Friday, November 30, 2012

Flashback--spider mania December 2007

This spider was briefly in my kitchen in 2007.
It is time for a flashback post--thanks to the good people at Multiply (who are removing all user media and blogs tonight at midnight). And the only thing that I wanted to save from Multiply is this creepy picture of a spider that was in my kitchen on December 21, 2007.

That morning, my wife woke me up to look at the creepy spider in the kitchen as she was leaving for work. I decided to take a picture of the spider, which attracted the attention of my cat, Apollo. As I was saving my cat from the spider, the spider slipped between the kitchen wall and the stove. At this point, liberal amounts of bug spray was used. I have never seen another one of this particular species (Black Widow) on my property since.

(Originally, I blamed my father-in-law for bringing it with him from California...but in all fairness, we do have native Black Widows here in Colorado, so perhaps that was being too harsh.)

Anyway, if you ever need an excuse not to come visit me, there it is--my property may be haboring Black Widows, one of the world's most creepiest spiders.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No lottery magic for me

As some people know--probably not any of my regular readers--the Powerball prize is up to 425 million. This means that a lot of people are going to be buying a Powerball ticket for the next drawing. And there might be some people who even attempt to cast a magical spell to win the lottery.

I will not be one of them.

Years ago, I used to buy lottery tickets. And yes, I dabbled in luck magic during the first couple of years of my Golden Dawn was the monthly talisman experiment for me.

What did I learn?

I learned that my magic is not good enough to budge the lottery odds. Oh, based on my results, I can budge the probabilities enough to be measurable, but not enourgh to actually win the big prize. Or for that matter, even the medium prizes.

Maybe if I could be bothered to join one of those super-secret esoteric Orders where the entire Inner Order system of magic is still secret because it is so dangerous, I might get better results. But I am going to guess that even those groups advise their membership not to bother with trying to win the lottery.

Today, whenever I get the urge to buy a lottery ticket, I go and write an article on the lottery. For instance, I have talked about the ticket price of a Powerball ticket, and debated if lottery tickets make good Christmas gifts. My return for writing a lottery article is better than my average return from a lottery ticket (I used to buy a lot of losing tickets).

Now, this does not mean that I do not gamble--after all, I am a writer and an artist, who dabbles in publishing (mainly pictures of farting monkeys and badly written erotica)--it is hard not to gamble when you are self-employed. But I am better off spending any extra cash I have on...well, almost anything other than a lottery ticket.

(And if you want to buy me a lottery ticket for Xmas, don't--I would rather recieve a lump of coal is for a spell *wink*.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

May you never...

Bad Monkey is available on Smashwords for 99 cents.
[The following is an article that I wrote for the November 2011 Hearthstone Community Church's newsletter. It is reprinted in Bad Monkey: The Collected 2011 Hearthstone Community Church Articles.]

It is that time of year again when American society reminds us to count our blessings, time for the penultimate holiday of the year, Thanksgiving. This is a holiday that tends to be all about food. Personally, I find that all holidays involving food to be fascinating; my interest extends to weddings and funerals also. If there is food involved, you have my attention. I blame this fascination on my childhood.

I grew up poor. Well, poor for an American. Let us be honest; when you look at the overall standard of living that humanity has enjoyed down throughout the ages, few Americans can be considered poor based on global and historical standards. So when I say that I grew up poor, let me be clear: there were holes in the roof; we accepted donations from the local food bank, and my school clothes were bought at yard sales.

I suspect that this fact, the fact that so few Americans are really poor, is the reason that we had to create the mythical holiday of Thanksgiving. And let's be honest, our image of Thanksgiving is mythical. It is very unlikely that a society that was on the verge of extinction by starvation would have such a large feast as depicted in the American mythology. There was probably no turkey. Personally, I tend to imagine the feast as some eels and a few ears of corn. And if the Pilgrims did get a windfall of food, they probably rationed it out as long as they could.

Thanksgiving is the feast that the Pilgrims would have liked to have. It is much like the number of feasts that one encounters in fairy tales, chivalry tales, and Northern mythology. It is not that people were constantly having feasts; it is that they would have liked more food on a daily basis.

One of the things that I know from my impoverished childhood is that at a certain level of need, there arises a constant concern about where your next meal is coming from. You never really get over it. It is one of the reasons that I automatically hate politicians who want to get rid of subsidized school breakfast and lunch programs. Growing up, I was constantly hungry. The free breakfast at the local school was a meal that I could count on. I remember this when a politician claims that schools are only for instruction, and presume that the politician needs to be voted out of office.

This impoverished background colors my views of the current political and economic environment. I am suspicious of any solution that shifts more of the economic burden onto the poor, but I am equally leery of any protest screaming that the rich are hogging all the wealth that does not contain anyone that I would classify as being truly poor. Through most of my childhood, my parents wondered how they were going to keep a roof over their children's heads, where the next meal was coming from, and if they could afford to turn on the heat.

My background also colors how I react to the most common blessing in Wiccan ritual (or at least, it is the most common blessing that I have encountered). "May you never hunger; may you never thirst." Having been poor, this blessing, in many ways, represents the height of human civilization as far as I am concerned. You can talk about spiritual experiences and personal growth; but let's be honest, I have always been more interested in food.

Of course, as a Golden Dawn member, I would modify the blessing slightly. (The Golden Dawn counterpart of Cakes and Ale, the Mystic Repast involves a rose, a lit lamp, bread and salt, and a cup of wine when done according to the official ritual documents.) Or maybe the modification is because I grew up poor. Whatever---it does not matter. What matters is that I extend this blessing to you this holiday season.

May you never be ignorant; may you never be cold; may you never hunger; may you never thirst; may you always be thankful. So mote it be. Happy holidays.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My shocking disbelief: Primordial Languages of Power (1/3)

Over on Postmodern Magic, there is a three part series about things that the blog author does not believe in--Atlantis and Secret Chiefs are the first two parts (as I write this, the third part is still forthcoming). Of course, this got me thinking about the things that I do not believe in, and I decided to also blog about three things that I do not believe in...because that is how the blogosphere rolls. Given that they chose to pick on Atlantis and the Secret Chiefs, I will pick something else to start off with.

(For the record, both Atlantis and the Unknown Secret Chiefs are high up on my list of they are commonly thought of in esoteric circles--go read the Postmodern Magic posts; they touch upon many of the problems that I have with the two subjects.)

One of the things that I disbelieve in is the idea that there is a primordial language out there which when you speak it, magic automatically happens.

Armanic, Hebrew, Ancient Egypt, bastardized Latin, have all at one time been thought to be a language that if you speak it, wonderful horrible things happen--walls bleed, worlds get created, Republicans burst into flames. The Enochian language of Doctor Dee is also a candidate, as well as certain esoteric forms of mathematics, for this "too dangerous to be revealed to the great unwashed" language.

Much of our time in esoteric circles and studies is involved in studying these mystery languages. If you are in the Outer Order of Golden Dawn, you spend time studying the Hebrew alphabet, which you are oathbound not to reveal to others (seriously, the Hebrew alphabet is actually oathbound in some GD circles to this very day). You also get to hear some Greek, some badly spoken Ancient Egyptian, and Enochian, as well as some Latin. In Inner Order, the RR et AC, you deal a lot with Enochian and Hebrew...not enough to order soup, but enough that one can make the occasional odd pun that no one understands.

The esoteric theory behind the Great Primordial Langauge of Magic, Light and Creation, is that it is the language of the gods, angels and ascended masters. At the beginning of the universe, some deity created the universe by uttering some magic words. Later, the same deity (often, but not always) created the art of writing. Over time, this pure language of creation got corrupted into the languages that we humans speak on a daily basis.

The important part is the idea that IF you could RESTORE the language to its precreation/creation/divine state, you can perform MIRACLES.

Think Harry Potter meets the Tetragrammaton.

Because of its awesome power, the primordial language must be guarded from those who are not yet ready to use it--aka everyone who has not paid you enourgh lodge and Order dues yet. Seriously, you would not want a Democrat to gain access to it, they might go around healing the poor for free.

And in esoteric circles, a lot of training goes into making sure that you are spiritually ready to learn the primordial language...because time spent paying lodge and Order dues are the purest form of tithing and spiritual development. Without the training, you could seriously hurt yourself using the primordial language.

Yet here is the thing to remember about the claim--secrecy reveals what it conceals, and conceals what it reveals--it is not the language that does the work; it is the training that you undergone to qualify to use the language that does the heavy lifting.

Of course, the fact that I do not believe that it is the secret esoterically guarded primordial language that is important is SHOCKING. And probably a form of Golden Dawn heresy. You can buy your pitchforks and flaming torches from several GD vendors if you want to form an angry horde and burn me at the stake (hey, I am Wiccan--I am allowed to make witchhunt jokes).

Here is the real secret to know if you see me use a primordial language of power in your presence to perform some bit of magic--what you are percieving is a mere one-seventh of what I am doing. It is not the language by itself that gives its power--it is the hidden six-sevenths that is happening elsewhere; six-sevenths that is only possible with a lot of occult training.

So the next time, you see me ignore someone's claims that they know magical words that automatically causes certain events to happen when uttered, and that one must be highly trained, developed and vetted to learn, just remember I do not believe that it is the language doing the work--rather it is the training and development that they are insisting that you do first...provided that they are actually training you and not just milking you for Order dues, which probably the thing that esoteric language most often gets used for.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Israel Regardie's 105th BDay

Tabatha Cicero and Israel Regardie (1984 or 1985).
A hundred and five years ago, Isreal Regardie was born (November 17, 1907). As an young man, Regardie first worked with the system of Aliester Crowley, doing much of the material laid out in the published AA material (Crowley did not actually teach him), before entering the Stella Matutina in 1934. His SM motto was Ad Majoren Adonai Gloriam "To the Greater Glory of Adonai."

His contribution to the modern Golden Dawn movement first came in the form of books. Before entering the Stella Matutina, he wrote The Tree of Life and A Garden of Pomegranates (1932). His book, The Middle Pillar, in 1938, while viewed as a Golden Dawn book today, along with his ritual, the Middle Pillar ritual (actually a shortened version of a much larger RR et AC exercise), deals with tying psychology, kabbalah and magic together.

By 1936, Regardie had decided that the only way to safeguard the Golden Dawn system was to publish its rituals. This decision has led to a polarity of how people view Regardie. Some people really like him for publishing the core of the Golden Dawn system. Other people really loathe him for the exact same reason. Interestingly enough, even those Golden Dawn people who loathe him do their best to prove that they are honoring his wishes to see the Golden Dawn preserved for future generations.

Of course, everyone knows the question that I like to ask of people who hate Regardie for publishing the Golden Dawn documents: Without Regardie, would you have ever found the Golden Dawn? No one has yet to be able to give me an answer that does not amuse me. It is amazing how even the people who argue that the system should have been kept absolutely secret, and in danger of disappearing as hundreds of secret societies did, must admit that it was Regardie's (or Crowley's) writing that informed them that Golden Dawn was an option.

So here is to Israel Regardie, the much hated savior of the Golden Dawn system. We all owe him a debt, for leaving a trail of bread crumbs to our magical and spiritual home. INRI. LVX. IAO.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Officially a member of the Hearthstone board

Yesterday, Hearthstone Community Church had their...annual, bi annual, whenever they feel like it...board meeting. I attended because...already voluteering, snoopy, I wanted a piece of pie...they asked me to show up. During the course of the meeting, the Hearthstone Community Church board added two new members because...they were already helping, they showed up, they didn't run away...they thought it was a good idea to expand the board.

One of the two people that Hearthstone added is Amy Harper. Most people know her as "the person we have the fire extinguisher for"--besides her work organizing Wiccan rituals for children.

The other person that the board added is myself. Yes, they allowed a lunatic with a soapbox to become a member of the Hearthstone board. And yes, they have known me for years. Maybe they have not seen me at my is my current theory (please feel free to suggest other theories in the comment section).

What am I going to be doing for the Hearthstone Community Church? More or less what I have been doing for the last three years (well, two years, eleven months)--writing a monthly column for the newsletter. Oh, I have to greet people at the Open Full Moon rituals, and collect the occasionally email address to add to the local mailing list. Maybe set up a blog, and do some social networking. Occasionally express opinions that makes them wonder why they voted to let me in. Nothing major.

What does this mean outside of Hearthstone? I get to pad my resume. Not much. I am still going to be a lunatic with a soapbox. I imagine that the next time I annoy certain people that they will scream that as a Wiccan minister and community representative that I should do exactly what is in their best interest...basically, it will just give some of my critics another thing to hold against me when I decide that I am going to act like a lunatic with a soapbox. And I will continue to ignore their complaints because...they are a donkey, they want a monopoly on all things esoteric and occult, they fling monkey poo at everyone that they thinks is a is not in the best interests of my business and/or community to surrender control of my behavior to them.

So yes, it is business as usual for me. No big surprise there.

For those of you who are curious about what I have written for the Hearthstone newsletter, the 2010 ebook collection of my articles, Pizza Boxes on the Floor, is available from Barnes and Noble for 99 cents. (The 2011 and 2012 collections will be assembled some time before the beginning of the year.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What makes BIORC different?

Truth in advertising strikes the Hogwarts House system.
One of the difficulties about trying to decide what Golden Dawn Order to join is that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the Orders. Their advertising looks the same; as soon as one group makes a claim, everyone else also claims to provide the same service...with one exceptation (c'mon--I do not need to point out the one claim that no one else wants to make). In the end, often it boils down to who is leading the group, and if you know any other members of the group, and if they have a local lodge or correspondence course, which determines what Golden Dawn Order that you join. Their advertising footprint might also be a factor.

We could label the main Golden Dawn groups as "The Amway Golden Dawn," "The False Humility Golden Dawn," "The 'We can't be bothered to have a correspondence course' Golden Dawn," "The Freemason Golden Dawn," and "Those freaks of nature Golden Dawn."

Oh, and then there is the group I belong to--"The 'Who are you again?!' Golden Dawn."

Here in Denver Colorado, we have three Golden Dawn lodges...and rumors that a fourth one is going to be organized. And honestly, I bet that you can not tell the difference between them. The fact that there was overlapping membership for awhile...and this may still be true for two of the lodges...does not help any (all the shinies got shared).

So the question of "What makes your group that you belong to different from all the other Golden Dawn groups?" is a difficult one to answer. Even my answer that "We are the pagan/Wiccan friendly lodge with the smallest membership" does not really create a distinction. Nor does the statement, "We are the least likely to be married to the exact ritual script that the other Golden Dawn lodges use."

Yet, both of those statements are actually the statements that you want to pay attention to. For they are the statements that hint that something is going on behind the scenes...something that makes Bast Temple more BIORC than strict Golden Dawn.

Earlier this year, a cascade change was introduced into the Neophyte ritual of the BIORC.

For those of you who are relatively new to the Golden Dawn system, a "cascade change" is a small change that leads to more and more changes in the rituals and lessons of an esoteric system. Golden Dawn is actually a series of interconnected and interlocked rituals and magical techniques. The smallest changes and corrections occasionally end up changing the system so drastically that a group that starts changing things often finds themselves ceasing to be Golden Dawn. For the most part, groups do not like this possibility, so they cling to the strict version of the published rituals and teachings.

Awhile back, the cornerstone members of the BIORC ceased to care if the group remained Golden Dawn. Therefore, some small changes have started to be introduced...including what promises to be a cascade change.

The change that threatens to remove BIORC from the Golden Dawn system?

Simple, the Neophyte prayer to the Lord of the Universe got changed to a prayer to "The Lord and Lady of the Universe."

Yes, something as simple as that could end up being a cascade change. For one, it upsets anyone who believes that only a male one-god religion is correct. For another, it opens up the door to having to change all the Elemental Prayers. It also opens up the door to the esoteric mysteries being explained not in Christian and Jewish symbols, but rather in symbols from British Traditional Wicca and other modern pagan religions.

The change in the ritual was made because the membership of Bast Temple (which is the Mother Temple of the BIORC) is once again composed of just pagans and Wiccans. The ritual acknowledgement that the divine has been god and goddess aspects is long overdue as far as the membership of Bast Temple is concerned. But it is the type of change that may result in BIORC ceasing to be a "true" Golden Dawn Order.

Personally, it is exactly the type of thing that makes me remain a member of the BIORC, rather than joining another Golden Dawn Order. For it is the one group that I do not have to mentally apologize to the Goodess to every time when the Lord of the Universe prayer is said.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Working with woodcuts (Tarot)

Woodcut Justice.
As many of my regular readers know, I am currently involved in creating the rough drafts for a Tarot deck where every card has a monkey in it. What you might not know is how long I have been dabbling in Tarot deck creation.

One of my earliest experiments in Tarot deck creation involved the use of woodcuts/blocks. I learned a lot from this particular experiment--including the fact that you will probably never see me produce an entire deck done this way.

This particular card, Justice, was done in 1991 (I think).

The difficulties of this project made the hand-coloring of the Tarot that I needed to do for both BOTA and my Adept Minor studies with GH. Fra. OY look minor in comparsion. Only Hathoor Temple hit this level of insanity (and basically, you just needed to prove to them that you could create an entire Tarot deck from scratch if you really had to).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Just vote for somebody

Kitty votes for more bacon wrapped shrimp.
In a few hours--moving at the speed of a glacier--we will finally have peace and quiet from all the political ads. In the meantime, there is a spike in them going on.

So far today, I have had one polling call and three political advertising robo-calls.

I wonder if they know that I have already voted--I dropped off the ballots early last week. I do know that the door-to-door canvasers already know that I voted; they just wave "hi" to me as they go by.

If you haven't already voted--get your butt into a polling place, and make your mark. While I prefer one candidate over the other, I really do not care who you vote for. Neither does my cat--as long as you vote for the candidate that is promising more bacon wrapped shrimp.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Last month was my busiest month ever

Last month was my most read month ever on this blog.

And what can we learn from this?

Cat pictures sell.

Of course, some of my readers may wonder why I was doing a round of cat pictures again this year. Last year, I defaulted to posting Halloween Kitties because I was working on passing my capstone course for my bachelors in literary studies (aka literature).

(And yes, I did pass it, as well as the capstone in history in the spring--which is why I now own two bachelor degrees...that I will probably never use...well, not if the writing turns out better than the job hunt.)

This year, the cat pictures were about the fact that this month I am doing the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and next month I am working on Turtle Monkey (I am illustrating a pagan/wiccan friendly set of children books)--so I wanted to rest up for those two projects.

And let's be honest--I really, really like humorous cat pictures.

The most important post to be buried under the cat hair--my drawing of the Devil card for the Monkey Tarot.

[Update: July 2013: Due to differences in sales expectations and business philosophy, in early July 2013, I ceased to be involved in the Turtle Monkey project.]

The aftermath of Halloween was that the cat ate all the tuna in the house.