Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review Mathers Last Secret

Mathers' Last Secret.
A few years ago, I met someone who tried to impress me with the documents that they had access to. One of the documents was a version of the Neophyte ritual. In order to protect their interests, the copy they showed me had large white blank spaces where some particularly sensitive information was. The person was disappointed because I expressed no interest in what they were concealing.

What they did not realize was that I knew what was in the blanked out sections. It turns out that they were trying to impress me with information that I already had seen through a membership in a previous group.

I wonder how this person reacted to the publication of Mathers' Last Secret, for the Neophyte ritual that they were trying to impress me with was a variation of the AO version (probably through the lineage of BOTA). Given the fact that a person like me had been exposed to the AO rituals before the publication of this book, I wonder how many groups were actually affected by this publication and how many people in them finally breathed a sigh of relief because they could now openly talk about the differences that exist in their rituals compared to the standard Regardie version.

(By "standard," I mean the set of rituals that everyone had access to already.)

Re-reading this book recently, I was stuck by the following statement made by Nick Farrell in the introduction.

The purpose of this book is not to bury the Alpha et Omega, but rather to encourage its development. There is material here which needs to evolve. By looking at it, meditating on it, and TRYING IT OUT the right people can make their own contacts and bring the Order to life in a meaningful way. It might draw some readers into those groups who are already using their own interpretations of the A.O. material. This is all for the good. Equally, it could be the inspiration for other groups to start using Mathers' Last Secrets.

Rather than using the system used in the Bristol Temple of the Stella Matutina, as set out in Regardie's Golden Dawn, the A.O. gives new groups a "new" flavour and approach. The aim of this book is to provide a basis for such a group to take its place alongside the Regardie-style Golden Dawn groups and those, such as the Magical Order of the Aurora Aurea, which are inspired by Whare Ra [pages 21-22 hardcover edition].

(Note that this section may have jumped out at me just because of the debate over Farrell's purpose for publishing this book, and its companion book, King Over the Water.)

Interestingly, the group that is most famous for using one of the AO versions of the rituals (outside of BOTA whose rituals were modified by Paul Foster Case) ended up changing their rituals, so that they do not match this (or any other possible) publication. It makes for an interesting situation where the group that claims to have the best connection to the original AO is no longer even using an AO version of the Golden Dawn rituals. Anyone who actually wants to experience this version of the AO rituals is actually going to have to join a group without no connection to the original AO. (That is assuming that one believes that BOTA and its lineage is not actually an AO lineage.) While Farrell does not state what the "right people" are like, it is safe to assume that he does not endorse the trademark holder of the AO brand-name (if only because of the fact that they really do NOT get along).

(In all honesty, I would not be able to endorse the AO trademark holder either, and it is mainly because I have been called out repeatedly for having opinions that do not support their official Order line--hint: "diversity" and "independence" means that multiple opinions and methods can exist, not that they confirm to an unpublished set of rules made up by an invisible Order and their appointed leader.)

One of the big conversations about this book, and the Neophyte ritual that Mathers created for his Golden Dawn offshoot, has been about the shortcuts that Mathers says are permissible "[if] time be of some importance." Most of the Opening becomes optional, large parts of the lecture for the Grade, and even the "Admission ceremony" is optional. Basically, the only thing you cannot skip is the Oath of Obligation.

In other words, instead of not admitting an Neophyte until a full initiation ritual with a full Opening can be performed, a person could become a Neophtye by just paying their dues and committing to keep the AO secret and remaining loyal to Mathers. This reminds me of some of the fringe Freemasonry rituals that I have seen, where a person takes an oath and gets another honorary title to add to their collection.

And note that I consider this wrong, and I am the guy that argues that the system can be worked with just four people with no lineage at all (aka the Three Officer Version of the Neophyte ritual).

(By the way, in my universe, this is proof that none of the American membership had to travel overseas to recieve Temple initiations--in other words, the American lodges could have been started by people without no initiationary lineage to the AO. Note that this fact does not prove one way or another if the American AO started out as a correspondence school; it merely shows that it was possible for this to happen. It also might indicate that Westcott and Mathers did not think that undergoing the initiation rituals was necessary for advancement in the Order, and why they never undergone the initiation rituals of Golden Dawn themselves...I am still waiting to see proof that they did undergo the GD rituals.)

Does a regular member of the modern Golden Dawn need to buy this book? Probably not...unless they want to study what Mathers did after the Golden Dawn suffered the great Revolt of the Adepts. If you want to study and perhaps even experience these rituals, then this book is neccessary. For people not into collecting all the versions of the Golden Dawn rituals, you probably want to give this one a pass (it is just a set of rituals by Mathers and some comments by Farrell).

Mathers' Last Secret is available for purchase on Amazon.

[This book review was based on the hardcover edition, a copy which I paid full-price for on Amazon.]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monkey Tarot 8 of Pentacles version 1

Version 1 of the Eight of Pentacles from the Moneky Tarot (MDE 2012).
Last month, many of you saw a version of the Sun card I draw for the Tarot Blog Hop. One of my friends liked the monkeys in the card so much that she wants me to draw a whole Tarot deck with a monkey in every card, a Monkey Tarot if you will.

Here is another card (rough draft) with a monkey in it. There is another picture that I am thinking of using for the Eight of Pentacles, but I thought that I would share this version with my readers...or at least, the uncolored version of it.

I am not sure. Do we really need an entire Tarot deck centered around monkeys?! Feel free to express your desire (or lack thereof) for a Moneky Tarot in the comment section. Remember only YOU can prevent me from inflicting a Monkey Tarot deck on the world.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

QoD Our traditions are now owned by Christian and New Agers

Here is a quote taken from a blog post talking about why polytheism is vital to paganism:

Right now Goddess-worship, tarot, astrology, reiki, magic, ritual, meditation and all the things we practice are being reclaimed and invigorated. But not by us. By bland New Age philosophers and by Progressive Christians. In the larger picture, they own these things. They are the face of all our practices and theology. Ecological spirituality, shadow work, energetic healing, shamanic journeying and the power of intention are all things they own. For every small-town priestess teaching her handful of students about the power of intention there are millions watching Oprah express the same concepts and principles on television. They are the ones buying the bulk of the incense and tarot decks and crystals and attending workshops. They are the ones buying the books by Deepak Chopra on using Merlin as a guide to self-transformation.

They own it all. Everything. There is nothing you can name that they do not own. Even Voudou is practiced by Catholics using the names of saints instead of orishas. Even those things that have originated within our communities are now owned by them. The Divine Feminine is now a liberal Christian concept. Christian theology and atheism have taken over the Greek philosophers. They own it all.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lost a black walnut tree to thousand cankers disease

I am kitty and my butt approves of this tree stump.
So yesterday, I woke up to the sounds of a chainsaw...in my own front yard. Mile High Tree Care had came out to cut down one of the black walnut trees that are in my yard.

The reason that it had to be cut down was that the tree had caught the thousand cankers disease (fungus) that is expected to kill off all the black walnut trees here in Colorado within five years.

Those brown leaves showing up is a sign that your tree is diseased.
The city of Denver is asking...and then issuing fines...to get people to remove their infected black walnut trees in a timely manner.

I am not happy about this disease. This tree was a nice tree, and fairly old (I am guessing that it was planted at the time this area was developed, so it was 60 to 70 years old I think).

The team work was amazing.
I will admit that I was impressed by the amount of time they needed to take down the entire tree. It was only a half hour to forty-five minutes before they were completely done.

The sad part is that I still have another black walnut tree...and I like it. As I said, I am not happy about the disease.

My other black walnut tree.
After Mile High Tree Care finished with my tree, they pulled across the street and cut down one in my neighbor's yard. I imagine that my neighbor is not any more happy than I am about the situation.

So now, I have a rahter large tree stump in the front of my yard. My wife thinks that she is going to use it to sit on while gardening, but I think that one of the cats has already claimed it.

It was a fairly large tree as you can see from this photo.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Colorado Batman Mass Shooting

Last night, as most of my American readers know, a mass shooting happened at the midnight screening of the new Batman movie. What they may not know is that the Aurora theater is (maybe) a whole ten miles from my house, my former place of employment and the university that I gone to here in Denver. And there are other things that bring this senseless tragedy even closer to home.

(Feel free to skip reading the rest of this post--it is just Morgan kicking around his personal issues while standing on his public soapbox.)

One of the things that bring it close to home is the fact that this is the worst mass shooting since 2009. Both the Fort Hood (Texas) shooting and the Columbine (Colorado) school shooting happened in 2009.

As the time of the Columbine shooting, I was dating this rather bossy redhead, Khari Seshent. Khari (her motto in GD) was training to be a school teacher at the time. Many of you have actually met this woman; she is still a school teacher, still bossy--the only difference is that we are married now.

I will openly admit that I was more emotionally disturbed by Columbine than I was by the terrorist attack on 9/11. Part of it was that I was dating Khari. But a larger part was that I understood the minds of the shooters.

I suspect that I am going to discover that I understand this shooter, James Holmes, and his mental state as the story develops and details come out. Blame it on being a writer who writes about villians, murders and other insanities; one can also blame it on "By the grace of god, go I."

It is kinda freaky that Holmes was attending the University of Colorado in Denver. Ok, he was attending the medical school, but that campus is only a couple of miles from my house. UCD is where I just graduated from with two Bachelor degrees, and where I might be going when I start my Master degrees. And I seriously considered dropping out of school this last year.

When Columbine happened, I didn't know anyone who was going there. Since then, I have sat in classes (both esoteric and academic) with people who either were present or were connected to students attending Columbine at the time of the shooting. Turns out that I was connected to people who were going to Columbine at the time, I was just unaware of the connections. I suspect that history is going to repeat itself here.

And in the case of this shooting, several of my friends were concerned that I might have been present. After all, I am a nerd (or is it a geek?) and would have considered going to a midnight screening of Batman Rises if I would had more money in the bank.

Anyways, this shooting has disturbed my mental waters so much that I blogged about it rather than the fact that I woke up this morning to the sound of chainsaws...which I guess I will have to blog about tommorrow instead (yes, I am going to share my feelings about thousand Cankers Black Walnut Disease because...well you will see).

(Oh, for those people who saw one of my friends on Facebook joking about the SRIA assassin missing me, just remember that the barking-mad started that joke several months ago and my friends decided that I would be higher on the list of people that the SRIA would want to eliminate than the barking-mad person who insisted that the SRIA were gunning for him. The joke loses something if you do not know that little fact.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

QoD Is daily (clergical) practice neccessary?

Here is a taste of a post from the blog Aedicula Antinoi: A Small Shrine of Antinous that kicks around the idea that for many modern pagans that we do not need to engage in daily duties that would normally be the job of the full-time clergy of ancient times (please note that this idea may not actually apply to ceremonial magicians and apprentice witches, but I still encourage you to go read the rest of the post):

The notion in many sorts of paganism that everyone is “their own clergy” and thus has clergy status, and therefore must in a variety of ways perform as if they are clergy, is rather erroneous in my view. As much as certain teachers and practitioners would suggest all of the modern pagan/polytheist population have some sort of daily practice (which usually looks like “daily meditation” in most forms I’ve seen it), I can’t really support that necessity from a general viewpoint, either as a reconstructionist or as a general spiritual practitioner who has many strong deity devotions, including Antinous. What I do and what I am is not to be taken as “an example” of what all people who are devoted to Antinous should be doing, any more than my current unemployment or being without romantic relationships should be taken as “required” for anyone who is devoted to Antinous.

See what I did there? Taking any person’s style of life as “exemplary,” even in one area of their life like spiritual practice, is a very big mistake. Every relationship with every deity, hero, or other divine being requires individualized, particularized, and highly unique negotiation, offers and counter-offers, efforts and counter-efforts, and all sorts of reciprocity as well as contractuality coming into the picture on the part of the gods/heroes/divine beings and the humans who are devoted to them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Types of initiation

Kitty undergoes the trial of catnip during their initiation.
One of the problems about talking about initiations is that there are several types of initiation. And not all of them are equal to one another.

For instance, what we traditionally think about as initiation, at least in the esoteric Orders, is lodge initiation--being initiated by several officers of an lodge. In a lodge setting, this form of initiation trumps all...provided that it is only the merit badge of Grade obtained that concerns you.

Now, I will admit that lodge initiation is on the top of my list of preferred methods. But it only counts provided that you are using the same set of rituals as I am. If you are using a different set of initiation rituals, that means that you belong to a different Order, and quite possibly a whole different esoteric tradition than I do. Different ritual scripts result in different inner experiences.

This opinion annoys some people. Just slapping the same name on your system as a system that I work is not an automatic ticket to sit in the same lodge with me.

Nor is claiming that a degree from another system is the same as a Grade I work going to get you any points either in my book. There is only one time that a "transferred initiation" works, and that is when you are starting up a brand-new Order. It is how Mathers and Westcott could start up Golden Dawn, and not be actually initiated into its system...and why your Master Mason and fringe degree does not make you an Adept Extemptus automatically--degrees only transfer under specialized situations.

Of course, the very worst type of initiation is the one that did not happen. There are a ton of people out there who claim to have initiations that they have never recieved. My rule of thumb is that unless I saw you get the initiation, or I personally know one of the officers who performed it, then that initiation is mere hearsay.

I mean, after all, you do not believe me when I claim to be an initiate, do you?

In modern times, we have gained two new types of initiation: the astral initiation and the self-initiation. Having experienced several types of initiation, I must admit that I was not impressed by the astral initiation I undergone...and it was not the EOGD (yes, there are others who have experimented with that form of initiation). Personally, if you cannot travel to lodge to get initiated, my opinion is to go with the self-initiation.

Of course, the biggest determining factor about whether an self-initiation is successful is the amount of work you put into it. But then again, that is true of all forms of initiation, isn't it? I know several people who have "worked" their way into being what I consider an initiated Tarot reader.

One thing that must be said about all the types of initiation that I have mentioned is that they are not what initiation originally looked like. Our modern initiations are tame in comparsion to the original form of initiation.

The original form of initiation was what I tend to refer to as a "divine clue by four," or occasionally as "the bear done ate him." Initiation in is original shamanistic form was tramatic and scary. You could really die during it. You got seriously ill. You got badly injuried. But you somehow survived. Even today, there are some people who suffer this form of initiation...they tend to be a little crazy because of it.

To illustrate how severe this form of initiation is, just remember that the first thing a new prophet was told in Biblical times was "Do not fear, I am an angel.of the divine." It is never a good thing when the first thing you are told is "Do not panic." Planets have boiled away on occasion after that statement has been uttered. (Bear in mind that for most of human civilization, your entire world was your village or farm...a lots of worlds have been destoryed throughout history when you realize this little fact.)

So if you ever talk to me about initiation, remember that the first thing I am going to ask is exactly what type of initiation that you are talking about because there are many types of initiation. It is only after making sure that we are talking about the same type of initiation that we can truely start discussing the subject.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Everyone is nuts!

Troll kitty presents his proof that everyone is mentally unstable.
Last night on another blog, I presented a rule of thumb...in a rather unclear post...about the use of godforms in ritual. Nick Farrell responded by saying that one should not create rule of thumbs...again the post was unclear...especially about how doing certain things makes people mentally unstable. In my defense, I would like to say that it was merely the explanation given to me by someone else...my crime is that I used the explanation to shore up my own rule of thumb for newbie magicians.

I am quite sure that Nick would be appalled by the rules of thumb that I actually operate under. But considering that the subject came up (and I need something to blog about that does not bore me to tears), it is as good as time as any to talk about a couple of the rules that I operate under. My rules of life, so to speak.

The first rule is that Everyone is nuts!

Yes, that is right. Deep down, I think that everyone is a touch unstable. More or less. My proof--well, the entire human race.

Therefore, I am more interested in figuring out exactly how mentally unstable they are, and trying to figure out what might send them further into the deep end.

And whether or not, they are the fun type of mentally unstable. In other words, do they entertain me?

It makes life a touch simplier when you assume that everyone is nuts. For instance, when it comes time to vote on new applicants for the local lodge, it boils down to whether I can tolerate their particular brand of lunacy. Everything else is pretty much just the nuts and bolts of the lunacy.

It also makes issuing magical instructions and performing initiations a touch more easier. If someone is already broken, all bad instruction or a messed-up ritual does is make them more broken. You are not responsible for breaking their little mind; you are just responsible for making it worse.

Yeah, I know--it is not really a difference except in my own mind. I suspect that I am a subset of everyone.

My second rule of thumb is that No one ever listens to my advice.

I can make up all the rules of thumb I want. I hear how other Orders actually have members who follow the advice of the teaching staff...and I have never been a member of such an Order. I did not obey instructions to the letter while I was a student. I have not seen anyone I have instructed obey the instructions to the letter either. I suspect that no one obeys instructions to the letter ever...except to annoy other people.

Therefore, I can advise Adept Minor Neophytes to only actively use one godform per ritual, knowing full well that some newbie magician will decide that a ritual just begs to have 37 godforms actively used. In fact, occasionally I put forth advice knowing that the person I am talking to is promptly going to go out and do the exact opposite. People tend to do what they want to do, no matter what you tell them.

This leads back to me being only interested in the fun type of the mentally unstable. I figure that everyone is going to become more unstable over the course of their magical career, no matter how good or bad the instructions they were given, so the question is Will your insanity amuse me?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Smashwords Summer Winter Sale

Smashwords is doing their annual sitewide Summer/Winter sale (summer for us in the northern hemisphere/winter for those in those in the southern hemisphere) until July 31, 2012.

This time around, three of my ebooks are discounted fifty percent off (coupon code--SSW50).

Five Reasons Why Magic Fails--$2.50 (normally $4.99).

Shakespheare's Monkey (poety and various short stories)--$1.50 (normally $2.99).

Golden Dawn Rituals Volume One--Neophyte Ritual: Three Officer Version--$3.00 (normally $5.99).

Be sure to use the coupon code (SSW50).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Proof that I am a troll!

Troll cat reminds you to only eat children who are cooked with bacon.
There is finally proof that I am a troll. Monday, I went to Chilis with my wife. We just came from picking up cat food and other supplies for the darlings. We were talking business...mainly it was me justifying a decision that I had already made (I do things like that). After awhile, my wife gets up and goes to the bathroom.

Now, we got seated in the family section. And there was this family sitting across the aisle from us with a fat little boy (maybe six months old). He was all smiling and bubbly. I noticed him looking at me. I smiled and said, "Hi. How are you?"

And he bursts into tears.

That is probably fair proof that I am a horrible troll, isn't it?

But I think that the boy's family might be trolls also...because they thought it was funny.

Patriotic Kitty overdoes it

Patriotic Cat...overdoes it.
Of course, there is always a reader or two who believe that I overdid it with cat pictures. But they are wrong--you can't overdo it when you are posting funny cat pictures. Next up is "Discovery Day"...I am not sure what Discovery Day celebrates, but there must be kittens who celebrate it, right?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Swastika Rehabilitation Day?! Really?!

Here something that you do not want to see on the beach...even a New Jersey beach.
Last Saturday was the third annual Swastika Rehabilation Day...seriously, there is an organization that is trying to rehabilitate the image of the swastika. The International Raelian Movement (a Las Vegas based group) is trying to restore the Swastika as "a symbol of peace and good luck."

Personally, I think that this might be a lost cause. For the last twenty years, I have been searching for a symbol to replace the Hermetic Cross found in the Zelator (1=10) ritual...that says how much I think that the symbol, which original meaning was more positive, can be rescued from the dragging through the mud that a certain group of 20th century politicians subjected it to.

This is one of those times that I must say that the silly ideas that arise in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas.

Four Days of Patriotic Kitties Day 4

Kitty is a proud American patriot.
Dear military people, we thank you for your service to this country, helping to ensure that there is plenty of love and freedom and catnip for kitties everywhere--Patriotic Kitty. Happy 4th of July.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Salt Mine Publications (Smashword sale and a free book by Alex)

A few years ago, I decided that if I was to ever run a publishing house that I would call it Salt Mine Publications. This past weekend, this insane dream took a step forward towards actually happening. Details are still being worked out, but it looks like I am going to be entering the occult ebook market as a publisher.

In related news, Smashwords is having their annual Summer/Winter sale. Two of my ebooks (Five Reasons Why Magic Fails and Shakespeare's Monkey) are fifty percent off until the end of July 2012. In a couple of days, I hope to get version one of the ebook edition of the Three Officer Version of the Golden Dawn Neophyte ritual also up on Smashwords.

In other news, Alex Sumner is giving away copies of his ebook novella Shall We Kill The President? (Just in time for Independence Day. Alex also has a couple of ebooks in the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale (I forgot which titles).

Four Days of Patriotic Kitties Day 3

Back home, this cat would have been the entire parade.
When I lived in Brush Colorado, my folks lived just a couple of blocks away from the street that the annual Fourth of July parade went down. Brush was a small town (it may still be a small town for all I know). Pretty much if you saw one parade, you seen most of them...because they were really small parades. There was also the Fourth of July rodeo, complete with fireworks display. Despite being poor, my folks always managed to get tickets to the rodeo. Looking back on it, I kinda miss doing that. Dressing up in the flag, or dressing up a kitty in a flag, just doesn't replace family.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Four Days of Patriotic Kitties Day 2

Patriotic? Or is there a fly on the wall?
This is one of those cat pictures that I assume that something else is going on...much like I assume that a lot of the surface activities of politicians are misleading. Yes, I know; I am a happy little cynic. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy birthday Aaron Leitch!

It is a rare Star Wars cat figure for your birthday!
It is Aaron Leitch's birthday today. Aaron is a fellow writer who deals with magical topics. We hope that he likes his present because it costed a small fortune. If only us humans could be entertained so easily after our tenth birthday.

Four days of Patriotic Kitties Day 1

Patriotic Kitty is running for Congress.
The only explanation I have for this picture is the Patriotic Kitty is running for Congress. Of course, I figure that the first law that they are going to pass is a law saying that you will not dress your cat up as Uncle Sam. The bowtie is cool (because Doctor Who says it is), but the rest of the outfit is just plain overkill and makes kitty grumpy.