Thursday, June 22, 2017

4 Years for "Pizzagate" Gunman

North Carolina man Edgar Welch has been sentenced to four years in prison for storming into the Coment Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. Welch was armed with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, and claimed he was there "to investigate" the so-called "Pizzagate conspiracy." According to the conspiracy popularized on conservative talk radio, Bill and Hillary Clinton were running a pedophile ring out of the imaginary basement of the restaurant (which doesn't have a real one). And yeah, the whole thing is just as stupid and ridiculous as it sounds. It apparently fooled Welch, though.

Welch said court to U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, “I wish there were a way that I could offer something other than an apology... I realize mere words can’t undo what happened...but I am sorry,” said Welch, wearing an orange prison suit and standing with his hands clasped behind his back. “I am sorry for anything I have caused,” Welch said.

In imposing the sentence, the judge said she was handing down a penalty she said was needed to uphold the rule of law against vigilante justice. “I hope you understand and see how much people have suffered because of what you did,” Jackson said going on to say “I am truly sorry you find yourself in the position you are in, because you do seem like a nice person who on your own mind was trying to do the right thing. But that does not excuse reckless conduct and the real damage that it caused.”

In a previous letter filed in court, Welch said he had not intended to “harm or frighten innocent lives, but I realize now just how foolish and reckless my decision was.” His attorney, assistant federal defender Dani Jahn, had said in court records that Welch “does not seek to minimize the impact his reckless and frightening actions had on those who encountered him. . . . Rather, Mr. Welch is hopeful that those victimized by his actions can forgive him.”

While I'm a parent and I can understand getting worked up about an alleged pedophile ring, I also have critical thinking skills. Point number one is that the physical details of the conspiracy don't make any sense. The building has no basement, and it would have to in order to accommodate the space required. There were also no suspicious people coming and going to and from the restaurant. Conspiracy supporters said they used secret tunnels to connect with the imaginary basement. You see where this is going.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Creationist Fan Fiction

Creationists don't spend all their time arguing with scientists about how the existence of the banana proves that God created the world in seven literal days. Lately some of them have been writing what can only be called Creationist fan fiction. A new novelization of the life of Noah is set in the bizarro world of Answers in Genesis, in which giants and dinosaurs roamed the Earth alongside humans a mere five thousand or so years ago.

The biblical Noah faces off against a giant and a dinosaur in a gladiator-like setting in a new novel that a creationist group is promoting.

Noah: Man of Resolve is the second book in a promised trilogy by Tim Chaffey and K. Marie Adams, and it’s available for sale from Answers in Genesis, which runs the Noah’s Ark attraction in Kentucky.

The group has claimed that Noah not only survived a global flood in his ark some 4,300 years ago, but did so with two of every creature aboard including at least some dinosaurs (which in reality died out some 65 million years ago).

The attraction shows dinosaurs living in cages aboard the ark, and features a diorama that shows a gladiator-style fight involving giants and dinosaurs.

The new book is a novelization of Noah’s life, and includes a scene where a giant holds him captive and in an arena, where he faces a dino-like “grendec.”

I'm all for creativity, and who knows? Maybe Noah: Man of Resolve is actually a well-written, compelling story that's fun to read. The point is that it's a story. It's not real history. Every piece of scientific evidence we have says that the strict Ussher Chronology favored by Answers in Genesis can't possibly be correct. In fact, it's not even scripturally accurate without a bunch of the same goofy interpretations that the Creationists accuse modern Christians of relying upon.

And you know, there's probably even a movie in the works, and that movie might turn out to be fun. It probably will be awful from a technical perspective. But as a big B-movie fan, I can tell you that sometimes movies like that are the most fun. That's especially true when the awfulness is made with the kind of earnestness I see from the Answers in Genesis crowd, who I imagine would be utterly convinced they were doing God's work by filming a guy in a tunic fighting an obviously fake CGI dinosaur.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Hod

This article is Part Seven of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, Part Five can be found here, and Part Six can be found here.

Working with sephira Hod is the seventh step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the eighth sephira is attributed to Mercury, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of Splendour." This corresponds to the vision of Ezekiel found in the Bible. The word Hod means splendor or majesty, and in working with this sephira we expand upon the material foundation developed in our work with Malkuth, the Kingdom, and Yesod, the Foundation, further into the magical universe.

The sephira have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mass of Nuit and Babalon


"Babalon" by the amazing Kat Lunoe. Check out this and other works by her here.

So it's not Monday, but this is a magick post anyway. This is the full script for the Mass of Nuit and Babalon which we will be performing tomorrow at Leaping Laughter Oasis in Minneapolis. The ritual is scheduled for 3 PM. This is a public ritual, so if you live in the Twin Cities area and would like to attend you are welcome to do so.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with the Holy Table and Sigillum Dei Aemeth in the center. The banishing dagger, invoking wand, and bell chime are arranged on the Table. The chalice containing the Eucharist is placed in the center of the Sigillum. Holy images of Our Lady Nuit and Our Lady Babalon, including the Star of Babalon, may be prominently displayed. The Lust card from the Crowley/Harris Tarot can be used as a meditation focus, if desired.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Those Meddling Atheists!

Creationist Ken Ham recently put up a blog posts blaming atheists for the failure of his Ark Encounter attraction. More specifically, his Noah's Ark replica theme park has attracted a lot of visitors, but they don't appear to be spending any money in the surrounding area. Instead, it's all going to Ham and his organization.

In a recent blog post to his Answers in Genesis website, leading creationist Ken Ham laments the supposed power of atheists and the “secularist media,” complaining that they are damaging the reputation of his Ark Encounter, and the economy of the surrounding local businesses, writing:

"Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure.

Sadly, they (atheists and the secular media) are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking."

In other words, Ken Ham blames atheists for his trouble. Ham is refusing to take responsibility for his own failure, and refusing to take responsibility for his broken promises to the citizens and business community of Grant County, Kentucky.

Ham is desperate to counter the narrative that his Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are not delivering on the promises he made. He is particularly upset with a recent article from The Lexington Herald Leader that explores Ham’s failure to deliver on financial promises made to community members and local businesses.

In reality, this should have all been obvious from the start, atheists or no atheists. The tax incentive deal that Ark Encounter got was basically the same thing as the deals sports stadiums get from cities - and those are almost always a bad deal for everybody else in the community. The supposed "economic activity" never shows up, or when it does it's far less than initially promised.

I can only think of a handful of times in the last century where one of these deals has actually produced wealth for the local community. My home city of Minneapolis got reamed on one of these a few years back for the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, which is costing taxpayers a fortune to subsidize. My point is that this is a much bigger problem than the media making fun of Ham's Ark, and it has nothing to do with religion.

So no, Ken, it's not the atheist meanies keeping the "economic activity" away. It was never going to show up regardless.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Wow!" Signal a Comet?

It's one of the most famous stories in the search for extraterrestrial life. In 1977, astronomers working with a large radio telescope in Ohio recorded a mysterious signal from space. It fit all the criteria for a likely alien communication, and while it was brief, the transmission was extremely strong. It was dubbed the "Wow!" signal, after a notation on the data printout made by one of the astronomers. But over the years, the signal became less of a "Wow!" and more of a mystery.

Radio telescopes have scanned the same area of the sky for decades and recorded nothing even remotely similar, which doesn't exactly shout "aliens." At the same time, astronomers had yet to work out any natural phenomenon that could have produced the signal. So it became a staple of extraterrestrial conspiracy books and the like. But now, a Russian astronomy professor may finally have worked it out. According to a recent paper, the signal was generated by a particular comet.

The signal was so strong and focused that the professor on duty during its discovery, Jerry Ehman, saw the monster signal on the printout, circled it and wrote “Wow!”— thus bestowing upon the signal a name which has stuck. Since then, however, telescopes have aimed themselves at the Wow! signal’s origin and turned up nothing. But now a new scientific paper from St. Petersburg College astronomy professor Antonio Paris may have solved the four-decade mystery once and for all.

So what’s the likely culprit of the Wow! Signal? A comet.

The Center for Planetary Science, which Paris helps run, previously put forth the notion that a passing comet and its tailing cloud could be the possible source for the Wow! signal. Indeed, comet 266/P Christensen —which was not yet known to astronomers at the time that the Wow! signal was recorded— is predicted to have been in the same region in the sky in 1977 where the Wow! signal was recorded.

To test this hypothesis, the Center pointed a 10-meter radio telescope at comet 266/P Christensen and recorded the signal. Over 200 observations, they saw a signal appear at precisely the same frequency as the Wow! signal, which disappeared when moved even 1° away from the comet.The resulting paper, recently published in the Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, provides a compelling answer to the mystery of the Wow! signal.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Yesod

This article is Part Six of a series. Part One can be found here, Part Two can be found here, Part Three can be found here, Part Four can be found here, and Part Five can be found here.

Working with sephira Yesod is the sixth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the ninth sephira is attributed to the Moon, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of the Machinery of the Universe." The word Yesod means Foundation, and in working with this sephira we expand upon the material foundation developed in our work with Malkuth, the Kingdom, further into the magical universe.

The sephira have both microcosmic (psychological) and macrocosmic (physical) components, and as with practical magick, aligning those components is the key to experiencing effective illumination and visionary work. Hence, I use the operant field in these rites just like I do for practical workings. This allows you to integrate magical principles and forces into your life more quickly and effectively.

"Effective" is harder to define with rites of illumination than it is with practical magick. Practical magick is relatively simple to assess - you perform an operation with a specific objective, and then record whether it succeeds or fails. Effective visionary work should obtain information from the exterior world that you could not possible know by any other means, and effective illumination work should transform you in a positive way, increasing your degree of realization and in some real sense making you a "better person."

This process can be highly subjective, and failed initiatory operations often go unrecognized. I am of the opinion that a lot of the nonsense out there from certain allegedly "advanced" magical practitioners can be traced back to these sorts of initiatory failures, and this is a problem that has been acknowledged for a long time in the tradition. To avoid this, you always need to be skeptical about any apparent attainment.

Always test spirits. Always keep track of any changes you observe following illuminating and visionary experiences, and do your best to see if the changes you are seeing from your work are going in a positive direction. Stories of magicians "going insane" from failed operations are highly exaggerated - most often, nothing happens, and the danger lies in being convinced that something did happen and then acting from that perspective.