Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Palatable Occultism?

Slate has an article up today about the resurgence of occultism in popular culture. Or, more specifically, the resurgence of certain occult-related practices that don't go as far as doing actual magick. The author of the article calls these practices "the palatable occult." As I see it, this is a good start but it has a lot further to go before we are ever going to see magick itself go mainstream. I'd love to see that, of course, but my question is whether enough people are ever going to be ready for it to become a real mass movement.

“New Age,” as ye old boomers called it in the ’70s, has come back in a major way this decade, shedding its corny rep for well-designed apps and sleek websites. What once was considered fringe or weird or from another era—talking about astrological charts on a first date, getting your aura read with friends, sound baths—is now kind of just regular among millennials (at least according to various market research firms who track the spiritual industry, one pegging the “mystical-services market” as a $2.2 billion industry). I call it “the palatable occult.”

My first genuine experience with the palatable occult didn’t happen until 2017. Several of my friends were already occult curious or occult serious, and I had smelled my fair share of ancient burning wood, held crystals at friends’ homes, and got a tarot reading from a guy I dated briefly. (I pulled the “death” card, which he quickly explained didn’t mean I was going to croak but was a metaphor for transition.) I remained cynical. The trend seemed silly and manufactured, a distraction from the all-consuming Trump-era resistance, and the result of a nefarious and ascendant wellness industry that just wanted to take my money.

What I find fascinating about this is that "palatable" here feels a lot like "ineffective." Not that there's anything wrong with Tarot or astrology, you understand - I use both all the time in my personal practice. Crystals too, at least when I'm making talismans and the like. But the thing is, I have magical operations posted here, on this blog, that really work. I don't mean they kind of work, like doing casual Tarot readings and checking out horoscope websites. The Enochian magick in my published books really works too. And for the whole time I've been putting this stuff out, it's been a struggle to get people to pay any attention to it.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christianity Today Editorial Supports Removal

Christianity Today is one of the most prominent magazines in the evangelical world, and evangelical support for Donald Trump remains - as I see it - ridiculously high. So I was pleasantly surprised to read about an editorial in the magazine in support of removing Trump from the presidency. I do know that not all Christians, or even all evangelicals, necessarily fall into the categories that I routinely make fun of here on Audoeides, like those who claim to be oppressed by the mere existence of different opinions. Folks in those categories get all the media attention, though, so they tend to be the ones I see the most.

The flagship magazine of American evangelicalism, Christianity Today, released a surprise editorial on Thursday calling for the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency.

“We believe the impeachment hearings have made it absolutely clear, in a way the Mueller investigation did not, that President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath,” Editor-in-Chief Mark Galli wrote. “None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”

Founded by Billy Graham in the 1950s, Christianity Today is widely ready by pastors, institutional leaders, and churchgoers. The editorial sent shockwaves through evangelical circles on Thursday. The magazine has been critical of Trump in the past, but has avoided a full-throated condemnation of him.

The editorial makes the good point that in the 1990s, Christians supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton over lying in a deposition for a civil suit that was dismissed before it even went to trial. Their position at that time was ostensibly that honesty showed good character and therefore dishonesty by public officials should not be tolerated, even in personal matters unrelated to governing the country. If they still consider that true, it's pretty hard to come up with a scenario in which Trump has not engaged in conduct that's objectively worse.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Megachurch Attempting Resurrection

Here's another sad story from the world of Christianity that's sad for an entirely different reason that the story the other day about the LDS church stockpiling donations. A megachurch in California is organizing a "prayer drive" to bring a two-year-old girl back from the dead. This is abolutely tragic, and as a parent myself I can only imagine how this girl's family must be feeling. I also can appreciate them having such strong faith that they apparently think this could work. But at the same time, there are plenty of reasons why it's not going to, even if your paradigm allows for paranormal effects and "miracles."

Olive Alayne Heiligenthal stopped breathing early last Saturday, according to a statement from Bethel Church spokesperson Aaron Tesauro. The circumstances are unclear, but the family called 911, and medical professionals attempted to resuscitate her at the family’s home and at the hospital. She was pronounced dead, and the church said her body has been at the Shasta County Coroner’s office since Saturday. Soon afterward, her mother posted a desperate request on Instagram. “We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life,” Kalley Heiligenthal wrote on Instagram, accompanied by a photograph of Olive playing outside. “Her time here is not done.”

Kalley is a member of the Bethel Music worship collective, a band associated with Bethel Church in Redding, California, which attracts about 9,000 attendees to services each weekend. She released her first solo work this fall and has a large following on social media. That helped the movement to bring Olive back to life become a global phenomenon within hours of her first post. The hashtag #wakeupolive has generated roughly 3,000 posts on Instagram, including songs, selfies, dancing, and original artwork. A GoFundMe set up for the family by the church had raised $50,000 by Thursday afternoon.

The church itself has assisted in spreading the word. On Tuesday evening, Bethel hosted a prayer service “declaring resurrection and life” for the little girl. Hundreds of people attended. Heiligenthal posted a video to Instagram of an energetic worship service that night, with the large crowd standing, jumping, and raising their hands as they sing, “All hail to Jesus.” “Day 4 is a really good day for resurrection,” she wrote in the caption. “Thank you so much for joining your faith to ours, we feel your strength and radical belief. Keep declaring life over Olive Alayne with us.” Other videos apparently taken at the same service depict the church’s young adult pastor pacing the stage and praying: “We are not mourning right now, we are expecting a move of the Spirit in such a measure to wake a child from her sleep!”

Friday, December 20, 2019

Liber Spirituum Now Available in Paperback

I love those rare edition hardcover occult books as much as anybody. I have a decent-sized collection that I have been accumulating for more than twenty-five years. But it also is true that books like that are expensive and can be hard to come by, especially once the run is sold out. There's a market there, but it's a very pricey one.

That's why I'm a big fan of publishers who eventually release less expensive paperback editions of their rare titles. It allows those of us who aren't collectors to get access to the same information at a fraction of the cost. You shouldn't have to spend a fortune to keep yourself up to date on all the latest magical lore and commentary.

Along those lines I'm pleased to announce that Liber Spirtuum, the anthology containing my essay "Evoking Zodiacal Angels," is now available in paperback. The book has in fact been out for over a year now, so I probably should have posted this sooner. But work has been intense lately and I haven't had much time for promotion or writing new material. I keep waiting for things to calm down, but they haven't yet.

So if you did see Liber Spirituum when it was first released, liked the content, and wanted to pick it up for your library but found it too expensive, here's your chance. If you have something like Amazon Prime you can even get it before Christmas, and it makes a great gift for any ceremonial or ritual practitioner. The material in my essay is similar to what you will find here in my Zodiacal Work post, but in a convenient book form for temple use.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

All That Mormon Cash

For those like me who think the idea of Jesus literally returning to Earth and ushering in the apocalypse is ridiculous, I have to say this is kind of a sad story. It is well-known that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a very wealthy organization. The church requires that members tithe a percentage of their incomes and allegedly takes in over seven billion dollars per year. According to a complaint made to the IRS by David Nielsen, a former employee of the church's investment division, this money is earmarked for charitable causes but is rarely used in that way.

Nielsen claims that the church's cash hoard has not been used for the charitable purposes that the church claims, and should be subject to taxation. He is seeking an IRS bounty that is paid to whistleblowers who expose tax evasion. The church, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com, told the Post in a statement: 'The Church does not provide information about specific transactions or financial decisions.'

In his complaint, Nielsen described in a 74-page narrative how he became increasingly disillusioned while working as a senior portfolio manager at Ensign Peak. The church collects about $7 billion each year from member donations, or tithes, according to the complaint. But as the cash poured in, Nielsen said that he never saw distributions for the charitable purposes the fund was allegedly intended to support. Instead, the fund made only made two distributions over the 10 years he worked there, both to support for-profit ventures, Nielsen claimed.

According to Nielsen, $2 billion from Ensign has been used over the past decade to bail out a church-run insurance company and a shopping mall in Salt Lake City that was a joint venture between the church and a major real estate company. Ensign's president, Roger Clarke, told others that Ensign's cash hoard would be used in the event of the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to the complaint.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Spells Against Illegal Logging

Romania has some of the last old-growth forests left in Europe. It also has an entrenched illegal logging industry that threatens those forests. In order to stop the illegal logging, Greenpeace Romania has organized protests and mobilized environmental activists. The organization has also taken the unusual step of working with a prominent local witch, Irina Primavera, to curse loggers who cut down trees illegally.

In Romania, the homeland of superstition and the Dracula, witches thrived at a time when medieval witch-hunts plagued most of Europe leading to the mass murder of at least 100,000 women. In fact, witchcraft is alive in the country to this date. Even the country’s politicians fear it. Hundreds of witches practice their craft across Romania claiming to cure diseases, rid people of evil spells, predict the future, make and break marriages, and more. And they have a sizeable following from all walks of Romanian life.

So, given the indifference of authorities regarding illegal logging, Greenpeace Romania adopted the unconventional approach to use witchcraft as a tool to grasp the attention of the country towards the issue. Instead of celebrities, influencers and activists, Greenpeace took the assistance of Irina Primavera, a real Romanian witch, to cast a spell on illegal loggers.

In the campaign film “Curse for Good,” Irina, who claimed to have inherited her special powers from her grandmother Dochi, recognizes the trees as beings with souls. She said: “I saw the disaster they left here and what is happening in our country. They left the place bare, they cut down souls, trees that were hundreds of years old. They left a lot of pain behind them.”

To stop them (the illegal loggers), Irina cast a spell that whoever cut down a tree, a curse would befall on them and their family, and their relatives for 99 generations.

What that means is that there might be an avenue here for paranormal research. If we could identify a population that seems to have an unusual level of misfortune, and then map that group to the population of illegal loggers, we might be able to see the spell in action. On the other hand, if no such analysis can be done, it's hard to say whether it's working. Of course, the end goal is to reduce illegal logging, which should be easier to determine.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Yes, They Made It Up

This really shouldn't be much of a shock for anyone even casually familiar with Alex Jones and Infowars, but I never cease to be amazed by the number of people who apparently mistook the program for serious and accurate news reporting - rather than a cesspool of bizarre conspiracy theories and manufactured outrage. Thanks to a feature article published last week, we now have a lot more firsthand evidence for the latter over the former. I can't say that I ever really doubted my assessment of Jones, even though I got some pushback in the comments here and on Facebook from folks, who I guess were fans, whenever I would make fun of him.

The New York Times Magazine published a feature online today authored by Josh Owens, who recounted experiences he had working for Infowars. (He first started to share information with journalist Jon Ronson, who has known Jones for decades, in October 2016.) In the article, Owens recounts outlandish and disturbing incidents at Infowars, including Jones firing a gun in his direction “as a joke,” Jones punching employees, Jones killing animals in cruel ways on video, and Jones driving visibly drunk to film a stunt on Election Day 2016 for his broadcast audience.

Owens often traveled to produce content for Jones and recounted two experiences in which the team fabricated content for Jones’ audience. “If it fit into the Infowars narrative, it played,” Owens wrote.

In one instance, Jones had watched a YouTube video showing a Geiger counter, an instrument used to measure ionizing radiation, “displaying high radiation readings” on a California beach and wanted the Infowars team to travel to the area to film reports and promotions for an iodine supplement sold by Infowars. Owens and his coworkers were unable to replicate the high radiation levels during their trip, which enraged Jones. In an attempt to placate him, the team scouted out a nuclear waste facility “just so we could capture the Geiger counter displaying a high number.”

More disturbingly, Owens recounted traveling to a Muslim-majority community to “investigate” what Jones believed was a terrorist-training center with a promise from Jones that the team would receive “significant bonuses” if what they turned in met Jones’ expectations. But the information the team found in Islamberg, New York, did not support the “unfounded rumors circulated around far-right corners of the internet” that the community housed a terrorist-training compound.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Demons for Kids

I never fail to be confused by Christians who can't tell the difference between fiction and reality. I shouldn't be - they have a long history of it. To be clear, I'm not talking about all Christians or even the majority of them, but poor oppressed fundamentalists who find even the slightest exercise of imagination disturbing and potentially dangerous. Like this nonsense.

The retail giant Amazon is actually selling a children's book that teaches young children how to summon demons.

What, like every edition of the Goetia, every paperback grimoire, and every other practical occult guide that teaches people how to work with real spirits? Amazon carries all of those. And Llewellyn has a whole "For Beginners" series, again, all sold on Amazon! But that's not what the fuss is about. This is much, much sillier.

Yes, you read that right. Amazon is peddling a book titled A Children's Book of Demons. The description on the Amazon webpage reads: "Don't want to take out the trash tonight? Maybe you're swimming in homework? Perhaps that big bully is being a real drag? Well, grab your coloured pencils and sigil drawing skills and dial-up some demons! But be careful, even if these spirits are more silly than scary they are still demons." If you're not aware, a "sigil" is a symbol that's said to have magical powers.

Well, yes. Real sigils that are associated with real spirits are said to have magical powers because they are associated with said spirits. I'll return to this in a moment.

If that one book isn't enough, Amazon also suggests you purchase another book for your kids titled Demon and Devil Stories for Kids: Sixteen Short Stories About Demons and Devils for Children. The description also reads: "Sixteen short stories about demons and devils are selected from several popular books for children. These tales are designed to be fascinating reading for young children."

So let's say that the first book mentioned teaches children to conjure real spirits, demonic or otherwise. It seems to me that would be a much bigger deal to any reasonable Christian than an indisputable work of fiction. But no, it gets mentioned in the same breath. This is what I mean when I talk about the distinction between fantasy and reality being fuzzy with these folks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Bad Devil Worshipper

And by bad, I don't mean evil. I mean inept. This article from the sensationalistic Daily Mail asks the question - is a Satanic cult on the loose in rural Hampshire? As evidence, they cite several sheep that were found dead with pentagrams and the number 666 spray-painted on them, and vandalism of a local church that consisted of spray-painted pentagrams, the number 666, and inverted crosses. But if they're talking about an organized cult, or even a real occultist, the answer is a flat-out no. I'll explain as I go through the article.

Rounding up the hefty sheep that graze half-wild on this unfenced expanse is no easy task, even for an experienced shepherd. But somehow they managed to capture one: a pretty black-faced ewe.

The ewe’s owners, Colin Barnes, 76, and his partner Heather Miles, 68 (so-called ‘commoners’ entitled to rear animals in the forest under an ancient law), called her ‘Fluffy’. She was kept for breeding and would have roamed contentedly for the rest of her days. Yet with one precise thrust of a long, very sharp knife, the couple’s sheep was callously dispatched.

As Fluffy bled slowly to death, the attacker used blue aerosol paint to defile her with satanic symbols. A pentagram (five-pointed star) was drawn on her thick fleece, and 666 — supposedly the Devil’s number — on her ear.

While this is clearly the work of a sicko going around looking for animals to kill, I'll point out the first clue that this is no real occultist. The spray paint was blue. It's no coincidence that pentagrams are normally drawn in red. Red = Geburah, strength or power, in the Qabalistic system used by magicians. Geburah is associated with the color red and the number five. The angel of Geburah is Samael or Zamael, often associated with Shaitan or Satan (which is a title meaning "accuser," not a proper name).

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Is Koetting Spamming?

Look what showed up in my spam folder over the weekend! It's a spam/phishing email running the classic review scam, in which you are asked to fill out a survey from Costco or Amazon or some other retailer. Another common version of this same scam offers you a gift card that you can redeem by going to a link - which, like the survey, collects phishing information and can download malware onto your computer.

These sorts of scams are really easy to spot - even though the name of the sender usually says Costco or Amazon or the name of another retailer, the domain that the email is coming from and where the message presumably links to has nothing to do with that retailer. Usually it's something random that doesn't look particularly significant - but check out the domain up there! Isn't that the domain of E. A. Koetting, Mr. "Become a Living God?"

Honestly, I hope not. Yes, Koetting is over the top and ridiculous and charges a bunch of money for basic magick instruction that you could find in dozens of books, and adds a layer of hype to it that is pretty much unmatched anywhere in the magical community. But if he's to the point where he's resorting to phishing scams? Well, then I just feel bad for him. That's a pretty sad way to make a living, and it also is a sad commentary on the state of magical instruction in general. Yeah, most of us can't make a living at it, full stop. But descending into email scams is a whole new level.

As I'm typing this up, I'm noticing that the domain is actually misspelled, missing the "e" in "become." But if this isn't Koetting, that's kind of weird too. Why would an email spammer want to pretend to be Koetting? "Become a living god" can't be the sort of domain that inspires much confidence in prospective marks. I would think that if somebody was going to do this, They would want to spoof a domain that is at least neutral. In fact, I would think that smart spammers would want to spoof something that at least looks like retailer's name - though I've never seen them do that.

I suppose spammers aren't smart. If they were smart, they probably would be in another line of work. There was a brief period in the late 1990's, before people got sophisticated spam filters, when spamming was easy and profitable. But that hasn't been the case for almost two decades now. These days, it's just kind of pitiful.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Via Solis Sagittarius Elixir Rite - Year Three

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Sagittarius Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday November 26th, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, 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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Doing It Wrong

These two idiots are making all of us authentic spellcasters look bad. A mother and daughter in Tyler, Texas are charged with stalking and harassment after creating "objects related to voodoo, witchcraft and satanism" and placing them on property belonging to their target. Here's the bottom line, folks - if you want to cast a curse on someone, you're doing it wrong if they see it coming. Real magicians don't bother to threaten anyone, because they know that their curses work.

Detectives with the Tyler Police Department claim Feagin and her mother, 46-year-old Kristina Ferguson, created the objects and then placed them in a property shared by the victim, her current boyfriend and the man's daughter.

One of the items was a picture of the victim with a red pentagram drawn across her face, with a burned blue candle beside the picture. This was placed on the couple's front porch on June 15, 2019.

The suspects allegedly placed a pair of black male boxer shorts with a note stating, "just thought you should know," on the victim's vehicle on August 1, 2019. Police said the mother and daughter also used a small voodoo doll with pins in its head, face, and heart, a burned blue candle, and symbols or "sigils" from the Raven of Antimony literature.

Each sigil represented "horror, death, pain, insanity, delusion, and destruction." A mason jar filled with sand was covered in these sigils and left on the victim's vehicle on September 13, 2019. According to the affidavit, the mother and daughter also left behind a black leather scroll wrapped in rope and dipped into a red substance.

Inside the scroll was a photo of the victim with a message written in Latin, along with the victim's initials and birth date. The Latin curse was threatening pestilence, bloodshed, fire and death. It was left on the victim's car on September 24, 2019.

According to the affidavit, using surveillance from the home of the victim and her boyfriend, detectives confirmed the dates of the offenses and saw Ferguson on the video placing some of the objects and then jumping back into the car with the daughter and leaving.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

This Won't End Well for the Christians

Now this is freaking ridiculous. Last week the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents students from being penalized for wrong answers in their work so long as those answers are based on their religious beliefs. It's one more salvo in the war by evangelicals on everyone who is not a Biblical literalist, and one more attempt to enshrine their idiotic take on empirical science into law. But for Thelemites, there's a silver lining to all that.

On Wednesday the Ohio House of Representatives passed the “Student Religious Liberties Act,” a law prohibiting students from being penalized when their work is scientifically incorrect so long as they attribute it to their religious beliefs, a local news outlet reported. Rather than using silly metrics based on logic and demonstrable facts, teachers should instead grade students on “ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance” in these cases according to the bill. It doesn’t elaborate on how to parse that brazenly doublespeak decree.

The bill now moves on to the state’s Republican-controlled Senate for the final OK.
With this legislation, any religious content a student includes in their homework or other assignments can’t be considered incorrect regardless of whatever that content may contradict. So, for instance, if a test asks what started World War II, and a student claims it was the flying spaghetti monster—as, after all, this invisible cosmic being has used its noodly appendages to orchestrate mankind’s history behind the scenes since it created the life, the universe, and everything—then they legally can’t be marked wrong.

Or if, say, you were part of a religion I just founded after hearing this news that believes all written numbers are demonic iconography that summons tiny gremlins who will stop at nothing to burrow into your eyeholes, countermand your brain, and force you to reenact viral TikToks in perpetuity, then I guess sorry Miss Sanders but Timmy can’t do his math homework. Ever.

I'm sure the evangelical Christians who wrote this thing were sitting there thinking that there's nothing in their religion that could be construed as a "religious belief" surrounding numbers and math, and that a religion founded after the passage of this bill could easily be attacked as insincere. Sure, none of the major world religions have anything in their holy texts that can be construed as a belief surrounding the idea that numbers and mathematics don't matter. But Thelemites do.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Enochian Workshops in Omaha, Nebraska

On Saturday, November 23rd I will be presenting three workshops on Enochian magick at Roar of Rapture Camp in Omaha, Nebraska. The presentations will include lectures on the three portions of the Enochian system - the Heptarchia Mystica, Great Table, and Thirty Aires - along with a ceremonial evocation of angels associated with each portion.

If you are in the area, this will be a great opportunity to see me present the material I talk about in my books in person. You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Nobody Does This Either

This article is from a little over a month back, but for I'm just seeing it now. Maybe it's the law of attraction or something, because just like yesterday's post this one is about another Christian media host who is spouting ridiculous nonsense. Donald Trump complains about "fake news" all the time, but the news that is the fakest of the fake comes from folks in evangelical Christian media - most of whom support him.

For today's post, I'm going to point out that prominent Democrats don't drink blood and cast evil spells. Really? That I have to explain that to anyone is pretty amazing. When I differ with Republicans it's on policy - it's no secret that I'm a lefty and that therefore I don't vote for them. In fact, if I'm a single-issue voter it would be that I'm an anti-theocrat who won't support any candidate who caters to the religious right.

But while I can't stand Trump and do make fun of him on a pretty regular basis, you'll never see me posting that, say, he sacrifices hobos or eats babies. Not only are those sorts of allegations toxic to all reasonable political debate, there apparently really are people out there who are stupid enough to believe that they are literally true.

On the Wednesday edition of his TruNews TV show, Wiles mentioned that Hillary Clinton is looking much better these days than she did when she was on the 2016 campaign trail.

“Physically, she’s looking much better,” Wiles said to his co-hosts. “She must be drinking a lot of blood. … I mean, because she’s definitely getting transfusions because she’s stronger.”

Wiles went to say that Clinton was “definitely pretty weak back there in 2016.” “That woman was falling apart. Obviously, they’ve been taking her to a lot of spirit cooking events, and she’s been revived.”

As New York Magazine pointed out back in 2016, Wiles’ sinister interpretation of “spirit cooking” first debuted on InfoWars, which referred to it as “a sacrament in the religion of Thelema” founded by Aleister Crowley.

In reality, spirit cooking was conceived by world-renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic, and it “included absurdist recipes featuring such ingredients as ‘fingertips of the artist’ and ‘a ruby that has been soaking for three days.'”

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Absolutely Nobody Does This

You know what I was saying yesterday about evangelical Christians who believe in some sort of gigantic "Satanic conspiracy" are either engaging in propaganda or are flat-out nuts? Here's a prime example. Dave Daubenmire is one of those self-proclaimed "prophets" who hosts a Christian talk radio show. He recently explained that abortion is evil because "many women" have abortions "for Satanic rituals." I would like to think he's being a propagandist, because if he's not and he really believes this stuff he's completely delusional.

Christian Right activist Dave Daubenmire knows something about Planned Parenthood that is news to me. He said on his “Pass The Salt Live” show yesterday that many women who have abortions are actually doing it as part of a Satanic ritual.

"I don’t know if you guys know this or not. Many of the people who go into Planned Parenthoods, to have their babies killed, are what they call “breeders.” Breeders! They do it over and over and over. They’re paid to get pregnant to abort the baby for Satanic rituals. Did you guys have any idea of that? Did you know that? Did you understand that some of those women walking in there aren’t just troubled women, aren’t just caught-themselves-in-a-bad-situation, they’re breeders! They do it over and over and… but we don’t want to believe that, do we?"

I've been an occultist for more than thirty years, so let me set the record straight here. Absolutely nobody does this. Actual Satanists don't. LaVey Satanists are mostly atheists who don't believe in the supernatural, period, and theistic Satanists like the Setians and others who practice magical rituals don't do it either.

Even discredited accounts based on recovered memories that involve giving birth to babies for Satanic sacrifices (recalled, thanks to unethical therapists during the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's, by women who medical examinations showed had never been pregnant) don't have anything to do with medical abortions.

I mean, if you can't believe the lying therapists that you trained to induce false memories of Satanic rituals in unwitting subjects, who can you believe? Come on, evangelicals!

From a practical standpoint - if you have an abortion at Planned Parenthood, do you think that they hand you the fetal tissue afterwards? How do you do magick with something you don't have, even if there was a ritual that called for it? And, of course, beyond that there isn't such a ritual and it's not even remotely clear how it would work.

I think I understand what's going on here, and it's pretty damn ugly. Evangelicals like Daubenmire are so confused by the idea that women might have rights to bodily autonomy that the only reason they can think of for a woman to have an abortion is to be evil for evil's sake - which is, of course, not a real thing outside of Hollywood melodramas.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Wizardry for Trump

According to this article from Newsweek, Donald Trump's court wizard Paula White has launched a new magical initiative to protect the president from his enemies, who "operate in sorcery and witchcraft." Sure, White calls herself a "spiritual advisor" and describes her spells as "prayers," but those of us who practice the spiritual arts know that prayers and spells are the exact same thing. We magicians just do in a more disciplined and structured manner.

Alongside fellow Christian leaders Cindy Jacobs, Dave Kabul and Dutch Sheets, White has launched the One Voice Prayer Movement, starting the initiative on Tuesday with a prayer for Trump. "Lord, we ask you to deliver our president from any snare, any setup of the enemy, according to Ephesians 6:12. Any persons [or] entities that are aligned against the president will be exposed and dealt with and overturned by the superior blood of Jesus," she said during her prayer in a conference call with other Christian leaders.

"Whether it's the spirit of Leviathan, a spirit of Jezebel, Abaddon, whether it's the spirit of Belial, we come against the strongmen, especially Jezebel, that which would operate in sorcery and witchcraft, that which would operate in hidden things, veiled things, that which would operate in deception," she continued. "We come against it according to your word."

White's prayer continued by saying that anyone who stands against Trump "would be exposed and dealt with and overturned in Jesus' name." She said that believers know that Trump and his Christian supporters "do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this age, hosts of wickedness in heavenly places." White went on: "Stretch out your arm and deliver President Trump and rid him of any bondage the enemy would try to bring against him."

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Haunted Grey Cloud Island

Like most places, Minnesota has its share of allegedly haunted locations. One of the most infamous of these is Grey Cloud Island, a three-square-mile island in the Mississippi River about twelve miles south of the state capital, Saint Paul. I've heard a lot of wild stories about the place over the years, and in my novel Arcana I wrote a scene there specifically because of the island's alleged spiritual energy.

City Pages has an article up today about a ghost hunting trip to the island. It's a good article, and the sort of thing it's nice to see make it into the media. Personally I have been to the island a few times, and while I have sensed some energies there that are kind of funky, I never have seen anything like an apparition or encountered anything that I found particularly scary. So even though the place does have an unusual spiritual presence, I think that a lot of the stories are probably exaggerated.

The St. Paul Park Police Department is aware of the area’s reputation. In a Facebook post from June, they attempt to address the “attention in the media lately about Grey Cloud Island being haunted,” reassuring everyone that “they have never encountered these ghosts, poltergeists, spirits, or weird happenings.” They go on to warn visitors that “unless you want to explain to a Washington County Judge... why you were running around a cemetery in the dark looking for ghosts at you’re [sic] hearing1 [sic] please stay home.”

Despite these warnings, I’m intrigued. This was two years ago, around Halloween of 2017. I email a local historian, asking if it would be possible to photograph Grey Cloud Cemetery and chat about its history and hauntings. “I would be glad to show you around!” he responds jovially later that day, sending along a map with the precise geolocation of the cemetery. The following day, I ask when he’ll be free to show me around. No response. The day after, I follow up. Nothing.

Several days later, I receive a clipped response. “They do not allow investigations of their cemetery,” he writes. “There are insubstantial rumors about the cemetery. [The Grey Cloud Township Officer] is fearful of what might happen later.” I assure him that the piece I was considering writing would be purely informational, not exploitative in any way. “I only wish I could do this,” he responds in his final communication to me, “but my Grey Cloud friends would never forgive me.”

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Truth About Salem

Salem, Massachusetts currently has outsized influence in pop culture as the "Witch City," due to the major tourist draw of its annual Halloween festival. These days at least half the paranormal television shows and movies explain characters that can cast witchcraft spells as having "families from Salem" or some other nonsense. What all of that ignores is that the "witches" executed at Salem were not witches or pagans or magical practitioners of any kind. They were for the most part marginalized members of their communities caught up in a moral panic that claimed their lives.

Kate Fox is the director of Salem's marketing organization. According to this article, much of Fox's work consists of drawing distinctions between the cartoon Halloween witches celebrated by the festival and the totally-non-witch victims of the infamous 1692 trials. She's the sort of person I would really like to see advising paranormal television producers to maybe link witchcraft to something or someplace else that makes more sense.

Fox is well-versed in distinguishing holiday from history for tourists. “The Salem Witch Trials do not have a direct relationship to Halloween, and the people who were accused and condemned in 1692 were not witches,” she clarifies, “they were innocent people and they were victims of a social crisis.” Pop culture, including Arthur Miller’s 1953 play “The Crucible,” has fueled misconceptions and Salem’s witch tourism economy.

Fox says many of the attractions, museums and more than two dozen walking tours can open visitors’ eyes. Jeff Page leads one named “Bewitched After Dark” that stops at a bronze statue of Samantha from the iconic TV show “Bewitched.” It briefly filmed in Salem in 1970 for a plot where Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, attends a witch convocation only to end up being chased around by a seemingly possessed, floating bed warmer.

“Once those episodes aired people come from all over the country to get a look at the Witch City,” Page explains to this day’s group, “About that point we start painting witches on everything in town. You guys seen our police cars yet? There’s a witch on ‘em.” Fox thinks Sam is the most photographed landmark in Salem, but visitors don’t really ask how or if it really fits in with history. “They take pictures, twinkle their nose and off they go.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Stop the Mousemen!

There are only a handful of people who can misread a scientific study more adeptly than 700 Club evangelist and longtime Augoeides punching bag Pat Robertson. I'd probably put nutty creationist Ken Ham in that camp, and the jury is out on potato soup entrepreneur Jim Bakker. Last week Robertson launched into a rant against the scientists attempting to breed a race of half-mouse half-human freaks using cells derived from fetal tissue. You know, a rant against something that totally doesn't exist and never will.

Televangelist Pat Robertson has claimed scientists are attempting to "make a mouse human" using aborted fetal tissue, adding that "Adolf Hitler never did anything as bad as this." The comments were made Tuesday on Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) show, The 700 Club, after the program aired an emotional report concerning fetal tissue being used in scientific experiments.

The segment mentioned a study involving mice and fetal reproductive tract tissue. It did not mention the aim of the research, which appears to be studying the effects of synthetic hormones on female reproductive tracts, rather than creating human-mice hybrids. The segment also contained interviews with anti-abortion activists, including one who mentioned a cancelled study that involved "humanizing mice."

"I'm sure a lot of people will be shocked when they learn of these experiments," said CBN anchor John Jessup, who introduced the segment. "Well, they're no more shocked than I am," replied the 89-year-old Robertson.

To be clear, there are legitimate ethical issues surrounding the use of fetal tissue and the creation of transgenic organisms for research. But framing it as a courageous battle against the mousemen is just ridiculous. What, does Robertson think these non-existent monsters will escape from a lab and proceed to commandeer all the cheese in the world by force?

Also - even if our ethics lead us to conclude that this research is very wrong, and even if the research involves what Robertson claims, can we really compare the creation of a few mousemen to the mass genocide of millions? Sorry, I just don't buy that. Robertson's sense of proportion has always been out of whack, but this is extreme even for him.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Against Day of the Dead

A City Commissioner in Henderson, Kentucky recently came up with a truly novel reason that her community should not host a Day of the Dead celebration. According to this article from local outlet 14News, City Commissioner Patti Bugg is opposed to the celebration because she is worried that somebody might "summon a loved one from the grave." Could she possibly really be worried about an actual zombie attack?

I mean, I suppose Bugg has every right to be worried about brain-eating monsters clawing their way out of cemeteries and running amok. But seeing as that has nothing to do with Day of the Dead, or for that matter anything that ever happens in real life, I would hope that nobody out there is taking her seriously.

Officials with the planning committee tell us it is a good opportunity for people to learn about Hispanic culture. But, a City Commissioner is speaking out against the event. Judge-Executive Brad Schneider says there has been a big increase in the Latino population in recent years.

City Commissioner Patti Bugg says there are other ways to educate the community. “I’d say 99 percent of the day of the dead is probably innocent. I think that’s fine," says Commissioner Bugg. "I think if you want to honor your loved ones. I think the only challenge is if they actually try to summons somebody else, you know, a loved one from the grave, then I think they’re asking for some serious stuff. As a Christian, I don’t think they can do that.”

Organizer Abraham Brown says the event is less about religion and more about educating the community about Latino culture. “It’s meant to be a celebration to remember our loved ones," explains Brown. "As I was saying before, whenever someone passes away, we wouldn’t hide their pictures. We honor them and we make sure we remember them. It’s just a remembrance celebration.”

So is it too obvious to suggest that this is exactly why people like Bugg need to be educated? As Brown explained, there's nothing about the Day of the Dead celebration that has anything to do with calling up zombies from the grave, or whatever it is she thinks she's talking about. The films of George Romero are fictional, in case Bugg is unclear on that point. Brain-eating fiends will not rise up to attack the living just because her community hosts a celebration where people remember their ancestors and deceased loved ones.

In fact, this idea is so dumb that it's hard to believe that even Bugg could be so stupid as to think that anybody animates zombies for the Day of the Dead. I suspect it's more likely that she just doesn't want a Latino celebration in her community for no good reason, so she concocted this idiotic objection.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Via Solis Scorpio Elixir Rite - Year Three

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Scorpio Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday October 29th, at Leaping Laughter Lodge, 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 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

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Occult Bitch Interview

Last night I chatted with Jaime over at The Occult Bitch about my Enochian books, Enochian magick, stuff I blog about here at Augoeides, and my take on magical practice in general. It was a fun conversation and you can have a listen here.

If you have questions after listening to the interview, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. Also, remember that comments are moderated here because of the ongoing spam infestation at blogger.com. So if your comment doesn't show up right away you don't need to post it again. I will get to it as soon as I can.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Templar Tunnels

Secret tunnels believed to have belonged to the Knights Templar were recently discovered beneath the city of Acre in Israel. A team of archeologists found the tunnels using LiDAR imaging, a laser-based scanning technique that allowed them to probe the ground below the city without digging the place up. The tunnels appear to have run from the harbor to the Templar's "treasure tower," allowing them to restock their supplies of gold without being attacked on the way there.

Archaeologists in the Israeli coastal city of Acre have discovered a network of hidden underground tunnels they believe belonged to the famed Catholic warrior monks. During the Crusades in the 11th, 12th and 13th century the Knights Templar fought on behalf of the Catholic church to try and claim the Holy Land from the Muslims. It is believed they may have used these tunnels to move gold around during the campaign.

Ever since the demise of the order in the 1300s, treasure hunters have looked for the mythical gold they may have left behind. A National Geographic documentary followed a team of archaeologists led by American explorer Dr Albert Lin as they used cutting edge technology to unearth the tunnels beneath Acre – one of the last known headquarters of the order.

‘I’m in Israel in search of the Knights Templar. These warrior monks are the stuff of legend, and so is their gold,’ Dr Lin said during the programme’s broadcast on Sunday. ‘During the Crusades the Knights Templar battle for God, gold and glory. Somewhere in the modern city of Acre lies their command centre, and possibly their treasure.’

Using a type of pulsed laser known as a Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) device, the team were able to scan beneath the ground without disturbing anything. The Nat Geo group’s work revealed not just tunnels, but also a guard house hidden beneath the modern city. They scanned the fortress footprint and recreated the Templar HQ with impressive 3D models. It showed how the Knights Templar moved the gold from the port to a ‘treasure tower’ without risking an attack.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Solar Uncrossing and Protection Ritual

I have had a few questions about uncrossing rituals lately, and my usual practice is to refer folks to Andreih Vitimus' St. Michael Uncrossing / Wall of Protection. This article includes two separate approaches which have been found effective by many practitioners. It's a really good ritual.

However, Andrieh's use of the ceremonial forms in "variant two" is a little bit different from the way I use ceremonial forms, so I rewrote it a bit into the version that I am presenting here for students interested in employing my ceremonial methods. It still calls on Michael, but also Nakhiel, the Intelligence of the Sun from Agrippa. I've added some of the standard Comselh Ananael forms as well, such as our refuge in the opening and dedication in the closing, and of course the operant field.

The other bit I've added is calling on Michael and Nakhiel to empower a talisman that will continue to work over time - in effect an "always on" uncrossing linked to the person targeted by the operation. The talisman should be of a solar nature - gold (or brass or copper as a substitute), topaz, chrysolith, sunstone, or something similar. So far I only have used this version of the ritual a few times, but as far as I can tell it works well.

The ritual should ideally be performed in the day and hour of the Sun for a single operation. Any day and time with a Sun chart victor is ideal as well, though keep in mind that Sun and Moon as chart victors are rarer than the other five ancient planets. It can be done as a seven-day or longer sequence as well, in which case it should be done during the hour of the Sun on each day. For the first rite in the sequence or a single operation, observe simple electional timing. The first rite starts the sequence and sets the tone for subsequent operations.

Now all that being said, sometimes you just need to get something like this done and you can't wait for the perfect time. Under situations like that, try to hit the hour of the Sun and go from there. There are several Sun hours every day, so one of them should work.

The altar should be set up as follows: Cover a small plate with salt. Sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon onto the salt. Table salt and regular cinnamon spice will work fine. Place the character of the Sun with the sigils of Michael and Nakhiel, drawn on paper, on top of that. You can use properly colored inks as per Liber 777 (orange, golden yellow, rich amber, amber rayed red) but orange marker or something similar will suffice.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Curse on Watchmen?

Famed graphic novelist Alan Moore is one of the few celebrities who is all the way "out" as a magical practitioner, and he's been publicly known as such for a long time. Moore is also famous for hating television and film adaptations of his work. He has his name taken off of all of them, as he believes television and film as mediums are so different from graphic novels that they can't possibly render the story even remotely accurately.

HBO is now coming out with a new series based on Moore's graphic novel Watchmen, and showrunner Damon Lindelof said in a recent interview that he is convinced Moore has gone so far as to curse the production.

HBO's adaptation of Watchmen has garnered its fair share of controversy, not least of all for the ongoing, decades-long feud between original writer Alan Moore and Warner Bros., parent company of DC Comics, over the rights to the characters and series. Showrunner and creator Damon Lindelof has now revealed that he fears Moore -- who is an outspoken practitioner of ritual magic -- has cursed him.

In an interview with Vulture, Lindelof said, [I]n all sincerity, I was absolutely convinced that there was a magical curse placed upon me by Alan [Moore]. I’m actually feeling the psychological effects of a curse, and I’m okay with it. It’s fair that he has placed a curse on me. The basis for this, my twisted logic, was that I heard that he had placed a curse on Zack [Snyder]’s [Watchmen] movie. There is some fundamental degree of hubris and narcissism in saying he even took the time to curse me. But I became increasingly convinced that it had, in fact, happened. So I was like, 'Well, at least I’m completely and totally miserable the entire time.' I should be!"

He added, "When Zack was making Watchmen — and I only know this because I watched the DVDs — I was like, “This guy is having the time of his life!” And I did not enjoy any of this. That’s the price that I paid. Psychological professionals would probably suggest that I emotionally created the curse as a way of creating balance for the immorality."

Saturday, October 19, 2019

But Isn't He Fighting the Illuminati?

In the dark depths of the Internet long-discredited conspiracy theories about President Donald Trump live on. According to the so-called QAnon conspiracy, also dubbed "The Storm," Trump is engaged in a battle against "Satanic Illuminati pedophiles" who populate the "deep state" - oh, and of course, the entire Democratic Party. QAnon predicted that the Mueller Investigation was a "false flag" that was only pretending to investigate the president, and that when the report was released basically every prominent Democratic Party member (and especially the Clintons) would be named in it and arrested en masse.

Then the report was released. Nothing that "QAnon" predicted happened. It's almost as if the whole thing were entirely made up - which in fact a couple of folks on Reddit actually copped to doing awhile back. And anybody who still believes in any aspect of this nonsense should take note that Trump recently appointed a self-proclaimed "Illuminati" who writes under the pen name "Magus Incognito" to a federal education board. Appointing Illuminati to prominent federal positions is a pretty funny way to fight them, don't you think?

President Donald Trump has appointed an author of self-styled “Illuminati” self-help and financial advice books to a position on a federal education board. The appointment of George Mentz ― who also writes under the pen name “Magus Incognito” ― to the Commission on Presidential Scholars was announced last Wednesday in a White House press release.

The group is tasked with selecting “presidential scholars” from across the country, an honorific reserved for 161 high school seniors who “demonstrate exceptional accomplishments in academics, the arts, career and technical education and an outstanding commitment to public service.”

Federal Election Commission filings show Mentz has given substantial sums to Republican causes and candidates, including more than $10,000 to Trump’s campaign and an associated political action committee.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Probably a Bad Idea

To be fair, I will grant that this promotional campaign is weird enough that it got me to post about it here on Augoeides. So maybe it's not a bad idea for all possible definitions of "bad." However, I do run into people from time to time who do magick even though they expect it not to work, and then are surprised or even shocked when it does. Spells are real and they can have real effects, and dismissing anything magical as an automatic joke can be problematic.

If your brand is called Liquid Death, why not hire a real-life Louisiana witch doctor to put a curse on your entire beverage inventory leading up to Halloween? That’s exactly what the Austrian spring water startup is doing with a campaign titled “Certified Cursed Liquid Death.”

In the campaign video, “practicing witch” Mystic Dylan is seen in a smoky warehouse preparing to cast an evil spell on cases of Liquid Death. “I call on the waters of Liquid Death and curse it with a witch’s breath,” he intones. “Curse this place, invade this product, invade those who would consume.”

Disclaimers at the end of the video warn that “Liquid Death is not responsible for what the demons do to you if you decide to consume it.” The video is running on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

According to company co-founder and CEO Mike Cessario, if you’re going up against the beverage Goliaths of the real world, weirdness helps. “As crazy as the name is, it just also made so much sense for what the product mission is: to kill your thirst and help bring death to plastic bottles,” Cessario tells Marketing Daily.

He believes there’s a “false assumption” the wellness demographic isn’t interested in weird, tongue-in-cheek entertainment.

And that's all fine and good for a laugh - if they're not working with a real magical practitioner casting a real curse. According to the article this is being billed as a real magical operation, and if it really is cursed I don't recommend drinking the stuff. Meanwhile, Cessario sounds like he either doesn't know the difference between a real magical operation and a joke or just doesn't care.

Now hopefully any magician hired to do a stunt like this would just show off for the cameras without actually casting a real curse, so odds are this is basically a big joke. Still, with the way the campaign is structured it's hard to tell - and I'll freely admit that's probably the point.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Osama Bin Laden Seashell

People who encounter pareidolia normally perceive religious images like Jesus or the Virgin Mary in patterns that crop up randomly on pieces of toast, sides of buildings, or really pretty much anywhere. But according to this article from the British tabloid Metro, a seashell collector in East Sussex came across a far more sinister image - the face of former al-Qaida leader and world-renowned terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Debra Oliver, 60, was on Winchelsea Beach, East Sussex with husband Martin, 62, to celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary. After discovering the shell on the floor she said that they ‘fell apart laughing’ and have kept it as a little memento. Debra, from Brentford, west London, also pointed out the irony of the situation. She said: ‘funny that – he was buried at sea too.'

She said: 'It’s not that often you find a seashell that looks like anyone at all, so finding Osama bin Laden was amazing. We’d all gone for a walk on the beach, which is covered in millions and millions of shells and pebbles. I was drawn to this curious-looking shell, and went to pick it up. When I looked at it properly up close, I thought it looked like Jesus. I then saw a turban on the top, and realised who was staring up at me in the palm of my hand – Osama bin Laden.’

In the image above Deborah shows off her find. I have to admit, the shell does a lot look like the face of a man with a beard wearing a turban. It's probably a random coincidence, given the sheer number of shell configurations that exist in the world at any one time. Still, at the very least it's good for a laugh, and after all, you never quite know for sure. Could the famed terrorist leader have some paranormal connection to the shell?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

What Passes for Prophecy

This article is about a year old, but I somehow missed it back then. It recently circulated in my social media feed and... wow. Just wow. Kat Kerr is a self-proclaimed evangelical prophet who took it upon herself to tell her followers what Heaven is really like. And... I think I just have to let the article detailing Kerr's claims speak for itself. They're pretty bizarre.

•Heaven has different seasons.
•Heaven has a surf park with 80-foot waves (but don’t worry; you’ll be safe).
•Heaven has horses to ride.
•Each floor of Heaven has a different aroma.
•In Spring, the “trees sing, the flowers will dance with you, even the rocks cry out and worship Him.”
•Heaven has “flowercopters” to carry people into the air.
•Heaven has cows that drive tractors.
•In Heaven, kids take art classes taught by rabbits. Giant rabbits. Giant multi-colored rabbits. Who help the kids paint the eggs with “liquid light” so they can draw Minions on them. And inside the eggs are baby chicks or rabbits. Somehow.
•The kids sit on mushrooms that rise up into the air.
•The Easter traditions were invented in Heaven.
•There’s a city in Heaven made out of Jell-O where you can “eat the mailboxes.” Kids love it.
•Heaven has a roller coaster where you leap through the air and go under the sea.

More than anything else, this sounds like Kerr is smoking something that most evangelical Christians disapprove of. If Kerr is right - well, I'll put it this way. I went to Disney World once as a child and once as a teenager. When I was older, I thought some of the technology at Epcot was cool but the kiddie stuff was mostly boring. If Heaven is a giant Disney World with amusement park rides, teaching rabbits, driving cows, and Jell-O cities, I have to say that I have no desire to go there, in the afterlife or at any other time.

If Hell is the opposite of this - you know, cows that don't drive tractors, rabbits that don't teach art, and buildings that you're not expected to eat - it sounds a lot better to me than the messed-up acid trip Kerr describes. If Hell is eternal torment and Heaven is basically the above, I would suggest that we have to face the possibility that God might very well be more like the Gnostic demiurge than most of us would like to admit. Kerr's Heaven and the traditional notion of Hell pretty much consist of different qualities of awfulness, and as I see it only an evil God would force us to choose one or the other.

Or maybe Kerr's lifelong dream is been to reside at a messed-up amusement park where hallucinogens are widely available. Maybe that really is her own personal Heaven. But if so, I find it hard to take her judgement on anything else very seriously.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Losing the Mandate of Heaven

The last of couple of weeks have been extremely busy for me, and one of the things that surprises me is how quickly the issues surrounding the impending impeachment resolution vote against Donald Trump have been proceeding. This after what felt like a slow-walk of epic proportions over the summer. It's no secret that I'm a political lefty and personally can't stand Trump, so I'll leave the politics to others to debate. What I'm finding remarkable at this point is that some of the president's allies that I never expected to turn on him are, well, starting to turn on him - folks like evangelical heavyweight Pat Robertson.

On Monday, the Christian Broadcasting Network founder and “700 Club” host delivered an uncharacteristically strong rebuke of the White House’s announcement that it will stand by as Turkey prepares to invade northern Syria, leaving the American-allied Kurdish forces vulnerable to attack.

Slamming the decision, Robertson said he is “absolutely appalled that the United States is going to betray” the fighters, who have partnered with the Syrian Democratic Forces in the battle against the self-described Islamic State. Continuing, Robertson invoked the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in Turkey allegedly at the behest of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“The President, who allowed Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said. “And I believe ― and I want to say this with great solemnity ― the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.”

As I see it, the whole idea that Trump held "the mandate of heaven" in the first place is pretty silly. What's basically being alluded to here might as well be "the mandate of Pat Robertson." I will say, though, that it feels like something around Trump has shifted, as if the "rare Pepes" and 4chan sigils have finally worn off. Maybe the "binding spells" got through at last. Maybe somebody out there cooked up something a lot nastier and cast it in secret. Or maybe there's nothing paranormal to it at all, and Republicans are just getting the point where a significant number of them have had enough.

Whatever the case, I personally am entirely in favor of Trump's "mandate of heaven," whatever it really is, falling by the wayside. It never made sense to me anyway that up to this point Trump somehow has had more support among evangelical Christians than George W. Bush did - when Bush was basically one of them and Trump is, well, Trump. That means for once in my life, believe it or not, I actually hope Pat Robertson is right.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Nearby Black Hole?

About a week ago Salon put up an article suggesting the possibility that the hypothetical "planet nine" might be a small black hole. Small is relative here - planet nine is estimated to be between 5 and 15 times the mass of Earth based on gravitational anomalies measured by astronomers. But the size is also such that scientists believe said black hole would not be large enough to have formed from the usual process of stellar collapse. It must instead be a "primordial black hole" formed during the early days of our universe, an object that so far is only theoretical.

Now, a new scientific paper explores a very different theory: what if Planet 9 were not a planet at all, but rather a primordial black hole — a hypothetical type of small black hole that formed soon after the Big Bang, in the early Universe, as a result of density fluctuations. Such a novel idea might explain why powerful telescopes have never detected so much as a flicker from the theoretical distant, massive planet. Likewise, black holes do not emit visible light at all; rather, they absorb all photons that pass their event horizon, while occasionally emitting energy in the form of (theorized but never directly observed) Hawking Radiation.

In the paper, astronomers Jakub Scholtz of Durham University and James Unwin of University of Illinois at Chicago theorize that the elusive Planet 9 could be an old, very small black hole. "Capture of a free-floating planet is a leading explanation for the origin of Planet Nine, and we show that the probability of capturing a PBH [Primordial Black Hole] instead is comparable," the astronomers write in the paper. The two scientists reached this hypothesis in a novel way, by observing that two different phenomena could be related: first, the observation of peculiar orbits of trans-Neptunian objects (meaning bodies orbiting our sun beyond Neptune), which might be explained by the presence of a distant planet with 5 to 15 times Earth's mass; and second, the number of "microlensing events," meaning telescope images that had been distorted by gravitational lensing of the kind caused by black holes or other massive, compact objects.

"There is a growing body of observational anomalies connected to the orbits of trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs)," the paper states. "These observations have been taken as evidence of a new ninth planet in our solar system, called Planet 9, with mass of [about] 5 − 15 [Earth masses] and orbiting around the Sun at a distance of 300−1000" times the Earth to Sun distance. Second, there is set of gravitational anomalies recently observed by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE)," they continue. "The lensing objects are located towards the galactic bulge, roughly 8 [kiloparsecs] away. These events correspond to lensing by objects of mass [of about] 0.5 [Earth masses] to 20 [Earth masses] and could be interpreted as an unexpected population of free floating planets or Primordial Black Holes."