MonthMay 2006

My last teenage manifesto

Snoop’s a 19 year old from Liverpool who chronicles his magical experiments on his blog My last teenage manifesto. It’s always interesting and encouraging to see people writing about their experiences actually doing magic. And even though I’m only a few years older than him, it’s nice to get a kick in the pants from the younger generation as I start to settle into my confortable yuppie lifestyle.

Eat it, grandad.

National Geographic article on ayahuasca

For centuries, Amazonian shamans have used ayahuasca as a window into the soul. The sacrament, they claim, can cure any illness. The author joins in this ancient ritual and finds the worlds within more terrifying?and enlightening?than ever imagined.

Full Story: National Geographic: Peru: Hell and Back

(thanks Gwen!)

Genesis P. Orridge talks about Throbbing Gristle, plus live “Discipline” video

Scientists Take First Steps Toward Invisibility

New materials that can change the way light and other forms of radiation bend around an object may provide a way to make objects invisible, researchers said on Thursday.

Two separate teams of researchers have come up with theories on ways to use experimental “metamaterials” to cloak an object and hide it from visible light, infrared light, microwaves and perhaps even sonar probes.

Full Story: Extreme Tech: Scientists Take First Steps Toward Invisibility

The Myth of Superman

Neil Gaimon and Adam Rogers in Wired:

About a decade ago, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman comic strips in the 1940s and ‘50s, published one of the great Odd Books of our time. In An Unlikely Prophet, reissued in paperback this spring, Schwartz writes that Superman is real. He is a tulpa, a Tibetan word for a being brought to life through thought and willpower. Schwartz also says a Hawaiian kahuna told him that Superman once traveled 2,000 years back in time to keep the island chain from being destroyed by volcanic activity. Maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t, but it does sound like a job for Superman – all in a day’s work for a guy who can squeeze coal into diamonds. Schwartz then tells of his own encounter with Superman in a New York taxi, when he learned firsthand that Superman’s cape is, in fact, more than mere fabric.

Full Story: Wired: The Myth of Superman

Egypt to excavate Roman city submerged in sea

Reuters reports:

The Egyptian authorities have given the go ahead for the underwater exploration of what appears to be a Roman city submerged in the Mediterranean, Egypt’s top archaeologist said on Monday.

Full Story: Reuters: Egypt to excavate Roman city submerged in sea

Magic and control

Channel Null’s got a great post up exploring different concepts of enlightenment, and finds them both lacking. Towards the end he begins to explore the politics of enlightenment:

If any agenda comes out of transcendental practice, it feels outright fascistic. … Years sitting on a meditation mat, practicing mantra, making offerings and bargaining with all manner of strange spirit tend to give one a disposition against any manner of whining or weakness. While this may just take the form of tough love, it may also split off into fascistic wonderland.

This is a great point. There seems to be a tendency for people who are too far into their own magical or spiritual kick to begin ignoring the suffering of others and claim that the suffering of the world need to find the utopia in their minds and let go of their materialism, or whatever. “Let them eat enlightenment.”

The full story’s at Dark Science and Infernal Art, and is well worth reading. However, I’m going to go off on a tangent here.

One thing that’s really bothering me about ceremonial magical practice is the “control” mind-set of it. The goal is to take these entitities (be they psychological, or “real”) – angels, demons, and other spirits – and force them to do your bidding, generally by “binding” them in some way. That whole approach seems very flawed to me.

Equally flawed is the other end of the spectrum, worshiping and begging and sacrificing to a god form.

To draw analogies from the material plane: what motivates you to do things for people? Most of us would be happy to lend a neighbor a cup of sugar. But most of us would be happy to give a neighbor we’ve never met a cup of sugar if they asked. But we wouldn’t be happy about someone coming over and forcefully taking a cup of sugar. And we would probably be pretty weirded out if someone showed up and groveling at your feet and begging for sugar. Nor would we be happy with a neighbor who comes over all the time asking for small favors like cups of sugar, but never offeres to return the favor, and doesn’t make any effort to be social with you.

We’d find some way to deal with someone who stole from us on a regular basis (maybe through the police, maybe just getting together a group of friends, or maybe just sneaking into their place and stealing something of greater value. And as for creepy or annoying people who want favors from us, well we’d probabably start to avoid and ignore them. On a long term basis, the only people we’ll really be giving gifts to or doing favors for, are our friends. People we have relationships with.

I don’t know enough about other traditions to know if this is the case elsewhere, but that’s what really bugs me about the “western esoteric tradition.” A lack of emphasis on building relationships with the intelligences we invoke or evoke.

Ban on anonymous internet services?

Wired News reports:

This week, Rep. Felix Grucci (R-New York) introduced legislation requiring schools and libraries receiving federal funds to block access from their computers to anonymous Web browsing or e-mail services.

Full Story: Wired News: Anonymity Takes a D.C. Hit

The Da Vinci Prayerboook

Gnostic priest Jordan Stratford‘s book is out:

An ordained Gnostic Priest Jordan Stratford has just released a response to the The da Vinci Code phenomenon. Dan Brown?s bestselling novel and upcoming film have drawn out countless critics deriding the work as “Gnostic”, and now for the first time Gnostics are taking the opportunity to speak for themselves.

The irony is that the premise of Brown’s novel isn’t Gnostic at all, and the word never occurs in the book. Rather than reject the divinity of Jesus, Gnostics in the early Christian Church understood that the Logos, the incarnated Word of God, was always immortal.

Full Story: Key 23.

Mac Tonnies on the singularity and life extention

Mac writes:

Personally, I’m evenly split between the sort of cosmic all-at-onceness Rucker espouses (even though I’ve never done LSD) and Kurzweil’s chomping-at-the-bit transhumanism. Like Rucker, I’m a little wary of “The Singularity Is Near.” Not because I fear I won’t enjoy it (I thought highly “The Age of Spiritual Machines”) but because I fear Kurzweil’s consummate punditry. It’s great fun to wonder what the postsingular future holds in store, but Kurzweil (and many others of the same general outlook) seem to have overlooked William Gibson’s observation that the future’s arrival is seldom evenly distributed.

Full Story: Posthuman Blues.

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