Monday, February 29, 2016

An Analysis of the Star Sapphire

When I originally sat down to write this article, I figured that it would be kind of long, or at least longer than the articles I usually post here. Generally I try to shy away from TL;DR territory here on Augoeides, and I try to make my posts as compact as I can. Sometimes, as with news stories, that's easy. On the other hand, sometimes I wind up with an article like this one that is way longer than I expected when I started writing it. Magicians sometimes talk about how the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, while simple, combines so many different elements of magical work that a detailed analysis can be quite lengthy. As I discovered, the Star Sapphire has similar depth, so I wound up going further down the rabbit hole than I intended when I started working on explaining all the symbolism. Still, I'm proud of the result and I hope it will help those looking for more detailed instructions on how to perform this ritual.

I would like to thank Ixel Balamke for explaining a variation on this ritual that is different than what I present here, but which also involves using wine as the Sacrament. I hadn't previously considered adding a physical eucharistic component to the ceremonial performance of the Star Sapphire, but it does fit the text better than any other step I've seen suggested over the years. That suggestion is what first got me thinking in this direction. I would also like to thank Squid and the other attendees of Leaping Laughter Lodge's ritual workshop nights, who helped me to iron out some of the bits and pieces and justify my interpretation of each step. I would also like to stress that this is by no means an "initiated interpretation" of this ritual based on the system of any particular order or organization. It is simply a very thorough analysis derived from publicly available texts and my own personal experimentats and opinions.

Aleister Crowley's Star Sapphire ritual is one of the most difficult rituals to work out in the entire Thelemic canon. It's not that the ritual instructions are difficult so much as they are so frustratingly vague. Recently I've been experimenting with variations on it at our local Leaping Laughter Lodge ritual workshops, and I think I have finally hit on a detailed set of instructions that correspond to Crowley's description of the rite and are suitable for individual ceremonial work.

The Star Sapphire is Crowley's version of the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, just as the Star Ruby is his version of the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. He described the latter as an "improved" version of the pentagram ritual, so I think it's safe to say that he probably considered the Star Sapphire an improved hexagram ritual as well. It is certainly true that both rituals incorporate more Thelemic symbolism than the Golden Dawn rituals that Crowley sought to improve.

The dynamic of the Star Ruby and Star Sapphire is one of the pieces of evidence I like to cite for Crowley's use of the operant field. He didn't call it that, of course, but I am of the opinion that from the design of the two rituals, the Star Ruby is essentially a banishing ritual and the Star Sapphire is essentially an invoking ritual. Banishing is implied by the widdershins motion of the Star Ruby, while invoking is implied by the deosil motion of the Star Sapphire. Also, the description of the Holy Hexagram in The Book of Lies strongly alludes to the invoking character of the latter rite.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fear the Mandala Coloring Books

So I can't tell if this article is a joke or not. The site I found it on appears to be serious, but if so it means that the poster is a serious idiot. Apparently "adult coloring books" are now a thing, and the poster is a Christian who is all worried because some of them contain mandalas found in the Buddhist tradition. This is a problem because, apparently, coloring a mandala is the same thing to this person as performing actual tantric Buddhist practices - which, since said person is a nut, are of course Satanic.

A mandala is that beautiful circle pattern that looks like it would be impossible to draw free hand. It is also a “spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” (Wikipedia).

A mandala is used in tantric Buddhism as an aid to meditation. They meditate on the image until they are saturated by it. They believe that you can merge with the deity by meditating on the mandala. “A mandala is also visualized (dhyana) by the yogin whose aim it is to merge with the deity.”

Focusing on mandalas is a spiritual practice where you merge with “deities”–this practice opens the door to demons.

The thing is, how is the devil going to get Christians to meditate on mandalas?

No Christian would put one in their house and sit and stare at it for an hour, chanting the sacred word!

But if the enemy can get a Christian to stare at a mandala because they are coloring it, he can have them absentmindedly focus their attention on the image and they will unknowingly open up their subconscious to this image in almost the same way.

There are a couple of problems with this idea. First off, I have no concept of why anyone would be interested in an "adult coloring book." I hated coloring when I was a kid and I've never really been able to see the appeal. But to each their own, I suppose. Second, tantric Buddhist practice requires empowerment from a lama, a mantra, a specific meditation technique, and a whole series of complex visualizations that I'm pretty sure nobody is going to be doing sitting at a table coloring. You have to do all of that together for it to count as spiritual practice.

So it's not the same at all, and I suspect this individual only thinks so because they don't understand Buddhist practice at all. To be fair, it sounds like in their world that understanding Buddhist practice would be the same as worshiping the Devil, and of course they can't have that. But they need to understand that mandalas aren't magic - that is, "magic" as in fantasy novel bullshit. They don't "open portals to demons" just by appearing on a page, even if they had anything to do with Christian demons in the first place.

So as I said, I hope it's a joke, but the more nonsense from these Poor Oppressed clowns I see, the less hope I hold out for much of humanity. That mandala I have at the top of this article is that of Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion. If mandalas work the way this poster says they do, maybe it will somehow help just by sitting there.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Police Apprehend Escaped Unicorn

In the sort of story you don't see every day, police in Madera, California were tasked with apprehending a unicorn named Juliette who escaped from a photo shoot last Wednesday night. It is not clear why she fled the photo shoot, or where she was trying to go while police attempted to chase her down. They initiated their pursuit after receiving calls reporting an unaccompanied unicorn roaming the streets - and everybody knows that unaccompanied unicorns mean nothing but trouble.

The horse had been "posing with kids" during a photo shoot, when she "became frightened" and broke away from her owner. She had been a little unruly earlier in the day (you can't tame unicorns, you know), trying to make a break for it once already before being thwarted. On her second attempt, Juliette was a bit craftier, and got away.

She ran to the streets of Madera Rancheros, at which point onlookers began phoning the California Highway Patrol, reporting that they were seeing a unicorn trotting about the city.

As is typical of unicorns, Juliette was stealthy and elusive in avoiding capture, for at least a few hours. After location efforts proved unsuccessful, the CHP intensified their retrieval procedures.

"The search became so desperate," KTLA 5 reports, "that the local police had to use a helicopter and thermal imaging to locate the pony, which was hiding out in an orchard."

Juliette's owners insist that she is not a unicorn, but rather a pony with a unicorn horn stuck to her head. But that's probably what I would say too if a story made it into the papers reporting on my ownership of such a rare and magical creature. It also explains the enlistment of police, since clearly a real unicorn would be far too valuable to simply allow to run loose in the streets. Who knows what dark magick somebody could accomplish if they managed to get their hands on the horn?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Scalia's Secret Society

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died while attending a hunting event hosted by a secret society founded in the 1600's. I have to say, I really didn't see that one coming. The group is called the International Order of St. Hubertus, and while nobody seems to know whether or not Scalia was a member, it seems that several of his hunting companions were.

After Scalia’s death Feb. 13, the names of the 35 other guests at the remote resort, along with details about Scalia’s connection to the hunters, have remained largely unknown. A review of public records shows that some of the men who were with Scalia at the ranch are connected through the International Order of St. Hubertus, whose members gathered at least once before at the same ranch for a celebratory weekend.

Members of the worldwide, male-only society wear dark-green robes emblazoned with a large cross and the motto “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes,” which means “Honoring God by honoring His creatures,” according to the group’s website. Some hold titles, such as Grand Master, Prior and Knight Grand Officer. The Order’s name is in honor of Hubert, the patron saint of hunters and fishermen.

This sounds more like that same old fraternal stuff that you see in Freemasonry and other fraternal orders that were at their height during the Victorian age. There's no evidence that the order engages in any occult practices, and that usually means nothing like that is going on in these groups that cater to old rich men. I do think, though, that if people are going to throw around dumb rumors like "Obama sacrificed Scalia" it might behoove them to check out the actual members of an actual secret society who were actually with the justice that weekend.

After all, if the group "honors God's creatures" by killing them, maybe they really, really just wanted to honor Justice Scalia. But I doubt it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Handheld Thermal Imaging

Caterpillar, the maker of bobcats and backhoes, is not the first company you would expect to make a smartphone. Nonetheless, the company is poised to release one in June, the Caterpillar S60. The S60 is an android phone that will be marketed to people who work in the construction industry, so it's extra-rugged and waterproof at depths up to five meters. Its most unusual feature, though, is a built-in thermal imaging camera from Flir, a company that has previously made add-on thermal cameras for smartphones.

Flir imagines that others, including emergency first responders and outdoor enthusiasts, may also find uses for the phone. If police come across an abandoned car, for example, they can use the thermal imaging camera to determine whether the engine or seats are still warm, or whether there's a body anywhere in the vicinity. The heat sensor is on the back of the phone, just above the 13-megapixel camera. Use the two together and you get not just a heat map, but a picture that combines the heat map with details observed by the camera that add extra context, such as architectural and facial features.

The preinstalled Flir app is slightly different from what you'd download if you bought a plug-in thermal imaging sensor. It's designed to take full advantage of the phone's octa-core processing capabilities and the latest version of Google's Android software, nicknamed Marshmallow. If you capture an image and want to find out later what the exact temperature was in any particular spot, it's possible to press on it to find out -- all of that detail is captured with the picture and stored in its metadata.

Here's the thing - just last week at the lodge, we were talking about how great it would be to have a thermal imaging camera for use during evocations. One of the most common effects produced by spirits are temperature fluctuations. At least, that's what they feel like. It would be pretty awesome to be able to record one of these "heat maps" for a ritual and see if the apparent shifts are objective or perceptual. Thermal imaging cameras are also used by ghost hunters for tracking "cold spots" and other manifestations attributed to hauntings. The S60 would be great for that, too.

I'm one of those oddballs who actually likes Windows Phone, so I don't know that I'll be picking one of these up any time soon. Still, if I ever did find myself in the market for an android phone, one with thermal imaging would be pretty cool and I could find plenty of paranormal uses for it.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Trouble With Tyson

The following post is an excerpt from my upcoming book Mastering the Thirty Aires. I have been critical of Donald Tyson's Enochian works in the first two books of the series, but I was shocked at one point to find myself attacked online by a handful of Enochian magicians who apparently think Tyson's apocalypse musings are awesome or something - just for saying that I thought the whole notion was ridiculous. Tyson's problem is not his scholarship or ability as a researcher, both of which are generally fine. Rather, he seems to be adept at taking bits and pieces of lore and combining them in ways that strike me as completely bizarre.

My new book will mostly consist of the system of the Aires as it appears in Dee's diaries, with some suggested modern practices thrown in where they make sense as optional components. I do, however, include a short chapter on Aleister Crowley's "Scrying the Aethyrs," as it is probably the most popular modern practice that uses the system of the Aires. Also, I'm a Thelemite, so a lot of my cosmology is drawn from Crowley's The Vision and the Voice. I figured that as part of that chapter I would comment on Tyson's own words, blogger-style, so that you can make up your own mind. Maybe he's right and I'm wrong. But I seriously doubt it.

There is one more point with respect to Crowley’s Aethyr workings that I need to address. It is completely ridiculous, but I keep running into people online who apparently believe it.

As I touched on in Mastering the Great Table, Donald Tyson has proposed the concept of an "Enochian Apocalypse" directly tied to Crowley’s Scrying the Aethyrs. Tyson starts by pointing out similarities between the imagery found in the Angelic Keys and certain passages from the Book of Revelation – all of which he describes accurately, as he is generally a competent researcher. But from there, he takes his argument in an utterly bizarre direction, asserting that working the Enochian system will basically lead to the end of the world as we know it.

In my opinion the apocalypse prepared by the Enochian angels must be primarily an internal, spiritual event, and only in a secondary way an external, physical catastrophe. The gates of the Watchtowers that stand guard at the four corners of our dimension of reality are mental constructions. When they are opened, they will admit the demons of Coronzon, not into the physical world, but into our subconscious minds.

Tyson’s argument rests upon the idea that “an apocalypse” fundamentally refers to some sort of catastrophe. But that’s not what the word originally meant. “Apocalypse” is a synonym for “revelation,” which is why the final book of the New Testament is named as it is. If the latter definition were what Tyson was talking about, that working with the Enochian system has the potential to lead the individual magician to a personal revelation – that is, a greater level of mystical realization – I would basically agree with him. I am of the opinion that this is in fact the point of the undeniably apocalyptic language of the Keys. Unfortunately, he keeps going.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Phoenix Goddess Temple Trial Underway

Back in 2011, members of the Goddess Temple in Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested and charged with prostitution. The Temple is a religious organization dedicated to sacred sexuality that practices a New Age synthesis of Eastern and Western practices. According to police, the justification was that since the temple engaged in sacred sexual practices and would accept offerings like any religious organization, the church was no different than a brothel and therefore its members were breaking the law.

The Goddess Temple had been operating for years with no complaints. I remember first seeing the organization on the Internet in the late 1990's, more than a decade before any arrests were made. But I suppose it was only a matter of time before somebody made a stink about it. Tracy Elise, the head of the organization, is finally going to trial after five years. She is facing up to 70 years in prison for various charges related to the allegation that she was really running a brothel rather than a legitimate spiritual or religious group. The original charges included various quotes to that effect from law enforcement.

Those quotes included some from county attorney Bill Montgomery, who said at a press conference, “This was no more a church than Cuba was Fantasy Island.” It also included a statement from police spokesman Sergeant Steve Martos, who framed the temple operations as only semantically different than a brothel: “Instead of johns, they were called seekers. Instead of sexual intercourse, it was called sacred union. The women were not called prostitutes, they were called goddesses.” Over 30 people were arrested in the raids.

What Elise has come to believe in the years since is that the case against her temple was driven by a distinctly Roman Catholic bias, as personified by county attorney Montgomery. He wasn’t appointed to that position until November 2010. Prior to that, while there had been concerns raised by neighbors, city officials seemed satisfied that the temple practices were protected by the first amendment to the Constitution. While some of the prosecution witnesses, including Montgomery, were asked if they were Catholic, Elise said that the line of questioning was halted by the judge.

As to what exactly was going on in there, Elise does not shy away from the concept of sacred sexuality and its healing powers. “If someone is sincere in their beliefs, has a doctrine, and follows it consistently, then the state has the burden of proof,” she explained. That doctrine wove together goddess-focused Pagan rituals, tantric sexual practices, and Native American ceremonies overseen by the temple’s sponsoring organization, the Okleveuha Native American Church.

“I can’t do a seven-chakra rebalancing and ignore the red ray,” Elise said, using one of the terms she has for the root chakra, where the genitals are located. “If a man is starved for affection for whatever reason,” a woman in the temple’s sacred precincts might “receive him and unburden him” in a ritual as sacred as that conducted within a confessional booth, she said, and it’s no one’s business exactly what occurs between them, emotionally or physically. “He may love his wife completely, but they are not sexual. We’re not interested in stealing him away from her.”

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Helping "Witch Children"

As I mentioned in yesterday's article, I used to post a lot of African witchcraft stories and have backed off on those, mostly because they tend to be so depressing. But one of my readers asked me to write more about the problem of "witch children" and highlight the African Children's Aid Education and Development Foundation (DINNødhjælp - deres overlevelse), a Danish organization that is helping African children cast out by their families for being witches.

No, I don't know how to pronounce their name in Danish either. Still, they seem to be doing good work.

Here in America, we have the freedom to engage in our spiritual practices in large part because there is little widespread belief in magick. In parts of Africa, people are so scared of "witchcraft" they attribute all sorts of things to magick that have nothing to do with it. This is one reason I think that attempts to "prove magick" to skeptics are profoundly misguided.

I am strongly in favor of investigating magick scientifically, but it seems like so much of parapsychology is more wrapped around the idea of "proving it" rather than figuring out how it works. One we can verify the properties and limitations of magick, we can demystify it. Once that's done, it will be easy to say whether magick can accomplish a particular thing or not, which will help insulate those of us who practice from flat-out nonsense.

A couple weeks back I got into a discussion about this at lodge, with someone who thought it was a mistake to try and work out the limits of magick. But the thing is, when you say "it has no limits, I just get what I want" I think that you are setting yourself up for a world in which people start freaking out because of the profoundly flawed idea that "if you can do anything, you should be able to do everything." It leads to some pretty sad conclusions - like the idea of witch children.

Back in 2009, I posted an article about how children in the Democratic Republic of Congo were being persecuted as witches. And anybody who understands anything about magick knows that's just plain ridiculous. Magical powers take years of study and practice to develop, and working with them is one of the most difficult cognitive skills there is to develop.

At the time, it was reported that children as young as seven were being accused. Unfortunately, it's only gotten worse since then. Recently a story has been circulating on the Internet (including the new Watchers of the Dawn) of a two-year-old boy who was abandoned by his family for being a witch and was starving in the streets of Nigeria. Two years old! A two-year-old can't even spell, let alone cast spells. But apparently his family was frightened enough to banish him anyway.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Who Do They Think They Are?

It has come to my attention that Watchers of the Dawn, a website originally dedicated to posting snarky comments about the various Golden Dawn orders, apparently fancies itself the new Augoeides. Don't believe me? Check out the screenshot above that I took just last night. You can click on the image to enlarge.

Let's see - not a single Golden Dawn story on there! To be fair, those are just the most recent six stories on the site and there's one more row on front page, with Golden Dawn stories in positions #8 and #9, but still.

In the screenshot, they have the "Obama sacrificed Scalia" story at #6. #7, which you can't see, is about Saudi Arabia's anti-witchcraft squad. And #2 is crazy stuff from Pat Robertson, which I cover all the damn time.

I was considering covering #7, the anti-witchcraft squad story, and #1, the Goddess Temple trial in Phoenix over the weekend. I still might. I will say that I've backed off the African witchcraft stories for the most part, so they can have #4 and #5.

But how dare they? This is my beat, man!

Now it hopefully is obvious at this point that my comments here are all tongue-in-cheek, and other websites can post whatever the heck they want. I do think it's kind of telling, though, that they decided to move beyond Golden Dawn snarking and into more general occult news territory.

Because really, when you get right down to it, only so many people are that interested in the Golden Dawn and the twisted political nonsense that goes on between the different groups. Personally I avoid it like the plague. On the other hand, everybody likes to make fun of Pat Robertson. I think that statement might even be axiomatic.

Augoeides had a slow January, with me starting a new job along with continuing to putter away on both Mastering the Great Table and yet another new fiction project. So maybe they just decided to cater to folks jonesing for their Augoeides fix after a paltry month of only four posts, and I can't say that I blame them.

But have no fear, I'm currently in the process of ramping the posting back up to where it was a couple months back. I'm even going to up my game a bit and start posting more serious magick articles, like I've been promising for awhile now. Monday's piece on Goetic Circles and Operant Fields was just the beginning.

Let's see if Watchers of the Dawn can keep up.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vampire-Paller Jeb In Trouble

Ever since I exposed Jeb Bush as a vampire-paller last year, I've been waiting for his campaign to collapse. I'm a bit saddened that no opposition researchers seem to have found my article or had any interest in using it, but that's probably because Jeb has been shooting himself in the foot all on his own, over and over again.

The South Carolina Republican Primary this weekend could very well be ground zero for Jeb's campaign. According to recent polls, Trump is ahead by a large margin among likely primary voters, and while Jeb sought the endorsement of popular South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, it instead went to Marco Rubio. The next few states look even worse, so a bad showing on Saturday might just do him in.

One could imagine GOP front-runner Donald Trump getting away with it -- calling himself the greatest presidential disrupter or whatnot -- but coming from Bush, it felt forced and unconvincing, as if he were a 22-year-old pitching a venture capital firm on Tinder for gerbils. Trump could pitch that -- it’d be a great, great place for classy gerbils to meet -- but you could tell, deep down, Jeb knew how ridiculous it sounded.

“Disrupter Jeb,” who’d set aside his glasses for a more youthful, contacts-based look, was just one of numerous Jebs put forward by the candidate that night. There was "Swagger Jeb," trying to mimic Trump’s bluster and self-confidence, boasting of his abilities. There was "Tea Party Jeb," stressing how he’d move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem on his first day in office and countermand President Barack Obama’s executive orders. There was "Adult Jeb," highlighting his experience handling natural disasters and battles with teachers unions as Florida’s governor.

And then there was Jeb Bush, a member of today’s most successful political dynasty, highlighting the hawkish foreign policy of his brother, former President George W. Bush and the strong moral fiber of his father, former President George H. W. Bush. “If every child had parents like George and Barbara Bush growing up, we’d be a completely different country,” he told the crowd.

It's possible that Jeb might be a better president than his brother. At least, I would sure hope so. But what he's shown so far in the race for the Republican nomination is that he's a flat-out terrible campaigner, while his brother was an excellent one. And by the way, I expect that's pretty much the nicest thing you will ever hear me say about George W. Bush.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, appears set to duplicate his big New Hampshire win on Saturday. I think those witches who tried to hex him need to go back to the drawing board, because he's doing far better than anyone expected at this point in the race.

UPDATE: So as it turns out, the polls were right. Trump won South Carolina, and Jeb is done. And to think it happened without anyone deploying my vampire-paller allegations against him! I'll keep them around, though, should he ever run for office again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


That headline pretty much sums up my response to this story, which has to rank up there as one of the dumbest things I've ever seen on the Internet - and as regular readers of this blog know, that's really saying something. I talk a lot about how fundamentalists Christians seem like they inhabit their own insular universe, and this shows just how far removed from everyone else's reality they've managed to get.

So here's the deal. As just about everyone in the world now knows, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep last weekend at a remote ranch in Texas. Scalia was a staunch conservative, so conspiracy theorists already are spinning scenarios in which he was murdered by some mysterious liberal assassin, rather than the official explanation of death by natural causes.

Scalia was very private about his health, but apparently he was suffering from some medical issues that could have contributed to his death. He was also 79 years old. But according to Christian radio host Rick Wiles, none of that is relevant. Wiles contends that not only was Scalia murdered, he was murdered by President Obama as a sacrifice to Lucifer to commemorate the Roman holiday of Lupercalia.

Yeah, that was about my reaction. And here I thought that Obama was supposed to be a secret Muslim.

Wiles explained that the “Luciferian” “devil-worshipers” who control the government are out for blood, noting that Lupercalia is observed between February 13 and 15. Scalia’s body was discovered on the 13th. “There’s always human sacrifice involved,” he said, claiming that Scalia was “killed” to mark the beginning of pagan fascism ruling over the U.S.

“The 13th was the 44th day of 2016, Obama is the 44th president of the United States,” Wiles said, “so you have this numerology thing taking place.”

Wiles said that the assassins who killed the conservative justice “deliberately left the pillow on his face as a message to everybody else: ‘Don’t mess with us, we can murder a justice and get away with it.’ And I assure you, there’s a lot of frightened officials in Washington today, deep down they know, the regime murdered a justice…. This is the way a dictatorial, fascist, police state regime takes control of a nation.”

Monday, February 15, 2016

Goetic Circles and Operant Fields

Regular readers of this blog know all about my advocacy of the operant field for practical magical operations. Instead of the traditional Golden Dawn use of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram followed by the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram, an operant field consists of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram followed by the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Hexagram.

You can also open an operant field using a banishing Star Ruby and an invoking Star Sapphire (which as far as I can tell is how Aleister Crowley intended those two rituals to work), or any other combination of a general banishing pentagram ritual and general invoking hexagram ritual. The point is that you banish at the microcosmic level and invoke at the macrocosmic level.

How I usually explain this is that it works by banishing or clearing out the microcosmic space of your field of consciousness represented by the pentagram, and invoking into that space the macrocosmic elements represented by the hexagram. This interlocks the microcosm and macrocosm, and creates a space or field within which internal magical intents can more easily manifest into the external physical realm.

This proposal generated some controversy when it finally circulated enough to make the rounds of the blogosphere, with folks such as the late Donald Michael Kraig arguing that the operant field method is not the right way to use the forms. But I keep at it, because it keeps working for me.

At any rate, the interlocking of microcosm and macrocosm is essentially a symbolic representation of the "operation of the Sun" described in the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus. Once the magician has created the field, within its bounds "that which is above" and "that which is below" merge more fully than they do during regular conscious awareness.

When you banish at both the microcosmic and macrocosmic levels, it could perhaps be said that both realms correspond because they are devoid of influences, but the boundary between them nonetheless remains. That makes influencing the physical world by means of concentrated thought far more difficult, as the continued presence of the boundary creates additional resistance to the propagation of your magical intent into the world.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Maplewood Ghost Attack

It's not every day that a weird paranormal story originates near your own home town. But I suppose it was about time. For anybody who doesn't know, I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis is one of Minnesota's Twin Cities, the other being the state capitol, Saint Paul, across the Mississippi River. The metro area includes both cities and the surrounding suburbs, with a population of about two and a half million people.

Maplewood is one of suburbs on the Saint Paul side of the metro. It's home to the headquarters of 3M corporation, the makers of post-it notes and a whole slew of other household and industrial products. It also is the site of today's story, which made the local alternative newspaper City Pages. According to the article, a Maplewood woman claimed that she was attacked in her home by two ghosts. She stabbed one of them with a kitchen knife and then lost consciousness.

The alert, which a user posted to imgur late last night, tells the story of a woman who was "unresponsive" and behind a locked door when her family found her. She was holding a large kitchen knife, and was covered in blood. Her body had no visible wound that could have accounted for that much blood loss.

Medics were called, and the woman eventually came back to consciousness. It was then that she told her version of the events that had led to her discovery in that state. "She claimed that she was attacked by two 'ghosts,'" the crime alert says, "and stabbed one of them in the chest before she went unconscious." Aside from the blood that covered the woman's face, neck, and hands, there was a trail that led all over the house — but did not extend outside it.

Of course, the Maplewood Police Department is not Ghostbusters, so they are treating the mysterious incident like a potentially serious crime. That would mean a live, human stabbing victim somewhere out there, who managed to escape the woman's home alive, though without leaving a blood trail.

I'm going to come right out here and say I have no idea what happened. The presence of blood suggests that the attackers were people rather than spirits, but why is the woman reporting ghosts? Was this a home invasion during which the attackers dressed up as the killer from Scream? There are special effects that the attackers might have employed to make it seem as if they were ghosts, too, but that seems like a lot of work to go to in order to convince one woman she is being haunted.

I'm sure the truth will eventually come to light. The attacker most likely figured out how to stop the bleeding before leaving the house, which would explain the absence of a blood trail leading outside. I know if I were stabbed and my attacker was unconscious that's what I would do. It might also be possible to identify the attacker by his or her wound, since it probably will require medical attention above and beyond basic first aid and hospitals report cases of knife and gunshot injuries to law enforcement.

More than anything else, I want the attackers identified so I can get some idea of why they felt the need to convince this victim that they were ghosts, and why they attacked her in the first place. Home invasions are usually robberies, but there's no mention of whether anything was stolen.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Exorcising Ted Cruz

I normally try to keep Augoeides as politically neutral as I can and only touch on electoral politics when something appropriate for the blog surfaces, like Jeb Bush palling around with vampires or the New York witches who tried to hex Donald Trump (which, by the way, at this point seems to have failed spectacularly).

But here's something you don't see every day on the campaign trail. During a speech in New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primary today, two men in the audience attempted to perform an exorcism on Republican candidate Ted Cruz.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Cruz had just finished his stump speech when the men began shouting at the candidate. “Ted Cruz look in the mirror and let the evil spirit depart!” one man exclaimed. “He’s possessed by a demon!”

As the crowd booed, Cruz suggested that the “very confused fellow” was part of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign. “He’s possessed by a demon!” the man yelled. “The demon has to leave. That’s why the body is so disgusting to look at!”

A second man holding a mirror urged Cruz to look at himself so “the evil can confront itself.” “Evil body! Evil spirit. Look yourself in the mirror!” the man said.

Given the crowded Republican primary, odds are that this stunt was probably some sort of joke or bid for publicity. It is very weird, though, that political agitators would choose this particular method to get their point across, and I don't see why someone from the Sanders campaign would bother, since Sanders is not running against Cruz in the Republican primary. On the other hand, Cruz won the Iowa Republican Caucus just last week, which puts him in the sights of every other Republican candidate hoping to unseat him.

Whoever was behind the attempted exorcism, I think that it has to be a first. I certainly don't remember hearing of anyone trying to exorcise a political candidate on the campaign trail, and I think if it had happened before I would have heard about it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ghost Riders

Here's a collection of odd paranormal stories out of Japan. Apparently, in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan that killed nearly sixteen thousand people, cab drivers in the coastal town of Ishinomaki reported picking up ghostly passengers, who interacted and rode with them for awhile, but then vanished into thin air. According to the article, the stories were documented by Yuka Kuda, a student at a nearby university, for her graduate thesis in sociology.

Every week in her junior year, Yuka headed to Ishinomaki. She hopped into waiting cabs and asked the drivers, “Did you have any unusual experiences after the disaster?” Most of the 100 she asked ignored her question, some got angry, but seven talked of ghost passengers they picked up shortly after the tsunami. Their stories are both eerie and heart-wrenching.

One driver said he picked up a woman in a coat in early summer, several months after the tsunami. “Please go to the Minamihama (district),” the woman said. He told her the area was empty — it had been devastated by the tsunami. Then, she asked a very strange question in a shaking voice. “Have I died?” The question was enough to make the driver turn to look in the back seat, but no one was there.

Another driver spoke of a man possibly in his 20s who climbed into his cab. He spied the stranger through the rear-view mirror, pointing forward. He asked the man for his destination and the ghost passenger said “Hiyoriyama,” which means mountain. When they arrived, the man vanished.

Are these stories just illusions? Perhaps, but Kudo makes an interesting point that weakens this explanation. All who talked about ghost passengers started their meters once the riders enter their cab. The meter is recorded. And when the ghost passengers disappeared, they had to pay their fares. Some of the seven who spoke to Yuka had recorded the experience in their logs, and one had a report that proved his unpaid fare.

Now it is true that memories can be fallible, especially following a massive tragedy like the tsunami, and Inquisitr is not always the most reliable news source. At the same time, though, ghost rider stories are a staple of urban legends and rate just below haunted houses in terms of frequency. Some ghost riders, such as Chicago's Resurrection Mary, even appear to multiple people over spans of many years.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Satanic Temple Wins Again

The Satanic Temple is at it again, this time in Phoenix, Arizona. Fundamentalist Christians keep trying to find ways to make sure that they can open legislative sessions with prayers that members of minority religions have to sit through, while making sure that no member of a minority religion can deliver a prayer that they have to sit through. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that if a member of one religion is allowed to offer a prayer in that context, members of other religions must be granted the same rights.

The members of the Satanic Temple for the most part don't even believe in a literal Satan and mostly use the name to shock fundamentalist Christians. But it works. After Christian lawmakers tried to pass all sorts of versions of bills that would give their religion the special privilege of delivering prayers to open sessions, the Phoenix city council finally agreed to replace sectarian prayers with a nonsectarian moment of silence. So by being blocked from delivering their prayer, the Satanic Temple actually won.

In a move that blocks a Satanist group from giving the invocation at the next Phoenix City Council meeting, the council voted 5-4 Wednesday night to no longer open each meeting with a prayer. Instead, it will call for a moment of silence. A member of the Satanic Temple from Tucson had been approved to give the opening invocation at the February 17 council meeting. But when the approval sparked outrage, council members decided to look into the way opening prayers come about.

They initially considered a proposal that would have allowed members to take turns inviting people from various religious groups to give the invocation. But Phoenix City Attorney Brad Holm warned that doing so would be viewed as an “as applied violation” of the First Amendment and, therefore, subject the city to a lawsuit. “Our view as the City Attorney’s Office — and my view personally — is that we would be likely to lose that case,” he told the council before the vote.

The Satanic Temple had threatened to sue if its representative was prohibited from opening the next official meeting on the 17th. Nobody from the temple commented at the meeting Wednesday on what the organization will do now that prayer has been eliminated.

See, the Satanic Temple is not about "worshiping the devil" or anything like that. What they really want is to see sectarian prayers eliminated from the public sphere, and they use their shocking name to outrage fundamentalists and get the job done. And in case after case, it works quite well.

Personally I like the idea of letting representatives of different religions deliver prayers so long as the opportunity is extended to all, but the facts are that fundamentalist Christians keep refusing to play nice with anybody else, especially a group with "Satan" in its name. That being so, a moment of silence is probably the best we're going to get.