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Spells | The Real Twilight Zone

Posts Tagged Spells

TRTZ no 55 Chaos and Chaos Magic

Good Evening, and tonight’s show will be Chaos – well what’s the difference I hear you say?

Well – as well as being Chaotic in terms of production and chat-room management, we’ll be talking about CHAOS and CHAOS Magic!

But first some news …

UK

April 21st:  A sonar picture of an object following a boat 23 metres below the surface has reignited Loch Ness Monster theories everywhere after it was taken by Loch Ness boat skipper Marcus Atkinson.

Atkinson took the picture of the sonar anomaly using his mobile phone and consequently won first place in the ‘Best Nessie Sighting of the Year’ Awards by William Hill Bookmakers.

Loch Ness Monster fans have scrutinized the sonar image and believe it is not a case of misidentified fish, seals or debris.

Atkinson explains that, “The device takes a reading of the depth and what is below the boat every quarter of a second and gradually builds up a picture, so it covered a time of about five minutes.

The object got bigger and bigger and I thought “bloody hell” and took a picture with my mobile phone. There is nothing that big in the Loch. I was in shock as it looked like a big serpent, it’s amazing. You can’t fake a sonar image. I have never seen anything returned like this on the fish finder.”

However, Dr Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton points out that it may have a mundane explanation after all.  “The image shows a bloom of algae and zooplankton that would exist on what would be a thermocline.

Zooplankton live off this algae and reflect sound signals from echo sounders and fish finders very well.  They will appear as a linear “blob” on the screen, just like this.”

But while Boxall seems to have potentially solved the mystery,

Atkinson has shown the image to other experienced skippers who haven’t seen anything like it before and, of course, Nessie hunters remain hopeful that this is finally the real deal.

 

April 23rd:  A recent story of a monster rat found in a basement in the US has been trumped by another enormous discovery on UK shores.

Brian Watson, a grandfather from Consett, County Durham discovered the giant rat near his home after the boyfriend of his granddaughter spotted it.  Unfortunately, Watson proceeded to beat it to death with a plank of wood, which he then attempted to use to lift the body from the garden, only to result in the plank breaking under the weight of the mammoth rodent.

Watson believes the rat might’ve been about to have a litter of babies and that this may be why it was so large and slow.  Some have suggested that the animal was actually a coypu and not a rat.

Watson has also been heavily criticized for killing the creature in the manner that he did, as many feel his reaction was excessively cruel and that it could’ve been rescued or simply moved from the area.

 

International

April 13th:  Dawa’a, an 18-year-old-girl from Cairo, Egypt, claims to have been touched by a tribe of a thousand Jinn after she wept tears of blood.  Appearing on Al Nahar Television to tell her story, she describes how Amr Al-Laithi, a Muslim scholar, recited verses from Qur’an as she fell unconscious and how when she woke up after 20 minutes of the ritual she could not remember anything of the preceding events and had an intense headache.

Amr Al-Laithi describes the jinn as having only an external influence on Dawa’a, and that she had not been possessed.  Some have expressed concern for the girl’s health, as crying blood could also be the symptom of infection or even cancer.

April 16th:  Jose Chinchilla and his fiancée Michele Callan of Toms River, New Jersey, claim that they plan to sue the landlord $2,250 (The total of their security deposit) after paranormal activity forced them out of the newly rented property only a week after moving in.

The couple says that they ‘hear eerie noises, that lights flicker, doors slam and a spectral presence tugs on their bed sheets.’  They decided to call Shore Paranormal Research Society to investigate their strange goings on.

The Team from the Society came to the conclusion that while they believe there is something paranormal going on, they do not believe it indicated a full-blown haunting.  The landlord has reacted by filing a counter suit; of the opinion that the couple was actually unhappy with the $1,500 a month rental fee and that they invented the ghost to escape their lease.

The case will go to court by the end of this month.

Earlier in the year, we reported the announcement made by Telecommunications giant Qualcomm in reference to the ‘Tricorder X-Prize Contest’ in which the company would offer a $US10 million prize to anyone able to make a functioning medical ‘tricorder’ similar to those used in all generations of Star Trek.

Dr. Peter Jansen, a PhD graduate of the Cognitive Science Laboratory at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, says that he has been working on such a device since 2007.

Though his prototypes are designed more for scientific research than medical alone, Jansen said it can so far measure ambient temperature, pressure or humidity, take electromagnetic measurements to test magnetic fields, and it make spatial measurements of distance, location, or motion.

Jansen states that the idea of making a tricorder has been with him since he was a child and that Star Trek was what inspired him to become a scientist in the first place.  His favourite version of the fictional device appears in Voyager, though his favourite series in all is the Next Generation.  Jansen has posted schematics and designs of his first and second prototypes, (Mark 1 and Mark 2) for anyone to see and build in the hope that others will try to create something similar.

He expects to have his latest version (Mark 4) produced for about $200.  Think you’d like to try?  Visit www.tricorderproject.org for all the details.

 

April 17th:  UFOScandinavia have helpfully released a compilation video of all the recent youtube footage of UFO’s in St Petersburg.  Any theories?

Danu Fox – Earth-Singing

Danu was a guest on our show a couple weeks ago when she told us of the forthcoming event.

On Sat 5 May at 3pm groups of singers and dowsers are gathering all along the lines to perform and measure the effects of a short ceremony with the intention of singing thank you and giving love and appreciation for our lands.

Inspired by the Songlines tradition of Australia, Danu Fox, singer, musician and founder of Earth Singers, a pioneering programme for stewarding land, has instigated this event and it is the first time anything like this has been done on a national scale across the UK.

If you’d like to join in please go to the Earth Singers Facebook page or email Danu: info@songbearmusic.co.uk. Enjoy!

 

Chaos & Chaos Magic

Chaos Magic – A Primer by Catherine

Chaos magick is difficult to explain in full.  It is also a relatively recent notion, its’ birth seeming to have occurred only in 1976.

A general description of Chaos Magic outlines the contradictory nature of belief and reality and the idea of there being no real set of rules by which to achieve something.

The gnosis state is the aim for a chaos magician, whatever type of trappings you choose to employ doesn’t really matter, ‘just as long as they inspire you.’

Chaos Magick as we currently know it was first formulated in West Yorkshire in the 1970s as a consequence of a meeting between Peter Carroll and Ray Sherwin in Deptford in 1976.

In 1978 Carroll and Sherwin also founded the Illuminates of Thanateros (IOT) a chaos magic organisation.

The name of the organization is derived from the Greek gods of sex and death: eros and thanatos, apparently in accordance with the notion of these two methods being the positive and negative ways of achieving ‘magical consciousness’.

The group was criticized for its use of hierarchical and traditional ritual, things which should technically be rejected by most chaotes, many of whom believe the entire concept to be somewhat un-chaotic.

The group is also renowned for being, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, rather difficult to get into.

Chaos theory and magick primarily have their roots in theories outlined by Austin Osman Spare, artist and once a member of the A∴A∴, created in 1907 by Aleister Crowley and George Cecil Jones after they left the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

However, it is also important to note that they do not replicate his beliefs exactly.

While sources such as Wikipedia call him the father of chaos magick, other sources instead call him the grandfather of it, and instead believe Peter Carroll to be the ‘father’ of chaos magick.

Spare disapproved of religion and of science as well, relating religion to ‘chains’ and feeling both were restricting in their self-proclaimed ‘truths’.

One of Spare’s most significant contributions to the theories of chaos magick is probably the use of his sigils, that is, his notion of a ‘symbolic representation of the magician’s desired outcome’.

His ‘alphabet of desire’ was adapted by Carroll in his Liber Null & Psychonaut.

Spare’s use of sigils involved designing a symbol over which to obsess, something that would occupy the mind as he felt that the mind was a hindrance to magic.

Gnosis, therefore, is loosely defined as an overwhelming of the parts of the mind involved in rational function.

His other main contribution to the overall belief system of Chaos magick is the rejection of traditional magical systems and ritual in favor of achieving a Gnostic state.

Chaos magick is anarchic to some degree, hoping to negate the effects of religious structure and allow one to build a structure of their own to some degree – ie, whatever works for you.

It emphasises the importance of belief, summarising it as a form of magic in itself, though many self-proclaimed chaos magicians do not feel that belief is necessary to participate in that form of magic.

Reality is not important, then, as if a belief results in the desired outcome it is often accepted as truth or taken to heart.  Only subjective truths are available – nobody knows what is absolutely true, only beliefs are available.

Chaos magick is, at its heart, about freedom, but it is filled with opposites and paradoxes.

While the notion of belief is important and the freedom that comes with choosing any helpful belief is key to chaos theory, it is also temporary.

A chaote will believe something before changing that belief for the next one that becomes useful.

Therefore, a chaote both truly believes and does not technically ever really believe at all.  This approach was propagated by Carroll, Spare would have spoken differently.

This could also be called ‘paradigm shifting’, in that often opposing rites or rituals are used and entirely believed in their context at that time.

The saying ‘Nothing is True, and Everything is Permitted’ (A saying popularised by William Burroughs, though its’ origin was a line from a character in ‘Alamut’ by Vladimir Bartol.) plays into these principles, a self defeating statement that could be interpreted as meaning that there is no absolute objective truth to tell us what is entirely right or wrong, there are no rules.

Sigils are fundamental to chaos magic, a form by which magic can be personalised to some degree.

It begins with focusing on a wish or aim or writing a ‘statement of will’, such as ‘I will get an A on the paper I wrote’, then using the letters in the statement to form a symbol or design of some nature which must be achieved without intense focus.  It should ‘come to you’.

Carroll added to this process by suggesting removing the letters that repeat in the sentence to make it easier.

This done, gnosis must be achieved, to ensure total focus on the goal.

This can be achieved by one of several techniques which are as follows.

Inhibitory gnosis: similar to what we know as mediation, to achieve a trance-like state.  This involves self-hypnosis, regular breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and absent thought-processes.  It could be achieved by fasting, not sleeping, sensory deprivation or even drugs.

Excitatory gnosis:  Perhaps almost the opposite of the first mentioned, involving a degree of intense arousal that could be achieved via flagellation, dance, song/ chanting, hyperventilating, sexual excitation, or, again, drugs.

Indifferent vacuity:  This third method was added later, and involves casting said spell almost as a sidenote so that there is little thought involved to suppress in the first place.

Of course, this implies that there are some rules involved in a kind of magic that prides itself on being ruleless to some degree, therefore these methods are viewed more as ways of inducing gnosis only as opposed to processes that’re valuable or significant by themselves.

Chaos itself is not a label used to specifically describe mayhem or disorder, but acts to chaotes as a description of something all-encompassing.

It is described by one researcher as “…what you love, but it’s also what you hate. Chaos is fire, and it’s water, and it’s those things whether that’s good or bad. This doesn’t just mean that it’s objective, in that it is beyond good and bad (although it is held to be) – but it also contains the subjective aspects also. It contains all opposites. As everything is of chaos, so everyone mirrors it.”

Many aspects of chaos magick have become incorporated in to the even more confusing paradigms of discordianism.

So that’s Catherine’s Introduction….

 So let’s take things a bit further…

DETERMINISM is the notion that every event or action is the inevitable result of preceding events and actions.

In many ways, the spiritual movement embrace this concept within the “Laws” of what is commonly known as “Karma”.

In science determinism suggests, at least in principle, hat every event, or action, can be predicted in advance or in retrospect. This is a view point which can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and became part of modern science around 1500AD with the establishment of the idea that cause and effect completely govern all motion and structure on the material level.

The deterministic view of the universe suggests, therefore, that the universe unfolds in time like the workings of a machine and subject to predetermined ‘laws’.

Newtons Laws of Motion are perfect examples of deterministic thinking and it is an approach which still underpins much physical science. These ‘laws’ can be defined by measurement and expressed mathematically.

Now, one of the fundamental principles of experimental science is that no real measurement is infinitely precise but includes a degree of uncertainty in the value. The question ‘how long is a piece of string?’ is not so simple to answer – it depends upon how we measure it and what we are measuring…

In 1900 the physicist, Henri Poincare commented upon a special kind of behaviour in time found in certain physical systems. In essence he pointed out that there would be imprecision in all astronomical predictions made by Newtons equations and ‘laws’. Simply put Poincare challenged the assumptions made by his peers that such imprecision would become less significant the more accurate the   system of measurement…. in astronomical systems when the measurements became more precise the ‘shrinking of the initial conditions’ shrank from he final predictions in a corresponding way.

He summarised his arguments thusly :-

in ‘complex systems’  the only way to obtain precise predictions with any degree of accuracy would entail specifying the initial conditions with absolute infinite precision.

The extreme “sensitivity to initial  conditions” became known as ‘chaos’.

In 1963 the meteorologist wrote a basic computer program to predict weather patterns. In short he found that no matter how he altered the variables he could never quite recreate expected patterns from the initial conditions. By the late 1970′s he discovered that even the smallest discrepancy between initial conditions would always result in a huge discrepancy at earlier or later times – the hallmark of a chaotic system. The well known and oft quoted ‘Butterfly Effect’.

The discovery of chaos seems to imply that randomness lies at the core of any deterministic model of the universe. Also, although seemingly counter-intuitive, is that chaos may produce ordered systems on large scales.

It is against this scientific backdrop that Chaos Magic was born.

Simply put, if Magic (as a ritualistic act) is about ‘bringing about change in accordance with will’ the way we define that change and the actions we undertake to bring about that change will, necessarily, not have a simple cause and effect relationship.

Chaos Magicians are generally of the opinion, as far as general opinions can be stated, that belief is an active magical force. There is an emphasis on flexibility of belief an the ability to consciously choose ones beliefs – so, you do not have to have ‘belief’  in order to make magic work.

Austin Osman Spare stated that will formulates desire which promulgates belief.

In Peter Carolls works not only does he talk about magic being related to increasing the probability, not a certainty, of a specific outcome, but also the importance of the ‘gnostic state’.

This state, similar to the Buddhist notion of Samadhi, is achieved when a persons mind is focused on a single point, thought or goal.

Gnosis is said to be achievable through Inhibition or Excitation.

Inhibition would include deep meditation, trance, fasting,sensory deprivation.

Excitation would include sex, flagellation, dance, drumming, chanting, sensory overload, hyperventilation and the possible use of drugs.

Despite its ‘nod’ to Thelemic (Crowley) and Golden Dawn, OTO and A:A traditions at the core of Chaos Magic is the notion that the ‘magic is within you’ and that whatever ritual path you choose to take is more to do with choice of belief, tradition and opportunity.

I would go a step further, perhaps, in suggesting that ‘doing by not doing’ and ‘being by simply being’ is the state of gnosis ritual attempts to create. It is from this state of knowing that we can really understand what is meant by the phrase ‘to bring about change in accordance with will’.

In order to work with ‘will’ there is the need to question the nature of will – being detached from simple ‘desire’, ‘lust’ and ‘ego-need’.

There is an inbuilt responsibility to bring about ‘change’ through action and that any action, no matter how small will have some effect upon the environment in which the magician operates – mind, spirit, body, home, town, planet, solar system, cosmos. The dictum ‘as above so below’ recreated and restated within the context of Chaos Magic and non-deterministic philosophies.

You may act with belief and conviction but the true effect of that action can have consequences beyond any original intent. To attempt understand one’s own desires in the context of free-will, personal-will and cosmic-will is an interesting challenge.

To be both at once philosophical and naive is the challenge…. and now we’re back to thinking about the ‘Fool’, the ‘Cosmic Joker’ and our own, personal journey.

Alan

 

Music from tonights show : THE IS – available from Aardvark Records

 

 

 

 

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TRTZ no 51 13th March : Magic, Ritual and Relevance…

 

Tonight’s featured topic will be on ritual magic : the rationale, the cultural considerations and relevance in the 21st Century.

Magic has been defined as ‘the art and science of bringing about change in accordance with will’.

This apparently simple statement is a bit of a philosophical and metaphysical minefield – but more of that later.

First Some News

March 1st: A man from Brantford, Toronto, was arrested after he pilfered an 8ft tall fiberglass chicken from outside a chicken farm.  He cut off its legs in the process of stealing it, leaving behind a rather odd looking set of stumps.  Police recovered the rest of the chicken from the suspects home and removed it on a flatbed truck which must have been quite a strange sight to anybody passing by.  Charges are pending.

March 5th:  Anthony Braglia has today published a two year investigation about two child witnesses to the infamous Roswell Crash.  They were reportedly the first to discover the debris of the whatever it was that crashed at Roswell in New Mexico in 1947, and since the event Vern Brazel and ‘Dee’ never publically revealed any information about what they witnessed and both of them, according to this report, seemed to have suffered for what they knew, additionally dying at a young age.

Vern sadly committed suicide in his twenties and Dee died of a heart attack at the age of 66.  The report attempts to discern what happened to the children after their experience and involves contributions from many family members of their behavior in general and in reference to the alleged crash.  To read the full report and draw your own conclusions, you can click here.

March 6th: A man from Coralville has been accused of stealing from the First Avenue Hy-Vee whilst intoxicated, in particular a jar of cheese that he spread all over the men’s restroom.  He was caught by security cameras stealing a jar of Tostitos Salsa Con Queso Medium Cheese, chips and beer, after which he slunk off to the men’s restroom to consume them.

The complaint to the police included the somewhat ridiculous sounding accusation of his ‘committing criminal mischief with the cheese’.  Investigation by the police found the accused with some of the beer he pinched still in his pocket!

He admitted to spreading the cheese on the walls of the bathroom because ‘he thought it would be funny,’ which to him, given his level of apparent intoxication, probably was.  Police have charged him with public intoxication, third-degree theft and criminal mischief.

The Men In Black 3 trailer was also released today

March 7th:  A dead creature washed up on the shore of San Diego is being called a chupacabra.  Josh Menard, a 19-year-old snowboarder from Lake Tahoe who found and snapped photos of it described the animal as had having ‘the body shape of a pig – kind of a fat stomach, middle area. And the canines were just ridiculously large’.

Earlier in the week Mexican farmers discovered 35 of their sheep slaughtered with claw and tooth marks around their necks and also blamed the chupacabra, one witness tending to the sheep overnight in the town of Paracuaro even went as far as to say that he saw fanged, winged creatures kill the livestock.

There were also pigs and horses in the same enclosure which were unscathed.  Comments regarding the photos of the San Diego creature point out that it is most likely to be a dog, the body of which has swelled with gas from the rotting of the corpse and the teeth appearing larger than normal as the skin is drawn back.

March 8th:  A local FOX TV affiliate cut to a live traffic report web cam and unwittingly captured something of a mystery in the background of the shot.  A bright flash of light is seen in the background of the traffic footage and despite being witnessed by anybody who happened to be watching the television at the time, nobody’s sure what it was neither have Phoenix officials been able to identify it.  It appears to be an explosion of some nature, which makes the flash so baffling as nobody reported an explosion and no damage or other evidence has been found.  FOX 10 is asking for the public to suggest the possible cause of the mysterious explosion of light.

UPDATE: The flash caught on KSAZ-TV Channel 10 traffic report has been put down to a damaged Arizona Public Service Co. power line which fell and caused a short power outage in the area according to APS, who were originally perplexed by the event as they weren’t aware of any power line issues or blown transformers that might’ve caused such a bright flash.

Russian photographer Andrey Pavlov has added to his macro-photographic series ‘Ant Tales’, a series of whimsical images carefully constructed to capture ants appearing to use props designed by Pavlov.

The photographs in the series are especially impressive because they feature careful choreographing so to speak, rather than arranged dead insects.  Pavlov studied ants and became aware that they follow a specific path when they’re working; therefore, he put his props in their trail and was rewarded with some incredible shots.

 

 

A video on YouTube is claiming that a photo of what appears to be a twister or similar on the surface of Mars is actually a Martian worm.  The worm-shaped object is so enormous; it casts its own gigantic shadow as it sails the surface of the planet.  The video magnifies the NASA still photo of an unidentified area of the red planet taken as a reconnaissance satellite orbited overhead.

 

We’re going to start our discussions of ritual magic with the assertion that… Magic Kills

 

Victoria Climbe died February 25, 2000.

The picture above portrays a happy little girl 8 years old, who was sent by her parents from the Ivory Coast to live with an aunt in the UK. The parents believed that she would have a ‘better life’ here. Nothing could have been further from the truth…

The BBC reported that when Victoria died of hypothermia in February 2000 she had 128 injuries.

The Home Office pathologist who examined her body, Doctor Nathaniel Cary, says it was the worst case of abuse he has seen in his career.

“This poor little girl had scars all over her body, on the head, on the trunk, front and back, and on all four limbs.

“And many of the scars suggest they’d been due to weapon-type injuries so you can see from the nature and the extent of injuries why this would be the worst case I’ve encountered.”

Victoria – called Anna by her killers – was forced to live in a freezing bath in her own excrement. Her hands and feet were bound and she was naked except for a bin liner.

Manning has admitted hitting her over the head with a bicycle chain. She was also regularly beaten with weapons including a belt buckle, hammer and wire.

Victoria’s blood was found in the hall, bedsitting room and bathroom of the cramped flat where the three lived in Tottenham in North London.

In his diary, Manning describes Victoria as Satan and says that no matter how hard he hit her she didn’t cry or show signs that she was hurt.

The Victoria Climbie murder revealed a catalogue of disastrous decisions made by the local authorities, the social service and the police. It led to criminal charges being brought against not only her guardians but also upon members of the local authority. It sparked a major review of child welfare procedures.

At the heart of this case was a little girl who was beaten to death by guardians whose stated motivation was to drive evil out of her.

You can read the various news items about Victoria Climbie here

Ten Years On …

Kirsty Bamu died December 2010

Kristy Bamu, 15, was killed by his sister Magalie Bamu, 29, and her partner, Eric Bikubi, 28.

He died in a bath at their tower block flat in Newham, east London, on Christmas Day 2010 after days of being abused.

He had come to London from Paris with his two brothers and two sisters to spend the festive season with Magalie Bamu.

Things turned sour when the couple, who were said to be obsessed with kindoki, the word for witchcraft in their native Democratic Republic of Congo, accused him of putting spells on a younger child. At their trial at the beginning of March

Football coach Eric Bikubi and Magaile Bamu were found guilty of murder.

Bikubi was ordered to serve at least 30 years and Bamu a minimum of 25 years.

Judge David Paget told the couple the case was particularly serious and involved sadistic behaviour.

“It was prolonged torture involving mental and physical suffering being inflicted before death,” he said.

He told Bikubi that he accepted that brain damage may have made him more inclined to believe Kristy was a witch and a threat to the younger child.

But Judge Paget added: “The belief in witchcraft, however genuine, cannot excuse an assault to another person, let alone the killing of another human being.”

He told Bamu he did not accept her denial of belief in witchcraft, nor that she was forced to attack Kristy by Bikubi.

“It is only explicable if you shared Eric Bikubi’s belief. It provides some explanation for what happened, but it does not excuse it,” he told her.

More information about Kirtsy Babu can be found here

Why have I started this topic in such a negative and distressing way?

Simply because there two cases alone remind us that magical rituals are part of life in the 21st Century. These particularly distressing and extreme examples of ritual also, unfortunately, shape public perception about the ‘occult’ and ‘magic’.

It is interesting to note that both of these cases involve the murder of an individual thought to be ‘a witch’ or a ‘servant of satan’. Both cases thus could be said to involve violence being metered out by “Christian” identifying ‘believers

Religious extremism and bigotry exists and continually disturbs as to the violence resulting from it. Neither Muslim, Jew or Christian (whose beliefs are described as belonging to the Abrahamic Tradition) can claim that their history does not contain examples of persecution and murder of ‘non-believers’.

Neither is the New Age or Alternative movement without it’s violent or death inducing practices. The website, www.whatstheharm.net, catalogues 368,379 people deaths , 306,096 injuries  and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages which are the direct result of spiritual practices, New Age beliefs or Alternative Therapy Treatments.

In all of these cases what motivates the killer is not necessarily their belief, but in my opinion, their ignorance…

It doesn’t take too much effort to come across presentations like these on the Internet..

AND this particularly disturbing one …

What we are seeing and hearing here is exactly the opposite of ‘freedom of belief’ and the right to explore ones own spiritual path. Each of these Christian sermons are using fear, prejudice and more than a smattering of ignorance to rally believers to a particular way of thinking and being.

I guess there are numerous ‘Born Agains’ who celebrate and focus on the literal interpretation of the Bible…

Hence…

Exodus : 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

Leviticus : 21:16-23 Handicapped people cannot approach the altar of God. They would “profane” it.

To be more specific :

Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. (21:16-23)
God can’t stand the sight of handicapped people.
The blind, the lame, dwarfs, people with funny noses or blemishes, with damaged testicles, or broken hands or feet, crooked backs, or who have scurvy or scabs, or who have anything superfluous must not approach the altar of God.
What the Bible says about blind and handicapped people.
21:18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
21:19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
21:20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
21:21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.
21:22 He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
21:23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

Leviticus : 24 : 16 Anyone who blasphemes or curses shall be stoned to death by the entire community

Of course the New Testament is also of reasons to punish others, including the Jews, for either their ‘willful ways’ or ignorance of ‘the truth’ as delivered by their saviour.

Removing the emotion from the issue and looking coldly and carefully at any ‘text’ thinking folks will easily see that interpretation of what has been written is where the problems lie; especially if that interpretation is taken out of context.

Hence the verse from 2 Corinthians 10 which says:

10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Could be read as a call for Christians NOT to imagine anything outside of the ‘knowledge of God’ and total ‘obedience’ to Christ.

And then we read…

10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Surely a call to be ready to smite those who disobey…

But how can we interpret …

10:7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

Which seems to me to invoke a degree of thought and dare I say imagination.

Surely the argument that ‘the scripture’ needs to be understood and then taught by those who call themselves apostles and prophets actually calls into question the clarity of Gods word.

We could suggest that the wrongful nature of the human imagination is replaced by blind obedience to those who have had the imagination to translate ‘the word’ and indoctrinate their followers with one specific interpretation. If this were not the case how can we explain the schisms, disagreements and fragmentation of Christianity.

Now don’t get me wrong here… I’m not trying to demonise Christianity, but to call into question the behaviours of some who preach it. If I had been brought up in a predominantly Muslim or Jewish culture I may well have been raising the same questions about the Koran or the Torah.

ALSO I respect without hesitation those whose adherence to any particular text or doctrine which preaches peace and forgiveness at its core and do not fall into the fundamentalist trap of believing that they alone are the holders of ‘the truth’ (which I can accept but not agree with) and that they have the right therefore to shun, destroy or even “aggressively convert” others (something I find personally abhorrent)

As Corinthians 2 says..

13 : 11 “Live in peace.”

 Ritual Magic

Coming back to the topic at hand…

MAGIC is, as said elsewhere, the art and science of causing change in accordance with will.

In it’s broadest sense then any change that we make in our lives that we bring about by will or actions (behaviours) is a magical act. Of course this will disappoint most people who really want to hear about wand waving, sword wielding, candle burning and naked chanting… or chanting whilst naked..

Undertaking symbolic and/or practical acts to bring success to any venture has a long history. The cave paintings of our ancestors probably served symbolic and ritual purpose, and of course spells are cast by some of the Biblical ‘heroes’.

Genesis – Jacob is ‘tricked’ into bedding and conceiving children with sistes…

30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

“Surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes’…

Well as any herbalist (or witch) knows mandrake has both hallucinogenic properties and is (was) used in love potions.

As Wikipedia tells us..

“Mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as atropinescopolamineapoatropinehyoscyamine and the roots sometimes contain bifurcations causing them to resemble human figures, their roots have long been used in magic rituals, today also in neopaganreligions such as Wicca and Germanic revivalism religions such as Odinism.”

But more interestingly, perhaps, the two key references to mandrake in the bible use a hebraic word which translates as ‘love plant’.

So good old Leah was practicing ritual magic.

In fact the Bible is full of  references to magical practices. Some very obvious such as ‘sacrifice’ (including that of Jesus) to less obvious examples such as ‘prayer’.

A wish is a prayer which is a ‘spell’ by another name…

A verbalisation of an intent made to some deity or some source of power.

Of course when we think about Ritual Magic we are frequently drawn to the ideas and images created by the horror and sword and sorcery movies. Robed or naked figures calling out arcane verses read from a spell book or ancient grimoire.

Actually this image is easily adapted to any Church or Religious Congregation in the world.

What makes OCCULTISTS different from the everyday Church is, I would argue, is the metaphysical and mythical framework in which the ritual takes place.

Christians, Muslims and Jews (and no doubt other ‘conventional religions’) have a monotheistic basis. A single deity to which prayers are ultimately directed. Of course some ‘flavours’ of  Christianity will have a ‘host of minions’ to which specific  requests could be made. Catholicism has its Saints and Angels as well as Mother Mary, Jesus and The Trinity.

The reinvented neo-pagan tradition has a creative power behind the Universe which is knowable to us, as human beings, in the forms of a God and Goddess. (see the TRTZ episode on Wicca).

Many of these Earth Based religions, including Druidry, are concerned with the connections between people, spirit and land. Rituals tend to focus on seasonal festivities; healing; fertility and material survival.

In a non-derogatory way this can be considered as Low Magic in that it’s focus has an Earthly, practical and physical motivation. Ok there is the idea of ‘spirit’ in terms of the animistic ideals of ‘spirits of land, plants and animals’ and of ‘ancestors’.

During the Renaissance there was an explosion of interest in mystical traditions. The Natural Philosophers (who were later to become the scientists) were working to bring together spirituality with the growing knowledge that scientific discoveries were bringing. As part of their search the ‘enlightened ones’ (which may or may not have been members of the Illuninati) sought inspiration from older mystical writings. Some Jewish in origin (Qabbala), some older Sumerian and Babylonian – most reinvented and re-written specifically for the growing magical intelligencia.

The overall aim of these magicians was to gain insights into the nature of the Universe and reach some kind of understanding with God. There was, as always, a secondary goal for some of personal development (see TRTZ on Alchemy) and power.

Magical organisations like the Rosicrucians, Freemasons and later the Golden Dawn (O.T.O) and Crowley’s A:A draw heavily upon Judaeo Christian mysticism. All have a ‘hierarchy of initiation’ which may well be earned by learning or as frequently did happen through paying the right person…

In these orders the rituals were always ‘theatrical’. Have a look at this Golden Dawn ritual and see how many symbols you recognise as being part of Freemasonry and even Catholicisn.

The real issue for me is that so many magical groups and organisations become so involved with the ‘outer workings’ or the theatricality that they actually forget what the symbolism is all about. For example I was giving a talk to a ‘spiritual development group’ recently on the Qabbala and related ‘magical ideas’. At the end of the session a gentleman approached me and identified himself as a Mason (I am not a Freemason by the way). He said that he was surprised by the ‘quality’ and ‘insight’ of my talk and that he had not realised the origin of so many of the symbols that exist within his own ‘temple’.

 

In these organisations the ‘magical’ purpose of the initiate was generally to become closer to God or to access the God within. This may well result in ‘earthly power’, but as a by-product of what their studies and experiments rather than as an end in and of itself.

Catherine has been researching a couple of ‘magical traditions’ for your information and interest…

I asked her to look at Odinism, a modern interpretation of Norse mythology and Discordianism – which has a decidedly unusual take on all things magical… in fact one wonders if there’s more than an element of taking the p**s.

The Odinic Rite

The Odinic Rite are a Polytheistic Religious organisation founded in England in 1973.
The organisation was initially called the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite or the Odinist Committee.
In 1979 they disbanded and reformed as The Odinic Rite.
They have their roots in Germanic paganism and Norse mythology, though they apparently reject the label of ‘Viking religion’.

They describe themselves as a ‘life-affirming’ religion.

The term ‘Odinism’ comes from the name of the chief God of Norse mythology, Odin.
The Odinic Rite website describes them as being concerned with ‘…the ethics of social behavior, our relationships with one another and nature, with the whole of life,’ as well as pointing out their ideals of ‘Faith, folk and family’.

They also value the number 3 as a holy number, similar to many other sects, and use the Triskel as their symbol of choice.

They feel that the number 3 can represent a family unit (Mother, father, child) and it fits with their ‘Faith, folk and family’ motto. The triskel symbol itself is on a red background, meant to represent 3 drops of blood that tie again, into the faith, folk and family motto as they are bound by blood. The symbol as it is used now first appeared on the back page of an Odinic Rite briefing, specifically number 112, October 1991.

The Miollnir, or Thor’s hammer, is also used as a symbol of Odinism.
Their moral code is known as the Nine Noble Virtues and is as follows:

“Courage is my strength, To withstand wretched foes, To sail against the storm, And the will to insist, Honour is my will, To defend my dear folk, My moral in battle, And the drive to do Good.”

So: courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, industriousness and perseverance.

These virtues were “…codified from The Hávamál and The Sigrdrífomál (poems from the Elder Edda) in the early 70s.”

The mythology of Odinism is said to be held in five acts that’re often compared to the seasons and using the god Balder who is (again according to the Elder Edda) the son of Odin and Frigg, the God of summer and of all nature and one of the most famous of the mythology, doomed to an early death.

The five acts are Creation (Spring), the time preceding the death of Balder (Summer), the death of Balder (Summer’s end), the time immediately after the death of Balder (Autumn) and Ragnarok, the decline and fall followed by a renewal of the world (Winter, then spring).

Of the other gods included in the mythology Thor is also one of the more famous, though other examples include Brage, Heimdal (Watchman of the gods), Vidar (The silent god), Frigga (Queen of the cards), Vali (God of vengeance and rebirth), Frey (God of fertility), Freya (Goddess of love), Tyr (God of war), Idun (Goddess of youth) Njord (Stiller of storms) and Forsete.

Each of them represents ‘powers of nature’ and are collectively called ‘Aesir’, ruling over the world they created.

Modern day Odinists point out that they do not partake in the elaborate rituals or animal sacrifices that once were, understanding the symbolic nature of the rituals and observing their priniciples and applying them in other ways.

Discordianism is something of an enigma…

It worships the notion of chaos, personified by the Goddess Eris, or Discordia in Roman. It was founded circa 1958–1959 after the publication of the holy book Principia Discordia. It focuses on the belief that order and disorder are illusions and that neither is more accurate than the other.

There are suggestions that the whole thing was created as an antithesis to religions such as Scientology, or that it was made at the same time purely to see which could come up with the next popular new religion.
It’s many quoted mottos include ‘no two equals are the same’ and ‘There is no Erisian Movement but the Erisian Movement and it is the Erisian Movement.’
The website of the Discordian Society consists of a page with their logo and the words ‘there is no definition’.
The idea of a Discordian Society is therefore a paradox in itself. Discordian doctrine is known as Pentabarf and is as follows:
There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.

A Discordian Shall Always use the Official Discordian Document Numbering System.
A Discordian is required to, the first Friday after his illumination, Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Roman Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).
A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.
A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.
Joining apparently consists of doing what you like and telling them about it, or not, and keeping in mind that there are no rules anywhere.
The principles of Discordianism also outline the idea of everybody being a pope, and that any pope can completely rewrite the Erisian church…
According to the Principia Discordia, the birth of the Erisian Movement occurred when Omar Ravenhurst and Malaclypse the Younger received a vision of a chimpanzee while drinking coffee in an all-night bowling alley, followed by a dream of the Goddess Eris Herself a few nights later.

In relation to rituals, Discordian ceremonies tend to be difficult to unravel and non-sensical, though that appears to be the point.
Perhaps the most famous, if you can call it that, is the turkey curse, which is designed to counteract the curse of Greyface which is as follows:

In 1166bc, a malcontented hunchbrain decided that the universe was as humourless as he was and began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of the serious order. He deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it. Thusly, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and destroyed their opposers, the result of which is that mankind has been suffering from imbalance, causing frustration, causing fear, which makes for a bad trip, and that man has been on a bad trip for some time now. This is the curse of Greyface.
The Turkey curse, thusly, counters greyface and his curse of destructive order as he“…absolutely requires an aneristic setting to function and that a timely introduction of eristic vibrations will neutralize their foundation. The Turkey Curse is designed solely to counteract negative aneristic vibes and if introduced into a neutral or positive aneristic setting (like a poet working out word rhythms) it will prove harmless, or at worst, simply annoying.”

The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are ‘manmade concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.’

To perform it, you must “Take a foot stance as if you were John L. Sullivan preparing for fisticuffs. Face the particular greyfaced you wish to short-circuit, or towards the direction of the negative aneristic vibration that you wish to neutralize. Begin waving your arms in any elaborate manner and make motions with your hands as though you were Mandrake feeling up a sexy giantess. Chant, loudly and clearly: GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!”

It should be noted, apparently, that this ritual can backfire. Positive motivation is essential.
This is just one example of many rituals, others of which list as The Baptismal Rite, Tarot, The Sacred Erisian High Mass of the Krispy Kreme Kabal, and the Gourdfest.

Coming back to something which may seem less ‘mocking’, Odinic ritual often involves mead, as it believed to be favoured by the gods and drank by Odin. Group rituals can include mead-drinking from a horn after a blessing and a nature of prayer, perhaps for assistance from the wisdom of Odin or in better understanding runes.

The Sumbel is an example of ritualistic drinking and toasts to one another.

The Blot is a sacrifice ritual, usually a blood sacrifice, which is not often partaken in now as it has been replaced by a more symbolic practice.

The rite of Bragi seems the most famous of the rituals, designed to honour the gods of Odinism and bring the perpetrator into a better relationship with them as Odinism teaches that its followers are friends of the gods, not inferior beings.

The ritual begins with purification, by washing the body and dressing in pure white, red or black, then waiting for night.

As night draws in, the next step involves positioning yourself before a source of light.

You must then stand with your eyes and arms raised and declare: “A man without gods has a desert in his heart.”

You must then remain motionless for a time, as during this time you are meant to be moving ‘through time without moving through space.’

Next, you must touch all the gods and goddesses of Asgard by naming them as naming is a kind of touching because the name is a part of the thing.

The final and most mystical part of the rite involves, while still standing before the light source, selecting one god or one goddess from the sacred pantheon then visualising yourself as the deity you have selected.

If the visualisation is successful and you literally see yourself as the imagined god or goddess, you will experience ‘The Glimpse of Extraordinary Beauty,’ and you will be ‘enveloped and penetrated by the thoughts of a god or a goddess.’

Ritual items are also important in these processes, from feathers, beads, bones, books, herbs, honey or beeswax, shells, turtle shells, candles and the more important of which include thor’s hammer, runes and drinking horns.

Thanks must go to Catherine for the above notes on Odinism and Discordianism who left the studio a few moments ago looking dazed and confused having invoked the spirit of Chaos in her attempts to determine meaning from the apparent non-meaning of the Principia Discordia.

The point about all magical systems is the attempt to ‘shock’ the individual awake either by  is methodological approach to what appears to be a logical metaphysical framework or by their attempt to change perception through its illogical and incongruent assertions.

I suspect that some of the more ‘out there’ approaches owe much to the Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley inspired LSD experiments which sought to open the doors of perception …. AND herein lies the key. Magic is about changing perceptions and exploring the illusions we accept as reality.

The work of Robert Anton Williams is as relevant to many magicians as the works of Crowley.

One of the more recent magical systems is that of Chaos Magic.

Liber Choas draws its inspiration from the world of probability and quantum physics …. but time doesn’t allow for more talk on this topic.

So what about the relevance of magic today…

Music

Mountain Mirrors : A Spell to Block The Sun

Buddy Guy : Are You Losing Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

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TRTZ no 50 6th March : A RETROSPECTIVE and QUESTIONS

Well this is a bit of a milestone for The Real Twilight Zone – it’s our 50th Episode!

Tonight is Real Twilight Zone Night on Penwith Radio: after show 50 broadcast live 8pm – 10pm tonight we will be going through the night with shows voted for by listeners…

10pm –  12pm TRTZ No 1 – A chance to listen to the first official TRTZ

12pm – 2.00am  TRTZ no 31 – The Men In Black

2.00am – 4am TRTZ no 11 – Aliestair Crowley

4.00am – 6.00pm TRTZ no 14 – Edgar Cayce and Healing

So tonight we’re in a bit  of reflective mood – BUT FEAR NOT there will be some great new stuff too.

We’ll be looking at some of the questions that I’ve receive over the last few months and taking a more in depth look at the story of the Golem of Praque and of course there’ll be the news.

I’m also offering a PRIZE tonight and that will be a free copy of my book Ramblings of a Rational Mystic (autographed of course)…

Ramblings of a Rational Mystic

 

You’ll need to listen to the show to find out how to win a first edition of this book…

But first some news…

UK

1st March:  British researchers believe that ‘thinking caps’, could help provide ‘super-human strength, highly enhanced concentration or thought-controlled weaponry.’  A British ethics group is currently investigating the obvious ethical dilemmas presented by any nature of invention that intends to interfere with the brain.

Professor Baldwin said: “If brain-computer interfaces are used to control military aircraft or weapons from far away, who takes ultimate responsibility for the actions? Could this be blurring the line between man and machine?”

The NBC (Nuffield Council on Bioethics) has launched a consultation on the potential risks of such a thing, specifically BCIs (Brain-computer interfaces), DBS (Deep brain stimulation) or TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation) though similar technologies are already used in medical fields for the treatment of stroke, depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Kevin Warwick, a professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading said that “From the brain signals, a brain computer interface could translate a person’s desire to move … and then use those signals to operate a wheelchair or other piece of technology. For someone who has locked-in syndrome, for example, and cannot communicate, a BCI could be life-changing.”  The potential of this technology extends beyond medical and military applications as well as the gaming industry has expressed much interest in the idea of a thought controlled game or console.

International

28th February: A 28-year-old Winder resident called 911 during February to report a very worrying ailment indeed – he said he invisible.  Paramedics with Barrow County Emergency Services and a deputy with the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call and when the deputy arrived he was informed that the ‘victim’ had called paramedics four or five times recently and was not in need of any actual assistance.  The deputy was also told that the caller was hoping for a ride to the hospital to get “more medications” because he had taken all the medication he already had the preceding night.  Barrow County Detention Center records outline the fact that the caller in question has been arrested previously for criminal trespass and failure to appear.  The caller was told to “dry up on the medication” and to stop calling 911 unless he actually had an emergency.  One commenter on the story amusingly noted “Failure to appear? Maybe he was there but no one could see him!”

Villagers in Namibia, Africa have been terrorized by an animal being compared to the Chupacabra (Tune in next week for an episode of TRTZ on just that) which haunts the Southwest US and Mexico.  The cryptid has been simply dubbed ‘dog-headed pig monster’ owing to its appearance which has been described as a hybrid between a dog and wild boar, with witnesses saying the animal resembles a pig from the neck down but has the muzzle and sharp fangs of a canine..  A number of attacks on goats have been blamed on the creature.

29th February:  SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) announced at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in Los Angeles that they will be streaming radio frequencies picked up by the Seti Allen telescope array to their website for the public to listen to.  The project is being run by Dr Jillian Tarter, winner of the TED Prize in 2009 and director of the Seti Institute’s Center for Seti Research in the hope that some human ear might be able to pick up what the computers cannot as well help to build on the scientific community already working on the search.  Tarter stated that “There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there.”

To get involved, visit http://setilive.org/

A couple in Texas claim to have been ‘sunburnt’ by a UFO in a close encounter of the second kind.  According to the report they submitted to MUFON they saw a bright white light resembling a helicopter spotlight whilst driving over a bridge that divides Gladewater/Clarksville City and White Oak beside Lake Devernia.

They stopped the car and it hovered above the tree line over their vehicle at about 50-100 feet.  Subsequent to the driver sticking his head out of the window he noticed 4 additional white lights at a North/south/east/west orientation on the craft.  He went on to open the door and get out of the car, shielding his eyes with the back of his right hand to get a good look at it.  He stated that the light on his skin didn’t feel like burning at the time, merely ‘like warm sunlight’.  The driver was then overcome with apprehension and got back into the car.  Later the pair remarked that ‘We had what seemed to be minor sunburns on our face and the palms of our hands were red.

No blisters or scars/marks. Just a light red/sunburn tinge to our face, neck, palms.’  Afterwards, the driver adds that a man has contacted them twice asking to purchase his car, having seen the couple at a gas station and a shopping outlet.  While he has given them a name, he won’t give them any other information and only asks for contact information.  They are imploring anybody who knows of any strange craft in the area to help them understand what this could’ve been.

50th Episode Retrospective.

I thought it’d be interesting to list the shows and the topics we have covered over the last fifty episodes.

The first ‘official’ TRTZ was broadcast on 30th November 2010.

Of course we had two pre-TRTZ shows that went out under the Rational Mystic label. They were quite short and so I thought we’d include them here. They were not published in the order they were prepared as they first appeared on my blog.

Spooksploitation : This was a short podcast compiled in response to Derek Acorah’s Halloween themed Michael Jackson Seance.

This 8 minute podcast was intended to be the first in a series of shows which were to be placed on my Rational Mystic blog. As such it presents an opinion as well as a deliberate provocation to get listeners thinking.

2012 and All That Jazz : This was the second podcast of the series intended for my blog. It is around 15 minutes long and was compiled in response to some of the more crazy ideas about 2012 end-times. As we have survived both the 2011 Elenin Experience and are three months into 2012 I feel fairly safe in my assertion that the ‘world will not end’ this year. More to the point I see little evidence of any global raising of consciousness since we are actually witnessing more intolerance, prejudice, dogmatism and injustice. Ok, maybe this in itself is a sign of the ‘end times’ – ask me this time next year!

Before starting The Real Twilight Zone I was invited to be part of the Haunted Cornwall FM team. At the time I decided to shelve plans to continue The Rational Mystic Podcast and it was only after several months with Haunted Cornwall that there was the realisation that what I had planned for a podcast would not cross into the ‘spook spotting’ territory of the other show since the focus was not primarily ‘investigations’.

The suggestion for a Rational Mystic show actually came from listeners to Haunted Cornwall who, at the time, were happy to support two weekly shows on paranormal themes and topics but each taking a slightly different and complementary position. With the support of Tim Bowers (SJB Supernatural World) the first Real Twilight Zone was ‘aired’ at the end of November 2010.

For those who are interested here is a complete listing of the “official” TRTZ episodes.

Show 1, Nov 30th 2010:  Alternative medicine.

Show 2, Dec 2nd 2010 : Conspiracy Theories, Secret Societies and Disinformation.

Show 3, Dec 7th 2010: New research found that suggests possibility of psychic abilities.

Show 4, Dec 15th 2010:  The issue of Paranormal research, and the idea of Opinion vs Evidence and in particular the role of celebrities in making, shaping and promoting specific views of the world.

Show 5, 4th Jan 2011: How accurate psychic pundits were in 2010, discussing the state of paranormal research and investigation whilst exploring plans (And predictions) for the coming year.

Show 6, 11th Jan 2011:  Mind control, theatrically and in advertising, propaganda and MKULTRA.

Show 7, 18th Jan 2011: Cults, including Heaven’s Gate and the People’s Temple/ Jim Jones.

Show 8, 25th Jan 2011:  Psychic Fraud

Show 9, 8th Feb 2011:  Near Death Experiences and the nature of death.

Show 10, 15th Feb 2011:  Mysticism and rationality and an homage to Derren Brown.

Show 11, 22nd Feb 2011:  Aleistair Crowley.

Show 12, 1st March 2011:  9/11 Conspiracy theories.

Show 13, 8th March: Astrology, Cancer Cures, Derek Acorah, Extreme Moon, Ghosts in UK, Healing, Paranormal Groups, and Spooksploitation .

Show 14, 15th March:  Edgar Cayce, Healing.

Show 15, 22nd March: Physics and God, Ron Pearson’s Big Breed theory.

Show 16, 19th April:  Creationism.

Show 17, 26th April:  Auras and Aura photography.

Show 18, 3rd May:  Time Travel.

Show 19, 17th May:  Vampires.

Show 20, 24th May: The historical Jesus.

Show 21, 31st May: The Nature of evil.

Show 22, 7th June:  Comet Elenin.

Show 23, 14th June:  Urban Legend.

Show 24, 21st June:  The Amityville Horror, the facts, the legend and the hoax.

Show 25, 28th June:  World Governance, Chem Trails and other conspiracies.

Show 26, 5th July: The history of the Devil.

Show 27, 12th July:  Apocalypse theories and interview with Caroline Watt.

Show 28, 19th July:  Paranormal research, what have we learned? Williams Crookes and the SPR.

Show 29, 26th July:  Psychic-Intuitive Readings and the Psychological issues which surround them.

Show 30, 2nd August:  Number Stations, what’s their purpose?

Show 31, 6th September:  Men in Black.

Show 32, 13th September:  UFO Cults, including Heaven’s Gate, the Aetherius Society, The Universal People.

Show 33, 20th September:  Werewolves in fairy story, myth, psychology and history.

Show 34, 27th September:  The Bible, The Gnostic Gospels and Christian Mystical Sects.

Show 35, 11th October:  Dreams, Dreaming, Personal Experience and Mind Reading Software with guest Graeme de Lyons.

Show 36, 1st November:  Houdini, his work debunking fraudulent psychics and his annual séance.

Show 37, 8th November:  Tarot facts, myths and history.

Show 38, 22nd November:  The history and origin of Wicca and Witchcraft.

Show 39, 29th November:  The Qabbala and the path of McMysticism.

Show 40, 6th December:  The myths and mysticism surrounding the crystal skulls.

Show 41, 13th December: The Secret’s No Secret

Show 42, 20th December : Happy Holidays – The Science of Santa

Show 43,  3rd January : Alchemy, The Quest for Perfection

Show 44, 17th January : The Brain,  Mind Self

Show 45, 31st January : The Occultists John Dee and Agrippa

Show 46, 7th February : Hermeticism and Rational Mysticism

Show 47, 14th February : Earth Sounds and Quantum Physics

Show 48, 21st February : Time, Time Travel and Time Slipl

Show 49, 28th February : The Knights Templar

Show 50, 6th March : A Retrospective of the last 50 episodes : The Gollum of Praque, Listeners Questions

So there you go – quite a lot of material there. And remember, each of the recordings is supported by some quite detailed blog postings. Many contain introductory, ‘primer’, research prepared by Catherine and have a reference lists for listeners to follow-up on what we have spoken about in the show. In all cases the blog contains notes and information for what we WANTED or PLANNED to cover and the podcasts/audio programmes are about what we REALLY talked about driven by our friends on the chat rooms.

TOPICS INCLUDE : Alchemy, Illuminati, Magic Spells, Teleportation, Mediums, Paranormal Research

 So over to listeners questions….

Q: So what exactly is the TRUE STORY regarding Nicholas Flamel?  Did he really (on three separate occasions) transmute base metals into genuine gold?  He reportedly bequeathed huge amounts of money to charitable causes upon his death.  Any ideas on how he made all this happen?

An answer:

Nicholas Flamel

Harry Potter and The Philosophers stone probably has a lot to do with the revival of interest in Flamel – indeed JK Rowlings character was possibly inspired by the Nicholas Falmel the alchemical legend.

There is nothing legendary about the life of Nicolas Flamel. The Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris contains works copied in his own hand and original works written by him. All the official documents relating to his life have been found: his marriage contract, his deeds of gift, his will.

In outline he was a bookseller with an interest in rare manuscripts who, if legend is to believed, was brought a rare manuscript that eventually led him to uncover the secrets of the philosophers stone and in the process become rich.

The philosophers stone, at one level, is that substance said to turn base metal into gold, On another level it is said to represent the development of a persons soul and life potential.
Of course legend suggests that he actually possessed the ability to turn lead into gold, hence his wealth, and the secret of immortality …

Some writers have claimed that Flamel used his ‘alchemical’ activities as a cover for his money-lending activities and these were the source of his great wealth. He apparently had dealings with the gentry and supported Jewish businesses based in France and Spain.
I think of the alchemical quest as being symbolic rather than actual and hence the second idea carries my vote at the moment.

 

Q: Hello. (Note that I wish to remain anonymous from the public). Although I don’t believe in the paranormal myself (I at most have strong doubts), I would like to ask a question about (skeptical) paranormal research on behalf of those who are in need of accurate information, regarding the existence of paranormal phenomena. Let me get to it…

There are various arguments that proponents use to (try) to argue for the existence of paranormal phenomena (they try to fight and tarnish the reputation of skeptics), and I would be interested in knowing the validity of certain arguments.

Many claim that “skeptics are deniers” and are dismissive of the existence of paranormal phenomena, and try to find “excuses” (natural explanations), and “avoid” claiming paranormal findings, even when there is paranormal activity. Is this argument valid at all, or is it rubbish?

As of right now, we say that there is no (or at least weak) evidence of the paranormal, however, how do we know that the skeptics are not “missing something”, or are investigating too thoroughly to be able to rigorously investigate “fly-by-night” phenomena? What are the faults with the respective arguments?

Others claim that, say, ghosts, are “afraid”/”shy” of skeptics and are “allergic” to lab setups or scientists, and skeptics will never find them because they “run away”. Can you explain any faults with this argument?

Finally, I must politely ask you to to explain any faults there may be with any other common arguments. Thanks very much.

My Answer:

The idea that “skeptics” are “deniers” is one which seems to permeate some of the more credulous literature “out there”. Whilst some who claim to take a sceptical approach do seem to simply dismiss claims of the paranormal, the majority seek merely to apply critical thinking to the, often poorly structured arguments of believers in paranormal phenomenon.
Certainly the skeptics I have had the pleasure of debating with and listening too take the default position that a reported experience is ‘real’ to the witness. It is in the process of interpreting that experience that critical thinking is applied and the search always moves from the “known” to the “possible” and if necessary to the “inexplicable”.

The fact of the matter is that many “believers” skip the critical thinking and questioning process and intellectually move from “strange personal experience” to “paranormal explanation” without considering, and therefore eliminating solutions which do not rely on violating known physical laws.

The notion of “investigating too thoroughly” is in itself quite an interesting notion is it not? It suggests that when things are investigated in a careful, considered and logical way paranormal evidence seems to become spurious or insignificant. Indeed this is what has been observed through many years of so called paranormal research. When a paranormal effect  is studied carefully it’s apparent uniqueness evaporates with explanations that do not need to invoke “special circumstances”.

Scientific Method, like skeptical enquiry, is a process which when applied rules out bias and evidence based on one or two isolated experiences.

Paranormal Investigation has become a cottage industry, inspired in part by the many paranormal TV shows purporting to show “real, live investigations”. Many of those in these groups lack any specific training in research or critical thinking and a goodly proportion of them seem to start with the presupposition that the “paranormal” exists.

In my blog (www.therationalmystic.co.uk) I do try to explore many of the issues related to paranormal research and you may like to look through the various posts in order to explore these ideas further.

When it comes to ghosts it strikes me that there is a real paradox when it comes many of the research techniques that enthusiastic “investigators” apply. Most would agree that they have a definition of ghosts or spirits that is based upon their “non physical” presence. So if they are not physical why are these investigators using instruments which measure physical effects? The problem is not simply in the logic behind such investigations, but is also in the fact that there is no clearly stated reason why ghosts would show up on EMF meters or IR thermometers and that the effective use of such equipment to measure conditions inn the physical world requires a real understanding of what such equipment measures and how it is used. In most cases the use of technologyvin ghost hunting is simply about creating the illusion that some form of scientific approach is being used.

The other issue about many paranotmal investigation teams is that the set out without any clear aim over and above the desire to find ‘something’ in a location that has been “reported” as being significant in some way. This approach leads to whatt can best be described as ‘anomaly hunting’ – and such an approach will always yield anomalies that can be ascribed to whatever cause the investigators choose.

The issue with believers who say that “spirits” are shy, or “my spirit guide doesn’t like to be tested”, or the “negative energies of the skeptics and non believers” stop some paranormal effect from happening is that it leads to claims that cannot be tested, cannot be verfified and depend solely upon the belief system, statements, interpretations and personal understandings of others. If I say that I can prove that aliens have landed on earth by showing you the spaceship that is in my back garden and then say that only I can see it, or that it can only be seen by others who believe, then my evidence is worthless – it cannot be falsified. If you are kind you may trust me and accept that I believe that it is true. Would you, however, accept without question my statement that because of my experience (and my interpretation) that aliens have visited us?

For be at best it would pose a question of possibility, but perhaps it would be better to rule out other possibilities first.

I hope this has in part answered your question and perhaps a visit to my blog would help you consider these points in more detail.

In essence the skeptical approach is about questioning evidence and experience; checking for logical fallacies through critical thinking; providing alternate explanations and discounting those which are not supported by any evidence.

Debunking claims of the paranormal is not the starting point of the skeptical journey, but is often the point reached when critical thinking, detailed exploration and questioning of the evidence has been undertaken.

Numerous of the more credulous literature and evangelical believers are unable or unwilling to offer evidence which stands up to scientific or skeptical exploration and make  the default claims that “scientists think they know everything” or “skeptics are closed minded” when in fact both of those assertions are a long way from what science and skepticism is about.

Scientists recognise there are gaps in what is known, are constantly asking questions
of what they think is known and what that really means.

Skeptics ask questions which broaden their experience by looking at a range of possible explanations for any particular event, piece of evidence or reported experience.

I have observed that it is often the believer who claims to know “everything” and are “closed minded” as they hang onto their interpretations of an experience and refuse to consider alternate explanations.

 Q : Hello. I was taking to a woman (will keep her identity private), who claimed that while her son was watching television, he had a necklace on. One moment, she was looking at the necklace, it was there, the next moment, she was looking at it, and it was gone. She strongly denies having forgotten anything (such as moving it and then forgetting it). She then claims that she found it three days later, by the computer, with the clasp disconnected. She claims that it is (almost) physically impossible to disconnect it (possibly supporting the hypothesis that it went “back in time”/”to a different place in time”).

Her son does not remember such an event.

While, at least my common sense is not in favor of the teleportation hypothesis, I will still be open-minded if there is reasonable evidence of such, from previous similar events. Could it have perhaps been “quantum teleportation”? (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_teleportation). Could there perhaps have been some type of interaction between the future (future events) and the past (past events), or some similar condition? I, personally doubt it, but will remain open-minded.

Otherwise, can you list the most likely explanations? Was an anomolie possible? Can you perhaps support your explanation based on evidence collected from investigation of similiar events?

My Answer: Can I refer you to a similar teleportation question and answer

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Sceptics-Skepticism-3364/2010/10/Allegations-teleport

In terms of the specific question about quantum teleportation it must be remembered that quantum effects are effects confined, as far as I am aware, to the micro world and not the macro. All quantum effects are at atomic and subatomic scales so the teleportation of a necklace by this kind of effet is not plausible,

Apports, the so called appearances of objects from spirit realms; the negation of “times arrow” in terms of anything other than quantum ‘realities’ and the reality of physical teleportation are the subject of scientific speculation and, in most cases, are firmly within the realms of science fiction in terms of what we currently know about the macro-scale universe.

There have been several cases of hoax and fraud in this regard (see any skeptical website including JREF, Skeptical Enquirer, Snopes and even the Journals of the Society for Psychical Research).

Whilst, like you, I am open to any evidence that can be provided outside of individual personal anecdote there is little or no direct evidence of these things happening in conditions that would preclude psychological and perceptual errors, false memories or deliberate attempts to defraud.

Q: What is your view regarding the illuminati and if they do control every thing, are they still in operation, are any political or strong figures in it, and do you think they can be overcome?

An Answer: Some thoughts on the Illuminati…

Well as far as a secret society goes the Illuminati haven’t done a very good job at remaining secret in recent years have they?

As far as history is concerned I think it is true to say that the Illuminati were a secret society, said to have formed in the late 18th Century in Bavaria – well if we are trying to be correct a date of 1776 has been proposed. It is difficult to piece together any meaningful history of this ‘society’ as the whole subject has become tainted with poorly referenced conspiracy paranoia, pseudo-historical analyses and the odd fraud (hoax) or two.

Starting with the choice of name – Illuminati – it seems that the society professed to be in line with some kind of information or approach that made its members ‘the enlightened’. It is likely that they had a republican political agenda which included the abolition of monarchies. It is further suggested that they tried to bring about change by means of subterfuge, secrecy, and conspiracy, including the infiltration of other organizations. They were not very successful and were destroyed, or at least outlawed, within fifteen years of their origin (Pipes 1997).

The founder is reputed to be Adam Weishaupt from the University of Ingolstadt and it appears that the society’s aims were closely linked to ideas from the Enlightenment i.e. to combat religious thinking and promote and encourage rationalism. Wieshaupt was an anti-monarchist and secularist which, obviously, informed the nature of the society he created. In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria and, in 1784, his government banned all secret societies including the Illuminati and they disbanded (or perhaps were imprisoned, ‘destroyed’ or otherwise dispatched!)

There is no empirical evidence that this society survived the 18th Century.

What we hear of today is a melange of conspiracy theories from which have at their core the notion of some kind of elite, powerful and probably wealthy ‘secret society’ behind veils of other ‘secret’ or at least ‘clandestine’ groups.

Like an onion skin, although conspiracy theorists would prefer the image of a pyramid, the outer layers are the lowest levels of the New World Order movers and shakers and at the core can be found the Illuminati.

Sometimes we are told that this inner core of is run by a number of key families (13 is often quoted for effect more than genealogy) whose ‘bloodlines’ are linked and perhaps manipulated by visitors from another world.

This inner core of people is so secret that the families are actually named on several websites…

Their existence is so shadowy that they insist on leaving symbols of their very existence behind for us mere mortals to discover…

This then is the real Illuminati!

Seems like they’re not doing a very good job at keeping their manipulative presence hidden!

I mean stop for a moment to consider some simple ideas.

The bloodlines of monarchy and aristocracy are very likely to be linked in any case, what with marriage being the vehicle by which alliances were made. Such links do not require the organising agents of ‘secret’ human societies let alone the interference from some passing aliens – or am I missing the point?

Of course there are ‘symbols’ which seem to survive and be repeated from time to time and place to place. As a species we are very good at creating symbolic language and meaningful patterns (you’re reading some right now)… AND of course some ‘magical symbols’ will form part of our everyday society as they have been a part of our psyche for a very long time. Assuming these symbols need to have any other significance is a bit of a stretch. The ‘Great Seal’ on US currency is often quoted as being Masonic or Illuminati in origin having been designed by Illuminati, or at least High Degree Freemasons. If you really check this story out (see Skeptoid) there are more than enough questions raised which serve to question the key assumptions in the conspiracy theorists rhetoric.

What do Governments do?

They rule, they plan, they organise, they fight, they assert sovereignty!

There’s no need to imagine a global conspiracy to explain the actions of Governments.

Now here’s where there is, perhaps, an element of truth in all of the Conspiracy Theories you have ever heard. It seems obvious to me that Governments cannot tell us the truth all of the time, truth after all is a relative concept, and there are things that must be on a need to know basis. More importantly some major Governments have been shown to be involved with somewhat dodgy dealings and certainly individuals within Governments are not above corruption, error and simply being wrong.

The simple fact the ‘the truth outs’ from some of these accidental, and not so accidental, cover-ups seems to belie the existence of ability to ‘keep’ secrets of any real magnitude.

Perhaps there is a rule of thumb that is worth exploring – the more people who need to be involved in any form of cover-up or covert action the LESS likely it is to be possible.

Ravings of a Loon or Insightful Warnings of a Scholar?
The following is an extract of a page on the (in my opinion very dubious) website with the somewhat challenging domain name “educate-yourself.org”.

What the sire contains is, in my view, a collection of hysterical ravings, poorly-informed and misquoted ‘research’… for example…
War on Drugs

quote:….

The “War on Drugs” is a cruel joke. The US government, specifically the CIA is the biggest ‘drug lord’ on the planet. Drug money is used to pay for innumerable ‘black projects’, including the construction of huge underground cities housing both humans and aliens working with the secret US government.

The instigation of a trumped-up war as a cover for amassing fortunes can be dated back to at least the 12th Century when only a core group of nine members of an Illuminati group called the Knights Templar, the military arm of an Illuminati secret society known as the Priory of Sion, kicked off the The Crusades that lasted for over a century and a half. A rift later developed between the Templars and the Priory of Sion when Jerusalem was lost to Saracen Turks in 1187. In 1307, the king of France, Philippe the Fair (a Merovingian Illuminati), coveted the wealth and was jealous of the Templars’ power. The French king, being a puppet of the Priory of Sion, set out to arrest all the Templars in France on October 13. While many Templars were seized and tortured, including their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, many other Templars (who had been tipped off) escaped. They eventually resurfaced in Portugal, in Malta (as the Knights of Malta) and later in Scotland as The Scottish Rites of Free Masonry.
http://educate-yourself.org/nwo/index.shtml

end quote….

Unlike scholarly works which do educate there seems to be little in the way of empirical evidence to back up many of the statements made. (Where are the references?) This is the case with so many conspiracy style websites and diatribes. They connect spurious pieces of information, with unfounded suppositions and create powerful stories which would rival any Dan Brown novel!

In the above quote there are some important questions to be asked are there not?

Drug money is used to pay for innumerable ‘black projects’, including the construction of huge underground cities housing both humans and aliens working with the secret US government

Where is the evidence?

I for one would love to see a hod carrying reptilian alien?

If the ‘secret government’ is a secret how does the author know about it?

a core group of nine members of an Illuminati group called the Knights Templar, the military arm of an Illuminati secret society known as the Priory of Sion,

Top marks here for linking three of the key favourites of conspiracy theorists in half a sentence!

Again how do we know this

Were not the Priory of Sion ‘documents’ so often quoted revealed as fraud/hoax (see the various pieces produced by Brian Dunning on www.skeptoid.com ).

Surely such vague ramblings (many other Templars who had been tipped off) can hold little in the way of credibility.

However this kind of writing makes up the bulk of the information on the numerous websites devoted to Illumninati, Conspiracy Theory and other such delightful distractions. Google returns over 34,000,000 results for a search on Illuminati and a mere 1,000,000 for a search on Illuminati + Sceptic. Surely that suggests something!

One way to think about this is to turn the whole thing on it’s head.

What is the REAL MOTIVATION for the Conspiracy Theorists to constantly sew seeds of discord, disharmony and control by others?

Are they, the merchants of disinformation, really pulling the strings to perpetuate fear and uncertainty for their own ends (selling books, running workshops and seminars and seeking global unrest?)

References

Daniel Pipes, Conspiracy Free Press 1997

http://www.illuminati-news.com/moriah.htm

http://www.masonicinfo.com/illuminati.htm

http://people.virginia.edu/~sfr/enam481/groupa/illumhist.html

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-202253133.html

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2010/01/11/the-illuminati-doesnt-exist-heres

http://www.thewatcherfiles.com/bloodlines/

 

Q: Hello. Apart from Affirmations, please give me a good spiriitual method I can use (which has immediate effect) to attract things into my life. Thanks

From my perspective there is no ‘magic’ to be found in the rather superficial promises of books like the Secret and Cosmic Ordering. What his there, hidden beneath layers of over generalised and sometimes vacuous New Age babble is some very sound psychology which, in effect, relates to everything I understand about the inner workings of “real magic”.

It was Goethe, the poet and playwright, who said that once the mind is set on a clear course of action the universe conspires to make it happen.

There is more than a grain of truth in this.

“Attention flows where emotion Goes” is something I say to many of my students on the Transforming Minds workshops and this is really the case.

If you have an emotional link to something, anything, that is where your attention will flow. If you direct your attention towards a specific thing then it is very likely that your unconscious mind will start to process information and ideas about it.

I am sure everyone has had the experience of buying a new (to them) car. Almost as soon as the car is purchased you start ‘noticing’ more cars of the same type and colour on the road! This is not because the universe is trying to wind-you-up, it is because your unconscious mind starts noticing things that are important to you.

The same thing happens when you ‘want’ or ‘need’ a new household appliance, suddenly you start to see ‘adverts’ and ‘notices’ for these things. It’s not that these notices and ‘ads’ have juts appeared, it is because you now notice them!

Now, back to attracting things into your life.

Thinking about what you are missing, or what you don’t want, is actually self-defeating. It remonds you of the problem, or the negative situation. In some ways you are consciously asking the unconscious mind to remind you of and find more things, that are depressing you!

Shifting your emotional focus to what you want and creatively visualising ‘how’ your life ‘will’ be different ‘when’ these changes have been made is, in essence what The Secret et al promote, but without the psuedo-spiritual baggage.

The idea of anything having an immediate effect is also a little ‘one dimensional’ in its assumption. Every moment we are alive we experience the world. How we respond to those experiences depends largely upon our internal attitudes, values, beliefs and emotional ‘states’.

Every action in the ‘now’ moves you along towards your ‘future’ – so in essence you are always making choices about tomorrow.

Since most of the day-to-day processing we undertake as people is unconscious then we rarely, if ever, take the time and the effort to make conscious choices. Our unconscious mind presents ‘options’ which we consciously weigh-up as our the only choices (or the dilemma). Our uncosncious mind uses our deep seated attitude-value-belief system to pre-process every option open to us and hence creates limited behavioural responses to our awareness.

To change your perspective you have to work on changing your mind!

So much of this is beyond the scope of the quick answer I think you wanted, so in summary, here’s a set of ideas which come from the Mind Alignment – Transformational Reading – Transforming Minds programme (Google it if you’re interested).

Have a VERY SPECIFC outcome in mind.

What do you want to attract into your life?

Visualise how your life will be differen WHEN you have attracted these things.

Create a compelling mind-movie of the future you want, with sound effects, big colourful pictures and positive, motivational dialogues.

Ask yourself if your REALLY want this future.

So many people ‘wish’ for a thing without running it through their value-attitude ‘filters’. This means that the ‘idea’ sounds good in some distant, abstract sense, but actually is not a good fit with who you really are and really want to be. Hence you start sabbotaging your own efforts to move towards the illusion you think you want.

Ask yourself to WRITE down a list of CLEAR ACTIONS you can take to move you towards your future.

Change your behaviour to match the kind if behaviours that you saw yourself engaging in in your movie. Start to walk your dream by acting ‘as if’ you had already achieved it. In essence you are ‘trying on’ the future skin you will be wearing to ensure it fits comfortably.

Keep your GOAL in mind.

This means you underplay anything which reminds you that you are a long way from what you want and celebrate eevery single thing that takes you closer.

Now if you are still reading this, I congratulate you since I have avoided giving you the specific answer you wanted.

You asked for a ‘good spiritual method’ and I have focused on some psychological aspects of making changes in your life.

I think you cannot divorce the spirtual from the practical; the rational from the mystical (hence I call myself a Rational Mystic). All magicians (and yes I do mean that in the spiritual-mystical sense) recognise the importance of ‘right thought and right action’ and creating a link between the inner-focus of ‘mind’ (the intention behind the magic) and the outer focus of ‘behaviour’ (the rituals, spell casting, visualisation techniques used).

In recent years the New Age movement has spawned some very single minded ideas about ‘magic’ and promoted the quaint and infantile notion that ‘spells can be cast’ to ‘make things happen’. Hence all personal responsibility for change is abdicated to the tides of some kind of spiritual wish-master whose sole aim is to respond to the buring of candles; the half-hearted visulisations of those seeking a quick-fix to a complex problem; the ‘orders’ of groups of people who seemed to suggest that the Cosmos bends to their whim.

The late Alex Saunders, one of the key people in the revival of the Witchcaft Tradition in the UK, said to me once…

“Casting spells and using magic is hard work, its nearly always easier to go out and do something practical to move you towards your goal.”

He said this in response to the notion that folks could ‘cast spells’ to bring ‘love’, or ‘money’ or ‘fortune’.

Of course the process of performing a magical ritual does have an effect IF that ritual is prepared correctly – that means on both a mundane and spiritual level.

To ‘cast a spell’ to bring ‘love’ and then sit at home waiting for it to work is nonesense. Of course use the ‘spell’, but use it as a motivator to change what you do, where you go, who you meet so that ‘love’ has a chance to find you.

As Alex said to me, and I am paraphrasing…

Casting a spell to bring money and fortune and then not getting off your backside to find work is a futile exercise.

Magic and Spiritual methods are part and parcel of a process which can bring ‘positive change’ – but you as a living, breathing, thinking, caring, motivated person has to actively engage in that change.

Q: Hi Alan, In a nutshell, I belive 95% that some of the best mediums like sally morgan and lisa williams are for real. I watch them and scrutinize everything they say and do and so far can’t fault them and therefore have to accept that they are telling the truth about what they do. but the other 5% of my mind hears the sceptics say that its all a trick which constantly counteracts all that they do. My question is.. IS THERE ANYONE IN THE WORLD THAT HAS EVER COME FORWARD WITH AN EXPLANATION OF HOW THEY DO THESE EXTREMELY ACCURATE READINGS? I have searched but have never heard any acceptable debunking. Ive heard all the hot and cold reading explanations but none of those come close to explaining what they can do. I have never heard of anyone ever coming forward and properly duplicating what these mediums can do. Even Derren Brown gives very poor criticisms and explanations of mediums. I tend to be a believer only in things with evidence. As far as I can tell so far, the sally morgans of the world are the only ones with any evidence that it IS all for real. Thanks.

My Answer: Many thanks for the question – it is a very interesting one.

Let me start by recognizing and honouring the fact that your are a believer, and one I am happy to note who only believes things that there is evidence for (if I understand you correctly).

I note also that you are of the opinion that Sally Morgan and Lisa Williams are able to provide evidence which convince you.

Before I answer your question directly can I ask something about the kind of evidence that you are happy to accept.

From my understanding mediums provide evidence for the survival after death – generally they talk about the survival of a soul.

Assuming there is communication from a plane or level of existence that is beyond our physical world what kind of evidence could mediums, who are ‘in touch with spirit’ actually provide?

Well I guess they could provide information about what ‘the other side” is like; they could offer information about things that are outside of what we, on the earthly plane, could know at a particular time, but would discover at some time in the future (if they are truly outside of time ten they could tell us if future things perhaps); they could give meaningful insights into the nature and quality of life as well as offering ideas about how we could improve life and solve some of the problems facing us….

In fact if the ‘other side’ can be described by spirit to mediums then the descriptions of it and what goes on there should be fairly consistent – unless of course there are a range of different afterlives.

For the most part the evidence offered by mediums is restricted to the nature of a loved ones passing; some information which is seen to be specific to the listener and a general comment as to ‘being there” or ‘being present” now.

Please bear in mind that one of the stated aims of the spiritualist movement is to offer evidence of the beyond.

So far I’ve not really answered your question and perhaps that is because I”m not sure you’ll be happy with my response.

I accept and honour your opinion, but fundamentally disagree you your assertions that ‘hot and cold’ readings do not come close to explaining what they do and that people like Derren Brown cannot duplicate what has been demonstrated.

In support of my latter statement please take a look at Derrens TV social Messiah in which he not only convinces an audience of his ability to talk to their deceased relatives but also obtains an endorsement of his ‘genuineness’ from a leading spiritualist medium . You might also take a look at Derrens interview and sessions with English medium Joe Power….

In terms of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ reading you mention that you have heard all of this kind if explanation – have therefore considered the possibility of mediums faking what they do, relying on information gained from previous meetings and sessions, employing researchers alongside relying on the basic psychology of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias?

There are some fascinating examples of these techniques being used by mediums in the past. The psychic medium Lamar Keene wrote a boom called The Psychic Mafia, which is well worth a read and you can find some really interesting insights into the world of the  fraudulent medium by looking at the website www.woogooandmuckymuck .com

Check out Peter Popov and Sylvia Brown on YouTube.

The extremely accurate readings you speak of were produced by Peter Popov (and explained/exposed); the specific demonstrations outlined above by Derren Brown in my opinion look, sound and feel the same as those offered by many mediums.

Professor Richard Wiseman has written extensively on aspects of the paranormal and explores how we tend to hear and see what we want to hear and see based on our beliefs.

I feel that you will be unmoved by my answer as you have obviously some personally valid criteria which distinguishes the ‘good’ evidence produced by Sally Morgan and friends and the ‘poor explanations’ presented by Derren Brown. Only you know what kind of evidence you are willing to accept…

Two finish a couple of personal observations…

Several years ago and early on in my exploration of these topics I was introduced to a member of the ‘advance team’ for a well known and successful touring platform medium. The role of the advance team was two fold.

Firstly to contact those people who had been to previous performances of this medium and let then have advance tickets. Nothing odd there – great marketing and use of existing mailing lists. Of course there would be some information known about each if those ‘fans’ who were coming as they were ‘regulars’

The second task was much more distasteful. Members of the team would read the obituary colums of the newspapers, visor local spiritualist churches and ‘target’ people to invite to the ‘show’ and offer them free tickets. Again providing some information that could be used by the medium.

Now I am not suggesting that Sally or Lisa or any well known mediums use these techniques, but your question was about how this kind of accurate information could be offered in a reading. In the case of the medium I am refreing to this was how they were doing it!

Secondly….

If the information offered by any medium can be honestly verified and tested why hasn’t that medium accepted one of the science based challenges out there?

Currently the JREF is offering $1 million for any evidence of paranormal claims offered under controlled conditions. Sylvia Browne and, I believe John Edwards have both said they will under take the challenge but as yet have not entered into discussions with the scientific community. In the case of Sylvia Browne she has twice on TV accepted the challenge (over five years ago) and currently says she never said she would do it.

Other mediums who could take the challenge often make  the factually incorrect claim that the money doesn’t exist, or that others have passed and not been paid …  Or that the rules of the challenge are unfair (again incorrect as the challenge is built around the claims they make and the evidence they offer to support that claim)…. Or that it’s not about the money (well that’s rich considering they earn a substantial living from what they do and if they did win the $1m they could give it to charity).

In summary I would be more than happy to look at any specific evidence that mediums can produce in a controlled situation and am currently working with two mediums whose integrity and intent are not in question and who are willing to havectheir abilities tested. My hypothesis, as I am following a scientific method have ‘blinded controls” in place is that the infirmation they provide through mediumship will be no more or less accurate than that provided via a cold reader.

I also disagree with your assertion that no one has duplicated what real mediums do and have offered some specific references for you to consider.

As a Rational Mystic there is nothing that I would like more than being able to show that several paranormal claims can be verified. I accept, however, in an area where people have so much invested in their beliefs and their opinions the serious exploration of the paranormal is far from easy.

To close the sceptic in me needs to be presented with clear, consistent and unambiguous evidence that cannot be explained by wishful thinking, belief, fraud, deliberate psychological deception or accidental psychological self-deception.

The mystic in me is willing to accept in some instances some people are supported, helped and comforted by the work of well intentioned mediums and in those cases it diesn’t matter whether there is any evidence other than that needed by the individual the medium is supporting.

I hope you have been able to read this reply and consider my points carefully. It has not been my intention to argue against your beliefs or personally held convictions but to offer some other thoughts in response to the question you asked. I would be very happy to read your thoughts on the points raised in my response and very open to the consideration of specific evidence offered by any medium.

One  of the questions I received really inspired a bit more research as I was not overly familiar with the specifc case….The Golem of Praque.

Here’s the original question:

Q: I have a question about the legend of the Golem of Prague.  You probably already know the tale of how Rabbi Loew allegedly created a golem out of clay by using the tetragrammaton to give it life.  However my research has told me that it was NOT Rabbi Loew who created the infamous golem but it was actually Rabbi Elijah of Chelm.  Either way, the story sounds too fantastic to be true. Nonetheless, it did allegedly occur in the 16th century, which is still recent enough to check for historical accuracy.  My question to you is: what incident actually did occur that gave rise to this fantastic tale?

My Original Answer :

Interesting question…

You are correct in suggesting that the earliest reports of the creation of a Golem relate to Rabbi Elijah of Chelm (1550 – 1583) and this was reported in Qabbalistic writings compiled almost a century later. The story was further elaborated on by Rabbi Emden in 1748 – again a second-hand telling of a story nearly two hundred years before.

It seems that most ‘authorities’ consider The Golem narrative to be a literary invention. Wikipedia, and I am aware of its limitations, does point to a number of sources for the story which include..

1837: Berthold Auerbach, Spinoza
1841: Gustav Philippson, Der Golam, eine Legende
1841: Franz Klutschak, Der Golam des Rabbi Löw
1842: Adam Tendlau Der Golem des Hoch-Rabbi-Löw
1847: Leopold Weisel, Der Golem

Alongside the ‘earliest’ mention which is the 1834 book Der Jüdische Gil Blas by Josef Seligman Kohn. All of this seems to imply that there has been an attempt to exaggerate the age of the story by placing in the 1600’s.

As for the reality of ‘the Golem’ …

As a creature brought forth by the use of Gods name (The Tetragrammaton) is perhaps overly imaginative and I’d favour an explanation which relies upon a metaphorical or symbolic use of the title ‘Golem’.

The Jewish tracts which are considered to form the Mishna ( the first written records of the Oral Jewish Tradition) speak of the Golem as being an uncultured, clumsy or slow person. No ‘supernatural’ origin is implied.

The Context.

Perhaps an interesting focus would be to consider the nature of Jewish persecution during the time in Prague. At the time the Jewish people who were forced to live in the ghetto there were claims of Blood Libel (actually drinking blood of Christians and Christian Children as part of the Passover rituals).

Rabbi Loew was a prolific writer who sought to inspire his people by retelling Jewish legends and folk lore and possibly therefore identified with earlier tales of the Golem.
The Legend says that Loew not only created the Golum but took responsibility for imprisoning it when it started to become out of control.

The Legend lives on because of the 1920’s silent film De Golem and Pragues’ tourist industry!
A truth goes along the lines that Folklorists writing in the 1800’s re-told the story of the Golum, which in a supernatural-mystical sense could be seen as protector, became attributed to Loew who was a recognisable name at the time. Rabbi Elijah may not have been so well known, but again could well have been tarred with same folklore/legends about a potential ‘saviour’ of the Jewish community who was created by them and for their protection.

And I also asked Catherine to see what she might come up with –  here are her findings…

Golem of Prague

The legend of the Golem of Prague has its roots in the 16th Century, during the reign of Rudolph II.

The word Golem roughly means ‘animated being created from inanimate matter’.

The story of the Golem has become somewhat well known as it has appeared in some form in books, films and plays, not to mention the fact that its apparent creator was a particularly famous Jewish scholar.

Rabbi Loeb, or Rabbi Judah Loew, or Yehudah Levi ben Betzalel, lived from 1513 till 1609 and was much respected in his lifetime, the most faithful among his followers regarding him as ‘the Exalted One’.

The story goes that in 1580, Taddeush, a priest in Prague, was scheming against the Jewish people and planned to accuse them of ‘ritual murder’, specifically that the blood of Christian children was used in Passover.

This went as far as to result in accusers planting dead children in victims houses to frame them.

Rumours of such behaviour would result in violent riots, further anti-Semitic attacks, and possibly even expulsion from their homeland.

The Rabbi needed to protect his people, and prayed for help from Heaven in the form of a dream question.

The answer he received was apparently Ata Bra Golem Devuk Hakhomer VeTigzar Zedim Chevel Torfe Yisroel, which translates as Make a Golem out of clay and you will destroy the company or thereabouts.

This message sounded simple enough, but it came with many negative connotations.

Creating life was not allowed in almost any circumstance, even by a scholar as revered as Loeb.  The only time it was considered justifiable was if it would save the lives of many, and sometime snot even then.

Additionally, the message was but a small part of the process.  He had to decipher it and use kabbalistic formulas to do so, plus he had to invoke the Shem Hameforash: the true name of God, a piece of information divulged to very few and which was rumoured to unleash power that was difficult to control.  It was a dangerous procedure.

The Kabbalistic formula he used to extract the meaning of the message was Zirufem.

The method he used to create a living golem went as follows:

He asked for help from his son-in-law, who was a Kohen: a Jew descended from ancient order of Priests and further from his student, who was a levite: a Jew descended from servants of the temple.

A day was dedicated to purification as without this the Shem Hameforash could destroy them.

He described the necessity for the inclusion of the four elements in the process.  He was to represent air, his assistants would represent fire and water, and the golem would represent earth.

Sefer Yezira or The Book of Creation was read in part, and after this they proceeded to the banks of the Vltava River or the River Moldau and procured the clay for the golem by torchlight.

The golem was sculpted from the mud, facing the sky, then the incantations received from Loeb’s dream came into play as the Kohen of the company traversed seven circuits of the body from right to left whilst reciting the Zirufem.

The levite of the company then did the same, only from left to right this time.

At this point in the process, the golem was said to have lost its terracotta colour and been imbibed with water, followed by the growth of hair and nails.

The Rabbi Loeb walked once around the body and placed a piece of parchment with the Shem Hameforash written on it into the mouth of the golem, followed by bowing to the east, west, south, then north.

Finally, the three of them recited And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul after which the golem is said to have awoke.

Some details of the golem tend to vary from story to story.  The word ‘emet’ was said to be placed on a tablet on the forehead of the golem, but other sources outline the tablet as being in his mouth.  ‘Emet’ translates as ‘truth’.

It was reputed to have been removed from the golem on the Saturday in preparation for the Sabbath day.

The golem went on to fulfill his duty and protect the Jewish people, but while some sources say he was simply no longer needed after a time, most say that he became violent and unruly.

One source (http://www.prague.net/golem) outlines how the Rabbi was attending his synagogue when, in the midst of psalm number 92, he was called away to put a stop to the golem who was uprooting trees and destroying the rabbis’ home.

The Rabbi returned to the synagogue to finish his interrupt psalm, and this is reputed to be the reason that the last verse is repeated.

To restore the golem to lifeless clay, the Rabbi was said to have done one of three things.  He may have simply removed the tablet from the mouth of the golem permanently.  He may have revoked his appeal of the Shem Hameforash along with the life principle it instilled, or, he may have scrubbed the first letter of the word ‘emet’ from the tablet, making it into the word ‘met’ which means ‘death’.

With the golem successfully de-animated, his body was said to have been hidden in the attic of Prague’s Old-New Synagogue and that the Rabbi forbade anybody to enter the attic.

The legend states that It is still there or that the shape of its body remains imprinted on the floor, though another version outlines how it was stolen and entombed in a graveyard in Prague’s Žižkov district (Where the TV tower in that area now stands).

More recently, a legend stemming from World War II has gained notoriety, telling the tale of a Nazi who attempted to break into the attic and deal with the golem, only to be killed in peculiar circumstances.  However, the origins of this story are unknown and the attic itself is not open to the public, therefore it cannot really be investigated.

 

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