Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I need a stylebook for occultists

One of the things that I wish that I had was a stylebook designed for occultists. It may sound like a strange desire. But given the material that I write, I could really use one. I sometimes wonder if Llewellyn and other occult publishers have an in-house stylebook.

Has anyone seen something along these lines? How about one that is focused on astrology? Or the kabbalah?

Or do I need to create my own?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

QoD George Eliot on Belief

We are all apt to believe what the world believes about us.
--- George Eliot

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Is Griffin the King of Witches

Looking into my cracked crystal ball, I see that David Griffin is about to declare himself the King of the Witches...I think that I might have to burn my union card.

Last night, I was reading Frater Barrabbas' Talking About Ritual Magick blog, and he was talking about the Secret of Pagan Magick. It was a good post, and it was building upon a blog post that David Griffin had wrote about the symbolic and operative traditions (Lunar and Solar Mysteries).

It was a comment that Griffin left to Frater Barrabbas' post that makes me suspect that I am about to burn my union card. Let me just quote it:

....Regarding the Lunar and Solar mysteries in Paganism, I must respectfully disagree with you.... Your point of view is that of an Alexandrian Wiccan, and thus you see Pagan magick as a work in progress - a system still being assembled from an eclectic variety of magickal sources and systems.

Imagine for a moment, however, that there might be another possibility.

Imagine the implications for our modern Pagan movement if an ancient Pagan tradition should be discovered intact - one that fully restores our movement's roots in Pagan antiquity.

Imagine if this rediscovery were to include even its own unique and complete magical system encompassing both solar and lunar mysteries?!?

Would sort of spiritual boost and increase in magical current would such a discovery give Pagan religion in the 21st Century?

Would this not be the greatest gift of a dawning new Millennium for our Pagan faith?

Watch my blog for shocking revelation coming soon.

David Griffin

I am sorry. But the words "freaking unbelievable" and "frak me" leap to mind.

Now, for those of you who do not know David Griffin, perhaps some context is in order. Griffin's Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn big claim to fame is that they claim that they to be the only legitimate Alpha and Omega group in the world, the only living successor to Mather's original Order, and the only Golden Dawn Order in the world to have contact with the original Third (Secret) Order that provided instructions to Mathers.

Griffin collects old documents and lineages like I collect cats.

Now, I will admit that my biggest problem with Griffin is the simple fact that if you go by the rules of the 1999 reformation that I am no longer an Adept. The 1999 reformation that Griffin's Order declared stripped every existing Adept of their Grade. The only way to regain your Adept Grade? Simple, join Griffin's Order.

If I am reading Griffin's teaser correctly, he about to do the same thing to the Wiccan and Pagan communities. He is about to claim that he is the only one to have access to the true and original source of the Pagan Mysteries; and that if the rest of us want to continue to be witches and pagans, we have to join his group.

I hope that I am wrong. But I am not going to hold my breath.

Merry frakking Christmas.

[Full Disclosure: The opinions expressed by Morgan Drake Eckstein do not represent those of Bast Temple or any other Golden Dawn group. Nor do they represent the opinions of any coven, wiccan or pagan group. Morgan Drake Eckstein is solely responsible for these opinions, and consulted with no one (except maybe his cats) before airing his dread of future upcoming attractions.]

Follow-up  on this blog post: On 3 February 2011, David Griffin came out of the broom closet and revealed his connection with a Streghera (Italian paganism) branch, Stregheria del Bosco Sacro of Benevento, which claims to have the Inner Alchemy tradition involving the Great Rite of paganism.

Policy Reminder Do Not Advertise in my comment section

A reminder to those who are attempted to use my comment section merely for their own advertising purposes---DON'T!

I moderate my comment section. And if I believe that your comment was made solely to advertise your product, blog, or Order, or coven, then I will not approve your comment. It is that simple.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Memory problems part 1

Ok, I will admit it---I have a few memory problems. And no, I do not believe that it is early onset Alzheimer's disease either (that comment is directed at a friend who d*** well knows who he is). I first became aware of these problems a few years ago, though I view them less as a problem than other people do.

For instance, I remember very little of my life before certain dates. It is either brain damage from an head injury or simple suppression of unpleasant memories. I am betting on the suppression part, though I have taken more blows to the head than I like to think about.

Other people have memories of high school and the people they went to school with; I have few memories of that time period. Oh, if I really think about it, I could draw you a map of the school. But don't ask me to name my teachers, for I can only name two of them. And forgot me recognizing someone from high school without heavy prompting...the exception being a handful of people.

Why the difficulty here? Well, outside of classes, I really did not interact with more than a handful of people. Most of the time, I was too busy dealing with another drama. So it is not so much a memory problem as the simple fact that there are no memories to actually access in the first place.

Now, we have a myth that everything that we experience is stored in the brain. This is not true. There are several stages where memories can get lost between the experience and actual recall of the memory. For instance, if you don't get a good night sleep, you can lose a lot of potential memories as they are transferred to short term memory to long term memory.

Of course, my short-short term memory is like swiss cheese when it comes to certain things. I have a devil's of a time with phone numbers. It is not that I can't remember phone numbers; it is that I can't remember them in the manner most people do. For me, someone firing off a seven digit phone number leads to a blank look on my face. My very own phone number is not remembered as a seven digit number, rather it is remembered as three numbers. For instance, I remember the last four digits of it as 66 and 84; there is one more step there, but you get the idea.

A few years ago, a friend caught how I rememebered a phone number that I dialed every day. She noticed that I could not remember the number unless my hand moved as if I was actually dialing the number. The memory of the number was actually stored in my muscle memory, and not in the normal usual place.

And that is something I always wonder about magical workers in general. Where are we storing our memories in the first place? For instance, according to occult theory, everyone has an astral body, and everyone astral travels (ok, I do know a theory that argues different, but it is a testing theory). Yet few people remember astral traveling on a regular basis before they get trained to astral project. And that includes people who have been witnessed by other people.

If you cannot remember astral traveling, then as far as you are concerned, you have not astral traveled. Much of learning to astral project is not figuring out how to leave your body as much as it is learning to be able to recall that you did so in the first place.

Look sometime at the number of energetic bodies that occult theory says that we have. Each one of these bodies potentially has its own set of memories. What is in our head is more than the circuits of the meat suit that we are wearing, or at least it should be if we are a magician. Which means that the memory problems that I am aware of are merely the tip of the iceberg. And that makes alzheimer's look like a welcome change from my normal experiences.

Denver Zoo 2011 Free Days

Ok, this is not occult or lodge related, but I am posting it anyways because I like animals.

Denver Zoo 2011 Free Zoo Days

January 8 (Saturday)
January 24 (Monday)
February 6 (Sunday)
February 19 (Saturday)
October 12 (Wednesday)
October 20 (Thursday)
November 6 (Sunday)
November 12 (Saturday)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts about academics and documented proof

Between the blogosphere's hot zone over Ronald Hutton v Ben Whitmore and someone asking for proof that the original Golden Dawn did an 180 positioning during the purification and consecration, I have been giving a lot of thought to the burden of documented proof and academics lately.

A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that no amount of proof about certain practices, including a signed, dated, and notorized letter from Westcott and Mathers, is going to convince certain people who believe that certain ideas and procedures were not part of the system. It is that simple. The stronger a person believes that certain things are one way and one way only, the less likely that you are going to be able to convince them otherwise. The same goes for trying to convince people to try new procedures and ideas out when they believe that only the ancient techniques should be used.

I have also came to the conclusion that the esoteric world needs to have both the mythical history and the actual history. Mythical history provides us with emotional support, while being able to talk about the actual history makes us less likely to look like loons.

We are not likely to ever know the absolute truth about anything. The best that we can do is assign a percentage of probability to any given fact or statement based on our current knowledge and resources.

Now I will admit that I find the flame/witch war raging around Hutton v Whitmore amusing; it reminds me of some of the mudslinging that I have seen sitting on the sidelines of academia. Yes, even an undergrad gets to see politics and mudslinging. I think that in my case, with my goal of getting at least a masters degree (history or literature or maybe both), and my past experience in the witch and flame wars (1980's Denver---yeah!), makes me more attuned to seeing how academics treat one another.

Hutton when he published knew that he was opening himself up to criticism. And he knew that not all of it was going to come from trained professionals. There is no law that says that only trained professional academics can review and nitpick the work of professional historians. (The same rule applies to professional occultists and writers.) Rebuttals can come from anyone. Just assign percent values to the original work and the rebuttals and reviews and MOVE ON!

In fact, I hate to say this (sorry to everyone)---but this flame war over Hutton's and Whitmore's works might actually be good. One of the harsh realities of book publishing is that people have to be aware of a book if it is going to sell any copies. It is word-of-mouth that sells books. While I wish there was less name-calling, I am glad that people are becoming more aware of these books.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stuff I am reading today Part Two

There is a belief that in order to be a writer that you must read. There is also a belief that reading sometimes is just an excuse for not writing. That would be true for me today.

Gordon over at Runesoup posted examples of ways to use the probability control aspects of magic to accomplish bigger results. He gives examples of Job Hunting, Love Hunting, Wealth Advancement, Career Advancement, and Glamours. One of the glamour examples I am going to have to try is the "Big Ears" the next time I have to interview someone.

Over at Postmodern Magic (name of the writer so escapes me), there is a post about invoking Och for wellness and coming down with a cold. This is something that all experienced healers are familiar with. The very next post that was posted mentioned an article that explains that perhaps this is exactly the result that one should end up with whne invoking for increased health.

And here is a great quote. Seth Godin said, "Organizations have always been good at title inflation, because it's free and it serves their purposes. The net, though, makes it easy to see what the hierarchy actually looks like, so it's better to just be clear, I think." I think that some lodge organizations need to learn this lesson. It makes me rather glad that I just claim to be an elected officer of a small Golden Dawn lodge, much less chance of getting egg on my face that way.

Another great quote for today comes from Elysia one of Llewellyn Books' acquisitions editors (Witchcraft), who was talking about a recent statement that the Pope made about religious freedom. Elysia said, "It is also painfully ironic that the Pope has said, 'It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty.' Well, that’s kind of been your game for centuries, hasn’t it?" I almost had to clean my keyboard. And I must agree with her, the Pope coming out and complaining about Christians being persecuted is the pot calling the kettle black.

And finally, there is a great definition of Kabbalah for Wiccans and pagans posted by Frater Barrabbas. I am so borrowing that one for sharing among my lodge. (What? You think that I am going to work hard and reword it? No, I am lazy and could care less about my fellow lodge members knowing who my sources are.)

Anyways, that concludes my reading for today. Hopefully, tomorrow or Monday I can get my motivation to show up and actually write something (Sunday is lodge, so there is no hope there). As for the rest of today, I have to clean out litter boxes, feed cats, do some other minor chores before heading to tonight's Open Full Moon ritual.

Quote of the Day Barrabas and how to judge an argument

Frater.Barrabbas talking about the recent furor raised in Wiccan circles by the book Trials of the Moon said:  

The bottom line to all of this controversy is that we should all examine Whitmore’s book [Trials of the Moon] in a cool and dispassionate manner. Look at what he has to say and how he backs it up. Does he cite his sources? Are the sources verifiable and do they indicate what he says they do? The fact that Ben Whitmore is not an academic and that his book is self-published is completely irrelevant. His arguments and their associated proof are the only valid areas for our unbiased consideration. We can agree with his thesis or not, and if not, then present in a civil manner exact areas where that thesis can’t be backed up with relevant facts. To dismiss someone simply because he doesn’t have the required academic credentials or because he is self-published shows a level of hubris and arrogance that truly astonishes me.

I would add that the same standard needs to be applied to Ronald Hutton’s book Triumph of the Moon. It does not matter that Hutton is a professional historian and got his book published though a publisher. What matters is does his sources support his argument.

And for the record, I have no opinion yet about who is right or who is wrong. Having just finished finals for the semester (I am a double major: Literature and History), I haven't read the two books yet.

Stuff I am reading today Part One

Here is some of the stuff that I am reading today (instead of working on whatever writing that I was supposed to be doing today):

Neil Gaiman is trying to get writers and other creative people (those who are creating intellectual property) to create (and update) their wills. Personally, I know that much of my work would disappear if I am not careful on this front. The same people are upset with my choice of profession and religion would do their best to make sure that my work is never seen again. I can imagine them taking my common-law wife to court to ensure that my writing disappears. Sad, but true. And as a community, we know the problems that not leaving a clear will stating your wishes creates. There are several occult writers that I really hope that have their wills properly filled out.

Witch Doctor Joe talks about pagan shops and one of the problems that he encountered while doing his charity fund raising. Joseph Merlin Nichter is a volunteer Wiccan Chaplin in California, and has wrote a book, Carcer Via for inmates practicing Wicca while in prison. Joe has been selling the book both online and at the local occult stores in his neighborhood with the proceeds going to furnish inmates with free copies of the book. One of the central California occult shop owners seem to be missing the point of the entire exercise. Heaven forbid that we place charity above the bottom line.

Dharmaruci (Astrotabletalk) has an astrology chart for Julian Assange, and some comments about Wikileaks and its founder. Talking about the possibility of an UFO cover-up, Dharmarcui says that "applying a sort of reverse logic to the Wikileaks phenomenon, if something doesn’t eventually appear on Wikileaks then it probably didn’t happen!" Sorry guys, but I have to agree with Dharmarcui's logic; it is very unlikely that there has ever been an UFO cover-up.

This concludes part one of today's installment of Stuff That I am Reading today...stay tuned for more stuff.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unhappy with Portal

Today, I was talking to a friend online and mentioned that I have never been happy with the Portal ritual, not alone the Portal Grade of Golden Dawn.

I have never been able to place my finger on why I dislike the ritual, but I do. Of course, it may just be simply that the version I was exposed to was a modified version of the one published by Regardie (obviously, there is problems with the Regardie presentation of the ritual if even the bad lineage I came from decided to attempt to fix it). In fact, I have been led to believe that the Portal ritual is the one that has been changed the most among the various offshoots of the system---hordes of initiates have attempted to fix it.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind about the ritual. First, it is the first ritual that came out of Golden Dawn that was not contained in the Cipher Manuscript. Second, most of the diagrams were in the East (my friend said that 98% of the diagrams were originally in the East). Third, the Portal ritual was originally the first half of the Adept Minor 5=6 ritual (split to generate a waiting period before members entered Adept Minor, a change that was coming before Crowley was insulted by it). Fourth, the Regardie presentation of it is missing a lot of diagrams and has some of the speeches messed up.

As for the Grade itself, I am fairly sure that my problem with the Portal Grade is the vast amount of nothingness that I was exposed to. A couple of exercises and the writing of a thesis on the Outer Order Grades is all that I was exposed to: no lectures, no documents, no nothing.

Anyway, I guess that I am just stating that I was really unhappy with the version that I had access to---just in case, I decide to take a sledge hammer to it and try to beat it into shape later. I would hate for something like that to be unexpected.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spam from the Not Nick

At times, I find myself totally at a loss to figure out human behavior. Yesterday, someone (or maybe some program) hacked Nick Farrell's email account. And what did they use it for?

To send out links to a Canadian Pharmacy.

Really? One wonders if they really thought that they were going to get any sales from that one. This particular Canadian Pharmacy, who I am not going to provide a link to, shows up in my spam box a lot.

Obviously, someone is buying their prescription drugs cheaply from this website; but given the amount of spam that people send out for this site, it is probably not a good place to do so. Of course, it is probably more than one person sending out this spam.

Now what I can't figure is why they thought that putting Nick Farrell's stamp of approval on this site would generate any sales. I trust Nick Farrell as an occultist; he knows a lot about that subject. But cheap Canadian drugs and medicine---I think not. And one would hope that if he was trying to get us to buy our prescriptions from Canada, that he would send us to another site, rather than the one that always shows up in my spam box.

Anyways, I can laugh about this. Most days. But just to be clear---if suddenly I send out links to a certain Canadian Pharmacy, it is not me; it is just the spambot pretending to be me. Though my question about why we would trust Nick's recommendation goes double for me. But if you would trust me to steer you to cheap drugs, how about a lovely bridge and a piece of farmland in Florida? Going super-cheap, just the cost of a year's worth of cat food.