Saturday, 14 June 2008

Occult homphobia

This wonderful little list does a rather excellent job of dispelling any ideas that Paganism is inherently more tolerant and decent than any other religious belief system. Collected by Phil Hine (noted Chaos Magickian) and Paul McAndrew, it gives a number of quotes which can be used to show that stupidity is prevalent everywhere.

"What people have to remember is that Wicca; man and woman, God and Goddess is a fertility cult - a heterosexual fertility cult."
- Wiccan author Keith Morgan, interviewed at Autumn Link-Up '89

"The Wiccan cult stands for fertility and re-creation and not the sexual union between two 'spiritual' members of the same sex as some groups like to believe."
- Kevin Carlyon, Hastings & St. Leonards Observer, 1985.

"Thus the blasphemy of the homosexual formula, for it denies Babalon and breeds devils in chaos."
- Kenneth Grant, Nightside of Eden.

"The (Hornsea) Group ... considers that any genuinely contacted fraternity could not countenance working with sexual deviants of any sort. The reasons for this should be obvious to any trained occultist."

" can't work magic with a homosexual. Homosexuals just can't create a current."
- Quotes from Tanya Luhrmann's 'Persuasions of the Witches' Craft'

"Homosexuals are not human"
- Nicholas Tereshencko, in a letter to the Lamp of Thoth

"Blockages in the mulahadra chakra can lead to child abuse, sodomy and rape."
- remark by a teacher of a 'Gnostic Study Group' in Leeds, 1991.

"Anyone who is bisexual or homosexual cannot advance spiritually."
- remark by Wiccan High Priestess, 1985.

"Homosexuals cannot be true witches...we want no kinks in our circle."
- quoted from a Wiccan magazine, exact source unknown.

"...when homosexuality is not 'natural' or else cannot be explained in terms of incomplete, inborn forms of sexual development, it must have the character of a deviation, vice or a perversion."
- Julius Evola "The Metaphysics of Sex."

"Homosexuals are simply fighting against their Karma - the homosexual man simply has more 'feminine' energy in his 'lower self'. The Lesbian simply has more 'masculinity' in her lower self."
- The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness.

"The homosexual male does not imitate the female adult when he 'camps' but the female child his mother played to him. Maturer aspects of adult love are often missing, and the homosexual couple finds difficulty in making an alliance of the sort that deepens with time."
- Jean Wedloff, The Continuum Concept

"Women are by nature Yin (passive, soft, centrifugal). When they become too Yang by taking too much Yang food - the become miserable...they devote themselves to animal pets, or they turn homosexual. Their life is miserable because it violates all natural laws.

...the homosexual and the asexual person are the most pitiful of all - and the literature of the West is littered with their monstrosities ... sexual abnormality can be cured in time by strict adherence to the macrobiotic regime."
- Sakurazawa Ngoiti, Macrobiotics.

"Homosexual freedom can be associated with the decline of Greece. from the first Century onward, homosexuality flourished in Rome; male prostitution developed to an extraordinary extent and another great empire fell."

"An active, aggressive male homosexual is in a great position of responsibility. By practising oral or anal sex with his male lover, he transmits his karma as well as his hormones & vitality. The links in a chain of destiny are established and invariably passed on to others ... Homosexual men transform one another psychically but pay the price of complex metaphysical entanglements."

"Surely it is time for homosexuals themselves to wake up to the reality of their situation and seek solutions to their problems, rather than campaigning for more acceptance of homosexuality. Eastern techniques offer practical techniques for overcoming the wiles of destiny."
- Nik Douglas & Penny Slinger, Sexual Secrets.

So remind me again why Pagans are so superior to Christians and Muslims?

Thursday, 5 June 2008

More Christian-bashing fun from MysticWicks

Oh yes, Paganism is all about peace and tolerance...unless you happen to be of the wrong religion. And by that I mean any monotheistic faith, but especially Christianity. Then its perfectly fair to make bigoted and totally false accusations, because...well because they're Christians, apparently.

I'm sure many of you who read this blog know my own feelings on Christianity. I'm not a believer, and never really was. I went to a Church of England primary school, where lots of hymns and Bible talk was the staple of my younger years, and even then, once I honestly started thinking about it, I found myself doubting alot of what was said. I read about the history of it on occasion, we of course covered it in PSRE in secondary school, but I really didn't think about it much more beyond that until I started my Religious Philosophy Course at A Level.

Or rather, a little before. Seeing as I was going to be doing this class, I decided to purchase Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, as a sort of supplementary piece to what I would learn in class. As you can imagine, Nietzsche was a pretty hefty read, especially when you're a 16 year old. But I enjoyed it, and I especially enjoyed his highly outrageous writing style and prose, which unfortunately I can only dream of replicating.

But those classes and my reading did help me consider my position on the world's largest faith more carefully and in depth. We touched on Aquinas, who is still one of my favourite Christian thinkers ever. We considered the various theodicies, the problem of evil, Natural Law theory, challenges from Humanism, Marxism etc and even touched on some of the more unusual topics, like the Ontological Argument and Liberation Theology. It also probably helped that I had two teachers who were quite...well, Existentialist I suppose. My main teacher was a huge fan of Camus, and the other was an ex-Jesuit, so as you can imagine their views on Christianity were quite interesting.

In short, I got exposed to a lot of Christian thought, varying quite widely. And I have a level of appreciation for the complexity of some Christian philosophy, its political and social views nonwithstanding. And while I am in every sense something the worldwide Christian community would probably look down on (a learned unbeliever, who has been exposed to Christianity constantly, yet still rejects it) I still have Christian friends, enjoy talking about theology and philosophy with them and in short get on well with many Christians in my personal life.

Of course, that is not always the case. As the recent Channel 4 documentary has shown, even the UK is not free from Christian fundamentalists, who want nothing less than a democratic theocracy. When I studied extremism at University, one of the areas I specialized in was research on the US "Patriot" movement, whose blend of racist Christian Identity beliefs and conspiracy theorism about a Satanic/Communist New World Order has moved them to violence against minorities and the Federal Government. On a lesser level, you have the Christian Reconstructionist Movement, and the broader Religious Right, who have steadily infiltrated the Grand Old Party. In Africa, you frequently have fighting between 'Christian' and 'Islamic' tribal groups in places like Uganda. And groups like the Vatican deny birth control via political pressure on Third World countries, contributing to overpopulation and the spread of deadly diseases like AIDS.

But I distinguish between such groups. Where I know the name of such groups, I give them. I describe them so people are aware I am not conflating such people with the entirety of Christianity, much in the same way I am not conflating Islamic extremists with the majority of Muslims when talking about Islamic terrorism, for example. To do anything less is intellectually dishonest. I am well aware that Christianity has had both positive and negative impacts on society, and I base my evaluations on which groups try to do the least harm and most good, not on the religious label they are using and little else.

Which is why threads like this annoy the shit out of me.

The big difference between Paganism and Christianity?

I knew this was going to be ugly when I saw the title, and I wasn't disappointed. Now, to be fair, the original poster I like. The original poster talks abit about meeting a Christian and says

Whilst he believes that God created us and remains seperate from our Universe, I believe that God/Goddess did create us, but embedded themselves in the Earth; Supporting the Pagan view that the whole Earth is sacred and represents God!

So its a Pantheistic worldview. Which is fair enough. Most mainstream Christians are not Pantheistic, except certain Gnostics and other small sects, although there is an undertone of Pantheism in some Jewish thought (especially Spinoza). Nothing wrong there, just a difference in philosophical outlook. I think both are wrong, so I can hardly condemn on that basis alone.

But predictably, the thread does go downhill from there. Starting with Ladybug1258:

The one steady characteristic that remains obvious as the difference between Christians and Pagans is tolerance.

Which you are immediately going to disprove, I can just tell...

"the one true god" smacks of snobbery in my opinion. How can anyone be so vain or narrowminded to believe that his god is the "only right" god or the "one true path" toward heaven. Which begs the next there a heaven?

So do you not believe your religion is the only true religion? Interesting. I know the Romans seemed to subordinate religion to market forces, at least during the Republic (where temples from every faith seemed to line Rome's streets) but generally people who follow their religion tend to believe its true. Much in the same way people who follow a political ideology tend to think its best for their country. What next, are you going to condemn cats for hunting mice?

The bible thumpers annoy me with their "holier than thou" preachiness. I'm no scholar and know nothing by heart from what is said in the bible or what was done in ancient times except other ancient civilizations(Toltec, Aztec, Mayan etc.), so I won't even try to recite verbatim anything that speaks of pagans being right or christians being right.

Facts are for other people! Think with your gut!

There is a greater strength in everything, we just don't always acknowledge it as we should or as often as we should. We are a tolerant group who will always have a difficult time agreeing with those who feel they are superior in their faith, but with those very words, they belittle themselves in hopes of greater dominion over others, much like a cult. We can truly rejoice in our pagan life style! Ours is one of joy in fellow man and the world around us is appreciative for our gentle touch.

Tolerant...except when it comes to Christians? And Christianity is a cult? Fuck you. Yeah, I said it. I get annoyed when Fundies call Paganism a cult, so I don't see why you should get a free ride, you narrow-minded little bigot. You're using your faith to belittle Christians, you bloody hypocrite.

Fortuately, ChildofBast points out some factual inaccuracies, but strangely doesn't seem to take Ladybug to task for her obviously hateful comments:

Eh... yes and no. While I think Pagans are more likely to be tolerant, it isn't always the case. And speaking for myself, I can actually be quite intolerant when it comes to Pagans clinging to erroneous facts.

Indeed. The Order, for example, included many Odinists, and weren't even tolerant of people with different colour skin. Oh, and they did things like assassinate prominent Jewish personalities and spread crackpot conspiracy theories about the New World Order. Not exactly a model of interfaith dialogue, to say the least.

Daibanjo unfortunately interrupts a good few comments with some idiocy:

Pagans do not believe in a Judgement day. There may be Karma or cause and effect following our actions but no big courthouse in the sky when you die. Rangarok just one big joke? Or aren't those who follow the Norse gods real Pagans? This annoys me almost as much as the Christian stuff. Apparently its OK to use your beliefs and then apply them to the entire Pagan community, in the verbal equiavalent to indiscriminate aerial bombardment. If people want to talk about their own or their faith's beliefs, then fine, but they should not try and apply that to everyone else who could concievably be called a Pagan. The arrogant presumptiveness of being able to speak on the behalf of several faiths is extraordinary.

Pagans do not believe in eternal damnation; You have to face the consequences of your actions but you don't get locked up in hell for eternity.

Again, severely lacking in knowledge. Even a first year Classics student knows that Tartarus is the place where the punishsment fits the crime. Hell, Ixion was put there forever simply for wanting to get it on with Hera, which is incredibly hypocritical when you consider the cheating nature of Zeus. Again, see above about blanket statements.

Pagans do not believe in a god of evil; There is no Satan capable of horrors and the things movies are made out of. There may be those who follow a path of chaos and those who see destruction and decay as part of life. But evil in the christian sense of the word is not part of the pagan path.

So, again, the Titans and Giants and Set and all the other obviously evil deities of various Pagan pantheons clearly don't count. Right? Right.

Pagans do not view god in a purely masculine form; pagans frequently see and honor the goddess.

Some Pagans may do. Those who honour male deities for example. I am quite partial to they mythological Hermes myself, though I mostly enjoy reading about him stealing Apollo's flock (I have something of a soft spot for rogues and thieves). Now let us assume I took that a few step further and decided to worship Hermes, for whatever reason. Would I still be a Pagan?

And what of those Christians who saw God as neither male or female, but the ineffable Ultimate? This view is pretty popular in the Eastern Orthodox Church, but its mostly accepted elsewhere too. Except in Fundamentalist circles, but we all know Fundamentalists are scared of women anyway, so they don't really count. Equally, the Alchemists often portrayed God as a hermaphrodite, embodying both the male and female principles. I belive the Holy Spirit is sometimes considered more feminine, but I'd have to check more on that. And many anthropologists (as well as fundamentalist Protestants) have noted the importance of the Virgin Mary in Catholic imagery and symbolism.

Personal View; If my God were to appear before me, we would greet each other as friends. If jesus were real and he came back to earth, the christians would crucify him all over again

What? All of them? Seriously, another big fuck you to yourself. Even the parable of the Grand Iniquistor, one of the most chilling and thoughtful of The Brothers Karamazov, potrays those who would kill Jesus as the politicized Vatican at the time of the Inquisition. The ugly implication here is of course that all Christians are violent hypocrites. Very hateful.

Cheddarsox restores sanity with a thoughtful post about the social views of NeoPaganists as opposed to theological views, and the difficulty of drawing dividing lines, which I mostly agree with...

And then Fireyone ruins it again with this:

The biggest difference in my opinion is that the way the christian religions are set up, there is no direct link to god. The way to God must be through a church, a sacrament or a priest whereas in paganism God, Goddess is everywhere, in leaves and trees and most importantly, within.

How many times do have to say it: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS NOT ALL OF CHRISTIANITY.

Has the message got through yet? Mormons for example believe God talks to each of them as individuals. Sorry, trying to imply Christians are less spiritual is just another nasty little Pagan tactic to belittle their faith.

Thyrsos next:

Most modern Christians are what I call "Contract Christians." The crucial point for them is not following the teachings of Christ, (which are for the most part very Pagan), it is pledging allegiance to Christ, much in the same way a Knight would pledge fealty to a feudal Lord or a King. Moral behaviour is considered secondary, since even the most vile sin is forgivable by this contract. In other words, if Hitler accepted Jesus at the last moment, sincerely, he would be in Heaven alongside all the other Christians.

Funnily enough, I've been reading The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer recently, and what he describes here has nothing to do with the religion and reads more like the Follwer sub-variant of the Authoritarian Personality Type. These people are tied to convention, regardless of what it is and where it comes from, so long as it has traditional authority. So these people would be Muslims in the Middle East, Hindus in India or Communists in the Soviet Union. The problem isn't with the Christian, its with the personality mindset and the culture in which they live. If Wicca became the majority religion of the USA tomorrow, many Wiccans would fall into this category.

Also, unforgivable sins do exist. Eternal Sin can be traced back to the Bible itself:

Truly I say unto you, All their sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter: but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin: because they say, ‘He has an unclean spirit’.

(Book of Mark 3:28-29)

Oh, and Godwin's Law, motherfucker. Have you ever heard of it?

LostSheep does a brilliant parody of many of the bigoted posters there by saying:

One difference is that paganism is all-embracing, dogma free, and welcoming of difference, whereas Christianity is monolithic and imposes rigid rules of dogma, and no one is allowed to deviate from the official line in the slightest, and everyone believes every word of the official sacred text without question. And what's more, exactly the same rules and dogma applies to every single one, whichever of the hundreds of different denominations or sects they may belong to.

... that seems to be what a lot of Pagans believe, anyway, it seems.

A round of applause for this gentleman, please.

Thrysos then brings down the tone of the thread again:

Oh, let's not forget the Christian concept of Original Sin, and all the joy THAT's brought.

Whereas I think most Pagans embrace, shall we say, the idea of Original Grace.

Also, any being who demands to be appeased with a human sacrifice would be considered a Demon by most Witches. Christians worship this same being as a God.

Remind me how Augustine's view of humanity differ's from Thucydides, or Machiavelli, two of the most Pagan* thinkers with books still being published. The idea of man being driven by his base nature is hardly exclusive to Christianity, and in fact was in part the basis of Robert Kaplan's excellent Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos. Much of Realist thinking in international politics draws from Machiavelli and Thucydides in particular, whose view of human nature is even more pessimistic and negative then that given by original sin.

*I am aware that Machiavelli was not strictly speaking a Pagan. However he took his cues from the pre-Christian world and expressed a theory of political thought that was more in touch with that than Christian ideas about virtue.

Protestantism in particular is much kinder, usually defining original sin as:

a predisposition or tendency toward sin, which does not assign actual guilt to anyone. This tendency towards sin is referred to as a "sin nature." Under this view, it would be possible, but unlikely, for a person to resist the temptation to sin and live a sinless life free from guilt.

Sounds to me like another way of saying "people screw up, no-one's perfect."

I don't think I even need to go into the nastiness of the last statement. Zeus put people in Tartarus to suffer for all eternity for trying to fool around with his wife. And there are equivalent stories of punishment from all Pagan pantheons. They're as every bit as "demonic" as the genocidal maniac of the Old Testament, but of course Thrysos' partisan nature wont let him admit that.

Daibanjo is back again, with another very nasty statement:

But I do take your point, Thyrsos. The notion of original sin has been used as a way of frightening the faithful into submission and as a means of convincing them that all who do not accept that they are sinners, even when they have done nothing wrong, are less worthy than those who worship christ.
One of the modern results of that is that Mahatma Ghandi is going to hell but the guy who blows up a family planning clinic is going to heaven.

For the first part, see my comments above on Original Sin.

As for the seond...well, we all know, Christians all cheer on those who blow up abortion clinics, right? Anyone who blew up an abortion clinic is not only a murderer, but also guilty of Presumption, an unforgivable or Eternal Sin. Sorry, but almost all Christians would condemn such a man and say he's going to hell. Not to mention people who do such things are an extremist fringe element who are widely reviled by mainstream Christianity. What next, are we going to hold up Bin Laden as an example of mainstream Islam, you hateful little prick?

Zephyrstorm tries to act reasonable, but comes across as little more than an apologist for the Pagan bigots in the thread:

some of us have been injured by the actions of some Christians, and sometimes that shows in our speech, and in our feelings about Christianity.
There are some very hateful things done in the name of Christianity by people who have the ears of other Christians that seem to have the rubber stamp of approval from some factions of Christianity.

Which of course is why its perfectly OK to condemn all Christians for the actions of a few. Collective guilt and punishment, fuck yeah!

To be fair, those same factions of Christianity have broad-brushed other religions repeatedly, sometimes to the extent of ruining lives.

So its OK to do the same back to them, is it?

I think, considering some of the troubles that some parts of the Pagan community and other non-Christians have suffered, simply for believing what they do, that a certain amount of angst and anger is, at times, justified. On the other hand, I also believe that sometimes we, on both sides, adopt a persecution complex that is, frankly, often undeserved.

Uh huh. And does this justification extend to sectarian hatred as shown in the thread? Not just towards Christians who may have actually done them harm, but an entire belief system held by 2 billion people worldwide?

KarriMorgan adds some more idiocy to the mix:

Though there are intolerant pagans as well, you dont find many witches or shamans that go door-to door and wave outlets in other peoples faces, saying "You are a sinner, and you are wrong!"

No, they hide in their basements and bitch about evil Christians out to destroy them, and pick on innocent members of that faith, should they be foolish enough to show their face, going by reading MysticWicks.

Interestingly, I haven't had a single Christian try to convert me for years. I had a leaflet shoved under my door, inviting me to a meeting, about 8 months back, but that's about all. My local Christians are also often outside the nightclub on Friday's, selling lovely toasted cheese and ham sandwiches for 50 pence a slice. I even tried to tell one she could try her sales pitch on me (she was pretty cute, so I didn't mind talking to her at all), and all she said was the money would go to charity and it would help get rid of my spare change. Can't say fairer than that.

Anyway, less anecdotes, more righteous indignation and exposure of hypocrisy.

I have always had a grudge towards christianity, not because they believe in their god, but because they expect everyone else to as well.

Religion is a memetic virus, to riff on Dawkin's terminology. Blaming a religion for trying to spread is, again, like blaming a cat for chasing mice. Very few religions have prohibitions against spreading the word, and those that do tend to end up with few followers. Its not just a coincidence Christianity and Islam are the world's largest religions. You have to think in evolutionary terms about things like this.

My best friend was a mormon, and she begged me with her to attend one of their meetings. It was so frustrating, because I wanted to argue, but I just kept my mouth shut. They kept on about how their church was the only church in the entire world that had all the facts! That we other people were going to hell, for not having their faith.

Again, sales pitch and memetic virus. See above.

My frustration goes, why cannot people accept that religion is a private matter? You choose what to believe, and I dont get in your way! It is okay to ask, why you believe what you do, but how can anyone say that other peoples faith is fake? They claim that they want to save our souls, but my soul is my own to save! And I am the only one that can determine if it needs saving, as long as I dont break the law, hurt anyone or in any other way act inappropriate towards other human beings.

Freedom of speech presumably means the freedom to prosleytise and the freedom to question, even condemn other's beliefs. Sorry, but once we start banning people from saying things in case they hurt other people's feelings, we go down a very dark path. You censorous little twit.

I dont dare to say that the way I see the world is the absolute truth!

Well, except when you condemn Christianity, where you seem to radiate clarity in the belief of your statements.

Thats probably why I have more respect for the general pagan, because we dont need a church to believe, we dont need anyone to dictate us about what to believe. If in doubt, we ask, we seek guidance and support, but we dont throw ourselves down for a god that wish to rule us.

Yes, yes, Pagans are so much more spiritual and superior because they don't rely on churches...whereas your God is totally different because they love and respect you and even though you know next to nothing about their mythology or history you are sure they have your best interests at heart, and besides, a coven isn't really a church anyway...yawn, change the record already.

And when speaking of tolerance, how many Wiccans/pagans/Shamans/ similar do you see thrashing gay people in puclic? Or transvestites? And if they do, I have never seen them tie their personal opinions to their faith! For eksample, someone can say, I dont get bisexual people, I dont think they really exists. And that is okay! Their opinions are their own, and they are fully entitled to express them!

Actually, I know of several Neo-Pagan groups which have hateful attitudes towards gays and lesbians. I'm saving much of that material for another day, but here is an example of this sort of thinking:

"What people have to remember is that Wicca; man and woman, God and Goddess is a fertility cult - a heterosexual fertility cult."
- Wiccan author Keith Morgan, interviewed at Autumn Link-Up '89

Sounds sort of like the equally bigoted "its Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" nonsense, doesn't it?

Lol... So we might not be all tolerant, but at least we dont trash our fellow human beings in public as often. Nor do we do the mission thing, and recruit people, or claim to be all knowing. Even our books of Shadow are different. Being our "holy book" that says a lot!

Oh, so because you don't do it as much as Christianity, its OK? So, like, if I murder less people than Ted Bundy, that would be cool with you too? Yeah? Awesome.

What I tried to say was, we are pagans because we made the choice, we had a longing, we had a journey (some of us are still at the beginning), and it is hard work. Some turn christian because some guy in a suit had the right leaflet and the person was going through a rough time.

Yes, every Pagan is a freethinking individual who was in no way targeted for recruitment whatsoever whereas most Christians are mindless automatons. You unimaginative, self-opinionated idiot.

I am totally okay with christian people as individuals, it is their spirit of judgement, and of "sharing" that I dont agree with!


Fortunately, the thread seems to end there. Another day, another load of hateful Christian bashing with half-hearted resistance to this attitude. Well, its a good thing someone is willing to call these people out, isn't it?

And thank goodness there was no Burning Times nonsense this time around.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Just what politics needs...more religious nutcases

Thanks to Momedac/The High Wierdness Project for this link

Apparently, in these dark days of Christian inspired leadership in America, the only solution to the problem would seem to be a reminder that secularism is a high ideal enshrined in the American Constitution.

And who better to deliver that reminder then...a group of people who have banded together and base their objection to this on their religious identity?

Sadly, this seems to be exactly what the Pagan Unity Campaign is. Yes, the solution to religion in politics is more religion in politics. Now excuse me a while so I can go bang my head against a brick wall...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

This is the sort of unscientific bullshit we have to put up with

Via Pagan Magic.

Where to start, where to start....

I really hate when people abuse scientific language to make pseudo-scientific and unfalsifiable statements. Its worse, in my mind then saying "I don't know" or "its magic, it doesn't operate via the normal rules of the Universe". I wouldn't necessarily agree with those statements either, but they seem more honest to me. Dressing up your talk of magic using terms nicked from Quantum Mechanics For Dummies is intellectually dishonest, because you're trying to add a veneer of respectability when none of the evidence actually supports it.

Which is why statements like....

Magic is a form of natural science that works with energies, understanding and changing them.

...piss me off. Oh really, its a form of energy? Pray tell, what kind of energy? Is that kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, nuclear, light, elastic, electromagnetic, sound, chemical, or mass ?

All matter is made from protons, neutrons and electrons - which in turn are made up of quarks -

OK, with you so far.

or vibration waves

Wait, what? All fundamental particles are vibrating due to heat energy in the environment. Why are quarks being singled out? Electrons do exactly the same thing.

We use magic to send out a vibrational signal to the universe to attract or repel energy depending on our desires.

OK seriously, leap in logic moment. How the hell does that work? Does magic involve a multi-million dollar labotatory where you can manipulate quarks to your heart's content? Because othewise, I want an explanation of how you are manipulating subatomic particles.

And secondly, why would a message alone make 'the universe' do anything? Last time I checked, the Universe didn't work off requests or what you desire. I must have missed that model of the Universe when thumbing through my physics textbooks.

And thirdly, assuming you somehow undertook a series of actions which led to you repelling or attracting energy....again crops up the question of what energy you are attracting or repelling. I don't think you know enough about Physics to go around attracting nuclear energy to yourself, for example.

Of course we do this on a daily basis every single day through various means.

Verbal - “Can you get me a cup of coffee honey”
Written - well you’re reading this aren’t you.
Non-verbal - Everyone remember’s the ’stare of doom’ from an angry parent, dressing to impress, fragrancing the home to make it inviting etc.

I'm not sure how much of this I can take.

Quantum effects do not happen in the macro-world. This is all macro-physics that can be explained by, you know, actual science. Chemical and electrical reactions between the eyes and brain to let us interpret signals our eyes recieve (or you can throw in sound and cover the ears as well). No "vibrations", at least in the sense the author claims to understand them, are necessary.

Also, emotions aren't a form of energy damnit.

Also also you've moved from subatomic particles to human interactions. Quit moving the goalposts.

All of these methods are designed to ellicit a response. When we cast a spell we are either sending a message e.g. healing, banishing - or we are looking to receive a desired response e.g. inspiration, love/friendship, prosperity etc.

Yes, and they all have the advantage of communicating a message to people capable of understanding and giving a response. If I want healing, I'll rely on a doctor thanks, or let my immune system do the work. And if I desperately want to 'banish' someone I'll get a restraining order (or send pizzas and Korans to their address for months on end until they get the fucking hint).

Also, you still haven't explained how a message is sent, or how the Universe supposedly comprehends this, or how nuclear, elastic and electromagnetic energy etc mysteriously turn into 'healing', or 'friendship'.

In both cases, a magic spell is designed to create a vibration that will result in the required effect. By using tools with a similar or complementary vibration we can produce a specific signal.

Right. And pray tell, how do you know if there is a complimentary vibration? Last time I checked, up and down quarks are the most common quarks in the Universe, with the other 4 'flavours' being exceedingly rare. So mostly everything is going to have similar vibrations. Unless you've now switched to the made up vibrations in your head, instead of the ones taken from science.

If we went for a job interview we would wear smart clothes, choose a pleasant aftershave/perfume, apply neutral make-up and adopt a professional demeanour.

Well, maybe you would. I have too much self-respect to pander to interviewers. Jeans and t-shirt usually does the trick.

In magic the most common tools that are utilised are herbs, crystals, rituals, the petitioning of deities, incense, oils and colours to name but a few.

Uh-huh. And how do these create subatomic vibrations again? And how in any way does that relate to trying to impress a job interviewer?

So how do we know these work? through thousands of years of experimentation, story telling and record keeping, this information has been passed from generation to generation. The simple truth is that if these tools did not work, then their use would not be remembered.

I....I'm lost for words here. Tradition is the single fucking worst guide for your beliefs in the world. Ignoring for the moment most magical 'traditions' aren't even 200 years old. Secondly, rephrase the sentence this way:

People have believed in the Christian God for thousands of years. The simple truth is that if he did not exist, he would not be remembered.

People are falliable, irrational, have vested interests built around their beliefs and really, really bad at learning. An appeal to tradition is nothing more than an attempt to shut down an argument by pretending to have proof without actually having anything verifiable.

Often referred to as correspondences, this information is now readily available in books and on the internet.

Well, there's a reason not to believe it right off. Nothing spreads faster on the internet than pure bullshit.

Once the appropriate tools have been selected, they need to be used in a way that harnesses the personal power of the spell caster - the intent.

And how does intent translate into vibrations again?

Once the form of the spell has been decided and performed, it is then time to see what results your signal will bring you. There is generally no set time as to how long it will take for a spell to work - the signal may take a while to travel to it’s destination, or in some cases it may not be interpreted properly. if I do this tonight and it doesn't work, then its not because its bullshit, its because something else screwed up. So in short, you're saying the theory is unfalsifiable.

It is also important to remember the Law of Attraction i.e. like attracts like - any energy that you send out will eventually return to you, so think carefully before sending any destructive signals.

Oh not the bloody Law of Attraction. There is nothing in the world worse than these smug, self-satisfied pricks who go on about the Law of Attraction. According to this idea of the world, people who are suffering, in pain or dying just aren't trying hard enough. They should think positive thoughts, and pull themselves up by the bootstraps! All those people in Cambodia wanted to die, Pol Pot was just fulfilling the Law of Attraction. Its nothing more than a justification to feel superior due to luck and to blame the victim.

T S Elliot put it perfectly when he said “Do I dare disturb the universe?” - before undertaking any magical act, ask yourself this question and if you are unsure then go back to the books, discuss the options with friends or forum members. Pay attention to your personal energy and intuition, when the time is right - send your message, and let the universe respond.

T S Elliot also put it perfectly when he said

And they write innumerable books; being too vain and distracted for silence: seeking every one after his own elevation, and dodging his emptiness.

This article is a whole lot of emptiness and dodging.

To sum up:

  • The atomic nature of any given structure can not be changed by thought alone.
  • Energies and vibrations are not responsive to or bound by linguistic structures, and these vibrations cannot be trasmitted on command.
  • There is no evidence for 'healing' energy. Either use energy in a physical manner, a sociological one, or a spiritual one. Don't try to conflate these ideas.

Damn. I mean, at least Christians generally acknowledge they hate science and facts...

Saturday, 24 May 2008

I'm sort of on holiday for the next couple of days

I'll try to get a good sized post done on Tuesday, however.

See ya later, you crazy cats.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Just so you know...

I've enabled anonymous comments. Usually a blogger, gmail or OpenID account is needed to comment, but I decided the more the better. Out of some courtesy, I would suggest you choose a name of sorts when commenting, just so I can tell your posts from others without having to do IP checks.


One of my favourite online haunts...

Is the laughable MysticWicks forums. I'm not a member there, I must point out. Well, not any more, at least. Apparently, its pefectly alright for forum admins to harass members all over the boards, but should the harassed member tell them to shove their bullshit, then a banning is an acceptable solution.

Some might say that could indicate a wee bit of bias on my part, but they couldn't be more wrong. I don't hold a single thing against the hypocritical little autocrats who run the place, and certainly hope they don't choke on something anytime soon.

But today is not about past happenings. Its about hilarious things that are happening right now. Because MysticWicks is so large, in spite of its many attempts to drive away users (pay for sites, idiotic leadership, blatant favouritism and, worst of all, hideous forum themes) its the perfect place to start a little hunting for some easy material.

For instance, we currently have a Christian troll winding up the community on issues of incubi and succubi, hilariously stealing comments from Malleus Maleficarum to get them annoyed. That's usual, I don't really mind trolls, so long as they are witty. But some of the responses are very telling...

Choosing a name like the Grand Inquisitor may have been a bit of cheekiness, but all the same, too reminescent of the Inquisition, and a lot of things that some modern day Pagans would like to NOT remember. So there is an aire of defensiveness without even trying.

Never again the Burning Times? Oh please, dear God no! This nonsense is coming from Wolf O Volos, for the record.

Look, I'm going to make this very clear. The Inquisition targeted heretical Christians. According to Thomas Aquinas' own words in the Summa Theologicae:

Among unbelievers there are some who have never received the faith, such as the heathens and the Jews: and these are by no means to be compelled to the faith, in order that they may believe, because to believe depends on the will.

Of course, there is a degree of seperation between the word's on paper and actual action, so lets look at the actions of the Inquisition. The Inquisition was charged with dealing with heresy, which is an entirely different matter to nonbelief, and it carried this out with effective ruthlessness. Heresy of course meant to believe in something different to the Church, but call yourself Christian. It was essentially a political crime, because it undermined the power of the Vatican in Europe. The best example would be the work done in Languedoc, where the Cathar heresy was put down.

Are there any Cathars on MysticWicks? Certainly not the person complaining about Inquisitions, since he gives his path as "Slavic/Eclectic".

Now, if he had wanted to talk about the witchcraft trials...well, that's another matter entirely. An equally false matter, but a much different one.

Often colloquially referred to as the Burning Times, almost everything uttered on it by the Neopagan community is utter bullshit. For example:

  • The total number of victims was probably between 50,000 and 100,000 -- not 9 million as many believe.
  • Although alleged witches were burned alive or hung over a five century interval -- from the 14th to the 18th century -- the vast majority were tried from 1550 to 1650.
  • Some of the victims worshiped Pagan deities, and thus could be considered to be indirectly linked to today's Neopagans. However most apparently did not.
  • Some of the victims were midwives and native healers; however most were not.
  • Most of the victims were tried executed by local, community courts, not by the Church.
  • Many countries in Europe largely escaped the burning times: Ireland executed only four "Witches;" Russia only ten. The craze affected mostly Switzerland, Germany and France.
  • Most of the deaths seem to have taken place in Western Europe in the times and areas where Protestant - Roman Catholic conflict -- and thus social turmoil -- was at its maximum.

So not only is there a lot of misplaced ideas about the role of the Christian church in the Witch hysteria, it should also be remembered that many of the Pagan faiths now practiced no longer existed (they were later revived either in the late 19th or 20th century) and that some of the biggest wars in Europe, such as the 30 Years War, were taking place at the time.

Furthermore, if you are still upset about things that happened hundreds of years ago....I mean damn, my ancestors were deported to the furthest outreaches of the British empire for the crime of being incurably Scottish, and that was well after the end of the Burning Times. And all I hope for is that England is made a fool of in the Ashes.

On the other hand, there are still witch hunts going on in Africa today. Are Pagans speaking up about this? For the most part, no. They are the "wrong sort" of Pagan, it would seem. Persecution only counts when you don't actually have to speak out against acts happening today, only imaginary persecution from a 500 year old series of events.

So lets continue. Now we have some high drama from Kailen:

You have a poor sense of humour. Your name causes torment to innocent people. It brings memories of things that are painful, much like a swastika might remind someone who is Jewish of what happened in Nazi Germany.

OK, except the fact no-one alive has suffered at the hands of the Inquisition. They've all been dead hundreds of years and anyone who overreacts like you to a name like this is a supersensitive little twat with a persecution complex. Also, great way to belittle the very tragic fate of the Jews in Nazi Germany, asshole.

If you think the name "TheGrandInquisitor" is funny, do you also think that burning people at the stake is funny? Or that drowning people to see if they are witches is funny? Or torturing people until they say whatever it is the person wants to hear is funny?

Perhaps if that is so funny, we should try those methods on you.

Perhaps he finds internet tough guy routines from hypersensitive people funny? I mean come on, that's one step off a threat there. Not that I would take it seriously, but come on. Your reaction is hilarious, if somewhat sad too.

Also, not to mention, as another board member did, Monty Python. Those guys were objectively hilarious. "NO-ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!" and all that. Michael Palin better hope he and this guy never meet, if that's his attitude.

And we have Lunacie also picking up on the Jewish theme:

As far as the user name, that's about as funny as someone registering on a Jewish discussion board with the user name "Hitler." Not so much, eh

Look, I know the Holocaust is the gold standard for persecution. But you, as you stand right here and right now, with your broadband internet access and enough free time to go about posting freely on an internet forum, labelling yourself as a Pagan, have not gone through anything even close.

So in fact it's not very much like signing up as Hitler on a Jewish messageboard, because many Jewish people have immediate family who suffered the holocaust, you whiney, smug little prick. When was the last time 6 million Pagans were shoved into ovens, gassed, shot and marked for execution by the government of any Western state? Never? That's right.

Kailen is back again:

It's probably people like me responding to drivel like that, who cause religious wars. I very nearly responded to the last paragraph of that email with a challenge.

Question is, who are those who would inflict harm on peace loving people to judge those who would rather live in peace?

Yes, it is people like you who probably start religious wars, because you can't take a fucking joke and think every little wrong of the past has to be nursed and carried over into the now. And the question of who would be the inflicter of harm is pretty obvious, given your threatening replies to TheGrandInquisitor's questions.

More Kailen:

On a side note, whether it was about witches or not, enough of them were tortured and killed. Is it any surprise that reference to the inquisition is met with hostility?

Well yes, given it happened over 500 years ago. You'd think you would have gotten over events that you cant remember, and neither can anyone else in living memory, and that the social and political forces that were behind it have long vanished. So just a little surprised.

Lunacie back once more:

No, the Spanish Inquisition was a political "witch hunt" directed by the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, it was such a "cloak and dagger" operation that some people actually thought it was a real witch hunt and they turned in people who were different, people they had a grudge against, and people who didn't attend the same church.

All of those things describe us Pagans, so do you really not understand why that user name is offensive to some of us? Oh dear.

Well lets see. The Spanish Inquisition was aimed at Jews and Muslims. Are you a Jew or Muslim in medieval Spain? Or are you another boring suburban housewife and Pagan who likes to believe she is being persecuted, because it adds a touch of drama to your otherwise humdrum existence?

Hmm, I wonder. Beyond that, the Spanish Inquisition was one of the most scepticial when it came to witchcraft, often attributing it to folklore and superstitions and rarely getting involves in such cases. Protestants, especially Lutherans, have more reason to be bitching about the Inquisition in Spain.

And the thread goes predictably on and on, with people get more or less upset and outraged over this terrible, terrible name, as the conversation continues...This sort of low grade, "oh the world is out to get us/lets lie about historical matters" bullshit is exactly the reason this blog was invented. In order to laugh at such idiots.