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Jul 6 2012

Psychologists Using Ouija Boards to “Probe Subconscious”

On the one hand this is yet another story that confirms my disdain for academia and validates my decision to flee the university system. On the other hand at least someone has found a use for those damn Parker Brothers (and now Hasbro) Ouija Boards. I don’t like the things, not because I have a Stoker Hunt like fear of Witchboard style terror befalling those that use them but I do think summoning spirits, even if they’re “ghosts” or your fragments of your subconscious, isn’t something that should be treated trivially. Certainly revelations from your subconscious are not best discovered over a board game.

Clearly I’m on the believer side of this debate – I think it’s possible to invite entities into your life through the psychic energy generated by the quasi-ritual activity that entails “playing” with a Ouija and the researchers don’t buy that at all. But even if they’re right and the Ouija is just a conduit for the subconscious what exactly does that prove? Are we to believe that disturbed individuals seeking psychological help should be using Ouija Boards as therapy?

From The New Scientist:

Beloved of spiritualists and bored teenagers on a dare, the Ouija board has long been a source of entertainment, mystery and sometimes downright spookiness. Now it could shine a light on the secrets of the unconscious mind.

The Ouija, also known as a talking board, is a wooden plaque marked with the words, “yes”, “no” and the letters of the alphabet. Typically a group of users place their hands on a movable pointer , or “planchette”, and ask questions out loud. Sometimes the planchette signals an answer, even when no one admits to moving it deliberately.

Believers think the answer comes through from the spirit world. In fact, all the evidence points to the real cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.

That’s why the Ouija board has attracted the attention of psychologists at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Growing evidence suggests the unconscious plays a role in cognitive functions we usually consider the preserve of the conscious mind.

Take driving your car along a familiar route while planning your day. On arrival, you realise you were not in conscious control of the car, it was your “inner zombie”, said Hélène Gauchou at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK, this week. “How can we communicate with that unconscious intelligence?”

Gauchou’s approach is to turn to the Ouija board. To keep things simple her team has just one person with their finger on the planchette at a time. But the ideomotor effect is maximised if you believe you are not responsible for any movements – that’s why Ouija board sessions are most successful when used by a group. So the subject is told they will be using the board with a partner. The subject is blindfolded and what they don’t know is that their so-called partner removes their hands from the planchette when the experiment begins.

The technique worked, at least with 21 out of 27 volunteers tested, reports Gauchou. “The planchette does not move randomly around the board; it moves to yes or no. It seems to move almost magically. None of them felt responsible for the movement.” In fact some subjects suspected that their partner was really an actor – but they thought the actor was deliberately moving the planchette, never suspecting they themselves were the only ones touching it.

Goucher’s team has not yet used the technique to get new information about the unconscious, but they have established that it seems to work, in principle. They asked subjects to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to general knowledge questions using the Ouija board, and also asked them to answer the same questions using the more orthodox method of typing on a computer (unblindfolded). Participants were also asked whether they knew the answer or were just guessing.

Sounds more like they’re trying to disprove the supernatural than study anything useful but no one gets grant money these days for doing useful research.

Jan 3 2012

Yes, Witches and Warlocks are Still Burned These Days

Just not in the good ‘ole U.S. of A. Hopefully I’ve offended some of you out there by using the term Warlock – which I frankly think suffered a bad rap from politically correct Wiccans – and now I’ll offend some of you more with a little patriotism.

Many a time some posuer calling themselves SilverCrone Dragongoddess will shoot off a message to me about the “Christian Taliban” or “Rethuglicans” burning Witches and demanding that I stop bitterly clinging to my guns, want my taxes higher and my national defense weaker because I’m betraying “the cause” by cleaning my shotgun and moving to an area where the taxes are low. I remind them that my “cause” is faith in multiple gods and exploring the mysteries of the universe through various “occult” means and they sputter indignantly about “community” or something. Then they write blog posts claiming I’m a “Christianity” or whatever.

I often remind them that for all their complaints about oppression America is pretty much the only country where you can openly practice Witchcraft of any kind without fear of legal or cultural reprisal. I guess Canada is similar, but it’s not really a country.

Here’s an example. In the UAE arrests for witchcraft and sorcery have increased. Luckily in the UAE witches are given a year in jail, not executed  as they are in Saudi Arabia.

I know that this is not a popular sentiment but thank the gods we live in America. It’s time we recognized that fact and used the opportunity we have been given to truly explore the cosmos rather than sit around online pretending to be oppressed.

Dec 4 2011

The Wickedest Man in the World: A Short Documentary on Aleister Crowley

I have known several Thelemites (or Crowleyites as I call them) over the years and can tell you they’re much less exciting and sinister than you would think; though many are more pompous than you can imagine. Obviously I’ve met many more Wiccans, Pagans, “practitioners” etc who all had some strong feelings about Crowley and his work but knew very little about the man or his writings.

I often recommend people who want to understand Crowley through his own words read The Book of Lies and his novel Dairy of a Drug Fiend. But if you’re in the mood for some more sensational fare this short documentary encapsulates much of who Crowley was as opposed to the prophet like image his fans present. This is, at least, a good place to start any criticism of Crowley rather than relying on what you read on a Wiccan forum. Some things you’ll learn is how careless Crowley was with summoning spirits and how evil Crowley actually was. Pay particular attention to the mountain climbing incident,his treatment of his wife/medium Rose and his drug fueled sex cult.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Nov 7 2010

Some Quick Basics on Heathenism

Many neo-pagans have attitudes regarding the various “heathen” faiths that range from suspicious to openly hostile. Much of this is due to some misrepresentations of heathery as a whole by academia and the media. A quick personal story will illustrate this.

A little while back Village Voice “journalist” Steven Thrasher contacted me for an interview regarding the candidacy of Dan Halloran for a city council position in New York City, Queens I think. We arranged a time to do a phone interview and and I spent almost an hour talking religion with Thrasher and made three things very clear

1) I was not a Heathen but I was (very) loosely affiliated online with some. I myself am a Pagan with no connection to any organized faith.

2) As I am Bi-racial and not shy about it I conclude that most Heathens, and even some “folkish” ones, aren’t racists since they’ve been nothing but polite and honorable to me

3) The idea that all Heathery is some sort of neo-Nazi cult is bigotry that was spread by certain academics (like Daniel Levitas who wrote the awful Terrorist Next Door) looking to cash in on the fear of Nazis in the 1990s and some Wiccans who ran with the smear for political and economic reasons.

When the piece came out I had a few of my more salacious quotes wedged between “experts” claiming anyone who ever worshipped Woden was a neo-Nazi and a page long examination into the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang and it was strongly inferred that I was a racist Heathen.

Halloran, who won his seat by the way, belonged to a kindred with Black members but Thrasher’s interest in doing a hatchet job on a Republican ended up further cementing the image of Heathenism as one step away from White Supremacist groups in the minds of most.

But that’s not the Heathenism I know. Thor Sheil uploaded this quick 20pg basic guide to Heathenism on Scribd and it’s a great place to start for Pagans looking to learn more about this tradition. It also gives a brief description of Heathen views on magical practice that practitioners of all kinds might be interested in:

What is Heathenism

Oct 25 2010

Oklahoma Shocked to Discover Satanists are Kind of Childish

The devil you say! Pun intended.

If you have spent a significant amount of time in the occult community you have met Satanists, who are not part of any individual religion but more of a collection of left hand pathers who adopt the name to describe any number of theologies. This includes the radical atheism of some Church of Satan members who expressly believe that there is no Satan.

I have known and been friendly with a few self-described Satanists and some were decent enough but most were a bit childish and unsophisticated, especially in regard to their Art. Most were not so much pro-Satan as they were anti-Christian and anti-Wiccan. A few were literal devil worshippers, but in reality most people who describe themselves as Satanist are simply being pretentious.

The Internet has changed that in some respects. Easy access to a wider variety of materials than The Satanic Bible had given the “Satanic Underground” more depth than they had in the 80s when I first came to know many. Diana Vera’s Theistic Satanism was on the forefront of the resurgence of a more occult based Satanism which coincided with the sudden popularity of Demonolatry and Luciferian Witchcraft. While these trends created a (somewhat troubling) new seriousness in the theological underpinnings and magical practices of Satanist, culturally the Satanist has never progressed from the days of Anton LaVey’s magically meaningless orgies disguised as rituals.

So it came as no surprise to me that “Satanists” created some sort of scene in Oklahoma which seemed designed to irk Christians. When said Christians did what the Satanists wanted them to do (pay attention to them) the Satanists reacted like scolded children:

The ritual began at 8 p.m. Thursday and drew plenty of controversy.Before making it inside where the Satanists were practicing their religion, prayers were heard outside by groups opposing the ritual.Chiquita Carbajal said she is against the ritual.

“No place for Satan in Oklahoma,” she said.One woman outside began screaming at the Christians to kill each other and rape children.

God doesn’t exist,” she said.

Sad really. Then as icing on this childish cake the Satanists, who claimed that all would be able to witness their “Blasphemy Ritual” locked the doors so that no one could see them do whatever it was they were supposedly doing in there.

Which you and I both know was nothing.

There are indications that Satanism is maturing and we may all hold our different opinions as to what that means, but right now no one should be shocked to discover that your local Satanists are more interested in offending you than Satan’s will.

There’s a video report at KOCO-TV.

Sep 24 2010

The Red Book of Appin – From Legendary Grimiore to Dangerous Internet Hoax

The Red Book of Appin is a name many occultists may have heard but few would know much about. Folklore claims the book was stolen from the Devil as a trick by a young shepherd on whom Satan had set his sights. Montague Summers in his History of Witchcraft and Demonology relates that the book “contained a large number of magic runes and incantations for the cure of cattle diseases, the increase of flocks and the fertility of fields” and (in common with many books of magic) its simple possession conferred upon the owner certain preternatural powers. By Summers’ time the book had already been missing for at least 100 years.

Folklorists these days tend to agree that the book existed and disappeared but contend it was in reality a home brewed book on veterinary medicine that gained its magical reputation through word of mouth. It should be noted that spellbooks like The Long Lost Friend are considered manuals of “medicine” and remedies for men and beasts, so it isn’t impossible that The Red Book of Appin contained charms and incantations in a similar vein. The general consensus among academics and occultists both is that the book deals largely with the problems a small farmer may encounter.

There is, unfortunately, a false grimiore that has been circulating on the Internet which purports to be The Red Book of Appin and is available in .pdf format from dozens of sites, as well as being uploaded to Scribd and other document sharing services. This book is best described in its own words:

“Some say that The Red Book had been dictated by Vlad Tepes himself to some monk Kirill. If it is so or not, we cannot say, but the devil-worshipping of the great romanian general is an unquestionable fact, which no serious black adept can deny. It is well known that this document, enwrapped in blood-red leather of some unknown creature (according to rumors , that was one of lower demons, invoked by Vlad specially for this purpose), was kept by the english merchant Joseph Appin (from this comes the title of the book), who died in 1689 and bequeathed to bury it together with him.

Having accomplished their father`s behest, two of his sons afterwards digged his grave out in order to get the access to the source of terrible transcendent knowledge, but found no book there.

It is possible that the book had been stolen by some offspiring of Vlad, and since then it was imparted from father to son until the year 1869, when it got into the hands of the Hungarian secret community <Tremalosh>, which afterwards turned to one of branches of the Great Black Lodge under the abbreviation A.C.C. The copy had been imparted to the Pontiphic of the Lodge Johan Kellenheim in 1901 and translated to
polish and German.

The further destinity of the original is unknown. It`s written in the purest version of the enochian language, in comparison with which the language of John Dee is just a pitiable senseless murmuring, and not with enochian symbols but with latin letters, which confirms the version of writing it by the monk, unfamiliar with the Heavenly Language.”

Clearly only the most credulous audience could accept these wild and historically inaccurate claims as true (there was no Romania in Tepes time and no convincing evidence that he wasn’t a good Christian has ever been unearthed) but as we all know the “New Age” has produced people so open minded many have had their brains fall out.

I hesitated to put a link to this drivel in this post but I feel it’s important you at least browse through some of it to understand why I consider this a particularly dangerous hoax. This work is actually associated with the (fairly) new Demonolatry movement and the “translator” of this work, Sacarabaeus Tractat, draws heavily from Demonolatry but adds in a healthy dose of good old fashioned devil worship of the kind more familiar to Hammer Horror fans than serious occultists. The book contains what are said to be instructions for a person to become a “Wizard” which seems to be a synonym for a serial killing rapist in the author’s mind. These instructions include summoning an unwise number of demons, adopting some very immature anti-Christian attitudes and in several places killing infants. One rite calls for a man to be stabbed to death, and a black dog which has been allowed to drink the victim’s blood to then be killed as well! Reading about all the men, women and children the author recommends killing makes one wish the author had gone ahead and killed himself before penning this sociopathic, adolescent fantasy.

Hopefully this is a work of fiction, some bit of theater for online role players, but as we have seen in the late 90s these sorts of “Satanic” movements can take on a life of their own. There is of course the metaphysical danger of people performing the less criminal rituals which still involve a (no doubt disturbed) magician summoning demons which, real or imagined, are there to grant this person the power to rape, murder and generally do evil for no discernible reason.

It is the popularity of this vile work that is most disturbing. It is being passed from site to site, user to user with alarming speed considering how obviously worthless the manual is. Even if people simply enjoyed reading this, that in and of itself is enough to make me uncomfortable, the same feeling I get when someone tells me they’ve read de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and enjoyed it. There’s just something a little “off” about the person who enjoys either.

We live in time when many practitioners are fairly lazy. They have not and will not spend much time researching the spells they wish to practice. In this respect the Internet has hurt the occult community a great deal, by replacing training and the knowledge gained just from the search for spells with quick and easy access to anonymous information that is, as in this case, produced by dabblers and degenerates. I hope no one takes this manual seriously, but judging by the caliber of many young Witches and Warlocks I’ve recently come into contact with, I’m betting in the next few years we’ll all hear about someone who has.

The Red Book of Appin Translated by Scarabaeus – Black Magic and try From the Collection