Thursday, March 22, 2018

Office of the Readings for 2018

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

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

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

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

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


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


March 19

Liber VII, Prologue of the Unborn.

March 20 - Saturn/Earth, The Universe

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

March 21 - Fire/Spirit, The Aeon

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

March 22 - Sol, The Sun

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

March 23 - Pisces, The Moon

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

March 24 - Aries, The Emperor

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

March 25 - Mars, The Tower

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

March 26 - Capricornus, The Devil

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

March 27 - Sagittarius, Art

From “The Vision of the Universal Mercury” by G.H. Frater S.R.M.D.

March 28 - Scorpio, Death

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

March 29 - Water, The Hanged Man

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

March 30 - Libra, Adjustment

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

March 31 - Jupiter, Fortune

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

April 1 - Virgo, The Hermit

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

April 2 - Leo, Lust

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

April 3 - Cancer, The Chariot

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

April 4 - Gemini, The Lovers

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

April 5 - Taurus, The Hierophant

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

April 6 - Aquarius, The Star

From “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” (Gnostic text).

April 7 - Venus, The Empress

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

April 8 - Luna, The Priestess

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

April 9 - Mercury, The Magus

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

April 10 - Air, The Fool

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

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

Can't Evil Just Get Along?

It truly is hilarious to watch right-wing extremists eat their own. According to this story from The Daily Beast, the White Nationalist movement is working to cut ties with an extremist group called Atomwaffen Division. But it has nothing to do with the group being neo-Nazis, or being violent, or anything like that. The problem is that Atomwaffen Division is associated with a satanic group called the Order of Nine Angles. So they're still evil, but they're the wrong kind of evil.

White nationalists are disavowing the murderous neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division—not because of the murder, but because the group can’t shake persistent rumors that it’s a gateway organization for a satanic cult.

Atomwaffen is an extremist group that received national attention after being implicated in five murders from May 2017 to January 2018. But even before the most recent slaying, Atomwaffen was under fire from others on the far right who claimed the group was actually a mouthpiece for the Order of Nine Angles, a satanic group that encourages members to infiltrate extremist political movements, whose members might be susceptible to conversion.

It doesn’t help that, until recently, Atomwaffen pushed the satanic group’s literature on one of its websites. Atomwaffen claims to have been founded in 2013, although its membership surged after a deadly white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, ProPublica previously reported. The group now has approximately 20 cells across the U.S., according to ProPublica. “The satanist group requires members to spend six months either hitchhiking, working as a burglar, working as a police officer, or infiltrating an extremist political group—a group like Atomwaffen.”

The Order of Nine Angles is British-based, but steeped in Nazism. A fringe occultist group whose literature encourages human sacrifices, the ONA champions Nazi Germany and pushes Holocaust denialism. One of the group’s longest-running leaders, Anton Long, is rumored to have been a pseudonym for the known neo-Nazi David Myatt.

And I just have to laugh. I supposed that ONA can be proud that it's being shunned as "too evil" by other Nazis. I also find it amusing, in a darkly humorous sort of way, that being a murderous terrorist group with cells and everything isn't a dealbreaker, but if you mention anything about Satan - well, there's the door. My guess is that it has something to do with Christian White Nationalists getting spooked by anything having to do with the devil, but failing to comprehend that whether or not they're any better remains an open question.

This reminds me of comic book super-villains who try to team up, but find themselves at each other's throats practically right away. Let's hope this trend continues. If it does, the resulting discord might just tear the entire movement apart.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dave Chappelle's Illuminati Clone

Is this guy the coolest Illuminati clone ever, or what?

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame once published a list of all the reasons that "you are dumb." One of those was something to the effect of "reaching bizarre conclusion with no actual evidence," and as an example he gave "My car won't start. I'm certain that the spark plugs have been stolen by rogue clowns." Today's story isn't exactly that, but it's close. It concerns comedian Dave Chappelle, who according to an unnamed "cousin" was murdered and replaced with a clone (a fully-grown, adult one, mind you) by the Illuminati. No, really!

According to his cousin who does not wish to be named, it was not long after the Oprah interview that Dave Chappelle was killed and cloned. The way they did it was by luring him back into the Hollywood executive office, back to the round table of exec types who push the Hollywood agenda, by offering him his show back, with full creative license to Dave. Sounds too good to be true, but Dave fell for it. It was his love for the show that did him in.

His cousin warned him, “don’t do it, it’s a trap.” But Dave wanted to believe. Dave promised his cousin that he would call her right after the meeting with the executives. She never received and still has not received that phone call. She tried calling his cell shortly after the meeting. Someone else picked up, a stranger’s voice, who told her that Dave was not there and hung up. She tried again and the phone became disconnected.

She believes the Illuminati took Dave to an underground base where they sampled his DNA and murdered him. Then through the use of something called organic robotoid cloning, they grew a new Dave in a matter of hours. Now with clones, they are going to look similar but not exact. They had this problem before where family members recognize that the person coming home to them is not their loved one. Oddly enough, Putin’s ex-wife testified about this same thing, a few years back. Since they knew Dave’s wife and kids would not be fooled by the clone Dave, they killed and cloned them as well.

Serious question. It is accepted as a given by Illuminati conspiracy theorists that the Illuminati have access to the technology that the CIA developed under the MK-Ultra program, and the technology works. So tell me why it makes any sense to invest what you would have to invest to develop a means of cloning human beings as adults. Nodody has ever cloned an animal as an adult successfully. Human beings may have been cloned illicitly by groups like the Raelians, even though most experts think they made those claims up, but unlike in comic books any such clone starts out as a baby and has to grow up the normal way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Rothschilds Did It!

I often wonder why critical thinking skills are so poor these days. But maybe they always were, and thanks to the magic of the Internet we're just seeing more examples. It used to be that if a lawmaker said something stupid and/or prejudiced, it might get reported in their district and/or be seized on by an opponent. Nowadays, the world sees everything, and that brings us to Trayvon White Sr., a member of the Washington D.C. city council. During the latest D.C. snowstorm, White blamed the bad weather on "the Rothschilds controlling the climate." Seriously! White later apologized for his remarks, but the damage was done.

D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) posted the video to his official Facebook page at 7:21 a.m. as snow flurries were hitting the nation’s capital. The video, shot through the windshield of a car driving west on Interstate 695 through downtown Washington, shows snowy skies while White narrates.

“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” he says. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

The Rothschilds are a famous European business dynasty descended from Mayer Amschel Rothschild, an 18th-century Jewish banker who lived in what is today Frankfurt, Germany. The family has repeatedly been subject over the years to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories alleging that they and other Jews clandestinely manipulate world events for their advantage.

One of the easiest ways to identify somebody who is an anti-semite is to look for references to how "the Rothschilds" control finance, business, trade - or for that matter the weather. They don't. Today we have a whole new set of rich douchebags running the show.

The reason people keep coming to back to this is that in 1903 when the anti-semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion hoax was published, the Rothschild banking family was much richer and more powerful than their descendants are today. In the nineteenth century, the Rothschilds were bankers to the great colonial powers of continental Europe and the British Empire. But in the twentieth century, the fall of colonialism and two world wars rendered them far less significant. At the same time, America's rich natural resources were exploited to create families with more wealth than the Rothschild banking families had ever seen, like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Morgans, and so forth.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Workplace Voodoo Dolls

This week's magick post was The Office of the Readings, but I had to put it up on Sunday rather than today because we were doing the Invocation of Horus last night and I was announcing it as part of the post. So this is kind of a weird news post in that it is weird and I found it in the news. Still, I have some real magick thrown in at the end.

A recent study has found that voodoo dolls can have a positive effect on workplace morale. In particular, employees who took out their feelings of anger regarding abusive treatment by their supervisors felt less resentful about their work and performed better on cognitive tests. In particular, their feelings of injustice resulting from the situation in question were reduced.

Some 229 employees who participated in a recent study were asked to think of a workplace interaction that involved "abuse" from a supervisor or boss. As part of the study, some were then allowed to take out their job frustrations on a makeshift voodoo doll carrying their boss's name by sticking pins, burning it with candles and pinching it with pliers. OK . . . now I'm starting to get a little nervous.

The theory is that people (i.e. employees) who feel wronged sometimes wish they could lash out at their abuser (i.e. their boss . . . now just hold on a minute!). The study wanted to prove that giving employees the opportunity to take this anger out on an inanimate object is therapeutic for them - and potentially less painful for employers like me.

And you know what? It worked. A third of the study's participants reported "lower feelings of injustice" and said they were "far less likely to still feel bitter" about their supervisor. Not only that but they performed better on cognitive tests as well.

So let me just get this straight. There is a real study out there that shows employees can be made more productive by giving them a voodoo doll of their boss to abuse. That means employees can make a legitimate argument for bringing a magical implement into the workplace with official sanction from their employer. Sure, it's "harmless," but only so long as the doll remains magically inert and unlinked from any target.

This is interesting from a psychological standpoint because most studies find that "venting" or acting out anger is entire unproductive. It makes feelings of anger worse, not better, and makes the person more likely to act out in the past. The idea that anger is an "energy" that has to be "released" is one more piece of psychoanalytic twaddle that has infected our culture, but which has no scientific basis whatsoever.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Consciousness Truthers

Could anything possibly be dumber than denying the existence of something that you directly experience every single day? I honestly sat here for a bit and gave it some thought, and you know what? I can't come up with anything. But there really are such folks as "consciousness deniers." That is, people who contend that your subjective sense of awareness doesn't really exist. I suppose you can define a world in which "real" and "objective" are synonyms, and since consciousness is by definition subjective it must be unreal, but that's really quite silly.

As the late Stephen Hawking demonstrated in his work on black holes, particles aren't even "objective" in the philosophical sense because their nature is not constant across all possible frames of reference. So that sets up a world in which nothing at all is "real" - and so, in another sense, everything might as well be. The particles making up a baseball bat may not be entirely objective, but they're real enough to hit you in the face. Likewise, your consciousness is real enough to be aware that getting hit in the face with that baseball bat hurts.

The Denial began in the twentieth century and continues today in a few pockets of philosophy and psychology and, now, information technology. It had two main causes: the rise of the behaviorist approach in psychology, and the naturalistic approach in philosophy. These were good things in their way, but they spiraled out of control and gave birth to the Great Silliness. I want to consider these main causes first, and then say something rather gloomy about a third, deeper, darker cause. But before that, I need to comment on what is being denied—consciousness, conscious experience, experience for short.

What is it? Anyone who has ever seen or heard or smelled anything knows what it is; anyone who has ever been in pain, or felt hungry or hot or cold or remorseful, dismayed, uncertain, or sleepy, or has suddenly remembered a missed appointment. All these things involve what are sometimes called “qualia”—that is to say, different types or qualities of conscious experience. What I am calling the Denial is the denial that anyone has ever really had any of these experiences. Perhaps it’s not surprising that most Deniers deny that they’re Deniers. “Of course, we agree that consciousness or experience exists,” they say—but when they say this they mean something that specifically excludes qualia.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Oregon Judge Suspended

Fundamentalist Christians really have a hard time living with the rest of us. I suppose it's no surprise that they work so hard to build their own completely isolated communities in which nothing but explicitly Christian things are ever allowed to intrude. Patheos reported on Thursday that much like what happened to Roy Moore in Alabama, a conservative Christian judge in Oregon has been suspended for refusing to follow the law and perform (civil, it should be noted) same-sex marriages.

Judge Vance Day, the former chair of Oregon’s Republican Party and a conservative Christian who claims his religious beliefs don’t allow him to marry same-sex couples, has been suspended for three years without pay by the Oregon Supreme Court for his refusal to marry same-sex couples. Pacific Northwest News reports:

"The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday took the unusual step of suspending a sitting state court judge — Vance Day of Salem — for three years. The high court found that Day, first appointed in 2011 to the bench in Marion County Circuit Court, committed 'willful misconduct' and made 'willful misstatements' to investigators to cover up the truth. Day acted with prejudice against same-sex couples by deciding he wouldn’t marry them and he instructed his staff to employ a scheme to avoid “public detection” of his plan, the Supreme Court said."

Previously, the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability issued a scathing report urging the state Supreme Court to remove Judge Vance Day from the bench. The 48-page report details what it described as a long list of ethical and even criminal missteps it found Day committed. Among the most egregious was the commission’s finding that Day refused to marry same-sex couples and told his office staff to lie about why.

The absolutely most confusing thing about all these stories to me is that we're not talking about religious marriage. We're talking about civil marriage. Nobody is out there forcing churches that don't approve of same-sex marriage to perform ceremonies - and let me tell you, if the government ever started doing anything like that, they'd get a lot of flack from even progressive me.

I suppose it has to do with the belief held by some conservative Christians (the poor oppressed variety, naturally) that there really is no separation of church and state in the Constitution, but that belief is just wrong. A conservative Christian judge who lets a same-sex couple sign a piece of paper meaning they're married in the eyes of the state is not committing a sin. Presumably, to his or her church the marriage is just invalid.

So this is absolutely the right thing for the state of Oregon to be doing. Day can't force everybody else to follow his religion - that's expressly prohibited by constitutional law. If he can't do his job because of his beliefs that's his choice, but he doesn't have a right to keep the job when he is unwilling to fulfill its required duties.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Scientology TV

As many of you probably know, in 1946 L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons performed a magical operation inspired by the (fictional) Moonchild ritual from Aleister Crowley's novel of the same name. Meanwhile, Crowley himself would write to Karl Germer regarding said operation that "Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts." As I see it, Crowley was right to be concerned, because as things worked out what the ritual eventually gave birth to was the Church of Scientology. That's a powerful argument right there that it should never be performed again.

Scientology is one of the world's biggest and most famous cults. They're most well-known for hoovering up every spare bit of cash their members come across, going after any and all ex-members who dare to criticize their organization with a vengeance, and threatening to sue people right and left. I might even get a cease-and-desist letter for calling the group a cult on this blog. But I don't use the term lightly. Any new religious movement that requires the investment of the amount of money that Scientology does, and/or harasses members who try to leave like Scientology does, really does deserve that epithet.

Anyway, for those of you who were anxiously waiting for Scientology to get with the times and create its own television network (and, yeah, that's basically nobody), you're in luck. The Church of Scientology is in fact starting its own television network on DIRECTV AppleTV, Roku, FireTV, iTunes, and Google Play. But a number of critics have pointed out that starting up a television network now might not be the best thing for the church to be doing.

Given the organization's decades-long controversies, perhaps there's no great time for it to expand it media platform. But right now does feel particularly odd. For starters, the February mass murder in Parkland, Florida brought a deluge of attention to another niche broadcaster — NRATV — and a wave of threatened boycotts against its platform, Amazon. On Twitter Monday morning, users were already expressing surprise at DirectTV, and saying how to contact the network directly. Then there's the increased scrutiny the organization has faced in recent years, thanks in no small part to its high profile defectors. In 2015, filmmaker Alex Gibney's documentary series "Going Clear" made a splash on HBO, and garnered three Emmy awards. The same year, "King of Queens" star Leah Remini released the bestselling "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology." She followed up with her own documentary series to "give a voice to victims of the Church of Scientology despite public attempts to discredit them."

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Psychic Animals Here to Stay

A few years ago, World Cup Soccer went wild for "psychic animals" that seemed to possess the ability to predict the outcomes of matches. The animals would be offered two bowls or containers of food, one bearing the flag of each country. Then the one they selected would be deemed the winner - and a few of those animals proved quite accurate. This year, a Russian cat named Achilles has been selected ahead of the 2018 World Cup tournament as its official "animal psychic."

Achilles, a white-furred deaf cat who lives at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, has been selected to predict the 2018 FIFA World Cup winners.

The male clairvoyant cat was also picked as the official oracle to forecast the traditional pre-match predictions for last year’s Confederations Cup, where he correctly predicted three of the four-match outcomes, reported Russian News Agency Tass.

Hermitage cats press secretary, Maria Khaltunen, claims the feline was chosen for the role because he demonstrated "capabilities for choice, analysis and unusual behavior.” In addition, Achilles is deaf, which means he will not be easily distracted by surrounding noises.

For the 2017 Confederations Cup, the white cat was made to choose between two bowls of food, each with a different country’s flag. “This decision has been made, the papers have been signed,” Khaltunen told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.

According to Khaltunen, Achilles will receive a fan identification card (otherwise known as a fan passport). He will also go down in history as the only animal to have attained the prestigious documentation. "Animals are not given [Fan IDs,] as there are questions concerning photos," Khaltunen said.

Now here's where this gets interesting. The main skeptic claim about psychic animals is that what's really is going on is that hundreds of people have animals doing this, and simply by chance some of them will turn out to be right. Over time, this creates a sort of "sifting process" where the only animals left in the pool by the end of the tournament are the ones that chose correctly. So the most successful animals are not psychic, just lucky.

But when you pick an "official" psychic animal ahead of time, that whole dynamic changes. Since one of the basic tenets of probability theory is that each subsequent pick in cases like this should be entirely independent of past picks. So if this is all due to chance, the odds that Achilles will be able to pick successful matches again should be pretty low. If he's successful this time around as well, I would say that warrants further paranormal investigation.

Rupert Sheldrake has provided some evidence of rudimentary psychic abilities in animals, and has proposed his morphic resonance hypothesis to explain it. If Achilles can repeat his performance this year, with all the experimental variables declared ahead of time, it means that at the very least what is going on is probably not sheer luck.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mastering the Thirty Aires

This week I'm skipping my usual magick post, but I have a good reason. I'm focusing on putting the final touches on my manuscript for Mastering the Thirty Aires so I can hopefully get it off to Pendraig by the end of this week. That doesn't mean it will be out right away or anything like that - the editing and book production process generally takes months to get through. But it's a big step that I've been working on getting to for a long time now. It turn out out to be harder to write than the last two put together.

Mastering the Thirty Aires approaches the system of the Aires or Aethyrs from the original Dee perspective - as a system of political magick designed to influence the general affairs of the various portions of the world. It also touches on more modern practices like "rising on the planes" and so forth, but more from the perspective of giving you the information you need to do the work yourself rather than delving into detailed analysis that you can find in many other books. As with the first two installments in the series, it will include a detailed ritual template that you can use to construct your rituals without a bunch of guesswork. Also, it will touch on some of the basics of zodiacal magick in the context of the Enochian system of the Aires.

So I'm really looking forward to making this new book available, and completing my trilogy of Enochian books. I know that some of you have been waiting a long time for this to be released, and I hope that you will all find it worth the wait.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Haunted Alexa

I have never been a fan of voice interfaces. For all that they let you talk to your computer like on Star Trek or something, there are all sorts of issues that science fiction never really addresses. Let's say you're using a voice interface to run your phone or your smart glasses or really any other piece of tech in public. I don't know about you, but I'm not even remotely interested in having everybody around me know my business. In a group of people it often is weirdly disruptive, too, because everybody around you is trying to figure out who you're talking to and often get irritated when they realize you're talking to literally nobody in the room. There's a reason that the term "glasshole" was invented not long after the beta release of Google Glass - somebody who sits there and talks incessantly to their smart glasses.

Amazon's Alexa is a similar technology. I suppose it's more private to talk to a home speaker than it is to your glasses or your phone when you're out in public, but the thing still has to pay attention to every single thing you say in order to work. Does anybody really believe Amazon isn't logging all that data and selling it to advertisers so they can harrass you with better targeted ads? The other problem with these "Internet-of-things" systems is that they can be hacked or get viruses. Or maybe even paranormal infestations, which is what brings this story into Augoeides territory. Alexa has apparently been randomly laughing at people - a creepy laugh, not a funny one - and nobody knows why.

As Amazon Echo Dot owner Gavin Hightower was heading to bed the other week, he encountered a disturbing Alexa bug. For no apparent reason, the device uttered a “very loud and creepy laugh.” “There’s a good chance I’m getting murdered tonight,” Hightower tweeted after the incident.

Hightower isn’t alone: Numerous Echo device owners have reported their Alexas laughing spontaneously, unprovoked by their wake word (“Alexa”) or any other command. For other users, it’s more than just laughter. Some report their Alexa devices failing to fulfill their spoken requests, performing random other actions instead, and then capping it off with a guffaw.

Now granted, it's probably a bug or some new virus. It almost certainly isn't "skynet" or any of that intelligent AI nonsense - we're still many years away from making anything like that work, and just for reference about the same number of years away that people were saying we were twenty years ago. It also is true that if you were going to sit down and build a virus that would infect the Alexa network, this would be a pretty funny to do, especially if it only sends out the laughs intermittantly enough that the problem is hard to track down and debug. On the other hand, if you could do something like this by conjuring a spirit, wouldn't that be extra-fun?

Amazon has announced today that they have apparently fixed the problem by updating the software. But what if they really just had a wizard come in and do a big exorcism over their whole data center? Integrating magick with technology is usually fairly difficult, but it also is true that as Internet services become more centralized the number of targets you have to hit to get an effect goes down by a lot. If you can make it work, the applications are endless.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Gun Commitment Ceremony

So it's finally happened, folks. Conservatives warned us that same-sex marriage was a slippy slope to letting people marry their toasters, and I didn't believe them. But in Pennsylvania last week, a bunch of men (wearing pink robes and tiaras, I might add) married their guns. Even though the gun debate involves some pretty serious issues, this reminds me so much of Stephen Colbert "sharing his life with a gun named Sweetness" that I have to laugh.

With state police and a smattering of protesters standing watch outside the church, brides clad in white and grooms in dark suits brought dozens of unloaded AR-15s into World Peace and Unification Sanctuary for a religious event that doubled as an advertisement for the Second Amendment.

The church, which has a worldwide following, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the “rod of iron” in the book of Revelation, and encouraged couples to bring the weapons. An AR-15 was used in the Florida high school massacre on Feb. 14.

The Rev. Sean Moon, who leads the church, prayed for “a kingdom of peace police and peace militia where the citizens, through the right given to them by almighty God to keep and bear arms, will be able to protect one another and protect human flourishing.”

Moon is the son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah who founded the Unification Church, which critics regard as a cult. The younger Moon’s congregation is a breakaway faction of the Unification Church, which had distanced itself from Wednesday’s event.

Because of course it is. These cults have more schisms than... well, they have a lot of them. At any rate, yes, I realize I'm being a little flippant here. These guys didn't actually marry their guns. They just dressed up in pink robes and tiaras and took wedding vows while holding their AR-15's. So it's totally different, right? Still, the pink robes and tiaras look pretty gay. I wonder if that was deliberate on their part, or some aspect of their religion that just happens to look like something you might see at a (really bad) drag show.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Where Do They Get This Stuff?

Sometimes I wonder if I should just go all-out and start posting random conspiracy nonsense to get my social media clicks up. The trouble is that I can sit down and make up the most outrageous thing I can think of, and it will still be tame compared to most of what's out there. I archived a couple of these two weeks ago, and am just getting around to them now. I thought about doing them in two separate posts, but basically they suffer from exactly the same problem and really form more of a set.

This first one is from Alex Jones and InfoWars. I know I said awhile back that I was probably going to lay off Alex Jones because most of his stuff is dumber and more partisan than it is funny, but... well... just go ahead and read it for yourself. And try not to laugh - I dare you.

Infowars leader and crackpot conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, contributing to the second phase of the ongoing right-wing smear campaign against the artist who painted Barack Obama’s presidential portrait, claimed that the artist purposefully painted an image of sperm on Obama’s face to fulfill part of a globalist agenda to “have everything be a ritual of abomination.”

Today on Infowars, Jones claimed the artist Kehinde Wiley, who was hired to paint Obama, “is obsessed with sperm” and that “all of his paintings have sperm swimming all over everything.” For some reason, Jones also felt the need to clarify that the alleged sperm shape in question was a “GMO sperm” that was “fully formed.”

“You say, ‘But, it doesn’t make sense, it’s so degenerate.’ It’s a religion of degeneracy. It’s what globalism is. It’s what Satanism is,” Jones said. “So there you go, President Obama covered in sperm in new national portrait, and it’s all part of the joke in your face, because they don’t want upright strength. They want to have everything be a ritual of abomination.”

Repeat after me - finance douchebags are not occultists. They just aren't. And even if there were, let's say that the vaguely sperm-shaped (or really, comma-shaped) space in Obama's presidential portrait is really supposed to be sperm. Let's even say it really is supposed to be "fully-formed GMO" sperm (whatever the heck that is). So what? That's still not occultism, it's not magick, and it's not even a ritual. Basically, all this argument does is freak out people who know nothing about how magick works. Any real occultist knows better.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Via Solis Pisces Elixir Rite

Today's Magick Monday post is a full script for the Pisces Elixir Rite that we will be performing tomorrow, Tuesday March 6th, at Leaping Laughter Oasis, our local Twin Cities body of Ordo Templi Orientis. Going forward, we will be performing one of these per month, once for each of the twelve signs, in a ritual series called Via Solis (the way or path of the Sun). I will be posting the full scripts here on the preceding Mondays so people can take a look at them if they want to attend. Also, if you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota) and would like to attend, let me or someone at the lodge know. This is a public ritual and all are welcome.

0. The Temple

The ritual space is set up with an altar table in the center. The bell chime, banishing dagger, and invoking wand are placed on the altar. In the center of the altar is placed a cup of wine for creating the elixir, within the Table of Art corresponding to Pisces.

The sign Pisces is attributed to the powers of "Bewitchment" and "Casting Illusions." So this is the power that you would call upon to cast classic magical operations such as "glamours" and the like. Spells that act directly on your own mind or those of others would also qualify. And, since magical powers are descriptive, not prescriptive, this can be scaled up to include all sorts of contemporary issues in our society. As just one example, a spell to counteract propaganda, or if you will, "fake news," would fall under the power of illusion, since Pisces rules this power and can counteract it as well as set it in motion.

This ritual may be performed with one, two, or three officers, who may alternate taking the Officiant role and divide up the reading from Liber 963.

I. Opening

All stand surrounding the altar. Officiant inhales fully, placing the banishing dagger at his or her lips. The air is then expelled as the dagger is swept backwards.

Officiant: Bahlasti! Ompehda!

Officiant then performs the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. All rotate accordingly.

Officiant: We take refuge in Nuit, the blue-lidded daughter of sunset, the naked brilliance of the voluptuous night sky, as we issue the call to the awakened nature of all beings, for every man and every woman is a star.


Officiant: We take refuge in Hadit, the secret flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every star, as we issue the call to our own awakened natures, arousing the coiled serpent about to spring.


Officiant: We take refuge in Heru-Ra-Ha, who wields the wand of double power, the wand of the force of Coph Nia, but whose left hand is empty for he has crushed an universe and naught remains, as we unite our awakened natures with those of all beings everywhere and everywhen, dissolving all obstacles and healing all suffering.


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

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

Bell chime.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A "Conjuring Arts" Chair

A university in Canada is looking to fill a new "conjuring arts" chair. I was excited for two reasons when I came across the story. First, for just a minute, I thought that the article was talking about Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I attended Saint Olaf College just across town from Carleton, and I have to say, it really is about time that Carleton College assembled an Aleister Crowley collection even half as good as Saint Olaf's - which, unlike Carleton, is ironically a Christian (ELCA Lutheran) college. Second, before I read it I thought that the university might be trying to a curriculum in Western Esotericism, like only a handful of schools around the world have done. But I was disappointed on both counts. Carleton University is in Canada, and it sounds like "conjuring arts" in this context has nothing to do with, well, actual conjuring.

So what approach will the new chair take? “The conjuring arts” is not a term used by experts in the field, and the job’s terms of reference are somewhat vague. The president of Carleton, Alastair Summerlee, who has a great wizard name and actually looks extremely wizard-like, told CTV News that the scope of the job is “incredibly broad.” He says that the university is open to candidates from a variety of backgrounds, and would, in addition, like to find someone who will “use magic as entrée into the world of perception and deception.” This would include studying the techniques of persuasion used in politics and the media. So you might finally be able to get credit for your essay comparing every Trump administration official to a Harry Potter villain. But also, as Professor Magliocco points out, it could help us understand “how large groups of people come to believe things that are impossible and even dangerous.” She says this is of real value in an era when fake news is rampant and when thoughts and prayers are offered as the solution to school shootings.

The chair is named after Allan Slaight, one of Canada’s richest people, whose family foundation put up $2 million for it. (Carleton matched that sum from its own budget.) Before he sold out over a decade ago, Slaight was the owner of a broadcasting empire that included dozens of radio stations, a couple of television stations, and, at one point, the Toronto Raptors. Slaight spent several years when he was young touring the prairies as a performing magician, and he has remained obsessed with stage magic. He has edited and published two massive books on legendary Canadian magician Stewart James, which one reviewer has described as “the biggest books in the history of magic literature.” If academic opinion is divided over the new chair, the practicing magicians VICE spoke to were, perhaps not surprisingly, all enthusiastic — although one of them admitted he initially thought the Slaight family had donated an actual magic chair, which would have, let’s face it, been even cooler.