Monthly Post

A Path that Abides

We could talk about a great many things right now.  Despite all the efforts of the political classes in the United States and its inner circle of allies, the world is shaking off the enforced stasis of the last few decades and moving toward an era of tumultuous realignment.  The remarkable success of populist parties in last week’s European Parliament elections is one measure of this; there are others. Change is in the air and it’s fair to say that nothing will ever be the same again.

It’s old news if you’ve been paying attention.

All these, however, are things I’ve talked about at great length here, in my earlier blog The Archdruid Report, and in close to a dozen books.  Empires are self-terminating phenomena; they always set changes in motion that undercut their own power; eventually, to borrow a turn of phrase from William Catton’s Overshoot, they can no longer survive in the conditions that they themselves have made. Once the United States won the global struggle to replace the British Empire, the only question was how its age of hegemony would end, and that was predetermined once the US political class chose the mode of empire it imposed on most of the planet.  At this point all that remains to be settled are the fine details.

For that reason I’m going to live up to my reputation for haring off in unexpected directions, and talk about something—I was about to say, “something completely unrelated to the decline and fall of the American empire,” which would be inaccurate  It’s not completely unrelated, not by a long shot, but we have some ground to cover before we circle back around to the connection.  We’ll start with a comment I fielded to a blog post here late last month, and a series of rather less interesting comments on my Dreamwidth journal in the months before then.

Last month had five Wednesdays, and by longstanding tradition that meant that my commentariat got to vote on what they wanted me to write about for the final Wednesday post. The largest vote this time was for the occult dimensions of music, and I proceeded to write and post an essay on that subject. It got a lively response. One commenter, though, struck an odd note. After an otherwise relevant comment on music and language, he added:  “Also: If you are correct that music is language, that you use to speak to the powers of the world: Who are they? What have they told you about themselves? How do you know they are virtuous, and/or mean you well?”

You can replace the Bible and crucifix with a Carl Sagan book and some piece of technology without any effect on the tone.

Readers who took the time to look back over the essay just mentioned will know already that I said nothing at all about “the powers of the world,” and the occult traditions I practice and teach have nothing to do with them either, but I knew what he was talking about, of course. There’s a particular type of drive-by troll who posts what are supposed to be “gotcha!” questions in response to anything that pushes their buttons. This one happened to be Christian—that’s clear from the implied reference to Ephesians 6:12—but it’s not a habit unique to Christians. I’ve fielded plenty of similar comments from rationalist atheists, socialists, fans of nuclear power, and true believers in the last three or four speculative bubbles, among others. What they have in common is that they all redefine what I’ve said in terms of whatever ideology they favor, and their intended “gotcha!” questions thus inevitably miss their mark.

Tolerably often I roll my eyes and delete such things, but I put this one through, then called the troll on the fact that I wasn’t talking about what he thought I was talking about. Of course he didn’t respond; they never do. Nonetheless I thought the interaction was memorable, because I had been fielding comments based on the same misunderstanding from the other end of the spiritual spectrum in the months just before then.

I think most of my readers know by now that every Monday I host an ask-me-(almost)-anything session about occultism on my Dreamwidth journal. By and large even the questions from people who don’t know a thing about the subject are at least interesting.  In recent months, however, I’d been getting a set of weirdly repetitive questions from several commenters (or one person using a bevy of sock puppets—it’s hard to tell online) who had the same understanding of magic as my Christian troll, but came at it from the other side: they/he was/were practicing that kind of magic, and wanted to ask me for advice on how to get better results from it.

A self-operated butt-kicking machine. Some kinds of repetitive failure remind me of this.

There was a very weird quality shared by all these posts, which is why I suspect they may have been one person using sock-puppet aliases. The commenter/s alternated earnest questions about how to summon this or that or the other spirit with jeremiads bemoaning the poor results he/they was/were getting from this kind of practice. When I pointed out that maybe doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was not a good idea, and that it’s a mistake to think of magic as a matter of coaxing or bullying favors from disembodied beings, I might as well have been talking to a brick wall.  Eventually I got bored enough that I announced that no further questions on the evocation of spirits would be put through. I still get two or three of them a week, but they go straight to whatever doom awaits deleted comments on Dreamwidth.

It’s always worth noticing when two groups who claim to be diametrically opposed to each other share a prejudice in common. Notice, for example, the way that fundamentalist Christians and rationalist atheists both condemn astrology. They have different ostensible reasons, to be sure, but the degree of detestation is much the same. Pay attention to the rhetoric and it’s not hard to see how many rationalist atheists are fundamentalist Christians in secular drag; in place of God, they’ve put Man the Conqueror of Nature at the summit of their universe, and demand blind faith in scientific theories rather than in Bible texts, but it’s the same basic attitude.

Rather too much common ground, all things considered.

There’s more common ground between the fundamentalists and the rationalists than this, to be sure, but that would take us far from the point I want to develop here. To many Christians, occultism by definition consists of trying to get favors out of the powers and principalities Paul of Tarsus denounced in the verse of Ephesians cited earlier. To a significant fraction of people who claim to practice magic these days—for the commenter/s on my Magic Monday posts is/are by no means alone in that obsession—the same belief holds. Neither of these groups seem to be able to grasp the possibility that magic can be anything else.

If you put some time into reading the literature of occultism, by contrast, you’ll find something very different. Turn the pages of the classic modern authors on magic, from Eliphas Lévi to Dion Fortune and beyond, and you’ll see that magic is understood as the art of developing and using powers that are innate to human beings, but that few of us get around to unfolding. These powers have nothing to do with spirits, evil or otherwise. They have to do instead with an aspect of the universe that most cultures treat as an ordinary part of reality and ours treats as nonexistent: the realm of the life force, or as Lévi and many of his successors called it, the astral light.

That adjective “astral” indicates, among other things, that what we’re talking about is the medium through which astrology gets its effects.  It isn’t energy in the sense used by physicists, but it seems to function more or less like an energy field; it surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together. (If you think there was one original idea in the lucrative franchise that George Lucas created and Disney is busy running into the ground just now, think again.)  When you feel what those of us in a certain generation used to call the “vibe” of a place or a person, that’s what you’re sensing; when acupuncturists or martial artists talk about qi, that’s what they’re discussing; what dissident scientists in the West over the last quarter millennium or so have called animal magnetism, od, vril, orgone, eloptic energy, morphogenetic fields—yes, it’s all the same thing. There’s nothing supernatural about it.  It’s just that for complex historical reasons, modern Western cultures are as dumb as a box of rocks on the subject.

“Have a seat, young Luke, and I’ll teach you everything your culture is too clueless to admit.”

Go back to the last great age of Western occultism, the Renaissance, and you’ll find the same concept covered in even greater detail. In those days, when magic was understood a good deal more thoroughly than it is today, learned occultists talked about influences from the heavens and effluvia from the earth, and used complex systems of astrological timing to choose the right moment when the influences they wanted were at their peak strength and could overcome the inertia of the terrestrial effluvia. Christian occultism—yes, there was and is such a thing—taught that all these influences descended from God and needed to be treated in a reverent, prayerful manner, with close attention to ethics; the branch of Renaissance occultism that drew inspiration instead from classical Paganism, by way of Platonism and the mystical tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, took much the same approach within a different religious symbolism.

Take another couple of great leaps backward, to the classical world itself, and once again you’ll find the same thing. Just as Renaissance occultists knew more about magic than their modern heirs do, ancient mages knew more than those who tried to reassemble their legacy in the Renaissance. The magoi of the ancient world had an even more complex and subtle analysis of the astral light than the one the mages of the Renaissance used; you can find it, if you’re interested, in the writings of Iamblichus of Chalcis and Proclus Diadochus, though you’ll have to review nearly a millennium of philosophical writings back to the time of Pythagoras to make much sense of their intricate worldview.

The goal of their disciplines was to become a theios aner or “divine man”—the word “divine,” remember, was used much more freely in those days, and didn’t imply any identity with a creator and sustainer of the cosmos.  The term meant a human being who had risen as far on the ladder of being as human souls can go without the direct intervention of the gods, and who therefore knew how to attune himself with the cascading currents of influence that descend from the divine sphere plane by plane to the lowly world of matter, and direct those influences at need.

C.S. Lewis. There’s a lot of occult philosophy in his planetary trilogy; the question is how it got there.

It’s one of the supreme ironies of modern occultism that the best single description of the magic of the ancient world can be found in the writings of the English-speaking world’s most famous Christian writer, C.S. Lewis. The chapter in question is in Lewis’s tremendous fantasy novel That Hideous Strength, and describes how two of the characters call down the influences of the five planets known in ancient times. Everyone I know who has worked with those influences and has read the book has commented on how accurate the description is. That’s led more than one author to speculate that Lewis may have dabbled far more deeply in occultism than he admitted to any of his biographers, but there’s another factor involved.

Lewis based the entire cosmology of his planetary trilogy on a remarkable medieval book, the Cosmographia of Bernardus Sylvestris, which was written around 1140 and became as close as the early Middle Ages had to a bestseller. Bernardus was an important figure in the twelfth-century revival of Platonism, the same movement that created the sacred geometry on which the Gothic cathedrals were built and made other dramatic discoveries in scholarship and science. He was no stranger to occultism, either; his later book Experimentarius describes a system of divination related to geomancy. He seems to have known his way around all the occult literature that had reached Western Europe in his time from the wreck of the ancient world. From that he wove a vision of reality that was at once devoutly Christian and wholly magical, in which the planetary intelligences—Oyarses, as he (and Lewis) called them—were at once the gods of the old Pagan faiths and angelic beings in the service of the Christian Trinity.

Bernardus didn’t mention the practice of spirit summoning. The ancient writers whose then-fragmentary works he used as raw material knew about it, and rolled their eyes; to them the people who went in for that, goetes in Greek, were a debased category of sorcerers who didn’t have what it took to pursue the true mageia, and wasted their time hobnobbing with ghosts and depraved spirits instead. The late Renaissance and early modern period also saw a revival of goetia, as it was by then called in Latin.  There was another surge of it in the wake of the late 19th century occult revival.  Now?  The last couple of decades have seen a flight to the same thing, even among people who should have known better.

It really is a bad idea.

There’s a reason for that. Whenever occultism breaks into popular culture, as happened in ancient times, in the Renaissance, in the twilight years of the 19th century, and in the second half of the 20th century, one thing you can count on is the appearance of a great many people who want to practice magic but aren’t willing to rise to the challenge of doing it right. As the fad peaks and crests, you’ll hear plenty of them insisting that there’s something wrong, that the magic they’ve done isn’t getting them the results they want, and so on. Then they go looking for something that will get them what they think they want.

The reasons for their failures are as varied as their personalities, and as the personalities of the eras in which they live. Nowadays, most of the people I know who’ve tried high magic, failed at it, and turned to spirit summoning either had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, and thought they could get the world to cater to their cravings, or shied away from the meditation, reflection, and pursuit of clear self-knowledge that form the backbone of the occult path.  Another share of the current spirit-summoning faddists got there by way of pop occultism of the Neopagan variety, once they discovered that there’s only so much you can do with rose petals and the full moon, and getting your heart’s desire is not included in that.

From an occult perspective, by the way, the disembodied entities such people summon are quite real. There are various theories about their origins in occult teachings, and various ways of categorizing them. Those that can be summoned and commanded by human beings range from blind and morally innocent forces down the scale to corrupt, depraved, and malicious entities who enjoy messing with us. Are there Oyarses and other spiritual beings who are wiser and more powerful than human beings? Of course, but we don’t have the power to summon them, and since human beings aren’t that important in the great scheme of things, most of them have little interest in us. Our task in incarnation is to master our own potentials for power and wisdom, not to cling to the apron strings of greater beings—but of course, humanity being what it is, this is one of those lessons we usually have to learn the hard way.

In the Western world, at least, the usual trajectory of a declining era of pop occultism thus leads straight to goetia, the practice of summoning depraved spiritual beings, and that in turn normally gives way after a little while to demonolatry, the practice of worshipping such beings. In last week’s post on Eliphas Lévi’s The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, I pointed out Lévi’s cautionary words about these practices—there were still some people dabbling in them in his time, as a hangover from an earlier revival of magic, though it was after his death in 1875 that the Decadent movement merged with the occult scene and France had the era of fashionable diabolism that J.-K. Huysmans chronicled in his famous novel Là-bas.

A classic, in its own way.

In a couple of earlier posts here, one five years ago and one six months ago, I also pointed out the next step in the progression, which isn’t the one that most people expect. A decade after Huysmans’s novel saw print, most of the people who’d been attending black masses in Paris and Brussels (the two hotbeds of the movement) had tearfully repented and returned to Catholicism. For that matter, those of my readers who are old enough will recall how many people in the hippie scene of the late 1960s briefly flirted with Satanic imagery, and then flipped the other way, bought copies of the Good News Bible, and became Jesus Freaks for a little while before bailing out on the counterculture entirely and returning to the square lifestyles they’d claimed they were giving up forever.  It’s an old and familiar story.

Thus I expect to see a very large number of people currently wallowing in goetia and demonolatry, or clinging to the last shreds of the waning Neopagan scene, converting to one or another flavor of Christianity in the years ahead. I also expect to see a significant number of the leftist activists currently protesting Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian minority comverting to Islam over the same time frame. I hope the churches and mosques have some notion of what they’re facing, because it’s going to be a messy process; a lot of the people in question have no idea how to behave in a respectable religious setting, after all.

Meanwhile a broader failure of nerve is affecting the United States as a whole, which made the same mistake on a much vaster scale in the early 20th century, turning its back on its own strengths and resources in order to bully other countries into giving it what it wanted. In the usual way, that was lucrative in the short term, disastrous in the long term, and here we are. What refuge our political classes will seek as the floor drops out from under them is an interesting question, in the sense of the apocryphal Chinese curse; whether it will do them any good is another question, and potentially a very messy one.

They’re practically Nazis already, if you believe the Guardian.

It’s indicative of the way things are going that the mainstream media is carrying articles insisting that getting fit and pursuing a healthy lifestyle puts you at risk of becoming an evil right-wing populist. One of history’s recurring features is that once a society is teetering toward collapse, its ruling classes treat anything that empowers the individual as a mortal threat. They’re not wrong to do so, since people who have learned to make their own choices and craft their own lives are generally unwilling to give blind obedience to a system that exploits and abuses them.

This is why magic is persecuted in so many declining civilizations, and opposed so harshly by every ideology that seeks to control and dominate people. Magic is the empowerment of the individual; once you achieve some self-knowledge and self-mastery and some control over your interactions with the astral light, you’re much less vulnerable to the kind of manipulation used by abusive societies, ours very much included. One lesson you can take from this is that when you hear somebody yelling about the evils of occultism, it’s a pretty fair bet that unless they’re just parroting something they read on a website, you’re listening to a would-be tyrant.

Despite it all, we’re still here.

I’m glad to say, however, that classic occultism seems to be weathering the current changes well so far. If anything, interest in it seems to have increased as pop-culture occultism has started sliding down the far side of its trajectory. It may simply be that the murky, muddled, angry quality that pervades so much of American life these days makes more people interested in finding ways to live a less deranged life. From ancient times right up to the present, the way of occultism has been an option for this; this is why it is a path that abides; what it can offer to America and the world in the aftermath of our disastrous imperial misadventure is an open question, but it seems fairly likely that at least in a small way, we may have the chance to find out.


  1. “cling to the apron strings of greater beings” I smile – that’s me! Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and all that. We may disagree on that, but I regularly recommend your books – The Ecotechnic Future, The Retro Future, and The Long Descent as predictions of a probable future – unless we are in the count down to the Second Coming. And yes, as my father would say – the USA is cruising for a bruising. After the fall of the Soviet Union the USA with its innate resources and favorable geographic position could have had a long ride as a powerful giant sized prosperous Switzerland in a peaceful multipolar world. Alas.

  2. “The remarkable success of populist parties in last week’s European Parliament elections is one measure of this”
    There’s been a very strong earthquake in the EU…Things are getting hard.

  3. “One of history’s recurring features is that once a society is teetering toward collapse, its ruling classes treat anything that empowers the individual as a mortal threat.”

    Have you seen the spate of recent articles claiming that backyard chickens will be the prime vector for the bird flu that will wipe out the poultry and beef industries?

    I don’t have the patience to enumerate all that’s wrong with that idea, but at the very least, someone ought to tell them that contrary to the internet memes, wild birds really do exist.

  4. “it’s not hard to see how many rationalist atheists are fundamentalist Christians in secular drag…”

    I’m sure you already know this, as you alluded to, but the rational atheist and the fundamentalist Christian are the same person. The whole fundamentalist movement started when Christians gave up on combatting the prejudices the scientific atheism, and decided the much more dubious tactic of saying, “You’re right, science is the sole arbiter of truth and knowledge, but guess what, buddy, the book of Genesis if a fully scientific account of how to create a world from scratch. I bet you didn’t know that did you?”
    I would actually argue that the fundamentalist Christian is a secular atheist in Christian drag. Either way.

    Huysmans is great. His book The Crowds of Lourdes is in every way opposed to the spirit of fundamentalism and very beautifully written.

  5. I’ve noticed that people who interact with a lot of spirits seem to get a mix of correct and deliberately incorrect information from them. By this I mean people who seem to be able to read people’s minds, but are actually listening to spirits who are actively feeding them information. I’ve only met a few in my life, but they all eventually developed mental health issues, became delusionally convinced of their self importance, and have a certain, fatigued look about them.

  6. “A decade after Huysmans’s novel saw print, most of the people who’d been attending black masses in Paris and Brussels (the two hotbeds of the movement) had tearfully repented and returned to Catholicism.”

    Well, John, you’ve surprised me with that fact. Maybe beliefs are very “elastic” and people too…I’d like to read that Huysmans novel.

  7. I’ve been contemplating something along these lines: how the cure for one bad and extreme idea can’t be another idea in an opposite direction and just as extreme. Our whole public establishments seem to be about these. Such extremes fail to come to grips with reality, to whatever extent that may be perceived and inferred, but rather cater to the failures of various kinds to deal with what is presented to one. It seems we are in an era of teeter-tottering as one Jenga block after another is pulled from the pile of the Empire of Progress. What abides is what always abides, but I’d have to say that the Fourfold Admonition is even more important now than in easier times: To Know; To Will; To Do; To Keep Silent. So it seems to me. And boy! are my dreams busy, busy, busy… Many thanks, JMG, for this forum and for those who frequent it in good faith.

  8. Hey John!
    this is a series of interrelated questions:
    1. What role does meditation, reflection, and self-knowledge/mastery play in interaction with the act of drawing down “astral light” or life force? In my mind’s eye, I see it as informing a kind of organized “internal geometry” where the energy can flow through more efficiently and to more virtuous ends.
    2. I am greatly interested primarily in topics such as “salvational” forms of magic, the Body of Light, and what the Christians call Theosis. How do these fit together and how might one make this the priority in their lives given the ways in which we live?
    3. What are some rituals, techniques, or traditions that you’d consider helpful in this regard?
    4. Any books come to mind whose major priority is in this vein?
    I don’t have much interest at all fooling around with summoning or attaining frivolous desires; from what I can intuit, this process of divinizing the human being and helping others to do the same is the ultimate task of being here.
    Thank you, any words you have to offer on these matter are greatly appreciated!

  9. “its ruling classes treat anything that empowers the individual as a mortal threat”

    You know the same ruling class is frequently frustrated by the pathologies and neurotic behavior that come from dis-empowering the populace and blame them for that as well.

    So if your going to be blamed either way you might as well look out for yourself and your family.

  10. “Notice, for example, the way that fundamentalist Christians and rationalist atheists both condemn astrology. They have different ostensible reasons, to be sure, but the degree of detestation is much the same. Pay attention to the rhetoric and it’s not hard to see how many rationalist atheists are fundamentalist Christians in secular drag;”

    You’ve described my brother who at one time took Catholicism to the extreme! I call him a born-again Athiest!

    But on a serious note, a great article describing the the extremes of the times. Thank you.

  11. I like this one.

    Mostly what I want out of trying to understand the in’s and outs of the occult is simply another source of information giving me hints of what to watch out for.

    Currently, the process is slow and the results mixed, opening the inner eye when it has been asleep for seventy some-odd years is not all that easy or successful. One thing is for certain, if some critter out of the unseen tries to talk to me, you can be certain that I will run the other way as fast as these old legs can carry me.

    I am thinking that clearer and more complete sensory input is all I need out of the process

  12. Thanks for a very thorough historical discussion of the subject of magic, which few of us knew! Personally, I have restricted myself to using my version of electional astrology to make choices in an online game, with good results…I am also a reiki master, but I don’t consider that magic…

    On the completely different subject of mundane astrology, it seems to me that the birth of the United States might better be dated from the battle at Lexington and Concord in 1775, followed by Bunker Hill, rather than the Convention in July 1776…The die was cast at that point, since the King wasn’t going to forgive the colonists for such insubordination..what do you think?

  13. I think the pattern with Satanists and it’s ilk is the fact that a few of them would contact and get embroiled with really bad Spirits who end up ruining their lives and even threatened to drag them to their horrific realm. At which point those who don’t get dragged there Spiritually are those who call out to Jesus.

    Who rescues them and forces those evil Spirits to leave in fear and pain. In which case the expected happens.

    Even those who experienced “Alien abductions” got that experience:

    In which victims of abduction by “Greys” had their activities forcibly stopped once the abductees called for help from Christ. Reacting with the usual fear and pain. Of course they are expected to pledge absolute fealty afterwards. That Miracle should be evidence enough.

    As for Prayer I did notice as I commented before that it is like “Magic”. But it must always be according to what the nature of God and his Will and what he wants to accomplish. As a servant petitions his Master.

    Also it’s inherently idiot-proof because of it’s inherently regulated nature. Even the simple minded can petition so long as he has “Faith” or believing loyalty and it would often be done.

  14. *Comment Possibly not for Posting* – I trust your judgment whether the following is worth putting through or not.

    Your description of “weirdly repetitive questions possibly from one person using a bevy of sock puppets” caught my attention.

    As you are aware, there is a twitter account that posts various excerpts of content from this and the dreamwidth blog. I couldn’t help but notice that a certain individual whose name rhymes with Shichael Smedges often posts snarky replies on that account; presumably because he is aware that JMG doesn’t run that account, and said individual came off rather like a petulant child the last time he waded into the comments on the dreamwidth blog. I’ve been tempted to engage on those posts by pointing out that if he disagrees with what JMG has to say, no one is forcing him to continue paying attention; but then again, if I disagree with him, why am I paying any attention?

    At any rate, I thought this might be a mildly interesting data point vis a vis your description of possible “sock puppet” comments you have encountered.

    Again, if even posting the above comment might, in your estimation, be “feeding the troll,” please delete at your discretion.

  15. Yes, it is quite amusing to just make a list of the things that make you a Nazi or white supremest or other political or woke hobgoblin. This is just off the top of my head:
    1) getting fit
    2) getting up early
    3) doing math
    4) growing a garden
    5) reading books
    6) being punctual
    7) being concerned with eating healthy food
    8) driving gasoline powered cars
    9) preserving food
    10 ) and on and on

    It does seem like this will end well

  16. Dear JMG,
    It feels as if you are reading my mind. Thank you for this timely essay that holds up a light to more clearly illuminate the path I am looking for. Just last night, I wrote this in my journal:

    There are demons who hate us, or just want to toy with us for their amusement. There are gods who love us, or who could grow to love us if we please them. It is an awful blow to the ego to accept this, but until we do, we won’t make progress. It is not terrible to understand that we can serve Love or we can serve Hate, but either way, we must serve. We are too puny to go it alone.

    The key dilemma is that, while help is available, we have to ask for it, and we can only connect to the Divine by our own efforts. As I recall, Jesus said something like: “you only come to God through me.” I take that to mean that the only way to connect with the Divine is by following the Golden Rule. I had always thought of myself as some sort of Celtic pagan, by heritage and affinity, but in recent years as the demonolatry of the elites becomes more self-evident, I have been looking for stronger medicine, and the Christianity of my childhood has come back to me. Christian morality seems to be the only force that can counter the demons, although that idea is quite scary given the history of the church and how they can turn that moral force into savage repression of true morality.

    My question for you is, while I have been dabbling in occultism for many years, and feel I understand how it can be a force for good for the individual, can you please explain how occultism relates to morality and the greater good for humanity? You said above:

    “Christian occultism—yes, there was and is such a thing—taught that all these influences descended from God and needed to be treated in a reverent, prayerful manner, with close attention to ethics; the branch of Renaissance occultism that drew inspiration instead from classical Paganism, by way of Platonism and the mystical tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum, took much the same approach within a different religious symbolism.”

    You say that Christian teachings include a “close attention to ethics,” but what about classical Paganism? My impression is that Paganism and Platonism do not have such a close attention to ethics, and I would like to know what they have to say about it. It is not clear to me. Is there a Pagan equivalent to the simple metric of Golden Rule as a measure of ethical behavior?

  17. As always i agree, but must look at this through the lens of evolution as (for better or worse) it serves as my way of approaching the world of humans.
    To take a evolutionary psychologist point of view. Group thought (religion, culture, ….) is an adaptive behavior since numbers help survival on almost all scales, some argue believing in gods is an adaptive trait but to me that does not track since there is no strong reproductive benefit to believing in gods. So likely it is a neutral trait which is why some people are god blind and some are not, yet everyone needs to belong (even ashiest and scientists have a belief system). Evolution does not seek truth but rather safety, also why our ego saves us from depression, yet ego is by definition an unreality (albeit very healthy).
    To bring it back to your topic I agree that as group thought becomes less advantageous as the empire collapses and becomes more parasitic, people will adapt to look inward and seek necessary truths. looking inward will lead to many traits like self reliance in food, fitness, and even spirituality. This inward thinking reminds me of the difference between object orientated intelligence, as opposed to social intelligence. Object orientated intelligence being the use of thoughts and objects to try and solve puzzles, and social intelligence the use of other peoples to solve problems. It actually takes quite of bit of intelligence to simply ask a question of a person, the brain has to understand what a person is and what that person may know. So while social intelligence is more complex and better for survival, it does not lead to truths. We are lucky as a species to be able to siphon off a portion of our giant social intelligence engine to think critically.
    This leads me to my final point. Your brain, and society, are not working to understand truth, they are working to survive. so for those of us that desperately need an answer to the big questions, through science or religion, both those clubs are just hijacking simple truths (nature observation, and the spiritual world respectively) and then building out a social club around it, and selling you answers while they are at it. Nothing wrong with social clubs, just be careful as a sure fire way to know you are being lied to is if a social club tells you its them or the highway. which is why Druidism is refreshing as it claims to know little and is inclusionary. one of my favorite JMG quotes to sum it up. “Ask 3 druids a question you will get 5 answers.”

  18. “ Thus I expect to see a very large number of people currently wallowing in goetia and demonolatry, or clinging to the last shreds of the waning Neopagan scene, converting to one or another flavor of Christianity in the years ahead.”

    Thank you! I’ve been saying this for years. Christianity is the end game of
    paganism. I bet a revival of magickal Christianity would do well.

    Possibly true for Islam too, but I don’t see that many people converting to Islam because Islam has no path to enlightenment – it’s all externally forced rules – which chafes anyone with an IQ over about 100. But we’ll see. The world has gone so feminine libertine that a hyper masculine rule set appeals to some people.

  19. BeardTree, er, do you believe that your god doesn’t want you to make every possible good use of the courage, self-control, and compassion he gave you? If so, you practice a kind of Christianity I haven’t encountered before.

    Chuaquin, I’ve been watching that process closely. It’ll be interesting to see what shoe drops next.

    Mark, yes, I’ve heard that. Once again, the corporate aristocracy’s running scared — once too many people get too much control over their own food supply, they’ll get uppity in other ways.

    Bonaventure, that’s an interesting perspective on fundamentalism and, to my mind, a useful one. As for Huysmans, that’s not one of his books that I’ve read, but I thought En Route was very good.

    Dennis, yep. On the one hand, the spirits that human beings can summon are either less intelligent than we are, or aren’t really subject to our control but like to play with us by pretending to be at our bidding — thus the information you can get from them is either clueless or manipulatively malicious. On the other, the spirits want something out of the bargain, and it generally amounts to a nice hefty serving of your life force. Either way, it’s not a good plan.

    Chuaquin, I’m not sure about other languages, but the English version can be downloaded for free here.

    Clarke, no argument there. I’m reminded of one of my teachers, who liked to phrase the four magical virtues a little differently: “to know, to dare, to will, and to shut the **** up.” It’s good advice for our times.

    Parker, (1) you can learn to draw on the astral light without meditative disciplines but it’s often a quick route to disaster, for reasons I discussed in this post. (2 and 3) That’s the primary focus of all of the better kind of operative occultism, so you’re in good company. (4) My book The Way of the Golden Section and its sequels are all about that; so are about half my other books on occultism, and a huge number of other books on occult traditions. (You might find Dion Fortune and her student Gareth Knight particularly worth your while in this regard.)

    GlassHammer, granted! We have a more than usually dysfunctional ruling class, equipped for the terminal crisis of industrial society with nothing better than a sense of entitlement inflated to absurd proportions and an utter inability to learn from their mistakes or take responsibility for the consequences of their idiotic actions. Connoisseurs of clueless hubris have a lot to relish just now.

    Llewna, I’m sorry to say I’ve met the type. You have my sympathy.

    Degringolade, to my mind there are other benefits, but a wary eye toward the utterances of the disembodied is always a good idea.

    Pyrrhus, in 1775 — even after the fighting began — many of the colonists simply wanted to get the British government to grant them the same rights Englishmen had at home. It wasn’t until the following year that it became clear that wasn’t an option, and the usual date is as good as marker as any.

    Info, that’s certainly one interpretation — and of course, from within your worldview, it’s doubtless the one that makes sense.

    Silco, too funny. Yes, that might explain some of the anonymous catcalls I delete from time to time. I’ve often thought that people like that, who just can’t stop obsessing about somebody who disagrees with them, are showing their own lack of confidence in their own beliefs.

    Clay, it makes perfect sense to me. What they’re trying to say is that if you have a normal, functional, healthy life, you’re a bad person — by some definitions of the word “bad.” If I was right in the earlier post of mine I cited, the radical left is busy preparing for a future as a stigmatized fringe group, and piling on the hate for normal, functional, healthy lifestyles is part of that.

    Seaweedy, classical Pagan thought distinguished between religion and ethics. There’s an extremely rich body of classical Pagan ethical thought, of course — Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, which is only one of many works in that tradition, is still arguably the most influential work of ethical philosophy in the history of the West — but they didn’t identify it with theology. The gods were held to expect people to uphold certain ethical principles, but it was also understood that the various virtues weren’t all compatible with one another — the virtue ethics outlined by Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue are very much in keeping with Pagan thought. Interestingly, though, the Neoplatonist writers who fused Greek philosophy with magic to create the first draft of Western occultism moved ethics back to the center of their discourse, and sensibly so; as I’ve commented repeatedly, ethics is as crucial in magic as sterile technique is in surgery, since the lack of either one makes things go septic.

    Alex, I suppose that’s one way to think of it. Myself, I think that the most parsimonious explanation for the fact that human beings throughout history and around the world have believed in the existence of gods is that gods exist, and can be contacted by human beings who are willing to engage in the necessary disciplines. As societies become complex, the practice of turning to the divine generally gets shoved aside and replaced by various social activities, much as you’ve outlined; lacking divine guidance, however, complex societies typically slam face first into the consequences of their own bad decisions, and go under. While that latter process is unfolding, a great many people recall the old practices of relating to gods and put those back to use, which is why the declining phase of a civilization is always the great seedtime of new religious traditions. The gods are there; they don’t force themselves on our attention, and so we can ignore them and go do stupid stuff if we want to — but they’re always there, and when the stupid stuff blows up in our faces, there’s always the option of turning back to them.

    Jason, you need to go learn something about Islam; it has a very rich mystical tradition. (A few web searches with the term “Sufism” will get you started.) The Muslim world was also full of universities making important scientific and scholarly discoveries when Europe was wallowing in the Dark Ages, so your snark about intelligence is embarrassingly naive. I expect a lot of people on the far left to turn to Islam, partly because the plight of Israel’s Palestinian minority has become a focus of left wing activism these days, and partly because becoming Muslim is a very good way to express your rejection of a Western society, and the far left is into that. For that matter, since the extreme end of feminism hasn’t worked out so well for many women, flipping to the opposite extreme will doubtless have its appeal to that demographic.

  20. Having followed you for over 15 years now, it’s quite amazing to see things follow the path you have been predicting, certainly the general shape of things to come. So, thank you.

    I tried to pursue a more ambitious path of occult inquiry about 10 years ago, but found the feelings and experiences it stirred up were just too strong for my rather sensitive disposition. In a comment exchange back on the old ADR you advised me to concentrate on simpler and quieter meditation practices, which have been great for me – most of my inner growth this lifetime seems to be revolving around inner balance and letting go of pain and trauma. Perhaps that’s clearing the decks for future incarnations – I guess some future expression of life will reap the benefits!

    What worries me most about what’s unfolding more broadly just now is how much pent up energy, stress and emotion is pressed down in people’s minds and bodies, all secured by faith in the system’s various pillars. I’ve been hoping the coming apart will progress gradually, to avoid too many out of control explosions, giving people time to adjust and adapt, including of course my own grown kids. So far it seems to be a fairly orderly descent, and a steady turning-away by believers in progress to a benign and tolerant form of Christian or any other religious practice would be a pretty good path. I’m not sure though that sufficient religious leadership is out there to wisely guide the faithful through the doors and gently into themselves. Left-leaning denominations are all aboard the progressive/social justice train and the right-leaning are still on the 1980s abundance forever line, or so it seems to me.

    Golly, what times we live in. Thanks again.

  21. Re: ” Is there a pagan equivalent to the simple metric of Golden Rule as a measure of ethical behavior?” Yes, there is, if you think things through: the mandate to “harm none.” Which, if today’s Wiccans and neo-pagans have ditched in favor of ill-wishing their political enemies, will get them exactly what Christians who ditch the Golden Rule in favor of ill-wishing their political enemies will get.”

    About the sudden flight back to religion and out again, I’ve mentioned my favorite comment by Martin Luther before: “The human race is like a drunken peasant trying to ride a horse. First they fall off on one side, get back on,and fall off on the other.”

    Plus my riff on him waking up in the stables with a hangover and and a bucket of cold water in the face and taking a beating as he’s dragged back to his house to the tine of an irate wife. These guys will assuredly get the headache, beating,and cold water, metaphorically, and end up back where they started if they’re lucky. {Luther mist have served or lived in a German village at one time; the metaphor is dead-on.]

    Thanks for this and for the reminder.

  22. This link showed up in my inbox this morning:

    and thus it seems the inevitable is coming to pass. I realize this is only tangentially related to this week’s topic, but offer it as yet another data point showing how cluelessness is accelerating the collapse of western society: there are serious flaws in the economics of relying this technology, so why is there such a push to implement it?

  23. I would contend your statement that human beings are not too important in the scheme of things. I would even say they are the most important, at least in potential, as we have the capacity to ultimately attain enlightenment, or as some would call it, union with the Divine. Our potential for greatness or great destruction is unique. Also, one can develop one’s potential to the utmost and still “cling” to a higher power or Master simultaneously. The trick of course is making sure your Master really is of the high variety. That takes a discernment that takes lifetimes to develop.

  24. When my friend the poet and Blake scholar, Kathleen Raine., discovered that CS Lewis was to be her doctoral supervisor on Blake, she was a touch alarmed at the prospect of this famous Christian apologist overseeing her work on Blake and esoteric tradition. She discovered instead a sympathetic and engaged scholar, much more radical than his image implied. His disciplined imagination I expect was not always of his professed opinion!

  25. Isn’t evoking spirits (at least, as usually practiced) like being at a crowded party and saying “who else is coming?” or “let’s call up [some celebrity] and see if they’ll come?” I’m no social extrovert but even I know that’s not likely to be appreciated by the company already present.

    When I want to situate myself in a place, familiar or new, I start by asking “who’s here?” Not making any demands, just expressing my willingness for myself and any other interested beings (including, of course, fleshly ones) to acknowledge one another’s presence. If I’m there to do ritual work or to alter the environment (e.g. yard work), I follow up with announcing my intentions. Technically that might be evocation of a sort, but I don’t equate it with the kind of evocation you’re talking about. As far as I know it’s never caused me any harm, and seems to smooth the way. Also as far as I can tell, debased spirits never respond to a cordial “who’s here?” In the absence of fear or exploitative intentions, perhaps they simply cannot.

  26. In the words of Negativland regarding some of this: Stand By For Failure.

    On a positive note, I hope some people will find their way over to the path that abides. The more people directing the astral light to more useful ends, the better. Also, it will help clean up some of that murk.

    Interesting days ahead!

  27. Oh, JMG the limits of a short text for communication. One of the titles for the Holy Spirit in Greek, spelled paraclete I think, means one called along your side to help, not your doer, but your help and strengthener as you aim for the best expressing the desire of your heart to do what is right and then acting on it day by day “ in my inmost being I delight in the law of God” verse from the NT – the summary of the law being love God and love your neighbor. “In quietness and trust is your strength” “ the Lord gives strength to his people”

  28. “there’s only so much you can do with rose petals and the full moon”

    I can picture the type you discuss, waiting for spirits to do their biding like this:

    On a related note, something of the sort happened to me this past week. I have no idea why some people find my stance against cursing and demonolatry insulting, when I don’t even say it to them; argue with them; or preach about it, but rather say it to someone that is asking _me_, but it happens every once in a while. Long story short, someone got in the middle of the conversation I was having with another person that had asked me about the occult and the fears he had –that went well. However, I got a couple messages from someone else insisting that demons were this magnificent beings and I was spreading lies and keeping the truth from the people and that if I kept insulting him (?) I would pay for it. So he decided to send a curse my way. It wasn’t hard to find what he was going to do, he had splashed it all over his social media profile –some cheap curse involving a candle, “powerful beings”, tons of melodrama and misspelled Latin. So I ignored it, did a tarot reading to get a view of the situation, put a red amulet under my pillow and banished an extra time for a few days. What happened next? When such spirits failed to go and harass me and his magic backfired, in the same discussion group, I see the same person a few days later asking for how to protect themselves from attack (his own blowback I assume) and get rid of entities pestering him, which he probably called by name…

    I guess even the sight of the idea of being responsible for your own progress and it being hard work really does trigger some people into showing their true colors, and land on a self-inflicted mess.

  29. Greetings, JMG and commentariat.

    I am not sure I am on this path that abides, but I’m doing the practice regularly. I am not intentionally practicing any magic (lengthy rituals followed by the right outcomes), I think. But I feel that just following the practices is sheltering me from malign influences.

    I’ve let myself know what my will is, and while I’m following it, all obstacles seem to remove by themselves. Sometimes I have to remind me that I am not in this job for the money, but for the effects on the environment and on my soul. The money is a subproduct. And it works.

    Maybe I don’t yield the powers of a true mage, but my life has improved by miles. I miss having the time for reading occult texts (I need to study subjects for my job now). It’s not just the knowledge I acquired, but the skills. It felt like training the mind for something practical and useful without knowing.

    Among other things, my mother, a proffesional witch, has no longer a grip on my behaviour.

    About evoking small spirits to be commanded, why, that seems trying to get what you want without knowing your will. A bad idea.

  30. Mark D, I’m glad to hear that’s working out for you! As for your concern, it’s one I share. Too many people have staked their whole sense of their identity on the fantasy of perpetual progress, and not all of them are dealing well with the collapse of that fantasy.

    Patricia M, I think he grew up in one!

    Old Steve, it’s not entirely off topic by any means. Electric vehicles, like solar PV panels and wind turbines, haven’t been deployed for practical reasons; anyone who’s taken a hard look at the numbers knows that they simply won’t work. They’ve been embraced as talismans of the great god Progress, who will surely — if we only have faith! — give us the flying-car future that’s been promised in his name for all these years.

    Dennis, that’s one of the differences between your tradition and mine. From within the teachings I follow, every being of every kind whatsoever is capable of some form of enlightenment, which leads to the next stage of its spiritual evolution; a plant attains enlightenment when it experiences itself as an individual being, and is reborn as an animal; an animal attains enlightenment when it becomes able to think about its own thoughts, and is reborn as a human (or one of the handful of other living things, such as porpoises, which share this capacity); a human attains enlightenment when — well, our language doesn’t have adequate words for this, so I’ll leave the definition aside, but we proceed to the next stage of our journey. Beings as far beyond us as we are beyond blue-green algae have their own enlightenment to seek. Thus we human beings are anything but unique; we occupy an important place in the great chain of being, but then so do gods and blue-green algae.

    Nicholas, thank you for this — I didn’t know that about Raine! Lewis was a much subtler thinker than his volumes of Christian apologetics make him look; his adult fiction, and that astonishing poem of his, “Cliché Came Out Of Its Cage,” show that clearly enough.

    Walt, no, that’s not evocation — it’s simple acknowledgement. (I could as well have said simple common sense.) I like your party metaphor! But evocation as usually practiced is worse than that, because you’re not just wanting someone to come to the party; you want to call up the celebrity and try to flatter or bully him into doing you favors. It’s not a good idea.

    Justin, here’s hoping.

    BeardTree, of course. I simply wanted to clarify what I was saying, since there was apparently some misunderstanding.

    Augusto, I hope the poor schmuck learns his lesson.

    Abraham, magic is only one of the tools of operative occultism, and it’s not necessarily suited to everyone — in fact, to my mind it’s best suited to a fairly modest number of people, while the broader body of occult practice has a much wider applicability. It’s to that broader path that I was referring.

  31. By the way: “…the verse of Galatians cited earlier” was a verse of Ephesians. Galatians 5 does list “sorcery” (in most translations; “witchcraft” in the KJV) among a list of sins.

  32. Quote from another blog, part of a discussion on the reinstatement of the draft;

    “The current social reality is that the young men who would make the best soldiers – already fit, motivated, and self-controlled – are precisely the cohort that most loathes the regime, for the regime has for their entire lives taken every opportunity to tell them how much it loathes them. Forcing them to fight on its behalf is not going to endear it to them. Putting weapons in the hands of people who despise you and then teaching them to use those weapons at a professional level might be … not the best idea.

    The House has approved bringing back the draft but only for men. The Senate is considering a bill to draft men and woman. Equal rights requires equal responsibility, does it not?

    My last tour in the Navy was on the USS Acadia. You can look it up on Wikipedia to see what happened when a bunch of women were dragged across the ocean against their will. The Navy was so embarrassed that they later took the ship out and shot it. Literally.

  33. @ Clay Dennis re #15

    Wow, I’m a Nazi/supremist/hobgoblin and never even knew it! Actually, I’m pretty weak on #3 so I use a calculator. I hope that doesn’t disqualify me from the total rotter list.


  34. This week’s post reminds me of why I read your column regularly. It’s not because I fully share your views – I don’t. That’s part of the reason I read your posts, they challenge conventional thinking and that’s a good thing. I also enjoy well thought out discussions, if only for aesthetic reasons. Deep down, my personal journey involves taking the advice of Bill Wilson who recommended to those of us who needed his advice to see where men of religion are right; I include Archdruids in that category.

    Thank you for your insights

  35. “One of history’s recurring features is that once a society is teetering toward collapse, its ruling classes treat anything that empowers the individual as a mortal threat.”

    See also gun control. The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for you non-Americans) has been losing court cases because they decided to extend the laws approved by Congress in creative ways.

    In related news this started some time ago and just popped into the sunlight. Our tax dollars at work!

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
    Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook

    Here is the abstract from the study, bold added. From


    In this study, we formally examine the association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership in America. The primary hypothesis, derived from the psychosexual theory of gun ownership, asserts that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises will be more likely to personally own guns. To test this hypothesis, we used data collected from the 2023 Masculinity, Sexual Health, and Politics (MSHAP) survey, a national probability sample of 1,840 men, and regression analyses to model personal gun ownership as a function of penis size dissatisfaction, experiences with penis enlargement, social desirability, masculinity, body mass, mental health, and a range of sociodemographic characteristics. We find that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises are less likely to personally own guns across outcomes, including any gun ownership, military-style rifle ownership, and total number of guns owned. The inverse association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership is linear; however, the association is weakest among men ages 60 and older. With these findings in mind, we failed to observe any differences in personal gun ownership between men who have and have not attempted penis enlargement. To our knowledge, this is the first study to formally examine the association between penis size and personal gun ownership in America. Our findings fail to support the psychosexual theory of gun ownership. Alternative theories are posited for the apparent inverse association between penis size dissatisfaction and personal gun ownership, including higher levels of testosterone and constructionist explanations.”

    If I remember my logical fallacies they were trying to poison the well, but failed rather badly.

  36. JMG,

    It’s possible that our society kept those dysfunctional minds bottled up to some degree and made limited use of them. But now the reason to contain them is gone (damage has already been done) and they can’t be harnessed (they are terribly dysfunctional at this point).

    Sure some are emerging as political actors for the public to play with but that just shows that society doesn’t value political office much.

  37. I seem to have come across as insulting. That wasn’t intentional. I’ve actually studied some Sufism. A lot of Muslims don’t consider Sufism to be Islam at all, and I don’t quite either.

    “Your snark about intelligence is embarrassingly naive.” I understand why you thought that. I see intellgence differences between groups and within the same group over time as a fact of life, not as a way to one up anyone or anything. But a lot of people get riled up about it, so after this post I won’t mention it again here. But I will say that Muslim contributions to the world mostly dried up after their golden age, and the fact that the Muslim world was the top Western intellectual center 1,000 years ago isn’t any reflection of their intellectual power today.

    I also stand by a more general version of my idea that the more intelligent the individual, the more hard and fast rules chafe, whether it’s religion, social mores, military protocol, or any other system. The rules keep the less clever from causing problems for the society or ruining their own lives, but the more clever tend to figure out the purpose of the rules and try to minimize the harm the rule was designed to prevent. “Rules are for the blind obedience of fools but the guidance of wise men” is their mindset. Islam does not tolerate that flexibility.

    “becoming Muslim is a very good way to express your rejection of a Western society” You nailed it!

  38. A recent and, I think, very pertinent discussion between Bret Weinstein (atheist and scientist) and Russell Brand, just after Brand’s recent Baptism into Christianity.

    I continue to be amused that “scientists” think evolution, or even physics, explains the self-referential absurdities of Universe, with us in it, without any need for a higher level “miracle”…which might as well be called “God”.

    Brand, and Weinstein, seem agree that people who believe in “Government” actually DO believe in God — just a rather malefic and inept one.

  39. “an animal attains enlightenment when it becomes able to think about its own thoughts, and is reborn as a human (or one of the handful of other living things, such as porpoises, which share this capacity)….”

    The summer solstice lesson in the OPW for the fourth day of the week of the solstice (ie today) attributes the fire element to the “realm of reflective consciousness” on the mental plane. Sounds quite like animal enlightenment.

    I don’t have much to say about today’s post as a whole, so I’ll “shut the **** up.”

  40. Extend….. Pretend….. Distract…
    That is the new holy trinity that the western power structure is using to maintain its power.

    And for me it is a clear sign that Industrial Civilization’s ecological overshoot is at its critical inflection point

    Tim Morgan over at Surplus Energy Economics sees Extend Pretend and Distract as the official policy of the powers that be in the west.

    Tom Murphy has a series of posts about the coming population decline
    Which is a quantitative analysis of JMG qualitative thesis that we are near peak human population.

    Peak net energy is here now
    Peak population is not far away
    Capitalism as a system is over ( i know that sounds weird … but without growth capitalism doesn’t work. Markets might still work. )

    So a hell of a lot energy is being put into Pretend, Extend and Distract and it seems to still be working but….
    In the Land of the Willfully Blind those who are willing to see the world as it is have an enormous long term advantage.
    Eventually i expect a new economic / political system that recognizes the limitations and opportunities of this new reality to come to the fore maybe in the 2030’s.

  41. Hi JMG, another fine post from an “alternative belief system” perspective. While I’m left in the dust on interfacing with the astral light (being an agnostic and materialist), I’m always impressed by your logical train of thought and consistency when explaining history and culture from the occult point of view.

    One of the most important takeaways I’ve had from your posts for the last 18 years or so is related to the dangers of binary thinking. Seems to cause many problems. That, and of course the rather unimportance of humans, which is a view I already shared. I’m near your age, and remember clearly when during the Reagan years we were called “the Me generation”. That term seemed to die out pretty quickly, and now it’s apparent it fell out of use because it no longer discriminated between age groups – almost everyone is in a Me generation these days.

    There also seems to be a delicate balance between the administration/teaching side of various faiths, and the practice of them by – dare I say – the common folks. The second religiosity, as I understand it, will be a big part of the continuing decline, and one in which I can only act as a traffic cop….

  42. Hi JMG,

    Without naming names, I have for years now practiced with an American occult Fraternity that claims it’s spiritual and magical practices can be traced to the mystery traditions of ancient Egypt. I’m wondering if your understanding of magic agrees with their system: to which I’m now in the early stages of being granted access. I ask your two cents because I am having some doubts about continuing with their practices, and hold your opinions in extremely high regard. The details I will discuss are part of the Fraternity’s publicly published materials, so I am not revealing any internal secrets or practices here.

    With regard to “Astral Light”–my Fraternity does incorporate a similar concept, and their central claim about the use of this force is that it is absorbed by the act of breathing, and that sufficient spiritual growth combined with correct, focused breathing methods allow the practitioner to store a reserve of this force for future use. They teach that all humans, simply by the necessary act of breathing, take in this force but normally fail to retain it, or at least retain enough of it for the employment of what we might call “miraculous” or “supernatural” effects.

    With regard to summoning–the invocation and command of beings called “Elementals”, which fall into one of four categories (water, air, earth, and fire) is also important in their system. These spiritual beings are neither gods nor disembodied humans, nor depraved tricksters. Instead, they are regarded as primal intelligences, native to the Earth, who are eager and willing to serve any worthy human who can invoke them. Though sentient and long-lived, they do no possess Souls, and are destined for annihilation (their consciousness turning into oblivion) unless they can obtain a Soul by having sex with a human who has attained, in the traditional occult sense, “Initiation”.

    I am concerned that the practice that I am now being taught, this invocation and attempted command of “Elementals”, would fall into the category of goetia, as you’ve defined today’s post.

    Thank you!

  43. I am still a bit irritated by the fact, but I do wish he does. I’m pretty sure the good wish I sent was rejected, however, so it might take a while as he seems to like it that way. I am sorry to say he is part of a whole, well funded school based of NYC. They charge $1000 for the basic course!

    Let me put another thank you to you, because 5 years ago this would’ve scared the hell out of me, and even though I am still putting myself together from an unusually emotionally exhausting childhood after a lot of scrambling, in order to tread the path steadily, I can see myself stronger, tempered and more balanced from the basic three practices and a little more once in a while. The method and teachings you put out are really solid stuff, and I am grateful for that. The Celtic Golden Dawn still awaits for me to be done properly, but meanwhile I am doing the OSA again, this time with a friend, and you might be happy to know that while I was thinking about the next lesson my eyes caught from a bottle the sentence “Cuts through grease and grime!” It does.

  44. Another great and timely piece. For social reasons I’m heading to a midsummer celebration, where I’ll be surrounded by folks naive regarding magic, druidism, paganism, astrology – at least by the standards of this blog. Meanwhile I’m far from an expert myself. My own goals for the solstice relate to the great work in the context of the turning year, and I’m hoping for tips on benefiting from the energy of this informal chain. I hope also, of course, to turn it to the benefit of everyone there as much as one far-from-adept can, and any advice would be appreciated. I’m sure other readers here will find themselves in a similar situation. All the relevant portions of your work that I own appear (though I may just be mistaken in that) to presume a practitioner who is in control of his own context (grove or otherwise), not one who is a guest at a large but unfocused energetic event. I’ve been preparing for the solstice since Beltane, but feel in need of additional direction.

    Thanks much.

  45. I really like your writing even though I don’t understand some of the occultism. I am really interested in what the Christians would call magic and witches, the healers in rural life who are more like Granny Weatherwax or Nanny Ogg in Terry Pratchett’s work. In a world when there is no high-tech solutions nor complex drugs, we will need wise people who combined ‘headology’ with a knowledge of people and herbs to help people for a damn sight less money than the medical industry charges today.
    Thank you,

  46. JMG,
    Excellent essay. As with most of what you write, it makes a great deal of sense to me – rings true. Though, for those who are daft and thick-headed, such as yours truly, it can take quite a long time for this wisdom to sink in, to be understood and internalized. Especially, considering all the distracting muck and baloney one must contend with here in late stage western industrial civ. It is challenging, but one muddles as best as one can.

    Regarding encounters and evocations with non-corporeal beings, I work with a group of beings, but mainly one being in particular, and that involves mostly listening. I might ask for some particular feedback, but usually the response is something along the lines of “what did I tell you before?” or a “that is not for you to know,” … or “you already know this, just follow up.” And, also, one of the other beings in this group just laughs at me, lovingly, but she seems to be amused by my, um … worried antics.

    Regarding the realm of the life force or astral light, based upon your past writings, I thought that the life force involved the etheric plane. However, astral light seems to suggest astral plane. I must be misconstruing (see 1st paragraph). If you could provide some clarification, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks as always.

  47. “Empires are self-terminating phenomena; they always set changes in motion that undercut their own power …”

    Just as fields full of annuals set changes in motion that encourage perennial herbs to take root and eventually reduce the population of annuals to a small fraction of its height. I know you’ve made this point often in your books, but I think it’s worth highlighting it. The process that’s going on in our empire, in other words, could not have been halted at any earlier stage, absent some other process that could have re-set it, any more than the field of annuals could have done anything but change the conditions for the perennials to move in and undercut the annuals.

    I’m very grateful for all of the work you’ve done to bring the knowledge and tools of occultism to people like me who would have otherwise not known about them. Not that the process of applying them has been easy, but it has been of the greatest worth to me. I know how lost I would be and how little use I would be to any beings at this stage of collapse had I not taken up the challenge of the Dolmen Arch course nine years ago. As it is now, I’m reasonably calm and clearheaded, and I think I can say that in some small ways at least I’m having a beneficial influence on other beings.

    @ Clay Dennis #15: I’m doing all of those things! It’s fun to subvert the dominant paradigm!

  48. JMG, you bring up Trolls. I have often puzzled about them. Are most of them paid? or do they do it for their own amusement or to push a personal agenda? If they are paid, does Soros ( or whoever) run adds in the paper, or on Facebook advertising Troll positions?
    I imagine running in to a stranger a the local brewpub and asking them what they do. They reply, ” I am a professional internet troll. Every morning I wake up and my handlers send me a set of websites and talking points to push and away I go. Every so often I attend Troll conventions at Disneyland where we learn the latest trolling schemes and such. Then we all retire for Karaoke.
    Perhaps the real collapse of the empire happens when we reach the point when more people are employed as Trolls than an Auto Workers or Farmers and we really are only held up by Hot Air.

  49. I was going to say fundie Christians have turned into rationalist atheists with their serial numbers scratched off but Bonadventure beat me to the punch: great minds think alike LOL. I recently wrote an article about hexing and how I deflect it when someone consciously or unconsciously throws a hex at me — As per Augusto’s comment, I believe the would-be warlock who threw the hex (and then advertised it online!) did the astral equivalent of painting “free energy buffet” on himself.

    Nasty creatures from the lower love free energy buffets and so do demons. This is why throwing hatred at anyone is a dumb idea: hatred is a fine and normal thing to have, but keep it on a short leash. Infestation is a common outcome and the guy can pretty much count on getting hagged and Shadow-manned in his dreams for the foreseeable future if he keeps throwing the same sorts of hexes. No wonder the collective astral is such a hot red mess.

    I recently fielded some nasty energy from a desperately insecure person who likely only thought “I hate her!!!” with no true knowledge of what she was doing. I made my energy unlike hers by refusing to hate her back (or even care that she existed) and my divinations indicate she too ended up painting a “free energy buffet” sign on herself and her family. That’s the problem with throwing foul energy — it’s like a grenade, and it will both blow back and if it actually hits, it will land on innocent parties you did not intend to hurt as collateral damage. And that is why I don’t throw foul energy around anymore.

  50. Siliconguy, the thing that our current ruling elite can’t grasp is that people outside their class really do have minds and opinions of their own — they’re not just passive lumps that can be told what to believe and will follow it robotically. That’s the ultimate consequence of Edward Bernays’ self-promotion — the ruling class has hypnotized itself into believing in its own omnipotence. Once that happens, doom follows inevitably. Were you on the famous “Love Boat” mission, btw?

    Raymond, you’re most welcome and I’m glad you find my posts useful!

    Siliconguy, I heard about that, and chuckled.

    GlassHammer, maybe we can find a sheltered workshop or something for them.

    Jason, yes, you came across as very insulting — enough so that I seriously considered deleting your comment. Please be more polite in the future.

    Gnat, thanks for this.

    Phutatorius, good. Remember that humanity is a transitional state…

    Dobbs, and what a confession of total elite incompetence that is! If all they can do to help our society through a major crisis is squirt some squid ink out of the nearest available orifice — which is of course what this amounts to — they’ve just shown everybody that they have nothing useful to contribute.

    Drhooves, thank you! As the second religiosity picks up speed, it will provide frameworks around which a great deal of social reorganization can take place; that’ll attract hierarchies, of course, but those will lose a lot of their grip as decline proceeds.

    Balowulf, I’m pretty sure I know which order you belong to, for what it’s worth; what you’ve mentioned is enough to identify it fairly clearly. Concentrating the life force through breathing exercises is a solid and useful practice. Commanding elementals — well, it’s not goetia, but it needs to be handled with some care so that it doesn’t entangle you more deeply in the material world. In your place, if the teachings are generally valuable, I’d go ahead and talk to the elementals but be very careful about asking them to get things for you.

    Augusto, it’s a matter of common knowledge among old-fashioned occultists that the more a school charges for instruction, the less useful the instruction generally is. If this guy’s attempted curse bounced off you when you did only some very simple protective work, that’s a sign that the old adage is still quite true. I like the slogan for the OSA work!

    Leo, the best thing to do in that case is to pray to the deity or deities you revere, and ask him, her, or them to take care of the matter. They’re much better at this sort of thing that we are.

    Bill, in Appalachia back in the day (and quite possibly still today) they were called “granny women,” in African-American rural culture they’re “root doctors” or “hoodoos.” They exist in every traditional society and we’re about due for a new round of them, now that herbal medicine has been dropped like a hot rock by the liberal avant-garde and a lot of Christians are turning to “God’s medicine.”

    Will1000, I used Eliphas Lévi’s term for the life force, and he didn’t differentiate adequately between the astral and etheric planes. There are other ways of talking about it that don’t involve that difficulty, but I figured Lévi’s term would communicate best to people who don’t have the background to follow the more exact terms.

    SLClaire, exactly! I wondered when I wrote that whether anyone else would catch the reference to ecological succession. You’re welcome, by the way, and thank you.

    Clay, some trolls are unquestionably paid. Others are freelance. I suspect most of the drive-by types belong to the latter category, since they’re so ineffective. Most paid trolls have extensive scripts provided by their employers, and they’re harder to shake off.

    Kimberly, thanks for this. One of the reasons I’ve taken to absorbing and reusing the energy that gets thrown at me is that it’s kinder for the people involved. Granted, it also gives me a bunch of free energy to use as I see fit!

  51. JMG,

    Hard to say if those minds are even interested in a creative endeavor.
    Most seem to simply enjoy deconstruction and have habits to match what they enjoy.

    The most dysfunctional and self destructive people rarely stay integrated into a family, a job, a community, a church, or a town for very long.

    What to do with so many opposed to integrating within and working for a community is going to be the question of the next decade.

  52. >Putting weapons in the hands of people who despise you and then teaching them to use those weapons at a professional level might be … not the best idea.

    Also see: Fragging (Vietnam). I claim it was that, that actually ended the war, not all those protests. Once the rank and file figured out they didn’t have to put up with the B.S., it all came to an end and rather quick.

    >My last tour in the Navy was on the USS Acadia. You can look it up on Wikipedia to see what happened when a bunch of women were dragged across the ocean against their will

    There was a series of 4chan posts about a certain female astronaut and her rather – poopy – habits aboard the ISS. She was not happy being up in space and wanted back down and wasn’t going to take “maybe later” for an answer. The Russians got involved and I think they have a standing arrest warrant out for her, although like a lot of interesting things that happen these days, it has been blacked out by the MSM. In any case, all it took was one woman to make a difference. The wrong woman in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world…

  53. >turning its back on its own strengths and resources in order to bully other countries into giving it what it wanted. In the usual way, that was lucrative in the short term, disastrous in the long term, and here we are

    That’s why some cultures had strong taboos about slavery. Because it doesn’t just enslave the slave, it also enslaves the master as well.

  54. JMG, you’re right that some colonists still had hopes of a rapprochement with England, but Ben Franklin and others had spent much of two years in London attempting to get the Crown to acknowledge American rights, at least to the extent that would avoid war…And Franklin had been snubbed and humiliated, rather than listened to…He returned to America quite depressed and convinced that England would never compromise, pretty much knowing that war was inevitable…

  55. Some early adopters of Islam as converts include Cat Stevens and the late Sinead O’Connor.

    Do you think in the U.S. we might get some kind of home-grown Shinto that isn’t Shinto? It’s been brought up here before, the influence of Manga and Anime, starting with some Gen X, but really picking up speed in the Millenials and their successors. A lot of these kids are learning about spirits, ghosts, etc. from a Japanese entertainment lens. How that influence might affect them is interesting to speculate on, especially the ones who have no other religion to speak of. i.e. kids watching this stuff in secular households. As the reenchantment and reweirding of America unfolds things, might get, er, weird. But I like weird.

  56. There is some trouble in Chalice Well Glastonbury – a goddess statue was deemed to be verboten as it was a copy of Madonna and Child by Eric Gill, who was a sex offender. The trustees decided to remove all statues, including an angel and gaia statue too. They said ‘nature is enough’. There was an outcry and the trustees decided to put back the statues only the Madonna had to be put in a field out of the main view in case any SA victims were triggered. Bear in mind the statue was there for decades but now had suddenly become problematic and it was not made by the sex offender, long deceased.

    To me it exemplifies the ruling elite who are disastrously out of touch but think they know best all the same and don’t bother consulting the unwashed masses who use Chalice Well and pay for it too. It’s also another example of woke ethics being imposed and backfiring. It also shows that iconoclasts that want to strip out the sacred are on borrowed time – there is a second religiosity coming in that the elite haven’t factored in. I can’t help feel it’s indicative of something bigger going on culturally, even if Glastonbury is a bit weird.

  57. >its ruling classes treat anything that empowers the individual as a mortal threat

    I would say that the people (are they people?) in charge value interdependence. Everything must be interdependent on everything else. Why? I think initially it was because interdependence would ensure peace, but after a while, it became a virtue in its own right. And they forgot the original reasons why they valued it. Or that anything taken too far becomes, how do the Brits put it? Doo-lally?

    So anyone declaring independence in any sort of way, they are perceived as threats. Whether they really are or not. And like a lot of things with that crowd, it’s all instinctual, there’s really no thought behind most of what they do.

    So July 4th is coming up soon. And don’t forget January 4 either – Interdependence Day. I wonder how you celebrate 1/4? I haven’t figured that out yet.

  58. The first step to becoming good at anything is realizing that you suck. This is an obstacle for a lot of people. The second step is continuing to practice despite the fact that you suck, which is another obstacle.

    No doubt the promise of an easy ride on a more powerful being is attractive, but it is also reinforced by a lot of social messaging these days. The Marvel and Star Wars movies are all about the common people waiting around to be rescued by the Special People. Politics today is about voting for the correct people to rule us. Consumerism is about buying solutions for your problems rather than making them. The cult of expertise is about getting in someone more qualified than you, rather than becoming that person yourself.

  59. This is another interesting article, and it brings up topics that I have found relevant in my personal development. I have been trained in molecular biology, and worked in scientific or science-adjacent endevours for some 15 years, therefore I have some understanding of and a great respect for science. However, I see limitations to what science can accomplish. For example, we are not going to be able to genetically engineer ourselves into photosynthesising creatures who would live on air and sunshine as one of my university professors used to predict (hopefully as a joke). Just understanding basic science makes one aware that Technoutopia is not possible, and in my experience it is those with least scientific knowledge who tend to idolise science the most, and expect it to provide in the here and now what religions typically promise for the afterlife or the end times.

    Regarding the similarities between a certain type of “rational” atheist (a proponent of what used to be called New Atheism, but which got old quite quickly) and a Christian fundamentalist – it is now generally recognised that this particular strand of atheism derives most of its worldview from Christianity. British philosopher John Gray went so far as to describe New Atheism as a Christian heresy. Denying the devine inspiration behind the rational atheist ideology was therefore akin to sawing off the branch on which one was sitting, which probably explains why the movement has slided into irrelevance.

    I am intrigued by the assertion in the article that there are complex historical reasons behind the inability of Western science to recognise the life force underpinning the Universe. That is undoubtedly true, but why? I had experience convincing me that qi is real, and, as stated in the article, there was nothing supernatural about it. I would think that anyone interested in the matter would be able to objectively verify the existence of qi for themselves, but this is clearly not happening. What is the reason behind the inability of Western science to incorporate what appears to me to be a fundamental acpect of existence? Thanks.

  60. Just to go on the record, “Math is racist” will lead to a nuclear reactor shutting down abnormally. As sure as night follows day. This is prophecy of the sort that doesn’t involve anything other than logic and – math.

    I’m guessing a military nuclear reactor will be the first to go boom. They have less safety tolerances, more corners were cut when designing them and they must be managed much more tightly.

    Be careful the things you believe in. They just might come true.

  61. >The inverse association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership is linear

    I know, I know, all they were doing is running their data through some curve fitting programs, but still, I find this turn of phrase to be surreal and funny at the same time. That you can quantify dissatisfaction at all, much less about the size of human genitalia. What units do you measure dissatisfaction in?

    Someone should run some correlation between dissatisfaction of breast size and gun ownership of women and tell us whether that correlation is linear too…

  62. Yes. I noteThe invocation of a spirit in Book of Haatan by Dr. Moravec and Ariel was handled as carefully as a delicate and dangerous surgical operation, and with as much attention to, shall I say, magical disinfectants. “Children, do NOT try this at home.” But she’s 18 and he’s in his 70s, but very vigorous.

    Endgame here: the longer I go on, the simpler my practices become. Magic is not for me, mine is the Way of the Bookworm, but learning patience and acceptance has now come into prominence, and realizing that there is no One True Way for everyone. [The latter is also the creed of the central culture in the Mercedes Lackey novels you once called “My Little Pony,” all honor to them for that much indeed. IMHO it’s a lesson our polarized nation needs like a dose of emetic after swallowing poison. ] And “I will not tell other people what to do, or even what they should do. That’s their business and not mine.”

    This being Solstice Week, I’m doing the Handbook affirmations, with good results, and will make a note in my datebook to do the same for the other cardinal points. Small stuff. And as I go on, I find that when Inner Voice/intuition tells me something and I heed it, things work out well, which is a sign that this is indeed some sort of Higher Power, and thank Minerva for it.

    Last night at my grandson’s birthday party, found myself feeling protective towards my bossy, opinionated, overworrked daughter, with the need to go easy on her instead of my usual feeling under the gun. It made for a much happier evening. It feels like a major advance in the journey.

    Oh – OT: but re: cluelessness, the Wall Street Jungle predicted a gas glut in the coming year. And someone here in The Village is going to give a talk on “future vacations in space.” I’m staying out of that one, too.

  63. Kimberly,
    I agree with you. I think that for them to go and curse people they have to they descend themselves into that state of mindless anger, and since they have imprinted that energy in their aura, as you say, it is like a lily white upper class teenager just walked into a sketchy neighborhood half naked in tiny shorts and a top, trying to rebel against their parents by playing tough. They just get eaten alive.

    When I make it through the Druid Grade, I am going to ask you about how to do that.

  64. “….the murky, muddled, angry quality that pervades so much of American life these days makes more people interested in finding ways to live a less deranged life.” So true, and hits home. This is the first work of yours I’ve read that didn’t primarily deal with my favorite “collapse now” topics. I’m glad I read it, if only for that zinger. I’ve been meaning to dip a toe into the more spiritual side of your writings because I trust your work in general, and that aspect of my life and worldview is sorely lacking, so I guess I’ve begun that journey.

  65. #15 Clay, I think you missed out keeping chickens. It would make a good meme, how to become a Nazi …

  66. Yes, I’ve always thought that Sagan’s quote “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries” is comparable with the opening chapters of both Genesis and the Gospel of John. You can be a fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist Atheist, fundamentalist political party member, fundamentalist activist (pick any cause), or what-have-you, True Believer Syndrome covers it all. People can leave one belief for another, yet end up trapped in the same pattern. Think of a dress pattern; if you don’t like the dress design don’t remake it again in a different color, find a different pattern. I went bouncing around for years before I figured it out.

    Have you seen the recent fundamentalist climate activism in England? Some activists spray painted Stonehenge orange.

    I find it odd they chose the color associated with a particular presidential candidate. If, instead of Stonehenge in Britain, it had happened somewhere in the U.S. , I would wonder if it would act as some type of bad magical working that could backfire on them, in the sense of “The Gods have seen your symbolism, and grant your wish for the next U.S. president to be…”

    Joy Marie

  67. GlassHammer, it may solve itself — but we’ll see.

    Other Owen, true enough.

    Pyrrhus, Franklin was a very perceptive man; it took most of the colonists longer to figure that out.

    Justin, I certainly hope so. If there was a Shinto shrine in range I’d be a regular attendee, as Sara and I were at Tsubaki Shrine outside of Seattle.

    Bridge, it’s as though they think that they can make themselves Good People if they simply distance themselves as far as possible from oppression cooties.

    Other Owen, I think it’s more specific than that. They don’t want interdependence — they want us to be dependent on them, and thus subject and subservient to them. Not interested, thank you very much.

    Kfish, two excellent points.

    Soko, the exclusion of the life force from the worldview of Western science is a complex and fascinating subject, and one I’ll have to discuss at length one of these days. It’ll take at least a post, though.

    Patricia M, exactly — evocation, even for an experienced mage like Dr. Moravec, is not something to do lightly, and certainly not something to do to get goodies that you’re not willing to earn.

    Marlena13, very true; try getting Williams’s devout Christian fans to admit that he did two terms as Hierophant of A.E. Waite’s Golden Dawn temple.

    Augusto, I wish I could teach it. It’s something I learned after about thirty years of daily meditation, and I’m not sure I could communicate exactly how it’s done to anyone else.

    Lee, come on in, the water’s fine. 😉

    Florida farmer, please, for the love of Proust, don’t try to post an entire book review here! If you want to give a link, that’s fine, but six screens of text is kind of extreme for a comment.

    Joy Marie, I want to know how many of them drove out there to do that, and how much carbon dioxide they produce in their daily lives. That kind of protest is almost always done by people who are in effect bellowing “Stop using fossil fuels so I don’t have to!”

    Paradoctor, thank you! That’s a very crisp summary of an essential insight.

  68. Hi John Michael,

    Yikes! And don’t mention the threat of taking personal responsibility for your own health. It’s positively rebellious!

    As to last week’s discussion, I ain’t gonna say nuffin’ anywhoo. I’d lack the natural competence for such practices anyway, and instead would prefer to work on my own will. That being the entire point, don’t you reckon? Although you did kind of say that in your essay.

    Did you perchance notice that they’re now discussing nuker plants down here, and even selected approximate areas where they’ll be constructed? Had a really interesting discussion a week or two ago about off shore wind turbines. I pointed out that the business press has plenty of words describing how problematic those machines are when located in that difficult ocean environment. Mate, the response I got was like I’d farted out loud in church! Ook! Years ago I had to face up to the reality of this renewable energy tech in that it is good, but it is not good enough. The moment hit me full on in the face when I could no longer declare ‘just add a couple of more panels and it will be fine’. Well it wasn’t, and still isn’t. With unattainable expectations, I had to change utterly. Civilisation has yet to have that moment, but man, it’s coming. And in the meantime, work on the will. Yes, a useful activity for a persons finite moments.



  69. Hello JMG,
    “As the second religiosity picks up speed, it will provide frameworks around which a great deal of social reorganization can take place;” I’m wondering what your take on the second religiosity is. In particular, is it evenly distributed geographically? It seems that some countries are way ahead of others and already well into the second religiosity phase. How do you see it?

  70. The Other Owen, which cultures had “strong taboos about slavery”? I ask because there is a bit of a meme I see from time to time to the effect that Yes, the Peculiar Institution is/was horrible, but everyone did it. Which I don’t believe.

  71. Bill R #45


    “Weatherwax” is a real surname. It is a Palatine German name, of the Palatine German saga:

    (1) Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York by Otterness;

    (2) Palatines, Liberty, and Property: German Lutherans in Colonial British America by Roeber;

    (3) Pfalzer in Amerika/Palatines in America by Paul & Scherer.

    The Wiederwachs family was one of about three-thousand families (I read somewhere) in the Palatine German migration in 1709 from the region of Holland, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and England. In America, they were split up into three groups due to things beyond their control, in descending numbers. They landed in: (a) Pennsylvania, known as the Pennsylvania Dutch (‘Deutsch’); (b) Hudson & Mohawk River valleys, New York State; (c) North Carolina. Families were split up by the English overlords, and the Germans could do nothing about it. Palatine Germans were the first mass migration of Germans to America, and almost no-one knows about them.

    Many writers leave out the word “Germans” part of Palatine Germans, and simply call them Palatines. I feel that is a bit unfair. Palatine whozit? Palatine whats? They were Germans first, who happened to (mainly) be from the Pfalzgraff region of Germany (southwest Germany near the changing boundaries of France and Switzerland). The vast majority were Protestant but there were some Roman Catholics and other religions in there too.

    Wiederwachs got Anglicized to Weatherwax. The Weatherwax(es?) were quite a prolific family. There are tens of thousands of them now. I know about this family from research I did on my own branches of Palatine Germans. About 1860, I found a newspaper article about one of my British ancestor who was friends with a male Weatherwax, both nearly drowning in the Hudson River north of Albany. Both were from canal-er families (in this case Champlain Canal). One famous Weatherwax was Ken Weatherwax (1955-2014), who played Pugsley on the 1960s TV show “The Addams Family.”

    In the 1700s and 1800s, America’s Palatine Germans were more into “the unseen,” “second sight,” and witchcraft (and such) than the Brits around them—the occult and esotericism were part of their culture. It is very possible that there really-was a mysterious-ways Granny Weatherwax.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨📖
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  72. JMG, re “try getting Williams’s devout Christian fans to admit that he did two terms as Hierophant of A.E. Waite’s Golden Dawn temple”. Nooooo! Be a huge waste of my time and energy!

  73. Peter, that seems uncomfortably appropriate.

    Chris, I’ve had similar conversations. There’s a huge amount of Tinkerbell logic all through the green movement these days — “it’ll all be right if you believe!” They’ll still be saying that as the night closes in.

    Kirsten, remember that Western/Faustian civilization doesn’t cover the entire world — just Europe (west of Russia, which is a different civilization) and the European diaspora. The rest of the world is following its own cycles. In the West, yes, it’ll proceed at different speeds; the US is already moving into the opening phases of the second religiosity, while western Europe probably won’t get it at all until its population is majority Muslim, maybe a century from now.

    Marlena13, I see we have experiences in common. 😉

  74. “the thing that our current ruling elite can’t grasp is that people outside their class really do have minds and opinions of their own”

    Back when I worked in a large multinational corporation, I was always amused by the concept of “corporate values.” A bunch of fat PMC executives, none of whom holds any personal values higher than their own aggrandizement, gets together and comes up with a bunch of vapid slogans describing the company’s supposed devotion to ethical behavior and doing good in the world (no mention of making money, of course). Then these are presented to the proles as “our” values, as if people’s values can be decided by a committee rather than arising organically.

    Of course, it also didn’t help that it was plain to see that none of the managers actually believed in those values, that all of the incentives worked against the values, or that the values changed every few years. It was insulting, to say the least.

  75. I’ll take a swing at: why is life force invisible to modern science?
    Concepts in general are dualistic. They rest on some subject-object structuring of experience. The concept captures an image of how the subject perceives the object. Wisdom is a matter of realizing that these structures are not fixed or pre-given, but are choices with consequences…. choices largely made at a cultural level.
    One such culture is that of modern science. I have never read past the title of Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation, but I suspect the title already captures the subject-object structure of modern science. The objectivity of modern science requires a solid anchoring of the subject-object division. Will is the pole of subjectivity in this structure. That’s why free will is unfindable. It cannot be an observable object in the fixed dualistic structure of modern science.
    Life force, qi, etc. – these are facets or bodies of will, and therefore invisible to modern science.
    The lack of wisdom in modern science, its inability to acknowledge that its framework of objectivity is one choice among many, is central to our present trajectory. Is science about understanding and appreciating the world as it is, or is it about controlling and improving the world? The science of the future will carry forward whatever approach we find for cutting through this Gordian knot.

  76. John, I am troubled by your reference to “the leftist activists currently protesting Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian minority”. Surely, the protests are against Israel’s brutal extermination of the population of Gaza, which doesn’t belong to Israel at all, and the majority of those protesting are not leftist activists at all, but compassionate individuals who are rightly horrified by what the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of their neighbours? Further, you take a swipe at the protestors as having “no idea how to behave in a respectable religious setting”, but say nothing about the behaviour of Zionists in the USA, who as I understand it have behaved far worse in counter-protests. I don’t understand your thinking on this issue. Can you please put your above-mentioned comments into context by giving your views on the ideology of Zionism and the behaviour of its adherents?

  77. “Nowadays, most of the people I know who’ve tried high magic, failed at it, and turned to spirit summoning either had an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, and thought they could get the world to cater to their cravings, or shied away from the meditation, reflection, and pursuit of clear self-knowledge that form the backbone of the occult path.”

    I have noticed this trend in other areas of life as well and it seems to be a particularly damning reflection of the Western mindset. That is, the world is up for grabs, and that it’s up to us, the supposed enlightened ones, to take it for ourselves and bring it to order, for it is owed to us, and that also includes the realms of spirituality and magic. I know that you have talked about this often enough in your writings, John, but it’s something I’ve always observed too and you have brought greater clarity to a subject that had always wracked my mind. The West truly is too arrogant for its own good, and we’ve made it a bad habit to ignore anyone who tried to reason with us.

    Cheers from Brazil. I’ve recently finished reading your book “The King in Orange” and I found it pretty fascinating with how it describes the struggles of the worker class in America from an occultist perspective. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself now and then; if Trump was Brazilian, he would be considered a hardline communist with his attempts at reindustrialization and onshoring of jobs. Not that I like him or anything (if anything I find him abhorrent, as his foreign policy doesn’t seem to be any different from other recent US presidents; the assassination of Soleimani is a good example), but it’s funny how our countries see the (woefully harmful) “left-right” divide in a different light.

  78. “I’m guessing a military nuclear reactor will be the first to go boom. They have less safety tolerances, more corners were cut when designing them and they must be managed much more tightly.”

    Too late, one already did. Old news. Part of my training covered what they did wrong, the design flaws, and the emergency response. We even got to watch the film of the entry team carefully entering, then half a minute later running out of there.

  79. For those who may not know, C.S. Lewis was a good friend of Charles Williams and even posthumously edited William’s notes

    He was also an appreciator of Yeats, and someone who delved deeply into Plato’s Timaeus.
    Lewis is genuinely fun to connect the dots with. Tolkien is much trickier, of course.

  80. “Kimberly, thanks for this. One of the reasons I’ve taken to absorbing and reusing the energy that gets thrown at me is that it’s kinder for the people involved. Granted, it also gives me a bunch of free energy to use as I see fit!” I was able to eke out enough discernment to siphon off what would have been return-hate energy and turn it into a fiery thrust block that helped me write that essay. I think the reason she threw that hatred at me is because she was projecting her own fear of wasting time/potential, so I let it put a fire under my butt and got my weekly essay in no time flat. All of this came from when you helped us understand the Cosmic Doctrine, by the way. I cannot ever thank you enough for the discussion of that book. I am enjoying the discussion of Levi too. It’s a great time to be alive. As one of my past piano students used to say, “I’m loving my life again”.

  81. “there’s only so much you can do with rose petals and the full moon”

    A complete aside but tomorrow is both the Solstice and a full moon. Very nice to see that alignment.

  82. Following up on that Guardian article which is… interesting… I am more amazed when the Guardian gets it right than when they get it wrong. But as David Graeber said of them, they sponged off the more thoughtful left-wing folks so they could gain clout. Something Graeber only identified after he was used by them.

    Regarding the article, there is a similar idea to that but tipped on its head. Linked below 20 minute rant/argument about how a lot of Zen temples are actively following the footsteps of wokeness. In that case specifically east coast Zen temples using woke ideas to control who they let in and subsequently driving away a lot of people.

    Interesting channel if you want a modern perspective on the world of Zen practices. A great one was him addressing the question of genders. Simply put, on a higher level why are people clinging to this identification, on a practical level in a Zen temple it should never be something that comes up.

  83. A bit of lit.crit: I’m very pleased at the high valuation you give to C S Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, especially because I’ve often felt narked at the way it’s ignored. Your essay raises what for me is the hard question of how to classify the book; you call it fantasy; I prefer to place it in my science-fiction collection, but the “why” of that is difficult to express. Perhaps the vital point is that the eldila are (somewhere in the trilogy, I forget where) said to be, in principle, scientifically verifiable (though doubtless not by science as present practised).
    As for powers, I’d say there’s a continuum between magic as you define it and the paranormal “psi” faculties which are accepted in science fiction. So, given the width of possibilities, I then ask myself, are there any works which are definitely fantasy and not science fiction? I’d say there obviously are, namely works in which the mood and the approach take for granted the power of magic symbolism and procedures, and of feelings (e.g. in the tales of M R James) which express inchoate extremes of supernatural horror. Still, I haven’t really pinned it down, especially given the huge overlap between “supernatural” and “paranormal”.

  84. According to the quoted Guardian article, ‘The themes they shared ranged from extreme versions of wellness-related conspiracies-about the risks of 5G and Wi-Fi, or Microsoft founder Bill Gates plotting with vaccines, to 15 minute cities, paedophile rings and bankers’ conspiracies’. All of which are more or less true, so this article is a topsy-turvy inversion of reality.

    My question is how this rampant lying and propagandising will end? What are the consequences for a society that brazenly lies about almost everything? The truth must come home to roost someday, which will surely lead to mass insurrection? The reason why most citizens uncritically accept this twaddle is because they have some residual faith in the state, the monarchy and other so called authorities, so when the penny finally drops they’ll lose faith in everything.

    Alternatively, the ruling elite may try to impose a blanket Orwellian fantasy world on all of the people, but this can hardly succeed when Russia and the Global South are outside the bubble. In any event it seems to me that pitchforks will be involved, in the not too distant future.

  85. Bill R #45

    You know, when I discovered the character of Nanny Og, in the Pratchett books… I was around 40 or so… and I immediately decided I wanted to BE Nanny Og when I grow up… 😉

    Now, I’m 63, and not yet grown up (wise in the ways of people and herbs) enough YET… but, still… 🙂

  86. SL Claire #47

    Here’s to perennials – they take “the path that abides…” …eventually… 🙂

  87. >And don’t mention the threat of taking personal responsibility

    You can just stop right there. About what doesn’t really matter.

  88. @Marlena13: My editions of Charles Williams’ novels were published by a Christian publishing house in Grand Rapids, Eerdman’s, I think it was. That made my eyebrows go up.

  89. >The Other Owen, which cultures had “strong taboos about slavery”?

    I think the Codex Oera Linda said something about slavery as a practice being bad. Ancient northern europeans. In any case, it’s not too hard to think it through. Water wets, fire burns, copybook headings stuff.

  90. >You can be a fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist Atheist, fundamentalist political party member, fundamentalist activist (pick any cause), or what-have-you, True Believer Syndrome covers it all.

    Reason #6 I got turned off by the screaming bluehairs. I spent a fair amount of my youth getting to know and smell what christian fundamentalism looks like. And those screaming bluehairs reek of it. Yes, they are True Believers in the One True Way.

    There is certainty in fundamentalism. I think that’s what draws people to it. Especially if the age you’re in doesn’t seem to be all that stable. Certainty, like sanity, is in short supply right now.

  91. Speaking of the religion of progress. It seems that if Elon Musk had not sprung forth from the ether organically ( if in fact he did) he would have had to have been created. Apart from his products and companies, what he really seems to be is the ultimate high priest of the religion of progress.
    He has the ability to realize when one of his efforts is getting long in the tooth and pivots to some new “wonder” that guarantees a limitless future. Battery cars are losing their luster as sales slow, and the build-out of the public charger network grinds to a halt. The believers in tourism to Mars also seem to be fading away as the prospects of getting out of low earth orbit with humans aboard keeps getting pushed further and further out tarnishing Spacex as his latest temple to the ” Religion”.
    But right on cue Elon blazes across the airwaves with news of his greatest development. Actual robots which can walk about , eerily with a Joe Biden Gate, and pick things up. Our problems are solved, because everyone knows there is nothing the represents the future better than interplanetary travel then actual robot servants.

  92. About spirits evocation: It seemed to be the trend in Neo-Paganism. I noticed on Amazon, a lot of books that seem to AI written about just that. Also, I noticed that some Neo-Pagan bloggers seem to include it in their ranting about Trump.

    What I have noticed in the Neo-Pagan scene, is that a lot of the “Woke” stores, individuals, organizations have all gone broke or just simply aren’t getting the traction they once did. I also noticed that more blogs are ranting about those Christians or are just for insiders. They seem to be tired of everything except bashing Christianity.

    I wonder if they will ramp up with Trump going great guns, or did he just wear everyone down. It seems that the whole of Neo-Paganism is breaking down. They only have anti-Christian in common. Along with a fear of Christian Nationalism (whatever that is). I suppose the focus on the religion means they are still tied to it and are struggling to come to terms with it.

    I also noted on Amazon at least with the New Age and Neo-Pagan scene, a lot of authors with multiple book series popping out all at once. I suspect AI has a hand in this.

  93. The Other Owen #61

    “Someone should run some correlation between dissatisfaction of breast size and gun ownership of women and tell us whether that correlation is linear too…”

    Oh, no doubt but that correlation would follow a curve… 😉

  94. @Clay Dennis #15, another one for your list is owning a dog or other oppressed enslaved animal.

    @Justin Patrick Moore #55, I expect a synthesis of Shinto and First Nations spirituality to arise here in the Northeastern U.S. at least, because it would fit the character of the land well. Part of that character is that the nature spirits of the region want and appreciate a little corporal self-mortification. That’s not unknown in Shinto (consider for instance the practice of Misogi) but overall I think the Shinto influence will moderate the kinds of Native practices that took it to extremes.

    @ JMG #30, “(I could as well have said simple common sense.)”

    One person’s simple common sense is another’s startling weirdness. I’m both of those people, hence sometimes ask odd questions.

  95. I respecfully second Soko’s request to discuss the exclusion of the life force from Western thought.

  96. “Why is the life force invisible to modern science” One reason may be that is it is literally invisible to modern science. Note the word “life” which means it is detectable by and affects living things. Modern science is based around the use of non-living instruments to detect and examine forces and materials so the life force is not directly detectable by these instruments. An example of this. I have a friend who sold a soil additive made by a Swiss company – Penergetics. Since my friend
    moves in wealthy circles he was able to sell the product to a man who grew a special high quality alfalfa hay sold to wealthy horse owners across the nation. The product increased the harvest by 15%. This puzzled me as only a couple of pounds of the additive was applied per acre. The American website for the product was vague on how it worked. I went to the Australian one and it clearly said the material:aspect of the product was a carrier for an effect that enhanced the life of the soil. – like in homeopathy.
    This would be utterly offensive to modern science as that effect the material carried would be undetectable and most likely the difference between potentized and non-potentized material couldn’t be detected also. Also mysterious effect couldn’t be explained by modern science models of reality. My friend has told me the product isn’t a generic one good for every situation but has to be adjusted in different circumstances – another attribute of the variability of anything to do with life.
    Another example of the limits of modern science in examining aspects of reality. Years ago my son rented a room in an old Victorian home. The house though well kept and clean had a creepy unclean feeling to it. My son experienced a number of quite spectacular poltergeist events witnessed by him and other people. My living frame could detect the vibe. I doubt you could make a device via current science to register what I felt. Plus how do you take poltergeist phenomena and regularly produce it to study it. Build a house with the same one of a kind background and influences? – don’t think so.

  97. Those kinds of ‘gotcha!’ comments are unfortunately very common on every corner of the internet on every single topic. Sad to see that trolls aren’t just contained to the metropolises of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, they also find their way to the hermitages where archdruids dwell, haha.

    I have also noticed that the revulsion and disdain that Christians have for the occult is a mirror image of the attitude that the mini-dawkins have. But this is nothing new, it stretches back hundreds of years.

    The pivot in western society from Christianity to its ostensible opposite, Scientific Materialism, shows one of the great neuroses of the west. Black and white thinking.

    The opposite of a bad thing is not necessarily a good thing. But still we have all these people arguing that the only choices in spirituality are fundamentalist religion or nihilistic atheism, that the only choices in economics is capitalism or communism, and so forth.

    And I think that both sides of each debate like this way of thinking, because they can do a good-cop bad-cop routine. “Oh, you think capitalism is bad? Well look at communism! It’s so much worse. You better stick with capitalism!”

    As a 4chan meme I saw once said, the trick is to not be A or B, but a secret third thing.

  98. Sorry for double-posting. I just remembered re-reading Prince Caspian with my daughter a few weeks ago. It is as clear and as impassioned a denunciation of the 17th / 18th century turn to a materialist worldview as I have ever seen. All the elements are there:
    – fear of exploration of one’s inner self or theosis (symbolized by the sea)
    – fear of nature, as nature might lead one to explore one’s deeper self and to theosis
    – ascription of evil intentions to nature
    – imposition of rigid externally imposed rules (symbolized especially by schools)
    – denial and denunciation of the past
    It is surprising, though AFAIK historically correct, that the anti-nature regime, at this point, does not deny the reality and importance of astrology and magic in general. That would, I think, happen a few generations down the road.

    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader extends the polemic against economics and capitalism (on the Solitary Isles), though that part didn’t interest my daughter, as it only involved adult humans.

    Little wonder that the most polemic elements, e.g. the liberation of children from schools through the power of Bacchus and the maenads, were excised from the movies and replaced by repetitive battles.

  99. Phutatorius Yes, the Eerdmans made my brows go up too! While my copy of ” Taliessin Through Logres and the Region of the Summer Stars” is Inklings Heritage Series
    DS Seems JRR had trouble connecting the dots, himself, too! 😉
    Then there are these 2 titles, “The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams” and “The Inklings and King Arthur: J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield on the Matter of Britain”

  100. Happy Summer Solstice to All:

    I am celebrating, in part, by listening to the alt-folksy sounds of Pantaleimon and her lovely voice, guitar and dulcimer on her album Heart of the Sun.

    Whatever you do, or don’t do, I hope you all have a good day (and happy Winter Solstice to those on the other side of this planet).

    On another note, as I meditate my way through the OPW, I am on the part about how “an animal attains enlightenment when it becomes able to think about its own thoughts, and is reborn as a human (or one of the handful of other living things, such as porpoises, which share this capacity)….” Plants move beyond by getting to reincarnate as animal and aren’t rooted to one spot. Animals and humans in particular can learn about history and think about the future.

    It’s interesting how the themes I am working are so often mirrored in other events or situations, or discussions in life, like that bit you said and Phuatatorius highlighted.

  101. @ Bill
    Modern Christian views of what is and isn’t “witchcraft” are largely shaped by modern post-enlightenment rationalist materialist scientific ideas. As in: anything that isn’t either explicable by Science ™ or an obvious Miracle From God(tm) is probably demons. IMO this makes most churches very nearly as materialist as modern science. They’ve adopted an essentially rationalist materialist athiest worldview, and then pasted a very truncated version of God over it. Some branches of Christianity even go so far as to assert that miracles don’t happen anymore… and therefore anything that falls into the “inexplicable by science” bucket is evil. I find it baffling that you might believe in supernatural evil, and also reject the possibility of supernatural good (shrugs). Seems pretty bleak.

    But if you go back and read Christian writers from the medieval era all the way back to the Church Fathers, you’ll find a very different take on things. Rationalist Materialism is a very modern religion, and its entanglement with Christianity is very recent.

    You might have a lot of fun reading Hildegard von Bingen, who is a genuine saint of the Catholic church. Her book *Physica* is a hefty compendium of the medical knowledge of her day, and includes extensive entries on the virtues of plants, stones, trees, and animals. Much of that information looks distinctly like natural magic to the jaundiced modern eye, but Hildegard clearly didn’t see it that way. Virtues come from God. And sometimes when you encounter something from the distant past that seems weird… it’s worth asking if it’s just the time YOU live in that’s weird.

    Here’s a bit from her entry on Topaz: “every day, in the morning, place topaz over your heart and say, “May God, who is magnified above all things and in all ways, not reject me from his honor, but may he preserve, strengthen, and establish me with his blessing.” For as long as you do this, evil will abhor you. The very strong topaz stone has in it this virtue from God: Because it grows while the sun is sinking, it deflects assaults from a person.”

    Any modern Calvinist would go straight for “She’s a witch! Burn her!” But I believe medieval definitions of witchcraft were much more specific: you had to be cursing people or consorting with evil spirits, AFAICT. Vague memory wants to add also a taboo on magical unearned wealth. Correct me if I’m wrong, somebody. In the 12th century, according to a saint of the church, using gemstones for their natural virtues and tying a dying mouse between the shoulder blades to cure ague was just good sense– perhaps even cutting-edge science–because of a complex theory of inherent virtues and metaphorical correspondences. In another 800 years our descendants will probably look back on our medical remedies with equal puzzlement.

  102. Weilong, that’s a perfect example of what I was talking about, so thank you. Those “corporate values” are the values the fat cats want their flunkeys to have, not the values they themselves have — and they think that by mouthing some slogans, they can get the flunkeys in question to fall meekly in line. They haven’t learned to tell the difference between the mindless obedience of machines and the sullen silence of those who are just putting up with their antics.

    Jim, good! In fact, you’ve caught onto one of the core aspects of Schopenhauer’s thought; he argues that the will cannot be known directly — it cannot be the object of knowledge because it is the subject that knows. He argued in several places, in fact, that magic works because only objects are determined by the law of cause and effect — the will as subject is not. (Jung’s concept of synchronicity has a huge Schopenhauerian subtext.)

    David, it’s always a source of bleak amusement to me when people flip out because I don’t use the words they prefer. It is in fact the case that the Palestinians are an ethnic minority in the territory presently controlled by the nation-state of Israel; it is also the case that Israel’s treatment of that minority has generated quite a vigorous protest movement, and that this movement in the US is largely drawn from the political left. Furthermore, as someone who spent twelve years as the head of a religious organization, I can testify from personal experience that very few people on the activist end of the left have the least idea of how to behave in any religious setting that expects basic courtesy and respect from attendees. If my way of phrasing things isn’t to your taste, why, please keep in mind that it was a passing reference in a post on a completely different subject.

    As regards your broader question, the world has no shortage of ethnic groups that hate each other and express that hatred in acts of mutual violence. In most cases, including the one you’re concerned about, both sides insist that the atrocities they commit are justified because of the atrocities the other side has committed; that attitude locks both sides into a feedback loop that can never end well. Thus I’m quite confident that a century or so from now, some traveler from a distant country, perhaps India, will venture across the cratered wasteland that was once one of the greenest parts of the eastern Mediterranean and reach the shattered ruins of a place that was once, with bitter irony, named the City of Peace. There he will find the bleached skeletons of the last Israeli and the last Palestinian — and each of them will have both bony hands clenched around the other’s throat.

    Americans, furthermore, have spent far too much time meddling in the affairs of other countries and far too little dealing with the accelerating disintegration of their own. That’s not a habit I want to encourage. If I did want to get involved in other people’s quarrels, I don’t see why I should choose that one interethnic suicide pact over any of the others, and feeding the flames by insisting that one side is all good and the other all evil, as you’re doing, is not going to do any good at all — quite the opposite, in fact. If you want to know my views about the prospects of the nation-state of Israel, I published them in a post quite some time ago, which you can find here. I caution you, though, that even though I sketch out the reasons why that nation-state cannot survive, and will probably go under in a maelstrom of mutual slaughter long before this century ends, you’ll probably find plenty to object to in my choice of words there, too.

    Thomas, thanks for this! That’s exactly it — the pervasive arrogance of Western and, especially, American elite culture is arguably its most lethal vulnerability, and too much of it has spilled over into the spiritual and occult scene. Here in the US, we need to finally get around to noticing the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t need us to try to solve their problems — it’s not as though we have a clue about how to do that, just for starters! — and it would be nice if we also realized that maybe we should start by fixing our own dysfunctional lives, families, and communities before playing at being world saviors.

    DS, true enough. Tolkien was very good at keeping his mouth shut. Lewis? Well, he wasn’t always candid — his friends called his pseudo-autobiography Surprised by Joy “Suppressed by Jack” because he’d deleted so much of his actual life story from it — but now and again you can see the dots to connect.

    Kimberly, delighted to hear it. I suspect my study of the Cos.Doc. had something to do with my figuring out the trick originally.

    Michael, it may be a rough few days, though, since the combined energies may make a lot of people wig out. Thanks for the heads up about American Zen; it’s sad to see that they’ve gone woke, because of course that means that in due time they’ll go broke. Zen deserves better than that.

    Robert, that’s a very good question to which I don’t know the answer! I tend, purely as a rule of thumb, to assign the categories of fantasy and science fiction depending on how the marvels in the story are presented. If they’re technological, or even if the author uses handwaving labels such as “psionics,” I consider the story science fiction; if they rely on magic, or some kind of handwaving that claims to be magic, I consider the story fantasy. But that’s a very rough division and falls flat in many individual cases. Maybe it’s time to bring back that fine old label “science fantasy” for the stories that take place in the borderlands; back in my insufficiently misspent youth, science fantasy was what I liked best anyway.

    Tengu, that’s a good question. Just as it’s common stock market lore that the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent, history suggests that a society can lie to itself much longer than you’d think. For that matter, pitchforks aren’t the only option; there’s also the silent disintegration of authority that happens in many failing civilizations, in which the imperial overlords become increasingly isolated from reality and end up going through the motions of ruling a society when they actually control only a little enclave somewhere and everyone else just ignores them.

    Clay, yeah, I know. It’s just possible that when he finally fails — and I find it likely that sooner or later, his enterprises will come crashing down in a cascade of unpaid debts and broken promises — the age of progress will finally lose its last phantasmal grip on the collective imagination.

    Neptunesdolphins, exactly. What you contemplate, you imitate; if all they’re contemplating now is Christianity and Trump, I can tell you exactly what they’ll be doing in the not too distant future.

    Walt, oh, granted.

    Aldarion, duly noted.

    BeardTree, that’s a valid point. There’s an underlying current of death-worship in post-Enlightenment science, a hostility to living things and an insistence that only the unliving is real.

    Enjoyer, if the chans are starting to talk in those terms, the revolution is at hand. Excellent!

    Aldarion, hmm! I haven’t read the Narnia books in many years — I disliked them as a child — and didn’t recall that subtext. Still, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Justin, many thanks for this! I’ve got a George Winston CD playing right now, fwiw.

    Methylethyl, you’re quite correct. Before 1300 or so in the medieval West, what counted as “magic” and was therefore forbidden was anything that called on spiritual powers outside of the Trinity and the saints and angels, or anything that involved or furthered a sinful act. If it called on Christian powers and involved or furthered some virtuous act, it wasn’t magic, it was what theologians called a “sacramental,” and if it didn’t call on any powers at all, it was simply the smart use of the natural influences God placed in all things. Getting money without earning it was sinful, ergo magic; doing something to heal the ague or encourage crops to flourish? That was virtuous so long as it called on the right names. It was after the Black Death, in the climate of universal paranoia and horror that followed, that things tightened up and the witch burnings began.

  103. @Northwind Grandma: FWIW, a whole branch of my family comes from the Palatine migration. I’ve looked at the genealogy records with some fascination, and I think one reason the “German” part often gets dropped is because while they were all German-speaking people, national boundaries impose some fairly arbitrary lines on the group. My ancestors from that migration came from Germany, Switzerland, and France. But if you look at their hometowns on a map, they’re all from the same small region: Zurich, Alsace, and southwest of Stuttgart. They might more accurately be called “Rhinelanders”– I believe they were all basically the same ethnic/cultural group, probably Lutherans, and emigrating for the same reasons. But you X out a lot of them by specifying “German” as that implies a single national origin. Three countries, but those places are all pretty much within 2 hours drive of each other.

  104. Hello to All and Happy Solstice if you’re celebrating!
    I have been behind in my studies because of family issues, and though I try to keep up with all posts ( thank you thank you thank you JMG), I have not yet read all comments on this vital and informative current one which I look forward to going into more deeply as time allows.
    However, as I am very fond of comparing and contrasting magic and yoga techniques, Patañjali Yoda Sūtra 3.51 came to mind while reading A Path that Abides

    ( translation Georg Feuerstein):
    3.51 Upon the invitation of high- placed [beings] [he should give himself] no cause for attachment or pride, because of the renewed and undesired inclination [for lower levels of existence].

    I always wonder if the popularity of yoga classes is at some level the impulse to find the deeper dimensions of Yoga’s abiding philosophy, which, as we’ve discovered, is an adventure in occultism, and, to quote Vyass Houston, “The Certainty of Freedom”.

    Magic abides always.

    Jill C

  105. @Clay Dennis #95, Elon Musk is at best a divisive figure among techno-optimists. They still like electric cars but many think Tesla has lost the plot e.g. focusing on the Cybertruck (because it’s futuristic-looking?) instead of the more affordable new models previously promised. Most working engineers respect what Musk has accomplished with SpaceX rockets (while recognizing that contrary to Musk’s PR it’s not Musk’s own engineering skills that made that possible) but think he’s a joke when it comes to how he’s conducted his other businesses. This article in Gizmodo (as per the name, a pro-technology publication) is an example of typical skepticism about Musk’s new robot hype, and points out how far behind Tesla appears to be compared with other well-established robot technology companies (who nonetheless aren’t promising robot butlers or babysitters). You can consider this a schism within the religion of progress if you want, but at this point Musk seems to be closer to a high priest of celebrity, wealth, and alt-right politics than of technology, rationalism, or progress in general.

  106. @Neptunesdolphins:
    That is the perpetual problem with building an identity around what you’re *against*, isn’t it? The funny thing is, all the things they’re against that they might actually get some traction on: political things, cultural things… those all go by the wayside in favor of the *one* thing, Christianity, that’s definitely going to outlast them.

    If they’d ever figured out something to be *for* they might have a lasting movement. But they’re only against: against heteronormativity, against biology, against authority, against hierarchy, against family, against limits…

    We’ll see them in church in a year or two, I guess. Hopefully before they’ve done too much damage to themselves.

  107. @JMG,
    As a Dolmen Arch student, I’ve become a big fan of the self-paced, do-it-yourself method of spirituality. I first got a taste of this kind of thing in college when my university offered a mail-in course (with cassette tapes!) for a language I’d wanted to study, even as late as the mid-2000s since I’m a Millennial.

    I really loved doing that self-paced course, and after reading Magic Monday for a couple of years when it first started, I finally took the plunge and started up the practices in the DMH & DA. I like having that independence and agency. I don’t like having to depend on a church or any kind of outside force for my spiritual practices (though now I can see that it’s not black-and-white, that many Christians do a lot of individual work and then go to church, etc).

    I was a big church-goer in high school, but ultimately my church came out strong against gay people and I have a beloved gay family member, so I left that path and struck out on my own. It’s been a winding path but ultimately I have no regrets.

  108. “It’s been brought up here before, the influence of Manga and Anime, starting with some Gen X, but really picking up speed in the Millenials and their successors. A lot of these kids are learning about spirits, ghosts, etc. from a Japanese entertainment lens. ”

    Given the age of the target audience some of the themes are pretty advanced. I got to watch The Paper Sisters one where the enemy was the British Library, and Inuyasha was not light comedy.

    Howls Moving Castle was pretty serious too.

    US culture seems intent on infantilizing the children for whatever reason.

  109. Jill @ 108, Yoga appealed to me because it was noncompetitive and peaceful. No criticism is intended of competitive sports for those who enjoy them, but as a person of solitary temperament, I needed something else.

    I supposed that the philosophy behind physical (Rajah?) yoga was something I, a Westerner might not be able to comprehend.

  110. Hi John Michael,
    I think this might be a good time to ask about something I’ve been thinking about for a while, starting with the Dion Fortune quote about magic being the art and science of causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will. I think that you’ve said that you’re not entirely satisfied with that description but that it contains a profound riddle or mystery which may not be immediately obvious. Please forgive me if I’m mis-quoting you. And I suspect that the riddle is, we don’t so much force the universe to conform with our will as much as we conform our will to universal principles/powers, and if the two are in alignment, good and powerful things happen.
    The next quote is from Matthew 21:21 where Jesus says anyone with enough faith can command a mountain to throw itself into the sea and it will happen. That statement also obviously contains a riddle, since there have been a lot of people with great faith but somehow the sea doesn’t seem to be littered with former mountains. And I think that the mystery is, if our wills are in perfect alignment with the will of the Creator, nothing is impossible.
    Some Christians have the idea that prayer is an act of getting God’s will to conform with ours, but I think that more ideally, prayer involves discerning God’s will so that we can bring our will into alignment with it.
    So my question to you is, to what extent do you think that a comparison between these two quotes is valid, and to what extent do you think it’s invalid?

  111. >Too late, one already did.

    I’m almost certain that number is greater than 1. I’m almost certain there are accidents we haven’t heard of and maybe never will, buried under layers of classification. Although I would characterize that accident you mentioned as growing pains or teachable moments. What I’m thinking of is a diversity hire managing to defeat all the safety interlocks (not out of malice but sheer stupidity) to cause a really spectacularly retarded reactor explosion. And because there are less safety interlocks on a military reactor (because reasons), and because the military has gone woke (because other reasons), that’s where it’s likely to happen first. It’s just math. And math is racist.

    Again, we may never hear of it, because I’m very certain they will want to cover it up. Because that crowd is never wrong and never learns.

    We will hear of the civilian reactors though. They won’t be able to cover those up. But they will happen later.

  112. >Hello to All and Happy Solstice if you’re celebrating!

    See you at the Equinox.

  113. >Those “corporate values” are the values the fat cats want their flunkeys to have, not the values they themselves have

    There is no “Manager of The Month”, for instance. And they would consider it very insulting if one was implemented.

  114. >My question is how this rampant lying and propagandising will end? What are the consequences for a society that brazenly lies about almost everything?

    Well, for the Soviet Union the answer for them was Chernobyl. It was quite amusing to see how the lower level people would lie and lie and lie about a nuclear reactor not having exploded (stop spreading misinformation! sound familiar?) when you could see with your own lying eyes, that it had indeed, exploded.

    So, lies continue until the consequences become severe enough that they have to stop. Have to, not want to. What that means for us, I’m not entirely sure, but the medical silliness of the past four years does start to echo in a way (stop spreading misinformation! sound familiar?).

  115. @Northwind Grandma: another Palatine migrant here – my father’s direct line. You’re not alone here. I know, “Phutatorius” doesn’t sound very Pennsylvania Dutch, does it? Well, there’s a reason for that.

  116. Hello, Archdruid. It is great to read your writing again. I look forward to this for an entire week.

    I began perusing Mr. Mikituk’s translation of Levi (with your commentaries) several months ago. While doing so, I realized that what I was really looking for from Magic was not just empowerment, spellcasting, or a general mystique. I was interested most in the occult philosophy in the text, and I soon discovered that meditating on occult philosophy is enlightening and also intellectually refreshing. I have gone through the drab grey of the “scientific worldview”, where the universe is a rube goldberg machine of dead matter and causation catering to nobody in particular. I have also tried religious views – including salvation theologies where nothing matters but getting an express ticket to some post-mortem wonderland of everjoy, and also Indic philosophical systems which range from the dry monism to drier nihilism. Nothing has left me as refreshed as occult philosophy.

    When I learnt that there is a significance of numbers, that my figuration of the universe depends so essentially on the number of elements I seek to understand it in terms of, it gave me an immense insight into the world. I have since realized that monism, nihilism, dualism, etc. are fundamentally choices. I have learnt to adjust my mind to switch my understanding of the world from one to another, and it has helped me to get really good with understanding itself, as a task. Where I once feared monism and nihilism because they gave me a profound sense of loss of control, I have now come to accept that they have their own uses and that I, the thinker, have the power to decide what number of elements I break the universe down into. It is a profoundly empowering realization.

    Since I am not particularly interested in the ritual, divination, and other practical ends of Magic, I am asking for a little bit of guidance if possible. I can understand that no dry theory can be mastered without some practice, and that some meditative practices will be useful when seeking to understand occult philosophy. But if I am primarily interested in the philosophy, is there any method of perusal specific to that goal? What sort of practice would you recommend for someone who is primarily interested in broadening his views by reading, pondering, and understanding occult philosophy?

  117. Jill, I know it was a typo, but I rather like the Yoda Sutra! 😉 A little more seriously, thank you for this. Dion Fortune used to refer to magic as the yoga (though not the Yoda) of the West.

    Justin, glad to hear it. I’ve almost completed the seasonal cycle at this point: I’ve played Summer, followed by Autumn, then by December, and now what’s on is Winter Into Spring. Did I mention I like George Winston? 😉 He and Will Ackerman are serious faves of mine.

    Cs2, I’m glad to hear it. That’s always been my path, though I didn’t have a church background — I’d like to have someplace to go for regular worship, but I have yet to find one that (a) allows the intellectual freedom I need while still (b) having rituals that don’t just plain suck. (Sorry, Unitarians.) In the meantime, I have plenty of personal practices to do.

    Davie, I’m no expert on the Christian scriptures, so I’ll leave those to the people who’ve studied them. Fortune’s definition is subtler than that, precisely because the conformation goes both ways. We attune ourselves to the great currents of power in the universe, but those currents are general; the specific focus they express when they flow through us depends on our own will and imagination. Thus we conform to the current but it also conforms itself to us: as above, so below. George Lucas’s ripoff of the tradition was typically crude — “You mean it controls your actions?” “Partially, but it also obeys your commands” — but he wasn’t wrong.

    Rajarshi, that’s precisely what daily discursive meditation is for, and there are many occult schools that focus on it and set aside most other practices. Given the very toxic nature of the astral environment these days, I recommend a daily practice of a protective working such as the Sphere of Protection, and unless your intuition is already well developed, daily divination is a good way to work on that, but that’s up to you, of course.

  118. JMG: “Fortune’s definition is subtler than that, precisely because the conformation goes both ways.”
    Yes indeed it does for the Christian also. I think that’s what C.S. Lewis meant when he said “God prefers that we ask”. He was referring to prayer.

  119. Lol😂 I like the “Yoda Sutras” too ( though yes, typo:) Will be using that one next yoga teacher training! Patañjali won’t mind at all. And how funny it came up in discussions about “ the force “…no such thing as a coincidence 😉
    Jill C

  120. It probably doesn’t help matters much that in the writings of Ficino, for an example, the equivalent term for the life force is “spiritus” (spirit). (There’s an argument to be made that even such “natural” magic is conducted by means of daemonic agency, but…so it goes.)


  121. “Given the very toxic nature of the astral environment these days”

    JMG, have you delved into the issue of our current astral muck in a post anywhere? I can’t recall one, but my memory is far from perfect.

  122. Hi JMG,

    I apologize ahead of time if this is off-topic. I wanted to thank you for including the link to “In the Twilight of Empires” dated 21 Nov 2012, .

    I must have read Twilight of Empires in 2012, because I read The Archdruid Report as it was then happening, but I needed to hear it/read it again, now. Much of what you said in that article has come to fruition, where things have become, or are becoming, (more) black and white rather than 2012’s grayscale. I needed to read that article again, which is an article making long-term sense of what is happening in the world today. I need reminding. As with most all the long-timer commentariat here, I feel uneasy.

    I won’t get into the subject of what the State of Israel has been doing to Gazans for the last nine months, except to say:

    “In empires that expand by annexing territory,”

    Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is exactly that: annexing territory. It is Israeli’s habit to bomb the s___ out of parts of the region then, using non-Jewish American taxpayers’ billions of dollars, clean up the debris, make sure the former inhabitants are out-of-there by death, injury, or migrating-out, and build “settlements” for the over-population of Jews who have found it impossible to house families’ having their obligatory fifteen kids. Heaven forbid Jews be asked to limit family size. Those poor women…worn out by the age of 35, and dead by the age of 40.

    Of how I have felt for months’ now, I can’t think of a better word than UNEASY. I can no longer watch TV news of any sort or, for that matter, Internet news: it is all garbage-y nothings. I get reliable news from

    My emotions swing between extremes. I have at least one panic attack🫨per month concerning the descending/decline’s goings-on. At other times, I watch the birds and wildlife and watch weeds grow out my window, and bury myself in hobbies🙈. Weeds are good because they make the soil better for years to come🌱. At my age, having been a meditator for fifty years, and with your writings, I am aware enough, most of the time, to prevent ‘uneasiness’ manifesting into ‘diseas-iness’🤒(if that is even a word),—which is no small feat. I feel sad😥a lot, but at least I KNOW what THAT is about. How can one not be sad sometimes? To not be sad is to not be kind. There is nothing to celebrate. I could not possibly eat popcorn during feeling down.

    I had never heard of Nina Paley🎞️. I just watched her “This Land is Mine” animated film which sums up not only “the Middle East,” but humanity in general. I don’t have much hope of humanity rising above its habitually killing of neighbor after neighbor. Really, humans do not learn from the past. Killing other humans is humans’ preferred method of population control.

    JMG, again, thank you for your broad sight. I have mentioned before that your writings keep me from jumping off a high cliff.


    The subject of will came up in commenters’ notes this discussion. Meditation itself is neutral, being neither good nor bad. Meditation needs a positive direction, as in kindness, or else meditating is all for nothing. I learned that meditation-without-kindness makes for “a better bad person.” So, as a rule, I look in the world for “mediative-quietness+kindness.” Another word for kindness is compassion. I have been struggling with the meditation-plus-kindness issue for years—my head understands it, yet my soul rebels.

    I may have mentioned, but I shan’t vote this November. Neither party has presented worthy candidates. Moreover, third-party candidates are a no-go. All are dorks. None of them is worth transporting myself to the voting booth. They all suck. I will merely watch.

    At my age, as a 70-something oldster, it really isn’t my ball-game anymore—it is time to ceed to my youngers-and-betters (I like to call them “youngsters”). How can I legitimately vote for things that will happen after I am either decrepit or dead? It wouldn’t be fair to youngsters. The vast majority of over-70 federal legislators🦍🙈🙉🙊should do the same: RESIGN so that youngsters may take over✨. Oldsters are blocking the way.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨👵🏼🛌🤒😵🧘🏼
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  123. >It’s been brought up here before, the influence of Manga and Anime, starting with some Gen X, but really picking up speed in the Millenials and their successors

    A data point. Remember the music section of your local department store? Remember how they had a place where they sold all the posters for you to put up in your room as a kid? Music bands and pretty women and fast cars?

    They still have those posters. But what is on them has changed. You might want to look at them to see what the kids are putting up on the walls of their rooms currently. The music bands are almost completely gone, the pretty women and the fast cars are completely gone. Gone like the wind.

    What has replaced them? Anime. Cartoon girls, cartoon cars…

  124. JMG,
    If you like George Winston try Keith Jarrett’s ” Jasmine” Album. As you might know one of the great benefits of George Winston is that he had such a huge popularity in the early 1980’s that George Winson Albums ( in both CD and Vinyl) are obtainable easily and at cheap prices in most used record stores or second hand outlets.
    When the first of his “Season” series came out in 1979 or 1980 if I remember right it was primarily sold in Hi-Fi stores because they used it to demo audiophile stereo equipment, then it gained its popularity from there. I got my first George Winston Album about that time along with his Label Mate Leo Kotke.

  125. Could something cause interference with people’s ability to connect to the astral light? And if so, could people encountering an unexpected hindrance cause them to panic and rush to something they see as “stronger”, in order to overcome it be a possible explanation?

    This is a topic/question I’ve been slowly mulling over as a possible Magic Monday question, and if it’s better suited in that forum then I will ask it there instead.

    In 2021/2022 I experienced what I can only describe as a sudden and shocking backlash(?) to something that shouldn’t have caused any at all, as far as I can tell. My understanding of avoiding the sticky fingers of the raspberry jam principle is – Find something good/positive in the world you’d like to see more of and cultivate it. Find others who feel the same way, and if collective will produces positive results, then all is (likely) well. This is what I did, and good results were happening….until a new city council swept the elections. Then the positive results began reversing, to the confusion of everyone. (And just to be clear: I didn’t use any magical workings for these matters. I figured mundane ends call for mundane means. Minding the raspberry jam principle is sound advice regardless of any magic!)

    Two examples of the strange reversals off the top of the old noggin:

    They removed 2 popular bike lanes in order to increase vehicle traffic, plus they removed a future bike lane that the previous council voted on and approved of (One of the major synchronicities I had seen) . Of the reasons for these removals: they claimed that bike lanes are “working against climate (change policies) because you have all these cars backing up” . Bike lanes = more car pollution, I guess.
    “council decided Wednesday to waive $3.8 million in taxes that had already been levied on real estate developers who own newly built empty homes […] The empty homes tax revenue, most of which has already been collected and all of which was earmarked for social housing, will now instead go back to developers.”
    Taking money from the poor to give to the rich? odd…

    And if the insanity of these wasn’t enough, the description of how they go about implementing these changes raises many more eyebrows:

    “‘Staccato policymaking’ is a term for this. Rather than building support for a particular direction, it’s very abrupt, often just appearing out of nowhere […] Rather than sounding out different parties and trying to build support for an issue, there seems to be some kind of internal process, often a closely guarded secret. And then we see sudden action.”

    To say this has all be rather disheartening may qualify for understatement of the year. It seems to fly in the face of my understanding of how the world works… So I chose to simply back away slowly from it all. But if the way things normally work stops working… then the leap to evoking whom/whatever you please for assistance doesn’t seem so far fetched.

  126. Siliconguy wrote in Comment #32

    Quote from another blog, part of a discussion on the reinstatement of the draft;

    “The current social reality is that the young men who would make the best soldiers – already fit, motivated, and self-controlled – are precisely the cohort that most loathes the regime, for the regime has for their entire lives taken every opportunity to tell them how much it loathes them. Forcing them to fight on its behalf is not going to endear it to them. Putting weapons in the hands of people who despise you and then teaching them to use those weapons at a professional level might be … not the best idea.”

    Could you post the link to the blog post in question?

  127. Re: “many failing civilizations, in which the imperial overlords become increasingly isolated from reality and end up *going through the motions of ruling a society when they actually control only a little enclave somewhere and everyone else just ignores them.”* — That’s precisely the theme of The King In Yellow! It’s exactly what Aldones et. al. were doing in the ghost town his capitol had become.

  128. JMG #123

    > I have yet to find one that (a) allows the intellectual freedom I need while still (b) having rituals that don’t just plain suck. (Sorry, Unitarians.)

    Yep. I can relate to the deficiencies of Unitarians. I grew up Unitarian-Universalist (UU) all the way back to LRY (Liberal Religious Youth). I feel the same ambivalence about Unity churches. Both are too unfocused for my liking—they allow anything and everything. Unity is all one God, no Jesus. UU is no God(s), no Jesus.

    UU used to have (maybe still around in some congreagations) a special-interest groups called something like UU-Christian. I don’t know if they allowed ‘UU-Christ’ as opposed to ‘UU-Jesus-as-Historical-Figure.’ I am pretty sure they allowed UU-Jesus-as-Historical-Figure. UU-Christ may have been beyond the Pale. The thing is, UU-Christ is exactly what I would have liked to explore. There is absolutely no group, after years of searching locally, that allows UU-Christ—I think it is a real necessity to be there locally, real-life people meeting in people’s homes, sort of thing. I suspect that no-one is able to handle the barrage of criticism that would come their way.

    UU-Christ would allow one to do yoga; engage is any sort of meditation; not spread the concept that if one closes one’s eyes while not muttering something about “the Christ,” then one automatically invites in the Devil. And such.

    Roughly from 2012 to 2017, I educated myself on Christianity, and joined a relatively-liberal Episcopalian local church. For the first year, they tolerated my encouragement of non-Christian meditation, I guess, because I was an ignorant newbie. By the second year, bordering the third year, their patience had run out and they systematically could hardly acknowledge my existence when I showed up Sunday mornings. They never stated out loud, to me, what the cold-shoulder was about. I eventually figured out what the issue must have been. After all, I had said to people in the congregation that if I had to choose between meditation and Christianity, I would side with meditation. Meditation, after all, had saved my life whereas Christianity had been nothing but ultimatums and criticisms. I will never, ever give up meditation, EVER. I guess they talked amongst themselves, and decided that my willfulness barred my own way to salvation by stubbornly putting meditation first. I did indeed choose, and meditation won out, and they passive-aggressively booted me out of the congregation.

    Near the end, I got myself baptized—just in case. All one needs to save one’s soul is to get baptized, then do nothing good. Easy-peasy. I feel better now that I am like most all Christians—get baptized and do nothing.

    Episcopalian is known for being liberally-orthodox, if that makes sense. I am now in the midst of sorting through my accumulation of bought paper books, and donating books that gave me no information about what the truth of Christianity is. Christians watch and judge. When I got to “there is no valid will besides God’s,” they lost me—I was out of there. I have no business calling myself any kind of Christian unless there is God’s will AND the individual’s will. I have specifications. UU-Christ has a minor chance of letting someone like me be part of their group, because that is the place where the struggle between God’s will and my will would hash things out. There is no “place” where someone like me can spend years hashing out this issue, and not feel pressured. Christianity does not allow a person to be Undecided for years on end. One has to pretty fast declare that God’s is the ONLY legitimate will or, I believe, congregations feel that one continues to sh_t in their perfectionist waters (and are forced out by social norms). I learned what my soul needed to learn, first hand experience.

    So I am happily Buddhist. A Christian congregation decided me out on a forever-level, and I won’t be back. I gave Christianity a magnanimous try, but that wasn’t good enough for them because, I guess, I didn’t learn fast enough.

    I am partial to Insight Meditation, Vietnamese Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism, all of which include Lovingkindness/Compassion as for direction (and no pressure to be perfect).

    💨Northwind Grandma💨☸️🪷🧘🏼⛪️
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  129. Well, JMG, went to the discursive meditation link you recommended to Rajarshi in #123, read the four posts discussing the method. As a Christian I took your advice and meditated on the first portion of John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word” My life giving insight was that I am always in the beginning with the Word as every moment is a beginning and He is always there. Life is fresh and new moment to moment. Cool. I have practiced sitting breath focus meditation in the past so that part was familiar. In fact the seated position you describe is one I have seen recommended by a qigong teacher. I do some qigong and tai chi stuff. The addition of the discursive element is powerful. For my Sphere of Protection it’s the classic Our Father which includes the words “let us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” Bring in the Spirit of God is the safe place. My divination equivalent is asking for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit and hearing/receiving/knowing/realizing the wisdom and guidance inwardly and from circumstances.. It says in the Gospel of John that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, teach us all things, and tell us of things to come. Am I now a beginning Christian occultist? 🙂

  130. @Michael Gray (#86)

    That’s too bad about American Zen, though I have to say it doesn’t surprise me.

    I was involved in one of the zen sects a little bit when I was younger, but only in Japan. When back home for a bit, I found some temple or meditation group or two in the Seattle area (back in the late ’90s), but I was turned off by the vibe in those places. Not that they were bad people, but it smelled too much like what the Subgenii call “church air.” The folks seemed to be projecting an aura of sublime peace all the time, and I guess that’s what turned me off. The Zen monks I knew in Japan all had their full, original personalities on display. Some were cranky or impatient, and they didn’t make any apologies about having a good time once in a while (usually involving alcohol and non-veggie food).

    So I could easily imagine how the folks who gather around American Zen groups might lean toward all of the righteous leftism that is popular these days.

  131. My comment kind of fits with a lot of other opinions here. I have for a long time felt that I do not dislike any other group of people in the world enough to wish our (Western) way of life on them. Sure, there are lots of good things, but I am finding them harder to discover.

  132. @JMG and everyone

    Oh, I hadn’t seen Cliche Came Out of Its Cage, thanks for mentioning it! It’s very interesting to me because my child has heritage from both traditions, so I end up wanting to create a practice that respects both traditions to raise my child in. IDK if I’m creating something new in a good way, or in a bad way, or not really creating anything new but just being a traditional “gods from all different places” pagan…

    (Anyone else trying something similar?)

  133. There’s a book called ‘Jesus the Magician’ I believe. If I remember correctly, it makes the argument that Jesus was a ‘goes,’ someone who worked with spirits. Was Jesus a wizard? Who knows. On a similar topic, I was raised Mormon. Joseph Smith was up to his eyeballs in the occult but after his death the Church tried to scrub all of that from his history. Maybe Jesus was the same way.

    I’ve never had an interest in Goetia besides a surface-level curiosity. I would be interested in encountering a spirit purely for the experience, but I have no interest in trying to command one. Overall my focus in regards to magic and spirituality is henosis, and everything else is secondary. I wish I had a group nearby because doing it on my own is hard. Your books make it a little easier, John, so thank you.

  134. JMG–re your comment on Unitarian ceremonies. Years ago, a friend attended a UU service with me. Afterwards she commented that each time the energy started to build something was scheduled that interrupted and deflated it. After a bit of mental review, I saw that she was correct: inspiring song–dull announcements–unifying prayer–pass the plate, etc. UU is not unique in this. I have been in many Wiccan circles in which one or more persons seemed to fear the actual creation of magical energy and would make a distracting comment or crack a joke that interrupted the flow.
    Listened to the rant about Zen–recalled that there was some event fairly recently that I considered attending until I found that they required evidence of up-to-date COVID shots. I don’t recall what the event was or who was sponsoring it.
    I have also noticed the rise in interest and promotion of spirit evocation on various magical and Pagan blogs. There is a magician whose blogs I followed several years ago offering an online course. Ironic that years ago he described a personal experience of calling on a goetic demon for money that backfired rather badly.


  135. Mr. Greer..

    In perusing this post, I couldn’t help but notice that .. um .. self operated ‘derriere kicking’ apparatus thus described. I could see a day not too far into the future, whereby the disconsolated plebs … of whatever western country .. adapt and modify such an incentivised ‘tool’, allowing any aggrieved passerby to actuate such (say, as through ‘steamed’-powered foot pedals, levers, &such .. to apply towards anyone so accused ( pmc hacks/ h.r. karens/ virtually ALL of CONgrease/deepstatetraitors/etc. ect. ) of misuse of the public trust, who’ve been put up – rain or shine – in stocks ( No, not those of the icecream-Nancy trading kind!! .. oh wait! ) and placed along any empty main street space available. This, I think, would magically provide a well-needed cartharsis to those who like to see bared the brunt of their collective ire. And make sure those boots are steel-toed .. I think they would really kick a$$. ‘;]

  136. Speaking of the self-destructive idiocy of the American ruling class, there is a joke that has been making the rounds lately on the Internet.

    Two North Korean soldiers are talking. The first soldier says “Our Dear Leader is so angry right now”.

    The second soldier asks Why is this?”

    The first soldier replies Because it has been his greatest wish for years to destroy the United States, and Joe Biden has beaten him to it”

  137. Davie, in occultism it’s not a matter of preference. Directing the descending energy into specific forms is our job; it’s what we’re here for. It’s because so many of us aren’t doing our job that the world is such a mess.

    Jill C, I hope your students like it!

    Fra’ Lupo, I know. Latin is normally very precise but that’s one place where it’s unhelpfully vague.

    Jen, no, I haven’t yet.

    Northwind, I’m glad to hear that. Yes, I’ve also seen Nina Paley’s mordant animation. It’s especially relevant to that part of the world, but yeah, it applies more generally.

    Clay, I’ll give it a try. I’ve been increasing my collection of old Windham Hill CDs generally of late.

    Wilted, why did the new city council sweep the elections? A lot of people voted for the new council, and they had reasons to do so. Understand those reasons — by which I mean take them seriously and sympathetically, rather than trying to brush them aside with clichés — and you’ll understand why the backlash happened.

    Patricia M, good! Yes, I had that very much in mind when I described The King in Yellow that way.

    Northwind, I know. I’ve seen all of that.

    BeardTree, heading in that direction, certainly.

    JillN, I get that!

    Cary, I hadn’t seen it until quite recently, either, and it bowled me away.

    Enjoyer, you’re welcome. Yes, Morton Smith’s Jesus the Magician argued that Jesus was a goes. I think Smith was wrong — Jesus was a classic magos, and a successful one (as per his miracles), which is why he was hailed as a theios aner.

    Rita, I’ve seen the same thing. It’s very clear that the attendees want to avoid spiritual experience — which is fine, but that’s a central reason why their church doesn’t interest me.

    Polecat, I hope not. People can be kicked to death.

    Ariel, I saw that! Funny, in a bleakly accurate sort of way.

  138. For Ariel;

    It’s about halfway down, below Calvin and Hobbes and just below It’s Her Turn. Or the second Dr D posting however you want to track it down. He’s a wind bag but still interesting.

    Just a bit above the quote I posted is this gem;

    “Is this me? “men are deeply disinterested in putting on a uniform, picking up an assault rifle, and joining the crusade for Human Rights Values against Russian Orthodox Space Fascism…”

    By their own data the Pentagon will have to draft ten to get three keepers.

  139. Dear Mr. Greer, (et all) – I picked up a new book from the library, the other day, and I think it may be of interest, and does touch on some of the subjects brought up in this post. “Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic.” (Stanmore, 2024). I haven’t begun to read it, yet, as my “to read” pile, is deep. But some of the jacket copy, sounds interesting.

    “…dispossessing us of the idea that all supernatural belief was relegated to ‘devil’s work.’ ”

    “Stanmore explores the premodern places where magic was real, offering not only practical solutions to ordinary problems but a way of feeling about the world: an emotional relationship between cosmic forces, anxious humans, and the mundane mysteries of their lives.”

    “In medieval and early modern
    Europe, your first port of call might have been cunning folk: practitioners of “service magic.” Neither feared (like witches), nor venerate (like saints), they were essential to daily life. for people across ages, genders and social ranks, practical magic was a cherished resource for navigating life’s many challenges.”

    Might be worth a look. Lew

  140. #15 Kay #33 Jean #67 Kan–
    Or perhaps a series of Nazi jokes!
    You know you’re a Nazi when…
    –The eggs from your chickens that your neighbors line up to buy from you are $2 cheaper a dozen than the ones at the chain grocery store.
    –You traded a jar of jam for a jar of pickled beets at the farmer’s market. And LIKED it!
    –You canceled your cable TV subscription and read a book–from the LIBRARY!!

  141. Lewis foresaw and foretold the present moment, I think, especially in part 2 of that poem of his:

    “The weary gods,
    Scarred with old wounds the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
    Will limp to their stations for the Last defence. Make it your hope
    To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
    For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
    His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
    Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
    And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
    Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
    Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
    Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
    Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.”

  142. It could just be the synchronicities of the Universe at work, but I have stumbled across this completely scientific and logical flowchart that can place anyone in one of the major world religions: Here’s a link:
    It is missing the decision tree for becoming a druid– Plotting that pathway on the chart is (of course) a topic for meditation….

  143. I have the impression that people who communicate with non-visible beings often only hear what they want to hear. They probably filter what they are told according to their own expectations and interpret it accordingly. Otherwise, I think that there are probably malicious beings who can smell their own weaknesses and lead these people around by the nose. Something along the lines of: “You want fantasies, you get them, and let’s see what happens to you, idiot.” I wonder how many of the modern conspiracy theories do not come directly from humans, but from entities that have transplanted these thoughts. I read a Christian internet prophet for a while who thought he could talk to God. Among other things, he said that he had been told that a zombie apocalypse was imminent and that IS would conquer the Vatican next Wednesday.

    I have one more question for you: How can one be sure that communication with an unseen entity is actually authentic and that the entity has no evil intentions?

  144. @Northwind Grandma, Methylethyl and Phutatorius,
    An important branch of my family appears to have been part of the Palatine migrations. I don’t have the dates right at hand, but I think they came in with the later migration. They were the Dillons (paternal grandmother, the largest, most prosperous and cohesive part of my blood relatives), so we assumed for quite a while that they were Irish until my aunt did some snooping into our geneology and found out they were originally the DeLons, German speaking protestants from France, the Principality of Salm at the time,, who settled into Pennsylvania, changing the name’s spelling after a couple of generations. They don’t strike me as being more spiritual than average, but they have accepted my spirituality (which I present with great modesty) and have vastly healthier family relations than the rest of my family.
    The Ormsbys (Viking ancestry), by contrast, were more mercenary (my brother and I are the last of them), and never got together except for those related to the Dillons. A certain amount of bad karma seemed to come down from them. Little information on them prior to three generations ago.

  145. @ Northwind Grandma #128

    “I am aware enough, most of the time, to prevent ‘uneasiness’ manifesting into ‘diseas-iness’”

    Mighty and thought-provoking phrasing, for which I thank you! 🙂

  146. Thanks for your response to my last comment. As for myself I hold open a possibility that other Cosmologies likewise exist. As for what I said. I did base it on testimonies with the caveat that they simply reported what they saw and experienced.

    Now what I find also interesting and even puzzling is when said Cosmologies clash especially on account of conversion. For example this Buddhist Woman who converted and who had a distinct Spiritual experience where Buddhas and her ancestors which she venerated suddenly become quite different when they ended up encountering Jesus walking into her heart. In the following story there ends up being a Spiritual battle:

    Perhaps either those entities were revealed for who they truly are. Or one Cosmos ended up swallowing another. Transforming the same Entities into another form.

    I have always been curious in regards to the Spiritual realm. I did initially try to become Buddhist. But eventually became Christian after my own research and seeking.

  147. @Ecosophia Enjoyer

    I think the same could be said for every Prophet that does Miracles by God’s Power. Including the Apostle Paul.

    Are Miracles the same as Magick? Not quite. Prayer is the same when it gets answered. Similar but not the same. As our Host has explained. In Christianity no one but the Most High is to be the Patron. To be under his regulation and purposes.

    Jesus also had to Pray to recharge his energies and seek guidance on what to do. While being Deity himself. He voluntarily self-limits. Relying on the Holy Spirit and his connection to his Father. It’s for Good reason the Ministry only happens in the 3 years after his Baptism in the Holy Spirit when John Baptised him at the age of 30.

  148. Northwind Grandma #134, et alia

    Re alternative religious paths

    I have opted for the “quiet solo path” approach. About ten years ago now, I had some experiences that took my spiritual journey in a wholly unexpected direction. I was raised in solid American
    Protestantism (mainly Baptist tradition, but I’ve attended Lutheran, Methodist, and Nazarene churches as well) but after the encounters I’ve had now practice a solitary and very nonliturgical devotion to what I can only describe as a cthonic earth goddess (?). I have some very devout friends and we discuss spirituality frequently, but I just don’t highlight the peculiarities of my path. Since their faith is compatible with my polytheistic worldview, the conversations are reasonable. I just don’t talk about mine in detail.

    Btw, I’m not all that far from you. Manitowoc, WI.

  149. About interrupting the flow of energy in churches, covens, spiritual groups, even secular music concerts…

    In the church I grew up, if there was special music, we were instructed not to clap, because this was seen in one way as building up person instead of the music being an offering to God. That has stuck with me ever since.

    Rita Riptoe wrote: ” one or more persons seemed to fear the actual creation of magical energy and would make a distracting comment or crack a joke that interrupted the flow.”

    It seems to me clapping at what otherwise might be magical musical performances is a way to dissipate and banish some of that energy that might otherwise go into the crowd and change things. There is a certain amount of fear present in the presence of great music and musicians and clapping seems in some ways to banish the effect. It might be needed in some cases, but it also might be prudent to not clap and let the energy do what it needs to in others.

  150. Wilted @ 131, What you describe illustrates why it is important to pay attention to local govt. IDK about your particular town, but I have for about 40 years now seen “alternative” newspapers the writers, I will not call them reporters, of which could tell you details of atrocities on four continents but had no idea what was happening in their own neighborhoods. What you describe looks like an organized hostile takeover. Maybe you and friends ought to be attending city council meetings. Set up a blog and inform the public?

    Having said all that, I am not understanding why a change in govt. prevents you from finding and cultivating something good in the world. I think of my own frugal do it yourselfism as a kind of creative civil disobedience.

  151. Thanks again for the thoughtful commentary.

    One thing that puzzles me is that if you actually would read the Bible every day and took it seriously, you could never end up with the metaphysics currently prevalent in the west. How did we get to thinking that by definition, that the materialist framework is the definition of the scope of truth?

  152. Yes the world of music in occultism. From the understanding i have developed over the years is music is magic and it helps form the energy that is our job as you say. All charts for music are templates one has to get the the soul or spirit balanced around them or the music can in my opinion will bring these strange spirits on the energy one puts out. But in the idea of morale upstanding in music this is a difficult task with singing hymns all the time, and especially with the glamour spell that takes so many of us in. The music charts are a template not set in stone. Want to attest to the fact this stuff is very real and have come to understand that music has helped to clear the mind and cleanse the soul so that one can form energy. Presently in the last 6 months put together a music trio orchestra(mezmermente) and took it on the road practicing the method of music to heal the mind…..and in this environment let me tell you no wonder mages use blinds. Much gratitude JMG this essay and the one on music was good and a sweet reminder for me to stay on the path one has been parallel with each other over the years. You have been a light in a dark moment thank you sir.

  153. “It’s because so many of us aren’t doing our job that the world is such a mess.”
    Yes I hear you there. Really I do.

  154. Lew, hmm! I’ll definitely put that on the “to read” list.

    Robert, I’m not quite so ready to give up hope as all that! Still, it’s what Castaneda, that gifted trickster, called a path with heart.

    E. Goldstein, that’s funny. I’m pleased that there, at least, polytheism is a recognized option!

    Executed, any communication that arrives from an apparent spirit has to be approached as unproven, with your eyes wide open to the possibility of deception, misinterpretation, or the simple fact that spirits are no more omniscient than the rest of us. Since this is the same principle on which we have to assess any statement made by an incarnate human being, that’s no great hindrance. If you act as though the spirit talking to you was a stranger you just met at a party, you can avoid most of the potential problems.

    Info, every cosmology is a human creation, and subject to our limits — to borrow a metaphor from one of my books, any such belief has about as much in common with the reality it represents as a two-year-old’s stick drawing of a horse has with the surging, sweating reality of an actual horse at full gallop. Thus the clash you’ve described is what happens when the two-year-old gets dissatisfied with the stick figure, and tries again.

    Bradley, because the materialism in place in the West is based on the radical rejection of the Biblical worldview, largely driven by the mistaken attempt to treat the Bible as a geology textbook. The habits of thought put in place by that worldview stayed active even after the worldview was rejected.

    Hawk, you’re welcome, and thank you for this!

    Davie, then maybe we are talking dialects of the same language…

  155. David (offlist), enough. You’re way off topic, and there are plenty of other places for you to compete in the Offendedness Olympics, so I’ll encourage you to go elsewhere. Given the verve with which you’ve jumped to conclusions and flung accusations, I think your chances of a gold medal in that competition are very high; still, you’re in the wrong stadium.

  156. methylethyl says:
    That is the perpetual problem with building an identity around what you’re *against*, isn’t it? The funny thing is, all the things they’re against that they might actually get some traction on: political things, cultural things… those all go by the wayside in favor of the *one* thing, Christianity, that’s definitely going to outlast them.

    If they’d ever figured out something to be *for* they might have a lasting movement. But they’re only against: against heteronormativity, against biology, against authority, against hierarchy, against family, against limits…

    We’ll see them in church in a year or two, I guess. Hopefully before they’ve done too much damage to themselves.
    They rail against Christianity because I think they are too emotionally tied to it. I am sure they will end up in a church somewhere.

  157. JMG: Neptunesdolphins, exactly. What you contemplate, you imitate; if all they’re contemplating now is Christianity and Trump, I can tell you exactly what they’ll be doing in the not too distant future.

    I have been studying the process of deconversion from one religion to either no religion or another. The major reason that Neo-Pagans leave Christianity has to do with religious trauma of some sort, usually involving sexuality or actual abuse. It seems that rather than move on to another faith, they have made politics (Progressive) their religion. That observation has been made by others about people who have given up on religion – they use Progressive politics as a faith. It becomes their church complete with doctrine and dogma.

    Trump factors into that since he shattered their faith in progress that culminated with Obama. It seems that he is the symbol of the past they want to escape.

    Mr. John Beckett, for me, has become the major example of this. He flogs the dead horse of Christianity and Trump. However, his presentations on Paganism and Polytheism are repetitive and redundant. They lack joy and a sense of belief. (I know you don’t remark about him.)

    The other bloggers have the same sense of ennui about Neo-Paganism. It has ceased to be fulfilling to them. They are simply looking for outrage with the wider-world.

  158. Mr. Greer, I could abide somewhat.. the device could be run on ‘green’ solar, thus giving any recipients cloud time to reflect on their mendacity, if not outright maliciousness … they have afterall, been kicking to death in some manifestation anyone lower than themselves, to those impugned by the whims of fancy and/or insanity!

  159. Per Justin #156 “There is a certain amount of fear present in the presence of great music and musicians and clapping seems in some ways to banish the effect. It might be needed in some cases, but it also might be prudent to not clap and let the energy do what it needs to in others.”

    I like that. It especially applies to applause between movements in concert halls and chamber music. This used to be verboten, but is becoming more acceptable nowadays, presumably because the concert halls, musicians, & conductors are trying to be more inclusive & less snobby. I think people who really don’t know the difference between the end of an entire piece and the end of a movement (and don’t bother to read the program) get really uncomfortable at the silence if nobody applauds when the playing stops. As you say, there could be a certain amount of fear present, and applause banishes the effect/energy. In church, on the other hand, it seems very odd when people in the congregation to applaud. A different set of unwritten social norms applies in church.

  160. @walt F #109,
    It’s interesting to see the techno optimists ( including working engineers who should know better) disagree with Elon Musk, but for the wrong reasons. You see the root of their disagreement with Elon is that they think he is really trying to save the world by building affordable battery cars, to take space tourists to mars and to put robot servants in every home, but is not getting there the way they want.
    What they don’t understand is that these were never Elon’s real goals, which are to harvest subsidies, and investor cash while promoting the religion of progress with flashy gadgets.
    Elon knew that building a simple affordable battery car would not work in the US, but a flashy, super-fast gadget car would accomplish his purpose better and he might even turn a profit on it. The only problem with the cyber truck is that he eventually delivered it. It served his purposes better when it was only a ” future concept”.
    Elon ( who is not an engineer, but a physics major from the same higher ed program as Donald Trump) did effectively motivate his crew of actual engineers to develop some whiz-bang space tech ( catching boosters anyone) that may or may not ever contribute to going to mars ( or even the moon for that matter). But there is no doubt the Whiz-bang Spacex stuff did harvest government subsidies and ignite many a poor techno-optimists dream of a limitless future for humans in space.
    When you boil it Down, Elon Musks projects are like the Computer fortune-Teller they had on the county fair circuit back in the 1970’s. There was a booth on the midway with a replica of what people of the time thought a computer would look like. A wall of flashing lights and spinning magnetic tape. The operator would punch in some info that you gave him and presto out came a paper tape with your future on it. Only the fortune came off a roll of preprinted fortunes fed from the back of they empty but impressive computer facade.

  161. @JMG (#161):

    Oh, I haven’t given up on the possibility that I may be mistaken.

    As for hope, that’s one of the very hardest of all human emotions for me to feel, if indeed I have ever experienced it at all. (I’m not sure.) Something about my neurological hard-wiring, I suppose. Fortunately, the opposite of hope (despair? fear?) is just as hard for me to experience. So I can live at the balanced center between the two..

  162. cs2 mentioned upthread that spiritual practice for Christians doesn’t have to be black-and-white, that it’s possible to engage in both spiritual work and communal worship. That is the approach I’m taking after a years-long period of disconnect from the institutional church.

    I have a Protestant Christian background, but for the past year-and-a-half I’ve been attending a Catholic parish, and it just so happens that it’s the only one in my region that offers the Traditional Latin Mass. (Interestingly, because of Traditionis Custodes, the extraordinary form cannot be promoted on the church’s website or bulletin and so it has taken on an occult connotation for me that is probably not intended by the Vatican.)

    Anyway, I have found the combination of esoteric and exoteric practice beneficial and mutually supporting. For one, I don’t see Christian occultism as being separate from the Eucharist. Second, occult practice can liberate forces of the will, and I find it helpful to be reminded regularly where I fit in the grand scheme of things. The frustrations I encounter with institutional religion are both a test of my resolve and a gateway into deeper understanding of the Christian mystery.

  163. “Killing The World” You could probably do a book on exclusion of the life force from the worldview of Western science. Sort of like “Inventing the Flat Earth,” by Jeffrey Burton Russell. Actually, “Technology as Symptom and Dream,” by Robert Romanyshyn covers a good bit of ground in this regard for those who are interested.

  164. Peter Wilson # 71
    One odd thing I noticed about LOTR is there are no organized religions, temples etc. in Middle-Earth. Yes, the elves sing of Elbereth, but there’s no indication at all of religion in the cities of men. Weird. I suspect that this was deliberate…

  165. @ Michael Gray #86
    Thanks for the Zen link. Asian Buddhists are typically a great deal more conservative than the video maker suggests. I’ve had some hilarious conversations with elderly Tibetan lamas about LGBT, goths, raves and other Western cultural phenomena. They were always wide-eyed in disbelief. Historically, it has usually taken centuries for Buddhism to be successfully transplanted into a new culture, and until that point is reached one has to adhere fairly closely to the preceding traditions.

    @ Northwind Grandma #134
    I’ve also been saddened by Unitarianism, which in former times had unlimited promise. They’ve now shackled themselves to the woke ship, and in due course they’ll undoubtably go down with it. To make matters worse they insist on appointing non-religious ministers. Who would want pastoral care from someone who doesn’t believe in anything, apart from an arid and lifeless version of humanism?
    (Re: Loving kindness in Buddhism, I recommend Santideva’s Guide to a Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Stephen Batchelor’s translation).

    @The Other Owen #120
    If it will require a major crisis for the lies to end, and if, as JMG has written, dying empires often form sidelined enclaves, then unfortunately the UK is a leading contender. We can easily muddle through a range of minor crises and all the prerequisites for becoming a despised and forgotten island enclave are already in place.

  166. @Siliconguy #145

    Interesting link, thanks for posting it!

    Part of that same post:

    >The point was really, THAT’S A THING YOU GET OUT OF YOUNG MEN. That’s what you get as a kid growing, up want to be a hero, a soldier, shoot bears n’ stuff, get women, do things. That raw, fresh, and it’s really pure love and adventure. They love women. Their families. Their country. Action. They are lusty for life.

    >And now? Sorry folks, even men 12, 15, 17, they’re already IN the war. They already act like Rick Blaine in Casablanca. That is to say, they are NOT NOT NOT the Rick Blaine of Paris. They’re already shot at, sold out, and jaded. Careful. Calculating. Suspicious. Believing nothing. And how much more even up to the oldest cohort, GenX? Now 50 or something?

    >You can get, recruit, convince YOUNG men to do this, fight in your stupid wars. But men who have ALREADY been in the war – as everyone, down to GenZ have already now – don’t act like that. They MIGHT go to war, but you have to give them very good reasons, with incredible assurances, and get no special favors and no latitude

    makes me think of what the author of The Big Change 1900-1950 (who also wrote the earlier and more famous Only Yesterday about the 1920s) wrote about the difference between WWI and WWII:

    >a crusade, as Woodrow Wilson put it, “to make the world safe for democracy.” People whose memories do not go back to those days, but who recall vividly the dead-pan, let’s-get-the-nasty-business-over-with, let’s-not-have-any-parades-or-idealistic-talk spirit of World War II, may find it hard to appreciate the fact that in 1917-1918 an American people much less united in their acceptance of war than they were to be in 1941-1945 nevertheless went about their war tasks with genuine fervor. The great majority of American men and women had real faith that this war could be the last one ever, that victory could bring a new day of universal freedom, and they prosecuted the war with an almost evangelical dedication.

    I think it’s interesting how, writing in 1950, he expects his readers to recall WWII that way.

    And then:

    >One by one the apparent moral certainties of the mid-thirties–such as the notion that wars are fomented by munitions makers–were engulfed by the news from abroad. With each portentous event American opinion shifted; sometimes the shift was so rapid that one could trace its progress in successive Gallup polls. For instance, in March, 1939, 52 per cent of those polled thought that if war broke out in Europe we should sell Britain and France airplanes and other war materials; the very next month–after Hitler’s total occupation of Czechoslovakia–the percentage had gone up from 52 to 66. Naturally, then, when war did break out in the autumn of 1939 the
    Neutrality Act was amended to permit the cash sale of munitions. Yet still the majority of Americans, despite the nightmare change that they were witnessing across the seas, remained stubbornly reluctant to commit themselves; their neutralism died hard. It was not until France fell and Britain stood alone, confronting the prospect of “blood, toil, tears, and sweat,” that their sense of the implacable necessities of the new situation began really to overcome their suspicion that somebody must be putting something over on them.

    [BTW re that first remark. Note the name of Little Orphan Annie’s “Daddy Warbucks.” He’s not supposed to be just a lonely rich guy, he’s supposed to be a lonely rich guy with an evil past.]


    >During World War I there had been a lively crusading spirit–and there had also been considerable opposition to the war. This time there was no opposition. During the whole three years and eight months that the United States fought, there was no antiwar faction, no organized pacifist element, no objection to huge appropriations, no noticeable opposition to the draft. Yet there was also a minimum of crusading spirit. For the popular disillusionment over World War I and the controversy over involvement in World War II had left their marks.

    >A generation of men and women who had heard again and again how men could be seduced by war slogans and martial parades were inevitably skeptical in their inner minds. This new war was astonishingly like that of 1917-1918, in Europe at least; and despite the obvious differences and the hard logic of circumstance, something remained in the subconscious of millions of people to rise and accuse them whenever they heard a patriotic peroration. They didn’t want to be victims of “hysteria.” They felt uncomfortable about flag waving. They preferred to be matter-of-fact about the job ahead. Morale officers reported an astonishing indifference to instruction on
    American war aims; the chief war aim in most soldiers’ minds appeared to be to get back home, by vanquishing the enemy if there was no quicker way; and the strongest force making for valor and
    endurance was apparently pride in one’s outfit and loyalty to one’s buddies.

    Seems like what that poster’s talking about has happened before.

  167. Thank you John, for your help with Huysmans novel. However, I’ve found it translated to Spanish (“Allá Lejos”).

  168. >By their own data the Pentagon will have to draft ten to get three keepers.

    I’d say they’re going to need to draft moar than that. Once younguns figure out how woke the military is, every kid will start spouting nazi slogans, wearing “There are only two genders” t-shirts and making incredibly racist statements. Not because they believe any of it, but because it will initially get them off the hook. However, they will get desperate, just like Ukraine is. And they will be back.

    If you’re young, fit, with practical skills and you don’t like the idea of fighting and dying for Joe Biden, now is the time to leave. This prediction is based on math. And math is racist.

  169. Neptunesdolphins, I’ve noticed the same thing. They’ve stopped being for anything in particular and are just against something. Any time now, they’ll be embracing some version of the thing they think they’re opposing.

    Polecat, how about windpower? Strong winds are rare enough that most of them would just get prodded, or would stand there for a good long while waiting for the first shoe to drop (so to speak).

    Robert, I wonder if we’re using the word “hope” in the same way. By it I simply mean being open to the possibility of an outcome other than the worst-case scenario. In a way, that’s the story of Ragnarok; most of the gods die, but “the stupid, strong, unteachable monsters” don’t actually win; they get slaughtered, too — Thor perishes but he kills the Midgard Serpent, Loki and Heimdall kill each other, Odin gets gobbled up by Fenris but Vidar avenges his father in spectacular style, and when the smoke clears and the rubble stops bouncing, there remain some of the Aesir, some humans, and some prospects for improved conditions at least for a little while. For me, that’s as much hope as I can ask for.

    Gerard, I’d consider it, but every time I’ve done a book on the history of ideas it’s flopped completely in terms of sales. Apparently the way I write such books doesn’t appeal to much of a potential audience, so I’ll let it pass for now.

    Chuaquin, delighted to hear it.

    Other Owen, funny. I assume you’d use a turbo-encabulator to deal with a spherical cow. 😉

  170. Magical thinking of the corporate kind, via the Washington Post, probably behind a paywall by now.. I found it here,

    Kind druids may wish to undertake a calming meditation first.

    “Microsoft was the only one of the four major firms driving the AI boom to answer detailed questions from The Washington Post about their energy needs and plans. Google, Amazon and Meta offered limited statements.

    “If we work together, we can unlock AI’s game-changing abilities to help create the net zero, climate resilient and nature positive works that we so urgently need,” Microsoft said in a statement.

    The tech giants say they buy enough wind, solar or geothermal power every time a big data center comes online to cancel out its emissions. But critics see a shell game with these contracts: The companies are operating off the same power grid as everyone else, while claiming for themselves much of the finite amount of green energy. Utilities are then backfilling those purchases with fossil fuel expansions, regulatory filings show.”

    Page 4 of this handout shows Metas GHG emissions going up by a factor of 8 between 2017 and 2022, from one million metric tons to 8.4 million metric tons.

    The utilities are extending the life of coal plants and building natural gas plants. Apparently they don’t want to turn off the Augmented Idiocy servers at sundown.

  171. >becoming a despised and forgotten island enclave are already in place

    2000 years ago, those islands were a neglected backwater that didn’t matter much. Not saying that history repeats.

  172. >If they’d ever figured out something to be *for* they might have a lasting movement

    They’re a death cult. They want to die and take as many people with them. That’s what they’re for.

  173. At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below or in the comments at the first link above.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May Jennifer have a safe and healthy pregnancy, may the delivery go smoothly, and may her baby be born healthy and blessed.

    May Ecosophian, whose cat Cheesecake (picture)ran away on Wednesday 6/12, be safely reunited with Cheesecake; and may Cheesecake be protected and guided on his journey home.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    May Jennifer’s father Robert, who passed away on May 29th, be blessed and soothed, and may his soul be helped to its ultimate destiny and greatest good.

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk, and has now successfully entered the third trimester; may Monika and baby Isabelle both be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery.

    May Jennifer’s mother Nancy G. in SW Missouri is still recovering from various troubles including brain surgery for hydrocephaly; may she be healed, regain her mobility, and be encouraged with loving energy.

    May Erika, who recently lost her partner James and has been dealing with major knee problems (and who senses a connection between the two), be healed in both broken heart and broken knee, and be able to dance in the sun once more.

    May Doug Y of Geauga County, Ohio be supported and healed as he makes his way through the diagnosis and treatment process for prostate cancer.

    May Ms. Krieger’s hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut recover quickly and fully from the gasoline tanker fire that destroyed an overpass and shut down interstate 95 on May 2. May the anger and fire that has made driving in the area so fraught cool down in a way that benefits all beings. May all people, animals, and other beings around the highway, the adjacent river and the harbor be protected and blessed, and may the natural environment improve to the benefit of all. (update)

    May Christina, who passed away on 5/8, experience a peaceful repose; may the minor child she leaves behind be cared for, and the needs of all affected me met; and may her family be comforted in this difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  174. Re the draft–no one I know who has been in the military (ex-son-in-law served 20+ in Army, youngest daughter-6 years in Air Force, oldest grandson 6 years in Marines) favors a draft. Those who were non-coms shudder at the idea of having to manage unwilling inductees. It is hard enough to train and manage the volunteers.
    On the wokeness–well my grandson reported that the constant lectures about sexual assault, with the implication that every man is a rapist, got wearing. He entered just after the Marines decided to admit homosexuals. I asked him how that went in training. He told me there were two gay guys in his platoon. One was also fat, and as my grandson explained it isn’t fair to tease someone for two things, so he only got teased for his weight, not for being gay. The other had an annoying personality and got grief for that. Small sample I admit. Perhaps a sign of the times that instead of an illicit craps game in the barracks they were running an after lights out D&D campaign with numbered slips of paper drawn from a bag to substitute for the noise of dice.

    Gerald O’Neil–you are not the first to comment on the lack of any religion in LOTR. Guess that worked out well for Hollywood; didn’t have to offend anyone by leaving it out of the films. I think that 1) setting Middle earth securely in the past meant there was no reason to engage Christian belief at all and 2) as a Christian Tolkien would have felt it sacrilegious to create false faiths for the peoples of ME. For one thing, it would have involved deciding whether the non-human races of ME had souls or any need of salvation. Thankfully this decision spared the readers the tedium of heroes or villains spouting oaths such as “By the brazen belt of Orodoubos, this shall be done!”

  175. Mr. Greer, I suppose wind would work .. what with the inevitable wind gusts and all that entails, be they sporadic, or sustained.

    p.s. Hope you had a pleasant solstice.

  176. @Phutatorius: I’ve heard more people start to clap during the pause between movements a bit more often when we’ve gone to the symphony in recent years as well. And yes it does seem like there are different, often unspoken, rules in these different settings.

    If I ever get the chance to attend an Ambient Church concert (electronic ambient concerts geld in cathedrals and other sacred spaces) I will be curious if people applaud or not.

  177. Siliconguy, not at all. I needed a good laugh, and that provided it. The thought that the flacks at Microflaccid are so giddily detached from reality that they think a program that mimics human language on the basis of internet chatter (which is, after all, what all this talk about AI amounts to) can overturn the laws of nature and hand them the utopia of their sticky-fingered fantasies is so absurd that it would take the original cast of Monty Python to do justice to it. I imagine Eric Idle reading those words with an utterly serious expression on his face.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Polecat, thank you. It was very quiet and a little melancholy, for obvious reasons, but the dance of sun and earth is still very much worth celebrating.

  178. Re Rita 182: I differ when it comes to the draft. I was a DMV, that is to say a “draft motivated volunteer” in 1967 after a big, prestigious university kicked me out for not being able to write a decent paper or essay. My experience in Air Force basic training was what JMG once called “a failed initiation,” because I’d made up my mind beforehand that I would not be “brainwashed.” I had scored on the high end of the armed forces qualifications tests, and was trained as a technician. Military discipline was “overkill” for me because I was “over-controlled”: to begin with. What I needed, looking back, was to “loosen up.” Among my cohorts were a number of college grads, and a larger number of guys with “some college” like myself. So, the quality of us “DMVs” was rather better than today’s all volunteer force, even tho some of us resisted and resented military culture right up to the limit.

    Having said that, I think there are plenty of people who benefit from military discipline. For example, I knew a Black woman who spent 8 years in the Air Force who is now a Zen Buddhist teacher. She was/is quite impressive. I know another woman who was a stripper in San Francisco, who then spent 8 years in the Navy. No “dummy,” I think she turned her life around.

  179. ExecutedByGandhi asks “How can one be sure that communication with an unseen entity is actually authentic and that the entity has no evil intentions?”

    I remember reading the answer to that one long ago, I think from a Christian source. “Does what the entity says contrary to what you know to be ethical? Does it stand to reason?” I think there was more but can’t rememebr it now.

  180. Weilong (#78) and JMG (#106) re: corporate values. They’re brilliantly satirized by the glossy inspirational posters and calendars available at “Home of Demotivators”. For example: “MISTAKES: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.” … with a large photo of a ship sinking at sunset. One of their corporate slogans: MOTIVATIONAL PRODUCTS DON’T WORK. BUT OUR DEMOTIVATOR® PRODUCTS DON’T WORK EVEN BETTER.” Gotta love it. There are just too many that I want to quote, so I’ll leave it at that.

  181. First (and once again) the disclaimer: I’m not a scientist.

    But this field that surrounds and binds and penetrates starts to sound like ‘quantum entanglement’. All I know about entanglement is what I’ve read in articles in science mags and online. If you look at the wikipedia definition it sez something along the lines of not being able to talk about the quantum characteristics of an object independently of the characteristics of other objects with which it shared spatial proximity. These entangled objects are bound and linked even when separated by great distance.

    I read that a scientist said that scientific theories only apply within rigidly defined circumstances. Maybe this habit of rigid definition carries over to habits of mind and thinking in general ie too much rigidity. Maybe the scientific community ought to loosen the nuts a bit.

    There was a discussion in the Archdruid days in the comment section on the topic of life’s origins and evolution and out of the blue came accusations of creationism and teleology. No dissent allowed, not even a whiff because this be thought-crime. One commenter rebuked the accusers by saying that despite decades of trying, nobody’s been able to create life in the lab, so there.

  182. Lathechuck, I find delightful. A favorite:

    Smith, I’m not sure that the phrase “quantum entanglement” means anything but “something weird is happening that we don’t understand.” That latter seems to me like a very reasonable approach to life!

  183. @Bradley # 158 – my two cents on your question is that materialism is also a viewpoint that almost every human shares in terms of experience. With the exception of extremely mentally ill people, we can describe, live and repeat interactions on the material plane with little reference to beliefs and experiences with other planes.

    This is a simple explanation. But then again, many humans (including myself) are rather simple.

    So as populations grew and mechanisms of control at the national and global level replaced much of those of villages and towns, especially in regions where Christianity reigned, a worldview with less or no religious content was easier to roll out by our betters and manage. It is/was in some ways more efficient, at least with guiding the herd in a single direction. Earlier in my life I thought this was okay, as I’m a big fan of freedom of religion. But now I see that a vacuum in faith and alternative paths can also lead to a vacuum in morals, and that of course isn’t so good…

  184. >>One odd thing I noticed about LOTR is there are no organized religions, temples etc. in Middle-Earth. Yes, the elves sing of Elbereth, but there’s no indication at all of religion in the cities of men. Weird. I suspect that this was deliberate…<<

    Not quite true. Faramir basically says grace before a meal, and the Hallow of Eru was on Numenor prior to the place going corrupt. And then you have Sauron's Temple, and (more obscurely) the House of the Lord from the Tale of Adanel. One occasionally sees Eru invoked for Oaths.

    In addition to Tolkien's external concerns (his own invented metaphysics is already not a completely cosy fit with standard Catholicism – no need to compound it), there is also the in-universe point that the Valar are explicitly the demiurge. Elves, Men, and hobbits invoke them, but don't worship them. Eru Himself is a hands-off deity.

  185. Mary Bennet,

    Whatever is passing of as yoga in crowded studios with people on tight clothes, is not yoga, but rather glorified stretching with a serving of posing and a large side of spiritual bypassing, so it’s not your fault…

  186. @Robert Mathiesen #148

    In my opinion Lewis’ view of Ragnarok is entirely incorrect. It has nothing to do with the philosophical dualism of ancient Iranian and Abrahamic religions. The Jotun were not ‘monsters’ versus the ‘decent’ Aesir and Vanir and their conflict was really a tragic family feud rather than a battle between good and evil.

    The Jotun were indeed powers of chaos and destruction, but also of creation, and all the gods were descended from them. Wolves and serpents are dangerous, but they can also be tamed by kindness and open heartedness, and they can become beloved companions.

    I’m not convinced that there are any divinities that are inherently ‘evil’. Some of them are merciless predators that feed upon living beings and some of them have abiding grudges against humanity, but none of them are dedicated to wickedness, which seems to be an aberration that is unique to mankind.

  187. Siliconguy,

    Many years ago I dated an ex-Navy gal who was 6′ tall, strong, confident, and delightfully feminine, even in her Doc Martin boots. She told me that lots of young women join the Navy to make money – their paycheck plus most of the guys’ paychecks as well! 😉

    (Together we were a 12′ 2″ couple – mama mia!!)

    Thanks for the Acadia lesson.

  188. Dear JMG, since you say that converting to Islam means rejecting the Western world, similarly becoming a Christian means accepting the Western world and its heritage, and I accept that!!! Let’s all start pulling useful things out of this pile of rubble!!! By the way, I saw a news that the Ten Commandments will be displayed in front of schools in a state in America!!! I think the Second Piety will take over at lightning speed!!! I advise everyone to prepare now. After all, we live in a crazy time where we need to be ready for everything!!?

  189. I think there will be a draft. They will get themselves into a stupid war they can’t handle and they will get desperate for any warm body that looks like it can be trained to hold a semiautomatic rifle for an hour or two and sent on its way. That’s also when all the woke in the military will magically disappear, much like the vaccine mandates did. And they’ll probably do a switcheroo and get rid of Joe Biden as well to replace him with some more “patriotic” figurehead.

    It looks like someone got the memo on fast food and they’re quietly getting rid of it. Should’ve done that 10 years ago, it’s too late now. Look for them to get rid of all junk food next. Again, too late for what they need.

  190. Phutatorius, and Northwind Grandma – Bear in mind that there are substantial differences in spirit between congregations within a denomination, as well as between denominations. Sometimes it’s just the 95% of Christians that give the other 5% a bad name. 😉

    Even in my college town, with students, faculty, and staff coming and going, local practices and traditions can persist for decades, because “that’s how we do things”. Thirty-some years ago, the organist/choir director at my Lutheran church somehow “trained” the congregation to remain seated until the end of the final piece of music, the postlude, which had previously been a signal to get up and out. “If I’m going to work up a performance, you’re going to sit still and listen to it!” was her attitude. Four or five musicians later, we still sit until the last note, and (only) then, we applaud for all the music of the worship service. I guess I could think of this as a breaking of the spell created by the liturgy.

  191. Methylethyl,

    “Modern Christian views of what is and isn’t “witchcraft” are largely shaped by modern post-enlightenment rationalist materialist scientific ideas. As in: anything that isn’t either explicable by Science ™ or an obvious Miracle From God(tm) is probably demons. ”

    Perhaps the adjective invoked here is “Manichean?”

  192. Smith, I’m not sure that the phrase “quantum entanglement” means anything but “something weird is happening that we don’t understand.” That latter seems to me like a very reasonable approach to life!


    Oddly enough, I’be been reading around this area – and I’ve started writing about it in an attempt to understand it. It’s beginning to look to me that some aspects of how mind can affect reality (beyond the pick up a cup example) really could be partially explained by the an interpretation of Bayes theorem from statistics and Bells theorem from quantum mechanics. I’m trying to make a case that could at least give an open minded materialist a thoughtful moment and possibly a raise the bushy eyebrows of a sorcerer too.

    The key is to produce an actual explanation on the basis of what we do know rather than some pop-sci hand waving.

    In all probability both sets of people will scoff….

  193. There are rumblings already that the thinktanks here “know” (finally) that a multipolar world is emerging. Simplicius’ latest has the details. Source is here: It’s nice to see someone finally sniffing the coffee, but I’m not holding my breath of course, since there are many other chickens circling the roost, like them losing “hegemony” in the national cultural sphere, such as it is. It dawned on me, JMG, what you’ve been saying, but in regards to Science Fiction. Are there any SciFi pieces that imagine a world with no energy, no fuel? Almost definitionally, there can’t be, then Science (TM) wouldn’t be central, and it would be fantasy. What a great idea the Deindustrial SciFi project is! I had a possible light bulb come on this week (thinking about the future weather of North America, thanks to your essays) that deserts must be a product of confluence between earth force and sun force, if you allow this tangentially related question. So if you have earth forces radiating “desert” area, but the sky forces balance, you get savannah. If you have sky forces drying things out, but the earth remembers a wet phase, you might get (say) prairie. But if they both agree in the dryness, you get the Desert. So that the two forces either “balance” by canceling each other to some extent, or “balance” by complete or substantial agreement. Does this sound correct? Some kind of similar dynamic could be said to drive political and cultural change, with “the People” and “the Government”, in the functional or dysfunctional relating that they do to each other. I’ve come to share your view on the current elite: they seriously have less than zero idea what is coming down the Pike for them, in terms of Reality. Our technology is strangling us, but Reality is fixing to strangle Technology. I guess the question is, as Technopoly gets throttled, does its death grip on our throat loosen or tighten in a death spasm? Probably up to us…what you properly ignore, doesn’t matter, when you’re paying deeper and deeper attention to what is really there. Thank you for another splendid read.

  194. As regards the words

    “By their own data the Pentagon will have to draft ten to get three keepers.”

    is the UK still the only major country that fully respects the right of conscientious objectors? AFAIK it’s done so since World War I.

  195. Yiğit, the Louisiana case is an interesting one. Our constitution leaves a great many decisions in the hands of state governments, but over the last century the federal government has usurped many of those. We’re now seeing pushback, with states reclaiming their constitutional rights, and this case is part of that; it’s expected to go straight to our Supreme Court. We’ll have to see how they rule.

    Andy, thanks for this. I freely confess that I don’t have the mathematical chops to follow modern physics. If you want to raise my bushy eyebrows, you’ll need something more than a phrase and a couple of abstruse mathematical models — but I’ll look forward to something of the sort, if it happens.

    Celadon, and yet there used to be a lot of SF that didn’t presuppose lots of energy. It was a known subgenre. These days, though, nobody remembers classics such as Edgar Pangborn’s Davy, or Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin’s The Masters of Solitude, or Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay, or even all the postcollapse SF in the young-adult genre — Andre Norton’s Star Man’s Son, John Christopher’s The Sword of the Spirits trilogy, and the list goes on. I’d like to see those get some attention again, because many of them are first-rate fiction. Your earth-sun interaction model, btw, makes perfect sense to me — and yes, it can be applied very, very broadly.

    Neil, we’ll see if they still do so when push comes to shove.

  196. @JMG (#177):

    Hmm, probably we’re not! I think that “hope,” for me, primarily refers to an emotion, namely, a feeling of cheerful optimistic hopefulness, not to the likely possibility of a desired outcome vs. an outcome not at all desired.

  197. @Tengu (#195):

    You’re quite right about the Jotun as presented in the Eddas and similar lore. Lewis was mistaken there. I do not, however, remember any instance in those sources of either a wolf or a serpent being tamed by kindness, or becoming a “beloved campanion.” Can you point me to instances in the Old Norse texts that I may have overlooked?

    As for your claim about the Gods and good/evil, were you talking about Gods in general, or only the Old Norse Gods as presented in the surviving texts? If the latter, there is the rather ambiguous case of Loki. If, however, it is the former, then I must respectfully dissent.

    The Gods, as I have experienced Them personally, are far beyond such things as having individual identities or personalities. In Their realm things are never limited by the possibilities or impossibilities of our human logic, but (for example) “A” and “not A” are never ever mutually exclusive; and of course, that applies also to “Good/Moral” and “not Good/Moral” as well. They transcend each and every category known to human thought. Nothing–absolutely NO THING–humans can say or think about Them will be unreservedly true, true without any quibbles or caveats. That is how I grasp Them on the basis of my own experience of Them. It is not a matter of logic, much less philosophy or theology, but of presonal experience.

    Of course your understanding of Them, if you, too, have personally experienced Them, may differ radically from mine. After all, we are both (like all humans) very severely limited in our capacity to grasp anything outside of our every-day world, which has been framed and limited for us by the artificial parameters of space and time, matter and energy, to restrict us to challenges in our lives that we may have some hope of facing, surviving, and learning valuable lessons from.

  198. Speaking of states rights – several states had established churches in the early days of the United States. Massachusetts was the last one to disestablish the Congregational church in 1833. As originally understand only the federal government was forbidden to establish a church as a national church under the Constitution. States were free to have a government supported and recognized church inside their boundaries. Constitutional scholars believe the 14th amendment extends this forbidding of an established church to state governments. However the forbidding of state established churches is not explicitly mentioned in the 14th amendment so it is a matter of interpretation. Originally the United States was a seen as an association of free and sovereign states with some powers reserved to the federal government and the rest belonging to or shared with the states. The states were not mere subdivisions of the USA like counties in a state. Before the Civil War, a common expression was “these United States” and then it shifted to “the United States” The horrid choice of the southern states to insist on slavery as a system to be protected in the name of states rights poisoned the concept of states rights as not being a bastion of liberty but an excuse for doing shale.
    The endlessly growing gigantic omnipresent and now working on being omniscient and omnipotent US federal government and the control of it being fought over as a life and death issue is IMO a sign of failure of the American constitutional system.

  199. It is summer field day for ham radio operators. This year our club is having its shindig on the grounds of a local masonic center. Cheers and shout out to all the masons on this forum and the good they do our communuties. Off to the festivities…

    If anyone here hears K8SCH on the air, that is our club.

  200. On the topic of the SF which does not assume an abundance of energy in future, I would like to give a shout to the wonderful Gene Wolfe. His short story “Straw” starts with a premise that hot air ballon technology existed in medieval times, and works out how that would have affected warfare (Mr. Geer’s recent article on post-industrial warfare on this very blog strongly reminded me of it). Then there is the brilliant “Seven American Nights” which takes place in a nightmarish yet strangely vivid America in terminal decline. Wolfe was a genius writer with an engineering background who had no time for soothing fantasies and was not afraid to look where current trends are taking us.

  201. As regards to potential draft, if push comes to shove and 7 out of 10 are let out of having to serve the other 3 out of 10 will revolt.

    As for what they just passed, it has been law that when a young man becomes 18, they need to register. I wonder if alot of them have been “forgetting” to do so. Also, I noticed that the new law is automatically registering ALL young men between 18 and ( I forget, is it 26 ? ) so, if they “forgot” when they turned 18, they are now signed up. If they just moved here, legally OR illegally, they are now signed up. Walk over the border in the right age range, and you are now signed up.

    But, I bet there are alot of details to that, for example, I would imagine that if you just moved here to attend university that you are NOT signed up ? And probably lots of other exemptions, like the rich who have houses here, and effectively live here but never apply for citizenship, I bet their young folk are not signed up…..

  202. @Celadon – this is the 20th anniversary of S.L. Stirling’s sprawling Emberverse epic, in which the entire planet is kicked back into a condition where the only usable technology is more or less preindustrial. Or nonindustrial. It’s well – written, lively, and the characters, memorable, for good or ill. The faint remnants of the Religion of Progress are attributed, as a slur, to a university-based city – state, and while a number of faiths old, new, and formerly marginal emerge, the importance of taking care of the land is common to all but the major baddies of the second trilogy on – a nihilist cult that despises the material world in favor of pure thought, but which in practice leads to atrocities. I recommend it to anyone who likes that sort of things, which I do.

    Caveat: Stirling is a died-in-the-wool Tory, and thinks a society of master and man is the one most natural to them. Aristotle had a word or two about that. There are long, detailed accounts of battles; and as much attention to details of food as in The Hobbit.

  203. Quitting the rat race – Courtesy of Jean Lamb:

    Note, all of these things appeared to have happened given actual letters to Ask a Manager:
    linger*June 19, 2024 at 7:52 pm

    On my final day of notice, I gave my company:
    Twelve cod a-quitting,
    Eleven random edits,
    Ten glitter trails,
    Nine cancelled contracts,
    Eight shredded docs,
    Seven smiley stickers,
    Six screeds of email,
    Five board forwardings!
    Four drowned keys,
    Three home truths,
    Two mowed words,
    And a flipped bird, ’cause I am free.

    Jean Lamb

  204. I saw a graph recently which represented the recent decline in electric vehicle sales as being entirely due to one company: Tesla. Sales of all other brands of EV continue to increase to some degree. As the accompanying text put it, Tesla is failing harder than all the rest of the industry is succeeding.

  205. Another example of how far we’ve fallen,

    “”The $230 million temporary pier that the U.S. military built on short notice to rush humanitarian aid to Gaza has largely failed in its mission, aid organizations say, and will probably end operations weeks earlier than originally expected,” the Times wrote.

    “In the month since it was attached to the shoreline, the pier has been in service only about 10 days. The rest of the time, it was being repaired after rough seas broke it apart, detached to avoid further damage or paused because of security concerns,” the report continued.”

    But back then,

    “The Mulberry B harbour at Gold Beach was used for 10 months after D-Day, and over 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of supplies were landed before it was fully decommissioned. The still only partially-completed Mulberry A harbour at Omaha Beach was damaged on 19 June by a violent storm that arrived from the north-east before the pontoons were securely anchored. After three days the storm finally abated and damage was found to be so severe that the harbour had to be abandoned and the Americans had to resort to landing men and material over the open beaches.”

    “Both harbours were almost fully functional when on 19 June a large north-east storm at Force 6 to 8 blew into Normandy and devastated the Mulberry harbour at Omaha Beach. The harbours had been designed with summer weather conditions in mind, but this was the worst storm to hit the Normandy coast in 40 years.”

    So the worst North Sea summer storm in 40 years damages one Mulberry beyond repair because it wasn’t completed yet, but now “rough seas” in the eastern Mediterranean breaks up the dock.

  206. Celadon,

    Thanks for that. I feel like that line of logic might do some expanding in my head…

    Fascinating comment.
    Am I correct to assume you are a Southerner?

  207. Hi John Michael,

    Thinking of you at this time, and can only hope the pain lessens, although it never goes away.

    Your words got the ol’ brain thinking about service and community. Those will be particularly hard wired into the Druid way, but of course you would have already noticed that! 🙂 Hope the energies from the rite gave you some strength, warmth and of course connection.

    Apologies, I do descend into the realms of mysticism, it’s a bad habit.

    The news media down here finally mentioned the unmentionable. The bear is out producing all of nato (the lower case was a deliberate choice) in terms of ammunition. What are you going to do about it, is how my brain works, others, well, they seem like history-road-kill to me. 🙂 Crazy days, huh?



  208. @Other Owen: what I’m hearing from more recent military is that there is no amount of PT that can make up for a sedentary overfed/undernourished childhood, where no real physical exertion has ever been asked of the recruit’s weight-bearing joints during the growing years. The newer guys are blowing out their knees more and sooner, among other things.

  209. BeardTree (#207) “The horrid choice of the southern states to insist on slavery as a system to be protected in the name of states rights poisoned the concept of states rights as not being a bastion of liberty but an excuse for doing shale.”
    The same thing happened in the 1950s and 1960s when southern states opposed the abolition of segregation (apartheid).

  210. “I pointed out that maybe doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was not a good idea, and that it’s a mistake to think of magic as a matter of coaxing or bullying favors from disembodied beings”

    Coaxing or bullying favours from others, one could say, is a general habit of most people, possibly independent of their occult practices? So if by practicing occultism you can accelerate the process of ripening into a developmental stage beyond being human – doesn’t it follow that you can accelerate the process of entangling yourself hopelessly in this world, too? I guess there’s no official bureau of statistics keeping score but maybe those with a lot of experience could tell whether on average, the advantage of “the” average person practicing occultism is close to zero but only the variation is increased into both directions.

    What I say may not be entirely true, at least I can’t claim to have a lot of experience in that business, but I am wondering what underlying factors make a person become virtuous? You sometimes say (as I understand it), that life on earth has to be “messy” because that’s the way it teaches humanity to become more than human. But has it to be that messy? I guess there have been and possibly are cultures on this planet which have and promote values that are more conducive to becoming a virtuous person than ours… How much of a mess is really necessary?


  211. Greetings one and all,

    I’ll never get the trolls coming in here. Sure I am very much what you’d call a worshipper at the alter of progress, it’s just I don’t see the point of coming and arguing with some people that disagree with it, I mean what’s the point Much better to focus on the occult and religious aspects where I tend to line up with the rest.

    In my area I’m seeing a lot of Asatruar, which was my entry into Polytheism, I think the AFA is making a presence near me and last I checked are still growing steadily. The response to the Stonehenge mess was a shrug and moved the ritual elsewhere and planned to try again later, as they finish paying off Temple/Hof #4 and the foundational plans for number five are being laid out, along with an online K-12 school and a community. Right now the rest of Pagandom is ignoring them but starting to see more and more mummering as they keep succeeding. I suspect the growth of Right of Center polytheism might be what finally runs a lot of Pagans towards Christianity, it would be seen as their gods abandoning them.

    I’ve noticed attempts to turn Shinto, and Daoism into copies of Neo-Paganism filled with the usual PMC far left talking points, but now that more and more people are talking to East Asians that’s falling apart as information on the gods being worshipped and prayers are flowing west and many of the Kami and forgot what the Daoist deities are called are starting to appear to people here, which is funny as many still try to deny Daoist worship gods. Makes me wonder how Shinto, Daoism, and the soon to be expanded Christian and Islamic groups will get along.

    As for the cursing, I was for a time on the pro-curse side, I saw it as a final solution for self defense when everything else had failed, I’ve learned better ways of late. For example a troublesome boss delt with via Road Opener, open her a way to something better far, far, far away from me!

    Info #13, use to have weird encounters with greys/Shadow People as a child, sometimes many spheres of light with little roses of them surrounded me, looking back I guess I was shielding myself, later I learned some work to call upon Asa Thor and that ended that mess permanently, or at least haven’t dealt with it since.

    Clay #15 Yeah many of my remaining leftist friends are not happy at my move to lose weight, get in shape, learn new skills, and such. Seems many of us have encountered similar situations.

    Silicone Guy #32 There is a joke in some corners of the ‘Net that a war and draft will lead to a massive baby boom as almost every women becomes desperate to avoid it via pregnancy. Also wanna bet that even as they are drafted and sent off to war the usual suspects mock the drafties? I’ve seen members of the extreme left saying send the MAGAOTS, I can see mass defections occurring.

    Clay #48 Trolling Union Local 420! Seriously maybe we should apply and ask our kind host to react, in exchange we buy all his books and subscribe to everything, hey it’s how they do it! 😉 Well I have a feeling that while funny would end with us reincarnating sooner than planned.

    Owen #53 I read somewhere Japan was the first nation to ban slavery in 1590, sooner than the Danes who are credited for doing so, or Haiti, or really anyone but the Japanese.

    Justin #55 I can see an American flavor of Shinto, it’s already in Hawaii and spreading. An interesting thing with Japanese entertainment is people start to embrace Japanese culture and assimilate, it’s only a strong distaste for religion that seems to be holding a Shinto explosion back… And liberal activists trying to make it the New Wicca of course. Wonder how this second religiosity will impact that.

    NeptunesDolphins #164 I keep waiting to hear about this Storm Goddess, betting much like JMG we see the Abrahamic God round them up and bring them back into the fold.

    JMG #177 A lot of Neo-Pagans and Wokies are using tactics that popular with people in brownshirts in 1940s Germany. Violence, going after employment, I remember some group edited Mein Kompf and replaced all references to Jews with White Men and got tons of awards for it.

    BeardTree #207 I know atheist that chant “Congress shall make no law…” like a Hindu/Buddhist mantra whenever a religious organization has any impact outside it’s walls, sometimes inside it’s walls as well.

  212. Hi Joan,

    Gotta bounce, but my understanding of the situation is that both the US and the Euro area have slapped tariffs on EV’s. And Tesla has something going on with production in the land of stuff. You may have noticed that things can get weird due to policies, but the effect of this is that the land of stuff is selling EV’s down here for what looks to me like near, or possibly even below costs. You can buy an MG for AU$40k on the road which given it has a 50kWh battery, seems rather cheap to me. Just my opinion. Crazy days, but what’s a country to do with over production?



  213. >The newer guys are blowing out their knees

    And those are the ones that WANT to serve. I suspect that when the draft really gets going, a lot of kids are going to pick up on this and damage their knees intentionally. Or claim bad knees from a friendly doctor. If taking an arrow to the knee gets you out of adventuring, that’s what they’ll do.

  214. Soko, and Patricia M, thank you for those examples. I’ve heard of Emberverse, and read the Gene Wolfe Book of the New Sun series (which struck me as profound and brilliant, although the Dark Age is also a High Age, and he doesn’t handle energy, since magic and artifacts manage quite well).
    Grover, yes, how did you guess, I do consider myself Southern American, born and reared. Not exactly sure why the South has such a strong sense of place – maybe because we used to be on the bottom of the ocean, aeons ago, and don’t take it for granted?
    Beard Tree, was actually thinking about that on the way to work – the worst objection to the Confederacy (and it is at bottom the same objection as slavery, particularly racial) was that the CSA was set to be exactly like the USG/Fed, just dressed in gray. They printed worthless paper money, suppressed dissent, & generally behaved with the same Yahoo-like Empire loving ways as the “Yankees” up North. The War was a largely a fight over who got to open the West with the transcontinental railroad, and under what terms. The Faustian death throes at the civilizational/cultural levels are going to be Sturm und Drang level colorful. If only the Old South had schemed to stay truly “Old”….
    JMG, thank you for your comment, I’ll keep meditating on that. And the list of early deindustrial SciFi! The triadicity of heaven-earth-moon makes utterly broad sense to me in a variety of contexts, even (for instance) the old dispute between kataphatic-apophatic dogma in Christian theology.

  215. Just as a data point, I work in front-end construction materials manufacturing – foundation products – and the use of our products is codified in certain applications. We’ve been getting hammered for two solid years now – (recessions are always good for our business, according to the owner) – but suddenly that’s all changed. In our usually busiest time of the year our orders have gotten anemic. So anemic in fact that on July 1st we’ll be cutting hours and pay by 20%. And I don’t really expect that to go back the other way. In fact, I think we’re leaving behind a recession that’s been papered over and heading into a full-blown depression.

    That’s the business side of it. The personal side is that I’m really looking forward to 3-day weekends, and my first thought was that it might be time to get serious about my practice again. I had a very solid practice for two years before starting this job, and I tried to maintain it for a while after I started, but failed at that. So a refresher course on Geomancy is on the short list. I don’t think it’ll take long to fall right back in.

    Second, I tried to read the Guardian article you linked but just couldn’t stomach it. I find that sort of garbage absolutely detestable. What a disservice to our culture.

    Thirdly, I really enjoyed this post! And I’ve read every single comment (except for a couple of tl;drs…sorry y’all). Life seems to be converging in ways that are encouraging me back toward spiritual health, and I’m digging it, since I already know what awaits!

  216. Was someone looking for novels set in a low energy future? The “World Made by Hand”series by James Kunstler is very good. Looks at life in the US, mostly upstate New York, in a world without fossil fuels, or much electricity. Not entirely bleak.

    @Joan, #213. Tesla is losing sales, but I think they are still making money. Did I see somewhere that Ford loses $60,000 for every EV it sells? I’m not sure they are really succeeding..

  217. Robert, gotcha. That emotion never made much sense to me, as it’s always struck me as a good way to trip over your own, um, feet. I reserve my happy emotions for things that have already come my way.

    BeardTree, doubtless, but I hope the refederalization of the country doesn’t include a return to established churches. When Christian churches get political power, abuses follow promptly, and so does the gutting of any actual spiritual content in those churches.

    Soko, thanks for both of these!

    Patricia M, funny. Thank you for this!

    Joan, and yet Apple canceled its electric car program earlier this year, Ford has cut the price of its electric Mustang due to weak sales, and GM is going back to plug-in hybrids. EVs have found a niche market but they don’t seem to be able to break out of it.

    Siliconguy, that’s a fine example.

    Chris, crazy days indeed. What astonishes me is that nobody in lower-case nato seems to have noticed that their survival as a major power is on the line.

    Nachtgurke, I could see a case being made for that. It would certainly explain why so many of the older schools didn’t pass on the techniques of practical magic to anyone who hadn’t already proved themselves with methods less likely to blow up in their faces.

    James, there are fortunately a lot of people whose attitude is like yours, which is why I have a thriving commentariat and only have to delete a few trolls every week. I’ve been pleased to watch Heathenry thriving as so much of the Neopagan scene declines; now of course that pleases me partly because Heathens account for a majority of the people I’ve heard from who like my book A World Full of Gods and, more importantly, get the points I was trying to make, but it’s also good to see a robust polytheist faith putting down roots among ordinary Americans, very much including those more or less red of neck. 😉 I hope you’re right about Shinto and religious Taoism, as both of those are faiths I’m very comfortable with.

    Celadon, you’re most welcome.

    Grover, fascinating. I could very well believe that we’re tipping over into depression, based on what I’m seeing.

  218. Dear JMG:
    I m struck with how actions such as “Mothers Rise Up” (dance performances and flash mobs against climate change), Fighting Climate Change With Arts (KQED Arts), the “Scientists Rebellion” (I believe dancing in skeleton costumes in public buildings), Extinction Rebellion are supposed to address climate change. How, exactly, will these address climate change? Non-violent civil resistance as an “effective tool to catalyze social change” is all well and good, but what energy source, not involving fossil fuels at ANY POINT IN THE PROCESS will these fun performances discover? Overall use of less energy by everyone would be a start, but how are these performances convincing anybody? If you are really concerned about climate change and extinction, humans have survived much bigger climate changes. Industrial civilization might not, bots that’s a different kettle of fish!
    I wonder if these are modern analogues of “rain dances”; sacrifices to the gods (gluing yourself to a painting), and other “primitive and nonscientific” practices our ancestors used? Could these be a data point in a loss of “belief in science)?
    In fact, one could argue that Al Gore and Barack Obama buying coastal mansions on Martha’s Vineyard mages one wonder. Are they really clueless, do they believe climate change is real, or is this just the idea of “well, it hasn’t happened yet so some smart people, somewhere, will figure out a solution.

  219. Celadon @ 224:

    “The War was a largely a fight over who got to open the West with the transcontinental railroad, and under what terms.”

    Thank you for that. What you typed is a far better explanation than the resort to “tariffs”, about which we have been hearing and reading quite a lot recently. An ancestor of mine was living in Oregon when the war broke out–OR was a state by then, if only just, admitted in 1859. He traveled back to Missouri, not easy to do even by train at that time and joined up with the Union army, I like to think under General Grant. I have never believed that such an effort would have been made over tariffs, but the possibility of his new home being taken over by rich younger sons with their armies of enslaved dependents–that I can understand being an inducement.

  220. @ JMG #227 I agree that established church’s are not good., let freedom ring! with robust freedom of speech, enterprise, beliefs and associated practices and medical freedom – which requires limits on centralization. Our federal system during the recent C ***** thing enabled state resistance to centralized Federal dictates. Even in my own state of California various cities and counties refused the more onerous restrictions common in other parts of the state. During that time I went to my city’s council meeting to speak on an issue during the open comments session. A notice on the City Hall’s door stated I was to wear a mask. I dutifully put mine on When I entered the council chamber I saw to my amusement the city council up front and their associated staff weren’t wearing masks. Apparently the door sign was to satisfy some “higher” regulatory dictate.
    However the price of liberty is that besides the freedom to make varied good or neither here nor there whatever choices it includes the freedom to make unwise or not good choices. Which is why typically progressive/liberal types are leary of states rights due to past bad choices (Alabama and others for instance) – of course their assumption is that the all powerful beneficent Federal government is incapable of the same lack of wisdom.

  221. As for that commenter, I still think it’s funny that he got troll’d by a trickster spirit impersonating the djinn he wanted. just lol. But on a more serious note, given his cavorting with disembodied entities, and his repetitive, self-destructive behavior pattern… could he be under demonic influence? That seems like a real possibility.

    Robert #87 & JMG #106: On point as usual. Yes, sci-fi and fantasy are closely related, the main difference is that one relies on magic, the other on technology. But as you rightly point out, there’s a fair amount of overlap. The original Final Fantasy on NES is a fine example of “science fantasy” — it starts out in classic swords & sorcery mode, but later on, (spoiler alert) you find your way to an abandoned space station complete with robots and computers, and the finale has time travel shenanigans. Eventually you figure out that the swords & sorcery world is in fact a post-apocalyptic setting (spoilers end). To think, FF1 came out in 1987, not too long after I was born!

    Ariel #132: I recognize the passage, it’s from John Carter’s Postcards from Barsoom —
    That whole substack is excellent stuff, and this is a fine piece, which links to relevant classic works.

  222. @JMG (#204):

    Notron’s Star Man’s Son remains one of my all-time favorite early SF novels. I still have the paperback I bought almost 70 years ago, though I got rid of most of my SF library a few decades ago. Time to read it again, I suppose …

  223. @Justin #208 – sorry I saw your note late! My club (VE3WE) just wound up our field day (first time for me). Not sure if we made contact with your club – I’ll have to check with our note-takers for phone and CW. Both the weather and 20 M reception were very unstable this weekend at my club’s location.

  224. @JMG re:solstice/full moon “it may be a rough few days, though, since the combined energies may make a lot of people wig out. ”

    What can I say, the last few days people lost their collective minds! Anything that could go wrong did. As you say, this stuff works. Also when it comes to astrology and hyper rationalists, I always describe it as like talking about radio in the 15th century. It would have seemed impossible to many but now it is just accepted. Many think we have the whole rule book sorted out.

    Also thank you to everyone their input on American Zen. A key thing I have noticed is that this issue seems to be relegated much more to the east-west coasts than the US as a whole. A reflection of their surroundings.

    @Weilong #137

    “I was turned off by the vibe in those places. Not that they were bad people, but it smelled too much like what the Subgenii call “church air.” The folks seemed to be projecting an aura of sublime peace all the time, and I guess that’s what turned me off. The Zen monks I knew in Japan all had their full, original personalities on display. ”

    It is an odd thing where many think that achieving satori means having to bleach your personality away. One can be enlightened and still be a grump and enjoy the treats of life. Just don’t get attached to them. This is also a common misreading of Dao De Ching, it doesn’t mean “do nothing” it means don’t be like Sisyphus.

  225. Celadon,

    Now you’ve given me coastal plain to boot! I figured. “Fixing to” only happens in certain locales…

    Do the women where you live carry “pocketbooks” as well?

  226. JMG (et al) – The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post is titled “Degrowth is Deranged”, and provides another view into the lack-of-thought process of these elites. They point out that past projections of catastrophe failed to materialize (from Malthus to Limits to Growth) without mentioning the massive exploitation of fossil energy resources that made growth possible. Apparently, it all just happened because we were finally clever enough to embrace “growth”. Then, they point out that even substantial reductions in GDP can’t possibly be sufficient to reach net-zero CO2 emissions. On the contrary “Cutting carbon emissions produced by the global economy will require massive new green energy infrastructure and new clean technologies. In other words, growth and innovation.” I guess they can’t cite specific examples, because the “innovation” hasn’t happened yet! But then, they wind up with this: “Degrowth’s prophets offer little more than handwaving in response to the most elementary questions about their prescription.”

    Handwaving? Like expecting “innovation” to solve the problems for which we have no other solution?

    “Deranged” seems to be the all-purpose smear word of the year. It implies that those who disagree with you are not simply working with different values, experiences, and knowledge bases. No, they’re just incapable of thought. They’re probably hopelessly deplorable.

  227. JMG (et al) – PS to my prior post: The Editors of the Washington Post showed their religious Faith in Progress as clearly as ever before, in that editorial. No, don’t pursue a smaller population, lower material consumption, more efficient production of materials… just rest assured of our shared faith in “innovation”.

  228. @Enjoyer & JMG “As a 4chan meme I saw once said, the trick is to not be A or B, but a secret third thing.” – “if the chans are starting to talk in those terms, the revolution is at hand. Excellent!”

    Don’t know if it just me but I have seen a growing fringe of folks that have been quietly talking about their dissatisfaction with the A-B dichotomy in all facets of life. The “Surely we can do better than this” path.

    A change is in the wind, hopefully for the better.

  229. Cugel, this is one of the things that has me most baffled about the contemporary West. The people who claim to be defending the age of reason and its legacy against obscurantism, who clutch the banner of science to themselves, are engaging in the most arbitrary sorts of ritual action under the weird conviction that this will somehow make the world change the way they want it to change. It’s as though almost four centuries of scientific rationalism have evaporated, leaving them to engage in a modern equivalent of the Ghost Dance — without any sense on their part that anything has changed. It’s just bizarre.

    BeardTree, I know. It’s quite possible that churches of various kinds will get established in various states as we proceed, either formally or informally; I’d just rather it didn’t happen.

    Xcalibur/djs, that kind of fantasy/sf overlap used to be very common. As one example out of many, I recall an old D&D knockoff dungeon where you get down to a very low level, and there’s the ruins of a subway tunnel with tracks going down the middle of it…

    Robert, it’s worth a reread! I go back to Norton at regular intervals — she could pack more story into 35,000 words than today’s writers can do in 100,000.

    Michael, that was an easy prediction to make; these days, if you predict “people are going to flip their lids,” you’re going to be right much more often than not. As for your radio metaphor, yes, that works — and it’s all the harder for a lot of believers in progress to grasp, because it implies that somebody in the past knew all about radios and we don’t.

    Blue Sun, yes, I saw that. It’s worth watching.

    Lathechuck, that’s a wonderful sign! If Pravda on the Potomac is scared enough about degrowth that they’re denouncing it, then the great god Progress really is teetering on his throne.

    Michael, excuse me while I rub my hands together and cackle in glee…

  230. Andy and JMG, according to what I read the Ptolemaic system hung around for more than a thousand years because it worked and because it was predictive. Similarly, quantum mechanics works and is predictive and I suppose that even though nobody understands it there’s nothing better at least for the time being.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but there’s no law or unbending philosophical principle that sez that nature has to be comprehensible to us upright apes or any other inhabitant of this glorious creation. And so maybe nothing better than quantum mechanics will ever come along. Maybe collectively we’re at our intellectual limits. Maybe we just shut up and calculate forever more.

    And I read that for an academic to question quantum mechanics too vociferously or too deeply, like some other branches of the natural sciences which are said to be ‘settled’, is to have a career death-wish. But if you can’t question then the scientific endeavor I think has reached a dead end.

    If the centers of learning claiming to do science and which soak up immense resources are failing in their mandate then maybe they might be better repurposed for some other worthy goal, or, if push comes to shove, torn down and thrown brick by brick into the nearest body of water. That would save further foolish and pointless and unaffordable expenditures and, not least, to make a point to society’s purported betters.

    The point? That we may be stupit but we ain’t that stupit and we know a scam when we see one.

  231. Grover, too far west in Arkansas, but I’ve heard it used. It’s fascinating how language interplays w both culture and geography. And socioeconomics, too. If there’s one term I’ve learned here, it’s “multifactorial”. And don’t try to isolate or insulate causes and effects too much. Viewing things meditatively. And of course, subtle third factor, the lunar force, an eyeopener. Now if we could convince the experts….hmm…a penny is trying to drop. Somethings fixing to something. JMGs got me questioning elitism, and its relating to third factor. If I remember you share my geography, though a state over.
    Mary Bennet, glad that helped! My old pastor, who does reenacting, always said that. It ties all the debated issues together in an imperial moment. Like the old South aristos, our current elites are leading the whole country to disaster. I hope you and all of us don’t get to repeat the experience of being invaded, defeated, occupied and turned into a giant agriculture plantation for the victor. A lot of us are aware it could happen precisely because it sure did! Aren’t you down South or Midwest too?

  232. I noticed after the Trump victory in 2016, blue states discovered and spoke about state rights and state and city resistance to the Federal government. The concept of secession was even brought into discussion. If Trump wins again I imagine it will all resurface.

  233. Hey JMG

    On the topic of Deindustrial Sci-Fi, I recently just finished “Engine summer”, and I still think about the bizarre way it ended. Also, on the subject of other works of Deindustrial Sci-Fi, while Ursula K leguin’s “Always coming home” is fairly well known, some of the chapters/stories in “Changing planes” technically also count since they describe Post-Progress worlds, or rather “Planes”.

  234. As some observers of the war in eastern Europe point out, it’s not about conquering territory but attriting the enemy – the territorial gains will follow automatically. Likewise, one could possibly argue that it’s not about acquiring sophisticated spiritual technology, but developing character and perception – the rest will fall in place. This would make a strong case for some kind of gate-keeping mechanism. But the cat’s biting it’s own tail here as there possibly is no system that can’t be corrupted. Where’s the guiding star in all of this? It’s possibly like asking “which way is up” when diving under water? Though it does seem that our senses for “up” and “down” get confused, sometimes. I guess the Lords of Flame, should they ever have existed in the way we imagine, have faced the same question when forming the laws of the material plane.


  235. @ Robert Mathiesen #206
    Thank you for the thoughtful reply. My mention of wolves and snakes was actually not in reference to any sources, it was simply to compare the non-evil natural world with the non-evil spirit world.
    I suppose that in the back of mind is the wish that the Jotun and the Aesir could have resolved their differences peacefully, and by the same token, I wish that the coming war in Europe, which is equally unnecessary, can be averted.
    As for the higher gods I have nothing to add to what you have written, except to agree that their motivations seem unfathomable, and as JMG has noted, they seem to be largely indifferent towards mankind.

  236. @Ron M #233: Hi Ron. I hope you had fun despite the weather. I worked a number of Canadian stations on SSB phone on 20 M and 40 M. Maybe one was your club, though I don’t remember the call signs. On 15 M we had a pipeline straight to California. And in the early evening I made three contacts with three stations in Rhode Island. I always like getting RI because of how small it is. I attribute it this time to posting about field day on JMGs blog.

    Stay radio active!

  237. “We pretend to work……” note from Business Insider (note: have to sign up to read the whole thing; this is just the blurb. “Quiet Vacationing – taking time off without notifying your employer – shows how sad America’s work culture has become.”

  238. @Tengu (#246):

    Thank you for clearing that up about wolves and snakes. I can agree that both the natural world and the spiritual world can be called “non-evil,” but only under the condition that they can also be called “non-good” as readily. The natural world is what it is, seemingly indifferent to human judgement. The spiritual world, in contrast, transcends every human category of judgement, and also every category and rule of human logic, at least in my own experience of it.

    However, if “non-evil” is simply another way of saying “good” for you, then it seems we do disagree. But disagreement is part of the irremediable human condition. So it’s fine if we disagree. “From the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made” [Kant], nor ever will or can be made.

  239. Hello John and kommentariat: I’m here again.
    John, you’ve written that it’s possible extreme leftists convert to Islam in the future, and somebody (I don’t know who, I don’t remember it but I’ve read a lot of messages ago….) said that if refusing Western culture implies “Islamization”, then “Identifying” yourself with Western civilization is being a Christian.
    Well, I’m asking, what branch of Christianism?
    I say this because some time ago I knew a man who converted from a non-practising Catholic to the Orthodox “Eastern” faith. And I think it’s a very very minority tendence in my country, but however he maybe not alone in this “Russophillic” tendence.
    JMG, you said that Russia and its “satellites” aren’t part of Western civilisation, so I ask to you:
    Do you think refusing Western faiths (Catholicism and Protestantism) and becoming a “Russian” Orthodox is refusing in part the Western world?(but less radical than extreme left Pro-Palestinian freaks supposedly becoming Muslims in a not so far future).
    I’m a bit confused…Could you clear this thing? Thank you.

  240. Beardtree #243

    > The concept of secession was even brought into discussion.

    In the intervening months, if Tramp were to mention states’ seceding or specific to my region, the Midwest were to secede from “the nation” with Chicago as the new center of the Midwest resides [to hell with WashDC], I would get my arse to the voting booth and vote for Tramp.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🤗🧘🏼
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  241. “If the centers of learning claiming to do science and which soak up immense resources are failing in their mandate then maybe they might be better repurposed for some other worthy goal, or, if push comes to shove, torn down and thrown brick by brick into the nearest body of water.”

    That would pollute the water and waste good bricks. Bricks are very recyclable, which is fortunate as they required a lot of energy for the kilning.

    The general point is valid though. The amount of knowledge left to be discovered is decreasing, but the number of researchers, or at least those that want to become researchers is increasing. The result is ever more trivial or just plain wrong papers, “the crisis in replication” you may have heard about. The situation is a fine example of elite overproduction.

  242. Archdruid, I have benefited quite a bit from discursive meditation. I continue to benefit from it. I have actually considered practicing some system of divination as well, preferably astrology. Its going to take a lot of learning, but I hope to get in touch with something deeper within me in the process. Thank you for recommending the Sphere of Protection, I will learn it. It sounds like a useful practice. I know that I cannot think productively on an empty emotion-belly, so cleansing my elements regularly seems like a sound idea. Thank you once again, sincerely, for your advice.

  243. Regarding the quotes from Sagan etc. If one wants to see the most unintentionally funny book of the last 20 years, grab a copy of The God delusions by Richard Dawkins. You will see what I mean, by the time he is talking about athiests being called “Brights” and the radio spectrum compared with a mile high burka. It just keeps stacking into this weird uncomfortable space.

    Richard pass me some of what you are smoking, it seems wild!

    I get the atheist questioning of how mainstream religions are used as leverage against folks, but they tend to over correct as a result. I used to be a part of a skeptics society, I have seen it first hand.

    Another example was the published drivel that was God is not great by Christopher Hitchens. That one felt more like a case of “Looks at how many citations I can make, it makes me sound smart!” But it got a lot of acclaim on release because of that alone. No surprise, that is Noam Chomsky’s grift of the last 60 years. Words assembled to sound intellectual but actually mean nothing, but we arent meant to talk about AI here. 😉

  244. So the AI is supposed to solve this;

    “The metal content of exploited copper ores from Chile, the world’s leading source of the metal, has declined from 1.41 percent in 1999 to 0.6 percent in 2023, and further quality deterioration is inevitable (see figure 7) (Lazenby, 2018, November 19; Jamasmie, 2018, April 25; IEA, 2021c).
    Using the mean richness of 0.6 percent means that the extraction of additional 600 million tons of metal would require the removal, processing, and deposition of nearly 100 billion tons of waste rock (mining and processing spoils), which is about twice as much as the current annual total of global material extracted including harvested biomass, all fossil fuels, ores and industrial minerals, and all bulk construction materials.”

    As I pondered that I thought of a scene from the movie Passengers. One of the ship’s crewmembers came out of hibernation when his pod malfunctioned. Due to circumstances he didn’t go directly to the autodoc. Eventually he keels over, and when he finally does let the medical AI check him over it says there is really nothing it can do, and dispenses a few capsules to ease his transition.

    There’s a good speech further down in the posting too.

    On another blog I’ve suggested shutting down commercial aviation to “save the planet”. No takers even though flying around is 2% of global CO2 and a totally unnecessary luxury. How about turning the data centers off at night to avoid building huge stacks of batteries? Unthinkable.

    A Calvin and Hobbes wagon ride down the hill seems like a good description of our path.

  245. Celadon,

    My mother in S. Georgia says it, and it catches me off-guard every time. I’m sure it was normal when I was younger, but I’ve spent a lot of years since then living in places where they don’t…sound like they’re from Georgia. Which is where I was born, grew up until middle school, and have been in and out of ever since. Divorced parents and a regular urge, as an adult, to go home for a while.. The current stint back in my home state is now at 14 years and counting! But I lived in Arkansas too, once upon a time. Jonesboro.

    I totally agree about the lunar current. (And the rest too.) We’ve been living our lives “by the signs” for 7 years now, but I haven’t gotten as far into the rest of my practice as I’d like to be. I think that’s in the process of changing though.

    “Something’s fixing to something.”
    That about says it all.

  246. It seems to me that many of the popular New Age books (Seth Speaks, A Course in Miracles, and Conversations with God) that were basically channeled are examples of the goetes that you mention. Either way, that is the first thing I though of when I read this weeks post. I don’t really have a question here.

    The second thing that comes to mind, after reading the comments, is that organized religion is having extreme challenges: 1. changing ideologies, and 2. finding enough clergy and build enough churches, mainly due to 3. financially paying for it all.

    As pointed out, (1) wokism is destroying their fan base which directly affecting (2) the number of people who would want to become priests, and (3) their income, which also affects the expected salaries of the priesthood. I saw that the Orthodox Christians only have 3 prospective graduates from their MDiv programs for every 10 that they need to meet the growing demand. And this is for one of the more conservative Christian groups that doesn’t have to worry about (1) so much. Part of why they only have 3/10 as many graduates as they need is because of the low salary and status of the priesthood.

    I say all this with the question in mind, “What does the second religiosity look like, if the way we run religion today is not financially viable?” It seems to me that folks finding their holy places and setting up shrines that are voluntarily supported with no professional clergy is the way of the future. House church is another option, but these global institutions with grand cathedral seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs. Am I wrong? What other options are there? Am I missing something?

  247. Regarding ‘the draft’… back in the day, I received my draft notice from ‘warhawk cental’.. whereby I was given a draft no. which would have sealed my fate as a prospective infantry, uh, soldier. This was a year before the draft was abolished e.i. about 1972/73. I was a junior in high school at the time. When my ol’ man saw that ‘death summonds’ .. he about lost his sh!t!! At that point, my parents were of the mind to emigrate to our rather more rational neighbor to the north ( at that time..), complete with passport, which I still – to this day, have in my possession. Had not the ptb done an about face, I’d now be a Canadian citizen calling for Justin’s pretty head on pike!

  248. Also on the “we used to be able to do this” list; Boeing’s new spacecraft is stuck at the space station with multiple helium leaks and several malfunctioning thrusters.

    I’m going to make a raspberry crisp. Also the Saskatoon berries did especially well this year for whatever reason. I had to fight the tanagers for them.

  249. Respectful greetings from a long time reader and first time commenter.
    I am both a confessing Christian and a committed student of the sociology of organized religion and of the charismatic branch of Christianity in particular.
    This post (and several others) have fascinated me as I see more clearly the points of connection between magic/the occult as you represent them and the texts/myths modern Christians claim are the basis for their theology and practice.
    There are several places in the two testaments where the imagined veil between simple magic and the divine essence (as I understand things) is so thin that the sharp distinction true believers want to make between the Good (a God awareness) and Malice (evil magic and the occult directed by demons) is no longer credible.
    Have you written elsewhere on this confluence of seemingly opposite points of view? Please direct me to it.

  250. Hi John Michael,

    Just wanted to check with you. Is it my imagination or is the issue of debt rearing itself more frequently of late? I’m beginning to wonder if the animal spirits aren’t as strong as they pretend to be.



  251. Andy and JMG, according to what I read the Ptolemaic system hung around for more than a thousand years because it worked and because it was predictive. Similarly, quantum mechanics works and is predictive and I suppose that even though nobody understands it there’s nothing better at least for the time being.

    Not just that, but Aristotle provides an excellent argument in favour of the Ptolemaic System, namely that if the Earth went round the Sun, we ought to observe Stellar Parallax. Since in Aristotle’s day, we couldn’t observe Stellar Parallax – and couldn’t until the nineteenth century – the Earth clearly didn’t move.

    (Aristotle’s argument was ultimately defeated by the stars being ludicrously far away. But he had no way of knowing that, and nor did anyone else for a long, long time).

  252. @Smith 241

    I think I’d probably agree with that. I’m reading around the subject of Quantum Mechanics and most authors seem to take the view that the math allows you to make statistically accurate predictions but does not really allow understanding in the way we’d normally expect. It is descriptive but not enlightening.

    What is particularly interesting is that the obvious consequences that enthrone something like consciousness at the heart of our reality have been pretty much ignored by the rest of science and is an area that most physicists would rather not talk about. There are some standout exceptions such as Penrose but very much the exception rather than the rule.

  253. @Jason

    > But I will say that Muslim contributions to the world mostly dried up after their golden age, and the fact that the Muslim world was the top Western intellectual center 1,000 years ago isn’t any reflection of their intellectual power today.

    Look around at the western world’s “intellectual” life – from the “art” of Taylor Swift and modern galleries, to the scholarship of researchers paid of by big corporate interests, gender obsessed “academics”, and the like, including the inanity of politics and print media. What does that say about its “intellectual power today”?

    > I also stand by a more general version of my idea that the more intelligent the individual, the more hard and fast rules chafe, whether it’s religion, social mores, military protocol, or any other system. The rules keep the less clever from causing problems for the society or ruining their own lives, but the more clever tend to figure out the purpose of the rules and try to minimize the harm the rule was designed to prevent.

    That’s an American preoccupation, along with “individual above all”.

    Other cultures can produce great results (and can be far more sophistacated and deep than the American one) by cooperation, respect, and rule following. Even in what Americans measure, like GDP, technological output scientific research, and so on, does worked wonders for Asian countries like Japan, Taiwain, Korea, and China – even though western mindless consumption and stupidity did left their mark there as well.

    I’d point to the meme of the low IQ, middle IQ, and ultra-high IQ person (Google “bell curve meme” for examples). The low IQ person says “rules are good”, the middling IQ person says “rules are a hindrance, they’re just to tame the stupid people, it’s all about individuality”. The ultra-high IQ person says “rules are good”.

    Check Singapore a muslim (Indonesian/Malaysian) + rule-based (Chinese) mixed population country, and it works so smoothly, its infrastructure is so good, it’s life so organize, it makes New York look like Lagos. Let’s not even discuss how it makes modern Atlanta, L.A., Detroit, or Portland, OR look…

  254. Smith, exactly. Science is no more guaranteed to be omniscient than, say, Greek logic was. In fact, it’s certain to run into hard limits sooner or later — and I think we’re at or near that point in many sciences. As for the universities, here in the US they’re simply sales offices pushing predatory loans on vulnerable young people. Terminate all federal guarantees for student loans and a lot of problems will go away in a hurry.

    BeardTree, no doubt!

    J.L.Mc12, Engine Summer is a fave of mine; I also like the odd autumnal quality of Crowley’s Beasts, another good work of deindustrial fiction.

    Nachtgurke, true enough.

    Patricia M, if an economic system becomes fixated on extracting as much wealth for the rich at everyone else’s expense, it has only itself to blame if everyone else starts contributing as little as they can get away with. Covert sabotage is the next step.

    Chuaquin, I also know a fair number of people who’ve gone Eastern Orthodox, and yes, it’s another way to try to walk away from the West. As with the surge of people converting to Buddhism in past decades, we’ll see how far from Western culture they actually get…

    Rajarshi, you’re most welcome — thank you for taking it seriously.

    Michael, no argument there!

    Siliconguy, exactly. To some extent the current AI delusion is the ultimate triumph of rhetoric over reality — “if only we can arrange words in the right way, everything will be fine!”

    Clark, the mainstream religions have become hopelessly dependent on expensive infrastructure, and an endless supply of young men willing to sign up for lifelong exploitation by sprawling, dysfunctional hierarchies. Neither of those is a viable option for the future. The Home Church movement is to my mind the wave of the future — people meeting together in small groups in private homes to pray and study the scriptures together. I’d like to see more of them get apostolic succession — if that can be broken loose from the hierarchies, and the mass celebrated by ordinary people, good things will follow.

    Silicon, hopefully Boeing isn’t going to make a different kind of crisp!

    Dan, I haven’t, but you really might want to read Gareth Knight’s Experience of the Inner Worlds. Knight (real name Basil Wilby) was a devout Anglican Christian and also an occultist, and this book of his is an introduction to Christian magic which punches straight through that arbitrary barrier. Anthony Duncan’s Lord of the Dance is another book along the same lines.

    Chris, I’ve been watching the same thing. It’s just possible we’re going to see some epic events in the months ahead…

  255. Silicone @ 259… ahhh, the Saskatoon drupes..

    When I HAD a yard in which to work (…pre-domestic split!), I’d find Amelanchi alnifolia seeding EVERYWHERE within my domicile.. I rogues out most, but let a few in the back of the lot do their thing. I could’ve picked the ripened fruit (I’d thought of canning said into a jam, conserve, confection, whathaveyou …), but instead let the neo-dinosaurs have at it! Me thinks that they deserved it wayyy more than I, as I was already inundated with berries galore, with they also ‘occasionally’ indulged in.

    Just this morning, I noticed that the umm, local herd of ‘hooved rats’ had nibbled off the tips of my recently planted Logan berries (in #25 nursery pots), which were poking through the cages I had placed to discourage such.. uh.. ‘predation’.

    To paraphrase a damned dirty celuloid human: “Damn them all to Hell’!

  256. @Robert Mathiesen #249
    In my opinion the spirit world and the natural world are both neutral. However, my conviction is that there is a so-called ‘Ultimate Nature’ at the heart of all things, which is ineffable and beyond the conceptual mind. Having said that, in some mysterious way, there is at least one graspable quality; loving kindness, which has a cosmic reality. So as a result, in my view, everything is essentially good 🙂

  257. Hey JMG

    I agree, “Beasts” is another great work, I need to finally read the rest of his works, such as “The Deep” or “Little, Big”.

  258. @Clark,
    FWIW, the massive and completely new influx of converts into Orthodoxy in the West really has been a challenge, in terms of having enough priests, as you point out. But it seems to be a temporary bottleneck that will solve itself. It takes three years to graduate a new priest, it’s not wise to take brand-new wet-behind-the-ears converts on as seminarians right away, no matter how enthusiastic they are, and at the same time, our churches have been growing wildly for the last three years. That growth is a new thing since the lockdowns, so… there’s a gap. Right now we are calling priests out of retirement to bridge that gap, but also there are a lot of seminarians in the works. It’ll balance out. How long that takes depends a lot on how long the current mind-boggling growth rate continues. I mean, it’s got to level off at some point?

  259. re: fixing to.
    We say that all the way down on the Gulf Coast, too. It gets truncated into one word, often as not: fixinda. In some places: finda. As in “I finda go…”

  260. Andy, if you would bear with me, first a thing about Einstein; I’ve done only a bit of reading so maybe my understanding is gigantically off base. But it seems that Einstein didn’t actually discover anything but rather repackaged what was already known, that is, things perceived before his time by earlier scientists.

    This isn’t to denigrate what guys like Poincare and Lorentz did because I’m sure their efforts were mighty in the extreme. And if they didn’t accomplish what Einstein did I’m sure it was only because there’s only so much gas in the tank. Everyone has their limits as to time and energy and inspiration.

    And I’m not trying to minimize what Einstein did because I’m also sure his labors were excruciating. But what it appears that Einstein did was to go to places that facts and logic led him, maybe places to which earlier scientists couldn’t or wouldn’t go. But Einstein went there. The French claim that Poincare discovered relativity. But did he really? Looks to me that Einstein took it over the goal line.

    In any case about this issue of consciousness. Frustrating isn’t it because it’s there right under everybody’s nose. If they would only do what Einstein did and go to where facts and logic lead. Consciousness is no small fact.

    Siliconguy, of course you’re right. Salvaging bricks is no small thing, as you say, because of the time and energy and resources expended in their manufacture. Might as well salvage something out of the total debacle that higher ed has become.

    DS, that’s fascinating. I read that the ancient Greeks made some pretty accurate calculations as to the circumference of the Earth. So I guess you’re saying that no matter their genius in logic and observation and mathematics, they lacked a telescope.

    JMG, maybe it’s like Churchill supposedly said, that Americans will do the right thing once everything else has been tried. But at this juncture in history, I’m not sure that there’s enough time.

  261. I think that people are not, at heart, rational beings. We are rationalizing beings. We may use our recently evolved language models and reasoning skills, aka, our internal ChatGPT, to justify what our brain stems have already instructed us to do, but the million years old brain is no match for the billion years old brain. So we make up clever mythologies, social systems, and sciences to try and justify what our non-linear, non-rational, non-logical catalogue of beliefs has already directed us to do. I coined the phrase, “The lie we live by,’ to describe these belief systems. ‘As above, so below’ works in the cathedral of our skulls as well as in the grand scope of empires and civilizations. This explains why today’s AI systems produce unintelligible garbage like Microsoft’s Tae or Google’s Gemini. AI has no soul because it has no brain stem.

  262. John, I very much want to understand. I’ve followed (and loved) your work on politics, economics, etc, but it’s always befuddled me how someone as clever and educated as yourself would buy into all of this silly magic stuff. Eventually though, I concluded that I simply don’t get it. You seem to understand some of these things far better than I’ve ever thought possible. I bought one or two of your books on magic, but they appeared to be completely nonsense to me. Please help. Could you suggest to me a book on the level of “So, you want to know what this whole magic thing is about, for beginners”? I’m sure I should find a million hack authors on the Internet, but I trust your recommendation. I keep trying to understand, but it just keeps looking like made up fairy dust, if you’ll excuse the expression. Please and thanks.

  263. Patrick, I don’t usually respond to comments on posts once they’ve sunsetted off the top, which this one has. If you want to ask that same question on the current open post, though, I’ll field it there.

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