Saturday, February 27, 2010

Who's needs are more important?

Last night at the Open Full Moon ritual, I encountered one of those strange ethical dilemmas that make me think for hours on end...without coming to a satifactory conclusion. You know the type. In this case, I was easedropping...I am a writer and I cannot help doing I just got done talking to this person about Golden Dawn.

Without going into details, the bottom line in this case is a conflict of needs. One person's needs are in direct conflict with another person's needs. This brings up the whole "How do you figure out who's needs are more important?" dilemma.

In this case, there would be no way to be able to have both people as members. One of them has to lose...that is how much of a conflict there is.

Fortunately for me, I do not have to really worry about this dilemma. There is a Trump in play here. One of the people is already a member; the other person is only an applicant.

It may not be fair, but the needs of a current member outweighs the needs of a potential member. It does not matter how valuable the applicant could be; it does not matter what they bring to the table; the Trump stands. It does not matter how useless the current member is; it does not matter what they don't bring to the table; the Trump stands.

Of course, this may not be true of all lodges. This may just be a reflection of the lodge culture that I came up the ranks in. Maybe in a system where only the Co-Chiefs have any say in the matter, the more valuable person would win.

(Please note that this applicant may or may not be more valuable than the current member; it does not matter; the Trump still stands either way. I have my own opinion who is the more valuable person, but that does not matter; the Trump controls what will happen in this decision. It could be my own needs involved, and it would not matter; the Trump would still be in play.)

Bottom line is that lodges are supposed to serve their membership. It is not the potential membership that they work for, but rather those who are already in the fold.

Now some people will call this unfair. After all, this Trump is enforced by the voting process of the lodge which is controlled by the current active membership of the lodge...enlightened self-interest would so kick in here. This is just one of the more darker aspects of how lodge culture works.

Someone can scream all they like that the system should serve the needs of everyone. But it doesn't and probably can't. We are bound by no law that says our membership should be open to everyone...and in this case, I am glad of that because there would be no way to meet the special needs of both parties. Sad, but true.

Friday, February 26, 2010

BNW: Farrell is started his own Order

Well, the big news of the week is that Nick Farrell is starting his own magical Order, The Magical Order of Aurora Aurea. I have nothing else to add to this, other than to say it will be interesting to watch how it unfolds. Personally, I will be only watching from the sidelines---I have my plate full between university classes, maintaining a relationship and a couple of friendships, and the Inner Order course that I am taking. Oh, and the occasional freelance writing and lodge meeting that I engage in. I just do not know where I would be able to hack out another hour or two a day (every day of the week) to do yet another course.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Discordianism on The Law of Laws

Discordianism on

The Law of Laws

(Being an Account of the Law of Laws)

(1) All laws are incorrect, except those which are correct.

(2) All incorrect laws are correct, except those which are not.

(3) All correct laws are incorrect, inasmuch as they are not correct, but correct, inasmuch as they may be.

(4) All laws that may be correct are correct, unless they are otherwise.

(5) There are always five laws.

From the Apocrypha Discordia compiled by Hif Wholines de Rev Dr Jon Swabey

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Interesting Middle Pillar Post

Frater AIT did a post on the Middle Pillar and the fountain circulation that Zelators might find interesting over on his blog: Heavens Within Earth.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Myth-reading Bibliomancy

One of the things that disturbs some people is my tendency not to take things seriously. For some reason, I consider having fun a necessary part of my life. I also consider it a part of my magical practice. I figure if you are going to be bored to tears with your magical practice, then you are not going to do it for long; but that may just be a bad personal opinion---we will have to check the comments later to be sure about that one.

My mom had a Magic 8-Ball hidden in one of her dresser drawers. I think she kept it because her sister gave it to her. I used to secretly mess around with it. One thing I discovered was to have respect for even the silliest divination methods. It is possible to have respect for a divination system, even when you are being amused by it.

Recently, I have been working with bibliomancy again. Today, it is often felt that the only proper book to use for bibliomancy is the Bible. This is not necessarily true. And if it was, I would be in big trouble because I find readings done with the Bible lack a certain connection for me. I was reminded of this the other day while reading Adam Bede. When Dinah, one of the characters of the novel, opened up the Bible, she may have been sure what God wanted her to do...but I am not sure exactly how she came to that conclusion using the particular passage quoted.

It may be that using the Bible for bibliomancy does not work for me simply because I do not have a really deep connection with the Bible. My connection has deepen over the years, thanks to my involvement in Golden Dawn. But let's be honest, I only know enough to pass my exams (same holds true for the Bible as Literature class I took last semester; I passed the exams, that is all that counts).

I am more prone to going to Robert Asprin's Myth Adventure series for advice and guidance than I am to the Bible. I have read the first book of the series, Another Fine Myth, at least a dozen times.

And recently I have been using a two volume collection of the early novels that was published by Meisha Merlin Publishing (before Meisha Merlin went out of business) for doing bibliomancy readings.

I find some of my results interesting, though I am sure that many will claim that I am myth-using the system. For one thing, I consider the entire paragraph my finger lands on (not just the sentence) to be part of the reading.

Here are three examples of some of the results that I have gotten. I will not tell you how I chose to read these results, for that would just open me up to accusations that I am myth-reading them.

Question: What is an Adept?

Answer (from Sweet Myth-ery of Life):

At this point, I had to admit that I was more confused than ever. It seemed that everyone I talked to had a different view of marriage, which wasn't making my decision any easier. One thing everyone seemed to agree on, though: A bad marriage could be a living Hell.

Question: Did S.D.A. (Fraulein Sprengel) actually exist?

Answer (from Myth-ing Persons):

Of course not. You can always get more gold. What can't be replaced is time. We all know Skeeve here has a long way to go in the magic department. What the rest of you keep forgetting is how short a life span he has to play with...maybe a hundred years if he's lucky. All I'm trying to do is get him the maximum learning time possible...and that means keeping him from using up most of his time on nickel-and-dime adventures. Let the small-time operators do those. My partner shouldn't have to budge away from his studies unless the assignment is something really spectacular. Something that will advance his reputation and his career.

Question: Do angels only tell the truth?

Answer (from Myth-Directions):

"No," the troll declared. "The only acceptable solution is to trounce those blighters soundly at their own game. I trust you'll allow me to fill a position in your team?"

So there you go, probably three of the most strangest bibliomancy answers that anyone will ever admit to recieving. And if they are not, point out my myth-statement in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Updating and modifying rituals

One of the things that you occasionally see someone make a fuss over is the fact that some of the modern lodges have modified the rituals that they are using. No longer are the rituals the same as the ones that Westcott and Mathers were using...hence, they are not correct according to some people.

Personally, I have mixed feelings over the matter of changing the rituals myself. I have learned a lot about ritual structure though having to modify the rituals that my lodge uses, but I was not happy about having to do it in the first place.

For instance, due to the inclusion of geomancy in the Zelator Grade, our Zelator Grade ritual had to be modified. The decision to bring geomancy down to the Zelator Grade wasn't even our decision; it was something that occurred in the greater Golden Dawn community, and new members started to expect to see it there. It was a curriculum reform done by someone else, due to the nature of geomancy, and put into print.

This curriculum change has probably affected everyone in the system. Other groups have picked it up, and used it also. But here is the kicker...this curriculum change disagreed with the Outer Order Initiation rituals.

In our case, once we figured out that the ballon had gone up, we decided to bring geomancy into the Zelator ritual. Of course, this violates the sacredness of the Cipher Manuscript where it is clearly stated that geomancy is not introduced until this point, one could argue that the groups that do this are no longer Golden Dawn.

(And given the people who would argue this...well, I have to thank them...I do not want to belong to the same club as they do.)

And this is not the only type of change that has happened to the Golden Dawn rituals. Recently I have been reading a discussion about the 6=5 Adeptus Major Initiation ritual. There is a lot of debate about how long the 36 hours in the pastos is supposed to be. I have my own personal opinion based on my own experience and ritual skill.

It is the latter that one should look at the rituals though. In my opinion, it does not matter what the ritual script says; if you do not have the ritual skill to maintain the energy flow while doing it strictly by the script, then you need to consider modifying the ritual.

In many ways, the fact that the Golden Dawn ritual were set in stone so soon after their modern creation limits them. For instance, the original rituals presume that only the Hierophant and Co-Chiefs know the underlying godforms; it also presume that they are the only ones with the ability to create the shells for them. Many modern groups may not even have a single Adept when they start out: What do you do then?

One of the modifications that I like is the idea that all members can take part in the building up the godforms. This is especially true for a ritual like the 6=5, where there is that question of how long is a person supposed to lay in the pastos. (Yes, there are godforms associated with the reading of the hours; they have seven layers, just like all the other Grade rituals.) Instead of one person trying to hold these godforms together, you have a team doing it. Think of it as enriching the lodge.

My bottom line is that the rituals and curriculum of Golden Dawn needs to be able to change over time. If the system does not change, it becomes a dinosaur. And we all know what happened to them, don't we?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Discordianism on Polarities

Discordianism =On Occultism=

Magicians, especially since the Gnostic and Quabala influences, have sought higher consciousness through the assimiliation and control of universal opposites---good/evil, positive/negative, male/female, etc. But due to the steadfast pomposity of ritualism inherited from the ancient methods of the shaman, occultists have been blinded to what is perhaps the two most important pairs of apparent or earth-plane opposites: ORDER/DISORDER and SERIOUS/HUMOROUS.

Magicians, and their progeny the scientists, have always taken themselves and their subject in an orderly and sober manner, thereby disregarding an essential metaphysical balance. When magicians learn to approach philosophy as a malleable art instead of an immutable Truth, and learn to appreciate the absurdity of man's endeavors, then they will be able to pursue their art with a lighter heart and perhaps gain a clearer understanding of it, and therefore gain more effective magic. CHAOS is ENERGY.

This is an essential challange to the basic concepts of all western occult thought, and POEE is humbly pleased to offer the first major breakthrough in occultism since Solomon.

From Principia Discordia compiled by Malaclypse the Younger.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Sun Signs and Love article link

Well, after kicking it around for awhile, I decided to republish my lastest astrology column that I wrote for Campus Connection (the student newspaper for the Community College of Denver) a few days early. Technically, I should have waited until Tuesday when the next issue hits the stands; but considering the subject of the column, love and relationships, I decided to push the envelope and republish early. The other two articles (a follow-up on Amendment 50 and how much funding it has brought in, and an introduction to probability theory) will not be republished until Friday.

You can read What Your Sun Sign Finds Surprising About Love and Relationships over on Associated Content.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Living in a fishbowl

One of the interesting things (as in the Chinese curse) about being a principal in any esoteric circle is that it is much like living in a fishbowl. I have seen this in Golden Dawn circles, Wiccan circles, Norse circles, and several other circles. If you are in a leadership position, or someone like myself who has a public soapbox, and you are traveling in esoteric circles, your opinions and actions get examined with a fine-toothed comb.

This is true to some extent for everyone. But being a principal (aka mover and shaker) increases the double-guessing of every decision you have ever made, and the criticising of every action you make.

I was reminded of this recently as I stood on the sidelines watching a brewing storm gather. A player in the local esoteric community (or at least, they think that they are a player and a major one at that) had some boundary issues: a member left his group, and a falsehood has been tossed in place to explain the member leaving (one that does not even hint at the truth). All the while, I see the departed member sharping a knife because they suspect it is only a matter of time before it gets really ugly.

Now there are some who will point out that this person should have never gotten into a leadership position in the first place. That someone should have stopped them before they before they became the head of a group. Well, that is a nice theory, but this person (to the best of my knowledge) is a self-appointed leader and expert. It is hard to stop someone from seizing the position; anyone can set themselves to be a leader if they have a dollop of charisma and knowledge in the esoteric community (or so it seems).

And even if they would have worked their way up the ranks in a vetted system, such as Golden Dawn, it still might have not made a difference. For instance, make note that I worked my way up the ranks and I am an officer in one of the branches of the system. Obviously, as my critics point out, someone was asleep at the wheel.

In my case, my flaws tend to blown up until they sound like I am an ax-murderer. Honestly, I have never killed anyone with an name is not Lizzie. (Apologies to any of my readers that bear that name, but surely I am not the first to make that joke, am I?) Mention that you are quite willing to shoot back if someone starts to fire at you; admit that you thought that the military was a suitable career earlier in your life; make one wrong vote (admitting that you made that vote), and you can become the scum of the earth and a menace to society.

Let's take that miscalled vote as an example. Yes, I was present at a ritual. Yes, there was a vote that asked if death was the only way to take care of the problem if we were willing to go that far. Yes, I voted in favor of death if necessary. Yes, all this is true.

What is never mentioned by my critics is that the target in question was a VIOLENT SERIAL CRIMINAL. It is not like we were targeting an innocent person. Trust me: there is no way you could be doing what this person was doing and be anywhere near being innocent. This was the type of criminal that does not stop until they are caught or they drop dead.

The ritual was a binding, and the workers involved were hoping that the police could get enourgh clues to catch them. We were trying to help using the Art. The question arose about what if a simple binding and mistake-causing hex was not enourgh. What if this person would not stop, and hadn't made (or would not make) enourgh mistakes to be caught and convicted---how far were we willing to go?

I have been told by "light-workers" that we should have projected white light and healing at this poor soul. That all of us that voted that yes, if necessary we were willing to pull the trigger, should have never been allowed into any working circle. That none of us are truly members of the RC. That the very fact that we admit that we can kill someone if push came to shove makes us unworthy of the RC.

To that statement, I tend to ask "Do you allow cops into your system?" If you do not see the concept behind that question, I am willing to bet that you are one of my critics.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Doomsday Like Any Other

Every once in awhile, I am on Facebook or one of the Yahoo forums and realize that my belief system is different from other people. That and I have absolutely no manners.

The latest was a discussion about 2012. I stated that I was taking the crisis of 2012 as seriously as I had taken the crisis of Y2K. Basically, I thought it was a good joke.

Needless to say, this upset people: both personally and professionally.

Let me be clear. I have never taken an oath that requires me to tolerate lunatics. If I believe that you are missing the boat, I am allowed to tell you this. There are many people who believe that this is an indication that I am not an Adept, nor will I ever become an Adept. Fine, I don't care.

For instance, if you believe that you are the incarnation of Aliester Crowley, I am going to mock you. And people who go "Well, they could be---therefore you should be nice to them" are just going to have to continue to being displeased with me.

There were some people who were upset with me about how I felt about Y2K, back in 1999. I rapidly decided that Y2K (the year 2000 computer programming bug) was not a problem. For one thing, when I did time dabbling in computer code in the '80s, we knew that it was a possible problem.

At the time, computer memory was an issue. Every little bit of memory you could save was a plus. Today, most of us pay no attention to how much memory a chunk of computer code takes up.

When people got concerned about Y2K, I looked around and saw none of the problems that should be occurring if Y2K was going to be an ugly issue. Talking to my bosses, the joke was that if things got really bad, we would do things the old fashioned way: pen and paper bookkeeping.

And that is why I am not concerned about 2012. I see none of the signs that I would expect from such a world changing event.

I am going to be called blind and ignorant. But I do not think that 2012 is going to be the big event that some people think it is going to be.

There are going to be people that will tell me that I better prepare for it if I want to survive the event. And my answer to them is that everyday is doomsday.

Everyday is doomsday, and 2012 is going to be a doomsday like any other.

You should always be prepared for doomsday. Everyday, you should step a little ways down the road to becoming more spiritual. You should always have emergency supplies.

But you should also know that when doomsday comes, it is going to come like a thief in the night. No warning. No announcement. It is just going to show up.

And given NASA's budget cutbacks, I am betting on big-ass asteriod. It is a little hard to prepare for that one.

[Credit where credit is due: The title of this posting came from a suppliment (adventure) for the FASA Star Trek roleplaying game. Yes, I am a nerd and a geek, besides being a happy little cynic.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Why no podcast?

Every once in awhile, I get asked the question "Why haven't you done a podcast?"

Honestly, the question makes me choke---always.

First off, I have never quite got to the point where I understand why anyone would want to hear me talk. Honestly, I am making this stuff up as I go along. There is no grand plan here.

Secondly and more importantly, to borrow the description from my god-daughter, I sound like I have "a toad in my throat."

For those who do not know I suffered though twelve years of speech therapy while I was in school. There was a good deal of mocking my voice while I was growing up. There is still a slight amount of mocking; my wife occasionally gives me a hard time because I can not pronounce certain words properly. Basically, the pain goes deep.

I have made a tape of the last two Open Full Moon rituals that I conducted. These tapes were made just in case I said something brilliant during the ritual (hey, it could happen). A year and a half has passed since the first one was made; I have still yet to actually listen to it.

Why? Because I LOATHE listening to my own voice, more than most people do. One of the techniques used in speech therapy is to have you listen to a tape of your own voice. My voice sounds nothing like I think it does. And my phone voice, which might end up being my podcast voice, doesn't even sound like my ordinary voice...there is always that first couple of times a person talks to me on the phone; they are never quite sure that it is really me, and not my wife.

And yes, I sound like a woman on the phone. Proof of this happens everytime a telemarketer calls me "Miss" on the phone.

So bottom-line: Don't expect to hear my charming voice on your iPod anytime soon. I do not care how much you think it might be helpful to hear how I say certain terms---if I have to listen to the podcast before releasing it, then it is not going to happen.

(Needless to say, these comments also apply to video podcasts.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

What rituals is BIORC testing

In the blogosphere, occasionally you run across a conversation that is being conducted across several blogs as different bloggers decide to write about the same subject, and play off of each other's writing. This is part of such a conversation. The first part appeared on Frater AIT blog, sadly removed a few days ago; in return, I put in my two cents. This entry is a response to an entry over on Mishkan ha-Echad (Dean Wilson) which in return is a response to my response to the now-deleted original post by Frater AIT; all this is about Testing and Examinations in Golden Dawn. If you followed all that, grats.

So given testing in lodge, what rituals are we testing?

The short list for Bast Temple at the moment reads:

Outer Order Attending Lodge Member

0=0 Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram

1=10 Middle Pillar Ritual

2=9 Incense/Tincture/Herbs and Stones

3=8 Divination (four types---astrology, Tarot, geomancy, and one other)

4=7 Simple Talisman and Charging

Inner Order Attending Lodge Member

Portal---The Building of the Tree of Life in Aura

Note that this is merely one third of the examination; the other two parts are concerned with the member's knowledge of the Grade (Initiation) Ritual and the associated Knowledge Lecture.

Personally, I think that these items are fair to test a member on, given that they are a member of the modern Golden Dawn. Dean Wilson really understands the point of lodge testing. As always, there is a different set of items for correspondence members; plus this list of rituals is subject to change as we learn what works and what doesn't work.