You help yourself by helping others. There are no hermits in the desert unless they are thinking big thoughts that will eventually help others.
Edward de Bono, H+ A New Religion?
You help yourself by helping others. There are no hermits in the desert unless they are thinking big thoughts that will eventually help others.
Edward de Bono, H+ A New Religion?
Not thinking well is dangerous.
John Braddock, A Spy’s Guide to Thinking
a good environment to work in, surrounded by people who believe in a fairer and better society, and who have decided to act on their beliefs and dedicate their lives to trying to change the world. Sounds utopian, maybe. But the important word here is probably not the one you are thinking of. It’s trying.
Angela Y Davis, Frank Barat, & Cornel West, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
It may seem egocentric, but Martin wasn’t worried about that. He had spent a lot of time thinking about himself, and had come to the conclusion that he was definitely not self-absorbed.
Scott Meyer, Off to Be the Wizard
Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity by Luc Brisson, translated by Janet Lloyd, a 2002 paperback from University of California Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.
“This fascinating book collects and translates most of the extant Graeco-Roman writing on human beings, divinities, animals, and other creatures who were both female and male. Luc Brisson provides a commentary that situates this rich source material within its historical and intellectual contexts. These selections—from mythological, philosophical, historical, and anecdotal sources—describe cases of either simultaneous dual sexuality, as in androgyny and hermaphroditism, or successive dual sexuality, as in the case of Tiresias (the blind Theban prophet), which are found through the whole span of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Sexual Ambivalence is an invaluable sourcebook that gathers this suggestive, yet hard to find, material in one convenient place.
In addition to including such familiar sources as the myth of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Aristophanes’s myth of the origin of the sexes and sexuality in Plato’s Symposium, Brisson also discusses cosmogonic mythology in Hesiodic poetry, the Orphic Rhapsodies, Gnosticism, the Hermetic Corpus, and the so-called Chaldean Oracles. He presents the manifold variants of the myth of Tiresias, as well as many other sources.
These ancient stories deepen our awareness of how strongly the polarity of sexuality colors our entire perception of the world and are profoundly relevant to our thinking today.” — back cover
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together …
Luise Henriette Wilhelmine von Anhalt-Dessau as Diana, 1765 [via]
“‘Most people here, I imagine, love to read,’ she continued. ‘[The esoteric] really encourages that kind of bibliomania. And if you’re someone who loves to read, you’re also someone who is comfortable being an autodidact, comfortable seeking out knowledge externally and also within yourself. And [you trust] the patterns that that weaves, as opposed to relying on someone else to tell you what wisdom is or what divinity is.'”
“‘My take on it is, [occultists] aren’t necessarily interested in a truth or a singular truth,’ he said. ‘I think they’re interested in a consensus-based or consensual, metaphorical set of constructs that become truth-like.’ He viewed his community as being a place of infinite individual systems of reading, practice and belief — combined and coalesced only by their commitment to individual agency.”
“Which brings us to the fuzzy ‘between spaces’ where apophenia meets synchromysticism. Given that old gods regularly become new angels, then new goddesses may become largely-hoax angels. And so I see the goddess Apophenia hiding behind the Angel of the Thames.”
“Muriel Bruce Hasbrouck (1890 — 1981) was a student of both Paul Foster Case and Aleister Crowley. She dedicated her book to these two men, a lesser-known book entitled Pursuit of Destiny, written in 1941. … Here are her keywords for the Minor Arcana Suits and Numbers. […] So, by putting these keywords together, you can see how they create meanings for each of the forty Minor Arcana.”
“A Tellurium clock combines both clock and orrery in a single movement. Last week I received pictures from Marc Maradan of a Tellurium clock he is working on. Marc is a process engineer based near Bern in Switzerland.
Inspired by a 2006 documentary on the Antikythera mechanism he set out to build his own Heliocentric calendar machine. He produced his designs using open source CAD software and manufactures all the components himself (no CNC machining) using only the technology available to the ancient Greeks.”
The Tellurium Clock of Marc Maradan at The Computus Engine [larger]
“[…] investigators also identified deeper causes, one of which involved what some accident-investigation specialists have dubbed the ‘normalization of deviance’ — small malfunctions that appear so often that eventually they are accepted as normal […]”
“Systemic problems require systemic solutions, and thinking the radical change necessary to preserve what life remains on the planet is possible without the complete removal of the system that is killing us, is futile.”
“In 1918 Weber had proclaimed that all ‘mysterious incalculable forces’ were being eradicated from the world by science and scientifically based technologies. Entzauberung — literally the disappearance of magic (Zauber) — signified a new mentality in which modern people believed that anything around them could, in principle, be comprehended rationally, and that no offerings to capricious deities or magical manipulations of occult forces were needed to master the world.
‘Magic’, however, failed to disappear. Whether we are talking about self-designated modern magicians coming out of the various currents of occultism and neopaganism, or about that vague and poorly defined set of ‘occult’ and ‘supernatural’ beliefs and practices that somehow will not fit neat categories such as ‘religion’ or ‘science’, ‘magic’, in fact, seems to thrive at the heart of high modernity. Some have even connected the resilience of the ‘mysterious incalculable forces’ to the secularization process itself […]”
“Inner life manifests itself in various elements and conglomerations of external life, especially in those almost imperceptible surface data which form an essential part of screen treatment. In recording the visible world—whether current reality or an imaginary universe—films therefore provide clues to hidden mental processes. […] Films are particularly inclusive because their ‘visible hieroglyphics’ supplement the testimony of their stories proper. And permeating both the stories and the visuals, the ‘unseen dynamics of human relations’ are more or less characteristic of the inner life of the nation from which the films emerge.”
“This fascinating documentary explores the genesis of one of cinema’s greatest epics that never was: cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s (EL TOPO) adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, whose cast would have included such icons as Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and Mick Jagger. In 1975, following the runaway success of his art-house freak-outs EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky secured the rights to Frank Herbert’s Dune — and began work on what was gearing up to be a cinematic game-changer, a sci-fi epic unlike anything the world had ever seen.”
“Life, to me, is mainly about opposite forces coexisting in the same space (this being a binary universe, and all): light and dark and the play of shadows across landscapes; tension and flexibility and all the combinations of the two; power, or the confidence that comes with great ability, and the understanding that comes at some point that no matter how skilled you are, you are still small. Humility, and sense of purpose. Holding on, and letting go. Doing what you can, and at the same time surrendering oneself to the constant movement that is life.”
“Occasionally, we are walking along our path, and we forget who we are. We forget that the tugging pulling us forward is the longing of heart and soul. We get caught in the pattern of habit and assumption. We forget we had intention. We forget we play a vital part in the world. We need reminders that life itself holds magic.”
“‘For 20 years I researched the fathers of the Ouija board,’ [Robert] Murch said. ‘Turns out, it had a mother.'”
Ouida aka Maria Louise Ramée
“Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.
‘This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,’ said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work.
The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like ‘amplituhedron,’ which yields an equivalent one-term expression.”
“In summary, [Joanna Kavenna] says, ‘being a writer stopped being the way it had been for ages — the way I expected it to be — and became something different.”
That ‘difference’ amounts to a revolution. To writers of my generation, who grew up in the age of Penguin books, vinyl records and the BBC, it’s as if a cultural ecology has been wiped out. […] It was a mutually dependent ecosystem.”
“In 1979, William S Burroughs delivered a series of lectures on creative writing (though he insisted that he was teaching creative reading — that is, analyzing the writing process by reading, because everyone can be taught to read, but only some will be able to write) at Naropa University. Three of these lectures, running to over four hours, are up on Youtube, covering writing exercises, Brion Gysin, Aleister Crowley, science fiction, General Semantics, and cut-ups.”
“The rabbis explained to me that it was their duty to determine the nature of the interest of prospective buyers before selling any copies of the newly printed work.”
“LibraryBox is an open source, portable digital file distribution tool based on inexpensive hardware that enables delivery of educational, healthcare, and other vital information to individuals off the grid.”
“The Swinburne Project is a digital collection and scholarly project devoted to the life and work of Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne and to digital encounters with Swinburne’s works and related documents and information resources.”
“The Emma Hardinge Britten Archive is an open source scholarly archive containing primary material for students of Emma Hardinge Britten. Materials include annotated editions of all major EHB texts, bibliographies of primary and secondary material, a short biographical summary of EHB’s life, chronologies with backing evidentiary records, various artifacts of EHB’s life, and papers and articles on topics in EHB scholarship.”
“Years back, when a small group of us were trying to get a decent run of some of the fundamental Theosophical periodicals online, a discussion broke out among the team doing the digitization scut work under the heading “mission, vision, values” (you know, the sort of thing that would occasion a high-ropes offsite, with too much drinking, in a corporate setting) and one of the participants wrote that he thought the only common belief the team needed to share was the belief that the material in question was in danger, hard to come by for ordinary seekers and readers, and worth preserving.
Damned good sense, I thought. Focus on what we agree on, and leave your hermeneutics in the car.”
“The IAPSOP is a US-based non-profit organization focused on the digital preservation of Spiritualist and occult periodicals published between the Congress of Vienna and the start of the Second World War.”
“Yet, while LGBT Americans are the current target of this effort to repackage prejudice as ‘religious liberty,’ they are hardly the first. To the contrary, as Wake Forest law Professor Michael Kent Curtis explained in a 2012 law review article, many segregationists justified racial bigotry on the very same grounds that religious conservatives now hope to justify anti-gay animus. In the words of one professor at a prominent Mississippi Baptist institution, ‘our Southern segregation way is the Christian way … [God] was the original segregationist.'”
“70% of Millennials think: ‘Religious groups are ‘alienating young adults by being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues.””
“1 in 3 Millennials say they have no religious affiliation at all.”
“Everybody knows that the Tea Party has structured their political platform on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Tea Party Jesus has a lot of political views. Unfortunately, after a little journalistic digging, we have uncovered some facts that may make a few members of the Religious Right a teeny, tiny bit uncomfortable…”
“The authors, all Jesus Seminar Fellows, agreed on several points:
· Jesus of Nazareth did not refer to himself as the Messiah, nor did he claim to be a divine being who descended to earth from heaven in order to die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
· At the heart of Jesus’ teaching and actions was a vision of a life under the reign of God (or, in the empire of God) in which God’s generosity and goodness is regarded as the model and measure of human life.
· Jesus did not hold an apocalyptic view of the reign (or kingdom) of God”
“Always worth a pause is consideration of whether one greater enemy of Christianity, Gnosticism is an eradicated virus or a recurring outbreak of disease in our body. While it is difficult to arrive at a settled definition of Gnosticism, it can be thought of as an influenza which takes various forms.”
“Gnostics were trying, each in their own way, to indigenize Christianity in the Greco-Roman world by marrying it to platonic cosmology and cutting the chord [sic] from its Jewish roots.”
“If you answered ‘B’ to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.”
“The stench from your houses of worship is wafting its way across this country, polluting citizenship, demoralizing parents and families, mocking accountability and blaspheming the Holy God whom you say you love and worship. If that offends you, try reading Amos.”
“The time is not always ripe. It may be past, it may be still to come. But woe to the church if when the time does come it is silent…”
“Close your eyes, and visualise yourself standing in the middle of the country of Ukraine — somewhere near Cherkasy (see map). Now imagine that your astral form grows to a colossal height — so much so, that you can look round and see all of the territory of Ukraine around you.”
“Could this be part of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a mythical kingdom believed to have disappeared beneath the waves thousands of years ago? Has Wales’s very own Atlantis been found? […] It was buried under a peat bog 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, then inundated by rising sea levels until this winter’s violent storms stripped away the covering of peat and sand.”
“We can tell what they will do as soon as we can tell what they are thinking; if we make any mistake as to what they are thinking, we can no longer tell what they will do. Just so long as we hate them, we blind our eyes and confuse our minds.” [via]
“Now, as explained above, biology counsels adaptation to circumstance. We shall save ourselves knocks if we do what the other man tells us without any grumbling. We may go so far perhaps as to say ‘brute’ or ‘pig’ when he is not within an ear shot, but even that is a little dangerous, tending rather to the calamity of thinking for ourselves.” [via]
“This game looks like great fun. Tarot cards and pyramids; what’s not to like?” [via]
I’m going to try really hard to keep this relatively brief, and avoid going down the rabbit hole of talking about everything there is to say about this game and the topic of Looney games. But, I’ve got to say something!
“Gnostica is an abstract territory based war game. Tarot cards make up the often-changing board, and players use Icehouse pieces to represent minions that control those territories. Every tarot card has a power, and when a player has one of his pieces on a territory, he or she may use the power of that territory through that piece. Players also have a hand of tarot cards which allow them to use those powers through any of their pieces. Territories are worth points when occupied, and the game ends when one player challenges the other players and has 9 points on his or her following turn.” [via]
While you do need a deck of some kind, you don’t really need to use a tarot deck. I made my personal deck out of blank note cards. Actually, I made both a Gnostica and Zarcana deck, because I wanted to play the two similar games and compare. However, there is no denying that a real tarot deck would look awesome during play, and have to bonus of freakin’ our both the squares and the uptight. It has always been my plan to dedicate a Thoth tarot deck toward this purpose, but I’ve not yet done that.
Other than a deck of cards for territory, you’ll need a number of Looney Pyramids. Think of the pyramids kind of how you do a deck of cards, something that is used to play a large number of games. There’s a whole lot of history to these pyramids, which you can find and read; but, you should take a gander at IcehouseGames.org Wiki, the fan-built wiki of games that people have designed for play using the pyramids to get an idea of how these are used.
There are actually a large number of pyramid colours that have been available over the years, though currently there are two sets of colours that come boxed together. In order to play a game of gnostica, you really should have five boxes of Looney Pyramids so that you have a stash of 15 of each colour, since 3 of each colour come in each box. The pyramids themselves come in three sizes, each having 1 to 3 pips on them, so a complete stash of 15 pyramids of the same colour will have 5 of each size.
And, I can personally vouch for the way that one can become a little bit obsessed with all the various accessories and tchotchkes.
If you’re interested in the Looney Pyramids, and games you play with them like Gnostica, you may also want to look at some other nifty games from Looney Labs, like Fluxx (including a planned Cthulhu Fluxx at some point!) and Chrononauts.
The Looney Pyramids and Fluxx games are part of a set of games that have flexible or self-amending rules, and I personally find the way I think about playing these games to be similar to the way I think magically. I keep meaning to write my thoughts about that down, and had the notion of a class on “Games Magicians Play” where I would share my thoughts with others. To just put this out there then, I find the need to be flexible and adaptable, while still maintaining a focus on intention, to be an excellent way to play with magical thinking outside of ritual.
Of course, for me, this all started with Peter Suber’s Nomic, which is one of the first games of self-amendment I ever explored. Problem was, it just wasn’t fun. And, if the single necessary and sufficient Nomic rule is “all players must agree on the rules of the game” then it seems to naturally follow as a corollary that “all games should be fun” … you know, unless you’re into the kink of playing games that aren’t fun, I suppose. But, these games from Looney Labs have always seemed to fit that necessary and sufficient core rule and its corollary; they have always maintained a consistent level of fun and interest for me that no other games have sustained.
Check out Gnostica, or the other Looney Labs games, and let me know what you think about my hypothesis about them being a game that mirrors magical thinking, or if you have games you think other magicians should know about consider letting me know or sending me a review of them.