Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dowsing is still kicking.

Divine Business An old-school dowser plies his trade

If only everyone was able to dowse like Vernon G. Bandy then maybe there wouldn't be a water crisis.

I'm keeping this blog post short but expect much deeper material in the near future. Until then enjoy the story of Mr. Bandy and those of you in the United States have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

End of the World?

World will end on May 21 says ex-MTA worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who's putting money where mouth is
2011 end times prediction at Wikipedia.

Those two links should tell you just about everything you need to know about all of this hubbub about the end of the world on Saturday. Technically it's just supposed to be the Rapture, but for most people it'll be close enough. The true end is supposed to be on October 21st.

Like most end of the world claims this one will be pretty easy to test. We just have to wait and see. In all likelihood nothing will happen. I'm by no means a scholar of Christianity but I do seem to remember there being something in the Bible about no man knowing the day or time of the end. I guess we'll find out in a couple of days. I mostly feel sorry for the people that have spent their life savings advertising for this.

Now, for your enjoyment:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

If ETs are coming to Earth then where are they?

I've brought up the similarities between UFO sightings and older, more magical phenomena like fairies before. I have been thinking for a while that these phenomena are one and the same and the extraterrestrial explanation is just our modern take on something that has been happening for a very long time. Pondering the Fermi Paradox earlier today it occurred to me that the evidence of intelligent extraterrestrials visiting us (or existing at all) is severely lacking. Sure, there are lots of things that could be interpreted as evidence for extraterrestrials, but there doesn't seem to be anything really concrete that says "All of these things are caused by aliens."

No doubt the UFO phenomenon is real. People see strange and unidentifiable objects in the skies all the time. Unidentified does not necessarily mean extraterrestrial though. That we jump to the extraterrestrial hypothesis as an explanation for UFOs tells how much our collective thinking has been affected by the times we live in. Science fiction influences aside, we assume that since we can travel into space that an advanced alien civilization should be able to travel much farther into space, bend space and time itself, and generally defy the laws of physics as we know them.

That's the real rub of it: the defying of the laws of physics. To get here from another star in a timely manner, as well as to remain undetected by humans, these aliens would have to have technology that resembled magic to us simply because it would defy all understanding that we have of how the universe works. We're talking faster-than-light travel, wormholes, unimaginable energy sources, etc. Thinking about this, there's little wonder some ufologists have looked at the magical descriptions of strange things in the past and decided that they must be the product of extraterrestrial technology.

There is another possibility though, just as incredible but for some reason treated as infinitely less likely. What if all of these unexplained UFO sightings, alien abductions, messages channeled by contactees, etc. are the product of spirits? I should probably clarify what I mean by spirits here. I mean beings from beyond the physical plane of existence. More modern terms might be extradimensionals or ultraterrestrials. I am not referring to ghosts or the souls of deceased humans, but beings that have never been human at all.

Grimoires of magical knowledge such as the Keys of Solomon discuss at length how to contact non-human spirits. To most people this will seem impossible, but once you've accomplished it for yourself it seems a lot more believable. Beings capable of moving between planes of existence, in some cases capable of affecting events on the physical plane, seem to be on par with how we think of extraterrestrials; especially in some New Age circles and UFO cults. There are also parallels between spirit channeling and the channeling of extraterrestrials. When looking at the similarities, extraterrestrials and spirits could be interchanged in most narratives and the story would remain the same.

The more I ponder this subject the more I think that it's likely that we aren't being visited by extremely advanced flesh-and-blood intelligent extraterrestrials. The odds against them existing, finding us, having enough interest to interact, and then having the ability to get here are just staggering. But what about beings (spirits) that are capable of moving between planes of existence, not bound by the limitations of time or space, that have been interacting with humans since the dawn of our species? Is that any more likely? It bypasses several of the problems in the extraterrestrial hypothesis at the cost of invoking a mystical view of reality that is extremely distasteful to some people.

Personally, after the experiences I've had, I'm more inclined to believe in spirits than extraterrestrials visiting us. I would even go so far as to say that those claiming to have encounters with extraterrestrials through channeling or abduction may actually be contacting non-human spirits (if they are contacting anything at all). Again, it is our modern mindset that prohibits us from believing in spirits but allows us to accept extraterrestrial visitation as a possibility. If UFOs and other phenomena ascribed to extraterrestrials are actually caused by spirits then that could explain why we can't seem to find these mischievous aliens; they simply aren't sticking around on the physical plane long enough to be caught. Not being native to the physical plane, they may even be incapable of truly being "caught" as we might catch an animal in order to study it.

Whether a strange being is an alien or a spirit may ultimately be totally up to the perceptions and beliefs of those encountering it. These are just my ongoing observations and musings on the subject; take them as you will.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Be Silent

Occultism has never really been in the public eye. However, in this day and age we have the luxury of not being terribly persecuted for an interest in the paranormal or the occult even if it should be made public. We will most likely not be burned at the stake or banished from the community. Even with this relative security there are still reasons why the occult remains a hidden thing.

One reason to keep occult operations a secret is to ensure that they are effective. Letting everyone who will listen know about your recent projects introduces new variables that could cause failure. These people might begin thinking about your occult experiment, they may doubt you or your abilities, or they may even doubt the possibility or existence of anything occult or paranormal. This will not work in your favor as they are essentially devoting attention and intention to your failure, much as you devoted the same to the success of your goal. At best you will still succeed, but this added influence is unnecessary and could cause an operation to be less than effective. I see no reason to risk it.

Another reason to keep your occult interests secret might be the lingering stigma of looking into the "dark arts." Most people will either think you're working with the Devil and going against God or that you're indulging in superstition or dangerous cult activities. This could hurt your social standing and as any outcast will tell you, social standing can be very important depending on what you want to do in your life. To avoid social stigma it may be for the best to keep occult interests a secret from those that don't need to know. Those that do need to know is something you will have to decide for yourself based on your circumstances.

It's important to note that the secrecy surrounding occult pursuits is a big reason why they have to be kept secret from people that think in the above ways in the first place. If these pursuits were not generally hidden then more people would know and understand them and there would potentially be less of a stigma around them. However, not everyone is comfortable with occult teachings and practices and, as I mentioned earlier, telling people about what you're doing can work against you. Esoteric teachings are esoteric because most people are not willing to accept them and are not ready to learn them.

As unfortunate as it may be that not everyone can accept and take advantage of occult knowledge, the relative secrecy around occult knowledge is necessary. Another advantage of living in this day and age is that those ready to seek out the occult can easily find what they're looking for at their local bookstore or on the Internet. I think this shows that the part of the Hermetic Quaternary the title references (To Be Silent) is useful and also not a great barrier to knowledge or understanding for those genuinely seeking it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Breaking Down the Barriers of Doubt

Breaking down the barriers of doubt is a very important process for anyone hoping to achieve paranormal or occult feats. Do not get me wrong; doubt is a very important thing to have. However, as anyone that has ever applied for a job or tried out for a team can tell you, doubt can work against you. This is especially true in the field of the paranormal. Doubt can keep us from even attempting anything at all, let alone actually achieving substantial results.

Complete confidence and belief are a prerequisite for many occult and paranormal pursuits, belief in both the sought phenomenon and in one's own abilities. This really isn't that different than more mundane pursuits like shooting a basketball or jumping a hurdle though. However, like with shooting hoops and jumping hurdles, one has to start at the beginning when it comes to the occult. Many traditions and paths have basic exercises designed for new initiates and future techniques build upon these basic exercises. One has to walk before they can run and this applies to occult pursuits just as much as it applies to everyday pursuits.

I bring this up because not only do these beginner exercises build necessary skills (in both occult and mundane examples) but they also build confidence. These exercises or techniques become easy and the practitioner comes to have little doubt in the possibility or in their own ability to perform a given task. To use an occult example, a neophyte will most likely have doubts about the possibility of and their own ability to perform a physical evocation of a Goetic spirit. If they can push their doubts aside long enough to actually attempt the evocation they will likely fail.

More than one seeker has been stopped in their tracks when a spell they attempted failed or they couldn't perform a certain exercise successfully. This causes people to give up on the occult and move on to some other interest. Those that stick with it come to learn why their initial attempts failed and in my opinion it is because the beginner is likely to try to perform a task that is outside of their capability, both in ability and in belief. They have not done much occult work prior and therefore have not loosened the fetters of doubt through experience of occult phenomena. This doubt causes them to fail because they do not really believe it can be done or do not believe that they are capable of doing it.

I am not just referring to conscious doubt either. Conscious doubt is usually pretty easy to dispel. Subconscious doubt is the tricky thing that one has to deal with. Subconscious doubt plays a very prominent role in the occult as the occult is a primarily mental field. Even with all the wands and robes, the human mind is still the center of all magic and mysticism. If your own mind is working against you then you will surely fail at a mental pursuit. How do we get past subconscious doubt then? As the saying goes, "Seeing is believing."

We do the beginner exercises, we build our skills brick by brick. Greater skills lead to more profound experiences and profound experiences lead to the erosion of the subconscious barriers of doubt. The more "impossible" phenomena we experience, the more we weaken that barrier of doubt that has been built up in our minds and thus the more we open ourselves to more impressive experiences. This is why it is important to start at the beginning and build your skills from the ground up.

Speaking from experience, I know that this is not always easy when you first pick up a book on magic or occultism and decide that the basic exercises are boring or stupid. I had this attitude for a long time and that amounted to my becoming little more than an armchair occultist in many respects because nothing seemed to feel right or work right. When I went back and started at the beginning I began to have a lot more success. As I have more successes my doubt erodes, both my doubts in the possibility that these things exist and my doubts in my own abilities to do these things.

These ingrained doubts are no one's fault. Our subconscious mind manages our reality. It keeps track of our everyday concerns, sorts our thoughts and feelings, and makes it so we can function in our mundane lives. Most people are caught up in their everyday societal pursuits and their subconscious minds become attuned to this. Anything paranormal is out of the ordinary and there is a deep reflex to reject these things as they seem to have no place in our everyday reality as we understand it. If you want to become adept at paranormal or occult pursuits then you need to get rid of your doubt, both on the surface and deeper down.

You do not do this by having blind faith or deluding yourself; you do it by having genuine paranormal experiences. This is empiricism in its purest form, an experiential approach to the paranormal (and reality for that matter). Start from the beginning of the book and learn the basics. Do the beginner exercises until you are confident in your abilities. Only then will you be able to progress to truly amazing experiences.

Good luck to all of you out there that are brave enough to try these things for yourselves and get your own proof.