Sunday, February 28, 2021

Magick Without Fears Interview

This last Thursday I sat down the Magick Without Fears podcast for an interview that covered a lot of material related to my magical work, Enochian and otherwise. I was trying to figure out how to do a direct link to it, but that's turned out to be more work than I expected so I'm just linking to the main page. You can click here or on the image to get to the site where you can listen to the interview. This was another fun conversation - it's always nice to connect with other practitioners and share notes, even virtually.


Friday, February 26, 2021

Behold the Golden Calf

I have a serious question for my regular readers. Does this feel like some sort of a joke to you? Because it sure does to me. I mean, if I were the sort of person who wanted to make fun of fundamentalist Christians (which I am) and had ample opportunity to get it done, a statue of Donald Trump seemingly deliberately created to resemble the "golden calf" of the Bible would be exactly the sort of Borat-style prank I would pull at CPAC. The joke would be to see if any of the fundamentalist Trump fans got the reference, and then make fun of them when they didn't. Which is exactly what's going on all over the Internet right now.

The Golden Calf is one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament. The Israelites, newly freed from Egyptian slavery, have a crisis of faith while God is speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai. They melt down the golden jewelry to construct a physical god — a statue in the shape of a calf — to worship in place of their abstract, invisible deity. It’s a story about the allure of idolatry, how easy it is to abandon one’s commitments to principle in favor of shiny, easy falsehoods.

This biblical tale trended on Twitter in the US Friday morning because of the following video, filmed on the first day of the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Someone involved in the conference constructed a golden statue — not of a calf, but of Trump — and wheeled it out to cheers from conference attendees. “That is so cool,” one of the onlookers says.

There are so many reasons why this is a perfect metaphor for the state of the GOP after the Trump presidency. The party sacrificed its commitment to political principles, including previously cherished ideals like free trade, on the altar of Trumpism. White evangelicals abandoned their alleged commitments to godliness in public servants and embraced a man accused of serial sexual assault who had an affair with a porn star and paid her hush money to cover it up. Conservatism, once seen as a high-minded intellectual tradition, became undeniably base and degraded in the Trump years.

Other indications that this might be some kind of Obvious Plant trolling is that it's not an even remotely dignified statue of Trump. He appears to be wearing a suit coat, dress shirt, and tie along with American flag boxers, red flip-flops, and no pants. Come on folks, this has to be a joke! Because it isn't, I'll be forced to admit that my opinion of Poor Oppressed Christians who follow Trump is actually too high. I hadn't previously considered that possible. So I'm waiting with my fingers crossed for the truth to come out.

Because if this is totally for real, and totally serious, and not intentionally designed to resemble the idol of the Bible as closely as possible, the level of stupidity just astounds me. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, it's really hard to astound me with stupidity.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Evangelical Leaders Condemn Christian Nationalism

Here's a welcome development. A group of evangelical Christian leaders has come out against "Christian nationalism," which they describe as "heresy." Wow. I have to say, I didn't see that coming. I mean, the whole concept is obviously heretical if you read the Bible and understand Christian theology and all that, but I'm not a Christian so when I say it, even over and over again, none of them listen to me. Hopefully they'll finally listen to members of their own religious leadership.

A coalition of evangelical Christian leaders is condemning the role of "radicalized Christian nationalism" in feeding the political extremism that led to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

In an open letter, more than 100 pastors, ministry and seminary leaders, and other prominent evangelicals express concern about the growing "radicalization" they're seeing, particularly among white evangelicals.

The letter notes that some members of the mob that stormed the Capitol carried Christian symbols and signs that read, "Jesus Saves," and that one of the rioters stood on the Senate rostrum and led a Christian prayer. The letter calls on other Christian leaders to take a public stand against racism, Christian nationalism, conspiracy theories and political extremism.

The letter reads, in part: "We recognize that evangelicalism, and white evangelicalism in particular, has been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism because of a long history of faith leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak out now because we do not want to be quiet accomplices in this on-going sin."

Christian nationalism has a special appeal to Poor Oppressed Christians, that minority of Christians who feel oppressed by the mere existence of anyone different. By claiming that the United States was founded as a "Christian Nation" (when it was really founded on the idea of religious freedom), they can justify their un-American (and really, un-Christian) eliminationist beliefs as part of their religion. But they're really not.

It's good to see evangelical leaders recognizing this and speaking out against it. Let's hope that a lot of these folks take heed and rein this nonsense in before more bad things happen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 23rd

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk with More on Gatekeeping. The donation link is here. The post I mention in the talk on "Blinds and Innovation" is here and my Path of Initiation articles can be found here.

I find the whole notion of gatekeeping in the esoteric world pretty silly. The whole notion of "occult authority" is fraught with pitfalls and always has been. Your best guide is to approach magick in as scientific a way as possible and let your results be your guide. Traditions have a place because they give you a starting point for your practices, but to really become good at magick you have to make it your own.

Gatekeeping is problematic because it can keep people from starting a magical practice until they fulfill whatever requirements the gatekeeper deems "worthy" or "good enough." But really, the requirements are just that you learn how to do the rituals and start practicing them. You're not likely to be a virtuoso right out of the gate, but hardly anybody is. And the way to get better is to practice as much as you can.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Exorcise Your Cat!

No, not exercise, exorcise. Today's article can't help but remind me of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters 2 pushing his no-budget paranormal TV show. "Next week on World of the Psychic, hairless pets. Weird." The joke, of course, being that there's nothing paranormal or psychic or ghostly or demonic or whatever about having an unusual-looking pet.

Now that joke would be even funnier if there weren't clueless people out there taking it way too seriously. The article concerns a cat named Pixel who is a Cornish Rex. Cornish Rexes are a breed with far less hair than regular house cats, and they're fairly rare so a lot of people aren't that familiar with them. Pixel's owner, Alyson Kalhagen, recently posted some photos of the cat online and got some pretty bizarre responses.

One such message was from an exorcist who told Kalhagen that a demon was using her pet as a 'puppet' and instructing her to keep Pixel caged and pray 'over and over' in front of him to get the demon out. 'I had a message from this person telling me that they were an 'exorcist' and Pixel had been 'taken over by a demon that was controlling his face'.

'I think he was trying to tell me that's why my cat is making all of these crazy faces,' Kalhagen said. 'In that photo he's got kind of a blank stare with his weird little grin on his face - like maybe the lights were on or no one was at home, or whoever was at home wasn't up to any good.

'All the time people say 'this is the creepiest cat I've ever seen', 'my sleep paralysis demon has come to life' and if they saw him in the middle of the night they'd have a heart attack and it would scare them to death.

'People say all the time that he's a 'demon cat' who 'must be possessed' and that the devil's taken control of him. It's kind of a recurring theme. I think it's pretty funny because I usually just say 'imagine coming face to face when you're trying to scoop the litter box'.'

Friday, February 19, 2021

Praxis Behind The Obscure Interview

Yesterday I sat down for an interview with the Praxis Behind The Obscure podcast and covered a bunch of stuff related to my Enochian work and magick in general, plus my current ideas about consciousness and scientific approaches to magick. It was a good talk - give it a listen.

Since I mention it on the podcast, I'm in the process of working with my publisher to get the final technical issues resolved with Mastering the Thirty Aires, which means it should be out soon now. I know I've said that before and I apologize for the delays getting it out, but the book is going to be worth the wait.


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 16th

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk, on Doing Magick Right. The donation link is here.

As a follow-up to last week's talk on Doing Magick Wrong, here's my take on Doing Magick Right. In this talk I explain what I have found to be "best practices" when approaching magick, especially as a beginner. A big part of that is ignoring wannabe gatekeepers trying to police your practice and doing what works for you.

To be clear, I'm not trying to come across that way myself either. If you have a practice that's working for you, keep it up - regardless of what I or anyone else tries to tell you. But if you're not sure where to start, I can recommend some good jumping-off points and basic rituals to get you on your way.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Ritual Night Talk for February 9th

Here is the video of yesterday's Ritual Night Talk, on Doing Magick Wrong. The donation link is here.

Lots of folks on the Internet will tell you that you're doing magick wrong, no matter what you're doing. From authors arguing over whose book is the right way to do it, to people pushing their own special secrets that only they can teach you, these sorts of argument - especially online - are to be avoided as a beginning practitioner. It's much more important to do the work than it is to worry about making minor mistakes.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

More Legal Trouble for Museum of the Bible

Whatever happened to "Thou Shalt Not Steal?" The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC is owned by the oh-so-Christian Green family of Hobby Lobby Craft Stores fame. It also has a serious antiquities theft problem going back many years involving stolen and illegally trafficked artifacts. In the latest chapter of this entirely un-Christian saga, the museum has been forced to return over five thousand Egyptian artifacts that were illegally smuggled into the United States.

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC has returned some 5,000 artifacts to the Egyptian government, after years of talks between agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. The objects have been held at the Museum since its opening in 2016. Egypt has been seeking repatriation of the objects, which it says were smuggled illegally out of the country, for just as long.

The objects include funerary masks; fragments of coffins; a set of portraits of the dead; heads of stone statues; manuscripts of Christian prayers written in both Arabic and Coptic, and just Arabic; and pieces of papyrus with text in Coptic and Greek, as well as hieratic and demotic script. The pieces will be displayed in Cairo’s Coptic Museum. According to Hisham Al Laithi, who heads the country’s antiquities registration center, the objects were not taken from Egyptian warehouses or museums. Instead they were smuggled after being illegally excavated.

The Museum has been plagued by issues of suspicious and incomplete provenance and has returned thousands of artifacts to Iraq and Egypt since opening in 2017. Founder and board chairman Steve Green is also the president of Hobby Lobby craft stores, and has a personal collection valued at $30 million, which he began amassing in 2009.

In 2015, the Green family was investigated for importing looted clay tablets from Israel, which were shipped in 2011 to Oklahoma City, where Hobby Lobby is headquartered, with plans to be displayed at the museum when it opened. The shipment was labeled as “tile samples.” Despite the fact that the museum maintained that clerical and paperwork errors were to blame, Hobby Lobby returned more than 5,000 artifacts smuggled from Iraq and paid a $3 million fine.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Werewolf Trials in France

One of my claims to being fame-adjacent is that I was in college with Mark Rein-Hagen, creator of the World of Darkness series of role-playing games including Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. The reason I bring this up is to point out that the World of Darkness was one of the first places in popular culture where the vampire and werewolf myths were combined into a single story. This trope has gone on to become a mainstay of modern paranormal fiction - vampires and werewolves are treated as part of a single unified myth, often as adversaries.

In real life, though, it should be pointed out that werewolves and vampires are separate myths and come from completely different parts of Europe. The vampire is myth is from Eastern Europe, which is why in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula is originally from Transylvania, a region in modern-day Romania. The werewolf myth is from Western Europe, particularly France. And I will say that I'm getting kind of sick of the whole "paranormal slush" genre that lumps vampires and werewolves together, and then brings in basically every other paranormal creature on the damn planet. It makes a good scenario for a role-playing game in which you want players to have a lot of options, but in terms of real-world mythology it's kind of a mess.

At any rate, I came across this article today about the Beast of Gévaudan and the "werewolf trials" that took place in sixteenth and early seventeeth-century France. I was familiar with the story of the Beast of Gévaudan from cryptozoology circles and also with a couple of the most famous werewolf trials, but I was quite surprised to find out just how many actually went on. You'd think that a "werewolf panic" would be even more implausible than the witch panics that happened in other parts of Europe. It's one thing to accuse someone of casting spells or "communing with the devil," which can't be proven by empirical means, but these trials purported to be about observable physical transformations - which either happen or don't.

As Dangerous Minds notes, the period between roughly 1520 and 1630 saw “France’s version of Europe’s witch trials and executions, but with werewolves. For 110 years, 30 thousand people were accused of being werewolves, tortured in exchange for their confessions, or lack of admission of guilt, and died at the stake.” The panic persisted long afterward. In the most famous case of wolf terror, La Bête du Gévaudan, or the Beast of Gévaudan, supposedly killed and partially ate over 100 people in the span of three years, beginning in 1764.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

QAnon Has Lost Its Shaman

This article is from a week ago, but with Donald Trump's second impeachment trial not yet underway, it's still relevant to current news events. After not receiving a pardon for storming the capitol on January 6th along with a violent MAGA mob, the (apparently now former) "Q-Shaman" has announced that he is willing to testify against the former president.

"QAnon Shaman" who was seen in pictures of the Capitol riot wearing horns and red, white, and blue face paint is willing to testify against former President Donald Trump — because he feels "betrayed" he didn't receive a pardon for what he thought was following Trump's orders. Jacob Chansley, of Arizona, is accused of breaking into the Senate chamber and leaving a threatening message for former Vice President Mike Pence — who became a target of the rioters' wrath due to his refusal to overturn the election certification using a fringe legal theory.

"Lawyer Albert Watkins said he hasn't spoken to any member in the Senate since announcing his offer to have Jacob Chansley testify at Trump's trial, which is scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 8. Watkins said it's important for senators to hear the voice of someone who was incited by Trump," said the report. "Watkins said his client was previously 'horrendously smitten' by Trump but now feels let down after Trump's refusal to grant Chansley and others who participated in the insurrection a pardon. 'He felt like he was betrayed by the president,' Watkins said."

One of these days I hope to be able to quit posting about all this QAnonsense, but it's important to keep it in perspective at the moment. The fact that people believe in it at all is ridiculous, and I should point out that "Q-Shaman" must not have believed it that much if he's now willing to excuse the child-torturing and adrenachrome-huffing that he was advocating against only weeks ago. Is he now suddenly okay with torturing children?

I mean, so much of this QAnon stuff isn't really happening, but it's a serious question. If he really believes it's a thing, or even really believed it was a thing, would he just give it up the minute he felt betrayed by his beloved president? I think - or at least hope - that on some level a lot of the people involved realize it's not happening and were just pushing the narrative because they thought it helped Trump, the focus of their obsessed personality cult.

Every movement has dead-enders, and I expect QAnon will be no exception. But if the whole thing really was mostly a cynical ploy to demonize liberals, at least it means a lot fewer people have completely lost their damn minds - even "Q-Shaman," who sure looks like he has in the footage from the insurrection.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Aquarius Elixir Rite for 2021

Here is the video of yesterday's Aquarius Elixir Rite. The donation link is here.

The sign Aquarius is attributed to the Star card in the Tarot, and is attributed to "Astrology" in Liber 777. In addition to ruling reading and interpreting astrological charts, Aquarius rules astrological forces in general and therefore has many practical applications related to aspects, transits, natal chart elements, and the like.


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Moral Panics, Old and New

Here's a blast from the past. Remember when religious prohibitionists tried to crack down on "backwards Satanic messages" in popular rock music? It happened decades ago, so if you don't recall or weren't even around back then, Ars Obscura has an in-depth article covering the moral panic over these alleged messages that peaked in the early 1980's. That may seem like ancient history, but the tale also holds some important lessons for today and for the current political situation.

On April 27, 1982, members of the California Assembly’s Consumer Protection and Toxics Committee gathered in Sacramento to hear Robert Plant endorse Satan. This was not a straightforward testimonial. For one thing, the Led Zeppelin frontman wasn’t actually in attendance. Also, his pro-devil paeans could only be heard when you played “Stairway to Heaven” backwards.

After circulating pamphlets with the “backward masked” declarations spelled out, that’s precisely what Assemblyman Phillip Wyman and panel witness William H. Yarroll II did. The relevant portion of the eight-minute classic was first played forward for committee members and then reversed. Here’s what Wyman claimed could be heard:

“I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off. There’s no escaping it. Here’s to my sweet Satan.” Yarroll, who identified himself as a “neuroscientist,” noted that a teenager need only listen to “Stairway to Heaven” three times before these backward messages were “stored as truth.”

One of the biggest problems religious prohibitionists face is that many religious prohibitions exist only for religious reasons and cause no real harm to anyone in society at large. As an early-eighties teenager who enjoyed both classic and progressive rock, it made no difference to me whether someone who belonged to an evangelical church believed that such music was sinful and therefore chose not to listen to it. Logically it should go the other way - I listen to the music I like, they listen to the music they find acceptable. We're done, right?

Monday, February 1, 2021

Via Solis Aquarius Elixir Rite - Year Four (Streaming)

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Aquarius Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, February 2nd. Like the latest elixir rites, it will be streamed on Facebook Live at the Leaping Laughter OTO page. The page can be found here. I will be starting around 8 PM CDT, but barring any technical difficulties I will archive the video after the ritual so you can view it whenever you have time if you miss it live.

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 Aquarius. The sign Aquarius is attributed to the power of "Astrology." This includes both learning about astrology and astrological methods, and working directly with specific astrological forces, aspects, and the like. As such, this is a general power with many possible practical applications. 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.