Saturday, April 21, 2018

About Damn Time

Poor Alex Jones! After years of bullshit over the "Sandy Hook Truthers," he finally is being sued by the parents who had to endure death threat after death threat along with the insinuation that their murdered children never existed. As a parent I find it hard to imagine much that would be more awful, and it's also clear that Jones giving a platform to a bunch of crazies is the whole reason the harassment existed. So as I see it, Jones is entirely responsible. Whether or not he personally defamed the families, which appears to be his defense, it should not have been hard to figure out that this is what some of his listeners were going to do. He's never even come out and forcefully denounced those people either - rather, the only real pushback he gave is essentially that he wasn't sure.

The InfoWars host is being sued for defamation by Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old victim Jesse Heslin, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their six-year-old son Noah, for $1 million each over his conspiracy theories and “vicious lies” surrounding the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Responding to the lawsuits on his show, the controversial broadcaster denied that he ever believed the shooting was faked and 20 children were not killed there.

“You’re allowed to question things in America, that’s not defamation,” Jones said. “But what is defamation is to file lawsuits that say I said things I didn’t say and then put me and my whole family through the ringer and lie about us and hold us up against dead children and say basically ‘we hate their families, we hate the children.' It’s almost like I’ve murdered the children and that’s not what happened.”

Alex Jones of Infowars.com speaks during a rally in support of Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18, 2016. The InfoWars host is being sued for defamation by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones added suggestions of him saying the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax was merely him playing “devil’s advocate.” He told his listeners: “We looked at it, and I don’t think the thing was a hoax.

“The media jumped on it, they exasperated it, they faked some locations, they did some things in the aftermath… but the new hoax is that I’m saying they’re crisis actors and it didn’t happen. My listeners said a lot of them look like they’re acting, we looked at it and I said ‘I can’t say that’—that’s what I’ve always said.”

Here's the thing. I have no idea whether Jones really thought he was "playing devil's advocate" when he gave one of the stupidest conspiracy theories ever air time. May be he thought "I can't say that" constituted a denial, when to any reasonable person it means "I'm not sure." But the reality is, this family got death threat after death threat and was harassed for years by his crazy listeners who were convinced that their murdered son never existed. To me, as a parent, that's absolutely despicable and Jones deserves to be sued into oblivion over even allowing those claims on his show without pointing out how dumb they are.

I am aware that both government and the media politicize mass shootings. There's nothing controversial about that. But there's a mass shooting every couple of days - and, the frequency of them is DOWN from an all-time high in the early 1990's. Before the Columbine shooting, media outlets refused to report on school shootings because they feared that it would encourage copycats. But Columbine was too big a story to ignore especially in the early days of widespread Internet use, and once they saw the ratings it was all over. Now they've upped their coverage, making it feel like more of them are happening.

So that means two things about Sandy Hook. First, the government had no reason to fake a school shooting. They get another one to politicize every couple of days. Second, if the government wanted to make a school shooting happen, it wouldn't have been that hard for intelligence assets to manipulate Adam Lanza into doing it. He suffered from serious mental illness and was a gun nut. The key point is that it would have been WAY easier to manipulate this one dangerous guy with access to a lot of weapons than to put together this ridiculous thing with actors and the like that the "Sandy Hook Truthers" were on about.

So there is absolutely no plausible scenario in which (A) these kids never existed, (B) these kids weren't killed, or (C) that their parents were somehow in on the plot - even if the government had some role in manipulating Lanza into carrying out a shooting, which in turn makes no sense because these things happen all the time and the government would never have any need to manufacture one. THAT is the point Jones needed to make, and make forcefully, if he was going to give these nutters a platform to spout their ridiculous theories to a bunch of other nutters. The fact that he didn't, and that he didn't outright condemn the people harassing these families, is why he's getting sued - and why he deserves to lose.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Via Solis Aries Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Aries Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday April 17th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. We will continue the momentum of last year by performing one of these per month for each of the twelve signs. 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 Aries. Items to be consecrated may be placed on the altar by any of the attendees, as Aries is attributed to the Power of Consecrating Things. 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.

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.

All: MAKAShANaH

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.

All: ABRAHADABRA

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.

All: AUMGN

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Against Mister Rogers

This post leans a little more political than what I usually do here, but I figure that Fred Rogers was a Presbyterian minister so it still vaguely falls under my umbrella. A couple of weeks ago, Boing Boing posted this article explaining that yes, there really are conservatives out there who hate Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. This particularly dumb segment from Fox & Frieds explains why. According to "experts" and "studies" that are never really cited, making kids feel good about themselves is a terrible, terrible thing.

Fred Rogers is the subject of a documentary and a biopic starring Tom Hanks, both out later this year. Though most Americans assume he's a national treasure, he's widely loathed by conservatives who center him in their myth of "participation trophy" culture.

I remember one columnist describing him as a saccharine man whose job was to help the education industry tell stupid children they were special—one of the more enduring impressions I got of American conservatives after moving here in the 2000s. (Another: turning on the radio to hear someone muttering, barely in control of his rage, about how much be hates bisexuals, intoning the word "hate" over and over. At first I thought it was a theatrical performance, a character in a radio play, but it turned out to be The Michael Reagan Show.)

Anyway, here's Fox and Friends complaining that young people are entitled and useless because Fred Rogers stressed the importance of love and its absence in their lives.

Now I want to ask a serious question here. Have any of you ever seen one of these mysterious "participation trophies?" Conservatives have been complaining about them since at least the late 1970's, and I've never seen one. I grew up in the 1970's and 1980's and loved Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as a small child, so according to this segment I should have been right in the thick of it. My kids have never seen these mythical objects either.

So I'm forced to conclude that if such things ever existed, either (A) they were isolated phenomena or (B) there was a ten-year period called the 1990's during which they were given out that abruptly stopped shortly after the year 2000. The question is whether either of those are more likely than (C) the idiots on Fox & Friends are basically just bullshitting. I have no idea how likely (A) or (B) is, but I know for a fact that (C) happens a lot.

UPDATE: One other possibility - over on FB, it was pointed out that this is apparently a common practice with extramural sporting organizations. I never played any sports, so that might explain why I've never seen one. Still, it should be clear that an extramural sporting organization with voluntary enrollment is a whole lot different than school that everyone has to attend. No parent who is against "participation trophies" ever has to enroll their kid in an outside organization that has them.

Of course, the idiots on Fox & Friends are going to conflate the two because they have an agenda to push. It also is entirely unclear to me how athletic trophies for participation make "stupid kids feel smart." Sports has nothing to do with that. In sports it's also pretty obvious who's good and who's not, so I don't think the "participators" were under any illusion that they were the best players in the league or anything like that.

Also, check out this article. It's a little cheerleaderish, but it also sounds like there's no evidence that participation awards had a negative effect on any of this coach's players. If you think about, there's really no reason why they should. It's not like a little piece of plastic is a great reinforcer for much of anything.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Pat Robertson Dominated by Homosexuals

That's his being dominated face

This story is pretty much par for the course for good old Pat Robertson, who at this point has his own tag here on Augoeides. But the headline was too funny for me to ignore. According to Pat, he and the rest of the culture are being "dominated" by homosexuals who allegedly control the media and are forcing him to watch LGBT folks on television.

Appearing on his program The 700 Club earlier this week, the televangelist went on a rant about a supposed “left-wing bias” in the media. Blaming the supposed bias on gays and lesbians, Robertson declared:

"We have given the ground to a small minority. You figure, lesbians, one percent of the population; homosexuals, two percent of the population. That’s all. That’s statistically all. But they have dominated — dominated the media, they’ve dominated the cultural shift and they have infiltrated the major universities. It’s just unbelievable what’s being done. A tiny, tiny minority makes a huge difference. The majority — it’s time it wakes up."

As usual, Robertson is wrong. The numbers refute any claim that the media is being “dominated” by gays and lesbians. According to the latest “Where We Are on TV” report from GLAAD, only about 4.8% of television roles are LGBTQ characters.

Actually, Robertson's numbers are a little low based on the best research we have regarding the percentage of the population that identifies as gay or lesbian. His 3% estimate is on the very low end, and the real percentage may be as high as 10% - though that's from Kinsey, whose study had some sampling bias. Anyway, the point is that if 4.8% of television roles are gay or lesbian, that probably isn't too far off from the real number. As Stephen Colbert once pointed out, facts have a well-known liberal bias.

So what Pat is complaining about is not "domination" but rather "representation." His variety of Poor Oppressed Christian is incapable of playing well with others. I'm convinced that they support Trump despite his (very) many flaws because they think he's the best chance they have of implementing their ideal society where they never have to confront anyone who believes differently than they do. The mere existence of gays and lesbians fundamentally threatens their worldview, and as they see it, oppresses them.

Fortunately Pat's followers aren't the majority. They're about a quarter of all Christians, or 20% of the American population, who identify as right-wing evangelicals. Using Kinsey's numbers, they're only about twice as numerous as gays and lesbians, and if you include everybody under the LGBT umbrella, the numbers are pretty close. So that's just one more thing Pat is really, really wrong about. And anyway, he's the one going off because he can't stand even seeing LGBT folks on television. I guess he and his followers like pretending that anything they can't see doesn't exist.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Is Magick Dangerous?

This is one of those questions that gets asked over and over again on magick forums. I touched on this a little last week, but I figured that having a specific post to point people to would be helpful.

Before I really get going, I should point out that the answer to this question depends entirely on context. If you are asking "Does magick contain an element of risk?" the answer is of course yes, but that's true for all kinds of things that we do every day. Walking down a flight of stairs contains an element of risk because you can fall. It doesn't happen very often, but the risk is always there. And driving a car is more dangerous than the vast majority of activities we engage in on a regular basis.

So the real question should be something more like "How dangerous is magick, and what are the dangers associated with it?" A lot of people online still seem to believe that practicing magick can cause mental illness, which is basically nonsense. Most mental illnesses aren't caused by behavior or environment to begin with. If you have a pre-existing mental illness, anything that increases your stress might trigger an episode, but that's probably more likely to come from, say, job stress than from spiritual practices of whatever sort.

The reason this idea persists is that in the American population, about one person in four has a mental illness and about one person in thirty or so has a serious mental illness like bipolar I and schizophrenia. These mental illnesses can come and go, so if you happen to meet somebody in the occult community who seems fine and then a while later has an episode of mental illness, it's easy to conclude that "the magick did it!" When really, what you're seeing is just the natural cycle of an underlying condition.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Office of the Readings for 2018


There has been some discussion online (again) this year about how it is "problematic" that there are people (who I've apparently never met) who think celebrating the Holy Days in this way comes from Aleister Crowley himself or is in some sense "canonical" to Thelema. To be clear, neither of those statements are true. The arrangement here comes from various modern sources - James Eshelman's Thelemic Tefila, the late Soror Marfiza and the Companions of Monsalvat, and myself and my magical partner Soror Lalitha. Still, having performed this series for many years, we find that it is a great way to better acquaint yourself with the Holy Books and celebrate the Thelemic New Year.

Happy Thelemic New Year, everyone! It's that time again, for the Office of the Readings.

The Thelemic dates that you may see written online are arrived at by counting the number of 22-year cycles since 1904 to obtain the upper case Roman numeral, and then counting the years of the current cycle to get the lower case one. Within each 22-year cycle, many Thelemites ascribe the Major Arcana trumps of the Tarot to the years in order starting with The Fool and ending with The Universe. So the year that we're about to enter into is V:iv, attributed to either The Emperor or The Star depending on whether or not you swap the Tarot attributions for Heh and Tzaddi.

This post will remain the top article here for the duration of the Thelemic Holy Days from March 20th to April 10th. The Rite of the Office of the Readings is performed for all of the readings beginning on March 20th.

This year I'm pleased to announce that like last year, this year's Office of the Readings will be presented at Leaping Laughter Oasis, the Minneapolis local body of Ordo Templi Orientis. This year we will be performing the Invocation of Horus on the evening of March 18th to keep it on the weekend, and the Prologue of the Unborn on the 19th will be followed by the New Moon Ritual for Pisces.

Rituals

The Invocation of Horus
The Rite of the Office of the Readings

Readings

March 19

Liber VII, Prologue of the Unborn.

March 20 - Saturn/Earth, The Universe

Liber LXV, Cap I.
Liber VII, Cap II.

March 21 - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon

Liber LXV, Cap IV.
From "The Four Zoas" by William Blake - "Night the Ninth, Being The Last Judgment"

March 22 - Sol, The Sun

Liber VII, Cap IV.
From "A Mithraic Ritual" Translated by GRS Mead.

March 23 - Pisces, The Moon

Liber VII, Cap VI.
From “Dark Night of the Soul”, Book II, Cap 8 by San Juan de la Cruz.

March 24 - Aries, The Emperor

Liber Tzaddi vel Hamus Hermeticus.
From the “Tao Te Ching” by Lao Tzu, Cap 37 and 39.

March 25 - Mars, The Tower

Liber VII, Cap I.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 16th Æthyr.

March 26 - Capricornus, The Devil

Liber A'ash.
Relevant to Liber A'ash is my solution to the mystery of the duck.
From Liber CXI, Cap 174-175.

March 27 - Sagittarius, Art

Liber DCCCXIII, Cap VII.
From “The Vision of the Universal Mercury” by G.H. Frater S.R.M.D.

March 28 - Scorpio, Death

From Liber Arcanorum.
From Liber CXI, Cap 192-194.

March 29 - Water, The Hanged Man

Liber LXV, Cap III.
"I. N. R. I." by Frater Achad.

March 30 - Libra, Adjustment

Liber Libræ.
Selections from “The Spiritual Guide” by San Miguel de Molinos.

March 31 - Jupiter, Fortune

Liber VII, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 20th Æthyr.

April 1 - Virgo, The Hermit

Liber VII, Cap V.
"The Emerald Tablet of Hermes" by Hermes Trismegistus.

April 2 - Leo, Lust

Liber Stellae Rubeæ.
From “The Daughter of Fortitude” Received by Edward Kelly.

April 3 - Cancer, The Chariot

Liber Cheth vel Vallum Abiegni.
"Maha Prajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra" (The Heart Sutra, Buddhist text. Translation by the Kuan Um School of Zen).

April 4 - Gemini, The Lovers

Liber LXV, Cap II.
From Liber DCCCXXXVII, The Law of Liberty.

April 5 - Taurus, The Hierophant

Liber LXV, Cap V.
From “On Christ and Antichrist” by Hippolytus, Cap 2.

April 6 - Aquarius, The Star

Liber DCCCXIII, Cap VI.
From “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” (Gnostic text).

April 7 - Venus, The Empress

Liber VII, Cap VII.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 7th Æthyr.

April 8 - Luna, The Priestess

Liber AL, Cap I.
“Vajrasattva, Primordial Buddha of Diamond or Rainbow Light” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 9 - Mercury, The Magus

Liber AL, Cap II.
“Visvapani, The Bodhisattva and Spiritual Emanation of Amoghasiddhi” From Songs and Meditations of the Tibetan Dhyani Buddhas.

April 10 - Air, The Fool

Liber AL, Cap III.
From Liber CDXVIII, The 22nd Æthyr.

If you would like to perform this series and have questions, feel free to e-mail me here. All Office of the Readings posts may be viewed here. Our Office of the Readings series is based on this ritual series by the Companions of Monsalvat.

Regarding "Experienced Practitioners"

Last week it was pointed out to me that a lot of magicians online tend to say things like "practice xyz should only be done by experienced practitioners," without any real frame of reference as to what an "experienced practitioner" might be. As I see it, there are a number of reasons people say things like this, and some simple benchmarks you can apply to your own work to see if you "qualify."

First, there is a lot of nonsense in the magical community with people trying to one-up each other to show how "hard core" they are, and this is generally a recipe for disaster - or at least a whole lot of bullshit. You should pay attention to your own work and where it is getting you rather than trying to compare yourself to what others say they do. This is an important point - social media is full of people who exaggerate what they do, and how successful their magical work is. In fact, there is a tiny percentage of the population that are interested in magick at all, and the majority of those folks don't really practice. Also, there is a talent for magick like there is a talent for everything else, and a really tiny percentage of people get great results on their first or second ritual.

Second, anybody who has been a magician on the Internet for any period of time has run into "dark fluffers." Sometimes this is a variant of the previous case, but other times it consists of people who immediately gravitate towards the "evil" parts of magical systems and ignore the others. Enochian cacodemons are a classic example of this. The cacodemons are actually kind of a pain to work with not because they are "evil," but because they are stupid. They are less complex and less intelligent than basically every other class of entity in the system. That means that you are a lot more likely to run into a "monkey's paw" situation when working with them if you are not entirely clear with your injunctions and limitations.