Friday, August 30, 2019

That Teddy Bear is Totally Haunted

This article sounds exactly like the first act of a new horror movie. The movie I'm thinking of would be a little like the Chucky series of films, with the twist being that Chucky is a haunted, murderous teddy bear. The whole concept manages to be ridiculous, but at the same time pretty creepy. Here's the story.

Marie and Steve Wesson, owners of Nottingham's Haunted Museum, discovered the venue's only metal door under a layer of plasterboard when they acquired the old Mapperley picturehouse last year. It was sealed shut in an emergency exit chute with plugs and electrics fitted over it, and sinister rumours circulated about its past.

Marie and Steve, scared of what they might find behind it, have left it locked for more than a year, Nottinghamshire Live reports. But on Thursday, along with a group of seven paranormal enthusiasts, they finally cracked it open. Inside, Marie claims they found a five-pointed pentagram star made from charcoal, a grubby old teddy bear and a collection of white candles burnt to their stubs.

It was a shock to the 44-year-old, who'd just expected to find a brick wall on the other side of the door. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing," says Marie, who recreated a ghostly groping for an American TV show. "We're paranormal investigators not satanists so were are going to have to get on it to find out as much as we can about it."

She's convinced however, that spooky things have already been going on. "During investigations [at the museum, recently ranked the 29th most haunted place in the UK by supernatural website], we've had voice recordings of someone saying 'don't open the door' and 'don't open the door' with a sinister laugh after.

This is so much like a movie, in fact, I have to wonder if it might some sort of setup to generate publicity. But let's say that it isn't, just for the sake of argument and because it makes the whole thing a lot more potentially interesting.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Kim Davis is Being Sued

It couldn't have happened to a more annoying person. Kim Davis, the former county clerk famous for refusing to sign paperwork for same-sex marriages, is being sued. Back before she was voted out, Davis argued that signing civil paperwork for same-sex marriages somehow violated her religious beliefs - even though she was talking about civil, not religious, paperwork that was officially part of her job. Then she engaged in bunch of other obnoxious behavior - suing the state when she was told she had to do her job, insisting that nobody else in her office sign off on the paperwork, and surreptitiously arranging a brief meeting with Pope Francis after which she claimed he supported her position (he didn't).

Davis faces lawsuits from David Ermold, David Moore, Will Smith and James Yates, a pair of same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses during her tenure as Rowan County Clerk. She cited her sincerely held religious beliefs as a reason for refusing to grant the licenses.

Mat Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel, which previously represented Davis, told Reuters that "at the end of the day, she will ultimately prevail. She had no hostility to anyone, given that she stopped issuing all marriage licenses. The broader issue is what accommodation a court should provide someone based on their religious beliefs. It’s a matter of time before such a case goes squarely before the Supreme Court."

Last year, Davis lost her re-election bid for Rowan County Clerk to a Democratic challenger, Elwood Caudill. Caudill successfully defeated Ermold in the party's primary, with Ermold later accusing Caudill of also being an anti-gay bigot. During the campaign, attention was drawn to a lawsuit Davis had filed against former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who she claimed violated her religious rights by compelling her to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky, acting through Governor Beshear, has deprived Davis of her religious-conscience rights guaranteed by the United States and Kentucky constitutions and laws, by insisting that Davis issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples contrary to her conscience, based on her sincerely held religious beliefs," Davis' lawsuit alleged.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Psychics in the Gig Economy

This article is from last month, but it is becoming more and more relevant as the discussion goes on about how the gig economy does not work well for many folks out there just trying to make ends meet. Drivers in particular - both for taxi services and food delivery services - complain that the companies exploit independent contractor exceptions, appropriate tips, and so forth. Workers that do appear to be doing well, though, are app-based psychics who offer services such as Tarot readings.

Calley Nelson has been reading tarot cards for over 10 years. She never expected to go into business when she was younger, fortune-telling just “kind of happened.” Today, it is her full-time job. “I mostly read at parties and special events, but I also have a private practice in Brooklyn where people meet with me either in my home office, over the phone or video chat,” Nelson told Salon. Some clients she finds through Gig Salad and Gigmasters, which are apps for entertainers for parties and events.

“My business started unofficially through word of mouth after I graduated college,” she said. “I started reading professionally at a popular Chicago dive bar in the Boystown neighborhood.” She said people kept asking her where they could find her online, but she didn’t have a website yet. So she made an Instagram. At the time, she was working two jobs: one as a bar back, and the other as a web editor at a healthcare company. “I was apprehensive about putting tarot on my professional editorial website at first so I kept the nightlife version of me separate from my day job,” she explained.

A friend recommended that she look into Gig Salad and Gigmasters, which staffs entertainment at parties and special events. Vendors can book the talent through the sites, a similar model to TaskRabbit. Nelson said she thinks apps can help “elevate spiritual businesses.” For her, she estimates half of her business is coming through apps. Nelson said Gigmasters and Gig Salad have membership fees around $200 for the year. Gig Salad takes a cut depending on your membership. For Nelson, that is a little less than 10 percent. Gigmasters, she said, takes $20 from each event she books. Nelson charges $120 for a 60-minute reading.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Aleister Crowley's Wardrobe

Years ago a document billing itself as "The Thelemite Test" was being circulated online. One of the questions, for which you presumably got a point towards your "real Thelemite" status, was "Would you purchase a collection of Aleister Crowley's laundry lists?" The idea being, of course, that you gained points as a Thelemite for being willing to purchase anything, no matter how trivial, connected with The Great Beast himself.

According to this article, Crowley's laundry lists may remain lost but what he actually put his laundry into might not be. The article recounts the tale of a "spooky haunted wardrobe" that might have once belonged to Crowley. Unsurprisingly, the wardrobe allegedly has had something to do with various paranormal phenomena over the years.

The ornately carved cupboard has a large satanic head carving on the front in the style of furniture carved by Crowley, who called himself 'The Great Beast 666', lived in Torbay at two periods of his life and made heavily carved furniture. It was bought by a Winner Street shop in a house clearance but within weeks the shop owner was so spooked by spooky goings on that they put out a desperate appeal in the media for somebody to take it away.

The shop was trashed in the night and owner Linda Bell gradually became convinced the wardrobe was causing poltergeist activity, there were spinning chandeliers and the wardrobe doors would either refuse to be forced shut or would open by themselves when locked shut. It was so bad that Linda couldn't wait to find a buyer and shifted the ornate old cupboard from her shop, the curiously-named 'Olden Ewe' (near the Oldenburg pub).

This all happened shortly before Halloween in 2015. Eventually Linda managed to sell it at cost with no profit. Step forward new owners, Zena Corden and her daughter Tabitha Wright, who bought the piece and shipped it home to Derby where it went on display in their museum of the weird, Curiouser and Curiouser, in a listed building dating back hundreds of years.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Nicholas Cage and the Holy Grail

If you ever watched the movie National Treasure and found Nicholas Cage so believable as a historical treasure hunter that you thought he might have done it in real life, it turns out you were right. According to this article from Salon, the actor explained in an interview that he did in fact run around the world at one point hunting for the Holy Grail. And apparently, there wasn't even a single coconut involved.

“That was the time when I almost went on — you might call it a grail quest,” Cage said. “I started following mythology, and I was finding properties that aligned with that. It was almost like ‘National Treasure.’ Of course, that didn’t sustain.”

Cage continued by saying he became obsessed with figuring out the Holy Grail’s location. Asked by Marchese to clarify his “quest,” Cage explained, “You read a book, and in it there’s a reference to another book, and then you buy that book, and then you attach the references. For me it was all about where was the grail? Was it here? Was it there? Is it at Glastonbury? Does it exist?”

The research led Cage to the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, where “legend had it that in that place was a grail chalice, or two cruets rather, one of blood and one of sweat.” Cage said the water tasted like blood, just as the story of Joseph of Arimathea says. Legend has it that Joseph hid the Holy Grail in the Chalice Well and thus the water would taste of Christ’s blood. Cage added, “I guess it’s really because there’s a lot of iron in the water.”

Cage’s trip to Glastonbury sparked buzz that his quest for the Holy Grail would have to go to Rhode Island, where the actor ended up buying property. “I don’t know if I’m going to say that’s why I bought the Rhode Island property. But I will say that is why I went to Rhode Island, and I happened to find the place beautiful,” he said. “But yes, this had put me on a search around different areas, mostly in England, but also some places in the States. What I ultimately found is: What is the Grail but Earth itself?”

So the Holy Grail is in Rhode Island? The Mormons must be thrilled. Yeah, I know he didn't actually say that in the interview, but he's a famous Hollywood actor with tons of money and the ability to travel pretty much anywhere, and Rhode Island is where he stopped looking. In true conspiracy-theory fashion, I'll ask the question - do you think that him stopping there was a coincidence? He also bought a piece of property. Is that where the Grail resides today?

More seriously, though, I do find it kind of interesting that the whole tale sounds just like a Hollywood film. Famous actor embarks on a quest to travel the world in search of the Grail, but at the end of the movie he concludes that really, the Grail is everywhere because it's the Earth itself. That's almost a script treatment right there.

Monday, August 5, 2019


This last weekend I attended NOTOCON XII, the United States national convention of Ordo Templi Orientis. I am a member of the now rather small club of folks who have attended every single national convention starting in 1997, when the United States Grand Lodge came into existence and decided to hold a conference. That first conference was held in Akron, Ohio and was hosted by Black Sun Lodge. This last weekend's convention was held in downtown Cleveland, Ohio and was hosted by the same local body.

I'll happily report that I had a great time, as always, and came back with some new ideas to play around with in my ritual work and OTO activity. It's always a lot of fun meeting OTO members from all over the country, and seeing how US Grand Lodge has grown since its founding all those years ago. The Gnostic Mass held at the conference was probably the largest one ever held, with (I think) somewhere between 200 and 300 communicants. Yes, that took awhile, since everyone communicates individually in our Mass.

This time around I wasn't presenting anything. I did think about it - my Heptarchial Evocation presentation at the last convention in Orlando was well-received. But I wound up missing the deadline for presentations and decided not to scramble and send something in late. I will submit something for the next one, though, probably either a Great Table or Thirty Aires operation. My new Enochian book should certainly be out by then.

If you want to read the official version of my Heptarchial presentation, you can order a copy of For the Chance of Union: Proceedings of the Eleventh Biennial National Ordo Templi Orientis Conference right here. It's similar to what's posted here on the blog, but cleaned up and refined a bit for print publication.

I want to thank everyone who helped make the conference a big success, especially the members of Black Sun Lodge who hosting this amazing event. NOTOCON is always a blast for me, and this one was no exception.