Monday, September 25, 2017

Seb-Hed Ritual

Today's Magick Monday post is the full script for the Seb-Hed Ritual that we perform every year for the Autumnal Equinox. For the last several years we have been performing this ritual at Leaping Laughter Oasis here in Minneapolis. Before that, we performed it as a private ritual for our magical working group. The Seb-Hed is based on a rite of renewal practiced for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, updated with modern ritual forms and so forth. It invokes the balanced energies of Set and Horus, who in ancient times represented Upper and Lower Egypt. Note that I am not the author of this rite - it was written by another member of our magical working group who may identify himself if he wishes. I have made a few small modifications to it over the years, the largest being the Offering section. I added that when I revised all of the Via Solis rituals to include an offering component. We performed this ritual on Saturday, and the end of the world did not come to pass. Coincidence?

0. The Temple

The Set altar is in the North, and Horus altar is in the South. The material basis is placed on each altar; red wine or juice for Set, white wine or juice for Horus. A statue of each deity is placed on the corresponding altar. A third larger altar with a chalice is placed between them and slightly to temple east. This allows the Officiant and other participants to stand directly between the Set and Horus altar during the ritual. The invoking wand and banishing dagger are placed on this central altar.

I. Opening

Officiant performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram using the banishing dagger.

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.

All: AUMGN

Officiant: We take refuge in Set-An, the secret Black Flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened nature, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.

All: XEPER
(pronounced KEH-fer)

Officiant: We take refuge in Har-Wer, 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.

All: THELEMA.

Officiant: For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is every way perfect.

All: All is pure and present and has always been so, for existence is pure joy; all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass and are done; but there is that which remains. To this realization we commit ourselves – pure and total presence.

All: So mote it be.


Officiant performs the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram (Comselh Ananael or standard version) using the invoking wand, replacing ARARITA with SOTHIS.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Still Here!

So as everybody now knows, there was no Rapture or Apocalypse or whatever yesterday. Can we be done with Millerism yet? Please? The whole idea of predicting "the end of the world" - when, in fact, "apocalypse" doesn't even mean "end of the world" - from "clues" hidden in the Bible has now failed every single time, and not for a lack of trying.

David Meade, the man who made yesterday's prediction even backtracked on Friday, probably in an attempt to remain relevant for another couple of weeks, and said that yesterday wasn't the actual end of the world, but rather "the beginning" of the end of the world. Harold Camping tried the same thing, and he was just as wrong as I'm sure Meade will turn out to be.

David Meade, who claimed the world is ending Saturday when a mysterious planet collides with Earth, is now backtracking on the calamitous claim.

Meade said the world won't end on Sept. 23 after all, but instead Saturday will only mark the beginning of a series of catastrophic events to occur over several weeks.

“The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending,” he told the Washington Post. “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.”

Meade said his prediction is based on verses and numerical codes found in the Bible, specifically in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation. He said recent events, such as the solar eclipse and Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, are omens of the approaching apocalypse.

The Bible is not a puzzle. Traditional Jewish Kabbalists do meditate on particular passages, and try to find deeper meaning within them by analyzing gematria and so forth, as we modern magicians do with our own highly divergent system of attributions. But the whole idea of tying that to predictions of real-world events is just plain wrong.

For one thing, there are so many versions of the Bible that if you're working in English you are basically hosed. Remember the whole "Bible Code" thing years ago? They came up with a few passages that they claimed could be linked to past events because they had an enormous sample size, but the method turned out to have no predictive power at all.

In the years to come, my guess is that people are going to throw this at Meade, and he'll pull up a bunch of evidence showing that the world "really did change" after yesterday. He probably will even have some dead-ender followers who keep believing, just like Harold Camping did. But you can make that case for practically any date if you reach far enough, because the world changes every day and any event can be a turning point for something.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tucker Carlson's Witch Interview

Tucker Carlson has always been a something of a tool. It's not that he's a conservative, but rather that he seems to have a remarkable ability to trivialize almost anything he doesn't agree with and hone in on its least relevant points. Case and point - Carlson recently interviewed a practicing witch named Amanda Yates Garcia on his show, and ignored her political points because he just had to know whether witches used "eye of newt" in spells. What that has to do with anything is anybody's guess.

“Sincere question: Is eye of newt an actual ingredient?” Carlson asked. Garcia rolled her eyes.

“I think the real problem is not whether or not eye of newt is an actual ingredient,” Garcia said. “The real problem is we’re about to have some kind of big nuclear extravaganza with North Korea. The real problem is that we’re punishing immigrant children. The real problem is that we’re causing students to go into deep debt. I don’t think the real problem is whether or not we use eye of newt.”

“I’m not suggesting it’s a problem,” Carlson laughed. “I’m with you on the student debt, by the way.” He then pushed forward with his original question. “Is eye of newt an actual thing or not?” he insisted.

“Eye of newt? Isn’t that from Shakespeare?” she replied. “I think he was probably using a bit of poetic license.” Most witches use what’s on hand, such as candles and paper, Garcia said.

If anybody out there has doubts about magick being a niche interest with a tiny following, there you go. On a political show, a witch brings up real political issues. But all the host wants to know about is "eye of newt" - which, by the way, is a thing because newts have eyes. I don't know of any spells calling for that as an ingredient, though. That's not just Carlson's personal cluelessness there - that's the level at which most people understand what we do.

Carlson also asked about a “binding spell” Garcia and others have cast on President Donald Trump to prevent him from harming others, whether or not she was worried about the supernatural consequences of spells and if there were any federal regulations on witchcraft.

What Carlson doesn't understand here is that when somebody engages in prayer with a specific intent, that's the same damn thing as a spell. Purely devotional prayers are different, but whenever you are "praying for xxx to happen" you are casting a spell. Even if you don't consider yourself a witch or a sorcerer or a magician. We just use specialized techniques to make our "prayers" more efficient and more likely to work.

Any federal regulation against spells would have to outlaw directed prayers as well, and when you look at it that way it should be clear that this would constitute an illegal restriction on free exercise of religion. So no, there's no law against spells, and it would be entirely unconstitutional to create one.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Roy Moore is Back, Unfortunately

One of these days Roy Moore should just go away. I'm not alone in that sentiment. Moore first became well-known as an Alabama judge who displayed the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, and was removed from office for refusing to stop doing it. Then he was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, and was removed from office again for refusing to support same-sex marriage rights after they were upheld by the United States Supreme Court. Now he's running for Jeff Sessions' old senate seat, and unfortunately looks to be the front-runner. Slate has an article up today on Moore's latest offensive statement.

In 2003, Alabama judge Roy Moore was removed from office because he insisted on displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. In 2016, he was removed from office again because he refused to enforce the (United States) Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage rights. Now he's running for the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions—he's probably going to win—and saying stuff like this during campaign events:

"We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God."

Ironically, one way God could improve white Americans' relationships with Native Americans and Americans of Asian ancestry is by coming down hard on people like Roy Moore who still refer to Native Americans and Americans of Asian ancestry by using racial terms that were already considered insulting and antiquated 50 years ago.

Even without the racist bullshit, Moore is still totally full of it. In his world, the only people who matter are those who follow God - that is, his particular interpretation of fundamentalist Christianity. Those of us who follow minority religions, atheists and agnostics, and probably even those who follow the "wrong" strands of Christianity are left out in the cold. I'm never going to convert to Moore's religion, full stop. So his god is not going to be unifying me with anybody or anything. For that matter, mainstream Christians aren't even remotely interested in becoming fundies.

I shouldn't be surprised that Moore is the leading senate candidate in conservative Alabama, but it seems to me that his long history of placing his religion before the law should disqualify him from holding office. Senators swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and Moore has shown repeatedly that he believes in putting his religion ahead of the actual law. Conservatives freak out about even liberal Muslims holding office, but how is Moore's past behavior that different from the principle behind Sharia law?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Apocalypse This Weekend!

Secular doomsday conspiracies and the Christian Apocalypse are apparently two great tastes that taste great together - at least according to David Meade. Meade has put together his own timeline for the Biblical Apocalypse and connected it with the hypothetical (that is, made up) Nibiru cataclysm, which doomsday nuts have been claiming is due to destroy the world or at least human civilization any minute now for the last several decades.

He has tied the disaster to a number of Biblical prophecies and passages, including Revelation 12:1. This passage reads: “A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head. And being with child, she cried out in her travail and was in anguish of delivery."

Mr Meade claims the “sign in the sky” refers to the stunning eclipse experienced last month. He explained: “The great sign of The Woman as described in revelation 12:1-2 forms and lasts for only a few hours. According to computer generated astronomical models, this sign has never before occurred in human history. It will occur once on September 23, 2017. It will never occur again. When it occurs, it places the Earth immediately before the time of the Sixth Seal of Revelation. During this time frame on September 23, 2017, the moon appears under the feet of the Constellation Virgo. The Sun appears to precisely clothe Virgo.”

Theorists also claim natural disaster signal the approach of Planet X, as the huge planetary body would interfere with the Earth. They say the high number of serious hurricanes to have hit the Caribbean so early in the season, plus the large number of earthquakes striking across the globe, prove disaster is near. However, the scientific community has dismissed claims Nibiru is a legitimate concern, claiming it is merely a result of overactive imaginations.

So yes, this weekend, September 23rd 2017, is the end of the world. You know, if you believe in anything like that. The problem with the Nibiru idea is that if a planet-sized object were really close enough to Earth to influence hurricanes and earthquakes, we would be able to see it in the sky with our naked eyes quite easily. Astronomers track objects all over the solar system all the time, and they're not about to miss anything the size of a whole planet.

As for the Biblical angle, haven't we see enough of this nonsense already? The whole Millerite notion that we can "time the Apocalypse" has been discredited so many times that I've almost stopped making fun of it - you know, almost. Way too many assumptions go into the Millerite model for it to possibly be considered Biblical literalism, and while it offers a bunch of possible testable claims, none of them have ever turned out to be correct. I think it's about time we gave some serious thought to junking the whole thing.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Path of Initiation - Chockmah

This article is Part Sixteen 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, Part Six can be found here, Part Seven can be found here, Part Eight can be found here, Part Nine can be found here, Part Ten can be found here, Part Eleven can be found here, Part Twelve can be found here, Part Thirteen can be found here, Part Fourteen can be found here, and Part Fifteen can be found here.

Initiation into the sephira of Chockmah is the sixteenth step on the path of initiation into the mysteries of Western Esotericism. On the Kircher Tree of Life, the second sephira is attributed to the zodiac as a whole, and the corresponding vision is "The Vision of God Face-to-Face." The word Chockmah means Wisdom, which alludes to active engagement with the universe at a cosmic level. It is the active counterpart of Binah, Understanding, which alludes to receptive comprehension of the universe at a cosmic level.

The sephiroth 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, September 16, 2017

Only "Counterfeit Christians" Support Religious Freedom

For many years now, the United States Air Force has been infested with fundamentalist Christians. For whatever reason, this particular branch of the service has acted like a magnet for evangelicals who join the military. I don't necessarily want to deny them the opportunity to associate with people who share their beliefs, but at the same time this concentration is making the Air Force downright inhospitable to people with different beliefs, even different strains of Christianity. Recently, an Air Force Chaplain called out "counterfeit Christians" who are committing the terrible sin of upholding the Constitution.

A U.S. Air Force chaplain who ministers to thousands of men and women at an Ohio base is asserting that Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces “serve Satan” and are “grossly in error” if they support service members' right to practice other faiths.

In an article posted on BarbWire.com three days ago, Captain Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain for the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, criticized Christian service members who rely on the Constitution “and not Christ.”

He wrote: “Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home—which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17). This is why so many professing Christian service members will say: We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.”

Hernandez continued: “Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions—because the language in the Constitution permits—are grossly in error, and deceived.”

I would have a lot less ire for fundamentalist Christians if they could just mind their own damn business. It is entirely possible to follow the Christian faith and at the same time support the rights of others to practice their own religious traditions. "Sharing the good news" really shouldn't mean little more than shitting all over people who disagree with you, but within many of these conservative Christian communities that's exactly how they interpret it.

The fact is that members of the United States Military swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and that same Constitution states clearly that our government cannot support one religious belief over another - a point that Hernandez doesn't even dispute in his comments here. So he's telling his congregation that actually, they shouldn't support the Constitution and instead support his religion. Because what, the Constitution is just "sort of a guideline?"

Can you imagine how this would go if Hernandez was, say, a Muslim? He'd be fired right away if he said that everybody serving in the Air Force had to submit to Allah and deny Christians the right to practice. That's really the same as what he's saying here, and in a world where all religions had equal standing he should be fired for it as well. If he isn't, let's just say that this is what Christian privilege looks like and leave it at that.

And can we all agree that having people who believe in a literal apocalypse and don't necessarily see it as a bad thing in charge of America's nuclear arsenal just might be sub-optimal? That's a real danger, and let me point out that despite it, I still support the rights of fundamentalist Christians in the Air Force to believe whatever they want. They just need to be willing to accept that everybody else has those rights, too.