark Encounter isn't attracting the attendance that Ham originally hoped for. I mean, it's a Noah's Ark and it doesn't float. He could have at least built it in a big pond or something, but I suppose given the many schemes that went into raising the money a functional boat was out. That means Ham is left with a Noah's Ark that just doesn't work - and really, that's kind of boring. At least the Creation Museum is supposed to have Jesus riding a dinosaur.

It remains to be seen how eventful the voyage to Israel would be. Huibers' ark collided with a Norwegian Coast Guard vessel back in 2016 in an Oslo harbor, and while neither ship appeared to sustain much damage it also is true that Noah didn't have to worry much about precision navigation. A ship shaped like the Ark is just plain unwieldy, which means that it will probably take some work to get it from the North Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and finally to the Middle East.

Still, with Huibers' Ark such a voyage is actually possible. With Ham's, not so much.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Thinking as Navigation

Science Daily has an article up today discussing the idea that human cognition may be closely related to spatial navigation. I've talked a bit over the years how I think that conflating thought and language is a big mistake, in part because my mind clearly (to me, anyway) does much of its internal processing using spatial rather than linguistic means and it always has seemed obvious to me that this is just how thinking works - though of course this is a classic "generalization from self" and there are apparently a significant number of people out there who do think mostly in words and probably find my self-description as mystifying as I find theirs. The article discusses how spatial thinking seems to work and some of the implications of this new model.

In their proposal, [Christian] Doeller and his team combine individual threads of evidence to form a theory of human thinking. The theory begins with the Nobel Prize-winning discoveries of place and grid cells in rodents' brains, which were subsequently shown to exist in humans. Both cell types show patterns of activity representing the animal's position in space, for example, while it forages for food. Each position in space is represented by a unique pattern of activity. Together, the activity of place and grid cells allows the formation of a mental map of the surroundings, which is stored and reactivated during later visits.

The very regular activation pattern of grid cells can also be observed in humans -- but importantly, not only during navigation through geographical spaces. Grids cells are also active when learning new concepts, as shown by a study from 2016. In that study, volunteers learned to associate pictures of birds, which only varied in the length of their necks and legs, with different symbols, such as a tree or a bell. A bird with a long neck and short legs was associated with the tree whereas a bird with a short neck and long legs belonged to the bell. Thus, a specific combination of bodily features came to be represented by a symbol.

In a subsequent memory test, performed in a brain scanner, volunteers indicated whether various birds were associated with one of the symbols. Interestingly, the entorhinal cortex was activated, in much the same way as it is during navigation, providing a coordinate system for our thoughts. "By connecting all these previous discoveries, we came to the assumption that the brain stores a mental map, regardless of whether we are thinking about a real space or the space between dimensions of our thoughts. Our train of thought can be considered a path though the spaces of our thoughts, along different mental dimensions," Jacob Bellmund, the first author of the publication, explains.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Just Don't Do This

Just about every American knows how annoying it is to have Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses show up at their door and try to tell them the "good news" about Jesus. For those of us who are non-Christians, the annoyance factor is even higher. Now imagine you're a non-Christian member of an isolated tribe living on a protected island with an essentially unlimited supply of arrows. A missionary shows up trying to preach to you, and you shoot a couple arrows at him and break his canoe to keep him away. Then, he comes back anyway.

Is it any surprise that the American missionary who did exactly that to the people of North Sentinel Island is no longer alive? In a way you have to admire the persistence of the aforementioned missionary, John Chau. On the other hand, he should have been smart enough to leave when it became clear that he was not wanted. Chau is now believed to be dead, and the authorities are trying to work out a way to safely retrieve his body.

The island, North Sentinel Island, is inhabited by the Sentinelese, who are protected under Indian law. Just more than a dozen people are officially thought to live on the remote island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The island is a protected area, and people are not allowed to go within 5 nautical miles of it, after previous incidents of aggressive behavior toward outsiders were observed. In 2006, two local fishermen were killed by the tribes. Pathak said the American missionary had asked one of his local friends, an electronic engineer, to arrange a boat and find some fishermen who could take him to the island. The contact found a boat and the fishermen, along with a water sports expert, to help with the expedition. All seven locals who facilitated the trip have been arrested.

"According to the fishermen, they used a wooden boat fitted with motors to travel to the island on November 15," Pathak said. "The boat stopped 500-700 meters (1,640 - 2,300 feet) away from the island and (the American missionary) used a canoe to reach the shore of the island. He came back later that day with arrow injuries. On the 16th, the (tribespeople) broke his canoe. "So he came back to the boat swimming. He did not come back on the 17th; the fishermen later saw the tribespeople dragging his body around." The police haven't independently verified that he is dead, but based on what the fishermen have told them believe that he was killed. "We have a team out in the waters for reconnaissance and to strategize how to recover his body. The team consists of coastal guards, officials from tribal welfare department, forest department officers and police officials."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Canada's Stupid Witchcraft Law

For several years now, the Canadian government has been discussing the repeal of a law prohibiting "pretending to practice witchcraft." The law may finally be going away, but not before two more people were charged with the offense. The criminal cases themselves seem sound - according to the allegations, both defendants defrauded their clients using psychic and fortune-telling scams. My problem with the law is not that it prohibits scams, but rather that it carves out a special exception for "witchcraft-related" scams when it seems to me that what is going on is more properly fraud and can be handled under the same statutes.

Two Canadian women have been charged with pretending to practise witchcraft, breaking a little-known law in Canada's criminal code that could soon be out the door. The first charge was levied against Dorie "Madeena" Stevenson, a fortune teller from Milton, Ontario on 18 October after a months-long investigation. She is accused of defrauding a client of C$60,000 ($45,700; £35,700) in cash and property.

A week later, Toronto psychic Samantha Stevenson was also arrested in a similar but unrelated investigation. Police allege she convinced a man the only way to get rid of "evil spirits" in his home would be to sell it, and transfer the proceeds into her account.The accused often advertise themselves as a psychic or religious healer, and demand large sums of money to help remove curses or evil spirits from clients, police say.

"What we typically see is a tendency for perpetrators to take advantage of persons when they are in their most vulnerable state," wrote Det Sgt Dave Costantini of Halton Regional Police, in a press release. "Victims are manipulated into believing something bad will happen to them unless they remit cash. We even see incidents where victims are required to make purchases and remit these purchases in order to be cleansed. When victims cannot be squeezed any longer, the perpetrators rely on the victim's embarrassment in not contacting police."

The charges could lead to Canada's last witch trials, as the section of the law banning pretending to practise witchcraft will soon be repealed. In June 2017, the federal government proposed a bill repealing dozens of outdated sections of the criminal code, including the law against pretending to be a witch.

To be clear, if the allegations are true I don't have any problem with these folks being convicted. What I have a problem with is that there's a special law just for those who "fraudulently pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration." Fraud, as I see it, is just fraud and should be charged accordingly. An example: if I'm a confidence artist and I defraud somebody with a stock-picking scam, should it matter whether I tell them I have a computer model picking the stocks or if I tell them I have a psychic doing it? Isn't fraud just fraud?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Planetary Work Updated

The planetary work posts have now been updated with new conjurations calling on the Intelligence and Spirit from Agrippa in addition to the planetary angel. This hearkens back to my older method of working down through the spiritual hierarchy, but with some changes based on my more recent better understanding of the distinction between paths and sephirah. You don't need to conjure the godname because you already have used it to tune the space, and only use it as a controlling name for the angel during the conjuration. Otherwise, the assumption is that Angel rules Intelligence and Intelligence rules Spirit. All three entities are conjured and called upon, and presumably will fulfill their appointed tasks according to their individual natures.

Eventually I plan on updating the figures to include all three sigils instead of just that of the angel, but the designs that are there now should work. Effectively, the angel's sigil acts like a "phone number" to access the hierarchy and from there you are calling on the angel to help you conjure the intelligence and spirit - which I have tested out. The updated artwork will show up eventually, but some of the pieces such as the sigil for the Intelligence of the Moon are quite complex. Knowing myself, I probably will put up the easiest ones first and save that Moon figure for last. At any rate, the conjured names here now match the intelligence and spirit names in Liber 777 for the paths and also the information in my original Planetary Magick post from back in 2011 which remains quite popular. Happy conjuring!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

False Prophet!

This is my last midterms post, I promise. It concerns "firefighter prophet" and guy-on-his-way-to-getting-his-own-Augoeides-tag Mark Taylor, whose laughable "prophecies" keep piling up. Like many wannabe prophets, Taylor is deliberately vague most of the time so it can be hard to explicitly call him out when he's wrong. But for the midterms, he offered up a prediction that was entirely testable. He predicted that there would be a "red tsunami" of Republican voters and that his party would sweep the midterms because God told him so. That flat-out didn't happen. So Taylor is now trying to spin a straightforward prediction into something else, and the result is completely ridiculous.

Contrary to Taylor’s prophecy of a “red tsunami” that would sweep the midterms, it was no red tsunami. While Republicans expanded their control in the Senate, the Democrats took control of the House, picking up 27 seats. The House takeover by Dems puts Trump’s agenda to a virtual halt, as many analysts have suggested. In the run-up to the midterms, Taylor was confident that his red tsunami prediction was going to come to pass. “Go back to 2016 to the presidential election – all the fake news, the pundits, the polls were all wrong as we found out,” Taylor told the Christian broadcasting network CBN News. “It was just the exact opposite of what they were saying. So the same thing’s going to happen here.”

“There will be no ‘Blue Wave.’ A lot of people are talking about a ‘Red Wave,’ but it’s actually going to be a ‘Red Tsunami’ is what the Lord is showing me,” he added. But as Right Wing Watch points out, Taylor is now kicking the proverbial can down the road after the midterm results came in, saying you need an earthquake first before the tsunami comes. “What does it take to create a tsunami? It takes an earthquake,” he said in a live webcast this Friday. “This is what God is saying: ‘The election is not over, this red tsunami has got to be started by an earthquake.’ We had the red wave; the earthquake was [Jeff] Sessions stepping aside. The delay is over. They are going after these people hard.”

I guess what Taylor is trying to say here is that Sessions stepping aside was something that only a prophet or a regular news reader could possibly know. And that's supposed to be impressive! To be a little fair to Taylor, he probably is worried because he's a Biblical literalist and technically the Bible says that false prophets are supposed to die (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Of course, I think Biblical literalism is silly so I would never suggest such a thing. But I do suggest that anyone who considers themselves a good Christian should stop listening to him. The Bible is very clear in many places that false prophets lead their followers astray.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What Karma Looks Like

Going over the results of Tuesday's midterms I came across another example that might be of interest to Augoeides readers and magical practitioners in general. It may not sound like it at first, but bear with me. I'll explain further after the pull quote. Yesterday Wisconsin governor Scott Walker lost by a narrow margin. Wisconsin is right next door to my home state of Minnesota, so I've been following Walker for years and can't stand the guy. I'm very happy that he lost. The point that is relevant to this post, though, is that he can't ask for a recount precisely because of a law he passed after the 2016 election.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin's Republican governor, was ousted from office in the state's closest gubernatorial race in more than 50 years in Tuesday's midterm elections, and he won't be able to ask for a recount because of a law he put in place. With 99% of precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, the Democrat Tony Evers narrowly led Walker, 49.6% to 48.4%, according to The Associated Press. The gap was 1.2 percentage points, or about 31,000 votes out of the more than 2.6 million cast in the election.

After President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by just 23,000 votes in 2016, Walker signed into law a measure mandating that recounts would be allowed only when candidates are projected to be within 1 percentage point of each other. The law triggers a free recount if the margin is 0.25 percentage points or less. When it's between 0.25 and 1 points, the candidate projected to lose must petition and pay for a recount.

That, my friends, is an accurate example of karma, a term that gets thrown around a lot by New Agers who don't really understand it. Karma does NOT mean that if you do "good" or "nice" things, unrelated "good" or "nice" things will happen to you because of some spooky spiritual principle. Karma is simply about the law of cause and effect. It means that if you create a change in the world of whatever sort, for good or ill, what you have to deal with are the direct consequences of that change. There's nothing spooky about it, no "I refused to help an old lady across the street yesterday and today my car won't start" - that is, unless said old lady sabotaged your car.

Walker passed a law limiting recounts in his state. The consequence for him is that he has to run for office in a state with limited recounts, which just backfired on him. When contemplating the consequences of magical actions taken to transform your world, this is what you need to take into account in order to successfully navigate karmic conditions. You should be as sure as you can be about what the consequences of that change will be, so you can be equally sure that you want to live with them before you make it happen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kim Davis Has Lost

Among the election news from yesterday's midterms is an item that should be near and dear to all regular Augoeides readers. Kim Davis has lost her bid for re-election as county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Davis refused to sign applications for same-sex marriages, citing her religious beliefs, even though it was part of her job. She went on to have a GoFundMe taken down, failed to secure a book deal, lied about the Pope supporting her cause, and got an archbishop fired as apostolic nuncio. As I see it she's an awful person and I'm glad she will no longer hold office.

Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. beat Davis, a Republican, in the race for Rowan County clerk by an estimated 4,210 votes to 3,566 votes with all 19 precincts reporting, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, citing her religious beliefs, after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

She was sued by five couples and a judge ordered her to issue the marriage licenses. She spent five days in jail when she refused to comply with the decision. The Kentucky state legislature later changed the law so clerks did not have to sign their names on the documents in response to her refusal, which made national headlines.

It's not just Davis' refusal to sign marriage licenses that makes her awful, it's the craven way that she went about trying to profit from her prejudices. She turned out to be pretty ineffective at doing so, even after resorting to lies and subterfuge, but still. Her subsequent behavior makes me wonder how much of her signing refusals had to do with real religious beliefs and how much they had to do with trying to get in the news so that Poor Oppressed Christian bigots would send her money, either directly in the form of the (taken down) GoFundMe or indirectly by buying her (never actually published) book. While there may be something to be said for taking those fools' money, she messed with a bunch of people who just needed their paperwork signed in order to do it.

And I'll say this again, as I do every time Davis' name comes up, her cited "religious beliefs" only make sense if we start by assuming that no separation exists between civil and religious law, which none of Davis' political opponents actually believes. This is also the reason that Poor Oppressed crowd goes on about how churches will be forced to perform same-sex weddings - which absolutely can't happen because under the constitution there is separation of church and state. It seems to me that a (smart) Christian who opposed same-sex marriage would see it a totally different way.

If civil marriage and religious marriage are not the same thing (which they're not, per the constitution) then all Davis was signing was paperwork for a legal union that has nothing to do with her church or her religion. If her church doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, it shouldn't recognize that the paperwork she's signing is for a marriage at all in any spiritual or religious sense. I think that's backwards and silly, but it is her right. However, it also means that there's no reason to think that there's anything "sinful" about her signing the paperwork. So basically Davis should just have done her job and left it at that.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Via Solis Scorpio Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Scorpio Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday November 6th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will be continuing to perform 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 Oasis 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 Scorpio. The sign Scorpio is attributed to the power of “Necromancy." Note that this refers to work with the spirits of the dead, including ancestors, rather than magick involving dead things such as body parts and so forth. 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

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"False Flagging" Has Jumped the Shark

For the longest time, "false flagging" has been the mainstay of conspiracy theorists. It comes in two forms. The first is based on the idea that the government carries out shootings, terrorist attacks, and so forth in order to politicize the results. Think "the CIA perpetrated 9/11 so they could launch a war in the Middle East," or "the government faked the Sandy Hook school shooting so they could argue for gun control." The second form is when everything from pranks to full-out attacks against a particular group are carried out by members of the same group in order to make the other side look bad. Think "liberals are perpetrating hate crimes against groups they support to blame them on conservatives."

Every so often events of the second form happen, but usually more on the level of vandalism or pranks than flat-out violence. And the reality is that these are pretty easy to spot with even a cursory investigation since the vast majority of people, and especially people who think they are being clever by faking attacks, are not criminal geniuses. Most of the time tragic events are exactly what they appear to be, not some sort of smokescreen or ruse. Last weekend it came out the man who sent bombs to Democratic politicians, Democratic donors, and the "fake news media" at CNN turned out to be a hardcore Trump supporter.

Because of course he was. Democrats are not out there sending bombs to themselves, any more than Republicans are. The whole idea is just stupid. And, thankfully, it seems like we may have finally hit the shark-jumping point for false-flagging. After a flurry of nonsense from Republicans about how the bomber was probably a Democrat, the truth came to light and slapped the whole thing down.

Leading the charge, as usual, was Alex Jones’ Infowars, which posted shortly after the bombs were reported a reminder that Jones had predicted several months ago that “the media would be targeted for attacks that would bolster the narrative that President Trump is inciting violence.”

Ostensibly mainstream conservative pundits joined in the skepticism, including Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs, who tweeted: “Fake News—Fake Bombs; Who could possibly benefit by so much fakery?” He deleted it later, and replaced it with a tweet saying: “Fake News had just successfully changed the narrative from the onslaught of illegal immigrants and broken border security to ‘suspicious packages.’ ” Likewise, popular radio host Rush Limbaugh theorized: "How about a day like this? How about a day like this where you create a scenario where it looks like the mobs are on both sides? It looks like the Republicans have a mob, too, or at least an 'insaniac.' There's some Republican out there sending bombs to decent, good Democrats and media people — former Democrat presidents and the harmless people at CNN.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Engaged to a Ghost

Just in time for Halloween, ghost sex enthusiast Amethyst Realm (yes, that's really her name) is now engaged to a ghost. Remember Amethyst Realm? She's the British woman who either has a real talent for connecting with spirits or a really weird case of sleep paralysis. She met her spectral fiancée on a recent trip to Australia and plan to be married in a handfasting ceremony in which their hands are tied together. How that's supposed to work with a ghost is anyone's guess. Not only that, once they are married she wants to start a family of "ghost babies" with him. How this is supposed to work is really anyone's guess. The biology of half-human, half-ghost children is poorly understood to say the least.

Amethyst Realm, 30, of Bristol, says she has had sex with at least 20 ghosts since she was a teenager but wasn’t looking for a new relationship when she went to Australia on a business trip. However, she says that changed on a nature hike when she came into contact with an apparition and felt sparks like none she’s ever known.

Realm didn’t think it could amount to anything serious because she says spirits tend to stay in one place, but something amazing happened on her flight home: She felt the presence of her lover on the plane, and apparently not stowed in cargo. “I couldn’t believe it. I was happy and excited — so excited that we had to do something about it. So we headed to the plane loo,” she told the Sun. “And, well, I am now a member of the Mile High Club.”

That was nine months ago and things have progressed to the point where Realm discussed her desire to marry and have her ghost’s baby on the British show “ITV This Morning” in August. The paranormal proposal reportedly occurred last week when the couple took a road trip to England’s Wookey Hole caves, according to the New York Post.

“There was no going down on one knee — he doesn’t have knees. But for the first time, I heard him speak,” she said, according to the paper. “I could actually hear his voice, and it was beautiful. Deep, sexy and real.” The couple are now choosing a ring but have not decided what kind it will be. Realm, supernaturally, is hoping her ring will have an amethyst in it, but she’s leaving it to her spirit lover to decide.

The couple plans to do a Pagan “handfasting” ceremony, in which their hands are tied together, symbolizing their connection, she said. “It’ll be somewhere in the English countryside. We haven’t discussed the details yet, but I think it will be quite a big do.”

If the ghosts (or at least this one) really can follow her around, I will say that doesn't sound like this can be fully explained by sleep paralysis. Also, as a magician I believe that spirits are real entities and in theory a person could have sex with or marry one, the main issue being their limited presence in the physical realm. There are many stories about this in the Western tradition, with the spirit in question usually referred to as a fairy or something similar. In more modern times, Aleister Crowley described the "mystic marriage" of the magician and the Holy Guardian Angel, and while this is probably not that it at least sounds related.

So let's say we believe her just for today. It is Halloween, after all! I hope that Realm and her spirit lover are happy together and have many ghostly babies - at least in part because I'm really curious about how a "ghost baby" will turn out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bad Satanists

In this case I don't mean bad as in evil nearly as much as I mean bad as in incompetent - and delusional on top of that. I suppose that isn't so surprising given that the "Satanists" in question are middle schoolers. I also am far less surprised than I maybe should be that they are from Florida, which seems to be accounting for a lot of weirdness these days.

Anyway, here's the story. Two Florida middle schoolers, 11 and 12 years old, were arrested for planning an attack on other students at their school. They told the police that they wanted to kill because they worshipped Satan. To be clear, I don't think that Satan had anything to do with it. It also sounds like they really didn't think any of it through.

Police say the pair, 11 and 12, told officers they were Satan worshippers and planned to kill at least 15 students at Bartow Middle School. On Tuesday they were searched by police who found weapons including a butcher's knife, pizza cutter and scissors.

They had a pizza cutter. Seriously? I suppose it's a little more effective as a murder weapon than, say, a spoon - but it's not that much more effective. "The Satanic Pizza Cutter Murders" has "meme" written all over it.

They told investigators they planned to drink the blood of their victims and "possibly eat their flesh". The search took place after a student informed a teacher about a possible attack in a school building. The two girls were waiting in the toilet for younger students that they could "overpower to be their victims", police said.

In a statement, Bartow police chief Joe Hall said a search of the girls' mobile phones revealed text messages plotting the attack, and officers had also found a handwritten note saying: "Go to bathroom to kill."

What this reminds me of more than anything else is the Slender Man stabbing case, with the main difference being that the young girls in question are talking about Satan rather than Slender Man. I'm sure the religious fundies are going to be up in arms about "Satanists" again, even though it's not clear that these girls know anything at all about Satanism besides him being a great big boogieman or something. Whatever they're doing, it has nothing to do with occultism or even what most practitioners call Satanism.

The good thing about this case is that the girls were caught before they could hurt anyone. In the Slender Man case another young girl was seriously injured - though she did survive. In that case it was pretty clear that one of the two girls was seriously mentally ill and the other was basically a follower-type who bought into her delusions.

We'll have to see what the psychologists have to say about this one, and here's hoping the girls get whatever help they need.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Revisiting the Intelligences and Spirits

When I put together my practical magick schemas for the planetary, zodiacal, and elemental work my goal was to standardize as much of the procedure as possible. I based everything on the success I was having with the zodiacal work such as what you see here in the monthly elixir rites and so forth. Those in turn had been based on a planetary series that we did years ago working with the planetary angels. None of those rituals called on additional spirits, just the corresponding angels, and they seemed to work pretty well. This was especially true when adding in components like offerings and additional devotional work.

I've been working with a lot of different ideas lately for revising the forms, and that requires more probability testing. This last week I was playing around with some of the new planetary stuff I've been doing and testing it against my older forms that included calling directly on the Intelligence and Spirit. What I found maybe shouldn't be surprising, but I found it to be such as the time. If you call in the Intelligence and Spirit in addition to the angel, your planetary rituals are significantly more powerful.

How did I not notice that? Three entities should be better than one, right?

Part of the issue is that I have continued to get better at magick in general. Nowadays I can do things with just the planetary angels that I used to have to go through the whole hierarchy of angel -> intelligence -> spirit to do. The rituals I did seemed to be working and I didn't notice any red flags. But going back to the older forms now, I have to admit the spells I tested worked really well, better than what I'm able to do these days with just the angel.

I also was influenced for awhile by the "project management" approach to conjuration which suggests that the entity you call on can itself call on any other entity that it rules in order to accomplish your charge. However, my latest set of experiments appear to show that this may very well not be the case. There's some nuance - it seems like you can use just the sigil of the angel to get into the hierarchy as long as you call upon the angel to help you summon the intelligence and the intelligence to help you summon the spirit, but I'm still playing around with that a bit trying to determine the most effective structure in absolute terms.

So I'm going to be doing two things based on this new information. First of all, I'm going to do more testing to see if I can replicate these findings. The other thing I'm going to do is go back through my planetary work posts and add the conjuration of the intelligence and spirit to that of the angel for practical operations. Also, if anyone else would like to play around with testing the differences, I'd be happy to answer questions so you can get going on it. Maybe this last set was a fluke, but I figure I'm going to go ahead and update the planetary work anyway because it's not going to hurt your results and it might make them better.

Check the planetary work posts later this week and I should have the changes to the conjurations in by then. And, as always, keep experimenting!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ark Encounter Still Sinking

Another season has gone by, and it's time once more to point and laugh at Ken Ham's Ark Encounter, which is continuing to miss attendance projections just as was noted over the summer. The goofy creationist boondoggle saw a seventeen-percent drop in attendance this last September, even with school groups conducting field trips to the attraction (which is a whole other issue as far as the separation of church and state goes, but right now I'm just pointing and laughing).

It seems that the monumental difficulties Ham overcame trying to build the attraction were signs of things to come. First he tried to do it with donations, then with junk bonds issued by his church, and finally he closed the remaining gap with public subsidies he obtained by selling the state of Kentucky on wildly optimistic attendance projections.

The entertainment and educational complex that features dinosaurs interacting with humans, saw attendance this past September drop to 69,207 paying visitors — a 17 percent drop from last year’s same-month attendance of 83,330. As Hemant Mehta notes, that follows a trend of a declining — and accelerating — drop in attendance from last years numbers. Those declining numbers come even though public schools are using taxpayer funds to send school children to the museum to learn about creationism — a belief that all of creation is orchestrated by a divine being. According to American’s United for the Separation of Church and State, Ham’s Ark Encounter has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars of local and state tax breaks and subsidies.

“To help cover the cost of emergency services the small town [Williamstown] now must provide to the visitors of a large amusement park within its borders, city officials last year initiated a 50-cent fee on the tickets sold at the ark and a few smaller amusement venues in Williamstown. (This is the fee Ham and his company, Answers in Genesis, tried to avoid paying last summer by briefly switching the park’s status to nonprofit – a move that would have had a crushing long-term impact on property tax generation for the community but also nearly resulted in the park losing its $18 million state tourism subsidy.) “Americans United reports.

It seems to me that if God really wanted this thing built, why can't get more people to attend? Does Ham seriously worship a deity that lacks even the power to boost attendance at a theme park - you know, the kind of awesome power that any decent advertising agency already yields? This just raises more questions. You could make the point that we're talking about massive time scales required to create the universe - oh, except we're not! Ham says his deity did it instantly about six thousand years ago.

There really is only one conclusion when you think about. Ham's God doesn't care whether Ark Encounter lives or dies, because clearly he's not willing to lift a finger to help. It's like the Problem of Evil in theological thought, except I suppose here we could call it the Problem of Biblical Theme Park Attendance. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good, why has he forsaken Ken Ham?

Maybe Ark Encounter was a bad idea from the start and the Almighty knew it all along.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Pat Robertson Changes His Mind

That wouldn't be much of a headline if it referred to just about any normal person. This is Pat Robertson, after all - the guy who in 2013 was still going on and on about the evils of Dungeons & Dragons, when no reasonable person has considered role-playing games dangerous or evil since at least 1990 or so. This week, though, the impossible happened. A week after telling his followers that bonesaw-murdering a journalist was totally okay as long as it didn't threaten American arms deals with the Saudis, Robertson changed his tune. In his latest statement he sounds almost like a reasonable person.

On “The 700 Club” today, Robertson had a radically different response to events, blasting the Saudis for engaging in premeditated murder and declaring that the U.S. cannot simply look the other way, regardless of what sort of arms deals or alliances exist between the two nations. “The Saudis aren’t telling the truth,” Robertson said. “They’ve lied and lied and lied and it’s been dissembling and half-truth and a little here and a little there … It was a premeditated murder.”

Robertson then praised and paraphrased a recent New York Times column by Maureen Dowd as he accused the Saudi government of having “bribed their way into the hearts of Americans” and railed against the Saudi role in 9/11 and past support for Osama bin Laden. “Oil or not, or arms deal or otherwise, we cannot be aligned with a group of people who have persecuted women and have kangaroo courts and have this religious police that is just incredibly bad,” Robertson said, as he called for Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman to be tried for Khashoggi’s murder.

“We still want to maintain a relationship with the Saudis,” Robertson continued, “but we cannot have this anymore, these things they’re doing. And we certainly cannot allow this man to go scot-free and we can’t excuse him or try to make any kind of accommodation with him. He is a murderer and he had a hit squad and there is no question that this was premeditated; this was a hit squad that came in, when they have body doubles and when they have bone saws and all this kind of stuff. There is no doubt they intended to kill this man, dismember his body, torture him and then hide the evidence and that is what they have been doing and nobody with any intelligence is buying it. They have been lying through their teeth.”

Cleary, it's a newsworthy story when Pat Robertson and I agree on something. It must have been especially hard for him, given that he (A) loves money and (B) loves theocracy but (C) hates Muslims. Clearly those conflicts have been rattling around in his brain and causing some erratic behavior. But hopefully this latest statement shows that he finally gets it - you can't be even marginally okay with murder and torture and call yourself a real Christian, especially if your stated motivation for doing so is financial.

It should also be noted that there are apparently a lot of self-proclaimed Christians out there who are still on the side of Robertson's original statement. They should get with the program too, because the Khashoggi case is an international outrage. We can't just shrug it off as business as usual.