August 31, 2010 § 3 Comments
Thought I’d throw out a bit of a more personal entry tonight (bit too tired for the academic side of things, started classes yesterday and I’m already tired). I do think though that putting this up now will encourage me to work harder and make progress, and it’ll be fun to look back on in a few weeks when (Lucifer willing) I’ll have gotten much further in my work.
What I’ve been trying to do lately is ease back into a steady practice of meditation and ritual magick. When I’ve picked up the occult before (and I hate talking about it like it’s some coffee table book, it’s the whole heart of my life) I’ve gone into it in a bit of a rush, too excited and overeager – I get ahead of myself, expect quick results, and quit. I’ve been known to do this with a few things (between the ages of 3 and 13 I managed to start and quit the following: gymnastics, ballet, violin, dance, guitar, trombone and tae kwon do). I could blame this on my mother for letting me quit everything, but that’s only a semi-valid excuse for when I was younger than ten. Past that, it’s just a lie.
So I’m endeavoring to come at it from a different angle this time. I’m starting slower, and trying to accept that I won’t be able to do incredible things overnight. I’ve started a modest meditation practice, mostly void, focal and chakra based. I do void meditation for five minutes when I wake up, and between 5-10 sometime in the afternoon, mixing chakra and aura cleaning in there as well. Before I go to sleep, I say a brief prayer at the very least, then attempt to do some astral projection/trace work if I’m not too tired.
I also wrote up a bit of a ritual set-up, with a banishing ritual that I based around the Chaos star. I’m keeping the details to myself for now, mostly because I fear that criticism would my belief in the process, and we all know ritual without belief is nothing. At least in my philosophy it is. I did a self-dedication ritual recently which felt successful. I had done one years before, in a friends basement with some candles, that ended weirdly – it was well worth a re-do.
I’m going to work towards being able to void meditate and do focal meditation for 10 minutes minimum, and also lucid dream and astral project more successfully within the next couple weeks. I’m also going to work in cold-shower meditation more often (I was really successful with that this morning, it’s a great way to overpower your senses and force yourself to focus internally, it’s also a bit of a rush). At some point I’d love to work my drumming into a meditative thing, but I have to get myself to practice the drums more consistently first :/ (see my former mention of my quitting problem to explain this)
I should post back on my progress in 2 weeks or so. If I don’t, bother me!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
August 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
Today I decided I’d look into psi and psionics a little bit – for a few reasons. First because I had stumbled upon psi a few years ago, and was shocked to see the psi wheel. When I was 7 or 8 I used to make psi wheels without even knowing what they were, I’d just cut out squares of paper and fold them into little pyramids and stack them up for fun. I came across psi again on a forum called The Veritas Society which covers a variety of topics including psi, magick, body energy arts and spirituality. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it before.
As with anything in parapsychology (a field that holds a dear place in my heart for combining my two favorite things, psychology and paranormal phenomenon) people’s feelings on psionics are varied and strong and the scientific information available has been highly criticised. In my picking through articles and forums I was able to glean a few clear facts:
- Psi is not a force, like “chi” or “Qi” but rather a term for different forms of psychic phenomena such as ESP or psychokinesis (the term for the chi-like energy involved in some psi would be “psi energy” but this term is avoided by most parapsychologists)
- The term “psionics” relates specifically to energy that can be manipulated by the mind
- Psi is studied within the field of parapsychology, but parapsychologists limit their research to what can be measured and scientifically observed (this limits the study of things like psi balls, since they’re difficult if not impossible to quantify)
- Psi is broken down into two categories: Psi-Gamma, which is primarily cognitive (ESP, remote viewing) and Psi-Kappa, which is action based (telekinesis, pyrokinesis)
Techniques and mechanisms involved in psi include meditation (with a particularly strong emphasis on focal meditation, many psi websites recommend doing this for up to an hour) psi wheels (a small, usually paper wheel the subject attempts to spin) and psi balls (balls of energy manipulated by the subject, like thoughtforms)
What is proven about psi?
The Parapsychological Association insists that mind-matter interaction exists, telepathy exists and they go so far as to say that ESP is “statistically robust” meaning it has been proven in repeated trials. The largest and most well-known study on this has been the ongoing Ganzfeld experiments. In the Ganzfeld experiment, a receiver is fed white or pink noise through headphones with halved ping pong balls over their eyes with red light shone on them (a method of sensory deprivation). In another location (sometimes behind a reinforced wall, or in some sort of blocked room) a “sender” tries to communicate a message to the receiver.
The Ganzfeld studies have been repeated many times since the first experiment in the 70’s. Criticisms run the gamut from complaints that the rooms weren’t soundproofed to claims that the attribution of any statistical significance to proof of psi is a fallacy. Overall, the experiments have been largely inconclusive.
This was discouraging to me. As a girl who dreamed of being just like Matilda (if you haven’t seen the film, go do that now. It’s adorable, and I looked just like that when I was 10) I was hoping for some sort of scientific support for the possibility of telekinesis, or even just ESP. On top of that, the Parapsychological Association estimates that only about 30 or 40 parapsychologists exist in the world, and there is no established doctorate program to become one – which was a bit of a rain on my parade.
I’m not necessarily taking what I’ve read as definitive proof that psi doesn’t exist. I think it does, I just don’t know that it will ever be scientifically quantifiable, considering how susceptible these abilities are to environment and suggestion, it’s hard to imagine being able to capture it in a lab.
I believe the only way to determine if psi is real or not is to try myself – which is going to be my endeavor in the next few months. My ability to focus for long periods of time is pretty lacking (blame it on being part of the internet generation) but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll report back later on my progress.
That’s all for tonight, folks!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,
August 27, 2010 § 2 Comments
Citizens of the internet, I have a confession to make: I didn’t actually know very much about Chaos magick until this morning.
I’m not kidding! I had heard it referenced a few times on Satanist forums or other occult sites, but I had never given it much thought until a friend (same friend I took to the awful Christian psychic) brought it up. I realized I only had a vague idea of what chaos magick might be. I assumed it involved disorder on some level, and from what I had heard involved less dogma than some of the other magickal disciplines.
Well, I had that somewhat right. After a few hours of pouring over what I could find on chaos magick online, I discovered a few things:
- Chaos magick was formed in England in the 1970’s when Peter J. Carrol and Ray Sherwin met to form the Illuminates of Thanateros, a chaos magick organization
- Chaos magick does not require that it’s practitioners believe in any particular deity or prescribe to any particular religion, it actually requires that the practitioners use belief as a tool to make their magic work (more on this later in the post)
- Despite the lack of enforced structure in chaos magick practices, most chaos magicians use sigils (as inspired by Austin Osman Spare, an artist and mystic who worked briefly with Crowley)
- One of the goals of Chaos magick is to achieve a gnostic state, which can be either inhibitory gnosis, a deep meditative state brought on by extreme concentration and a clear mind, or excitatory gnosis, brought on by an arousal of the senses through drumming, chanting, sensory overload or other means.
- The symbol used to represent Chaos Magick is the “Chaosphere” or “Chaos star” inspired by Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion Stories
I will admit I’m a bit enamored with chaos magick right now – maybe I’m just in the honeymoon phase, because I’m still researching and finding new things I like about it. Either way, I’m fond of it’s basic tenets. The idea of using belief as a tool resonated very strongly with me. I’m of the belief (oh the irony) that belief is the sole driving force behind any magickal phenomenon. If you don’t believe it, it just won’t work.
The idea that a person could manipulate their own beliefs in a systematic, pragmatic way to achieve an end is truly inspiring to me. This article seems to sum it up eloquently, and even provides a step-by-step process: http://iota.goetia.net/article/alchemy.php. In the article, Frater Alloy essentially recommends the subject write down a few possible paths of practice (e.g. Buddhism, Yoga, Wiccan, Shamanism etc) throw them in a box, pick one out at random and then fully immerse him/herself in that practice for a number of months until the subject truly believes in the practice. *Then* the subject performs the “faithcracker” which essentially breaks the subject of their belief in that practice so they can move on to another.
I’m tempted to try it. It seems like it would be an exceptionally good way to practice self-hypnosis, and at the very least would force me to better understand a practice I’m not yet familiar with (which would be most things, thus far I’ve only dabbled).
I’ll be posting about Chaos magick again soon, I can tell you that much. I acquired a pdf copy of Ray Sherwin’s “The Theatre of Magick” – when I went to start reading it, the introduction insisted the book be read in one sitting at midnight. I’m going to go along with it and try to read the book at midnight tonight, so I’ll write up something about that at a later date.
More to come soon, including updates from my list of goals (Reiki, Druidry, and Crowley).
Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est,
August 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
I wanted to write about an experience I had Tuesday with a friend of mine. He came down to visit, and our plan was to mostly discuss our spiritual aspirations and research. We both wanted to go see a psychic located near me that I had been to before – when I went last, about a month ago, the psychic that read me was a man named George – of gypsy descent. He was very honest, very accurate, and gave me an incredibly positive reading. In fact, he told me he was jealous of my foretold success – and that I was such an old soul that I had multiple spirit guides, and some other spirit guides have and will occasionally try to get in the way of my success. Not that I believe all of this to the letter, mind you, but nonetheless I was flattered.
I saw no reason not to go back. Except when we went back, the psychic wasn’t George. It was a younger woman, of unknown descent, whose name I don’t remember. She did a tarot reading for me (a spread I hadn’t seen before, but I’m not exactly well versed in tarot) and answered a question I had asked without even mentioning specific cards in my spread. She hardly answered my question, which was a veiled inquiry into my occult research and spiritual aspirations (I referred to it as “non-academic pursuits”).
Now, her giving me a shitty reading was disappointing enough. However, when my friend went in for his psychic reading (non-tarot, just spontaneous reading) they somehow got onto the subject of witchcraft and Lucifer. She told him, condescendingly (I could here from where I was sitting, they were in a small tent-like set up in the back) to “Read the Bible, it has all the answers”. He told me later that she had also told him that witchcraft was something to avoid entirely.
I was going to jump in and say something, and I regret not acting on that urge. I also regret paying her, but it’s not like I could bail (though I definitely thought about it). I was so taken aback by the whole experience. A “Psychic Tea Room” as it was advertised, shouldn’t be a place for Christian proselytizing. That woman had no right to try to push her beliefs on my friend, and was clearly blindly using the Bible as an excuse to be ignorant. I can’t believe it.
I’ve vowed to myself that next time I encounter this kind of behavior I’m going to say something, even if it’s just as simple as “I have to respectfully disagree, I don’t believe the Bible has the answers I’m seeking” and walking away.
August 25, 2010 § 2 Comments
As one of my blog posts today, I thought I’d do something a little more research heavy to make up for my more reflective posts of late. I decided to look into a topic from my Statement of Goals post – freemasonry. Mind you my conclusions here are by no means exhaustive, it’s more like I’ve taken what I’ve found and distilled it down to a few key points.
Freemasonry is a bit of an elusive subject for someone who isn’t a member and doesn’t know any members personally. I started off, for general knowledge, on the freemasonry wikipedia page (which told me next to nothing, really) then ended up on a journey into websites for local lodges, pages advocating women in freemasonry, and applications to join.
The background knowledge I came up with told me that freemasonry was established around the 16th or 17th century (sources disagree) by a group of Stone Masons. The group later began accepting members who weren’t actually stone masons, which lead to them being known as “Free Masons”. Freemasons have Grand Lodges, and those rule over smaller local lodges. Freemasonry began in England, and its neighboring Scotland and Ireland, and was brought to the British colonies in North American in the early 1700’s.
Today’s Masonic lodges are split up often by community, but also by interests, professions and hobbies. Freemasons generally only accept men, and those lodges that allow women membership are not recognized by the mainstream lodges. Most lodges only accept members over 18, and those lodges that I’ve seen that accept women only accept those over 25 (basically, I’m screwed for another 5 years).
Facts I’ve seen across the board:
-Freemasonry is *not* a religion
-Freemasonry works to improve the character of it’s members
-Freemasons are charitable (many give to hospitals, children’s charities, etc)
My favorite things about Freemasonry:
–You have to ask to be a member. I can’t tell you how much I like this concept. This means no pushy proselytizing or advertising, and there’s exclusivity. This also means that to be a member, you have to take initiative.
–Secrecy. In the age of the internet, social networking, and the iphone, it’s hard to keep anything a secret (and no one seems to want to!) but I think keeping secrets is a lost art worth reviving. The idea that “what happens in the Lodge, stays in the Lodge” is something I respect, and I’m sure that adds to the bond between members and their sense of inclusion in the group.
–Follows no particular religious beliefs. I love this. For a while, I had thought freemasonry was a Christian thing. Not so, apparently, and that’s a relief to me. The fact that freemasonry can be experienced by anyone of any faith adds so much more to its validity as a path to intellectual growth and understanding.
–It’s in my town! Not kidding, there’s a masonic lodge practically in the center of this uber-conservative, white bred, snobby town. I’m amazed. I don’t know what they practice there, but I’m impressed it exists at all. Was sad but not surprised they only accept men. What a shame.
August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
Quite a few Satanic, Luciferian and general occult websites call for protest against the extreme religious right. I never blamed them, really, as I’ve found radical Christianity to be pretty terrifying. I was raised Catholic myself, and found pretty early on I didn’t agree with it. However, I never really felt moved to do anything monumental to combat the religious right. I had viewed it as pretty harmless, considering as a movement it lacks any grasp on common sense, historical validity, or a basic understanding of reality. I figured the religious right couldn’t possibly do much damage, considering how radical and far fetched their beliefs are (the infallibility of the Bible, Creationism, etc)
I’ve changed my mind. In fact, my mind is blown. I just watched the film “Jesus Camp”.
I took a minute after watching to look up how many evangelicals there actually are in the United States – mostly because I desperately wanted to believe they’re a minority force in America – not a group of people so large that their vote would count as strongly as the film suggested. Not so. This article estimates that 25-30% of America’s population are Evangelical (born-again) Christians.
I don’t even know what to do with this knowledge. I’ve been pretty sheltered from the radical right because I live only an hour outside NYC, and I was raised by fairly moderate parents. My mom did make me go to what we called “CCD”, I forget what it stood for, but it was basically after-school Catholic education. That was pretty weird, but not nearly as awful as the Jesus camp in the film.
Something does need to be done about this growing population. When you think about it – these are the people that don’t believe in contraception and abortion – they’re going to have the most kids. And they’re going to raise them Evangelical, and their numbers will continue to grow. And they’re homeschooled. Homeschooled! And these people vote!
This entire phenomenon is a testament to mob psychology and how powerful belief and perception can be. Once these kids get it in their head that everything liberal and progressive is evil and a test from God, it’ll be near impossible to teach them otherwise. It’s similar to a concept I noticed in Shutter Island – once someone has labelled you “insane”, anything you do and anything you’ve done is just more proof of your insanity. That’s how it is for radical right Christians – anything a “non-believer” says is just more proof that they’re a “test of your faith” or they’ve been “possessed by the Devil”.
It is constantly incredible (and sometimes terrifying) how infectious an idea can be, especially when it’s shared by a few people.
The only way to fight back against such a powerful faction of the American population is to come up with an equally infectious idea. We need to encourage skepticism and questioning of these institutions of religion, government, gender, race and class. We need to encourage a hunger for knowledge and understanding instead of blind faith and ignorance. We need to encourage a love for life instead of a constant fear of sin.
August 22, 2010 § 2 Comments
I’m posting now because I’m not sure if I’m going to have time to do a substantial post for tonight. Plans have come up. However, I wanted to get down a few goals for the next couple weeks, since I’ve come across a few concepts/ideas/institutions I’d like to get better acquainted with.
1.) Freemasonry. I only have a vague understanding of this group, and they have a pretty strong presence in occult circles. Most of the information I’ve come across thus far is pretty generalized. They started as a group of Stone Masons, then evolved out of that into a more esoteric-based group. Sometimes Christian, but not always – there are groups of Muslim freemasons, Satanist freemasons, etc. Apparently always monotheistic, though I need to confirm that. The problem with getting information on Freemasons is that members aren’t allowed to discuss what goes on inside the lodge. It’s mysterious to me, which is why I want to know more.
2.) Druidry. I met someone yesterday who identifies as a Druid, but he had impressively favorable views towards Satan. Sided towards the Prometheus argument that Lucifer wasn’t actually kicked out of heaven, but was sent down to teach man skills he needed to survive and grow. That said, I don’t have a clear view of what Druids as a collective believe. I know they’re an ancient religion, earth-based, and were mostly wiped out when Christianity was established. I have no idea how modern day Druids conduct themselves, how they meet, whether they’re organized or not.
3.) Reiki. Seems a few people on the Left Hand Path are into this. I know it’s a healing method, somewhere along the lines of chakra healing, and I know it works with a chi-like energy. Appears to be up there with acupuncture as far as popular New Age healing methods go. I’m interested in seeing if there’s any validity to it, or if it just works off the placebo effect.
4.) Crowley. This is last on the list only because I’m already reading a biography on him, so I know I’m going to know more about him and his beliefs the more I read, but I definitely want to get in touch with actual Thelemites and talk to them about their personal beliefs. I tried to read some of Crowley’s original works in high school (the Book of the Law, etc) but couldn’t manage to get through it. Too dense/obtuse for me to grasp at the time, but I think I should have an easier time with it now. The biography is making him a lot more accessible. I’ll probably write a whole separate blog entry about my reflections on Crowley when I’m done with the book, as a lot of my feelings about him are changing as I learn more.
That’s all for now, considering I can only handle so much at once. I’ll post updates on progress as I go along.