I’d come to live as a human, to experience all the human traditions. And spending many a beautiful afternoon cooped up at the library service desk in order to make sure a bunch of middle schoolers weren’t playing dirty dating sims on the computers apparently counted as one.
You and I have both known him, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it’s an experience we shan’t ever forget. And even when he and I met in the middle of China, with his mind a blank and his past a mystery, there was still that queer core of attractiveness in him.
James Hilton, Lost Horizon: A Novel
Gentlemen, we are men of experience. Self-interest is immutable, but its dictates vary daily.
Sara Hess, Deadwood, s02e10
I drew my own conclusion, which was that there is an entire category of experience that is not suited to intraspecies communication, so you are advised to keep it to yourself.
Barbara Ehrenreich, Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014
“Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine
Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:
- The Baphomet Sculpture Hidden in Brooklyn — Jena Cumbo, Village Voice
“Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner), one of the people who commissioned the sculpture, that now sits in a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, asked the sculptor — we’ll call him “Jack” — to forgo the breasts. This Baphomet is smooth-chested and muscular, with thin, shapely lips and rectangular pupils. The sculptor based his physique on a blend of Michelangelo’s David and Iggy Pop.”
- ‘Join us in our ritual,’ beckons Cthulhu-based cryptocurrency — Adrianne Jeffries, The Verge
“Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.
‘The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us,’ writes the developer. ‘Join us in our ritual.'”
- 70,000 Year-Old African Settlement Unearthed — Past Horizons
“During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.”
- The Occult Knowledge – Strategies of Epistemology in La Société Voudon Gnostique — Maria Liberg, a Bachelor thesis in Religious Studies at University of Gothenburg, supervised by Henrik Bogdan
“The academic research on Western esotericism in general and contemporary occultism in particular has been largely neglected in earlier scholarship and has only recently gained serious academic attention. This thesis examines how the contemporary occult group, La Société Voudon Gnostique, headed by David Beth and an organization under the general current Voudon Gnosis, legitimate their claims to knowledge, mainly through three discursive strategies of epistemology offered by Olav Hammer, namely: the appeal to (1) tradition; (2) scientism as a language of faith; and narratives of (3) experience. Since Hammer argues that these strategies can be found in esoteric currents in general, but only examines theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age as well as only examining “esoteric spokespersons” this thesis aims at examine them in relation to contemporary occultism as well as in relation to both the spokesperson and to “ordinary adherents”. In order do this, La Société Voudon Gnostique works as a case study in qualification of being a contemporary occult group that has gained no academic attention before.
The conclusions of this thesis are that the strategies are all prevalent, to a more or less extent, in La Société Voudon Gnostique and they are also used by the adherents. Besides the strategies proposed by Hammer, this thesis argues that the secrecy and elitist approach, which can be found in the texts, also can be seen as a discursive strategy of epistemology.”
- Christian Persecution: The Movie! — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides; about the forthcoming movie Persecuted
“Persecuted, is based on a laughably impossible premise that the audience is supposed to find threatening. In this case, it’s the government attempting to legislate religion, something Poor Oppressed Christians are totally for until they realize that religious freedom also applies to non-Christians. Then they go off the rails about how wrong and unfair it is that they aren’t treated as special and given more privileges than everyone else.”
- The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda — Mark Ames, NSFWCORP at Alternet
“Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman.”
“That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.”
- Aldous Huxley quoted at Reversed Alchemy — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
“Certain authors possess the secret of a kind of reversed alchemy; they know how to turn the richest gold into lead. The most interesting subjects become in their hands so tedious that we can hardly bear to read about them.”
- Ian Clark quoted at The Limits of “Unlimited” — Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed
“By speaking up, we are not only defending public libraries but the entire notion of public services. Silence is not how we defend ourselves against an ideological battle, it is how we surrender.”
- More Songs for the Witch Woman — John Coulthart, feuilleton
“It’s been a great pleasure in recent years seeing the welling of interest in Cameron’s work. In 2001 when I was compiling notes for an abandoned study of occult cinema, Cameron as artist, witch or mere human being was a shadowy presence about whom nothing substantial seemed to have been written; her art was impossible to see anywhere, all one had were fleeting references in books”
- Love Spells — Sarah Anne Lawless
“Love spells are black magic. Love spells to manipulate the body, heart, and soul. Love spells to dominate, to bind, to cause destruction and madness and pain.
Love spells are not about love, they are about the lustful eye and the selfish heart. Be honest with yourself about it and then move on to the work at hand.”
- Bible Stories for Newly Formed and Young Corporations — Tom the Dancing Bug, Boing Boing
- Stick-Gods — Inonibird
“‘Stick-Gods’ is the culmination of over a dozen years of fascination with Ancient Egypt—particularly, its mythology and deities. Whether you’re studying Egyptology, a practicing Kemetic or just a fan of myths, there should be something in there for you! I’m doing my best to balance informed content with a fair bit of silliness. …And puns. Lots of puns.”
- William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision, by Marsha Keith Schuchard — Gesigewigu’s, Spiral Nature; a review of William Blake’s Sexual Path to Spiritual Vision from Inner Traditions
“Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.”
- A Victim of Drunken Channeling — Scott Stenwick, Augoeides
“Aleister Crowley criticized spiritism as ‘a sort of indiscriminate necromancy’ because of a complete lack of formal magical procedures and protections, in which many mediums simply opened themselves up to whatever spiritual force happened to be present. Modern channelers such as Knight still employ essentially the same methods that Crowley was talking about. As such, there’s a real possibility that any channeling attempt could reach just about any spirit, like some sort of metaphysical Chatroulette.”
- Mary Magdalene and the Gospel according to Mary — Kate Cooper; an edited excerpt from Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women from Overlook Press
“The argument between the four disciples seems to be our anonymous writer’s way of exploring the different positions being taken by the men and women of his own day on the question of an alternative tradition being handed down by women. But he is also expressing his concern that the Church is changing, and not for the better. In his eyes, Peter seems to represent the voice of a faction in the community which wants to ‘make rules or lay down laws other than the Saviour gave’ – in other words, a group that wants to develop an institutional structure to replace the more fluid and informal movement of the early decades. This was clearly a topical warning after the death of the disciples who had known Jesus. Levi thinks that the new rules are a way of drawing the community away from fulfilling its task of preaching the gospel. The anonymous writer seems to be using Levi to suggest that too much emphasis on authority from the ‘Peter faction’ is stifling the Church.”
- “Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine
“As the story begins, our heroine Sabrina Spellman is relating one of her eldritch dreams to her psychiatrist, Dr. Lovecraft. Sabrina has apparently been committed to an institution because after her aunts died in a house fire, she had a breakdown and couldn’t deal with the reality of their death.
But is that really what happened?”
If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS. You can check out all the other gatherum posts, like posts you enjoy, and even add your own posts with links to other things of interest, related to the subject matter of the library, from elsewhere around the Internet.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for June 18th, 2014
“Moon, clouds, smoke, skeleton hunt in the air” from Restoring the Lost Sense: Jun 12, 2014 — Craig Conley, Abecedarian
- The Beast is Back — Erik Davis and Maja D’aoust interview Gary Lachman, Expanding Mind
“Thelemic visions, magickal texts, and the tedium of transgression: a talk with occult historian Gary Lachman about his new biography Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World (Tarcher).”
- Theosophical Attitudes towards Science: Past and Present — Egil Asprem
As is typical for esoteric movements of the modern period, the Theosophical current exhibits a deep ambivalence towards the professionalized natural sciences. Active in the middle of the so-called “clash” between science and religion in the latter half of the 19th century, Blavatsky and the early Theosophists sought a critical reconciliation, guided by the quest for esoteric “higher truth.” The negotiation with science and religion was clearly present from Blavatsky’s first major work, Isis Unveiled (1877), which dedicated one volume to a criticism of each, and has continued to twist and turn in various directions until the present day.
“Science” is, in short, a centrally important yet ambiguous “Other” for the entire Theosophical current.
- Opting Out of the System — Inominandum, Strategic Sorcery
The “system” is a house of cards that is perpetrated by force and fraud. I think that taking a stand against that in terms of magic and lifestyle is a worthy thing. But just like I say to people that reject materialism as anathema to spirituality: You must really live that view for it to have meaning.
It is not a matter of your values and your magic being in line. It is a matter of making your life be about something.
- Where the Occult & Pagan Community Lost the Plot — Nick Farrell
The occult community is doomed to be hijacked by right-wing nut-jobs and other idiots because it has become paralysed by its own desire to be “spiritual.”
- Theater as Plague: Radovan Ivšić and the Theater of the Weird — Jon Graham, Weird Fiction Review
Like its counterpart in fiction, the theater of the weird exists on the margins of mainstream culture, where its deadly accuracy when targeting the shibboleths of the cultural consensus can be safely muffled before its subversive potency does any visible damage.
For Ivšić, theatrical space offers the ideal spot for opening that space within the spectator that allows experience of individual singularity not as a rupture, but as a vitally essential difference that makes it possible for the world to breathe. He saw the play as the result of a dark conspiracy between the world and the individual, who intentionally withdraws from this relationship in order to return by means of the Trojan horse of fiction.
- D&D Yoga — swi in collaboration with Sarah Dahnke and Eric Hagan [HT Erik Davis]
D&D Yoga can be played in many ways. The varying flavors range from that of a guided narrative while people do yoga to a far more interactive experience where players are in conversation and play a more active role in the campaign. For the first trial, we thought it would be wise to veer closer to the guided narrative side of things. Players still made decisions and rolled dice to dictate a few directions that the story took but generally we wanted to see how the experiment would play out and then build from there. As we proceed into future events we are building more interactivity into the game.
- Appeals Court Finds Scanning To Be Fair Use — NewYorkCountryLawyer, Slashdot
scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use
the creation of a searchable, full text database is a ‘quintessentially transformative use’, that it was ‘reasonably necessary’ to make use of the entire works, that maintaining four copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals.
- «Dracula è sepolto a Napoli, ecco dov’è la tomba» — Paolo Barbuto, Il Gazzettino
«Il conte Dracula è morto a Napoli, è stato sepolto nel cuore della città ed è ancora qui»: c’è un gruppo di persone che da settimane percorre strade e vicoli a caccia del segreto.
E non sono ragazzini sognatori, fanatici, esaltati, ma serissimi studiosi dell’università di Tallinn in Estonia. Sono convinti di ciò che fanno, sostengono di avere già in mano i documenti che provano la verità, così hanno avviato una campagna di ricerche sul territorio.
“Count Dracula died in Naples, was buried in the heart of the city and is still here”: there is a group of people who for weeks along the streets and alleys in search of the secret.
And kids are not dreamers, fanatics, exalted, but very serious scholars of the University of Tallinn in Estonia. They believe in what they do, they claim to have already got the documents to prove the truth, so they launched a campaign of research in the area.
- From Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Songs Before Sunrise at “Save His Own Soul He Hath No Star” — Michael Gilleland, Laudator Temporis Acti
His soul is even with the sun
Whose spirit and whose eye are one,
Who seeks not stars by day, nor light
And heavy heat of day by night.
Him can no God cast down, whom none
Can lift in hope beyond the height
Of fate and nature and things done
By the calm rule of might and right
That bids men be and bear and do,
And die beneath blind skies or blue.
- “Two giant planets may cruise unseen beyond Pluto” — Nicola Jenner, NewScientist; from the where-is-your-astrology-now dept.
The monsters are multiplying. Just months after astronomers announced hints of a giant “Planet X” lurking beyond Pluto, a team in Spain says there may actually be two supersized planets hiding in the outer reaches of our solar system.
When potential dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of unusual rocky objects known to reside beyond the orbit of Pluto. These small objects have curiously aligned orbits, which hints that an unseen planet even further out is influencing their behaviour. Scientists calculated that this world would be about 10 times the mass of Earth and would orbit at roughly 250 times Earth’s distance from the sun.
Now Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain have taken another look at these distant bodies. As well as confirming their bizarre orbital alignment, the pair found additional puzzling patterns. Small groups of the objects have very similar orbital paths. Because they are not massive enough to be tugging on each other, the researchers think the objects are being “shepherded” by a larger object in a pattern known as orbital resonance.
- ‘A Funny Kind Of Relationship’ Alan Moore On Iain Sinclair — Nick Talbot, The Quietus
Whilst not quite a household name, instead occupying a liminal status maintained by a principled refusal to be involved in any Hollywood adaptations of his work, Moore is widely regarded as the finest writer in the medium, and it is difficult to imagine how the comic book landscape would look without the enduring influence of his exceptional work. But it is equally difficult to imagine how From Hell (1989), his first major work beyond the costumed vigilantes and superheroes genre, and also his Magnum Opus, would have looked had he not discovered the work of Iain Sinclair. A quintessential writer’s writer, Sinclair is a Hendrix-cum-Kevin Shields of the English language, mixing scholarly historical research, formal training and technical linguistic virtuosity with a wildly impressionistic, stream-of-consciousness prose-poetry delivery that is dazzling, dizzying, and for those with literary pretensions, frankly dispiriting in its apparently effortless genius. Sinclair’s subject is predominantly London, most often East London, and the relationship between its history, its continually shifting cityscape and the psyche of those who inhabit it. Sharing similar concerns, themes and stylistic flourishes with Peter Ackroyd, both with works appearing in the eighties and nineties, this uniquely East London-focused micro-genre came to be dubbed ‘psychogeography’. Soon complemented by Will Self and others, the movement could be interpreted as a response to the corporatist regeneration of London’s East End by the Thatcherite Conservative government in the 1980s. The spatial and historical density of London allows for an unusually potent and apparently limitless store of inspiration, but what marks out Sinclair in particular is his ability to see patterns, sigils and correspondences where perhaps the rest of us see dog shit, broken fencing and inane graffiti.
- “Eating Flower Spirits” — Sarah Anne Lawless
Summer flowers are brought inside, painted the colours of sarees and gypsy vardos, and fill tea pots and canning jars. Nighshade, poppies, red clover, comfrey, daisies, sage flowers, and foxgloves. Some from the yard, some escaped from gardens into the neglected back alleys of the old neighbourhood. I know that by taking them home I am consuming them, making their already short lives even shorter, but I try my best to ask sweetly for their blessings before I snip off their heads and bring them home. I try my best to let them know why and what will be done with their beautiful sacrifice – their souls burned up like incense to be eaten by my own beloved spirits – eaters of flowers.
- “What Athens Has Got To Do With Jerusalem: The Marriage of Greek and Jewish Themes in the Apocryphon of John” — Dan Attrell
This paper presents a summary overview of how the Apocryphon of John, an apocalyptic work drawn from the Nag Hammadi Library, is explicitly the product of an syncretism between Greek language/philosophy and Jewish mythology/mysticism in the 1st century CE.
- Coincidentia Oppositorum: Exploring the Dialogue in the Recent Historical Literature of Medieval and Early Modern European Alchemy — Dan Attrell
The study of alchemy has posed a number of complications for historians. Among historians of science who wrote as late as the mid-20th century, alchemy was perceived to be a mystical philosophy, an obstacle to the progress of „rational‟ chemistry, and even a pathology of the mind. This rather out-dated tendency toward knee-jerk dismissals has, however, been recently curtailed as the wider community of medievalists and early modern historians began to understand alchemy on its own terms, having placed it firmly within in the context of an ‘alchemical worldview.’ The recent dialogue among historians concerning alchemy in Europe has chiefly been directed toward (a) understanding of what ‘alchemy’ actually meant to the people who lived amongst it or practiced it themselves; (b) determining to what extent alchemy was interrelated with the religious consciousness of its practitioners; and most noticeably (c) reconciling or collapsing a number of exaggerated, artificial, and misleading dichotomies within our modern perceptions of medieval and early modern alchemy. Was European alchemy a ‘theoretical’ or a ‘practical’ art? Was it a ‘spiritual’ or a ‘material’ pursuit? Was it a ‘medicinal’ or a ‘metallurgical’ practice? How and when was ‘alchemy’ differentiated from ‘chemistry’? Were they ‘on the fringes’ of learned society, or were they at the cutting edge of knowledge as defined by traditional institutions? Were alchemists outright ‘frauds’ (Betrüger) or misguided ‘fools’?
These are all questions which a handful of historians have recently tackled and shown to be somewhat misguided. Such dichotomies arose from the dialogue of recent centuries wherein scholars and theorists from various disciplines began exploring and reconceptualising alchemy and its history; each angle, each discipline, each perspective offered some rather rigid model for understanding alchemy, and many of these models crystallized into opposing camps. Alchemy, however, was never a static or monolithic pursuit and thus eludes any attempt to give such simple definitions. In response to this problem, it is this paper’s goal to flesh out the most recent scholarly dialogue – to outline and synthesize the most pertinent points made in the recent historical literature concerning alchemy. What I hope to show is how the most recent historical research tells us that ‘alchemy’ meant many different things to many different people at many different junctures in history, even among the relatively isolated practitioners of Europe. With no source of official authority such as the Church or the University to govern alchemy as a branch of knowledge, the art was free to take on and accumulate a number of its practitioners’ idiosyncrasies. Free as it was, as a model to explore and communicate features of the known universe, European alchemy was a rich and dynamic practice which contained within itself all of the artificial polarities mentioned above.
- Rewilding Witchcraft — Peter Grey, Scarlet Imprint
We have mistaken social and economic change for the result of our own advocacy. Marching in lock-step with what used to be called mainstream, but is now mono-culture, we have disenchanted ourselves, handed over our teeth and claws and bristling luxuriant furs. I will not be part of this process, because to do so is to be complicit with the very forces that are destroying all life on earth. It is time for Witchcraft not to choose, but to remember which side it is on in this struggle.
- “London’s calling: the city as character in urban fantasy” — Ian ‘Cat’ Vincent, Spiral Nature
Each of these series draws on what I would say are the main characteristics of London’s soul. It’s old – continually inhabited since before Roman times; it’s powerful — but nowhere near as much as its past as the heart of an empire; it’s stubborn — enduring centuries of hardship and prosperity, adapting to huge changes in population and traumas ranging from plague to fire to Nazi bombs to the very modern stresses of wealth inequality. London changes — it has to — but there’s some core of its personality that always remains.
Of course, London as a whole is the sum of its parts, none of which are quite alike — the genius loci of Camden differs greatly from those of Catford and Chelsea. But each also touch the greater gestalt of the place. Inevitably, the best way to grasp the specific psychogeography of a place is to walk its streets.
- Weekly Apocryphote: June 8-14 — April D DeConick, Forbidden Gospels
You have not come to suffer. Rather you have come to escape from what binds you. Release yourself, and what has bound you will be undone. Save yourself, so that what is (in you) may be saved … Why are you hesitating?
If you’d like to participate in the next Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for March 19th, 2014
- Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600; from the distorted-world-view dept.
“Equipped with ‘VI technology’ which combines a deep depth of field lens, CCD linear image sensor and high directivity LED lamp, SV600 is able to minimize unevenness in image quality and generate a smooth image even when scanning from a distance.”
- do-it yourself repro v-cradle for paper books — ereszet; from the v-for-victory dept.
“Why a v-cradle and not a flat bed.
For two reasons: First, you cannot spread the books flat and if you do, the quality of reproduced pages will be compromised. It is especially important if you plan to OCR the book. Second, you avoid light reflections. You need only one lamp with a diffuser just over the v-cradle (picture attached). Lighting is the most difficult part of reproduction. Over the years, I have tried various setups with my semi-professional Manfrotto repro stand and four lamps at 45 degree angle. It doesn’t come close to an overhead lamp and v-cradle. Avoid any other light in the room or take everything to your terrace and shoot at the sunlight with no artificial light.”
- “Release 2.0 of the Standard Spiritualist and Occult Corpus (SSOC) Available” — Marc Demarest, Chasing Down Emma; from the knock-twice-for-yes dept.
“The SSOC now clocks in at 2700+ titles: more than 1.3 million pages of indexed Spiritualist and occult non-fiction from the 1790s until 1940.
Release 2.0 provides more than 500 new and updated titles, and marks the beginning of the re-indexing of the SSOC using a third-party embedded indexing engine superior to the Adobe Acrobat in-built OCR facility, for higher-fidelity searches.”
- “Ancient ‘Ritual Wand’ Etched with Human Faces Discovered in Syria” — Tia Ghose, livescience [Scarlet Imprint]; from the weirwood dept.
“Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient staff carved with two realistic human faces in southern Syria.
The roughly 9,000-year-old artifact was discovered near a graveyard where about 30 people were buried without their heads — which were found in a nearby living space.”
- “800-year-old monk found poking out of cliff face” — Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph [via]; from the i-know-what-happened-to-jimmy-hoffa dept.
“[Karl-James] Langford said a monastic community lived close to the area and the bones appeared to be from a man in his late 20s, in good health.
‘I would say they belong to a monk from the 1200s — due to previous archaeological digs in the past, the depth of the bones in the cliff and the history of the area.
He would likely be buried with nothing except two shroud rings which would have held his burial shroud in place at the head and feet.'”
- “Nasir al-Mulk ‘Pink Mosque’ Of Iran Is Like Stepping Into A Kaleidoscope” — Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post; from the whoa-that’s-a-full-rainbow-all-the-way dept.
“From the outside, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, seems like a fairly traditional house of worship — but it’s hiding a gorgeously colorful secret.”
Photo: Omid Jafarnezhad
- “Bagging a Witch in Ohio” — Chris, Woodyard, Haunted Ohio — [HT Richard Shepard]; from the so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“Today’s post returns to a similar theme: Anti-witch remedies and witch-tests in early 19th-century Ohio. This story–half dire description of lunacy and half Monty Python sketch–comes from the village of Bethel in Clermont County.”
- “Siberian Police Stop Witch Burning” &mdash RIA Novosti, The Moscow Times [HT Judika Illes]; in the titus-andronicus dept.
“In an unexpected incident worthy of the Spanish inquisition, a couple in eastern Siberia decided their acquaintance was a witch and attempted to burn her alive, though police stopped the impromptu auto-da-fe.
The rescue came not a moment too soon, as the couple were at that moment forcing the alleged witch headfirst into a burning stove in an abandoned building, Zabaikalsky region police said Thursday.”
- Wellcome MS373, f.87r — Sienna Lathan, via tweet; from the and-shoot-forth-venom dept.
“Whosoeuer first in the morning drinketh garlicke and Cockes blood hee need not fear venome.”
- Discordian Events List — Chasing Eris; what’s-up-chuck dept.
“What Discordian events are near you?”
- “Embracing Questions” — Thomas Zwollo, Spiral Nature; from the soldier-and-the-hunchback dept.
“Throughout his life, Crowley was asking himself questions, and he encouraged his students and readers to ask questions. This included questions about the things they read, the rituals they performed, the conditions of their magical work, and even to interrogate the entities they invoked. He embraced the method of science, and thus he embraced questions more than answers. I often challenge myself to remember this in my own work.”
- “What The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual Sounds Like” — The Blog of Baphomet [HT Spiral Nature]; from the and-sometimes-y dept.
“Another group of occultists that we’re associated with had asked for some help with a demonstration of the vowel sounds (I, E, A, O, U) that Pete Carroll uses to build the various banishing rituals in his writing. As with many things in life it’s one thing to read a ritual text and another to see, hear and participate in it for oneself.”
- “Sock Magic” — Fire Lyte, Inciting A Riot [HT Sarah Anne Lawless]; from the sock-it-to-me dept.
“Magical tools can be found in all sorts of strange places these days. From conversations about turning your potpourri warmer into a slow-burning witchy cauldron, to using your iPod as a divinatory device, people are getting witchy where they can these days. In bygone eras our witchy ancestry, so we’re led to believe, used what they had on handle — the broom, the cauldron, the sickle — because it’s what they had. Not because a broom is more magical or special than any other household object.
And so, with all that very serious background, let’s make magic with socks!”
- “A Mystic, Magician and Theologian Talk to an Angel” — K Herschel, Star And System; from the july-like-a-dog dept.
“The best way to get a feel for the Enochian entities is to look at Dee’s journals. What you see there are years of promises unkept. The angels promised power, the power that makes empires and tears down thrones. They also promised a complete system. They never delivered on any of it to Dee. After you have feasted on Dee’s disappointments, move on to Crowley’s The Vision and the Voice and the collected work of Benjamin Rowe. All else aside, what you will see is what Rowe realized very early on. The Enochian entities are very good at playing up to your expectations and saying precisely what you need to hear to keep you interested even when it’s not what you expect. This is a danger in magic in general, but the Enochian entities are masters of the genre.”
- “Null-A Mind Software” — seth, An American Mystagogue; from the possibly-maybe dept.
“Two value logic (Ie, True or False) while a highly useful way of thinking manages to darken one’s view of possible alternate ways of thinking and perceiving the world around them. When we become habitually addicted to the categorization of all information as either Totally Existing or Totally Not-Existing we become sloppy, lazy thinkers who are prone to building a self-gratifying personal cosmology. When the two-value system is used in its right way it is simply a systematic approach to what I call ‘the cosmic binary’.”
- “Cultural production of ignorance provides rich field for study” — Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times [HT Wythe Marschall]; from the i-read-it-on-the-internet dept.
“Robert Proctor doesn’t think ignorance is bliss. He thinks that what you don’t know can hurt you. And that there’s more ignorance around than there used to be, and that its purveyors have gotten much better at filling our heads with nonsense.”
- “Rethinking Gnostic Intellectuals? Categories as Weapons and History as Construct” — Philip L Tite, Bulletin for the Study of Religion; from the interprefacts dept.
“As a social historian, I still like to think that we can know something about past cultures. However, if I’ve learned anything from my method & theory exemplars over the years, it is to appreciate the value of stepping back and ‘studying the study of.’ Indeed, this theoretical standpoint is a subtext in nearly all my teaching and much of my scholarship. How the past is shaped, directed, juxtaposed, and selectively presented is perhaps far more insightful to the student in religious studies than the actual ‘facts’ (events, persons, things, etc) – even if those ‘facts’ are not in dispute per se.”
- “The Gnostics Were Intellectuals” — April DeConick, The Forbidden Gospels; from the path-less-traveled dept.
“So I have been working upstream most of my career, swimming against a current that is much stronger than I am. I guess I like the challenge, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. I have spent a lot of time within the Nag Hammadi texts, reconstructing the worlds of the authors, which are not crazy once you learn their references and points of view. The Gnostics from antiquity were anything but crazy, inconsequential or irrational. But they were different. And difference often leads to misunderstanding.”
- “Uncovered in Jerusalem, 9 tiny unopened Dead Sea Scrolls” — Ilan Ben Zion, The Times of Israel [HT Disinformation]; from the right-under-your-nous dept.
“An Israeli scholar turned up the previously unexamined parchments, which had escaped the notice of academics and archaeologists as they focused on their other extraordinary finds in the 1950s. Once opened, the minuscule phylactery parchments from Qumran, while unlikely to yield any shattering historic, linguistic or religious breakthroughs, could shed new light on the religious practices of Second Temple Judaism.”
- “The Warlock and Truth-Breaking” — K Herschel, Star and System [HT Storm Faerywolf]; from the curses-foiled-again dept.
“We might find, as well, echoes of the Warlock and Truth-Breaker in Aleister Crowley’s concept of the curse of the Magus. The curse of the Magus is that she must always lie. Having achieved a level of transcendence beyond the dualistic structure of the phenomenal universe, all things are both truth and false for the Magus. As such, language itself is inadequate to capture the understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Chokmah) that the Magus has achieved and so all linguistic statements and teachings are a lie. We are clearly dealing here with a discussion of the nature of the Magus on the mystical register. The experience to which she is privy is beyond the grasp of word or image, as is the case with most mystical experience.”
- The Secret Chiefs and Academia, Ep 1 of The Lost Word, hosted by Greg Kaminsky, with Tony Silvia, from Gnostic NYC; from the master-chief-mischief dept.
- “Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality” — Lisa Miller, et al., JAMA Psychiatry; from the gonna-set-me-up-with-the-spirit-in-the-sky dept.
“A thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression, possibly by expanding a cortical reserve that counters to some extent the vulnerability that cortical thinning poses for developing familial depressive illness.”
- Majid Fotuhi quoted at “Is Religion Good for Your Brain?” — Sheila M Eldred, Discovery News; from the hippo-on-campus-would-stress-me-out-too dept.
“One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress […] Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you’re praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.”
- Death Grips, with videos featured on this blog on occassion, will be on tour with Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden.
- “On the occult, books, and the senses” — Brigit Katz, Bibliopaths; from the medium-is-the-message dept.
“Occult revivals that are bubbling up in Brooklyn and in other pockets across the country have ushered in something of a Golden Age for small-press, metaphysical publishing houses. ‘That’s sort of the new wave of occult books: a re-evaluation of occult book as tome, and as talisman.’ [Phillip] English tells me. ‘Occultists or magicians, they tend to be collectors … They can appreciate the sort of art and magic that went into the work itself.’ Which isn’t to say that all members of the occult community buy into the idea of book-as-talisman. Phil Hine, a British occultist who has written several books on a practice called Chaos Magic, is among the witches and magicians who have questioned the value of ornately bound hard covers to magical rites. ‘Generally, I buy books because of the content,’ he writes on his blog. ‘Presentation is a secondary consideration.'”
- “Book Review: ‘Plato at the Googleplex’ by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein” — Colin McGinn, The Wall Street Journal; from the drown-me-in-the-shallow-water dept.
“Rebecca Goldstein has written a timely book about our own age by taking us back to an earlier age—that of the ancient Greeks. She wants to know what the works of Plato can teach us about the life worth living, about politics, child rearing, love and sex, about knowledge and reality, brain and mind, truth, goodness, and beauty. Ms. Goldstein’s book is felicitously written, impressively researched, insightful, important, entertaining and glowing with intelligence. Plato is brought marvelously to life, and, as a welcome corollary, philosophy is vindicated against what Ms. Goldstein aptly labels the ‘philosophy-jeerers’—those who rashly claim that philosophy has no intellectual substance or future in this scientific era.”
- “‘Son Of God’ Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy” — Joel Gehrke, The Federalist; from the heresy-gone-tomorrow dept.
“Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.
They aren’t the first to do that. An ancient Gnostic sect known as the Cainites honored traditional villains such as Cain and Judas, praising the latter as the closest confidant of Jesus, according to the second-century church father Irenaeus of Lyons.”
- “Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?” — Nafeez Ahmed, The Guardian’s Earth Insight; from the IDM dept.
“A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that ‘the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.’ Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to ‘precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.'”
- “Detection of primordial gravitational waves announced” — Matthew Francis, Ars Technica; from the bang-bang-that-awful-sound dept.
“When the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a press conference for a “Major Discovery” (capital letters in the original e-mail) involving an unspecified experiment, rumors began to fly immediately. By Friday afternoon, the rumors had coalesced around one particular observatory: the BICEP microwave telescope located at the South Pole. Over the weekend, the chatter focused on a specific issue: polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background left over from the Big Bang. With the start of the press conference, it’s now clear that we’ve detected the first direct evidence of the inflationary phase of the Big Bang, in which the Universe expanded rapidly in size.”
- “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” — Dennis Overbye, The New York Times; from the bang-bang-my-baby-shot-me-down dept.
“One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.
He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with.”
- “The Remnants of Prehistoric Plant Pollen Reveal that Humans Shaped Forests 11,000 Years Ago” — Josie Garthwaite, Smithsonian Magazine; from the ancient-anthropocene dept.
“A new study of pollen samples extracted from tropical forests in southeast Asia suggests humans have shaped these landscapes for thousands of years. Although scientists previously believed the forests were virtually untouched by people, researchers are now pointing to signs of imported seeds, plants cultivated for food, and land clearing as early as 11,000 years ago—around the end of the last Ice Age.
The study, to be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science comes from researchers led by paleoecologist Chris Hunt, of Queen’s University, Belfast, who analyzed existing data and examined samples from Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam.”
- The Famished Road by Ben Okri [HT Literary Interest]; from the bring-me-a-dream dept.
“We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves.”
- “Hodges’ Constellation cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the he-saw-stars-in-his-eyes dept.
“The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,
And next the Crab, the Lion shines —
The Virgin and the Scales,
The Scorpion, Archer, and the Goat,
The Man that Bears the Watering Pot,
And Fish with glittering tails.”
- “Masonic Playing Cards” — The World of Playing Cards; from the know-when-to-hold-em dept.
“This attractive pack commemorating the history of freemasonry has the Kings as masters of the lodge, the Queens and Jacks are other masonic officers while the Jokers are two operative masons. The deck contains two interpretation cards explaining the meaning of the Masonic symbolism.”
- Hermetic Library anthology artist Doleful Lions has a new release, Annotated Gilgamesh b/w Tearstreaked Monster.
- “Child’s illustrated garden of Satanic ritual abuse” — Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing; from the is-that-a-euphemism-in-your-pocket dept.
“I want to go home. I already HAD the ‘magic surgery.’ They put a monster in me.”
- “Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication” [HT Boing Boing]; from the curious-what’s-in-that-bag dept.
“The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
- “Denmark starts meaty argument over animal slaughter” — Leo Benedictus, The Guardian UK’s Shortcuts Blog; from the we’ll-meet-the-meat dept.
“In most European countries, including the UK, the slaughter of an animal is considered humane only if it is stunned before having its throat cut. Muslim and Jewish rules, however, require an animal to be fully alive, healthy, and intact before being killed, and this is often interpreted to mean it must be conscious. Many Muslims and Jews insist the swift technique of ritual slaughter prevents the animal from suffering. But animal welfare activists and their supporters beg to differ. … This is far from the first flare-up over ritual slaughter.”
- Hermetic Library fellow Sam Webster quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet [also]; from the party-foul dept.
“A libation without a prayer is just a spilled drink.”
- Crystal Blanton quoted by The Wild Hunt, via tweet; from the inconvenient-truth dept.
“We sacrifice humans every day.”
- “Will Arizona Go the Anti-Gay Way of Uganda?” — Jay Michaelson, The Jewish Daily Forward; from the freedom-fries dept.
“‘Religious Freedom’ used to be a shield, not a sword.”
- “The ‘Religious Liberty’ Campaign May Be Backfiring For Conservatives” — Ed Kilgore, Talking Points Memo’s Cafe; from the spare-tire-and-a-muffin-top-to-go dept.
“On many fronts in the culture wars, the momentum has usually been possessed by those who can best identify themselves with the ambivalent attitudes of a mushy middle ‘swing vote'”
- “Lawsuit: Calif. Christian missions tortured mentally disabled with Bible ‘punishments’” — David Edwards, Raw Story; from the agape-has-left-the-building dept.
“Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed a lawsuit against two unlicensed Christian mission homes for effectively torturing mentally disabled people if they refused to attend religious services, and forcing them to live in filthy conditions.”
- “Zambia: Why Homosexuality Should Not Be Legalised in Zambia (part 4)” [no link because it’s heinous] — Charles Kachikoti, Times of Zambia via allAfrica.com; from the what-is-this-i-don’t-even dept.
“[Reason #]17. Law and Order
The mentality of homosexuals is anti-family and anti-marriage, which mindset is opposed to law and order.
Aleister Crowley (October 12, 1875 — December 1, 1947), the father of modern day Satanism, who massively promoted Satan-worship internationally, and notably so among world music stars, spoke against family and promoted homosexuality.
The mentality of his followers is therefore anti-family and anti-marriage.”
- “Witch hunting | Victims of superstition” — Ashwaq Masoodi, Livemint.com; from the she’s-got-huge-tracts-of-land dept.
“These are women who are unsupported, either because they are single or widows. It is primarily connected to land. It happens with women who are economically well-off or self-sustaining.”
- “The Last of Us” — Frank Swain, Futures Exchange; so-logically-if-she-weighs-the-same-as-a-duck-she’s-made-of-wood dept.
“They kept the [last Great Auk] tied up for three days until an ominous storm arose. Believing the bird was a witch responsible for their predicament, the men clubbed it to death.”
- How Belief In Hell Directly Benefits The Elite — Matt Staggs, Disinformation; from the but-thinking-makes-it-so dept.
“Just thinking about Hell makes people ill and out of sorts, and they don’t even have to think that it’s real. It’s worse for the true believers: Individual belief in what the researchers referred to as ‘supernatural malevolence’ (Coming soon to pay-per-view!) was associated with bad coping skills, low self-esteem and poor health resiliency.”
“Hell isn’t just a religious idea, it’s a meme; an especially toxic one that we might be primed to believe in from birth — especially if you believe those studies that suggest we’re hardwired to believe in god. Hell is such a virulent, deadly little mind-virus that even secular minds have trouble fighting it off. And it seems that there’s a vested interest in keeping it strong.”
- The Race to Save Mali’s Priceless Artifacts — Joshua Hammer, Smithsonian Magazine; from the operation-serapeion dept.
“When jihadists overran Timbuktu last year, residents mounted a secret operation to evacuate the town’s irreplaceable medieval manuscripts.”
- “The Helgo Treasure: A Viking Age Buddha” — IrishArchaeology.ie; from the a-buddhist-a-copt-and-a-catholic-walk-into-a-viking-bar dept.
“Undoubtedly the most extraordinary find discovered during the excavations at Helgo was a small, bronze Buddha. This devotional figure dates from circa the 6th century AD … probably arrived in Helgo via Swedish merchants whose eastern trade routes were concentrated along Russian rivers such as the Volga.”
“The Helgo crozier is probably of Irish origin and would have formed part of a bishop’s staff. Dating from circa the 8th century AD, it was most likely stolen during a Viking raid on Ireland and brought back to Helgo as booty.”
“… a bronze ladle whose origins lie in North Africa, probably in the vicinity of modern-day Egypt. Decorated in small punch-marks, which define a Tree-of-Life symbol, the ladle was most likely used in ceremonies associated with the early Coptic church.”
- “When the Old Gods Died: A Note on Ragnarok and Evaporating Histories” — Jeremy D Johnson, Reality Sandwich; from the a-new-heaven-and-a-new-earth dept.
“Yes, let’s build that Earth. Cast out the old gods and apocalyptic imaginaries as we work to build a new Earth, so desperately and agonizingly waiting, not for the passive, but for those ready to be born.”
- “New documents prove U.S. Army actively targeted leftist protesters, group says” — Scott Kaufman, Raw Story; from the every-breath-you-take dept.
“New records obtained by the Defending Dissent Foundation prove that the United States Army used a multi-agency spy network to gather intelligence on nonviolent, antiwar protesters and to disseminate their findings to both the FBI and local police departments.”
- “How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations” — Glenn Greewald, The Intercept; from the secret-agent-johannes-dee-007 dept.
“Using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world”
- “Mapping Twitter Topic Networks: From Polarized Crowds to Community Clusters” — Marc A Smith et al., Pew Research Internet Project; from the a-place-for-everything-everything-in-its-place dept.
“Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.”
- “Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories” — David Comberg; from the e-stands-for-electricity dept;
- “The Shapes of Stories, a Kurt Vonnegut Infographic” — Maya Eilam; in-hoc-figura-vinces dept.
- Atlas of Management Thinking by Edward de Bono, described on the Edward de Bono website; in the can-you-draw-me-a-picture dept.
“Verbal descriptions of complex management situations are necessarily lodged in the left side of the brain. In order for us to be able to use the right side of the brain we need a repertoire of non-verbal images. That is precisely what this book sets out to provide. The images provided by drawings in this book enrich the perceptual map of the executive. The images allow him to add some right-brain thinking to his usual left-brain thinking. This makes it easier for the executive to recognise situations in a flash instead of having to build them up piecemeal.”
- “The Higgs Boson re-explained” — Jorge Cham, PHD Comics; from the hello-i-mass-be-going dept.
“Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass terms in the equations … and everything you know would disappear in a split second.”
- “Is the Universe a Simulation?” — Edward Frenkel, The New York Times’ Gray Matter; from the faith-trust-and-pixie-dust dept.
“What kinds of things are mathematical entities and theorems, that they are knowable in this way? Do they exist somewhere, a set of immaterial objects in the enchanted gardens of the Platonic world, waiting to be discovered? Or are they mere creations of the human mind?
This question has divided thinkers for centuries. It seems spooky to suggest that mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves. But if math is only a product of the human imagination, how do we all end up agreeing on exactly the same math? Some might argue that mathematical entities are like chess pieces, elaborate fictions in a game invented by humans. But unlike chess, mathematics is indispensable to scientific theories describing our universe. And yet there are many mathematical concepts — from esoteric numerical systems to infinite-dimensional spaces — that we don’t currently find in the world around us. In what sense do they exist?”
- “An Introduction to Landscape Theology” — David Titterington, Reality Sandwich; from the my-hair-the-trees-of-eternity dept.
“What is objective and universal may be called transpersonal, or ‘archetypal,’ in the Jungian sense; it is that more-than-human place we share with others, that ‘earthly ground of rock and soil that we share with the other animals and the plants’ (Abram 1996: 281). Merleau-Ponty: ‘My body is made of the same flesh as the world.’ Therefore, if we wish to look for the ‘real archetypes,’ we may want to pay attention to landscapes and their elements.”
- Sleep’s Hidden Histories — Benjamin Reiss. Los Angeles Review of Books [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from between-a-sleep-and-a-sleep the dept.
“Things that we do or experience in private, things we might expect to read about in novels or talk about in therapy, have now generated a hidden-histories boomlet. The best of these works not only make the familiar strange, but they make us think differently about history and its intimate relation to our own lives.”
“Sleep, on the other hand, assassinates the person who might think about it. It’s not just that it’s a stretch to imagine how our sleep connects us to other times and places; it’s that we’re not even there when it happens. Dreaming is a possible exception, since it’s sometimes recoverable by our waking selves — which is part of why dreaming has a much longer historiography than the other 85 percent of the sleep cycle. But the other aspects of the sleeping self — characterized by non-productivity, maddening lumpishness, and obliviousness — are about as unavailable to us as is being born or dying.”
- “The Church of the Paranormal” — Shannon Fischer, Pacific Standard [HT William Thirteen]; from the i-want-to-believe dept.
“Don’t be shy. Depending on your poll of choice, anywhere from a third to nearly half of you either believe in ghosts or are pretty sure you do. And if not ghosts, then aliens, mediums, or astrology, for which belief has either held steady or risen over the last couple of decades. More than two-thirds of Americans hold at least one paranormal—unsanctioned by religion—belief, according to the Baylor Religion Survey. That’s more than voted in the 2012 presidential election.”
- Arnold Toynbee quoted at “Roadmap to an unstoppable strategy” — Stephanie Van Hook; from the i-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together dept.
“Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an idea that takes the imagination by storm; and second, a concrete, intelligible plan for putting that idea into action.”
- “The War on Reason” — Paul Bloom, The Atlantic [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the let-me-hear-your-body-talk dept.
“In a contemporary, and often unacknowledged, rebooting of Freud, many psychologists have concluded from such findings that unconscious associations and attitudes hold powerful sway over our lives—and that conscious choice is largely superfluous. ‘It is not clear,’ the Baylor College neuroscientist David Eagleman writes, ‘how much the conscious you—as opposed to the genetic and neural you—gets to do any deciding at all.'”
- “Does Reading Actually Change The Brain?” — Carol Clark of Emory University, Futurity [HT Disinformation]; from the i-can-go-twice-as-high dept.
“‘The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ Berns says. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’
The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”
- “The new theory that could explain crime and violence in America” — Scott C Johnson; from the taking-over-the-family-business dept.
“When the analysis was complete, Meaney saw an intriguing pattern. For the most part, the brains of suicide victims had similar receptor levels to those of people who had died in accidents. But in the samples from victims of childhood abuse, receptor levels were lower — just as with the rats. When he homed in on the cause of the difference, things got even more interesting. Meaney discovered that the gene for the receptor was covered by a chemical blanket that effectively silenced it — exactly the same silencing mechanism as seen in the rats that suffered poor maternal care.
The implication was significant: an abusive childhood might turn the volume down on this vital stress-response gene, leaving the abused vulnerable to stress, and perhaps suicidal impulses, later in life.”
- “Your Ancestors, Your Fate” — Gregory Clark, The New York Times’ Opinion Pages; from the upstairs-downstairs dept.
“The notion of genetic transmission of ‘social competence’ … may unsettle us. But studies … support this view.”
- “Jim Jarmusch: how the film world’s maverick stayed true to his roots” — Jonathan Romney, The Observer; from the if-you-look-like-you-could-be-then-you-are dept.
“The word ‘hipster’ invariably crops up in discussions about American film-maker Jim Jarmusch, not least because he looks the part. He is tall, lean, often wears shades and has a famous shock of hair that started turning silvery grey in his teens; his basso drawl completes the uncanny resemblance to a certain Hollywood great, which inspired Jarmusch to found a jokey secret society, The Sons of Lee Marvin.”
- “The Song of the Land: Bioregional Animism” — Sarah Anne Lawless; from the lay-of-the-land dept.
“It is hard to care deeply about something without any personal knowledge of it. Walking this road can start as simply as purchasing a regional field guide and going for a lot of walks with it, photographing and recording what you find. It can be as fun as taking an identification and foraging course with knowledgeable locals who will teach you ethics and proper stewardship as well to make sure you don’t damage or destroy the natural resources you’re learning to identify and use. Go camping, go travelling, go exploring, go on adventures in your bioregion. Walk the trails, canoe the lakes, explore the beach, climb the trees…
When you’re surrounded by nature, sit still, watch and listen.”
- Teju Cole, via tweet; from the thank-you-no-thank-you dept.
“You don’t decide to be a prophet. It happens to you, ruining your life, comforting distant people you’ve never met who may never thank you.”
- Jenna Lilla, via tweet; from the i-roam-around-around-around dept.
“The heroes are usually wanderers … a symbol of longing, of the restless urge which never finds its object of nostalgia for the lost mother.”
- “Magic and Your Lizard Brain: The Mind Tricks Behind Conjuring Ghosts” — Elizabeth Harper, Atlas Obscura; from the i-make-the-blue-cars-go-away dept.
“Your lizard brain is so reliably persistent that knowing how the trick is done doesn’t stop the effect from working.”
- “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” — Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker [HT Arts & Letters Daily]; from the sesquipedalian-tergiversation dept.
“Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”
- “PantheaCon and the Growing Significance of Conventions as Spiritual Pilgrimage” — Crystal Blanton, The Wild Hunt; from the i-want-to-go-to-there dept;
“Nikki Jardin states ‘A spiritual pilgrimage is a physical journey toward a place of sacred or religious significance.’ This definition fits with how many Pagans, Wiccans, and Polytheists have come to revere Pagan conventions and festivals: As yearly spiritual pilgrimages for transcendent and communal enlightenment.”
- “Sheep reproduction is beautiful.” — Sunshine and Bunnies!
The Portal of Initiation: A Rosicrucian Mystery Drama & The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily, by Rudolf Steiner and Johann W von Goethe, respectively, the 1981 second revised edition from Spiritual Literature Library (Garber Communications), is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“The Portal of Initiation: A Rosicrucian Mystery Drama, can best be described in Rudolf Steiner’s own words:
‘When one has worked one’s way through to an understanding perception of the world, the living need is felt to form ideas no longer, but to create artistically, that is, plastically, or in color, or musically, or poetically. In my Mystery Dramas I myself tried to give what cannot be expressed in ideas about the nature of the human being. … This leads us to enjoy, to seek out, to contemplate what one cannot possibly experience in thoughts, but in living figures, as they appear in the dramatic pictures; then we let the figures of the drama really work upon us. … Art must be added to what is abstractly known if true knowledge of the world is to be attained. Further, when such perception is attained and presses toward creative form, this experience penetrates so deeply into the human soul that this union of art with science produces a religious experience.’
‘Today, humanity may not yet be inclined to absorb into external culture what can spring from the spiritual life. however, at least in artistic pictures we can show how life may develop, and what in the form of thoughts and feelings flows into our souls and permeates them. The result can be the kindling of the presentiment that out of its present, humanity must go toward a future in which it will be able to experience the streaming down of spiritual life into man on earth. For humanity is approaching an age when man will perceive himself as the intermediary between the spiritual world and the physical world. These performances were given in order that this presentiment might be awakened.’
Steiner spoke repeatedly about the importance of Goethe’s Fairy Tale, not only in relation to the spiritual striving of our time in a general sense, but in his first Mystery Drama, The Portal of Initiation, he drew upon many of the basic themes of the Fairy Tale. Steiner also indicated that the way the pictures in Goethe’s Fairy Tale ‘unfold themselves’ shows that they possess the power ‘to transform the human soul’ which opens itself to them. He also once characterized the Goethe Fairy Tale as the ‘archetypal seed’ which offers the possibility of a new order of social life amongst humanity as a whole, and described it as the foundation upon which he based his teaching concerning the modern Science of Spirit, Anthroposophy.
Although they are surrounded by the remarkable conveniences modern technology has placed at our command and the degree of ‘freedom’ this has made possible, many people today would agree with Goethe’s observation, made long ago: “Whatever sets the human spirit free without giving us mastery over ourselves is harmful.’—ANd with this awareness goes the recognition that despite the marvels of technology, designed to set men free to an ever-increasing degree, there nevertheless prevails a widespread feeling, a longing to return ‘home’, to experience the unique guidance of the star of one’s individual destiny. … Goethe’s Fairy Tale offers, in form of artistic images, the first steps on the path which at length will enable a man to come to know himself as a being of body, soul and spirit, with all this implies. Thus the Fairy Tale of Goethe may become ‘everything’ or ‘nothing’ for the reader—and it is left entirely to his own individual freedom to let it ‘speak’ its significance to him.” — back cover