August 27, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 8/27/2017

  1. Scientists have determined that it rains solid diamonds on both Neptune and Uranus. If it weren't a 24-year round-trip from Earth to Neptune, I'd be investing in deep-space mineral extraction
  2. A Tarot reader compares the differences between runes and the Tarot. Read more here.
    1. Bonus linkage from the same author: How he got started in the Tarot. Read more here.
  3. Here's some helpful advice: If you're lobbying to have the Confederate flag (a symbol of racism and slavery) put back into the courtrooms from which it was removed (because it's a symbol of racism and slavery), don't undermine your argument by making "coon" jokes on camera. Read more here.
  4. Vehicular homicide is on the rise, so what does this mean for remote drones and autonomous vehicles? It's not science fiction to think that these tools could be rapidly weaponized in an urban environment. Read more here.
  5. Ever wonder why Lucifer was cast out of Heaven? Here's what really happened.
  6. Too cool for words: the Heaven-and-Hell nightclubs of 1890's Paris. See them here.
  7. Counter-protesters organizing against a possibly racist rally in San Francisco fought dirty by mining the rally location with dog poop. I don't care who you are, that's some funny shit right there. Read more here.
  8. One can only wonder who or what will be blamed for the "biblical flooding" in Texas that by some estimates is a larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina. Anybody want to bet which bogeyman will be trotted out by the religious right? Transgenders and Muslims are yesterday's news, so my bet's on good old-fashioned disobedience. Read more here.
  9. Apparently I'm a hipster because I've been doing Tarot since before it recently became cool. Read more here.
  10. Isn't it just too strange how when a murderer has weird religious stuff in his house then suddenly he's Satanic maniac, but when a murderer has a Bible, rosary, or pictures of Jesus he's not a Christian maniac? I'm skeptical that the murder reported has anything to do with Satanism, but I'm not going to rush into saying "he's not a Satanist!" because I honestly don't know what he believes. All I can say is that ritual murder plays no role in Satanism by the best accepted scholarly definition, and if he is a Satanist, then he deserves punishment in like kind. Read more here.

The Goat of Mendes: a Satanic Tarot spread

satanic tarot spread
A Satanic Tarot card spread based on the inverted pentagram and inspired by the Goat of Mendes.
This six-card arrangement is one of my own creation which I call the Goat of Mendes and its aesthetic configuration is taken from the inverted pentagram. Unlike the upright pentagram which shows an man standing with his feet upon the bottom points, hands spread to the horizontal points, and head in the ascendant point, the Goat of Mendes is the reverse: two horns in the upright points, ears hanging to the horizontal points, and a tangled beard dangling in the bottom point. This isn't a spiritual man ascending to Heaven, but a carnal beast rooted in the earth. This arrangement jumps straight into the heart of material affairs and challenges you to both recognize and reward those who help you, while accusing and opposing those who hurt you.

The Goat of Mendes uses the following positions:
  1. Face: Subject of the reading
  2. Beard: How the subject has helped or hurt itself.
  3. Left Ear: How friends help the subject.
  4. Left Horn: How the subject can reward its friends.
  5. Right Ear: How enemies hurt the subject.
  6. Left Ear: How the subject can punish its enemies.
In this arrangement, the subject of the performance is indicated by the Face and the subject’s present reality is indicated by the Beard. How the subject is helped by friends is indicated by the left ear, and how the subject can reward those friends is shown by the left horn. How the subject is harmed by enemies is shown by the right ear, and how the subject can punish those enemies is shown by the right horn. If you so choose, you may include the three additional cards I created for use with the Satanic Tarot deck—the black and white candles and the symbol of Baphomet—to enhance your ritual experience. 


Face (Jack of Hearts) + Right Ear (Discipline)

The sitter John is symbolized by the anchor card, the Jack of Hearts. The way John is helped by his friends is symbolized by the reference card sitting at the right ear, the synthetic trump Discipline. In this configuration, the Jack of Hearts expresses the 2 of Hearts in a fixed aspect and cooperates with Discipline. In this combination, John is helped to endure loss and transition by the support of friends who won't enable his worst habits and who serve as steady pillars of trustworthiness in his unsteady world.

Face (Jack of Hearts) + Left Ear (5 of Diamonds)

The sitter John is symbolized by the anchor card, the Jack of Hearts. The way John is harmed by his enemies is symbolized by the reference card sitting at the left ear, the fixed 5 of Diamonds. In this configuration, the Jack of Hearts expresses the 7 of Hearts in a fixed aspect which generously gives to the 5 of Diamonds. In this combination, we see that John is harmed by his enemies through their use of lesser magic to manipulate him into feeling outraged that they're not being given the love and attention they need in life. John is being drained by psychic vampires preying on his compassion and triggering his outrage into convincing him that he simply must give his own time and resources to give them what they want him to think they are owed.

A final word of caution to the wise fortune-teller: People who’ve wronged you deserve to be punished, but be careful that “eye for an eye” justice doesn’t leave you blind at the end. Self-deceit can be fun and stimulating, but remember it for the fantasy that it is.

August 24, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 8/24/2017

Aleister Crowley, the wickedest man in the world!
via Daily Mail
  1. It's getting so alt-righty up in here that even the OTO - founded by Aleister Crowley, the wickedest man in the world! - has found it necessary to officially declare their opposition to ignorant herd mentalities like racism and sexism. Read more here
  2. What do you get when you combine fantasy and reality, use the power of evil to stimulate action, and embrace the balance factor? Apparently, you find the secret to living a happier and more fulfilling life. Read more here
    1. Bonus linkage from Aeon: What's wrong with teaching kids to be gritty? Going by the evidence, a lot, not to mention how it primes them to uncritically accept authority. Read more here
  3. Remember Doreen Virtue? On Monday the 21st (same day as the eclipse) she publicly condemned Tarot, oracle decks, and all mediumship not done with the permission of Jizzus Chrast. I'll bet dollars to donuts that she'll be giving paid lectures against the dangers of the occult to Christian audiences within 24 months. 
  4. Some people think that the Church's of Satan Twitter account is just the bee's knees. I wouldn't know because I don't use Twitter, but you can read more here
  5. It's absolute stupidity to dance in the middle of a busy road. But it's also hilarious when the dance is the macarena and the dancer is a teenaged boy in Saudi Arabia where all manner of fun is regularly poo-pooed by the religious police. Watch it here. One can only wonder what the outcome would be if it were a titillating girl instead of a fleshy boy?
  6. Yay, history: a long and detailed essay about the history of Lucifer and the war in Heaven. Read more here.
  7. Public service announcement: Animal cruelty holds no place within Satanism, but if there are Satanists who enjoy abusing animals, then I condemn their actions and hope they suffer punishment in like kind. Read more here.
  8. How does a Satanist define happiness? Ask 10 Satanists and you'll probably get 30 answers, or you can ask just one Satanist and get 10 answers. Read more here.
  9. Meanwhile in the UK, some firefighters saved some pigs from a fire. In a show of gratitude for putting out the fire, the farmer slaughtered the pigs and made them into sausages for the firefighters. Apparently, people are upset about pigs intended for slaughter actually being slaughtered. Read more here. Reminds me of the joke about the three-legged pig.
  10. Remember the Satanic Panic? Dan and Fran Keller sure remember, especially since they both spent the last 21 years in prison despite there being absolutely zero evidence to support the accusations made against them. They were both just declared to have been wrongfully convicted and received a total of $3.4 million dollars in compensation. I'm glad to know that their innocence has finally been accepted by the state, but I don't think justice will have been served until the judge and prosecutor who put them behind bars are made to issue public apologies for this insanity. Read more here.

Havamal Witches (Satanic edition)

via Spiral Nature
So, there's this thing about the Havamal Witches going around the interwebs. There's a great write-up covering the entire thing over at Spiral Nature and it's a really interesting discussion for the parallels it draws, but if it can be reduced to a simple statement it's this: women's voices are being marginalized in Heathen communities. I'm not a Heathen, so I really can't speculate on anything specific to Heathenism to explain why this is happening, but more generally it sure fits the ignorantly sexist pattern observed pretty much everywhere else: women aren't seen as having the same strength, authority, or wisdom as men; women are being interrupted and talked over because "the men know better;" and while the men do all the magic, ritual, and fighting, the women are being shown to their assigned place tending the homefires, watching the children, and cooking the meals.

The Havamal Witches debate is kind of amusing to me because there's decades of literature saying that although men and women have some obvious biological differences, when it comes to matters of the mind you can find men who are simpletons and women who are rocket scientists. And sure, you can also find women who are daft and men whose minds might never be matched, but no matter the emotional masturbation of the MRA's, PUA's, and garden-variety misogynists, men and women have the same potential for wisdom and genius.

Whether that potential is given the opportunity to develop is another discussion entirely, but as it relates to the topic of the conversation - which I promise is going to lead back to Satanism any moment now - men and women participating in religious communities are probably on the whole standing on equal footing in terms of their opportunity to develop their potential as people who understand and are capable of articulating and explaining their views. Some people are better educated and more capable than others, so they'll naturally gravitate toward the top of the hierarchy, but as far as the subject matter is concerned this isn't rocket science. 

Regardless of their physical abilities, men and women who intellectually invest themselves into a study of their foundational documents are both fully capable of achieving the same strength of knowledge. So why in Heathen communities are women so regularly finding themselves dismissed by men who allegedly believe that they know best? Maybe it's because this is ignorant sexism that's been corporately accumulated either by accident or design, but the Havamal Witches debate is specific to the Heathen Community so I can't really answer for them.

I'm not even sure that I can offer an explanation based within my perspective as a Satanist. Owing largely to the insular and anti-collectivist culture of the Church of Satan, "community" has become a taboo word, and I think that's unfortunate. Satanism is a religion which embraces man-as-animal, so why such a push-back among Satanists against the human need for social interaction? It amuses me when Satanists rail against community yet see no hypocrisy in their participation with online groups for Satanists.

So yeah, owing largely to the hermetic culture of the Church of Satan, I don't have any good comparisons to the Havamal Witches. There are Satanists who'll say that there are no comparisons because Satanism just doesn't suffer the ignorance of sexism, but I don't believe in the myth of Satanic exceptionalism. Judging by many of the memes, essays, videos, and podcasts that I largely don't consume anymore, Satanism is no more immune to its preferred variety of ignorance than is any other religious organization to its own preferred variety of ignorance.

The canon literature of the Church of Satan is definitively against the ignorance of sexism, and the official news feed regularly features news items that easily demonstrate this, but I've observed a difference between the official position of the Church of Satan stated in the canon literature, and the personal expressions of Satanism from individual members. I've encountered Satanists who are just like the Christians whose individual practice is vastly different than what's actually taught in the Holy Bible.

The most notable example I can provide was an interaction I had with another Satanist regarding a Satanic YouTube show in which the hosts had what was apparently a serious discussion in which they explained that they don't call transgendered people by their preferred pronouns because they "haven't done anything to earn it."

The hosts of the show are surely welcome to interpret the 4th Satanic statement as they like, but I find it difficult to reconcile their stated position that they aren't going to address somebody by his or her preferred gender pronoun and then say that the CoS has since it's inception been inclusive toward all sexual and gender orientations.

Which is it? Are the hosts going by a hard interpretation of the 4th Satanic statement and waiting for people to transactionally prove their value in order to be called by their preferred gender pronoun? Or do the hosts actually accept the principled position set forth in the canon literature that they should be accepting of all sexual preferences and gender orientations? I feel like that's inconsistent and that those two positions can't be reconciled.

In conversation with the Satanist who evidently cared very deeply about showing me why he thought I was wrong, he backed up the hosts' position by saying "I don't give 2 shits what your preferred gender is and I am not going to respect it, either." In his mind, I think he thought that he was being totally fair by treating everybody like shit. Which is okay - if he thinks that's the best way to live his life, he's welcome to it. But treating everybody like shit isn't the same as accepting the gender-inclusive principles set forth in the canon literature of the Church of Satan.

The Satanist I was speaking with was firm in his opinion that gender pronouns don't matter and that it's rude for others to even discuss their preferences with him, so I just turned the tables and addressed him as if he were actually a woman: "I'm pretty sure you're a woman, and I know that the canon literature says that Satanism embraces all gender identities, but I really think you should work for it. See? Satanism is just a tool-kit, and I use whichever parts work for me. And I gotta say, you're really irritating me. Could you try to be more polite when you talk to me? You're not scoring much in the way of respect here, little lady."

The excerpt you see above is just one small part of an hours-long conversation played out in my Facebook inbox. To say that he missed the point is an understatement. The conversation was ultimately a massive waste of time and judging by his responses there was nothing I could do to persuade him to the position that in order to call oneself a Satanist, one must actually accept the fundamentals of Satanism which include gender-inclusive attitudes. 

Satanism might not include any Havamal Witches, but it sure includes some bigoted Satanists. How much can I really do about this? I don't honestly know. What I do know is that I think that if members of the Church of Satan are going to get regularly triggered over the mere mention of the Satanic Temple and even the slightest hint of a discussion that there are other branches of Satanism, then they should adjust their internal selective outrage machine to trigger in response to sexist and gendered ignorance. Why do they fly off the handle in response to the Satanic Temple because it's allegedly "not Satanic," but not in response to sexism which is definitively not Satanic?

I think it's hypocritical to claim that Satanism (the religion) is open and accepting of all sexual preferences and gender identities, yet it's totally alright for a Satanist (the individual) to reserve the right to still argue in support of sexist ignorance. To my ears, that's hypocrisy, and I think it should be accused and opposed whenever it turns up.

August 21, 2017

Stuff & Nonsense 8/21/2017

  • There's a solar eclipse today, and despite what this says about the Earth being indisputably round, the flat-earthers still think it's a conspiracy - even the Sun is in on it! Overheard in a flat-earth meeting was the question, "How are we Flat Earthers supposed to explain to our friends the solar eclipse in August?" ... The room fell silent. "We’ll have to do more research and get back to you on that." Read more here.
  • Is Tarot natural, un-natural, or super-natural? These are questions you have to answer to understand how Tarot fits into your world paradigm. Read more here.
  • Hail the trickster gods, for they make us measure our steps and look closely at the world around us. Want to read a Tarot-focused discussion about the role that tricksters and wisdom play in the Tarot? Of course you do. Read more here. Bonus linkage from the same author: a practitioner's comparison of runes and Tarot.
  • For the first time ever, the UN will focus on witchcraft-related violence. Although this article was written on a Neo-Pagan blog, I thought it was particularly relevant to Satanists since the same countries where people are murdered on the mere suspicion of witchcraft are also the same countries where people are murdered on suspicion of Satanism. Read more here.
  • Sweet baby Satan, this is the coolest thing I've seen all week: DIY designer candles. Using standard printer paper, tissue paper, cellophane tape, wax paper, scissors, and a blow-dryer, you can transfer a black and white image onto a white pillar candle. How cool is that? Excuse me while I go make some Baphomet candles. Read more here.
  • Want to get a FREE Tarot reading? Of course you do. Lucky for you, I'm giving free readings on my YouTube channel every Friday. Visit the event on YouTube to RSVP and submit your question.

August 18, 2017

Shut up, Nazis (addendum)

Owing to brevity, there were a couple items I didn't include in my essay regarding the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville: the confederate monuments, and the anti-fascists.

Let's start with the confederate monuments. My opinion, for however little it's worth, is that the confederate monuments should stay where they are and counter-monuments should be erected immediately in front of or beside the confederate monuments, and educational centers against the danger and ignorance of racism should be built in their immediate vicinity.

The reason I didn't include the monuments in my original essay is mostly because the monuments were outside my primary focus which was condemning the fascism, racism, and authoritarianism on display at the UtR rally. So the attendees said, they wanted to protest the removal of confederate statues, but from what I saw the final sum they were really more interested in asserting white hegemony. I accept that the confederate monuments in question feed into this equation, but to my eyes they were just the aperitifs before the plat principal

I accept that I might feel differently about the confederate monuments were my life circumstances different, but I am who I am. Otherwise, I think that the fate of confederate monuments should be decided through exactly the process that's happening right now. We have a system in place to handle situations like this, and from what I can see it's working perfectly.

Regarding the anti-fascists, my opinion was in the original essay and still is now that comparing the anti-fascists to the actual fascists is a false equivalency. To explain why I feel this way, here's a question: If you were going to appear in court for a crime you committed, would you rather your fate be decided by a Moral Judge or an Ethical Judge? If you chose Moral Judge to determine your fate, he or she would ask, "What did you do?" If you chose Ethical Judge to determine your fate, he or she would ask, "Why did you do it?"

Depending on the nature of your crime, then the difference between the judges might not do you any good. For example, if you're guilty of raping a baby then you'll be universally condemned. There's not anybody anywhere who would see a way to justifying or excusing such an action - this is one of the few things that is considered both morally and ethically wrong among all people everywhere in the world.

But if your crime is punching a Nazi? Moral Judge asks, "Did you punch the Nazi?" According to Moral Judge, what you did is more important than why you did it. Morally, I think it's wrong to support vigilante violence because if I say I think it's okay for Nazis to get beaten in the streets, then who's to say that somebody else won't think it's okay for Satanists to get beaten in the streets? For the sake of my own self-preservation, that's a door I'd rather leave shut. 

Ethically, though, is a more difficult question. Ethical Judge asks, "Why did you punch the Nazi?" According to Ethical Judge, why you did it is more important than what you did. Ethically, I think it's wrong to let racists, fascists, and authoritarians go unchallenged because their stated goals are contrary to the pillars of the free, open, and democratic society in which I live that affords me the liberties and quality of life that I enjoy. 

The overt goals of the UtR attendees is segregation, and to hear them say it the creation of new ethno-states for each race will be as easy as sorting coins: you just throw a pile of quarters, dimes, and nickels into the trays, give it a shake, and in no time flat you've got quarters, dimes, and nickels in their own separate trays. See how easy they think it is? Just like coins in a sorting machine, people will allegedly self-segregate into their own homogeneous tribes. Despite the benefits of mixing, and all the studies showing the economic cost of racism and how it harms the overall economy, they'll still insist that segregation is the way to go.

However, the questions that get left unasked are: Who gets the arable land? Who gets the landfills? Who gets the clean drinking water? Who gets the swamps? Who gets the established infrastructure? Who gets to start over from nothing? Who gets to live in the lush valleys? Who has to live in the barren deserts? And most importantly, What happens when people don't want to leave? The obvious answer that the UtR attendees can't or won't state is that all these questions have a final solution.

For obvious reasons, I have no desire to see the implementation of the final solution and this creates a personal dilemma for me in which I'm morally opposed to the violent suppression of free speech, but ethically inclined to accept the violence of the anti-fascists. If there's a neat and tidy answer to this conflict between morals and ethics, I don't know what it is, but I sympathize with Meghan at Cvlt Nation who wrote:
Americans are four generations deep into anti-Nazi and pro-American democracy propaganda. The generations since WWII have had it drilled into their heads that they must fight Nazism and fascism at all costs; it’s what their fathers and grandfathers fought and died for. WWII soldiers are glorified to the highest degree in American mainstream culture for their defeat of a group that called for the extermination of all those who didn’t fit their Aryan and nationalist ideal. 
But when the new generation of Americans stands up against this exact ideology in 2017, instead of being called heroes by the president (and many, many other regular members of the US public – the same people who would probably tell me if it wasn’t for the US, Canada would be run by Nazis), they are called instigators, extremists and “Alt-Left.” 
This generation of anti-fascists is just doing what they’ve been told by their own history books is the right thing to do, while the fascist groups demonstrating for “white pride” and racist ideologies are being let off the hook for their blatant hate speech and promotion of ideals that literally run contrary to everything America says it’s about. Read more here.

August 16, 2017

Shut Up, Nazis

So, Charlottesville happened. Guys with torches marching in the streets chanting about "blood and soil," "white lives matter," and "Jews will not replace us." I understand that the vast majority of those who were present at the Unite the Right rally don't consider themselves Nazis, and it's pretty evident that when they chant "Blood and Soil" they mean something different than what the Nazis meant, but you know how it goes... squawk like a goose, step like a goose - gotta be a goose. I don't think the guys at UtR get to say the things they did and then complain about false equivalencies to Nazis.

And at the risk of somebody accusing me of making dog whistles, I'm a fan of law and order. Not in the sense that, "Our leader is the law so you'd better obey his orders," but "We have laws to preserve hard-won social order." I accept that laws are arbitrary creations, and believe that what is legal may be wrong, and what is illegal may be right. And generally speaking, I think that criminality is corrosive to the social contract which permits the open society in which I live to afford me all the freedoms I enjoy.

Generally speaking, I don't think that all criminality is committed equally. I don't support the violent direct action of the anti-fascists. We've agreed as a society that it's important to have laws against randomly hitting people in the street, and I think that's a convention worth upholding. If somebody wants to speak, I think that - within the definition of free speech -  he or she should be free to speak without fear of government intervention or getting beaten by vigilantes.

But no matter what a cute little meme it's become to punch a Nazi, there's a reason that the anti-fascists are finding and beating these people in the streets. It's not because they hate white people (although I accept that some of them might), but because the openly stated and obvious extension of folks like the ones who marched at UtR is for segregation. We've already seen what happened with apartheid and Jim Crow, and to be honest it didn't work out so well for either side. I don't want to be a part of either side of those equations, and no matter my stated opinion on the anti-fascists, I think it's a false equivalency to compare them to the people marching with fasces and Swastikas, and both parroting Hitler and shouting Nazi chants.

But generally speaking, I also think that freedom of speech doesn't equate to protection of speech. Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences, and just because you have a constitutional right to speak your mind free of government intervention, that doesn't mean you get to silence dissenting views while you're speaking it. Mocking racists in an open forum is freedom of speech.  People telling your employer that you're a white nationalist is them exercising their freedom of speech. Your employer dismissing you is freedom of speech. Counter-protesters screaming in your face is freedom of speech. Using obstacles to hide your protest or sounds to drown your chants is freedom of speech. Organizing mass protests is freedom of speech. Speaking venues cancelling your appearance is freedom of speech. Short of punching you in the nose or stealing your property, it's freedom of speech.

And I think it's important when these things happen to say that authoritarianism, fascism, and racism are not okay. With history as my guide, authoritarian, fascist, and racist societies are not places where a liberty-minded Satanist would want to live. And sure, you can tell me all about how you're apolitical and can survive anywhere in the world, but to carry this argument to the logical outcome: what happens when there is nowhere else to go? Aren't freedom and liberty worth protecting where you live right now? After all, in authoritarian, fascist, and racist governments a large priority is always immigration and both who's allowed to enter as well as who's allowed to leave. If your defense against these is the argument that you'll just find a new place to live, then you're going to find it very difficult to pick up and move when the political climate becomes inhospitable.

So for all these reasons and more, I'm exercising my freedom of speech to let Nazis know that they can shut the fuck up. Not that probably any of them are reading my blog - to be honest, not many people at all read my blog -  but I'm saying it anyway because this blog is a digital extension of my lair that I use to articulate my thoughts (and invite others to challenge them).

There's nothing original in what I'm saying, and I'd be surprised if anybody really believed that this is a controversial position to take within Satanism. After all, Magus Gilmore specifically condemns both fascism and racism as being incompatible with Satanism in his canonical Satanic Scriptures. And while the Church of Satan flirts with authoritarianism, I think it's pretty clear that in the end it definitely and unmistakably prefers liberty over tyranny.

The people at the UtR rally weren't conducting an exercise in aesthetics or trying to unnerve the thought police with their edginess. This isn't about channeling the power of taboo symbols. If the UtR attendees were only carrying symbols absent words and actions, it might be called ignorance. If they were only speaking words absent symbols and actions, it might be called harmless. If they were only acting absent words and symbols, it might be called theater. But symbols, words, and actions all in one place at the same time mean something, and that something is unworthy of the society in which I want to live.

EDIT: I wrote an addendum to clarify my position on the monuments (which weren't addressed in this essay) and the violence committed by the anti-fascists. Read more here. 

August 12, 2017

Alexa, perform a Satanic ritual.

Don't handicap yourself with greater magic.
via Disney's Wall-E

I read a lot of blogs. I don't agree with everything every blogger on my RSS feed writes - for that matter, I don't agree with everything that anybody writes - so I take what I like and leave the rest. As it happens, something I liked reading was a post by John Beckett who wrote a list of movies to inspire your practice of greater magic. Naturally, John being the who-knows-anymore practitioner that he is, his perspective of greater magic is filtered through a neo-Pagan lens. Incidentally, if you're looking for a list of movies then the Church of Satan has you covered (although I may yet make my own list.) If you like John's list, then you're welcome to click through and let him know in the comments. 

But me being who I am, John's list sparked some ideas of my own, and I gotta say: Wall-E is arguably a deeply Satanic movie. I'm not here to convince you to the fan theory that Wall-E is Satan from the book of Genesis, but I am here to convince you that just like technology which makes our lives easier, greater magic has a price.

The things we do with technology today are pure wizardry compared to what people knew even 100 years ago. Wind the clock back 300 years, and we've practically become an alien society. Technology seen as greater magic has warped and wended our world into one giant lament configuration, and while we've used this puzzle box to achieve an unending orgasm of consumer delight, we've also used this puzzle box to thrust ourselves into the dark, freezing depths of the abyss.

If you subscribe to the former, then you might ask, "Why shouldn't I use greater magic to make my life as easy and convenient as possible?" Go ahead! Just say, "Alexa, perform a Satanic ritual," and you can have anything you want at a moment's notice. Well, maybe not anything, but who knows? The ark of the covenant might be tucked away in one of Amazon's vast warehouses.

If you subscribe to the latter, then you might ask, "Why would I choose to live out my life in a pleasure machine?" After all, if pleasure is the highest goal of life, then what could possibly be more desirable than plugging into a machine which would provide constant satisfaction and would adapt to prevent your happiness from growing stale? If you stayed in the box, your body would become fat and weak, your mental faculties would wither, and you'd know nothing except what was presented to you by the pleasure machine. Would you choose to plug into a pleasure machine and let your body degenerate before an infinite parade of decadence? I can hear you thinking, and I think you're thinking "no."

But I also think you're still thinking about how greater magic - whether in metaphor as technology, or as actual occult forces thus far unexplained by science - can provide to you whatever it is you desire. Your words reject the pleasure machine, but your actions embrace it. Greater magic shouldn't be your pleasure machine which you turn to at a moment's notice. I'm absolutely not arguing that there's no place for greater magic, but I am arguing that when used inattentively it ultimately makes the practitioner weaker.

If you accept the definition that greater magic is "the change in situations or events in accordance with one's will, which would, using normally accepted methods, be unchangable," then the best and possibly only reason to use greater magic is when you're confronted with situations or events that are normally unchangeable. Considering how much of daily life is changeable with small to moderate application of lesser magic, then greater magic should be the exception - not the norm.

August 04, 2017

Satanismo kaj Esperanto: Mankas Diverseco!

I occasionally publish essays in Esperanto. This is one of them.
If you want to learn Esperanto, you can start here or here.
Cxu vi sxatus trinki glason da larmoj?
Hodiaux mi renkontis esperantulon kiu priplendis la mankon de diverseco en Esperantujo. Li sugestis ke la solvo kontraux la sxajnanta maldiverseco estas elspezi monon por inviti kolorhomojn kaj virinojn al lerni Esperanton kaj fine krei novajn podkastojn kaj JuTubajn spektaklojn. Laux la zorgema esperantulo, la problemo estas ke kolorhomoj havas malpli da vocxforto en Esperantujo, kaj virinoj enspezas malpli da mono. Pro tiuj kialoj, la solvo devigxas ke iu (kiun neniu konas) jxetu monon kaj helpon al esperantulinoj kaj kolorhomoj.

Cxu simplas, ne? Kio povas malsuksecigxi?

La problemo cxi tie estas ke la esperantulo kiu priplendas la sxajnantan maldiversecon en Esperantujo neniam demandis al tiuj bezonataj virinoj kaj kolorhomoj se ili fakte volas lerni Esperanton, kaj cxu jes, se ili ecx volas elspezi sian tempon por krei la podkastojn kaj spektaklojn kiuj sxajnante mankas. Ni ludu! Mi estas mi, kaj vi estas malesperantkolorhomino.
  • Mi: Esperantujo suferas mankon da kolorhominvocxojn.
  • Vi: Okay, so what do you want me to do about that?
  • Mi: Ne, ne, ne - Esperante, bonvole.
  • Vi: I'm sorry, what?
  • Mi: Mi pensas ke via opinio mankas en mia lingvujo.
  • Vi: (uzante Google Tradukilon) ... Bone, sed mi malmulte interesigxas pri Esperanto.
  • Mi: Tio ne gravas, cxar mi volas ke vi partoprenu Esperantujon.
  • Vi: (foriras)
La problemo estas ke por la plendanta esperantulo, virinoj kaj kolorhomoj estas iloj por atingi ian kunekunan utopion. Li priplendis la problemon ke malplimultuloj mankas suficxe kaj da tempo kaj da mono, sed li oportune neobservas la fakton ke gxis nun ekzistas preskaux nenia bona kialo por lerni Esperanton.

Esperanto estas amuza hobio, kaj multaj homoj (inkluzve min mem) esperas ke gxi iam atingos la finan venkon, sed se malplimultuloj jam mankas kaj da monon kaj da tempon por partopreni Esperanton, kial ili decidos elspezi sian tempon por lerni Esperanton kiam ili povas (kaj versxajne elektos) fari ion ajn alian - kiel pasigi tempon kun siaj familoj, purigi siajn domojn, ludi cxe la parko, aux cxeesti teatrospektaklon?

Neniu malpermersas virinojn kaj kolorhomojn partoprenu Esperanton, kreu JuTubajn spektaklojn, ajx registru podkastojn. Kaj ni ne forgesu ke Esperanto estas mondlingvo: virinoj cxirkaux la tuta mondo rajtas partopreni, kaj se vi inkluzivas Cxinanojn, Kubanojn, aux Afrikanojn, do kolorhomoj jam bone reprezentas sin mem.

Ni ne imagu problemon kiam nenia problemo ekzistas.

August 02, 2017

After-Action Report: Tarot Blog Hop 7/2017

After-Action Report

The Tarot Blog Hop is an international group of Tarot readers who get together eight times a year to blog about a common theme relating to Tarot and fortune-telling. If you read Tarot, you're welcome to join us - the more the merrier! - the but if not, you're welcome to digest the highlights I've pruned from my favorite entries from this round. 

As it happens, the theme for this round is to do with respecting the Tarot. The primary emphasis was on the Tarot itself, but hoppers were welcome to expand on this theme as they saw fit. I participated in the hop and you can read my entry here, but this after-action report is all about the other blogs I enjoyed reading. Let's get hopping!

When the Tarot starts reading you?

I was relieved to learn after reading Morgan Drake-Eckstein's contribution that I'm not the only person who finds himself reading cards when I'm supposed to be playing poker, cribbage, or canasta. Seriously, folks: when you spend your days reading the cards to divine the future, and then one night you're shuffling cards and playing a card game, it's hard to turn off the divinatory part of your brain that wants to keep looking for messages even though there aren't any to be had... or at least, there shouldn't be any to be had. Read more here.

Huzzah for meta-analysis!

Meanwhile, Joy Vernon discussed her opinion that an important part of respecting the Tarot is to accept the first message given to you instead of shuffling over and over until you get the message you want. I get that there are a lot of good reasons to go with the first message that’s given to you, but one of my favorite Tarot strategies is to ask the same question anywhere from two to four times and then track the similarities among all the readings. In this way, I can use multiple readings to perform a meta-analysis and create a mental scatter plot which shows the firmest direction among all the readings that one reading on its own might not have latched onto. Read more here.

Don't forget to respect the Tarot (Reader.)

I also appreciated the view offered by Karen Sealey who discussed (among other things) ways to keep your voice going long into the night. Apparently, I should be doing vocal warm-ups and using  throat lozenges. I hadn't considered either of those things, and had merely resigned myself to not taking any gigs longer than two hours. I must investigate vocal warmups. Read more here.

Well-worn Tarot decks are so charming!

I’ve got a Tarot of the Loka deck that I purchased not even two years ago but the edges have gone all foxy and the front and back faces are starting to thin. I put it through a lot of work since I got it, and I really like the weathering its acquired. Worn decks have such character. They're like old friends, you know? Read more here.

Angel Trumpets vs. Devil Trombones?

Tarot decks are tools created for a specific purpose, and imbued by their creators with a particular emphasis. This is the primary reason that I prefer to read with playing cards and Tarot decks with non-illustrated pips and minimalist trumps: I'm free to use the tool as I see fit. Or, why waste my time with an angel trumpet when what I really want is a devil trombone? No matter how I blow into it, an angel trumpet will always produce the same range and quality of notes. Read more here

No touchy touchy!

When I'm reading for others in-person, I don’t need them to touch the cards, but I find that my clients do enjoy touching the cards and the physical act of shuffling works wonders in getting them to focus on the question of the reading. But even though there are benefits to letting them handle my deck, I stopped letting people touch my cards because they insist on shuffling by just pushing the bottom of one stack into the top of another stack (which is like nails on a black-board for me), or if they attempt a poker shuffle they occasionally bend cards at what looks like 90 degree angles. Gahh… I couldn’t stand it anymore so I just stopped letting people touch my cards. Read more here.

You won't like me when I'm angry.

There are two ways that a client can instantly infuriate me in a reading, and I think they must be pretty touchy issues for the blogger Jack of Wands, too, because he listed both of them in the same order of severity:
  1. Clients who come to my Tarot table with a flippant attitude, and
  2. Clients who like to play “test the psychic.”
Inwardly, these things burn me up because I put a lot of effort into the work I do and it makes me angry to feel like I’ve wasted my time. I'm not a psychic, people, I'm a Tarot card reader which means exactly that: you ask a question, and based on the context you provide that's how I know to properly interpret the cards.

Outwardly, I do a lot of smiling and nodding, but I always stress to my clients the same thing over and over: better questions produce better answers. If they choose to withhold information or play silly games, that’s their business, but in the end I will be paid for my time and will not issue a refund when they’re unhappy with the quality of their reading. Read more here.

August 01, 2017

Tarot Blog Hop: It's just an old hat, son.

Did the hat make John Wayne? Or did John Wayne make the hat?

Welcome to the latest edition of the Tarot Blog Hop. This time around, our host the irreverent and irredeemable Morgan Eckstein asks, "How do you show respect to the Tarot?" As usual, me being who I am, I'll answer that question after I tell you an unrelated story.

This story begins with a country song:

Years ago I heard a cowboy singing a song. It's been so long now that I can't remember when or where I heard it, and not even all-powerful Google can find the lyrics, but the song's refrain was, "It's just an old hat, son." Stanza after stanza, the cowboy told stories about watching his father fix trucks, shoot guns, lasso cattle, ride horses, and sit up late watching the moon, and in each instance the father's wearing his hat.

The magic hat!

And in the eyes of the child, the father's hat became a sacred relic. It was imbued with the father's strength and wisdom, and the father was who he was because he wore the hat. But life is like that, you know? We have a way of mistaking the cosmetic for the fundamental, and vice versa. As the song goes on, the boy becomes a man and the father grows old. When the man realizes that life is complicated, he asks his father for help and remarks, "I'd sure know how to live life right if I had your hat," to which the father replies, "It's just an old hat, son."

Don't mistake the tool for the hand that wields it. 

So like a lot of songs you've probably heard, the one in question was a sentimental way of telling the listener to not make gods of mortals, or to imbue holy power into mundane objects. You know how this is: you think your parents know all the answers when you're a kid, but when you grow up you have to knock them off their pedestals and learn to love and accept them for the flawed people they really are. Spring illusions wax strong in the summer but yield disappointment in the fall and grief in the winter.

I'm not your illumined master.

So just like the boy idolized his father and credited his hat with special abilities, I have clients who idolize me and credit my Tarot deck with special abilities. The way clients revere and praise a Tarot reader is severely addicting, and if you're not careful it can be a deadly trap. The best way to avoid this trap is to never yourself be deceived that you're anything other than what you are - a fallible human - and that your Tarot deck is just ink on paper.

The Tarot is not a holy relic.

Seriously: it's just ink and paper dressed up with myth and fantasy passed down through the generations. This doesn't mean it's useless - after all, even an old hat can keep the sun out of your eyes - but it doesn't require any special treatment. If you find it emotionally satisfying to perform magic passes over your cards, smoke your deck with incense, or pray to an imaginary friend that he, she, or it takes up residence in your 78 pieces of cardstock, then by all means - go ahead. 

But it's still just an old hat.

And what's wrong with that? There are lots of ways to care for and preserve old hats: you can have the bow and ribbon replaced when they get loose and fray. You can have the crown and pinch steamed and reformed when they fall flat. You can replace the silk liner and the sweatband when they've lost their shine. And a floppy brim can always be strengthened with the careful application of starch.

Likewise, you can care for your deck by keeping it in a sturdy box or bundled in a favorite silk scarf. If the cards get marked up from use, you can wipe them clean with a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol. If a card gets ripped, you can order a replacement from the manufacturer or replace it with the same card from another deck. Naturally, you can extend the life of your cards by keeping them out of reach from grubby hands, and I can only assume you'd never lay them down on a dirty table that still remembers what you ate for lunch. You can even prevent ripped and dirty cards from ever happening by purchasing a set of plastic card sleeves.

Or you can embrace the life philosophy that nothing is permanent. "This too shall pass" is perhaps the only statement that is true of anything at any given time, and unless you intend to keep your Tarot deck under glass as a museum showpiece where it'll never see warm sunlight or feel the touch of human flesh, it'll eventually return to the earth from which it came. 

And what's wrong with that?

I'm not convinced that imaginary friends exist or that my favorite deck of Tarot cards has personal feelings, but who knows? Maybe imaginary friends do exist, and maybe my Tarot deck does have personal feelings, but I'm just too ignorant to realize these truths? Yet despite my disbelief in the need for special rituals to gain the favor of imaginary friends or respect the alleged sanctity of cardstock, my Tarot deck is still useful and powerful - but only because I am skilled and knowledgeable.

You wear the hat, the hat doesn't wear you.

Just like old hats, Tarot decks have a way of redirecting other people's attention and leading them to mythologize or idealize the person who uses them. If you're not attentive, they'll do the same to you. It's not possible for you as a Tarot reader to prevent other people from doing this to you, but you can at least be honest with yourself that you're the one who uses the Tarot deck - it doesn't use you. 

And when figurative children make your deck into something it isn't - and by extension, you into somebody you're not - you can at least let them know it's just an old hat. Children who aren't ready to accept this truth won't believe you and will persist in their chosen fantasies, but children who are ready to grow up will understand this truth, gain a greater appreciation for what you do, and ultimately thank you for your wisdom.