Open Post

September 2017 Open Post

As announced earlier, this blog will host an open space once a month to field questions and encourage discussion among my readers, and this is the week. All the standard rules apply — no profanity, no sales pitches, no trolling, no rudeness, no long screeds proclaiming the infallible truth of fill in the blank — but since there’s no topic, nothing is off topic.

Two notes before we get going. First, I’m delighted to announce that the first volume of the collected Archdruid Report essays, The Coming of Peak Oil, is now in print. This volume includes all the nonfiction I published in “The Archdruid Report” in 2006 and 2007, and can be ordered from Founders House Publishing here. Those of you who’ve already preordered should have your copies shortly.

Second, I’m very pleased to say that the current short story contest is already beginning to field entries, but — so far — at a modest pace. Those of you who are working on your own Old Solar System stories have until January 30 to get them finished; those who haven’t started yet, or are still just considering dipping a toe into the intoxicating waters of wholly imaginary space fantasy, well, what are you waiting for? 😉 The contest details are here.

With that said, have at it…

355 Comments

  1. Dear JMG,

    Thanks very much for the chance to ask questions.

    Some days ago I felt that a car mehcanic was taking advantage of my wife and giving us poor service and lower quality parts in addition to the expected overcharging. The latter I was prepared to accept as long as it meant I did not have to worry about service quality or car safety.

    I went there the following day and I screamed at the guy. I am not proud of this, in fact I am embarrassed and I knew I would be. I hate this kind of behavior, it makes me feel and look weak, it has the potential of hurting someone who might not be actually responsible for the deed, and I felt bad about it for 3 days after the fact (which I knew would happen).

    This probably happens to me once a decade or less, but it bothers me enough that I would like to ask you:

    Is this type of verbal violence always wrong?

    Can the same result be accomplished in a calmer more civilized manner? To this second question I am expecting you to say yes, but do you have any suggestions as how I may build-up my verbal skills so I can handle such a problem more elegantly next time. I fortunately have little to no opportunity to practice verbal arguing.

    Gratefully,

    Pupil

  2. There have been several times when I am alone in a natural environment, the forest or a beach for example, and I feel a intense sense of sentience from that environment. The best comparison is that it feels similar to when I am alone with an intelligent dog or horse that is paying attention to and communicating with me through body language, or soft sounds but this seems much much more intelligent. Is that feeling from other beings existing concurrently in the same place or the environment itself, or something else altogether. I’ve always felt that trees were people too…

  3. On an earlier AMA, I asked you about the role of music/arts in aiding the coming about of a paradigm shift away from anthropolatry. I recently re-read the Twilight of Anthropolatry post after doing some more thinking about it, here’s where I am (I apologize for relying too much on quotes in the below, and for the length):

    I wanted to see at what point an ‘anthropolatrous music’ began, and the seeds of it I guess were laid by religious music. An example: While briefly looking into the composer Perotin, the originator of four-part polyphonic music around the year 1200, I found a contemporaneous quote from the Bishop of Chartes on Wikipedia (bold mine):

    “When you hear the soft harmonies of the various singers, some taking high and others low parts, some singing in advance, some following in the rear, others with pauses and interludes, you would think yourself listening to a concert of sirens rather than men, and wonder at the powers of voices …whatever is most tuneful among birds, could not equal.

    I suppose it didn’t come into its own until Romanticism, which unfortunately reinforced a separation between humans and ‘Nature’.

    Something I’m not sure about: if humans are not separate from nature, then any kind of music they create is natural. Therefore, there is no need for me to make such a fuss about it. If you do make a separation, then maybe an approach like Romanticism is justified.

    However, if the distinction is reframed not as humans nature, but instead comes from figuring out which human behaviors are harmful to the biosphere versus those that aren’t, then one can explore what this means in musical terms. Maybe you can reject both a kind of music that aims to be above nature, like religious or ‘scientious’ music, and music which glorifies a supposed separation between humankind and nature. Worth exploring is a music based around listening to the whole, and not being self-contained as a musical entity.

    I found a passage from one of Debussy’s critical essays about the music of his time, he wrote (in the persona of a musical crank who scolds Debussy): “Music is a sum total of scattered forces. You make an abstract ballad of them! I prefer the simple notes of an Egyptian’s shepherd’s pipe, for he collaborates with the landscape and hears harmonies unknown to your treatises. Musicians listen only to music written by cunning hands, never to that which is in nature’s script. To see the sun rise is more profitable than to hear the Pastoral Symphony. What is the use of your almost incomprehensible art?”

    I think the important part here is where he talks about collaborating with the landscape. I came across an album of field recordings taken of the Kaluli people in Papua New Guinea taken by ethnomusicologist Steven Feld, called ‘Voices in the Rainforest’. In the liner notes, he writes about how the Kaluli, when they sing, they sing “with birds, insects, water.” And: “there are no single sounds in the rainforest. Everything is mixed into an interlocking soundscape. The rainforest is like a world of coordinated sound clocks, an intersection of millions of simultaneous cycles all refusing to ever start or stop at the same point.”

    This is similar to Balinese gamelan music: “It perfectly reflects its culture’s organization of time into cycles, subdivisions of cycles, and concentric cycles rotating simultaneously within each other” writes (musicologist Judith) Becker; “order appears if the cycles are integrated well; it doesn’t if they are not well integrated.” This was taken from a short essay on the topic by John Thackara.

    What’s interesting from the three extracts is firstly the idea that music does not exist independently ‘on its own’, like the musical recordings we are all used to where you never hear anything in them but the music itself, and that the music contains within it all that it needs to stand as an entity. All that a fugue needs to be complete is the independent parts or voices it is composed of. Whereas the music written of above in the first two extracts ‘needs’ the wider whole to exist.

    Secondly, the view of time as being composed of by interlocking cycles, which I suppose is truer to ecology than a linear view of time.

    Whew. So my question is: how does all this fit in with your own ideas/explorations of ecosophy and systems thinking? Or am I just doing an enormous amount of overthinking?

  4. A quick note to anyone in the Tokyo area: the first Sunday of each month Asakawa Kompira holds a potluck picnic with international attendance and a focus on Green Wizardry sorts of principles. I will be attending on the 1st of October. For more details, check out this page: http://teresamcguffey.com/greenwizards.org/?q=node/34926
    The shrine has several priests, and at least one is sure to attend each month, and can answer questions about the shrine and Shinto in general. The shrine sits at the top of a small mountain, with lots of trees. Bring some mosquito repellent, but otherwise very nice in this season.

  5. This is more a field report than a question — apologies — but there’s an actual question at the end so please bear with me. I recently finished the Retro Future, which I hope you’ll consider as an upcoming book club selection, because it’s so pertinent to what’s happening right now. I’ve been watching several trends in my hometown and have observed something that flies in the face of what economists insist is true, viz. that industries and jobs once shipped abroad or automated are not coming back. As near as I can tell, they’re both right and profoundly wrong, and largely because of a fixed notion about what the return of industry would look like. What I think they’re saying is that established manufacturers like Apple, for instance, will not be opening big FoxConn style factories in the US any time soon. True enough. Mega-corporations are unlikely to give up profitable externalities voluntarily.

    What is happening instead is that new (old) industries are being born and raised from scratch, as they always have been. For example, my hometown used to be one of the biggest brewing and distilling cities in the country. Prohibition put paid much of that, however the beer business returned (as in never went away) and held out until the 1970s, alongside a few cheap wine manufacturers and one small specialty distiller. But for all practical purposes, the industry was dead; bought out and shipped off like so much lumber, to be manufactured where labor was cheap and taxes and environmental regulations non-existent. And then, beginning as a thin trickle in the late 1990s, it started coming back. The city now boasts eleven distilleries and dozens of breweries, all doing robust business. Not one of them came in from outside. The distillers are producing everything from Absinthe to Whisky, and largely from local grain. One brewer has had to build three new premises in the past decade, each far bigger than the last, just to accommodate increased demand. And this time, instead of cheap canned suds, they are producing a mind-boggling array of really excellent ales, porters, stouts, lagers, barley wines, ciders, perries, and things I’ve never heard of before but which are very tasty!

    I don’t want to go on too long — you’re a busy man — but I see the same thing happening with soap, clothing, and a variety of foodstuffs, along with an explosion traditional men’s grooming establishments. All of which prompts me to ask, what do you think is making this possible? If people just want to get tipsy, the market provides cheaper ways to do it. Why are we ditching cost efficiency for artistry, just when money is so tight and times are so hard?

  6. Something has been bothering me lately: Why is it that so many people don’t care about the future? I don’t just mean the people who are of the opinion that it’s okay if the world goes to Hades as long as it’s after they die: it’s also the people who seem perfectly fine with living lives ruining the world, who (if pressed enough) eventually admit they don’t care what happens in then years, they just want their toys now.

    I just don’t get it. Does anyone here have any explanation behind this?

  7. John–

    I’d be interested in your (and others’) thoughts with regard to a national navigating-the-collapse topic:

    Recently, I commented elsewhere re the DACA curfluffle, pointing out the inherent complexity of the issue. Among other things: 1) there is a difference between controlled, legal immigration and uncontrolled, illegal immigration (a point the Democratic rhetoric tends to gloss over); 2) DACA “recipients” are not citizens, however they are likely the most sympathetic group of undocumented persons imaginable (not responsible for their situation, identities wholly American); 3) DACA was itself a “work-around” and the situation needs to be addressed via actual legislation; 4) any legislation addressing DACA must also address border enforcement; 5) the national sovereignty issues raised by many on the right are entirely legitimate, for a polity which does not control the flow of goods and people across its borders is not a fully-functional nation-state.

    Now, given the trajectory of the future we are facing, my question is, as a strategic effort and in terms of investing our limited time/resources, to what extent should a nation such as the US commit resources to enforcing/maintaining borders that are in all probability untenable in the long (or even medium) term? Or, as an alternative, does one conduct an organized withdrawal to a more defensible/manageable position (analogous perhaps to the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line — aka the Siegfried Position — in the later years of WWI)? Could such a thing even be accomplished in a deliberate manner?

    How could we best utilize our time, energy, and efforts re this issue?

    As an aside, I am working feverishly on a story for the contest, but it is proving to be longer than I anticipated! The characters keep running away with the narrative…

  8. After reading last week’s post regarding Mars and engineering problems, inspiration struck. Here’s the bruise to prove it.

    https://wormholelesstraveled.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/dont-worry-the-a-i-will-save-us/

    Regarding the short story contest, are there any genres or perhaps genre conventions that are frowned upon, discouraged or outright prohibited? Not that I’m worried about creating any sort of Old Solar System faux pas per se, but I’d like to stay in the right lane while writing. Thanks for the work you do!

  9. Hi there JMG

    What do you think drove the creation of the modern American college industry? Was it purely a profit making scheme for loan companies and universities or was it something different? Was there a decrease in jobs available to high school graduates which drove a need for something to do with all these young people?

    Many thanks,
    Matt

  10. I’m interested how an Ecosophistic (is that the right term?) spirituality would inform economic and social life. I’ve recently been very interested in works like Kevin Kelly’s article on ‘the network economy’ and Frederic Laloux’s book “Reinventing Organizations”. Both are about economic assumptions and approaches but echo much of what I associate with Ecosophia, particularly the idea that in place of a central authority there are many autonomous actors who are responsible for their own actions and how they influence the whole.

    I know there are examples of spirituality informing economic and governance approaches, Confucianism in China being one example, but I’m interested in how (if at all) an Ecosophistic spirituality would interact with the community aspects of practical living.

  11. This is in Bigfoot territory and I doubt that the issue was ever looked at by “serious” academics because to do so would be a career-stopper. But I wonder, what are the odds that trolls or ogres of myth are based on actual contact in historical times or in recent pre-history with living pre-sapiens or non-sapiens hominids like Neanderthal, Denisovan, Erectus or maybe other living populations of human-like species.

    According to conventional theory Neanderthal went extinct a few tens of thousands of years ago. What if some populations persisted in outlying areas relatively unbothered by modern Sapiens? Until recently nobody had any clue about Homo Floresiensis or Homo Naledi, both of which stand outside conventional theories and timelines of human existence. Floresiensis was alive until relatively recently. I wonder if stories of contact with people like these could account for these myths. Maybe some remnant populations like Floresiensis still live deep in some southeast Asian jungle, known by locals but unknown by outsiders. I wonder how much in the way of hard evidence is unreported in the anthropological or archeological community because it stands so far outside of mainstream thinking?

  12. JMG, I know you’ve been through some hardship in your life. I also know you began practicing magic fairly young, if I remember correctly either in your late teens or early twenties. I want to ask you whether being a lifelong mage has had any immunizing effect against anxiety and depression? Knowing you, if it does, I’m sure you’ll tell us that begins to kick in around the fifth year.

  13. Hi JMG,

    Have you ever read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig? It was published in 1974, and is an exploration into philosophy around quality, values and even some technology – with the backdrop of a cross-country motorcycle trip in 1968 as a backdrop. It’s written in a unique style, with the author’s life previous to electroshock therapy and college instructor in the form of a ghost, and his later occupation as a technical writer as the narrator. In spite of the title, it’s not so much about Zen or motorcycles, but an extended essay of plain-language philosophy that seems quite applicable in today’s decline. His writing reminds me of yours (or vice-versa), in that it ties together many of the topics you’ve written about.

    The author passed away earlier this year, and the book has proven to be a bit of cult classic, at least for motorcyclists – it’s sold close to 5 million copies. IMHO it’s an excellent read, even for those who might not be fans of internal combustion engines.

  14. Hi JMG, you once made a remark to the effect that C. G. Jung was an occultist who practiced psychology, rather than a psychologist who practiced occultism. What’s your take on Jung’s work? Are there writings of his you’d recommend above others?

    Also, I’ve found your recent astrology writings very interesting. Any chance we’ll see an ingress chart for the fall equinox here?

  15. Dear Mr. Greer,

    I’m finding the course your new blog project is taking fascinating and useful, so thank you for that. I was wondering, is there any harm or benefit to performing more than one ritual (SOP), meditation or divination in one day, during the course of spiritual/magical training?

  16. Lately I’ve been considering how to balance ethics with the logistics/infrastructure of life in the current society. Like, I’d like to avoid flying when possible, but my parents live 12 hours away by train, as there’s no direct route, and I currently have to work with an American number of vacation days (generous *for* America, but that’s not saying much*). I have a vague remote-work-and-or-greater-publication escape plan, but that likely won’t happen for a number of years if ever. Likewise, I really want to spend some time in the UK in the next few years**, but there’s just no plausible non-air means of getting there (except cruise ships, which run into the vacation issue and are ecological disasters themselves).

    At the moment, I’m figuring the best approach thinking things through ahead of time, reserving air travel for stuff I’ve wanted for a while or seeing family/close friends rather than out of impulse or trendiness or whatever, and being on the lookout for better alternatives. Sort of the same goes for my purchasing decisions, food choices, and so forth. I don’t know how much of this is just rationalization, though, and, I guess, on a broader scope, how much any given individual is morally obligated to sacrifice for the greater good.

    * When I consider how much vacation *everyone* in the EU has, by law, I feel very bitter towards the Founding Fathers. (For that matter, your average medieval peasant got more days off than the average American office worker.)
    **I’ve gone a few times before, but always encumbered by a SO.

  17. Interesting to see Gail Tverberg’s post from yesterday, where she describes the “force” behind what is really happening with the financials and resource depletion. Interesting that she goes beyond calling it the Law of Physics to calling it a kind of higher power. She even touches on the “higher power” of the universe as possibly having possibilities beyond what we currently know as the Law of Physics. And, she touches on the likelihood that the elites think they can survive a major collapse and keep the good stuff for themselves, while the extra baggage of the non-elites is dumped by helping along the collapse. And she ends the post with a telling of the importance of religion as a unifying and guiding approach to getting through what is to come.

    JMG, could you please comment on what she is saying. Am I not following it? What would be your take on this very big picture view, especially her bringing in religion and higher power aspects? How would the Archdruid frame this? Thanks!

  18. Further to a comment on the previous thread, this is another link to a talk at The World Transformed Conference -held in parrallel to the UK Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week.
    I am interested in this movement and how it envisions the future, i.e. what it is attempting to ‘sell’ to the electorate as an alternative to the current insane mess.
    Compared to the panel discussion linked before, George Monbiot (linked below) has a less techno-utopian and more communitarian vision of how this grass roots politics could play out, yet he is another writer/thinker who has largely dismissed the elements of energy decline and its many repercussions in framing the ‘story of our time’. These are things, that whilst inevitable, people just do not want to think about (even the one time ‘radicals’ who are on the verge of taking office).
    Saying that, I have a lot of time for Monbiot’s general take on things:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6OF5foOyE4

    Personally, I have come full circle, from an ecologically minded (perhaps, at times, ecosophically minded) young person who has travelled through various political schools in the hope of a change of direction, only to end up in middle age, cynical about them all. Their insistance on building narratives that put human concerns above and before Nature is ultimately self defeating.
    Will Corbynism be just a short lived re-hash of 20th century socialism ?

  19. JMG —

    First off, I wanted to thank and congratulate you for the new site, and your new format! It seems like as events continue to unfold, there is no shortage of ideas to discuss as the world continues to unravel.

    There has been a lot of talk lately about a stock market bubble, but it seems to me there is an even bigger bubble that few dare to mention: health care. I don’t see how in the world our current “sick care” system can continue to maintain itself while costs increase year after year and fewer and fewer people can afford it. To me, the recent news of hospitals closing in rural areas here in the United States shows there will eventually be a huge need to provide relief to people who can no longer access the system anymore. I am wondering whether studying homeopathic, folk medicine, etc. might be a worthwhile path to pursue, and how I could go about doing it. Any thoughts?

  20. Any forthcoming books you are currently working on that we may not know about, and that you are allowed to (or inclined to) talk about? Also, any plans on writing any more short stories for Mythic? I rather liked the one you wrote set in the Weird of Hali storyline (the name of the story is escaping me right now.)

    -Dan Mollo

  21. I’ve been waiting for the open post! Speaking of the death and birth of Gods this month, I read something quite interesting.

    For the past year I’ve been reading Colleen McCullough’s huge, sprawling, well-written fictional account of the end of the Roman Republic. Currently reading Book 4, Caesar’s Women, and came upon this passage after the festival of Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. Here, Caesar has the following conversation with his extramarital lover, Servilia, after her husband’s death:

    Servilia: “Some of the Greeks say there is a life after it.”
    Caesar: “Yes.”
    Servilia: “Do you believe that?”
    Caesar: “Not in the conscious sense. Death is an eternal sleep, of that I’m sure. We don’t float away disembodied yet continue to be ourselves. But no substance perishes, and there are worlds of forces we neither see nor understand. Our Gods belong in one such world, and they’re tangible enough to conclude contracts and pacts with us. But we don’t ever belong to it, in life or in death. We balance it. Without us, their world would not exist. So if the Greeks see anything, they see that. And who knows that the Gods are eternal? How long does a force last? Do new ones form when the old ones dwindle? What happens to a force when it is no more? Eternity is a dreamless sleep, even for the Gods. That I believe.”

    This passage has stuck with memoir the past week ever since I read it. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the end of the Republic.

  22. JMG, One of the things I have been trying to come to grips with is the nature of Life and God(s). I have studied mythology, philosophy, religions, psychology and everything I can (although I have not been able to get my hands on your A World Full of Gods, yet) to come to terms with my Christian upbringing. I have cast as wide a net as possible in order to figure out what I believe and what my relationship to Life should be. In effect, the question I am trying to answer is “is there a force that takes an active role in this world?” Some refer to it as agency. Some talk about it as a personal god. The truth is that I would like to find a god that cares about me and my life and takes an active role to help me, but that is not what makes sense to me so far and I am not sure it is even necessary. The closest I have come is to what some call synchronicity. These synchonicities do give me hope, but they may just be me reading into things. So I was wondering if you might be able to help me find clarity; perhaps show me a way at looking at things that might bring me peace. Sincerely, Clark

  23. Hi, JMG. I have heard you refer many times, sometimes obliquely, to the way that medicine is failing us in many ways. Too expensive, too little promoting of health, too tied to the pharmaceutical industry, too much in thrall to a “science” which may well have been secured to tout virtues of same.

    I find I have dipped a toe into the extremely vexed issue that is vaccinations. My entry to the issue, was to express my dismay at seeing the parents of sick children encounter medical dismissiveness as soon as they ask whether a co-occurring vaccination meant something, further compounded by some really nasty treatment dealt to such parents by pro-vaccinatiion defenders.

    These defenders appear to believe in the dream – that vaccination can cure all, save all, and is a truly great sign of medical progress, but their arguments always come to rest upon the dogmatic assertion you mentioned in comments in your last post: “experts/evidence-base/science says so, I believe it, that settles it”.

    What is really amazing is that, although such highly motivated defenders universally admit that severe adverse events are theoretically possible, they cannot listen compassionately to a personal tale of an actual adverse event, without immediately switching to defensive/dogmatic mode – that “anti-vax nonsense should not be spread”; that “doubt is dangerous and can kill children”; that everyone really should “listen to the experts”… which to my way of thinking sound like cultish statements.

    Anyway, I would be very interested in hearing from you on two issues:
    1) the current state of medicine (and ways to work around its more aggressive bits)…
    2) Question: is too fervent a belief in ANY proposition a compassion killer?

  24. Jumping on here to share that I was in NYC this weekend staying at 33rd and Park Ave. I walked to the Port Authority bus station via Broadway and also up to around Penn Station, so about 40 different city blocks over Saturday and Sunday.

    New York City is a post apocalyptic wasteland.

    Trash bags are piled in the streets 5-6 feet high and 10 feet deep. There isn’t a level unbroken piece of sidewalk or street anywhere. Not a single block has complete finished buildings for the entire block; there is construction in progress with things looking like they are being built, but no one working. Every block has 2-5 homeless people not just asking for money but clearly living on the street – filthy, defecating where they are, surrounded with a few personal belongings and lots of cardboard. The smell of sewer waifs up from the endless grates in the sidewalks. Everything is covered in a layer of grayish black dirt.

    I haven’t been to NYC in almost 10 years and the difference between then and now shocked me. We are so deluding ourselves that we are the greatest country and NYC is the greatest city.

  25. So many issues…:-) 🙂 🙂 Vaughn Palmer,columnist with the Vancouver Sun, usually a supporter of the ex-“Liberal” government in British Columbia, now reporting on the report by the Deloitte LLP on the Site C dam that the BC Liberals and BC Hydro (electricity grid) had hidden from the public, proving what a corrupt boondoggle the project is. Add to that, the real possibility of grid electricity throughout North America and beyond, imploding due to large solar buys which can bypass the need for mega-energy projects.
    It may well be that the electric car fantasy will give way to a more sustainable householder control of energy sources. If we citizens can manipulate conservation and home and business solar roll out from our governments(always a difficult move due to corporate greed), maybe some communities can prepare for the difficuties to come.
    Our little island has had a major buy of solar installation, 2 years ago, and is planning on another one soon. Islanders get together and purchase systems much cheaper than buying individually. Community in action for positive change.

  26. The Site C dam I discussed in my post, was an investor’s dream of expensive future energy for the USA, with Canadian citizens taking it in the shorts with all of the environmental and related economic risks, while USA customers feel only the bite of high electricity costs. Ugh!

  27. Hi JMG

    I recently had what I believe might have been a spiritual encounter and I’m hoping that you could help me make sense of it.
    As background: I have some practice with the elemental cross from your druid magic handbook and I have had feelings of the presence of spiritual energy and presence in living things around me, but until now I was the one reaching out and choosing to “open my eyes” to what’s there. This is the first time I saw something which I wasn’t looking for.

    I was walking in a park near the local university at night, it’s like a botanical garden with tall trees and maintained garden beds but no night lighting.

    I sat down on a park bench and was trying to talk to the trees around me and connect to the spirit of nature to ask for blessings for my family.
    I suddenly felt like there was some one sitting next to me. I turned and looked and, while I couldn’t see anything with my eyes, in my minds eye I could see a vague humanoid figure sitting on the park bench next to me with orange glowing “X”s for eyes. It was looking at me and I became aware of more figures standing around me although I wasn’t aware of any of them paying attention to me. This scared me a bit because I had no idea if this was dangerous or what I was encountering. I then got a call letting me know that it was time for me to go. I got up walked away a few meters, turned and bowed to where the figure was, and walked off. I felt like the figure was following me about 10 meters back. I didn’t want to bring any spiritual forces which might be harmful back to my family so I murmured me way through the elemental cross. When I did the sphere of protection he/it seemed to lose interest and I carried on walking.

    Firstly I want to know if it’s possible to tell the difference between my own imagination and a spiritual encounter. How do I know what’s real and what does that even mean.

    And secondly what do you make of it? What was it that I encountered and what would have been the best approach to take.

    Thank you

  28. Dear JMG,
    I am astonished by the proliferation of tattoos I see these days. What used to be the domain of circus sideshows is now commonplace, including on the neck and face. I suspect this speaks to more than fashion in some way. What is your take?
    Many thanks.

  29. Hi JMG,
    Although I have been much enjoying all of the posts so far on this new blog, I also find myself rather missing your perspective on the social and political events around us. I wonder if you could comment , just in general, about how you see the Trump presidency going. How does it compare to what you may have anticipated when you predicted his win long before the election? And how do you see it, fitting into the wider picture of collapse? And, well, anything else you might be inspired to add! Thanks for these opportunities to ‘ask anything’–quite wonderful.

  30. Two questions.

    1) I am wondering if you might say a bit about how you understand the difference between prayer and magic. Perhaps prayer is more receptive to what’s higher and magic more actively working with lower powers closer to the human plane?

    2) I have read all the ADR’s you ever wrote, and I know you covered this topic some already, but I forgot your response. I recently ran across some articles by Guy McPherson, and felt a bit unsettled by his bleak outlook on it all. I was wondering if you might be willing to briefly restate your take on or disagreement with Guy McPherson’s contention that humans will go extinct within decades.

    Thanks,

    Pierre

  31. In your book “Learning Ritual Magic” you introduce a way to relax before other excercises. It seems to work wonferfully. The method of laying on your back, however, is not often practical in the circumstances where other ritual work is the most convenient to perform. Is it possible to employ another kind of a method of relaxation, a standing one as you have described in your book “Celtic Golden Dawn”. I have both books, have tried both methods and both seem to work just fine. I feel a little silly asking, as I anticipate a response along the lines of “whatever works for you – we must occasionally improvise due to the circumstances”. I still ask, because I want to be sure I do the work properly as I am quite new to this.

  32. JMG and commenters,
    I have been regularly practicing the Elemental Cross portion of the Sphere of Protection and have noticed something interesting now that I have finally managed to be consistent about it. In The Druid Magic Handbook there’s an exercise where you do some preliminary exercises and then feel the nwyfre in the center of your palms interacting–it feels like opposing magnets or squishing something soft but resistant between your palms. I did it once with dramatic results when I first read the handbook, and maybe once or twice since upon re-reading it, but never did it consistently or thought much more about it. However, upon practicing the Elemental Cross for a few days I started noticing a warm throbbing sensation in my palms after the ritual and on a whim tried opposing them to one another and moving them together and apart as in the exercise, and found that I could very clearly sense the interaction between them despite not having done the preliminary movements. Sometimes now when I am relaxed, lying in bed I can sense them even without doing the Elemental Cross either. I am curious whether others have experienced anything similar or whether this is typical when beginning to practice the Elemental Cross/Sphere of Protection.

  33. Has anyone here read anything by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, especially _The Entropy Law and the Economic Process_? If so, what did you think of it?

  34. JMG: RE: solving problems by dying first. I am well into my 7th decade and have encountered this cop out several times. Not impressed.
    Reading your work and also the work of David Spangler of Lorian (much appreciated, it was there I heard of a certain Archdruid), it is clear that this approach has certain, ah, problems.
    I imagine a soul, or what ever, sitting on a cloud sans halo or wings, or for that matter, opposable thumbs, contemplating his next move. How to fit all that consciousness into the available meat that looks a lot like an aspiring cockroach, or what ever survived the stupidity of he who contemplates. The idea of starting over again is not terribly appealing.

  35. Last august there was a flurry of articles about how Americans aren’t moving as frequently as they used to. Here’s one: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/03/trump-is-right-americans-need-to-move-where-the-jobs-are/?utm_term=.a50e5720037f

    All the headlines and stories seem to say something along the lines of “fewer Americans are moving to pursue job opportunities,” though the articles are based on census data and it’s not clear to me if there’s a good reason for framing the data in terms of jobs.

    Anyway, what do you make of the reduction in Americans moving in terms of how it relates to the project of this blog (if it does at all)?

    Thanks!

  36. JMG you have talked about meditation before. You don’t use ‘eastern’ methods and I am interested in learning more about your ‘western’ meditation as I am a practicing catholic. So I was wondering what resources you would recommend to learn about and to start practicing your type of meditation. Also you have mentioned training the will. Is that related to your meditation style. Thank you very much and thanks for this blog.

  37. JMG,

    In your opinion, will people with 401Ks and IRAs continue to reap the benefits of easy money in the next 20-30 years? It seems that the financial markets as they are currently structured are a racket, and as you’ve pointed out, that they thrive on the exploitation of the natural commons. Can we count on a large portion of the money tied up in the markets to vaporize at some point in our lifetimes? For those of us who still have one hand on the ship, do you see 401K and IRA investments as a territory to stay away from with our money? That concludes this installment of “Solicitations of an Archdruid Emeritus for Financial Advice.” Thanks.

  38. What do you think will happen to our forests in the years to come? I live in a heavily populated region of western Washington state, and the forests of the Cascade and Olympic mountains lie close to hand. If fossil fuels run dry, more and more people will burn wood to heat their homes and cook their food. Wood is seen as a renewable resource, but the rate of use can far exceed the rate of growth. In addition, wood that is hauled away and burned elsewhere does not return to the soil in the same place. We talk about soil depletion on farmland, but the same principle applies to our forests.

  39. Dear Mr Greer,

    I have appreciated your challenging my romantic notions of human extra-terra expansion even if the change in beliefs is uncomfortable.

    Like many of our cognitive species, I have asked myself what is the meaning or life – and what is the meaning of our species’ life.

    My quests over time brought me to a thought that feels like it could be an answer – at least an answer that made sense to me.

    Observing how our species views the rest of the natural world as things that exist for our disposal (perhaps the super-natural, for that matter) despite the fact that we are one of the more recent creatures to scene. In fact, most of what lives on this planet is far, far older than we are, so we are very much the product of much of what came before and is present today.

    We think that the flora and fauna of this planet belong to us (much like a two-year-old thinks everything around them exists for their pleasure) yet we, logically, belong to that that produced us, inasmuch as living things belong to other living things.

    So back to the questions of meaning and life. As for its meaning, the best I could come up with is that life is a meaning unto itself. It is. Even as it defies qualification and quantification, it is, and that is enough. At least, I think it can be – should be for us.

    And what is the meaning of our life – the meaning of our species existence?

    Do we know if life is a conscious or unconscious thing? We don’t know, so it can be. I choose to believe that whatever it is, it exerts positive pressure, animating all manner of cellular bodies.

    If this is true, then what is our meaning in such a context?

    Here we are, this voracious, ignorant child of a species rampaging destructive through our environment and even through the physical and social structures that we ourselves have constructed, while at the same time possessing a rare, if not unique quality that compels us to appreciate other living creatures.

    We love to have plants and flowers in and around our houses (yes, despite having sterilized the land of the flora and fauna that previously inhabited that piece of earth) .We collect, catalogue and carefully preserve examples of all other species that we can find. We marvel at their beauty, their genial adaptations. We tend to plants, collect their seeds and propagate them far and wide on the planet.

    Our drive to qualify and quantify all leads us to appreciate as it does to exploit. We carry both nurture and destruction within our make up.

    So if we are the creation of many other previous containers of life, why would we have such a drive of blind destruction that has destroyed so many and continues to destroy so many more? Perhaps it is that our unparalleled -and driven- qualities of appreciation,clever matter manipulation and nurture cannot exist in this corporal form without the myopic, non-thought and destructive qualities we embody?

    Consciousness, education and comprehension must be the switches that determine if we go lurching off in a nurturing direction or a destructive direction. Achieving maturity. This just occurred to me. Hmm. Digressing, excuse me.

    It seems to me that to have squeezed our species out of all that came before could have been a kind of gamble, given our propensity for destruction -that has taken us to the point where near total surface life extinction is feasible.

    If it was a gamble, what was could the upside chance be? Nurture. Propagation. A hedge against near total extinction?

    The more successful (by our own metrics) societies on the planet are those that, -likely due to environmental pressures- engage in relatively long-term planning. This occurred in largely Northern climates where if food and necessary provisions are not carefully hoarded and managed in order to provide over a long winter, there would be no survival of our species in those climes.

    Improved qualities such as planning, communal cooperation, and clever tool-making (and no doubt other qualities) characterized those societies.

    Those attitudes, combined with an expanded modern view of our place in space and time no doubt led to initiatives such as the ice-covered seed vault in Svalbard as well as other “doomsday” preparations.

    Now, if we were to establish human colonies off -planet, we would have to take so many other forms of terrestrial life with us. We can’t live without it – a lot of it, anyway, and so we would have to become nurturers and custodians of life on other celestial bodies. We would have to be conscious of our roles in respect to other vessels of life.

    This would effectively serve to propagate life beyond its terrestrial straight jacket as well as act as a hedge against extinction.

    If we have a purpose, I have thought, it may well be this. And if it is, then our mad drive to colonize extra-Earth is our “holy” mandate.

    And here we are, pretending to “gear-up” and make an initial voyage to Mars!

    Except, you are right in your writings. That is not an option for humankind. Believing that it is, especially in this era of social madness, flux as well as unparalleled destruction, is foolish, to say little.

    This takes me back to other thoughts I’ve cogitated on – namely the bad ideas we internalized when we started spreading a creation myth along with that of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

    In our stupid child brains, if God kicked our ancestors out of the paradise gardens, then we must be living in the harsh brutal wastelands. No?

    So this Earth, as is, is just a hellish interim punishment for we sinners until we are forgiven and the messiah carts us back off to paradise.

    Once we have internalized that message, it becomes hard to see our home for what it is: A veritable paradise planet.

    Oh, My question… Your thoughts?

  40. First of all, have you read the book A Wild Faith by Rabbi Mike Comins, and if yes, what are your thoughts?

    Second, you said in the deindustrial reading list that you posted years ago that you could have drawn up a list exclusively from ancient Greek and Roman writers, though many modern readers would not be able to tolerate the “mysticism”. What works would be on that deindustrial list taken exclusively from Greek/Roman writers?

  41. Hello JMG

    I seem to remember that until a couple of years ago, you weren’t fully convinced that climate change was anthropogenic. What was it that caused you to change your mind?

    SMJ

  42. JMG
    A recent comment pointed to discussion among respected enough left-wing circles in Britain who seem impervious to any consideration of limits to industrial expansion that will constrain economic futures. You mentioned I think, you might attempt a full post on this situation. I would welcome that. At the moment we seem flush with ‘optimistic’ notions of electric driver-less cars and other ‘innovation’ alongside ‘fear’ that automation will be the biggest economic threat because of its effects on ’employment’. These seem perhaps straight imports of ideas going the rounds in the USA; query? One British airline boss suggests he will have electric planes flying soon, which I have not heard yet from the US.

    I worry about what is happening while the public – including well meaning ‘socialist’ politicians – are persuaded to look in the wrong direction. I guess we cannot be too cynical.

    best
    Phil H

  43. Hi JMG,

    What are your thoughts on the book “The biology of wonder” by Andreas Weber. He argues for a shift in the science of biology from one which is causal mechanical ‘dog eat dog’ interpretation of Darwinian evolution to a much more symbiotic relationship. He also makes a clear argument of how we can only define ourselves in relationship to ourselves and nature around us. When we lose nature he suggests that we lose the ability to really understand ourselves. I particularly like the following quote:

    “But why is nature so important? Because all our qualities and particularly the most human ones like our need to be in connection, to be perceived as an individual, to be welcomed by other life and give life, in short, our need to love – springs forth from an organic “soil”. We are part of a web of meaningful interpenetrations of beings that are corporeal and psychologically real at the same time. Humans can only fully comprehend their own inwardness if they understand their existence as cultural beings who are existentially tied to the symbolic processes active inside nature. For humans, the biggest risk of biodiversity loss is that it would bury this understanding. Without the experience of natural beauty, our souls are bound to lose an important part of their ability to grasp what grace means and to act according to that understanding. Without experiencing our real emotional and physical connectedness to the remainder of life, we risk having stunted, deformed identities; we will yearn narcissistic-ally for a completeness we alone cannot achieve. Perhaps the most important psychological role that other beings play is to help us reconcile ourselves with our pain, our inevitable separation as individuals from the remainder of the web of life and our ephemeral existence. The primal feature of nature is that it always rises again, bringing forth new life. Even the most devastating catastrophe gives way over time to green shoots of rebirth and productivity and therefore to hope for ourselves.”

    What are your thoughts on this and also what he defines as poetic ecology?

    Shane

  44. I’ve been reading the “Collapse of Civilization” blog on reddit, and someone has pinned a request for people to comment on the signs of collapse they see in their area. I’ve come to realize that many of the signs people are seeing, I’m also seeing in my area – namely a lack of insects, few birds, strange weather (either too hot or too cold for the season). And these are being noticed not only all over the US, but in other countries, as well. Just wondering what JMG readers are seeing where they are.

  45. As someone who disscuss the importance of community, connectedness and localism, you seem to move alot. Why is that? Not a critique, more an observation from someone who has done that alot themselves. I’ve found once you get out of your late 20s it becomes exponentially harder to meet and interact with like minded folks. Interested to hear your thoughts.

  46. I have been pondering the shape of religious movements in collapsing civilizations and the role(s) they can play in the dark ages between civilizations, and it seems to me that one of the primary values of dark age societies is LOYALTY. Not free-thinking, not creativity but deep, abiding, ‘I will die for you’ loyalty. And given that loyalty holds exactly the same place in criminal gangs (I am especially thinking narcos and the mafia) What do you think of, at least in the Hispanic regions of this continent, the veneration of Santa Muerta as a top contender for becoming a major religious practice/movement in the coming decades and centuries? The downhill side of a civilization is not a place for maidens or mothers, this is the time of the crone…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Muerte

  47. I must confess that, while I suspect you’re right about space travel, I am more enamored of the idea that there is something unique about human consciousness. Is it not possible to both have a more humble and integrated sense of ourselves and our position in the natural world, and to respect the miraculousness of our minds, which strike me as indeed miraculous.

    Thanks for all the interesting posts over the years.

  48. I was thinking of your mundane predictions. Seems all is going according to plan. News media is hysterical over NFL players and the national anthem, and the war of words w/North Korea. (Every day I look at the headlines, thinking, “will there be any NEWS today?” Meanwhile, secession/dissolution seems to be progressing apace. Calexit is gearing up and preparing with very in depth initiatives regarding secession, and in my recent issue of Confederate Veteran, the post-Reconstruction detente that unified the country was declared dead due to the attack on Confederate officers. Now, all we need is the crisis of legitimacy you mentioned later in the year.

  49. JMG, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on torrefied biomass as a potential ecotechnic fuel, particularly for railway applications. Locomotive to locomotive, a biodiesel-electric seems like it wins pretty much hands down, even against a locomotive like a Heilmann-type steam-electric and/or one with efficiency-boosting technologies like a gas producer firebox or Anderson condensing system. I am wondering, though, if there might be whole system advantages. I have read some promising things about the thermal efficiency of and wastes produced from torrefied biomass production, but I’m not sure how much of what I’ve read is too good to be true; certainly, this won’t anywhere near replace our current coal consumption, but is it something workable on a much more modest scale or something that isn’t really practical at all?

    (It’s also occurred to me that a spill of solid fuel lumps not only won’t seep into the water supply but can achieve near-100% usable fuel recovery with nothing more complicated than a man with a shovel, but that seems like it would be more of an additional benefit to an already more efficient system or a tiebreaker to an about equal comparison.)

  50. A minor quibble here, regarding a footnote in the new translation of Eliphas Levi: on page 33, note 73 explains that Apuleius’ “The Golden Ass” and Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy” include donkeys as major plot engines. No argument about Apuleius – I read that back in the 70’s. However, I’m at a loss w/r/t a donkey as a major plot engine in “Tristram Shandy.” (You might have noticed that my pseudonym, Phutatorius,) is taken from that novel. Not only did I miss the donkey, but there’s no other novel that I know of that so completely lacks any sort of plot engine! Would Levi be talking about Sterne’s other novel, “A Sentimental Journey Through France & Italy”?

  51. If you had to assign correspondences from The Celtic Golden Dawn to the seven ecological laws in Mystery teachings from the Living Earth, what would they be? For instance, if you were to assign one law to each of the four elements plus the three forms of Spirit (Above, Below, Within), or attach them to spheres on the Tree of Life, how would you personally do it?

  52. Greetings, JMG.

    One hopes you and yours are very well…

    I have a question pertaining to the Vibration of Names and Titles… Whilst one is, say, learning and practicing the Middle Pillar Exercise with its various component parts. Now, Israel Regardie stresses that the divine names being vibrated have power in the performance regardless of whether the student is a believer or not, and the names to be used are from the Hebrew Bible… But in my admittedly cursory look at your ‘The Celtic Golden Dawn’, you’re presenting the practice with names that are understandably Celtic, not Hebraic.

    I’m not trying to sound like a smarty, here, because I’m really wondering if there’s any qualitative difference in the result… I took a look at a book by Leonora Leet and got the impression that she goes into the qualities of the sounds themselves. I get that different utterances, correctly performed, will get differing results, because of their effects in the human nervous system. Overtones and all that. Is there any qualitatively superior result to be had from using Hebraic words as supposed to Celtic ones, or Tibetan ones for that matter? Are we seeking just a change in consciousness, or are we also attempting to gain the attention of deities?

    I’m big on the Tree of Life. Yahweh, not so much. I mean, I’ll use the Hebraic names if that’s what works, no problem… but where does the potency of the utterance lay? Is the ritualistic attitude one feels while stimulating the various centres the key thing? Is it just the sonic and infrasonic qualities of the vibration that does the trick?

    I’m guessing that the key is to be found in exciting the nervous system but also in engaging the creative imagination, while displaying a suitably reverential attitude to the process.

    And now, back to the books, etc.

    Thanks, have an excellent day.
    Casey.

  53. JMG, how quickly do you see the long descent going in the USA ? I saw oil decline charts by Jean Lahrerre that show we are on an oil production plateau now, and a decline in starting in 2020. In 2050 production will be 50% of what it is now. He also says that there are currently 4.5 barrels of oil per person on the planet per year. This will be 4 barrels in 2025 and 3 in 2035. That number is interesting because it shows competition for resources increasing quickly. I also heard that China and India are still increasing their consumption by 1 Million bpd a year, and that the oil exporters are reducing their exports each year because of internal consumption (Jeffrey Brown’s work for those last two points). I am curious on your thoughts on this and what it means for the pace of descent ?

  54. Hi JMG,

    In light of your post regarding the death of God from earlier this month, do you know of any good books or resources that examine Christianity from an occult or polytheist perspective? Most of what I’ve found so far has been written by angry materialistic atheists who have assumptions I do not share.

    Thank you!

  55. Hi JMG,
    My question comes out of your post on reincarnation. You told one commenter that it’s possible for an Individuality to fall into a trap of mental illness over the course of several lifetimes.

    Is there a set of behaviors that tends to lead to this result, or does it depend on the specific circumstances that each Individuality encounters? Also, is there a reliable way of getting out of this trap?

  56. JMG

    Addendum. Now that I think about it… The right thing to do would be to try first one method, say for a month (?), take notes, try another method, make it a fair comparison.

    I feel silly for having wasted your time. Sorry, man.

    Casey.

  57. JMG,

    I have two questions this time:

    1. I noticed that in the exercises and rituals in your books you are using “let” where I would normally see “may” in other sources I’ve been exposed to so far. “Let this temple be…”, “Let the circle of spirit and square of matter…”, etc. I was thinking about the difference between the two words used in these contexts and what I understood so far is that “let” is more imperative than “may”. As in starting a statement with “let” is like saying that “I won’t take a ‘no’ for an answer”. Starting a similar statement with a “may” on the other hand sounds more like a request, be it to the higher powers, to one’s own subconscious, or to no one in particular. Does it sound about right? I would love to hear your perspective on this little detail, that doesn’t sound too little after thinking about it for a month.

    2. In the post on the death of God you mentioned that you fielded a lot of angry comments that didn’t pass premoderation. I am curious now, how many more comments are you sifting through to shape the conversation in the way it comes out? What’s the rough ratio of discarded comments vs. the approved ones?

  58. JMG, It seems that recent geopolitical events that makes the scenario you imagined in Twilights Last Gleaming to more prescient and immediate than even you may have guessed. The U.S.’s hidden ( at least from American Media) defeat in Syria has changed the geopolitical power of Iran and Russia greatly and may even cause Turkey to bow out of NATO. The current proxy cold war with China on the Korean Peninsula, if it doesn’t result in a nuclear war ,could see the U.S. sent packing from the South Korea. In the meantime China and Russia seem to be joining up to prop up Venezuela and keep it from flipping back under American influence. Seems like one of these theatres could lead to a real showdown with the Chinese or Russians in the near future. And how about those Ageis class destroyers run down by clumsy cargo ships, more to it than meets the eye it seems.

  59. Pupil, “wrong” is a very blunt instrument of a word! I’d say, rather, that yelling at people is an ineffective way of getting what you want from them, because it shows that you’re weak and frightened. If you must confront someone, and sometimes that’s the best approach, it makes a far stronger impression if you’re perfectly calm and in control of the situation. In my experience, people who start yelling are generally reacting to childhood experiences they’ve never really dealt with; it can be helpful to take some such event — say, your interaction with the repair guy — ask yourself whether it reminds you of anything you used to have to face when you were a kid, and if so, let yourself feel the emotions you bottled up back then. This isn’t always a quick process and is rarely an easy one, but it makes it a lot easier to deal with the world you’re living in today without projecting the wretched experiences of your past onto it.

    Kaye Oh, all of the above. The world is a very crowded, complex, many-layered place. The Greek philosopher Thales used to say that all things are full of gods, and in my experience, he was quite correct!

    Patricia, there’s about a two-thirds overlap.

    Jbucks, it’s overthinking only if you don’t pick up the musical instrument of your choice and start trying to make it happen! I’d say, though, that a fugue is far less independent than people tend to suppose; it relies constantly on implied references to the entire previous history of music, and on the structure of the human nervous system, which is of course also part of the universe. To me a fugue is like the elegant abstractions of a spider’s web or a beehive’s wax cells, an extraordinary structure that one part of nature (a spider, a hive of bees, a composer) has created out of the raw material provided by the rest of nature. That said, a music that deliberately incorporates natural sounds as part of itself is an enticing idea, and I’d encourage you to get to work on it if you’re not already doing so.

    Liz, I’m familiar with the trend, and very encouraged by it! The answer, of course, is that people don’t just want to get tipsy — they want to have a brew or a glass of whiskey that’s actually enjoyable to drink. The same is true of all those other small-business products. The Achilles’ heel of the modern corporate economy is that its products inevitably suck, because for all its lip service to quality, its sole concern is maximizing return on investment. Someone who actually cares about quality can beat a corporate product seven falls out of seven without working up a sweat, and as people become less amenable to advertising, the corporate economy is doomed — and about time, too.

    Will, I honestly think it’s a bland surface over a scream of despair. People don’t give up on the future unless, deep down, they don’t think they have one.

    David, at this point the United States has long since passed into damned-if-you-do territory. If it throws open its borders it will be swamped by more immigrants than it can support, and go through various forms of political and economic collapse. If it closes its borders, it will breed warbands outside them, with the same result. It might be possible to find a middle ground — decrease illegal immigration by imposing draconian penalties on employers (the only way to actually have an effect on it) while allowing moderate amounts of legal immigration — but even that’s a crapshoot. Once the roller coaster has crested that first long rise and begins to head down the other side, there’s not much you can do but hang on…

    StarNinja, thank you! That was a delightful read, and has just earned tonight’s gold star, for creative use of fiction to make a point that desperately needs making. As far as the contest, I can offer two pieces of advice. First, the further you stay away from the current fashion for glib postmodern irony, the better your chances; a certain amount of naivete, of innocence, is a good thing in an Old Solar System story. Second, read some of the classics — you can find a very extensive list and discussion on my coeditor Zendexor’s website. They have a very distinctive flavor and some common themes, and getting a sense of those and then riffing off them in your own way will help your chances.

    Matt, like most really serious disasters, the fate of higher education in the US wasn’t the product of any one decision or motive or factor. It would take me at least an entire post to sketch out the historical processes that have turned the US university system into a deceptive marketing scheme selling predatory loans under false pretenses to the clueless and the desperate — which is all it is these days, of course. On the other hand, that post may be worth writing…

    Christopher, the first thing that an ecosophic spirituality would offer is the realization that human social and economic institutions need to be allowed to vary to meet different local conditions. As we like to say in Druidry, there ain’t no such thing as One True Way! So there’s no simple answer to your question; each community, each network of communities, and each subculture, family, and individual within all those communities, would need (and would get) wiggle room to sort out something that meets their own needs.

    Roger, have you read Bernard Heuvelmans’ On the Track of Unknown Animals (original title, Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées)? He was exploring such possibilities in the 1950s. Yes, it’s quite possible; I’d like to see some hard evidence before treating it as a given, but it deserves exploration.

    Isaac, just that you might want to get used to such things; there will be many, many more in the years ahead.

  60. @JMG,

    “Roger, have you read Bernard Heuvelmans’ On the Track of Unknown Animals (original title, Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées)? He was exploring such possibilities in the 1950s. Yes, it’s quite possible; I’d like to see some hard evidence before treating it as a given, but it deserves exploration.”

    Wow! That’s the first mention of that book I’ve seen in a very long time, probably since I was a kid! One of my favorite childhood books – the photos section was surreal in those pre-pre-pre Photoshop days. My favorite was the Tatzelwurm, and I can’t even think about it without chuckling – my stepbrother used to flop around on the floor doing a Tatzelwurm impression (hard to explain) until I was crying from laughter and my sides ached. That’s a half-century old memory…!

  61. @Liz Mednick
    Re: new, small-scale enterprises

    As far as I can tell, the times are changing, moving away from the mega-scale enterprises (including governments) to smaller-scale enterprises. One reason you’re seeing it in brewing rather than other areas is that brewing can be done with relatively little equipment and capital investment. It’s a quite ancient art.

    @Will J.
    re: short-term thinking

    You asked why a lot of people don’t give a [redacted] about the long term, and are quite up front about it.

    You’re looking at what I call Tier 3. They have a typical 3 to 5 year horizon for things they’re concerned about. They’re about a third of the population at the moment, and they’ve been running things for the last couple of thousand years. At least they’re being honest about it now, but I think some of that is push-back from people screaming at them that they ought to be concerned about the longer term.

    @Matt
    Re: college

    I think you’re looking at the unintended consequence of the post WW II GI Bill, which provided college educations to everyone who had served in the Army during WW II as a benefit. That was followed by the neo-liberal Regan-Thatcher era economic policies which tried to impose corporate-style management everywhere, including where it obviously wasn’t going to work. That lead to a number of decades of expansion, in the flavor of “if we build it and advertise it properly, they will come.” Federal loan guarantees made it look like a relatively risk-free proposition to the managers, if not to the suckers> students taking the loans.

    @Kathy Schutt
    Re: Gail Tverberg’s article

    I scanned the article – I’d lost track of Gail since the Oil Drum days. Most of this is same old, same old. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong, only that it’s not particularly new. One caution I’d point out: the book laying out the reasons life is rare in the universe was published in 2000. There has been a huge amount of research and new data on the origin of life since then, and I think most researchers in the area would reject its premises, let along its conclusions, today. The path leading from the origins of the Earth to multi-cellular life was nowhere near as improbable as believed then.

    A lot of this hasn’t gotten into the mainstream yet. There are a lot of people these days who think that complex life is pretty much inevitable given similar conditions.

    @JMG

    I’d like to see something on prayer. I’m realizing that I have no idea how to go about it, and how it differs from meditation. My Methodist upbringing didn’t include any practical advice.

  62. What’s your take on this piece of news from earlier this year about a common topic of Archdruidicial ridicule?
    Have they just messed with the Red Flag war games to make them favorable to the F-35, or have they actually fixed the problems?
    https://theaviationist.com/2017/02/28/red-flag-confirmed-f-35-dominance-with-a-201-kill-ratio-u-s-air-force-says/
    https://theaviationist.com/2017/02/05/f-35s-kill-ratio-with-aggressors-stands-at-151-during-red-flag-17-1-most-probably-thanks-to-the-supporting-f-22/

  63. @JMG — Thanks for the assessment re borders. My inner engineer sometimes needs reminding by my inner mathematician that the solution space is sometimes the null set.

    @Jen — I have slightly different ritual, but my experience with nwyfre is similar. The sphere of energy can be tight, about grapefruit size, or it can expand to where I feel like I’m hugging a beach ball.

  64. Hi JMG – more a comment on my recent experience trying out divination.

    I have been practicing mediation for a few years and found it helpful in dealing with mental clutter, negative thought patterns and the like.

    After reading your posts on Ritual – Meditation – Divination in WoG, I have been experimenting with a not-quite-daily exercise.

    The big hurdle as a skeptic is the divination part. Which is kind of odd because as a kid I used divination intuitively. Coin tosses, flame flickers, random number generators. Didn’t really understand what I was doing but still did it. Once found myself in Switzerland and tossed a coin to decide whether to drive south to the Mediterranean or north to the Baltic Sea.

    During some difficult personal times a few years ago, I picked up someone else’s oracle cards – angels and saints, that sort of thing. Found it useful as a tool for approaching a problem from a different angle – as you suggested in this post.

    But the iconography of those cards didn’t appeal to me so just recently discovered a pack of oracle cards with imagery very much rooted in nature, and stories from the indigenous culture in my part of the world. Feels very familiar to me.

    Started using the deck immediately after a dramatic crisis in my life. First use of the deck produced a card that was perfectly applicable to me in that moment. It spoke of the need for silence, deep listening and providing space inside for grieving. Spent a couple of days thinking about it while going about my normal business.

    Next use of the deck produced the exact same card. Made a mental note to shuffle the cards more intensively next time.

    A few days later used the deck again, gave it a very good shuffle and made sure the card I had pulled previously was deep inside the deck. Pulled the same card again. Three in a row – so figured I had better sit down and meditate on this subject some more.

    Another few days passed and I decided it was time to move on with a new card for reflection. Yep. Pulled the same card a fourth time in a row. Took a day off and really got into the subject matter.

    I am no statistician, but by my reckoning the chances of pulling the same card 4 times in a row from a 40 card deck are about 1 in 2.5 million. I could practice a daily divination for 7000 years and expect to repeat that experience just once. (happy to be corrected if these numbers are wrong).

    Got me thinking there *may* be something in this.

  65. @ Kathy Schutt…

    I haven’t read Tverberg much she had her epiphany that there was no way to fix things, other than collapse of some form or several. If you were reading her work over the years, you can see her sidling up to it, sizing it up and then finally, shoulders sagging, accepting it.

    As with many, when you realize that you have been living on the banks of de-nile for your entire life, it takes some getting used to. It is, IMO, harder for boomers to accept it. My father (WWII gen) never accepted it, other than the possibility of civil war due to the crazies in government.

    My sense is that when the future becomes unpredictable, especially in the short term, people look for commonality, support and an anchor against the storm tides. The inter-connectivity of the internet overwhelms most people in short order. Couple that with rampant disinfo, propaganda, the fact that most news is rarely good and the speed of delivery of information – it doesn’t take long to get overwhelmed.

    The same holds true when one begins to explore finance ponzi, resource depletion (get away from oil and the picture actually gets worse), corruption and bad management by the monied class – the same somber cast will appear over most people. Realizing that two things, greed and dishonesty, are the reason for our problems, well…those are innate parts of current society. There is little honor to be had anywhere and none among greedy thieves. It will not be fixed, because we missed the window, and those with the power do not want change.

    I think Gail hit that dark place, and in some of her writings, she seems to be grasping for anything to make the future tenable. If her way to some spiritual solace involves a deity or presence in the financials, then I just hope it works for her. I am glad she sees the mess ahead, and hope she rides the waves in good form.

    Me? My grandparents beat their depression-era stuff into me from a very young age. It was always about being ready for hard times, because they will return no matter what. The ‘duck-and-cover’ drills also had an effect on me…LOL! I was never taken aback by the approaching changes – it was something I had been told would happen over and over. One grandfather was a bank president and the other worked for Gulf Oil – but both hammered the same things into us…

  66. I don’t really have any questions tonight, but I do have a few musings I’d like to share if you’re willing to host them.

    First, I was sitting in a doctor’s office recently when I saw Geraldo Rivera on the TV. I thought back on his stint in daytime talk shows, and it occurred to me that perhaps in the past such “trash TV” shows acted as a kind of catered and chaperoned venue for that form of entertainment that we call “outrage.”

    JMG, that time was after you ditched your TV, so I should probably explain: Geraldo took the daytime “tabloid” talk show, the one that hosted guests that would scandalize polite society, and turned it up to eleven. He would have episodes like “Men who wear lace underwear and the women who love them” (seriously) and infamously got his own nose broken when a brawl between KKK members and civil rights activists (both groups his guests) broke out.

    Well, the ratings of course went through the roof and soon he had a whole assortment of copycats, the most infamous of which was the Jerry Springer Show, which frequently featured both fighting and blurred nudity, often at the same time. (It’s suspected that at least most of the fights were staged, though Springer did eventually switch to oversized furniture to prevent chairs from being used as weapons.) Springer’s was the only show lurid enough to survive the decline and fall of the genre in the early 2000’s, and it’s apparently still on the air.

    I remember one episode where a guy’s girlfriend revealed that she was a transvestite by putting his hand on her crotch. His reaction was to say that now he understood why she always wanted anal sex. She then confessed (verbally, this time) to being a prostitute, and her boyfriend asked where his cut was. I think that was the last episode I ever watched; I only watched them while waiting for something else to come on, anyway, and I figured that was a high note of sleaze to end it on.

    One of the staple features of the post-Geraldo trash TV shows was the chance for audience members to react to the guests, showing support or (more frequently) their outrage at the—often genuinely reprehensible, but always scandalous—behavior of the guests. Audiences at home of course could also react from the comfort of their sofa and make all the perfunctory remarks about how shameful it all was (or here in the South, a simple “Lord have mercy” would do) while they drank it in.

    Then there was my grandfather, a Baptist minister who had done some boxing while in the army (and so knew how bad/fake the fighting was) and thought the show was one of the funniest things he’d ever seen.

    Anyway, my point is, in retrospect that seemed like a rather safe outlet for an addiction to outrage entertainment. These days, the outlet is social media, where a mob mentality can lead to real-world consequences.

    Granted that most of us these days desperately need more experiences with nature in a wild, unmanicured form… maybe some experiences are best had with adult supervision.

  67. @ anchyo123…

    Both Laherre and Brown are working with global numbers – big picture estimates. There are LOTS of assumptions in their work. So let me give you a data point from 2008-9…

    When oil broke the $100/bbl mark, there were places that had to decide on who got electricity. Belize comes to mind, because we went there for holiday. They had rolling power outages scheduled due to their inability to afford the fuel cost for electricity generation. It made local headlines, but not much beyond that – Belize is small.

    For a long time, TOD (The Oil Drum) wrote about the “rolling plateau” which would occur post Peak. We have been there for a few years – shale oil is a great example. Go read Art Berman if you wish, but he calls shale oil and gas a “retirement party” due to the poor EROEI. And he is very right.

    If you read anything about the “shale miracle” or US “energy dependence” – it is hype. Go look at the balance sheets of the big shale oil players – it’s easy to see what has to happen.

    The “rolling plateau” is a series of boom and bust caused by depletion. We are coming out of the first post-Peak oil bust soon. It may have a price spike as indicator – depends on what happens in the rest of the economy. The reason for the spike is that when oil prices are low – there is minimal exploration for new fields, because the cash isn’t there for it. The longer that exploration is deferred, the more depletion eats at reserves and then – pop – price spike. This price spike will take 12-24 months to work its way into the economy as higher costs and prices, then the economy slows and demand for oil drops… wash, rinse, repeat.

    We got the technology, but it requires oil prices near $80-100/bbl. That price cripples economies, as we saw the first go round of $100/bbl oil. Hence the ‘rolling plateau’. Each cycle drives more companies out of business, which drives prices up due to less competition and mergers to try and find some cash and more efficiencies. It’s ugly cycle, but having been in this business my entire life – it’s easy for me to see.

    Locally, things can get ugly much quicker, particularly in smaller countries with less disposable cash (Belize). So the effects are not uniform, nor will they appear all at once. Louisiana and Texas, for example, are far less likely to have issues due to resources, refineries and electrical generation system within the states. Barbados? Look to Belize as a harbinger…

  68. @Chris U: As someone with a tattoo, albeit not a visible one in most circumstances, for me it’s part bodily adornment/personal expression, but part marking my allegiance to my particular patron deities. (I’d had the general shape in mind for years, in one point or another, but the details didn’t clarify until I’d had certain experiences and gotten more serious about magic/spirituality, at which point it also became important to actually get the thing.) Other friends have symbols with personal meaning to them–a raven in one case, a spoon in another–which makes me think there’s a general inclination to permanent personal expression through that sort of thing.

  69. My second musing was also on the subject of outrage culture. Namely, the fact that the Left and increasingly the Right (thanks to Trump’s lead) seem to believe that the best way to drum up outrage for your cause and against your enemies is to do something outrageous.

    The recipe is simple: pick a topic you want to get people riled up about, and have a celebrity do something that offends at least half the country. When an inevitably backlash appears, point at the backlash insist that even if you didn’t like the initial offense, all decent, right-thinking people will stand with you against this outrageous outrage from these unreasonably outraged people. After all, you now have all the evidence you need that you’re the real victim here (to heck with whoever you were supposed to be trying to help initially) and therefore the righteous party.

    Recognize this? It’s the tactics of PETA. Never mind that not even other vegans like them and they’ve had maybe all of one campaign in recent memory that didn’t completely backfire on them, that they have a horrible track record with how they and their members actually treat animals, that… anyway, never mind all that because we’re all PETA now.

  70. Merle, it’s a gradual thing, and it took a lot more than five years to really hit its stride, but yes, very much so. One of the things you learn through the practice of magic is that emotions are part of the landscape, not part of your essential nature. Many of them are entirely external — you must have noticed that there are places and people that reliably elicit specific moods. Another thing you learn through the practice of magic is how to become active rather than passive toward your own inner life. Both of these keep anxiety and depression from becoming more significant than, say, the weather.

    Drhooves, I hadn’t heard that Robert Pirsig had died! Yes, I read it back in the late 1970s, and spent a lot of time mulling over some of its arguments.

    Dylan, the pieces by Jung I’d start with are “Seven Sermons to the Dead” and “Answer to Job” — which is admittedly throwing you in at the deep end, but his popular works are basically sales brochures for Jungian therapy, and can be dispensed with. After that, probably Symbols of Transformation. As for an ingress chart, I’ll consider it.

    Haassmasithiam, beginners often try this due to excess enthusiasm. No, once a day is a good maximum as well as a good minimum.

    Isabel, life is all about tradeoffs, and the pursuit of purity taken too far always turns into violence. If flying is your best option in certain situations, that’s the reality you have to deal with. Is there anything else you can do to decrease the burden you place on the planet, so as to balance the occasional trip by air?

    Kathy, the Archdruid would back slowly away, shaking his head. One of the basic rules of occultism is that the planes are discrete, not continuous; in less gnomic language, what that means is that the world of matter is subject to the laws of matter, period, end of sentence, and relying on a spiritual force to bail you out of the consequences of centuries of stunning material stupidity is one of history’s all-time losing bets. Turning to spiritual forces will not change the predicament we’re in, though it may help us deal with that predicament with a little more wisdom and grace.

    Mog, I tend to think that Corbyn could accomplish a fair amount, for the simple reason that Britain’s current austerity policies exist solely to funnel as much as possible of the national wealth toward a kleptocratic corporate elite, and if that elite were to have to put up with a less preposterous share, a lot of Britons could have much better lives. On the other hand, of course, social reforms do not suspend the laws of thermodynamics or the brutal mathematics of energy depletion, so those benefits would be at most a way to cushion the rigors of the Long Descent for a while.

    Steve, ding! We have a winner. Yes, emphatically — the US “health” care industry is a grand example of bubble logic at work; there is no way that health care can continue to take a bigger and bigger cut of the national wealth every single year, and as that reality sinks in, a vast amount of the current medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance industry is going to revert to a net value of zero or less. I see Obamacare as a desperate last-ditch attempt to keep the bubble inflating by forcing people to pay for health insurance they can’t afford under penalty of law, and it’s going down as more and more people are finding out that they can file Form 8965 and claim exemption from the law if the premiums are more than 8.15% of their household income — which, these days, it usually is. (You can get all the juicy details from the IRS here.) As for alternative health care, find out what’s legal in the state where you live, and keep that very well in mind — the medical industry defends its monopoly savagely. There are plenty of schools where you can learn alternative health care modalities, and I’d encourage you to explore your options and go for it.

    Dan, thank you! The story is titled “The Phantom of the Dust” and it’s the first, I hope, of a series of short pieces in which Jenny Chaudronnier (the main character of The Weird of Hali: Kingsport) and Owen Merrill (the main character of The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth) do a Holmes and Watson number on the cockeyed non-Lovecraftian geometries of my imagination. As for further books, I have a couple of proposals out with publishers right now, so we’ll see; the one thing I can say for certain is that the complete Weird of Hali series, all seven books, is nearly complete in draft — I have some work still to do on the final volume — and quite unexpectedly, another, entirely separate novel set in the same broad fictive world is taking shape right now; the working title is The Shoggoth Concerto.

    Daniel, most interesting.

    Clark, that’s something each of us must find for ourselves. The one piece of advice I’ll offer is not to worry too much about believing this or that; simply accept that the world is more complex than you can understand, and see what sense you can make of it anyway.

    Scotlyn, mainstream medicine these days is trapped in a fantasy of omnipotence, and believers in it are clinging all the more frantically to that fantasy as the basis for it — the relative success of mainstream medicine at treating many human ailments — goes away. The end of antibiotics due to the catastrophic spread of resistance among microbes, the collapse of the economic arrangements that make high-tech medicine possible, and the stunning corruption of a medical industry that always puts making money ahead of all other concerns, especially human lives, are among the factors at work. A hundred years from now the backlash, which is now building, will have swept it all away — which is a pity, because a great many valuable treatments will be lost, at least for a time.

    As for fervent beliefs and compassion, I think it’s a little more complex than that. What kills compassion is a gap between the belief and the facts. The wider the gap, the more vicious believers get when you point to it, because the cognitive dissonance is too painful for them. That’s why it’s always failing religions that spawn fundamentalist bigotries, and it’s why we can expect the defenders of a failing medical model to become ever more hysterical and denunciatory as the very real achievements of mainstream medicine get drowned in a swamp of unintended consequences and extreme corruption.

    Fred, when I was there a few years back, it was already starting to look like that. I gather it’s much worse now. Yeesh.

  71. The anti-american alliance ,ie, China Russia Iran North Korea etc looks more like à brunch ready to tear the world apart than an improvement over what we have now.Are thèse folks the neo-barbarians?

  72. Hapigreenman, er, and what was your question?

    Michael, that kind of thing happens all the time. Using the Elemental Cross was a very good response — what can’t endure the Magic of Light isn’t something you want in your life. As for how to tell the difference between imagination and reality — or, if I may rephrase things a bit, between imagination as a mirror of your personal mental activity and imagination as a mirror of the nonphysical world — that’s something you have to develop with time and practice. For now, don’t worry about it; always take what you experience with a grain of salt, but always use appropriate magical protections, such as a daily Sphere of Protection.

    Ol’ Bab, I wrote a couple of things for them, yes.

    Chris, I have no idea, but then I never got the point of makeup, either.

    Lydia, I expected Trump’s election to upend the political applecart in this country, and it has. Right now Americans are so busy screaming at each other that the decline of our empire and our nation is proceeding with impressive rapidity, without anybody seeming to notice. By the time he finishes his second term — and unless the Democrats notice that perpetual preaching to a very narrow choir is what put Trump into the White House, he’s going to get a second term — I suspect we’ll all blink and discover that we’re in a different country…or possibly more than one different country…

    Pierre, prayer relates to magic as violin music relates to orchestral music generally. It’s one way of relating to spiritual beings; it’s incorporated in some forms of magic — the ones I use, for example — and not in others. It can also be done on its own. As for Guy McPherson, he’s been making failed predictions for a very long time; I recall how, in 2009, he was saying that by 2012 there would be no cars left on the roads because of peak oil. His weakness, a very common one, is that of assuming that extreme hypothetical worst case scenarios are midrange predictions.

    Oskari, do whichever method works well for you. I appreciate your wanting to do it right, and there are things where that’s important; in this case, though, whatever helps you relax is the right choice for you.

    Jen, it’s something that a fairly large minority of people get with this work, and nothing to worry about; it means that you have a talent for feeling nwyfre. Keep doing the practices as given and you’ll be fine.

    Mike, I read it some years ago and thought it was very good. It influenced my book The Wealth of Nature in some ways.

    Michael, yep. There are better options.

    Oliver, the US economy is falling apart, and there are fewer jobs to move to and less wealth to pay for moves. No surprises there!

    Will, someday soon I need to write a book about discursive meditation that isn’t linked to the specific traditions in which I’ve taught it. For the time being, you might try my book The Druidry Handbook — pages 199 to 288 cover the subject. As a Catholic, you might consider taking the basic prayers and creeds of your faith as your first meditative themes, and going from there to meditate on the text of the Mass, taking it line by line.

    Mike, in all probability you will not be able to preserve your wealth that way, or at all. I could be wrong, but I expect a very serious reset in the decades immediately ahead, in which a lot of fictive wealth is going to turn back into twinkle dust in a hurry…

    Christopher, seems to me you’ve answered your own question.

    Zhao, why should we expect life to have a meaning?

    Sara, no, I haven’t read it. As for a classical reading list, that would be Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Proclus, to which I’d append the great Stoics Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius; I’d also have people read Polybius to get a good sense of historical cycles.

    SMJ, what I said was that even if not all of global climate change is anthropogenic, it’s stunningly stupid to keep dumping greenhouse gases into an already unstable system. My take, in other words, is that it doesn’t matter whether there are also natural sources of instability. I continue to hold that view.

    Phil, I’m beginning to think that as progress runs more and more visibly off the rails, a significant number of people are responding with a straightforward retreat into warm clouds of delusion…

    Shane, I haven’t read it. Remember that I mostly read books by dead people!

  73. JMG, thank you for your response, that’s good to know. I will continue with my practices. I have been less scattered/more consistent in general lately, so finally able to pursue some AODA practices with something approaching discipline despite travelling (I am thinking of working out a ritual addendum to ask the powers of nature to banish my neck pain after several multi-day AmTrak/Greyhound trips in the last few months!) and dealing with old and new family health crises. I have noticed that your LESS model helps with self-discipline among other things–less stuff in my house, fewer books or other forms of entertainment to split my attention between at once, fewer hobbies and social engagements = more concentration and energy for what remains, and I seem better able to take responsibility for my choices rather than being blown about by circumstance or subject to self-defeating perfectionism. The AODA practices seem to be reinforcing this trend, creating a beneficent circle. Many thanks!

  74. I know you’ve criticized the message promoted by David Eicke (the “lizard aliens” guy) in the past, so I was wondering if you could give us a thumbnail sketch of why you would caution your readers against taking that message too seriously? I understand if you skip over this one because it’s one of those questions that would require an entire post. I think it’s worth bringing up because times like these make people more willing to listen to prophets such as Eicke who offer an apple-cart-overturning comprehensive worldview.

  75. What current uses of fossil fuels do you think people 500-1000 years in the future will look back at as not having been a waste?

    eg. Bauxite smelting to aluminium, permanently turning a rare metal into a common, useful one.

  76. OK, I do have a question, but this one’s for John Roth:

    On a post a few weeks ago you expressed an interest in Clare W. Graves’ work on the levels of human existence. Have you had a chance to read any of Graves’ work directly, such as The Never-Ending Quest?

    I recommend that one (which I’m currently in the last 20 pages or so of my first reading of) and the much shorter book Clare Graves: The Levels of Human Existence because they start with a description of the research that produced the system, rather than with the personality stereotypes that are emphasized in Spiral Dynamics and even Graves’ own papers.

    I first ran across Graves’ work through Ken Wilber, back when I worshipped Progress, and for a while afterward I rejected it. But when I got a chance to read how the original research, it convinced me that he was on to something important, albeit something he and later writers ladened down heavily with Progressist nonsense. For example, he insists that the ER level emerged for the first time within the last few centuries and that FS emerged about a hundred years ago, whereas I consider Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics to show an ER/fs way of thinking about the subject of ethics: predominantly “express self in a calculated fashion” but with a hint of “sacrifice now for approval now.”

    I suspect that the populations of most great civilizations are a mix of DQ, ER, and even FS at their height, and that a regression back to CP war bands happens as the society goes into decline, followed by a cp/DQ dark age.

  77. The efficiency of various modes of transport has often been mentioned in this and your previous blog, and it started me wondering. So I put together the following, and deciding on mode of transport isn’t quite so straightforward if all you want to do is use the least amount of energy on your trip.

    Passenger Transport.

    The US department of energy has published relative efficiencies of various means of transport using real world data; not just the maximums possible (data below, see URL at end). These indicate trains and jet aircraft are the most efficient but the difference between most forms of transport is nowhere near as great as I imagined.

    Intercity Rail 55 pmpg (passenger miles per gallon)
    Airlines 51
    Transit Rail 51
    Motorcycles 48
    Commuter Rail 44
    Cars 38
    Light Trucks 33
    Transit Buses 32
    Demand Response 8
    eg Taxis.

    Note: They take into account actual numbers of travellers currently using each mode. These values could increase depending upon current useage levels. So air travel could increase 50% or so, but trains probably much more so (in my experience few trains travel with anywhere near full loads)

    Freight Transport
    From Australian Bureau of Statistics – truck fuel efficiency. Articulated Trucks have an estimated fuel consumption of around 56.3 L/100 km. (4.1 mpg). With a payload of 40 tons that works out to about 160 miles per gallon per ton. This is somewhat better than the figure suggested by CSX (‘a leading supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America.’)
    “The efficiency of this freight haul would be calculated as: … This efficiency might be stated as ‘a truck can move a ton of freight 134 miles on a gallon of fuel.’ Similarly, a typical train might haul 3000 tons of freight 500 miles and consume approximately 3185 gallons of diesel fuel.”

    That is, the train could move one ton of freight 470 miles on a gallon of fuel. (2 to 3 times more efficient that by truck)

    Boeing indicate on their website that a 747 uses about 5 gallons per mile, and can carry 120 tons. That works out at moving one ton of freight 24 miles on a gallon of fuel. (rather bad)

    However the above figures are simple fuel usage and don’t take into account the embedded energy of the various types and the industrial complexity required to build and maintain each form.

    So when you make a choice do you decide simply on fuel efficiency, that you are helping to support an overall inefficient form (eg air travel), or just because you prefer it.

    Cheers
    Andrew

    US department of energy – fuel efficiencies.
    https://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/10311

    Wikipedia – Aircraft fuel efficiencies.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_aircraft#2.2C160.E2.80.933.2C000_nautical_miles_.284.2C000.E2.80.935.2C560.C2.A0km.29)

    Truck – fuel efficiencies
    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/9208.0

    CSX website – train fuel efficiencieshttps://www.csx.com/index.cfm/about-us/the-csx-advantage/fuel-efficiency/?mobileFormat=true

    These figures of course only count actual fuel used. It doesn’t take into account embedded energy used in construction, or the industrial system required for construction.

  78. @ everyone, concerning Völkerwanderung (last open post):
    as far as I understood it, some commenters thought I´m being rather naive when I said I´m shocked at how far and how quickly things had deteriorated in the U.S. It´s mainly the speed I´m surprised at, and maybe it´s because I only can follow it from a distance; I´m quite aware that the outcome can be awful. I feel I need to say a few words to clarify my point of view on the subject.
    A very good friend of mine is married to an African guy from Gambia and lives there with him (in a truly 3rd world lifestyle) for one half of the year. The other half of the year she´s here and works crap jobs (at the moment she´s sorting household waste in a ´´recycling´´ company) to support them down there (so no, she´s not rich: quite the opposite; although she seen as wealthy in Africa, because in their view white people are all rich). One of their best friends in Gambia has a brother (I´ll call him M.) who was in the army, one of the very few jobs available to young men there, apart from fishing and growing peanuts, the main export article of Gambia. They´ve had a quasi-dictator there until the beginning of this year (he was so delusional about his popularity that he actually allowed a real democratic election, convinced that all his people loved him and would vote for him. He lost, of course, and after a bit of drama about him not wanting to go and other African nations threatening to invade and get him, he went). But before all that he issued an order that any Senegalese person appraoching the border between the two countries on any other than the official routes is to be shot on sight (the governments of the two countries don´get along very well, to put it mildly). Now an order like that is insane anyway, but it´s made even worse by the fact that apart from a small strip of Atlantic coast Gambia is actually completely encircled by Senegal (as you can see here:
    http://gambiahelp.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/map_gambia.gif ), and there are a lot of family relations across the borders (which were artificially and recklessly drawn by European colonial powers, in this case the English in Gambia and the French in Senegal). So that´s when M. decided to desert and make his way to Germany.
    He nearly died on the way, and yet he was one of the lucky ones. One night, he took refuge with a group of about 80 other migrants in a deserted building in Lybia. One of the local extremist groups got wind of that, and they came at night to get them. They shot most of them, and M. and about a dozen others only survived because they had hidden directly under the roof behind some kind of cladding where the gunmen mercifully didn´t look.
    When I invited my friend to stay over for a weekend last year, she said she´d love to come but she would have to bring someone. She briefly told me what had happened and that M. is currently visiting her. I said of course she can bring him, and that´s how I got to meet M. and to hear some of his story. Not surprisingly, he was a bit withdrawn and didn´t like to talk too much about his experiences, and I didn´t press him. Otherwise I came to know him as a very nice and polite man. Oh, and by the way, he´s a muslim as well.
    How do you untangle that? Should I have told this guy that he´s not welcome in my country and that because of him and other migrants worker´s wages are going to go down (as I know they will)?

    I think that people can´t be held accountable for what their ancestors did, and I show everyone who is trying to blame me for what the Nazis did my metaphorical middle finger (but I also know that a lot of people all over the world beg to differ: humans can hold grudges like that for a very long time indeed). When it comes to curent policies though, it´s not quite the same, because, after all, Germany is a democracy and so are the other EU countries.
    The agricultural policy of the EU towards other (poorer) countries is a disgrace, and has been for a long time: farmers within the EU are being heavily subsidized and get guaranteed sales, so there is every incentive to overproduce, and the surplus is being dumped on African countries and ruining the local farmer´s livelihoods (yes, I know things are a bit more complicated, but it´s a fairly accurate description of the outcome). And all that´s not even saying anything about degrading fish stocks, climate change, deforestation and the use of the best agricutural areas for things like coffee, bananas, chocolate and peanuts (!), and who is responsible for that. This has been known and going on for decades, and there were plenty of warning voices even in the mainstream media that something like the current wave of migration is going to happen (heck, the BBC even made a TV- drama about it in 1990:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fnv_m7lIRk , as well available in German: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJijNr-sEvo ). That´s why I sometimes find it hard to have sympathy with the workers now (note I´m one as well) when the majority of them couldn´t care less about these things all this time, and when I then hear that chicken (and turkey) legs, wings, or any other part of the animal that isn´t breast cannot be sold in Germany anymore because people here only want to eat breast meat, I do get rather exasperated and can´t help thinking: Oh well, you brought it upon yourselves; but of course that´s too simplistic as well.
    Care to guess where all those wings and legs are going ? That´s right, to Africa. For dumping prices.
    Sometimes it´s hard not to get cynical.

    I don´t have a solution; I think, like with resource depletion and climate change and overshoot in general, the damage is already done and there may not be a solution, only mitigation. Other than that, we just have to pay the bill, and the shares are not likely to be evenly distributed.
    Dot wrote last month: ´´Frank, if you want avoid experiencing the same shock at how quickly Germany can become so polarized, imagine that the people you view as hating muslims, being intolerant and immoderate might know some things you need to learn. Then listen to them well enough that they share it with you. That’s what Americans have been refusing to do for several decades. Germans are doing the same. You’ll get the same results if you don’t change course. ´´
    I´m afraid Germany´s already on the same route as the U.S. and as I said, I´m mainly shocked about the swiftness of things going downhill, not least because I know it can happen here as well. That´s one of the reasons (though not the only one) why I live in the countryside away from the urban centers: I selfishly (and maybe foolishly) hope that, if there is going to be violence, it will mainly stay where most people live. Of course, distances here are not what they are in the U.S.: In comparison, Germany is quite small but much more densely populated (especially the former west part), and being away from the urban centers in my case means about 35 miles, while the next small town is just 15 miles away…
    I do try to listen to people (like I said before I get around a lot in the local industry in my job), but so far I haven´t heard much that´s new to me.
    A big part of the problem (as I see it) is people´s tendency to make sweeping generalizations as in ´´Muslims are misogynists´´ or ´´the English are arrogant´´ or ´´Americans are ignorant and uneducated´´ or ´´Germans haven´t got a sense of humor´´ or ´´white people are rich´´ or or or…the list´s probably endless.
    Myself, I have some reservations about monotheistic religions, but I try not to confuse the religion (and it´s priests) with the people adhering to it or being born into it.
    So I think the best I can do is to take everyone on their own merit and try to understand and listen to all sides while at the same time carefully reminding people that there´s more than only their point of view.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  79. Just a quick comment on the quote on Perotin, by John of Salisbury: the full quote is worth reading:

    “When you hear the soft harmonies of the various singers, some taking high and others low parts, some singing in advance, some following in the rear, others with pauses and interludes, you would think yourself listening to a concert of sirens rather than men, and wonder at the powers of voices … whatever is most tuneful among birds, could not equal. Such is the facility of running up and down the scale; so wonderful the shortening or multiplying of notes, the repetition of the phrases, or their emphatic utterance: the treble and shrill notes are so mingled with tenor and bass, that the ears lost their power of judging. When this goes to excess it is more fitted to excite lust than devotion; but if it is kept in the limits of moderation, it drives away care from the soul and the solicitudes of life, confers joy and peace and exultation in God, and transports the soul to the society of angels.”

  80. JMG,

    How would you explain magic to children? Right now my sons are young enough (4-8) that they are more pagan than civilized, but eventually they will be sucked up in the techno-bureaucratic system.

    In particular, I dread the day when they will have to choose their high school (a more important choice in the Netherlands than in the States). I am afraid that, as the adage goes, if they do not believe in magic, they will end up believing in government or business.

    By the way, I looked up which books of yours are for sale in the Netherlands, and was surprised to see that they all are. The Wealth of Nature is even available at my local library. I thought you were a niche author in the States and virtually unknown in Europe, but I must have been mistaken. So congratulations.

  81. JMG,

    I’m wondering if you could comment as to what extent, if any, cultural historian Thomas Berry has influenced your thinking. And do you think modern cosmology (i.e. time-developmental universe) he, Brian Swimme and others taught has a chance of surviving the decline of industrial society? Or do you think people in generally will return to believing older cosmologies?

    Also, I’m glad someone brought up the author Andreas Weber. He will actually be visiting my area next month for a talk and I will get to meet him in person! He will be presenting on his current book, “Matter and Desire”, which I’ve ordered and looks very interesting.

  82. Hi JMG,

    I am reading your Retro Future book, so reading your thoughts on technological choice again, and wondered if people had seemed particularly receptive to the ideas in it so far compared to your other books.

    I ask because a year or so ago I was going to replace my cell phone and switched to an older flip phone with no features. It does what I need it to do, and it doesn’t distract me with games or the internet or anything else. I have been quite surprised at some of the reactions, though, I don’t think I’ve ever owned a piece of technology that inspired the sort of outbursts of enthusiasm that this thing does. Random strangers give me high fives when they see it, I got a high five even when I was getting the thing. Most recently this happened at a club and this big group of girls came over to gush over how awesome the phone was. At first I thought people were making fun of me and just didn’t worry about it, but I don’t get that sense any more, It makes me think that maybe even among normal smart phone users there’s a strong desire to be free of them and I wondered if that meant people were ready to start thinking more seriously about these things.

  83. @ Chris Edwards (continuing from last week):

    I bet your place is quite the oasis in that harsh environment! Would love to see it.

    To step back to an even earlier conversation, about the Law of Flow and the apparent contradiction with the 2nd Principle of Permaculture, to “capture and store energy,” that’s precisely how I measure the results of such an apparently enigmatic endeavor. An increase in biodiversity, particularly predators, and especially top predators, demonstrates unambiguously that energy has indeed been “caught and stored” in some way.

    Every ecology type worth his salt knows that the longer a food chain is, the more links it contains, the more energy is embodied in that food chain. What’s more, adding a new apex species to that food chain isn’t just an incremental addition, but a much larger energetic flow, required to overcome inherent metabolic losses to the environment at each step. In other words, while a deer may receive perhaps 75% of the energy that the green plants he’s eating captured from the sun, the wolf eating said deer may only be getting 25% (probably less) of the original solar energy shining on the food chain.

    That’s metabolic loss, of course, and if you’ve increased the system energy enough to add new consumers, you’ve accomplished no mean task. You’ve captured and stored energy in your immediate surroundings by coaxing and encouraging the biota in your area to cycle energy faster, and in more complex, robust ways.

    That’s exactly what I see in my systems after a few years of composting, manuring, and planting. Say, from my experience, a breeding pair of kestrels moves in to clean up on the energy embodied in excess sparrows, grasshoppers and mice. That’s an increase in total system energy, no doubt about it.

    Well done.

  84. @ Philsharris…

    While I don’t disagree with JMG, I just wanted to say “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet”.

    The single largest delusion floating about the planet is financial – the debt load. It is only now beginning to unravel in the pension arena. If you were watching headlines, the state of Kentucky proposed taxing every citizen $3.2k to support a piss-poorly managed pension fund. I have no idea if they will force this on citizens, but whether they do or not, nobody is talking about punishing the people that designed the pension fund or those that executed it. It’s actually about pensioners and their expectations versus reality. The fact that this is even contemplated illustrates the extreme disconnect between the political class and their base, and the political class with the reality around them. Many expectations will be disabused all round in the next decades.

    As the largest debt load ever amassed in history unwinds itself in the face of resource depletion, things will likely begin to fall apart more rapidly. At the same time, new things will be born. Some will be stillborn, attempting to continue business as usual, while others will be born supporting change. Decisions as to what people choose to support will be entirely determined by people trying to hold on to material things they have acquired and trying to maintain the shape of their world as they have known it. Throw in the current population bubble built on the back of the industrial revolution and oil, and you have the right view of things from where I sit.

    What people “know” is currently in flux, and on many fronts. It is unlikely to stabilize for a generation or two. No reason to get angry or depressed, as nobody will be exempt from this one. Best to ride it out with family and friends, trying to discover the best way forward where you happen to be. Variations of collapse are entirely based on local conditions, but what is collapsing is global in nature – nowhere to hide, and it will be in both slow motion and fast forward speeds. Roller coasters come to mind…and two types are normally seen on a roller coaster; those filled with glee and exhilaration at the ride and those cringing, fearful and close to vomiting. But all are, effectively, in the same boat, eh?

  85. I’ve started to think that most people I know and meet are varying degrees of insane. I don’t mean properly mentally ill. I thought it was a sign that I choose dysfunctional people to hang out with (which I’ve definitely done in the past) but it applies equally to people I’ve chosen to associate with and people I randomly bump into. And I definitely know a couple of relatively very sane people so it’s not everyone.

    Is that a sign that I’m projecting my own craziness onto everyone else and it’s not actually there, or that I can now see the crazy that was out there all along because I’m more aware of my own? Or something else?

    Also, the world beyond the material seems really abstract, mental and unreal somehow but you said it’s the primary reality. The material world frequently sucks but then things like the ability to smell physical roses is nice. Gwynfydd must have its good and bad sides too. So why leave behind one place that has a balance of good and bad experiences for another that has the same except it’s not material? Do people even have to make a conscious choice to move on or is it eventually like having to leave kindergarten and go to big school because you’ve just gotten too old?

  86. @JMG: Thank you, and good question! There’s a lot of stuff I do already because of circumstances (eighty percent of my travel is pubtrans, because driving in Boston is really not worth it given any alternative*, cutting down on packaged food and factory-farmed meat helps me stay in shape and I’m vain, not regularly updating my electronics just makes good financial sense, etc.) but I could definitely stand to look at my general purchasing habits and get further back toward the “needs not wants” philosophy of my early adolescence, also to buy a drying rack for clothes and plan on going down to one room and a lot of layers this winter rather than turning up the heat, especially when I’m on my own.

    *Although, on a Lovecraft/Weird of Hali note, ghouls in the subways would be preferable to a substantial number of my fellow passengers, a number that rises to eighty or ninety percent when there’s a sports game or other Event. A good solid ghoul attack would probably improve the average Green-Line-in-baseball-season trip notably. (They’d also smell better than the typical Sox fan post-game.) (Actually, that could be a pretty good disguise.)

  87. “a music that deliberately incorporates natural sounds as part of itself is an enticing idea”…are you acquainted with the music of Olivier Messian? He works pretty hard to duplicate natural sounds, particularly birdcalls, using the resources of western classical music.

  88. Thinking further about air travel: one of the things I’d like to see (with the caveat that I’d *really* like to see a workable less-polluting model of slower transport, a la trains and sailboats, be properly funded and implemented, and less corporate insanity to match, but here we are) is a truly no-frills airline.

    People complain a lot about the decrease in snacks or whatever, but is it really so hard to either bring a sandwich or eat before/after? Do we need an entire beverage cart for people who can’t remember to buy water before boarding? And do we each really need our own in-flight entertainment system, or an entertainment system at all? When I was young (which wasn’t more than twenty years ago), the term “airport novel” existed for a good reason–and while that did lead to me reading way too much of Robert Jordan’s work in high school, I can’t help thinking that the extra infrastructure and the weight of the food/beverage carts likely increase the fuel use and output. (The food and beverages definitely increase the waste, because of course they all come in individual containers.) Likewise, is it totally necessary to give each passenger their own plastic-wrapped blanket and pillow, and then let them walk off the plane with them?

  89. @Anfrew Hobbs et al regarding transportation fuel use:

    MPG or gallons per ton is a very misleading statistic, in a very sneaky way, since the ‘efficiency’ of airplanes is usually swamped by the actual miles traveled per trip.

    When was the last time you went on a 3000 mile weekend car trip?

    A more useful real-world stat might be gallons per passenger per hour….

  90. Hi all,

    To those discussing the topic of modern medicine, and the likely path it will take, as our host puts it, on its way down “history’s compost bin”, I recomend Lester King’s book “The Medical World of the 18th Century”. I think it is out of print, but if you can grab an used copy or find it digitalized in the web, it’s really worth it.

    In my case, it has been a real eye opener. All this discussion about how how the purity of medical science has to be protected against outsider healers, the tense power struggle against pharmacy, the lack of minimal quality standards and oversight… this is all old news, not caused by embrace of life sciences as the cornerstone of medical practice. It’s been in doctor’s mental DNA for a long, long time.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10041787-the-medical-world-of-the-18th-century

  91. @ Isabelcooper…

    Be VERY careful of what you wish for, because you may just get it.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-1291131/Ryanair-launch-vertical-seating-Standing-room-tickets-4.html

    There is also a patent for “horizontal passenger safety accommodation”, and it looks remarkably like what many military cargo planes use to transport bodies. I have no idea how elimination of bodily wastes is accomplished with many of the ‘improved’ seating patents out there, but I am sure your imagination can supply the appropriate images!

    Personally, I think it is long past time for dirigibles to make a comeback…LOL!

  92. Shane W,

    “Calexit” is what they’re officially calling their succession movement?

    What a missed opportunity! How obvious is “Calgone” (as in, “take me away!”)

    Ha!

  93. Speaking of not being one country anymore…

    I was at the small engine repair shop yesterday to get a saw chain sharpened, and this Rodney Dangerfield-esque northerner was in line in front of me to get the repair guys to show him how to change the business end of his very expensive Stihl weedeater out.

    When the young repairman came in he smiled and asked “what can I do for you?”

    To which the Yankee fella said, “you gonna help me, or just laugh?”

    The only reasonable response I could come up with was, “you ever going to try to adapt to life in the South, or are you just going to be a Yankee a-hole for the rest of your life?”

    (With apologies to our friendly Yankee brethren here at Ecosophia! Assuming you exist!;))

  94. 🙂 Hi John, This kinda build’s on Michael’s experience with the park bench. I’ve had a lot of similar experiences. One of which was in my parent’s house, they built the house so it shouldn’t be haunted, but I looked down the stairs one night and I got the feeling there was this black aura or something at the bottom of the stairs looking back at me. It’s manifested itself a couple of other times but that was the strongest negative feeling I got from it. There was also a, white aura with a blue nimbus, that seemed to be a frequent visitor in my own apartment at one point.

    Everywhere I go seems to have it’s own vibe and the vibe, I often let it dictate where I do and do not go. The old Anglo-Saxons might have called it a sense of thrym, spelled with a thorn. Also my dreams seem to tell me the future sometime; I know we seldom dream in REM sleep for more than 45 minutes a night and like I’ll get snippets sometimes of the day or two that will follow. It’s like I’m getting the stage directions for a pay before it happens. If it’s something that doesn’t directly involve me I can usually count on seeing it verbatim, especially if it involves animals or objects subject forces of nature. Derrick Jensen has also talked about having similar experiences; I’d be interested in hearing you two put your brains together on the matter at some point. Looking into the future isn’t easy, where as sensing vibes is. I feel like the vibe thing and the “leakage” I get as Derrick Jensen puts it, are one and the same sense.

    My big question now is, if you are meditating and looking into the future how do you distinguish between the future and your own imagination? And sometimes that sense of the future I have is really clouded over other times it’s really clear. I think this sense of the future is somehow related to those auras I’m aware of. When the black one visited my parent’s house a lot growing up I couldn’t see; but when the other one visited my apartment it like amplified the thrym. Is the sense mine or is it the universes?

  95. Tenchu, the fact that I think highly of community doesn’t mean it’s all that easy to find. I think highly of really good fantasy novels, too, but they’re also kind of thin on the ground! There’s also the economic factor — my wife and I left Seattle, and then the west coast entirely, because the cost of living there has spiraled out of control, and I can live much more comfortably on a writer’s income in less fashionable parts of the country.

    Jeffrey, I don’t practice the magic of the Picatrix. I worked with it during the translation process to make sure I understood what I was translating, and I still have all the knowledge needed to put it to work at any point should I need to, but that process also helped me sort out what kinds of magical work I want to pursue, and the Picatrix isn’t on that list.

    Kenneth, good. Yes, exactly — in dark ages, personal loyalty becomes the foundation of society because it’s the one thing that can’t be gamed and exploited by the parasitic classes of the dying imperial age. (That’s spelled “bankers, government officials, and corporate flacks” this time around.) As for the Pretty Girl, that’s been a theme of discussion here more than once, and I wouldn’t be the least surprised if her worship becomes a massive religious force in North America over the next five centuries or so.

    Adam, people keep thinking that when I say human minds differ from animal minds in degree rather than kind, I’m trying to insist that there’s nothing marvelous about our minds, Not so; I’m saying that the same marvelous qualities are present, in varying degrees, in animal minds as well.

    Shane, yep. I’m not as sure as I was that we’ll get that full on this year, but we’ll see.

    Workdove, predictions of the end of the world are always wrong. Always.. You can bet your last dollar on that and always come out smiling: when somebody insists that the world will end on X date, on X+1 they’ll be making excuses, and the world will chug on in serene indifference to our self-important fantasies.

    Reese, I’ll have to look into it; that’s not something I’m familiar with. Can you recommend some basic resources?

    Phutatorius, that’s entirely possible; we didn’t try to correct Levi, just to translate him. (And I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Tristram Shandy.)

    Jason, I wouldn’t. There’s a specific symbolic logic to the sevenfold system I used in Mystery Teachings and certain other works I produced at that time, and it doesn’t map directly onto the Golden Dawn system I’m using in The Celtic Golden Dawn and its sequels. Don’t turn symbolism into a Procrustean bed!

    Casey, my take is that Regardie was only half right. The sound is important, but it’s not the whole story; there are also entitles that respond to the Great Names, and if you’re invoking a deity you can’t stand, your results are not going to be particularly good. (I’d suggest that this is why so many people these days have problems getting results with the classic Golden Dawn system — if you aren’t willing to establish a respectful working relationship with the god of Judeo-Christian monotheism, that god isn’t going to work with you, and that puts a sharp upper limit on how effective the work will be for you.) I’ve found, and others working with the Druidical GD system in The Celtic Golden Dawn have also found, that it’s extremely effective so long as you’re comfortable with the rather odd pantheon of the Druid Revival tradition — and not otherwise. The lesson here is that magic doesn’t have to be a matter of you imposing your will on an empty and passive cosmos; it can instead be you participating in a richly complex cosmos of many levels, layers, and modes of being, in which there are a lot of beings far stronger and smarter than you are — and if you approach it in this way, you get better results.

    Anchyo, what that means is that at some point between now and 2030 or so we can expect another round of serious crisis, comparable to the mess that overwhelmed Europe and its empires between 1914 and 1954 — you know, two world wars, the Great Depression, the end of European global domination, little things like that. Peak oil is simply one part of that much broader picture. On the far side of that, yes, we’ll be using a lot less oil, and there may well be a good many fewer human beings as well. Then we’ll get another fifty or sixty years of relative stability before the next, and probably terminal, crisis hits industrial civilization. Welcome to the Long Descent!

    Colter, I wish I did! My book A World Full of Gods takes issue with many of the core presuppositions of Christianity in the course of setting out a case for polytheism as a valid religious option, but I don’t know of any thorough discussion of Christianity as such from that perspective — well, not since Porphyry’s Kata Christianou (Against the Christians), and as far as we know every single copy of that was rounded up and burnt in late classical times.

    Cliff, there are many different routes into and out of it, because mental illness isn’t a single thing — it’s a galaxy of different psychological dysfunctions, each of which has its roots in particular experiences, choices, and events. So that’s not a question that can be answered simply.

    Casey, don’t worry about it. Sometimes asking the question is the necessary step to realizing the answer.

    Ganesh, good. “Let” is common in English magical incantations, as a substitute for the Latin jussive subjunctive — yeah, I know, I’m letting my inner geek out to play! It’s more polite than an imperative, but still a command, while “May” is a request. As for comments, these days I delete very few; people have, I think, gotten used to the fact that trollery just gets thrown into the Black Pit of Nugyubb-Glaah to be devoured by friendly shoggoths.

  96. Question for JMG and anyone else who wants to respond – I’m interested in a knowing a range of opinions. If trees are sentient like people then what are the ethics around cutting them down? Assume here I’m talking about cutting down individual trees in a woodland management or continuous cover forestry or similar sense rather than clear cutting entire forests!

  97. JMG, thanks. I guess exploration is, or should be, a substantial fraction of the fun in this Mysteries business. Finding a Muse and keeping Her interested in a creative partnership is no mean feat. I frequently make many of the mistakes that have led to me becoming such a wild ‘success’ at parties.

    Still, one keeps plodding on.

  98. Colter,

    This doesn’t really answer your question, but one of the more interesting perspectives on Christianity that I’ve seen is that of Richard Rorty, who was a materialist atheist but not a rationalist. In that way, he was similar to Nietzsche, but where Nietzsche was hostile to Christianity, Rorty was sympathetic.

    He referred to the early Christians as “strong poets” who offered a new and (to their audience) more appealing way of life, and he thought secular humanism would do the same today, at least if it dropped the rationalism and focused on the aesthetic and ethical sides of life.

    I think that seeing any given religion as a way of organizing one’s experience is a much better starting point than seeing it as a theory about reality. It gives meaning to one’s life by providing something to value above yourself. (H/T to JMG for the insight that that’s what “meaning” really is.)

    (Also, I like how G.K. Chesterton put it: “Do not enjoy yourself. Enjoy dances and theaters and joy-rides and champagne and oysters; enjoy jazz and cocktails and night-clubs if you can enjoy nothing better; enjoy bigamy and burglary and any crime in the calendar, in preference to the other alternative; but never learn to enjoy yourself.”)

  99. @ Reese, JMG :

    The jumping off point for a discussion about modern steam locos would have to be the Coalition for Sustainable Rail. Their website is at http://csrail.org/ ; it looks like they re-arranged a bit since I last stopped by, but I recall they made a solid case for a wood-pellet-fuelled gasifying steam loco versus diesel electric in passenger use (not freight).

    Long term, I’m skeptical of rail. I love it right now, and for the near future, but long term? The rails themselves might be too much iron to upkeep in a de-industrial setting. They last, sure, but not forever. Oxygen and entropy will win in the end.

  100. Hi JMG,

    In light of your exchange with Casey above, and/or in regard to the project you’ve undertaken with the Celtic Golden Dawn/DOGD more generally: What are your thoughts on Iamblichus’ injunction against changing the “barbarous names”?

    I can think of several possible approaches here, but I’m quite curious what your thoughts are.

  101. JMG, I for one would happily purchase a book on discursive meditation, so register an additional vote for that project from me!

    I’ve been contemplating limits as part of the book club work. Much is made lately of the current period being one of the “great extinctions” in geological history. I recall reading somewhere once that the average size of many species of birds and mammals is greatly reduced as human populations rise, and the human population continues to explode. Anyway, it gave rise to this thought. Might there be a limit to the amount of bio-matter that the planet can support? Be it flora or fauna, micro or macro. Essentially, as more and more of the planet’s supply of bio-matter is being taken up by all these homo sapiens running around, it leaves less and less for all other species. Meanwhile, I’m quite certain that most species are being killed off due to more obvious reasons of pollution, habitat destruction, cutting down trees etc.

  102. Frank,

    “How do you untangle that? Should I have told this guy that he´s not welcome in my country and that because of him and other migrants worker´s wages are going to go down (as I know they will)?”

    What is there to untangle? Of course telling him he’s not welcome in your country and that his presence will depress wages would be rude, if not callous, so why would you do that? Anyway, if he’s welcome to you, he’s welcome to you.

    On the other hand, you’re not an individual in a bubble, you live in a society currently organized as a nation-state and if you value the rule of law and democratic process then the immigration rights that your society intends to grant to the rest of humanity should be decided by your society through the democratic process, not by any one person’s feelings – whether of sympathy or anything else. And the corresponding laws should be enforced by the state. So you support that process. Where’s the tangle?

    If you believe that everyone on the planet who either is or claims to have been facing situations similar to your Gambian friend should have the right to move to the country of their choice then by all means attempt to persuade a majority of German citizens to grant that right. That’s what democracy is supposed to permit.

    But why do you withhold sympathy for the consequences of mass migration from your fellow workers simply because in your opinion they didn’t show sufficient sympathy for the rest of the world when you deem that they should have? Thinking ‘oh well you brought it on yourselves’ is not simplistic. It’s collective blame and punishment.

    Would you apply the same logic of collective punishment to Gambians for their moral failings (whatever those might be)? Would you say that they brought their dictators on themselves, have no sympathy for them about the consequences and therefore support those consequences? People do say such things of course. It’s not cynicism you’re displaying, it’s a double standard based on the accident of birth that makes German workers in general more privileged than Gambian ones.

    That double standard conveniently allows you to resolve the very real conflict of interest between German workers and the masses of people on this planet who would like to move to Germany while experiencing minimal guilt for the harm caused to Germans by your choice – because they kind of deserve it right?

    Don’t tell me it’s a humanitarian decision – there are an infinite number of ways to improve the lives of the vast majority of people in the world who are poorer than westerners other than allowing those among them who have the freedom, opportunity, luck, strength and money to do so to move to the rich world. There’s nothing humanitarian about the devastation being caused to countries experiencing mass emigration of their young people to the west.

    And if there were such a thing as the interests of that abstraction called humanity, it wouldn’t lie in accelerating the process of the decline and fall of a civilization through supporting Volkerwanderungen and with it the movement of warbands from the periphery into the centre. The preservation of the best parts of western civilization, as with any other civilization, will benefit all of humanity in the end, including future generations of Gambians. The faster and more violently you crash it, the less cultural conservers can save.

    Yes, people make sweeping generalizations about large groups. And other people choose to get busy being outraged at those generalizations as a means of avoiding discussing the actual, underlying point the person is trying to make. It’s very easy to either just ignore the over-generalization, or politely correct it, and then – and this is the step that rarely happens – actually discuss what the person is trying to say.

    Instead, what most people do is what you did: repeat the mantra that one must separate individuals from their religion. It’s a thoughtstopper. That’s why people who make over-generalizations like ‘Muslims are misogynists’ are so useful. It lets everyone who wants to do so get back to playing the Rescue Game instead of talking about things you really don’t want to talk about – because those things get very close to the bone of the harm being caused by the immigration policies you support. Instead you stay at the comfortably high level of analysis of “I have some reservations about monotheistic religions”.

  103. @Tripp re trapping energy in permaculture.
    I have no training in permaculture, but I see no contradiction in what you describe and the law of flow. Energy and materials are flowing like crazy in the ecosystem you describe, and more so when you add a top predator. It’s not ‘trapped’ just because it’s mostly flowing inside the system you enjoy.
    One of the limitations of the analogy of the food ‘chain’ is that it doesn’t visualize flows well.
    And maybe it’s a semantic problem.

  104. Hello sir!
    Once you criticized Tolkin’s “Lord of the ring”, regarding societies that refuse to accept new ideas.
    I am not sure that was your intention, but that is how I interpreted your words.
    If that is the case, can you explain, please, what you do you mean?

  105. @JMG – “some point between now and 2030 or so we can expect another round of serious crisis, comparable to the mess that overwhelmed Europe and its empires between 1914 and 1954 — you know, two world wars, the Great Depression, the end of European global domination, little things like that.”

    ****You mean we’re not in the middle of it now? It sure looks like it – and are rapidly approaching the eye of the hurricane! “***

    Star’s Reach questions, especially monsoon season in Memfis ….

    If you can’t fish during the rains, and don’t have refrigeration, where does the food for the partying come from, and how do you keep it fresh? My Inner Housewife wants to know.

    And have the doctors retained the knowledge that cholera comes from bad water, malaria from mosquitoes, and mosquitoes breed in stagnant water? Someone could write a decent Star’s Reach fanfic about Fever Season in Memfis, I should think.

  106. JMG, my question concerns reincarnation. If, in order for a human being to pass through Abred and enter Gwynfyd, she has to fully develop its human capacities, can an evil person pass to Gwynfyd? Or would the evil acts committed by said person hold her back in Abred, or even make her regress to an animal state?

  107. JMG,

    Why are people are so drawn to sociopaths as leaders? We basically had a choice between Sociopath 1 and Sociopath 2 during the past US presidential election. Not much of a choice.

    I just finished reading “Human Smoke,” a book documenting the beginning of WWII. It left me with the belief there were really no good actors in regard to that conflict. Churchill was vile, inasmuch as he saw the possible starvation of millions during the war as a “tactic” to implement, along with various other weapons at his disposal. The information regarding Roosevelt and his deliberate baiting of the Japanese by various methods was devastating to read. I can’t truly believe that either of these men really cared about human lives any more than Hitler did.

    I know from personal experience, unfortunately, that sociopaths can be charming on a personal level, but on the level of national leadership that kind of personal charm doesn’t work. Why do we put these people in power and then follow them into sheer hell?

    Trish

  108. @ Charlene Seaboldt, September 27, 2017 at 8:57 pm : All the things you mention are being noticed here as well, even by the mainstream media: notably there have been two headlines in all major news outlets this year, just a few weeks apart. The first one was along the lines: ´´Number of birds has fallen by up to 80 %´´, the second was `´Ínsect poulations decreased dramatically´´. I would be surprised if it wasn´t the same story all over Europe, or indeed, the world.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  109. Hello JMG

    Re: Climate Change Anthropogenic?

    My view is about the same as yours. Whether or not climate change is anthropogenic, it’s still a very good idea to get off fossil fuels and generally stop polluting the environment.

    I haven’t actually come across any proof of climate change being anthropogenic, I just keep seeing the statement that 97% (or some such large proportion) of scientists believe that it is anthropogenic. But that isn’t proof, that’s just consensus.

    SMJ

  110. Just a quick comment on the subject of tattoos. The Boomers set a pretty high bar for rebellion. We’d already done drugs. sex, weird clothing, long hair, etc. So where were the next generation supposed to go? They could have become Alex Keatons (the young Republican in the hippie family played by Michel J. Fox in _Family Ties_). But not much fun in that. So piercings, tattoos, etc. became the next frontier of rebellion. An additional feature of tattoos is that they are an extreme commitment in a world of abandoned spouses and children and general shifting sands. They are also something that cannot be taken away. A tattoo cannot be repossessed by the lender, stolen by an outgoing roommate or lost in the divorce settlement. It is yours. Full disclosure –I am 68 and have two upper arm tattoos, both almost 40 years ago.

  111. Hi JMG,

    I hope you don’t mind a smattering of somewhat related economic questions for you.

    First of all, what do you make of the current housing bubble? Do you expect it to pop messily at some point in the not-too-distant future, or do you think it will chug along for a decent while yet? I’m out here in Portland on the west coast and it continues to astound me the pace at which prices are rising and who exactly can afford $400K+ floors, and regular $600K prices for decent houses in good neighborhoods. We obviously won’t be buying in this environment, and we’re wondering how long we’ll be able to stick around here in general–we pay quite an exorbitant amount for our modest one-bedroom apartment as it is! We came awfully close to a move to Kansas recently, though it didn’t end up happening. However, despite the frustrations of the housing market and cost of living in general–not to mention the intense feeling of living in a ridiculous cultural/economic bubble–we really love quite a lot about the Northwest and would rather not move if we don’t have to. Of course, the broader world doesn’t much care for what we want or not, so we’ll make do one way or another.

    Second, my understanding is that you and Sara are living in an apartment now. Is that due to any specific financial/economic reasons, or does it have more to do with the work in maintaining and keeping up a house? Do you plan to buy another house at some point in the future or no?

    Third, a similar question about the broader economy: are you expecting a more dramatic recession/depression that will be quite visible at the nationwide level in the next year or two, or do you expect multiple years more of this slow grind and increasing wealth concentration, with many coastal urban areas doing relatively well while rural areas and the interior of the country continues to suffer, with certain urban exceptions?

    Honestly, I’ve spent the last few years expecting another good lurch downward and being proven wrong. Granted, I realize there are still plenty of places where that’s happening, but it’s just not at the national level the way that 2008 was–and that’s more along the lines of what I expect to happen. Yet we keep rolling along in this very dysfunctional, papered-over way, and I’m starting to wonder if the various financial manipulations will continue to paint this economic veneer over the country for a good while yet to come before a bigger break and more comprehensive step down takes place. Still, I just don’t understand how the tech bubble, the student loan bubble, the housing bubble, the stock market bubble, and all these other brittle and hallucinatory prosperities continue to lurch along without coming crashing back down to earth, considering how bad off a good chunk of the country is, how in debt we are, and how little real, tangible goods actually back all this.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts. I realize I’m asking for impossible predictions, just curious if you see a big break coming soon or not.

  112. Jbucks, JMG, and all –

    For me the question is always: is a form of music beneficial or harmful to the human psyche? I think if music is beneficial to the psyche, then it’s good for the biosphere, and visa versa. In any event, as is well known, plants and animals seem to respond positively to traditional classical music, though not so much in the 20th c., when atonal and various serialized music held obnoxious sway in academe.

    As for contemporary jazz, pop music, rock and roll, hip hop, etc. – well, there is a theory that “natural” music is rhythmically based on a ONE two THREE four pattern of beats, which corresponds with the heartbeat and the nervous system. However, early jazz and all its derivations and iterations are based on the fabled “back beat”, that is, a one TWO three FOUR pattern, which is said to be “unnatural”, contrary to nature, and therefore of harmful influence. This makes for “body music”, essentially carnal and low-chakra based. It gets a little dicey here because many today would think this racist to point out – but this back beat music evidently has its origin in African Voudon drumming, which used in certain conjuring ceremonies can become incredibly intricate, yet still based on the back beat template. Make no mistake, there are all kinds of jazz and pop music that I love, but I’m always aware of their intoxicating effect to one degree or another. How harmful this really is to our psyches I’m unsure, but I have to take the possibility into account.

    I can think of one classical music example that did use an elaborated form of the back beat, that is, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, which premiered in 1913 in Paris – you know, Stravinsky’s famous “motor rhythms” …. boom boom boom BOOM, boom BOOM boom boom … which I always find hair-raising, considering that the ballet to which the music accompanies is based on a human sacrifice. As you probably know, the premiere of Rite of Spring caused a famous near-riot in the audience. We may be inclined to think, oh, those dowdy, stuffy-minded, unhip Parisians so mired in their bourgeois aesthetics …. but I have to wonder: were they really reacting to music that was literally toxic, aurally-speaking? Most people don’t know this, but Northerners in the States reacted similarly when jazz first spread northward from the New Orleans bordellos after the Secretary of the Navy outlawed well-paying sailors from frequenting them. (FDR was the Sec of Navy at the time, btw). People were initially shocked and horrified by jazz, then became quickly addicted. Same with early rock and roll, to an extent.

    As for an example of beneficial music – well, among the deleterious effects of the Second Vatican Council in ’61, there was the making optional of the chanting of the Gregoria’s Chant in monasteries. Hitherto, it had been mandatory for centuries. Now, monastic life is extremely rigorous; monks traditionally get very little sleep, are vegetarians, and often have to labor at farming while involved in long scholastic pursuits. It’s a punishing schedule but most monks had been up to it for centuries. Then came the Vatican 2 and many monasteries dropped the daily chant. Result: monks started needing more sleep, meat had to be introduced to their diets, certain rest times had to be instituted. I think it’s fair to conclude that the Gregorian Chant was spiritually, psychically, and physically invigorating for the monks – perhaps this has something to do with breath control, along with the actual tones of the music and their effect on the psyche, or a combination of both. Tibetan Chant of course, is said to have the same effect.

    Again, I grew up with jazz and pop music, I love them both – and there is no denying the genius of the great jazz musicians and composers. But there is this other element of back beat music to consider.

    Btw, Jbucks – there is quite a bit of “Biomusic” around these days in the neo-classic genre. I’ve heard music with samples of coyotes, crickets, cows, etc, interspersed throughout, often done so very cleverly. Meanwhile, I think that whatever New Age music is going to come our way should evolve naturally, without too much self-conscious plotting. It may be that New Age music will depend more on the way we *listen*, and maybe not so much in the music forms we create – can we really get more New Age than Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms? Depends on the scope and depth of how we listen, I think.

  113. @James M. Jensen II
    Re: Clare Graves

    No, I haven’t read any of his books, unfortunately. I ran across references when I was tracking down intellectual precursors to the system in the Michael Teaching, and noticed a major similarity to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (There’s almost a 1-1 correspondence at the executive summary level, btw.)

    Since I haven’t, and am only familiar with Spiral Dynamics from a few sessions in a church study group, the initialisms don’t mean anything to me.

    What I can say, though, is that there is a fundamental difference between Graves, Maslow, Wilber etc. and the MT, which I noticed during the church seminar I just mentioned. These people are all studying the way the traits express themselves; Michael describes them as inherent (emergent) properties of a learning model of reincarnation, and the expression is moderated by the surrounding social milieu.

    This is why you’re seeing some of these in the Greek classics, and why Graves isn’t seeing them until a century ago: they were there, they were just buried in the background and have only recently begun to emerge in large enough numbers to be noticed.

    Thanks for the pointers. They’ll go onto my reading list if I can find library or online copies.

  114. @Frank from Germany

    Yeah I think it’s really stupid that we believe in invisible lines drawn on a map more than we believe in people sometimes. The thing which really shocked me is realising all the deaths in the Meditarranean are completely unnecessary. If Europe allowed people to apply for asylum before they get here then no-one would need to risk travelling by sea. There’s a project in Italy which is doing just that but only with small numbers at present (they have persuaded their government to allow 1000 people) – that could be one direction to campaign for.

    You can learn a lot from looking at which groups of people are allowed to move easily across those borders and who isn’t. The reasons people need to migrate and the groups of people who are and aren’t allowed to migrate easily link in with the legacies of colonialism. And we’re still benefitting from those legacies, for example with cheap clothes imported from sweatshop factories and with toxic waste exported to poorer countries where we don’t have to see it. Ultimately I think it’s the same issue we were talking about the other week – there is no ‘away’. Just as we can’t dump rubbish and forget about it, we can’t dump our problems on some other country and not expect it to come back round and affect us later. Their citizens turning up on our doorstep because we’ve contributed to making their country very hard to live in is one of the current ways this is happening.

    Regarding the wages decreasing – in the UK there is a problem because the government doesn’t give migrants the same benefits as citizens. This means that migrants are often forced into a position of taking underpaid work to survive because they don’t have access to the same safety net. But perhaps the underlying problem is not the migrants but the lack of equal rights for all which would stop the downward pressure on wages. There’s a joke here that I think sums it up: “A banker, a worker, and an immigrant are sitting at a table with 20 cookies. The banker takes 19 cookies and warns the worker: “Watch out, the immigrant is going to take your cookie away.””

  115. Clay, yep. The timescale doesn’t even seem particularly outlandish just now…

    Sgage, it was also a major fave of mine in my misspent youth — I was particularly fond of the Nandi bear and the mngwa, but every single critter in there was a personal friend of mine. 😉

    John, I’ll certainly consider that. The short form? Prayer is a conversation. You treat the other Person involved the way you’d treat someone else you respect, i.e., it’s not about “gimme-gimme-gimme,” nor droning flattery; it’s also equal parts talking and listening. I recommend that beginners try it sitting down rather than kneeling — you’re not there to grovel, you’re there to have a quiet conversation with a very wise Friend.

    Ezra, it’s easy to get a war game to give you whatever results further the agendas of the people who are planning and paying for it. It’s when you get the enemy involved, with live ammunition, that you find out what really happens.

    David, yep — it’s crucial to remember the difference between a problem and a predicament!

    Darren, welcome to a wider world. As we occultists like to say, T.S.W. — that is, “this $#!& works”…

    James, it’s a complex issue. As I’ve pointed out more than once, hate has become the new sex, and people in today’s America are hate-crazed the way their Victorian ancestors were sex-crazed — and in the same way, those who denounce hate the loudest are generally those who are most consumed with longing for some excuse to put on the jackboots and get out there and be really, really vicious to somebody. The pornography of outrage feeds on that, and feeds it.

    As for PETA, I’ve long been a member of People who Eat Tasty Animals… 😉

    Maurice, nope. Check the biases of your news sources sometime.

    Jen, funny how that works! I’m delighted to hear that things are proceeding well.

    Mister N., what Jung called “projecting the shadow” — insisting that everything wrong with the world is the fault of some sinister Other, be it space lizards, Jews, white people, black people, purple people, the rich, the poor, or a secret society of storm door salesmen called the Aluminum Bavariati — is a copout. As the saying goes, the one common factor in all of your problems is you — and the only way to solve your problems starts with changing the behaviors of yours that are contributing to them.

    Synthase, don’t expect them to be rational about it. A thousand years from now our descendants will be coping with the disastrous consequences of our stupid mishandling of the biosphere, remember, and their attitude toward us will make our attitude toward Nazis look mild. My guess is that they’ll think of anyone who used fossil fuels for anything as a genocidal maniac.

    Andrew, since those figures are limited to fuel efficiency per mile and don’t incorporate the vast differences in indirect energy use, they’re effectively worthless — it’s as though you were to calculate the cost of the internet by taking the bill for your monthly service as the basis. You have to analyze the whole system or you don’t have any basis for judgment.

    Discwrites, I’ve never had the opportunity to do it, so I’d encourage you to talk to people who’ve dealt with talking magic to children and see what they advise.

    MJ, I read a few things by Berry back a good many years ago, but didn’t find them useful. With regard to whether people in the future will believe our current modern cosmologies or cosmologies from the past, er, aren’t you forgetting something? People in the future will come up with their own cosmologies, which will inevitably differ from our current notions as well as from past notions. If anyone remembers our cosmologies two thousand years from now, they’ll think of those the way we think of medieval cosmology…

    Johnny, huzzah! I’m delighted to hear it. No, I haven’t encountered any particular rush to buy the book, but there’s still plenty of time.

    Big George, I don’t particularly want to think about what will be at half mast for the next week… 😉

    Dot, first, a lot of people really are crazy just now. Second, the spiritual world isn’t abstract at all. It only looks that way because you haven’t experienced it directly. If you’ve never been to Ireland, equally, Ireland is a very abstract place; arrive in Dublin one fine afternoon and it becomes very solid in a hurry. The same is true of the awakening of the inner senses — the spiritual stops being abstract, and turns into a vivid experiential reality.

    Isabel, write that story! Ghouls attending Sox games, riding the Green Line, hanging out with (and occasionally gnawing the arm off) other fans — oh my. “Pickman’s Season”, perhaps?

    RPC, not very, and since my current fiction project is largely about a young woman taking the first steps to becoming a composer of classical music — well, it’s also about shoggoths, the Hounds of Tindalos, and Nyogtha, the Thing That Should Not Be — I probably should learn about his music. Many thanks.

  116. Apologies in advance. I just posted this in July’s open post section because I am a blithering idiot. I should have posted it here and so am doing so now.

    Just something that has occurred to me of late.

    I am 54 and come from the UK. During the seventies’ oil crisis, everything was in short supply and prices went through the roof for a while. In very short order, all kinds of make-do-and-mend small businesses sprang up reconditioning items. My specific experience in this was with my own family who specialised in reconditioning automobile batteries, alternators, dynamos and starter motors.

    Then, as the oil crisis went away, cheap mass manufacturing caused all these kinds of businesses to fold. Fast forwards to today and I note that as the decades have passed, prices of goods have stayed cheap, or have got even cheaper. This has been due to, on the one hand, off-shoring production to extremely low waged parts of the world. But, there is also another phenomenon I want to mention. Namely, that of ever tighter engineering tolerances on commodities such that they work really well – but for a much more limited period of time than they used to – so facilitating repeat purchases more often. This accelerating process of making the durability of products ever skinnier has “worked” these past few decades on the back of cheap prices. However, I now note that prices are slowly but surely rising, but the process of degradation of durability is continuing. This has now reached a point where many things are so crappy that they are not worth buying no matter how cheap they are.

    What I want to say about all of the above is, surprisingly, how liberating it is!

    It means it is now economically viable for me to consider, say, making my own furniture, even though this will be relatively expensive compared to the prices of mass produced furniture. because that mass produced furniture is now so bloody awful. And the same goes for many other items.

    Where it remains difficult is in the area of high tech products such as, say, power tools. However, here again, there is a silver lining. It is now looking increasingly attractive to consider buying old hand tools. Sure enough, they are slower. But, they never break down and so the economics, although not there yet, feel like they are going in a direction where, at some point, hand tools will make more economic sense to the average user than spending loads of money on mass produced crap that will need replacing far too often.

    As I said, for me, it feels liberating.

    Anybody else’s thoughts on the above?

  117. CR, fascinating. I’ll put it on the to-read list.

    Anthony, thanks for the link.

    Daisy, the way you learn to distinguish between visions of the future and daydreams is simple: record them, and see which ones turn out to be true. Check your work against the world of ordinary experience, not just once but over and over again, and let that guide you.

    Alex, all things live off death. Plants thrive by sending their roots down to feed on the bodies of the dead; animals eat the bodies of other living things. All things have died that you might live, and you, in turn, will be on the menu for something in due time. (Notice the extraordinary grace of the food chain: everything gets to eat many times, and only has to be eaten once.) Cutting down trees is similar. Don’t do it unless there’s a need; always do it with respect, and preferably with ceremony; plant more trees, preferably using the seeds set by the one you cut down, to balance out the ecological footprint.

    Casey, yep. It’s about the journey; there is no destination. Enjoy!

    Dusk Shine, long term, you’re right. That’s why I didn’t put railways in Star’s Reach.

    Barefootwisdom, I’m not changing the barbarous names, I’m just using a different set.

    MSweet, yes, in fact, you’re quite correct. Given ecological constraints, there’s an upper limit to the biomass on Earth, and the more of it we monopolize, the less remains for everything else.

    Nati, that’s not at all what I said. You can find the original essay here.

    Patricia, good gods. Do you think this is what the middle of a massive crisis looks like? No, it’s going to get much worse. As for Memfis, I’m pretty sure a lot of the fish and meat is preserved via salting, corning, and pickling for the rainy season.

    Bruno, what do you mean by that slippery word “evil”?

    ABQ, it’s very comforting to slap the label “sociopath” on people we don’t like, as a way of making them into an Other and projecting all our unacknowledged negative traits onto them. I don’t find that a useful habit, though, or a useful analysis.

    SMJ, it’s all but impossible to prove causation in a complex system. The fact remains that as CO2 pollution rises, the global climate is going nuts. That’s close enough…

    Joel, literally every muscle of our current economic, political, and cultural systems are straining to prevent a sudden crash. They may not succeed, but it’s quite possible that they will, and in that case what we’ll get is what we’ve seen in recent years: a steady decline that manifests not in large-scale crashes and flops, but in steady attrition, as more and more people are forced out of First World lifestyles while those who can stay in the bubble don’t have to change.

    Will, I’m not at all sure that that’s a safe generalization to make. My take is that the front beat and the back beat balance each other, and either one in extremes can be harmful — and of course there are many other rhythms as well, each in its own context. There are times when too much growth is a bad thing — cancer, anyone? — and there are also times when intoxication is useful. The world is a complex place…

  118. @Casey
    Re: Sentient trees

    As I understand it, there are species of trees that are sentient in the same way we are, but they aren’t on this planet. If you’re doing a decent job of forestry management, I’d think that the entire interrelated web of species would look fairly benignly on your efforts. From their point of view, you’re simply another of the long list of apex species. If you do a good job, you’re well ahead of the game.

  119. (This comment may show up for moderation three times; I thought I’d gotten through the problem I was having, but apparently I may not have.)

    “Reese, I’ll have to look into it; that’s not something I’m familiar with. Can you recommend some basic resources?”
    I’ve not been able to find a whole lot, unfortunately. I first learned of it here:
    http://csrail.org/torrefied-biomass/
    Like most of what I’ve found, though, I don’t think that they can be called unbiased.
    The Wikipedia page might be less biased, but it might also be harder to tell that it is biased:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torrefaction
    I’ve also found these, but pretty much just by googling:
    http://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2016/10/20/torrefied-biomass-available-efficient-co2-neutral-and-economic-likely-the-best-solid-biomass-on-the-market/
    http://www.btgworld.com/en/rtd/technologies/torrefaction
    http://www.blackwood-technology.com/technology/what-is-torrefaction/

    Another problem I’ve had when trying to compare to biodiesel is finding good information on the efficiency, waste products, and usable feedstocks of biodiesel production.

    (Information on the Heilmann locomotives I referred to and the Anderson condensing system can be found, among other places, on the Museum of Retro Technology here and here:
    http://douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/heilmann/heilmann2.htm
    http://www.douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/LOCOLOCO/holcroft/holcroft.htm
    I think that a pretty good explanation of the gas producer firebox can be found here:
    http://www.trainweb.org/tusp/firebox.html
    Though it’s also mentioned on the Coalition for Sustainable Rail website here:
    http://csrail.org/modern-steam/
    I do recall reading somewhere else, though, that the gas producer fireboxes trialled could be a bit finicky.)

    @Dusk Shine:
    And that was indeed the jumping off point I used. 🙂

    As for the long-term future of rail, I’m also skeptical. The current systems (or, often, current potential systems, since many places don’t build the sort of rail networks they could in favor of other types of transportation) definitely don’t seem sustainable. Some branch lines might be able to be converted to horse (or even human) traction if they’re practical enough to keep the rails in place but not practical enough to run a fuel-burning locomotive on them, but many others will probably have the rails ripped up for the metal and the ties for building material. In places where canals work, they’ll work better, being even more efficient and less material-intensive to maintain (rails can be reforged, but not forever with no loss or without an energy expenditure). It’s also possible that rail transport could die out entirely during the dark age, potentially being rediscovered later. Unlike the automobile or the airliner, though, I think it’s at least plausible and worth investigating that railways could have a long-term future on some scale.
    (Though, granted, I’m not positive that isn’t just wishful thinking; I’m quite fond of them too.)

    (By the way, I sent you an email a while ago using the address you posted in the comments. It’s fine if you don’t want to reply (I wasn’t the one you were primarily inviting to use it), but since we’re talking a bit here anyway, I thought I’d mention it in case you didn’t get it at all.)

    Ah, but I see that JMG has already replied to you there; absent significant evidence otherwise, I tend to assume he’s probably right about this sort of thing. I’d noted the absence of railways seen in the book, but that alone didn’t necessarily mean that they weren’t present anywhere in the world or couldn’t be practically redeveloped/discovered later. Ah well.

  120. Hi JMG,

    Ok, forgive me if this is half-baked; I’m short of time to order my thoughts how I would prefer, but here goes…a couple of years back I read the English abridgement of Spengler’s Decline of the West. This was after your presentation of him on the old blog, for which I am grateful. It rather blew me away, to say the least, and I have the full version on my book shelf and should get to it before too long.

    I don’t have the book in front of me, so a short hand version of my query will have to suffice: as a Schopenhauer fan what are your thoughts on Spengler’s placement of his philosophy and world view in his trajectory of Faustian culture vis-a-vis any convictions you have of that (Shopenhauer’s) philosophy’s rightness or convincingness? By which I mean, Spengler relativises or analogises Schopenhauer in his morphology of history, as he does all the major phenomena discussed, and does not seem to accord (unless I’m missing something from not yet having read all the full text) his philosophy any superlative weight in it’s own right aside from how he places it in the historical scheme, whereas Goethe and Nietzsche he names as intellectual mentors.

    This could be a bit of a non question as perhaps Schopenhauer simply didn’t float Spengler’s boat the way he does yours, and that’s that, but as I’m slowly absorbing both writers’ work and that is down to yourself, I do wonder what sparks fly for you when you throw them against each other, if you ever do.

    I recall that he looks askance at Kant’s, and by implication much of Western’s philosophy’s, pretension to universal applicability even down to the idea of a-priori construction of space and time which are vital points of course for Schopenhauer. And more broadly he suggests, via Goethe’s inspiration I presume, “becoming and the become” as better foundations for his view of history and morphology and destiny than the “being and becoming” of many philosophies, and he also takes swipes at Darwin and the philosophical ideas of the Anglo-speaking world that he detects and dislikes there..

    …To sum up I suppose I’m wondering what you make of Spengler’s backward glance at the other writers mentioned in the light of his own metaphysics and philosophy of history, and in light of your own view of the validity of their work.

    Many thanks

    Morfran.

  121. Alex,

    What on earth does it mean to “believe in people”? Seriously. Believe what? That they’re going to behave like people?

    Borders are not ‘invisible lines drawn on a map’. In what possibly way is a line drawn on a map invisible? If you can see a line then it’s not invisible is it? And in the real world just how invisible is the border between south and north Korea? Or the walls that enabled medieval cities to preserve a semblance of democracy and craft skills despite barbarian raids in the countryside during the last Dark Age?

    And to the extent that borders are an abstraction, they’re no more or less so than “belief in people” is. Social constructs are real. If you don’t believe that then go to Japan, break every cultural rule that you don’t know about and experience the consequences.

    Wages don’t decrease because one government happens to pay lower rates of benefits to migrants. The same process happens in states with completely different benefits systems to the UK. They decrease because the supply of low skilled labour rises. Same reason they decreased during the Victorian free trade era – long before any government provided social welfare benefits to anyone.

    If you believe a system should be set up whereby anyone on the planet can apply for asylum in Europe from right where they are now then by all means campaign for it. Not by the profoundly undemocratic process of some small unelected lobby group ‘persuading’ governments to do so over the heads of the people you share a country with, but through the processes of representative democracy. Make your proposal openly, let people debate it freely and vote on it.

    Otherwise all you’re actually doing is acting as unpaid PR agency for governments to provide employers and slum landlords with cheap labour and unfussy tenants. That’s why the Italian government is doing what they’re doing. Not because they’ve seen the light and become “believers in people”.

    If you get such a frankly lunatic proposal pushed through by states without the informed consent of the other citizens of your country then you will have earned the collapse in legitimacy and the rule of law that will follow in due course. And the migrants who unwisely accepted your invitation will suffer the consequences along with everyone else because you will have destroyed the foundations of the refuge that you somehow believed you had a right to offer them.

  122. Rita Rippato –

    Re tattoos: I’m a Boomer myself, still a bit bemused by all the skin graffiti I’m seeing these days. Back in the day, psychologists referred to multiple tattoos on the body as an indicator of an “anti-social” personality, either that or you were a lifer swabby in the United States Navy. Nowadays, I’d probably contemplate getting one myself, only I have to take aspirin daily for a condition and I’d probably bleed out in the parlor. Clearly you were ahead of your time.

    Yes, a tattoo signifies permanence in a world of impermanence, but that’s one reason why I might balk at getting a tat, even if I was 20 years old. A tattoo is something of a vow, isn’t it? I’m very wary of vows – times necessarily change and with it our allegiances, whether to a boy/girl friend or to a set of religious principles. I’ve moved on in my musical tastes, for example, so all I had to do was take off my Motley Crue T-shirt and replace it with a Phillip Glass T shirt. On the other hand, if I had gotten a Motley Crue tat ……I’ve heard that removing tats is a grueling and often unsuccessful procedure.

    Ive read that in ancient times there were “pain rituals” essentially designed to anchor the human spirit in the physical body lest the spirit remain too detached – a necessary procedure at the time. I’ve wondered if the tattoo explosion might be an echo of that, or if not that specifically, something signifying a warrior ethos growing in the collective, which, considering the times we live in, makes a certain amount of sense.

  123. JMG, What do yo see as the advantages of living in a medium sized New England city that was once a high tech manufacturing hub ( precision instruments, machine tools, silverware, jewlery) and is now an education and health care hub vs living in a small appalachian mill town. You can certainly speak generally as opposed to personally if you wish.

  124. JMG –

    Was wondering if you’ve read poet James Merrill’s epic 3-volume poem The Changing Light At Sandover. The poem consists of Merrill’s conversations with discarnate entities, all derived from a Ouija board, one entity being WB Yeats, another WH Auden, plus many of Merrill’s late friends. Yes, info gleaned from a Ouiji board is always suspect, but for a modern poem, Changing Light is really startling in its explicit occult perspective as it deals with spiritual evolution, reincarnation, post-death states, etc. It may get a bit “glamorous” and silly in places, but – well, I read it some time ago, I’d have to read it again – at the time it seemed to me a fairly comprehensive and insightful work. In terms of its uniqueness, it’s been compared to Blake and Yeats. If you haven’t read it, I think you’d find it interesting.

  125. JMG, longtime ADR reader here. I’m glad to read what you had to say last month about mundane astrology and the US chart. I once came across the idea of 36-year cycles in the Chaldean sequence — planets of days of the week in reverse order. So 1909-1945 was the cycle of Mars (two world wars); 1945-1981 the cycle of the Moon (lots of changeability); 1981-2017 the cycle of the Sun (imperial splendor and hubris).

    Next up, Saturn, bringing contraction and karmic reckoning. This seems to track, as 2017 may well turn out to be a major milestone on the long descent. Two questions: do you pay attention to this at all; and if so, what body or phenomenon is the 36 year period a cycle of, exactly?

  126. JMG,
    in the comments to your blog post about reincarnation, you mentioned that you play a few musical instruments for your own enjoyment, and also because doing so will give you more musical talent in subsequent incarnations.
    Do you happen to know the factors which decide whether learning a certain skill will have any positive influence on your next incarnation?
    For example, we know that musical talent transfers quite well. But I would think that there are skills which don’t transfer very well at all. Also, I suspect there’s the issue of you good you get at something in this life. I would think that learning to play a few chords on the guitar will not help you become the next guitar virtuoso in your next life, but practicing seriously for several hours each week for years or decades on end might.
    Has anyone done any research on this?

  127. Hi John Michael,

    Wow, 128 comments and rising! Far out. Respect.

    I’m curious as to your opinions on a matter of economics and would kindly appreciate your thoughts.

    A week or two back I paid my house insurance. Given my profession, I track the cost of large expenses and have done so for many years. That insurance bill has increased every year for the past five years by between 15% and 18%. It occurs to me that such increases are unsustainable and the cost has doubled over that short period of time.

    The insurance industry has in turn suffered several blows, two of which are:
    – Federal Government mandated flood insurance; and
    – Very low yields on investments.

    The turning point for insurance costs was a few years back when the Federal government mandated flood insurance upon insurers due to a huge number of houses being inundated (in the tens of thousands in one year). Fire risk, which I face, is not much higher than what it is in urban areas – there are a lot of house fires after all.

    The thing is, I noticed that after the 2009 Black Saturday bush fires where 2,000 structures were damaged (compared to the Brisbane floods a few years later where about 35,000 houses were inundated to some extent) about half of all properties were uninsured.

    I rather suspect that as costs climb, more dwellings will become uninsured and will not be replaced should an insurance event (how is that for financial speak) occur. An interesting feedback loop, don’t you reckon?

    Are you seeing that in your part of the world? And has anyone else remarked upon it? Also, do you believe that governments may reverse their prior decision to mandate flood insurance upon insurers? Jim Kunstler remarks upon the psychology of previous investment and I reckon this applies here too. There is the complex matter of reviewing prior decisions and deciding that they were a rubbish idea – and not many people want to address that sort of thing.

    Thanks for considering this thorny matter.

    Cheers

    Chris

  128. I suppose I answered my own forest question. I just hope the Evergreen State can stay green somehow. Maybe we’ll look like Britain or Ireland one day. Still a green and pleasant land, but with few forests.

    For anyone interested in pagan critiques of Christianity, Julian the Apostate’s “Against the Galileans” is noteworthy. Only a few sections remain.

    For another question, if reincarnation is true, why are there malevolent spiritual beings? It seems those who had progressed that far would be superior to us in their moral behavior. Are these beings perhaps on a different track, or is their perceived malevolence simply due to our limited understanding?

  129. ‘The only reasonable response I could come up with was, “you ever going to try to adapt to life in the South, or are you just going to be a Yankee a-hole for the rest of your life?”’
    Nope, they’re going to be a Yankee a-hole, because anything less would be beneath them, until they’re exiled out of the Confederacy at gunpoint…

  130. @Oilman: Ooh! That does sound like an unhealthy extreme. Although, for short-haul flights, while it’s not my cup of tea, people do pay considerable amounts for standing-room-only concerts that last two hours or more, and my impression is that the facilities there aren’t great either, so…to each their own, I guess. (And admittedly my “do we really need entertainment” stance comes in part from the fact that I’m stoned on any given flight–even before knowing the ecological consequences, I do not fly well, and only the miracle of modern chemistry prevents me from leaving inch-deep fingernail divots in the armrest or my neighbor–so they could strap me to the wall like a Tilt-a-Whirl without me noticing much, I suspect.)

    @JMG: Ha! Yes! If you ever do a Weird of Hali shared-world thing along the lines of those Thieves World anthologies Way Back When, that will totally be my submission, even if I have to learn about baseball to write it. 🙂

    Also, the mentions of shoggoths remind me that I really liked yours in WoH: Innsmouth. They were adorable, and “shoggoth” has frankly always struck me as a cute word. Relatedly, I’ve been browsing the Lovecraft reread over on the Tor blog, and they touch on various things like how many of the Mythos races don’t seem that bad from a less-HPL-y point of view, and, interestingly, how HPL’s Multitudinous Prejudices include the rural poor. It’s a fun read, though veeery long, since they’re trying to cover all his works and then all influences/stuff influenced by him.

  131. I keep hearing mention here about “magic,” and it has piqued my interest for a while, but too doggone busy to go looking into it much. Could you recommend a good book or two to start, including yours? I suspect I am already deeply involved in it from the narrow-window descriptions of it I am encountering. For example, the “Let…” you mentioned as being sort of equivalent to the subjunctive in Latin would seem to be the equivalent of old Japanese “…tamae,” which we use in our incantations and standard prayers. And as an interesting aside there, in the Japanese translation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Snape uses that term in his requests. The translation is fascinating for the vastly different colorful terms of speech used by the various characters that gave immediate insight into their personalities. I heard of one priestess out in Kyoto who was inspired enough to include the Harry Potter world in her practice.

  132. Colter asks about “good books or resources that examine Christianity from an occult or polytheist perspective?”

    I highly recommend starting with Morton Smith’s fascinating book, “Jesus the Magician” (1978). Get an original HarperSanFrancisco (Harper Collins) edition, with the lengthy endnotes. It is in the endnotes that some of the most fascinating and compelling evidence is found. [There are plenty of copies of the Harper Collins edition available cheaply at http://www.abebooks.com .]

    Smith argues that the historic Jesus, who is known to us from Pagan and Jewish sources as well as voluminous Christian documents, was not seen by his contemporaries primarily as a Rabbi teaching a superior ethics and morality, or as a Jewish revolutionary, or as a prophet, or again as a fraud. Rather, he was seen and valued (or, by some, opposed) chiefly as a person who had uncommon power to drive out demons, heal disease, work with spirits, and so on — in short, as what his age called a “magician” (in Greek, magos) — and who had also passed this power of his down to select students (disciples), whom he taught to be magicians in their own right. They, in turn, passed it on to their own disciples, and so on — in short, the earliest churches were small, clandestine gatherings of magicians (magoi).

    Smith was a highly respected and competent professor, on the faculty of Columbia University in New York City. He specialized in the study of Early Christianity (and Judaism of the same period), and he had also developed considerable expertise in the history of magic of Late Antiquity. In addiiton, he was an open atheist — he says as much, somewhat indirectly, in this book –, who nonetheless took the effectiveness of Late Antique magical practices seriously in the same way as anyone might now take seriously the effectiveness of, say, hypnotism, or the placebo effect, or psychiatry, or improvisational theater. And he also, to the end of his life, took care to maintain his standing as an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, though he did not care to exercise his priestly office. In short, he was a walking parodox, one of the scholarly world’s great originals..

    [Smith’s argument is actually somewhat more nuanced than I have stated it in the above paragraphs. His final conclusion is (1) that either the historic person, Jesus, was an uncommonly skilled magos, or he was truly an incarnate God; but (2) since there are no Gods, he could only have been a magos. — For those of us who are not atheists, the possibility of many Gods, some of whom might have incarnated at times, remains very much on the table of Simth’s arguments.]

    There are other, later works of scholarship that have built on Smith’s foundations, and may also be of some interest here. Robert Conner published several such books with Mandrake of Oxford from 2006 onward. Pieter Craffert published “The Life of a Galilean Shaman” in 2008, which looks at the same evidence from the standpoint of anthropology. And Helen Ingram wrote an excellent PhD dissertation within Religious Studies taking a fresh look at Smiths material and his arguments; she also has an active website summarizing her work: http://wasjesusamagician.blogspot.co.uk/

  133. @Charlene Seabolt and Frank Thamm, I keep hearing remarks in Japan that sparrows, specifically, have decreased. People here speculate that strong pesticides are to blame, but I have not heard of that. (30 years ago, strong pesticides resulted in severe losses of avian fauna, including storks and the lovely Japanese crested ibis, so it comes to mind.) Perhaps glyphosate, which is turning out to be quite dangerous though still officially considered perfectly safe in Japan (bad news for business doesn’t get readily translated), but that is not being used on any of the abandoned fields I’ve seen. Sparrows eat grains and seeds, and lots of the latter are available from the weedy fields. But yes, insects are down here too. I had very few pollinators at my holy basil patch this year. But it is an extremely complex phenomenon. Giant hornet numbers are way up due to abandoned houses as aging rural residents die, and people notice those and mosquitoes and pay less attention to pollinators, so I haven’t heard remarks about insects going missing. Also, I noticed many pollinators in a deep culvert adjacent to my holy basil. One thing I am highly aware of due to my own sensitivities is that 4G cell phone service was introduced to (imposed on) our neighborhood, and loss of pollinators is one of the known consequences.

    It is not the only factor in their demise, obviously, but we can have a little hope that once blackouts start taking this particular pressure off them, they might recover to some degree.

  134. @Patricia Matthews,
    “If you can’t fish during the rains, and don’t have refrigeration, where does the food for the partying come from, and how do you keep it fresh? My Inner Housewife wants to know.”
    Fermentation and drying. Air-tight containers will be a challenge for the latter, because once moisture penetrates, mold can set in really rapidly. I occasionally ferment fish. A certain amount of salt is needed to preserve it and items like kimchee, in which the Koreans also use fish, and getting the balance right can be a challenge. A great time for beer and wine, however.

  135. John Roth,

    Ah, I thought maybe you were familiar with the work. I doubt that it would line up with MT; as you suggested, they’re probably talking about different things.

    I hope you won’t mind a quick overview. The CP, DQ, etc. aren’t initialisms; they’re just pairs of letters. The pairs are AN, BO, CP, DQ, ER, FS, and two more that are either called GT and HU or A’N’ and B’O’ (so-called since they seem to be a “higher octave” version of AN and BO). If you’re familiar with Spiral Dynamics, these are simply the original names of Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, Orange, Green, Yellow, and Turquoise. (Funny story: most people assume the colors in SD were chosen for their connotations; they’re actually just the order of a particular set of slide paints.)

    Briefly, Graves’ conceptions for each of these were (I’m paraphrasing),

    AN: Express self to fulfill immediate needs
    BO: Sacrifice self to the way of your elders
    CP: Express self impulsively, with no regard for others
    DQ: Sacrifice now to get a reward later
    ER: Express self in a way calculated to prevent others’ wrath
    FS: Sacrifice now for approval now
    GT: Express self but not at the expense of others
    HU: Adjust self to existential realities

    The pattern is a cycle between modes where the dominant drive is to adjust one’s (physical or social) environment to oneself, and modes where the dominant drive is to adjust oneself to one’s environment.

    The core theory—that thing that if refuted would trivialize the system into just another set of personality types—is that the levels activate in the order given; you don’t get to skip levels. Graves’ research showed that those who changed their way of thinking about life always changed to the next one in the sequence, except in rare cases of regression. If correct, that has some pretty profound implications for education, management, therapy, relationships, etc.

    I really recommend reading Graves rather than his popularizers. Spiral Dynamics focuses on some of the personality traits that Graves found usually arise with each of the levels (ER folks are materialistic, FS folks are relativists, etc.), but those aren’t central. And Wilber’s insistence that the levels track a growth from egocentrism to ethnocentrism to worldcentrism to “kosmocentrism” requires some mental gymnastics to justify.

  136. JMG, speaking of eating, have you ever been to a Waffle House?

    I was eating there tonight, and I came across the following article:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/waffle-house-review-2017-7

    Following a rave review by food critic Anthony Bourdain, two journalists for Business Insider decided to try Waffle House for themselves, and they also loved it: “We went in dreading yet another greasy-spoon experience. We left certain that we had just eaten one of the best meals that American chain restaurants have to offer.”

    What I found most interesting was this quote: “The chain avoids jumping on the latest dining trends — no raw wood or industrial lighting fixtures here.”

    The chain was founded in 1955, and has been very conservative about making changes to either the decor or the menu. There’s not much innovative or fancy. Their draw is (a) they’re good, (b) they’re pretty quick, and (c) they’re open all night; since they’re usually right on a highway, the last point makes them great for truckers.

    It reminded me of something you brought up in Retrotopia: the difference between an era of innovation and an era of performance. Waffle House, it seems to me, has thrived by fully embracing performance.

  137. @JMG -ouch! I was, of course, thinking in terms of United States history and we got off very lightly except for the South in the Civil War. The true comparison, of course, would have been with Europe. And you’re right; the worst of it has not hit yet. By my own private measuring stick, realizing that history only rhymes, rather than repeats, we’re still in the late 30s or 1850s, with Pearl Harbor/Fort Sumner still coming up.

  138. Stephen, it is liberating. On the one hand, you’re free to make what you want, rather than being constrained to accept whatever some corporation wants you to have; on the other, you’re free from the godzillion inconveniences and annoyances caused by rock-bottom quality corporate crap.

    Reese, many thanks.

    Morfran, philosophy is a divergent problem, not a convergent one — that is to say, the right philosophy varies from person to person; there is no one true philosophy. When I speak highly of Schopenhauer, in effect, I’m saying “this is how the world looks to me” — and also, “if you look at the world this way, here are some of the neat results.” That’s all it is.

    Justin, I’ve already noticed that my best estimate of the performance of the F-35 Lardbucket is almost absurdly optimistic!

    Alex, you’re welcome!

    Clay, it’s much simpler than that. The intersection of accelerating economic contraction and my wife’s health problems landed us in a situation in which she needed things we couldn’t get in the Appalachians, while many of the plans that brought us there also assumed that there would be two of us capable of more or less full time labor, and that turned out not to be true. So we regrouped.

    Will, I’ve looked at it but haven’t really gotten into it; really long poems aren’t my strong suit as a reader. But I’ll reconsider it as time permits.

    Tdyke47, I have no idea what it’s a cycle of, but it does seem to work extremely well as a way of mapping out history.

    Rationalist, I don’t know of any research that’s been done. As a very rough way of estimating the effect, though, consider how much your practice will influence your skill level ten years from now, if you stop the practice right now.

    Chris, fascinating. I don’t know how other people are faring, but our home insurance was pretty much flat year over year, and it specifically excluded flood insurance — you have to pay a lot extra for that.

    Christopher, there are malevolent spiritual beings because not all spiritual beings started out as incarnate beings, of course. Incarnate beings are only a small fraction of the total range of existent entities in the magical cosmos.

    Isabel, you could write it and submit it to Mythic Magazine, and then I can contract with Founders House to do the anthology down the road! As for shoggoths, I’m highly fond of them — I find them far better company than baseball fans, for example — and this latest project, in which a shoggoth is one of the main characters, is adding to that fondness. I can’t do nonhuman characters without knowing a fair amount about their culture, biology, history, and habits, and Sho (a nickname given her by a human character — her actual name is a sequence of piping notes over a wide range, of course, and changes with mood and circumstances) is no exception. (Her? Yep. Shoggoths are parthenogenetic and reproduce by budding, so to my mind that equals “she” rather than “it.”) I’ve also long thought that Nyogtha, The Thing That Should Not Be, deserves better press than it got in Henry Kuttner’s frankly disappointing story “The Salem Horror,” so it gets a backstory linked with the shoggoths and a more interesting role than that of Big Hungry Blob…

    “The Lovecraft Reread” is another favorite of mine! (Readers who haven’t encountered it yet, and have the least interest in Lovecraftian fiction, might want to check it out here.) While I disagree with some of their interpretations, they’re always entertaining and thoughtful. They’re also the reason why the buildings of Miskatonic University’s postwar campus north of the river always get called “cyclopean” at least once in each “Weird of Hali” novel!

    Patricia, the discussion of magic in one of the late sections of Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth is a good place to start. A little more detail? My book The Druid Magic Handbook might be the place to go from there.

  139. Hey JMG, I’ve been loving listening to your books an audible lately. (My husband mocks my habit of listening to books on the dangers of technology on an iPhone 7, but still…) I have a question:

    I live on Kauai in a single-wall construction home. It was built in 1954 on Oahu. In 1984, someone who may have been a developer arranged to have the home lifted off it’s post and pier foundation, shipped to Kauai, and planted on this lot, where it was put on a new post and pier foundation. From what I now, the developer did this with at least one other house. So it stands to reason that in 1984, it made sense financially to physically move a 1000 sq ft home from one island to another, rather the re-build.

    (It may be worth noting that single wall construction had become un-economical by then due to the cost of cedar. Also, sometime around then, they stopped allowing the building of single wall construction because you can’t air condition single wall homes.)

    So anyway…right now I’ve been trying to arrange to have a 200 sq ft shed moved from a location 20 miles south of me to my property. The process would be essentially like moving my house: take structure off its post and pier foundation, build a new post and per foundation, drop structure on top, but with a much smaller structure.

    I cannot for the life of me find people willing to do this job. The company that did it for the guy I’m getting the shed from won’t do it now. I did find one construction company that said they would consider it, but the price of transport would be astronomical. Meanwhile, the guy we are buying it from said that moving it onto his property (10 years ago) was no trouble at all and about half the price.

    Now, there are many reasons why this shed thing would be a pain in my buttocks. 1. As a relative new arrival, people may not take me seriously as a customer. 2. People in Kauai are just not that motivated to take on new work, especially if said work threatens to be complicated. And 3. I’m not one of the billionaires building villas.

    But I have to wonder, on a basic level, why it did it make sense to ship a 1000 sq ft home all the way from Oahu in 1984, but in 2017, every mover and builder on the island feels that it’s not worth the effort to move a 200 sq ft “room” a couple dozen miles?

    Is it that there was just so much money and energy moving around in 1984 that picking up a house in one place and plopping it in another seemed like not a big deal? Is it because the supply chains have made materials so cheap that it always makes sense to build new rather than recycling old? Is it simply that I’m a woman, and if my husband called the construction company, they’d be a lot more helpful???

    There’s a wonderful piece of 1960s propaganda on Youtube about Hawaii becoming the 50th state. In it, the overly-cheerful announcer declares, “new airplanes have made puddles of the oceans.” I can’t help but wonder if there’s some message in that about this shed. Maybe in 1984, the water between Oahu and Kauai was a mere puddle in the minds of developers. While today, the highway between my house and this shed has become an unscaleabl mountain.

    So, here is my question: why was it so much easier to move things in 1984? Does this have to do with the overall decline of American society? Or an I just imagining things?

  140. @Casey
    @Robert Mathiesen
    Re: Jesus

    Michael (of the Michael Teachings) agrees that Jesus was a magical adapt and was quite adept at exorcism and healing.

    I’ve read Jesus the Magician – the 2014 reprint, which certainly looks like it has the end notes. Also Helen Ingram’s site, but not her actual Ph.D Thesis or the other books on the list.

    One thing that Robert didn’t mention is that the ritual where a bishop ordains a priest or consecrates another bishop is what is supposed to pass on the occult connections that Jesus had and passed to his disciples. Back when I was originally in this, there were rumors that some remote monasteries still had the authentic tradition, and monastery-trained priests could still make the sacraments work the way they were supposed to.

    I should mention that Smith’s involvement in the “Secret Mark” affair renders him more than a little suspect in some circles.

    @James M. Jensen II
    Re: Robert Graves, Michael, etc.

    Actually, they match extremely well. The first three match the first three tiers I talked about a few weeks ago as well as one could expect for different viewpoints. The latter ones don’t match as well, but I could see them. I’ll have to contemplate them a bit more.

    One thing to note: what Graves is seeing is the recapitulation in each life from the beginning (AN in that sequence) to where it matches the reincarnational tier and level. It may not get there in the lifetime, though, for reasons.

    And the point about them being sequential is exactly correct from the MT: you not only don’t get to pick and chose levels, you incarnate at the same level you incarnated at last time or the next one (if you’ve finished the prior level) and can’t move past that in the same lifetime. That has, as you mention, a lot of ramifications, including that it is pointless to yell at people for not coming up to your expectations. To put it rather more bluntly than I’d like, never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and irritates the pig.

    This is what I would expect if you’ve got a true teaching: the universe is one, and any differences in describing it are matters of the describer’s perspective, background and biases, not of anything fundamental.

  141. JMG,

    Thank you for your clarification concerning the proper form of relaxation. There are some challenges in adjusting the everyday routine to suit the needs of regular magical practice and not being required to lie down for the relaxation excercise is an enormous relief.

    My background is such that I first tried out the program in the Celtic Golden Dawn, but found some of the requirements for proper ritual to be quite a hassle to carry out in my current situation. It is then when I was well into the practice of daily meditations and carried this out regularly for about four months. Due to the mentioned limitations in my situation, I had to give up progress in the program and felt discouraged and gave up the practice. Then I remembered your earlier book that I had glimpsed some seven years earlier and decided to give it a serious try.

    Now to my question. In “Learning Ritual Magic” you instruct the practitioner to alternate sitting and standing postures in the attention excercise. I assume this alternation continues later on as well. What I did with the Celtic Golden Dawn, however, was that I always meditatet standing, as I find that position quite comfortable and also much widely applicaple to various physical situations. Given a choice, I would always carry out the attention excercises and meditations in a standing posture, as I find the sitting posture a little more distracting and confining. Is this one of those things where following the instructions is crucial, or the other kind where personal preference matters more?

    Also, thank you for this blog and all the previous ones. They have literally changed my world.

  142. @ Alex, September 28, 2017 at 4:57 pm : I completely agree with JMG´s view on this; another option of course is coppicing, so the trees don´t actually die when you cut them, though an apology for the injury caused (as in ceremony) might be in order here, as well…
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  143. @Trish (ABQ Desert Cat), just my take on the issue, but in stressful times people don’t want someone who shows doubt, even in situations where there should be some; they want a strong leader to show the way, and psychopaths fit the bill because they never worry. In less stressful times, people tend to ignore the problem of psychopaths accruing power, as some of them always tend to, and very effectively, using their bag of dirty tricks. (Have a look at Robert Hare’s work.) Once they’ve acquired power, they tend to try to consolidate it as insurance against justice, and in doing so, they favor other psychopaths, who themselves would like a lawless society. To get along in a corrupt system, it is imperative that you be corrupt yourself so that the powers have a handle on you.

    People always wake up to this reality when it is too late to do anything about it, and the disease has to run its course. What normally happens then is the overclass gets too heavy with incompetent cronies, loses the willing cooperation of talented people and is eventually overturned in one way or another. Andrew Lobaczewski wrote about this. A sadder but wiser society emerges from the ashes.

  144. Hi Archdruid,

    As usual I have nothing but respect for your written work, but I vaguely remember either one of the last Archdruid Report posts or one of the first Ecosophia posts suggested you were going in a different direction with the new Ecosophia blog. This isn’t a criticism, just a comment, but the last two post do seem to be making points you’ve already been over. I personally could carry on reading your stuff even if you are going over well trodden ground repeatedly, you have the skill to reiterated things in a continually original and thought prompting way.

    All the best, Michael.

  145. Thanks JMG, it’s so bizarre that part of me does know how real the world outside the material one is while the hiding-in-the-burrow part still calls it abstract!

    I was wondering, could the seven laws in the Mystery Teachings book be seen as a story like the Wizard of Oz? Or like I think you said the sequence of geomantic symbols in CGD divination can represent?

  146. Dear JMG: thanks for your reply! Before I got caught up with a recent relocation, I was learning the basics of how to write fugues from my composition teacher, and the form is as interesting as you suggest. I’m going to continue to do so, it will take a long time to learn properly, but it is useful regardless of whether I pursue the ideas I outlined in my original query.

    You wrote before that you will eventually look at the role of the arts in ecosophy and a paradigm shift away from anthropolatry, and with the disclaimer that ecosophical music/arts is not something that will easily and quickly form, do you have any hints about your thinking in this area?

    @Dermot: Thanks for the posting the full Perotin quote. I was running out of space, so I didn’t post the whole thing for brevity’s sake.

    @RPC and again at @JMG: Again for brevity’s sake, I didn’t mention Messiaen, but certainly his attempts at capturing the sounds of birds with musical instruments are interesting. His piece Les Canyons Aux Étoiles takes the idea further and attempts to describe places, and uses music to evoke the stark landscapes of mountains in Utah.

    @Will: You wrote: ‘Meanwhile, I think that whatever New Age music is going to come our way should evolve naturally, without too much self-conscious plotting. It may be that New Age music will depend more on the way we *listen*’

    I probably didn’t express myself properly with my original post, I didn’t want to make it too long, but that was the major point I was trying to make, and also what Debussy was getting at in the quote I posted. Music theory has through the centuries become more complex, so much so that it may be the case that musicians have relied more on this theory than their ears, and relied too much on theory for the raw material of their compositions rather than the environment around them – like the Kaluli people do in my example above.

    If I remember correctly, music itself came from people listening to the nature around them and trying to imitate it, not theory (which is of course an abstraction), and my thought was that a possible direction for ecosophical music is to go back and do this – to rely on listening to the environment. But I don’t know, JMG’s point that fugues also reflect a natural order makes sense, and fugues rely a great deal on abstract rules for their construction.

  147. Further to my reply to Will above: I meant that listening to the environment rather than human-derived theory is a way of being humble to complex systems that already exist out there in the world. Rather than creating a complex system that is supposed to stand on its own, and relying it on solely for making music.

    The primary thought being: if it is true that abstraction has become more prevalent in other areas of human thought such as economics and philosophy, and that these abstract systems are assumed to be good enough on their own for dealing with reality (without incorporating the more complex systems present in the biosphere) is a primary cause of us doing harm to the biosphere, then changing these paradigms is of great importance. So my thoughts pertain to a possible way of doing this in music.

    There is a point where any theory does draw on natural laws as its basis. In music, harmonic theory draws on the overtone series which is something that is present in nature. However to what degree these naturally-occurring phenomena are used as basis for a more complicated theory, such as determining which chords should follow other chords for example, is something mainly human-derived. And like in other disciplines, the degree to which a theory stays ‘close to nature’ or becomes more abstract shifts throughout historical periods. Which is something JMG has wrote about extensively in the past.

  148. Hi John Michael,

    It is interesting as a contrast isn’t it, but I read somewhere else recently, that the US flood insurance authority was apparently in over its head financially (excuse the pun!) I didn’t quite understand the mechanics of that because down here, insurance is a matter between individuals and insurance companies and flood insurance was something that was not generally offered until it was mandated by the Federal politicians. Anyway, it was an interesting exercise in unintended consequences and such increases in costs are unsustainable no matter how anyone looks at it. As another interesting side note, the insurers nicely offered monthly instalments on the policy and all I understood that to mean was that they must be desperate for yield (no doubts there are bond sales in there?) Far out.

    I like this open post format! Of course I am easily distracted and have a million questions – that may be an exaggeration of course (maybe). :-)! Please indulge me on this one: When you visited the UK all those long years ago and conducted rituals, did you encounter different entities than the ones you encounter in the US?

    Oooo ooo ooo! Mr Cotter! :-)! I am forever mucking around, so please forgive my dodgy sense of humour! I am frankly curious about a matter I have been mulling over for many long years. From time to time I encounter folks who have a very low opinion of themselves and it is quite clear to me that that is the case. In such cases I tend to be very polite and treat these folks gently as they are for wont of a better word: damaged; in some way. Now, the thing is, in most of those cases, if I treat the folks with dignity and respect for longer periods of time, a thing they can’t seem to provide to themselves, they inevitably turn on me. The reason for that turning on me, is because they feel that they’re not worthy of such treatment and anyone who would treat them that way must be far lower in the pecking order and as such is fair game.

    Anyway, at the first sniff of such behaviour I tend to turn the tables on them and treat the folks the way they are comfortable being treated which is not very nice, but it has such positive results from a societal interactions perspective and avoids a great deal of trouble for myself. To be honest, I tend to avoid people with such attributes as I cannot provide any help to them because they cannot help themselves. I use such techniques more as a self defence mechanism rather than a predatory activity. In perhaps a deeper understanding of my situation, many long years ago I spent many years learning martial arts so that I didn’t have to fight, rather than because I enjoyed the fight – if you get my meaning.

    I read all manner of interesting books and many long years ago I read an entertaining tale from a self proclaimed pick up artist who basically honed in on such folks and preyed upon their weaknesses. It was quite an interesting story, and the author is a very interesting person although with a dubious moral compass!

    The thing is, I was wondering is whether you believe that the above is a form of dark magic and I was also wondering whether there may be blow back? And do you reckon there are better ways to get around this problem – it is not as if it is going away anywhere soon…

    Thanks for the consideration. Hope you and Sara are enjoying a nice autumn too in your new digs!

    Cheers

    Chris

  149. Dear JMG, what do you think of the alt right intellectuals like Alex Fontana? He seems to have some good points, even in his anti-semitism (the Jews having generally become globalists, and not admitting that some parts of globalism are making everyone unhappier).
    Also, where do you think I should advertize about the situation with the folks who took over the project I started in Atlanta? I tried some mainstream podcasts, but they were not interested (This American Life and the Permaculture Podcast). Do you think maybe alt right podcasts?

  150. JMG,

    Thanks for the kind words and the advice. I have absorbed a lot of Old Solar System lore and have something story-like brewing in the old noggin. Hopefully I can hammer it into something anthology worthy.
    And thanks everybody for stopping by The Wormhole Less Traveled and reading my story about sensible A.I.s!

  151. Reese,

    Sorry– somehow your email ended up in my spam folder. Since you were just drawing my attention to a question on a previous open-comment thread here, I hope JMG doesn’t mind if I reply.

    Your questions were (paraphrasing) — do I know of any other peak oil aware bronies, and do I know of any others who’ve taken Celestia and Luna as personal deities? Unfortunately I must answer no on both counts. I was never super active in the fandom, so that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’ve never had the resources to travel to cons, and I mostly lurked elsewhere. I did try and float the idea of worship exactly once on /r/mlp (IIRC — a brony reddit, anyway) and the community response was “not sure if crazy or trolling” ; in meditation I did not get the sense that either goddess particularly needed me to be proselytizing. Which makes sense given the source material; even when at their most canonically god-like in the first season, Celestia never presented herself as God-Queen to her subjects.

    I have gotten the impression that there is a very embarassed undercurrent in the fandom, though. Jokes and memes about “I start my prayers with Dear Princess Celestia” have to come from somewhere, right?

  152. James, no, I haven’t. Clearly I’ll have to correct that sometime.

    Patricia, exactly. It bears remembering that things can get much, much worse than they are today.

    Jencornforth, I don’t think you’re imagining things. I’ve seen lots of similar things — services that used to be readily available that have become hard to find — and of course the pervasive infrastructure decay and the crapification of all mass-market products are other measures of the same process. Welcome to economic decline. I hope you can find somebody to move that shed for you!

    Oskari, by all means do the meditations standing! All that matters is that you find a position that’s comfortable and balanced, in which you can meditate for anything up to half an hour without difficulty. If a standing posture does that for you, you can use that for every attention exercise and meditation.

    Phil, yep. What we have here is a corrupt, exploitive, extractive industry on the brink of collapse. Pity; once upon a time it used to provide an education.

    Michael, er, you seem to have mistaken me for a barista or something. in my blog I write what I want to write, the way I want to write it, for those who want to read it. If you find my essays too repetitive for your taste, there are plenty of other blogs on the internet, you know.

    Stein, oh my. I have a new party game in mind, to be played after the second beer: read Elon Musk aloud, and see who can read how much without laughing so hard they can’t continue. Doing it in a Donald Duck voice gets extra credit…

    Dot, you know, I never thought of that. Would you like to take a shot at writing the story?

    Jbucks, that’s a huge topic and one that I’ve barely started to explore. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the notion that the arts must progress will inevitably be chucked into the dumpster in an ecosophical era. Art in which the artist works within traditional forms (the sonnet, the ink brush painting, the fugue) rather than obsessively trying to break new ground, whether the new ground is worth breaking or not, is likely to be a major part of the picture. Think of the way that very long-lived societies such as ancient Egypt and traditional China maintained the same arts for millennia, ringing subtle and elegant changes on a body of traditional forms and techniques; that, it seems to me, is what ecosophical art might look like.

    Coco, thanks for the link!

    Chris, some of the entities I encountered in Britain were different, others were the same. There are some types of entities that have a specific geographical focus, that is, while others are more footloose. With regard to dealing with people who have a negative self-image, nah, that’s not negative magic, it’s basic survival. Everybody has a comfort zone — an emotional state or set of closely related states which they consider normal, and to which they’ll return no matter what; for some people, the comfort zone is being angry, for some it’s being miserable, for some it’s being harassed and put upon and hassled, and so on. (It’s fairly rare to encounter someone whose emotional comfort zone is happiness, though this does happen.) By being polite and sympathetic to people with a very low self-image, you’re pushing them out of their comfort zone, and so, yeah, they’re going to push back. The magic comes in when you figure out that your own comfort zone isn’t one you want to stay in, and set out to change it — though when this happens, you can bet that everyone around you is going to try to pressure you to change back, since your comfort zone normally helps them stay in theirs, whatever that happens to be. Then the fun begins!

    Iuval, I’m not a great fan of the alt-right generally — I appreciate their tactical agility and the way they so efficiently tweak the noses of the mainstream, but a good many of their basic assumptions are poorly thought out, actively heinous, or pompous twaddle. (Granted, that’s just as true of their opponents, though the latter generally lack the sense of humor that makes the alt-right entertaining.) As for Jewish people supposedly being globalists, er, I think you need to get out more, and get more skeptical whenever you see someone equating an entire group of people with some specific agenda. “All X are Y!” ought always to be a flashing red light letting you know that codswallop is being ditched out. As for getting attention to the situation, I don’t really have any suggestions; I typically just use my blog for that.

    StarNinja, glad to hear it. If you know the OSS tolerably well, you should have no trouble at all.

  153. @Stein

    Muskism has advocates amongst some of the ideas people of the Corbyn movement- such Aaron Bastani.
    https://twitter.com/AaronBastani/status/913764375130988544
    In the paradigm of the ‘Religion of Progress’, it is hard to imagine the success of a political movement offering ‘sensible contingency planning for a future with less energy and resources’. I guess that is why Green politics has struggled to gain much of a foothold, and why the resurgent Left will be trying to sell itself through promises of super abundance, astroid mining, zero cost energy production and a leisure society.
    Corbyn himself seems open minded and receptive to ideas, the mechanism around him much less so. I have been a supporter of the movement, but I see it getting weirder the close it gets to power.

  154. Note on Elon Musk jokes: at the farm I recently quit, a friend and I had an elaborate in joke where we imagined Elon Musk as the supreme Space Furher, endeavoring to bring glorious space fascism to Mars. He had Healing Hands which glowed and could cure any illness and wore a smart, crisp SS uniform and shiny jack boots. Richard Dawkins was his snivelling right hand man, dressed as a Catholic cardinal and decring human superstition and human ignorance and, in secret, played Judas to Musk, working to create Musk’s arch nemesis at night, Artificial Intelligence, which sneaks into Musk’s Space machines only to provide reasoned critiques of Musk’s mad fantasies of leaving ‘the spoiled nest’ of the beautiful living planet Earth.

    Musk’s left hand man is of course Neil Degrasse Tyson, who after being approached by Elon to be his “left hand man,” is totally glamoured and became a simpering fool who’s only topic of conversation is the many benefits of being left handed; “did you know left handed people are statistically 30% more creative? Being left handed is great!!”. Occaisonally, Neil DeGrasse Tyson cuts himself badly on right handed scissors and runs to Elon to be cured by his Healing Hands. We kept this joke up for several months and it definitely made farm work go by quicker. Often it became imaginatively vulgar and utterly unprintable.

    One manager was seriously into Elon Musk, even attempting to read his biography. She became deeply offended by these jokes. Eventually, her veiled hostility towards me caused, in large part, my job to turn into an emotionally poisoned place, which I have now thankfully left.

  155. Archdruid,

    Given the amount of time it takes to dig through all the propaganda that is hiding real events, is it a better idea for us small folk to just kinda ignore the larger events and focus our efforts on local initiatives? I’m trained in intelligence analysis, but even I just can’t bring myself to keep informed about the larger events, yet without the knowledge I feel rather naked dealing with the world. I’m kinda at a loss about how to approach this especially in the context of your reading during the eclipse.

    Regards,

    Varun

  156. JMG, re warbands: I have no direct knowledge on this, just what I’ve read and heard on TV, but there’s apparently hundreds of armed militia groups in the US, with active and former members of the military, including combat veterans. I have no idea how much of this is play-acting or show-boating but given that these groups are armed and given that guns are serious things, I’d take them seriously.

    I’d also guess that there’s a mixture of motivations within these groups. I wouldn’t sniffily dismiss these people solely as under-educated racists suffering from the usual catalogue of derangements like Islamophobia or xenophobia or homophobia. The use of the term “phobia” has gotten tiresome anyway and IMO preposterously mischaracterizes what’s happening.

    I think that the profusion of these groups is in large part a natural outgrowth of the economic demolition of the vast interior of the US as a result of off-shoring of industries in the past few decades. Look at what happened, economic distress as millions of people migrated in, legal and illegally, simultaneous to millions of jobs going to Third World sweat-shops. Millions, maybe tens of millions of Americans, lost their economic support as dependents to the main family breadwinners whose livelihoods went overseas. I don’t see how you could expect anything out of this but political instability. And what we have here, an armed insurrection in the making.

    As you say you’ll get war-bands along American borders if the inflow of people is stymied. You maybe have that already in the form of drug gangs and people smugglers. And now, if that wasn’t enough, there’s warbands inside the borders.

    Is the surveillance state there to watch Muslim terrorists? Maybe. But if it’s so, then I think their attention might be a tetch mis-directed.

  157. @jencornforth, and others interested in the decline of American can-do.

    I have worked in construction for 45 years. There has been a trend in the trades over my lifetime that may illustrate something bigger, and that might explain your difficulties.

    Essentially, everyone has become either a specialist, or a manager. So if you want to do something for which there does not exist an established sub-trade, there’s no-one with the skills to do it.

    Your experience illustrates this well. If you had a 5000 sf mansion to move, there are companies that specialize in this, with engineers, steelworkers, equipment operators, carpenters, managers and specialized equipment to do it, code compliance specialists to do the permitting, and software and specifications to make sure it happens safely. No problem, so long as you have the wallet.

    But for a 200 sf shed, you need one guy who understands engineering, steelwork, equipment operation, and carpentry, and knows the local constabulary well enough to get away with running the shed down the street on a sunday night without a street use permit. That guy basically doesn’t exist anymore, and if you can find him he’s probably too worried about his bonding to skirt any permits.

    In the course of working on the restoration of several old buildings in Seattle I have come to learn something related and remarkable. The speed of construction in 1900 was remarkably fast compared to today.

    For example, we are currently helping restore a 110 year old apartment building. When this building was originally constructed, it took THREE MONTHS from ground breaking to occupancy. This was not unusual. And remember, 1900 was before power hand tools, cement trucks, manlifts, or any of the myriad gadgets I use every day.

    What they DID have was 150 men, every one of whom could do just about anyything necessary, from excavating for the foundation, to framing, plumbing, plastering, painting, fenestration, and everything else needed to get the job done.

    What has progressed from then til now?

  158. Archdruid,

    Question regarding the occult studies. Very early on during my practice, in fact during the first two weeks of practicing the sphere of protection ritual, I accidentally accessed two of the elemental realms. I basically ended up in the water and fire realms and was approached by elementals residing in each, the kinda stared at me then went off to do other things. I’m assuming this was because I was so surprised and confused that I didn’t make any effort to communicate with them. After reading the section on scrying in the Druid Magic Handbook, I finally realized what I did and what I was supposed to do. My question is, should I ask the elementals to teach me something specific or just let them teach me what ever they have available? Should I offer something in trade?

    Regards,

    Varun

  159. Regarding the need for hermetically sealed containers for food preservation, only modern methods of food preservation like canning require hermetic seals. Fermented foods, once established, create environments which can withstand small amounts of microbial incursion without going bad, so perfect seals aren’t necessary. People also used to create seals using molten wax, or for example in the case of potted duck etc with animal fat or a layer of oil. The further north or south you are, food becomes more seasonal but temperatures during the lean season are lower and pests get culled by the cold and scarcity as well.

    I think some people on here might like this video – I have no affiliation with this channel:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxr2d4As312LulcajAkKJYw

    I also watched the SpaceX presentation – not only is the ‘Mars Colonial Transporter’ getting downsized (because it was too expensive) but apparently SpaceX will be taking on commercial aviation with suborbital passenger service ‘soon’.

  160. Darren – you write: “I am no statistician, but by my reckoning the chances of pulling the same card 4 times in a row from a 40 card deck are about 1 in 2.5 million.”

    Actually, your chances of drawing the same card, any card, 4 times in a row are 1 in 64,000. You first draw any random card; then you have to match that card only 3 times. The chances of drawing a prespecified card 4 times in a row would be about 1 in 2.5 million. So if some cards are plainly more relevant than others to your situation, the chances of drawing one of the useful cards 4 times in a row would be less than 1 in 64,000.

    JMG – “Art in which the artist works within traditional forms (the sonnet, the ink brush painting, the fugue) rather than obsessively trying to break new ground, whether the new ground is worth breaking or not … is what ecosophical art might look like.”

    I was recently looking for fantasy/horror magazines to which poetry in that genre range (actually, Mythos-influenced) might be submitted, and to my dismay found that one important magazine’s poetry editor says he will not consider any rhymed/metered poetry because everything worth doing in “that form” [sic] has already been done!!! Admittedly there are a finite number of decent sonnets that can be written given the constraints of the English language, but surely we haven’t come close to actually producing them all yet.

  161. I am glad you mentioned the Old Solar System story contest, because I was going to ask for a bit of writing advice anyway and that makes it less off topic.

    I began a story for the contest. I rather like it– The setting is mostly my own, but with inspiration drawn from Clark Ashton Smith, Ray Bradbury, and others, and also from some of the themes of this blog. My main character, for example, is a square-jawed American from the 23rd Century, meaning he grew up in one of the warrior clans of the Pittsburgh favelas and is seen as a savage by the ruling caste of Sino-Brazilians based in the towering cities of the Moon. His accomplishments during the recent war between Earth and Venus have allowed him to escape the endless internecene conflicts of the US’s various successor states and make his way as a privateer in the Solar System.

    So as I said, I began the story, which concerns our hero being paired with his natural arch-nemesis, a green-skinned warrior of the Venusian jungle tribes, and dispatched on a quest to find the Sangrael, an object of immense power wielded in ancient times by the now-dead race that inhabited the world whose ruins form our asteroid belt.

    Just writing that sentence makes me love this story all over again. I don’t even particularly care if it makes the anthology or not. I just want to see it through to the end, because I love the characters, the setting, and the idea.

    And therein lies the problem.

    Over the last ten years I’ve begun maybe two dozen different novels and novella-length stories. I have finished about 3 of them. There almost always comes a point where I get *stuck.* The plot has gotten complicated, I can’t figure out where to go next, and, and, and… I stare at a blank screen. I take a break for a day. A day becomes a week, a week becomes a month. A couple of months later inspiration strikes me and I start writing a different story. Every time, I think, “Wow, I’ve really got it this time! No brakes on this train, we’re writing straight through to the end!” And almost every time the same thing happens.

    The thing that makes it most frustrating is that, very often, when I get stuck, I feel like the story is no good. That’s not why I stop writing– I stop because I can’t figure out what to do next. But I always have a sense that I’ve lost it, this story sucks anyway, don’t worry about it. But when I go back and look at my old drafts… I genuinely love my stories. That’s why I write them. On some level I genuinely don’t care if anyone else ever sees them– I like them and I want to know how they end! But it’s close to impossible, even when I’ve made detailed notes (rare for me) to look at something I was writing a year or two or five years ago and figure out from a distance where it was supposed to go.

    You are one of the most prolific writers I have ever encountered. How do you do it? Do you get stuck like this? What do you do? Are you able, when you return to an older draft that you hadn’t finished, to pick it back up? How do you get back into it?

    There are a very few things in life that make me feel like I am doing what I was put on Earth to do. Really there are three– ceremonial magic, martial arts, and fiction writing. That’s what makes it so painful when I abandon my projects and leave my characters half way through their journeys. If you have any thoughts or advice… Well, I would be very grateful.

  162. You make no secret of the fact that you have Asperger’s. I wonder whether magic has been instrumental in helping you to mitigate the effects of the condition (meltdowns, awkwardness in social situations, etc)?

  163. What is causing these earthquakes and volcanic activity? Related to climate change, human activity? Or simply co-incidence that this is all going down now?

  164. Jbucks –

    I thought you expressed your thoughts clearly. One thing I think you should avoid is supplanting “theory” with your own theory of nature-derived music, which could lead to a kind of creative sclerosis . This is what happened in the 20th c. when many composers became overly enamored with the idea of breaking from the past – an analog of the then political fervor to create “The New Man – and the result was formulae for 12-tone and various kinds of serialized music, which in turn resulted in classic music fans staying away from concert halls in droves. They just sensed there was something false and contrived about the music they were hearing.

    Remember, early Beethoven imitated Haydn and he subscribed to the accepted musical forms of the day. But within these forms, he eventually developed his own unique style by virtue of his own inspiration, which I doubt he gave all that much conscious deliberation – it just “happened”. Similarly, to take a more contemporary example, the early Bob Dylan imitated Woody Guthrie and some of the old blues guitar masters – shoot, he was virtually a clone of Guthrie for a while – but using the old folk and blues forms as a basis, Dylan eventually developed his own unique folk style.

    Point is: hold your ideal of nature-derived music, let it sink in to your marrows, let it be your Lode Star – then fuggetaboutit and just let inspiration be your guide, don’t overthink it. You’ll get where you want to go.

    Also, don’t forget that the fugue didn’t appear ex nihilo as a form, much less as a theory -it developed slowly over time, it had a thousand antecedents.

  165. Hello JMG

    You say Trump may well make two terms if the Democrats don’t get their act together. Your recent mundane chart also suggests that there’s an imminent crisis of legitimacy. So presumably Trump will easily survive, or maybe even benefit from, this crisis? Would you be willing to say a bit more about this crisis?

    SMJ

  166. @ Alex r.e. Sentient Tees

    For what it is worth, here are my thoughts:

    As JMG said, practically all living things consume the dead all the time to meet our basic needs. The being we consume, be they trees, vegetables, or other animals are all sentient to at least some degree.

    I don’t think we should feel sorry about or apologize for killing other beings when one does so to meet real needs like food and warmth. To do so implies being sorry for your own existence. I think this would be dishonest. I like being alive.

    I do think it is appropriate to thank the being you have killed for giving you life. Whether it is a tomato I’ve harvested, a chicken I just bled out, a tree I have just cut down, or a fish I have just caught and killed, I thank them. “Thank you for giving me and my family life” is what I usually say.

    Occasionally I am too busy with doing the killing and harvesting as painlessly and as efficiently as I can and so forget to thank the specific being I’ve just killed. If so, I take few moments to thank the garden, forest, or lake before I leave. Failing that, I thank their creator.

    Often I put a hand on the trunk of a tree and thank the tree before I take it down. Usually take a rock and place it on the stump in way of acknowledgment if nothing else. Sometimes I leave some grain on the stump as an offering to the forest.

    I also make an effort to be efficient with what I take. For animals I consume, the blood and guts go into the compost. The leftovers from crops go in as well.

    For trees, I use as much of the tree as possible. What I don’t take out of the forest, I mound in heaps for habitat for the local rodents. Selection of the right trees is also important. The basic rule is leave the best, take the rest. So I mark those tree to keep (about 60 an acre) and thin and weed around them to give them more light and less competition. This give me plenty of firewood. The forest doesn’t need me, but at least I am having some sort of positive effect on the forest when I take what I need to keep my family warm through he winter and for cooking.

    Anyways, I think an attitude of gratitude is important. Doing some sort of physical act to demonstrate this is good at least for you. It’s impossible to be unhappy if one is grateful.

    In writing this I’m not implying anyone is unhappy, I just think of this approach as basic emotional/spiritual hygiene when it comes to killing.

  167. Just an interesting observation on Puerto Rico. The place is trashed and the situation is dire. But, because infrastructure had been undependable before, many people had water storage and generators as backup. This has turned out to be helpful, and something missing from most parts of the U.S.

    If there was ever a place to consider solar and 12v living, this might be it. I know the questions about net energy return, but going to low energy use might be the only option for quite some time. –JD

  168. JMG,

    What thoughts do you have regarding hierarchies of beings?

    Specifically I’m thinking of a lake near where I live. Its full of fish and has been very generous to me and my family as well as others I fish with.

    I’ve thanked the Lake often and occasionally left a modest offering despite the Lake seeming to disproportionally favour my guests. I’m getting the distinct sense she has a wicked sense of humour in this regard! Mostly I’m happy for them and they are in turn generous to me so it all works out.

    So I have the idea that the Lake is more than the sum of its parts, biological and otherwise. Perhaps its individual elements have as much freedom and sentience as say a muscle cell in my body. but the sum total (and then some) of the Lake may have much greater freedom and sentience much as I, as a human do.

    This ties into the notion of “self” and where it begins and ends. For instance, while on the Lake, am I not part of it? Indeed, when I eat part of it, does it not become part of me. Still there is the notion of separate sentience and communication between separate sentient being.

    Given the deva of the Lake has not formally introduced herself to me, I am not in a position to answer the question for myself.

    Do any of these ideas have a home in the occult traditions you are familiar with?

  169. Hi JMG,

    Forgive me if you have already covered this somewhere, but I haven’t been able to locate it. Do you know of any master conserver programs still being taught in the U.S.? I haven’t been able to find any online and would like to take one. If they are no longer being taught, is the information from them available in a book? Again, an online search has turned up nothing. Thanks for any help you can provide.

  170. JMG,

    The analogy of prayer as being more like a conversation with a wise friend than a supplication before a towering presence is appealing. I often feel a need–sometimes urgently–to have such a conversation but become discouraged when I realize I lack even the vaguest notion of who, exactly, is that friend. I have a passing acquaintance with a variety of gods, but none has inspired me to seek a deeper relationship. My assumption is that prayer–in order to generate a response–must be directed precisely and with intention to One who is beloved, or at least respected. My hope is that I’m wrong and that prayer, if articulated with sincerity and humility, does reach a sympathetic recipient. So, the question is can one pray safety and effectively without an interlocutor?

  171. @Dot thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I think we can both agree that low-wage precarious employment and poor housing really suck and it’s a shame they’re inflicted on anyone, even if we disagree about the extent to which there’s a zero-sum competition between workers and migrants.

    To clarify by ‘believe in people’ I mean believe that everyone has intrinsic value and that it matters how we treat them.

  172. Hi JMG,

    my husband and I have spent the last couple of years building our gardening and other ‘homesteading’ skills at our small farm here in Ontario, and we’re at the point where we’re fairly comfortable with what we’re doing and trying to decide on our next move. At this point we are purely growing things for ourselves, but we’re considering scaling up and growing for market. We’ve got the land, one fairly stable income that leaves my husband with a good chunk of paid time off, and with the recent death of my father, even the capital to acquire the bits of equipment we will need. We’ve gotten to know a good chunk of the local community thanks largely to joining a church, and there are decent sized markets quite close by. The limiting factor for us is time, as we have two young children who are not quite farmhand material (yet!) I feel two distinct forces acting here – one which is urging me to expand and do more, go for the market gardening, start the farm, be a part of the local food movement etc, and one which is urging me to withdraw into our own little homestead and just focus on taking care of our family.

    The thing about growing for market from what I can glean is that you wind up having to specialize to a certain extent and focus on some key business areas (although small farmers need a huge array of different skills in order to be successful!) and I don’t want to neglect all of the other Green Wizard-type things I’ve been wanting to do. Also, to be competitive, we would likely need to mechanize to some extent, even if it’s just with a small walk-behind tractor. I have been trying to avoid this and so far have only used hand tools, as I know a tractor may not always be an option. But at the moment, I think it is the most efficient and economically viable way to get a few particular farm jobs done on a larger scale. And also the issue of weed-suppressing, soil warming plastic mulches, and spun plastic row covers as both insect barriers and protected culture, both of which are tools of the trade for the organic grower at the moment, but petroleum products, so ultimately environmentally and economically unsustainable.

    I am waiting for that third force to arrive and present a middle ground, which is probably something along the lines of expanding cautiously without getting in over our heads. Any thoughts?

  173. What does it say about me that I’m more saddened by the idea of a train-free future this week than a space-flight-free one last post? I, an astronomer. Ah, well.

    I forgot, when I posted about the expected derth of iron, that some solace is to be found in history for rail-fans. We can always look to Corinth for our example. The Diolkos is often cited as an example of a proto-railway, one which may have operated for much of the axial age, if not through it. (Though this is debatable, since there are 1st century and 9th century records but apparently nothing in between).

    I could imagine along far-northern rivers that were never canalized in our era Diolkos-style marine railways springing up along the portages. Or perhaps, salvaged rails running around destroyed locks on canals until the rising civ can rebuild them. I imagine very carefully preserved iron or steel, rather than stone. Long, overland routes, though? Doubtful.

    Well, we cannot say “history says it’s not worth it” — the rutted cartways of the ancient world would not have provided the amazing reduction in friction we get from our railroads, so there would have been little point to building them cross-country. Nor the wooden rails that replaced them in the medieval mines. (Even with steel wheels, it is many, many times the friction coefficient). So, how much steel will our descendants have available to them, and what else would they rather do with it? A question we can’t answer with anything resembling certainty, I fear. Deindustrial steel production couldn’t service railroads from scratch, I’m sure — but how much salvage will survive in a form reforgable? (I suspect our dark-age descendants will mine surviving rails for immediate use, rather than preserve them for haulage against the day that trade revives enough to need them. And let us hope they do! Or else a few centuries disuse would see our railway-revivalists staring forlornly at unsalvaged rust-stains.)

    I suppose I’m acting like one of the people who try and insist the internet must survive, eh? Don’t want to give up my shiny toys. Except, of course, I’m trying to figure out how to explore the limits on far-future rail use, rather than hand-waving how amazing trains are and how much our descendants will want them.

    Here’s another tack: what’s the longest overland route that might be needed? Crossing Canada by canoe*, the longest portages are the Methye Portage and Grande Portage, IIRC. 20 and 14km, respectively as I recall. Several times wider than the Isthmus of Corinth, but probably doable, in terms of Diolkos or salvage. Those might be the longest rail-roads I expect to see in the Ecotechnic era… until/unless some future Nero decides blast a canal.**

    *Along the old Voyageur fur-trade route, which heads North of the prairies. They’ll be semi-desert anyway, in many climate models, so I don’t image large volumes of cargo going there.
    **Provided the volume of trade exists to support such an undertaking, that is. Perhaps my Grand Portage Marine Railway won’t come into being and latter day Voyageurs will make the same back-breaking trek my forefathers did.

  174. @Dusk Shine:
    Ah, thank you for the reply.

    I’m not really surprised that’s a difficult questions to find affirmative responses to. People can already have enough trouble just from liking the show, and bringing religion into it seems highly unlikely to make things easier; even within the fandom, they’d get odd looks and potentially negative consequences (“not sure if crazy or trolling”, as you say). I mean, I’ve certainly been very cautious in asking about it, and I could honestly reply if challenged that I don’t worship them and am just interested in the subject.

    While I don’t think I have much of my own evidence for the undercurrent you mention, though, I do suspect you’re right; my main question is about the size of it. A lot of people have found various sorts of meaning in the show and fandom (and the psychologists studying it have commented that the brony fandom is a bit unusual as fandoms go; I can’t seem to bring from my memory the details at the moment, though), and given how much trouble so many people in America, at least, are having finding meaning in the mainstream religions, well. There’s a niche to fill, and there’s a thing that’s filling a lot of similar niches. I’m also not sure that a goddess taking the name of Celestia wouldn’t answer a “joking” prayer if it was otherwise satisfactory to her; it seems like the sort of thing she might do.

    I have a natively polytheist perspective and have never been a member of a mainstream religion (that most people would recognize, at least; looking back, I was _very clearly_ a devotee of Progress) in the first place, though, so in isolation I’m not sure how much of this is just me projecting my own perspective onto a majority to which it doesn’t apply; thanks for giving me an outside view on the matter. 🙂

  175. @John Roth (with apologies to JMG and most other readers, for whom this comment may go into extremely boring, arcane specifics):

    Yes, the 2014 reprint of Morton Smith’s “Jesus the Magician” has the endnotes. You did good to read that one.

    As for the “Secret Gospel according to Mark”: I myself have no doubt that the “Letter to Theodore,” which is our one and only source for the so-called “Secret Gospel,” is NOT a 19th- or 20th-century forgery by some Western scholar (whether by Morton Smith or anyone else). Other scholars whom I trust saw the original document when it was still in its original position as flyleaves at the end of a 16th-century printed book. And Greek paleographers of considerable experience, whose judgement I also trust, find no trace of forgery in the 18th-century handwriting of the document. I have been involved in looking into other cases of suspected forgery, including one by the very skillful Mormon forger, Mark Hoffman; none of the usual “tells” of a forgery are there in the “Letter to Theodore.” Also, Smith, for one, lacked the necessary competence in Greek paleography to fake the 18th-century Greek handwriting of the document. (And the alleged “forger’s tremor” in the handwriting is simply balderdash, originally put forth by a lawyer who, at the time he published his view, was profoundly ignorant of manuscript studies and Greek paleography.) This is not the place to get into the technicalities, of course.

    The real rock of offense that Smith [deliberately?] put in the path of his fellow scholars was his own reckless conclusion, from some words in the Letter to Theodore that he (IMHO) misinterpreted, that Jesus himself was not merely a practicing magician, but also probably a homosexual who actively worked sex magic with his most favored, significantly younger male disciples. This goes so far beyond what the document reasonably implies, and so offends modern sensibilities in so many ways, that one wonders why Smith advanced that hypothesis. (He was, however, well-known for his sharp tongue, for his inability to suffer fools gladly (or even tactfully to keep silent), and for the contempt in which he openly held many of his fellow scholars in his chosen field. That may be all the explanation needed.)

    If, then, the Letter to Theodore is not a modern forgery, it is reasonable to look for traces of the ritual which it describes elsewhere in Christian liturgical practice. The closest documented parallel, to the best of my knowlege, is found in the Eastern Orthodox ritual by which a professed monk assumes the so-called “schema,” the highest level of monastic profession. Indeed, this ritual is still practiced, when the occasion arises (rarely!), in Eastern Orthodox monasteries, some of which do indeed seem remote to us Westerners. I briefly saw, one time in Moscow, a monk who bore the “schema,” as he passed hrough a crowd near me. Even in the brief moment of his passing, he struck me as an extraordinary person.

  176. JMG,
    I come from a very academic background. Recently, I shared your essay “The Free Trade Fallacy” on the forum of a liberal arts college I attended briefly before leaving to pursue a career in ballet instead. I doubt you’d be very surprised by the results. At first, a casual dismissal in the form of “what the hell does this guy have a degree in?” Followed by a sustained defense of the discipline of economics, and of neoliberalism. (I was excited to note some of my friends jumped in to slam the discipline of economics)
    I have noticed the issues they have with your style are always rather the opposite of that guy who said you ought to write in “stilted, choppy, dumbed-down journalistic prose.” They are always infuriated by what they see as overly broad generalizations, and have a hard time getting past that to address the more substantive side of what you are arguing (my father, a sociologist with a special interest in statistics, for example, always hates your assertions about statistics. I paraphrase, his comments were actually more technically exact, “No one thinks the U3 rate is the only unemployment rate! Measuring ‘Real Unemployment’ is extremely difficult to do!”)
    All that to ask, with your broad academic interests, why did you choose not to pursue the academic system of initiation further? It is a system of initiation, after all, similar to your “Ruinmen.” Ruinmen would presumably be less inclined to respect your opinion on how to work a ruin, without that knick-of-the-crowbar scar on your face. Is it wrong that academia works the same way?
    I say this because I wish they did take you more seriously. When all the superfluous complaints about how broad your assertions are, and how little you cite, are said and done, they eventually arrive at the same “I’m sure they’ll think of something” as everyone else. I even got that from top notch physicists and engineers- exactly the sort of “they” most people assume will be thinking of something.

  177. And, as someone who is considering returning to academia to pursue a degree, I would like to say I am very interested in that essay you keep musing about writing on higher education in America.

  178. Hi again JMG.

    Aside from your work with the Druidic/Golden Dawn system, do you know of any other GD-based systems that attempt to incorporate (probably modern best-guesses at) old pagan deities into the Golden Dawn rituals and Psycho-cosmological system? I’m looking into it… Trying to get a handle on Hecate, Persephone, Artemis, etc., As well as Hades, Hephaestus, Ares etc. I want to see if any of the old gods satisfy the archetypal requirements for following the serpent’s path up the Tree…

    An interesting project. The astrological associations with the Sephirot make it seem that, at least superficially, there might be a fit to be found here.

    Any leads or suggestions?

    Thank you,
    Casey

  179. Me again. I am of course referring to pagan deities and references, etc not already used in the Hermetic Order of the GD’s system. Sorry for not being clear about that. I guess I’m really most interested in the old timey Greek/Anatolian gods/goddesses. I Might be able to ‘get’ them.

  180. @Roger regarding the existence of Sasquatch or other humanoid species on this planet. Here is a great quote from Carol Deppe’s The Tao of Vegetable Gardening:

    “I’d be delighted if Sasquatches exist, but I’m pretty sure they don’t. If Sasquatches did exist, I’m sure one of my garden friends would have reported how bad it is when Sasquatches get into your garden.” p. 55

    That was it for me. The definitive proof for the non-existence of Sasquatch.

  181. Jencornforth, I will give you an example to illustrate why I think you can’t get your shed moved on Kauai. A year ago I accompanied my wife to hawaii from Oregon for her job. The purpose of the trip was to set up a captive health insurance company to allow the public sewer utility she works for to self insure and Hawaii is the only state that allows chartering such things. Several people made this trip including 3 county commissioners who were listed as V.I.P.s when the government rate room reservations were made. The large hotel we were staying at was undergoing some enlargement and construction. All the other members of the delegation got stuck with crummy rooms facing cranes, or cement mixers and even though they complained they couldn’t get moved. We arrived later than most of the delegation, but the girl behind the counter smiled brightly when my wife went to check in and we were given the suite that Elvis stayed in when he filmed Blue Hawaii, even though we were all paying the same government rate. The difference is that my wife’s family first came to Hawaii in 1895 to work in the pineapple fields and she grew up there, but she has not lived there for 30 years. People from the mainland mistakenly think that Hawaii is becoming more cosmopolitan, but it is a good example of increasing localization and is less open to outsiders than it was in 1984.

  182. @Stephen Cook on September 28, 2017 at 9:37 pm
    On hand tools: I love pulling out my “cordless” drill (brace & bit), cordless saw, and especially the cordless Yankee screwdriver.
    Unfortunately, the Yankee screwdriver is now only made by a German company, but there’s lots in circulation, and there are chuck inserts that take typical hex head bits.
    It’s bliss the first time you (finally) sharpen the hand saw yourself, and it slides through the wood with ease. Despite what you may read elsewhere, most blades can be sharpened using the least expensive system possible: sandpaper on a flat surface, like a piece of glass. I keep my chisels and kitchen knives sharp with 240, 400 & 600 grit wet dry paper. The saw needs a diamond shaped file to get into the teeth. All those systems of expensive stones are nice, but excessive. I do keep an expensive 4000/8000 grit waterstone for my straight razor.

    On tattoos: I debated getting a tattoo for about 5 years, after I got a henna tattoo on a trip. I finally got one last year to celebrate 20 years of commitment to a project, and I thought about the design a lot. Fire is the dominant element, but I wanted more than the flames. The early sketches had dragons, but that seemed too cliched. I finally settled on a very abstract phoenix consumed by flames. The phoenix symbolized a rebirth, but during the discussion of reincarnation here several weeks back, I realized that rebirth is another way of saying reincarnation.

  183. @claydennis : You’re right that Hawaii is a very localized place. There is an absolute hierarchy here in which the people who have lived here the longest (or whose families have lived here the longest) are at the top, with everyone else falling further down the totem pole by how recently they got here. The first 6 months of living here, you’re practically hazed. I could tell you some stories! Everyone is just hoping you’ll leave. 🙂

    I wouldnt even attempt to build a house here as I cant imagine the struggle to get a permit. But the guy who currently owns the shed is a transplant, too, so I’m inclined to think this is not just local hazing. Mainly, it looks like I’m gonna move the shed through a local guy who I know through another local guy whose done some tree trimming for us. They both live in my neighborhood. Clearly, knowing “a guy” is the only way to get things done here! (And it’s probably not a coincidence that the guys who’re willing to go the extra mile to help Me out are haole, like me. Things are pretty darn tribal around here.)

    (Sidenote: I find the localization and tribalism of small-town Hawaii really comforting. It’s nice to live somewhere where social caste is about something other than money. People who grew up here can hunt pigs with their bare hands. They know how to make bowls and baskets out of Ti leaves. everyone’s got an auntie that can grow any vegetable you name. The hierarchy may put me at the bottom, but it’s a blessing to live somewhere with a back-up society for when mainland US society falls apart. :/ )

  184. @vesta : Very good point. Specialization has its downsides. As it turns out, I do have a contractor guy who’s going to handle the whole job. But he’s likely going to take the structure apart to do it. He’s a type of person you can probably find more easily in rural areas than you would elsewhere. Myriad skills, free time, willingness to take risks. Many people out here know how to do a lot of things—even if they do each of them only passably well.

    I do wonder about the dangers of specialization on the future of society. For example, kids nowadays dont even know how to cook. In an emergency situation, they might reasonably starve even with access to basic ingredients. This sounds farfetched, but it’s been shown time and again that people really don’t think clearly in difficult situations.

  185. @Justin, In the future, depending on one’s location we might not have the luxury of cold weather coinciding with a stormy season. It is educational to see how people have handled this traditionally where this has been the case for along time. Monsoon Asia has a wide variety of food traditions, but features many kinds of fermented protein sources, with fish, crabs or shrimp fermented into a paste in Thailand that is used as basis for curries. (Japan ferments soy similarly, giving them miso and soy sauce, but in winter they brought in fish and hunted game to some extent.) These all store very well, and I note the Thai make curries with all sorts of handy things like small frogs and mud crabs. The lack of cold weather means your vegetable garden will produce things year-round, and stuff like bananas just keep giving and giving. So depending on one’s situation, there will be all sorts of ways of handling the loss of refrigeration.

  186. @Justin again, I wanted to add I was staying with people in Thailand, and they had a refrigerator, but they kept practically nothing in it, not even leftovers. They’d heat them again and have them the next morning. The fridge seemed to be solely for drinks and ice.

  187. Hey hey JMG,

    I’m wondering about what will come out the other side of our looming crisis. So we know that we have a crisis on the same scope as the WWI, depression, WWII about to befall us. The next 36 years will be Saturn, contraction and karmic reckoning. What happens afterwards?

    For example, if I spend a lot of time and energy promoting cooperative ownership as a business model might it come out the other side of the crisis as a core value of whatever social norms are the new normal?

    Also, is there any chance of saving science as a thing that is important to society by properly naming all the garbage science? For example, the science that isn’t getting done because people have some hang up like plate tectonics in the 60’s get’s some moniker like taboo science. And the non-repeatable drug studies that big pharma commissions gets a name like corporate shill science. And the groups that object to actual science like the flat Earthers and the climate change deniers get some appropriate handle. So that the actual scientific method and the other good pieces can come through less damaged?

    Thanks,
    Tim

  188. JMG, I’m not sure if you ever go wild mushroom hunting, but the first wild mushroom I ever harvested was hen-of-the-woods, known also as maitake. It’s completely different from the chicken of the woods (sulphur shelf) mushroom. I learned about it when I was a teenager in East Providence from a neighbor. It’s rare in a lot of its range, but there are (or at least were 20 years ago) places in East Providence where big ones pretty reliably popped up every year by the base of old oak trees. This is the season to be looking, when the leaves are starting to turn.

  189. Hello JMG, thank you for your reply. Could you explain what you mean with ‘Peak oil is simply one part of that much broader picture.’ ? I think peak oil was the main factor beind the long descent. And what do you think will cause what you describe as ‘the next, and probably terminal, crisis hits industrial civilization.’ ?

  190. Dear Varun, if you are trained in intelligence analysis, your talents are badly needed at your local level, especially that is the case if you live in the USA. You might be able to discover and share such information as who, exactly owns your local utility companies and where are those owners located. Who sits on various local boards–people have no idea how much influence such boards, mostly unelected, can have–and what are those persons’ loyalties, political philosophies, and alliances? Who selected the candidates for local elections, and by what criteria? And so on. A newsletter which printed such revelations might be able to support itself without advertising.

    About tattoos: Fashions change. Tatoos are no more ridiculous than men’s neckties and suits. (The classic man’s tailored shirt, OTOH, is one of the all time best and most useful garments ever invented, IMHO.) Tatoos are certainly less harmful to the wearer, depending on composition of ink, than the high heeled shoes that till very recently were required for any woman who wanted to be either employable or socially acceptable. The next time you see a frail elderly woman who can barely walk, reflect that you are seeing the result of years of wearing crippling shoes. And, I venture to guess, that production of tattoo ink is less harmful to people and the environment than the array of chemicals which are found in cosmetics.

    I am inclined to think that our increasingly weaponized and predatory police forces are incipient warbands–and far more dangerous than random groups of veterans.

  191. @JMG: Yay! Will do–it’ll make a good break once I finish up this weird eighties novel and before I move on to the next romance trilogy. In re: baseball fans, I was sitting next to one on my commute home this evening. Reeked of stale beer, and eyed my book for a while before commenting to his equally-dubious buddy that “wow that’s a lot of pages”* and “the last book I read was Green Eggs and Ham.” A) That…does not surprise me, and B) Aaaany time the ghouls want to attack is good by me. (Someone had courteously dropped sweet and sour sauce all over the floor, too, so hey, a marinade!)

    Also, aw, Sho! I am very much looking forward to that story.

    And glad to hear you’ve read and enjoyed Lovecraft reread! I’ve my own points of disagreement–I liked Through the Gates of the Silver Key much better than either of the reviewers, for example, but then what I enjoy in horror is less actual horror and more fantasy with better-contained stories and power levels than a lot of the modern series have–but I love the discussions and I have a growing list of stuff to read in the future based on the comments.

    @Dewey: Ugh. I remember the “originality” craze from my college creative writing classes (one basically useless and taught by one of those professors who Did Not Approve of Fantasy or SF, one meh but with decent exercises, one with a hot TA who actually gave useful advice and had a dreamy accent) and it led, as far as I can recall, to a lot of flailing about and producing nothing anyone would remotely want to read.

    Academia in general: it’s worth noting, perhaps, that of the people my age I know who got Ph.Ds, one has given up completely on academic research and gone into industry, one is teaching classes at two entirely different colleges several miles apart, and I’m not at all sure what the other two are doing, but I’m pretty sure none of them are on track to get tenure, and they all got their degrees more than ten years ago. (The ones who haven’t gone into industry all have wives with non-academic jobs, for another data point.) (Also, there’s only one of them I can stand at all these days, though I get on quite well with Ph.Ds of older generations, as a rule.)

    * Admittedly, this particular book was Alan Moore’s Jerusalem, which requires a backpack for carrying purposes and could probably break my foot if I dropped it unwisely, but good Lord, that’s the second Guy on the T who’s said some variety of the same to or about me within the last year or two. (The first one meant it as a pick-up line, which…there are few things that will work less well than acting surprised about how much I read.)

  192. @Dirtyboots
    Re: Prayer

    JMG’s response to my comment wasn’t what I expected, but it makes a huge amount of sense. In my tradition (if you can call it that), there is always one that will respond if you’re willing to listen: the one that created you. There are also several guides that work with you; a Christian would call them Guardian Angels.

    That’s the point of the opening phrase of the Christian Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father, which art in Heaven,” That’s all the address you need.

    Just remember that you’ve got free will. Take all the advice you need, but if you want to do something else, do it.

    @Dusk Shine
    Re: Railways

    Railways don’t need iron for rails. A good grade of hard rubber will do, at least for urban passenger light rail. Back before I left Chicago there was a lot of discussion about this; the upshot was that making the change was logistically close to impossible, otherwise it was highly desirable for the noise reduction factor.

  193. Violet, that’s too funny. Have you considered pursuing parody as an additional income stream? I could see something like that finding an enthusiastic audience…

    Varun, it can be useful to keep a weather eye on the news, especially if you make sure to get your news from at least three sources that come from warring viewpoints, but that’s just to keep ahead of events that might affect you locally. The local issues are the ones that matter most, of course.

    Roger, yes, they’re one of the sources of future warbands. There are others.

    Varun, start by getting to know them, finding out if they have any advice for you or need your help for something, and generally establishing a good working relationship. Then you can talk with them about what they’re prepared to teach and what you need to learn.

    Justin, yep. Pickling, fermentation, and other low-tech preservation methods work well, and don’t require the industrial infrastructure — which means they’ll be around when the infrastructure is gone.

    Dewey, in my experience, editors who refuse to accept poetry in meter usually can’t hack writing poetry in meter, and so seeing it from other people makes them feel inferior. As I’m sure you know. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith both wrote excellent weird verse in classic forms; if an editor can’t handle such things, take your work elsewhere.

    Steve, that’s something you need to make yourself confront. Whatever you do, you’re practicing; when you let yourself leave a story unfinished, you’re practicing failure — which is not a good idea. Finish the story. No, let’s put it a little less inadequately: FINISH THE STORY. If you have to stick a thumbtack in your forearm to goad you to the task, put the seat of your pants on the seat of the chair, and don’t let yourself talk yourself out of doing the one thing you need to do with that story: finish it. .

    Don’t worry about whether it’s any good until it’s done. Never try to judge your work as you’re writing it. You’re too close to it, andthe part of the brain that handles creativity and the part that handles criticism conflict with one another. If you have to, tape a sheet of paper over your computer screen so you can’t even see what you’re typing while you’re typing it. You can always edit later.

    If necessary, assign yourself a fixed minimum period of time at the keyboard on that story every single day, and stick to it. Even if you suddenly realize that it’s two in the morning and you’re drunk and you can barely keep your eyes open, and you haven’t put in your twenty minute minimum, go do it. That’s good training for the will, by the way. No one else can do it for you, nobody else can give you a magic cure; you just have to make yourself do it. Once you get in the habit of making yourself do it, it becomes easy, and away you go.

    Reloaded, actually, it was membership in fraternal lodges. Each lodge has an explicit code of conduct between members, and a lot of tasks (such as memorizing rituals) that people with Aspergers syndrome are very, very good at; thus I was able to interact with people on the basis of explicit rules, which is a huge comfort for us Aspies, and get encouragement for my participation, ditto — and that, in turn, made it easy to work out workarounds for all the things we don’t do well.

    Jencornforth, go look at a good table of the rate of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions over the last however many years you like. We’re not getting any more now than usual — it just looks that way due to recency bias.

    SMJ, nope. We don’t yet know what form it’s going to take.

    John, an interesting point.

    Dave, I don’t use the concept of hierarchy when trying to understand spiritual beings — it seems way too linear to account for my experience. The old pagans would simply have said that the lake has a spirit, a numen, a kami, or what have you, and that being has its own distinct personality, predilections, and preferences, which you can take into account in establishing good relations with it.

    Chronojourner, nope. As far as I know they were all terminated with extreme prejudice in the Reagan years.

    Dirtyboots, the ancient Greeks used to put up altars dedicated “to the unknown god” when they figured out there was a spiritual power present somewhere, but didn’t know who or what it was. Their prayers still got answered. Just as you can approach someone in a social setting and say, “Hi, I’m Ragnar Hairypants, I don’t think we’ve met,” and shake their hand, you can approach the divine world and say, “I believe and hope that there is a god or goddess who is interested in working with me, and I would like to come into contact with that deity.” Don’t expect miracles, shining rays of light, etc.; listen for the very quiet sense of a response, or simply of your prayer being heard. Be patient and persistent, and if you suddenly start running across references to some particular deity, pay attention to that!

    Stefania, I’d be very slow to get involved in the market economy at this point. It’s far safer and wiser to grow for yourself, family, friends, and neighbors, and reap the benefits of a wider social network and an increasing amount of non-monetary exchange.

  194. Dusk Shine, small-scale railways for specialized purposes may well be viable. It’s the big long-range lines that won’t be. Canals, on the other hand, are utterly sustainable; may I suggest taking an interest in canal boats? They’re as cool as trains, and quieter. 😉

    Robert (if I may), good heavens. Given your expertise on this subject, I take your opinion extremely seriously. Have you published your views on the subject anywhere, so I can cite them in defense of Smith?

    Karl, I didn’t go into academia because I wanted to pursue writing about the occult as a practitioner, and by the time I finished my BA I’d already encountered too many detailed stories about scholars who had their careers destroyed because somebody found out about their occult interests. I met a guy who, despite impressive credentials, ended up teaching English in China because his dissertation wasn’t dismissive enough about astrology; I exchanged emails with a guy who held down a professorship in a technical field and had to conceal his occult involvements behind an elaborate system of nested pen names; and I read consistent accounts of one of the most promising young Germanists of his generation, who ended up teaching part time at a community college in rural Texas because somebody figured out that he was a practicing Norse Pagan. I wasn’t willing to self-censor my writings to get under the radar, and I wasn’t willing to run up an ocean of debt to get a degree that, by 1993 (when I finally graduated), was already pretty clearly a ticket to poverty.

    Casey, I wrote The Celtic Golden Dawn because I couldn’t find any such system. If you want one, you’re going to need to create it yourself. My advice? Invoke your deities and see if they want you to do that, and if so, ask them for help and guidance.

    Tim, after Saturn we get Venus; expect a flowering of the arts, a period in which the influence of women is relatively heightened, and much more attention to the environment. As for science, no, namecalling isn’t going to do much good. You need to pry loose the tools of the scientific method and hand them to people who will preserve them as a living tradition.

    Kashtan, hmm! Many thanks for the pointer.

    Dennis, nope.

    Anchyo, my books The Long Descent and The Ecotechnic Future answer those questions in detail.

    Isabel, I think he definitely would make a good chew toy for ghouls. They could start eating him brain first if they prefer their meals well decayed. With regard to inverted Lovecraft fiction, I wonder how many other people might be interested in contributing to that — an anthology project might be worth doing if there’s enough interest.

    Claire (offlist), um, if you thought that the story in question was just another parable about racism, then I hate to tell you this, but you missed the entire point of the book. Still, no author can communicate to everyone, no matter how hard he or she tries….

  195. John Roth,

    That’s fascinating. In The Never Ending Quest, Graves said several times that moving from one level to the next requires a latent potential to do so, and not everyone will have it. He seems to have believed that the proper life conditions are the more important factor for most people, though.

    My own speculations comport with the Michael Teachings in seeing the levels as aspects not just of the mind but of the soul, and thus carried over between lifetimes. Whether the soul is inherently capped at a particular level for a given lifetime… I’ll have to think about that. Certainly, I don’t expect large leaps in potential over the course of a single lifetime to be common.

    If correct, that has some interesting implications for my own soul, which I’ve tended to assume was fairly young, but I’ve already gone through several of the levels in this lifetime. I reckon I was at ER when I first encountered Spiral Dynamics, if for no other reason than I made the usual mistake of assuming I was at Yellow (GT) because I understood the system. (People at DQ have a hard time believing there are levels above DQ, while people at ER who learn SD or Graves’ system tend to see it as a race to the top.) That’s already fifth-level, and I’ve since moved on (my time with FS dominant was hands-down the worst period in my life) so I suppose I must be an older soul than I thought.

    Do you have a link to anything about the Michael Teachings about the levels of the soul? I’d like to compare notes as I re-read parts of The Never-Ending Quest.

  196. @Dirtyboots, a little bit of my own advice in seeking the divine, in addition to the great advice from JMG: is there any place you have been where you get an inexplicable sense of “coming home”? Almost a sense of deja vu, but combined with an urge to seek it out again and explore it? That is where I would start looking. Also, I find dawn to be the best time to go a-god-huntin’. Dreams can be your guide as well. Once you open the door this sense of things, you may become aware of them all over the place, even cities. Finding other people who have a sense of these things can help open the door for you too, to a world of incredible beauty. And don’t be prejudiced about it. A Christian or Muslim might point you in the right direction, irrespective of the tenets of their faith. The one person I’ve had a decent conversation with about the “kami” in my vicinity, who provided me great insights and shared the insane joy of a nighttime fire walk with me, was in every other respect a psychopath. With their vision blocked in one way, these people have insights in other ways, and are valuable as long as you take certain precautions with them and accept their limitations.

    I wish you the best luck in your search!

  197. @patriciaormsby You make very good points about the cuisine of tropical regions. Ive found that southeast asian vegetables grow much more easily where I live than do European vegetables, which means I’ve been adjusting how I cook to adapt.

    I wanted to share something, though. Right after hurricane Irma, I saw on Facebook that someone had posted a “hack” people could use as an emergency measure during a storm. The author’s father had been in the armed services, and had explained to her that she could clean out a plastic garbage can really well, and use it to catch rain for emergency water.

    Many people people shared this post and commented how helpful this was. And I was taken aback that in today’s America there were people unaware that they could use a container to catch water falling from the sky. >.<

    How did we get to the point that people dont even know that you can drink rainwater? 0.o

  198. @Stefania

    If you are considering dipping a toe into market gardening I would recommend it be a pinky toe. Generally the first three years of market farming are particularly messy and challenging. If you can try to get a little bit of work of an existing farmer in your area helping with harvest. Some farmers hire a person or two a day a week before market day. If you can get even a few days of work at a couple of farms you will harvest a wealth of observations.

  199. (I unintentionally found a key combo that submits the post; tab, enter)

    @Stefania

    The approach I am using to try to green wizard into the market is to keep it really simple. This year I marketed about $100 worth of my tomatoes at a time when most people weren’t producing yet, and then stopped selling once the other tomatoes were for sale. Not much money, but a good foot in the door, and it was easy because I saw a little niche that could be filled with what I had ready at hand, grabbed some easy money, and then shifted to growing for myself and working for other farmers.

    In your shoes I would be inclined to keep my powder dry instead of investing overly in equipment. Once you buy it, then after that it becomes expensive to take care of and use.

    Are their small niches doing green wizard gardening for friends, or a very small market crop of something simple to get your bearings? I cannot guess what grows well in your area, but maybe you have a knack for one or two things you could scale up on and market.

    My G-Grandma sold green beans as her cash crop, and grew enough of everything else just for the family. Her daughter grew Banana squash for the nursing home. My G-Uncle Harvey just grew potatoes (beyond of course Aunt Merle’s garden just for the family); which fed his family and the neighbors who came to help on digging day got to keep a few big bags. At the market where I sold tomatoes one of the most popular venders is a young woman who just sells strawberries and nothing besides.

    It is really hard to make a living selling at market, but getting a few hundred dollars of side money is much simpler. I hope your area’s markets aren’t too pricey to keep out low volume riff raff (hrumph), but if so maybe a few friends could buy a share of a simple fall crop for over winter?

    I have worked at and studied more than a dozen small market farms, and most I have seen struggle because they planted too much more than they can manage, I have yet to see serious distress from planing less area and fewer varieties and minding it more carefully.

  200. JMG, would a man-made lake have a spirit as well? What effect would the creation of a lake have on the spirit of whatever geographical feature was submerged, say, a hollow that was dammed up, creating a lake that goes partially up the sides of surrounding hills? Not to mention all the trees that were drowned.

    On another topic, I’m wondering how Lugh is doing nowadays? Does he tend to be a vigorous, responsive god? I still do feel a little drawn to him, but of course I fear I may be imagining this. Do you know of incidents in which he has seemed to intervene on someone’s behalf or to personally interact with them?

  201. Dear John Michael Greer,

    Thank you for blogging. I am astonished: I’ve read a heap of blogs over the years, some very good indeed, but until finding yours I had never found it worth my time to scroll down through the comments.

    I’d like to reply to Stephen, who wrote: “many things are so crappy that they are not worth buying no matter how cheap they are…surprisingly, how liberating it is! It means it is now economically viable for me to consider, say, making my own furniture, even though this will be relatively expensive compared to the prices of mass produced furniture. because that mass produced furniture is now so bloody awful. And the same goes for many other items.”

    Yes, indeed. In my own case, to take one example, a few years ago I quit buying all these various household cleaning sprays and started mixing my own– white vinegar, water, and a drop of Castille soap (and sometimes, if I get the notion, a squeeze of lemon and/or a dash of lavender oil as well.) It works wonderfully well, it’s dirt cheap, and best of all, since I can mix it in a jiffy– I keep a jug of vinegar and a funnel under the kitchen sink– I do not have to go shopping for it, lug it home, nor worry about running out before I can get to the store, nor deal with having to recycle the empty spray bottle.

    Now I am not so much congratulating myself for any clever DIY thriftiness, but rather, shaking my head in utter wonder… What trance had I fallen under for all these years to have been buying 409 spray and all those other household cleaning sprays that are expensive, space-hogging, and laced with unpronounable lists of chemicals?

    Ah, but they don’t give out PhDs in Marketing for nothing. And marketing is a kind of magic. And I am no longer under that spell. To echo Stephen, “surprisingly, how liberating it is!”

    Added benefit: I get to make my own labels for the spray bottles, which amuses me.

    Good wishes!

  202. @Dot, September 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm: I still think you´re barking up the wrong tree here; neither do I support current immigration laws nor do I ´´believe that everyone on the planet who either is or claims to have been facing situations similar to your Gambian friend should have the right to move to the country of their choice´´. I simply think that it doesn´t matter at all at this point in time wether you or I support or do not support any set of immigration policies: it´s a self-runner now, and all one can do is treat everyone one meets with compassion. When I say I sometimes find it hard to have sympathy with the very same people who couldn´t care less about he damage done by their countries in recent decades it´s not collective blaming, it´s about actions and their consequencs.
    I´m withholding sympathy there rhethorically, the same way I´m withholding sympathy from humanity when it comes to the consequences of our collective brainless treatment of the environment, and of course that doesn´t apply to individuals. I don´t see any double standard in that.
    JMG expressed it better than I can:´´…at this point the United States has long since passed into damned-if-you-do territory. If it throws open its borders it will be swamped by more immigrants than it can support, and go through various forms of political and economic collapse. If it closes its borders, it will breed warbands outside them, with the same result. It might be possible to find a middle ground — decrease illegal immigration by imposing draconian penalties on employers (the only way to actually have an effect on it) while allowing moderate amounts of legal immigration — but even that’s a crapshoot. Once the roller coaster has crested that first long rise and begins to head down the other side, there’s not much you can do but hang on… ´´
    I think that very much goes for Europe, too.
    With the example of the guy from Gambia I wanted to illustrate the desperation of people who are on the run, from whatever dangers or circumstances. It´s a decision no one takes lightly: to leave all your friends, family and the familiar area you grew up in behind for a very uncertain future.
    People who are that desperate won´t care about immigration laws or policies. To prevent them coming in for good, I think in the long run you would have to kill them (or have them killed by paying the leaders of their countries, or the countries they move through, to do so), and that definetly is something I do not support.
    But again, I think that unfortunately it matters f… all what I do or do not support, and I fear it´s exactly what´s going to happen. In some ways it´s starting already starting: the ´´deal´´ Angela Merkel made with Turkey is basically this:´´ You keep the migrants from coming to Europe, and we pay you handsomely for it and won´t look too closely at the living conditions and the circumstances of the deaths occuring in the internment camps you´re holding them in´´. And that, I think, really is cynical, and that´s where the dilemma is.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  203. @ Patriciaormsby and all the others who kindly gave me advice regarding my aphid problem: the lacewing larvae worked on the plants that weren´t too heavily infested, but some others I had to throw out. The aphids came back after a while, though, and I was just about to try the soapy water with garlic when I noticed two adult lacewings in the foliage. So I put away the sprayer and built an insect hotel for them to hibernate in instead and I hope they take to it and make themselves a comfortable home in the greenhouse.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  204. @ Dot, September 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm, P.S.: I very much agree that thinking ´´ oh well, you brought it upon yourselves´´ would be collective blaming; that is why I think it is too simplistic, and every time thoughts like that occur, my conscience cuts in with a very definite ´´NO YOU DON´T.´´
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  205. Just a quick one. Way back in your previous blog (possibly even in the comments), iirc, you gave a prediction that the internet would disappear in its present form in between ten to twenty years. Would you still stand by that prediction?

    One of the reasons I rather warmed to your writing was that I felt, in an odd sort of way, almost crushed by the rise of the internet in it’s present ubiquitous form (which seemed to happen around the mid noughties). Yours was the only voice I’d heard that said it might not be there forever.

    (Ok fine yes, I know that if it goes, it goes in a context in which everything changes, and yes, irony, whatever. But still – it’s such a radical prediction by mainstream standards, and you gave a timescale for it … so I did wonder)

  206. JMG, just curious what made you decide to go more into modern astrology after studying mediaeval/Renaissance astrology?

  207. I worry about such arguments over immigration based on heart vs. head above. Neptune is noew in pisces and colors our thoughts accordingly. Similarly in 1850s before civil war, naional unification in germany, italy, abolition of slavery in russia, America Neptune passed through pisces. In WWII it went through opposite sign of virgo. The globe became divided between communism and capitalism after germany and japan (virgo type countries) attempted a 3rd way. USA had revolution and WWII successes with Neptune virgo or just after and civil war, current cold civil war with neptune in pisces(emphasis on race, universalism or nation over states rights and currently globalism, empire building).

     

    Reformation as rebellion against catholic universalism followed neptune in pisces. Europe fought a 30 years war just after neptune in virgo. Newton founded scientific paradigm and Ottomans reached peak in Europe with neptune in Pisces.

     

    I think peak Americanism and globalism has been reached, like with catholicism and Ottomans back then and British impeialism with American revolution. New paradigm seems to be micro states like catalonia and Eurasian concept of accepting foreign culture with non interference, as opposed to American universal values imposed by force. North /south divide(as after 30 years war) in global sense or relationship with expanding islam as after vienna 1688 are biggest questions. America and Europe seem in decline, along with Christianity, western humanism, scientific ideology, industrialism. Thisbhas all peaked, Asia, Africa making a comeback.

     

    Pendulum of neptune in signs during human crises seems important to define ourselves as peoples, ideologically. If we redefine ourselves(reformation) or are subsumed(Americanization of Europe, East asia) by others. Perhaps Europe, America will lose white, christian, humanistic, industriaized identity entirely due  to southern influx of population, peak oil.

  208. @ Stein,September 29, 2017 at 11:02 am: Well, I´m glad the mode of conversation is different here…
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  209. Lockheed Martin presented at the same conference in Australia, but made very few waves. Musk, on the other hand, got lots of applause for his various proposals, the largest being when he showed the SimCity image of “a city on Mars”.

    The fact that there are a lot of “we don’t know how to do this yet” factors in his proposal didn’t factor in with the audience. Among other things, he wants to land cargo rockets on Mars in five years.

    Lockheed Martin, on the other hand, uses “things we know how to do” in order to do them and has a much wiser approach to the task at hand. Among them, actually finding landing zones that can support larger space ships.

    Watching Musks presentation brings to the fore a theme that has been central to the Archdruid Report and which also resonates in this new hub on the web: we are disconnected from reality to an extent that should give pause, but so distracted by fantasy that we don’t stop to ponder.

    If we, for some ridiculous reason, “need to go to Mars”, it’s definitely not because we need to become “a multiplanet species”, in the words of Musk. We’re about to become an extinct species on a habitat that is perfectly suited to our survival. Going to one that presents a daunting set of challenges to any chances of survival, in order to survive, doesn’t seem very clever.

    I’ll add Lockheed Martin’s comments re. the task, should we undertake it:

    “This isn’t Lockheed Martin’s vision, and it’s not the only vision of how to get to Mars, but we put it out here so that we can globally begin the dialogue,” Robert Chambers, an engineer working on the Mars Base Camp concept, said during the presentation.

    Unlike Mr. Musk’s dreams, Mars Base Camp would not require unproven business plans or novel technologies far beyond what already exists or is already in development. “We know how to do this,” Mr. Chambers said.

    The spacecraft, which looks as one might expect a traditional NASA expeditionary mission to Mars to look, would incorporate both the Orion crew capsule that Lockheed Martin is building for NASA deep-space missions and the agency’s plans to put a space station high above the moon. This week, the Russian space agency announced that it would like to collaborate with NASA on this lunar space station, called the Deep Space Gateway.

  210. I should add that I believe missions to Mars will result in horrible failures that will remove any faith in the pervasive belief that Technology Angels will “save us” from ourselves.

  211. JMG
    I am glad your November 2016 essay ‘The Fallacy of Free Trade’, (Karl Ivanov comment above), is still up at Resilience. and presumably is also in your recently published books of ADR writing.
    .
    Our cornered British PM the other day made a speech. She said that ” …the free market economy was “the greatest agent of collective human progress ever created” and went on to elaborate why.

    Prof Steve Keen on the other hand recently delivered a withering technical account of the fallacies built into Ricardo’s theory of international trade, which was the 19th Century corner stone for the periods of ‘Free Trade’ you have described, and is a key theory for the faith of Theresa May and all those American academics that Karl quotes. Steve K is here https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2017/08/ricardos-vice-virtues-industrial-diversity/

    Karl’s account seems similar to the push back I had from a fellow scientist friend a couple of decades ago when I queried tech progress: “My motor car works”.

    best
    Phil H
    PS @Oilman 2 I appreciate your experience. I paraphrase I hope correctly – JMG thinks that the powers-that-be are straining every muscle to prevent crash, and that they might just succeed. My own guess is that they most likely will succeed and that those remaining in the bubble of affluence (a dynamic bubble which will if it is not doing so already, experience a gradual overall net-shrinkage) will continue relatively unaffected, sufficiently immune from the wreckage increasingly piling up round them. The devil though is in the detail. We cannot rely much on PM Theresa May.

  212. As promised, for anyone interested, the results of the German election 2017:

    Percentage of votes:

    CDU
    26,8 %
    (2013: 34,1 %)
    SPD
    20,5 %
    (2013: 25,7 %)
    AfD
    12,6 %
    (2013: 4,7 %)
    FDP
    10,7 %
    (2013: 4,8 %)
    THE LEFT
    9,2 %
    (2013: 8,6 %)
    GREENS
    8,9 %
    (2013: 8,4 %)
    CSU
    6,2 %
    (2013: 7,4 %)
    others
    5,0 %
    (2013: 6,2 %)

    Seats in parliament:
    CDU
    200 Sitze (2013: 255),
    (2013: 191)
    SPD
    153 Sitze (2013: 193),
    (2013: 58)
    AfD
    94 Sitze (2013: – ),
    (2013: – )
    FDP
    80 Sitze (2013:  – ),
    (2013: – )
    THE LEFT
    69 Sitze (2013: 64),
    (2013: 4)
    GREENS
    67 Sitze (2013: 63),
    (2013: 1)
    CSU
    46 Sitze (2013: 56),
    (2013: 45)

    A few explanatory remarks:
    -The CDU (Christian Democrats) and the CSU (Christian-social Democrats) are a twin party that is treated as one unit in German parliament; the CSU is the bavarian ´´twin´´.
    – German electoral law is rather complicated, so I would have to do research to get the details right, and it would probably bore any non-German to death and some Germans, too, coming to think of it. But the main part of it is proportional represantation: If a party gets 20 % of the votes, it gets roughly 20 % of the seats in parliament. I say roughly because there is a limiting rule: a party has to get more than 5 % to achieve representation (although there is a backdoor for very small but locally very popular parties – as I said, it´s complicated).
    -CDU and CSU are the conservative party, the SPD is the social democratic party, the FDP is the liberal party, the left are what you probably would call socialists (not communists, they have their own party which has sunk into the obscurity of the ´´others´´ in the statistic), the Greens are supposed to be environmentalist and progressive and the AfD is, to put it carefully, a mix of people with different political opinions who are all concerned about current immigration and the resulting problems and the EU as an organization – I hope that was an almost neutral description.
    – Parties in Germany routinely have to built ´´coalitions´´ to put together a majority for government: very rarely does one party have the necessary more than 50 % . This involves talks and negotiations
    between the parties that want to form a government, and it´s not always the two biggest parties who do: This time, for example, there is talk about a coalition between CDU/CSU, the FDP and the Greens. If the parties cannot resolve differences enough to form a coalition government, the election is repeated (which I think hasn´t happened so far, though I´m glad to be corrected).
    Wasn´t there someone from New Zealand who said they would post their election results (forgot the user name now) ? If you´re reading this, please do – I, for one, would be curious.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  213. It has been an interesting discussion so far! J. M. Greer, I have a question, which occupied me for a while: What would have been the consequences of a nuclear exchange during the Cold War regarding the big picture of the decline and fall of Western civilization? It presumably would have depended on the number of nukes exchanged. As far as I know, this would mainly have played out in the northern hemisphere? To my knowledge, there are no good historical analogies for comparison. North Korea was totally flattened during the Korean War, but in the fifties and sixties they rebuilt with Soviet and Chinese help. But the analogy is incomplete because in the case of a nuclear world war, there would presumably have been nobody left to carry out a Marshall plan.
    Stephen Cook and Jencornforth, the crapification of products is something which I have observed myself, especially in consumer electronics and software. It has become noticeably more difficult to find good quality non-everyday goods in brick-and-mortar stores compared to the 1990s. There are, for example, barely any art supplies stores left, instead there are hobby stores with cheap, mass-market hobby supplies, often with already prefabricated designs. I expect crapification in the computer industry to become an important factor in diminishing the desire to buy new computers and the like.
    Another commenter observed that is nowadays difficult to find congenial community. It seems to me that this has to do with the mismatch of the available communal activities and the desires and interests of at least some of those who want to build social connections or partake in communal activities.

  214. @jbucks,JMG – A note about fugue:

    In music, practice (almost) always precedes theory. From the 12th to the 17th century, music theorists were describing the music that composers had been writing decades, sometimes even a century, earlier. What the composers of their own day were doing was way beyond them. Later, Bach did not follow the ‘rules of fugue’. He wrote fugues and later the theorists tried to work out what he had done and formulate it as a set of rules. No leading composer ever followed rules before the beginning of the twentieth century, when a few composers (e.g. Scriabin, Schoenberg) set themselves rules to guide them through the collapse of the Western harmonic system.*

    It seems to me unlikely that learning the rules of fugue now will make any impression on musical abilities in a future life beyond the fact of simply being involved in music. The harmonic and polyphonic skills of a 15th or 16th century composer were transferable to the 18th and 19th centuries since the fundamental features of the harmonic system were the same. It is therefore easy to imagine a minor 15th or 16th century composer transferring their skills to be reborn as a major 18th or 19th century composer.** That no longer applies. Nowadays, neither in “classical” nor in popular music is harmony the foundation of a composition, let alone counterpoint. They were features of what Spengler called ‘Faustian’ culture, which is now well into the process of disintegrating. There have been other great musical cultures, the Indian for example, in which harmony and counterpoint are of little or no importance. It seems to me that any future culture that arises will have a music that we at present have no inkling of and therefore cannot prepare for, except insofar as we can immerse ourselves in the forms of music that are now current and see how we want to use them. I do not see fugue in that category.***

    * Composers learned techniques, of course, but that is different from following rules. Also, when composition became a taught skill, many great composers learned “the rules”, but that doesn’t mean they followed them when they were actually creating great compositions. It is notable that when 19th and 20th century composers tried to use fugue in a composition, it was generally the weakest part of the work.

    ** I sometimes fantasise that Mozart was a reincarnation of Josquin Des Pres, since they have the same effortless ease in creating the most intricate yet lyrical structures. However, Josquin was by far the pre-eminent composer of his day so I imagine he hardly needed to be reborn as another great composer.

    *** JMG – I agree that a future non-Faustian culture may well have a music that does not “progress”. Whether I welcome it is neither here not there – it is unforeseeable and whatever happens will happen. The fact is that musical ‘progress’ has been a feature of Faustian culture since its inception.

  215. We went straight from fur trading canoes and york boats to railroad settlements in much of Canada, so canal boats haven’t any cultural cachet. That said, I do have a (growing) fondness for canoes, and am mightily impressed by the canals I have seen, so perhaps the boats needn’t leave me cold.

    I suspect we will eventually return to the native practice in this part of the world of focusing almost exclusively on water transport. (As I understand, pre-contact, there weren’t really any human-made trails in this part of the world : just game trails the local hominids shared with other wildlife). This map of our rivers shows why : https://imgur.com/MniZnfA
    Dense! Why bother walking?
    Looks like parts of the USA are in a similar sort of way, especially in the East: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nelsonminar/8747607969/in/set-72157633504361549/lightbox/
    (though note the American map isn’t as fine-grained as the one for Canada. They’re both absolutely beautiful, though!)

  216. @team10tim
    Re: What’s on the other side of the crisis

    What it’s going to look like after we navigate the crisis depends on who you talk to. For some of the people making predictions, it’s a linear projection of what they believe; for others it’s a turning of the wheel and you can predict based on what happened the last time(s). Still others say that it’s going to be different enough that we simply don’t have the words and concepts to describe it – not that it’s stopping a lot of people from trying! It’s just adding noise to the confusion.

    I’m in the latter camp, so all I feel confident in saying is that most of what’s been standard for the last two to three thousand years won’t be present – at least in controlling amounts – any more. That doesn’t mean it’s all going to be rainbows and unicorns. There will still be lots of challenges on personal, neighborhood and global levels – just not the same ones we’re used to.

    As I see it, cooperative ownership is a lot closer to what things will settle out to than hierarchal ownership. I doubt if it’s what will eventually settle out, but at least it’s headed in the right direction. Big organizations like nation-states and multi-nationals won’t exist in any meaningful fashion.

    As I see it, “science” will still be around, but the social and organizational aspects will be very different. “Big science” will have hit the chopping block.

  217. JMG, Do you know the author or name of this sci-fi book?
    I read a great sci-fi book somewhere in the last 5-10 years and now I can’t remember the author name or the title and I would love to find it again. I am pretty sure it was out of print so could only be found through used book websites. It was set in modern day Earth, and starts in England where a secretary accidentally comes across some information she wasn’t supposed to know (much to her detriment). Then the action switches to Australia where some folks hear rumors of something strange being built off in the interior. Ultimately they find out that spaceships were being built and only billionaires could afford the tickets (paid in advance of course to fund the building of the ships) because somehow the billionaires knew something terrible was going to happen on Earth and the only way to protect themselves was to get off planet and up into orbit before it happened. Great book, very funny Aussies, and I would love to find that book again! Do you have any idea?

  218. Hi again.

    Back when I was not so old, back in the 80s I picked up a book with a really neat Michael Whelan cover. Julian May’s ‘The Many-Colored Land probably doesn’t qualify as The Old Solar System, but it and all its following novels were entertaining as heck. They had humor, likeable characters (even and sometimes especially the villains), crazy time-travel, some aliens (the Krondaku) that looked really Lovecraftian ( tentacles and awesomely befanged buccal orifices – Check), a nod to the Pacific Northwest, and deep time. Ever read those books? I appreciated May’s blending of SciFi tropes and fantasy, and that one of the major villains was trying to force human evolution through the use of technology ‘because it’s for the best and it’s inevitable’.

    The books also cushioned (and possibly contributed to) my spectacular flaming-out at university…

    Ah, the 1980s. What a decade!

  219. I am so appreciative of the time and thought you offer us, JMG, and of the commenters here who, every time I have the niggling of a question but am uncertain in my courage to post it, or unsure how I want to word it, manage to ask first and alleviate my shyness with “oh I’m not alone in wondering that!”

    These last few months the fly-of-my-mind (who would prefer to be arrowswift and sharp as a falcon but is severely lacking in rigor and training) has flitted and hovered over topics related to that lack, as well as how to approach unknown deities, basic beginner practices to strengthen will, a chimed-in hope you’d write more about discursive meditation, and more that has been touched on here, including the pain of unintended consequences, to wit: I also have unfinished fiction that gives such baleful looks in my direction since I effectively trained to be the interruptible family go-to/fire-putter-outer person such that I am now more diffused and scattered than i was naturally.

    So, I guess I’m the quiet student in the back, picking out all the remedial material in hopes of… well… remedying some problems 🙂

    No questions this time around, just thank you.

  220. Hi JMG,

    thanks for your reply regarding market gardening. I’m a bit surprised by it, I must say. Didn’t you mention you were getting a fair bit of food at your local farmer’s market? That’s along the lines of what I had in mind when I talked about growing for market. Do you see that going away on the short term? I would be leaning more to a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA model, where we would just be growing food for maybe 5-10 families to start with, in the very immediate neighborhood. I could be very open to bartering – firewood, game meat, childcare, home brew (lots of home brew!) and anything else people may have to offer. I guess that’s more or less what you likely had in mind, actually.

    There’s an organic farm about a mile down the road which we went to visit the other day. The farmers were very ambitious and hard-working, I admired their values and what they were doing, but they are currently taking their produce to sell at a farmer’s market in Ottawa, which is about an hour’s drive from here. It’s definitely the largest market ‘near’ us, so I can see why they would do it for now, but I just don’t see that being viable for too much longer.

    Our area is largely farmed by the Dutch (I guess the former Dutch, that is); in fact our church is probably about 80% Dutch farmers. They are also a very hardworking and savvy bunch (luckily also very welcoming and friendly), but it is all conventional farming, corn and soy with big tractors and pesticides. Needless to say I don’t see that having much of a future either.

    But this interim period where the old system is still sort of functioning, and the eventual new ones are years away is kind of tricky. The devil as always is in the details. I’m trying to envision where we will be getting our food from in the years to come. It’s all quite imminent and practical for me at the moment, as I tend to start my garden (farm?) plan right on the heels of last year’s garden, which is right around now.

  221. Laurel Pheonix, would that be something by Neville Schute? What you described sounds very like it could be one of his plots.

    For the poster considering market gardening, have you thought of nursery stock? As an avid heirloom gardener, I can tell you that here in the USA perennial ornamental plants and bulbs of historic interest and which are produced without chemical intervention are in very short supply. You might consider taking an informal survey of friends and asking what favorite varieties are no longer in commerce that they might like to buy if the price were at all reasonable. For example, the roses of your compatriot, Joyce Fleming, seem to have vanished from commerce except for ‘Roberta Bondar’ which I do grow. If you could find plants of some of her others, and propagate, and sell as creations of unappreciated Canadian breeder Joyce Fleming, etc etc. you might at least make some pocket money while contributing to the preservation of a piece of Canadian history. You can sell berry bushes to the permaculturalists and only need to dig up and pot suckers. Naturally you do need to research Canadian laws about plant patenting. American rose growers can tell you down to the hour when our faves are coming “off patent”. I have been searching for weeks for organic bulb suppliers and have found only two online and one other on etsy, all with quite limited selections.

  222. Scotlyn,

    You asked, “2) Question: is too fervent a belief in ANY proposition a compassion killer?”

    But I think that compassion may or may not be a casualty, but rationality and the ability to have discussion and reason as well.

  223. Adam,

    Re your question of 9/27 @9:10 pm, I am in complete agreement with you. Not sure about our host and have not gotten to his answers yet, but it saddens me when I see people bending over backwards in an effort to right certain wrongs by denying the amazing human mind. Of course, you did use the word unique (I think). I’m sure there are both embodied and disembodied intelligences in the universe that are like ours and far greater than ours. But as to our place in the earth ecosystem, in my opinion, it does not further wisdom to pretend that humans are not in a unique position. In fact, what we need is more wisdom,more clarity, more ability to choose the good, more long term sight, but these things will not be furthered by tearing down our view of ourselves nor bending reality is some direction that current moralistic fads say would be helpful.

  224. Thanks for the frank answer about Asperger’s. It leads to another question, though: I have almost the opposite problem in that I struggle to concentrate. If I think back to how I was in third grade, then I think it it was pretty clear I had ADHD. Nearrly 50 years on and I’m still struggling with it. I believe that this lack of concentration has hindered me in my magical development. I have recently started getting more exercise and now I’m doing candle meditations to try to improve my concentration. Do you have any golden tips for me?

  225. JMG, if I may,

    If you are in the habit of introducing yourself as Ragnar Hairypants, I have a quite clear idea of what kind of deities you are going to encounter 😉

  226. Steve T –among writers there is a general division between pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants. Start at the beginning and spin the story out until you reach the end, go back to polish, make sure no one changed eye color or height between chapter one and the end and you’re done. Plotters go pale at the very idea. They outline the entire plot, sometimes in great detail and including all the subplots and how they will be woven together. Sometimes wall charts with different color pens. Sometimes character sheets that tell where the character was born and what their favorite game was in elementary school even if that information will never make it into the actual story. Then, outlines, character sheets, wall charts in hand, they actually write a draft. So, I would advise giving the plotter method a try–even if you end up changing something as you write, having a clear idea of where the story is going can help carry you through that stalled stage. Good luck.

  227. @Dave Coulter Thanks. I really like the idea of an attitude of gratitude.

    @Laurel Phoenix could it have been Stark by Ben Elton? It sounds like a similar plot.

  228. John,

    Recently Izvestia on the Hudson, that’s the New York Times for those not up on fine points of old Soviet propaganda, has started channeling Chris Martenson or Daisy Luther in terms of preparing for emergencies. Last weekend there was “How to Survive the Apocalypse” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/23/style/how-to-survive-the-apocalypse.html) while this weekend there is “Preparing Your Home for a Disaster” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/realestate/preparing-for-disaster.html) with pictures of stacks of #10 cans of freeze dried food. While the number of disasters that almost seems to be happening on a weekly basis may explain this new found interest of our major newspaper of record, someone a bit cynical might wonder whether there might sometimes more at work – a little warning of other things possibly to come. Nah, I just being a little too over the top suspicious here.

  229. Joel C., I’ve been mostly convinced (by writings like The Automatic Earth and Dimitri Orlov) that the financial system is the fastest acting and will ‘go’ first in a crisis, so I too expected to see another financial disaster by now. The province where I live had a full size recession when oil prices tanked in late 2014, but I was surprised how little seemed to happen south of the border in the US. I suppose the very feature that makes finance fast to fail (it’s just numbers) make it the easiest to fix.

    Even though I was wrong about how long the system could prop up the tech, housing, education, and market bubbles, I suspect that the pension crisis will be too big to paper over. It is one thing to bail out banks and corporations, where most of the currency is tied up in assets. A much higher proportion of pension payments go to consumption goods and services. Bailing out that is more likely to lead to the dreaded hyperinflation, especially since some countries that absorb american debt and export cheap goods are taking steps to free themselves from USD dependance. Or maybe I’m just underestimating the powers that be again to feed my collapse bias.

    JMG, I too would be in line to get your book on discursive meditation. I got a taste by reading The Druidry Handbook and I found your explanations clear and appreciated how the exercises started from the very basics and were structured so each one sets the foundation for the next. In two weeks of practice, I had found and got some control over a tension in my shoulders that years of dabbling in tai chi, breathing meditation, and relaxation techniques had not revealed to me. I got stuck in the first concentration meditation though, when I got confused about which type of attention was ‘the right one’ to cultivate – there seems to be at least 3. So I skipped to the next exercises and soon quit. Despite that, I think I want to do meditation again and having a deeper dive book on the subject could help.

    Reese & Dusk Shine, another peak oil aware brony here. I know another brony who occasionally jokes about having his brain uploaded to join Celest-AI, a singularity being from a fan fiction story. In light of that, and reading JMG’s recent blogging, worshipping Celestia doesn’t seem so weird.

    Jencornforth & Vesta, I found your Q & A fascinating.

  230. @ Sephania,

    I hope you don’t mind me giving my two cents worth:

    Let me second (or third) JMG and Ray’s comments.

    I am in a similar situation as yourself. I have a secure income and live in rural Ontario. I also raise much of our own food (veggies, eggs, meat).

    Unlike yourself, I also have the time and three children old enough to actually help me once in a while.

    Growing our own food was intended to make the pension income go farther. It has to some degree and if nothing else I know where my food comes from and am reasonably certain it is healthier for me and my family than store bought food.

    As your question to John suggests, I would need to invest heavily in machinery to go the next step up. The business case for this is not at all appealing: heavy investment in time, money and most especially physical effort for very little return.

    Even growing my own food does not make a lot of sense from a straight economic perspective. I could make more money working off farm and then buy my own food with plenty of cash to spare. I’ve even held off buying a new rototiller. I just can’t justify the cost outlay for the return. I’m back to digging by hand. Just growing your own food is hard enough.

    If it doesn’t really make much economic sense to grow your own food, how can it make much sense to grow someone else’s? Obviously some people do. As you no doubt know, its called industrial agriculture and involves high mechanization, lots of pesticides and herbicides, very low wages, high capital investment, high running costs, high risk, and low profit margins. One cannot compete with that beast in a way that would let you sleep well at night or does not leave you broke and physically broken.

    Organic agriculture that pays is still industrial agriculture. The product costs more and so it is a luxury. I think the hard times to come will reduce this market. I know I can no longer afford to buy organic food.

    In truth, what I am doing (and I suspect you are as well) is just sucking off the hind tit of industrial agriculture. My chicken and pig feed are inputs from local industrial ag. Same for hay (even when it comes from my own fields) for sheep and mulch and compost. Same for the manure I get from horse barns. No matter how you look at it, we are all part of the same culture that is completely dependant on the machine.

    Still, the hind tit is a better place to be than the fore tit. I think that if one produces a diversity of food for oneself, one will feel the changes in food costs less as these are amplified more the further one is down the food supply chain.

    So as John and Ray have said, continue to grow your own food and share your excess with family and friends. You will give you a much better return on your effort and be in a more resilient position than trying to make money from growing food.

    Sorry for going on a bit but this is a subject I’ve given a great deal of thought to for myself.

  231. I forgut to mention that my observations about brick-and-mortar stores are from Germany. Additionally, during the last ten years, quite a few cafes and a few restaurants have closed down.
    Regarding the AfD, this party is politically more right-wing than the CDU and CSU, but less so than the Neu-Nazi party NPD, which did not get into the Bundestag.

  232. Hi JMG,

    Your point is understood about philsophy being divergent. A desire for convergence is an issue with me, wanting to tie things together that are best left to their separate spheres, so it helps to be mindful of that. But I think what I meant to ask
    specifically, just purely out of interest, was what do you make of Spengler’s comments on Schopenhauer. I have a few here from Volume 1 Chaper X-II “Buddhism, Stoicism, Socialism” (p369 in my English edition):

    [after quote from The World as Will and Representaion on the intellect being an “an accident of our being” and a function of our brain which can be seen as a fruit, a product “nay even a parasite of the rest of the organism”; a passage
    comparable to what you said about the Schopenhaurian self being an ecology rather than a hierarchy] “Here we have exactly the fundamental position of the flattest materialism. It was not for nothing that Schopenhauer…studied the English
    sensualists. From them he learned to misread Kant in the spirit of megalopolitan utilitarian modernity”

    Further on:

    “The clarity of which he was so proud threatened at every moment to reveal itself as triviality. While retaining enough formula to produce an atmosphere of profundity and exclusiveness, he presented the civilised view of the world complete and assimilable. His system anticipated Darwinism, and the speech of Kant and the concepts of the Indians are simply clothing.”

    This certainly isn’t how I feel when reading Schopenhauer [so far], but I don’t have the breadth of reading in what came before and after to be able to verify or challenge Spengler’s view of him, nor of Darwin for that matter. I find Spengler compelling but do you think he is being overly reductive about Schopenhauer’s views and intentions (“flattest materialism” etc.) in the service of tying him in with the relevant stage of “Faustian” culture-becoming-civilisation?

    I hope I’m not coming across as intellectually lazy here in not working out my own opinion; it’s not that I don’t have one it’s that I don’t feel quite able to articulate it with my current reading level in this area.

    Thanks again,
    Morfran.

  233. Hi John Michael,

    Thank you for both answers. I have wondered about the first, and the second comports with my view of the world. I have always understood – and cannot explain how – that the Earth only has so much life energy. Interestingly, I have also observed the reaction and push back from others when a change in emotional state was brought into being. One of the side benefits of growing up largely unsupervised, was that I was largely unsupervised! They forgot to directly program me. :-)!

    The word happiness appears to me to be a more stretched emotion than a more level playing field. I don’t know really, I sort of feel that contentment may be more my goal. I really don’t know, but am contemplating that matter. And, I’m too scared to even ask you what sort of emotional state do you favour? Actually that was a question which you are under no obligation to answer if you feel that it is inappropriate.

    Incidentally, I had writers block this evening. So, I sat in the forest with the chickens roaming around the orchard and just asked the hard question: What do you want me to write about? And believe it or not, I got the story. Far out. It was quite nice outside tonight and the Boobook owls were calling and the Currawongs were singing their mournful songs as the sun sank below the horizon. A nice moment deep in nature.

    Cheers

    Chris

  234. @kalek:
    Ah, hello!
    I’m also familiar with the Optimalverse, though I believe most the actual reading I’ve done in it was done before I’d fully (or as fully as I have, at least; given how long I didn’t notice it at all, I can’t be sure it’s complete) shaken Progress. I did still think that [i]some[/i] parts of it weren’t very plausible, but less so than I do now. Still think there are some good stories there, from what I recall, but… I don’t think Eliezer Yudkowsky needs to be that afraid of it.
    Thank you for pointing out the link, though! Interesting, and not something I’d thought of. Oh AI who art in Future, and art also a cartoon horse princess…

  235. I have noticed you often associate with James Howard Kunstler (in interview, panel discussions, etc.) I have been reading JHK for longer than I’ve read ADR — it’s thanks to him I discovered your blog… But my limited interaction with Jim has not always been pleasant ( the first time I tried commenting on an essay via email he tersely replied with hurtful profanity.) I made a point of clearing the air with him, and he did apologise, but a certain tone had been set. Anyway, Kunstler has a pretty good sense of economic and energy related issues, (and an ascerbic wit), but when he wanders off into race and gender politics, he comes across as so utterly close-minded and prejudiced its embarrassing. For example, it seems to me that he has to insist that racial profiling cannot exist, or at least would never happen to blacks who can speak proper English. It has gotten to the point where I cannot give the guy the time of day.
    Besides, he trots out the same predictions for the imminent collapse of America every year. A broken clock is right twice a day, I suppose, but this guy will only be right once, if ever. I know he’s written some important work (Geography of Nowhere comes to mind) but I’m no longer very impressed. My question is, do you not have trouble with his recent material? And can one you really still take him all that seriously?

  236. JMG, John Roth: Thank you, that Is encouraging

    Patriaormsby, thank you. Your question inspired an immediate and clear answer: old growth forest. I have had such experiences on a number of occasions while hiking through centuries-old stands of trees. These have occurred at different times of day, at different locations and among different species of tree. I’ve always dismissed these experiences as endorphin-related phenomena engendered by vigorous exercise, but now I’m wondering if there’s more to it. Reminds me of Tom Brown, Jr.’s urge to seek areas radiating Good Medicine.

  237. @ JMG, many thanks for your encouragement! Honestly, I’ve not given much thought to using parody as a source of income, having simply using it as a way to amuse myself and others. Hmmm! It is something that comes very naturally and spontaneously to me, to the point where I think I may have spent a past life or two working professionally as a satirist. I’ll definitely seriously consider the task, and may even formulate the serious intention of putting the plots down, although as of late I’ve been up to my neck in other full time creative pursuits which are rewarding, satisfying and very well may turn a dime yet!

    @ Ezra, that made me laugh so hard I cried!!! Thank you, I’ve shared the image with my farm friend who helped develop the line of humor. What is it about internet collage art which rends everything in such a ridiculously satiric key? I mean that in the best possible way. Very, very well done.

  238. Alex, thank you so much! Yes, it was Stark by Elton. Now that I have the names again, I can find it to read it again.
    Laurel

  239. @Steve T: If neither JMG’s major mental muscles discliplined approach nor Rita’s Plotters’ approach works for finishing your stalled stories, here are a couple of other techniques. WriteTech01) The 3-gate method. Before writing, sit down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Imagine yourself walkng along and coming to a gate–any kind, but be as specific as possible. Mentally go through the gate and keep walkikng till you reach another gate. A different one. Go through it and keep walking. Come to a third gate. When you go through this one, you will be in your story world. Look around and write down whatever you see. Repeat this process every day still the story is done. WriteTech02: Muse Invocation. Make an altar outside to honor your Muse. Before writing, go to your altar and make an offering to your Muse. An apple, a piece of candy, a coin, a pretty rock, a feather. Bread pellets. Anything you like. Thank the Muse for the original inspiration. Request the aid of your chosen Muse to sustain and complete the original inspiration. If the Muse gives you their name, dedicate the completed story to that name.

  240. Hi kalek,

    Don’t be too convinced about such matters. The financial system is by far the easiest system to game. All other systems take resources and commitments and those are harder variables to game. Just sayin… Destruction of the oversupply of money will happen – that is baked into the cake now, but what makes you believe that the supply of money wont simply be pumped up again? It looks to me like a system of cycles and drops.

    Chris

  241. Hello JMG, That is about Lakota indians life today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TwkHvT1BwA

    They have many issues, including nutritious ones. Relying on Federal aid, they get only cheapest foods, that makes them obese and is not very nutritious. Wy hasnst anyone told them about gardening and other smaller scale agriculture such as raising pigs or chickens?

  242. Those Lakotas having gardens etc. could help their spiritual being too, making them less reliant on aid in my opinion.

  243. @Vesta:

    Thank you for your support of my attempt to merge the Law of Flow and the 2nd Principle of Permaculture. It makes plenty of sense to me too…and I believe it is a way of thinking we should be actively encouraging if we are serious about helping posterity recover slightly faster from our mistakes.

    Cheers.
    Tripp

  244. @philsharris…

    I don’t disagree that they are trying to hold back collapse. but the financial end of it has been worsening since 2008, when they halted the market reset. Honestly, they are pushing a wet noodle when money purchasing power and employment are dropping – nobody can afford to buy very much. And that is only looking at the national level Here in Houston, they are talking about RAISING TAXES due to Harvey, of all crazy things. People are already damaged and trying to recover and the city wants to pop them with the largest increase in property taxes in history. In recent months, the Agriculture bunch has been tossing around additional licensing fees as well, along with other state and county agencies.

    As I was trying to express, there may be some big collapses of bubbles and government that make the headlines. But collapse will be very localized in the form it takes, because every city and county is different, every state is different, the industries in each of them are different.

    Finance and pensions and the stock market and derivatives and credit default swaps and banks – all are doing their level best to keep all the balls in the air, because they don’t want to be impoverished (very relative term, that one). I do not anticipate a big, giant event. BAU will roll along in most areas, until it doesn’t. That is not a giant collapse, but it is one nonetheless. Then they will shore it up or change the laws, and things will sort of work, until even that fails.

    It is a bumpy road to reset. One size will not fit all. And sooner or later, some local law enforcement will align itself on the wrong side of things. Or maybe they just refuse to enforce stupid edicts from somewhere far away and disconnected form their reality. One is visible, but the other isn’t. Both are collapse events when looked at over the past 30 years of behavior.

    Leviathan takes a while to die, when faced with an army of hyenas, as they each take a small yet irreplaceable bite of the monster.

  245. JMG, a question or two about malevolent spirits has come up in discussion between me and my wife. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying here, but it seems like exposure to dark beings only occurs once people start working with magic. At least for my part, I have never had the “pleasure” of such a meeting, and as you might infer from my previous statement, I haven’t really tried to do much magic either.

    Like another commenter upthread, I am pretty good with energy play between my hands. When anyone describes this experience I am right there with them. I don’t have to warm up or meditate or anything (or not much), I just feel it loud and clear. Like a squishy magnetic ball. And I play with it too. I’ve always enjoyed it. And I consult the Carr-Gomm’s druid animal oracle now and then. The answers I get always seem to be applicable and appropriate. But that’s about it.

    But frankly, the idea of meeting a “demon,” or similar, freaks me out. My Southern Baptist father claims to have run into one once, and said it was pretty awful. So I guess my questions are, is it worth it? Is it a yin-yang sort of thing? As in, you can’t really know good without knowing bad? Would that imply that my life to date, at least according to an operative mage, has been pretty bland?

    I guess I study jiu jitsu not so that I can kick butt, but rather to avoid getting my own kicked (among other reasons). Being familiar with the Sphere of Protection or Elemental Cross seems like it might fall into a similar vein. But that just begs my original question, doesn’t it? Once you start working with magic it seems you’re opening yourself up to malevolence that doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your life. Sort of like the idea that you’re twice as likely to survive an automobile accident in a big car, but half as likely to get in one in the first place in a small car?

    I have had a run-in with a bona-fide psychopath though. Projecting the shadow or not, this was and still is a bad dude. I didn’t meet him until I was 40, had never met one before, wasn’t predisposed to flinging insults like this, and assumed, as a matter of experience, that such nasty people didn’t really exist outside of legend, or film. Up until then. I was scared for my family and completely unprepared to deal with him. Since then I’ve studied the popular research on psychopathic behavior fairly thoroughly and the last time I met an unsavory soul I found him significantly easier to handle.

    Is it the same with “demons?” Do I need to be prepared because eventually it’ll happen whether I invite it to happen or not? This is confusing for me. It sounds like I’m missing out on some fascinating stuff (Princess Celestia aside), but if magical practice brings in dark beings…

    Thanks for your time and apologies for the length.

  246. @ABQ, JMG, et al, regarding psychopaths:

    If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Sebastian Junger’s book “Tribe.” Really interesting and fast read (even for me!). In it he talks about how different situations require different types of leadership. Specifically, psychopaths tend to make better “triage” type leaders. Once the immediate threat has passed, more empathetic, compassionate leaders tend to take over, and the psycho types quietly relinquish the role and back out.

    Might this go some way toward explaining a proliferation of psychos in the industrial world, given the severity of our situation? If nothing else, it’s given me a way of understanding and coping with my experience a few years ago. (See my last post for more details.)

    Cheers, y’all!
    Tripp out.

  247. Hi JMG,

    Thank you for your good wishes last week regarding my difficulty with the Law of Flow. I’m glad to report that the problem has finally, as of yesterday, resolved itself.

    (Along the way, I had occasion to reflect that pain, too, is a flow, with its own attendant hazards of blockage and accumulation. I wonder if the techniques I figured out earlier in my life to manage physical pain, which as far as I can tell are actually fairly widely known and practiced but rarely talked about, bear any similarity to esoteric teachings on the subject. That might make for an interesting conversation sometime.)

    But I have a different question for today, relating to the reincarnation post from August. That narrative appears to me to present one particular moral hazard, whose nature I’ll illustrate as follows. “We find this region inhabited by a large number of individuals who apparently have only recently arrived in the condition of Abred, as is evident from their inferior weaponry and lack of martial talent. As this suggests they have not yet had the necessary experience of slavery, we’ll obligingly assist in their future progression toward Gwynfydd by enslaving them.” Indeed, at least one of the correspondents in the comments thread of the original post expressed similar ideas, implying that the necessity to suffer all things makes individuals essentially complicit in any mistreatment they’re subjected to by others.

    I don’t expect any eschatology to be free of such hazards. I’ve never seen one that is. However, I hope it comes with a counter-argument. How would you complete the sentence: “No, don’t do that [e.g. enslave those natives], it’s a bad idea because ____”?

  248. @Dirtyboots, that’s great! When you get a chance go back out there, and sit very still and let the feeling fill you with energy. With any luck, you may find others similarly inspired or able to help you connect even better.
    My own experience with this was that I was driving a car through Takao (so there were no endorphins involved) in Hachioji, western Tokyo when I got the feeling I described, and a strong urge to explore the mountain looming above a major curve in the road. A few years later, luck would have that I moved into that very area (husband’s choice), and got the chance to go explore that mountain. And lo and behold there was a shrine at the top of the mountain, which is not unusual here, but they were having a picnic, and there were all these foreigners, and it turned out to be a shrine I’d read about (in fact had helped in the publication of many articles about), where they had managed to protect the mountain from being “developed” (carted off in an endless stream of dumptrucks) by reviving an abandoned shrine.

    This is just one of many amazing experiences I’ve had. Opening your heart to the divine around you enhances your life like day versus night. To quote the Fuji Confraternity’s “Words of Immateriality”: “When you meditate, your soul shines, the mirror appears, the sky clears: the sun, moon and stars, and the message comes across that the Hallowed Spirit of Future Hope transfers to our bodies, and of that there is no doubt.”

    I went to the shrine yesterday–currently I’m the senior priestess, and it is part of an official green space. We had a Shi’ite Muslim join us for a brief prayer.

  249. @John MacLean, (in case nobody else jumps on this–JMG please delete if superfluous), Greer criticized Kunstler last year for his racism–really tore him to pieces, and said he’d stopped reading Kunstler’s blog because of that. You can see for yourself Greer’s policy on profanity and unpleasant tirades.
    It happens, though, in the course of public interaction that you occasionally have to stand on stage with someone you cordially dislike and have a cordial conversation. That is a great skill Mr. Greer possesses.

  250. Dear John Maclean, Kunstler has become tiresome of late, way past his prime, I fear. I check his site for Eyesore of the Month, which is still funny, but for the rest, he seems to me to be suffering from increasing cognitive dissonance. I think his high urbanite Zionist leftism is dated and long past its usefulness, and the scatological style merely bores me. Furthermore, as far as I am concerned, anyone who was pushing the Klinton Koolade last year has forfeited any claim they may once have had to respectful attention.

  251. @Dewey. Thanks for the correction. 1 in 64000 then.

    Pulling the same card the first 4 times I used this deck left me with a feeling something like I had seen a ghost.

  252. JMG: Re: colonization of the moon or Mars, etc.: I have no illusions about the viability of big colonies else where, but a few might just make it for a while. Then what?
    Reading both you, David Spangler and others, I have come to appreciate the incredible complexity of various active intelligence surrounding us here on this earth. Like a fish being unable to conceptualize everything except the ocean, we will have no idea how much of who and what we are is influenced by this non physical ecology in which we developed over time. Until, that is, we have a few members of our specie living elsewhere for a while. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the first colony on the moon quickly went completely insane?

  253. JMG, others: Low-Tech Magazine has a lot of information on old, but very viable technology. I find it very worthwhile.

  254. Garden Housewife, we don’t know enough about spirits to be able to answer questions like that on first principles. You’d have to see whether the artificial lake seems to have a personality and otherwise behaves as though there’s a spirit embodied there. As for Lugh, I know a fair number of Pagans who worship him with good results, so I suspect he’s still very much in the picture.

    Millicently, thank you for this! An encouraging story and a useful recipe, both.

    Stunned, er, that’s not the prediction I made. I said that fifty years from now there was still going to be some kind of internet, but it would be solely available to government, the military, big corporations, and the rich; everyone else would have been pushed off it by soaring prices and other barriers to access. That’s already happening in rural areas, btw, where access is becoming increasingly spotty and expensive…

    Alvin, I don’t actually use modern astrology, if by that you mean the current, psychological branch of the art. I use early 20th century astrology, which is a different kettle of fish, and I use it because I get better results. In particular, I can predict certain things quite precisely by watching transits and progressions to natal Uranus and Neptune; some of the Keplerian aspects likewise are useful predictive tools; and I’ve found that, for me, the horary techniques I learned from Ivy Goldstein-Jacobson’s books produce clearer readings and more accurate results . Mind you, other people will have other experiences, and if you find Renaissance astrology more effective, do ye even so!

    Sunnnv, duly noted.

    Stein, quite a display of crackpot realism in two of its most common flavors, plain vanilla and tutti frutti!

    Phil, it’s good to see people pointing out the serene cluelessness of Ricardo’s theories; I hope that catches on.

    Booklover, I haven’t researched the topic. I’d encourage you to put in the considerable amount of time that would be needed to do so!

    Doug, one of the places where I differ from Spengler is his insistence that there’s something wrong with letting an artistic tradition settle down and do what it’s good at, without worrying about originality. Thus I suspect that as Faustian culture passes into Faustian civilization, all those “outmoded” musical forms of the classical era will be reclaimed and put back into use by new generations of composers who are interested in making music rather than breaking new ground that’s not worth breaking in the first place. In such an era, learning the rules will be an essential part of a composer’s education, just as your ancient Egyptian sculptor learned all the rules of proportion and symbolism as part of learning how to carve images of pharaohs and deities.

    Dusk Shine, no question, if you don’t have fossil fuels, water transport beats land transport all to heck. The great thing about canals is that they make freight transport easy and cheap — though the Native American canoe is a thing of beauty and extreme efficiency as well, and I hope it remains for the long term.

    Laurel, no, I don’t think I ever read that — but I gather that someone else has.

    Casey, I read several books in that series, and found it entertaining but unconvincing. Still, if it worked for you, glad to hear it.

    Temporaryreality, you’re most welcome.

    Stefania, if you want to give it a try, of course, it’s your choice. Just don’t run up debts on the assumption that of course you’ll be able to pay them off from the proceeds…

    Reloaded, I wish I did. Sorry.

    Sven, yes, I thought the Asatruar on this list would get a chuckle out of that. 😉

    John, my guess is that it’s something much simpler. The commissars who run Izvestia on the Hudson figured out that they could sell an extra three inches of ad space if they included those articles, and since that’s the only factor that determines what they do and don’t run in the paper, that’s what went in.

    Kalek, so noted.

    Morfran, fair enough. It was practically de rigueur for a German intellectual of Spengler’s era to look down his nose at Schopenhauer, and whether or not Spengler did so as a tactical move or because he actually thought that, yeah, he misrepresented the old grouch of Frankfurt. The irony is that Spengler’s own metaphysical discussion at the beginning of volume 2 makes even more sense when seen through a Schopenhauerian lens!

    Chris, good heavens, you can ask any question you like; if I don’t want to answer a question, I won’t. I’d have a hard time specifying my emotional comfort state precisely because English is so poorly provided with words about emotions, but it’s definitely in the direction of calm. I don’t like crisis and drama, unlike many people, and I prefer to take delight in doses modest enough that they don’t make me giddy; a good book and a glass of halfway decent bourbon in a comfortable living room on a winter’s night is my idea of a very good time. I know, boring… 😉

    John, I disagree with Jim about a variety of issues, and he disagrees with me about at least as many. So? He’s an adult, and entitled to his own opinions, you know — as am I, of course, and you. I’m not sure where the notion came from that hanging out with someone from time to time is some kind of blanket approval of all their ideas, or why we as a culture seem to have misplaced the recognition that you can have a perfectly good time in a social setting with someone whose views you don’t agree with, by the simple expedient of not being a jerk. It would be a useful thing to relearn, though.

    Violet, this isn’t the first time you’ve had me chuckling at something you’ve done in a parodic or humorous vein, you know. I’d say go for it.

    Dermot, it’s a Spanish translation of “Golden Dawn,” the name of the Greek neofascist party. The idea is that the same ideas have spread across the northern shores of the Mediterranean.

    Simo, um, have you ever tried to grow a garden in South Dakota? I suggest you look into the details before jumping to conclusions…

    Tripp, according to standard magical teachings, demonic beings are present whether you practice magic or not. The difference is that if you practice magic, you can see what you’re dealing with; if you don’t, you just get influenced by it. Take your pick!

    Walt, you can make some similar argument out of just about any belief about the afterlife or lack of same. From a Druid standpoint, the correctives would be, first, you don’t know what experiences another soul has or hasn’t had in another life; and second, while you’re worrying about whether some other group of people has or hasn’t had experience X, you may be forgetting that you, personally, get to carry the consequences of any experience you impose on them. Any time you start pretending that what you do doesn’t matter, you’re heading for a world of hurt!

    JL, I don’t. I also don’t think of the politics in a lot of other countries. Those in the country where I live are confusing enough!

  255. @Tripp
    Re: Demons

    I’ve only run into one Demon, and that was because some friends were trying to help someone else and hadn’t prepared for what was actually going on. I managed to bind the sucker, using stuff I didn’t know I had (there was a Star of David which the lines being different colors that shifted around, as I recall). I mostly stick to practices recommended to me by people I can actually see and get “good vibes” from. Maybe I haven’t gotten very far because I’m not very adventurous.

    Re: Pschopaths

    Our current Senior Minister did part of her internship as a Chaplin at a maximum-security prison. She said there were people there that simply had to be behind bars. For everyone’s safety. Every hear of dead eyes? The term psychopath is slung around too loosely.

    @Walt
    Re: Slavery

    Slavery is a way of organizing society, like any other. It generates a whole lot of societal-level karma that will have to be balanced at some time. There is no other way of learning how to properly organize society than trying a lot of things and learning from the experience. There’s still a lot around, although it’s “technically” illegal, meaning that it’s not regulated. Eventually we’ll outgrow it.

    As for whether you’ll incur karma from it, as long as you treat people with due respect regardless of the social class and the legal requirements, you probably won’t. If you treat people in a less-privileged social class badly, you probably will. Trying to warn people away from dangerous situations seldom works.

  256. JMG, how would you tell if a lake has a personality or a spirit? Personally, I’d love it if our local lake had a spirit, but I don’t have the slightest clue how to tell if that’s the case.

    I’m glad to hear that Lugh is still in business. I’m still mulling things over so have come to no decisions. I’ve been reading your book, A World Full of Gods, and have found it to be very helpful.

    Since we were talking about vampires a while back, I thought I’d mention that my husband says the TofV people are not supposed to wear any metal when they do rituals to get in touch with “the undead gods” (vampires). Once they reach a certain rank, then they wear metal during their rituals. It makes you think that they’re offering up the newbies as sacrificial lambs while protecting themselves. My husband is an atheist so he thinks they’re faking the whole thing anyway.

  257. @ JMG — Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I have a minimum commitment, and intend to be finished with a draft by next month’s open post.

    @ Rita– Thank you for your thoughts also. I have, actually, tried the “plotter” method. I find that it doesn’t work for me– by the time I’m done outlining I don’t actually want to write the story! I like jumping in and finding out what’s going to happen. But I also find that, partway into writing, I have to sit down and go into each character in a bit more depth, to figure out what their motives are, what their background is and what makes them tick…

    @ GKB– I love both of those techniques. I don’t have an outdoor space but I’m probably going to set up a little muse shrine on my writing desk. Thank you!

  258. @Tripp, yes, you do have to deal with demons. If you’ve been unaware of spiritual entities, chances are you’ve encountered them but did not know what was happening. I like JMG’s explanation of what they are. The ones I’ve encountered seem to feed off of human misery in the worst cases (inhabiting old execution grounds, or a hazardous stretch of road), but I encountered one case of a house spirit that was kindly Dr. Jekyll who wanted friendship, but it was like it had a terrible illness that caused it to do a sudden Mr. Hyde every now and then with deadly effect. (The house spirit was probably being bedeviled itself.) You need a good prayer/incantation when you encounter them. The Lord’s Prayer is wonderful. In Buddhism, I know of the Fudo-Myo-O mantra, which I use: https://fudosama.blogspot.jp/2004/12/mantra-of-fudoo-myoo-oo.html It is brief and powerful. Hear it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQqi5oyQB4M. Shinto has a variety of short incantations, given while painting certain kanji characters with your right index and middle fingers, ending with a thrust and fierce shout. Very effective. It also has a variety of longer prayers for recovery and spiritual cleansing.

    I sympathize with your encounter with such a destructive individual as you had. Most psychopaths, as you’ve certainly read, are not after power or bloodthirsty or out to harm someone, and their damage is limited to those who have to deal with them closely. Lobaczewski described his interactions with them as leaving him with a strong urge to gargle with something strong. I would describe it as a concerted search for your remote control switch. Once you realize that and disengage from their games you can usually get along with them as long as you take precautions. There are the one or two, though, who really are out to “get you, my little pretty!” And the Worst thing about it is everyone around you will tell you, “Mr. Peebles (not his real name) is such a terrifically nice man! In fact, he is the nicest man in the whole world!!!” they gush. “You are so lucky to know him like you do.”

    Grin and agree with them, and then go recite the Lord’s Prayer or something similar.

  259. Stunned, er, that’s not the prediction I made.

    No, I think you did say something like the “ten to twenty years” but it was a side-remark in a comment, and so throwaway that it’s probably not retreivable now. (But of course I do accept that memory is fallible, and there I’ve admitted an issue of wishful thinking on my part). What I was recalling wasn’t your big prediction about only government having access to it, but more about it becoming significantly less reliable for ordinary people, and hence not being used for everything on a day-to-day basis in the way that it is currently being used (so “not as we currently know it”)

    The timescale was remarkable which is why it struck me – and in fact what you now say about service getting a bit patchy in places is exactly the sort of thing you mentioned that we would notice in that timescale – things getting less reliable. So thankyou for that iuntersting datapoint ….

  260. Hi Archdruid, I don’t how you ccould think I’ve mistaken you for a Barista, it’s not like I’ve asked you to represent me in court.

  261. JMG, this is not a matter of Spengler’s preferences. It is a matter of historical fact. Regardless of what you or I or Spengler may like, the idea of progress is endemic in Faustian culture. In music it was there from the beginning. In the visual arts it was there as soon as people started to consider painting as an art form rather than a branch of painting-and-decorating, which is to say about the time of Giotto. Science, the epitome of progressiveness, emerged gradually from pre-medieval arab discoveries and medieval monastic theorising to become a major force driving intellectual thought.

    In this history covering a whole millennium, fugue occupied at most half a century in which it was a valuable art form. Already by the nineteenth century it was ineffective. It was not dropped because it was “outmoded”. It was dropped because, in a “progressive” culture, it could no longer express what composers needed to express. I can give you detailed reasons for that if you wish.

    You say, “ I suspect that as Faustian culture passes into Faustian civilization, all those “outmoded” musical forms of the classical era will be reclaimed.” As you know, Spengler reckoned that the passage from culture to civilisation had already happened a century before his time. I myself would place the passage precisely when Spengler himself was writing. (Again, I can give you reasons.) Either way, the passage from culture to civilisation either started or took place a century or more ago, yet there is still no sign of “outmoded” forms being reclaimed.

    On the other hand, if you analyse long-term trends since the early twentieth century, there are plenty of signs of a new approach to music taking shape. At present, actual examples of those trends are still ‘progressive’ – after all, the Faustian age is not yet over – but there is every sign that the main features will become permanent, and also that the position of music in the hierarchy of the arts will be far more like its position in other cultures. (Faustian culture is anomalous in many respects, not just its progressiveness.)

    In that hierarchy (we are talking of a century or so in the future) there will be no place for the fugue, the sonata or any other historical form. *This is not a question of fashion.* Nor is it a question of what I or Spengler or anybody else wants. The fugue and the sonata will simply not make sense in terms of the emerging musical language, any more than they make sense in the terms of Indian or Balinese music today. If you really think that fugue can have any place in a future culture, I think you are seriously underestimating just how different the arts of any future culture are likely to be from our own.

  262. Besides slide rules and nomograms, are you familiar with a woodworking tool called a sector? It was a math instrument used to perform many geometric operations.

  263. Pariciaormsby,

    Fascinating! I begin to wonder how often my inner skeptic has deterred me from pursuing such experiences. Sitting quietly when the heart stirs sounds like just the right way to start.

  264. Off-topic – but nothing is off-topic!

    Re: The imbecility of elites

    If the Spanish authorities wanted to make Catalonia look like a nation forcibly occupied by a totalitarian foreign power, they have succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest dreams.

  265. @ Oilman2
    I am not sure I can usefully say anything about the USA, except to note as a Brit that my country is tied to financial outcomes and trends in the USA and to the globalised trading world – predominantly the ‘dollar economy’. Our Stock markets for example broadly follow US Stock markets over decades. When the USA does each bubble/crash in the index, so do we. We are vulnerable; our financial services are over 10% of our GDP, matching these days our shrunk UK manufacturing sector, and reduce currently somewhat our net balance-of-payments trading deficit.

    So far government policies across OECD have avoided the worst contagious deflationary economic effects of 2008. I take deflation to refer to ‘affordability’ and the ‘velocity of money’, not simply price deflation. I do not pretend to understand deflationary economics or, importantly, ‘monetary unions’ and ‘transfer payments’ and the role of government regulation and the creation of public sector employment. But, what used to be called ‘pork barrel’ politics, particularly as it applied to the ‘military/industrial complex’ seems to have been critical during post-WW2 expansion in the USA at the height of the ‘Petroleum Age’. You know better than me the trajectory with the USA needing net imports of crude petroleum even by 1960, ten years before US crude oil production peaked in 1970. Our host back on ADR has frequently drawn attention to US high consumption latterly sucking in vast resources from the globalised economy. I guess that strategic shift in trading balance changed the priorities of US politics both globally and State-side!

    I have found here a rather quaint 2003 comparison of US monetary union and European monetary union (EMU). UK in 2003 was still standing aside from the supposed benefits of EMU. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/europe/03/euro/pdf/15.pdf
    See the Executive Summary: “Ultimately the US states chose federal structures for fiscal policy to underpin political union – based on the principle of fiscal federalism.”

    It appears to me that an optimistic comparison between the European Union, and specifically between the Eurozone and the US, has turned out to be very overdone. There was no way of matching EU ‘transfer payments’ to those which had accompanied earlier USA economic expansion. Since 2008 the EU has experienced serious instability between regions and may offer a working definition of ‘net-collapse’ as an ongoing progress. (There has always been ‘collapse’ but it tended to get overlooked in favour of ‘growth’.) Southern European States, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece (about 130M people) have suffered ongoing high youth unemployment and a retreat from ‘modernisation’, while Greece has suffered a ~30% drop in GDP. Interestingly, we see evidence of schism within the EU and within countries in the EU, including the UK and Northern Ireland which has remained outside the Eurozone monetary union. There are splits now within the UK as we prepare to leave the wider EU trading area. Spain with a long history of civil conflict is a case in point just now, with Catalan police in face-off argument with federal Civil Guard. But we will see. And the Greeks still want to keep their Euro currency – A complex world.

    Not yet in full swing in Texas?

    best
    Phil H

  266. I don’t know if anyone’s commented on the shooting yet, but I’ve noticed we’ve beeb having a lot of them over the past few years, for no real reason. This morning I ran into an article by a Pentecostal Christian blaming the rash of shootings on demon possession. While I don’t completely agree, I’ve noticed that the general level of violence in this culture seems to be going up year after year. Not only with senseless shootings, but in the media ( can you imagine a movie like Hunger Games being made 20 years ago-and targeted at kids!) and in the whole nature of our political discourse. Not only the “resistance” stuff-compare “House of Cards” to “The West Wing” for their views on our political system. Its almost like every part of our culture is becoming more and more violent for no reason. I’ve begun to wonder if we have sone sort of demonic influence, some sort of spiritual force of maleviolence, thats working on American culture right now. JMG, do you have any thoughts on this?

  267. I read Retrotopia and noticed horses featured prominently. What do you think of using oxen instead? In addition to the benefits listed, massive cattle are just awesome.

    I’ve heard from a few Peak Oil sources the idea of letting roads return to gravel, but if possible wouldn’t it be better to keep them smooth for the best use of pedal power and have cargo bikes, trikes and velomobiles take over?

    You said if we had committed to sustainability in the 70s we could have saved the day. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff that says most renewables aren’t actually sustainable because of a combination of low energy density, low EROI, using too much material, not lasting long enough before needing to be replaced, etc. Are these claims true and if so, how would starting earlier have helped?

    A lot of the pro-nuclear crowd pin their hopes on a specific kind of reactor – fast neutron, liquid core, can run on uranium, plutonium, thorium and nuclear waste, reprocessing is done in the same building. It burns up close to 100% of the fuel and stretches fuel supplies to thousands of years while the waste only stays dangerous for 300 years. There are also claims there is some kind of conspiracy against this design as an earlier version (without the liquid core) ran well for decades at Argonne National Laboratory, then was shut down for no apparent reason. A Japanese-American consortium (Toshiba and GE-Hitachi if I remember right) offered to build a fast neutron reactor for Britain that would use up our nuclear waste and were so confident they said if it didn’t work they’d cover the costs. The government turned them down, refused to discuss why, then approved Hinkley Point C which, assuming it is ever even finished, will use up the fuel in 40 years and leave waste for 80,000+ years. While I have an extremely high suspicion of anything nuclear, what is wrong with this particular technology?

  268. Archdruid,

    Both of those pieces of advice are sound, thank you. For some reason every tradition has a weirdly reverential tone when it comes to dealing with non physical beings, it never occurred to me to treat them like folk.

    Nastarana,

    The thought did occur to me, but I worry we are increasingly close to the point of violence. The powerful may not appriciate being spoken of so bluntly.

    Regards,

    Varun

  269. A brief note or two on destructive or hungry or malevolent spirits (demons, if you will).

    I have wondered for a very long time whether these beings are less numerous, or show up far less often, now than in the distant past. After all, people have been taking pains to kill them. or at least exorcise and permanently bind them, for a few thousand years minimum, to judge by the fragmentary documents that have survived from as far back as ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

    Patricia Ormsby’s advice, especially the part about a thrust and a fierce shout, seems right on target to me. Here in the West, we seem to be more terrified of them than folk are elsewhere in the world. My Russian friends generally regard most of them as nuisances, like cockroaches, rather than as dangerous predators. The one and only time I ever encountered one (if that is what it was), it didn’t so much scare as piss me off, and it retreated before my wrath and aggressive action.

    Thereby hangs a tale:

    I was in my late ‘teens, about 60 years ago, at a New Year’s Eve party in the old house of a classmate of mine, whose parents and grandparents had all been born in old Imperial Russia. The young women, come midnight, retreated to an upstairs room to do a traditional Russian divination. They set up a mirror between two candles in a dark room. Then each took her turn to sit quietly before the mirror, repeat a certain traditional Russian incantation, and wait to see who might appear in the mirror. That would, so tradition said, be the man she would marry. (The incantation, in translation, was “Fated one, Comely one, / Come to me in the mirror.” It sounds more impressive in Russian.)

    I went along, because I have always preferred the company of women far over that of other men, and watched; and they didn’t mind my being there. (They were frank enough with me that they would have told me if they had minded it.) Each classmate took her turn, and there followed much delighted giggling and many cryptic hints, which generally went over my male head. At the end I thought I would try it, too. I sat and said the Russian incantation, changing the gendered endings on the adjectives about the apparition from male to female. What I saw was not a person, but something vaguely humanoid, with fangs, long claws, and an ancient hunger that washed off it in waves like a stench, coming up toward me through a very long tunnel from far away. I was inwardly enraged. As if by instinct, I yelled at in my mind with all the force I had to “Get the frack out of there!” I turned the mirror face down with some force, as if slamming a door, and blew out the candles.

    Since I was the last one to try it, we then turned out the lights and went downstairs for a very late Russian dinner to welcome the New Year in, under the candle-lit icons of Saints that hung in the Holy Corner of the house.

    We all talked about what we had seen, and I told my story last of all, describing what I saw. The Grandmother looked at me with kind amusement and said calmly, “Of course you saw a little demon (besik), Robert. Only girls should do that divination.”

    These “besiki” (plural of “besik”) are regarded by Russians as no more troublesome than cockroaches or mosquitoes. Whatever I saw in te mirror, it never bothered me again, nor did it ever make any trouble for anyone living in the house.

  270. @Darkest Youkshire
    Re: Nuclear Reactors

    That’s a description of a thorium reactor, not a general kind of reactor that can run on anything. To make it work, the reprocessing plant has to be on site for reasons. The Oak Ridge experiment only ran for a couple of years and was only half of a reactor: it didn’t have the equipment to turn the heat into power. It was shut down because it couldn’t make a significant amount of bomb material, and they couldn’t find any civilian sponsors who wanted it – they were all besotted by the current generation of reactors. That’s what’s called short-term thinking.

    I know there were some experiments in India (and probably elsewhere) to see if it could be made to work, but since I don’t follow this, I haven’t heard anything I would consider credible in the last few years.

    Just because there’s a whole lot of hype on the internet doesn’t absolve one of the responsibility of learning enough about something to distinguish fantasy from reality, and then doing one’s own research.

  271. @Simo P, re Lakota gardening. I suggest you tune into Native America Calling on NPR*, and write to them here in Albuquerque at http://koahnicbroadcast.org/. They hay have a story on this in the archives, and if not, they may be interested in doing one. I do know they have done a lot of stories on tribes returning to their traditional diets and, somewhat less often, to traditional agriculture but can’t remember one about the Lakota offhand.

    *Not today. Their topic today was identity theft, in the wake of the Equifax hacking.

    Pat in Albuquerque

  272. JMG, Ray Wharton, Nastarana and Dave Coulter, re: market gardening

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply – I really value your insights.

    As I mentioned, we wouldn’t have to take on any debt at all as a result of an inheritance I recently received. There was some discussion of unearned wealth here a while back, I think when we were on the Law of Flow. I believe JMG suggested that a proper use of unearned wealth would be to put the money to work creating things that would be useful to others. That’s partly what we are considering here. And it is absolutely not a case of make or break for us, although we definitely see the importance of slowly expanding the things we’re already doing, being cautious and making small, wise investments.

    As for being profitable, JM Fortier, a fairly well-known Quebec farmer and author of The Market Gardener, grows vegetables on his 1.5 acre micro farm, and nets around $50 000 annually with a 50% profit margin (at least that’s what he reported in the book). He based his farm plan, which is based on permanent raised beds with little tillage, on the work that Eliot Coleman did in The New Organic Grower, as well as market gardeners from France. Lynn Byczynski, former editor of Growing for Market magazine, had a chance to meet with many small farmers in the USA and Canada, and found that the average profit margins were about 50% (from her book Market Farming Success). I wouldn’t plan to pull that off with only three growing seasons under my belt, but the fact that others are doing it with success gives me some hope, something to aim for. Not that our goal is to make heaps of money! It is more about the healthy, local food philosophy, community food security and just plain loving being out there in the garden. Doing some good work, producing something useful to others, and providing right livelihood. But in the end, I guess we have to find a balance between the philosophy and the business and find something that works for our particular situation and available resources.

    And although the small farms are largely worked with hand tools and walk-behind tractors that use a lot less in terms of fuel, they are still highly dependent on the products of industrial agriculture (as per the Law of Wholeness!). They are buying in compost, manure, row cover, all sorts of stuff. So as for ‘Green Wizarding’ our way into the market, I don’t have easy answers, although I definitely aspire to that. Keeping things simple is definitely a good strategy and looking for ways to use less stuff. I don’t know how these small farms will fare once industrial ag starts to waver, but hopefully they will find ways to adapt, and perhaps other small local companies will spring up to meet the needs that are no longer being met.

  273. Regarding your comment on discursive meditation far above: having practiced both eastern and “western” esoteric methods (and being more acquainted and current with the latter), I’ve found that both of these paths, after prolonged trodding, tend to lead to seemingly similar cognitive/experiential states. JMG, has this been your experience? Could always be “end user error”…

  274. @J.L.Mc12: Points for knowing what a wonderful tool the sector is!

    For others who may be interested: One of the central tools of Renaissance architects and builders, the sector allows the craftsman to scale measurements by whole ratios (1:2, 2:3, etc.) without doing any math or precise measurement.

    I was introduced to this tool in a delightful—and beautifully produced—little book called By Hand and Eye, by George Walker and Jim Tolpin. The book is a hands-on guide to the older traditions of design and architecture, based entirely on ratios and proportions, rather than fixed measurements. To borrow a term from our host, both authors are “operative craftsmen” (not merely “speculative”), and the book is aimed at woodworkers and other craftspeople who want to put these principles back in practice in our own work. The exercises begin with pencil-and-paper design projects, and progress to fine woodworking. That said, students of sacred geometry may also find value here.

  275. @ Darkest Yorkshire

    Recently there is a huge race to “recover” the nuclear energy and bring it to the front scene to “save” the planet from the climate change and to sustain the ever growing needs of energy for the future

    Some Sillicon Valley zillionaires are in the game, as Bill Gates and his TerraPower concept, as old Bill says they are: “building the next generation of safe, affordable, clean and secure nuclear power technology for the world”

    You, know, all the SV zillionaires are “saving the Humanity” through Mars space missions, new transport systems (hyperloops), AI, Biotech and affordable nuclear power
    I am not sure which of them I am more affraid, probably the nuclear part

    The “new” mantra are the Fast Reactors and also in the concept of SMR = Small Modular Reactors, that you can mass build to distribute them all around the country (or the world) to “solve” one for all, the energy problems of the Human race and preserving the CO2 emmissions ( the concept of “Green nuclear”)

    Well are really “new” the Fast Reactors?, of course not, they have been built from the 60’s and all of them have a very very poor record of cost, reliability and safety, almos all of then have less than 10% of up-time producing energy
    Some accidents and incidents of Fast Reactors are: EBR-1 melted down in US in the 60’s, as did SRE and Fermi-1, Dounreay in UK and SP Superphenix had many accidents and incidents, the BN-600 in Russia suffer 27 leaks of sodium and 14 fires in only 17 years, the Monju reactor in Japan produce energy only 10% of time with miryads of maintenance and safety problems (huge sodium fires)

    The fast reactors produce a high density of energy and that is the reason they use liquid metals as coolant. In all the case Na (sodium) is used, but had to be used at high pressure and then you can have two well known reactions of Na with air and wáter (humidity):
    2Na + 2O2 —-> Na2O2 (peroxide)
    2Na + 2H2O —–> 2NaOH + H2 and then 2H2 + O2 —> 2H2O

    So pure Na produce fires in contact with air or water (humidity) so is critical to avoid any leakage and this is not always easy at the very high temperature and pressure in the reactors and the auxiliar systems
    The very expensive material used in the construction suffer from problems of degradation and creep failures due to neutron bombardment at high temp and pressure. All of this is a maintenance nightmare

    On the other hand, OK this reactors shorter the life-time of some isotopes, but in many cases the material become in fact more radiactive in the “short term”, but short term means “only” some centuries. Are you happy with this?

    Well OK, all this problems are difficult for the “mortal” engineers, of course not for the “semi-gods” of Sillicon Valley that will solve all the problems of humanity with their immense ingenuity

  276. @sunnv: Oh, thank you! That could be very useful.
    @JMG: Seriously. It’s been…A Week, regarding humanity, for personal and non-personal reasons. And given the discussion I’ve seen over on the reread, I think there’d be a lot of interest!
    @Steve T: In addition to what others have said, I do a weird amalgam of plot and non-plot*: start with an idea, write a bit, then plot out the next few chapters when I’m on the train or in a meeting and have nothing to do**, then write to that unless I go off in a totally different direction, and so on.

    I’ve also found it helpful, if I’m stuck on a scene, to sit down and ask myself what questions the characters need to answer and/or what their problems are, and what their resolution can be. (And, though I totally agree with JMG’s advice, I’ve found long walks to be useful when I’ve done my daily writing but need to shake something loose for my next scene. If my brain has nothing immediate to do, it’ll pick up something and start playing with it, and I can *usually* direct it towards a writing problem.)

    * When I’m not writing to contract: generally my publisher needs a plot outline of at least the first book in a trilogy, for acceptance meetings and whatnot.
    **The thing that helped me immensely in both class and day-job was the discovery that, as long as I’m writing notes, I can write notes about *anything* and people will think I’m being very diligent and participatory and caring about our quarterly EBITDA. Plotted out three novels and a D&D game that way.

  277. Garden Housewife, what certain old texts call the discernment of spirits is a complex process unless you’ve already got pretty fair magical skills, or unless the spirit in question decides to talk to you — in which case it’s pretty clear! I’d say leave the question open and see if anything happens that suggests a personality present. As for the vampires, yeah, it sounds as though they’ve got a nice gimmick for keeping their pet critters well fed on the clueless.

    Steve, delighted to hear it. The decision to finish the story no matter what is the point that you stop being a dabbler and become a writer. The same’s true with most other things, come to think about it…

    Somewhatstunned, here’s my detailed prediction about the future of the internet. Even in retrospect, it looks pretty good to me!

    Michael, heh. Accent’s on the wrong syllable, though.

    Doug, an emerging musical language? That’s exactly what a culture at the end of its winter phase, in the transition to civilization, can’t create — though it’s utterly typical of Faustian culture that the attempt has been made with increasingly frantic efforts, and proclaimed in increasingly dogmatic terms, as the possibility recedes out of sight in the rearview mirror. It’s not accidental that the various attempts to define a new musical language have been the sole concern of tiny, self-referential coteries of intellectuals whose efforts have had no discernible impact on the wider culture. Just now the audiences are way ahead of the composers; they’re flocking to Mozart and Bach in impressive numbers, while the latest avant-garde art music can scarcely attract enough of an audience to fill a good-sized broom closet.

    At some point, possibly within a decade and certainly within a century at the outside, the new generation of rebellious young thinkers will chuck most of the product of the post-1900 art music scene kit and caboodle as a failed experiment, and do what people in the post-innovative phases of a society always do: redefine the task of the creative artist away from breaking new ground, since there is no new ground left that’s worth breaking within the universe of Faustian music, and toward the creation of beauty within a system of existing forms. Painting is already beginning to see that — there’s a growing movement outside the academies that has embraced representational art and the classical forms of painting — and music is ripe for a similar shift.

    Still, thank you for defending the conventional wisdom! You’ve helped me refine the rhetoric that the protagonist of my current novel will have to confront, as she does what you insist nobody should be permitted to do any more, and becomes a composer of music in the classical forms because that’s where her personal inspiration leads her.

    J.L.Mc12, no, I hadn’t — and many thanks for the heads up! Now I’ll have to see where I can get one.

    Doug, that’s exactly what the Catalonians were trying to achieve, of course, and they did a superb job of it. At this point, if they can just keep it up, they’re probably going to have their independence in a few years.

    Tolkienguy, it’s a serious problem. Traditional societies take it seriously; one of the problems with contemporary secularism is that it turns away from the traditional protections against such things, with unwelcome consequences.

    Yorkshire, oxen are also cool. Horses were standard in agriculture in the midwestern US before it became mechanized, though, so that’s why I had the Lakeland Republic go back to that.Tarmac roads require petroleum — where do you think the asphalt comes from? — and that’s why they’re being allowed to go back to gravel. As for nuclear power, every decade or so some new piece of nuclear vaporware gets trotted out as the solution to all our energy woes; varying quantities of money are shoveled into it, and then it turns out to be just as much of an economically impossible white elephant as all the previous attempts. Stay tuned; the same thing will happen this time, too.

    Varun, it’s an odd thing, not least because so many great spiritual teachers have urged the opposite. The term that Jesus of Nazareth used for his god, abba, is a nickname — the closest equivalent might be “Dad.” But people keep insisting on inserting primate hierarchies where they don;’t belong…

    Greg, I find the unabridged version much more useful, as some of the things that were edited out are among Spengler’s keenest insights.

    Stefania, you know, if you’d already made up your mind and were looking for encouragement rather than advice, it would have simplified communication to say so.

    Lupo, I haven’t used eastern methods, so I’m not the one to ask! I’m certainly satisfied with the results I get from western meditation, though.

  278. JMG if you desire a sector you can buy a paper template for a simple sector from the woodworker jim tolpin. I’m afraid that the original, more complex sectors are not made anymore.

  279. @Robert Mathiesen

    There is a hierarchy of these dark entities. “Besik” is a little “bes” as the suffix “-ik” attached to a noun makes is into a little version of itself. Little in size or other measure or it is also used to show affection to something rather cute. So the Russian lady could have been referring to “bes” as a cute little nuisance. They are indeed really easy to dispatch when noticed. Their power over people in doing little tricks while staying unnoticed. When noticed they can do a lot of posturing but not much harm.

    Then there is a stronger an more wicked “chort” entity, that can be more pervasive. “Chert”s can be seen as entities that can boss over “bes”-es. Demons are quite a bit higher (or should I say lower in the case of the dark entities?) in the hierarchy. My impression is that they are not as easy to send off. They are not as easy to encounter either.

  280. Re low-energy road surfaces: in Western Australia around 1900, we had a wide network of dirt roads around the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie and down towards the state capital, Perth. These were mostly sand and originally intended for camel trains. However, the local cyclists found them quite useful for their own needs, and due to the gold boom there was a thriving business for bicycle messengers. The cyclists described the packed sand tracks as quite good for riding.

    Through the network, a message could be sent from Kalgoorlie to Perth (590 km) in two days for the sum of 25 pounds (equivalent to $3,600 today). If you were racing to stake a claim, the money might be worth it!

  281. Stefania, I know little about farming – but just because that tiny micro farm in Quebec’s model – Put $25,000 dollars worth of inputs onto 1.5 acres of land in exchange for $50,000 in produce – is not sustainable in the long term, perhaps it’s what’s viable right now, and for the next little while.

  282. A personal experience here. I have had faith in the energy currents and the like for a long time, and have felt things I could not be sure of, but this past Saturday I jumped from “I believe” to “as real as rocks.” It was at a small-scale psychic fair I attended because a friend was presenting. The day had been rainy and when I got there, I faced a wet mess,except for one room where everybody was crowded into. Nothing was happening, and my friend hadn’t showed up. While I dithered a bit, ill at ease over to go or stay, one of the two drummers, a young man from West Africa, came over and took my hands in his. I had no idea what this was all about, but was willing to wait and see. After a while, he moved one hand to my shoulder, and then, very firmly, placed it on my head. I’ve had a Laying On of Hands before, but this was as different as a strong sound is from a vague whisper that might be the wind.

    I Felt the current of energy, or power, flowing into me, as real as the sights and sounds of the room around me, and the feel of the fur of the two big friendly dogs that were wandering around the room. And the ill-at-ease dithering died away, leaving me feeling centered and grounded. BTW, the main ritual started, 45 minutes late, and my friend showed up just before it did.

    At any rate, I have no idea what the young drummer’s training or tradition was, but he certainly had what it takes. And now I know what it feels like.

  283. @ Darkest Yorkshire…

    I agree with what JMG did in the Lakeland Republic, which was to use what is at hand. Oxen are not common in the USA, other than certain breeds of Longhorn in Texas. Even then, they are a tiny percentage.

    OTH, the Percheron is quite a fine bit of horseflesh, with a very mellow and protective nature as well. They will tolerate children and avoid stepping on them without any instruction, and I haven’t come across a ‘rough’ one yet. And they are great stump pullers and log haulers. Our plans include getting a few in the next few years for the farm, once the fencing is all done.

    It’s also very common for donkeys to be a part of any farm – as they are very territorial, chase away pigs and snakes and are great sentries. We just look for the smaller ones as they tend to be hardier. Large animal vets are not cheap…

    I can attest to certain roads already reverting to gravel due to county financial constraints. My FM road (farm-to-market) was all blacktop when we bought our land. In the last 2 years, the end of the road, near a river, flooded and washed out. The county fixed the washouts, but did not repave. Instead, they have used crushed concrete packed in with rollers. It seems to hold up as well or better than asphalt – but you cannot drive as fast on them – which is fine by us.

    @ JMG

    That art movement, back to representational, has been growing for the last 20 years. My parents owned a small art gallery and framing shop before they passed. My mother commented on what she was seeing going through her shop back in 1999, and revised her ordering of prints accordingly. She was quite glad to see Andy Warhol type stuff go away…LOL

  284. John,

    Regarding the commissars who run Izvestia on the Hudson, it is always good to be reminded of what really counts in our society. I recently read that our wonderful Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, which is taught to American students to be repeated ad nauseam, was originally written as part of a marketing campaign by an American flag manufacturer. It was obviously a very successful campaign. Groan…

  285. I was just @ a leather conference in Indianapolis, and, oddly enough, makers of leather and bdsm gear are a fine example of artisan craftsmanship and non-corporate finely made goods…

  286. JMG, I’m curious that you consider New England to be more affordable than the West Coast. From a Southern perspective, we lump the Eastern Seaboard in w/the Left Coast as exorbitantly expensive with a very high tax/regulatory burden. We don’t really distinguish between them, save maybe New Hampshire…

  287. I’ve noticed a curious thing regarding gas prices in my area. They’ll jump up to over 2.50/gal., only to fall back down to the 2.15-2.25/gal. range. I’m wondering if in our overtaxed economy, this is all that people can afford to pay for gas, and the market is responding accordingly. Efforts to increase prices are met w/demand destruction such that prices inevitably fall in short order. Of course, I realize that prices are higher in other parts of the country, due to regulatory and tax burdens, but those states are usually wealthier overall…

  288. Mr. Greer, I understand that the subject which I mentioned is complex; the problem is that the complexity of modern infrastructure and technology makes it difficult to assess vulnerabilities and resiliences in certain contexts. Thanks nonetheless for the answer!
    The discussion about modern music and its place in late Faustian culture is interesting. The insistence that one must invent new forms of practicing art, because art and music must progress, and cannot remain being done in traditional forms, seem to be a peculiarity of Faustian civilization. Do you happen to know if other civilizations have tried to invent new ways of doing art because of the newness factor and then abandoning the experiments and going back to older forms?

  289. Stefania,

    I could be wrong. Then again those who write books don’t always tell the full (or a balanced) story.

    The previous owner of my property used to make her living growing a market garden with her husband. Talking to her ex (… part of the full story) it was by no means easy even though they make about $40,000 a year growing microgreens (perhaps the highest value crop per square foot one can grow at several crops per year) on less than 2 acres for the restaurant market in Ottawa and Kingston. Neither does market gardening anymore though one did write a book about vegetable gardening after leaving the market.

    If one doesn’t consider one’s labour, the margins look great. Manure and lettuce seeds cost next to nothing. If you factor in a reasonable value for your labour, the picture can change a lot.

    For example, I grow about 300 lbs of potatoes each year. These cost me at least 20 hours of labour (admittedly all done by hand). Perhaps I could sell these at a premium (they are organic and free range after all), but I could buy potatoes for 50 cents a pound. Still, at 50 cents a pound I am making only $7.50 an hour. It looks a little better if I factor in that I do not pay income tax on that i.e. this amounts to about $10.71 as equivalent pre tax income at a 30% marginal rate. Its still less than minimum wage though.

    Then again the same store also sells essentially the same potatoes at $4.50 a pound. How will that play out when things get more difficult. I just don’t know.

    Now that I think if it, I should buy potatoes at 50 cents a pound and then sell them at a farmers market for more than twice that and not bother growing anything. I’m sure its done. I’ve seen bananas sold at premium prices in a “farmers” market in Halifax.

    But I digress. Factor in depreciation, maintenance, and running costs on your tractor etc. as well a reasonable value for ***all*** your labour if you scale up. These did not look attractive to me but If the numbers work for you, then by all means go ahead.

    Wait .. What about importing fair trade, organic, bird friendly, free range bananas and selling those at the Ottawa market instead? Just an idea. I’ll share a stall with you selling “my” potatoes (free range of course).

  290. Isabel, I’m starting to wonder if sinister emanations are filtering out from drowned R’lyeh and influencing people’s minds! Telling the stories of those that Lovecraft treated as wind-up horrors seems to be in the air just now. I haven’t read Ruthanna Emrys’ “The Litany of Earth” and its sequels, but that’s solely because she’s good enough that I’d worry about having my own take on the mythos overly influenced by hers. (Once The Weird of Hali: Arkham is done in draft, and it’s better than 21,000 words along, I’m going to treat myself to the whole series.) More on this on Wednesday; the draft title of this week’s post is “Our Shoggoths, Ourselves”…

    J.L.Mc12, I may have to find a used model, then. Thank you for the info!

    Patricia, yep. I’ve done certain qigong exercises in which the energy field is so tangible it’s no longer a question of believing; it’s simply a reality.

    Oilman2, it’s to the point that there are schools teaching representational techniques to young artists; when I lived in southern Oregon a few years back, I walked past one regularly. The academic mainstream sneered, but the graduates of that school had no problem finding an abundance of buyers for their exquisite oil portraits, still lives, and other traditional genres, while the pretentious students at the university art program up the street could count on looking for burger-flipping jobs when they graduated.

    John, I didn’t know that, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Shane, I don’t “consider” New England more affordable than the west coast. It’s a simple fact that my apartment in East Providence rents for just over a third of what I’d have to pay for the same apartment in Seattle. Boston costs as much as Seattle, sure, and New York costs more, but that’s part of why I don’t live in Boston or New York. The fact that Southerners don’t distinguish between the different New England states and towns says a lot more about Southerners than it does about New England, you know. As for gas prices, yep — the closing vise between rising costs and falling ability to pay is a massive issue.

    Booklover, yes, it’s happened in a number of other cultures.Returning to old forms and reinterpreting in the light of new experiences is a very common way for societies to make the most of their artistic possibilities — that’s what drove much of the Renaissance, for example; the classical plans and motifs that saw so much use during the Romanesque period, and then got thrown out in the Gothic era, were picked up again in the Renaissance and put to good use.

  291. Fascinating! No, JMG, I am about as far from “defending the conventional wisdom” as it is possible to get. I completely agree that an emerging musical language is “exactly what a culture at the end of its winter phase, in the transition to civilization, can’t create”. In my view, the “official arts” have been moribund since the start of the twentieth century. They have not recovered and will not recover. Anything of value they have produced since then has merely filled in a few loopholes. Since the start of the twentieth century, anything in the arts has become allowable, and when everything is allowable there can no longer be any such thing as progress, so Faustian culture dies.

    What I see arising is not coming from “tiny, self-referential coteries of intellectuals”. It is not coming from Faustian culture at all. Its ultimate souce is the spaces that have never been a part of Faustian culture and that Faustian culture has ignored. However, I do not want to bore your readers with something that is far from the normal topics of your blogs so I will not detail it here – and in any case we are approaching the end of the week so there is no longer time to do so. It would take a book.

    As for your argument that people are “flocking to Mozart and Bach in impressive numbers”, I don’t expect that to last beyond the next two or three financial crises. After that, orchestras will die out for lack of funding. Chamber music has never been popular with the general public and I do not expect its popularity to suddenly increase.

    And in any case, even with the “impressive number” you claim, the audience for classical music is still no more than a small minority of the total population. In comparison to what I am talking about, it is they who constitute “tiny, self-referential coteries of intellectuals”. They will certainly not form the basis of any future culture. For that you will have to pay much more attention to what has been happening in popular culture over the last century or more. For ultimately, in every society, all “high culture” arises from popular culture.

  292. When I want to get a sense on where JMG is on current crisis issues, I go to his futuristic novels. At the risk of starting a controversial discussion, I wonder what you have to say about second amendment/guns rights partisanship and where it will take us. I recall the presence of sectarian type militias in both Retrotopia and Twilight’s Last Gleaming, but I don’t remember what your thinking about is the cultural meaning of guns from your blog. My own belief is that one should not use a gun unless one knows with certainty that one possesses the inner ability to kill, to take the life of another human being, and thus accept the psychic and emotional ramifications of that act. It can be devastating. Peace to all beings.

  293. Hi John Michael,

    Not boring at all! I have travelled to, and enjoyed many far distant worlds in my mind with the help of a good book. Sometimes I too have sat in front of the wood heater with a glass of lemon or ginger wine. Of course the dogs often bring me back down to Earth with their antics…

    Have you ever considered why our English language is so poor at describing mental and emotional states. Certainly there is something deeper in that lack. I don’t really know why myself.

    Cheers

    Chris

  294. JMG and All
    I don’t think I have encountered non-corporeal demons except perhaps in dreams. The human kind (thankfully) seem rare enough in my own life, although there are plenty of our own kind who in their lesser way can put a spell on me/you/us, which is sticky enough. Part of life’s rich pattern as we used to say!

    Thinking about representational art (err … all sense impressions become ‘representations’ if I get Schopenhauer), then our creative attempts to externalize our representations fulfill an intriguing role. I knew an artist who managed to make graphic (v. good and also ‘lifelike’) representations of a Hare and a Crow with just one non-lifelike aspect; the appearance of ‘somebody’, neither crow nor hare, nor human, looking out from their eyes. I muse.

    I have always liked the idea of ‘peak music’, as I call it, in history, and to a lesser extent ‘lost music’ from the past – perhaps even music from the future with its own call. The BBC did a week a few years ago, luckily before my own hearing loss set in, broadcasting the entire Beethoven opus. I can also remember much longer ago being gripped by early Black American music, especially the ‘field’ recordings – nothing like it. The music has passed like the felt reality of our own lives which sometimes replays.

    best
    Phil H

  295. @Oilman2,

    Regarding Percherons, you wrote ” I haven’t come across a ‘rough’ one yet”. That’s because you never met my Blossom (that’s her picture in my avatar)! She had been neglected for several years before I got her, and she’d gone pretty sour (I’ve got the scar on my upper arm to prove it). Through a lot of patient trust-building (and with the help of a very knowledgable farrier), we ultimately became good friends. She was a good log-puller, but what she really loved was to go for long drives with the forecart out on the many quiet back roads around here (rural NH).

    Some people around here do work with oxen – I know 2 farms where they use them for utility hauling and logging. A guy down my road actually trains up teams for sale. Lots of people doing horse logging – Belgians seem to be the popular breed, but I prefer Percherons…

  296. JMG, Will M, Doug and others: I’m following along the continuing discussion about music and arts with great interest, but at the moment I have nothing new to add so I just wanted to say thanks for your thoughts on the topic and my original posts.

  297. JMG, I wish I had already made up my mind, but I’m afraid I am still completely undecided about all this. If anything, I was hoping for some discouragement! I am such a keener about gardening that it is clouding my judgement, and I was hoping for a bit of a reality check along the lines of ‘there is no brighter permaculture future ahead.’ I know you have already covered that though. What you’re seeing is me very much going through the process of trying to figure things out – taking into consideration my opinions, your (and others’) opinions, trying to see where I agree or disagree and coming up with reasons for both, what points may not be quite relevant to my particular situation, and then stepping back from the resulting melange of ideas to see what emerges. And actually, what seems to be emerging is that I am leaning towards going full-on Green Wizard and steering clear of the market for the time being.

    But your point about seeking encouragement got me thinking too. When I sit quietly, there is a little voice which pops up ‘hey, do you realize you’re only wanting to be a farmer to seek approval and societal validation for your role?’ If that’s really a factor, it would likely tie back to an issue with approval and encouragement I was looking for but did not quite get in childhood. That opens up a whole new can of worms though – is it possible to act with integrity before one has resolved all these types of personal issues? Given that may be many, many (many!) lifetimes down the road for me if it ever happens at all, what to do in the meantime? (That can be a rhetorical question as I realize it’s Tuesday and I have already gone on quite a bit longer than intended about this issue. I’ll consider it in meditation.)

    @Justin – that is a very valid point, one I’ve been thinking about and one that I was actually hoping JMG might discuss a bit more. The problem as I see it is that if you design your entire farm plan around using inputs that come from industrial agriculture, what to do when they go away or become much more expensive? And when exactly will that happen? I think it is pretty hard to determine that. As just a small example, the floating row covers which are essential for insect control in organic farming are a petroleum product with a limited lifespan, and can literally mean the difference between getting a crop, getting an unmarketable one, or not getting one at all for at least one and possibly two entire families of vegetables. How do you replace the skills you thought you were building using this type of thing when it is not available or no longer profitable to use? But there is a lot to consider around this one point for sure. Thank you!

    @Dave – too funny. Bananas at the farmer’s market? I admit to not having seen that. I can imagine how that might fly in Toronto, but Halifax? Sheesh! But you are definitely onto something – targeting greenwashed yuppies at the market – there may be a business plan in there somewhere!

    But seriously, you are definitely right about factoring in the cost of labor and maintenance etc. I would have to go back to JM Fortier’s book (or visit his farm) and see if he mentions how much he earns per hour and how they account for those things. I know he focuses on being very efficient and planning things in a way which save labor as much as possible, which is the largest expense. I listened to a podcast where he mentioned that they have planned their farm around being able to stop work at 5:00 pm so they are available to spend more time with their children. I know they employ people, and must pay them a decent wage. But I don’t have a good sense of how it all looks on a purely dollar per hour basis. There is also the quality of life issue, and the trade-offs one makes with working a ‘regular’ job in the city – possible long commute, associated costs of maintaining that type of job, etc. Definitely a lot to consider!

  298. @Tolkienguy…my assumption is that the U.S. is, at base, cursed, based on the original sins of massacre of the indigenous people and slavery. The current carnage is the working out of that curse, because of the culture’s fundamentally unwillingness to atone.

  299. Just a point re the placidity or otherwise of draught horses, which has been mentioned.

    Deaths from kicks were quite regular in rural England, above all children: they loved to lead the horses and did so despite parental admonitions, with many a tragic result.

    It might be that they were Suffolk Punches,and not Percherons: breeds and breeding do make a difference in these matters.

    They could also be vicious with dogs, and bad-tempered and malevolent horsemen would let their plough horses kill dogs they didn’t like, with a ‘Serves ‘im right!’

    It is clear that such beasts were no no means selected in the past for placidity……

  300. For anybody who wants to read Spengler: if you can possibly do so, I strongly recommend reading him in the original German. The English translator, Charles Francis Atkinson, was presumably an Englishman, but his version reads as if it was translated out of a dictionary by a German schoolboy with no knowledge of English. I find a lot of it unreadable, and some of the mistranslations are appalling!

  301. No need to reply, but thank you, John Michael, for your mention of Ruthanna Emrys’ work in your reply to Isabel above. I just looked her up on your recommendation, and her work seems delightful! I’m now looking forward to indulging myself this weekend…

  302. All the demon stories gives me the willies. I am used to energy work, my own subconscious demons being worked out but my religious practice includes mantras as religious devotion. Disembodied angels might be nice to see of course but why. I liked jmg’s comment on comfort zones. I feel my comfort zone is constantly expanded through my energy work which expands emotional capability, flexibility.

  303. @Dave Coulter,
    did you get the term “hind tit” from I’ll Take My Stand? That’s the only time I’ve ever seen that term used…

  304. Doug, of course Faustian culture dies, but you’ve forgotten about Faustian civilization. We’re toward the end of the transition from one to the other, and in music, the classical tradition is in the early stages of changing from a badge of elite status or aspirations (its role for the last century) to its future role as a badge of cultural competence — an exact equivalent of a knowledge of classical poetic forms in imperial Rome, say. The parallel’s exact; as an innovative art, Latin verse was moribund after Virgil, but for centuries thereafter everybody who aspired to a role in Roman society not only learned the Aeneid by heart but learned to craft elegant Virgilian hexameters at the drop of a hat. Was there other poetry, on completely different lines, going on among the masses and the not-really-Romanized people of the frontiers? Of course, and that’s what gave rise eventually to the epic traditions of the Dark Ages and early medieval poetry — but in the meantime, for centuries, a great many hexameters got written and recited, and some of them were quite lovely.

    In exactly the same way, as the impending round of crises draws to a close, I expect there to be a significant classicizing movement in the core regions of the Faustian world — western Europe and northeastern North America, specifically — a circling of the wagons around the heritage of the past, which will include music as well as a great many other arts, institutions, political and religious forms, you name it. Like all classicizing movements, it won’t simply be a matter of embalming past examples — it’s central to the classicizing vision that the old forms can be revived, renewed, and practiced again, and so, yes, there’ll be fugues and sonatas and concertos being composed once more, and again, some of them will be quite lovely.

    Will all this be the culture of a minority? Of course, but it’ll be a minority with a disproportionate influence on society. When classical arts become badges of cultural competence, everyone who wants to climb out of the masses into wealthier and more privileged circles will need to have those badges, and particular skill with one or more classical arts is a time-honored route to preferment for the poor but talented. Again, all this is absolutely standard in what Spengler calls a civilization. Then, of course, comes the dark age and the medieval period, followed by the renaissance — when it’s precisely the products of the classicizing era about to dawn that will play a core role in kickstarting the fusion of new and old artistic forms that births the creative products of the next great culture.

    Oh, one other thing. Yes, you’re defending the conventional wisdom; it’s one of the most amusing ironies of our time that the conventional wisdom always decks itself out in claims that it’s radical, cutting-edge, never before encountered, etc. The claim that the artistic forms of the past are dead is the essence of today’s conventional wisdom in all the arts. As long as you’re saying that, you’re right in there with the mainstream.

    Y. Chireau, the political climate these days being what it is, neither you nor I nor anybody else has the power to break the stalemate between the 50% of Americans who insist that guns are the problem, and the 50% of Americans who insist that guns are the solution. The thing that occurs to me is that there are plenty of countries in which guns are at least as widely available as they are here, and some — many Latin American countries come to mind here — have, as far as I know, cultures that idealize violence in much the same way that we do. As far as I know, they don’t have mass murders with guns at anything like the rate that we do here. That being the case, I have to wonder if the fixation on guns is helping to distract attention from some deeper problem…

    Chris, some future society will have to create the social science that deduces collective psychology from the strengths and weaknesses of a given language. English is a really good language for describing physical changes — the richness of our motion verbs and adverbs is, I think, pretty much unparalleled — and it’s also a very good language for political debate; in turn, it’s pretty poor for describing physical states, emotional experiences, and a lot of other things. Every language I know has similar strengths and weaknesses — a good argument for keeping as many languages as possible in living use!

    Phil, that’s just it — representational art at its best isn’t “just” representational. A good portrait doesn’t just show an image, it shows a personality. Nonrepresentational art tried to get the personality without the image, and mostly just ended up looking like a dog had it for breakfast and then repented…

    Stefania, fair enough! Thanks for the clarification.

    J.L.Mc12, to my taste, it’s the Lite Beer of magic, where traditional systems such as the Golden Dawn are good dark porter. I’ve also met a lot of people whose repeated attempts to make the sigil technique work for them resulted only in sticky fingers, and who found classical techniques rather more effective.

  305. Shane, here in my corner of Texas, to be “left sucking hind tit” or to end up “sucking off the hind tit” is a fairly common expression, used more among the older generations, conveying roughly the same thing as “getting the short end of the stick,” getting the worse end of a deal relative to some other person or organization, etc.

  306. @Elbows Tucked, thank you for that link! Probably the biggest disadvantage of living in rural Japan is lack of access to libraries with anything in English, and having to order books from overseas,with postage more than doubling the cost recently. I can cross off one book from my future ordering list.

    I owe a big thanks to many of you: JMG for pointing out where I can learn more about magic–including one book that has just been delivered; to Frank in Germany for letting us know how the lacewings worked out, and to many of you discussing writing (I tried to order a book someone had recommended, but they wouldn’t deliver it to Japan). I haven’t participated in the discussion because I have more to learn than to say at this point. Thank you all.

    To Quin, assuming you’re lurking after more than 300 comments, I’ll see you at Kompira.

  307. Stefania,

    One more factor that I don’t think I’ve seen brought up here… If you are intending to be a market grower, you need to also grow a clientele, and to do that you need to be able to come up with a certain quantity of produce, of a certain quality, with some reliability. Week in and week out. So that people know they can go to Stefania’s booth and get great (whatever it is you offer). I frequent a couple of farmers markets here weekly and chat with the growers a lot – they all say that reliability of supply is a key. And they also say, funnily enough, that many of their best customers are gardeners! Because we appreciate good produce and are willing to pay for it when our own (whatever vegetables) don’t work out in some years. Because there are good years and bad years for everything for everybody. That’s why, though I am an avid vegetable gardner, I LOVE farmers markets, and depend on them – to fill in the gaps.

    I love growing as much of my food as I can, and some years I’m pretty good at it, but I would never aspire to grow for the market. Though I’m very glad that many do!!!

    Then there’s CSA…

  308. @ Elbows Thanks. I download a copy last week, but my old ereader has trouble opening the file (too large perhaps). And I don’t like reading that much on a regular computer screen. I might try to get it from a place that prints public domain books on demand if the used copies are too expensive.

  309. A quick note: have just finished reading Cathrynne Valente’s “Down and Out in R’leyh,” which is a combination of Lovecraft and Beatnik: a half Dark-Young, half-child-of-Yig, his Yithian girlfriend, and his ghast best friend more or less re-enacting On The Road, with Mi-Go brain extraction as recreational drug. It is veeeery different from “Weird of Hali,” but deeply and wonderfully amusing to me. “Bifrons, now, Bifrons is a dank fhtagn Mi-Go, the Fungus Among Us, a sheol mushroom man who truly has his gills together, guggo for anything and antique as a china cabinet.”

  310. @ Shane,

    I’m not familiar with “Ill Take my Stand” so I don’t think I got it from there.

    I’m not really sure where I picked up the term.

    Cheers

  311. News – Trump said Puerto Rico will have to default on their debt, and Wall Street will have to swallow that. “They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.

  312. JMG, do you think that chaos magic could be considered a kind of “folk” or “low” magic like southern conjure or hoodoo?
    I ask because I have been using sigil magic every now and again, as described by the chaos magic authors gordon white and frater U.D., and it does seem to work occasionally. I think it may work better if I was better at visualisation for sure.

  313. Concerning the future of classical music, I think that it is still an active form in the guise of heavy metal, which is simplified in form considerably in many cases,

    First here is Tina S. playing Moonlight Sonata 3rd movemont on the electric guitar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6rBK0BqL2w

    Iron Maiden’s Fear of the Dark for the Cello https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKHl3U_5ee8

    These are just two examples, there are cases enough to draw a continum between the classical music forms in their purity and contemporary music still driven by the same impulse.

    Also any number of contemporary musical scores for TV and movies continue to carry threads of a classical tradition. I think a new classical movement would be different in many ways, because for the remainder of Faustian Civilization the space of music to be explored is a different space from the one explored by the masters. Tina’s playing shows how the electric guitar realizes certain longings which the keyboard instruments sought in a different way; and I doubt that it and other technical innovations will be excluded from a classical return. It is worth noting that many classes of music I think are on very different lines, and in the musical tastes of America right now I think that there are a bubbling on musical influences where classical is only a voice in the crowd. I would go so far as to say that Faustian culture is not particularly deeply rooted in the USA, except for along the costs where it, unbound from provincial Europe it has aged into civilization aggressively.

  314. JMG we seem to have some problems in continuing our discussion. The first and obvious one is that it is now the end of the week, so I have no time to reply to your latest arguments. The second is that, as our discussion proceeds, it covers more and more ground. Soon we will each need to write a book in order to answer all the other’s points. You are certainly failing to answer some of my arguments, and it is very possible that I am doing the same with yours.

    Regarding the first problem, if you wish to resume the discussion next month I shall be happy to do so (subject to force majeure, of course). Since it is your blog, it will be for you to initiate that, and I fully appreciate that you may have other things to write about that take precedence. The problem of sheer volume is more difficult to resolve. Presumably both of us have limited time available so we will just have to do what we can.

  315. JMG, I would like to add that I have read somewhere that in later Antiquity, in Alexandria, there were reportedly artists who tried to break new ground in painting in a wa similar to modern and postmodern art, through rejection of traditional rules and the like. But nothing of this has survived. Furthermore, I remember Oswald Spengler writing that art forms in late civilizations become fossilized (i. e. no great, original new artworks), and you and Arnold Toynbee wrote that the classical culture of a civilization would become something restricted to a small elite, whereas the masses outside the elites would draw their cultural inspirations from elsewhere. That said, good, traditional works can still be done in the late stages of a civilization, for example “De Reditu Suo” in late Antiquity. It describes a sea voyage at a time where the Roman road system already fell apart and it was too dangerous to travel overland.

  316. Re: the limits of languages, I once spoke to a gentleman who ran a Waldorf school, and he told me that they taught three languages to all their pupils, as each language had a different strength. Spanish was taught for expressing emotions, German was taught for encouraging technical precision, and English was taught as a tool for logic and conceptual ideas.

  317. “in music, the classical tradition is in the early stages of changing from a badge of elite status or aspirations (its role for the last century)… ” Perhaps a nit, but I’d argue that “classical” music didn’t become a badge of elite status until the mid-1960s at earliest. Until then, references to classical music were simply a normal part of mass culture. In the ’50s Stokowski and Toscanini were household names.

  318. I truly love and agree with JMG’s ideas about the rise of “classics”, but I wonder where indigenous “classical” cultures fit in here. Native American and African. We don’t think about fugues and sonatas when we think of their art forms or when we think of classical styles. They are collectively sourced and created, and “traditional” in that they have no single author or originator. I think that your focus on Europeanized/western forms is misplaced. What are the “classical” techniques, traditions and methods to which you refer? “Where is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?” and other such supremacist nonsense. Great discussion! I hope we can continue to talk about future arts this month.

  319. Late comment but some of the previous comments fired some synapses: Every mass shooting we always get a massive round of very public prayers, and then the next mass shooting comes around like clockwork. Could these prayers be apparently so futile because they invoke a god who’s already split or retired into senescence? And conversely could our society’s worship of violence and especially our worship/ fetish of firearms be a response to an emergent deity ?

  320. One of my favourite examples of a “classical” art style surviving long past the era it originated in is Nonnos’ Dionysiaca. He wrote a huge epic in Homeric Greek about the life of the God Dionysius at a time when Christianity had already become the dominant religion.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss . Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

Leave a Reply