Not the Monthly Post

A Few Notes on American Magic

Over the last week or so I’ve been spending a certain amount of time reviewing some of the things I studied and practiced and wrote about in years long gone. Partly that’s something I do from time to time, but I also had another excuse. Next year Aeon Books will be bringing out two volumes of my work, The City of Hermes and A Magical Education; the first contains the essays and articles I wrote for a variety of magazines during my first not-quite-decade of writing on magic, from 1993 to 2000, and the second includes all of the most popular talks I used to give during the following decade, when I put in my time on the Pagan and occult conference circuit.

The same press has already brought out new and improved editions of my first two published books, Paths of Wisdom and Circles of Power, along with my translation of Gerard Thibault’s Renaissance Hermetic fencing manual, The Academy of the Sword, and a hardback edition of The Celtic Golden Dawn. In the year or so ahead they’ll be bringing out new editions of Earth Divination, Earth Magic and The Sacred Geometry Oracle book and card set, along with thoroughly revised and expanded versions of Inside a Magical Lodge and my near-future military-political novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming. All in all, reviewing the books and assembling the anthologies has been quite the trip down Memory Lane, and it’s got me thinking about the lively historical drama in which, as a writer and teacher of occultism, I play a bit part.

Broadly speaking, there are three standard narratives about the history of magic in America, and all three of them are utter hogwash. The first, and by far the most widely promoted these days, is the triumphalist mythology of the Enlightenment. Beginning in the middle years of the 17th century, this narrative claims, a handful of geniuses finally got around to noticing that everything everyone else had always believed about the universe was just plain silly. They realized how obvious it is that the universe is made of matter, energy, and nothing else, that gods don’t exist, magic can’t work, and when you die, you rot and that’s it. Of course these geniuses had to fight the entrenched forces of ignorance and superstition, but since they were so obviously right, they always won in the end.  And the people who study and practice magic today?  They’re among the last sad holdouts of the forces of ignorance and superstition, and if we just lobby for more science education and keep on denouncing alternative healing at the top of our lungs, someday soon we will all eat strawberries and cream in a utopia of pure reason.

The second of these narratives, which has more than a little similarity to the first, is the one that used to be standard among followers of America’s mainstream religious traditions. Here the sudden sunburst of light and truth that broke through the darkness of ignorance and superstition happened a bit earlier—to be exact, in Judea right around 33 CE—and the revelation in question was of course quite different, involving things like monotheism and salvation through divine grace rather than reason and the scientific method. What’s more, ignorance and superstition have rather more firepower on their side, courtesy of Satan and his minions, so the battle against them has taken considerably more time. Nonetheless, in eras when the Christian mainstream is feeling confident, the people who study and practice magic are assigned to the same category of last sad holdouts of the forces of ignorance and superstition. When the rhetoric shifts, and the sad holdouts start being portrayed as the threatening advance guard of the legions of Antichrist, you know that the confidence of the Christian mainstream is getting seriously frayed at the edges.

Then there’s the third narrative, which is the one that appears embarrassingly often among people who practice magic, especially but not only in popular magico-religious movements such as Wicca. This is the claim that whatever specific kind of magic they happen to practice has been around in exactly the same form since the upper Devonian, preserved in secret by unbroken lineages of identical third-degree grandmothers churned out by some granny factory in the New Forest, who never had an original thought in their lives and passed down the teachings exactly as they received them. Thus the Old Ways survived long ages of persecution and bigotry in a state of perfect mummification, so that they could pop out of hiding on cue in our own time, and turn out to be perfectly attuned to the latest trends in avant-garde culture.

You’ll notice that this third narrative is simply what happens when you take one of the first two and swap the value judgments, so that primitive superstition and ignorance becomes primeval wisdom and knowledge and the onward march of truth morphs into the onward march of bigotry and intolerance. That strategy of reversal is extremely common on the fringes of every society, and for good reason:  it’s a lot more difficult to get people to think clearly about the narratives that define their lifes than it is to tell them to keep the same narrative and just start rooting for the other team. The downside of this strategy is simply that if you keep the old narrative, you’re stuck with whatever bad habits of thought it embodies.

And the bad habit of thought central to the narratives we’re discussing? It’s the notion that magic has no history of its own—that it’s a timeless, passive presence, just sitting there waiting for scientists to debunk it, or missionaries to convert everyone away from it, or third-degree grannies to pass it on to somebody with marketing skills and a publishing contract.

This sort of thinking is extremely common, and not just where magic is concerned. It reflects the supreme delusion of modern industrial culture, the notion that the cosmos divides neatly into two unequal halves: a small group of smart, creative, dynamic human beings who make things happen, and everything and everyone else, which just sits there, passive and inert, waiting for somebody in the first group to do something with it. Stated thus baldly, it sounds preposterous—and of course it is—but watch the rising tide of mishaps that beset industrial society these days and you can see the sort of thinking I’ve described behind nearly every one.

“When we act, we create our own reality,” neoconservative guru Karl Rove is credited as saying to reporter Ron Suskind. “We’re history’s actors, and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” That’s an unusually forthright expression of the stupendous idiocy I’m discussing. You’ll notice, among other things, that Rove was dead wrong, and the merry crew of “history’s actors” that gathered around George W. Bush failed completely in their goal of remaking the Middle East along American lines.  Quite the contrary, they succeeded mostly in helping the Islamic Republic of Iran pursue its geopolitical ambitions, and teaching two more generations of Americans what the word “quagmire” means.

The same principle applies more broadly. We dump pesticides with blithe abandon on our crops and flower gardens, and then look on with baffled rage as the insects we’re trying to kill evolve resistance to our poisons while insects we need drop dead in heaps. We leap into SUVs to go six blocks to the grocery store and then get upset when our tires sink into the asphalt, courtesy of the anthropogenic climate change our tailpipes are helping to create. We embrace economic policies that condemn millions of people in the working classes to poverty and misery, and then can’t understand why they vote for Brexit and Donald Trump. It’s the same delusion in each case—the delusion that insists that the universe is only allowed to do what we tell it.

The way out of that mental trap starts with the recognition that the rest of the universe is just as capable of change and adaptation as we are:  that it has its own dynamism, its own momentum, and its own history. The insects we try to poison aren’t just a passive presence munching on our food crops; they got where they are by a long process of adaptation and survival, which has prepped them to respond to our poisons with a burst of evolutionary radiation. It’s not just an elite subset of human beings who are history’s actors, in other words—so are insects, atmospheric cycles, and working-class “deplorables,” and if the self-styled makers of history ignore that fact, they’re pretty much guaranteed to end up not acting but being acted on, to their great (and sometimes lethal) discomfiture.

With regard to magic, I’d thus like to suggest a different narrative, one that has the advantage of being a lot closer to what actually seems to have happened. In that narrative, magic is a normal part of every human society, as natural as art and music and medicine and literature. Like these other things, it develops over time, draws on the intellectual and cultural currents of the society in which it thrives, faces new challenges as well as familiar ones in every generation, spins off competing schools that contend with one another and eventually enrich the broader tradition by their conflict. In such a narrative, magic has its own history, just as art and music and medicine and literature do; what’s more, the magic practiced in any country, like the art and music and medicine and literature practiced in any country, will be at least a little different—and in many case, quite dramatically different—from the magic practiced anywhere else.

When we talk about magic, in other words, we’re not discussing a vague inchoate mass of ignorance and superstition, or for that matter a timeless wisdom passed down unchanged from age to age.  It’s a constantly changing body of theory and practice that shapes, and is shaped by, the culture in which it exists. At its best, it offers useful correctives to some of the follies of that culture; at its worst, it reinforces those follies in disastrous ways.

That narrative, in turn, leads me back to the things I studied and practiced earlier in my career as an occultist, and to one of them in particular, a collection of photocopied lessons now residing in a hanging folder in the file cabinet next to the desk where I’m writing this.

The lessons in question were the work of Burks L. Hamner, a successful businessman in Tampa, Florida in the first half of the last century. At first glance Hamner looks like a real-life model for George Babbitt, the glad-handing, money-grubbing protagonist of a once-famous Sinclair Lewis novel. Like many people of his time, though, he was caught up in one of the great waves of the history of American occultism, and was a passionate student of New Thought.

New Thought? Very broadly, that’s the bundle of joy that resulted when the philosophy of the Transcendentalists and the avant-garde occult movement launched by Franz Anton Mesmer tumbled into bed one night while giddily drunk on the ebullient optimism of the expanding American republic. Think of it as a mighty backlash against the dour predestinationism of Calvinist New England and you’ve got the basic flavor of the movement. The founders of New Thought discovered, well before scientific psychologists got around to noticing this, that thoughts and feelings have a huge impact on our lives—that the mind doesn’t just reflect the world around it, but actively shapes our experience of the world, our physical and emotional health, our relationships with other people, and our chances of achieving our goals in life.

America being America, the New Thought movement didn’t give rise to one big religious organization, though Mary Baker Eddy tried her level best to turn her Christian Science denomination into the One True Church of New Thought, and a couple of other denominations rose out of the movement and established themselves on a fairly large scale. Rather, it took the form of scores of churches, societies, correspondence schools, and initiatory orders, all of them ringing their own changes on the basic New Thought philosophy and toolkit. Very broadly, these competing schools sorted themselves out along an axis defined by the scale of the claims made for New Thought: on one end, those that presented New Thought as a set of mildly useful notions whose effect was strictly constrained by the scientific beliefs of the time; on the other, those that insisted that New Thought was the omnipotent secret of the ages, and could conquer every source of human misery including old age and death; in the middle, every conceivable point of view between these two extremes.

Burks L. Hamner was in the middle. As a successful entrepreneur in a freewheeling age, he saw just how powerfully attitudes and assumptions affected the success or failure of business owners and employees alike. He was never among the people at the delusional end of New Thought, who insisted that all you had to do is practice affirmations and the world would drop everything you wanted into your lap; his recipe for a happy, healthy, and successful life combined New Thought methods with changes in habits and attitudes, close attention to the effects of your actions on others, and plenty of good old-fashioned hard work.

That’s what went into his correspondence school, the Order of Essenes, which he opened in Tampa in 1938. It was never one of the big players in the New Thought field, because it didn’t advertise, and it offered its courses free of charge to new students who were recommended by existing students. Funded solely by donations, it nonetheless kept going for many decades; after Hamner’s death in 1946, it was operated by his daughter Suzie Hamner Davis, and finally seems to have shut down sometime in the early 1970s.

That’s the course I have in my file cabinet. I got it because for a while I was active in another Essene group, the Modern Order of Essenes, which was one of the gallimaufry of little occult orders connected with the Ancient Order of Druids in America. One of the last members of Hamner’s Order of Essenes sent it to us when she was moving to a retirement home. I scanned the whole course and sent it on to the head of the MOE, who for all I know still has it—and then I printed out a copy of the course, and worked my way through the whole thing. I did such things fairly often in those days. (I still do the same thing today; I’m currently on Lesson 6 of the correspondence course offered by one of the smaller Rosicrucian orders active in the same era, and am enjoying the experience. If you’re an old-fashioned occultist, you do such things.)

That’s the course, in turn, that I’m making available to students again on the same basis—free of charge, supported only by donations—at

Before you all go running off to that site to download Lesson 1, though, a word of warning is in order. Do you recall what I said earlier about the primary delusion of modern industrial society, the belief that the universe is only allowed to do what we tell it? And do you recall what I said about how magical traditions can reinforce the bad habits of a society, sometimes in disastrous ways? That applies doubled, tripled, and in spades to New Thought.

Most New Thought authors, Burks L. Hamner very much included, put a lot of effort into convincing people that they really could change their lives and obtain health, happiness, and success. They used every rhetorical trick in the book to get that point across, and they were right to do so, since the audience they hoped to reach consisted of people who had become convinced that they couldn’t succeed and had no power to better their lives.  For such people, being taught that they had the power of the Infinite behind them was a salutary shock, and in many cases had immensely positive effects on people’s lives.

The reverse happened, though, when New Thought became popular with people who already had a well-developed sense of entitlement, and were convinced that the universe was supposed to do what they told it to do. Such people tended to be drawn to New Thought; it’s always pleasant to be told what you already believe, especially when what you already believe is that you can have whatever you want. For them, New Thought was an intoxicating drug, and it led to the same kind of self-inflicted failures that New Age thinking so often causes among the overly entitled today.  If you knew any of the people who plunged into real estate speculation in the years immediately before the 2008 crash, convinced that the power of positive thinking would infallibly make them millionaires, you know what I’m talking about; if you were paying attention to the role that the obsession with positive thinking played in leading Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign to a wholly preventable defeat—well, I rest my case.

Barbara Ehrenreich a few years back wrote an excellent book titled Bright-Sided, which is all about the immensely destructive influence that New Thought has had on some aspects of American society. Mitch Horowitz has written an equally excellent book called One Good Idea about the immensely positive influence that New Thought has had on other aspects of American society. What’s more, both authors are right. It’s only in the fantasies of the overly simplistic that everything is either good or bad, and when it’s good it’s all good and when it’s bad it’s all bad. Just as a medicine that raises blood pressure can be a lifesaver for people with low blood pressure, but can kill people whose blood pressure is already high, New Thought has a great deal to offer people who believe they can’t do anything about their unsatisfactory lives, but should be avoided by those who already think that the universe owes them a favor.

Let me be even more precise here. If you believe, dear reader, that you deserve love and happiness and a nice new car just because you’re you, then for the love of God stay away from the Order of Essenes and from New Thought teachings generally. They will mess you over. If, on the other hand, you believe that your life is stuck on a dead-end street because of things you can’t do anything about, or that you just don’t have what it takes to achieve health, happiness, and success, then Mr. Hamner here has a few extremely helpful suggestions for you.


On another topic of interest to readers of this blog, I’m pleased to announce that Founders House, the publisher of the science fiction anthologies launched by contests on my blogs, is hosting a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the forthcoming Old Solar System anthology, Vintage Worlds I. There are some great prizes for contributors; check it out here.


  1. John–

    In an attempt to effectively frame what you’ve said about the nature and history of magic: is it an art, like sculpture or music, where subjectivity is dominant and the nature of the discipline shifts over time? Or is it like engineering, where we’re dealing with more objective elements? Or is it a blend of the two, like architecture, where there are underlying principles not subject to change but overlaid with other aspects which evolve over time? (I’m guessing this last category is closest to the truth.)

    Secondly, what you’ve suggested regarding the notion that not all tools are appropriate for all users is certainly thought-provoking. It seems that a proper understanding of oneself is a vital element of successfully navigating one’s path, if only to avoid those tools which reinforce undesirable habits of thought.

  2. Fascinating! First I want to congratulate you on the flurry of publications and rereleases — I look forward to purchasing quite a few of those books, btw.

    Second, New Thought: am I reading it correctly that there is a pronounced thaumaturgic emphasis with New Thought and New Age thinking? That it is mostly about getting what one wants in a material sense? Not that there is anything wrong with that! But is this perhaps the reason that older occult authors so carefully hid their techniques, to avoid mass-movements of highly deluded folks? From the example you gave of the ghastly misunderestimations that occurred in Iraq it would appear that the fall-out from New Thought has been in many ways ghastly for the national life of our country. We’re still as caste-bound as ever, and now on top of that we’ve made many countless foreign policy blunders. On a certain lever Karl Rove is correct in saying “When we act, we create our own reality,” but that doesn’t mean it’s the reality that anyone would want! It is at right angles to lived experience to think just because a deliberate action is taken it will yield exactly the results one intended.

  3. thank you for clarifying who should study the Hamner materials. As the daughter of a woman who followed New Thought, with some small degree of success, and sibling of another woman in the other group you talk about (“I deserve the best because I am the best!”), I’ve been exposed to a lot of these teachings and for years wondered why they never seemed to work for me the way they did for the millionaire authors in a particular so-called Course, or the people who threw over their former hard work/no play lifestyles for a lifestyle on a beach in Hawaii. I have been looking for some kind of teaching that instead would teach me how to deal with a rather difficult life, less successful and glamorous than most around me – maybe I could try this correspondence course. One of the books to which I was exposed early on was “As a Man Thinketh,” by James Allen, and New Thought habits were at least superior for enduring my life than the mishmash I hear from younger people, who get their “spirituality” from the entertainment and advertising industries. Thank you for giving an objective history of these movements which is difficult to find anywhere else!

  4. Lovely! Yes, the world IS full of other actors with their own intentions and purposes. It won’t ever do what it’s told!

    Re: “…a collection of photocopied lessons now residing in a hanging folded in the file cabinet next to the desk where I’m writing this…” I have to ask, how DO you fold a hanging? And where, in a hanging, do the photocopied lessons go? (Temporarily, I hope, lost).

  5. In college I had a dream of a book which I called the “Pharmacopoeia Philosophicus.” The notion was based on an observation that I had studying Nietzsche. To use terms I lacked at the time to say when I thought then more clearly, I noticed that different philosophic texts had different temperaments, to varying degrees, and that they had an effect on people’s thoughts similar to the effect that herbs of various tempers might have on a person’s body. So it is that folks find texts and philosophers with a similar base temperament to their own most agreeable in general, but also benefit from occasional tonics of contrary tempers to mitigate the excesses of any given temperament. Further more given imbalances in a particular direction of a more acute nature could be responded to by philosophies specific to that imbalance.

    For instance the studying philosophy of logical positivism, can help to clear up muddled thinking by forcing very precise thought to interpret it at all, even though that philosophy includes some serious imbalances and near delusions of its own, which can be counter acted with some Wittgenstein or some J.L. Austin.

    For that matter the post modernism of Derrida might be useful in limited cases to counter act narratives which try to present themselves as realities, how ever in large doses the medicine causes a more serious case of what it was intended to cure.

    Lacan seems to have majorly messed up about every body I know who read him enough to think his thoughts.

    Plato fortifies the inquisitive and skeptical intuitions, and is well balanced with compelling ideas about reality. Not recommend for readers insensitive to irony, who are prone to become compelled by some of the more powerful ideas there presented.

    Nietzsche wrote texts that have at least a sampling from various temperaments, being at times extremely dry, and also occasionally sappy in the extreme. Also his works tend to be hot, but also contain icy cold moments. Specific for counter acting universalism, but prone to causing wild breaks for people of fragile temperments.

    Now, beyond little quips like that I found the project would take a stupendous amount of work to complete to any satisfactory degree, but the idea stuck with me to make sense of effective writing and seems a better model that to say that a system of ideas was “true” or “false”. Which is like asking if an herb or food is “healthy” or “unhealthy”, when in practice most substances have a context where they can, to at least a limited degree, participate in both those categories.

    It makes perfect sense that New Though would be beneficial to people suffering from the oppressive and defeatist thought forms opposite it, and narcotic to those possessed by thought forms mirroring its own imbalances.

  6. JMG,

    I imagine you’ll get a flurry of the usual questions you get whenever you introduce something new, so I’ll start off with one of the more common ones, hopefully posed in a more direct fashion than usual:

    What level of commitment is necessary for this course? Specifically, for those already engaged in other occult practices, is this something that can be fit alongside other practices, or is it something that should be your sole focus for the duration of time you spend working through the lessons?

    If the answer is “it depends on the other practices” is there any of your material (DA, DMH, CGD, et al.) that you’d specifically recommend NOT trying to do simultaneously, or any particular material that you think would combine well?

    Thank you for your answer, and thank you for making this course available.

  7. These granny factories you speak of… are they still taking orders and if so, where could I get one? Anyway, I have always been unmoved by the corporate-speak rah-rah I suspected came out of the new thought tradition…’Always give 110%!!! [mathematically impossible, I believe-not very inspiring]… You can do anything you set your mind to!!! [in that case, why doesn’t everybody win Olympic gold? Do they just not want it badly enough?]. I’ve heard of people going broke because they kept writing checks they couldn’t cover-I believe the theory was if you act as if you have it, then you’ll get it. [‘The Secret’-I think-haven’t read it.] I’ll have to find a copy of Bright-Sided. I’ve already read ‘One Good Idea’, fascinating glimpse into American historical thought.

  8. David, I tend to think of magic as a craft — thus about halfway between art and engineering, or roughly where architecture ought to be (and too rarely is these days). As for self-knowledge, granted, but the only way to learn is by making mistakes and then picking yourself up off the ground and trying something different. The boobytrap in New Thought is that its focus on positive thinking can make it hard to recognize that a mistake has been made.

    Violet, thank you. The best New Thought tended to have a definite theurgic dimension; Hamner’s course, for example, puts a lot of emphasis on the idea that you change the world by changing yourself, and that you do it by entering into a more constructive relationship with the Infinite. The broader focus of the movement, though, was thaumaturgic, and a lot of it went for the straightforward “gimme-gimme-gimme” mentality of Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret et al.

    Thymia, you’re most welcome! I’m beginning to assemble the raw materials for a history of American occultism for the not-magically-literate reader, so it’s good to hear that the potted history of New Thought included here was useful for you. I don’t know a way to figure out in advance whether or not the Order of Essenes course will work for you, but it may be worth a shot.

    Scotlyn, funny. You fold a hanging, of course, if you have one of the patented collapsible gallows designed by Judge Roy Bean and used successfully for years all over the American West for the impromptu stringing-up of horse thieves! Get one today! 😉

    Ray, that book would be enormously useful, but yeah, it would take a fantastic amount of work, and a lot of field testing as well. Agreed about Lacan!

  9. Yucca, my experience is that the Order of Essenes work can be done alongside most other kinds of spiritual or magical practice. Like most New Thought, it focuses on thinking, and the practices are mostly a matter of tinkering with your habits of thought and action in everyday life. I took the course while doing the systematic set of magical practices that ended up becoming The Druid Magic Handbook and the forthcoming two-volume set The Dolmen Arch, so I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of flexibility there.

    KMB, yes, that sort of corporate drivel is in some sense the decomposing corpse of New Thought — a malign transformation that replaces personal choice with required conformity to the dictates of an exploitative institution. One of the core points of New Thought is precisely that you get to choose; if you decide to give 110%, that’s great, but you do it in pursuit of the things that matter to you.

    As for the granny factories, they seem to have shut down at the end of the 1980s, when it stopped being de rigueur for Wiccan traditions to have a third degree granny tucked away somewhere in the closet. I’m reminded, though, of one of my favorite bathroom stall graffiti conversations; somebody wrote “My mother made me a homosexual,” and beneath it someone else inquired: “Gee, that’s sweet! Do you think if I gave her the yarn, she’d make me one too?”

  10. On Magic Monday you talked about a period when physical culture, occultism and New Thought were all wrapped together and self-improvement was a big part of the culture. Are there any books or other resources you would recommend about this combination and era (not just books from the time but more recent works looking back on it)? What sort of effects did it have on wider culture and society? (I’ve read Ehrenreich’s Smile or Die so know some of the positive thinking influences, but not about the rest) Are there known or suspected effects on the subsequent reincarnations of the people who were involved with it?

  11. JMG, It seems to me that the new thought movement has been reincarnated in the present age as the Real Estate Industry. There are of course plenty of other examples in the modern American hustling rackets, but none so extensive as the current motivations, teachings and psychology of the Real Estate Racket. Millions of people are convinced they deserve a new car, the all cherished equity and free and easy loans for more toys and things just by buying a house and letting their good intentions bring them this mana from heaven. This of course as happened just often enough in the present age to encourage many to believe. I am convinced when this racket crashes ( coming to a theatre near your soon) the anger , bewilderment and loss of purpose that this will bring to millions will be frightening.

  12. New Thought bring to mind EST and its progeny Landmark. There people are taught anything you want for you and your life is possible. There is never a concern of the impact of those wants on other people. You have children but want to go live on an island and enjoy the beach. No problem! You can just tell your children this is what you want and you can go do the beach. (real life story)

    On a related note – a local mansion someone built a couple years ago and can not sell now (go figure – not a big market for 20,000 square foot single family homes in the middle of nowhere!) is now has a proposed re-zone into a residential treatment facility for teen boys who have been sexually abused and have acted out that abuse on others, so teen boy sex offenders. The idea of 40 sex offenders living a mile from my house is not appealing.

    The neighbors want to show up in mass to the zoning meeting to “have their voice heard”. I cautioned them that we will come off like spoiled brats and it will backfire. We can only fight it if the adjoining property owners to the mansion are against it. Likely they have already been paid off in some way.

    My professionally employed neighbors really believe making their demands loudly will be effective. Giving a reasoned argument based on zoning law is the only way to win it. And we’ll need a lawyer to help with that. Its a total NIMBY situation and it sucks.

  13. Neat! And I very much like the notion that not all systems of thought/magic/etc. work for all people, and that the ones that don’t work for someone can not-work with really awful consequences.

    In particular, one of my core arguments against the Christian Science “everyone must depend *entirely* on the power of thought/prayer, with no recourse to the physical world,” is that, yes, there are quite possibly certain situations in which a sufficiently focused and trained mind/will can change the physical body, but…okay, I’ve been studying magic in one form or another for ten years now. I still can’t reliably get a song out of my head or make myself stop thinking, long-term, about various unsuitable men/the fight I had three hours ago/the horrible scene in a book I read back in 2015 and would really like to forget. The human mind, for most people who live in the world, is a squishy and wandering thing; depending on mine to cure a broken leg or cancer would be a really bad idea.

  14. I especially liked your last four paragraphs, which provide me with some support with things I have been trying to say to my New-Agey other half, about how some ideas are good for some and not for others. I like Ray Wharton’s comments too.

    Might I expand on all this and suggest that “Guilt” could be one of the ideas good for some and bad for others? Guilt feelings have a bad name nowadays, and obviously with good cause in many cases. On the other hand, those of us without inferiority complexes and generally free of twitchy stuff, but who happen to be guilty of extreme selfishness, surely benefit from awareness of guilt – I believe it’s called ‘having a conscience’. I certainly won’t be argued out of my own guilt feelings (e.g. about how little help I was to my mother); the awareness of my failure keeps me morally grounded.

  15. Thanks for sharing the Essene lessons, JMG. I have been paying attention to water intake, but lesson one was an eye opener in more ways than one. Some of the introductory pointers were concepts that I understand to be true and Universal, from previous training. I will continue on. The training fee is in the mail. ; )

  16. I miss good bathroom graffiti. The original Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco’s North Beach had one of my favorites “This is the weirdest restaurant I’ve been to on this planet.” One of the women’s restrooms in UC Berkely’s main library also had some good exchanges. Alas, graffiti proof finishes have curtailed such amusements.

    Now be fair, Alex Sanders was the only prominent Wiccan to actually claim a grandmother. Although the tiny old woman in the Oregon woods who initiated the nine-year-old Victor Anderson of the Faery tradition probably counts as well.

    How much intersection do you see between New Thought type “you can do anything” promotion and certain multi-level marketing companies? There does seem to me to be a similar level of divorce from material reality–somehow you can get rich selling detergent, vitamin supplements, etc. without ever having to, “Ugh”, actually sell. Instead you recruit others, who recruit others, etc. Somehow though money and product have to change hands at some point for it to work at all, but this dirty fact seems to be glossed over. Amway and Shaklee were probably the biggest companies doing this, but there were many others. Back when I was a Libertarian Party member our local chair tried to convince the central committee that we could fund the local party through one such scheme–organic vitamins and baking mixes if I recall.

    This model is not to be confused with the emotional blackmail of the ‘product party’ sales method–like Tupperware–where the invitees know that their hostess won’t get her hostess gift unless they make some purchases.


  17. Phineas Quimby’s collected writings are informative for their New Thought perspective. For me anyway, they were maddeningly devoid of techne. The man obviously had a gift though.

    Thank you as always for a thoughtful perspective.

  18. I am loving this post. (LOL Color you surprised … NOT) I just told hubby, “Now I know why I bought that printer paper and binder yesterday.” He asked if I knew it was going to be posted (no) then asked if the Archdruid told us to buy paper. “No, I saw it on the clearance shelf yesterday and said ‘I just have to buy this!’ so it was kind-of an impulse buy.” I guess we’ve been married long enough, as all he said was, “Okay, cool.”

  19. JMG,

    Thanks for an interesting treatise on the history of magic. Having read this blog and the Archdruid Report for years, I’m not surprised that there is a history of magic similar to all other things related to human beings, who in general often seem too interested in persuading ourselves that everything will be fine just the way it is. That manner of thinking does seem all the more prevalent in today’s age and it is interesting to note that it may be the result of some happenings in the magical realm of things some many, many decades ago. This idea that the world can be molded by us is strongly entrenched in the American way of thinking. That way of thinking is definitely amusing for people in a number of other countries, but that magic too has also infiltrated those who admire the American way of thinking and it’s people. I think of my Russian mother-in-law, who strongly believes that great reward can be had by dreaming about it and needing it, has I’ve noticed strongly been influenced by American thinking, which is probably why her daughter ended up marrying an American. My mother-in-law often has spent money on credit thinking that since it is a “need” that the means for meeting that need will be offered. Lately it’s caused some financial hardships.

    A few weeks ago I read the introduction to “The Coelbren Alphabet” book. The history of Iolo Morganwg as written there was very inspirational as well as a good example of magic as you’ve been teaching/sharing with us. I was very impressed with how Iolo had a vision he wanted of a world he wanted to live in and acted in accordance with that will in order to create the world he wanted. He was very patient in working towards what he wanted despite all the setbacks which occurred. A lot of realizations occurred to me as I was reading that. History gives us a lot of great examples of what works and what doesn’t work. Making something work, especially something such as magic, requires dedication. It doesn’t come to you within a short time frame. Consistent practice with it. It is something you should do often. A lot of these things were strikingly familiar.. I can’t help but wonder where I’ve seen and heard them before….. 😉

  20. I was thinking on the preconditions that could make the practice of New Thought (or anything else) successful… People who are lacking self confidence, success, health, … are displaced from a state I would call balanced, healthy or maybe just normal. Another term could be isolated, since in a way they have lost connection to the living world around them. To those New Thought offers a vehicle to drive them back to a more balanced state and is kind of an inclusive practice. If, on the other hand, you are already close to that state and do the same thing, all you do is to isolate yourself against life, now just in the other direction. You are trying to make yourself outstanding in a unhealthy way, which will cause suffering again.

    Could that make a general rule to estimate the possible success of a working or other activity – how inclusive it is, how it enforces your capability to be a part of life? (I wonder though, if one could fit for example vaccination in that model, since this capability sets us apart from every other creature on the planet, yet seems to be beneficial if used properly. Maybe one has to add another dimension to this?)


  21. I was remiss in not congratulating you on all the re-releases. Congratulations!! Your dedication and commitment are a worthy example to us all!

  22. The preface to that Ron Suskind quote, which Karl Rove denies saying by the way, is “People like you are still living in what we call the reality-based community. You believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore.” The opponents to the Bush Adminstration, mostly on what passes for the American Left, immediately took up the label of “the reality-based community” in opposition. That included championing science, which is most likely how and why Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson became progressive icons, resulting in both of them as well as science in general becoming politically polarizing subjects. This also results in tension within the movement over genetically modified organisms, where the anti-corporate impulses of the American Left come in conflict with their ostensible support of science and technology, placing both Nye and Tyson in the crosshairs of both sides of the issue.

    As for New Thought reinforcing the worst tendencies of already entitled people, that’s something that would make me wary of it. I tend to get what I really want by being in the right place at the right time with a big mouth. If that doesn’t work, I keep trying to make opportunities happen until one opens up in front of me and then I try to seize it. If I don’t get it the first time, I’ll keep trying until I do. However, the lesson I’ve learned from my experiences is to be careful what I wish for; I might get it and it won’t be what I thought it would be. In that case, I don’t try for it anymore, but look for the next unfulfilled desire. I don’t know if I want to keep that pattern going.

  23. Hi all,

    The dark side of new thought reminds me of the film ‘ the Joneses’ with demi More where the perfect family are in fact a stealth marketing team to sell high end goods to those in suburban Mc Mansions. A sub plot has the neighbours wife trying a variant of New thought positive thinking to get stuff for free as their personal finances crumble. Really dark film, One of those rare moments of honesty from Hollywood. Another, much more brutal was ’99 Homes’which about the housing crash.

    I find it interesting that for one set of folks new thought can be helpful, the others ruinous. That’s potentially more interesting for me, the variable that helps or hurts can be the same medium. Hopefully why that is can be explored further? Thanks for the post!

  24. Aeon is great for international buyers because their inexpensive books include shipping for an affordable price, where you don’t have to pay twice or more to get the titles out of the country of origin. Thanks for using them more often.

    Will The City of Hermes be limited to articles on Golden Dawn?

  25. Yorkshire, I know of absolutely nothing in recent writing that talks about that. A few years ago, when Jack LaLanne — one of the last of the old-time physical culturists — finally died at an impressive age, the US media babbled about how he was “the man who taught America how to exercise,” as though he was some brand new phenomenon and not the last significant figure in a movement that got going a century and a half ago. About the only sources I know of are old physical culture books. There used to be two excellent online sites for these, but they’ve gone dark in recent years; I’m not at all sure what to suggest at this point.

    Clay, that’s certainly one of the main expressions, and where you live it’s got to be huge. The thing is, when the real estate market crashed in 2008 and 2009 and lots of people lost everything, few of them seem to have gotten a clue…

    Denys, and of course that’s exactly the point, If you take any spiritual tradition and dumb it down far enough, the results will lead people to do stupid, useless, and counterproductive things. EST and its various clones are good examples of this. (I discussed the phenomenon of the “esthole” in a post on my Dreamwidth journal a while back.)

    Isabel, to my mind the notion that one should only depend on the mind marks Christian Science as belonging to the crackpot end of New Thought. My bias — and it’s one of the things that I find appealing about Hamner’s Order of Essenes teaching — is that the mind is an essential tool but not the only tool in the box. Some things are best dealt with by change on the physical plane; others — and to my mind, most of life goes here — are best dealt with by taking action on every plane of being you have access to, from the most refined mental levels right down into the muck and spare parts of the material realm.

    Robert, no argument there at all. Some people have way too much guilt, and it cripples them; others have way too little, and it cripples them, too. The opposite of one bad idea is usually another bad idea — and guilt, like hate, is a perfectly natural, normal, human emotion that everyone has from time to time, and while you certainly don’t have to act on every emotion you feel, trying to keep from feeling what you’re feeling is a first class ticket to neurosis.

    Mac, delighted to hear it! There’s a lot of good solid meat even in the first lessons, and it goes considerably deeper as it proceeds.

    Rita, er, the term “grandmother stories” used to be quite widely heard in Pagan circles, and I seem to recall that the early editions of Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon had a lengthy discussion of their role in American Wicca. As for multilevel marketing, good — yes, what you see in a lot of those is New Thought principles turned backwards and used as an unusually nasty variety of manipulative sorcery.

    Michael, agreed! I didn’t find them useful at all, though they helped me see just how New Thought rooted in older traditions of Western alternative spirituality.

    Dfr1973, Burks Hamner would have smiled and told you that every human mind is part of the one infinite mind of the cosmos, so of course at some level you knew that the course was about to be offered. Was he right? Heck of a good question, but things do seem to work that way tolerably often.

    Prizm, glad to see you’re paying attention. Iolo Morganwg was indeed an astonishing figure, not to mention a major inspiration to those of us who want to change the world and don’t have much in the way of outward resources to do it with. The fact that by the sheer force of his vision, he not only turned the ancient Welsh bardic institutions of his dreams into living realities, but played a huge role in saving Welsh literature and culture when it was at a very low ebb…well, let’s just say some of us have been taking notes.

    Nachtgurke, I don’t know that there’s any one general rule for determining whether a practice will be beneficial or not. There’s an old rule of thumb, though, in magical tradition: if you don’t take into account the effect your magic will have on the rest of the cosmos, it’s pretty much guaranteed to turn into cacomagic — negative, destructive, and ultimately self-defeating — even if it doesn’t start out that way.

    Denys, thank you.

    Vincelamb, it sounds to me as though you should probably stay away from New Thought, then. Have you considered Stoicism? Those two tend to counterbalance each other very helpfully.

  26. Shizen, the variable in question is quite simple. How much control do you think you have over your life? If you’re right in the middle, and see your life as co-created by yourself and the cosmos, in roughly equal shares, that seems to be a good sane point of balance. If you’re convinced that you have no control over your life, New Thought can benefit you hugely by moving you toward that middle point. If you think you control your life mostly or entirely, stay away from New Thought!

    Packshaud, it includes articles on Golden Dawn magic, geomancy, swordsmanship, lodge traditions, the art of memory, and the history of Western esotericism, so it’s a pretty broad spectrum of articles.

  27. *light dawns* “hanging foldER” Ha, ha, NOW that sentence doesn’t make me feel so lost! 🙂 Thanks for the Laugh Out Loud story, which I even googled – apparently “hanging Judge Roy Bean” was a real character, although apparently there is no evidence he ever actually hanged anyone, though he frequently threatened to. 🙂

  28. Hmm… this did not appear to post on my first attempt.

    I would also add that the Kickstarter page for Vintage Worlds is well worth checking out to see the impressive cover illustration, very stylish video, and collection of author bios. As one of the authors I was happy to see it has been attracting good support in its first few days; but the campaign is only running through October 2 so if folks are interested be sure to chip in this month.

    Mary Havens Nguyen and Meliari Thulissia thank you for your support…

    -Grant C.

  29. Thinking about doing this. However, may need you to check my entitlement:

    1) I think morality is an agreement between humans and not a property of the universe in general, so the latter owes me nothing; even morality isn’t supposed to do mainly what I want.

    2) A lot of the many lacks I dislike are on me – possibly some from lack of potential, clearly much from lack of effort. Haven’t been taking that so badly, because my life being easy, irrelevant, and tranquil is better than the previous period, but it still could use improvement, which can only be expected to come from better effort on my part.

    3) I think I do get what I’m owed, so I don’t think I’m “owed” greater appreciation, but I do think a better society (working better for its own goals) would appreciate current-me better than mine does. It’s not the only or the most important thing I do badly about, but given what’s in fashion to call white (by my country’s standards) men who don’t behave particularly badly entitled about, might as well refer to section II of . (If I got zero sex and so did Henry, I’d have no complaints about my society on that front.)

    4) Related to 2 and 3, some part of my lacks of effort and success comes from not appreciating my native culture – I think it has features that are: objectively bad/subjectively not to my tastes/a few I consider positive but that don’t move me, and thus being disconnected from the people. I think some of that can be summarized as “Asperger’s”, having had a cousin diagnosed with some type of autism, but I’m pretty sure a Finn in Finland with my exact personality would be *much* better off even if no material advantages (which aren’t what I miss) existed, and more interested in acting for his society.

    Do you recommend staying away?

  30. Thank you for confirming my suspicion that I should avoid New Thought. As for Stoicism, I hadn’t considered it, but I will. If nothing else, it has a long and respectable intellectual pedigree.

  31. γνῶθι σεαυτόν

    Even after deliberately taking less than I want for nigh on a decade now, I think maybe I ought to spend my time on Stoicism!

  32. JMG,

    I’m very fond of Inside a Magical Lodge for its insight into forming a stable group and the democratic process. Can you briefly summarize the changes you’ll be making? If they’re sweeping, I may need the new edition. Thank you

  33. This is about as off-topic as can be imagined so please delete if it’s inappropriate here.

    We have a tiny chicken coop, the kind you an buy at the big box stores, that we use for each year’s new chicks until they’re old enough to go out to the barn with the big chickens. It hadn’t been cleaned since last fall so I thought this evening would be a good time to tackle the job, which involves a good deal of crawling around on hands and knees; I wasn’t wearing my glasses since I didn’t have to read anything. When I got to the back corner I was suddenly surrounded by buzzing insects which, without glasses, I thought were yellow jackets. I can get stung repeatedly by honey bees with no reaction, but yellow jacket bites are really, really awful. Only after I had pulled out all the bedding and destroyed the nest did I realize they weren’t yellow jackets, but bumble bees. I’m just sick. I apologized to the bees, but is there something else I can do to ask for forgiveness?

  34. JMG: “Burks Hamner would have smiled and told you that every human mind is part of the one infinite mind of the cosmos, so of course at some level you knew that the course was about to be offered.”

    And Yogi Ramacharaka (aka William Walker Atkinson) did say that in one of his books (A Series of Lessons in Raja Yoga).

  35. Vincelamb,

    “This also results in tension within the movement over genetically modified organisms, where the anti-corporate impulses of the American Left come in conflict with their ostensible support of science and technology, placing both Nye and Tyson in the crosshairs of both sides of the issue.”

    So then, being in support of science means that absolutely anything that any scientists can come up with, at any time, is automatically good? What about discernment. Science can’t invent something that is destructive or has unintended consequences? If only people would think a little further out than a couple of inches from their faces.

  36. @JMG: Exactly! It’s one of the reasons I like the Kabbalah, especially the way you explain it in Paths of Wisdom: the emphasis that no one sphere is more or less “real”/valid/useful than the others. Christian Science and similar religions* on that end of the New Thought spectrum strike me as very good examples of the “nothing below the Abyss is real” issue there.

    In re: grandmothers: I got into paganism after that phase, thank goodness, but I remember the insistence on the Unbroken Ancient Tradition of Witchcraft and the Lost Matriarchal Utopia and oh dear gods the Burning Times people.

    * Scientology comes to mind too, though that one–at least in leadership–is a smorgasboard of negative aspects.

  37. John, I’ve just finished “Paths,” and I want to thank you for doing your homework (in everything you write), presenting complex topics clearly, and bit by bit making me understand what magic is and removing my concerns about going in (dangers noted). Now that I’ve read what you’ve written about the spheres and paths, I see a little more clearly where you’ve been coming from over the years with your blogs. I need to get down to the hard work, but I never really felt comfortable about it. That has changed, and I want to thank you for opening up such a wonderful way of participating with life.

  38. @vincelamb:

    A good friend of mine was working as staff at the formal opening of the Clinton Presidential Library. She overheard Karl Rove and George W. Bush talking privately while staring out a window at the Arkansas river.

    Bush, IIRC, was musing about how a US submarine could come stealthily up the river and take out the whole library with a single missile.

    And Rove was talking about how he and Bush and people like them were the ones who had the power to determine what was real and what was not, in effect, “to make reality.”

    So eve if Susskind’s quote isn’t quite accurate, Rove has been heard saying much the same thing on at least one other occasion.

    Curious, isn’t it, how unguarded people can be when there are only staff around, and none of their own peers. This sort of thing reminds me more than a little of that situation in the film Soylent Green where a woman appears whose legal status is a piece of “furniture” in a rich man’s apartment, not a person at all.

  39. Karl Rove may not have intended some of the consequences of his actions in the middle east, but it is certainly the case that he and a small handful of others did create a changed reality not only there but here as well. Of course, he was working with existing tools like American exceptionalism, etc. And our absurdly large military capacity.

    But the landscape is entirely changed, largely because of actions he and a few others with access to those tools undertook. I remember being quite frustrated at the time with the messaging that was coming out through even the ostensibly independent or oppositional media.

    The result has been that I no longer consume much media at all — just enough to keep one finger on the pulse, but not enough to get hooked on the soap opera.

    Have not looked yet at the linked Hamner materials, but I am curious about your warning. I would not say that I am still harboring anything like the sense of entitlement with which I started life, but I am also fairly well recovered from hopelessness, where I was maybe twenty years ago. In other words, I have already done a fair amount of work with the idea that changed patterns of thinking can improve my situation. Unexpectedly, it was tarot that helped bring me around.

    Footnote, my mother perhaps halfheartedly attempted to rear her children in Christian Science, but from an early age I rejected the metaphysics, and it took me a very long time, through other pathways, to disengage from rational materialism.

    Oh. So my question. If I am already on a path that partakes of at least these elements of “new thought,” but not from a perspective of entitlement, would you say the Hamner materials present the danger you are warning about?

  40. A pair of bibliographical notes:

    The best edition of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s writings (mostly unpublished during his lifetime) is Ervin Seale’s (3 volumes; Marina del Rey: Devorss, 1988). The earlier edition by Horatio Dresser is seriously incomplete, and in some places tendentiously (and silently) emended by the editor.

    The most scholarly account of the New Thought movement is Catherine Albanese’s massive tome, “A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion” (Yale University Press, 2007). It is pretty good on the intellectual antecedents of the movement, but the author seemed to me unconsciously to have assumed that almost everything of major importance in the history of the New Thought Movement had happened on the East Coast, and was done byIntellectuals, not ny grubby small people (my words, not hers) like salesmen and magazine editors in the Midwest and on the West Coast. I found it highly annoying in its limitations. — Better, earlier histories were written by Charles S. Braden (“Spirits in Rebellion,” 1963) and by J. Stillson Judah (“The History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements in America,” 1967.)

  41. JMG,

    In some ways I feel as if I’m a student of yours, usually paying rapt attention to our weekly lesson and trying to do homework. That’s probably a good metaphor because I was terrible at doing homework and definitely have been lacking at doing it but as my levels of consciousness have been changing so has my interest in studying.

    You’ve made some significant contributions in attempting to help preserve some of useful contributions from our time, such as radio through a variety of ways. Green Wizardry, Star’s Reach and the Ruinmen, and Retropia were excellent contributions. I’m looking forward to seeing if there is more in store but as this blog has tuned it’s attention to the developing spirituality, my feeling is that your contributions will lie more in areas of magic, spirituality, and the occult. It will be fascinating in the future when turning the pages of history and seeing where names will lie. Most could only dream of being considered in the same breath as Iolo Morganwg. I’m grateful towards you for reviving their names and stories. They’re almost mythical in their achievements.

  42. This is an interesting chapter in the history of ideas. Thanks for the essay! I’ve been interested in Bright Sided for a while now, and I’m going to have to put it higher on the to-read list now. I’m curious what it has to say about coping with people in the entitlement-positive thinking camp.

    These days it is hard to avoid running into somebody who is not a life coach preaching optimism, running a network marketing business via social media, or cheerfully promoting some really destructive idea. Most of the time I just roll my eyes, but at the same time…some folks have profited enormously by behaving this way and it feels like an injustice.

  43. One important point: the variable you mentioned in your reply to Shizen has both positive/negative expressions. “I can have whatever I want,” is the positive, and “Everything bad is all my fault,” is the negative. If you’re trapped in either, I recommend against exploring New Thought for now.

    I’d compare New Thought to a big bowl of ice cream: just the thing if you’re just a bit down, or having a hypoglycemic reaction, but definitely not recommended if you’re already on a sugar high — and if you’re trying to use it to recover from a sugar crash, it just becomes a vicious cycle.

    As a former devotee of Wayne W. Dyer, I can attest from personal experience to basically everything you’ve said about New Thought, especially the point that it makes it hard to recognize mistakes. Like any other system to train the mind, it tampers with your judgment — and like any other such system, it tends to tamper in its favor (hence why both fundamentalist religion and scientific skepticism become so all-consuming: both ask you to give up any standards of judgment other than their own; come to think of it, that might even be a good definition of fundamentalism).

    Anyone who wants to see just how far New Thought can go should look up Neville (he went by a single name): he pushes it farther than anyone else I can think of: mainly because I don’t know of anyone else who says you can use creative visualizations or changing your beliefs to actually change the past.

    …on second thought, actually I do: Scott Adams, who has about as Neville-like a worldview as you can have without being religious.

  44. It’s amazing how topical- even accidentally topical- your posts always are, JMG. Just this morning I was reading about Elon Musk’s continual online breakdown. From all accounts I’ve seen, Musk is an extremely demanding man whose used to getting his own way (he has 20 Billion- you think people say no?). This heavy entitlement sure sounds familiar, eh?

    Anyway, his recent troubles with his various subsidy-based sideshows seems to be reaching some sort of boiling point, given how he continues to last out against that diver in Thailand who told him his rescue mini-sub was impractical and unwanted back when they were rescuing those boys from that flooded cave complex. Musk’s tantrum has reached the point where he’s issuing unsubstantiated accusations against the man for having the temerity to point out the realities of the situation.

    Imagine what he’d do if the universe was uncivil enough to have him testify about the practicality of his electric cars on live Tv.

  45. There are “grandmother stories,” and then there are “grandmother stories”!

    I have encountered more than a dozen of them while hanging out with Witches and reading their writings (published or on line) in the course of a fairly long life. The easiest kind to believe are the ones that reference a general family interest in occult or esoteric or magical things. Just as there are Masonic families, for instance, so there are what I call “esoteric families.”

    Someone from such an esoteric family may decide that, just as she now calls herself a Witch, so she could legitimately call her esotericist-ancestors Witches, though they might or might not have used that word of themselves. Gwen Thompson, the founder of the New England Covens of Traditionalist Witches, was from such a family.

    There are also “New-Thought families” and “Spiritualist families” of many generations’ standing.

    Here things get somewhat more complicated, because as early as 1865 some Spiritualists were actually calling themselves Witches, claiming that Witchcraft and Spiritualism were essentially one and the same exercise of natural human powers. These Spiritualist-Witches were accustomed from earlier Spiritualist practice to meet in circles and raise power within those circles. Additionally, such a circle ideally consisted of twelve male-female pairs plus one Medium, thirteen people in all. Such circles were easily relabeled Covens. They are, if you will, Coven-Witches. Gundella (Marion Koclo) in Michigan was almost certainly such a Coven-Witch with at least two generations of such ancestors before her.

    As for the New-Thought families, essentially the same argument could be used by a New-Thought Practitioner to apply the label Witch to him- or herself. These people would usually think of themselves as Solitary Witches, since New-Thought Practitioners work alone, not (as a rule) in groups. I don’t have a good public example of such a Witch to mention here, but they exist. (See also the famous Second Salem, or Ipswich, Witchcraft Trial of 1878. There’s a reasonably good wikipedia article on it.)

    Outside of these various sorts of esoteric families, there are also a few people–all the examples known to me are women–who found the label Witch empowering, and created practices of Witchcraft for themselves out of such sources as Grillot de Givry’s illustrated album of magic and witchcraft, William Seabrook’s “Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today” (1940), Jules Michelet’s “The Witch,” and a multitude of writings by Charles Godfrey Leland (not merely his famous “Aradia”). Robert Heinlein’s first wife (Leslyn MacDonald), Fritz Leiber’s first wife (Jonquil Stephens), and Shirley Jackson are three documented examples. If any of Shirley Jackson’s grandchildren cared to practice magic, they could legitimately claim to have a Witch grandmother. At least one of Jackson’s children (Sally) was sufficiently well informed about her mother’s practices that she could have passed a great deal of information down to her own children and eventually grandchildren.

    And then of course, there are the less credible “grandmother stories.” Some are merely wishful thinking, seizing on any ancestral oddity or eccentricity to justify creating a usable grandmother story. Other stories–more than a few–are quite likely either self-deception or outright fraud.

  46. JMG,

    “old physical culture books. There used to be two excellent online sites for these, but they’ve gone dark in recent years; I’m not at all sure what to suggest at this point. ”

    If you happen to know the URLs the Wayback Machine might come up with the book titles. I’m willing to do the work if you have the URLs or even the website titles.

    The tools I use are:

    Wayback Machine

    AddALL Used and Out of Print book search

  47. This reminds me of the research of the guy (Martin Seligman) who wrote Learned Optimism . He was the one who initially discovered learned helplessness, and sought to figure out whether it could be unlearned. I recommend his stuff – a funny/sad thing he discovered was that people initially thought depressed people were misperceiving their world and capabilities, and the way to fix it was to help them perceive more accurately. This turned out to be wildly ineffective, for reasons experiments showed – depressed people actually perceived accurately. They really are average, they did suck when they first tried piano, no they really couldn’t control that randomly controlled light. It was the optimists who were delusional. But of course, their delusion let them keep trying despite sucking or having no control most of the time, which meant that the few times they did have control, they used it, and they practiced until they got better at piano for real.

    Like Seligman, I myself am a natural pessimist who could simply NOT endure Positive Thinking, so his workaround to teach people how to practice optimistic habits without drinking the koolaid was helpful. I do suck and so probably do you! But keep trying anyway (obviously he gives more techniques). He also had advice for optimists who get into hot water because they don’t reality check.

  48. Scotlyn, good heavens. I thought you were making a pleasantly sly joke about my typo. Still, glad that my response got a laugh.

    Grant, I didn’t see it, so it must have been eaten by WordPress. (BTW, I don’t think I had the opportunity to say this earlier, but “Pen Pal” is a stunningly good story — worth the price of the book all by itself. Thank you for submitting it!)

    S.T. Silva, no, with that attitude I think you can get something out of it, though you’ll probably dislike Hamner’s ebullient rhetoric and occasional sentimentality.

    Vincelamb, it does indeed. Stoicism’s great for those who already have confidence, because it reminds you to differentiate between the things you can control and the things that you can’t, and clears away a lot of sloppy thinking.

    Tripp, and that’s also a valid choice. Fortunately Epictetus published his study program a long time ago!

    Mike T., well, I have twenty years more experience with magical and nonmagical lodges than I did when I wrote Inside a Magical Lodge; I have, I think, a better grasp of the problems as well as the possibilities inherent in democratic process; and I have much, much more to say about magical work in a lodge setting. The new book, tentatively titled The Magical Lodge: Traditional Lodge Work for Modern Magicians, is going to include nearly all of what was in the original, but I’ll be adding some tens of thousands of words of additional material.

    Beekeeper, talk to them and listen for the answer. Yes, you can do that!

    Dfr1973, Hamner and Atkinson were very much birds of a feather!

    Isabel, that’s one of the reasons I’m still using the Tree of Life as a basic model after all these years. As for the Burning Times, oh dear gods, yes. One of my teachers used to make wry comments about how nine billion witches were personally burned at the stake by the Pope at Salem…

    Coboarts, you’re welcome and thank you!

    Zach, the people who went over their heads into debt to plunge into the real estate bubble caused major changes to their financial status, too — usually involving bankruptcy and the loss of any hope of a comfortable retirement. Of course Rove et al. caused changes — just not the changes they had in mind! As for your question, no, you should be fine — Hamner’s work meshes nicely with other writers on the saner end of New Thought, and as long as you keep your sense of perspective, you should be fine.

    Robert, many thanks for this; I kind of figured you’d have some good suggestions to offer. Do you happen to know of a source that talks about the interface between New Thought and physical culture?

    Prizm, thank you. As my blogging and writing proceeds, it’s entirely possible that I’ll move onto other things still — there’s so much work to be done.

    Samurai_47, it is an injustice. Sometimes the universe is unfair by human standards.

    James, that’s an excellent point; thank you.

    Thepublicpast, no question, Musk seems to have dedicated his life to proving the old rule that hubris is the past tense of nemesis.

    Robert, and that’s also an excellent point. The thing I’ve always noticed about the people I know who come from families with a New Thought or Spiritualist background (or for that matter a Masonic one!) is that they’re always a little out of sync, or more than a little, with the pop culture of their time. The grandmother stories I had in mind, of course, were the ones where Granny somehow anticipated every word in Silver Ravenwolf’s books…

  49. Onething,

    Real science is uncertain, chaotic and ever changing. Look at it’s history. It tends to advance by the funerals of those stuck in a former certainty. It is about as uncaring as the physical universe. Space stations, telescopes, huge underground rings to find out about bosons and many other expensive jobs programs might be money better spent elsewhere. There are amazing holes in science such as the lack of research in oceanography.

    Scientism is about a worship of the above that feels that what has not been scientifically studied or has been poorly studied (magic and rhabdomancy) could not be worthwhile or true. This is where you will see statements about scientific certainty or proof. It is a good place for the insecure or the controlling.

    Have Nye or Tyson done any honest research or are they regurgitating whatever they feel must be true? I checked out Nye but not Tyson. Nye was enough.

    Be brave and ask Nye about magic and see what you get back.

    This is not to say that real science is bad but it has morphed into mostly expensive projects done by scientists who spend much of their time writing grants (pleading for funding) and the source of the $$$ has been known to influence outcomes. Scientists are not necessarily honest. They have also been known to have an ego problem.

  50. Elon Musk’s behavior since the Thai cave rescue has become increasingly bizarre, unhinged and disturbing. He’s feeling more than a little butthurt they didn’t use his minisub and he is lashing out at one of the divers in the most despicable manner imaginable.

    Combine this and having to defend himself against a libel and slander lawsuit (which Musk stands a very good chance of losing) with the reports coming out about his assorted subsidy dumpsters masquerading as businesses and I think Musk will end up causing permanent damage to his own reputation.

  51. Bodybuilder search results through
    Wayback Machine

    Website last updated
    July 18th 2012
    Looks good. Click on images.

    sep 11 2015
    seems to be a stripped down version, works good with Opera, not Firefox.

    It’s back! Oh wait. It doesn’t really work. Tried Chrome too. Fake.

    Last updated
    December 6th 2013
    Cool. Even grabbed the pdfs.

    Umm, I didn’t read it. It isn’t naughty is it?

    Don’t forget the creatine.

  52. @Inohuri, @JMG
    The archive has the physical culture material up to November of 2015.
    Some of the books are available as web pages. The pdf files are gone. was not archived in the Wayback machine.
    It is still possible to get there, but most of the content is gone.

  53. This is a very fascinating piece! Your description of Wicca’s history of itself reminds me a bit of Eastern Orthodoxy’s version of the same thing. Most Orthodox clerics believe very firmly that present day Orthodoxy is the pure unvarnished religion of Christ, without any change or innovation (both are almost cuss words in some traditional Orthodox circles). One Anglican writer I read quoted an Orthodox priest as saying something like “I do not innovate. Everything in my church is exactly the same as it was a thousand years ago”-and I can imagine pretty much every Orthodox priest I’ve met saying the same thing.

    I read through part of the first Hamner lesson-I have to say it faintly reminds me of material I saw in a large retail company I used to work for, whose management were convinced that they could inject enthusiasm into their minimum-wage sales workers via endless “coaching sessions,” “inductions,” “team meetings,” etc. Them plus my current bosses inspired me to write a parody job ad for a “Corporate Bovine Excrement Producer” whose job was to “provide us with the latest in customer-centric, socially engaged, statistically tailored corporate bull****”.

    More seriously, this post and your earlier series on stoicism have made me think about why I have been so unhappy with my life. I am forced to admit I am about the most un-stoic person there is-easily frustrated and disappointed, often railing mentally at things that go wrong or don’t work out the way I wanted. This has fed into a strong conviction that life is just going to be one big frustration and disappointment after another, which is a very burdensome feeling to bear and one our host doesn’t seem to have. I’m thinking of looking into Hamner’s course, despite my initial misgivings, because I’ve come to think that I need (in terms JMG might put it) a new way of relating to the world.

  54. JMG
    You write
    “… am enjoying … Lesson 6 of the correspondence course offered by one of the smaller Rosicrucian orders active in the same era”
    ‘Rosicrucian’ sounds interesting. According to Christopher MacIntosh in The Rosicrucian Legacy’ in The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited , Lindisfarne, 1999, this movement started as a playful joke intended to renew Christianity. The potent mythology acquired a life of its own. The legend has the ‘vault’ and the entombed hero and the secret fraternity recurrent down the ages. Indeed, MacIntosh suggests the founders ‘drew upon an inner tradition of the West that had been around for a long time.’
    I was certainly grabbed by the literary legacy a long time ago in the story by Borges in Labyrinths/i>. The Rosicrucian movement itself is a curious mixture of authenticity and imaginative development and recruits members across time whether or not they might ‘officially’ join an order.
    Phil H
    PS Terrific essay by MacIntosh by the way: I have just re-read it.

  55. John–

    Re learning by making mistakes

    I understand your point. I guess I’ve always sought for my life’s algorithm to be somewhat more elegant than a blunt-force exhaustive search 😉 Plus, finding land-mines by stepping on them is effective, but painful. (Which all circles back to seeking that understanding of the underlying terrain of reality so that one can better map one’s path, avoiding dead-ends and land-mines alike…)

  56. Clinton is often accused of being an incompetent politician, and I am guiltier than most at throwing that particular egg, but as a Democrat, probably her biggest deficit is that she is remarkably uncool.

    Nobel-peace-prize-winning war criminal Barack Obama said as much during a debate when he claimed Clinton was “nice enough”, which is cool kid’s code for “totally uncool”. That Obama won a peace prize for being too cool shows the importance of this property for nominally liberal politicians, even those that follow the exact policies of their uncool Republican predecessors. But coolness is not relevant for Republican candidates; war criminal George W. Bush didn’t even win a Nobel peace prize, no doubt an endless source of banter whenever Bush and Obama hook up.

    Republican candidates merely need to provide a natural foil for the coolness of whatever Democratic candidate is foisted on the public. Conservative stiffs George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole both lacked the bite to throw any spanners in the Bill Clinton cool saxophone hot-sex machine. I tell ya, that Clinton could palm ya sis’s muff like no man (maybe Trump).

    As George H.W. Bush easily highlighted the goofiness of Dukakis sitting in a tank, George W. Bush was the perfect fool, er foil, for the hyper marginal coolness of Al Gore and John Kerry. That boy Dubya been throwin’ empty beer cans for laughs at straight Yankee liberal frat boys his ‘ole life.

    And so the republican candidate merely needed to show up against deeply uncool Hillary Clinton–of course they are deplorable, but you need to say it funny! A fun drinking game is to mention any other Republican television personalities who would have won. Kermit the Frog? Republican Hillary Clinton would have easily beaten Democratic Hillary Clinton. I think the Dems were aware of this problem with their two nominees, but underestimated the grumpy old man unflappable coolness of Sanders.

    And so, what do we conclude from all this? For the Democrats, they only need to find the coolest politician willing the sell out to Wall Street…difficult, difficult…The Republicans should wait to see who the Democratic nominee is, and nominate the optimal foil. The best case scenario is that the two parties get into an amusing game of chicken, not wanting to reveal their candidates until the very last minute. Can in 2020 the Democrats find anyone in their party immune to the decooling tactics of Donald Trump?

  57. @Prizm

    The only ‘needs’ I have continually seen the universe meet is those of lessons. For example, you will continue to keep encountering people you have issues with until you have dealt with the issues. Rarely have I seen people obtain physical goods because they desired them, unless there was some lesson involved.

    I too find Iolo’s achievements incredibly inspiring! In fact, kindly let me rant just a little:

    It’s very likely that Iolo fabricated some of what he wrote, and admittedly Barddas can be a mixed bag at points. Yet Iolo’s writings make for a very believable read. It links up extremely well not only with ancient Welsh sources, but with traditional occultism and Heremetic texts as well. I have no idea how familiar he was with Kabbalah and such, but I truly do believe a lot of what he wrote, even if he channeled it himself rather than copied it from ancient sources.

    Besides, having a drug-addicted forger as a key figure in your religion is so quintessentially… Druidic. It is humorous and keeps us humble, and reminds us to value the truth, and that no one is flawless. I think he’s an inspiring figure altogether, and a very competent mage in my eyes (for the reasons you so eloquently described). Such a flawed person, of relatively humble origins, ended up influencing so much. I find that rather heartening.

    The Coelbren is a neat little oracle as well, very different from the Ogham but no less effective. I always feel that something of Iolo’s character echoes through it, but that might just be my fancy!

    @ JMG

    I’d much welcome an expanded edition of Inside a Magical Lodge! It really is one of my favorite works from you. Much like I’d also welcome the expanded edition of Atlantis, if and when it does come out.

    If this question isn’t considered off-topic: Considering your earlier work in Heremetics, how compatible with Druidry do you feel your earlier Heremetic magical practices are? Are there limits to what can be done within the DOGD, or can all Hermetic/Golden Dawn practices be converted to that format in theory?


  58. Tripp, vincelamb, others

    If you think you might have an interest in Stoicism, check out It gives some background. I’ve found the free daily ‘meditations’ they send very useful/helpful/thought provoking. ‘Stoicism Lite’ I guess.

  59. The best summation I ever heard about the interaction and relationship between The Divine, magic, and the world goes like this:
    Pray to the Gods; keep telling yourself you SHALL make it back to shore; and KEEP ROWING for all you’re worth.

  60. @Isabel cooper – oh, yes! My Circle watched that horribly bad PBS series on The Burning Times and the scholarly side of me was going bananas. Among its other sins, conflating two separate eras, equivalent to taking an incident from our own Colonial days and tacking it onto a similar 21st Century sin and saying that’s what the entire time in between was like. Gaaah! I finally shut up, but did not believe one word of that miniseries.

    @Robert Mathiesen – Oh, yes. “not in front of the servants, my dear.” A lesson our new aristocracy has yet to learn. Heh-heh-heh … if I were a spy, who do you think I’d suborn first?

  61. Are not the marketers of consumer finance in all it’s mind numbing forms the true dark wizards of our time? O and casinos popping up like mushrooms across the land. Need a post on that ubiquitous magic which has entranced billions walking blind, deaf and dumb; and enslaved just as enslaved as with whips and chains — maybe even more so.

  62. I’m rather partial to the writings of Emmet Fox myself. He had a big influence on AA.

    It’s great to hear your gathering materials for a history of American occultism. I hope you include some of the Cincinnati crew: John Uri Lloyd, J.D. Buck (Theosophist, Mason, and New Thought devotee), and of course Augustus J. Knapp –whose work you are already familiar with. There are some others I’d have to dig up. Connections to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor, etc.

    Ron Decker got me turned on to our local history when he gave a talk on these guys at an occult bookstore that is sadly gone. And another friend, Ken Henson, recently helped bring out the latest edition of the Knapp/Hall Tarot deck.

    Cincinnati’s history continues in the 70’s & on with people like Nema (who just this year celebrated her greater feast) , Owen Knight, and Louis Martine. America has a very rich tradition and its worthy of being documented. Don’t know up to what years you’ll take it, but drop me a line if you want any sources on Cincinnati stuff.

    All the best!

  63. JMG, I am not sure whether you were aware of this tempest in a coffee pot:

    Apparently the farting unicorn mug in question was inspired by a negative op-ed that the artist in question came across regarding fracking in 2010 or a little before. Now, the first place I ever came across the “farting unicorn” metaphor was on the Archdruid Report– do you happen to remember if that’s one that’s original to you? Because if so, you’ve now played a direct role in the series of public blunders which has made Elon Musk every media outlet’s favorite punching bag after Trump.

    The thing I find most fascinating about this situation is how Musk and his staff found it so hilarious (“maybe my favorite mug ever”) that it became both a hip Tesla onboard Easter egg and a staff Christmas card. The metaphor is an extremely effective puncturing of the myth that electric cars are necessarily the Eco option. Just a minute spent considering the actual words on the mug in question (“Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic”) ought to be very troubling to any true believer, as there’s no simple defense they can logically make in response. Instead their form of defense was celebrate it for its oh so ironic ridiculousness, because… um, I’m not really sure what they were thinking… maybe because, after all, electricity really *does* come from magic in their mind, and it’s ridiculous to ironically suggest otherwise? Or something?

    Anyway, what a fascinating pitard for Musk and Tesla to be hoisted on. If that’s an example of your own meme magic at work, then, wow, job very well done.

  64. I studied exercise science in grad school and worked as a personal trainer and sports performance coach for a while afterward, and during that time, there were many exercises and workout routines introduced that were deemed new or cutting edge. But of course they were nothing of the kind. These very same exercises were utilized in physical culture at least a century before, and many were considered foundational movements that anyone should be able to do, and not some advanced form of exercise reserved for the those in peak physical shape. I think one reason for this amnesia was the ascendance of body building culture and the proliferation of workout machines like Nautilus. But perhaps a deeper and more fundamental reason was because, as with many other forms of knowledge in industrial society, it was deemed old and outdated, and that it was no longer fashionable (the fitness industry as a whole is really only concerned with current fashionable trends that are guaranteed to make money, not with what has been proven to work.)

    I also noticed that the most successful trainers tended to utilize old and proven movements and routines, because they reliably got results (which is really important if you want to stay in business as a trainer!) and because, for the most part, these movements and routines help to train the body to move in ways that the body likes to move in the first place. A perfect example of, well yes, there is actually something to learn from history!

    -Dan Mollo

  65. I stopped for morning coffee on my bike ride to work and overheard at the next table two ernest looking hipsters interviewing a 20 something girl to be a janitor at their church. After a few moments I realized that despite an occasional Jesus reference their conversation was almost identical to the back and forth that would occur at some startup “tech” company. with references to teamwork, buy-in, vision, and such. I looked them up on line “Bridgetown Church” and found what appears to be a newish church that uses the availible space from declining mainline churches to hold services, and appeals to the young and hip of Portland. The most facinating thing are the job titles within the church with a pastor of vision, operations, staff,worship,creativity,communities, etc. Seems a bit like the Portland Version of the Prosperity Doctrine Southern Mega church except with the veneer of a tech office and the funds going to build a large salaried staff instead of a Billionaire Reverend.

  66. Dear isabelcooper, about the “lost matriarchy”, I once read Maritja Gimbutas’ large book detailing her archeological excavations–there was once a time when public libraries stocked books like that. Gimbutas was a respectable, even renowned scholar, and her book makes fascinating reading. I did not myself think she proved her point, I thought the peaceableness she noted could be explained by the small size of the population in an area, present day Balkans, where there would have been water, good grazing and wood for everyone.

    Dear Beekeeper. I also once inadvertently disturbed a bumble nest. To make amends I have found it is necessary to have small piles of brush, straw or similar substance scattered about the yard and brave the neighbors’ wrath about same. That has become a bit easier now that “pollinators” has become a theme in the larger culture.

    Can anyone here suggest a good introduction to Christian occultism, if there is such a thing, which is not in contradiction with Catholic teaching. BTW, I have had a TSW moment with Catholic spiritual practice, which involved a close relative in mortal danger.

  67. I caught a small typo: I think the Mitch Horowitz book is called “One Simple Idea”.

    Your summary of the book makes me wonder if the author has discovered any connection between New Thought and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This wouldn’t be the first time an idea had migrated across that boundary.

  68. @ Nastarana and @ isabelcooper

    Re the lost matriarchy

    Back in my history undergrad, I took a seminar in (Western) women’s history and one of the major texts we used (of which I cannot for the life of me recall the title or authors) was very much of that vein: back in pre-history, society was managed by wise, peace-loving matriarchs; then, just at the dawn of history, there was a gender revolt in which the men forcibly took power and everything to crap. In our class discussions, we referred to this as the “conspiracy theory” version of history and it became something of a running gag over the semester to comment how leaky and full of holes it became as we progressed. (It was, on the whole, and interesting if somewhat depressing course.)

  69. Jeff Pikul,

    On the Wayback Machine you have to do the work.

    Keep going back skipping years until you find close to what you want. Then go forward and back in time.

  70. Dragon, I don’t think it’s just his reputation that’s on the line. He’s engaged in what looks very much like illegal stock manipulations, and Tesla is hemorrhaging money at an astronomical rate; I suspect that by the time the rubble finishes bouncing, Musk will be in jail and his companies will have gone bankrupt or been sold off for pennies on the dollar.

    Inohuri, thanks for this!

    Jeff, and it was the PDFs that were the real treasure. Fortunately I got a full set of Maxalding lessons before it vanished.

    Tolkienguy, there’s a reason for the similarity. A lot of corporate bullshale these days is what happens when you take good ideas from New Thought and prostitute them for the benefit of a corrupt corporate system, leaving out all the stuff about making your own decisions and entering the silence to spend time with the Infinite. I’d encourage you to consider pushing through the initial reaction and giving it a try.

    Phil H, the Rosicrucian phenomenon is pretty amazing, and the specifically American forms of it are right up there with the best, worst, and strangest of the lot. The specific order whose course I’m taking, the Societas Rosicruciana in America (SRIA), was as I mentioned one of the smaller players, much less heavily marketed than, say, AMORC or the Rosicrucian Fellowship; its ancestry goes back to the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor along one line and to Masonic Rosicrucian bodies (which I also belong to) on the other.

    David, I get that. Unfortunately that seems to be the outcome of the process rather than an effective strategy in the middle of it…

    Thecrowandsheep, funny. Seriously funny.

    Brigyn, as far as I can tell, the entire range of Golden Dawn practices can be converted quite easily to the DOGD approach; certainly I’ve done quite a range of work in that format and never had a problem. Other forms of Hermetic spirituality? That’s a good question, and can probably only be settled by a long period of experimentation.

    Renaissance, that strikes me as very good advice!

    Chester, good. Ioan Couliano wrote about that at some length in his book Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. Fortunately, there are other forms of magic…

    Justin, I’ll be in touch. John Uri Lloyd is well known to me — I’ve got a copy of Etidohrpa around here somewhere — and of course Buck and Knapp; the more recent ones, less so. To keep things down to a single book, I’ll need to do a lot of picking and choosing; it sounds as though someone in Cincinnati might want to consider a book on the occult history of Meriga’s future capital. 😉

    Quin, I’d heard of it. I don’t happen to know if the reference to unicorns farting rainbows was original to me or not; it’s not impossible that it was, but someone would have to do a lot of internet research to find out. If so, though, that would be — well, almost humbling, in an odd way — and it also wouldn’t be the first time. I was apparently the first person ever to use the phrase “fluffy-bunny Wicca,” in a Usenet post back in the very early 1990s.

    Millicently, you’re welcome and thank you!

    Dan, it’s certainly been my experience that the old-fashioned methods simply work better. I’ve always had hard questions about the fad for Nautilus-style machines — those don’t give the all-important stabilizer muscles anything like the workout they get from free weights. I don’t do heavy weights these days, but a couple of kettlebells, some dumbbells, and old-fashioned calisthenics and muscle-control exercises do what I need.

    Clay, oog. I can think of nothing so depressing to attend.

    Nastarana, the book I recommend on Christian occultism is Gareth Knight’s Experience of the Inner Worlds. Knight is an Anglican, but as far as I know his theology is pretty unexceptionable.

    Joel, you probably did! I don’t recall Mitch mentioning that connection, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the book.

  71. Thank you for your response, JMG. That makes a lot of sense. Certainly when I was studying a New Age philosophy from 2010-2015 I approached it more theurgically, but it was also a somewhat odd duck of the New Age scene, the Michael Teachings, a philosophy which tends to be much more about self-development than goodies.

    If I may bring it up for further exploration, I was captivated by your response to Nachtgurke in which you said: “There’s an old rule of thumb, though, in magical tradition: if you don’t take into account the effect your magic will have on the rest of the cosmos, it’s pretty much guaranteed to turn into cacomagic — negative, destructive, and ultimately self-defeating — even if it doesn’t start out that way.”

    This strikes me as extremely important and worthy of consideration, especially when viewed from the lens of theurgy. Sure, if one is looking to get a relationship, money or car out of magic that is one thing, but the sort of magic in which one is trying to better oneself is easily defined as different category. If I’m seeking to become more fully myself, to increase consciousness, to act more ethically &c, I can imagine that this actions would improve the cosmos a little bit, but also that is based on certain value judgements on my part, which is then based on the painfully limited consciousness I’ve developed as a human being.

    Of course there is the old adage, “by their fruits ye shall know them,” but that implies planting a seed and waiting for it to grow, tasting the fruits and giving honest assessment to how they taste. So while I may be thinking I’m becoming a better person, the truth may be that I’m acting selfishly and destructively towards others and the cosmos in general. That is, I may be deluded and may have to retrace my steps, something that is always at the very least somewhat painful. Is spiritual development a situation where one must both work and wait in humility and be prepared to learn that the direction has been wrong and correct the course accordingly? I imagine this may be why you advocate using tried and trued methods of self-development and also stress the importance of faith since the uncertainty in the direction of development could be extremely crippling.

    My apologies if this is off topic, but I am very curious your thoughts on this matter, especially concerning basic rules of thumb in navigating these waters in a healthy and balanced way.

  72. @Patricia Matthews: Right? Plus, the conflation of “probably Christian-ish people (or Jews/Muslims/heretics in general) that the locals didn’t like too much for Reasons, some of whom were certainly women with too much independence or people with too much non-clergy knowledge” who were actual victims of European witch hunts/the Inquisition/etc with Actual Wiccans With Books of Shadows and Stuff…ugh.*

    @David and Nastarana: Hee! Agreed. There are situations that give rise more easily to peace and prosperity than others–and I do think, with Christopher Ryan, that many forms of civilization involve an artificial-scarcity mindset that leads more easily to conflict than otherwise. But I suspect that’s a bonobo/chimp conflict, not a male-female one: four years in a girls’ dorm and thirty-six with a kid sister (okay, to be fair, we’ve gotten along fine for the past sixteen) have left me with no illusions about women’s innate gentle and nurturing blah blah blah, not that any woman gets out of eighth grade with many.

    @JMG: Hee! I remember how, in the Usenet Days, people would talk about “Xtians” and whatnot in the same tones with which modern-day conspiracy theorists discuss mind-controlling chemtrails and fluoride in the water. I also assume that they figured actually writing out “Christian” would invoke the wrath of either Jesus or Yahweh, because dude operated under the D&D house rules for Hastur, I guess.

    On Stoicism: My mom is, if anything, a Stoic, and I rather like the philosophy myself–the core of which, as I understand, is not “never feel stuff” but “understand that feelings, and the circumstances that give rise to them, will pass, and that you can exist with and around them meanwhile.” It’s been extremely useful. (It’s also why I’m dubious of helicopter parenting–one of the most valuable lessons of a childhood spent getting stung by yellowjackets and bitten by aforementioned sister and riding my bike directly into rosebushes is that pain doesn’t necessarily or even often destroy you, and stops after a bit.)

    * This is one of the reasons why, although I get the secrecy component of an egregore, a lot of the more elaborate precautions and secrecy in some modern pagan/Wiccan writings makes me roll my eyes. Like, this is 2018 and you live in an East Coast city. If you’re public about your religion, a few dotty relatives and the sort of friends you shouldn’t have been friends with might give you pamphlets; otherwise, the worst that happens is people think you’re a bit of a Hot Topic-y flake. (Actually, I take it back–association with Hot Topic and the Bought the Kit at Sephora sort of girl is quite enough to make me want a secret identity.)

  73. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of your Dreamwidth journal. I had assumed that reading that was by invitation only and ignored references to it before.

    Calling people estholes is probably putting a wall up where one doesn’t need to exist. If I call someone something demeaning that I can devalue anything they have to say and who they are as a person. People do a lot of things to try to make sense of the world and unless it seriously hurts other people, I’m not going to devalue their choices.

    Its only when some says, as you say evangelically, “you have to follow what I follow and when the whole world follows it, then everything will be utopia”, that I then step away stopping short of calling someone “wrong” or something derogatory. Believe me I think it though!

    I do think that if you could watch a Landmark course you’d be able to tease out what is occurring on a completely different plane than others that are there given your training. There is something of value people get out of it. BUT (big but), it also operates on a level that manipulates people on some level. Most social/group experiences shift our personality though, its just with Landmark its in a matter of days rather than over weeks or months.

  74. Ah yes, the heady years of the matriarchal paradise. The amateur historian, Elizabeth Gould Davis, with _The First Sex_ (1971) introduced many to the idea that women invented civilization, only to have control wrested from them by those defective Y-chromosomed men. The book was lauded by many but criticized by most serious scholars for its lack of footnotes or other support for the theory. The evil publishers–who made her cut her manuscript and would not include footnotes or bibliography–were blamed for the deficiencies. The author died in 1974 and the book faded into oblivion. She is not the only one to blame her publisher for lack of substance–that excuse has been trotted out by others, I recall that my response to the book was its lack of internal logic. If women were so smart that they could create civilization, how did they lose control? A few passages in _The First Sex_ seemed to suggest that the women of the cities found those barbarian men more sexually attractive than their tame men (impractical and useless on the camping trip New Age sensitive male, anyone?) The best refutation of such theories, combined with the argument that belief in a matriarchal past is actually damaging to efforts toward a feminist future is _The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Woman a Future_ by Cynthia Eller.

    I heard Marija Gimbutas speak during a book tour for _Language of the Goddess_ at Black Oak Books in Berkeley (now defunct, alas). The room was packed with a mostly Euro-American audience and a sprinkling of people who appeared to have Asian heritage. She spoke, of course, about her theory of the Indo-Europeans sweeping into the peaceful areas of Old Europe and replacing the matriarchal civilizations with their war-based culture. I joked to the friend I was with that if you pointed to someone in the crowd and yelled “Him, he’s one of them, he’s an Indo-European” you might have started a riot. The irony of course is that, with the exception of the Asians, we were _all_ Indo-Europeans.

    Like much revisionist history I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Male scholars have undoubtedly ignored or downplayed evidence of female authority. I remember hearing a paper on the erasure of female warriors by the assumption that any skeleton of a young person buried with weapons was male. (This was pre-DNA testing and the author pointed out the the sexing of skeletons is not an exact science.) And in anthropology and sociology, male scientists are unlikely to get the full story about female lives. On the other hand, if every point-down triangle is read as a female pubis and every female figurine is a goddess, the archaeologists of the future are going be very impressed by the worship of the goddess Barbie and her court.

    Robert–your description of some people who have told you about their family practices reminded me of a penpal I had years ago who described a similar situation in his family. They would gather in ordinary clothing, sit in a circle on chairs and do their ‘work’ that way. I don’t recall whether he referred to the family practice as witchcraft. And he didn’t go into any detail about what they did–something more than a prayer circle, but not ceremonial in any way, as I recall. This was over 30 years ago and he was talking of his own youth–so the actual practice would have been in the 50s. I think I recall that the locale was the Midwest. I really wish I had kept track of the letters. Probably disposed of before some move or other.


  75. John,

    I did put out a ‘zine on the subject of Cincinnati’s occult history –starting with an investigation of all the mounds in the area, & Ron Decker contributed a great article “From Hermopolis to Porkopolis” on Lloyd, Knapp & friends, and then interviews with some of my mentors/elders in the local occult scene. It’s something I’ve always wanted to expand on.

    Thanks for encouraging seeds to flower.

  76. @ST Silva

    Sorry in advance, this will sound harsh. The harshness is not directed at you, it was intended for the author of the article… but comments were closed over there, please do not take this personally.

    I hated that article. It’s *full* of male privelege/entitlement to female bodies. Women are not things that get divvied up based on what men perceive as fair.

    So what if an abusive loser has a girlfriend or three? That’s between him and those women and has nothing to do with you or any other man who’s upset they don’t have a girlfriend. First of all, why would you want a relationship with anyone in that group? They all clearly have emotional issues.

    Secondly, the story is presented as if Harry brings nothing to the table. I assure you, he brings *something* that those women want or they wouldn’t be there. I have no idea what it is, you would have to ask them.

    Are there systemic reasons that intelligent young men tend to be lonely? Yes. There are no classes that teach social skills. Social skills are a lot more important to the vast majority of women than SAT scores are. Could we do more to teach children social skills (and how to avoid abusive relationships)? Yes, that’s an excellent idea, we should get right on that. Will that guarantee you (or anyone) sex? No. Never. Sex is a form of social agreement between two people, and if no one wants to enter into that agreement with you, it sucks, but you’re on your own. It’s just like a woman wanting to get married and have kids. If no man wants to walk down the aisle with her, there isn’t a whiny blogpost in the world that will change that fact (no matter how many heroin addicts get married…… do you see how irrelevant that sounds now?)

    If a man finds himself in this situation, I recommend trying to learn social skills. If that doesn’t work, then the second necessary step is usually to lower your standards. If that doesn’t work, then therapy to discover whatever it is you are doing wrong (because there are a LOT of lonely women out there, too, and if you can’t find *anyone* of the opposite sex who can stand to be alone in the same room with you for an hour, the problem lies with you).

    Jessi Thompson

  77. More thoughts on some ideas being good for some and bad for others –
    Dewey-inspired “child-centred education” works when the human resources involved are exceptionally suitable with regard to background, ability-level and temperament; but in an ordinary school it leads to pupils not learning anything.

  78. JMG Wrote; “Nastarana, the book I recommend on Christian occultism is Gareth Knight’s Experience of the Inner Worlds. Knight is an Anglican, but as far as I know his theology is pretty unexceptionable.”

    I’ve read it. On page 120 he writes of “a Methodist lady….” When I first read that paragraph I immediately thought that he was exactly describing my own mother, a Methodist lady herself, who regularly attended Pilgrim Holiness prayer meetings when I was a teen. One time she even dragged me along. Since I began following this blog and its predecessor, ADR, I’ve been reading way more Dion Fortune (and Gareth Knight) than I ever thought I would – I suppose I can thank my mom and my own neurotic behavior for that.

  79. @ JMG:

    Any chance the Maxalding PDF’s might be made available?

    As for Elon Musk, I haven’t followed news about him too closely until very recently. I am not surprised about the news that he is in serious trouble financially and looking at the prospect of major legal problems resulting from allegations of illegal stock manipulation and other shady financial dealings. We know that he is being sued for alleged violations of federal securities laws.

    The LA Times did an expose a few years ago about the special interest tax breaks and other government subsidies he managed to wrangle out of various government agencies and noted that none of his companies has ever turned a profit. Musk seems to be more of a glorified scam artist than a businessman, one who realized a long ago that milking the government can be a very lucrative racket if you know how to play the game and know the right people. The chickens do seem to be coming home to roost. One can only perpetuate so many scams for so long until people start asking tough questions. Criminal charges are probably only a matter of time and the lawsuits have only just begun.

    With that in mind, I wonder if Musk’s attacks on British diver Vernon Unsworth are a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from his mounting financial and legal woes. If so, it’s likely to backfire spectacularly. Unsworth has already announced he is filing lawsuits in three different jurisdictions: the US, UK and Thailand. British law in particular tends to favor the plaintiff in defamation cases, while both British and Thai law allow the judge to sentence the defendant to prison time if found guilty in a slander or libel case, in addition to monetary penalties.

    Moreover, its pretty obvious to me that the controversies surrounding Musk and his business ventures are going to add fresh ammunition to those, including President Donald Trump, who argue that the tech industry monopolies and oligarchs need to be reined in. We’ve already seen embarrassing scandals involving tech industry monopolies like Faceplant and Twatter, including blatant censorship of conservatives like David Horowitz and Candace Owens, the latter a young African American woman who is a well-known conservative activist and supporter of Trump. A backlash is building and its going to have very ugly consequences for the tech industry down the road.

  80. Violet, good. Yes, that’s why I recommend using established methods and philosophies, because you can get some idea of what the results will be by considering the people who’ve already followed that path for a long time. It’s fairly easy to cook up a method of “self-improvement” that consists of nothing but exaggerating your own imbalances — in fact that’s nearly always what happens when people try to invent such a thing from scratch without first studying and practicing some existing system.

    Isabel, it’s partly that, but the core of Stoicism is recognizing that there are things you can control and things you can’t, and getting bent out of shape about the things you can’t do anything about is kind of a waste of time and energy.

    Denys, I don’t use the term generally. It’s simply a useful example of the peculiar psychology that some converts fall into, and simply don’t notice that they’re being jerks. I’ve encountered at least as many people being the same sort of nonstop proselytizers for vegan diets, conspiracy theories, and certain political candidates than for mass-market spiritual businesses such as EST.

    Justin, write that book!!!

    Robert, I’m not familiar with Dewey’s theories, but I know I learned more in six months in an ordinary sixth grade classroom than in four years in an innovative, experimental, open-concept, avant-garde elementary school that chased all the latest early-1970s fads in education, so I suspect you’re quite right.

    Phutatorius, you could do a lot worse, May I recommend adding W.E. Butler to the list? He was one of Fortune’s most gifted students, and a very insightful writer on occultism as well.

  81. Dragon, what I’ve got at this point are blurry printouts — I’ll see if I can find the PDFs, but that was many computers ago. Honestly, I would like to see the tech plutocrats reined in; they’re in drastic violation of monopoly laws, and have abused their power in a galaxy of ways. Let ’em pay for it.

  82. Regarding Maxalding, a Google search for ‘maxalding pdf’ led me to this forum thread:

    Is the PDF there the one you were looking for, ‘Philosophy, Science and Practice of MAXALDING’ by Juan Antonio Martinez Rojas:

    As someone with over a decade of experience using kettlebells and clubs, I have to say the system looks utterly fascinating…

    -Jason P.

  83. Maybe additional Physical Culture.

    Muscle Control or Body Development by Will-Power
    by Maxick (Max Sick) 131 pages. Zooms in Opera, not Firefox.

    “Philosophy, Science and Practice of MAXALDING”
    Looks like OCR. 232 pages text only.

    History of Physical Culture Library
    Subscribe $19.95 a Year.


    I sort of had this part way figured out. I usually have very low energy and knew about isometrics. I started moving while tensing and it worked. I call this dynamic isometrics.

    Isometrics without moving and done with care has helped with busted gut (torn muscles) and the resulting hernias. I never have been able to do sit ups or similar.

  84. @Jessi: EXACTLY, and thank you. If I may expand a little:

    Do we need to teach people social skills and grooming? Yes, absolutely. Do we also need to stop equating male success with how much sex a given man has and how conventionally attractive his partners are? *God,* yes. That said?

    a) What “Nice Guys” consider bad behavior from the Harrys of the world often is their own projection of What Women Want. Real or imagined infidelity is a big one here (there are plenty of women who are quite happy* either with arrangements Mister Helpful doesn’t know about or just deliberately not knowing), but time spent with the partner, remembering random holidays, verbal expressions of emotion, and so forth are all way more variable by person than J. Random Dude might think.

    b) While personal preferences vary and everyone’s someone’s fetish and so forth, as a general rule, your best luck in getting a partner lies in seeking those willing to do as much work to meet conventional attractiveness standards as you are, or doing as much work as the people you want. And if you’re a cis dude, chances are you’re underestimating how much work that is: the low-maintenance women I know still put about twice as much time and money into their appearances as the average guy does. tl;dr: if you expect your partner to wear a push-up bra and heels, you better not complain about putting on a tie, buddy.

    b1) If you’re going to be picky and judgmental about how many former sexual partners someone has…first of all, you’re gross, so stop that. Second, you are *drastically* lowering your odds, even if you weren’t being gross, which you are, which will turn off even people who meet your “criteria”. (Government-funded sex work was discussed on some of my other blogs in relation to that article and similar, and it was pointed out that the, whatever, “incel community” is full of really hostile attitudes to sex workers as well, and they’d probably treat the women involved horribly.)

    c) Being desperate for a partner, or unwilling/unable to be happy on your own, is the opposite of attractive to anyone who is themselves emotionally healthy. Guys didn’t like it back in the Bridget Jones Era. Women don’t like it now.

    * Back in The Day, I mentioned my open relationship with The Last Ex to a male friend. “And you’re okay with that?” he asked. Honey, I told him, that was not only my idea but my *ultimatum*.

  85. Regarding evangelism (related to New Thought via Landmark Forum and the other blog post linked in your earlier comment here), the following analogy occurred to me:

    social self-awareness : evangelism :: correction of genetic errors : cancer

    There aren’t cancerous cells with functioning DNA repair mechanisms, and there aren’t evangelists with the discretion to mind their own business, because healthy self-regulation mechanisms run contrary to the changes that would result in subsequent runaway growth. Broken maintenance functionality isn’t sufficient to cause runaway growth, but it’s indirectly necessary to allow it.

  86. To Darkest Yorkshire, JMG and anyone else interested in physical culture from the past. You might want to check out Christopher McDougall’s most recent book, Natural Born Hero’s. It sprang from his book Born to Run when he kept finding references to the Cretan Runner. McDougall explores physical culture guru’s past and present with an eye to the notion that we all have these physical capabilities. While he doesn’t talk about the spiritual side of physical culture or running, I found the connection obvious. I enjoyed both books.

  87. Coop Janitor,
    Thanks for the link! I read through their intro material and signed up for the daily meditations. (BTW, I’m a coop janitor too!:)

    I’ve never formally studied stoicism but looking through the tenets of the philosophy, I see I’ve been practicing it nonetheless.

    The last decade has been a great instructor. YOU have been a great instructor. I’m a completely changed man from who I was when the vagaries of the market pushed me down a new path 11 years ago. The stoic maxim “Amor fati” describes my life quite succinctly at this point. I wouldn’t change a thing…and I’ve been through some serious shale!

    My wife and I have modest business ambitions, but we would like to have just a wee bit more action than we do at present. We roughly doubled our sales volume YOY in 2018. If we could do that twice more we would be set. Not rich, not even well-to-do, just really feel like we’re making it again, for the first time since 2007.

    Maybe a little New Thought wouldn’t hurt? I’m also curious about the merchant working invoking Mercury you described in your Magic Monday post this week. Is that safe for an upstart like me? Did I miss the window already, or were you talking about NEXT Wednesday? Was it 2 am Wed or Thur? I couldn’t quite tell.

    Thank you! And btw, congrats on all the new publishing. You are a busy man…although I’m a little miffed that I just bought “Inside a Magical Lodge” with such a thick new edition in the works! 😉

  88. It occurred to me that a history of magic in America would need to include the ups and downs of storefront psychics, palm readers, etc. and the interactions between magic and the idea of Gypsies (not to be confused with the reality of the Rom). That would tie in with state and local attempts to control fraudulent claims of psychic powers, honest teachers running afoul of those laws and the results of conflicts between freedom of religion and fraud. Also the cult and anti-cult movement in the 70s and 80s, which had some overlap with religions that make magical claims.


  89. Jason, no, but thank you — you got me to the right place. The collection of old Maxalding courses I had in mind is on the Wayback Machine here. The pre-1939 course is the one I use, but the others are also good.

    Inohuri, got it in one. It’s a very effective approach to exercise, especially for those with physical limitations.

    Joel, that analysis works for me. The thing that fascinates me is that some ideologies seem to be able to push otherwise courteous people into proselytizing-jerk mode.

    Kay, thanks for this.

    Tripp, you’ve missed the window; you need to do it during an hour of Mercury on a Wednesday, when Mercury is well dignified. Alternatively, yes, you might try a little New Thought…

    Rita, yep — also forgotten equivalents of same. Did you know, for example, that in the first third or so of the 20th century, when most hairdressers in much of the country were African-American women who did house calls to do their clients’ hair, nails, etc., that they also did a booming business in hoodoo charms and spells? “Here’s the latest hairstyle, here’s a wonderful new color for your nails, and here’s something to slip under the mattress to keep that cheatin’ man of yours at home where he belongs…” Magic was much more widespread in those days than most people like to talk about now!

  90. @ isabelcooper & @ JMG (if I may)

    Re Stoicism

    I should take a good look at reviewing the core works of that philosophy myself. Getting caught up in the things that “just oughtn’t be yet still are” has long been an issue for me. It has gotten better in recent years, particularly since I began working through the Dolmen Arch course, but I still occasionally reach for what I can’t attain (*cough* Kether *cough*) and end up mired in frustration.

    Acceptance of the human condition, with all of its limitations and quirks and failings, would go a long way to smoothing the journey, at least in terms of perspective.

  91. NICE!

    I’m glad you found that, and posted it. I’m really rather excited to try this.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how do you include this sort of exercise into the rest of your routine? Do you do it directly before or after your morning ritual & meditation or at a different time of the day?

    I was beginning to get into your Druid Magic Handbook earlier this year, using the Norse pantheon and symbolism, but switched to your Heathen Golden Dawn rituals as soon as you posted them on the other blog.

    I’m curious what your tips are for integrating the two.

  92. Hi John Michael,

    Long ago, you pointed out the obvious observation that the universe is largely indifferent to our needs, desires, and wants. That accords with my observations of how things play out and so it resonated with me. Being optimistic is not a bad thing, but perhaps one must also do the physical and mental work to get to the stuff they’re after! It seems like a surer way. 🙂

    Far out, I’ve been super crazy busy this week. Not fair at all. Whenever you mention strawberries, my mind for some reason brings to my attention the film Soylent Green because of the poignant scene where the policeman is rapturously consuming the real strawberry jam, as distinct from his usual gruel of Soylent Green. Not to disparage gruel, which is probably quite tasty. Sorry, I digress. I’d have to suggest that if the forces of ignorance and superstition continue as they appear to be doing, well, Soylent Green will probably be a menu choice and perhaps that may well be considered enlightenment.

    People pursue magic for their own reasons, and I reckon I’m coming to terms with the narrative form, for that seems to be my path. It has been an exceptionally useful tool and I have been helping others with that tool too. It helps them make better sense of the world around them and the choices they have to face. I rarely offer advice these days, it seems better just to help people to make their own decisions as they see fit. Dunno.



  93. “Thirding” Jessi and Isobel.

    Sex isn’t a thing you “have”. It is an experience you co-create. Like conversation.

    By extention, a woman isn’t a thing you can “have”. She is a person you can approach with a view to entering into a co-creation of a unique experience together. She may be interested, she may not be. However, if you practice the co-creative act known as conversation with a willing co-creator, from time to time, the co-creation that is conversation may well venture into the co-creative act known as sex.

    In general, people are averse to being treated as a thing you can “have”. Think differently, live differently.

  94. @isabelcooper,

    Thanks for expanding on my post, I appreciate the added perspective! You made a lot of good points 🙂

    Society as a whole does very little to teach kids and teens about human emptions or communication or social interaction. It’s a terrible deficit, especially since child behavior is more and more structured and restricted, so kids are losing the opportunity to learn on their own.

    I know a few people who prefer open relationships. I think society needs to stop freaking out about the various forms of polygamy-type and open relationships. As long as all the consenting adults consent, it’s no one else’s business! It’s not for me (I’m selfish, I don’t share lol) but it does work really well for the people for whom it works 😉

    And yes incels need to stop freaking out, period. That level of anger is toxically unattractive and frankly dangerous. But I also think they are kind of a symptom of societal decay rather than a cause themselves. They seem like they are probably very sad and pitiable if you get past the anger.

    I also think all the use of women’s-bodies-as-advertisements and other constant sexual bombardment also contributes to these problems. It makes women more neurotic by convincing them their appearance isn’t good enough and it keeps men riled up and sexually frustrated if they aren’t getting any. It would probably be easier for all those incel types to calm down if they weren’t overstimulated every time they saw a TV or billboard. I think a lot of problems in society contribute to this point where it’s easier to objectify and label someone than to engage them as another human being (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc..)

    But i should probably stop rambling…. this may be starting to veer wildly off topic, and that isn’t my intention. 🙂

    Jessi Thompson

  95. @ Archdruid Greer,

    You said

    “Did you know, for example, that in the first third or so of the 20th century, when most hairdressers in much of the country were African-American women who did house calls to do their clients’ hair, nails, etc., that they also did a booming business in hoodoo charms and spells?”

    Please sign me up for your history of American magic. Would you consider a history series? A history of Western occultism, perhaps a history of modern Celtic spirituality…. etc.

    Your well of galabes post about the occult sex groups immediately preceding the sexual revolution shed so much light on all the conflicting information i was getting about witchcraft in the 60s and 70s. I can’t imagine what other information you have collected and would LOVE to pick your brain. I know you’re a busy man, but i can guarantee if you do decide to write any of them, one copy of each volume will sell… directly to me of course lol 😉

    Jessi Thompson

  96. Regarding W.E. Butler: I’ve read his book on the Aura. The great thing about the internet is the ease (and in most cases the economy) with which obscure and out of print books can be obtained. It’s a pity that libraries, even large university libraries, no longer fill that need.

  97. John–

    This is more general, and I’m not sure as I write this whether it will end up being a question or comment, but I very recently went through “active shooter training” at my place of employment. I’ll state up-front that I am not a gun-owner, a hunter, or a marksman, and I consider myself a non-violent person generally. But the presentation and ensuing discussion during the training session impacted me deeply on many levels: re-considering my lack of proficiency in self-defense (firearms or otherwise), altering how I look at my surroundings (the sub-routine that one is recommended to have running, assessing surroundings, cover, etc), and then emotionally in that we even have to be discussing and dealing with these issues in the first place (do we rescind the “no weapons” policy? do we allow employees to conceal-carry?).

    It is a combination of wrestling with factors outside of my control (e.g., the state of the world), my own perception of the world, and my emotional reactions to each of these. If magic is an change in consciousness through an act of will, how might one employ magical methods to address some of these issues? Meditation is one, I realize, but would you (or others) have additional suggestions?

    This is not a uniquely American issue, so I don’t know how well it ties in directly with this week’s post re American magic, but I’m sitting here trying to work through some things, so I thought I’d at least ask the question.

    Thank you.

  98. @JMG Like Tripp, I’m curious to know more about how to invoke Mercury when it comes to sales workings. How can I find out when Mercury is well dignified again?

    I looked up a Mercury calendar on and see that it’s not going into retrograde for the month of September, but I don’t know enough about it to move on from there.

    BTW I haven’t said enough about how much I have incorporated the Ring Cosmos / Ring Chaos teachings into my own philosophies. I’ve found it to be a powerful and useful tool in understanding myself and the people around me.

  99. OFF TOPIC – Just a heads up. You have mentioned the rise of roving bandits. See the Rolling Stone article on gas thieves. Right on cue.

  100. The Stoic response to circumstances is echoed in a classic Sufi contemplation phrase:

    ‘Are you going to be a polo ball (originally often a human head as we know!), hit this way and that by every blow of the mallet? Or are you going to be a real human being?’ ie not entirely at the mercy of events and other people.

    What is refreshing about Stoicism, is that it doesn’t set up an unattainable ideal of being super nice, holy, detached or whatever, and still less a revolutionary world-changer, but just trying to keep an even keel whenever possible and therefore being more useful to oneself and others and hopefully less destructive.

    Respectful of the gods, too…….

  101. David, the Enchiridion of Epictetus is a good starting point; so are the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Both are best read a little bit at a time, and thought over.

    Patricia M, she was indeed. So were a great many female folk magicians in 19th and 20th century America; it was steady work and it gave you plenty of access to a clientele.

    Jason, the main exercises of Maxalding are done last thing before you go to bed — that’s a very common physical culture thing, to give your body plenty of rest and relaxation to benefit from the exercises. My magical practices are done first thing in the morning. So I get up, do the two brief Maxalding morning exercises, wash etc., then do my magical work; the rest of the day follows; then come evening, I do the core workout, and go to bed. Hard to think of a less problematic fit.

    Chris, exactly. “Trust in God, and keep your powder dry” was good advice…

    Jessi, duly noted! It’s a helluva story, beginning in colonial times with Quaker sorcerers, Rosicrucian communes in rural Pennsylvania, slaves adapting their magical traditions to an environment very different from their homes in West Africa, and much more, and continuing right up to the present moment and beyond. I’ll probably do some posts on it here, then see about turning it into a book.

    Phutatorius, his other books are just as good. Agreed about libraries!

    David, that’s a really good question and one I’m not at all sure I’m qualified to answer. I’ll have to brood over that for a while.

    Aron, okay, the basic rules are these. For a planet to have dignity, it needs to be in a sign where it has essential strength (for Mercury, that means Gemini or Virgo), or in a positive aspect (sextile, or trine) to the Sun, the Moon, or a benefic planet (Jupiter or Venus), or in conjunction with the Moon a benefic; and it also must not be in a hostile aspect (opposition or square) with a malefic planet (Mars or Saturn), or in conjunction with the Sun. It also has dignity in its day (for Mercury, that’s Wednesday) and in its hour (look up a table of planetary hours). So you can do a working any Wednesday during an hour of Mercury, so long as Mercury’s not afflicted by Mars or Saturn, or combust (conjunct the Sun); or you can do a working at any time when Mercury’s given dignity by aspect, so long as (insert same cautions here). You can be much more fussy than that, but this is enough to get by with if you’re doing basic planetary magic.

    John, thanks for the heads up!

  102. JMG, since you mention your routine regarding magical practice and Maxalding, I’m curious about your scheduling regarding another thing you’ve mentioned: Do-In. Do you also fit Do-In practices into that daily routine at some point, or do you do them on an as-needed basis?

  103. Once you started on New Thought, I thought you were going to bring up the fact that Trump has been strongly influenced by New Thought (leastways that’s what Gary Lachman maintains in his recent book Dark Star Rising) and then link it all back to the Kek Wars.

    Meantime the anonymous op-ed piece in the NYT sounds a lot like more chaos magic being worked. With the lack of faith more and more people have in the MSM, scientists, and anything politicians say, I’m beginning to wonder if one of the main things The Changer will bring about is the total undermining of respect of the people for all forms of authority.

    If that happens then objective truth as such will be dead and the only thing that will really count will be personal truth. This would surely herald an end to the age of reason and the beginning of…?

  104. @ Silva, Jessi, and everyone else talking about the “Henry” article-that piece was…amusing. Scott Alexander is a smart person, but he has biases like everyone, and its quite evident that one of them is having never interacted with anyone not in the middle class outside his psychology office. Scott, if you ever read this, let me assure you that:

    A: “Henry’s” girlfriends probably had about the same number of criminal convictions, and previous sexual partners, as he did.

    B: “Henry” is not “hogging” girlfriends and thus depriving Scott Alexander of one. I highly doubt Scott Alexander and one of “Henry’s” exes would have any mutual attraction-the signals each one would be sending, the expectations each would have of a sexual partner, and the general worldviews and outlooks on life each would have, would be pretty much incompatible.

    I work with a woman who could have been one of Henry’s exes. We (oddly) get along, but wouldn’t have much to talk about outside work. Sometimes, it feels like we were raised on different planets.

  105. Phutatorius,

    Speaking as the husband of a librarian who would fit in around here quite well, the ALA and its hangers-on are completely consumed by “relevance”. You know, like 3-D printers, and “Starlings” to clip on your toddler’s shirt to record the variety of words your little angel is using. Shouldn’t be long before parents are completely unnecessary.

    Books? Surely you jest. Avant-garde libraries don’t even carry such rip-rap anymore. That’s what the internet is for! And who doesn’t have access to that?? And it’s not as if it’s ever going away either, right? As Elon Musk’s own coffee cup clearly states, electricity is made by magic. I.E. it will never run out. So the glorious and eternal future of the internet is a given. Didn’t you know? And the pollution it generates? Turns into unicorn beans every Earth Day. See how that works?

    So stop hanging on to outdated superstitous dogma, for Pete’s sake. Books. What’ll they think up next…

    (On a side note, I’m awfully glad to live in a county where the Starlings never leave the library! Right in your face as you walk in too…)


  106. @David by the lake

    I’m sorry you had to go through such a potentially disturbing experience. Only time will tell whether the things you learned ever provide you safety, or if instead it only increased your distress unnecesarily.

    I only kept a loaded gun in the house for my safety once, and it was a highly disturbing period for me (and I do own multiple guns, but for hunting). I also know someone who considered shooting a person once (and it turned out to be a misunderstanding, thankfully my friend was level headed and waited to see further signs of danger). He said just having a gun colors your experience of the world. It really opened his eyes to that.

    I think whether a person should own a gun is a very personal choice (and no one else’s business). It’s unfortunate that our society has reached this point, where community has all but disappeared and now we all have to think about how to respond to such obscene levels of violence as it becomes more and more common.

    I hope the changes you have experienced do not cause you distress.

    Jessi Thompson

  107. Aron,

    Agreed about the Ring Cosmos/Ring Chaos business! I found it utterly opaque at first, but as it clicked…the Wendigo has been awfully useful for me too.

    Apparently Mercury is in Virgo until the Equinox, when he passes into Libra. Makes sense I guess, he’s very close to the sun. So we have what? Two more Wednesdays to get a working in? Thanks for asking my next question for me! Cheers.


    Thanks for the clarification! I’ve already got “Mundane Astrology” on the wish list; what can I add that will answer these sorts of questions without asking you? Never would have thought it possible, even just a few years ago, but I am really getting into Natural Magic!

  108. Funny, I think my last statement was my subconscious trying to guide me to the book I needed! Which of course I already have…your Natural Magic book! Still, any other suggestions that might take some more of the load off you?

  109. David by the lake,

    I don’t know that this will be of any use but I do feel this thread of conversation is worthy to keep going.

    If it’s dealing with the reality of violence in the world that you’re wondering what sort of magic could be used to help in accepting that fact, and that one can defend themselves and possibly resort to using violence back, I think this is a good example of reading many of the older, classical stories but reading them with this in mind. Violence is something that has existed for as long as there has been life. It is another form of the struggle between the ring-cosmos and ring-chaos. A lot of people have grievances which they’ve found no other way to address. Reading stories detailing accounts of violent acts, and often times the acts of retribution which resulted, and then meditating on them could I think be of some use in dealing with this situation.

  110. @Nastarana

    You might want to take a look at, which is a resource for specifically Catholic ceremonial magicians – the author has a number of free articles and ebooks discussing basic practices like rosary magic or a Catholic version of the pentagram ritual, as well as books for sale covering more in-depth information. He also discusses more theoretical topics including how magic fits into Catholic theology. I haven’t personally worked much with his system of praxis, but he seems to have a sensible perspective and he has appeared on the Glitch Bottle podcast which also hosts a number of authors I respect.

    I would also recommend checking out Rufus Opus, specifically his blog archives at He has worked extensively with a system of angel conjuration and talismanic magic derived from the works of Johannes Trithemius and Henry Cornelius Agrippa. Although Rufus Opus is himself a Protestant, I would say his system is entirely compatible with Catholicism given that it derives largely from source material that predates Luther’s Reformation.

  111. Remembered I have read a modern book about one aspect of physical culture – Bareknuckles: A Social History of Prizefighting by Dennis Brailsford. I read it in the late 90s during my jiu jitsu and Thai boxing days. I remember it having some interesting things to say about the class system at the time, the cross-class appeal of pugilism and the mixing of different classes at the racecourses, fairs and pleasure gardens where the fights took place. Successful working class boxers ended up owning gyms and teaching gentlemen how to fight.

  112. Hi JMG

    I bit of topic but I red recently an article about what the tech and finance zillionaires think about the future of our civilization, and a good part of them, have a very clear idea that the future will be more close to Mad Max than all the technological utopias they promote, and that is the reason of the rush to buy bunkers, nuclear silos, and properties in New Zealand and Uruguay, invest in transhumanist projects, in Mars explorations, etc…

    Here is the link to the article, the title is quite good: “The survival of the richest” (he! he! he!)

    They are sure, despite their power and influence, that the civilization is beyond repair, so they need as much as money and power they can grab to be ready for “The Event” that will destroy it and bring the new dark age.

    IMHO those wealthy and poweful people are living in a huge “scarcity”, no amount of money and power can give them any sense of “relief” or “safety”, and I think that is a quite common case in all the developed civilizations, in the other extreme I think are the hunther-gatherers who live much more in the feel of “abundancy” taking those terms as a subjetive factor, because all the objetivity around this issues is a construct. We live mainly in a socially maintained simbolic universe, not exactly in a “real” one

    The article is quite good explaining the mentality of those super-rich, for example they know they could have a huge problem to maintain (to guarantee) the obedience of their armed guards, thay are thinking about strategies to maintain a full control of them, by mean, for example of disciplinary collars, or using only AI robots, etc…at the end having fully controled slaves; but when the author recommend, instead of the “full control mode” to have a good relationship with the guards, establish some bonds, treating them well, “as if they are your own family”, etc…they consider all this advice as naive, because people are (like them) ruthless, and also I supose because they have the habit of give orders to “those” people, not treating them as real people (they do not understand how feudalism and allegiance relations works in a work without states)
    Of course they will be cannon fodder is something like this happens

    It seems that the “vanguard of the progress” are a bit, let’s say, not too optimistic about the same progress they defend and profit, I think Arnold Toynbee would have see here a mixture of the “heresies” of Futurism (in the case of the transhumanists) and Detachment, (in the case of the madmaxian prepers), with the definitive abandonment of the faith in progress that sustains our faustian civilization


  113. @ JMG, @ Jessi, and @ Prizm

    Re that which we cannot control and social violence generally

    John, it was interesting that your recommended readings applied just as much to the second issue as the first. A copy of _Meditations_ sits next to me as I write this. Thank you for the suggestions.

    Jessi & Prizm, thank you for your kind responses. The whole experience is quite fresh yet, so that is a part of the issue. But we do need to be clear-eyed about the world in which we live, I agree. The root causes of these events are ultimately related to the fraying fabric of society, which is what occurs in the fading years of empires and civilizations. To some extent, this is about me coming to grips with the raw, unyielding truth that I am living in the autumn of a civilization (and the waning days of an empire), and that my years will be witness to events of that kind. How will I choose to live my life in light of that? Can one not draw joy from experience regardless? But I do need to deal with the emotional responses to the things that go along with such an era and not bury them. More meditation to do, at the very least!

    (So as not to end on a down-note, I’d like to relate that a long-desired dream of mine will be coming to fruition in just a few hours. I’ve actually managed to find a handful of Gen-X former-gamers for an old-school D&D session — by “old school,” I mean, ‘elf’ is a class. We’ll be going through Module B1, which I somehow still have a copy of…)

    Thanks again to all.

  114. @David, by the Lake, and others, on guns and violence:

    There’s clearly something of a generational divide in the USA about guns and violence, which comments on this thread have made me think more about.

    I’m 76 years old, and I grew up with guns in urban Berkeley (yes, that Berkeley!). As a ‘teen, I joined an NRA-sponsored high-school rifle club, along with many of my classmates. We spent a couple of hours one night a week in the basement armory in a high school in Oakland, where I eventually earned badges for several levels of proficiency (including “Sharpshooter”) with my own .22 rifle. In those days the NRA was a non-political organization, specializing marksmanship and gun safety. (It has been half a century since those days, and my eyesight and coordination now poor enough that I could not earn those badges again, no matter how hard I practiced.) In my first two college years, like every male student at UC Berkeley, I took my mandatory two years of military training with the ROTC, where we shot M-1 rifles on a military range–a far more formidable gun than my simple .22 one-shot rifle. (I still remember the feeling of that recoil against my shoulder.) So, guns are for me merely a specialized tool for killing. Just as one learns how to do plumbing or electric wiring or wood-working for oneself, using the appropriate tools, so one ought to learn how to use a gun to kill, if and when it would be legal and appropriate to do so.

    I and my age-mates seem to be on the far side of a generational divide that arose only after doctrines of non-violence and pacifism had become admired virtues instead of despised vices, or the beliefs of some religious minorities.

    On my side of that generational gap, violence seemed to be everywhere, at least in my world and the world of my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents; it was mostly just “how life was and always had been.” (In school we were told differently, but only the most sheltered of my age-mates were taken in by that fairy-tale. The rest of us had already heard far too much of how the world really worked from our older relatives.) The police only took official notice of violence when their own power, or the power of the wealthy by whom they were paid off, was challenged by some act of violence. The law was not, in those days, an impartial thing that might protect the weak, but a truncheon in the hands of the powerful and their agents. I could easily tell a dozen or more stories about extreme violence given and received by my own immediate ancestors in the San Francisco Bay Area, roughly 1860-1960, to illustrate those points.

    Now, of course, all has changed, and it may seem needlessly atavistic for me to revisit the ubiquity of violence in the world in which I and my forebears grew up. But I seem to feel a strong compulsion to bear witness to the way the world was before the toxic idealism of the “Boomer” generation transformed our cultural narrative from one of workable compromises to one of absolute moral or ethical values.

  115. I’ve never heard of Burks Hamner before, I may take a look at your study course. I started my own personal study of New Thought after I found Evangelical Christianity was leaving me dry. I had been led to New Thought in a strange way through Christianity when I was looking at different and competing teachings within the faith. Some ministers of a Calvinist background were condemning and warning against Pentecostal/Charismatic teachers and churches because these churches were practicing a Christianized form of New Thought, which the Calvinists condemned. I thought hmmm, are they correct? What is New Thought? Maybe I should examine it to see if the Calvinists are right. So I looked into New Thought, and found that I was being pulled toward it with feelings of exhilaration and freedom. This was something new! I guess I was just feeling bogged down in Evangelicalism. So I began my search for a new way of thinking. I found some practices that were useful and others that, well, just raised my eyebrows and didn’t feel right with me. Plus the movement had all the problems of other religious groups, with leaders becoming gurus who abused their followers, teachings focusing heavily on obtaining an opulent lifestyle (which often lead to their leaders having an opulent lifestyle), and dangerous practices, such as one teacher who led a poorly designed sweat lodge ceremony that killed some of the participants. About 10 years ago, these negative aspects led me to doubt, and I pretty much left my study behind and moved onto other things (including looking into skepticism; I do believe in considering all sides, but that’s another story for another time), yet I have always felt a tug towards some elements of New Thought/New Age. Does magic draw you to itself? Is that the tug I feel?

    Joy Marie

  116. Hi John Michael,

    It is a rather sound, but very boring strategy. Speaking of which and in particular a variety of American magic, I hope you noticed: Tesla stock falls as Elon Musk smokes marijuana during Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

    I couldn’t give a fig that he was smoking weed. What interested me was the news that according to the article: “the company’s accounting chief left after a month on the job.”.

    Obviously I can’t speak for their story as I have no idea what is going on there, but it reminded me of a time once long ago when I took on a senior job at one of Australia’s top 100 fastest growing companies. It was al very exciting and the air itself inside the business felt as if it was charged with electricity. They lied to me about their financial position in the interview.

    Anyway, on the first day on the job I met with the people who would be reporting to me in the accounts department. They look worried, so I spent a couple of days digging through the numbers and came to an abrupt conclusion. They had about two months left to trade.

    I tried to meet up with the owner, but was blocked from doing so by all sorts of senior figures. It was an impressive achievement and I’d wondered why they hired me if they didn’t want to hear from me. I walked away from them after about a week and got no pay for my time. I felt by doing that I was doing something more valuable with my time. And sure enough I read about their spectacular crash in the newspapers. And laughed about it.

    What interested me about the episode was that the personalities in the business were big, really big, but that wasn’t enough. They could do the sell. However, businesses (and in fact countries and empires) have to sell stuff to others at a survivable margin that covers their lifestyle choices and then get paid for doing so. It is really quite a simple story, but many people are uncomfortable with getting the fundamentals right. And I can understand that, they’re boring but important.

    I don’t know where I’m going with that story it just seemed vaguely appropriate somehow… 🙂



  117. Question for Jessi Thompson, Isabelcooper, Scotlyn, and anyone else who wants to weigh in…

    I tend to instinctively avoid this subject, but I also have a sense of, “if not here, where?” I believe that the current state of dating has a significant metaphysical component, and if some sense can be made of it it would likely happen first in communities like this. So if you could help me understand, I’m sure I’m not the only one confused by something about your reaction.

    I understand the instinct to bare teeth when one’s right to refuse seems in question. What I don’t understand is the way you’ve gone about it. The blog ‘s author was a guy with an unfortunate Venus placement, and your reaction was to his complaint about his situation. I can’t help but relate this to the first person he wrote about, a guy with an unfortunate Jupiter placement making the equivalent complaint.

    Suppose you were a potential employer and his complaint was similarly personal. Would you say “So what if a lazy rich kid has a job or three? That’s between him and those employers and has nothing to do with you or any other man who’s upset they don’t have a job.” Would you say that “if you expect your employer to pay more than minimum wage, you better not complain about putting on a tie, buddy.” or “an employer isn’t a thing you can “have”. She is a person you can approach with a view to entering into a co-creation of a unique experience together. “. Would you say that plenty of heroine addicts hold down jobs or suggest the underemployed need to stop freaking out?

    Not that most of these statements aren’t true, but would you find them useful? If so, useful to what goal? And if not, how does your goal differ when responding to a lonely man versus an underemployed man?

  118. @Jessi:
    I really don’t have any reason to enter this discussion, but I simply don’t understand where you disagree with Scott’s final paragraph?

    “Personal virtue is not very well correlated with ease of finding a soulmate…. Even smart people who want various virtues in a soulmate usually use them as a rule-out criterion, rather than a rule-in criterion – that is, given someone whom they are already attracted to, they will eliminate him if he does not have those virtues. The rule-in criterion that makes you attractive to people is mysterious and mostly orthogonal to virtue. This is true both in men and women, but in different ways. Male attractiveness seems to depend on things like a kind of social skills which is not necessarily the same kind of social skills people who want to teach you social skills will teach, testosterone level, social status, and whatever you call the ability to just ask someone out, consequences be damned. These can be obtained in very many different ways that are partly within your control, but they are complicated and subtle and if you naively aim for cliched versions of the terms you will fail. There is a lot of good discussion about how to get these things. Here is a list of resources that might be able to help you.”

  119. Yucca, these days I do Do-In on an as-needed basis, There have been times that I’ve done it as a daily practice — it can be done either way — and in that case it usually fills my late night practice window. One of the mild complexities that comes with studying a lot of things is that it’s not necessarily possible to practice all of them!

    Reloaded15, I’m far from convinced by Lachman’s book; it seems to me that that’s one of many places where he overstated his case considerably. What comes after the age of reason, by the way, is the age of memory, where tradition and custom become paramount, just as belief in a religious revelation is paramount in the age of faith and belief in the power of reason to know the truth is paramount in an age of reason.

    Tripp, Chris Warnock’s excellent little book Secrets of Planetary Magic is a good place to start.

    S.T., you’re most welcome.

    Yorkshire, hmm! I’ll have to see if I can find that; it sounds fascinating.

    DFC, oh, that’s funny. And of course while they’re daydreaming about the AIs that are going to protect them someday, they’re pursuing exactly those policies that are going to guarantee them a place of honor in a tumbril…

    David, oh my. That brings back memories. Enjoy!

    Beekeeper, indeed we will. Do you have any idea who Ivar Kreuger was?

    Joy Marie, Hamner went out of his way not to be famous; he simply wanted to share what he’d learned with those who could benefit from it, which is why he distributed his courses free of charge to those who could use them. Yes, magic calls those who are ready for it; if you’re feeling the tug, that might be what’s going on.

    Chris, oh, it’s highly appropriate. My working guess is that sometime in the next one to five years, Musk’s entire empire is going to collapse, a lot of really dubious practices are going to see the light of day, and Musk himself will be doing time.

    Will, definitely sit back and reach for the popcorn time… 😉

  120. Will J,

    re: NYT – I Am Part of the Resistance…

    BBC headlines think Pence dunnit.

    No, this isn’t about the deep state. The “senior officials” are job holders.

    What stands out to me are these snips:

    “Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.”

    “Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly,”

    “On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.”

    “Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.”

    So if we all march in lock step over the cliff we are good people. Truth doesn’t matter.

    Part of your education starts here:

    These will overlap.

    Pence for pres makes me shudder. People who want Trump out be careful what you wish for.

  121. Okay, things are getting seriously weird at the NYTimes: one of the comments their editors chose to publish reads this: “Thanks for affirming why we needed to elect President Trump. These establishment bureaucrats think they run the place instead of our elected representatives. Their era is on it’s way out. This person is a fraud and should resign.”

    One of the most popular comments was this: “This is so disturbing. While some part of me appreciates the task this writer set for him/herself, it is truly shocking that the basic premise is that the elected president is not governing or allowed to govern!”

    Another: “While we may be thankful, the adults you speak of are not elected officials, meaning our country’s executive branch is being run by a cabal of anonymous people with no accountability to voters. This letter represents a constitutional crises.”

    There are more. In other words, the New York Times is now arguing against itself, and to judge from the comments, quite a few people who normally wouldn’t, see the risks here. I also said to someone I know who is very anti-Trump that “now whenever someone wants to argue the deep state exists, all they need to do is cite the New York Times.” From past experience, the person I was talking to usually reacts rather badly to things like that, but in this case… Even many of the rabid Anti-Trumpers seem to realize this is too far.

    Definitely popcorn time.

  122. @David by the Lake

    I was struck by the term “sub-routine”. Another way to describe the behavior they’re talking about (changing the way you look at your environment by scanning for exits and cover and whatnot) would be “causing a change in consciousness”.

    You know what that means. And of course you don’t want to cause changes like that on someone else’s say-so. You need to think it over. That said, here’s my say-so on the matter. 🙂

    They took a good idea and ran it off the rails. It’s a good idea in general to cultivate a head space where you’re more aware of what’s around you. Not by quieting your mental chatter; that can never be accomplished for very long and the effort itself is distracting. Just shift your attention away from it and out into the world. That’s still going to take practice but it’s doable.

    But I would not recommend scanning like a soldier in a hot zone, for a variety of reasons. Remember what Jessi said upthread about having a gun? It colors the way you experience the world. The practice of visualizing threat responses as a mental overlay on your environment colors your experience in the same way, just in muted tones. There are places and situations where you would want that mindset, but we here in the States aren’t there yet (most of the time). There’s no doubt that things are heating up, but remember that the media will always amplify that which sells copy, companies will always institute programs that offer insurance breaks, and, well, try to maintain a sense of perspective.

    Another reason not to mark the exits is that you already know where they are. You’re the end product of an unimaginably long line of critters who successfully navigated the world long enough to have offspring capable of doing the same thing. There’s a human animal along with the civilized human that you are, and if there’s a life threatening situation you’ll find that this animal side has all kinds of situational awareness. You’ll also find “him” pushing “you” right out of the driver’s seat. (My wife calls this side of herself The General) Trying to remember something you heard in a training course once would be a case of trying to keep the rational side in control. I wouldn’t recommend that either.

  123. I assume my earlier comment went missing as well, so I’m going to ask a question I had earlier, one that seems more relevant given your response to Shizen: what happens if someone who’s roughly in between “self-created” and “universe created” tries New Thought?

  124. Jessi Thompson, Isabelcooper, Scotlyn and others who have mentioned modern dating: I have come to the conclusion that modern dating is totally dysfunctional. The usual advice which one gets on the web or in self-help books don’t really work, because there are so many other factors involved in dating, and it seems to me that people are intentionally set up to fail. The people, who teach social skills, or offer psychotherapy, often have their own agendas, which consists more or less making people funtion according to the conventional ideas and prejudices of modern society. Besides, in modern dating, there are more than a few double-binds involved. For example, women, especially young women, which dress attractively, but with whom it is impossible to strike up a meaningful conversation. And do I need to mention smartphone addiction, which makes the bar to communication among people much higher?

    As Christopher Henningson said, this is a subject, although presumably not relevant to Ecosophia, where this forum seems to be the only place on the whole Internet where ideas out of the conventional wisdom ever appear.

  125. Cont…

    JMG, you were probably an enormous fan of Kenneth Star. His detailed investigations led to more and more of Bill Clinton’s smut being uncovered and publicized, which, with each new finding, only increased Clinton’s popularity of course. Copulation in high public offices is something swing voters can dig.

    Not totally unrelated is the ongoing analysis of Trump’s affairs, which also only strengthen that political troll’s standings since we established above that coolness is irrelevant in this case, but random unsavory behavior fits the foil’s profile. To defang the Trump, the Democrats should get one of his liaisons to say, “well, actually, that gentleman Mr. Trump was kind, quite sweet and sensitive, and even made me breakfast in bed.” What?!?! Impeach!

    Trump, the git, made the mistake during Obama’s presidency of trying to prove Obama was not an American citizen or something. At that point, most voters either had realized Obama was an empty suit or had dived into their Hawaiian dictionaries trying to work out what “Change” actually means over there, and so his popularity was already in decline. Trying to prove Obama was a foreigner only emphasized the cool easy-to-relate-to fact that Obama did heroically rise up through the ranks as an outsider to eventually sell out, rather than being a born sell out like most Generation Xers.

    The Democrats are now making the converse mistake during the Trump presidency since getting back to being cool does not involve being a sore loser, which is the uncoolest thing possible. Like a crow without a sheep, foils or court fools lose their efficacy without an audience. Ignore, ignore, ignore… “What? You’re outraged? The President landed on an aircraft carrier dressed in the First Lady’s favorite night-time play costume declaring mission accomplished when the green zone is in flames? Didn’t see it, was tending my bonsai garden.”

    To probably over-hammer my point, continually pointing out that a Republican foil is uncool is superfluous. In the next election, the Dems need to turn Trump into that fangless troll Mit Romney, nominate an untouchable Siren who blissfully ignores Trump’s bait while charming the audience as Trump gets more and more flustered at the lack of attention from both audience and Siren, bringing back deep memories of rejection regardless of the billions, and start spreading rumors of gentleman Trump’s near conversion to the church of Latter-day Saints. The Democratic nominee, having only got this far anyway via eye-watering corruption, only off-handedly refers to Trump in dead-pan deflection of any accusations: “Well, if I wanted to be corrupt, I would open my own Casino.”

    Cool dead-pan deflection was something of which Hillary Clinton was incapable, and so she was continually needled by many fickle issues such as hair. However! A cold Republican Hillary Clinton would have been a much more formidable opponent. “Listen kid, I have color revolutions to propagate and global leaders to assassinate, if you want to talk fashion or pop culture, go speak to Obama.” Clinton’s Republican supporters would have loved that. Do you think she would have expertly trolled her way to White House as the Republican challenger to Obama in 2012?

  126. @ChristopherHennigan – thanks for the thought-provoking questions.

    You say: ““an employer isn’t a thing you can “have”. She is a person you can approach with a view to entering into a co-creation of a unique experience together. “. Would you say that plenty of heroine addicts hold down jobs or suggest the underemployed need to stop freaking out?”

    Well, IS an employer a thing you can “have”?

    As to “freaking out” I am not insensitive to the fact that many of us are lost, or made slightly insane, by the contradictions in our culture, and by our own need to somehow navigate a course between all the rocks and hard places we encounter. As the mother of sons I am particularly aware of the extent to which young men, just coming into adulthood, are increasingly among the lost of this time and place.

    However, it seems to me that one of the major sets of rocks and hard places we currently encounter is the way our culture’s machine mindset “thingifies” people (and also trees, mountains, rivers, animals, soil, and etc) – fostering the very delusion JMG referred to in this post – “the delusion that insists that the universe is only allowed to do what we tell it”.

    I am frustrated that the language of “freaking out” among certain “involuntarily celibate” young men a (who I recognise are NOT among the powerful and are NOT among the oppressors, but have not been able to shake their language and symbols, either) and the public campaign their dissatisfaction has generated, is the habit of “thingifying” sex, and by extension, the women they profess to want to spend time in the company of. But DO they? Do they really want to spend time in the company of real women, who plentifully exist and are certainly interested in such company? Sadly, the language in which they express their dissatisfaction says that what they lack is some kind of status symbol – a “score”. (I do recognise that this may NOT be the inner experience of any individual person in that situation).

    Personally, I think such individuals, should they find themselves engaging in the company of real women, may thrive, and find a deeper and firmer sense of themselves, as well as, hopefully new networks of friends and relations. But the language of the “incel” movement never talks about women as potential, wanted and desired companions. It stresses unfairness AS IF women were a natural resource, AS IF sex were a reward for being a good person, AS IF the proper distribution of sex, and of women for the having of sex with, were in some powerful person’s (or some properly organised society’s) gift. The language of the movement discounts the reality that a person’s acts and engagements are only and ever within their OWN gift.

    If this idea cannot be recognised here, on a blog that treats every living being, many of them non-human, as fully autonomous, and which recognises that each being’s acts and engagements lie solely within their own gift, then where?

    The language of incel campaigns is invariably expressed in “I/it” language – the dying wasp of the very cultural machine-mindset that is failing us. What I am saying to the “fair distribution of sex (aka incel) campaign” is: dare to start using an “I/You” way of seeing and talking about the possibilities for relating to other humans, including those you are sexually attracted to, and you may find that you have stepped out of our dead, machine-mindset, and into a fresh, living world, that is lying waiting to be explored and discovered. And, who knows?

  127. Fascinating article, JMG. In an ideal world, every school of occult philosophy would provide a warning to those interested in joining/studying about the negative effects of the teachings if you are a person with certain characteristics. In my mind, that would be the ethical thing to do: most people are screwed up enough without having the wrong kind of philosophy/practices pushing them over the deep end! Many thanks, therefore, for your cautions re: New Thought.

    Congrats on the renewed versions of some of your “classics” coming out! I have recently been reading the new edition of Paths of Wisdom and have been thoroughly enjoying it. I am curious about the renewed edition of Earth Divination, Earth Magic: I was somehow of the impression that The Art and Practice of Geomancy (2009) was the renewed edition of said title. As a holder of the latter book, will there be much in the new Earth Divination book that isn’t in your 2009 book?

  128. David: re “Here is the link to the article, the title is quite good: “The survival of the richest” (he! he! he!)

    Poor, terrified trillionaires. For their fate at the hands of the survivors above ground after the Recovery, I suggest Leslie Fish’s album FIRESTORM. Which I thought OTT apocalyptic at the time. (1980s?)

    Do those bunker-diggers realize how totally irrelevant they are and will be in the crisis-and–recovery of either today or the next one down the road? And pity their grandchildren, raised that way and knowing nothing else.

  129. The synchronicity is amazing….I was going to post my musing on purchasing my first gun and found a whole thread of comments saying what I was thinking! I’ve resisted buying my own gun because I feel that just owning one of my own would attract the circumstance where I would have to use it. I carry knives and have extensive training in using those and somehow in my brain I’m OK with that but not with a gun. Perhaps its because a knife can’t accidentally go off and hurt or kill someone, it has to be used with intention.

    Anyway, this proposal of putting 40 teen males who have sexually assaulted people (apparently not bad enough to be charged and jailed but bad enough to be committed for treatment) in a single home with no security or fencing, within walking distance of my house, has me rethinking the whole gun ownership issue. I would hate to use a gun, but I would hate the alternative even more, especially if anyone harmed my children and I couldn’t stop them.

  130. Will, that’s fascinating. I notice also that a lot of the media has stopped using the phrase “blue wave” over the last few months. I wonder if it’s starting to sink in to the big media conglomerates that just maybe they’re on the losing side…

    As for your second question, it seems to work fairly well. That’s basically my bias, and I found the course useful.

    Thecrowandsheep, not particularly; I tend to find politically motivated investigations dull, not least because they’re so predictable. 😉

    Ron, I’ve always tried to warn people of the downsides of the various spiritual paths I teach. Ceremonial magic, for example, can be extremely risky to people with certain mental health problems, and of course New Thought interacts disastrously with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement! I wish other traditions were as forthright. As for my geomancy books, The Art and Practice of Geomancy uses magical workings derived from Renaissance astrological magic; Earth Divination, Earth Magic uses magical workings derived from the Golden Dawn approach. They cover mostly the same ground when it comes to divination, but the magic is entirely different.

  131. I took a look at buying a gun even though I react to gunpowder so I can’t practice. I would need to hire someone to sight it in.

    The most practical solution I found was a 20 gauge shotgun. Smaller and cheaper but more importantly is supposed to have enough power to stop an intruder without shooting through walls. Do you know what is on the other side of the wall? People move around. Of course multiple shots to the same piece of wall would go through.

    A laser sight can help a lot but don’t forget that it will announce your location so if the intruder has a gun you might want to shut it off. It would also need routine battery replacements.

  132. Hi JMG,

    Wonderful! I’ve already cleaned out my bookcase in anticipation of your upcoming books.

    And, it was a goofy sort of love at first sight when I read the first of the Order of Essenes lessons yesterday. I decided a while ago that the Cosmic Doctrine is, at least for now, beyond my ability to muster the needed intellect and adequate time.

    I’m currently in my first year of BOTA and love it. The Order of Essenes feels so complimentary to that coursework. Thanks making Mr. Hamner’s engaging work available. I’m in!

  133. Re Maxalding

    Thanks for the pointers. The English text on the exercises on the main site seems to be missing, although the German text is fine. (I didn’t check the Spanish version). Now if only my high school German was still in working order after almost 60 years of not using it. (sigh)

    JMG: The reason the media has stopped using the term “blue wave” is very simple: all the polling and the more reliable pundits are saying that this looks like a pretty standard midterm: the party out of power is going to make advances, but it’s not going to be anything like the 2010 Tea Party Republican wave. 538 is giving the Democrats about 3-1 odds of retaking the House, but they’re not even close to predicting a wave election.

  134. @JMG: you You can’t fool me! I know you wrote this post specifically for me! :~))) So what is the essential difference between “new thought” — aka positive thinking + developing better habits & capabilities (e.g., mnemonics and meditation) + taking authentic action in the real world + belief & value ecology and change + communion with a higher power+ etc…. — and your idea of a more complete version of “magic”? I did get it that you would include divination; and I have opened to the possibility. But I still find divination somewhat suspect because (A) I think you’ve disclaimed divination as the primary source of any of your real home run forecasts (such as peak oil, peak western civilization, Trump, or the various bubbles including real estate and oil fracking) (B) from what I’ve seen of various divination systems the results are always vague enough that they play directly into either (C) cognitive bias or “The Clever Hans Phenomenon” (; I WOULD say that relationship with sundry gods, nature spirits, etc, distinguishes New Thought (Positive thinking and associated tools) from a more panoramic approach to magic EXCEPT you and other mages have admitted that the various gods and spirits may not even be real, but are nonetheless efficacious to call upon. Also, people clearly have and endlessly create “parts” and most of those are out of consciousness.

    I agree, btw, that prayer really works…but at issue is the mechanism and what is really moving what in order to produce a “miracle”. Anyway, I’m still asking. Unless I’ve missed it (quite possible) I’d love to see a followup to this post which really digs into codifying and distinguishing a complete magic system from “New Thought” and pop/ practical psychology and large group dynamics. I’ve concur with many of your criticisms of “science”; to make sure you aren’t caught in a similar trap (“magicism” in place of “scientism”) can you CRITICALLY approach magic, perhaps, in a followup to this post? You don’t have a fundamental problem with Occam’s razor (, do you?

  135. Excellent. Thank you, sir. It’s on the short list.

    BTW, have you been following the fiasco at the Kavanaugh hearings in DC today?

  136. This interview I listened to yesterday with Don Hoffman called “Reality Isn’t” folds in with this conversation.
    He gave an metaphor of reality being similar to a desktop computer screen with icons. The trashcan icon is a representation of a whole set of complex function we don’t even pretend to understand and it doesn’t represent an actual trashcan inside our computer, but when we drag a file to the trashcan we know the file is gone. He said the world we perceive with our eyes is like this – everything we see is a representation of a complexity we can not perceive with our senses. What we call reality isn’t what is actually there.

    It gets into quantum physics a bit and synethesia, and a lot of discussion of what reality is not. I found it a fascinating overlap with the Cosmic Doctrine readings and those descriptions of the world.

  137. S.T.Silva,

    I finally got curious and read your linked article, all 7 sections. All I can say is such men have my deepest sympathy. I think there are some women who like nerds. I guess I’m one, although I can’t say my men have been nerds exactly…but all have been very smart and brains are at the top of my list of features. After that, they can’t be hopelessly unsexy

    The section on IQ floored me a bit. I did not know it was that bad. You know, anyone who is an outlier has fewer people to relate to. I once read that spouses generally have IQs that are quite close. This means those MIT grads have a lot fewer sensible women to choose from. For the most part, people self-select those of a feather. The majority of women will feel uncomfortable with really smart men, not because they are female canines, but because they aren’t comfortable with an IQ much higher than theirs. Of course, I am sure that nonetheless the problem is very real and that smart women are rejecting nerds also.

    But I bet a lot of nerds have agonized over girls who were not in their league anyway, and didn’t want to see it that way.

    As to the Henry story, a nice guy, a smart guy, shouldn’t even be comparing himself to Henry and his women. For heaven’s sake they are low lives and have completely different sensibilities. In that subculture, they meet up all the time.

    I’m not sure feminism has anything to do with this, although it has made many women meaner and more clueless. The problem though, I think, is that a lot of nerdy men are not attractive to women on a more animal level. A miserable adolescence can hardly help as confidence takes a hit. We have a lot of trouble with our animal natures, in general, I think. I mean human beings, not women.

    My advice would be to stay away from feminists and stop trying to appease. Learn to be your own man, appreciate your own good qualities and feel comfortable with yourself.

  138. Dear JMG,
    I’m not much of a writer, and so I have not said much here but I do feel a part of this blog community. I consider you a teacher, and think you’re brilliant — your dedication to knowledge, changing consciousness, and writing skills amazes me. I work as a nature artist and while I am a thinker all this is really not my domain. Your writings have given me much to chew on over the years, especially since I’ve been deficient in political knowledge and the more western approaches to the occult.
    However, of late I’ve found it difficult to read both of your blogs anymore because it seems like you’re always putting down women (pussyhat movement and Wicca). And others do here as well — of late it seems some even echo your feelings about Wicca and the pussyhat movement.
    The Pussyhat movement and Wicca have been important to me in terms of becoming a more empowered woman. Trump very much ‘thing-izes’ women — Scotlyn described this well (not Trump specifically, but the problem). And Wicca, though made-up in some aspects, still provided women a HERstory when so much of History has been just that — HIS story and defined primarily by men.
    I’m not some crazy pink-hat wearing woman who runs around screaming about abuse, but sometimes it’s helpful to join with others when having a problem — it really is kind of like a religious ritual. I’ve tried to understand — is this weird or wrong to you because you are more conservative and so don’t like or understand community type movements? Or do you just lump all pussyhat women into the category of political extremists who only see reality in black and white terms?
    Likewise with Wicca in some respects — though some parts of the Herstory may be made-up or mythological I don’t like to see it denigrated — the joining together with other Wiccan people taught me about changing consciousness and the beauty of nature.
    Of course I know you’re entitled to your opinion about the world, but I just wish you’d be more sensitive toward an oppressed group in society and the ways they’ve tried to overcome this oppression. BTW, I consider men an oppressed group too — my favorite feminist was my elderly neighbor, Mrytle, whom I overheard telling some kids in the yard that “boys do indeed cry — when they’re hurt”, in response to some boys teasing another boy by saying “boys don’t cry”.
    I’m not sure it would be good to post this, but I did feel a need to say it to you.

  139. I have a new theory to throw into the New York Times letter fray. Actually it is my mother’s theory.

    Trump wrote it.

    Wait–here’s the idea. It focuses attention on Trump, it distracts from the Kavanaugh hearings, it gives Trump a fake enemy to wave in front of his fans at rallies, it confirms the “deep state” paranoia; all good things from his point of view. Hmmmm?


  140. @ Ynnothir and @Robert M (et alia)

    Re “active shooter” training and violence (gun and otherwise)

    For the sake of context, the training we underwent at my job was a response to a lock-down incident we had in early summer, when a distraught customer (whose power had been disconnected for continued nonpayment) threatened office personnel during a phone conversation. The police were called, we went into lockdown, line-crews in the field were notified, the whole nine yards. It was discovered that we reallly didn’t have good procedures for this kind of situation, so this training is one part of the process of remedying that. The ensuing discussion I mentioned, including the possibility of rescinding the “no weapons” policy, is another part. The process is looking to be an involved one that will continue for a while.

    I have terribly mixed feelings about all of this, including the things beyond my control (such as the state of society). Yes, violence is a part of existence and death is a part of life. Yet, there is a senselessness to much of the societal violence we witness, whether it is the lashing out of the alienated, the overwrought emotions of someone under stress, or just stupid little things blown way out of proportion (road rage, etc). We are—or should be—better than this, I keep thinking. But human nature is still human nature, regardless what I might wish it to be. That is where I need to work on accepting certain aspects of what is.

  141. As to the NYT hit piece, I’m not buying it. It was just too, too perfect.
    Things are getting curiouser ad curiouser.

  142. Ottergirl, delighted to hear it. It’s been a while, but I took the BOTA course many years ago, and to the best of my recollection there’s nothing in it that should conflict in any way with the Order of Essenes training, and a lot of things that should work very well together.

    John, it’ll be interesting to see how accurate the polls turn out to be. If they miss by anything like the 2016 level, the GOP could hold its own.

    Gnat. Occam’s razor is a prejudice, not a valid logical rule. In the real world, the simplest explanation is rarely the most accurate. As for the differences between magic and New Thought, why are you worrying about that? Simply do what works for you.

    Tripp, nope — I’ve been assembling another volume of collected essays all day. I’ll go find a discussion of it somewhere, though.

    Denys, that’s a useful metaphor!

    Luna, your claim that I’m always putting down women isn’t true, and I think you know perfectly well that it’s not true. I didn’t criticize Wicca in this week’s post — I criticized a particular way of misunderstanding history that’s found in many kinds of pop spirituality, not just in Wicca. My criticism of the pussyhat phenomenon isn’t a criticism of women — it’s a criticism of the belief, embarrassingly common on the left these days, that if a protest is meaningful to the protesters, that’s all that matters. Twisting those statements out of context to claim that I’m always putting down women is quite frankly dishonest and it’s not something I’m willing to tolerate. I’ll accept your apology; otherwise you’re banned from this blog. Do I make myself clear?

    Rita, hmm! You know, that actually makes a lot of sense…

    Onething, curiouser indeed!

  143. @JMG, et al.

    We seem to be having quite the discussion about “incels” and about the lack of social skills among young Americans in general, and young American men in particular. For what it is worth, I have a suggestion to make, which may be helpful to your younger readers who find themselves in this predicament.

    As I have said previously, I, like JMG, am an Aspie-type. It will be no surprise to say that I gravitated towards IT after university, mostly for that reason. When I was in my late twenties and early thirties, I took training from two organizations which are still around and which I highly recommend. These are the Dale Carnegie Institute and Toastmasters International.

    I graduated from the Dale Carnegie course in the early 1980’s, and stayed on as a volunteer graduate assistant for another 6 iterations of the course. This helped me to thoroughly practice what I learned about basic social skills, and this probably saved my hide in subsequent years.

    As for Toastmasters, they are really good for honing public speaking skills, giving you detailed guidance on how to organize and deliver effective speeches, and giving you general, overall social self-confidence.

    Both these organizations have been around for nearly a century now, so it is safe to say that they have stood the test of time. I remember JMG once saying, in a podcast, that if you want to find love, then make yourself lovable. Will Dale Carnegie or Toastmasters “make you lovable”? That is debatable. However, they will at least help you to navigate day-to-day social interactions without being a stumble-bum klutz. That is not exactly nothing, you know!

    As for the deeper causes of the “incel” problem, I think it mostly has to do with the fact that two to three generations of young people have come from broken homes, where there is no father-figure around. Ever since 1965, half of all marriages fail, and 70 percent of divorces are filed by wives, not husbands. On the one hand, I (and we) can all understand that sometimes marriages fail. However, in a clinically sane society, that number should be 5 percent, not 55 percent! Broken homes are hard on all children, but they seem to be especially disastrous for young boys. I think that is part of the reason why people like Jordan Peterson have become so popular. Peterson is not dispensing remarkably insightful advice. He is only saying the sorts of things that our fathers and grandfathers used to say 50 or more years ago. However, if Dad is nowhere to be seen, who is going to be the role model for the necessary mimesis that young boys need to become responsible men?

    All one can do now is to salvage as much from the social wreckage as one can. Dale Carnegie and Toastmasters are two possible avenues. Traditional, conservative Christian churches (such as my Eastern Orthodox faith) are another. Again, I think the key is for young men to find institutions which have stood the test of time, and which will not be “here today and gone tomorrow.”

  144. I’m a long time reader of both this and Archdruid Report, and I still find that I regularly encounter terms that make no sense to me. On this occasion Do In? Surely not the art of doing somebody in (Mirriam Webster’s definition). A clue for the clueless please?

  145. @Luna I guess you’re having a bad day, like we all do from time to time. But since you included my name and my comment in the middle of a “vent” directed at our host, I’d like to encourage you to consider that JMG, is ALSO not a thing you or I can “have” – nor is his blog, anymore than the rest of the universe, obliged to do what you or I want it to. Like all autonomous agents that the world is simply chock full of, he can surprise! He can say what you or I are in all readiness to hear one day, and say something that shocks and annoys the very next. He is a “you” not an “it”. But, then, so are you, and so am I. We can all surprise each other, and that dance of being surprised by one another (and maybe examining the reason for such surprises to shock and annoy on some occasions) and crafting responses to one another, which may also be surprising and novel, is what makes this world alive for us to participate in, and not a machine for us to be a cog of. I hope you have a better day tomorrow!

  146. @gnat:

    Where magic and the theosphere are concerned, I for one do have enormous problems with Occam’s razor.

    The material world does appear to have hard reality to it, which is wholly (or largely) the same for all humans. In my own (limited) experience, the realm of magic and divination does not have the same sort of hard reality to it at all.

    Even so, TSW in skilled hands,, and occasionally even in very unskilled hands. But never does it work with absolute consistency, in contrast to operations confined wholly to the world of matter and energy, time and space. So there can be no hope of consistently reproducible results in any experiment one might do to test magic empirically. Even so, TSW.

    This poses a major philosophical challenge to the scientific method. Personally, I deal with it by assuming that the realm of magic and divination has an overarching consciousness of its own, which actively enjoys playing with us ephemeral, puny, insignificant humans, much as a cat enjoys playing with dust-motes in a sunbeam–or, at times, mice that it intends to eat after playing with them at length. Are we dust-mots ot some cosmic playful “cat,” or are we its eventual prey?

    We do not know. We cannot know …

  147. I’m of almost the same mind as Rita about that anonymous NYT hit piece: a Trump wrote it (or had it written to spec.), but it was Ivanka, not Donald Sr. Ivanka seems to me to be far and away the smartest of the President’s children, a lot smarter than her father. She is more than smart enough to play the “spoiled, vapid dumb blonde” shtick to her great advantage.

    Consider the Trump presidency from her perspective: When it began, there were four power centers in the administration: (1) the GOP establishment, represented by Reince Priebus; (2) Steve Bannon and his backers; (3) Mike Pence and his staff and backers; and (4) the President himself. If you crave full Presidential power, but cannot be President yourself, then you have to eliminate power centers #1, #2 and #3; then you have to take #4 in charge.

    The GOP establishment was sidelined first. Who now remembers Reince Priebus?

    Then Steve Bannon was flattered into folly and even hubris; and down he went. He is a ghost of his former self now

    Next, find a way to neutralize Mike “lodestar” Pence and his staff. Check: so far, so good!

    Finally, isolate the incumbent even further. Drive him deeper into paranoia, irrationality and abject misery; and the power of the Presidency will be wholly at the disposal of anyone who can best comfort and flatter him. And who better to play that role than the self-proclaimed First Daughter–whom, moreover, the incumbent has actually admitted desiring sexually?

    Interestingly enough, the moribund “Rogue POTUS Staff” twitter account first brought this theory of the four power centers to my attention way back at the start of Trump’s Presidency. For a while, I thought that account was Bannon’s work, since it largely went dark as soon as Bannon left the White House. Now, however, I incline to the view that it was Ivanka’s first stalking-horse.

    (For whatever it may be worth, a former student of mine knew Ivanka in her ‘teen years, and sometimes crossed paths with her later on. My student’s “take” on Ivanka is that she is exceptionally intelligent, and also that by now she has become a very cold fish indeed.)

    Are we about to revisit the deranged world of the later Roman emperors? Time will tell …

  148. JMG
    Quote: “I suspect that by the time the rubble finishes bouncing, Musk will be in jail and his companies will have gone bankrupt or been sold off for pennies on the dollar.”

    More metaphorically I suspect Musk is going out on the tip of a rocket in a shower of something near the Ring Chaos, or near to his unfortunate car in orbit. The metaphor is getting positively cosmic (smile); Western ‘verticality’ in a fine flourish!

    On the other hand the notion in financial circles (e.g. usually shrewd and sober Nils Pratley in the Guardian) think that some of Musk’s product are of future value, so I guess we have not seen the last from those assets when they are sold off at pennies on the dollar.

    Phil H

  149. Denys, re 40 teenage male sex offenders.

    I would like to suggest that many of those 40, if not all, are there to escape jail time by pleading guilty to something that someone else has accused them of. Since it doesn’t sound like there was a trial, and even those don’t always find the truth, I would respectfully suggest that your reaction is a little OTT. Bear in mind also that these 40 teenage males will now always be saddle with the label of “sex offender”. It will probably make their lives a living hell.

    I have watch something very like this happen in my own family. There seems to be a kind of hysteria about “sex offenders” which doesn’t seem to be warranted in many cases. It reminds me of those “satanic cult” trials of years past. If this home is for boys who are trying to make the best of a bad situation, train your children to avoid sexual predators and let these other poor boys get on with their lives as best they can.

    Yours respectfully

  150. @JMG
    Re: “The Polls”

    Polling in down-ballot races (House, Senate, state and local elections) is quite scattered and notable for its absence more than anything. There are a lot of congressional districts in this election that don’t have even one credible poll. Nate Silver publishes three different models for the House race: “polls only,” polls plus “fundamentals” and polls plus fundamentals plus other expert’s ratings (there are three that have good track records).

    As of the moment I’m writing this, the Lite forecast gives a 65.3% chance of Democrats taking the House, Classic (polls plus fundamentals) gives 77.9% and Deluxe (includes other credible forecasts) gives 73.8.

    None of these is even close to suggesting it’s a sure thing, which is why the media has quit using the term “blue wave.”

    If you want the gory details of how 538’s House model works, it’s here: . This is a fairly long read.

    (By the way: the polls in 2016 were quite accurate. What was inaccurate was the [u]interpretation[/u] of the polls, which seems to have had similar levels of wishful thinking as the Republican presidential campaign in 2012.)

  151. Dear thecrowandsheep,

    Allow me to suggest, follow the money, honey*. “We” did not “establish” anything. You asserted some things about that that nebulous quality known as cool. I, in turn, wish to assert my opinion that the vote for Trump was primarily a vote against war. If he can avoid starting any new ones, he wins again in 2020. We shall see if I am right.

    I think the most interesting question about the 2016 elections is why did the most gung ho, self-styled patriotic sector of the electorate, turn away, almost the political equivalent of 180 degrees, from their previous militarism and triumphalist imperialism. The short answer might be that the governing classes, of all political persuasions, forgot that the proles have to have a share of the spoils of empire, especially if you need their votes to get elected. A longer possible explanation might point out that the costs of the Iraq Invasion fell largely on small towns and working class and low income neighborhoods. It was to those towns and neighborhoods that coffins were delivered and that wounded and shell shocked veterans returned. That coincided with increasing prices of the necessities for living, such as housing prices and utility costs, decreasing availability of decent working class jobs and with the now obvious decline in both amount and quality of public services.

    I suggest that the intangible part of Obama’s appeal was that he looked and behaved like an adult, which, in 2008, was a welcome change after 16 years of post adolescent Boomer self indulgence in the White House. As for Trump, my guess is that the calculation many voters made was something like I can’t stand him, but he is tough and he ain’t stupid.

    I will apologize to our gracious host for bringing up conspiracy theories, but I think it is clear that the Democratic nomination was bought and paid for by the Clintons. This year the party’s loyal base has made it clear that they are not going to be taken for granted any more and I don’t blame them. The base expects to see “someone who looks like me and understands my life” or they are not voting, not organizing and not ringing doorbells.

    I suggest that one of the biggest weaknesses on the Right is it’s obsession with sex and a very narrow definition of feminine pulchritude. Outside of a small group of wealthy suburban women, who seem to believe that expenses on cosmetics, hair styling, clothing and plastic surgery are expressions of virtue, I believe I can say that the rest of us American women, pink hats or no, find this RW obsession both distasteful and insulting. I doubt the Democrats can win in 2020, absent a new war, but, consider, that the nominee is likely to be Sen. Corey Booker, who is Not Obama, and if he can persuade some competent, well liked, qualified white woman of achievement to take the VP nomination–Sen. Klobuchar comes to mind–and if the RW sex obsessed brigade goes into meltdown over the optics, they might just offend enough women to, if not push Booker over the top, at least give Trump a Congress not interested in working with him.

    What this has to do with magic, I will respectfully suggest that voting in this last election was much more about interest than magic. My take is that the die hard Clintonistas were and are desperately clinging to their patronage and privileges and not able to see or understand much else. I don’t doubt the magical undercurrent detailed by our host last month, but, for me, that undercurrent does not quite explain the result.

    * For that phrase I am indebted to one Chan Akya, former brilliant commentator on the old Asia Times online site.

  152. @ All

    The last thing I want to do is to stir the pot of gender politics, but as it has been mentioned already here, and the current issues of Trump as well, I’d like to make an observation or two re my own progression on this issue.

    It bothers me to a considerable degree that the Democrats claim a monopoly on this category labeled Woman. This notion seems to me just as much an objectification as anything men, Republicans, or the oppressor du jour is accused of doing. Consider the like of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Sandra Day O’Conner, Condoleezza Rice, Mia Love. Are they not women? The latter two being black women, to boot? Is Tammy Baldwin somehow more of a woman than Leah Vukmir because the latter is conservative?

    I find myself fatigued by the Democrats writing off of these women as somehow “not real women” or as being traitors to their gender. I recall how the HRC campaign made it clear that all women were expected to vote for her, regardless of other issues, because sisterhood. Is this any less a “thingification” of women? (Or Bill Clinton’s attitudes and actions? Or JFK’s?) Back when I was still commenting on PoliticalWire, I pointed out how a significant portion of women voted for Trump, only to be told that these were obviously oppressed women suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, cowering before the brutal males who told them how to vote. (And I’m thinking to myself, “You, good sir, have obviously never entered into combat with a Southern matron, if you think those women weak and cowering.”)

    This sort of thing gnaws away at whatever shreds of respect I still have for the Democratic Party as an institution. Just my two cents, for what they’re worth.

  153. Well, I don’t know about John, but I tend to place pussy-hat wearers in the SAP group (Spoiled American Princess). They wanted President Hillary. I watched them in amazement after the electoral college told them No. I had the impression that it was the first time in their lives that most of them had been told No.

  154. Michael, that strikes me as very good advice. I was fortunate enough many years ago to meet, fall in love with, and marry a woman who’s also on the autism spectrum; I was also fortunate in that my tastes in feminine beauty tend toward the unfashionably plump — thus while the other guys I knew were all chasing after the same ten per cent or so of conventionally attractive women, and getting nowhere, I had no problem at all getting dates. (I think the longest I went without a steady girlfriend between the beginning of my junior year in high school and my wedding day six years later was two months.) But I also benefited hugely from time spent in old-fashioned organizations. In my case it was fraternal lodges — the Odd Fellows, the Grange, and above all the Freemasons — which helped me figure out how to function around people, and also gave me models for masculinity much less toxically dysfunctional than the ones popular culture has to offer. When the guy sitting next to you in lodge has trouble walking because of the frostbite he suffered earning a Bronze Star in the Battle of the Bulge in the Second World War, you learn a thing or two…

    Andy, fair enough! Do-In is the Japanese version of Dao-Yin, a system of acupressure I learned many years ago and still use regularly as part of my home health care.

    Scotlyn (if I may), I think you’re underestimating Luna. Her post was an absolutely classic example of the opening round of social justice bullying. All the boxes were checked: the tone of faux respect, the systematic distortion of the target’s words so that they can be redefined as some form of hate speech, the parading of hurt feelings, and the rest of it. I’ve watched this kind of thing over and over again — notably in the “RaceFail 2009” witch hunt in science fiction fandom. When these tactics get deployed, if you apologize or do anything to try to placate the accuser, before you know it you’re going to be surrounded by a shrieking mob flinging the vilest sort of insults at you, and everything you do or say will be turned into another weapon the mob can use to beat you with. Confront them head on, and they slink off and go looking for easier prey.

    Robert, I like that! No doubt two thousand years from now, some equivalent of Robert Graves will pen a novel titled I, Barron

    Phil, oh, I think some of Musk’s projects may have real value; it’s Musk that’s the problem. Once he’s doing time, those of his businesses that are anything but smoke and mirrors will doubtless do well as the subsidiary of some other big corporation.

    John, fair enough. I’m simply thinking of how consistently polls in the US and Britain have tended to underestimate the vote for populist candidates and measures; we’ll see if that same couple of percentage points comes into play this time too.

    David, true enough. A majority of the white women who voted in the 2016 election voted for Donald Trump, after all.

    Pogonip, I haven’t noticed that the women who are doing that are any more extreme than the men who are doing the same thing, so I don’t think it’s a gendered issue at all. I tend to think, rather, that it’s a class issue — members of certain of the privileged classes, which include both genders and a wide range of ethnicities, have insufficient experience not getting whatever they happen to want, and so are melting down.

  155. Dear David by the Lake, My daughter, who can afford it, announced on FB in Feb. of 2016 that for every time she heard someone tell her she had to vote for Hillary because of being a woman, she was donating “another $10. to Bernie”. I doubt that that “sisterhood” line went very far with younger women. Then there was the intervention of CIA agent Steinem on Hillary’s side, which reminded many of us who had been there of how Steinem came out of nowhere to divert what was then the Women’s Movement for civil rights and access to jobs and professions, to the shrill Feminism which is still with us. I think it was about then, March 2016, that the Democratic Central Committee decided that Something Had to Be Done; March 2016 was when Kos (of Daily Kos fame) made his infamous announcement that he would be censuring pro-Sanders comments because we all have to get behind our nominee–this in March, with at least half or more primaries yet to come. By March, the fix was in, as became clear as time went on. I had already Demexited in 2010 over the so-called Food Safety Law. I had had hopes the First Lady might offer Barak the Oval Office couch if he signed it.

    Dear Pogonip, I remember wondering along about fall of 2015 if anyone in the Democratic leadership, you should excuse the expression, was counting electoral votes. Evidently, no one was.

  156. Dear JMG,
    I do apologize. “Putting down women” was a bad choice of words. I see how you would be offended if you thought I was accusing you of being a misogynist, and I apologize for not being clear and causing you to think I was insulting you in such a way. That would be a serious accusation I know. I do not think that…I would not have been reading your blog if I thought you felt men were superior to women. What I was poorly trying to say was that making fun of the ways women are trying to feel empowered has the effect of TAKING them down…causing them to feel less empowered…and so ‘putting them down’ as in ‘taking away their power rather than a ‘put-down’. However, I think I understand more after your explanation regarding the pussyhat movement — that protesting is not enough — and that you are not saying a woman protesting about injustice is wrong or stupid. Rather, there just needs to be more than only an emotional expression of unhappiness.
    I’m not sure it was even you who made fun of them, but rather some others on the blog, as evidenced in yet another comment today making fun of pussyhat wearers by stereotyping them and not seeing any merit in what they’re attempting to do.

    I have been, and still am to a degree, confused about a lot of stuff. Your writing is a bit over my head much of the time, and I am in an emotional state as Scotlyn described. My only child is dying of cancer, and here Trump is gutting environmental regulations (I do believe toxins are the main cause of cancer) and cutting aid to the poorest in society (most of the poorest are women and children).

    I sincerely did feel hurt, and not just pretending to be hurt as you have described in the “social justice warrior” description of me. I don’t even know what half of that is that you have accused me of. I do understand some of it (where you said I had ‘faux respect’) and that is not true at all. I meant what I said, and I started off with your praises because it felt wrong to criticize you without also mentioning the positive. I had no intent to bully. Please don’t lump my in with some crazy people on a blog!

    My only intent was to try and convey that it’s detrimental to belittle the ways women are trying to feel empowered after centuries of society telling them they are second-class citizens.

  157. @Kay I find that belittling others when they are going through something stressful isn’t really effective at getting the person to calm down and act rationally. Especially on the internet where it is easy to assume and jump to conclusions.

    I didn’t move where I moved to host a community of sex offenders. We already have 45 listed within a few miles so that’s plenty. If you would like them in your neighborhood, please contact these for-profit companies who promise treatment and rehabilitation.

  158. My parents just told me the story that when Donald Trump Jr. attended the Hill School in Pottstown, PA, they twice ran into Donald Trump and his son at the local Kmart buying things for his room. Trump treated everyone respectfully and talked with everyone and his son had good manners and wasn’t stuck up.

    This won Trump their vote in 2016 – how well behaved his kids were in the 1990’s. They said it would have been easy for Trump to have kids that are spoiled brats but they are not.

  159. Hi David by the Lake,

    To a liberal Democrat, “ woman” means “feminist.” And not what “feminist” means to a normal person—equal rights etc—but a SAP. Thus they could insist seriously that Nancy Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Sarah Palin were not women.

    Luna has now put John in a position where he cannot scold her—how can you scold a mother whose child is dying? That is, she would have put him in that position if he were neurologically normal. The autistic mind doesn’t really comprehend social norms. Going from “Her child is terminal” to “OMG, and I was so harsh!” is not a connection most persons “on the spectrum” will make without considerable coaching. John’s had that coaching from the fraternal orders. So he may back down, or he may say “ Ah, to heck with the social norms, it’s my blog” and hold his position.

    John, as a Mason you see a lot more of the middle-and-up-classes than I see, so if you think SAPism is a class thing rather than a female thing, I believe it. Maybe the reason we so rarely hear from the male version is they can’t get a word in edgewise. 😉.

  160. Re: incel (“involuntarily celibacy”) I think most of us are by now familiar with the concepts of population “overshoot”, and the coming strain on food & water resources as cheap energy diminishes. Suppose celibacy (whether voluntary or not), homosexuality (for the most part non-procreating), and cheerfully childless marriages are simply natural responses to urban crowding, and the most humane path to a sustainable population? I’m not saying that they’re the happiest ways that anyone has ever lived, but these aren’t the happiest conditions under which people have ever lived, either, and (as I’ve heard more than once) there is no brighter future ahead. Involuntary celibacy doesn’t look so bad, if the alternative is genocidal conflict.
    I hope you can forgive my gloomy outlook. Last Friday night, I watched the 2014 movie “The Good Lie”, about refugees from South Sudan escaping violence and making their way in the US. It has suspense, drama, humor, and nobility, but it starts with apparently pointless random violence (off-screen) that prompted me to read up on the context of film, the civil war in Sudan. And what is the essential difference between those people and us, which make such violence impossible here? I don’t know, either.

  161. Hi JMG

    Re: guns

    Seems for me that the gun violence in the US are, in some specific aspects, unique in the world, not only compare with others developed countries, but even with extremely violent as Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico etc…In the case of those countries, with extreme violence, you see the pattern of gang tactics, power struggles, revenges, political terror, and so on, and at the end they are tactics we can say are “purposeful” to some end of an organization or group of people, but the mass shooting in US, in most cases, lack this kind of foundation/pattern. For example in the case of the mass shooting committed by some person or people from inside the community against their “equals” (in schools, workplace, concerts, etc…) As far as I know this kind of murders are very very rare outside the US

    I appreciate very much your opinion in general and I would like to know what do you think could be the reasons/causes of this phenomenon and what could be done to eliminate or reduce its incidence

    I have some thoughts about that but, as a foreigner, I recongnise my lack of knowledge of your country/society


  162. @Nastarana “Then there was the intervention of CIA agent Steinem on Hillary’s side, which reminded many of us who had been there of how Steinem came out of nowhere to divert what was then the Women’s Movement for civil rights and access to jobs and professions, to the shrill Feminism which is still with us.” Wow. That sounds most intriguing. Having also been there, and wondered about the diversion you mention, I’d be interested in any reading suggestions that might throw light on this. Thank you.

  163. @Robert Mathisen
    The thing is that all goverments around the globe fear a population that is able and willing to fight back when abused. You simply happened to have been born during a period of history where major powers were much more afraid of their external enemies that from their proletariat.

    My own grandfather was driven to bankrupcy and deviancy by the changes that followed a reassesment of those risks. He was a gunsmith, you know; and the fear of Mexican government to face a civil war after their plutocratic excesses lead them to overregulate into oblivion anything to do with firearms sometime around the late 60’s and early 70’s. The old man tried his hand at several other businesses, – with no luck at all, – and was from time to time forced to take jigs under the table by old customers. His last days he spent as a painter (on canvas, no original works but comissioned reproductions of famous pieces, mostly sacred art), a hobby he had originally taken on for stress relief. His eldest son, my recently departed uncle and the last member of the family to learn the trade, was able to dodge that fate by enrolling himself in the local police department.

    @Michael Martin
    Absolutely. We need a way to guide boys into growing to be men, and we need to teach mean that is is nothing wrong with being men, and indeed is not Ok to neglect manhood.

    As a Roman Catholic, I got involved about 2 years ago with a lay organization named Factor H (H stands for Hombre, – Man in English). There’s one priest for Sacrament ministration and Theological advise, but the show is basically run by lay senior members (mostly married guys in their middleage). Their teachings say that the Lord meant us to be men, that their will is for us to develop the manly virtues (such as Industriousness and Protectiveness, among others), and that we can relate to divinity in way that do not depend on devotions that are traditionally considered “female” (the opposite being “the way things just are”, in my community at least).

  164. @ Nastarana & @ Pogonip

    Re Democrats and the category of “woman”, et cetera

    I can’t disagree. I will gladly vote for Sanders in the primary, should he run again in ‘20, for all my disagreements with his policies on specifics. If the DNC insists on an establishment clone, then all bets are off. As to the midterms, I’ve already decided that the best way to induce the desperately needed learning of lessons is for the Blue Wave (TM) to founder, and I will do what I can to contribute to that foundering.

    Re SAP, on a tangential note, I happened to catch sight of the recent Serena Williams brouhaha and in glancing through the comments saw a fair amount of “ugly American” sentiment. I wonder if we’ve lost the capacity as a people to lose gracefully. Certainly, the rest of the world seems to have a decided opinion of us, and not terribly flattering either. (I mean, how can one accuse the referee of gender bias when one is competing against another woman? Really?)

  165. Hmm, the comments seem to have veered off on a couple different tangents, whereas I just finished listening to LibriVox’s audiobook of William Walker Atkinson’s Dynamic Thought and came here to recommend it to folks (or the text version for those, like our host, who prefer to read). Actually, first I reread the two part Nature Spirits posts … and yeah, JMG, you had said mostly the same thing but coming at it from a different direction. It’s still a VERY different way of looking at the world than what they taught in science class.

  166. Luna:
    When you talk about women, you should say “some women”. It drives me crazy when someone lumps all women together as if we were all one big touchy-feely huggy circle of agreement. Some say we should vote as a bloc; I am not a bloc-head. I prefer to view things as an individual, recognizing that I can’t speak for others, nor can they speak for me. I wouldn’t wear a pussy hat if you knitted one and gave it free to me. Plus, I hate the color pink.

    You’ve shared that your child has cancer, which is a tough row to hoe. I am sorry, and hope you have found healthy ways of coping. I’m not an expert so don’t know what to tell you, except to take care of yourself during this difficult time.

    Joy Marie

  167. @Robert,
    not often that we agree, as I’m on the other side of that divide, but I most definitely agree w/your view that people need to “get over it” re: violence. Virtual signalling about pacifism and nonviolence are a definite class marker and turnoff for me…

  168. @Christopher: I’m a bit late, but:

    1) For me, at least, there is a qualitative difference between money/employment, which most people need to survive* and sex, which…you don’t. It’s an urge, but if you have two hands, you can take care of that urge just fine.

    2) Generally speaking, yes, absolutely: if you want a particular job, you dress appropriately, which can mean a tie if you’re a lawyer or closed-toed boots if you’re working on a construction site. (I remember when I was leaving the flower shop and one of the applicants for my position came in with three-inch designer-painted nails. She didn’t get far, and I have little sympathy.) You also make sure your resume looks good, that you fill out your job application correctly, and that you don’t slap your interviewer’s back and call him “Bob, you old SOB.” Even my pinkocommie bleeding heart doesn’t drip very much for people who don’t bother following those guidelines.

    3) Providing charity/a UBI/food stamps/whathaveyou does not, on the whole, require people to engage in acts that even I consider fairly personal, refrain from engaging in said acts with other people to whom they’re actually attracted, or spend significant amounts of recreational time with anyone they’re not interested in. It’s a much higher bar. I *would* very much say that it’s reasonable for people not to want to share an office or work on projects with those they find abrasive, unskilled, or otherwise unpleasant–that’s why many jobs have “culture” interviews–and that’s a much lower level of interaction, gods willing.

    4) On people with multiple partners: either they’re some variety of mutual poly, in which case you have as much of a chance as you ever did, they’re poly but their partners are mono and generally are on the attracted-to-one-person-end of demisexuality anyhow (IME), or their partners have massive issues and…have massive issues, and do you really want to go there?

    5) Here’s the really simple thing: you can’t force attraction. (If you could, my life in college would have been much, much simpler.) Given that…well, do Friendzone Guys really want women in your beds/lives who are only there out of *pity*? Or because of social obligation? Who are staring at the ceiling the whole time and thinking of someone more attractive but, well, you’re so *nice* and they really *owe* it to you so they might as well get it over with?

    Because *that’s* where that article leads. At best.

    I am not a guy. But given the choice to have sex with a guy who I wanted, but who had the hots for someone else but felt *sorry* for me because I was so *lonely* and I was such a good *friend*? I’d rather have a life of celibacy. And if I thought a guy had gone to bed with me on those grounds? I’d want to die.

    (Also, the word “soulmate” is God’s greatest diet aid, and if the author is actually going around using the word and concept the way it sounds, I don’t doubt that women are avoiding him in droves.)

    This is super long already, so just a couple brief responses:

    @Booklover: “For example, women, especially young women, which dress attractively, but with whom it is impossible to strike up a meaningful conversation.”

    Depends on the time and place: I’m a youngish woman and I think I dress attractively, but if I don’t know you and I’m not at an explicit function for meeting people, I’m generally dressing attractively for someone else, and have no interest in conversation. I’m not seeing the double blind.

    Also, as a general note: I have had little use for Peterson since his “forced-I-mean-encouraged-monogamy” statement. Society encourages monogamy plenty already, it works for many people but *very much not* others, and societal “encouragement” of particular relationship models generally leads to a lot of unhappiness for everyone.

    * Whether or not we should is another issue.

  169. @Lathechuck: I’ve thought that a few times myself–or at least, as a mostly-cheerful, mostly-celibate person with no interest in a permanent partner and less than none in having kids, my response to handwringing about my generation’s low birth rates is often to note that there are seven billion people on the planet, so I think there’s a pretty decent margin between us and extinction.

  170. @ Robert Mathieson,
    Thank you for sharing your perspective!! I suspect the future will look more like your childhood than mine (excepting mandatory ROTC in California colleges…. I think California will cease to be a state before that ever happens again hahaha!!!!). I love to hear the perspective of older generations, they have so much to teach. We are losing the wisdom of our elders in this society and it is only to our collective detriment.

    @Christopher Henningson,
    The reaction is to the attitude itself. If you were an employer, would you hire someone who’s only presented skill was that “I work harder than that lazy rich guy’s son, and he has a job.” Of course not. You get a job by applying for the job and convincing the employer you are the perfect person to do that job. You gel a girlfriend by convincing that girl you are the perfect person to be her boyfriend (and both of those are made easier by convincing that other person you *really* want to be there because of that specific girl or that specific job).

    I specifically noted there *are* systemic factors involved as well, and I made specific recommendations to help on a systemic level. (Teaching children social skills for example).

    If a lonely man came up to me and said “I am so lonely, I don’t understand why no women want me” I would gladly help that person try to improve whatever it is they are lacking. If a lonely man comes up to me and says “that deadbeat loser has six girlfriends and i can’t even find one, and he doesn’t deserve any” that tells me right away he is looking for a sexual possession, not a human being and I have no desire to inflict him upon any woman anywhere.

    Every woman here has had the experience, at least once, of a man pretending to be nice solely so he can get sex. It’s frankly disgusting, after that guy friend helps you move, or changes your oil, or whatever, then he makes a move and gets rejected and then this type here *immediately gets unreasonably angry because he is entitled to sex for that “nice” thing he just did.* And most women will immediately move to shut down that attitude as soon as they get a whiff of it in the air because “If I had known this would happen I would have just moved all the furniture myself.” Clearly not all men are like that, and a lot of lonely men accidentally come across as one of these (usually by accidental exposure to others of this type) or the lonely man might have some other issue. Some men will never find a wife who loves them and this is very unfortunate. I do pity them, especially if it is due to some insurmountable flaw like a terrible disfigurement or disability. I similarly pity women who find themselves in the same situation. I have no pity for women who say “that heroin addict has been married three times and no one will marry me.” there you have a woman looking for a marriage, not a human to marry. Would you want to start talking any of your guy friends into marrying her?

    The article in question mentions women online making fun of “Nice Guys” who are defined as guys who are complaining online that they are single. DO NOT take this article’s word for it. Go to the reddit r/niceguys and you will see the truth. Please do this, it shows the bias in the article. Do not take my word or his. When a screenshot is posted of a lonely guy saying something like “nobody loves me, I will die alone” a bunch of commenters jump on and say “That’s not a Nice Guy (TM).” The ones that get upvotes are these long screeds about how women want abusive men and men that are actually nice are seen as unattractive. Many of these screeds end in “I’m just going to start being a jerk (not the actual word they use, I’m pretty sure JMG would ban it) because that’s how women want to be treated.” Also, there are A LOT of screenshots of guys being nice, getting rejected, and suddenly saying REALLY UGLY things to the woman who rejected him, again reflecting this attitude that “I was nice, therefore I deserve sex….. or at least more sex than that mean guy over there is having.”
    The reason it is a popular reddit thread is because it’s one of those irony-filled places where you find these long screeds that basically say, “I’m such a nice guy. I will kill your puppy if you don’t date me.” (exaggerated, but I hope you get the point: “I’m so nice” followed by clear evidence the person is NOT NICE AT ALL.)

    Making fun of lonely people is rare, but it happens. It’s probably more common than helping people. I know I’ve heard a lot more jokes about fat people than I have heard people actually helping someone lose weight. This is an unfortunate aspect of our society and I do not condone it. However, that article as presented is only perpetuating a damaging attitude that will continue to prevent these men from ever finding a woman that will tolerate them, let alone pursue them sexually. The author would have done more for lonely men by keeping his mouth shut entirely. He may as well have given the job advice “On your job interview, be sure to complain about how you can’t get a job because of all these reasons that aren’t your fault. Don’t show any interest in that *particular* job, instead complain about other people you know that have jobs that don’t deserve them. Then be sure to emphasize how much you deserve a job.” I could keep going, but that article was so toxic that thinking about it is tiring, and there are a lot more interesting things going on in today’s post.

    @Matthias Gralle
    I can see why that would be confusing!!! So much of his comment was really nice, good, and self-improvement oriented. But the part that I have issue with is the linked article (and I did start my comment clearly stating it was actually directed toward the article) and his comment “(If I got zero sex and so did Henry, I’d have no complaints about my society on that front.)” T. S. Silva does seem like a nice person and he even states earlier in his comment someone might need to check his privilege, so clearly he is thinking about how to improve himself and his beliefs. He seems like he was unfortunately influenced by the article, not the type of person who would actually research and write an article like that. None of the conversation that followed will make any sense without reading the linked article.

    As for Silva’s comment, I agree with most of it, except the part where he says male attractiveness depends on social skills people don’t teach, like testosterone level and status. That’s just as true for women as men, it makes no difference. People who like high status in a partner need to have high status themselves. People attracted to confidence need to demonstrate confidence. People attracted to great beauty need to have great beauty. People who love a beautiful, vibrant soul have to have a beautiful, vibrant soul within themselves. That’s why I said if you are perpetually lonely, first work on your social skills,and if that doesn’t work, then lower your standards. There are just as many lonely women out there as there are lonely men. (Except in China, since that one child policy). And finally, no one can force themselves to feel attracted to someone. Either that spark is there, or it’s not.

    Jessi Thompson

  171. Luna, thank you for your apology; I appreciate it. Thank you also for setting my worries to rest about the social-justice thing. It so happens that quite a few of the things you said were very close to the standard opening tactics of social-justice bullying, and having watched that sort of behavior wreck quite a few online forums, I responded to what you were saying in the one way that reliably shuts down such things. I’m sorry that you ended up being caught in the crossfire!

    Please do be careful, though, about statements like “you’re always putting down women” — in today’s overheated social environment, that sort of thing can blow up disastrously and result in profound injustices. I know of writers who have had their books dumped by their publishers, and public figures who have lost their jobs, because of accusations like that — even when the accusations were completely unjustified.

    I’m very sorry to hear about your child. Since I also lost my only child to a preventable cause — in his case, it was medical malpractice — I sympathize.

    Down the road a bit, when you’re not under so much stress, you might want to reflect a bit on your argument that if something makes women feel empowered, nobody should be allowed to criticize it. Not everything that makes people feel empowered is a good idea, and in a situation like this one — when I didn’t even criticize Wicca, I challenged a habit of thought that many Wiccans share with many, many other people in other alternative spiritual traditions — your argument seems extreme to me. I’ve met women who were hardcore white racists, and felt very empowered by their membership in neo-Nazi organizations; what would you think if they used your argument to claim that you shouldn’t criticize the things that make them feel empowered?

    Pogonip, there’s a middle ground between scolding and backing down! As for the SAP thing, trust me, I’ve fielded just as many tirades from men as from women on the far left, making essentially the same claims in the same “how dare you tell me I can’t have everything I think I deserve?” sort of tone. (Well, not quite the identical tone; the men tend to bluster, the women tend to whine. I suspect, but can’t prove, that that comes from differences in culture and upbringing.)

    DFC, you’re quite right that random mass killings are much more common in the US than elsewhere, though they do happen elsewhere. Why? I wish I knew. I really have no idea what to say.

    Dfr1973, delighted to hear it! I hope you’ll post a recommendation to the Magic Monday conversation as soon as that gets under way (i.e., in about 22 minutes).

  172. @Booklover,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, dating, like many other aspects of society, have become highly toxic and fraught with perils. I do wonder if dating was ever “easy” though… the idea of looking for (or agreeing to marry, in the case of arranged marriages) one person to spend the rest of your life with *FOREVER* is daunting, to say the least. To be sure, divorce rates have skyrocketed, and monogamy has been entirely replaced with serial monogamy. Society is in a state of flux and the increased uncertainty creates more pressure.

    Add to this all the perils of life at the end of empire, and of course the toxic ideas spread by advertising and the mass media, and I would say it’s a wonder we humans are producing any offspring at all. (Granted, overpopulation is an issue, so at least the dysfunction is reducing the burden on the biosphere). I will say again, I do not deny that there are systemic factors that make dating more difficult, for men and women alike.


    That was beautiful. thank you for sharing it!!!!

    @Michael Martin,

    That is excellent advice. I agree with your point about all the broken homes (and I think they are also symptoms of broader and more sinister problems with society, but you’re right, these problems are creating more problems). Also, my fiance is Romanian Orthodox (and he has that amazing Romanian accent to go with it…. but that’s beside the point lol). I really love the traditional, mature attitude he has, which I think partly comes from growing up in a Communist country that then went through a revolution, and partly from the long traditions that are perpetuated through the Orthodox church. I do wonder how much of his maturity comes from *not* being exposed to consumer culture as a child.

    @David by the lake

    Since women’s issues have come up so much in this (which does seem to be a bizarre side current, I don’t know why), I would like to thank you for that. You’re right. I was insulted that Hillary was protrayed as the only woman running (what about Jill Stein?) and the only appropriate vote for a woman. The most vocal Trump supporter in my family is a woman whose parents are Mexican. Her husband (my cousin) works construction, though, and you can bet illegal immigrants underbid him on jobs. Moreover, legal immigrants don’t want to watch illegal immigrants get citizenship easily when they have had to work so hard. It’s unfair and it rewards bad behavior to give more rewards to illegal immigrants than to legal ones. That said, I voted for Johnson (instead of my usual vote for Stein/green party), only because I really thought the highest polling third party candidate had the best chance possible, and frankly, I was very disappointed that the country still chose the lesser of TWO evils when both evils were so…evil.

    I do think breaking the electorate into gender- and race-based focus groups is only dividing society further (while still ignoring the class differences that are taboo to even mention). The real problem, I think, is no politicians are trying to do what’s good for the country anymore. What makes a healthy, stable society? What characteristics do stable countries have?


    I agree that the privileged shock at being told “No” is a class issue, and furthermore I often wonder how many of the political policies (especially foreign policy) are tainted by that very attitude. I often feel like our country is being run by spoiled children. The whole debacle with Russia (that started with Ukraine, when Obama was president, is when the reignition of the Cold War became apparent to me) really stunned me. It was as if every US politician just assumed the rest of the world would do what was best for the US because it was the thing that was best for the US. It’s not just Russia, either. Just look at the Middle East.


    I am certain Archdruid Greer is fully capable of handling his own blog without your “help”. He has cultivated an environment where an intelligent, respectful discourse is possible, even between people of wildly differing opinions, which is a rare thing in this world. I personally felt your comments were cold and divisive and not conducive to dialog. To put it another way, I have seen him demonstrate tact and courtesy for a decade now. I have not seen you demonstrate either, yet.

    Jessi Thompson

  173. Jessica Thompson: I didn’t ask “someone” to check “my privilege”, I asked JMG a specific, well-defined question (about the article!) he’s qualified to answer, which he did.

  174. Dear Scotlyn, I don’t know much about what all did happen. Here is a piece from Salon by Camille Paglia, of whom I am mostly no fan, but when she condescends to do mere reporting is not too bad:

    In the 70s, I was living in a very Republican voting small town out West; The first issue of Ms. magazine appeared in the public library AND on local newsstands, right alongside Outdoor Life and the Farm Journal. Now, how does that happen?

    At about the same time when teenaged boys were sneaking peaks at Playboy, us teenaged girls were secretly and enviously perusing Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In the mid sixties, I came across one of those “nifty girls around town” articles which fashion mags used to do about one Gloria Steinem. The hair was dark brown then, she was described as being very much into fashion and cosmetics at that time, and in addition to whatever her job was said to be, she “directed a small foundation” which did something overseas. Then she turns up a few years later with stringy blond hair and no make up, or so she claimed, as a feminist leader, all of a sudden out of nowhere all over TV.

    Paglia refers in the article I cited above to the “power elite” which took over second wave feminism. Focus on sex and abortion doesn’t threaten the oligarchy, but when a significant minority of women decide that they don’t need to spend on ephemera like fashion, cosmetics, matched living room sets, etc., that does set off warning bells.

  175. @Luna.

    My condolences for the difficulties you are going through, most especially with your child’s cancer. May your child have unanticipated strength and vigor, and find all the joy, and other good things, which are possible with in the circumstances. I cannot hold any of my experiences against your own, and hope only the best things toward you conditions. While I would nod that your opening rhetoric was making a more serious case than it seems you had intended, I was strongly displeased to see the toothiness of certain reactions to you.

    I spent much of my day with friends, good natured women, who would have likely said worse than anything in your first post were they to to join some of these conversations. And would not read this blog, on account of some of the other comments Greer does choose to let through. Their lose, by my book. With in the context that my friends live in a lot of things have different meaning from the context that many of the commentators here live in. I like communication across contexts, big fan of it, and would value a greater amount of perspective from people, like yourself, who are uneasy with certain sides of the conversation. It maintains, I feel, a healthy tension.

    The Greeks said whom the gods would destroy they first drive mad; the Hebrew scriptures say that when humanity last aspired beyond their mortal limits, they were transformed such that people could not understand one another, and the tower fell. Maybe both cultures, in their own way, discovered something that happens to cultures in time, and is facing our culture now. We struggle to communicate with one another. We are misunderstood, and threatened, and it make us agonizingly alone at times.

    For many here, my self included generally, your comments would be heard in the context of class divides more than in terms of gender divides. The pinkhats are to many a marker of a certain subculture which has sadly become associated with certain strata of the middle class.

    I have lived in many very different American subcultures, for brief times. In different strata one feels gender relations in stunningly diverse ways. The culture I was raised in was strictly matriarchal, a generation back, it seems the families that had strong matriarchs were less destroyed by modernity than most. Many people from certain cultures (some of the relatively poor) don’t get the patriarchy of larger social structures because it doesn’t make sense in the context of a family where the elders once grew up under fear Grandma’s iron skilleted rule. If Ma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

    Do you know the cliche of the woman trying to express her problems to a man, and the second the man get the gist of the problem he stops listening, and starts thinking about how to solve the problem, even if a solution isn’t what she was after? There might be something like that kind of disconnect. Greer is looking at the protests from a tactical political perspective, how to solve the problem of an political policy one is trying to change. In that light, most modern protests don’t look too good; I went to some protests back in the day, but soon noticed that as a tactic they were not causing the changes I wanted them to cause. Now, what the protests mean to people in them, beyond a political tool is of interest to me. But, as I mentioned before the prejudice about them being a class marker, on account of the howling rage that much of American society feels toward middle class society (for reasons I can feel in my bones) those protests are not likely to be politically helpful. I really desire for the people at those protests to be pulling together a new left to balance out the harsh realities of the new right, but I think that will take something different in kind than current protest efforts.

    I believe you were the first person to mention the pussyhats in this weeks thread, and the critique of certain patterns which can be seen in parts of Wicca’s history was in a paragraph immediately following paragraphs doing the same level of critique to threads in Christian and Rationalist history. There are many of both those camps that partake regularly in these conversations, and I think their example would be good for other groups that serve as an example in an essay.

    Personally I should like to see more fanged critique of middle class Republicans (to mirror the critique of leftist protests), but they are keeping themselves off my radar screen, which is clever… too clever.

    @all about that blasted incel article.

    I have been in a lot of different rolls in life. I remember being a grumpy friend zoned 18 year old once. I have since had to friend zone some women who were after me in ways I wasn’t interested in; when I first realized that that had happened it really helped me gain perspective that I struggled with before then.

    There are deep issues making this disconnect, and thinking of other humans as objects is a big part of it! Onething’s comment about the stress of social exclusion in school hit a chord with me, I think that’s a big deal. For both genders, though it manifests differently.

    In my late teens, urgently trying to date and romance I was aping some vague cultural form of a guy having to be seductive and also that a guy being seductive was wicked and wrong. Really the cultural cues are confusing and nasty, it seems the cues for women are similarly weird. I don’t know how those cues are for women, except to observe that women seem to be punished in weird, often sneaky and indirect, ways for being openly sexual at all. For guys, nice guys that is, there is this lesson that one has to be nice, not try to seduce and then the girl will fall for you. For people that think in abstractions, that is to say in the stories they were taught by society, rather than going into the world and making mistakes until things wanted happens, its a trap. Our culture’s teachings are bad to the point of open self parody.

    Looking back, the thing that took the longest time to learn, and was the greatest burden to escape, was the fact that culture did not inform me about how horny women can be. The first date I went on (which was an accident because I was reading a passage of Nietzsche in the University Center standing on a table, and a woman ‘liked how i talk’) I was so stunned to find out that my date was sexually attracted to me that I literally couldn’t respond in kind, because that wasn’t a possibility I had as yet considered could happen (pre-seduction). Her and I never did anything that required a private room, and were roughly equally disappointed about that at the time. That was in 2007, and I think it took three years to properly process that reality to the point where it wasn’t stuck in the non-sense taught dating logic of abstraction.

    Happily, it took less time to learn that there were, sometimes, good reasons to not start physical relationships with people, even if they are really really attractive. I think this point women, often, pick up earlier, and for guys that are still stuck on the basics get confused by women acting in accord with this.

  176. I haven’t read your UFO book but what you said about it being used as a cover for experimental aircraft testing reminded me of something. I’ve got a Tamiya model catalogue from 1990 that included a curvy, disinformation version of the B2 bomber, rather than the angular reality. Anyone who bought one probably has something rare and valuable now. A lie caught in plastic. 🙂

  177. Isabel Cooper, with the term “double-bind”, a term coined by Gregory Bateson (not “double-blind”), I meant women giving off contradictory messages. In extreme cases, a double-bind, when it occurs in families, can lead to schizophrenia in children. By the way, I didn’t mean women who are obviously dressed for some other person.

  178. Cont…

    In case it was not clear, I am invoking two archetypes here: the archetype of the cool kid (clever, good looking, charming) and the naughty kid (crafty but not so intelligent, not so good looking, is ridiculed by cool kid, sabotages cool kid), which is played out daily in schools, colleges and work places, and fills reams upon reams of popular culture content. Both of these archetypes appeal to certain subsets of the population or not at all. Are you in the cool crowd? I note that 90% of Anglo-Saxon humor is ridiculing the other for not being cool enough; that is to say, bullying (but but but I thought we were sooo funny?).

    Above it is suggested by Nastarana that the concept of coolness is nebulous, and that is indeed the nature of archetypes. But can the archetype be used to weave a narrative that explains the past and predicts the future? Greer proposes the Changer archetype is constellating which is a convincing argument, especially the evidence of many synchronicities. On the other hand, I see business as usual with just another installment in the next episode of the battle between the Republican continuum of Naughty kids (Nixon, Bush, Trump) versus the Democratic cool kids (Kennedy, Clinton, Obama).

    Perhaps the Changer archetype is working through the naughty–cool kid archetype? Obama was the first attempt, Trump is the next, what happens when that doesn’t work? However, I feel the Changer archetype is somewhat messianic, and skips around the necessary hard work of dealing with the existing archetypes. Can the public get past their cool/naughty kid fetish and elect a reasonable someone actually interested in reform? As suggested in these pages in the past, heaving the television out the window would be a very sensible start, and thereby a step back from the aforementioned destructive narrative.

    It was also suggested by Nastarana that economic factors were determinant, and these of course also play a role, as they always do. You can go back through history and point out war fatigue was a forcing here, high fuel prices there, and so forth, and integrate over all the mechanistic factors to come to the correct result. Or you can supply a cyclical model swinging from one side one moment there and the other side the next. Some historical schools suggest neither and it is one damned thing after another with the random element dominating, also true to an extent. The fact is that if Hillary Clinton was even 2% cool kid, she would have won economic factors notwithstanding.

  179. Michael,

    If the increase in divorce and single parenting caused the correlated negative outcomes for children, then the massive increase in divorce we’ve seen since the 1960’s would have been reflected in an impact of equal scale on educational outcomes. And it’s just not there The correlations exist because many of the factors that cause single parenthood and divorce also cause negative life outcomes for children, on average. Control for those factors and the effect of absent fathers disappears.

    It seems completely contrary to common sense to late 20th century, early 21st century people, but there is strong evidence that home environments are just not as important as we have believed in how children turn out. The nonshared environment and genetics contribute far more. That would probably have been viewed as common sense by people in other times and societies. Ours has fetishized the importance of parenting for some reason.

    The statistic about the majority of divorces being filed by wives is very misleading because the implication usually being made is that women therefore cause the majority of all divorces. Stefan Molyneux seems to be the main source of this meme and he blames it on feminism, hypergamy etc. But what causes people to initiate legal proceedings for divorce and what causes marriages to end are two separate, though related, questions.

    Like the virtually non-existent ‘gender pay gap’, there are very good reasons why women are more likely to initiate divorce proceedings than men, and none of those reasons will shed light on the much messier question of who caused the marriage to end. Ask two ex-spouses the latter question and it’s not unusual to collect six different answers – he did, she did, the Other Woman, the Other Man, her Mother in Law, his ex-Wife, all of the above did it etc. Molyneux is careless about this because he had an abusive mother and it’s become a blind spot for him.

    To give just one example of what causes the gap, in family law I’ve seen men who left 10 years ago, have no interest in reconciling, now have 3 children with the Other Woman, and are horrified when the ex-wife finally gets around to serving divorce papers. Not being divorced provides a certain kind of man with the perfect alibi for not putting a ring on would-be Wife No. 2’s finger. This situation rarely happens in reverse.

  180. “I suspect that by the time the rubble finishes bouncing, Musk will be in jail and his companies will have gone bankrupt or been sold off for pennies on the dollar” My own intuition is that he will follow the example of Aubrey McClendon…

  181. @Booklover: Ah, sorry–allergies and the weekend meant I read that wrong.

    But still: I don’t think it’s any particular contradiction that Attractively-Dressed Woman A might be uninterested in talking with Person B, where Person B is any randomly-selected individual in her vicinity. Even at a party/singles bar (or whatever Kids These Days have)/orgy/etc, there are plenty of people who just don’t click, whether that’s conversational styles, common interests, sexual attraction, incompatible sun signs, or whatever. And if you know that right away, it’s better, while still being polite, not to waste either of your time.

    @Jessi: Totally agreed!

    The employment metaphor actually holds up pretty well: I’ve spent a fair amount of time (and am currently) looking for a job, and back in my youth I spent a fair amount looking for a sexual partner (and have friends who are doing so). Asking for advice is great: a couple of my friends have read my resume, practiced interviewing with me, and so forth. Being frustrated at the job market/dating world, and thinking badly of particular systemic features thereof (applicant screening software that makes you re-enter all your resume information, gender-based double standards about sexual interest and paying for dinner and whatnot) is totally fine and sympathetic.

    The tipping point to people I have no time/sympathy for comes when someone’s, metaphorically speaking, sending in a mis-spelled resume from an email address like coolcat69@whatever or getting really angry at every rejection because *clearly* they don’t understand said applicant’s greatness and are probably just going to give it to someone they know blah blah blah, or, often, both. (A small percent of these people–but still too many–then follow up with threatening violence, and a smaller percentage–but still way too many–follow up with *actual* violence, in both cases.)

  182. @ Jessi Thompson

    Re women’s issues and politics

    Thank you. (And I certainly agree with your sentiment that neither of the main choices in ’16 were appealing.) As I said, I didn’t mean to stir anything up. I’ve just had that something on my mind for a while now and needed to express it. It will be interesting indeed to see how this fall shakes out and how the ’20 presidential contest begins to take shape. If I have the opportunity to partake of a bit of schadenfreude (bad, I know), well, that’s just a side benefit.

    Re stable societies

    My thought is that a stable society is one in which all classes share to some (though not necessarily equal) degree in that society’s benefits and wealth. Moreover, it is one in which the upper/ruling classes recognize that their position rests on the foundation of the broader society and is not a separate thing from that society. This is where things go off the rails — when the rulers believe their own press, so to speak, that their position is a function of inherent virtues and is somehow independent of the balance of society. When the ruling classes understand their vested interest in the long-term success of the country as a whole, then stability is more achievable. When the ruling classes pursue their own short-term interests at the expense of broader society, then the fabric of society frays. The article mentioned above re the ultra-rich discussing the problem of maintaining control over their staffs/guards in their fortified bunkers is a good example of that kind of disconnect, I’d suggest.

    It is also easier to achieve that stability when one has an expanding economic pie with enough to go around. When the pie begins shrinking, as in the case of decaying empires and declining civilizations, then it is much more difficult to keep one’s eye on that longer view and the tendency is for groups to seek to maintain their portion at the expense of another’s. Some of this is just human nature. The usual path of decline is the usual path for a reason, after all.

    In the US, we face a tremendous challenge, since we can barely acknowledge we are an empire in the first place, much less an empire in decline. I am not at all sure how we are going to navigate the terrain before us. Given the decisions we’ve been making of late, the ride is likely to be fairly bumpy.

  183. @TS Silva,

    Once again, my criticisms were not directed at you. Again, you seem like a nice person. I criticized the article. I didn’t comment on anything you specifically said until someone else specifically asked me what I thought of your comment, (who I think was confused and didn’t realize I was talking about the article) and if you read it again you will see I mostly agreed with you with only minor nits to pick.

    I do feel I have the freedom to comment on things posted here, just as you have the freedom to choose to agree, disagree, not read, or not care about anything I post here. And I do feel that article is toxic and promotes a damaging way of viewing the world. But you are free to your own opinion, not that you asked me, obviously.

    Jessi Thompson

  184. Hello Jessi and David – “Since women’s issues have come up so much in this (which does seem to be a bizarre side current, I don’t know why),” Would it not be somewhat more accurate to say that it is men’s issues that have come up quite a bit in this thread? (or more specifically, the issue of loneliness for some men, which, unaccountably, is sometimes described by them as a “lack of sex”, rather than as a shortage of companions)?


    Hello C R Patiño – you described a very interesting project in “Factor H” for “developing manly virtues”. I am all in favour of this. In my own experience, it seems that masculinity becomes less than virtuous when its content is entirely built upon the “not-feminine”.

    An analogy often discussed on this blog, is that, inasmuch as Democrats have restricted their vision to being “not-Trump”, they become politically vicious, rather than politically virtuous. Men have often told one another (and particularly, they have too often heard from one another when they were very, very young), that the trick to being a man is to be as “not-woman” as it is possible to be.

    I very much look forward to the day groups like yours take the time to discover and manifest all of the virtues men have, just by virtue of being themselves, and not by virtue of anyone else’s negation.

    Blessings upon your work.

    PS. There is not, and never has been, one single thing wrong with being a man! 🙂


    Dear Nastarana,

    Thank you very much for the links!

  185. Ray Wharton, I can only second your observations how confusing modern society is when dating and sexuality are involved. A long time ago I had myself the experience of a girl being interested in me, but at that time, I didn’t register it and the whole thing went nowhere. And than there is the fact that the number of women with which one interacts depends on one’s life circumstances, which in Western civilization are often not very conducive to trying things out with women in a reasonable amount of time.

  186. Dear thecrowandsheep, Did I say that economic factors were determinate? Allow me to restate in simpler words what it is that I am trying to get at.

    The American public is fed up with war, especially with foreign interventions.

    Where “economic factors” come in is that the (formerly) working class is finally understanding how costly the wars of the last two decades have been.

    Mme. Clinton, 2% notcool notwithstanding, was and is a known quantity, a lying, murderous, incompetent warmonger. There is nothing special or unique about her; she is, IMHO, your basic main street club woman. I must have met dozens like her.There is one in just about every PTA, and advisory committee, a pushy overdressed woman who cares only about her own advancement and social position. Mme. Clinton has one outstanding quality, which is that she is relentless, she does not ever back down even when it might be in her interest to do so. She also knows no restraint. Morals and ethics are for lesser people. Her tenure at State was distinguished by the destabilizing of no fewer than 5 foreign sovereign nations, Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. Even by the lamentable standards of Anglo-American imperialism that must be some kind of record. It should come as no surprise that the equally murderous neo-con faction found in her an easy mark.

    Clinton blatantly stole the nomination. Her supposed more votes than Trump need to be viewed with the gravest suspicion, which suspicion is only reinforced by her shockingly crass and vulgar behavior on election night and the next day. Nothing, nothing matters to this woman other than me, myself and I.

    If coolness is the determinate, Johnson and Stein, whom I voted for, both had and have a great deal more of that quality than either Clinton or Trump.

    I seem to recall reading in Jung that archetypes are complexes of instinctive behavior.

    Cool vs nerd or dope is a cultural construct of 20thC USA, invented and encouraged by the mass media for the purpose of keeping people spending, and perhaps for social control.

    The underlying issue of the 2016 election was not whose persona was emotionally satisfying but did we or did we not want to continue our ruinous warmongering foreign policy.

  187. What about the couple that agrees to divorce and the one with the most resources initiates?

    That was the case for me. Neither of us were competent spouses.

  188. Hi John

    I’ve completed my update on Brexit which you might find interesting.

    Thanks for responding to my questions, you have certainly helped reshape my assumptions on where the Brexit process will end up.

    I wonder if you had any thoughts on the rise of the Swedish Democrats in the elections in Sweden in the weekend. It fits the rising trend of nationalism in Europe and the panicked and belated attempt by the establishment to address voters concerns regarding migration.

    The other news data that picked my interest was the rising real wages in the American heartlands, something you predicted a couple of years ago on the back of a Trump victory!

    And for those who prefer the blue-chip media, here is the link here:

    A remarkable read.



  189. JMG
    I had a card this morning from The Blake Society and this was followed by certain conversations I had today in our household, and thence to a link (from a question by dfr1973 on Magic Monday) to a pair of your essays (A few Notes on Nature Spirits) – Thus I found your quote of Blake’s Fourfold Vision. From this chain I have come to an article by Philip Pullman, novelist & President of the Blake Society.

    This article seems of general interest, but Pullman’s has a quote that at least in my mind addresses matters arising in comments this week. This could include Robert Mathiesen addressing ‘Occam’s razor’, a discussion which I found interesting.

    From Pullman: ‘And when it comes to vision, we need to be able to see contrary things and believe them both true: “Without Contraries is no progression” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell)’

    Phil H


    Is it just me or does this article have outright propaganda inked across it in bright red letters? Hmmm…wonder where all this is headed….especially after the muscle flexing campaign in the South China Sea last week. (As if F-35s were something to be scared of…)

    Think President Trump has read “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”?

  191. JMG, quick question:

    Mercury is always near the Sun. At what point is it not combust? Is there a particular minimum angular separation? Thanks!

  192. To Whom It May Concern,

    Thinking further about the article on men who can’t get laid. The real situations involve unique individuals and are therefore all over the map, of course, and simply can’t be judged. I responded as I did above and now to what I consider a real phenomenon of basically decent nerds and yet all sorts of analyses are being done explaining why these guys are truly jerks or don’t truly want a real relationship with a human being. Here’s what I think is truly going on:

    ‘The ego is always on guard against any kind of perceived diminishment. Automatic ego-repair mechanisms come into effect to restore the mental form of “me.” When someone blames or criticizes me, that to the ego is a diminishment of self, and it will immediately attempt to repair its diminished sense of self through self-justification, defense, or blaming. Whether the other person is right or wrong is irrelevant to the ego. It is much more interested in self-preservation than truth.’ Eckhart Tolle

    Notice he says ‘immediately.’ When persons react, they so so incredibly fast and it bypasses the conscious mind. These are subconscious reactions.

    My opinion is that the women who respond unkindly or with long-winded explanations of why these guys are truly jerks feel guilt-pressure as if they really “should” sleep with someone that they don’t want to. This is instinctively distasteful for women. They also feel criticized.

    It’s sad, though, because when guys make this complaint, they are really asking why women don’t respond to them. There are no doubt a multiplicity of reasons, but I’m thinking here about Barry. The blog author mentions Barry as this really nice guy (I can believe his assessment) and he even runs a feminist blog! How much better feminist credentials can a guy have?

    Hoo boy. Who ever gave Barry the idea that women he pleases will want to bed him? Ingratiating behavior is definitely not a turn on. Is he taking a lot of womens’ verbiage seriously? People have all sorts of overlays of ideas and memes and things they learned at college.
    What does a woman want? She wants Antonio Banderas. His characters are good, kind, decent, but never ingratiating, never a woman pleaser. The biggest turn on about Hispanic men is that they are not afraid of women.
    If a woman is a feminist, does that change her animal nature, her hormonal nature, her deep instinctual nature? Of course not.
    (And the converse of this is when guys note the Henries of this world and decide that women want to be treated callously-but that isn’t right either. The truth is more subtle than that.)

    I find a guy who runs a feminist blog and wants this to score him points with women quite clueless, even creepy. He should drop that stupid blog and go do a walkabout.
    What does a woman want? I’ll tell you a deep dark secret. She doesn’t want someone who always gives in to her and can’t stand up to her.
    Guys like Barry think they must try harder to be even nicer, but they are already nice enough. Their masculinity is out of balance. Masculinity is not an easy achievement. Why? Because while the male exists to service the female, he also must achieve as much independence and see as far as possible. Because the female is the default, masculinity is an achievement and a process and an ideal. That’s why men ‘become’ and I’m pretty sure it is why the world over, men tend to have a need to congregate in a men-only atmosphere.

  193. @Isabelcooper – you write “do Friendzone Guys really want…”

    I can at least tell you what *I* wanted any time I was rejected, and it’s not what you seem to think. It’s actually “useful feedback”. Whenever a guy compares himself to the Henry’s of the world, there’s an implicit question along the lines of “I’m following all of society’s rules even when I’d rather not. I’ve been told all my life that doing so won’t prevent me from getting what I really want. This guy is not following the rules and is getting what I want. Is that because he’s not following the rules?”

    My answer these days is some variation on: “By not following rules when he doesn’t want to, that guy is showing integrity. Having integrity must be a more important rule than not being abusive”.

    Answering a different question, claiming that’s not what the questioner really wants or insulting him all just sound like ‘yes’. My internal sense is that for now that mostly moves us towards the more celibate future you’re okay with, so I guess I’m out of arguments. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I can believe it’s our best bet.

  194. Never mind the combust question, JMG. I think I got it. 14 degrees or less from the sun, when viewed from Earth, right? So the next 2 (last 2 dignified by Virgo) Mercury days will be combustion days. That’s why I missed my window when I missed getting my working done by last Wednesday, right? That means, if I’m not misreading you, that our Mercurial working will have to wait until he is out of combust and in a favorable aspect with the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, or Venus, or in conjunction with any of the latter 3 (and not afflicted by…).

    Ugh. Back to the books then, trying to figure out when that will be.
    Thank you!

  195. CRPatiño wrote:

    “The thing is that all governments around the globe fear a population that is able and willing to fight back when abused. You simply happened to have been born during a period of history where major powers were much more afraid of their external enemies that from their proletariat.”

    Additionally, at the time when my ancestors lived, the West Coast was somewhat off the radar of the US Federal Government. In California, in the later 1800s and earliest 1900s, people could be as violent as they liked, and nothing they did so far away was perceived as any sort of threat by the East Coast elite. Also, despite Frederick Jackson Turner, the frontier wasn’t entirely closed in those days, and a local propensity toward violence could help close it more tightly.

  196. @Rita, about the family practices of your long-ago pen pal:

    What he described is exactly how a home circle is conducted in Spiritualism: chairs, working in a circle, ordinary clothes, something more than prayer, but not quite ritual. Odds are, his forbears didn’t actually call themselves “Witches,” but they might have–a few home-circle Spiritualists seem actually to have done just that. Most likely they didn’t spend much time thinking about what to call themselves at all. “Identities” weren’t as big a thing then as they are now.

  197. David, by the lake, wrote (on active shooter training):

    “We are—or should be—better than this, I keep thinking.”

    That’s a huge part of the generational divide I was talking about. In the circles that I and my forbears traveled in, no one–not one person at all, so far as I know–ever thought that people actually could be “better than this”! It wasn’t even a remote possibility!

    Rather, the attitude was something like this: The world is what it is, and only a double-barreled brass-bound blunderbuss of an idiot would think it might ever change. You work with what you have, and you learn how to use the tools you need, even the tools for killing other people, in extreme circumstances.

    I continue to be puzzled, actually, about where this nation-wide desire to be “better than this” has come from, historically speaking. To me it feels like something of an old, old class marker: believing in the possibility of a better world feels to me like a luxury in which only the most privileged sectors of the governing elite could safely indulge themselves.

    But pretty near everyone wants to think of themselves as elite these days. Maybe that’s why being “better than this” has such appeal now.

  198. @JMG:

    I haven’t ever seen anything in print that treats the connection between the New Thought and the Physical Culture movements. But I hadn’t thought a lot about that connection before now. You’re definitely on to something there. I’ll poke around here and there on the web, see what I can find, and let you know.

    In my own family, my great-grandmother in the maternal line had many esoteric interests, including New Thought ad Spiritualism. As far as I know she was not interested in Physical Culture. Her husband, however, was part of the Delsarte wing of the Physical Culture movement, which in California meant Genevieve Stebbins’ form of DelSartism. And Stebbins herself had very strong esoteric interests, which show up in her books.

    Moreover, Stebbins’ husband (since 1892) was one “Norman Astley,” which was certainly not his birth-name. Current research is closing in on who “Astley” really was, and the likeliest conclusion seems to be that he had formerly been known as “Thomas Henry Burgoyne,” one of the two founders of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. (The other founder was Peter Davidson.) This organization was devoted to the study and practice of occult and magical techniques, and it drew heavily on Pascal Beverly Randolph’s writings, including his unpublished ones on sex magic and related practices.

    [Ongoing research on “Astley” and Stebbins is summarized from time to time by K. Paul Johnson on his blog, History of the Adepts, at As yet there do not seem to be any printed books or articles reflecting this research.]

    As for grandmother stories: Yes indeed! The whole “my grandmother and her family were traditional witches in the manner of Silver Ravenwolf (or Starhawk, or Gardner–or Isobel Gowdie, or whoever)” thing is really stupid, but it used to be claimed far too often. Maybe it still is. I would put Alex Sanders’ grandmother story in this category.

    Being “out of sync” with the over-culture seems to be to be a virtue that people could stand to practice more. The piece of family lore that I heard most often from my mother–hers is the esoteric side of my family–was simply, “Mathiesens are different.” That was glossed as “Find your own way to be different from other families. Even find your own way to be different from other Mathiesens!” (Since this saying came down in the female line, I suppose that the surname changed from one generation to the next. My mother presumably was told, “Leathermans are different”; her mother, “Lussiers are different”; and hers in turn, “Osgoods are different.” And boy howdy, did they ever live up to that precept!!!)

    And as you say, it is not just families with esoteric or occult or counter-religious interests that often practice this virtue, but also the fraternal-order ones (Masons, Odd Fellows, Woodsmen, etc.).

  199. @Shane W: I actually think that if we sat down for an evening over a beer or two, we’d find that we saw the world (and the USA) in very similar ways, though we come from opposite perspectives (and opposite sides of a certain notorious Line on the map).

    @Jessica M. Thompson (anotheramethyst): You’re very welcome! In my boyhood and early adult years, I too enjoyed greatly hearing from older people what the world was like in their youth. I am delighted that you like to do the same. Thank you!

  200. According to the multitude of posts about it, the subject of men, women and dating seems to have hit a nerve, which is quite interesting!

  201. @Christopher: Well, that’s a question to politely ask your friends, or your mom, or your life coach, because it’s individual to the person in question. There are all sorts of reasons for someone not to have a lot of romantic success, ranging from bad breath to generally incompatible taste in partners–when I was younger, for instance, I knew plenty of girls who kept falling for openly gay men–to physical or mental stuff that’s harder to change but still doesn’t oblige anyone to sleep with them.

    And the answer to your implicit question is “Sometimes yes, and sometimes no, and it depends.” Yes, there are some of society’s rules (Monogamy for everyone! Never be frank about what you want! Togetherness at all costs! You’re incomplete without a partner!) that could stand re-thinking, and knowing where you personally stand on them probably will help. There are others (Treat people with respect and honesty!) that still hold up…but that doesn’t mean that breaking them can’t get you what you want, *if* what you want is the sort of partner who goes for that*, and if you don’t mind getting slapped down harshly by a lot of other people, or being the sort of person who does that. I think, as you do, that integrity is more important.

    (I had a couple of attractive male friends in college who ended up with horrible manipulative women, the sort who are really good at the Wounded Kitten Act. The first time, I felt bad about it. The second time, I figured that falling for that sort of thing said a fair bit about the dudes in question. There was a point or two where I considered using those tactics, and the guy in question probably wouldn’t have resented me for it, but I’d have hated myself, and rightly so.)

    I mean, fairs, as my mom used to say, are for tourists.

    And yeah, the prospect of a more celibate future doesn’t hold a lot of terror for me.

    * Less harshly: the exception to “you can’t force attraction” is “you can, if you’re good at emotional manipulation and target people who are vulnerable to abuse, override a lack of it,” and..that’s…an option, for people.

  202. @ Robert M

    Re “better than this”

    I guess I find myself puzzled that the notion of a better world is somehow elitist. Unless one is a full-blown Calvinist, stripping the human being of any form of self-determination, then we are fully capable of change and improvement. And if an individual is capable of change and improvement, then so are groups of people. And if groups of people are capable of change and improvement, then so are societies. We don’t have to be blind and foolish. We choose to be blind and foolish. We can just as readily choose otherwise. I’m not saying we should ignore what is — that’s actually the acceptance/acknowledgement I was talking about — but I don’t believe we should passively accept it either.

  203. @onething: I’m a lot less gender-essentialist about my view, but–more or less, yeah. Again: healthy people do not want partners whose whole existence is focused on attracting or pleasing members of the demographic they’re into. (And I say this as someone for whom attracting men is a fairly major hobby.) Someone who has other interests and convictions, and who is willing to walk away, is always going to be more attractive than a doormat or a leg-humping Chihuahua to anyone not looking specifically for those things.

  204. onething wrote:

    “Because while the male exists to service the female, he also must achieve as much independence and see as far as possible. Because the female is the default, masculinity is an achievement and a process and an ideal. That’s why men ‘become’ and I’m pretty sure it is why the world over, men tend to have a need to congregate in a men-only atmosphere.”

    Hence the crying need today for old-style fraternal organizations, or something rather like them, where younger and older men socialize on equal footing in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, in a completely private setting. It helps greatly, too, if these men of all generations have undergone the same ritual ordeals.

    Cross-generational close friendships among men are the only remedy for this dysfunction. Disparaging cross-generational friendships–which were usually maintained far outside of the family circles–was one of the consequences of the toxic idealism of the later ’60s and the ’70s. Remember the old “Never trust anyone over 30” line? And nowadays the horror and fear of sexual exploitation has only strengthened suspicion of any and all out-of-the-family friendships between young and old. (I am not saying that sexual exploitation isn’t a huge problem in our society, only that one shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as one seeks to deal with it effectively.)

  205. Hello Christopher Hennigan. Thanks for adding more thoughts into this thread. It is late in the cycle, and just getting interesting, and well…

    “Whenever a guy compares himself to the Henry’s of the world, there’s an implicit question along the lines of “I’m following all of society’s rules even when I’d rather not. I’ve been told all my life that doing so won’t prevent me from getting what I really want. This guy is not following the rules and is getting what I want. Is that because he’s not following the rules?”

    This feels like an honest question. And I thank you for posing it. But it has elements that I find hard to understand. One of those comes from the undeniable fact that (as my grandma used to warn), “when you compare yourself with another it can’t ever be a fair comparison, because all you can ever compare is your inside to their outside…”

    That is to say, how could you know that “this guy is getting what I want”? What if what you want to experience with your “inside” is actually way different to what he is getting (as seen by you from his “outside”), which you can never know from the “inside” as it were?

  206. @ JMG Thanks for your understanding. I didn’t even think about the issue you brought up — people losing their jobs and reputation due to accusations, but yes this is a real mess now. I was once accused of being a racist on a forum because I felt the mind of aboriginal people was superior to the consciousness of the Western mind. I couldn’t defend my position very well, and not sure it would have mattered if I could really, because this woman had it out for me from the get-go. But that’s how it works doesn’t it? They don’t like something about you (in this case it seemed the woman didn’t think I deserved my popular position in this art community), and so she used racism to ‘get me’. I was worried I’d lose jobs, or that people would think I was horrid. People who know me though know I’m not a racist, and while I’m not really sure of her affect on others the whole thing still leaves me feeling disturbed.

    Anyway, this incident and some others on the above mentioned predominately leftist forum made me start to realize there is something very wrong with the extreme left, and is in one way the reason I began feeling attracted to your blog — you point out that the left is not so selfless as they proclaim. They want to attack and create a war as sure as any far-right person does.

    Thanks for your sympathy regarding my daughter, and I sympathize with what you went through with your child. At least my daughter is not a young child, as I think that would be even harder to bear. It’s good to find others who are part of this club we never wanted to belong to, and I’ve been surprised just how many there are. People in general seem strangely quiet about it.

    I agree — not all things that empower women should be free of criticism. To be honest I kind of skimmed the Wicca stuff and should not have commented on it, but I will read and ponder more. At the time all I gleaned was that you analyzed it as a ‘pop’ religion, which seems to be saying it’s somehow inferior or not valid. I will read what you wrote in more detail and perhaps post a question on your other blog next Monday.

  207. @ Ray
    Thanks for your considered response, and sympathy regarding my daughter. Your comments caused me to think further about why some men might not consider that women have been discriminated against — most everyone was raised by a mother, and if they felt that mother did not use her power appropriately (your ‘mama with the frying pan’ example) they are not going to feel much sympathy toward women. For them, women had/have too much power. Sometimes I feel their anger/hatred and it creeps me out a bit, but I should make an attempt not take it personally.

    Regarding the pinkhats, I don’t understand the analysis of them as ‘entitled’ or even middle class. Those I’ve known (pinkhats and feminists) come from all walks of life. Are you sure this is not some categorization developed by those on the ‘alt-right’ who don’t like feminists or ‘women complaining’, or those who don’t like protests in general, or those who just think it’s plain silly to don a pussyhat and run around? I admit, it’s awfully silly, but it’s fun, and I think it bothers Trump. Yeah, it’s a bit adolescent to want to bother someone I know, but it’s often a behavior of those who feel less powerful. He brags about grabbing pussies, so we flood the area outside his home with a bunch of ‘pussies’ to tease him. He says ‘nasty woman’…so we get some shirts displaying ‘nasty woman’ text. Maybe I just have a silly, hyperbolic, playful sense of humor.
    Anyway, these women I’ve know that are not all middle class by any means — some form groups to combat the problems politically. Here’s how they define the movement on their website:
    “The Pussyhat Project™ is a social movement focused on raising awareness about women’s issues and advancing human rights by promoting dialogue and innovation through the arts, education and intellectual discourse”.
    Anyway, I would like to know why some think this is a middle-class movement only.

  208. @Joy

    Thanks for your condolences regarding my daughter.

    You said:
    ” When you talk about women, you should say “some women””

    I agree, I need to work on being more specific, as I would never want/expect other women to be pinkhats if they don’t want to.

  209. @Jessi:
    I have no desire at all to extend this thread (on a Tuesday!) nor to to criticize you in any way. I was going to keep quiet, but since you referred in your last reply to S. T. Silva to the linked slatestarcodex article by Scott, please check again. The quote I asked your opinion on was not from S. T. Silva’s comments, but from the very end of Scott’s 7-part article, and if I understand your answer to me correctly, you do not wholly disagree with that final quote of Scott’s. Maybe your disagreement was all along more with the rhetorical questions Scott asks at the end of part 2 and not with his final opinion as expressed in part 7?

  210. @Nastarana;
    You might tentatively add some to your list of 5 sovereign countries destabilized during Hillary Clinton’s tenure. Brazil’s Labor Party president and state-owned oil company were among the top objects of US espionage during that time according to Snowden, and American-trained and financed groups appeared shortly after the huge protests of June 2013, campaigning against that president (who was finally impeached in 2016) and for privatization of the oil company. Since 2013, it has all been downhill for Brazil.

  211. Quick note – Venice Beach has had a revival of Jack LaLanne and Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton type of physical activity – including a lot of body weight lifting. It is promoted by people who look a lot healthier then the steroid saturated body builders.

  212. Inohuri,

    Sure, lots of factors influence who initiates the divorce. In my experience the factors which push women to initiate first are stronger and more common than those pushing men to do so. No doubt it’s been studied. My main point is simply that that’s a different question to who caused the divorce, but the two are always conflated in certain corners of the internet.

  213. Regarding the issue of the friendzone and incels: If I played by the same rules my father did, I might be a 30 year old virgin instead of a 30 year old unmarried guy.

  214. (Also, to add a really late realization: if people are telling you, or others, that following rules won’t prevent you from getting what you want, those people are wrong and should knock that off. Following rules *will* sometimes prevent you from getting what you want, but it will also often prevent you from hurting yourself and others in the process. Many criminals end up in prison, or dead, and much of what they do hurts people, but many do die rich and happy. I still prefer not to go around cooking meth or robbing banks, but “following the rules costs you nothing” is instilling all kinds of awful false expectations in people.)

  215. David, by the lake, wrote:

    “I guess I find myself puzzled that the notion of a better world is somehow elitist. Unless one is a full-blown Calvinist, stripping the human being of any form of self-determination, then we are fully capable of change and improvement. And if an individual is capable of change and improvement, then so are groups of people. And if groups of people are capable of change and improvement, then so are societies. We don’t have to be blind and foolish. We choose to be blind and foolish. We can just as readily choose otherwise.”

    I had to think about this comment of yours a little. Of course, you’re right if we’re talking about your average poster on this blog, or indeed about anyone who has a stable place to sleep and gets some food to eat every day in the early 21st century. But all these people, even the poorest of them, are elite by comparison to the people I had in view in the generations before mine and my parents’, including very many of my own ancestors.

    If, every time winter comes, you have no idea whether you and your children will have a room to shelter in, and also whether you and they will be able to get enough food and fuel to make it through to the next spring, then you will have no energy left to think much about becoming a better person or building a better world. The same is true if you have to worry every day of every summer of your childhood whether you will survive the usual onslaught of summer illnesses, and whether so many of your school friends will have died over that summer that you will have to make a whole new set of friends when school starts up again. The same is true if you will have to do without warm enough clothes if you want to get your child a few new pencils or a box of crayons as their one and only Christmas present, and maybe even a whole chicken to cook for your family’s holiday. This was the condition of very many–not all–of my ancestors in the United States, even unto my grandparents’ and parents’ generations.

    Can you see how people living that close to the edge of staying alive (and keeping their children alive) will have no energy left to think of change for the better, how they dare not allow themselves even to daydream about a better future, much less actively hope for one and work for one? Such dreams and hopes are unimaginable luxuries to people that poor. They are even dangerous, for they deflect one’s attention from the constant struggle to stay barely alive; they weaken one’s grim determination to stay alive no matter what it takes, no matter how dreadful life is. Dreams and hopes like that can induce despair by comparison; they can make one want to give up the grim struggle to stay alive, to roll over and die.

    For very, very many Americans, in the years before WW2, that is what life was like from cradle to grave. It is still like that for a a large minority of Americans, and for the majority of human beings world-wide. If your life is more secure than that, then by comparison with them, you are a member of America’s elite You may not be anywhere near the top of the ladder of elites, but you are still elite. Then you do have the luxury of dreaming that there may be a better world ahead, and even that you can help bring it to pass.

    That is what I meant by saying that it is elitist to dream of a better world. (And BTW, “elite” is not a term of reproach; it just indicates your position on the scale of how easy it is for a person to survive.)

    Does that clarify what I had in mind?

  216. @ Luna

    Thank you for your considered response to my comments.

    For the first half, I failed to convey the emotional tenor of the Matriarchies I speak of. Glenna, Mabel, Annabell and the other examples of the matriarchs I have know do indeed rule with a strict skillet, but not as a feared, or hated tyrant. No, they are viewed with deep and profound respect. Because a woman, Grandma, was the top of the social structure the idea of women being, as a universal, oppressed don’t compute.

    It could be a branding issue, or that middle class folks tend to speak for everyone there, so for those of us who don’t go protesting it seems to be like the folks who are most likely to make much ado about the movement to them. Also my bar for ‘middle class’ I am fairly certain is much more inclusive than average, think of the term as meaning “five figure income”. I also know a lot of poor feminists, but few of them are in the movement, in fact more and more seem to be coming around to the right every month. It could also be my bias that a lot of protesting toward Trump is coming from those economic interests. I don’t know. I haven’t really ever given the pink hats a hard time about nothing, except that it don’t figure to me. Then again watching ESPN don’t figure to me either, most things people do for amusement don’t make sense to me.

    But I feel you about Trump and environmental toxins, I can feel the badness of what we are doing. Heck i tried to grow a one acre subsistence garden at a buddy’s place, only to find the whole soil too poisoned for broadleaf crops to survive. Like, I am really keen on some of the changes, and for the first time in my adult life not living under a Neo-Con regime, but I am afraid that in bringing back industry to America it will also bring back the toxins.

  217. To any rural landowners here – get educated in your municipalities zoning ordinances now and petition for changes immediately.

    We attended the zoning hearing for this 20,000 sq ft mansion someone built here three years ago and now wants to sell it to a for-profit company to turn it into a group home for 40 teen boys. Our current ordinances allows for a group home of up to 5 unrelated individuals. They are claiming discrimination – its unfair to these children! – and will likely win on this ultimately.

    Issues of septic system, well water use, traffic and parking all are non-zoning issues. We are not thrilled to share the aquifer with 50+ people in one home plus their visiting families on weekends, but this is not a zoning issue. They plan on using our local police force for security, so we are likely to get a raise in taxes to pay for more officers. The kids they ship in from all over the state, get IEP’s and special teachers paid for through our school district so we will be paying for that through our local property taxes.

    I had read that the new business model is to use government funding of social services into profitable businesses. Obviously many of you have seen this in nursing home/senior care. Now they are moving into mental health.

    Another way corporations use our laws against us to make more money for themselves. Disgusting.

  218. Jessi, you certainly have the freedom to find the article toxic, and I have the freedom to think the same of your response. I didn’t respond to you to try and ‘call you out’ or anything like that though. I think we both took the least charitable interpretation of what we read, and I think that exact response is so widespread that personal experience alone doesn’t fully explain it. Since this forum often discusses things like egregoirs, archetypes, and forces of history I thought it might be a good place to investigate what’s going on from that perspective, but it’s so difficult to communicate about and so easy to give offence that unless our host raises the topic himself I won’t repeat the attempt.

    Scotlyn, you write “how could you know that “this guy is getting what I want”? “. You seem to be conflating wanting something bad for yourself (happens all the time right?) with not wanting what you think you want. If I went to one of the women seeing a guy like that and said “how could you know being with this guy is what you really want? How do you know you don’t actually want someone more like me?” I don’t think she’d respond very well. That it’s a bad idea to tell women what they *actually* want is probably one of the few things even the extremists in this discussion could agree on*. Seems to me this is one of those ‘sauce for the goose’ things.

    *Of course it actually is possible to change what you want, it just takes a lot of effort and subtlety for very slow changes and it’s considered immoral to do on behalf of someone else. One exception to that taboo though is with parents and their children, so it is my sincere hope you will be deft in that field as you raise your sons.

  219. @ Robert M.

    Yes, thank you. I believe I understand your perspective on this much better now. I will admit that I am far more secure than the folks you were thinking of as you wrote.

  220. VERY OT: but Attention Green Wizards! Offer: Pickett slide rule, the long kind, not the circular kind. Will mail to anyone interested; you can reach me at My calculating days, except for pencil and paper stuff, are long over.

    Patricia M om Albuquerque.

  221. @ Ray,

    Ahh, Grandma wielding a skillet had me a little confused there. I only have 2nd hand knowledge regarding this type of matriarchal setting. In the U.S. today it seems that grandma is far from being revered and is more likely to be banished to the nursing home as soon as possible.
    I did wonder if you were describing the scene more positively, but it got me wondering about why we have all these extreme alt-right 4-chan guys now — could it be they are rebelling against feeling too controlled by mothers during childhood.

    But regarding your experience, yes I can see where one would not understand women’s oppression growing up as such. But perhaps the problem for grandma would only arise if she went out into the wider world of that era and, for example, tried to get a loan or credit card (and could not without her husband’s signature), or wanted to vote for her choice in an election before women were allowed to vote, or run for office, or be in a position of authority in a church. Really, I could go on and on with examples of how women were basically owned by men back then, and it appears many men today still think they should own them. Women are in danger of losing the right to choose when they will have children, and without that right more children will be born into poverty and more poor women will die, as the wealthier women can often obtain a safer abortion with enough cash.

    Anyway, regarding feminism & neoliberalism…I don’t understand why your poorer feminist friends would go to the ‘right’. If we are using your classification of middle class as 5 figures then they would earn less than 10k yearly and qualify for the kinds of programs Trump is trying to gut.

  222. (Possibly too late, but if not…)

    @Christopher Henningsen “If I went to one of the women seeing a guy like that and said “how could you know being with this guy is what you really want? How do you know you don’t actually want someone more like me?” I don’t think she’d respond very well.”

    Well, from my point of view, AT LEAST in such a conversation you’d have engaged a real, live, actual woman, for better or worse, as opposed to the abstract fantasy normally conjured up. And even though in practice, you might be slapped down (but, then again, you might NOT be – who knows??), you would also have taken a step in the right direction – a step away from abstraction and fantasising, and into a search for an actual connection with a real and specific human being – which in every case will be, in practice, a risk and a gamble, but which is the ONLY kind which ever pays off.

    Blessings on your connection intentions, whereever they take you.

  223. Dear John Michael and all: is your home port for many examples of excellent Physical Culture literature in reprint. This is only a sample of some of the best books and pamphlets, generally on what is now basic training. Of particular note is “Super Strength Books” by Alan Calvert, re-inventor of barbells, dumbbells, and the kettlebell (which he discontinued as a bad idea). Maxick is also available.

    There were integrated holistic models available to 19th and early to mid 20th Century trainees that had subtle or esoteric components to it. Delsarte through Stebbins provides one such model, while more or less the full court Mesmeric system was present in England c. 1830 through a Universalist publication, “The Shepard”. Most of applied Spiritualism, as I’ve encountered it, had similar paradigms.

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