Friday, May 25, 2018

June 24th Now, For Sure!

On June 24th our cities will look absolutely nothing like this.

They keep setting them up, and I keep knocking them down. Guess what! There's a new date for the apocalypse - June 24th of this year. About a month ago David Meade's latest Nibiru rapture prediction flamed out, and this new one comes from a totally different Christian conspiracy theorist, Mathieu Jean-Marc Joseph Rodrigue.

The end of the world will come on June 24 of this year, according to Christians who believe that we have entered the end times. By analysing passages in the Bible, many believe they have been able to pinpoint the world will end – and that is June 24, 2018.

Christian conspiracy theorist Mathieu Jean-Marc Joseph Rodrigue examines a passage in the Book of Revelations which reads: "And a mouth was given to [the Beast], speaking great things and blasphemy, and it was given authority to act forty and two months.” Mr Rodrigue then says: “I heard a voice in the middle of the four living beings. This is wisdom. He who has intelligence can interpret the figure of the beast.

“It represents the name of a man. His figure is 666.” Mr Rodrigue then performs a series of complex calculations and when combining 666 with the number 42, concluding with the date June 24. However, the conspiracy theorist was unable to detail how he reached this figure or how exactly the world will end.

I think by "many" the original article means the handful of idiots who are still trying to make William Miller's calculations work after almost two hundred years of failed predictions. Give it up, folks! Seriously! At this point every single one of these predictions sounds dumber than the last one, and every failure just makes evangelical Christianity look like more of a joke.

I mean, I don't necessarily mind nutty theocrats discrediting themselves, since they spend so much time trying to pass laws that would deny me and my friends freedom of religion. But let's be honest. Isn't this getting even a little embarrassing?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

More Legal Trouble for Alex Jones

Alex Jones' legal situation just got a whole lot worse. After one of the families who lost children in the Sandy Hook mass shooting filed suit against the performance artist or truth teller or delusional conspiracy nut or whatever Jones is calling himself these days, six more families have filed suit for the exact same reason - Jones' support of the "Sandy Hook Truthers" who argued on his show that the shooting never happened and no children died there because they had never existed in the first place.

The families of six victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School along with an FBI agent who was among the first to respond to the shooting sued InfoWars’ founder Alex Jones and several of his businesses on Wednesday, alleging the radio personality had defamed them by repeatedly claiming that the shooting was a hoax.

The new lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, comes on the heels of two defamation suits filed in Texas last month by two other Sandy Hook families. Jones, who could not be reached for comment, responded to the Texas lawsuits on his show last month, acknowledging that he believes the massacre “really happened,” but that the families were being used by the Democratic Party.

The complaints from all eight families allege that Jones used his internet and radio platforms to push the conspiracy theory that the shooting, in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, was a staged event. The lawsuits claim that Jones’ false narratives have brought him attention and money, while the families have suffered deep personal pain as well as abuse from fans of Jones.

While it's true that this and other shootings have been politicized by gun control advocates and minimized by the NRA in an all-too-familiar back and forth that gets played out over and over again, that isn't what was said on Jones' show. He gave air time to a group contending that none of the kids at Sandy Hook died, and may never have even existed. As a parent, I find this one of the most heinous and deplorable things Jones has ever done, and he deserves everything that's coming to him.

I can't even imagine how horrible it be to grieve the death of a child in the midst of hundreds of death threats from crazies telling me my kid never even existed - and Jones is media-savvy enough regarding his audience that he had to know this was precisely what would happen if he aired the story. If he never really believed that the shooting was imaginary - as he now claims - then this was simply a cynical attempt to get attention by cultivating awfulness. Now that same awfulness is coming back at him, and it's time for him to pay the check.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Loch Ness Monster DNA

Totally not a sturgeon or a catfish. Also, totally fake.

I haven't done many cryptozoology posts for awhile, but this story from Reuters caught my eye. Scientists are planning a DNA hunt for the Loch Ness monster, which may finally settle the sturgeon versus catfish debate between longtime monster hunter Steve Feltham and myself. I say sturgeon, he says catfish. Whatever turns up, I'm hoping that it turns out to be more enlightening than the "bigfoot DNA" that turned out to be possum from back in 2013.

Whenever a creature moves through its environment, it leaves behind tiny fragments of DNA from skin, scales, feathers, fur, faeces and urine. “This DNA can be captured, sequenced and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms,” said team spokesman Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The first written record of a monster relates to the Irish monk St Columba, who is said to have banished a “water beast” to the depths of the River Ness in the 6th century. The most famous picture of Nessie, known as the “surgeon’s photo”, was taken in 1934 and showed a head on a long neck emerging from the water. It was revealed 60 years later to have been a hoax that used a sea monster model attached to a toy submarine.

Countless unsuccessful attempts to track down the monster have been made in the years since, notably in 2003 when the BBC funded an extensive scientific search that used 600 sonar beams and satellite tracking to sweep the full length of the loch.

Supporting Feltham's side, we know for a fact that Loch Ness is home to a population of Wels catfish because the Loch was seeded with the fish back in Victorian times. It is speculated that the Wels catfish can grow to thirteen feet or so, though the verified record is more like nine feet. Still, that's a big catfish.

But many of the pictures I've seen of the monster look more like a sturgeon to me. European sturgeons can grow longer than the Wels catfish, up to twenty feet. They also look a lot weirder and less like a fish that's easily identifiable, and they go back and forth between rivers and the ocean to spawn, like salmon. But we don't know whether or not sturgeons live or spawn in the loch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Regarding Confidence

So not Monday. Again. "Magick Tuesday" seems to be turning into a thing as of late. I have another project that I've been spending time on here at Augoeides that I think you all will like, but I'm not announcing it just yet. That may mean my Monday post will be delayed for a few more weeks, but such is life. There are only so many hours in the day, right?

One of the original assumptions put forth by chaos magicians is that belief powers magick. There are a lot of reasons to think that this isn't true, and it probably arose from the Christian idea of "faith" accomplishing all things. But what is true is that doubt will wreck your magick pretty quickly. You might read that and wonder what the difference is, since belief and doubt are basically opposites. The difference is this - once you believe in what you're doing, you can't "believe more." That is, once you have banished all doubt, you're as coherent as you're going to get. This means that a better way to think about the "belief" idea is to treat doubt as a kind of resistance that you overcome with successful practice.

An important related point is that psychoanalytic models of magick - like the "psychic censor" model found in early chaos magick - are nonsense not just because they are psychological and magick is bigger than psychology, but because psychoanalysis itself is a very, very inaccurate model of cognition. That's why in controlled experiments it performs no better than "sham therapy." There is no "unconscious mind." The brain does some unconscious processing, mostly in the form of running autonomic systems and conditioning loops, but that's all there is. No "repression mechanism," no "psychic sensor," no "unconscious self" that has its own agenda.

A more accurate model of cognition treats it as the interaction of three distinct systems - thinking, feeling, and conditioning. The thinking system is also called the declarative mind. If I ask "what are you thinking about?" your answer will be based on what is going on in your thinking system. The feeling system produces emotions. If I ask "how are you feeling?" your answer will be based on what is going on in your feeling system. Those two systems basically represent "the mind" as we usually understand it.

The mind is actually quite flat. It's not the tip of some giant iceberg of "repressed material" and it's the only mind you have. For example, Freud's whole model of trauma is fundamentally wrong. If you look at actual patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, you find that the problem isn't that the trauma is "repressed" - i.e. the patient is unaware of the trauma and can't consciously think about it. The problem is usually that they can't stop thinking about it, which is why it causes distress in the first place.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Secular Ritual Design?

Add a third box for "Consciousness/Probability Shift" and they'd be on to something

I recently came across this article from The Atlantic discussing the idea of "secular rituals design." On the one hand, it seems to me that some of the ideas being bandied about by this group might be useful for designing better and more efficient magical rituals, but on the other, from the contents of the article it sounds like these folks are entirely missing the point.

At the Ritual Design Lab in Silicon Valley, a small team of “interaction designers” is working to generate new rituals for modern life, with an eye to user experience. Created by Kursat Ozenc and Margaret Hagan, the lab crafts rituals for both individuals and organizations, including big hitters like Microsoft. The team’s website offers a Ritual Design Hotline with a tantalizing promise: “You tell us your problem. We will make you a ritual.” Meanwhile, its Ritual Inventory invites you to add any interesting ritual you’ve made or seen to its growing database. And its app, IdeaPop, helps you brainstorm and create your own rituals.

This is an interesting concept, but at the same time what's missing is a way of evaluating how these rituals work. That is, the point of a ritual is to transform some aspect of yourself or your environment that you are unable to transform by any other means. A good ritual has macrocosmic resonance, and should shift probability in your favor in such a way that it at least has the potential to fix the problem. The "user experience" idea, while useful in terms of ease and efficiency, is meaningless without an eye towards the change that the ritual is intended to produce.

Ritual Design Lab has its roots in Stanford’s Institute of Design, where Ozenc and Hagan both teach. In 2015, they proposed a new course on ritual design. To their surprise, more than 100 students signed up. Most were secular. “The interest was huge—so we thought, we should harness this interest,” Ozenc told me. “The new generation, they want bite-size spirituality instead of a whole menu of courses. Design thinking can offer this, because the whole premise of design is human-centeredness. It can help people shape their spirituality based on their needs. Institutionalized religions somehow forget this—that at the center of any religion should be the person.”

This is the kind of approach that could be useful from the standpoint of designing better spells and so forth. Also, the critique of institutionalized religion is accurate and well-placed. However, the whole point of (effective) religion is to (A) produce the experience of Gnosis or metanoia or enlightenment or whatever you want to call it and (B) employ spiritual forces to shape your external circumstances. I don't see any evidence of either in what the design lab is putting together. Which is a shame.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Via Solis Taurus Elixir Rite - Year Two

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Taurus Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday May 15th, 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 Taurus. The power attributed to Taurus is "the secret of physical strength," so if you have a specific intent, something related to health, healing, vitality, and so forth would be appropriate. 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, May 12, 2018

But Officer, the Horse is Sober!

I think I've heard this joke before. A young Amish man was recently arrested for drunk driving - in a horse and buggy. The man was found to have a blood alcohol level one and a half times the legal limit, and told the officer that he had consumed ten beers. The horse, on the other hand, was apparently not intoxicated in any way.

A young Amish man was arrested last month in Ohio after he was caught blowing through a stop sign in a horse-drawn buggy, and later admitted to drinking 10 beers -- in an incident caught on police dashcam video.

The Geauga County Sheriff's Office told FOX8 a deputy was concerned about the possibility of a runaway horse, or a driver having a medical emergency, and followed the buggy until the driver pulled into a farm about 50 miles east of Cleveland on April 29.

Inside the buggy, the deputy found a 21-year-old Amish man and a 20-year-old woman, noted a "heavy odor of alcoholic beverages," and spotted an open beer can on the floor, according to FOX8. The driver told the deputy he had consumed 10 beers.

In the dashcam video, the 21-year-old man can be seen attempting to complete a field sobriety test but he appears unable to keep his balance. When the man was unable to pass any of the tests, he was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence, police told FOX8.

While I'm sure it's not at all funny to the man being charged, it does raise kind of an amusing question. Does it mean anything that the horse was sober? Or that a horse and buggy is far less likely to injure anyone than a car, even if the driver is drunk? I imagine this will all come up at trial, and we'll have to see how it plays out. Meanwhile, it always is fun to see a bad joke happen in real life.

Friday, May 11, 2018

No Secret Chambers After All

In some bummer news from the world of archaeology, a new ground-penetrating radar study have found no evidence of additional secret chambers in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Back in 2015 a survey of the tomb detected anomalies behind two of the tomb's walls. This led archaeologists to speculate that the secret chambers might be part of the tomb of Queen Nefertiti, which has never been found. However, a follow-up study was unable to replicate the results, so a more comprehensive survey of the tomb went forward.

Using ground-penetrating radar, three independent teams of researchers failed to detect the presence of doors or empty spaces behind the walls of King Tut’s funeral chamber. It’s a disappointing result, as archaeologists were hoping to find the final resting place of Queen Nefertiti.

“We conclude, with a very high level of confidence, that the hypothesis concerning the existence of hidden chambers adjacent [to] Tutankhamun’s tomb is not supported by the [ground-penetrating radar] data,” stated Franco Porcelli of the Polytechnic University of Turin, the lead investigator, in his final report. Porcelli and his colleagues disclosed their findings on Sunday May 6 at the fourth annual International Tutankhamun GEM Conference, which was held at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, as reported by National Geographic.

It’s an unhappy result, but such is science. The discovery — if it can be called that — discredits a theory proposed by Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves stating that Queen Nefertiti’s tomb is located behind the walls of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. The theory was given added credence in 2015 when radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe detected signs of apparent hidden doors behind the north and west walls of the 3,300-year-old burial chamber. A subsequent scan performed by engineers with the National Geographic Society could not replicate Watanabe’s results, prompting a “tie breaker” investigation.

To be clear here, a negative result is still a result, because often in science disproving something can be as important as demonstrating it. It would have been pretty amazing if Nefertiti's tomb were found adjacent to Tutankhamun's simply because it would probably mean that the tomb would be found undisturbed. Tutankhamun was a minor Pharaoh, but he is so famous and vitally important to modern Egyptology because his was the only tomb ever to be discovered intact. Grave robbers had hit all of the others.

A second undisturbed tomb would provide important perspective on Egyptian funeral customs and the kinds of goods likely to be buried with their dead, and the tomb of Nefertiti must lie somewhere. But this result means that the odds of it being found ransacked are much higher.