Wednesday Webshare: Smashing the Wall of Jericho, History, and Buddhist Humour


We have found a large underground city, perhaps the largest ever recovered. I love hearing about these discoveries for multiple reasons, and a big part is it helps unsettle our historical narrative. Also I’m of the camp that believes our estimates for these cities are far too conservative. I might sound a bit like dear Gordon (but I’m in good company if I do) but our history is more complex than we realize, and when you look at the mythologies of this area, the idea of ancient people living underground opens up some fascinating possibilities.

Humanity was more advanced in a lot of our early received history than most people realize. Just recently it came to light that Babylonian astronomers had developed a pre-cursor to calculus. Their spiritual pursuit of their gods led them to understand the sky and chart the world in ways most modern historians don’t realize. Part out of a notion of prestige and lineage, we like to trace great accomplishments to people “like us” so the Western view of world history often ignores how often our great ideas and accomplishments were done somewhere else first. Another part of it is it’s comforting to assume we’re much more advanced than those who came before us, but in reality we don’t want to see where we came from.

There is also a huge Judeo-Christinizing influence on history. I’ve seen it colourfully referred to as the Wall of Jericho. (I should pause here to remind readers, or inform newer readers, that I’m not just a person babbling about history, I have an Honours Bachelor degree in history from one of the best history departments in North America, and part of my early degree focused on Ancient Near East History. So I’m a slightly qualified person babbling about history) Basically there is a lot of pushback against historically dating things outside of the Biblical time line. Even though most people think Creationism is a joke, it’s hard academically to get consensus that something involving human civilization happened before the year 4000 BCE. Slowly we’re pushing that line, but each time we do, the Biblical timeline shifts too. Most notably our dating of the walls of Jericho. Despite the fact that we can disprove essentially every part of the history in the Bible before King David, not that we lack proof, we have proof its wrong.

That’s part of a bigger rant, but it’s why I love Gobekli Tepe, it’s undeniably the oldest monument we’ve discovered, and due to evidence around it, it’s impossible to shortchange its 12,000 year history. We’re still studying, but we’re restoring it too. I sincerely hope as we study it we’ll really break the Wall of Jericho and realize humanity’s history is longer and more interesting that people generally think.

Another step in uncovering our histories is the discovery of a large body of text written in the Etruscan language. As we work through it we may begin to learn more about this surprisingly powerful culture that we actually know little about, and since the inscription is from a temple we might learn more about their gods.

In more recent times regarding recovering lost history, the occult books of Heinrich Himmler have been found. Apparently 13,000 books. While I’m sure many of them are run of the mill, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nazis found some more unique books in their rampage, and I can’t wait to hear more about what was uncovered.

Switching gears:

There is a new blog, that I cannot recommend enough, but I suggest folks head over to The Perfumed Skull. It’s a blog on anthropology, esotericism, and a large dose of Tibetan Buddhism. It’s not a casual read, the entries are long, dense, and academic, but if you’re looking for a more critical historical/anthropological take, this is definitely worth following.

I first “met” the author when he linked to my post on tulpas in his great piece (on another site) analyzing the role and change of the tulpa idea in Western thought. And was polite enough to call my tone merely exasperated.

Following Buddhism in an irreverent way, facebook memories reminded me of my Buddha Name Shindan Maker I made a few years back, thanks to Polyphanes pushing me. At the time I was reading the Avatamsaka Sutra, which is not a Buddhist text I suggest anyone read unless it’s a really important part of your path. Part of the book is essentially a catalogue of all the Buddhas across different “world oceans.” They all have fantastic and bizarre names, that follow a simple pattern, so I put in the common words, and let this program spit out names that are hilariously close to the original. I, in case you were wondering, will be the Buddha Adamantine Light of Razorlike Compassion. As someone who repeatedly says “I will shank you with loving-kindness” razorlike compassion is very suiting.

Speaking of irreverent Buddhism, spirit houses are a common fixture in Thai Buddhist cultures. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) many cats assume any boxlike structure is for them. So here is an adorable collection of cats cramming themselves in spirit houses

Lastly, after the big Japanese tsunami lots of taxi drivers reported giving rides to ghosts. While it’s hard to trace the validity of these stories, it’s interesting to me that it happened en masse. If it was just a single driver, it would be easy to say it’s made up or imagined, but a bit harder with several reporting similar events.


Wednesday Webshare: Resurrection, Happiness, Biases, and Witch Wars


After a retreat, and a wild ride of training with Rinpoche, I’ve reopened my etsy store including options with the tarot, which also include my Triforce spread which I discussed when I reviewed a Legend of Zelda tarot deck a while back.

Magic needs a curious mind. Such a brilliant and simple true statement. There is a problem, in general, but especially in magick, when we stop questioning, and stop being curious. Yet, it’s hard to teach and instill curiousity. What recourse is there?

Cultural appropriation is a touchy and tricky subject. Some people do it without question, some of us really think about it a lot. Even being ordained I worry where that line might be. Not because there is a clear line, and a right or wrong, but more than anything, because there are consequences to appropriation, and we’ll have to pay some day.

Our culture devalues the unseen and spiritual, and slowly a materialistic scientific perspective is winning…but magick is making a comeback, people see there is more to the world.

On the other side here is a beautiful piece on the idea that magick is threatened, and someone’s experience of being drawn back in by the Guardian of Magick. Not only is the experience compelling, something about the writing really draws me.

It’s come up before here that I’m something of a gender queer creature, so it’s nice to see a (small) list of various deities from various cultures who blend and cross the dichotomy of gender

An illustration of why Majora’s Mask is one of my favourite Zelda games, it appeals to my magickal experiences (And if you can’t believe I’m posting about Zelda again, wait until next week.)

I repeatedly say that being a competent sorcerer involves being content with your life. So here are four things that help make you a happier person, according to neuroscience

Part of being happier is non-attachment, and that includes to the notion of a concrete self. Well neuroscience is hinting at the fact that Buddhist ideas of a lack of inherent self might be true

I also talk about how sorcerers need to be cautious of letting their mind run away with them, question reality and your perception. Here are 20 cognitive biases that shape the way we view the world. These are exactly the types of traps our mind gets us with while we’re unaware.

I’ve said this before with (no) apologies to modern (neo)Wicca, but it used to be a subversive faith. Now in order to make itself palatable to the public, both to non-practitioners and new practitioners, it has lost its edge

This is old (both the link and the subject), but listen to recordings of part of the Epic of Gilgamesh in as close of an approximation of ancient Sumerian as we can construct.

io9 gives a list of 10 historical people who were sorcerers.

I’ve noticed this on my own, but this is the first time I’ve seen an article on it, but do you realize how many porn stars are into magick? It’s a surprising amount.

So a certain warlock, who should remain nameless, is taken to court for harassing a 75 year old witch

On the plus side the witch won Also, notice how similar the articles are in their descriptions of Salem and the people involved? I looked for articles that sounded different, but they all seem to be lifted from an original source. Nothing magickal there, just annoyed with journalistic laziness.


Wednesday Webshare: Suppliers, Satanists, and Shamans


Mercury Web
The wonderful Polyphanes created a list of places to buy occult supplies that aren’t Lucky Mojo. I’ve refused to use them for years due to a variety of reasons, and in the last day several more issues with them have come to light that I can’t agree with, from broad perspective things, to targetted attacks on people both smear and cursing. So go support the awesome places Polyphanes listed, whenever possible support smaller independent, local, and awesome suppliers.

Over at the Strategic Sorcery blog Jason continues to address eclecticism in magickal practice. He addresses competency and dilettantism, which while I agree with his point, part of me feel that he’s a bit lax there. Or maybe I just underestimate competency in some people because as is often the case the loudest person in the crowd (eclectics in this case) is generally not the best person to represent them.

Since I wrote the draft of this post Jason has also posted Part 3 of Sane Eclecticism (Alas, his naming convention, not mine) It’s actually a repost of his rules from way back with one additional one.

Occultists debate about how much technology should be a part of what we do, but it’s time we catch up because a priest in Poland claims to be getting text messages from demons. And here I am using a black mirror like Luddite!

While not really magickal or occult, a wave of dolls have been left in front of houses, and they resemble the little girls that live in those homes. Definitely creepy, and my first thought was what a great way to nocebo someone into a curse. Don’t do anything to the person you want to curse, but leave a doll that looks like them in front of their house, they’ll freak out and probably do more than your curse would.

Another ancient temple has been found in the Near East, but it’s in danger cause its in a war zone. Seriously these temples are awesome things, hopefully this one survives long enough to really be studied. (Don’t forget, I have a history degree that in part focused on Near East history, so I have a bias)

Speaking of, Sounds from Silence is a CD that includes information on ancient Sumerian music, and instruments, with an example song on a recreated traditional lyre type instrument. I shared a version of this song a ways back, but this is a more complete product.

Also a Shamanic festival was held in Tuva, with the goal of revival of shamanic cultures It sounds really amazing, shamans from Mexico, to Greenland, to Korea, to Russia came to teach, learn, and share. I think it’s also great that they can share and learn. It makes me think about the Christian/Buddhist gathering in the 80s (I think) were all the more booky preacher types got into dogmatic arguments, but all the monastics who practice and meditate could relate to each other. (Also, you have to love that the article says the “World’s strongest shamans” I’d love to see that competition)

In the midst of the Hobby Lobby fiasco in the States (I’m Canadian, like a reasonable person, but I keep an eye on what my boot is up to) there is some good news via the Satanists (who are often the bearers of good news). Women, under the religious rights of the Satanists are allowed to be exempted from the “right to know” laws. Which if you’re unfamiliar basically means doctors are allowed to feed their patient any kind of bullshit (no, seriously, it’s not medical information, look it up) around the “reality” and dangers of abortions. It’s a pro-fetus law meant to coerce women in emotionally fraught positions to not go through with their choice. I don’t know if it will hold up in practice, but good for the Satanists trying to sidestep one religious law with another one.

Also, in the midst of the horrors going on in Israel, an odd story comes out. The Second Temple was destroyed about two thousand years ago, and there are a lot of prophecies and beliefs about the Third Temple. So how will the Third Temple be built? Welcome to the 2010s, where we can crowdfund the Third Temple, via indiegogo.

Harry from The Unlikely Mage replies to my HGA posts with his post Who Has the HGA? I Don’t. In it he addresses having similar experiences and contact, but that it isn’t the same thing, and how it was different. What amused me (as you can see in the comment) was both of our experiences pushed us into Buddhism. (That’s right, a centuries old Jewish ritual summoned an angel that told me to go Buddhist.)

Review: Babylonian Magic and Sorcery – Leonard W. King, M.A.


Babylonian Magic and Sorcery: Being “The Prayers of the Lifting of the Hand” – Leonard W. King, M.A.
Weiser Books. 1896, 2000. 275pp. 0877289344.

In the seventh century BCE Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, had a series of prayers collected and copied down from an earlier Babylonian source (xix). Known as “The Prayers of the Lifting of the Hand” this collection is the foundation of King’s text. This is not a how-to book on Babylonian magick, this is not a historical or anthropological analysis of Babylonian magick, this text is just a modern re-enactment of Ashurbanipal’s collection.

King is not an occultist, he’s an Assyriologist which means he isn’t translating this text with a magickal or religious bias. His interest wasn’t in reproducing a viable magickal system, quite simply he just wanted to translate a collection of Babylonian prayers to help further the study of the culture. The book contains an introduction about the work and the source, the transliterations and translations of the different tablets, a vocabulary, and finally a reproduction of the tablets as a source text.

This book is not something most magickians could pick up and make any practical use of, but for the more historical and academically inclined magickians this book is utterly fascinating. Unfortunately like most cuneiform tablets there is a lot of damage. Some tablet/prayers are just slightly damaged and pose no real problem, others are so heavily damaged that of an entire prayer only a few words remain.

This book is a great resource, as King wrote this over a century ago before the neopagan revival, and is writing as an Assyriologist so it is wonderful to see prayers and magick from an ancient culture without reinterpretation and reworking for “modern sensibility.” It is strictly a translation, and as a Western magickian it is great to be able to see how different the world view was, and yet occasionally see glimmers that persist into magick today.

If you’re looking for a practical occult text to get results with, this is not the book you’re looking for. If you’re a historian, Assyriologist, or academic magician then this book as a rare reproduction of a source text is an amazing read.

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