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.

A little introduction

About this blog, and about me.

No doubt, the name and subject matter of this blog is going to raise the considerable ire of some people on the internet. And since I don't want to go through the tedious job of explaining every single time why my critics are wrong, I'm instead going to write this, so they will have to come up with some creativity in their attacks.

Firstly, the purpose of this blog. This blog's job is to make fun of, mock, satirize and otherwise point out the hilarities of the strange beast called online Paganism. This means Wicca, Ásatrú, any sort of Reconstructionism you care to name, Voodoo, "hedge witches" and other fringe occultists. Why do I want to make fun of them? Simply because most of them are hilariously out of touch with reality, suffer from confused thinking and persecution complexes and, in some cases, are actually completely batshit crazy.

If the above doesn't apply to you, then you have nothing to worry about. Probably.

Of course, someone will say "why are you picking on Pagans?" Its quite simple really - I saw a niche market and decided to seize it. There are hundreds of blogs on the evils of Christianity, Islam, Judaism (though admittedly these are normally run by the fringe lunatics of conspiracy theory, and have disturbing attitudes towards race and Nazi Germany) Hinduism and all the rest.

And lets be honest, there is nothing special about Paganism. The people who join it are no different than the people who join any of these sects. Smaller in number, maybe, but they share similar biological and social backgrounds, educational levels etc. Pagans do not stand out in any particular way, or have any real reason to be considered different from other religions. So there is no reason they wont have their own fundamentalists, crazies, bigots and outright frauds. The only difference is that theirs are 'protected' by being lower profile than the big ones that surround us (and are increasingly being documented by others).

And because some unoriginal twat is eventually going to bring it up, a word on my religion.

Its sad I have to do this, really. But so many Pagans seem to think if they are being criticized, the person doing so must be an extreme Christian of some sort, possibly belonging to the religious right, condemning them to hell for all eternity.

In this case however, no dice.

I am not a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Shintoist, Taoist or belong or identify with any other organized religious group. I have a soft spot for parody religions, such as the Pastafarians and the Church of the Subgenius, but I am, at the end of the day, an Agnostic with an extreme case of scepticism. How extreme? I'm not quite as far developed as say, David Hume, but I'm coming along nicely. I believe that, on the balance of things, there is probably not a God of any sort, but I have no concrete evidence for this. At best, I can respect the Deist position on religion, though I consider it a bit of a God of the Gaps deal. Beyond that...its conjecture, symbolism or delusion, I'm afraid.

Basically, I see any given religion as being no better than any other, except in how they inform the conduct of their adherents. If they move the person to acts of charity, selflessness, aid, resistance to tyranny and bigotry and other noble deeds, then that is all and well. I am not concerned with such people, and indeed wish them the very best.

If they do not, however....if they instead are used to belittle others, play games of dominance, spread obvious falsehoods, promote dangerous political agendas, give false hope, deny others methods to solve their problems or shackle their minds to slavish devotion of a person or ideal...well then, we have a problem.