May 23, 2018

Hopes & Fears: Reconsidering the Celtic Cross

nightmare scary doctor
This is not a doctor I hope to ever see.
Dieter Laser as Dr. Josef Heiter
When a Tarot reader lays cards down on the table, he or she will typically lay the cards into a conceived pattern called a spread or an arrangement. The reasons for doing so is because specific arrangements work as rigid skeletons to give strength and form to the flesh of the individual cards. One such arrangement is called the Celtic Cross, and although I couldn't say if it's the single most widely used arrangement in the world, I'm confident in saying that it's the best known arrangement in the world.

One of the reasons that the Celtic Cross has endured for so many years is because it was featured in "The Pictorial Key to the Tarot" by Arthur Edward Waite, a man called the father of modern Tarot and whose deck -- popularly known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, named for the Rider Publishing House who produced it and Pamela Coleman Smith who illustrated it -- has become the template against which all other decks are now compared.

As for the Celtic Cross arrangement, it's become a staple inclusion in seemingly every little white book sold with new Tarot decks. Haven't you ever heard of an LWB? It's that throw-away pamphlet included with the deck that gives the basic definitions of the cards and features the Celtic Cross if no other reason than to give the proud new owner of the deck a way to use it. Among Tarot readers, the Celtic Cross tends to be polarizing without much ground in between. 

One of the reasons that the Celtic Cross is occasionally disliked is because it isn't a very precise sort of arrangement, but another is because despite it often being the first arrangement introduced to new Tarot readers, it's actually quite difficult to use because several of the positions within the arrangement overlap and sometimes even seem to repeat one another.

But one position within the arrangement that doesn't overlap is the ninth position, called Hopes & Fears. This position is exactly what it sounds like: the hoped for outcome, ideals, lofty desires, and wishes, but also fears, nightmares, anxieties, unwanted outcomes, and worse. Tarot readers just learning how to read the Celtic Cross sometimes complain that this doesn't make any sense, because "How can one position represent two opposite things at the same time?" To answer that question, I want to tell you a story about myself, and more specifically, how I feel about surgery, doctors, and hospitals. 

Here's a secret about me: I enjoy surgery. Not in the sense that I fetishize pain and suffering, or even the surgery itself, but the preparation before the surgery and the recovery after. There's a strange sort of personal peace and calm that emerges in the period of time before and after surgery, because there are no more decisions for me to make. I'm able to entrust my care to a team of medical professionals who have taken away completely the burden of all responsibilities. I don't have to decide what to wear, because they've given me a hospital gown. I don't have to worry about cleaning linens, because they'll change my pillows and my sheets. I don't have to worry about cooking meals, because the hospital cafeteria will supply my food. I don't have to worry about my pain and discomfort, because the doctors and the nurses will tend to my safety and security. And if necessary, I don't even have to worry about cleaning myself, because the nurses will bathe me. In this period of time shortly before and just after a surgery, I have only one job: to take complete rest. 

In a way, this allows me to rewind the clock into a state of sweet, childlike oblivion. I've never attempted to receive unnecessary surgeries, but between pinning a broken hand, removing an inflamed appendix, repairing a collapsed lung, and probably something else I'm forgetting right now, this is a phenomenon I've been able to enjoy a few times.

But you know what I haven't enjoyed a few times? Surgery. The last major surgery I had was to repair a collapsed lung, and it was a genuine nightmare. The period of time after I received thoracoscopic surgery to repair a collapsed lung is one which I can't fully remember, and strangely enough I seem to be able to recall less and less accurately as the years pass. There are so many things I can't remember: the name of the hospital and even the name of the city where the hospital is located, who did or didn't visit me while I was in the hospital, how long I was in the hospital... hell, there are just entire days at a time missing from my memory during which I reportedly tried to get up and walk away (even with all the tubes, IV's, and a catheter in me), spoke gibberish, and had a hysterical fit while calling out for my sister who was a nurse's aid at the same hospital.

I also had periods of time when I was not permitted to sleep because when I did sleep my heart rate would fall too low to keep me alive, and there was also an unfortunately memorable time when I did sleep that I dreamed I was naked in darkness and being tortured by imps who were stabbing me with pitchforks in my surgical wound. And on top of all that, there were also the times when I hallucinated about people who weren't there at all, including being visited by Dennis Haysbert, also known as the Allstate Guy. It would seem that my unconscious mind wanted nothing more than to be in good hands.

This particular hospital stay over eight years ago was so memorable that I continue to have anxiety about it to this day and it's impacted me to such a degree that I often self-censor during movies and TV shows featuring traumatic hospital scenes. All things considered, I suppose you could say that it had a big impact on my life and has completely redefined what fear means to me. You have no idea how much I wish these things were not true, because this hospital stay was the nightmare that still haunts me.

All of which is a long way of saying that this is what the position of Hopes & Fears means in the Celtic Cross. Hospitals and in particular surgery have become a potent combination of my own personal hopes and fears. I hope for a recovery from illness and injury, I hope to escape the burden of stress and anxiety, I hope to be cared for and given the treatment I need to become healthy again. I fear the pain of recovery, I fear the loss of myself, I fear the reminder of death, I fear helplessness and despair. It's easy to dismiss the position of Hopes & Fears as a bit of mental masturbation and fluffy day-dreaming, but if you're going to give this arrangement the esoteric depth it deserves, then you should not fail to remember that the position of Hopes & Fears in the Celtic Cross can be equally bright and encouraging as it can be dark and terrifying.

May 17, 2018

Render unto Moloch that which is Moloch's

satanic altar moloch sacrifice
Sidewalk chalk and a little imagination can go a long way.
Here's a true story about me: I'm petty and vindictive. This has caused problems for me in the past, but I'm making a maximum effort attempt at channeling my pettiness into more constructive directions. The most recent occasion that somebody got my goat was actually a culmination of probably six months' frustrations: Disrespectful neighbors and more generally community members who have no respect for private property and public cleanliness.

I live in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, at the edge of the west side of town close to the border crossing into the USA and just a few blocks away from one of the few steel plants. This part of town is called Steelton (Steel Town), but it's also called the edge of the ghetto -- I suppose you could say I live in the "G?" The great thing about living on the edge of the ghetto is that property taxes are quite low, but the not great thing about living on the edge of the ghetto is dealing with the frequent turn-over of renters who absolutely do not care about the community.

The landlord who owns the building next to my own plays musical chairs with her two rental units, and I don't know how she does it, but she somehow manages to rent to the shittiest people over and over again. Maybe she's not vetting her applicants and she deserves the way they treat her rental units? Maybe she just doesn't have a lot of choice in applicants and has to accept whomever she can get? Or maybe her apartments are really shitty and she just doesn't care about the quality of people who live there? Whatever the case, she manages to consistently rent to people who think that "Private Property - No Parking Allowed" signs are only for decoration, they can throw their garbage wherever they want (including into my yard), and they can let their animals shit wherever they want and not clean it up. Combine the steady parade of uncaring renters with a public lane-way runs along the rear of my house, and that means I also get a steady parade of dog-walkers who let their dogs shit on the grassy margins as well as people who think it's totally okay to discard their trash in the lane-way.

All this results in a combination of circumstances which creates a steady accumulation of animal feces and other rubbish outside my back door. I mean, it's everything you can imagine: styrofoam coffee cups, plastic drink cups, empty pizza boxes, syringes and needles, used napkins, old pens, broken bottles, whitefish, ruined children's toys, plastic straws, and dog shit. So much dog shit... I mean, there are even plastic bags of dog shit that the dog's owner took the trouble of collecting and even tying shut, but then still decided to throw the neat-and-tidy, tied-shut bag of dog shit into the margins of the lane-way.

I can't even tell you how angry this makes me. This is my home. I live here. I get up every day, and when I look out the window I get to see the occasional rubbish and dog shit discarded by my shitty neighbors, as well as the frequent rubbish and dog shit discarded by all the other people who think that the lane-way behind my back door is a public dumping ground. These kinds of people have no respect for community and I don't know how they can look at the dog shit and litter piling up every day and think, "This is okay." It's dirty and disgusting, it smells terrible, and if it were up to me I'd force these shitty litterbugs to eat the piles they left behind.

The first time it became evident that the next-door renter was letting his dogs run off-leash and drop their turds wherever they felt inspired to do so, my approach was to return to sender: I just scooped them with a shovel and threw them back over the property line. When it kept happening, I asked him to pick up after his dogs. Evidently, asking somebody to do the right thing was the wrong decision because he wanted to fight me over it. I'm like, "It's your dogs' shit, so why should I have to clean it up?" When he threatened to vandalize my car -- because apparently that's what broke-ass renters who don't own a car like to do when somebody tells them to be minimally decent toward their neighbors -- I called the police to have him trespassed from my property and the Humane Society who got all up in his business about keeping his dogs leashed. Why do people have to be like that? This is why we can't have nice things.

What this experience taught me is that asking people to be responsible in response to a problem of their own creation only produces results if said people have any decency or self-respect. In this case, it turned out I was wasting my time and it was unreasonable of me to expect that anything productive would come from attempting to hold shitty children accountable for their shitty childishness. 

And it may sound silly to you, but while swimming in my anger what came to mind was the expression, "Render unto Caeser the things that are Caeser's." I saw all this trash accumulating, and thought of the Lord of the Flies who dwells in the trash heap of Gehenna and Moloch who also has been said to dwell in that same place, also called valley of Hinnom. In my mind, Caeser in the aforementioned expression was replaced by another authority: "Render unto Moloch the things that are Moloch's." The way it came to me, the Lord of the Flies is a gatekeeper who inhabits the burning fires of the trash-heap through which human offerings are sent to be devoured by Moloch.

If you can see it my way, it seems that the Lord of the Flies and Moloch are rightfully owed certain offerings, and to deny them these offerings by discarding them outside their domain serves only to invite them to expand their kingdom of rubbish to include the community where I live. If the Lord of the Flies and Moloch were real, I'd surely have no desire to meet them. They are owed offerings of filthy rubbish and worthless children, and I'm happy to see that they receive them.

So it occurred to me that if I'm getting no results by emptying my wrath onto people who cannot be persuaded by wrath, then I should channel my considerable anger and frustration into something more productive: a Satanic ritual in which they themselves would be offered up as the sacrifice. To achieve this goal, I decided to destroy the one thing I could: the piles of filth and rubbish. If I were a character in the Star Wars universe, I'd absolutely give myself over to the dark side. Wrath can be productive if it's allowed to flow toward worthwhile ends.  

So last weekend I focused my hate onto the destruction of the filth that's taken hold outside my back door. I took a rake, a shovel, and a trash bag out into the lane-way and pulled out all the dog shit and trash that had been left there. I even found a dead bird that looked in sore need of going under the soil. I wish I could tell you that the act of cleaning the lane-way was cathartic, but it only intensified my anger. Every turd I scooped was a reminder that I'm living next to people who do not care at all about shitting almost literally where they eat. Every piece of rubbish was a reminder that there are people who think it's okay to make other people live in squalor for the sake of their own convenience. All these things I raked managed to fit into a single black trash-bag, and the task done I took a can of white spray paint and marked it with the alchemical symbol of earth for the Lord of the Flies. As for the offering to Moloch, that would come later...

.. after I had constructed an altar specifically for the purpose of this ritual. Having collected the filth and rubbish from the lane-way, I purchased some side-walk chalk and started illustrating my altar. I needed the daylight to see what I was drawing, and if initial responses are any indication of the outcome then I suppose they were promising because a large grid of occult markings in bright chalk did really caught people's eyes and did wonders to get drivers to slow down instead of speeding through the back alley. It had occurred to me that safety, day-glow orange paint would also make people slow down and take notice, but day-glow chalk would be counter-productive to the final working of this ritual in which after the chanting and hand-waving is finished I sweep up all the chalk, dirty, and sand on the pavement and then surreptitiously scatter it around the doorways of known offending neighbors.

As for the format of the ritual, it closely followed the standard destruction ritual featured in the Satanic Bible. There were a few points of improvisation, but me being who I am I care more about the sizzle than the steak. Hilariously to me, the biggest push-back I encountered on this ritual came from theistically-minded occultists who really got their hair tied in knots because I wasn't using their correct seals, their correct words, or their correct execution. Satanism has been pretty damn well defined for over 50 years, but for some reason a lot of occultists just can't wrap their minds around the fact that Satanic ritual is a lot like purging: it allows me to figuratively vomit out the anger and frustration that inhibit my ability to focus and pursue other outcomes. As for the Harry-Pottery, I'm willing to indulge in the fantasy that this will really accomplish something. If the old gods Beelzebub and Moloch really do exist, then the city landfill would be where to find them. If an offering suitably marked and dutifully given at best magically solves my problem or at worst just makes me feel better about the whole thing, I'm okay with the outcome either way.

Having said that, though, there is a method to my madness. The image displayed at the very top of this blog post is not consistent with any other occult practices, nor is it intended to be because what you see is my idea of artistic improvisation. Want to know why I chose the elements that I did? Read on:

  • The bull's head representing Moloch is evident at the top of the chalked altar, and that's repeated by the horned idol you see by the fence. Three red arrows descend from the head of Moloch toward the left, central, and right portions of the altar to show where I want things to flow.
  • The trash bag which contains all the refuse I collected is marked with the alchemical symbol for the element of earth, and represents the final destination to which offering is destined. Dust to dust, and so on.
  • The vertical white lines broken by off-angled orange lines are my idea of a protective barrier. My house is behind that fence, so I create that as my way of showing that nothing passes that direction.
  • The left arrow from Moloch moves into my command to "Eat the shameful person." There's a specific person whom I'll be very glad to see eaten by Moloch, and I rather doubt it will happen, but whatever -- it's the thought that counts, you know what I mean? 
  • Beneath that is my command to "Sleep with the unclean." This is flanked on the left by a couple repetitions of "Fuck You." On the bottom left, there're the words, "Lord of the Flies. I think the sentiment is clear.
  • The right arrow from Moloch moves into my command, "Rule in Gehenna," the burning trash heap where in Biblical times was found garbage, corpses, unwanted babies, and other refuse. This is my way of saying that I understand that there are things in life that are hideous, disgusting, and revolting, and I want to maintain the boundary between them and me. To the right of this are more repetitions of "Fuck You." 
  • Just beneath that is the command to "Make them eat shit." On the bottom right, there're the words "Lord of the Abyss." Leviathan is a worthy inclusion in any Satanic ritual, especially when performing a curse.
  • The middle arrow from Moloch moves into the command, "Give unto Lord Moloch his property." Beneath that is a square of power to contain the eight-pointed chaos star within. There are additional counter-positioned spokes against the Chaos star which to me represent explosive force, and in my mind the whole central square is a brittle cage preparing to explode upon the completion of the ritual. 
  • The square links to the candles at the left and right sides which are my way of feeding fire to the central cage. The four grey areas you see extending from the candles are where I'll put my ritual tools: the Satanic Bible, a ritual knife, a ritual bell, and a good old bottle of beer for libation and spitting upon my offerings. As for me, I'll sit directly between the two circles on top of the words "Strength (comes) to me, the greatest strength." Get it? I'm on a seat of power.
  • Finally, the blue tridents are my idea of psychic shit-catchers: the barbed tines catch anything they touch, but because of the angle release nothing. This feeds power to my implements which sit just behind them. 
  • The left and right edges of the altar are illustrated with lightning bolts which radiate left and right toward the east and west ends of the alley where all the refuse I collected was littered.

You can read the standard ritual format in the Satanic Bible if you want to get an idea how the performance of this ritual was structured and performed. As for the intention set forth in the ritual, I offered the trash bag of rubbish and dog shit to the Lord of the Flies because that is what Beelzebub is owed, and to Moloch I offered the names of the rude, immature renters. If they can't be bothered to act like responsible adults, then I'll make them pass through the burning fires of Gehenna watched by the Lord of the Flies and offer them as unwanted children for Lord Moloch to devour. 

There are occultists who really don't approve of how I'm performing this ritual, but they seem either unwilling or unable to understand the Satanic approach to ritual and the fact that I place more emphasis on the performative artistry of my work than the spiritual precision. The only thing I didn't like about this set-up is that I was performing the ritual outside the fence of my backyard and could be seen by anybody who was coming or going. Public ritual isn't conducive for really letting go of self awareness, but whatever -- I work with what I have, and there's no way I could spew my libation over the altar inside. Way too much to clean up.

As it happened, the neighbors closest to my heart for the purposes of this ritual did make an appearance. During the close of the ritual while chanting a suitable Enochian key about dung-filled branches of lamentation, the neighbor and his girlfriend plus their two dogs came out for their evening walk to drop some more turds at the edge of the back alley. I could hear them having a good laugh, but I didn't break stride. As far as I'm concerned, their appearance exceeded my wildest dreams because they effectively presented themselves as offerings at the key and most critical moment of the ritual. It brings me pleasure to indulge in the fantasy that Moloch will eat these shitty little children and remove them from my life.

As for the results of the ritual and the question that's always asked -- DID IT WORK? -- I can say both yes and no. Immediately after the ritual, I felt a great relief. The consuming anger and frustration that distracted me from more productive goals is well and truly gone. I mean, it's completely gone and I even have a hard time digging it up again. This ritual was one of the few times that I've managed to achieve a complete and total purge of unwanted emotions, and they have not returned. I'm skeptical that I performed any Harry Potter-y, but it's fair to say that this ritual of greater magic did in fact change my reality because it changed me. The shitty renters are still alive (and I'm sure no more inclined to clean up after themselves,) and the back lane-way is still frequented by people who can't be bothered to responsibly dispose of their rubbish, but whatever -- is it still a problem if it no longer feels like a problem?

After I finished the ritual, I dripped some wax from the candles over the chaos star in the middle, swept what chalk and beer-spat sand I could into a hot-foot powder that got spread around some choice locations. After that, I got a bucket of rainwater from the sump in the basement and washed it all away. The next morning, the only remaining evidence that the altar and its attendant ritual ever existed are the scatterings of sand and chalk where certain people are known to walk. The trash bag of filth and rubbish was suitably marked and offered, and this past Wednesday was collected by sanitation workers and ultimately delivered to the city landfill. The goat idol, striking bell, ritual knife, and Satanic Bible went back onto their usual shelves...

... and as for the empty beer bottle used to pour libations, that went into the recycling.

May 11, 2018

Ni Lernu Esperanton per Satanismo I

esperanto satanismo

(This post is an exercise for students of Esperanto, an international auxiliary language, and is for educational purposes, teaching vocabulary, and aiding comprehension. If you want to learn Esperanto, I recommend Duolingo and Lernu.)

Por amuzigi mian lernadon de Esperanto, mi sxatas fari tradukajxojn de interesaj verkoj. Cxi tiu verko estas mia propra studilo, kaj mi verkis gxin cxefe por mi, sed ankaux vi rajtas uzi gxin. Fine, cxi tiu verko rebrilas mian plej nunan komprenadon de Esperanto, do se vi vidas ion negxustan -- diru pri tio en la komentariejo sube.

La sekvantaj paragrafoj estas tradukitaj el la angla versio de la plej fama verko de Anton LaVey, "La Satana Biblio." Laux mi, LaVey ne estas la fina vocxo de Satanismo, sed li ja estas la unua vocxo de hodiauxa Satanismo. Onklo LaVey mensogis tre ofte, sed pluraj veroj troveblas inter la mensogoj, kaj nenia Satanisto povas neobservi la farojn de li. Ni legu:
Nomata "La Nigra Papo" de multaj de liaj sekvantoj, Anton LaVey komencis la vojon al alta pastreco de la Pregxejo de Satano kiam li havis nur dek ses jarojn kaj ludis piporgenon cxe karnavalo: 
"Sabatonokte mi vidus virojn avidantajn duone nudajn dancistinojn cxe la karnavalo, kaj -- dimancxomatene dum mi ludas la piporgenon por tendospektaklaj evangelistoj apud la alia flanko de la karnavala kampo -- mi vidus la vere samajn virojn. Ili estus sidantaj sur la pregxbenkoj kun siaj edzinoj kaj idoj, petantaj al Dio laksigi la karnajn dezirojn. Kaj la sekvantan Sabatonokton ili ree cxeestus la karnavalon aux alian indulgejon. Mi lernis cxi tiam ke la Kristianismo prosperas pere de hipokriteco, kaj la karna naturo de homo cxiam venkos!" 
Ekde tiu frua tempo en lia vivo, la vojo estis klara. Fine, la lastan nokton de aprilo 1966 -- Valpurga Nokto, la plej grava festo de la kredantoj je sorcxarto -- LaVey razis la kapon laux la tradicio de praaj ekzekutistoj kaj anoncis la formadon de la Pregxejo de Satano. Li estis vidinta la bezonon por pregxejo kiu rekaptus kaj la korpon kaj la dezirojn de la homo kiel festajn objektojn. "Cxar adorado por korpaj aferoj produktas plezuron," li diris, "do estus templo de granda indulgigxo."
Vortaro kaj Diskutado
Dum legi cxi tiun parton de la leciono, oni devus demandi sin pri la vortoj: Kion ili signifas? Kion oni povas diri pri ili? Kiel oni povas uzi la vortojn? Kaj plej grave, oni devus paroli la vortojn lauxte kaj diskuti ilin kun si mem. Eblas ke du aux pli da homoj havos sxancon por diskuti kune, kaj cxu jes, do cxiu devus vice unue demandi kaj due respondi. Alivorte, konduku diskuton celante al uzi la vortojn flue kaj per onies propraj vortoj!  

Avidi -- Deziri ion aux iun kiel posedajxon, aparte sekse.
  • Cxu vi avidas nudajn korpojn? Cxu vi preferas virajn aux inajn dancistojn? Kial?
Benko -- Meblo por sidi
Pregxbenko -- Longa benko en pregxejo
  • Kie vi sidas? La benko estas bona por sidi aparte dum pregxaj servoj. Longaj benkoj ene de Kristanaj pregxejoj nomigxas pregxbenkoj.
Ekzekuti -- Legxe mortigi krimulon.
Ekzekuto -- Legxa mortigo de krimulo.
Ekzekutisto -- Oni kiu ekzekutas krimulojn.
Ekezekutato -- Oni kiu estas mortigata de ekzekutisto.
  • La ekzekutisto mortigas krimulojn kiuj estas tro dangxeraj por vivi ene de la komunumaro. La ekzekuto estas grava afero, sed oni devas fari ion kontraux krimo. La ekzekutanto provizas malgxojan sed iame bezonatan servon.
Eklezio -- La vasta organizo kiu konsistas el la kredantoj de unu religio kiuj partoprenas la samajn kredojn.
  • Oni diras ke cxiuj ekstere de la Kristana eklezio estas anoj de la eklezio de Satano, sed nenia eklezio ekzistas. Ja ekzistas la Pregxejo de Satano kiu estis fondita de Anton LaVey en 1966, sed ecx la Pregxejo de Satano ne vocxas por cxiuj Satanistoj. La nura argumento kiun oni povas fari estas ke ekzistas pluraj Satanaj "eklezioj," cxar ne cxiuj Satanistoj kredas same, kaj ecx tiuj kiuj ja kredas same ne volas partopreni anecon en ia ajn Satana eklezio.
Evangelio -- La vortoj, verkoj, kaj promesoj supoze skribitaj de Dio pere de homaj servantoj.
Evangelisto -- Oni kiu disvastigas la evangelion.
  • Cxu vi kredas je Dio? La evangelio supoze priskribas la farojn de Dio. Homoj kiuj disvastigas la evangelion nomigxas evangelistoj. Mi kredas je mi, cxar mi ekzistas. Mi estas evangel-MI-sto cxar mi volas disvastigi miajn proprajn vortojn, verkojn, kaj nomon.  
Hipokrita -- Oni kiu esprimas hipokritecon.
Hipokritulo -- Oni kiu deziras unu regulon por si mem, sed postulas malan regulon por aliuloj.
Hipokriteco -- Mala eco inter la agadoj kaj la vortoj de iu aux io.
  • Se vi vere kredas ke mortigo estas peko, do kial vi ne protestas kontraux legxaj ekzekutoj? Multaj homoj diras ke Kristanoj estas hipokrituloj pro tio ke ili protestas kontraux la aborto cxar laux ili "la vivo estas valora," sed cxi tiuj Kristanoj ankaux ne helpas al malsataj beboj kaj virinoj, aux malricxaj uloj kiuj estas vivantaj kaj mortantaj lauxlitere sur la strato. Evidente, Kristanoj pli valoras iujn vivojn ol aliajn, cxu ne?
Indulgi -- Permsi al iu ion. Religie, pardoni ies pekojn pro la intersxangxo de mono aux valora servo.
Indulgigxi -- Permesi sin mem gxui ion, aparte ion, kion oni kutime ne rajtas gxui.
Indulgo -- Io plezura aux dezirinda, aparte kiam gxi estas peka aux multekosta.
Kirko -- Specifa organizo kiu enhavas plurajn pregxejojn. Pli specifa ol "eklezio."
  • La Papo de la Katolika Kirko iam pardonas al famuloj kaj ricxuloj la pekojn pro tio ke ili pagas vastajn sumojn da mono al la eklezio, kaj tia pardono nomigxas indulgo. La Papo indulgas la pekojn de famuloj kaj ricxuloj cxar ili helpas al la eklezio. Kion vi pensas? Cxu la Dio de cxioma realeco vere prifajfas la vortojn kaj agadojn de homoj? Mi pensas ke se Dio estus cxiel forta, li ne bezonus ies monon.
Laksa -- Senti sin mem mense kaj fizike malstrecxigita. 
Lakso -- Malkapablo pri teni sian anusan sfinkteron (kutime pro malsano.)
Mallakso -- Malkapablo pasigi ekskrecion.
Laksilo -- Ilo por igi iun laksa.
Laksigi -- Igi iun laksa
  • Satana rito ekzistas cxefe por laksigi koleron, timon, kaj maltrankvilecon. Satana rito ankaux helpas al vekigi amon, deziron, kaj volon ene de la menso de la faranto. Malmultaj Satanistoj vere kredas ke ili povas sxangxi realacon per rito. Alivorte, Satana rito estas mensa laksilo!
Karnavalo -- Okazo dum kiu homoj festas, ludas, mangxas, kaj ecx gxuas amuzajn rajdilojn.
  • La vivo estas unu granda karnavalo, cxu ne? Oni rajtas gxui amon kaj la plezurojn de la korpo, bonan mangxajxon, fortajn trinkajxojn, kaj pli multe. Neniu deziras morti! Anton LaVey iame diris ke ni cxiuj estas infanoj protestantaj kontraux dormi. Ju pli da tempo pasas, des pli la fina dormotempo alvanas. Cxiuj volas ludi! Neniu volas dormi!
Orgeno -- Granda, piana muzikilo kiu funkcias per aero.
Pipo -- Longa, ronda metalajxo kiu kutime kondukas akvon, vaporon, aux ecx nafton kaj gazon.
Piporgeno -- Tre granda, piana muzikilo kiu funkcxias per vaporo. Kutime aperas ene de pregxejoj kaj cxe karnavaloj.
  • Anton LaVey sxatis ludi la orgenon, kaj li supoze ludis la piporgenon cxe karnavaloj kaj dancokluboj. Supoze li ludis pianon por la famulino Marilyn Monroe, sed gxis nun neniu estas prezentinta ian atestajxon pri tio. Sendistinge, Onklo LaVey ja povis ludi pianon kaj piporgenon. Kio estas la vero? La mondo versxajne neniam scios. 
La Papo -- La plej alta pastro de la Katolika Kirko. La mita Dio de cxiom de realeco supoze parolas per li.
Pastro -- Oni kiu instruas kaj gvidas pri religiaj aferoj. Kutime servas en pregxeja posteno.
Pastreco -- La laboro de pastro, inkluzive respondecojn por helpi religie al kirkanoj.
Pastraro -- La organizita korpo de pluraj pastroj, aparte kiel rangoj de la plej malalta gxis la plej alta.  
Pregxejo -- Loko kie pastro kondukas religiajn servojn.
  • Anton LaVey estis la unua alta pastro de la Pregxejo de Satano, kaj iuj nomis lin la Nigra Papo. Post kiam LaVey mortis en 1997, lia filino Karla LaVey kaj amanto Blanche Barton igxis la altaj pastrinoj de la Pregxejo. Bedauxrinde, ili ne povis labori kune kaj fine decidis cedi la postenon al Peter Gilmore kiu igxis la alta pastro de la Pregxejo de Satano. Nuntempe, la pastraro de la Pregxejo dauxrigxas kaj aliaj pregxanoj iel servas en la enaj rangoj.
Razi -- Uzi akran ilon por trancxi harojn fore de la korpo.
Razilo -- Ilo por razi.
  • Antaux la jaro 1966, Anton LaVey surhavis plenan kapon de haro (kaj iuj fotoj pri li hara ankoraux ekzistas!) Post la jaro 1966 kiam LaVey formis la Pregxejon de Satano, li ekis razi la kapon kaj igxis la postulata demonulo tauxga por la hodiauxa busxo de la Diablo.
Sekvi -- Iri ien ajn kien iras aliulo.
Sekvanto -- Oni kiu sekvas la farojn aux la vortojn de aliulo.
  • En la fruaj jaroj, la Pregxejo de Satano amasigis multajn sekvantojn al sia nigra flago, kaj la estraro de la pregxejo estis indulgema al kredantoj je Satano kiel reala dio. Depende de via perspektivo, aux fortune aux bedauxrinde en 1975 Michael Aquino kaj supoze granda nombro da homoj forlasis la Pregxejon de Satano pro tio, ke ili kredis ke Anton LaVey estis perdinta la rajton estri. La plejparto da Satanistoj kredas ke la vera kialo por la amasa forlasado estis simple pro tio ke LaVey estis ateisto kiu kredis je nur si mem -- kredo kiu cxiam estis parto de la internajxo de la Satana filozofio de LaVey kaj de la Pregxejo de Satano -- kaj la forlasintoj estis teistoj kiuj kredis je Satano kiel reala dio -- kredo kiu cxiam estis en la margxenoj de Satanismo. La forlasintoj formis novan pregxejon kaj nomis gxin la Templo de Seto, kaj gxi ankoraux ekzistas hodiaux. Antaux pluraj jardekoj la estraro de la Templo de Seto decidis ne plu konsideri sin Satana, sed multaj membroj de la Templo ankoraux amikumas kaj komunikadas kun aliaj Satanistoj.
Tendo -- Intertempa konstruajxo konsistanta el longaj pipoj aux stangoj kaj grandaj teksajxaj pecoj.
Valpurga Nokto -- Festo observata en Euxropo kaj aparte en Germanio la 30an de Aprilo. Ofte inkluzivas grandajn festfajrojn kaj noktajn festadojn.
Sorcxarto -- La metodo per kiu oni supoze sxangxas realecon aux aliulojn per fortoj nevidataj.
  • Valpurga Nokto estas festo kiu okazas cxiujare la 30an de Aprilo. Valpurga Nokto estas vaste konata en Euxropo, sed malmultaj homoj ene de norda Ameriko ecx priscias la feston. Mi ne scias kiel bone Valpurga Nokto estas prisciata en aliaj landoj -- eble iu informos min pri tio? Sendistinge, Valpurgnotke multaj homoj sxatas renkontigxi en tendoj, bruligi festfajron, trinki fortajn trinkajxojn, kaj danci (surhavante vestajxojn aux ne!) Kelkaj homoj ankaux sxatas indulgigxi per sorcxarto. Kio eblas okazi kiam kredantoj je sorcxarto amasigxas en mallumaj arbaroj dum kanti la praajn nomojn de la malnovaj dioj kiuj dormas sub la profundaj akvoj? Iuj aferoj estas pli bone lasitaj solaj!

BABILONO ESTAS LEVIGXANTA
______________
Copyright Disclaimer: Under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use”  of protected works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. The translation excerpted from The Satanic Bible © is used non-commercially for the purpose of teaching and education.

May 04, 2018

The Walpurgis Working: a 78-card Celtic Cross

celtic cross tarot spread
Click Here to Download the Full-Size Image
This past 30 April was the annual celebration of Hexennacht, also called Walpurgis Night, and it's kinda-sorta Halloween on May eve. As it happens, it's kinda-sorta New Year for Satanists, and a great thing to do on New Year is to take inventory of the past, contemplate the present, and prepare for the future. And as it it happens, because it has so much aesthetic overlap with Halloween, it's also a good time for magical workings of all sorts, including for Tarot readers' massively complex arrangements that are performed only once per year.

Seeing as I don't have any 78-card arrangements that I would ever use, this previous Hexennacht it occurred to me that I could devise a variation of the Celtic Cross which uses all 78 cards of a standard Tarot deck to create a severely complex arrangement suitable for a once-annual Tarot reading. I wanted to call it the Hexennacht Working, but "Walpurgis Working" just sounds better.

The Walpurgis working follows the assigned positions of the traditional Celtic Cross, but multiplies the number of cards per position. If you're such a Tarot reader who doesn't mind reading cards as unspecified clumps, then by all means you can just dive right in and use this arrangement however you like. But me being the Tarot reader that I am, I don't just want a place for everything (and everything in its place), but a purpose for everything (and everything done purposefully.) For this reason, there's a method to my madness and each group of cards is more than meets the eye. Want to learn how to perform the Walpurgis working? Here are the rules:
  • General Principles
The positions in this arrangement aren't numbered sequentially, and there is no requirement that when laying cards on the table they be laid in a specific sequence. Just shuffle the deck and lay the cards down in whatever order you like. The point is, just put the God-damned cards on the table (and fortune-telling is surely damned by God.) Likewise, there is no requirement to read the arrangement in a particular order. Past, present, future, final outcome, advice, who even cares? This arrangement is an elephant, and the secret to eating it is, "One bite at a time." Just cut a meaty mouthful out of the elephant wherever you can get it, and you'll eat the whole thing bite at a time...

... having said that, though, the way that I read the cards -- and therefore the way that the Walpurgis working is performed -- the most important card is the middle card of the horizontal arm of the cross: Habits. In the this arrangement, the 77 remaining cards are all read in context to the the Habits card which indicates the essential nature of the subject of the working.
  • The Internal Cross -- General Principles
There are two components to the Celtic Cross arrangement: a cross and a staff. The cross sits on the left, and the staff sits on the right. In the Walpurgis working, the cross is composed of five parts: past, crown, future, foundation, and self. The middle of the cross is where we're starting, and it is itself another cross. The horizontal and vertical arms of the internal cross are included to indicate hypocrisy or integrity, but also honesty or deception. When the horizontal and vertical arms of the internal cross are considered as a whole, they compose the full body of the aforementioned traveler.
  • The Internal Cross -- Horizontal Arm
The horizontal arm of the internal cross is composed of three cards that communicate 1-Needs, 2-Habits, and 3-Desires. The horizontal arm is an open-ended way of looking at what the subject of the working generally lacks, how the subject generally behaves, and what generally motivates the subject. Is the subject denying his or her desires in order to fulfill his or her needs? The horizontal arm of the internal cross specifically includes the card "Habits." The Habits card colors every other card in the arrangement. For this reason, all other 77 cards are read as one half of a pair, which the other half always being the Habits card. The other 77 cards in the arrangement can be considered the road, but the Habits card is the traveler him or herself. Without placing the traveler on the road, it's impossible to judge how the traveler affects, or is affected by, the journey.
  • The Internal Cross -- Vertical Arm
The vertical arm of the internal cross is composed of three cards that communicate 4-Thoughts, 5-Words, and 6-Actions. The vertical arm is used to show varying degrees of activity, if the subject's words and actions are consistent, how the subject's thoughts are reflected in word and action, and how thoughts, words, and actions contribute to his or her needs, habits, and desires.
  • The External Cross -- General Principles
Circled around the internal cross, the external cross is composed of four pyramids each of which are themselves composed of six cards. Each individual arm of the external cross will be discussed momentarily, but as a general rule they all follow the same pattern: each layer of the pyramid is a fraction of the whole. In other words, each layer of the pyramid represents the same duration of time, but expresses that duration differently. The bottom layer of the pyramid indicates thirds, the middle layer indicates halves, and the top layer indicates the whole. Additionally, each layer overlaps with the one beneath or above it: the first third overlaps with the first half overlaps with the whole, and so on. The reason for the overlap is to see the quality of the transition between the span indicated by each fraction, but also to identify which influences are longer-lived than others. Finally, the pyramids have been numbered in the picture at the image at the top of the page so show their progression: the left and right arms of the external cross are read from bottom to top, and the bottom and top arms of the external cross are read from left to right.
  • The External Cross -- Past
The left arm of the external cross -- although it doesn't have to be the first arm that you read -- shows where the subject has just come from. Because the Walpurgis working is intended to be an annual affair, the full duration of the left arm of the external cross is 12 months. Looking at the fractional layers of the pyramid, the following pattern emerges: the three-card layer is 4 months per card, the two-card layer is six months per card, and the one-card layer is 12 months per card. This pyramid is read from bottom to top. In this way, we can explore the distant, intermediate, and recent past while also seeing which issues were longer lasting and more impacting, and -- depending on how the cards tie into the other 72 cards present -- we can see which issues from the past year are still operating in the present and can be expected to reappear in the future.
  • The External Cross -- Future
The right arm of the external cross is shows where the subject is going. Just like the left arm of the external cross, the right arm indicates the coming twelve months and operates according to the same fractions: the three-card layer is 4 months per card, the two-card layer is six months per card, and the one-card layer is 12 months per card. This pyramid is read from bottom to top. In this way, we can look at the near, intermediate, and distant future to know which challenges or opportunities are shorter or longer lasting, and if there are any brief but severe speed bumps to be aware of. And of course, considering how the cards in this arm of the external cross tie into the other 72 cards on the table, it allows us to see how the future hinges on other things that have already happened or are happening right now.
  • The External Cross -- Foundation
The bottom arm of the external cross is the foundation and is used to show not only what hidden factors influence the subject of the working, the past, and the future, but also to see if the subject is building a foundation on sand or bedrock. Like the left and right arms of the external cross, the Foundation operates according to the same fractions of thirds, halves, and a whole, but unlike the left and right arms, it covers the entire 24 month duration of the past and the future. For this reason, the three-card layer is 8 months per card, the two-card layer is 12 months per card, and the one-card layer is 24 months per card. The final difference here is that the middle card in the bottom layer -- which uses three cards as fractional thirds to express 8 months at a time -- is divided four months into the past and four months into the future. Because of who I am, I'm reluctant to say that the bottom arm of the external cross is more important than any other segment in the Walpurgis working, but it needs be said that these cards are heavier than any others present and should be considered as second in importance to the Habits card in the middle of the horizontal arm of the internal cross.
  • The External Cross -- Crown
The top arm of the external cross is the crown and may be treated as the subject's desires, but also more generally as an expression of the subject's willpower and attempt to steer the flow of events in both the past and the future. Like the left and right arms of the external cross, the top arm operates according to the same fractional method -- thirds, halves, and a whole -- but like the bottom arm of the external cross represents not the 12 months of the past or future, but the combined 24 months of both the past and the future. Accordingly, the three-card layer of the pyramid expresses 8 months per card, the two-card layer 12 months per card, and the one-card layer the full 24 months. Also like the bottom arm of the external cross, the middle card of the bottom layer is divided four months into the past and four months into the future. Use the top arm of the external cross to look precisely at the subject's expression of desire, and this will reveal if he or she is making wise choices, is creating more problems than he or she solves, and if the internal cross of his or her combined identity is effectively changing reality according to his or her will. Because each card in the top arm of the external cross is more heavily weighted compared to the left and right arms, it should be considered the third most important segment after the bottom arm of the external cross and the Habits card.
  • The Side Staff -- General Principles
The side staff of the Walpurgis working is composed of four blocks of cards which in turn are each composed of 12 cards each. Each segment of the side staff has something specific to say, but each segment of the side staff is similar in that each one reflects a different face of the 12 houses of the Zodiac. Now, let it be said that if you enjoy astrology then by all means don't let me stop you, but you should know that the 12 houses reflected in each segment of the side staff are not reflective of the 12 houses in the subject's natal chart. Instead, the 12 houses are used here as ways to look at how each segment of the side staff operates within the different categories of the subject's life. The final note about the side staff is that each segment (Advice, External Influences, Hopes & Fears, Final Outcome) spans the entire 24 months of the past and the future, and its relevance to either the past or future is indicated by context as well as how the cards present in the side staff tie into the other cards present on the table. Look for connections by suit, number, face, and septenary to know where the cards are pointing.  
  • The Side Staff -- Advice
The first segment at the bottom of the side staff is the category of Advice and offers specific direction to the subject of the working relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. Depending on where the subject wants to improve in his or her affairs, or needs to improve in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. Perhaps the subject needs to be more supportive or antagonistic in one area, but willing to be supported or be appreciative of antagonism in other areas? Advice is where you'll find answers to these questions.
  • The Side Staff -- External Influences
The second segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of External Influences and offers insight about how other people, circumstances, or influences that originate exclusively from outside the subject are supporting or antagonizing, or supported and antagonized by, the subject him or herself relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. Is the subject benefiting from the help of allies, or being harmed by the interference of enemies? Or is the subject distracted with others' drama, or distracting others' with his or her own drama? Answers to these questions and more are present in External Influences.
  • The Side Staff -- Hopes & Fears
The third segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of Hopes & Fears and offers insight into what the subject of the working hopes or fears will come to pass relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. What causes the subject the most anxiety, and what brings the most happiness? What most frightens the subject, and what most encourages him or her? And more importantly -- depending on the quality of these cards' relation to other cards on the table -- how many of these hopes and fears are based on real concerns, and how many are pipe dreams or paper tigers? A much needed reality-check is available through the 12 houses contained in Hopes & Fears.
  • The Side Staff -- Final Outcome
The fourth segment from the bottom of the side staff is the category of Final Outcome and offers answers about the final outcome the subject can expect to encounter relative to the house of the Zodiac in question. This might seem strange to you that there can be so many final outcomes for one person, but nobody's life is ever a single road -- instead, the different aspects of oneself walk a winding path, and so say I it's a primary task in one's life to reconcile these different pathways. By looking at the subject's final outcomes divided among the 12 houses of the Zodiac, we can see where he or she will ultimately find success or failure, and then may choose to either invest more or less time into those areas in order to either change or avoid the fate they predict. And of course, depending on how the 12 cards within this final segment are related to other cards according to suit, pip, face, or septenary, we can see who or what in the past, present, or future -- or even within conditional choices? -- governs the final outcome.

____________

This arrangement is something I've spent the last week developing, and it's a beast. Because I approached this with a patient and contemplative mindset -- and I've got to fit this in around all the other stuff I do on a daily basis -- I'm only just completing my first annual Walpurgis working. I suppose I could do this faster if I just devoted an entire Saturday afternoon to it, but speed-reading the Walpurgis working feels not in the spirit of the ritual. In some ways I'm a very public person, but in others I'm very private so I won't be sharing my final notes of this working on my blog, but if you ever decide to perform this working for yourself, let me know you liked it?



April 30, 2018

Hellish Hexennacht!

via Burgsatzvey.de
Wherever in the world you find yourself, I hope you're having a hellish Hexennacht, and if you don't know what Hexennacht is, then just think Halloween, but six months later, because that's pretty much exactly what it is. Hexennacht, also called Walpurgisnacht, also called Walpurgis Night, is an old German holiday which celebrates the St. Walpurgis who allegedly protected superstitious town-folk from the work of witches meeting on Brocken peak. Given that German town-folk are still where they've always been, one would think that the witches just didn't care that much about hexing them and were more interested in doing what everybody loves to do this time of year: get a bonfire started, get proper drunk, and get laid. Maybe some music, too, but the important things are the fire, the booze, and the sex. As it happens, Hexennacht happens on April 30 just before Beltane on the first of May which is the neo-Pagan equivalent of Hexennacht and also involves a lot of fire, booze, and sex. Po-tay-toes, po-tah-toes. 

And as it happens, for some of us this is kind of like New Year but for Satanists, and in light of New Year's -- which I like to celebrate on New Year's day as well as the spring equinox, because why have one New Year celebration when you can have three? -- it's a nice time to throw the old year into the bonfire and make something new in the light of the blaze. That's a metaphor for sex, you know...

... where was I? Right, Satanic New Year. This Hexennacht I'm throwing rather large pieces of myself into the bonfire. One of those pieces that I'm throwing into the fire is myself as a Tarot reader, but more specifically my role as a full-time reader. My wife is going back to school, and to make things fit I've become the full-time, stay-at-home parent who keeps the kids fed, the house cleaned, the groceries purchased, the laundry washed, and pots of tea steeped. I can't even believe I'm saying this word, but I'm re-contextualizing my life away from Illuminati grand-master Tarot reader and toward full-time dad. 

I'm not closing my website or anything, but in terms of advertising and self-promotion the only thing I'm sustaining is my blog, and that only because I enjoy writing. My YouTube channel is going into hibernation, aggressive blogging schedules are being eliminated, and my social media use has either been eliminated or been pared down to the barest bones (which is another way of saying that I've deleted my Facebook account and given up hope that Google+ will ever be worthwhile but refuse to give up Reddit.) 

This is mostly a continuation of a trend I've been following since earlier this year in which I've been eliminating sources of stress and compulsion, and for the most part it's been very successful. One of the things I've learned to accept about myself over the past year -- but more acutely over the past couple months -- is that I'm just not the hard-charger I wish I was. I went into the Marine Corps right out of high school, and was really drilled into the mentality that anything can be accomplished if I just put on a war face and ATTACK THE HILL! Part of me wants to minimize this and whine that I was a fitter person 17 years ago than I am today, but the fact is that physical fitness doesn't really factor into it because I'm a flake.

Yes, I'm a flake. Whether it's related to diagnosed mental health issues, or I'm just mentally weak, I couldn't say, but I think I've finally come to a place in life where I'm accepting my nature and my limitations, and among those the fact that with the exception of my marriage -- huzzah for seven years strong in the last legal form of slavery! -- I've never managed to sustain anything longer than three years. As it happens, I started this blog in December 2015, so if I keep it going into 2019 then I'll be able to add this to small collection of qualified successes in my life, hmm?

But back on topic, one of the parts of me that I'm throwing into the bonfire this year is the hoped-for fantasy that I am not bound to my weaknesses. No matter how much I don't like it, I've got limitations, and I've got to be careful because there are consequences for breaking them. I walk a fine line with this blog in terms of how much I share about myself, which is another way of saying that I'm not going into the details on this, but exhaustion, anxiety, overwhelm, depression, and forgetfulness are things I struggle with on a regular basis and they're made worse by irregular schedules and interruptions to routine.

When I'm feeling good, I feel like I can do almost anything and I start new projects, add new events to my schedule, push for new horizons, and so on. If I were a machine, I'd be well-oiled and running over capacity. What do I do with all the energy I have? But me being who I am -- and whether this is a medical condition or not, I'm not always convinced -- I find that my mood and energy wane. The machine that is me starts to burn oil, gears begin grinding, and production falters. In the final outcome, the oil dries up, gears lock in position, and clouds of black smoke billow out from under the hood. 

And for me, the most frustrating part of all this is that unless I'm being really fucking attentive to my mood and behavior, I'm not even aware of these changes until well after the fact. This pattern has cost me numerous jobs, made school very difficult, and soured many friendships. From the outside looking in, I'm an unreliable flake, and from the inside looking out I find it difficult to disagree with that assessment. This is one of the reasons that I keep almost no close friends, because for me relationships are candles that don't just burn at both ends, but burn completely. So why not throw some fuel on the fire? I'm giving the Hexennacht bonfire that part of myself that keeps over-reaching. Burn, baby, burn.

Well... that got heavy really quickly... 

... and now for something completely different: Satanism. After I resigned my membership in the Church of Satan this past October, I've been reevaluating my understanding of Satanism and questioning the Satanic pillars (of both the figurative and literal variety) that I want to support. Among the literal pillars I'm supporting is the Satanic Temple because they're promoting several political campaigns that are important to me. I don't have the time or energy to do the work that they're doing, so I periodically throw some money in their hat as my way of saying thanks for their work.

Among the figurative pillars I'm supporting, I've been reading about one of my favorite myths: the Tower of Babylon. I've always enjoyed learning and speaking foreign languages, which is why I took six semesters of Spanish and one of German in high school, dabbled with Latin and Italian for fun, went to college for Russian, and am presently learning Esperanto. The world's a mighty big place, and language is one of the ways that vested interests created boundaries to not only keep foreigners out, but also keep citizens in. Esperanto in its aspiration as an international auxiliary language breaks borders and stands up to the linguistic tribalism that some people would use as a fence to separate one tribe from another. 

So the story goes, the jealous God of Abraham was so frightened by the prospect of what people speaking a common tongue might accomplish that He broke their stairway to heaven, confounded their speech, and scattered them across the world. To the best of my knowledge, Satan has never been a part of the myth of the Tower of Babylon, but in a contemporary sense the Tower of Babylon is tied into the conspiracy theory of the Illuminati and of course Satan is involved. All true Satanists look down their noses at the popular association between Satan and the Illuminati, but I for one find this modern myth particularly stimulating and entertaining if only because it appeals to my selfish desire to think of myself as enlightened and powerful.

For my preferences, I've come to find this personal mythology of the Tower of Babylon and its attendant trappings (the all-seeing eye, one-world language, etc.) much more stimulating than the traditional Satanic aesthetic of carnal goats. Now, don't misunderstand me: I'm not making a value judgement or attempting to say that I'm doing it better than everybody else. What I'm saying is that this works for me.

The Hexennacht bonfire is burning brightly from the offerings I've fed its fiery heart. If I've conducted my ritual properly, then it will consume only the dead flesh which no longer serves me, but you know what they say about fire: it's easy to get burnt. At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing what rises from the ashes. I've attempted to feed the fire, but who knows? Maybe the fire will feed me. Have a hellish Hexennacht, and I'll catch up with you next year to discuss what demons rose from the ashes.

April 23, 2018

Tarot goes Pop: Occulture in "The Room" series from Fireproof Games

null element time sanctuary

If you play games on mobile, then chances are excellent that you've heard of "The Room" series developed by Fireproof Games. If not, then you should check it out because the four entries in the series -- The Room, The Room 2, The Room 3, and The Room: Old Sins -- are immersive adventures into puzzle solving, narrative mysteries, and spooky aesthetics. The Room series is also really engaging for folks who enjoy occult-themed topics, because the games are riddled top to bottom, inside out, and front to back with a sinister back-story that's only revealed in pieces -- and thus far, has yet to be revealed in its entirety.

The Room 2 and The Room 3 are particularly interesting for Tarot readers because the second entry in the series includes a puzzle room entirely in the aesthetic of a psychic Tarot parlor, and the third entry in the series prominently features a mechanical Tarot reader a la "Zoltar Speaks," but to make things even more sinister it's implied that the mechanical fortune-teller is actually a kind of prison for the woman who operated the Tarot parlor in The Room 2 -- "Mystical Maggie, trained by the Great Khan!" The whole effect is rather creepy. But you know what's not creepy? Tarot cards! Well, okay -- they can be creepy -- but Fireproof Games featured Tarot cards as plot elements in both The Room 2 and The Room 3, and because "Why not?" decided it would be fun to release the source files so people could print and use the cards for themselves.

So here's how this blog post is gonna go: First, I'm going to show you how I printed the cards, second I'm going to talk about the game lore referenced by the cards, and third I'm going to make an attempt at using them for good-old fashioned fortune-telling. Let's get started!

PART THE FIRST: ASSEMBLING THE CARDS

paper craft fireproof games tarot
STEP 1: PRINT ON HEAVY CARD STOCK.
There's a lot to love about the Room series but also about these cards, but there are a few things to not love and one of them is that the options for printing the cards aren't terrific. You can choose to download each card image individually, but printing them one by one isn't a good idea for doing a paper-craft. In this case, the better choice is to use the A4 sized JPG's offered by Fireproof and print the entire page to make the most efficient use of space. Unfortunately, A4 is both thinner and taller than US letter-size, which meant for me that my paper-craft turned out smaller than the original. That's not precisely a criticism of the cards, just a frustration, and also something you should know if you decide to do this paper-craft.

If you're clever, you might think to download the individual JPG's and plug them into a print-on-demand service for playing cards in order to get a nicer product with a professional finish that'll last longer, but unfortunately the offered JPG's are completely non-standard for any industry-recognized card size and refuse to be fit into templates for Tarot, bridge, or poker cards... which is just a long way of saying, the only way to do this paper-craft is to print it out yourself.

home made diy tarot deck
STEP 2: CUT, CUT, CUT!
Now comes the tedious part: liberate each card with a pair of scissors, or if you're so inclined, an exacto knife or a cutting table. If it were up to me, I'd glue the entire sheets of card stock together front and back and let them dry before I started cutting, but unfortunately even though the faces and backs appear to be identically arranged at five cards per sheet, they're not perfectly aligned and for this reason can't be glued before cutting. If I decide to do this project over again, I would format a perfectly aligned front-and-back 8.5x11 sized piece of card stock so that the fronts already matched the backs, and then cut with a straight-edge paper cutter before laminating. That would have saved a lot of time in this process, but I guess hindsight is 20/20.

tarot card home art project
STEP 3: ASSEMBLE FRONTS AND BACKS
Congratulations: you've just finished the hardest part of the whole process. Now that all cards are liberated from the original sheet, sort them into two piles: faces and backs. 

weldbond glue playing card diy
STEP 4: GLUE TOGETHER AND PRESS UNDER A WEIGHT
When it comes to joining the faces and backs, you've got a few choices. You're welcome to use a glue-stick -- it's the fastest and easiest option, for sure -- but for my preferences I thought it better to use a paint brush to apply liquid glue directly to the inside of the cards. Good old "Elmer's" school-glue is a great choice for joining paper, but when I'm doing crafty stuff I like to use Weldbond partly because it's non-toxic, but mostly because it's got a fast initial set, is holy-shit permanent when it dries, and is both strong but also flexible when fully cured.

When gluing the cards together, be sure to get a thin coat of glue around the inside edges, or the corners will peel up. When pressing the cards together, run your fingers around the edges multiple times to get the edges to stick down, and when finished wipe any excess glue off with your finger or a tea cloth. Finally, place all finished cards together in a stack weighted underneath a few heavy books. This will help to keep the cards uniform while the glue cures. 

major arcana trump tarot fireproof room
STEP 5: TRIM THE EDGES
After the cards have been pressed for 24 hours, all that remains is to do the finishing work of trimming edges to eliminate any white interior left exposed by faces misaligned to backs. If you're fussy about this sort of thing, then a straight-edged cutting table will be your best friend in eliminating this step, but at this point the paper-craft is basically finished and you're just making it pretty. At this point in the process, you should remember that your cards don't have a protective finish and if you intend to use them for anything more than display pieces in your office you should laminate them.

PART THE SECOND: GAME LORE

Now, let it be said that although I've really enjoyed The Room series, I'm not obsessive about it. I haven't memorized trivia or dug into developer notes. What you read here is only what I know from playing the games.

The Room series revolves around the discovery and manipulation of the null element. The null element is treated as a scientific element like what's on the periodic table, but it doesn't exist in perceivable reality. Instead, the null element is described as an dark, alien intelligence that lives within the gaps of known reality and can only be captured using intricately designed devices premised upon occult knowledge. Much like how Mary Shelley declined to describe the methods used by Dr. Frankenstein to create his monster, Fireproof games doesn't go into detail how the technology that brought the null element into waking reality actually works, and that's just as well because it wouldn't do anything to advance the narrative, but would also destroy a big part of the game's mystique.

The null element is implied to be a powerfully destructive force, but also explicitly described as the means by which both time and space can be bent and broken. This quality of warping time and space allows The Room series to create wheels within wheels -- or should I say, puzzles within puzzles -- and in a narrative sense it creates infinite fractals of confusion, despair, and ruination which consume the incapable.

And I say, "the incapable," because as the series' plot develops, it's revealed that there's a secret society of craftsmen who have learned how to capture control this null element -- and evidently are very angry that uninitiated explorers are tampering with their plans and creating messes that they have to contain and clean up.

As for how the Tarot cards factor into this, it's both more and less than you were thinking. The Tarot parlor featured in The Room 2 is spooky and mysterious, and the fortune-telling booth in The Room 3 is deliciously haunting. For what role Tarot has in the Room series, it does it well, but for all the dev team's ingenuity, let's face it: they're not Tarot readers, nor are they trying to be true to Tarot. For this reason, you might immediately notice that the paper-craft Tarot cards available on their website aren't even a full 22 trumps. What you get is 19 cards with inconsistent numbering -- if they go up to 99, where are all the others? -- that still manage to tell a story. I'm not aware if this is a story that the dev team intended to tell, but it's the one I see and for what it's worth I'm hoping you'll enjoy sharing it with me.

tarot cards the room

Null VII is the beginning of the story, and it is a mysterious element which unlocks the ability to control and manipulate Time VIII. In the beginning, Null VII is a novelty which allows the one who manipulates it the power to create a Sanctuary IX in which all manner of hidden Knowledge X may be uncovered. Things are fun in the beginning and the possessor believes he or she can use this knowledge for the dark but controlled fun of Halloween XIII, and for a while this is true -- the Knowledge X gained may be used to access the secret of the Cosmos XV.

tarot cards the room old sins the great khan

The knowledge of the Cosmos XV is vast, but the innocence of Halloween XIII cannot survive the nihilistic realization of one's place in the Cosmos XV. For this reason, the comforting Sanctuary IX becomes a sterile Temple XVII. Having lost the joy of Sanctuary IX but knowing that the Null VII is able to recover it, the possessor sets out on a Voyage XVIII under sunny skies searching for that which is hoped to be just over the horizon, but the bright Voyage XVIII turns into a stormy Voyage XVIII -- yes, there are two cards named Voyage and they're both numbered XVIII -- under dark skies where both friends and ideals are lost or abandoned. This results in the possessor suffering Isolation XIX, and the growing realization that he or she has Imprisoned XXII him or herself in the search for that which was an unstable fantasy from the beginning. Suffering the weight of being Imprisoned XXII by him or herself, the possessor becomes the possessed and realizes that the only way out of his or her confinement is to seek not to control the Null VII, but to join with the Null VII and immerse him or herself into its cthonic essence, or at the very least submitting to its pervasive and dominant will. This submission to the Null VII opens a Gateweay XXIII through which the possessed may gain Illumination XXVI and see the world from the other side of the veil where dwells the Null VII

tarot cards occult mystical maggie the room

Because the possessed's one desire is to return to the pleasures of the world which he or she knew, embracing the power of the Null VII by walking through the Gateway XXIII of its Illumination XXVI can result in only one possible outcome: Release XLVI of the dark Null VII into the bright, vibrant, and ordered world into which the possessed was born but has now lost. In his or her heart, the possessed knows that he or she is damned and must console him or herself not with the hoped for Sanctuary IX and the wonder of the Cosmos XV, but the hollow memory of the power which he or she once possessed. Now, the possessor who has become the possessed must dwell in his or her self-imposed Damnation LXVI from which there is no hope of redemption, searching for meaning in cheap imitations of the abyssal depths of the Null VII. Confronted with the reality that the possessor has become the possessed and is now only a withered shell for the Null VII, an attempt is made to Escape LXVV what was made and retreat into the perceived safety of Reflection XCI. Unfortunately for the possessed, he or she has now nothing left upon which he or she may reflect, and the only possible remaining fate is to become Lost XCIX in the emptiness of infinitely devolving fractals within the Null VII.

As before, I'm not aware if this is a narrative that the dev team intended, but it's a narrative that I see. What else I see in this perceived narrative is the story of Icarus who flew too close to the Sun. In this case, the null element is the Sun. Choices have consequences, and at least as it regards The Room series, very nearly every choice that involves extracting the null element from its shadowy recesses and bringing it into waking reality is a choice that results in the ruination of the mind and the loss of ones body (which isn't necessarily the same as death, but perhaps a fate worse than death.) I'm not prepared to argue for parallels in the actual world in which I live, but at least in the story-world of The Room series there are clearly forces and powers which are better left alone...

... and if you're going to disregard this warning, then judging by the secret society which appears to have successfully harnessed the null element -- or at least learned how to avoid being corrupted by it -- the only way to avoid a terrible fate is to cooperate with others and combine forces in a guarded, secretive, and above all else massively disciplined approach to the possession and application of incredible power. Judging at least by the aesthetics, the dev team was obviously drawing a large degree of inspiration from the Cthulu mythos, but considering the theme of craftsmen and secret societies attempting and sometimes succeeding to control the null element, I also wonder if they weren't drawing inspiration from Acton's Law: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." Without anything more specific from the dev team about their choice of aesthetics and the themes they worked into the four entries in The Room series, it's impossible to know for sure.

PART THE THIRD: FORTUNE-TELLING


But we can know for sure if the cards are any good at fortune-telling, and me being who I am I think it's an easy question to answer: yes! I'll be the first to say what I've said all along -- I'm an entertainer, not a psychic -- and these cards have a sufficiently stimulating aesthetic and draw on a sufficiently large source narrative that they can be handily used as informative props in the performance of a Tarot reading. There are fortune-tellers who regularly use only the 22 trump cards, so three less isn't a deal-breaker. Because these cards are so different from actual Tarot, I'm going to use them like an oracle deck and read in the fashion of Lenormand: each card is a word, and strung together the words make a sentence. It's not like how I usually read Tarot, but then -- this isn't a Tarot deck is, it? Here're a few fun questions to tease some meaning out of the Tarot of the Room:

WHO AM I?
tarot card reading

In a search for personal meaning by way of the external measurement of the cards, I'm a person who enjoys the idealism of travel and the idealized method of getting where I want to be. My voyages lead me toward the grandeur of the cosmos and a wonder of the way of the world, yet no matter how far I sail my boat will never depart the oceans upon which it rides nor will I ever achieve the distant lights I see winking at me from the inky distance of the universe. If nothing changes, I have made an empty temple of my life and I would do well to either bring life into it, or abandon my voyage toward the stars in favor of a more fulfilling sanctuary. Evidently, the Tarot of the Room is confrontational and pessimistic, but what did I expect considering the source material from which it was born?

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE ROOM SERIES?
fortune telling fireproof games the room

Fans of the series can expect an extended duration of time to pass during which the hidden symbols on the clock face that can only be seen through the viewing lens of the development team will continue to take shape. To outsiders, it will appear that almost no time at all has passed, but behind the clock face sits a scheming mind which waits to release a new creation onto the world. The next Room game will be more frightening than previous entries and is going to be an attempt to pierce the veil of expectations erected by the previous four entries. Ultimately, the next entry in the Room series will dare to inject questions of morality (what did you do?) and ethics (why did you do it?) into the narrative, and this will challenge players to reflect not just on the message presented by the narrative, but what their choices within the narrative reveal about themselves. Evidently, the Tarot of the Room is kinder to its creator than it is to me!

Ironic Anton

Want to create your own Ironic Anton meme?



via /u/Baron_Von_Maggotbags
via /u/Baron_Von_Maggotbags