Thursday, February 27, 2020

RIP Mike Hughes

Back in 2018, I covered the exploits of homebrew rocketeer and flat-earth enthusiast Mike Hughes. Hughes was a daredevil who went by the moniker "Mad Mike Hughes," and despite my article covering a well-publicized launch failure, he did have some success flying homemade steam-powered rockets. And yes, that's as dangerous as it sounds. This last week Hughes was killed in - no surprise - a rocket crash.

Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes died Saturday, February 22 after his homemade rocket crashed into the ground outside of Barstow, California. Hughes launched himself inside the steam-powered rocket in hopes that he might sail high enough into the atmosphere to prove that the Earth is flat. He was 64.

Seconds after launch, a parachute can be seen fluttering away from the speeding rocket, which quickly turned back toward Earth. “When the rocket was nosediving and he didn't release the three other parachutes he had in the rocket, lots of people screamed out and started wailing,” Chapman told BuzzFeed News. “Everyone was stunned when he crashed and didn't know what to do.”

Hughes aimed to reach the Kármán Line, where Earth's atmosphere and outer space meet, 62 miles above the ground. From there, Hughes claimed he'd be able to tell whether the Earth is a flat disk (as he suspected) or a sphere. The steam-driven rocket included three heaters that would produce enough steam to thrust the stuntman at least 5,000 feet into the air. He hoped to reach top speeds of up to 425 miles per hour.

As I pointed out in my previous article, 5000 feet is not that much if you are trying to get into space. It's about 1/62nd of the 62 miles that you need to cover. Steam is a poor fuel for a rocket, which is why NASA doesn't use it. His last flight of 1900 feet was not even as high as the top floor of the Burj Khalifa, which clocks in at over 2700 feet.

So how Hughes planned to get high enough to see whether the Earth was flat is a real mystery. Some have speculated that the whole flat-earth thing was a ruse to get flat-earthers to fund him building and flying around in rockets - which admittedly is pretty darn cool until one of them crashes.

What I will say for Hughes is that nobody can argue that he didn't die doing what he loved. Rest in peace, "Mad Mike."

Monday, February 24, 2020

Via Solis Pisces Elixir Rite - Year Three

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Pisces Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday February 25th, 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 Pisces. The sign Pisces is attributed to the powers of "Bewitchment" and "Casting Illusions." So this is the power that you would call upon to cast classic magical operations such as "glamours" and the like. Spells that act directly on your own mind or those of others would also qualify. And, since magical powers are descriptive, not prescriptive, this can be scaled up to include all sorts of contemporary issues in our society. 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, February 21, 2020

Modeling Magick and Remote Viewing

Any time you want to do parapsychology research, skeptics do their best to make you jump through all sorts of hoops. To be clear, real skepticism is important to any scientific endeavor. However, capital-S Skeptics take that a whole lot further. Thanks to their influence, most psychic research that sees the light of day is focused on "proving" whether psychic abilities exist at all, over and over again. Government agencies like the CIA don't bother with that sort of thing. When they find something that works, they exploit it for all it's worth.

The CIA ran a "remote viewing" program up until it was shut down in 1995. Basically, they trained people to function as psychic spies and developed a protocol that helped many people develop what is essentially a form of clairvoyance. They called this method Coordinate Remote Viewing or CRV. And they compiled plenty of evidence that it worked, as revealed in declassified documents from the program. The big question is how, which so far has not been worked out. This is also the big question surrounding magick and paranormal abilities.

According to a CIA document declassified on 08/07/2000 titled “Coordinate Remote Viewing (CRV) Technology 1981–1983,” submitted to the organization August 4 of 1983, coordinate remote viewing “utilized through the methodologies that have been developed…works with remarkable precision,” but the individuals who submitted it admitted that they were “unable to explain in conventional terms why it is that the co-ordinate serves as a stimulus in the manner it does.” Nevertheless, they were convinced that David Bohm’s model of quantum mechanics provided a potentially plausible explanatory hypothesis for the mechanisms that make it possible.

David Bohm was a controversial yet brilliant luminary in physics who argued that the entirety of the cosmos is populated with quantum black holes that lead from the “explicate order” of spacetime to a realm that transcends space and time which he referred to as the “implicate order.” These black holes were termed “holospheres,” and hypothesized as the mechanism which connects the implicate order to the explicate order. From the perspective of the remote viewer, it is possible that the signal line we acquire is mediated by these holospheres, which connects us with an implicate order that is conceptually more or less identical to the Eastern concept of “Akasha” or the “Akashic records,” as articulated in the work of writers such as Swami Vivekananda. The explicate order in which we ordinarily live and move and have our being is “unfolded” from this implicate order and houses the world of ordinary objects and consciousness, which includes what remote viewers known as the liminal, subliminal and subconscious orders.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Satanists Did It!

As you can probably guess, I happen to think that the last thing we need in politics is more Christians. Or, more to the point, more Poor Oppressed Christians who believe that passing laws based on their religious beliefs is a good and noble goal. A group made up of Christian lawmakers (who obviously disagree with me) recently put up a Twitter poll asking if America would be better off if more Christians served in elected office. It did not turn out as expected, which maybe means that there's hope for our country yet.

After more than 16,000 replies, the answer was an overwhelming “no,” which received 95.8% of the vote. In response, the group accused “atheists and Satanists” of “religious persecution” for voting in the poll. Congress is overwhelmingly Christian, far out of proportion with the people they represent. According to a Pew survey last year, the Senate and House are nearly 90% Christian, compared with 65% of America as a whole.

First off, why should atheists and Satanists not get a vote? They're citizens of this country too. How is expressing an opionion "persecution?" And finally, why can't these folks accept that even a lot of mainstream Christians are sick of their nonsense? I'm willing to bet that a lot of Christians who don't consider themselves oppressed by the mere existence of dissenting opinions voted "No" in that poll.

One in four Americans now considers themselves atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” a position publicly held by just one member of the current Congress, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who lists her religion as “none.” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) describes himself as a humanist, while a handful of others haven’t acknowledged a faith or lack thereof.

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers was started last year by Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert (R), who warned about the rise of witches in a recruitment email. It’s not clear how many members the group has, but its board of advisers includes a number of current and former elected officials, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Always Pay Me First

I have to say, as much as I try not to make fun of other folks' religious beliefs, I never get tired of mocking Paula White. Donald Trump's "spiritual advisor" is a Prosperity Gospel preacher who is considered extreme even by other Prosperity Gospel preachers. Although I don't necessarily have a problem with Christianity, I have no problem whatsoever pointing out the obvious - Prosperity Gospel is basically a scam. The idea that God will reward you for sending these preachers money with a lot more money is more like a pyramid scheme than a system of spirituality, and just like a pyramid scheme, the person getting rich is the one at the top. Here's yet another example of White's ridiculousness.

Prosperity gospel minister Paula White is apparently encouraging her followers to live in the dark if necessary to keep the lights on at her church. According to a report by Mother Jones, White, who serves as Trump’s “spiritual adviser,” told followers at her Supernatural Ministry School in Miami that they could earn God’s appreciation by sending her church as much money as possible — even if that meant they weren’t able to pay their electric bills.

White specifically told her followers that if they pay their Florida Power and Light (FPL) electric bill every month in lieu of giving it to her church, then they are treating the electric company better than they are God. “Instead of writing that check to the house of God as I’m instructed to, then what I’m saying spiritually is, ‘FPL, I have now established a spiritual law that put you first,” White told her congregants. “So FPL, save my family, FPL, deliver my drug-addicted son, FPL, kill this cancer that doctors say is in my body.”

The funny thing is, this is absolutely not what people who pay their electric bill before donating to Paula White's church are doing. They are treating their electric company better than they are treating Paula White. Obviously, this heresy cannot stand. More seriously, though, this attitude is the same reason that faith healing is dangerous.

If someone is severely ill and receiving proper medical care, there's nothing wrong with praying for their recovery. When my friends are in the hospital I do healing spells for them too. But if I were to tell them that seeking medical care shows a "lack of faith" that will prevent whatever deity I follow from healing them, I'm committing magical malpractice. Magical and/or spiritual healing should complement conventional medical care, not replace it. The deal is that as with anything else, you take all the non-magical actions you can to make your recovery as likely as possible. Then you use a spell to close the probability gap and "seal the deal."

In the Paula White example, having electricity means that you can heat and cool your home, and do what you need to do to get ready for work where you earn money. Those things are important. You have to make money to be able to donate money. But Prosperity Gospel preachers invert that whole relationship solely to enrich themselves at the expense of their less fortunate followers - who are remain less fortunate than they otherwise might be because they are donating all their money hoping for a payoff that probably will never come.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Power of Luck

Why practice magick at all? Some of us, like me, have been fascinated by it from a young age. For most people, though, it remains a niche interest that they just find weird - if they even understand what it is.

The truth is that there's a really compelling reason to practice that has to do with the power and influence of luck in our society and for that matter the rest of the world. Vox has an article up that talks about just how pervasive luck really is, and how much it has to do with how our lives really turn out.

These recent controversies reminded me of the fuss around a book that came out a few years ago: Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, by economist Robert Frank. (Vox’s Sean Illing interviewed Frank in 2016.)

It argued that luck plays a large role in every human success and failure, which ought to be a rather banal and uncontroversial point, but the reaction of many commentators was gobsmacked outrage. On Fox Business, Stuart Varney sputtered at Frank: “Do you know how insulting that was, when I read that?”

It’s not difficult to see why many people take offense when reminded of their luck, especially those who have received the most. Allowing for luck can dent our self-conception. It can diminish our sense of control. It opens up all kinds of uncomfortable questions about obligations to other, less fortunate people.

Nonetheless, this is a battle that cannot be bypassed. There can be no ceasefire. Individually, coming to terms with luck is the secular equivalent of religious awakening, the first step in building any coherent universalist moral perspective. Socially, acknowledging the role of luck lays a moral foundation for humane economic, housing, and carceral policy.

Building a more compassionate society means reminding ourselves of luck, and of the gratitude and obligations it entails, against inevitable resistance.

Read the whole article - it's quite good, and makes a point that a lot of people, particularly those who happen to be conventionally successful, don't like to admit.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Thoughts on Tarot Divination

I was asked (a while ago now) if I could put up a post on how I do divination. Looking back through my posts I haven't really said much about it even though, at least in my opinion, I use it pretty effectively. Now I also will say that a lot of the time when I'm looking for information I tend to call up spirits and ask questions directly. But one thing that I have found over the years is that unless you are communicating with an entity that is closely related to time, spirits don't actually see the future much better than we do. They also don't always have the best handle on the material consequences of interacting with the physical world, which is why you should always use limitations in your charges that rule out undesirable paths of manifestation for your injunction.

Since you can't ask a spirit something like what the overall outcome of an operation will be from your perspective, divination is the tool that you use to fill that gap. I pretty much exclusively use Tarot for divination, and I'm a Thelemite so I use Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot - no surprise there. What I like about the Thoth is that it lines up better with Crowley's Naples Arrangement of the Tree of Life, and also that it incorporates some specifically Thelemic concepts that I find highly meaningful in terms of my personal spiritual beliefs. I also really like Frieda Harris' art-deco-style drawings, basically because according to my personal aesthetic they just look cool.

And that whole looking cool thing is important. If you don't think the Tarot deck you're using looks cool, it probably won't work very well for you. That's because the Tarot is a tool that primarily makes use of your own psychic abilities to foretell the future and/or the real-world outcome of magical operations. As a human being, one advantage your consciousness has over that of a spirit is that it's more attuned to the physical world in general. This gives you a totally different perspective on the universe than anything you could conjure up, and generally that is the perspective from which you will get the best view of unfolding material events.

As an aside, if you want a good beginner reference for learning the Thoth Tarot, the best book out there is Lon DuQuette's Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot. Crowley's The Book of Thoth itself is one of the most comprehensive books on the Tarot ever written, but it's not really a beginner-level text.

At any rate, since you are more acquainted with the nature of your own consciousness than any spirit is likely to be, operating from your own perspective is also useful in the context of mystical operations. Contrary to what some magicians have told me, I know from personal experience that spirits - especially the more powerful and intelligent ones - can read your mind. But they usually don't really understand your mind. My its very nature, the consciousness of a flesh-and-blood creature is always going be at least somewhat alien to a disembodied entity - and in a lot of cases, very alien. This is why in many cases you have to be literal with spirits. They can read surface thoughts, but not necessarily the context or the full intent behind them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Cultists" at the Cafe

The always-sensationalistic Daily Mail has an article up today about a woman named Anya Driscoll who went to use the toilet at a vegan cafe in south London and encountered a meeting of "Satanic cult members" on the way. The alleged cultists were, horror of horrors, eating brunch. But Driscoll knew they were cultists because they were wearing robes and a couple of them had ceremonial daggers.

Anya Driscoll, who works as a copywriter, was dining with her brother at the Bonnington Cafe in Vauxhall on Saturday when she ventured to the toilet and came across the meeting of 20 people in floor-length black robes with ceremonial daggers eating pork pies.

After taking to Twitter to share her story, she discovered it was likely a meeting of Order of Oriental Templars, or OTO - a group which was brought to Britain in the early 20th century by infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, who was widely believed to be a satanist, and was dubbed 'the wickedest man in the world'.

Anya told how she was enjoying her mid-morning meal when her brother went to the toilet and came back urging her to find the bathroom. 'He won't tell me what's up, so - suspecting I'm going to look at some really bad art about veganism - I go,' she wrote.

'I was so wrong. I step through a signposted door that takes me into the terraced building next door. The toilet is apparently on the third floor... It feels I'm walking up the stairs in a private home. At the top of the first flight of stairs is a landing room.

'It appears to be a kitchen. On a table, a Classic British buffet of scotch eggs, breadsticks, cheese etc is laid out. The room is full. A party! Except... All the people - and there are at least 20 of them - are wearing floor-length black robes. Some have ceremonial daggers. They're making polite conversation and chomping on mini pork pies. It's like Eyes Wide Shut meets Keeping Up Appearances.'

Monday, February 10, 2020

Microcosmic and Macrocosmic Ceremonial Forms

A question came up over the weekend regarding the pentagram and hexagram as lineal figures and their relationship to microcosmic and macrocosmic aspects of magical work. The confusion surrounds my discussion of the pentagram as a microcosmic symbol and the hexagram as a macrocosmic symbol, and it was pointed out that surely there are macrocosmic aspects to the elements and microcosmic aspects to the planets and signs - even though elements are invoked with the Greater Ritual of the Pentagram and planets and signs are invoked with the Greater Ritual of the Hexagram.

As I've pointed out in a number of other places, the so-called "Lesser" rituals of the pentagram and hexagram do entirely different things than the so-called "Greater" rituals. A Greater Ritual of the Pentagram is NOT a "better" or "enhanced" Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Likewise, a Greater Ritual of the Hexagram is NOT a "better" or "enhanced" Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram. The "Greater" and "Lesser" rituals perform entirely different functions. "Lesser" really means "General" and "Greater" really means specific.

So the "Lesser" rituals are used to set up your magical field, the space in which you will be performing your magical operations. A "Greater" ritual is used once that field is set up to "tune it" to the specific quality that are working with. Then, once the proper environment is created by the space tuning, you either (A) use your own magical power to focus on your specific intent, (B) conjure a spirit to perform the desired function using conjuration/charge/license to depart, or (C) do both, which usually results in the largest probability shift.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

New Mothman Documentary

The Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia is one of the most famous cryptids in the United States. The creature was originally sighted around the time of the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967. The whole area around western West Virginia and eastern Kentucky has a whole lot of weird activity to this day, as touched on in the Hellier documentary series that I reviewed last month and many other places in the paranormal literature. A new documentary called The Mothman Legacy promises to recount more sightings and shed some light on the events surrounding the mysterious creature.

Per press release, "The final chapter in [Seth] Breedlove's Mothman trilogy, The Mothman Legacy will tell the story of dozens of sightings of a folk legend of dubious origin, who allegedly continues to be seen throughout the area today. With a dozen eyewitness interviews, the film promises to offer some of the most intense and terrifying encounters ever recorded.

"Many believe the Mothman to be a 1960's phenomenon, an omen only appearing before tragedy, and disappearing after a flap of sightings and the subsequent Silver Bridge collapse in 1967. But what if there's more? What if the origins of this omen trace back much further and go much deeper than anyone realized? And what if...the sightings never ended?

"The Mothman Legacy is directed by Seth Breedlove and produced by Adrienne Breedlove. Lyle Blackburn returns to narrate with cinematography by Zac Palmisano and an original score by Brandon Dalo. The Mothman Legacy is being funded through a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter which launches Thursday, February 6th. Rewards include copies of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, posters, t-shirts, and more."

This sounds fascinating, and I probably should watch the other two documentaries in the series to get up to speed before I check this one out. They are Eyes of the Mothman from 2011 and The Mothman of Point Pleasant from 2017. There have been a few non-paranormal explanations floated for the Mothman, such as sightings of large owls. But while those may explain some of the eyewitness reports, it doesn't really address all the other strangeness that surrounds the Mothman legend. Maybe this documentary will.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Trump Wizard's Easy Spell Succeeds

Here's one from the level one spell books, or maybe level zero. In the lead-up to Donald Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, "prophetess" Amanda Grace called on an "angelic army" to protect the president from being removed from office. That is, she conjured thousands (or more) of incredibly powerful celestial spirits in order to make sure something that was basically mathematically impossible didn't happen.

In a Wednesday night appearance on The MC Files, “prophetess” Amanda Grace told host Chris McDonald that she has called on God to unleash an “angelic army” featuring “warring angels with flaming swords” to protect President Donald Trump from the ongoing impeachment trial that’s currently taking place in the Senate, Right Wing Watch reports.

Jay Sekulow, the right-wing religious attorney who’s part of President Donald Trump’s legal team, was the first topic of discussion. Grace predicted he “will be a beacon of light on the hill, speaking with wisdom that only comes from Almighty God.”

“The den of lions will not touch him, for I have marked him and positioned him for such a time as this,” Grace claimed, speaking for God. “I will give him vision and I will expose to him what is being plotted behind closed doors. Revelation will come forth and he will emerge an incredible witness and mouthpiece for my glory. For I, the Lord, have already ruled in the courts, the gavel has dropped.

Later in the broadcast, she offered this prayer:

“We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Father God, your army, your angelic army, your warring angels with flaming swords be dispatched, Father God, to shred, destroy, and put down every plot, scheme, contract, assignment, hex, vex, spell, and attempt of the enemy against the president, against those with him, against those praying for him, and against your people. We ask that you send, Father God, the captain of the army of the Lord of Hosts to lead that team right now — that legal team of the president’s — to lead them to victory and to expose and shine your divine light on what is hidden.”

Thursday, February 6, 2020

"Prophet" Dave Daubenmire Suing NFL

Dave Daubenmire has been mentioned here on Augoeides before. He's one of those Christian talk radio personalities who claims to be a prophet and then spouts a bunch of nonsensical crap. Over the years he's covered weather terrorists, drinking fetus blood, and aborting babies for Satanic rituals. As you can probably guess, none of those things are true or real. Daubenmire's latest cause is suing the NFL because the Super Bowl halftime show was too sexy and therefore "endangered his immortal soul."

The halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, featuring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez dancing in daring outfits onstage, drew fury from right-wing Christians — as two middle-aged women of color showing skin is apparently more shameful to them than the president of the United States bragging about assaulting women.

But according to Right Wing Watch, one Christian activist, Dave Daubenmire, is taking things even further. On his “Pass the Salt” podcast, Daubenmire said that he plans to sue the National Football League because the halftime show threatens to prevent him “from getting into the kingdom of Heaven.” “I think we ought to sue,” said Daubenmire.

“Would that halftime show, would that have been rated PG? Were there any warnings that your 12-year-old son—whose hormones are just starting to operate – was there any warning that what he was going to see might cause him to get sexually excited?”

Well, signs point to "yes," because every year Christian activists complain that the halftime show is too racy. Everybody knew up front it was going to be female pop stars singing and dancing, and anybody who knows anything about such performances knows that they are going to be at least a little suggestive no matter what. So it seems to me that he totally should have known and not let the kid watch, if he really believes what he says.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Ireland Abolishes Blasphemy Laws

In a big win for religious freedom in Ireland, the nation has now formally abolished its "blasphemy laws." Humanist groups have been campaigning for the repeal for many years now, leading up to a referendum in 2018 to amend the Irish constitution to remove the relevant clause. The change has now gone into effect, and Ireland is blasphemy-law-free.

The change in law comes after the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in referendum in October 2018 to amend its constitution to remove a clause which punished so called “blasphemy”. It was agreed that the following clause would be removed from the Irish constitution: “blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”.

Atheist Ireland, a member of Humanists International, has spent more than a decade lobbying for repeal of the blasphemy law with the Irish Government and Department of Justice. Atheist Ireland report that the Irish President has recently signed the Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Bill 2019.

Humanists International coordinates the global campaign to repeal blasphemy laws. The Board of Humanists International made a direct appeal to the people of Ireland in May 2018 when it passed a resolution calling for a ‘yes vote’ to the proposed constitutional amendment. Also, in August 2018, the chief executive of Humanists International also urged the people of Ireland to scrap its “blasphemy” laws in a speech to the Humanist Association of Ireland in Carlingford.

Blasphemy laws aren't just an issue for atheists and other humanists. They can easily be exploited by fundamentalist religious groups to go after anyone who doesn't share their strict religious beliefs, whether their targets are believers or not. With the recent rise of the Christian Right in the United States, I can only imagine how much damage they could do if they had blasphemy laws at their disposal.

Congratulations to the people of Ireland, for protecting the rights of all people to practice - or not practice - their religious beliefs as they see fit.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

This Port Tastes Like Pee

This story is from a month ago, but it's still funny enough to post. A presenter on the BBC Antiques Roadshow television series sampled a bottle from the nineteenth century, believing it to be port. Unfortunately for him, analysis revealed the that bottle was in fact a "witch bottle" containing urine, brass pins, and other tokens intended to ward off evil.

Glass specialist Andy McConnell inspected a sealed bottle from the 19th century on the BBC show, and decided to sample its mystery contents in front of an expectant audience. Presenter Fiona Bruce had unfortunate news for Mr McConnell, telling him that expert analysis of the antique bottle’s “very brown” liquid revealed it to be an unwanted vintage.

The glassware antiquarian sipped the well-aged urine when valuing a bottle in Trelissick, Cornwall, for a 2016 programme, after the item was found buried under the threshold of a local man’s house. Mr McConnell used a syringe to transfer a sample from the bottle to a tumbler, and sipped at the mystery beverage.

“It’s very brown,” he told the audience at the time. “I think it’s port. It’s port or red wine, or it’s full of rusty old nails and that’s rust.” In a programme broadcast on Sunday, Fiona Bruce delivered bad news to the specialist, after experts at Loughborough University had analysed the contents of the bottle.

The idea behind a witch bottle is that it acts as a sort of "lightning rod" to attract curses and negative magick. The urine links the bottle to the caster so that a spell targeting them will hit the bottle instead, and the container itself and the sharp metal objects usually placed within contain and neutralize the spell, rendering it harmless.

After hundreds of years there probably isn't much magick left in the bottle, so the presenter will likely escape any negative effects from sampling the bottle - you know, aside from drinking somebody's ancient pee.