Wednesday Webshare: Shamans, Doctors, and Mind-to-Mind Communication

2014/08/27

Mercury Web

Jason from Strategic Sorcery did an Ask Me Anything on reddit. It’s a disjointed read (it is reddit), but interesting, and funny. Personally I think the grimoire I’m working on will need some unicorn scrotum now…

Remember that Shaman gathering I mentioned? Here is a fascinating interview with a Russian shaman who was part of the events.

Here is a collection of 21 cool videos of sacred sites around the world filmed by drone. I love the view of Ankor Wat. Which is your favourite?

Alex Sumner reveals who the Secret Chief of the Golden Dawn really is. My response was to ask Who?

Help sponsor Chris Wilkinson translate a vast collection of Buddhist texts through gofundme (More crowdsourcing spirituality, the wave of the future)

I know I harp on articles about the brain and meditation…but a new study shows that Vajrayana meditation produce different responses in the body/mind than Theravadan meditations. Simplified for those less knowledge about Buddhism is shows that “Tibetan Buddhism” is doing something different than Buddhism that mindfulness meditation. Other than tummo isn’t not often studies focus on Vajrayana, so I’d be curious to see more on this.

Mummification starts nearly 1500 years earlier than previously believed.


Are blue eyes going endangered? (No) But some interesting information about where/when we think blue eyes arose. (And if you don’t know why this is relevant on this blog, get back to your Apocrypha)

First mysterious holes appear in Russia and now a huge crack appears in Mexico I think it’s safe to assume this is a sign of various Old Ones shifting in their sleep.

Scientists have found a way to email brainwaves. After a successful test sending “hola” and “ciao” the system was bought by a wealth prince from Nigeria who wants to help spread his fortune to the world.

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Wednesday Webshare: Shamans, Tattoos, and Kaph as Blue

2013/01/30

Mercury Web Over on Ganachakra there is an excellent post about the challenges of translating Buddhism to the West. How it gets distorted, censored, and misunderstood, and what it leaves behind. It’s really worth the read to think about how Vajrayana gets presented/understood differently in the West than in cultures where it has roots. When I try to explain to people what my practice involves, they’re often confused, I’ve been angrily told “That’s not Buddhism” and that my practices are “Anti-Buddhist” and I just have to point out that Buddhism, specifically Vajrayana, is a different animal than most people realize. This article really grapples with that.

Blue Garuda has started a new blog devoted to shamanism, appropriately called Blue Shaman. It’s largely Tengerism Shamanism, and Himalayan shamanism, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it expanded to at least compare/contrast with other forms of traditional shamanism. Right now it’s some wiki cut and paste, and some articles brought from the old blog, but it will be worth a follow.

Speaking of Shamanism, here is an article about tattoos in Shamanic/religious contexts, it’s really fascinating to see some of the uses of tattoos. I’ve been thinking a lot more about my first tattoo in the next while, so I loved reading through that and thinking about it, and reflecting on the history of inked bodies.

And speaking of tattoos (go segues) how about a tattoo made from the cremated ashes of a loved one?  I think this is an amazing idea, plus I would love to be able to tell people “Yeah, that tattoo? It’s my Grandma…no, I know it doesn’t look like her, I mean it’s actually her.”

I think a lot of the scientific articles about meditation are overdone. We get it, it’s good for you and changes your brain, but this one has some interesting findings including what happens when meditators…disappear during MRIs.

Prefer a more historical look at magickal and religious topics? Then the newly launched Ancient Esotericism is for you. Adding three extra nifty points is the fact that Sarah Veale from Invocatio is the website coordinator.

A pretty good TED talk about the benefit of 10 minutes of mindfulness a day, and different approaches

io9 asks if we can learn synaesthesia. My sister and I both had grapheme with the same colour associations, and this may explain it, though we also had day-colour crossovers this doesn’t explain. I said “had” because mine changed in my early twenties. I still experience grapheme and other minor forms of synaesthesia, except now my sense crossovers are all Queen Scale. Seriously… Letters are now linked with colours and scents based on their Hebrew equivalents and the correspondences. This is your brain, this is your brain on Golden Dawn Magick…

Two minute video explaining Witchcraft


Shhh: The Secret Chiefs Are Talking

2011/09/11

Recently the occult world was rocked by my latest announcement, and some people were sceptical that the Secret Chiefs of the Silver Twilight’s Third and a Half Order has contacted me personally to reveal the rest of the advanced Silver Twilight Inner Order (T&A et F.U.)  teachings to qualified occultists everywhere (by which we mean random blog readers). Of course people were only sceptical because they have never seen me in a bathing suit and neglected to realize I’m the only one who knows how to set the clock on the Secret Chief’s microwave.

Exclusive image of the Secret Chiefs

 

To help quell the scepticism the Secret Chiefs, Billy and Michael (I call him Mike), authorized me to publically transmit a set of deep and powerful secrets to cast out all doubt by its sheer clarity and wisdom. Two of our Order released a secret teaching six years to try to help humanity progress, and I get the honour of revealing the true esoteric coded meaning of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

An incomplete copy of this teaching was released in the 1700s due to a scribal error when copying a stolen scroll. We let it continue as a blind until a few years ago when humanity was deemed ready for the complete system, and today when I was allowed to release the inner teaching of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

Some may have suspected the truth and we recognize their inherent genius. Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock is in fact a coded version of the Five Movements. The Five Motions are commonly called the Chinese Elements by those uninitiated orders (who don’t fact check with Wikipedia and learn something new). It’s true though and very obvious if you have eyes to see. Rock is Earth, Paper is Wood, Scissors are Metal, Lizard (a translation error from amphibian obviously) is Water, and Spock is Fire due to his phaser. When we compare the charts of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock, and the charts of the Five Movements we see that yes they are the same. So much more information is available to the process of Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock when one understands this encoded mystical meaning.

              

By releasing the game into the public consciousness the Secret Chiefs of the Silver Twilight were hoping to increase humanity’s spiritual level (it’s over 9000) by subtly ingraining the Five Movements so people could live their life in accordance to the Way it represents. By learning to balance the movements, to understand what force creates another, supports another, weakens and destroys another, it was hoped humanity would find the peace of the True Way. Unfortunately without the inner teaching it degraded into a way of deciding who has to dump the garbage or who has to drive to the store to get milk (which was often me cause my friends know I generally pick scissors). Now the inner teaching has been revealed we’re hoping humanity will begin to ascend and all doubts about the Secret Chiefs will be removed.

And for those wondering, there is no connection between the Silver Twilight and the Golden Dawn.  The Golden Dawn are just the silly guys dressing up in Egyptian costumes and yelling to an Invisible Jewish Man in the Sky, the Silver Twilight is the real deal.

If this blog entry confuses you, you’re obviously not reading the blogs I’m snarking.  University started up last week, so I’m unsure what my update schedule will be like, hopefully something more serious soon.  Also, for any of the yanks unfamiliar, in Canadian/British English sceptic is with a c, not a k. I don’t make up the rules, I just follow and teach them, in this case.


Kalagni’s Tree of Life

2011/05/18

Or: Let’s not sqabalah about the details.

Why hello there synchronicity, I suppose you want me to write about my attributions for the Tree of Life and why I redesigned parts. I say this because I was away at a convention for the weekend and when discussing tarot and the Tree of Life I ended up explaining to someone that I use a different model of my own creation. Part of it I’ve debated may have to do with blinds, and when catching up on my blogs saw a link to an old post by Ananael Qaa about blinds and a post by Robert (referencing Ananael Qaa in another circumstance) about his model of the Tree and worlds. So since I lacked my Tree to show my friend this weekend I thought I might post about it and then various things have cropped up so I’ll take that as a sign to post about.

This entry will won’t be super-complicated but a basic interest/understanding of the Qabalah, especially with the Golden Dawn model, would definitely make this easier to process.

Now in order to discuss my Tree I should probably mention some other tweaks that relate to it. As a disclaimer I am not now nor have I been a member of the Golden Dawn, I may use a Golden Dawn inspired system of magick, but not the Golden Dawn system. So what I put forth admits the possibility that ideas were changed due to a lack of knowledge achieved in initiation.

I like the notion of the Golden Dawn colour system, I have a highly structured mind that likes systems. Unfortunately you can’t just toss a correspondence system at me because unless there is a logical system underneath it that I can recognize, I can’t make use of the system. “I was asked to memorise what I did not understand; and, my memory being so good, it refused to be insulted in that manner.” So saith Uncle Al. The Golden Dawn Qabalah has a logic underneath it which allows the basic framework to be expanded upon, this I like, but there are a few things I don’t like/understand.

I work with the Queen Colour scale, just to put the following discussion in context. The colour attributions of the Astrological signs make a great deal of sense. Starting with red in Aries you follow the colour wheel hitting the primary, secondary, and tertiary colours in the order of the spectrum, simple, and logical. The colour attributions of the Spheres on the Tree make sense. First triangle is shades, second triangle is primary colours, third triangle is secondary colour, makes sense, the which goes where makes sense too, but more in-depth than I need here. Then you get the planetary colours and…wait…what?

Now I know planetary forces shouldn’t be confused with the forces of the Sephiroth but if they’re associated why should they be different? Why should the colours of the planets and spheres of Sun and Mercury be reversed, or Jupiter and the Moon, and why is Saturn a fake colour? Perhaps there is a reason, perhaps it was overlooked, perhaps it’s a blind, I dislike it, and I find it useless. I know it follows the colour spectrum order when you put the planets in order of apparent motion, but I don’t think that’s enough for me to have it counter the colours of the Sephiroth. Not to de-power the GD colour system, but I view it as process of psychological training, you teach your mind to associate and categorize different forces. What happens when you try to get your brain to process and integrate illogical information? Any sci-fi fan can give you the answer, and while we may not be computers I don’t think it is useful to try to get this to integrate. Let me clearly state this is different than trying to integrate a paradox.

So to me the planets are the same colours as the spheres. The fact they match makes logical sense and when you look at the ruling planets of the astrological signs you get several of the signs to match up where they didn’t before (Mercury is orange and so is Gemini, Sun is yellow and so is Leo) and you get no new times where sign/planet do not match. Saturn is the only exception being black, but there is no black zodiac sign. This is simpler, requires your mind not to memorize a bunch of exceptions, and makes a lot of the associations match up better. If your mind is holding conflicting associations neither will be held to the conviction it could be held without that conflict. This means if your mind is holding conflicting views (especially within the same system) you can’t get the full force of your belief/understanding behind them, and this limits the focus/force you can put into your magick.

That being said moving onto the Tree I gave that disclaimer so people aren’t confused when they look at the colours of the Paths/Letters on the Tree. The layout of the letters on the Tree doesn’t make sense to me. Well it does, I get it, it is alphabetical, which makes sense with a language like English, where the letter C is the letter C is the letter C and there is nothing hidden/extra about it. Hebrew doesn’t work like that. There are three classes of letter: Mothers, Doubles, and Singles, of which there are three, seven, and twelve respectively. Qabalistically these letters are the three elements (no Earth), seven planets, and twelve astrological signs. There are three directions of Paths on the Tree: horizontal, vertical, and diagonal, of which there are three, seven, and twelve respectively.

This is the basis of my version of the Tree. Alphabetically makes little sense, it reveals nothing, seems lazy, and a touch unaware of the letters and their division/meanings. So why not make use of the way the structure of the Hebrew alphabet matches the structure of the Tree? I did, which leads me to this image.

Click for full size

This is one of the revisions I’ve made, and I’ve been working with it for quite a while now and enjoy it, more importantly I find it fruitful. Sometimes I worry it may be too balanced, or out of balance, you’ll notice red colours predominate on one side, and blue on the other.

The three horizontal paths become the three Mother letters, the three elementals, and also serve as the divider between Qabalistic worlds. Granted I’m not a fan of the model that the worlds are divided on the Tree, I much prefer a Jacob’s Ladder model (which I don’t see as much so maybe I’ll write on that at some point), but if I were to divide the Tree with the worlds, then the elemental/mother/horizontal paths lend themselves to it quite well. Atziluth (associated with Fire) is comprised of the upper three Spheres, with the Path of Shin (Fire) as the boundary. Briah (associated with Water) is comprised of the middle three Spheres with the Path of Mem (Water) and Tiphereth as the boundary. Yetzirah (associated with Air) is the bottom three Sphere with the Path of Aleph (Air) and Yesod as the boundary. Lastly Assiah is Malkuth.

For the seven vertical paths there are the seven double letters, the seven planets. In each case the planetary letter rises up from the sphere it is associated with, with the exception of Saturn/Tau which rises out of Malkuth instead of Binah. Two reasons: Binah has no vertical path above it, and Saturn/Tau plays double-duty in many systems also representing Earth, so rising out of Malkuth the Earth-Plane.

The twelve diagonal paths were the hardest to work on, and have been through the most revisions. After trying a lot of planetary and astrological juggling I got a lay out I like. It was a process of elimination. I started off by having the colour-matched sign descend from the Sphere that the planetary path ascended to. So the Path of Mars/Peh rises into Binah, the Path of Aries (the red Martial astrological sign, while Scorpio is blue-green martial) descends on the diagonal from Binah for example. When I couldn’t do that I used to the colour/sphere associations. So Cancer, which is Yellow/Orange is placed on the Path connecting Tiphareth (Yellow) and Hod (Orange), this wasn’t my first choice and seems superficial (and might be) but I find it actually works rather well. The two signs that are half purple rise diagonally from Yesod (purple) toward the side their colour is mixed with. The Path of Ayin/Capricorn is Purple/Blue, so it rises to the right toward the side of Chesed as an example.

This leaves four letters/Paths unassigned. Heh/Taurus, Tet/Leo, Nun/Scorpio, and Tzaddi/Aquarius. These just happen to be the four Fixed signs, and where we get the surrounding image on the World and Wheel of Fortune cards of the Bull, Lion, Eagle, and Human. Appropriately they become the four “framing” diagonal paths. They were the hardest to assign. I originally tried their layout from the zodiac and above tarot cards, but didn’t like it. I decided to have Tet/Leo descend into Binah rather than Tzaddi/Aquarius. No Sphere had a sign they rule descending into them, so I figured Binah should not be the exception. As they are ruled by the Sun and Saturn, and are Yellow and Purple, they are balanced, so they became the top two paths. Heh/Taurus, and Nun/Scorprio descend into Malkuth on the side of their colour predominance.

So that is the Tree of Life model I use, for meditation, magick, and understanding. I find it far easier and effective to work with the standard Golden Dawn model, or any of the other Trees of modern or classic origin with the Paths on a different arrangement. Hopefully I made sense, feel free to ask questions, comment, or throw the standard ceremonial “You changed something!” hissy-fit.


Review: Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set

2011/04/28

Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set – Stuart R. Kaplan
U.S. Games Systems. Inc. 2009. 9781572816398.

Pamela Colman Smith is an unsung hero and artist in western occultism. She most famously illustrated the Rider-Waite tarot (I’ll discuss the naming convention later), largely based on Golden Dawn symbolism and teachings, and it is probably the most influential tarot deck ever. She was much more than this though, she was a quiet mystic, a member of the Golden Dawn, and a talented artist who received some recognition in her time and was sadly forgotten.

The Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set tries to bring this visionary woman back to our lives. The set contains two books, a tarot deck, and some artistic extras, which will all be discussed in their own time. This set was released in 2009 (somehow I missed hearing about it) on the centennial anniversary of the publishing of the Rider-Waite tarot and I think it is great collection to have.

Back of the Smith Waite Centennial Tarot

The first book included is The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith by Stuart R. Kaplan. This relatively small book of just over 100 pages is exactly what it sounds like. Kaplan tells the story of “Pixie’s” mysterious life. As you’re led through her life Kaplan also gives many examples of her art, in fact only once is there a spot where you can open the book and there isn’t some example of Pamela’s art. She lived a fascinating life; charmed, beautiful, sad, and lonely all at the same time. Most people only know Pamela as the Rider-Waite artist but she was far more than that, an accomplished artist who had shows in New York and London, an author and artist of folk tales from Jamaica, and a poet. The story is sad and the art is just beautiful. It was much to my dismay after reading the book I found out you cannot obtain prints of her artwork and my favourite painting from the book seems to have no presence on the internet at all.

The second book is The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite. I feel there is little to say about this book, it was originally published in 1911 to explain the Rider-Waite tarot. This particular edition does not contain the images of the cards.

Centennial Strength

The set comes with The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition deck. This is not just another reprint of the Rider-Waite deck you’re used to seeing everywhere. First off, to clarify terminology, the deck you see everywhere, and probably have is properly called the Rider-Waite tarot; Waite after A.E. Waite and Rider after the publishing company that first produced it. Some people, myself included, refer to it as the Smith-Waite or Waite-Smith tarot in an attempt to remind people who gave us this deck. The deck included in this set is properly called The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition, firmly putting forth that Pamela Colman Smith was one of the creators and will not be forgotten. There is more to it than just the name change though, the Rider-Waite deck is filled with bright, almost jarring colours. No yellow is a muted yellow, it is a daffodil screaming yellow, and this is a product of how the earlier decks were reproduced from the original.

Common Strength

For The Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition Kaplan has used a 1909 printing of the deck to restore the deck to its original colouring, something I find far more peaceful and elegant than the borderline cartoon colouring of the general deck. I find this makes the cards stand out more and the subtly of shading and symbolism easier to see and work with. Also, this deck has done away with that gawdy blue and white diamond pattern on the back of the cards; instead the back is adorned with Pamela’s monogram and a rose. It isn’t a reversible back due to the rose, but it is subtle enough that you still can’t pick out which way is up without turning the cards over. Without a doubt this version is replacing my Rider-Waite tarot.

Lastly the set comes with a few artistic extras. It contains six reproduced postcards with Pamela’s artwork, only one of which is an image from her tarot. It contains three 5×7 prints of some of her art and a 5×7 photo print of Pamela herself.

Everything comes in a handy box with packs away nicely. My only complaint about the set is one I’ve had with far too many decks I like and that is it contains a drawstring bag for the deck rather than a box. The box that the art, deck, and books come in is too large to carry around and I find decks not in boxes get damaged too easily so I have to find another storage device for my cards. Other than that small complaint, I found the set wonderful. It is great to see Pamela Colman Smith getting the attention she deserves and the deck, the art, and the books are just wonderful. Really a must have for any tarot enthusiast.


Review: The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot – Bill & Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero

2011/02/11

The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot: The Synthesis of Eastern & Western Magick – Bill and Judi Genaw and Chic & S. Tabatha Cicero
Llewellyn. 2004. 418pp. 0738702013.

“The Golden Dawn Enochian Skrying Tarot is unique among all published Tarot decks” (1) it “is not simply a Tarot deck with a book of card descriptions. This kit contains a complete system for magickal and spiritual growth. It includes card spreads, meditations, exercises, and rituals that are provided for three levels of spiritual attainment: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.” (2)

This may sound like a grandiose claim but the Ciceros and Genaws managed to win me over to this point of view. It is definitely a unique deck. Rather than the traditional 78 cards this deck has 89 cards, and unlike the traditional Major and Minor Arcana this deck is divided into four elemental suits of 22 cards each, one Spirit elemental card, and the cards are double-sided. Honestly the structure is so different I wonder why they felt the need to call it a tarot deck rather than a divination deck. This deck also comes with a book more than four hundred pages long, just a small sign about how detailed this deck is.

This deck is probably the most complex deck I’ve ever dealt with. One side of the deck is composed of “Western Tattvas” or alchemical symbols, the others side is an intricate synthesis of various symbols and parts of the Enochian Golden Dawn tradition. The Ciceros and Genaws consider the traditional Tattvas and Western Tattvas as both equally valid, but feel that the Western Tattvas are more appropriate and accessible to a Western magickian studying Western systems. So instead of the traditional Tattvas and colours, the deck uses the elemental triangles and colours from the Western Mystery Traditions. The Western Tattva cards are composed of single element/Tattvas, sub-elements, and tri-elemental combinations. The Enochian side of the cards are far more detailed and difficult to explain. They match the elemental attributes of the other side of the card, and are composed of elemental sides of the Enochian pyramids, Enochian angels attributed to the appropriate section of the tablet, astrological correspondence, an Egyptian God, Major Arcana parallel, Hebrew letters, and geomantric symbols. There is definitely a lot going on with these cards.

As mentioned in their introduction the cards serve more than just a divinatory function but actually compose part of a magickal tradition. The Enochian side of the cards can be used to compose the elemental tablets for use in Enochian magick, and the book contains enough of the Enochian theory and Keys to get someone going. An obvious and major part of this is, as the title of the deck says, skrying. This book contains some of the best training exercises for skrying I’ve ever encountered, and I was very pleased and surprised with that. The book leads the reader through increasingly complex exercises to train the magickian for skrying and astral projection. What surprised me was that as a divination deck, that all of the skrying was consciously chosen. If you want to understand something, go through the deck and find the most appropriate card according to the meaning in the book and skry through that card. I don’t see why one couldn’t (or shouldn’t) simply shuffle the cards and draw out the most appropriate card to skry, after all divining gives us access to reasoning beyond our self. The book contains some fairly standard magickal exercises, as well as some unusual ones, such as the creation of elemental “energy balls.”

The only thing I could really complain about is that since the structure is so different from a standard tarot deck, lacking intuitive images, and just so complicated, that the deck will be exceedingly complicated to learn. Beyond this issue I think the deck and book are quite marvellous. What these cards lack in stunning artwork they make up in sheer information. Not a deck for everyone, but anyone seriously studying Western Traditions and/or the Golden Dawn then this deck would make a great addition to your magickal repertoire.


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