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).