Friday, January 30, 2009

Entanglement Sudden Death and Magical Links

A new article published in the journal Science suggests that quantum entanglement, a condition in which two or more particles are linked across time and space, may have a finite life. Scientists used to believe that the entanglement effects slowly dropped off over time but never quite reached zero, whereas the new research suggests that after a certain period of time the entanglement effects will suddenly vanish. They have named this new discovery "Entanglement Sudden Death" or ESD.

Two particles can become entangled so completely that a change in one immediately affects the other, no matter how far away it is. Until now, scientists have assumed such a marriage would endure forever.

But in a paper published today in the journal Science, two physicists show that entangled particles can suddenly and irrevocably lose their connection, a phenomenon called Entanglement Sudden Death, or ESD.

Contagion links in magick depend at least in part upon quantum entanglement in order to work, so this gives some new insight into their operation. Most of us have had the experience that magical links reach a point where they don't seem to work as well, usually after some number of years. ESD might be the reason, and the implication is that once a magical link like hair clipping or an object owned by the target of a spell stops working it will likely never work again unless the failure was due to some other problem with the spell itself. As the operant equation shows, once the Link value goes to zero no spell that depends upon that link will ever produce a probability shift.

Similarity links don't depend upon entanglement, but they are not usually as strong. A photograph is a combined similarity/contagion link and if the person targeted still looks the same as in the photograph it may continue to work, but you likely will see a dropoff in effectiveness once the entanglement factor ceases to be present. At that point you should procure a fresh photograph if possible, the best sort being an instant photo like a Polaroid in which the actual photons striking the subject also interact with the instant film.

It is unclear what the actual lifespan of entanglement is, but from my own experience photos work fine for at least a few years. Clearly this is an area where more magical research is required, and wouldn't it be amusing if magicians could shed some light on a current scientific problem?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Bad Magick" Case Falling Apart?

This could be a bad sign for prosecutors in North Carolina. The charges against Diana Palmer, the third person charged in the "Satanic cult" case involving Joy Johnson and Joseph Craig, were dropped today.

Police said Palmer knew about assaults alleged to have occurred in a residence on Albany Street in Durham and said she helped Joseph Scott Craig remove evidence from the house.


Prosecutors asked Thursday for a continuance in Palmer's case, but defense attorney Bill Thomas objected, saying the case had dragged on for more than six months.

District Judge Nancy Gordon denied the continuance, effectively dismissing the case.

Palmer was only charged as an accessory and Johnson and Craig have yet to go to trial, but it remains to be seen whether this dismissal is simply a sign that Palmer was not involved or an indication that the entire case has serious problems.

Thoughts on Free Will and Determinism

Over the last couple of days there's been some discussion between three of the magick blogs that I read regularly, Strategic Sorcery, Head for the Red, and Doing Magick, on the nature of free will and determinism. I figured that I might as well add my own thoughts to the conversation.

My position on this issue is right in the middle - that the universe maintains a balance between determinism and free will. We don't have as much free will as we like to think that we do, but at the same time all of our actions aren't laid out for us in an immutable pattern. What our environment does is provide a series of constraints within which we act, and those constraints are many. As an obvious example, I can't just leap up into the air and fly without any technological assistance no matter how much I might want to, and as a less obvious example my talents and interests are fundamentally shaped by my genetic makeup, upbringing, and socioeconomic class.

As a Thelemite I naturally refer back to The Book of the Law: "Also reason is a lie; for there is a factor infinite & unknown; & all their words are skew-wise." As I see it, the deterministic elements of the universe are fully amenable to reason as they interact like the components of a gigantic machine, but this factor "infinite & unknown" is the individual will. It is infinite because it is present to some degree in all manifest consciousness, human and otherwise, and unknown because it depends fundamentally upon individual choice and is not predetermined.

Most of Jason Miller's criticism on Strategic Sorcery is directed at people who say "everything happens for a reason" in response to disasters and other terrible events. I agree with him that what people usually mean when they say this is nonsense intended to comfort survivors with little basis in fact. The outcome of these situations depend on all sorts of factors that can be worked out after the fact, but which can't be reasoned out ahead of time because of the lack of information. They are "reasons" in a sense, and part of the harmonious interactions of nature that depend heavily upon causality, but there is no "higher purpose" to them.

Let's say that you are one of the few survivors of a plane crash. You may very well have survived because when the booking agent asked if you would prefer an aisle or window seat you said window, which resulted in you being placed in a seat on the plane that happened to survive the crash undamaged. The choice was fundamentally yours to make. Either that, or it was somebody else's if you chose not to make it, like the booking agent who assigned your seat. You can follow it back further, too. Maybe the engine on the plane failed because a mechanic decided that one more test wasn't necessary. Maybe some airline manager decided to okay a dangerous cargo that exploded during the flight (remember the ValuJet crash?).

Frater BH touches on a different point that is important. "Meaning" as it is generally understood is imparted by the observer and is not pre-existing. So we can choose to find meaning in anything as long as we keep in mind that this meaning is our own creation. This is one of the big differences in my experience between magicians and non-magicians - those of us who practice tend to be mindful of this. In fact, a case could be made that what a magician is really doing when casting a spell is that he or she is attempting to change the behavior of an object by imparting a new meaning to it through the application of concentrated will.

At the same time, even for magicians the meaning that we choose to impart is not nearly as open-ended as one might imagine. Psychologists believe that personality is about 70% genetic and some have suggested that most of the environmental influences are in place by ages 3 or 4. Most people are heavily conditioned by society and their interpersonal experiences to create meaning in a particular way, which is why it is so important for any magician to be mindful of his or her conditioning. The more conditioning we eliminate the more free will we have, but even so the genetic constraints are difficult and often impossible to alter.

Rufus Opus believes in predestination and claims to be a Calvinist, so on this issue I would have to say that I disagree with him the most. Calvinism has never made very much sense to me, even back when I was growing up Lutheran. About the only way you can structure it coherently is to propose that since God is timeless he knows that choices we will wind up making before we make them. However, it does not necessarily follow from that premise that we lack free will. Under the "timeless" model God doesn't necessarily decide what we do, he just knows. As with the airline seat, we lack the knowledge of our future choices and their full consequences so from our perspective they are still "free." In fact, if you were ever granted such knowledge, you could go ahead and create a paradox just for fun.

Rufus does bring up the good point, however, that people are not blank slates. You can't turn someone without any aptitude into an effective magician no matter how hard you work or how interested they are. Magick seems to be something we are born with, and like any great artistic talent it confers both ability and the drive to use it. Most of us who are magicians can't even imagine what our lives would be like without it, and something within us drives us to do magick the same way most great visual artists are driven to paint or great writers are driven to write. We choose how we express this drive in terms of specific technical practices, but the drive itself is less a choice than a fundamental part of us.

In the end, the statement that "things happen for a reason" is often made to explain away a situation that seems fundamentally unfair. The thing is that fairness itself is a human construct. Not only that, the "just world assumption" as psychologists call it seems to be pretty ingrained in most people. I'm sure that it was a survival advantage back in the days of hunter-gatherer societies and limited resources simply because a person with a strong sense of fairness would be less likely to be taken advantage of by others, but it is a fundamental error to impart to it any validity above and beyond your own personal assignment of meaning. Physics is not "fair," so why should the universe as a whole be any different?

I'll wrap this up with a quote from one of my favorite science fiction series, Babylon 5, because it seems appropriate. The character speaking was Marcus Cole, an individual who had encountered much personal tragedy over the course of his life.

"You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them? So, now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe."

Words to live by indeed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reality TV Meets Witchcraft

No, this is not an article about a new reality television series centered around magical practitioners. That's actually a serious downer - a reality TV series about magick is something that I would enjoy watching, especially if it got into some of the technical details of spellcasting and kept accurate records of the successes and failures of the methods employed by each participant. The actual topic of this article is a lot less interesting, but still amusing.

Apparently a recent contestant on the British reality TV series "Britain's Got Talent" was not only a practicing witch, but a sore loser. After failing to impress the judges with her act she cast a curse upon them all.

Piers [Morgan, one of the judges] told Radio Five Live: "A witch came on and after she got voted off she came in and cast a spell on Cowell, Amanda and me.

"We were left a little bit twitchy about what she'd actually done to us - it was fairly horrific. It involved a form of witchcraft.

"She went off stage and had a quick chat with Ant and Dec and then floundered back and said, 'You're all doomed'.

"Then we had a really bad session, the worst ever, in fact."

Horrific, you say? I'd love to hear more about the kinds of horrific things one could actually do on a closed television set. I mean, did she bring frog entrails or something in with her?

It remains to be seen if the curse can sustain itself longer than a single session of the show. I suppose only the ratings can tell for sure.

Mexican Soccer Voodoo

Mexico has a long history of losing to the United States in World Cup soccer competitions. But this year they have enlisted the power of black magick in order to break their losing streak - with a little help from Radio Shack.

An advertisement in the sports daily Record on Tuesday invited fans to clip coupons and redeem them at their local Radio Shack store for a voodoo-doll likeness of a U.S. player. The hope was that a little black magic might help Mexico break a decade of futility on the road versus its northern neighbor.

"Help end the losing streak so Mexico advances," the ad read.

An illustration showed a pair of scissors slicing off the leg of a doll in a U.S. jersey that was bruised, crying out in pain, leaking stuffing, and stuck with pushpins.

"We imagine a group of young people gathered around the TV supporting Mexico and applying punishments to our rivals so that the team can qualify," Record said in a statement.

There is no word yet as to whether or not the American team will respond with their own etheric assault, but if anyone from the team would like to hire me to cast a counter-curse go ahead and shoot me an e-mail. My rates are not that unreasonable, at least from the perspective of a large sports franchise with millions of dollars in the bank.

Naturally, Radio Shack downplayed its first foray into the realm of dark sorcery.

Daniel Paz, marketing manager for the newspaper, told The Associated Press the promotion was a lighthearted attempt to make next month's rivalry game more enjoyable for fans.

"It's a toy," Paz said. "There's no intention of being anything serious."

But that's just good public relations. I mean, who would want to buy a potentially haunted stereo? That is, aside from me.

I suppose we'll find out when the match is actually held whether or not this voodoo ploy is successful. It may be "a toy" and all, but if Mexico wins it likely will owe some of its success to the power of the paranormal. After all, giving you an edge is what magick is supposed to do.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When Religions Fail

This started as a few thoughts in response to a comment, and grew into a larger article. It is related to my previous article on the function of religion, but takes those ideas further. Here's the crux of the original comment from reader AISh MLChMH:

Being a Christian isn't unusual within the U.S. However, I think that's in the process of changing:

"Large numbers of American adults are disaffiliating themselves from Christianity and from other organized religions. Since World War II, this process had been observed in other countries, like the U.K., other European countries, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand."

Being a member of an organized religious group, I'm obviously interested in understanding the cause of this increasing disaffiliation.

The title of this article is a little misleading because I mostly am discussing organized Christianty and it can't be said that Christianity as a religion has failed. It is still one of the largest religions in the world and the dominant religion in the United States. However, the modern age poses a number of challenges to the faith and I think it is likely that churches will need to adapt some aspects of their structure in order to stem the tide of disaffiliation.

Any effective religious system can be deconstructed into three parts:

(1) A narrative. This is often the story of the founder of the system. For a narrative to atract adherents, it must be inspirational to a significant number of those hearing it.

(2) One or more technologies. Since the function of religion is to produce spiritual experiences, every effective religion must have some set of spiritual practices that facilitate these experiences.

(3) A sociopolitical structure. This is how the religious system integrates itself into the society at large, polices its members, and advocates for its interests in the political sphere.

Most new religions start out with (1), develop (2) soon after, and only progress to (3) once there are enough members to sustain any sort of political structure. It is important to understand that (3) is not really necessary for a religious system to work, but nonetheless it is often sought out by leaders who want power in the material world as well as the spiritual. Part of the general disaffiliation from organized religion is likely due to a general distaste for the excesses of such leaders, but I think it goes further than that.

The Christian Church has never had many problems on the narrative side. The "good news" that evangelical Christians try to spread and communicate to others - the story of Christ as found in the Gospels - is inspiring to many people and this probably explains the growth of Christianity in parts of the world only recently exposed to it on a large scale, such as Asia. The idea of Christ's sacrifice in exchange for the salvation of the world is moving and powerful, and seems to resonate with much of humanity.

I would posit that Christianity's current problems are related to the collapse of (2) in service of (3), and that this has been going on for a long time. In the first millenium the Christian Church persecuted the Gnostics into near-extinction because they dared to value (2) above (3). The intercessory model of the Christian priesthood was specifically created in service to (3), and the implication of it was that regular people should not have any access to (2). The various spiritual technologies available to monks and the priesthood were kept from lay believers, and behind closed doors these practices eventually deteriorated.

This is an enormous problem from a spiritual perspective because the truth is that no one can do spiritual practices for you. You have to do them yourself. As a result, an intercessory system such as that found in Christianity and a number of other organized religions is essentially parasitic - it draws on the resources of all believers in order to benefit the few practitioners who are actually working the system. It is access to spiritual realization that confers salvation, so by keeping congregations completely in the dark actively does harm in that the overall potential for realization is reduced in society as a whole.

In service to its elite practitioners, the Christian Church also spent a great deal of effort on maintaining its political power throughout the Medieval period. In many ways the history of the Church during that period reads like the history of a military and political nation or alliance ruled by the Pope. The Church allied itself with various rulers and opposed others, organized the great armies of the crusades, and accumulated vast wealth. But none of this really benefited lay adherents of the system. They were promised rewards in heaven that the Church really had no way of securing for them.

The Protestant Reformation was an attempt to break free from this restrictive structure and set up new churches in which Christians would be more free to practice on their own. However, many Protestant sects also threw out most of the technologies developed by the Christian Church over the centuries. "Justification by faith" is not a theology that supports personal spiritual practice. Most Protestant sects still teach either the idea of Grace, which suggests that spiritual awakening is something that only God can do for you and which is unrelated to your actions, or Predestination, in which God essentially decides when you are born whether or not you are of "the elect" who will be saved. Either way, there's really nothing that you can do about it.

A religion can last a long time without an effective technology for achieving personal illumination especially if it has achieved significant social power, but with the advent of the information age people are being exposed to other religious systems and realizing that (2) is actually important. For example, Buddhism is starting to become more popular in the United States, and Buddhism is a religion that emphasizes the technology of meditation. Buddhism has also lasted sigificantly longer than Christianity or for that matter Judaism.

In addition, many people in Europe and the United States are becoming more aware of Gnostic Christianity through the publication of various alternative Gospels such as those found in the Nag Hammadi collection. Gnosticism is appealing to people who are inspired by the narrative of Christ and long for effective spiritual technology, but unfortunately it is also considered heretical by most mainstream Christian denominations and this may preclude any organized affiliation for such individuals.

As far as organized religions in general go, the most effective suggestion that I can make for any religious system that wants to survive long-term is to focus on the technology. Teach the practices, recommend them strongly to adherents, and continue to develop them so that spiritual realization can be achieved as efficiently as possible for those who are willing to do the work. Political and social power should only be sought as an afterthought, and the pursuit of such power should never take precedence over religion's real function - cultivating awakened realization.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Banning Traditional Healing in Tanzania

Most of the time when murders are associated with witchcraft in Africa they are the result of mob violence directed against individuals often falsely accused by neighbors or relatives. However as I've previously covered, in Tanzania some unscrupulous traditional healers also support the killing of albinos in order to obtain their body parts for use in magical rituals. In addition to being a horrible practice, it's also pretty stupid from a magical perspective. There's no technical reason to think that the melanin content of one's skin has anything to do with the magical efficacy of one's body parts, and furthermore you can do a perfectly effective healing spell without body parts from anyone.

The Tanzanian government has been pledging action on the issue for years with little success, including the mass arrest of 172 people last march and sting operations in an effort to identify the killers. However, despite the mass arrests, I have been unable to track down any information about convictions stemming from them. When you arrest 172 people and fail to convict any of them, it sends the message that law enforcement is either unwilling or unable to seriously investigate these cases. If law enforcement doesn't want these cases solved they won't be and the real problem is internal corruption, whereas if the police are too overwhelmed to launch investigations thorough enough to result in convictions they need to have more resources placed at their disposal.

Last week the government took action, passing legislation banning traditional healing. It sounds tough, but in the end I fear that it will prove misguided. In the United States drug policy is handled this way, and the result is the creation of a criminal underground that becomes even more profitable because of its illegality. The fact is that if a loved one is seriously ill and your options are to seek out an illegal traditional healer or do nothing just about anyone will do the former, ban or no ban.

A spokesman for a traditional healers' association has criticised the ban.

Arusha-based herbalist Haruna Kifimbo told the Citizen newspaper: "We are legally registered, they should be dealing with some state organs who have not done much to stop the wave of albino killings."

He claimed members of his association were offering services to more than 30% of the country's population.

"We have so many patients and clients who depend on us," he told the Citizen. "I believe it would have been better if the PM had consulted us before announcing the ban."

Traditional healing covers a lot more than just magical ceremonies and includes the use of herbal medicines that have been shown to be effective against some illnesses. Western medicine usually works better, but it is also expensive and Tanzania is not a wealthy nation.

In the end the problem remains one of enforcement and this ban just makes it worse. BBC news reports that despite the ban traditional healers in Tanzania are as busy as ever.

Witchdoctors in Tanzania are defying a government ban announced on Friday, intended to stop the killings of people with albinism for ritual medicine.

A BBC correspondent has seen at least 10 witchdoctors are working openly.

Unfortunately, this is not all that surprising. This ban does nothing to deal with corruption in the police force, and if law enforcement is too overwhelmed to effectively investigate the 40 or so albino murders that have happened in the last year, how are they ever going to find the resources to police healers who treat 30% of Tanzania's population? Is there even enough jail space for that many people? Rather than trying to legislate the problem away, Tanzania would do better to identify and weed out corrupt law enforcement officials and at the same time increase funding for investigations. But of course, that's a lot more expensive and time-consuming than just passing a new law and declaring victory.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shapeshifting Won't Save You

Thank goodness for the brave vigilantes of Nigeria! When witches attempted to steal a Mazda 323 they raced into action, chasing off one of the witches and capturing the other who had transformed into a goat. The goat was turned over to the Nigerian police and is currently in custody.

"The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat," Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

The police spokesman was deliberately vague about the case, no doubt trying to avoid a widespread panic over a possible ring of goat-transforming car thieves.

"We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat," he said.

Paranormal-powered criminals in Nigeria beware! The word is out, and if you are spotted trying to steal a car even shapeshifting won't save you from these witchfighting heroes on patrol.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spiritual Realization and Magical Power

This subject came up on a couple of the other magick blogs that I read about two months ago. This article started off as a response to that discussion, wound up being substantially longer than I intended, and I have now cut it back down to something more concise.

The basic question is this - is there a direct correllation between practical magical ability and spiritual realization? My answer is a qualified yes, but it does requires some further explanation. People have different levels of natural magical talent, so it doesn't necessarily make sense to say that if person A can get a better result than person B it means that A is necessarily wiser or more illuminated than B. From a practical standpoint, should you meet someone who can cast better spells than you, by no means should you assume that this person is more illuminated than you are. They may simply have been born with strong talents and know how to use them, and you should certainly not defer to them on anything other than technical issues without some additional evidence of realization on their part.

Similarly, looking at the world's spiritual traditions it makes little sense to treat practical magical work as a necessity for obtaining spiritual realization. Many very accomplished mystics from a wide variety of spiritual traditions have little interest in practical magick and are nonetheless highly illuminated individuals. Still, when magick is practiced along with mystical practices there is the possibility of using the synergy between them to speed you along the path. As an example from the Buddhist tradition, Mahayana Buddhism teaches that the path to enlightenment takes many lifetimes, but Vajrayana Buddhism teaches methods that promise the possibility of enlightenment within a single lifetime. The main difference between Mahayana and Vajrayana is that Vajrayana incorporates practices that most magicians would describe as magical, such as the use of mantras associated with particular practical effects.

What I mean when I say that there is a direct relationship between practical magick and spiritual realization is that, in the context of your own practice, a noticeable increase in your own practical magical ability is usually a sign of increased spiritual realization. Furthermore, an increase in your level of spiritual realization should increase your practical magical ability. Any realization that is not accompanied by such an increase should be carefully scrutinized, and may not be as profound as you originally thought. While practical magick may not be a requirement for spiritual realization, practical work accompanied by empirical testing is a big help as a "reality check" on your level of awareness. The important thing to understand here is that in this you are only in competition with yourself at different points along the path, which is why you need to keep careful track of your practical results and subjective experiences. Just because you happen to have been born with less practical talent than some other magician is no reason for you to consider yourself his or her inferior, particularly if you are drawn to mysticism anyway.

That being said, I have come across a few attitudes that should be avoided. The first of these is "maybe x is better at magick, but I'm a better mystic so I'm more realized." Are you sure? It's certainly possible and may be true, but there's little to be gained by placing yourself in spiritual competition with others. They have their path to walk and you have yours. More insidious is the idea that "I'm just not good at practical magick, so I just won't do it" or worse, "practical magicians are debasing the work by actually using their abilities." The first of these is usually an excuse to avoid actual magical work or simply a rationalization for a lack of interest, and the second is usually the sign of a practitioner who resents individuals born with more talent or even those who have worked harder than he or she has. This resentful mindset makes any sort of genuine realization nearly impossible.

The relationship between practical ability and spiritual realization can be broken out using the operant equation, my revised version of the magical equation first proposed by Peter Carroll in Liber Kaos. It is written thus:

S * (G * E * L * (1 - R) * (1 - A)) = M

S = Strength. This represents the magician's level of natural talent, and is a constant value.
G = Gnosis. This directly correllates to the magician's level of spiritual realization.
E = Energy. This represents the energetic state of the subtle body.
L = Link. The quality of the magical link to the target.
R = Resistance to the ritual's intended outcome.
A = Attachment to the ritual's intended outcome.
M = The real-world practical Magical Effect of the ritual in terms of probability shift.

Breaking down the equation, you can see that there are really only two ways that a magician could increase his or her practical ability without any corresponding increase in spiritual realization. The first is to use a better magical link to the target, a simple technical consideration, and the second is to increase the energetic state of the subtle body through practices such as Qigong, martial arts, pranayama, yoga, and so forth. A magician with a really high S, a highly-developed E, and a superior understanding of magical links might be able to cast effective practical spells without having a highly-developed G. However, a high degree of spiritual realization is also related to lower levels of Resistance and Attachment (or, if you prefer Buddhist terminology, attachment and aversion) and as a result I would not expect to find very many people with this particular combination of attributes and abilities.

More importantly, since spiritual realization raises G and lowers R and A, it should be clear that any genuine increase in spiritual realization will increase your practical magical abilities, at least to some degree. About the only way that this could not be the case is, for example, if the realization was obtained through some sort of extreme ascetic practice that depleted E. Even so, once E is replenished the magician should find that his or her practical ability is at a higher level than it was prior to the realization. If this does not seem to be the case when your practical abilities are subjected to empirical probability testing then more work is in order on your part. It may be that the enhancement is small enough that it is hard to isolate through testing, but if the realization is genuine it should be there. You certainly should not see a measurable decrease in your practical abilities as you become more realized.

When magick is done properly it is actually somewhat difficult to avoid some degree of enhanced realization. The ritual step that accomplishes this is the preliminary invocation, in which the magician invokes a godform prior to the invocation or evocation proper. This is the best way to work in terms of magical power and it also facilitates spiritual realization. Every godform invoked will increase realization to some degree, and though that degree may be very small, eventual accumulation is inevitable. What this means is that you don't have to choose between magick and mysticism, but you can do both and simultaneously become a better magician and a better mystic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lithuanian Witch Hired by Debt Collector

Could it be a sign of the state of our world economy? A Lithuanian debt collector has hired a witch to help track down companies and individuals with outstanding debts and induce them to pay up. The witch, a woman named Vilija Lobaciuviene, bills herself as "Lithuania's leading witch" and makes her living performing magical services for clients. A company spokesman for the debt collection agency explained Lobaciuviene's new role.

'Our new employee will help them [debtors] to understand the situation, reconsider what is right and wrong and act accordingly,' said a company spokesman.

In other words, I suppose, she'll threaten to hex them if they don't pay up. I'll have to follow the story and see how successful she is at collecting actual money.

You see, I've considered doing this to debtors in the past, but the problem is that if make a threat you have to follow through on it if the debtor calls your bluff. If you do follow through and cast a curse, the likelihood that the debt will ever be paid goes way down. Generally speaking, somebody who can't pay their debts is having a run of bad financial luck already, and if you make their luck even worse with some kind of a curse it will probably take them even longer to make good on it.

Of course, all this consideration goes out the window when you get conned by an individual who has no intention of paying you back. That can be properly treated as theft, and an evocation to "bring back the thief and what he stole" is probably in order. Then if that doesn't work, you're free to curse away.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bring Me My Illuminati Millions!

This shocking expose reveals the truth about the Illuminati, their minions, and the most frightening secret of the great occult conspiracy:


Listen, Illuminati Overlords, I've been carrying water for you for almost twenty years. I practice magick. I develop new techniques that increase the effectiveness of rituals and make them available online to anyone who wants to learn how to embrace magical power. I teach people how to cast spells and answer questions, even stupid ones. I'm a member of fraternal and magical orders that certainly should be plugged in to the conspiracy.


I'll make this easy on you. Hand over the cash within thirty days and I'll forget the whole thing. With all the work I've done it should be up to a couple million dollars by now. It's not like it's even all that much money from your perspective, at least according to the expose's unimpeachable source:

His name is John Todd (also Cristopher Kollyns). In 1972, when Todd was "saved," and exposed the Illuminati, he ruled a 13-state US region consisting of 5000 covens, i.e. totaling 65,000 priests and priestesses. That's just the ministers, not the congregation.

Wow, he must have known Mike Warnke! That makes for two totally incompetent minions! If they got paid when I haven't, that's just insulting.

Amazingly, I stumbled upon Todd just last week.This champion of humanity would be unknown today but for a website maintained by "James", an American living in Japan and another belonging to the redoubtable WesPenre.

Skeptics say that if the Illuminati were real, there would be defectors. There ARE plenty of defectors; clinics that deal with victims of CIA mind control and satanic ritual abuse are full of them.

But the vocal ones get put away. In 1987 Todd was framed "for rape" and sentenced to 30 years. According to Fritz Springmeier, when Todd was freed in 1994, he was "picked up by a helicopter" and murdered. ("Bloodlines of the Illuminati" p.93)

But James' website has a record of Todd being released from prison in South Carolina in April 2004 and then being re-incarcerated in the "Behavioral Disorder Treatment Unit" of the South Carolina Dept. of Mental Health.

So what, you tried to kill him and botched the job? I mean, let's face it - some of the folks you have working for you are complete idiots and I could do a better job in my sleep. As another example, how about this little gambit that has been, shall we say, other than successful?

Todd traces his defection to a meeting that took place around Labor Day 1972. They had received eight letters by diplomatic pouch from London.

"Dr. [Raymond] Buckland cut the seal on it and took out six letters that were sealed with this Illuminati crest. The first four were just business, money that we were to pay here and there and so on. Actually, the Grand Druid Council is nothing but glorified bankers, they write millions of dollars worth of checks to people in political and religious fields every month. But the last two letters led me to want to get out.

And here I thought all Ray Buckland did was write books on witchcraft bitching about how evil ceremonial magicians are, I guess because we dare to associate the dagger with Air instead of Fire. My bad!

"Now even though I was a part of setting up a world government, I always kind of snickered that [this] was ever going to happen, that we were serious, that it was kind of a little game we were playing. As long as the Rothschilds had all of the money to spend on our plans, we went ahead and spent the money. So I never took it seriously until we opened the last two letters.

"Now in the first letter that we opened of those last two, was a chart, and in that chart it listed an eight-year plan for world take-over ending in the December month of 1980. ...Next, the last letter we opened contained--now I'll have to quote it and then I'll have to explain, it, since witches say English but they say words that may not mean anything to you

Whatever the hell that means. I think your infernal legion of the night could probably use some remedial English instruction. But anyway...

--it said: "We have found a man whom we believe to be the son of Lucifer. We believe that through his works and our backing he can become ruler of this world, stop all wars, and bring peace, finally, to this war-stricken World." Now that literally meant that we had found a person so fantastically-powered that he could convince people he was their only salvation. Now that literally meant in Christian terms, he was demon-possessed like nobody had ever seen!"

Wow, the Son of Lucifer. You mean to tell me that you've had the Son of Lucifer on your side all this time and STILL FAILED? It's freaking 2009, folks! It's time to face facts: you need a better business plan and better employees, and it helps to pay us what we're worth. Pay up my millions in a timely fashion and I'll consider a reasonable offer of employment, but otherwise, consider yourselves On Notice!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

NAZ OLPIRT (“Pillars of Light”): Enochian Energy Work Exercise

I've recently been reviewing some of my notes on Enochian magick and came across this simple exercise from my ritual archives. It's similar to the Middle Pillar exercise but uses the Enochian elements from the Tablet of Union, under the rationale that in the Enochian system it is the Tablet of Union with which the magician's interal energies should be most closely aligned.

The colors that are associated with each element in this exercise are not the Golden Dawn colors, but are taken from combining the colors of the "cloths" in Edward Kelley's original vision of the four watchtowers with the elemental attributions revealed in the later "round house" vision. However, if you prefer it is quite easy to replace the colors given here with those used in the Golden Dawn system.

  1. Start off by standing in a normal, relaxed pose. Keep your spine straight and imagine your head suspended by a thread from above. Breathe slowly and easily through the nose into your diaphragm. Place your tongue so that it is touching the roof of your mouth and keep it there except when vibrating the words of the ritual. Make sure you hold the tongue in that position when breathing in.

  2. Using your projecting hand (usually your dominant hand), trace a clockwise circle above your head and intone MADRIAX ("the Heavens") three times. Visualize a sea of luminous brilliance above you, beyond and encompassing all colors.

  3. Touch the center of your forehead (ajna chackra) and intone IAD ("God") three times. Visualize energy akin to pure, clear light forming at this point, sending its rays outward to the four cardinal directions. Do not completely drop the visualization of luminous brilliance above you. You are adding to your visualization, not replacing it. This instruction holds true for all of the following steps.

  4. Touch your throat (vishuddha chackra) and intone EHNB ("Spirit") three times. Visualize a sphere of bright lavender light forming at this point.

  5. Touch the center of your chest (anahata chackra) and intone EXARP ("Air") three times. Visualize a sphere of vibrant white energy forming at this point.

  6. Touch your solar plexus (samsara chackra) and intone BITOM ("Fire") three times. Visualize a sphere of glowing red energy forming at this point.

  7. Touch the lower abdomen just below the navel (svadasthana chackra) and intone HCOMA ("Water") three times. Visualize a sphere of green energy forming at this point.

  8. Drop your hand to the level of the perineum (muladhara chackra) and intone NANTA ("Earth") three times. Visualize a sphere of solid black energy forming at the chackra point.

  9. Drop both hands to your sides and intone CAOSGO ("the Earth") three times. Visualize the completion of a circuit that begins above you in the heavens, descends below you into the deep earth down the front of your body and then ascends upwards to the heavens along the back of your body.

  10. As you visualize the circulating energy, start with both hands at the level of the perineum, palms turned upwards, and then raise them to the level of the top of your head as you inhale. Then turn the palms downward and drop them back to the level of the perineum as you exhale. This breathing should be deep, relaxed, and as smooth as possible. When performed properly you should feel a light tingling sensation up and down the spine that roughly follows your hand motions. Hold this visualization of the energy circuit in concert with your breathing for as long as is comfortable or appropriate.

  11. To conclude the exercise, make the Sign of Osiris Risen, crossing your arms over your chest, and intone TA CALZ I OROCHA ("As above the firmament so beneath you") as you visualize any excess energy that you have focused at each of the points of your body descending below your feet into the vast darkness of the deep earth, breaking the circuit. Feel a wave of relaxation sweep over you from your head down to your feet, sweeping any remaining tension into the deep earth along with the grounded energy.

If anyone is interested in adding this to their daily practice, let me know how well it works for you. It seemed pretty effective for me back when I was doing almost exclusively Enochian work.

Monday, January 12, 2009

More PNG Witchcraft Hysteria and One Clueless Skeptic

Over the last month more stories of witchcraft persecutions have come out of Papau New Guinea and Tanzania. In Papau New Guinea, a woman was actually burned at the stake by her neighbors who suspected her of practicing witchcraft. This has been a problem for some time in the Pacific nation and there isn't really much that I can say about it except that it is simply horrible. Witches in that part of the world are commonly accused of causing AIDS and other diseases that defy medical treatment. The PNG government has pledged action and proposed new legislation targeting those who persecute suspected witches, but it remains to be seen whether or not this will help.

Taking this recent horrific killing as a jumping-off point, Phil Plait of Discover Magazine has posted one of the dumbest things that I've read in a long time from the Skeptic Movement. Those of you who follow this blog know that I'm not nearly as anti-skeptic as a lot of magicians and pagans because I see a lot of value in the strict application of the scientific method, but in my opinion this really goes too far. Apparently Plait is of the opinion that there is some sort of equivalence that can be drawn between (1) a television series on A&E about police officers investigating hauntings and (2) the killing of this poor woman in Papau New Guinea. I'm sure that this woman's family would love to hear him explain in person how the production of a piece of fluff entertainment is somehow on par with the cold-blooded murder of a loved one.

It's not. Any reasonable person can see that, and it's people like Plait who give the Skeptic Movement a bad name.

Actually, I don't see anything wrong with a show about police investigating hauntings on principle. Police officers are trained observers, which means that they are more likely to accurately record what they see than regular folks. In my last article I went through a basic checklist that anyone experiencing a haunting should go through to rule out any mundane explanation, and my only real problem with these shows is when they don't apply that sort of a consistent process. I have yet to see investigators check out the wiring of a house, for example, even though they walk through the property and note electromagnetic anomalies with their instruments. Any good skeptic will tell you that the electrical is the first thing that you should check when you encounter readings like that, since electromagnetic fields can have an effect on the human brain.

Even at their worst, does anyone besides Plait honestly believe that television programs like this will lead modern Americans to burn people at the stake? Of course not. You might as well say that shows about police investigating murders will cause people to start killing each other. Television is entertainment, and even when the shows in question document supposedly real events we know to take them with a grain of salt. But in the absolutist minds of some skeptics - the ones that I don't like - the only two options are empirical science or witch hysteria, with nothing in between.

Hauntings are usually real phenomena that we should investigate, even though most of them can be conclusively traced back to well-understood mundane phenomena rather than spirits from beyond the grave. The majority of them are not hoaxes, unlike what some skeptics try to claim. Often they are simply families encountering unfamiliar phenomena that are genuinely frightening, and for us to just turn our backs on such people because "if we investigate people will get burned alive" is stupid. Why not just bring in some real scientists and solve the problem? I'd watch that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Haunted Mirror

In the comments to the Proctor and Gamble post, I got an interesting question from a reader. Seeing as it was off-topic for the P&G thread, I figured I would go ahead and answer it as best I could in a new posting.

OZWizard writes:

What is "alive" or "living" in the mirror in my entry hall?

It seems harmless and somewhat oblivious to me. It also seems to be some sort of guardian. It wouldn't move from its place and seemed un-distracted as if set in place or held in place. I asked silently if it was from God but there was no response.

I noticed it during the stress of the holidays and during an "altered state" after I had several nights without sleep and without my glasses ( I have astigmatism.)

I seemed to move out and back into the mirror as if held there. I was very tall, as tall as the mirror plus above the floor, so between six and seven feet tall. It was birdlike or angelic with huge birdlike wings. The wings seemed to move independently and rose and lowered to cover its face which changed back and forth several times from humanoid, to bird, to lion to other unknown creature constantly. The wings rose over its shoulders to cover its face and seemed to help hide it back into the mirror and to hide its face when it appeared to notice me watch it. The wings seemed alive in themselves and reflexive rather than controlled (sort of like a blinking eyelid).

This "creature" could be a number of different things. However, the first thing you should do is spend some time looking at the mirror, studying it from different vantage points in the entry hall, and so forth. You want to be absolutely sure this is not some kind of optical effect that has nothing to do with anything spiritual. If it is some sort of trick of the light, you should be able to see it again if you observe it under the exact same conditions.

Also note that lack of sleep can induce hallucinations. I know of several professors from astronomy classes that I took when I was younger who swore up and down that they saw all sorts of bizarre things when they had stayed up for a few nights in a row watching the stars. If you only see it when you're running seriously short on sleep, something like that is probably the real answer.

One more thing to watch out for is old, unshielded electrical wiring, like the knob and tube wiring in some older homes. Some experts have suggested that older electrical wiring could create electromagnetic fields that affect the human brain. I've heard of a number of cases where people were troubled by a haunting but then upgraded all of the electrical wiring in the troubled part of the house. With the new wiring in place and properly grounded, the unusual phenomena disappeared.

Finally, if there is a window anywhere in the entry hall, watch out for cars on the street and see if moving your hand in front of the window affects the image when you see it again. I had a friend of mine once tell me that he thought a certain cemetary was haunted because when walking along the sidewalk nearby at night you could see random flashes of light from around the headstones. I checked it out, and sure enough, the flashes appeared. However, after careful investigation I realized that the flashes were actually just a property of the very long, straight road that ran along the cemetary. Right when a car turned onto the road more than half a mile away, there would be a brief flash when light from the headlights caught the granite on some of the headstones. The granite shifted the color of the light and the cars were too far away to be heard until well after the flash.

I felt no fear watching it move back and forth from within the wall or mirror. It seemed to be guarding something. There were small fairy-looking or miniature elf like creatures seeming to be "allowed to pass" by i the "mirror" creature". Some of the fairies watched me oblivious also. The "winged creature" appeared to "communicate" with the fairy creatures in a friendly way but it ignored me watching the entire scene.

I pass the mirror and wall several times a day on the way in or out my door or up the stairs. I have tries to acknowledge it being there but I have not tried to observe it deliberately again.

What is this creature?

Once you've eliminated the likely mundane explanations, there are a number of paranormal things that this could be - however, I want to stress that a mundane explanation is the culprit at least nine times out of ten. Make sure that before you decide this is something paranormal you rule out everything else. I can't stress this enough, because genuine paranormal haunting-type cases are very rare.

Here are some questions that would help me out. Go ahead and answer them in the comments to this post. First off, how old is the mirror? Did it come with the house? Is it an antique? Or is it just a fairly normal mirror that you bought at a department store or something? Second of all, how old is your house? Have you experienced any other haunting-like phenomena in any are of the house besides the mirror? Knowing all of those things will give me a lot more information about this phenomenon.

If I was told that this was definitely a paranormal entity, my best guess would either be a ghost of some sort that died in the vicinity of the mirror or in your house, or possibly some kind of telesma or artificial spirit constructed by a magician and linked into the mirror. In the former case it might be guarding the entry hall, and in the latter case it might be guarding the mirror itself. If you link a telesma into an object, when the object breaks the telesma usually "dies" unless it is linked to some specific portion of the object that remains unbroken.

I hope this helps. I'll look forward to your answers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slapping Down the P&G Satanic Panic

In more conspiracy-related news, four Amway distributors have been found liable for spreading rumors linking rival soap manufacturer Proctor and Gamble to Satanism. I've been hearing these rumors for years, and while as a real occultist I immediately recognize it as nonsensical, enough people were fooled to increase Amway's sales substantially. Apparently, "OMG IT'S A MOON WITH 13 STARS" proved to be a marketing pitch that sold a lot of overpriced soap over the years. The four distributors have dropped their appeal of a $19.2 million jury award and settled with Proctor and Gamble for an undisclosed sum.

One version of this rumor that I heard mentioned that Proctor and Gamble donated some huge sum of money to the Church of Satan. I'm sure that if he were still alive Anton LaVey would be gratified to know that at least in the popular imagination of multi-level marketers and their clients his organization was incredibly wealthy, powerful, and influential rather than what it really was - a small group of counterculture agitators working out of an old house in San Francisco. The question that should make any reasonable person doubt the rumors is why any large corporation would bother to subsidize a group like that of LaVey and his followers. The upside of doing so is essentially zero, while the downside in terms of public relations is pretty severe, unless I suppose you consider free plastic pitchforks and devil masks an upside.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Meet Mexico's "Grand Warlock"

I suppose you learn something new every day. Like until now, I had no idea that Mexico even had a "Grand Warlock," which sounds a lot more like something out of a B-movie than any sort of spiritual title. But apparently Antonio Vasquez is for real - at least according to Antonio Vasquez.

Vazquez has been making predictions since 1980 on events ranging from international events to the private lives of celebrities, based on his reading of tarot cards.

Unfortunately, Vasquez' ability to predict the future appears to be erratic at best.

Vazquez erroneously predicted last year that oil prices would be stable and that Cuba's Fidel Castro and singer Britney Spears would die. This year, he says Spears will continue to triumph.

If inaccurate predictions are the mark of a Grand Warlock, I suppose the last one we had here in the United States would have to have been Criswell. Maybe it's time we had another, seeing as he died in 1982.

Vasquez' latest prediction is that some US troops will be recalled from Iraq and stationed at the border between the United States and Mexico in the coming year. That seems pretty safe for him, given that:

  1. Some troops will be leaving Iraq based on military projections.

  2. The military has recently announced that some troops will be activated within the United States.

  3. Border security will likely be a significant issue in the next congress, and is probably one of the least controversial uses of those troops.
So I guess that means to become a Grand Warlock, one must make predictions about the future that only a warlock or a regular newspaper reader could deduce. Maybe I should consider taking the job - after all, since Grand Warlocks are apparently "self-proclaimed" I wouldn't even need to ace the job interview.