Not the Monthly Post

Beyond Thaumatophobia 2: The Night Forest

Two weeks ago we explored an intriguing essay by Naomi Wolf, which pointed out that it’s no longer possible to discuss our current collective situation without saying something about metaphysical issues. That’s a gutsy thing to say these days; it’s also true.  These two points are closely related. In an era where the most important issues are precisely the things the defenders of the status quo least want to talk about, starting a conversation about unmentionable realities is a profoundly revolutionary act.

Yet it’s possible to speak about such realities, and even say important things about them, while getting some of the details wrong. This is especially true, of course, of the beginnings of any such conversation. I’ll give an example here from my own experience. In the very late 1990s, people began to talk about the exhaustion of petroleum reserves for the first time since that topic was shoved out of the collective conversation at the beginning of the Reagan years. The peak oil debates that followed included many crucially important conversations, as the dramatic changes in energy markets since that time have shown clearly enough.

That said, a lot of what was said in the opening rounds of those conversations was very far off the mark. Plenty of people got sucked into apocalyptic fantasies and spent their time shuddering in horror (or drooling in anticipation) over an assortment of absurd scenarios of overnight collapse, none of which panned out.  Plenty of people got sucked into a different set of fantasies and invested a comparable amount of time into claims that this or that or the other technology would surely come through and give us the Star Trek future of their dreams; of course those didn’t pan out either. Even among those who dodged both these traps, there were plenty of opportunities to be wrong.  The way that debt-based gimmickry got used in a fantastically profligate fashion to prop up the otherwise uneconomic fracking industry, for example, blindsided quite a few peak oil authors, myself included.

The conversation that Naomi Wolf is trying to launch is as important as the one that my fellow peak oil bloggers and I tried to set in motion a quarter century ago. I want to put some stress on that, and also on the fact that some of her comments are cogent and useful, because in this post I’m going to critique certain other things she said. In a very real sense, it’s not her fault that she got things wrong in certain ways.  She’s new to the metaphysical field, and to judge by her comments, she’s still a little in shock as a result of her discovery that the material world really is the tiny fraction of the universe of human experience that mystics, visionaries, and mages have been calling it all along. That state of shock is common enough, but it leads to certain mistakes that would benefit from correction as we proceed.

It’s not inaccurate, in fact, to suggest that Wolf is in much the same situation as a child being exposed to night in the forest for the first time. Perhaps you recall, dear reader, your first overnight campout in the woods. If you grew up in urban or suburban settings, the sheer impenetrable blackness of a night unbroken by streetlamps and porch lights shocked you by its raw intensity.  It sank in, as the campfire burned low, that if something went wrong you really, truly were many miles away from help.  A flashlight, maybe, gave you enough light to get undressed and climb into your sleeping bag, but once you switched it off, the darkness closed in…and then you heard the noises.

The noises are usually what makes that first night in the woods an experience to remember. Some of them are loud and some of them are soft, but you don’t recognize any of them.  Lying there in the dark, with nothing but your sleeping bag and the thin fabric of the tent between you and whatever is making the noises, it’s all too easy to imagine that one of them, or more than one of them, or just possibly all of them are being made by something large and hairy and very hungry…something with horrible fangs and claws…something that’s pondering your tent at this very moment, contemplating the nutritional qualities of small children…

Now of course the number of children on campouts who are devoured by wild beasts is actually quite small. That knowledge wasn’t any comfort to the notional singer in Allan Sherman’s most famous song, and his mock-desperate words—“Don’t leave me out in the forest where I might get eaten by a bear!”—mirror the sentiments of many children exposed for the first time to their own equivalent of Camp Granada. Nonetheless it’s a fairly safe assumption that you woke up the next morning to find your tent unshredded and your flesh unmunched.

What followed that first experience is just as important.  A few more repetitions of the experience, and the noises stopped bothering you; if camping became a regular pastime of yours, you quite possibly found that the sounds of the forest at night became a source of comfort; and if you knew someone who could teach you the ways of the forest, you might get to the point at which each sound meant something:  this one’s a tree frog, that one’s a nightjar, those soft sounds over there tell you that a deer is picking her way through your campsite, and so on.

All things considered, the metaphysical side of existence is not that different from a forest at night. Our familiar senses don’t give us much information to go on, and our ordinary habits of thought and action are hopelessly inadequate to the demands of the situation. That makes it very easy to slip into the state of dread that Allan Sherman parodied in the song just cited, in which primal terrors come boiling up from the deep places of the mind and every stray sound seems to herald the imminent approach of doom. Most people who encounter the metaphysical realm have that experience, at least briefly, and some never outgrow it.

A different factor complicates that process of learning from experience, to be sure. I don’t claim to know what Naomi Wolf’s current religious beliefs are, but she was raised Jewish, she’s written in a public essay about a vision of Jesus she’s had, and her recent essay about the metaphysical realm affirms the standard Jewish and Christian belief that the god that Jews and Christians worship in common is the only true god, while the gods worshipped by other faiths are evil entities. That’s the standard teaching about gods in most branches of  the Abrahamic religions, and it runs together with another standard teaching of those faiths, which is that unauthorized dealings with the metaphysical realm—that is to say, magic—are a close metaphysical equivalent of rubbing yourself all over with raw meat and then walking straight toward a dozen hungry bears while shouting, “What’s for dinner?  I am!”

Obviously I don’t believe that. Most religions don’t, and mine is one of the majority here. That’s not to say that there aren’t dangers in the metaphysical realm; it’s just as mistaken to insist that everything belonging to that realm is well-behaved sweetness and light as it is to insist that everything belonging to that realm is drooling with enthusiasm at the thought of gobbling you up. For that matter, there are alternative traditions in the Abrahamic faiths that recognize that the world is not as simplistic a rigid binary as some theologians want it to be. But it’s worth remembering that the largest traditions within the Abrahamic movement share the sense of metaphysical dread I’ve sketched out, the sense that every spiritual presence not closely associated with their own faith is not merely dangerous but malevolent and predatory.

There are historical reasons for that belief, which I’ll discuss in the third part of this series of posts. For now, I want to stress that it’s no part of my agenda in this post to convince Christians, Jews, or Muslims that they ought to run out right now and start practicing magic. Nor do I expect them to change their minds about the moral status of magic or the nature and intentions of spiritual beings other than the ones they worship. From the perspective of my polytheist faith, it’s axiomatic that if you enter into a covenant with a deity, your part of the bargain includes following the deity’s commandments, whatever those happen to be. Their god and their covenant aren’t mine, but they have every right to worship the one and follow the other if that’s the path that seems good to them.

No, the points I want to make in this post are directed to those who don’t belong to one of the religions we’ve just been discussing, who have little or no knowledge of occultism, and who may quite reasonably be wondering just how seriously to take Wolf’s comments about the realms beyond dense matter.  The short version, as I’ve already suggested, is that she’s right to think that the metaphysical realms are of critical importance in human life, and even more important at this phase of the historical process than usual.  She’s also right that those realms have significant dangers, and paying attention to what those dangers are and how you can protect yourself from them are, again, crucial points at this phase of the historical process.

Her mistakes are twofold. The first is that she’s got an overly anthropocentric view of the beings who inhabit the metaphysical realms.  The second, ironically, is that she doesn’t have an  anthropocentric enough view of the dangers that beset those who, like the campers in my metaphor, venture into the night forest. We’ll unpack those seemingly contradictory statements one at a time.

The Golden Dawn papers, the collected legacy of the most influential magical order of the late nineteenth century English-speaking world, include a helpful passage:  “As thou well knowest there be many and numberless other inhabitants of the macrocosmos” [that is, the universe] “besides man, angels, and devils.” This is from a paper assigned to the Adeptus Minor grade, a fairly high level of initiation in the order, so “as thou well knowest” is not empty bluster.  By the time the student of the Golden Dawn system has qualified for the Adeptus Minor initiation, he or she is expected to practice a great many practices meant to open up the inner senses and make the metaphysical realms a matter of direct personal experience rather than mere belief.

Again, the night forest metaphor is appropriate.  A healthy forest ecosystem is abuzz with life, full of countless living things belonging to many different species and filling many different niches in the local ecology. The vast majority of them are utterly indifferent to the campers huddled in their tents. To the tree frog, the nightjar, the deer, and most of their fellow animals of the forest, human beings are an irrelevance at best and a deadly danger at worst, and their main interest in campers lies in staying out of their way.

Are there animals that treat humans as prey?  Of course there are. Most of them are quite small, and are satisfied with a tiny serving of your blood, though they can pass on diseases and need to be taken seriously for that reason. A very few are a serious danger to life and limb, and knowing what they are, how they behave, and what to do if you encounter one is essential if you’re going to go into the woods. There are also living things in the forest that are helpful to human beings, and it’s wise to know what they are and how to deal with them, too.

In exactly the same way, most of the inhabitants of the metaphysical realms are either serenely uninterested in human beings or actively dislike and avoid us.  Some few treat us as prey; most of those are minor annoyances and can be driven off easily enough, but a few are serious trouble. (J.R.R. Tolkien, who knew vastly more about occultism than most of his Christian fans like to admit, was clear on the distinction. Of Smith of Wooton Major, who had a magical silver star on his brow, Tolkien notes:  “The Lesser Evils avoided the star, and from the Greater Evils he was guarded.”  That star is well known to initiates.)

There are also beings in the metaphysical realms that are friendly to humans, or are at least willing to be friendly to humans who approach them in a respectful manner. Some of these, too, are small—at least when compared to us. Others are much wiser and more powerful than we are.  Yes, it’s possible for hostile or predatory beings to pretend to be something friendly; Paul of Tarsus wasn’t wrong when he said that evil beings can disguise themselves as angels of light.  There are ways to tell one from the other, however, and these also are well known to initiates.

Yet the basic rule holds:  most of the beings of the metaphysical worlds couldn’t care less about us.  They have their own concerns, into which we don’t enter at all, and our very existence is not of interest to them. That’s why I noted above that Wolf, and the Abrahamic tradition that shapes her views, have an overly anthropocentric view of such beings:  she and the tradition in general seem to think that doing good or evil to us is the main concern of such beings, and that’s simply not the case. It’s when we pass to the broader picture that the insufficiently anthropocentric side of her views comes into focus, because it’s not the inhabitants of the metaphysical realms that are the main source of danger we face when we venture into the worlds beyond dense matter.

Our campers in the forest are in exactly the same situation.  By and large, they’re in no danger from the other living things that inhabit the forest. Their greatest source of danger is their own ignorance and inexperience. It’s quite possible for a child camping in the woods to do something very stupid, and end up dead. It’s not that the woods are out to get them, it’s that they don’t know how to keep themselves safe in an unfamiliar environment.  With the best intentions in the world, they can blunder into a lethal situation—and the number of campers who die each year from causes of this sort is far, far higher than the number who are killed by wild animals.

Similarly, the great dangers in dealing with the metaphysical realms are human greed, selfishness, and stupidity. You can land yourself in a world of hurt, for example, by approaching those realms as a vending machine that’s supposed to hand over the goodies on request. You can land yourself in even worse trouble by approaching it as a means to control, dominate, and hurt other people—or beings who aren’t human, for that matter. That’s why I stressed in the first post in this series that magic is a way of participation, not domination.  Put another way, ethics are as important in magic as sanitation is in surgery; neglect either one and the operation will turn septic.

There are good reasons why this should be the case. To practice magic is to attune yourself to the influences of the Unseen.  Any influence you invoke must pass through your consciousness before it gets to its target, and it always leaves a trace of itself behind. I like to call this the raspberry jam principle: you can’t spread raspberry jam on anything else without getting it on your own fingers, and the same is true of magic. Invoke influences of blessing and healing, and you will be blessed and healed; invoke influences of domination and destruction—well, you can do the math yourself. No, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re justified. It doesn’t matter if you convince yourself that you’re acting out of good intentions, either. Nor does it matter if you don’t believe anything of the kind will happen.  The law of magical repercussion, to give the raspberry jam principle its technical name, is as relentless and impersonal as the law of gravity.

Are there people who ignore this principle?  Of course. There are also physicians and nurses who ignore sterile procedure. (Take a look sometime at the rates of nosocomial infections—i.e., infections passed on via health care—in US hospitals these days; they’re pretty horrific.)  For that matter, there are plenty of campers who ignore essential safety precautions when they head into the wilderness, and a certain number of them each year are never heard from again. Mit der dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens, Schiller wrote: against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain. Yet we don’t condemn camping because some campers die in the wilderness, and we don’t denounce surgery because some doctors and nurses, now just as much as in Ignatz Semmelweis’s time, can’t be bothered to wash their hands between patients.

Two additional comments need to be made here, however. The first is that just as a forest at night is more dangerous to campers in some seasons than in others, the metaphysical realms are more dangerous to humans in some stages of the historical process than in others.  The second is that the sum total of human stupidity, while it may be fixed in some universal sense, varies up and down considerably in relation to the Unseen, and this, too, rises and falls at certain stages in the historical process. These issues are not unrelated to each other.  In the final part of this sequence of posts, two weeks from now, I’ll discuss the way that these two factors intersect at the end of certain phases of history—and what we can expect as we proceed into the future.


  1. @JMG

    Thank you for this essay! Personally, while I find the occult to be interesting from an intellectual POV, I prefer to play safe and pray to Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. I don’t pray for anything specific; I just thank them for everything, and ask them to watch over me and my loved ones, in addition to giving me the strength and good sense to go ahead with life, especially in the difficult phases. I like to listen to devotional music and sing the same; I guess that should be a reasonably good way of approaching the Gods.

  2. Going back to the idea that a lot of people would be offended if plants sang and cats talked, thinking they were acting above their station – gods have a history of doing the same to humans. In Greco-Roman mythology it doesn’t end well to be better than the gods at something, or challenge them to a competition – win or lose. In the Bible the reaction to the Tower of Babel is mayhem. And it’s not like they’re mischievious gods grinning and thinking ‘this is going to be fun’. It comes across as genuine narcissistic rage.

  3. Purely coincidental I’m sure 😉 but a few days ago while washing dishes, I was recalling Alan Sherman’s song about Camp Granada. The lyrics bubbled up unbidden into the meandering stream of consciousness that often seems to arise when I do mundane household chores.

    Thank you for the clarity and colorful metaphors you bring to the subject of enchantment. I look forward to reading more about how the spirits of the time interact with human vulnerabilities and strengths to create historic crises and opportunities.

  4. Great metaphor, that works really well on a lot of levels. For instance, somebody can camp for years and never know what some particular animal sound is unless somebody teaches them. They might know the sound, but never know what a screech owl looks like. Looking forward to the next installment.

  5. JMG, about Ms Wolf, I think you might be giving this agent provocateuse more credit than she deserves. I reread the article to which you referred. The false history regarding Canaanite deities morphing into Greek ones has been deleted. I can’t believe I had so much influence. I have to suppose she heard from historians and classicists on that point.

    There remains, however, the ringing call to action, you cannot remain indifferent, as if her very sketchy column were anything like a serious examination of the subject. I continue to believe she, and her backers, aim to get out front of The Next Big Thing. Don’t forget she is a PMC Rhodes Scholar without a respectable gig, and that wasn’t supposed to happen to such as herself.

  6. FYI – you’ve stumped Google. It doesn’t know what thaumatophobia is. But it does know what thauma is.

  7. Wow JMG,

    Super interesting topic and concepts here. I read part 1 with with much enthusiasm. Naomi Wolf certainly is intelligent, and comes across pretty well from the vantage point of her understanding at this time in her journey. Your analysis, and analogies of the material vs. inner plane realities and truths resonate with those who realize we must be aware and prepared at all times as a result of our path and practices! Looking forward to part 3!!!

    The CodeSmith

  8. Dear John Michael,

    Touching on the dangers of the metaphysical realm, I can only imagine that the vast majority of people, myself included, who are fairly ignorant of that realm would be most fearful of certain high-profile but lower risk dangers, such as demonic possession. But what would be, in your opinion or experience, the most probably or prevalent dangers from the metaphysical? And via what means would those dangers be most likely to manifest themselves?

    I might make by way of analogy that here in Alaska, most visitors assume that I, who spend a great deal of time in the outdoors, would be most afraid of bears, Alaska’s greatest high-profile danger, when in fact I am far more afraid and cautious of moose — I have had multiple encounters with bears, none bad, but have repeatedly been attacked by moose, who can kill a human just as well as a bear can.

    And needless to say, by far the most frequent attacks I have suffered in the outdoors have been from mosquitoes, which collectively can be, in the right circumstances, as dangerous and even lethal as bears or moose.

  9. When you live on a tiny home 34ft sailboat one is regularly reminded by Mother Nature that you are Not Alone. Ebb tide and spring meltwater combined 3-4kt current makes the keel shiver. Wind moaning in the rigging at 3am waking me up ( which considering I’m profoundly deaf and don’t wear my fancy hearing aids in bed has to be really blowing). Doesn’t frightened me. I just smile and feel aware. Ain’t about to get ett by a bear or have the ship sink.
    I’ve been reading and learning for many years now your thoughts and all who comment. Kinda feel like the maintenance handyman quietly working on the overhead projector while eavesdropping on the the professor and all the very bright students discussing so many things I had not a clue about.
    When one is raised in the tepid weak beer of the United Church of Canada there is sod all skills to help me comprehend the Beings I kinda sense around me when I’m anchored in a quiet cove listening to the Old Forest on shore.
    So I’m slowly learning a bit now and it’s a grand adventure. Mercy Buckets, Archdruid for all that you do.

  10. Has anyone contacted Naomi Wolf to let her know she has been featured in these essays? If not, I’ll try to find an appropriate time to leave a comment on her Substack alerting her to them.

    Wolf seems to suffer from the same blindness to the spiritual ecosystem that I had as an atheist and a casual Christian before that. I am still very, very nearsighted of course, and at least now I am stumbling around a bit better, but she seems wholly blind. Most brands of monotheism, to my mind, have become a way of wearing blinders for one’s entire life. I don’t think it has always been this way, but with the hobbling of the tradition of the Christian/Western tradition of discursive meditation in the 20th century and its replacement with TV and later various other electronic screens, spiritual blindness is possibly at its apex.

    Wolf does not seem like an arrogant person at her core (which is why I think she was able to recognize the unseen world in the first place and talk about it), so I hold out hopes that she will broaden her view of the Divine and consider that God might be living more places than she originally suspected. Many monotheists smack of the arrogance and hubris of the world’s explorers, such as Sir John Franklin who led two shoddily-prepared expeditions into the Canadian arctic and who led hundreds of men to their deaths, including himself. Nature isn’t going to bow to you and your expectations because you wear a fancy uniform and expect her to fall in line, and neither are the incredibly various incorporeal beings who populate the world around us. I know I sound like a goof, but there are entities surrounding me right here, right now, and I’m never going to devote myself to a god who says I’m not allowed to interact with them. Monotheism resembles atheism closely enough to be called its incestuous bedmate. Nobody is ever alone. I think the reason sane, balanced Christians are so rare is because the voices in their head (often incorporeal beings) can manipulate them as puppets. That is what happens when monotheists dismiss the beings around us as insignificant or worse, ignore them as if they do not exist. They’ll leave the hubris-sufferer to the equivalent of a John Franklin expedition experience soon enough.

  11. Hello JMG, I had a question for you, I would be glad if you could answer me about this post. My question is, as I am a Muslim, I would like to learn about Judeo-Christian and Muslim occultism, can you recommend books for practical purposes, I am waiting for your “must have” type suggestions, good writing JMG! Good evening !

  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, who knew vastly more about occultism than most of his Christian fans like to admit, was clear on the distinction. Of Smith of Wooton Major, who had a magical silver star on his brow, Tolkien notes: “The Lesser Evils avoided the star, and from the Greater Evils he was guarded.” That star is well known to initiates.

    I am open to the possibility that by the time Tolkien was writing Smith of Wootton Major (1960s, towards the end of his life), he’d picked up various things from Charles Williams. He also cited Algernon Blackwood as a literary influence in another context. But the star on the brow thing is clearly an echo of Earendil’s voyage with the Silmaril, where the light drives back the darkness and threats of the Sea. In turn, Tolkien stole the name Earendel from an old Anglo-Saxon poem about the Morning Star rising over the world.

    That said, I would be generally interested to get some pointers for further investigation on this subject – possible occult influences/knowledge is not exactly a well-trodden area of Tolkien study.

  13. Viduraawakened, that’s the classic approach, and it’s an entirely reasonable one. Magic is not for everybody.

    Yorkshire, the current Western culture of entitlement has deep roots, and so projecting our own narcissistic rage on the gods is an old habit.

    Goldenhawk, maybe there was something in the astral, then. If Harvey and Sheila start putting in a spectral appearance, we’ll know for sure… 😉

    Isaac, thanks for this.

    Mary, maybe so, but in that case it’s all the more useful for those of us who know a little more about the subject to respond — and it’s good strategy, as well as basic courtesy, to assume the best of the people you’re inviting to a conversation.

    Roman, not surprising, as I invented the term two weeks ago.

    CodeSmith, glad to hear it.

    Alan, the most important dangers of metaphysical entanglement are moral collapse and ego inflation. The first happens when you convince yourself that the universe is a vending machine that will give you all the goodies you want if only you push the button the right way; that quite reliably leads people to regress to screaming spoiled brats incapable of dealing with the cascade of blowback their own misbehavior generates for them. The other happens when you expect the metaphysical realm to cater to your ego; there are low-grade spirits who will gladly do this, convincing you that you really are the most important person in the world, if not some kind of messiah or deity in human form; that way lies schizophrenia — and yes, I mean this quite literally. It’s a familiar syndrome to those of us in the occult scene. Strict ethics and a clear sense of humanity’s not very important place in the cosmos will protect you from both of these, but — as we’ll discuss two weeks from now — pop-culture occultism rarely tolerates those two restrictions.

    Longsword, you’re most welcome. One of the saddest things about contemporary Western culture is how much of its once-robust spiritual culture has turned into the kind of near-beer you experienced in the United Church of Canada. That’s most of why so many people are turning to other faiths, such as mine: sitting in a drab auditorium every Sunday and listening to a dull lecture on morals (or, worse still, politics) is no substitute for an active, living, experiential engagement with the spiritual realm.

    Kimberly, one of my other commenters has informed her, iirc. For what it’s worth, you don’t sound like a goof to me — but then I assume you knew that.

    Yiğit, I know very little about Muslim occultism, but I do know of a good resource if you can handle Reddit: the subreddit r/djinnology has a lot of discussion of Muslim occult traditions. In terms of the Christian tradition, Gareth Knight’s book Experience of the Inner Worlds is the volume I usually recommend to beginners.

    Strda221, Tolkien was clearly familiar with occult literature a long time before Williams entered his life. The entire story of Númenor, to cite the obvious example, shows that he knew his way around Theosophical writing — the idea that Atlantis sank because its rulers served powers of evil was introduced to the legend by Blavatsky and was found only in Theosophical literature until, by way of fantasy fiction (Tolkien’s among others), it got into more general circulation. To bring up another detail, when Gandalf says to the Balrog, “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor” — what is the Secret Fire? Every occultist in Tolkien’s youth knew the answer. (Look up “Fohat” in any Theosophical work.) I’m pretty sure that, like most young men, he dabbled in things he didn’t want to talk about in his later years; I doubt he practiced magic, but he seems to have read quite a bit, and absorbed it. (And there’s always that fascinating little essay on the discernment of spirits in one of the last volumes of the History of Middle-Earth, which reads very much as though his endlessly revisited trope about meeting Elves in the woods was based on some personal experience…)

  14. It’s interesting how far human experience diverges! My first night camping in the forest came after a long day of walking and I slept easily and deeply. When I cast my first true tarot reading it didn’t feel scary or unnatural.

    You write: “her discovery that the material world really is the tiny fraction of the universe” I wonder if we modern humans live in the material world in the first place. What happens on Facebook is more real than what we sense. We buy kitchens with marble countertops that look great but are impractical for cooking. We live in mental images that are non-living and where living things are dirty.

    So what I wonder is, isn’t it so that Wolf discovered that “the spectacle” (instead of the “material world”) is but a tiny fraction of the universe?

    Thanks for the insightful blog and looking forward to the third installment!

  15. A few observations:
    1) In your essay, you write “the great dangers in dealing with the metaphysical realms are human greed, selfishness, and stupidity.” This observation, combined with the traditional Christian understanding of human nature (which is we are all born into sin, or to put it another way, we are all greedy, selfish, and stupid, at least some of the time) and the regrettable Christian habit of propounding one size fits all prescriptions about how to live and practice the faith (which has deep historical roots, and unfortunately often gets in the way of accepting diversity of practice, including the fact that different people sometimes need different things, spiritually speaking) goes a long way towards explaining the orthodox Christian suspicion of magic.

    2) In your reply to Longsword, you write “One of the saddest things about contemporary Western culture is how much of its once-robust spiritual culture has turned into the kind of near-beer you experienced in the United Church of Canada. That’s most of why so many people are turning to other faiths”. The other thing people are turning to are the parts of Christianity that are aware of that once-robust spiritual culture and are seeking to recover and practice it. These include more traditional Roman Catholics (particularly those who attend the Latin Mass), most of the eastern Orthodox Churches, and some of the more liturgical branches of Protestantism. These parts of Christianity are seeing a lot of interest from spiritual seekers and experiencing a fair amount of growth. One thing that characterizes them all is that they all strongly reject the shallow and bland Christianity that became so widespread in the 20th century.

    I was raised in a denomination similar to the United Church of Canada. After a great deal of wandering, I have returned to Christianity, but in a deeply liturgical denomination (and much more traditionally orthodox than that in which I was raised) that is striving to recover and practice the spiritual robustness that characterized pre-Enlightenment* Christianity. Perhaps ironically, your writing has been one of the inspirations that has gotten me to where I am now. My prayer is that, while remaining faithful to the tradition which I have found and love, I can remain open-minded enough and aware enough to avoid falling into some of the traps and bad habits that seem to be endemic to historical Christianity.

    *”Enlightenment” has got to be a strong contender for one of the worst misnomers in all of historical studies. I hate using it, but unfortunately, we lack an alternative name that is readily understood by most readers.

  16. “Two weeks ago we explored an intriguing essay by Naomi Wolf, which pointed out that it’s no longer possible to discuss our current collective situation without saying something about metaphysical issues.”

    Hasn’t this always been true? I mean, it’s been true at least since the weird events around the Reagan-Thatcher Revolution starting in the late 1970s, and I’m not at all sure that it was any less true before then…

  17. Just as you are not interested in getting monotheists to practice magic, I hope this question comes off as merely curious, and not passive-aggressive — As a polytheist, are you not convinced by the various arguments put forth by people like Plotinus or St. Augustine that there can only be one Supreme God (which doesn’t of course preclude other non-physical entities, which the old Hebrew scripture often call “gods”), that polytheism without a single source or cause is logically and metaphysically incoherent? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    On a related note, I heard Jonathan Pageau claim two very fascinating things recently — 1) No one before the 18th century called themselves monotheists, the Patristics called themselves some version of “mono-arche-ists” (excuses that Greek-to-English butchery!), but this implies that there is one supreme Principle, not just one non-physical entity or person. Apparently the word mono-theism was the creation of a German academic trying to explain why Protestants were the best of all time and how their progressive beliefs differed from past peoples.. 2) In the Medieval West belief in sprites, fairies, elves, gnomes, etc was the norm among common people, and the most common explanation of their “status” so to speak was that when Satan and his followers rebelled, and the Angels stayed with God, there a great number of beings who stayed neutral and these were sent to earth in one form or another as more-or-less neutral beings. Interesting stuff. Thanks for the post.

  18. oh ho you’ve reminded me of horribly lonely times as a child, imploring any deities listening to witness the injustices and exact their vengeance

    did anything stick to me? surely but I’m hardly alone in that as I know now

  19. Perhaps its just because I’m working on lesson 8 of the Occult Philosophy Workbook (More about the Astral Plane chapter)… but this great essay and discussion has got me thinking about how, just as in the truly wild areas of the earth, you might not want to go until you have gained considerable experience, or have a trusted guide, so too in the astral (where there are a variety of neighborhoods, from the downright dicey to document laden inner libraries, temples and groves) we might not want to go to certain quarters.

    It makes me wonder, with so much emphasis on seeing the physical body, incarnation, and the physical world as “fallen” – within the Judeo-Christian view (I’m not sure how these things are viewed in Islam, something I’d need to read on) and sinful, than that repression draws people to the parts of the astral plane that resonate with that mindset. A lot of the repressed sexuality may result in people experiencing more visits from succubi and incubi than might otherwise from a natural expression of such, and being comfortable with the body.

    At the same time, western libertine-ism of the past few decades, as well as the other etheric & astral crud mucking and murking things up, may be something of a hindrance to those not specifically drawn to occult disciplines, from experiencing some of the light and wisdom that comes from the upper astral -though its still possible for the light to get threw, esp. to people sensitive to it for whatever reason. I’m sure there are other some other factors for all the murk beyond all the hard partying people do with sex & drugs (I’m not blaming that alone -just looking at correlations).

    As we enter a more reenchanted time, and during a time of decline of western & industrial civilization, it seems the build up of destructive forces on the upper planes also becomes more intense and earths at various points, causing our crisis. But that is also because things go both up and down the tree. Putting a lot of gunk out on the astral it will have to be discharged at some point.

    The clean up ahead of us is not just on the material plane.

    Thanks as always John for the opportunity to riff off your insights here in the comment section.

  20. As a past life hypnotist, Reiki master, amateur astrologer (and attorney), my family and friends treat me as an amiable eccentric…but those experiences have opened me to the occult world in ways I can’t possibly explain to normal people…Most of those entities or forces (is there a difference?) are benign, even sometimes helpful, in my experience, if you approach them with kindness and humility, but beware any arrogance or attempts to order them around..Anything dark is to be totally avoided, IMO…
    Thousands of people have disappeared from National Parks without a trace, despite searches and extensive investigations… walk behind a tree to pee, and vanish…I do wonder what’s behind that…Perhaps wormholes in time or dimensional gates?

  21. The tides are definitely shifting as the New (Old) Religiosity washes in. I don’t see Christianity making a resurgence though, and unless Protestants go back to potlucks and old ladies playing the organ and Catholics go back to the old mass and shift away from wokeism, they’re most likely doomed as well. Traditional Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy seem to be doing pretty well in my area though. Buddhists in the area went whole hog for the vaccines and are still masking in summer 2023. The reaction to Covid definitely seems to have split things down the middle once again: on one side, the believers in the cult of Holy Progress/Pharmakeia and on the other, suddenly-galvanized people who realized their fellow churchgoers didn’t trust God enough to protect them from a minor case of the sniffles.

  22. @ JMG – I’m looking forward toward to part 3 of this series!
    I have not had a chance to read Naomi Wolf’s original essay. How did she come in contact with the magical world? It can’t simply have been from looking at current events and thinking; this doesn’t look right! Or as it?

  23. I realize that the child sleeping in the forest is just an analogy for one discovering the possibilities of the occult world for the first time. But like discovering the occult the childs experience in the forest can be ruined ( or harmfully mediated) by technology. In my camping days I preferred a mesh hammock strung between two trees to a tent because you could still see the sky ( and escape crawling bugs). To me the experience described here for both young and old did not happen until you got a few hundred yards ( or 10 miles in the best case) from the creaking and smells of your car. A popular trend today ( which I still don’t understand) is the tent platform which is bolted to the top of your car and the tent unfolded when you are ready to camp. So you climb up a little ladder and sleep in a tent on top of your car. I am sure there are many analogies one can draw from this with regard to where we are heading as a society, and I am sure none of them are good.

  24. Hello JMG,

    When you discuss metaphysical realms and the entities that may occupy those space, I think about Robert Monroe and the journeys discussed his books. Was Robert practicing a form of magic? I think about the nonphysical tools he’d use, specifically the protective bubble. It seems similar to a banishing ritual?

    Am I getting mutually exclusive concepts mixed up?

  25. Turtle, heh heh heh. Yes, but the confusion between the material world and its representation as spectacle is further than I wanted to take this specific discussion. All in due time.

    Roy, as I noted in this post, we’ll be discussing some of the reasons for the prohibition of magic in most mainstream Christian denominations two weeks from now; it’s mistaken but by no means wholly unjustified. As for the movement back to more traditional, sacramental modes of Christianity, yes, that does seem to be the way that our Second Religiosity is shaping up, and for good reason.

    Anonymous, oh, there were metaphysical aspects to our predicament all along, but it was possible for most people to ignore them. Now? Not so much.

    Bonaventure, oddly enough, I’ve written a book on that very subject, talking about the philosophical problems with monotheism in its various forms. Plotinus, btw, nowhere argues that there must be one supreme god — the One at the center of his philosophy is an impersonal ground of being, not a divine person in any sense. As for the others, have you by any chance read CS Lewis’s The Discarded Image? He was a first-rate medievalist and talks at length about the intermediate beings.

    Mark, possibly, but it’s not an uncommon experience.

    Justin, bingo. The inner planes are to some extent self-cleaning, as the lower astral naturally discharges by way of catastrophes on the material plane, but we still have a lot of scrubbing to do.

    Pyrrhus, or something ancient and hungry. The world is a strange place.

    Kimberly, it’s exactly the sacramental churches that I expect to stage a major comeback over the decades ahead, because they’ve got the necessary tools — they just need to relearn how to use them.

    Ben, you really should just read what she has to say.

    Clay, interesting. I first had it happen in a backyard.

    Steve, different approaches, certainly. I haven’t studied Monroe’s work so I can’t categorize him precisely.

  26. A parable?

    I taught kayaking and canoeing for many years. I told every class I ever taught that the vast majority of injuries occur in the parking lot. The percentage is over 90%… (Back injury is number one on the list.) What people perceive as the dangerous stuff really is only dangerous if you are “stupid/dumb”. Something like 85% of drownings involve alcohol and/or not wearing a life jacket.

  27. @JMG, true, Plotinus’ One is not a Person, but it is still a God. Although I could see there being interesting implications if one insists that to be a god is to be personal.

    Your book looks really interesting. It’s now on my list. Same goes for the Discarded Image, which I’ve had recommended a few times, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Thanks.

  28. Great Post JMG. The times are changing and much of current life seems quite unsteady.

    But this post had me laughing, almost ROFL, as they say nowadays. It is only by a Temporary Suspension of Disbelief I can imagine the Night Forest as terrifying.

    Now obviously it could be, a bear, I would back away and hope to be safe. But in camping in 60 years I never met one, except when I was 4 or 5. I wasn’t afraid then, my mother backed me away. I don’t think I was aware how dangerous the bear could be. I have never seen a wolf up close though several foxes. Coming around the corner of a river in a canoe I have been 6 inches away from a moose’s nose. There was a moment where we were both staring at each other, wondering what the other was going to do, then the moose turned and ran crashing through the woods. The moose made a lot of noise at first and then there was silence. Not sure if the moose stopped or just decided to go silent. My feeling is the moose went silent. I say this in all seriousness as I have read, elephants when they want to, can run through the jungle and you will likely not hear them until they are upon you.

    The most dangerous animals I met were cows. I used to hunt with a dog when a teenager. We often walked across farmer’s fields. One day there were a bunch of cows in a field. I took little notice as I had been walking across fields with cows since I was about 7, long before, I owned a dog. I don’t think my dog had ever seen a cow before, and I think my dog took umbrage at the fact the cows were so big, and so she barked at them. Although I yelled at her to stop, at first it was funny because the cows stampeded away, from a tiny little dog (Labrador retriever), tiny compared to the cows. But then the cows turned and looked at what had scared them. When they say it was a tiny little dog they seemed insulted and charged, just like in the movies. I barely made it to the fence.

    Another time, in the city, living near a ravine, in an old part of town, looking after my grandson. I made him some hot dogs. He sat on the old fashioned concrete porch out front to eat. I made first one then another. When I returned to give him the second, there was the biggest most gigantic raccoon I have ever seen, about one foot away from my grandson, about to steal his hot dog. I moved to step between and the raccoon wasn’t even afraid of me. He stopped, stared and was thinking about it. And then he walked away.

    Now for my dog she ran into a few skunks, treated them like squirrels, thought they would run and didn’t know enough to let them be. And my son’s mother had a dog that not only had a run in with skunks, but also a porcupine. That was wicked. We were very lucky my friend knew how to cut the quills, let the air out and pull the quills through the cheek. And my own Labrador when I was 16, had an outdoor kennel, and was attacked in it by a rabid skunk. I shot it out the window with my shotgun. It’s mate came back two days later and I shot it too. I had them analyzed. The agricultural university lab didn’t want to do it. But I insisted. They were both rabid. They wanted to put down my dog, but she had her Rabies shots, so they agreed to let her live if I quarantined her for a year. Seemed excessive, but I honored the quarantine for 3 months, then only took her out after midnight, when there was no one around.

    My most dangerous interactions in the wilderness have been in my canoe. And as John said, mostly caused by my own stupidity. I was alone and tipped my canoe in Lake Erie mid November. I was canoeing in Northern Ontario and loved to run rapids. Canoeists coming from the other direction said there were rapids just ahead. The person I talked to said there would be no difficulty running them, and so I did.

    The person that my girl friend talked to had said something very different but I didn’t know about it. He told her there was a big 75 foot water falls at the end of the rapids. It wasn’t on the topographical and I was unaware. I controlled the canoe, I was in the stern but my girl friend started screaming she didn’t want to run these rapids. I yelled back, “Why?” “There’s a waterfalls.”
    “There is no waterfalls.” “There is.” “No there isn’t.” I couldn’t see a waterfalls when I was paddling towards it because I was more or less on the same level. But she was still screaming, and it was annoying me, so with a flick of the paddle, I sent us to shore behind a rock. And there 2 feet from the rock, 2 feet from where my girl friend was sitting, was the 75 foot waterfall. Her panic saved our lives.

    The last near disaster was on the St Lawrence river near 9 pm at night. 3 of us were going to an island to camp. We meant to go earlier but were delayed. Usually in my canoe my dog would sit right behind me, in the stern where it is narrow, and could not create much disturbance. But this canoe was not mine, I sat in the bow, and my dog, I couldn’t see her was wandering around in the middle, tipping the boat from side to side. I didn’t know how serious it was. By the time someone told me, they said we should turn back. I agreed but we had already taken on too much water and turning flipped us over.

    Had I known how much water there was I would have said let’s keep going straight and bail, but in the bow I knew nothing, all I could see was the water in front of me. Whenever I have tried to turn around with water in the canoe – that’s what happened in Lake Erie in November – the canoe has capsized, better to go straight, if you can.

    My girl friend and my friend had life jackets, but I did not and I am not a great swimmer. I was stuck holding on to the boat. Actually I had the lifejacket first but I gave it to my girl friend. It wasn’t bravery or chivalry. I never could have lived with myself if I took it and she died.

    My girl friend and my friend, let go of the canoe and swam away and left me in the dark. That was ok for me if they made for shore and help, but absurdly they did not try to make shore, they just floated away. My dog she made shore in about 5 minutes. There were 3 of us out there in the St Lawrence, the water was very warm, for 3 hours yelling for help. A few times we saw someone turn their headlights on to look, and we had hope, but no one came. Then around midnight I thought I could make out the dim shape of a low boat coming towards us. It was a rowboat with one man in it, going oh so incredibly slow. He rescued my girl friend first, then my friend, and then me last of all. It was a scary worrisome experience, because everything was happening in slow slow motion, but there wasn’t panic, just concern, “People can actually drown like this, I thought to myself. How long can I float holding onto a boat? What about hypothermia?” But as I said the water was warm as soup and I wasn’t at all cold. But I did wonder how I would feel through the night if no one rescued us.

    Those are my misadventures with nature. After that I became older, wiser, and really had no bad incidents, even though intermittently I camped spring, summer, autumn, winter. My favorite time to camp was autumn. One year we camped in the snow in the Adirondacks, and we would get up in the morning and drive to Killington to ski. My son really wanted to ski, and camp and ski was the best I could afford at the time. It was cheaper than getting a hotel. We weren’t cold. I had more or less the most expensive goose down sleeping bags you could buy at the time – thirty years later they seem still just as fine.

    The most dangerous place is in the cities. Any person walking by could hurt me if they wanted to. And there are a lot of people that walk where I live here in Spain. When I first moved here I had the greatest difficulties getting across a street safely. I never knew what cars were going to do. Whether they were going to turn a corner, whether they were going to back up, and they often do. I couldn’t navigate corners, I had no sense what to expect of the drivers. There timing and pacing and motions indicating what they are going to do, what to expect were all very different. They park in bus stops, crosswalks, every no parking spot they can find. And are always stopping in the middle of the road to talk, or go backwards. Now I have been here several years, I can’t believe I found it difficult, I usually know what the drivers will do, how they will behave. I find it hard to believe I ever had difficulty.

    The drivers on the roads and highway, when I am driving, are altogether another matter. I would not say they are any worse here than anywhere else, but I would say in 54 years of driving, there has never been or almost never been a year where some catastrophic driving accident doesn’t almost happen. Somebody, some day is always doing something stupid. I’m a pretty good driver, usually its not me doing something stupid, but driving being what it is, making split second decisions, it could be. I love driving. And usually it seems safe but I would say, when it is not safe, it is the most dangerous thing a person can do.

    Returning to JMG’s theme. There are presences. I feel them, I sense them and sometimes I see some of them too. Usually I count on them to protect me. The forest is my best friend when there is forest. There is not much forest here. The mountains, rivers and lakes also protect me. I am not sure about the ocean, though it has not harmed me and I used to spend hours in the waves at Ponce Inlet. The ocean here though seems a little different than the ocean in North America, I’m not sure why, except of course it is a different place. Even the sun feels different. Plants have always protected me, plants around my home keep me safe.

    The dark has never frightened me since I was 2 years old and decided to shut my door to keep out the light and noise of the TV. I am very sensitive even now to noise, change of sound. When a baby cries in my house, no matter my child, grandchild, someone else’s child, I always hear the child first.

    However, when I was a child the dark did scare me after a nightmare. And I later discovered, aside from the horror movies my grandmother let me watch when I was older, it was the back track of the TV movies, the track that creates suspense etc, that was giving me nightmares

    I sometimes think the same thing as my nightmares is happening to people who become scared in the dark. They are imagining horror.

    Usually I can see pretty good in the dark, in the forest, in the city. And always make fun of those people in movies who when they become scared turn on a light. As soon as you turn on a light you are blinded as to what you can see. Many times, even without moonlight I can see a great distance in the dark – In the open across a field or two, in the forest, anywhere from ten to twenty feet, maybe more.

    One time my 16 year old son and I were coming down from Mt. Marcy. We were too late coming down. It became dark then very dark. My son complained I can’t see where we’re going. I said, Follow me. He said afterwards, “How could you see?” I said, “In the darkness, in the very very dark darkness, I could see where it was a tiny little bit less dark, less black, and that was where the path was. Shades of Black.

    In Nicaragua, we would be out for dinner (we always walked), and sometimes the power would go out. Then it was very very black, I could barely see anything except the slightly lighter sidewalk, or street, where there was no sidewalk, or the walls that bordered the street and helped make it so dark.

    The real danger then, aside from the uneven sidewalk and roads, was that all along the sidewalks were indented doorways, and those doorways were much much darker still, and sometimes, often times there were people standing in them. I might have been able to catch a glimpse or hint of them if I wasn’t staring at the sidewalk or the street, but the light was different darker in the doorways.

    Uusally the first I knew someone was there was when they spoke to me. Sometimes even then I couldn’t see them. They could have been spirits, I saw spirits in Nicaragua, but these were not them, at least not usually. These people in doorways, they could have easily hurt us or taken advantage of us since we could not see them. But they never did and they never gave off any air of menace, danger or ill intent. They were friendly, helpful, concerned. Even though they could see we were gringos, even though neither one of us speak Spanish.

    I should mention, that I always did carry a straight bladed knife, on a separate belt, just above the top of my pants so that the bottom half was concealed under my pants, and the top half was under my shirt. I carried the knife so I wouldn’t have to worry. And I never did worry. And I never felt the need to reach for it, ever. But it was comforting to know it was there.

    As for spirits or Gods or other beings I sense I mostly do what Viduraawakened says though not exactly: “I prefer to play safe and pray to Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.(I don’t pray to these specific gods) I don’t pray for anything specific; I just thank them for everything, and ask them to watch over me and my loved ones, in addition to giving me the strength and good sense to go ahead with life, especially in the difficult phases. I like to listen to devotional music and sing the same (Sometimes I do this); I guess that should be a reasonably good way of approaching the Gods.”

    I am also doing the Essenes Healing practices and the Judson Exercise, every day. And am looking into doing more. It remains to be seen how much. Although I have not proceeded as fast or intensely as I had once thought, I have found through experience that sometimes what I jump into most quickly I eventually put aside. Whereas what I edge into more slowly, but persist at, such as writing itself, becomes more and more ingrained, more and more of a habit and permanent.

    Returning to the beginning of this post: When I lived in North America I always had lots of friends male and female, but especially female, who wanted to know how I could dare to go camping? And they would tell me all the dangerous things that could happen to me. And I would laugh and laugh and laugh. And they would say, even if an animal doesn’t do something, a person or a bunch of persons could get you. And I would laugh some more.

    And I would say something like this. “First of all a person would have to know where I am camped to come and bother me. And since I camp in the wilderness that would be almost impossible to happen. They would not find me. Second of all, I could hear them coming, even if they did find me, even if they crept quietly. A person makes very different sounds than an animal, or anything else. Third of all, there are far more people in the city or near a city or anywhere people are, that could hurt me, than I would ever find or see in the woods. Last of all the most dangerous thing is driving. Driving is the most dangerous thing we do. And even if we’re not driving, even if we’re in a bus, or walking on the sidewalk, someone’s driving, and someone could drive right up onto the sidewalk, or wherever you are.

  29. Well, I said I would endeavor to get back into the ecosophian pool, sooo…..

    I think few Christians actually examine the Ten Commandments, or read through the various books in the Bible without some stiffly preconceived notions. These tend to blind many people. The Bible is rife with demons, possessions and spirits, particularly in the Old Testament but plainly in the New as well. Witness Jesus lending God authority to the disciples to perform miracles and cast out demons as a premier example. These miracles and demon removal services are well documented in both old and new Testaments.

    In those days, before scientific method and myriad other things – unexplained things were rapidly attributed to magics. Most people could not read – majority of information passed lip to ear. As well, myriad Gods surrounded the Jews.

    The First Commandment is: ‘Thou shalt have no other Gods BEFORE me.’

    I have long believed that the wording for this initial and premiere commandment was most intentional. None BEFORE implies there are at least several others cavorting about, and that THE God was quite aware.

    That 2nd commandment, ‘Thou shalt make no idols.” implies that the God of Abraham wanted his followers to understand that something man-made could not be imbued with spirit by either wish nor worship. Hence the admonishment to just not be dumb and worship something fashioned by your own hands.

    Those are just a tiny peek at some of my thoughts WRT my religion. As most realize, a LOT is lost via translations and even more in historical and cultural context with millenia passing. Yet for me, a lot of my beliefs depend from that very first commandment, wherein the word BEFORE is used rather than EXCEPT.

    It is a shame that very few people question this. I did when I was in Confirmation class at age 12. I literally stumped my pastor with that question. I spoke with him a few months back (he is approaching 80 rapidly) – and he told me his world expanded a lot from me asking such a “stupid” question.

    So, my intent here was to shed light on that first commandment, and the massive amount of freight behind that single word choice, which few Christians even notice.

  30. JMG
    I haven’t thought of this in years until a couple of days ago talking to a friend about doors best left unopened, places best left unvisited, entities best left alone.
    As a caveat I am not presenting myself as some kind of psychic warrior, but a very lucky lad
    About 50 years ago in London I had started seeing a woman who hadn’t quite finished breaking up with the man she was with. I’m afraid my level of sexual integrity in those days was not the highest, which probably left me open to what happened.
    As it turns out the becoming ex boy friend was into magic, mostly of the dark variety. There was a party she assured me was fine for me to go to. There was a bowel of punch which, unbeknownst to anyone, he had spiked quite heavily with acid.with the sole intent of attacking me on some psychic level, which he did. Needless to say the experience was quite traumatic for a couple of the guests who had never done drugs. I knew immediately that there was something going on, but not quickly enough to leave the venue. I experienced very vividly on whatever level this was his attacking me with the intent to kill me. We battled for what seemed like a long time on this level, until I almost killed him. i actually thought I might have. The moment I felt enough in physical control of my body I staggered out of the party and into my car and away, which was certainly dangerous driving. I might have just put this off to a very bad acid trip, except that the woman later told me that her ex had described the incident identically: his plan to attack me, his attack, my almost killing him.
    I was quite weak and disoriented for a few days afterwards, and in a strange almost surreal space for almost six months where I had trouble making decisions or thinking clearly. I suppose there would have have been ceremonies or healings that I could have done, but I didn’t think about it on that level until quite a bit later. I feel that I am very lucky or blessed to have come out of this incident relatively unscathed. I heard that he became more and more crazy after that.Very likely whatever entities he called up stayed with him.
    Forgive me if I haven’t told this story very well, but it was 50 years ago, and your posts have just brought it back to mind in a new perspective.

  31. Talk about timing! Just last evening, while watering my native wildflower garden, a thought came through my mind that fits well into today’s posting. But first a preamble.

    Your description of the theosphere inhabited by many different beings, most of which are either unaware of humans or are aware but are not interested in us reminds me of Hindu cosmology in which many different classes of disembodied beings are described. Beside the devas (‘gods’) and danavas (‘demonic beings’), there are apsaras, gandharvas, nagas, kinnaras, yakshas, and other beings who rarely, if ever, interact with humans. The nymph-like apsaras, for example reside in the palaces of the gods and entertain them by dancing to the music made by the gandharvas (divine musicians). Though I have come across the Hindu classics describing exceptionally beautiful women as looking like apsaras, I cannot think of a single Hindu story in which a human actually encountered an apsara (however, there are stories of apsaras who incarnated as humans as punishment for breaking some heavenly protocol, just like stories abound of monsters and even ordinary things such as trees which were ‘imprisoned’ in a worldly form due to incurring a curse and were mercifully released from their material form through an encounter – often violent – with a divine incarnation, but I digress).

    Now for my evening musing. I was recalling how there have been recent online discussions between you and others about the use of occult powers by a particularly vile psychopathic Austrian fellow and his gang of Germanic occultists in the ‘30s and ‘40s. It is fairly common knowledge which spiritual beings were invoked by this group and what shale-show inevitably resulted. And so, my thoughts wandered to the current crop of wanna-be-world-conquering transhumanist spychopaths and wondered if there are some intentional occult workings behind their actions (other than the usual degraded magic of relentless propaganda). What triggered me was a comparison (in my mind) of the chillingly soul-less eyes in photographs of Paul Joseph Goebbels and transhumanist hard-core WEF-er Yuval Noah Harari. Also, stories swirl about of unspeakably horrific crimes being committed against children by people belonging to this ‘elite’; ditto regarding their apparent disregard for human well-being and life (to the point of being like a death cult). I wonder if some malevolent being (or class of beings) may be behind these perversions as per improper though deliberate magic practices? Or are our self-appointed ‘betters’ simply too ignorant, arrogant or stupid to be deliberately tapping into malevolent entities but have been ‘hijacked’ by such beings just the same? Or is this just plain old garden-variety end-of-civilization elite nihilistic moral degradation running its course to its repugnant conclusion? Perhaps these questions are geared more for your next installation of this series (wow – what a ‘hook’ you threw us, JMG!), but I figured that if I don’t ask them now my mind won’t be as fresh on this subject in a couple of weeks’ time.

  32. Kind Sir,
    I was not raised in any religious tradition. Nominally I am catholic, but that is mainly because my family on my mothers side comes from a catholic part of the world where baptism follows birth like the tail follows the cat.
    I have no interest in pursuing magic and have no gods to pray to and I am not even sure if i have a spiritual practise (does practising musical instruments or physical exercise count?).
    There must be many people like that in the western world. What approach to navigate the metaphysical realm would you recommend for folks like us.

  33. Hi John Michael,

    Hmm. You know they knew, they just didn’t care. I’m coming around to the opinion that magical resistance folks truly believed in the righteousness of the ends. The tools however had other motivations. And here we are today. They got captured. It’s exciting and a little bit frightening. All rather foolish and avoidable if you ask me, but there you go. If what happened there isn’t a warning to everyone else, I dunno what would be. Bonkers.



  34. I’m glad you’re doing this analysis. I had read Naomi Wolf’s essay when it first came out and was initially excited by the theme, but then was turned off by the binary good/evil condemnation. Naturally I thought of you! There is still something of value in the path of analysis she started down, and I’ll enjoy following it past the Abrahamic road block.

    Also, the whole ten year or so delay in peak oil consequences that was caused by the fracking/tight oil fraud always serves as a clear reminder that I’m not so smart. Never saw it coming and so was quite wrong on the timing. Humility isn’t such a bad thing though.

    Back to the theme though – I’m seeing a lot of people are sensing that there is a spiritual dimension to all this, but they immediately get stuck in the traditional good/evil narratives, titles and roles they know. While I actually do believe there are men beholden to spirits that may as well be called evil, as well as others in opposition to them, that’s not the whole picture. I’d like to think that people feeling a spiritual, metaphysical aspect of our present civilization crises could be the beginnings of a new religious sensibility forming.

  35. I wonder what 1980s Naomi Wolf would think about all of this right now?

  36. @JMG, thank you for this second installment, I look forward to the third.

    I’ve always been sensitive to metaphysical currents, but only since just before the pandemic (just in time!) started to actively engage in earnest. The mainstay of my practice is (1) meditation and (2) regular offerings.

    One thing I’ve noticed: if you ask a god for help in developing a certain quality, your wish will be granted by exposure to situations that require that quality. Also, spells meant to protect yourself and your family can be effective at keeping things out — even things you might rather want *in*.

    Overall, no free lunches. But hopefully a more engaging experience.

  37. I camped out alone in a national forest in one of the northern states one summer, on my life-changing 1993 solo road trip. a lot of it unplanned, just stop where you find a place. Yes, it was quite the experience, though what I remember most about it was freezing even in my sleeping bag. At an earlier leg of the trip, I camped in what amounted to a bower of flowers in Florida. I think the metaphysical journey I’m on in this last segment of my life must by a lot like that road trip, only through the inner dimensions. Thank you very much for the analogy!

  38. Orion, as a parable, it’s a good one.

    Bonaventure, not so. To the best of my recollection Plotinus never once uses the word theos or any of its derivatives for the One, and he was precise enough that I think it’s only fair to assume he knew exactly what he was saying. The Christian doubletalk that tries to insist that an impersonal absolute unity without qualities, intention, or consciousness is also a conscious, personal god who does things like choosing one ethnic group as his chosen people and sending his son into incarnation to die for humanity’s sins is to my mind a complete falsification of what Plotinus was saying. It’s all very reminiscent of a fine bit from the Principia Discordia:

    “You point to all of the discord and confusion in the world and exclaim ‘Well who the hell do you think did all of this, wise guy?’ If he says, ‘Nobody, just impersonal forces.’ Then quickly respond with: THE ARGUMENT BY SEMANTICAL GYMNASTICS and say that he is absolutely right, and that those impersonal forces are female and that Her name is ERIS.”

    Rcastle, thanks for this. You’ll be interested to know that city kids routinely find the city to be perfectly safe as long as you don’t get stupid, while the wilderness is full of dangers! It all depends on what you’re used to.

    Oilman2, of course you’re quite correct. The Old Testament, especially the first half of it, is practically a polytheist document; it makes it clear that if you happen to be a Jew, you really ought to worship the god of Israel and nobody else. Other nations have their own gods. There’s a revealing bit in Judges 11:24, where Jephthah is speaking to the Ammonites: “Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the LORD our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.”

    Stephen, thanks for this. These things happen — and a half century ago, such things were particularly common.

    Ron, there’s a lot of good common sense in Hinduism. As for your question, I’ve followed the various claims about occult activities by the current ruling elites fairly closely — and of course I’ve also done research into the occult involvements of Hitler and some members of his inner circle, and may be doing a book about that one of these days. I haven’t found any evidence that the current elites are practicing occultists. The dead look that Goebbels and Harari have in common is worth noting, in that Goebbels was one of the Nazis who didn’t have any documented occult involvements at all (unlike, say, Hitler, Himmler, and Hess). So I don’t think magic is involved. My take, rather, is that the people in charge these days are wholly materialistic and unspiritual, and are thus playthings in the hands of malevolent spiritual forces of which they themselves have not even the smallest awareness.

    DropBear, that’s a very common and a very difficult place to be in right now. One thing I’ll suggest is that, despite the claims made by various religious officials, you don’t have to have a relationship with a human institution to have a relationship with the gods and holy powers that the institution claims to revere. If, for example, you find your Catholic roots at least tolerable, you might consider taking up the habit of praying the rosary now and then, and ask for guidance.

    Chris, the belief that the ends justify the means is one of the most frequent sources of moral collapse and descent into evil I can think of, and the quote Magic Resistance unquote walked straight into it.

    Twilight, I certainly hope so!

    Other Owen, a fascinating question. How many of us who were around in the 1980s could have imagined where we are now?

    Iguana, yep. In a novel I’m working on just now, a character invokes a god of silence for help learning to move silently. What happens in response is that he becomes acutely, embarrassingly aware of every slight noise he makes!

    Patricia, and thank you likewise. It’s quite a road trip we’re all on.

  39. JMG, If you were tasked with understanding the Nazi’s in Germany in the 1930’s so you could give FDR ( your a time traveler) advise on how to counter them before the start of WWII, could you do it adequately without understanding the metaphysical dimensions of the party. I am not drawing parallels between the Nazi’s and our current ruling elite, but implying that both groups seem to defy simple logic and conventional political thinking. Was that a time, like our own, where traditional rationalist thinking is not adequate to understand what is really going on.

  40. This is a valuable essay for me as a polytheist, and great comments from everyone to ponder. Looking forward to more!

  41. #9 Longsword—I haven’t heard someone say “Mercy Buckets” for “thanks” in decades! Fun memory! 😎

  42. @dropBear, #32

    I will encourage you, as our host already did, to pursue whatever path that you feel minimally called to. Maybe there’s some form of folk Catholicism from your mother’s old country that will serve you well; maybe you will need to read some of the myths in other cultures to see what inspires you. If you feel music is what inspires you, may I suggest a devotion to St. Cecilia?

    I am saying this because a vacuum calls to be filled with something. And given the mess the world is right now, there are plenty of unsavory candidates waiting in line to fill in whatever vaccums are available. Your baptism will grant you some basic level of protection (as long as you have not explicitly and deliberately rejected it), but it is best if you can maintain some sort of practice, even if it is very simple.

  43. JMG, when you mention that schizophrenia is a dangerous outcome of wading into the occult without safeguards, does this apply to drug use and other mind altering practices?

    I’ve seen it many times in the context of hospitals with drug induced psychosis, with people convinced that everyone is trying to kill them, especially the doctors and nurses (hey maybe they are right on some level). It is possible to bring them back of course, but it can look like the worst forms of demonic possession, although I’m not sure if it is. I’ve seen the same thing happen after sleep deprivation.

  44. Bonaventure (#17 and #27) and JMG (#25 and #38), if I may lend some precision to the discussion—as I’ve been recently studying Plotinus intently—he is very explicit that Soul is the level of being in which agents exist, from the greatest gods down to the tiniest soul-fragment participated in by a grain of sand. That is, in fact, two entire levels of reality below the One! (Indeed, Plotinus is quite clear that the One isn’t and can’t be a god: saying the One is anything at all—except for itself—is a logical contradiction.)

  45. Thanks, JMG, for your assessment of the elites, which makes perfect sense to me. I find a certain wry delicious irony in that those who imagine themselves to be the world’s puppet-masters are actually the puppets of supernatural beings but are totally oblivious to it… it therefore can end only one way for them: badly. A classical Greek tragedy in the making.

  46. Clay, if I were trying to explain the Nazis to FDR I wouldn’t mention the metaphysical dimension because I have no reason to think he’d understand a word I said about that dimension. I’d have to find some way to talk about their trick of making the morale of nations collapse as they invaded, which was almost certainly the consequence of a magical working. The thing is, FDR wouldn’t be the person I’d want to talk to. His wartime vice president Henry Wallace, who was a Theosophist and very much au courant with occultism, would be the guy to talk to, because he’d be able to pass on what I had to say to other people in government and the occult field who could act on it. (There were plenty of those; Gen. George Patton, who remembered his past incarnations and used those memories in the field, comes to mind.)

    Patricia, glad to hear it.

    PumpkinScone, drugs can leave you open to the worst parts of the lower astral; that’s one reason why most traditional occultists don’t recommend them and won’t have anything to do with them.

    Zachary, I admit I’ve wondered that as well.

    SDI, thank you for this. That was certainly my understanding.

    Ron, an irony indeed. It’s a pity that Euripides didn’t write a tragedy titled The Plutocrats, about a bunch of arrogant nouveaux-riches ignore the gods, claim to rule the world, and are handed over by a quietly implacable Zeus to self-inflicted destruction.

  47. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for this series. I was raised Catholic and became over time agnostic, and then something of an agnostic that began to form my own beliefs about what I was taught about Christianity. When I read a couple Rosicrucian texts I was surprised how much their interpretation of these matters fit with mine (Christianity, not agnosticism), but perhaps that is not surprising since my father was Rosicrucian, and my grandfather and several great aunts before him. I was looking to go to a meeting of the local AMORC group to see what I made of it, but then the pandemic happened which got in the way and broke the momentum I had going.

    Right now I am starting to think about it again, and also I am reading about occultism (currently though, just in Dion Fortune’s “Sea Priestess” novel) and thinking about what I know of it. I am also waiting for my youngest to be older before I try starting to do a sphere of protection ritual, but again it feels like I am open to but not started. Part of me thinks, at least with the Rosicrucians, I am procrastinating due to the same hesitation that you are describing that was likely drilled into my head as a boy. Anyway, I appreciate this series that seems to be talking about this, and some of the real vs imaginary dangers. I think I could live a life that was perfectly content without engaging in this, but at the same time I have long been drawn towards it, although obviously with reservations.

    In garden ecosystem news, I saw another racoon since we spoke last time, and called out to it in a friendly way, but it turned out this one couldn’t run away from me fast enough. I also came across a robin that had just left its nest, and so didn’t know to be scared of me (generally though, the birds are getting a bit closer to us than they used to – this one’s parents having built a nest right against our house, just above some bean plants, on top of some motion detector lights that we took the bulbs out of long ago). When I reached for it to test how close I could get it, it opened its mouth in anticipation of receiving food, so my son and I went and found a worm, and I cut it into small pieces and fed it. Other than that I saw some new insects just tonight, fire flies. I know other people see them in the city, but we’d never had them, and I used to love them as a kid in Trinidad. Last year we had a praying mantis too, which was also new, so I’ll take it as a sign that nature in general is approving somewhat of what we are up to around our place.


  48. In regard to moral collapse and ego inflation, I saw a lot of that in the New Age community back in the early 2000s. I knew a lot of practitioners who really believed that the universe would simply give you want you want if you did enough energy work and focused your mind the right way (and also eliminated the emotion of fear). I believed that too, to an extent.

    This led to a lot of callousness. If I remember his book, Grace & Grit, correctly, Ken Wilber experienced a lot of this when his wife was dying of cancer and many people in the alternative healing community simply believed that if she didn’t magically recover then he must be doing something wrong. I’d say most New Agers were like that, as we simply believed that if you weren’t getting what you wanted, there was something wrong with you.

    I also ran into a small number of people who really did believe that they were deities in human form. I knew a few who claimed to actively see and hear groups of spirits who followed them around. Their usual pattern was that they would achieve dramatic success and just as suddenly encounter dramatic failure, fall into despair, start making wild predictions that never happen fed to them by spirits, and I have no idea what happens after that. Probably, as you said, schizophrenia.

    Looking back at it, I think all of the talk about Indigo children, Star Seeds, and other rubbish led to a lot of that.

  49. A truly amazing essay. Every now and again you deliver something truly astounding, that will be remembered for a long time, by many

  50. Do you think one of the reasons Presidents age so fast is because of the involvement of malevolent spirits who try to dictate their moves? I’ve wondered about that for awhile. I know lots of people in high-powered, stressful jobs, but none of them seem to age as fast as those who occupy the Oval Office.

  51. For me the experience came in the outdoors, the way the New Zealand outdoors can go from awe inspiringly pleasant conditions to hellishly bad hostile weather in 20 minutes flat. There are no wild animals that can kill you, and the noises in the night come from pretty harmless critters, all of whom are scared of humans, but that weather and the elements, well there’s a reason the Maori saw them as battling atua (gods).

    The difficulty I face, and I think most spiritual people in Aotearoa face, is that the local gods are pretty raw and energetic, and aren’t long used to human. We have imported some, and they seem to work OK, but the old original powers of the land are a force to be reckoned with and there’s no easy system that handles them. That is a mountain to be climbed with no easy routes.

  52. Interesting…The injunction to “worship no other gods before me” does NOT imply that gods besides Yahweh simply don’t exist. In fact, it implies the opposite. Hadn’t thought of that before.

    I suspect the answer is buried under a lot of translation details and history that I’m ignorant of, but I wonder what the original Hebrew connotation of “false idols” is. Does the phrase imply idols to nonexistent deities, or to deities whose worship was simply not accepted as part of the faith?

  53. Johnny, AMORC groups vary in quality but some are quite good. The correspondence course by all accounts is oriented to the complete beginner, but useful. There are of course other Rosicrucian orders, but I gather your family members were specifically in AMORC. Delighted to hear about the fireflies! We saw a lot of them in western Maryland, but they’re not to be found here in Rhode Island. They were pleasant little beings, and I miss them.

    Dennis, oh, dear gods, yes. I’ve seen vast amounts of the same things.

    Workdove, thank you.

    Dennis, that’s a good question. It’s certainly a harrowing job, but I really wonder; there are other jobs as difficult, and (for example) Putin seems to be aging well.

    Ben, nope — right out there in public. I don’t read much paywalled stuff.

    Peter, that doesn’t surprise me at all. The Pacific Northwest here in North America is equally raw — most of it was still ocean bottom in the Miocene, and the land’s very new and full of forceful energies.

    Cicada Grove, thanks for this. A lot of the occultists in Patton’s generation have had their occult connections scrubbed out of the collective memory.

    Zachary, that’s a good question. My knowledge of Hebrew is far too rudimentary for me even to speculate!

  54. @JMG,

    The marked *** sections below are points that I have wanted to bring up
    in some open post, or Magic Monday session to obtain your thoughts about the
    elites, as they are fondly known. However, without having to grapple with how
    to Ask the questions that you’ve Answered in this reply to Ron #31, I Now Know
    your thoughts on the questions I wanted to ask, but didn’t even Have to!
    That’s what I call a real useful piece of “synchronicity”. Where else can one go
    and get answers to questions that want answers, without Having to Ask!
    You have done it again! Just like Gareth Knight: “I call it Magic!”

    JMG’s reply to Ron #31:

    As for your question, I’ve followed the various claims about occult activities
    by the current ruling elites fairly closely —

    and of course I’ve also done research into the occult involvements of Hitler
    and some members of his inner circle, and may be doing a book about that one of
    these days.

    I haven’t found any evidence that the current elites are practicing occultists.

    The dead look that Goebbels and Harari have in common is worth noting, in that
    Goebbels was one of the Nazis who didn’t have any documented occult involvements
    at all (unlike, say, Hitler, Himmler, and Hess).

    So I don’t think magic is involved.

    My take, rather, is that the people in charge these days are wholly materialistic
    and unspiritual, and are thus playthings in the hands of malevolent spiritual
    forces of which they themselves have not even the smallest awareness.

    I rest my case, that just about says it All!!!


  55. The term conspirituality is getting thrown around a lot lately. Looks someone is upset that they aren’t getting the results they expected.

  56. Dear Mr Greer,

    If one were interested in dipping a toe into this strange new world is there any book or resources you can recommend for beginners? Apologies, I’m sure you must field this question quite often.

  57. Hello JMG and kommentariat! A good metaphor, the forest in the dark! As an outdoor nature lover, I like it.
    “For that matter, there are alternative traditions in the Abrahamic faiths that recognize that the world is not as simplistic a rigid binary as some theologians want it to be.”
    As an “unorthodox” Christian, I’m pleased with your statement.

  58. Dear Archdruid:
    There are some evidence of the existence of these metaphisical entities wich you refer ?

  59. Re Rcastle #28: Thanks for the interesting stories! You write:

    “And usually it seems safe but I would say, when it is not safe, it is the most dangerous thing a person can do.”

    There are 42,000 traffic deaths in the USA each year. There are 3,300,000 deaths. So traffic sits at the bottom of the list of dangers.

    Far above traffic you will find heart disease, cancer and bad medical outcomes. The most dangerous thing a person can do is what we do all the time. Eat unhealthy food, work overtime, and take too many medicines.

  60. Hi John Michael,

    Exactly! And I agree with you absolutely. The risk was never worth it, you know.

    The awful joke is that that lot appear to have achieved their ends using the tools they got. They just ended up with a little, major, bonkers crazy-super-big problem with what they’ve unleashed. I don’t see how that story can ever end well. Hopefully once the dust settles, it will make a great text book case of what not to do. Dunno.

    PS: I quite enjoy the forest at night. The other night a barking owl was making this horrendous sounding scream. Quite curdles the blood, those noises. However, I’m quite fond of the owls, they eat the rodents, possums and rabbits. Hard working birds if you ask me.



  61. One thing in the situation of the current Western world seems to have a spiritual dimension: it seems really as of (some) divine powers have cursed the West with reflexively and repetitively doing the same dumb and contraproductive things over and over again, leading to a collective cultural and social suicide of the West. I can’t imagine anything good at all coming from this situation (except maybe for non-Western countries), at least not for Europe and North America.

  62. >Dennis, that’s a good question. It’s certainly a harrowing job, but I really wonder; there are other jobs as difficult, and (for example) Putin seems to be aging well.

    Has the Imperial City always had a dark cloud hanging over it? Was there a time when it was healthy to live and work there or has it always been a place of darkness?

  63. Hello JMG.
    As always, your posts incite new thoughts.

    It is a nice metaphore: being in a scary new place that it is only scary because it is completely unknown and we don’t know the rules.

    I’ve come to think about the unseen as things that I know that they are there, but can’t be seen or measured. I can recognize emotions in other people rather easily, because I recognize my emotions as in a mirror. They are things that belong to the unseen, I needed my eyes and ears to watch the body movement and listen to the tune of the voice, and then my mind to interpret the signs into a familiar emotion.
    It is much harder to recognize unseen things that I am unfamiliar with. I’ve never felt the desire to ruin someone else’s life, so probably I wouldn’t be able to tell when someone is feeling this way, without some training.

    I need to use the physical senses to gather information, then I need to think about what it means on the next grade. I need focus for that, so it helps to stop using the senses. Meditation is focusing on steroids. When I have success, suddenly the motions and the sounds are filled with meaning. If it is a unfamiliar pattern, I will need context and several iterations until I gain familiarity and can give it a name.
    The less you use a sense, the more the others are acute. I’d say that ‘understanding’ is like any other sense, and sometimes we need to shut down the physical senses so the understanding develops. That’s when I can say I ‘see’ the unseen. “My boy, I see you are angry”, I say to my child, and while I used my eyes, it was reflecting about what my eyes showed me what allowed me to ‘see’ (I should say ‘to know about’) his emotion.

    Here I’ve stayed to the familiar ‘city grounds’, watching the unseen among familiar beings. From a theoretical point of view, accepting that any complex system or subsystem has a property called consciousness, similar to ours, leads to the belief that these systems are relating to each other in a similar manner, expressing the unseen for those who have their understanding attuned to it.
    I am trying to do this with a garden, listening to its second and third grade expressions. But it is so utterly unfamiliar that I don’t have a clue of what the garden is feeling or thinking. I suspect it doesn’t feel like us, with fear or angriness. It has unfamiliar feelings that I can’t recognize. Bugs in unusual places, birds going to different places, strong smells, are expressions of feelings, but I can’t give it a name, and probably it doesn’t have names in human language.

    And all this trouble is about an alien system that I am rather familiar with, so what about systems I don’t even know that they exist? As far as I know, they may be interacting with each other, they may be dreaming and in their dreams they are affecting mine without noticing, and suddenly one day I have a desire for doing a thing, and I am surprised because many of my neighbours have felt the same desire.
    We are open to unknown influences maybe because we are not close to one strong known influence (which would push away alien ideas the same our sun pushes away cosmic radiation). If I build my relationship to one influence, I’m tuning myself to be able to observe any idea coming from it and deafening to others. I am not sure I want to do that, even if demons may come. In life we have to deal with bad people sometimes, when we can avoid them no longer. I prefer to accept that sometimes bad things happen than to be ruled for protection.

    Now that I read that last sentence, I understand why I can’t stand religion.
    Thank you for opening this line of thinking.

  64. Thanks JMG,

    My dad was certainly in AMORC, he stopped practicing many years ago but was doing it via correspondence then, so I assume his father was the same – I know my grandfather had wanted to set up a local group on the island where he was, as there wasn’t one, I believe even up till when he passed away. My dad has an interest in the occult, and has put a lot of effort and thought into Gurdjieff’s writings and ideas in the last decade or two, but when he approached a group in Toronto engaging in the work, it made my mother uncomfortable and he decided to just stick to thinking about it on his own.

    I remember from earlier, and am taking heed of, your comment that some AMORC groups have issues within them. I was going to check out an open meeting that they hold once a month to non-members and see how I felt about the atmosphere and people. If it wasn’t for me then I might look to the correspondence course. I feel comfortable working alone if it comes to that. I feel already that my interpretation of Christianity is quite far from what I was raised with, and actually that it has had a very positive affect on my with I believe tangible results and experiences. I have no issue working on my own if it comes to it.

    About the fireflies, it was such a great thing to see. I watched them for a while yesterday as the darkness fell,

    Thank you very much again for your time,

  65. @ Dropbear #32 (if I may)

    “…I am not even sure if i have a spiritual practise (does practising musical instruments or physical exercise count?). There must be many people like that in the western world. What approach to navigate the metaphysical realm would you recommend for folks like us.”

    Not JMG, but with his forbearance, I would like to suggest is that it is possible to “offer” our daily, ordinary goings and doings – such as playing music, doing physical exercise, cooking, gardening, reading, writing, playing games, etc – to the unnamed forces of healing and blessing. Simply paying attention to what you do, and “directing” your own efforts towards the healing and the blessing of that part of the world that lies within your reach, is a spiritual practice, and one of benefit to both oneself and to the greater worlds in which we live, move and have our being (biosphere + theosphere).

    You may, or may not, be aware that commenter Kimberley Steele is writing a book on “spiritual homemaking” which will go into much more detail on this kind of practice, and for which I am eagerly waiting, but it seems to me that the approach I’ve briefly mentioned can be used in any daily activity into which we both “give ourselves” and can learn to “lose ourselves”.

    Be well, stay free!

  66. I did want to talk about ponder light (?) – I believe that is the term. It comes from the Dutch for their reclaimed land from the sea. The term is in reference to how night is disappearing completely as people advance the day by electric means. I remember a title of a novel about Edison and Westinghouse and the lightbulb – “The Last Days of Night.” It stuck with me.

    Growing up in Northern Maine in a very rural area meant experiencing night and the darkness totally. There were a lot of pine forests and the river to deaden any artificial light. Because we were in the mountains, reception for radios were so bad that people just gave up. We had one that was tuned to the station that did the Red Sox games. (Heaven forfend that anyone should touch the dial.) We couldn’t have the lights on because it would attract the minges and the no-see-ums.

    So for summer excitement, we would pile in our old car and drive down a two lane road. It was paved since it was the main road to Canada. One night, we saw a glowing point. My father thought it was an UFO, the rest of us – a giant firefly. Turned out to be a moose crossing the road. Yes, the night could play tricks and start the imagination going.

    (As side note – whoever said moose were more dangerous than bears was correct. We avoided moose like the plague.)

    Then the 1987 Flood happened and wiped out the entire area. We had to leave everything. After the Flood, the professional people or as they are called professional managerial class took over. They looked at the Kennebec and Dead Rivers as prime white water rafting areas. The place is now a playground for these rafters. Our home is now a bed and breakfast run by some outsider.

    What I always recall was what my Grandfather said at the time when he saw them white water rafting. He was a licensed Maine Guide among other things. “I wouldn’t put a canoe on the Dead River. There’s a reason why they call it that.” I think of how everyone tries to convince themselves of how safe they are and how advanced they are with their technology. Of course the recent Titanic sub deaths reminded me of how humans do mental gymnastics not to see the dark.

  67. I was reading the following book (and copied blurb from the Brazilian river people) “Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind Paperback” – February 22, 2012 by Kirby Surprise, MD
    “If you are looking for answers to the profound enigma of the meaning and nature of meaningful coincidences in your own life, answers that bring psychological insight and spiritual understanding, then you have come to the right place. Professor Surprise has given us the finest book of its kind.” —Allan Combs, coauthor Synchronicity : Through the Eyes of Science, Myth and the Trickster

    The experience of meaningful coincidences is universal. They are reported by people of every culture, every belief system, and every time period. Synchronicity examines the evidence for the human influence on the meaningfulness of events, and the way the modern computational model of the mind predicts how we create meaning.

    It demonstrates that these events, based on the activity of the mind, are caused by the person who perceives them.

    In this fascinating work, you will:
    Learn to use your amazing ability to create synchronistic events
    Discover how your mind creates the reality you experience
    Unlock your brain’s vast resources of connectivity and creativity
    Change from living as a separate being to living as a part of the unified whole
    Synchronicity will show you how you already create events around you, and make you a conscious co-creator of your reality. Dr. Surprise describes the miracles of your brain’s processes, merging the worlds of modern physics and ancient mysticism to reveal abilities you have always possessed, but which were not fully understood–until now.
    Blurb over. Now me and my impressions: Dr. Surprise (real name) is a materialist who is a psychiatrist working with the prison population. He states that there are no deities causing synchronicities, that we mere mortals do that with our minds. He observed that synchronicities are mirrors of people’s minds, therefore they can lead people to believe they are God or God-directed. He writes to tell people how not to go crazy while creating synchronicities.

    Dr. Surprise ends up stating the same thing about creating synchronicities as you say about magic and its dangers. If you are not careful, you can go insane. As for me and my brain injury, well I have to be aware of that anyway with anything I do. Which is the brain and which is outside of the brain. It is a fine dance.

  68. I currently live on the edge of a small ranching town in west central Mexico. The people here are strongly invested in the Catholic Church. When making arrangements to meet with someone at a certain time, the response will be God Willing. We joke about that since it seems a convenient way to dodge an appointment. You don’t show up, it was because God wasn’t willing. But joking aside, people do genuinely feel that their lives are in the hands of God. Fatalism is the default approach to life.
    The primary sanctioned magic ritual is the praying of the rosary. The primary agent of intervention is the Virgin Mary. Our landlady Guadalupe who shares her birthday with the Virgin commissioned me to paint a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the back wall of her yard. Another ritual act of magic as far as I am concerned.
    While you can be a Catholic while at the same time subscribing to the scientific materialist creed local farmers have a strong animist streak running in parallel with their Catholicism. Planting is done according to phases of the moon and that sort of thing. It’s the belt and suspenders approach. A few weeks back before the summer rains started, the church had a blessing of the seeds. My wife had our flower seeds blessed. We also scored some holy water. Cover all the bases.
    Much of the role of magic in the daily life of people here has to do with the uncertainty of farming. City people tend more toward materialism and consumerism than country folk. Probably a lot like the US where rural communities have different concerns than city folk.
    There is yet another strain of magical tradition here which is the Indo tradition. Cora and Huichol Indians practice their traditional rituals although many of the individual members have been dispersed into the wider Catholic matrix. While the Catholic church in the past had a policy of eradicating indigenous religious practices, now that native cultural practices have just about been eradicated, some indigenous groups are reasserting their right to practice their traditions
    All in all, I suspect that as the project of eternal progress starts showing signs of fatigue, old practices will start to re-emerge even in urban environments where the luster of consumerism is starting to dull.

  69. I’m curious about your views on the idea of justification for enemy work in hoodoo.

    In my (admittedly not terribly broad) experience of hoodoo, the conjure doctor will usually do a divination of some kind to determine whether the working is justified in the eyes of God, and if so, harmful spells directed at enemies are considered acceptable.

    My guess is that since it’s a folk magic tradition working mostly with natural magic and prayer (the will/agency of God) rather than ceremonial magic working primarily through the will and consciousness of the practitioner, this is not (as much of) a problem. I’m curious whether you would agree with this idea or whether you think conjure doctors who do enemy work are running afoul of the raspberry jam principle and only the lady-hearted are safe. To be fair, I definitely know some hoodoo practitioners who do a lot of enemy work and are batshale crazy with life circumstances to match, but it’s hard to know which way that arrow of causation points.

  70. To Oilman2 (post #29),

    Thank you for mentioning what I have also found to be a very strange aspect of the Bible’s First Commandment since at least my catechism days leading up to my First Communion (I was raised in a Catholic church, but not the Roman Catholic Church). I too was struck by the wording of that Commandment, which is commonly if not almost universally taught to mean that there are no other gods but (the Jewish/Christian) God, but which taken at face value would seem to imply exactly the opposite — yes, there are in fact other gods, but we (as Jews or Christians) should not worship them. Unfortunately, unlike you, I did not confront my priest about this, but I have sometimes thought back on it over the years, and wished that I had.

    Then there is the obvious dichotomy, for Christians, of the Old Testament God repeatedly telling the Jews that they were/are his ‘chosen people’, yet Christians are obviously not Jews — so does that make us His “UNchosen people”? And why would a (modernly-viewed) universal God have a chosen people in the first place?

  71. JMG and Bonaventure re. Plotinus–

    I may be wrong here, but I’ve been making a close study of especially the fifth Ennead lately, and I have some thoughts on this topic. From what I can tell, Plotunis’s vision is a little different from either a monotheism or a polycentric-polytheism.

    In Ennead 5, he presents the One as superessential and entirely simplex, beyond even existence. To me it seems less impersonal than transpersonal or superpersonal.

    But the immediate offspring of the One is the Second Principle, Intellect. Intellect is explicitly identified with Kronos, and is it much better candidate for Supreme Being. At 5.9.1, he writes of Kronos,

    “This is the one God who is all the gods: for, in the coming to be of all those, this, the one, has suffered no diminishing. He and all have one existence, while each again is distinct. It is distinction by state without interval: there is no outward form to set one here and another there and to prevent any from being an entire identity; yet there is no sharing of parts from one to another. Nor is each of those Divine wholes a power in fragment, a power totaling to the sum of the measurable segments: the Divine is one all power reaching out to infinity; and so great is God that his very members are infinites.”

    Later, at 5.8.13, he explains that Kronos-Intellect leaves the rule of the world to his son, Zeus, who is Soul, the Third Hypostasis, while he looks toward his own father. The father of Intellect is the One, who can on this account only be Ouranos.

    Meanwhile, Intellect itself is also immediately triadic, containing the three principles of Being-Life-Mind. It is those three principles that August and explicitly identified with the father, son, and holy ghost.

    So it is more the case that for pluton is there is more than one supreme being. Zeus is concerned with the living world. Kronos is the father of the intellectual world. Ouranos is beyond all being. Christianized, either these three become the holy trinity, or the One becomes the ineffable godhead, Intellect becomes the holy trinity, and soul… setimes is reduced to simply the World Soul, who is Aphrodite for Plotinus; sometimes, as in the thought of Bulgakov, becomes Sophia, an ambiguous power who is sort of part of the Holy Trinity but sort of not; occasionally becomes Mary, who might also be Sophia; often disappears entirely.

    It’s worth noting too that Proclus, who extends the chain of being far back before Ouranos, is perfectly happy identifying the one as the First God or simply God. But he then says that of the First God nothing at all may be said, and he is properly worshiped only by silence.

  72. @neptunesdolphins (#70):

    I, too, spent most of my first ten years in a small place with no street lights. The sky was a glorious display every clear night, like ten thousand brilliant diamonds scattered in glorious arrays on black velvet, offering hints of vast mysteries to be pondered in the complex patterns they made — patterns so suggestive, yet so incomplete, as to be beyond the reach of our puny, sloppy human thoughts. Seeing in a glass darkly, indeed!

    What really wrecked our modern lives, in the first place, may well have been the harnessing of electricity. Methinks it was a Faustian bargain.

  73. Since our culture of entitlements has been brought up here, I’d like to make a few comments about that. I read an interesting book which explained that the hysterical Salem witch trials were the last gasp of Puritanism. I think the same thing may be happening with the culture of entitlements.

    Even though we were just blindsided by COVID, the demand for entitlements has surged. One example is immigration. Here the belief is that anyone who wants to come to America is entitled to do so. We have the resources to accommodate them. Another is gender change surgery. We have the resources to accommodate this entitlement for everyone.

    It’s hard to predict the future but the coming of the new BRICS currency in August may cause enough economic dislocation to question whether we have the resources for all these entitlements.

  74. I’m taking my teenage son into algonquin park in september for a 4 day canoe/camping trip.
    Haven’t done this in a long time and there’s a lot of equipment involved. Really need the right equipment for this type of trip; Decent canoe and tent; hatchet, map, cookware, dehydrated food, cooler…need to keep everything lightwieght too for the portages etc. We also have to be in shape physically and well oriented mentally.
    From previous experience i know we are going into a park the size of a small country and without this prep we could run into serious trouble… mostly from the elements or from getting lost. Any brush with this kind of trouble could lead to physical death or mental trauma depending on individual resiliencey.

    Reading this artcile makes me think of all the physical tools, and mental and spiritual shape I would need to be in to safely navigate another plane of existence.

    What would the fallout be if I happened to stumble into a powerfully charged portal without the capacities to find the exit? I would perish i guess.. but what part of me would perish?

    But If i found the exit then what would happen if i couldnt shut the door behind me and i continued to be open to these other planes? Schizophrenia it seems…
    I’ve read before that some academics, Perhaps towards the Phd in anthropology types, do Sometimes experiment with practices and rites they aren’t prepared for. Though I don’t believe they always end up on the bad end of things. Sometimes intellectuals flip toward enlightenment afyer these experiences.. but I assume it takes an exceptionally strong mind to do that.

  75. JMG,
    Thanks for the reference to Henry Wallace. Like most Vice Presidents he was only given a passing mention in the history classes I took in High School and College. What a formidable, accomplished and complex man. If anyone is in doubt about the ongoing collapse of the American Empire all they need to do is compare some of those who held that post at the zenith of the empire to those who hold it today. From Wallace to Harris is a drop of Wiley Coyote proportions.

  76. Hello Mr. Greer,

    I would love to hear more about the occult dimensions of schizophrenia that you briefly mentioned. I have met two different people who claimed to be the messiah in my life so I’m a little closer to this situation than I otherwise would have expected.

  77. Everyone,

    Like dropBear #32, I wasn’t raised in any religious tradition, but also I’m not nominally anything / wasn’t baptized. I’ve responded to some synchronicities I’d experienced and started a makeshift prayer type practice (to the specific deity I’d had synchronicities about), but I feel like I should be doing offerings too, but have no idea where to begin. Suggestions?

  78. “merging the worlds of modern physics and ancient mysticism to reveal abilities you have always possessed, but which were not fully understood–until now.”

    Yikes. He’s claiming he understands entire worlds of physics and mysticism and his book sounds like the text version of a cheesy infomercial. If anything is surprising about him, it’s his hubris.

  79. I’d like to extend your night forest metaphor a little further into reality than you intended if that’s okay. There seems to be an increase in unprovoked animal attacks on humans lately. I wonder if nature is picking up on the demonic vibe and is actively trying to clear contaminants from the ecosystem.

  80. My impression, strictly derived from book-readin’ is that spirits or non material entities seem to be local to places where people live. Hence if you wish to cultivate certain types of entities, it behooves you to practice where they live. Ojibway writer John Boatman in his book My Elders Taught Me talks about places he calls hierophanies where the veil that separates the spirit world from the material world are thinner than in most places and that those places are where you want to go if you want to commune with those entities. A friend and I went to interview him when he was teaching at the University of Wisconsin and he refused to tell us where any of these places were unless we signed up for one of his guided tours. He said that was necessary because in the course of the tour he would be able to tell if we were suitable to receive that sort of information.
    We didn’t want to sign up for his tours but went ahead and visited one of the islands in the north of Lake Michigan that he had mentioned in his book. Once there, we went to look for the medicine woman who according to Boatman ran culture camps for teaching people about Ojibway culture. We found her at the north end of the island and she invited us to share a dinner for one of her students who had just completed a vision quest which is a four day ordeal involving isolation and fasting.
    This type of teaching can be had if one looks for it. But some natives are hostile to the practice of exposing non-native people to native practices. But not all are hostile. In any case, we had no spirit contacts as a result of our. journey. But then we started running into people. One of them was selling Ojibway language books at a fair. I knew him from school and told him about meeting the medicine woman. He said, yeah, I know her, she’s my grandmother. I also told a friend about the author of the book that had inspired our voyage. He told us that he had roomed with the author’s daughter back in school. And one of my painting teachers was doing paintings with Ojibway titles which were translated from English by none other than John Boatman. And on it went. We had opened a window if not into the spirit world at least into the world of people who hung around the window.

  81. @ Booklover #64:
    Quoting an ancient Greek proverb: whom the gods want to destroy first they drive him crazy.

  82. @Chris in Fernglade: I saw this, this morning, related to the weather:

    “BoM yet to pull the El Niño trigger
    While the WMO is now satisfied El Niño conditions are present, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) held its El Niño status at one level below a full declaration on Tuesday.

    “Some uncertainty remains because of only weak ocean-atmosphere coupling, which is crucial for the amplification and sustenance of El Niño,” the WMO’s statement read.

    “It is anticipated that it will take approximately another month or so to witness a fully established coupling in the tropical Pacific.

    While the forecasts appear grim, not every El Niño brings severe drought, as per the previous El Niño, which only brought dry conditions to small pockets of Australia.

    Another reason why the warm and dry forecast may not eventuate, is a separate dry signal predicted from the Indian Ocean has so far failed to materialise this winter.”

    Maybe Australia will get lucky.

    On the other hand, if I was someone in any kind of position to have to plan, respond or be held accountable for social adaptation to such uncertainty and potential crisis, I would be afraid. Fortunately, I’m not, as I know my place, and don’t worry my pretty little head about such things.

  83. Codesmith, my somewhat more modest take is that many people are asking similar questions these days. “Why are the current ruling elites of Western industrial societies so malign and yet so clueless?” is a good example!

    Aloysius, I’m probably going to do a post about that word one of these days. Clearly somebody has lost control of the narrative, and the usual gimmicks just aren’t working.

    Crayon, I do indeed field it often, and that’s why I’ve written a book on the subject for complete beginners.

    Chuaquin, glad to hear it. I know a fair number of alternative Christians these days, as it happens.

    Anselmo, if you do the practices — my books give full instructions — you can settle that for yourself. If you don’t, nothing I can say will convince you.

    Chris, you probably know that Australian fauna is a source of jokes all over the rest of the world. I recall seeing a report that Australians for years have been eating a fish unknown to science, and the most common response was “Isn’t it more usual for a fish unknown to science to be eating Australians?” Barking owls that produce horrendous bloodcurdling screams in the night seem very apropos, all things considered. 😉

    Booklover, that’s how every civilization dies. Look through history, and you’ll reliably find the ruling elites of civilizations on the way down endlessly repeating the same failed gimmicks over and over again.

    Other Owen, if by that you mean Washington DC, I’ve been told that it has hideous feng-shui; it was a fetid swamp avoided by all sane people before Columbus landed, and it hasn’t changed at all.

    Chris, yep. Get ready for strange times.

    Abraham, a fine meditation on the theme of this post.

    Johnny, the AMORC correspondence course is a classic American occult training program, and even if the local lodge works for you, you’ll probably want to do it anyway.

    Neptunesdolphins, thanks for both of these.

    Greco, interesting. Thank you for the data points.

    Jen, I’m very much a lady-hearted hoodoo practitioner. I don’t do enemy work, ever, and I note that people who do bad work very often have bad things happen to them. The blowback isn’t as extreme as you get from ceremonial magic, but it’s real.

    Steve, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Roman, I’m also watching the BRICS (and the steadily rising interest rates on US T-bills) as a potential sign of massive crisis on its way.

    Ian, such portals are mostly found in bad fantasy fiction. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Clay, I ain’t arguing.

    Stephen, I’ll consider it at some point.

    Cary, the classic Greco-Roman approach, which I’ve found works very well, is to burn a little frankincense as an offering before your prayer. That was traditionally held to be a welcome offering to all the gods.

    Aloysius, I wonder how unprovoked they really are. Stupidity and entitlement make a lethal combination, and they’re both very common these days.

    Greco, it really depends on the spirits in question, but yes, some of them are very localized.

  84. “The way that debt-based gimmickry got used in a fantastically profligate fashion to prop up the otherwise uneconomic fracking industry, for example, blindsided quite a few peak oil authors, myself included.”

    I am reminded of how wrong I was last year about the speed of events and how they took place until here when looking at Europe’s energy and resource situation.

    The math said turning off all relevant Russian energy and resource inflow would make everything pretty much crash.That may still be true, but it’s not what happened. In this case, sanctions were circumvented, or rather the same resources are now redirected via proxy, India for an example.

    Also shortage of Ad Blue and fertilizer – well everything got more expensive, but trucks are running. Fewer of them in time, perhaps.

    The occult dimension of this is, I think, the effect of mass media, electronic screen time and the speed as well as often the shortness of all these informations entering us at great speed, often with too clittle comprehensive context given.

    There is a disparity between our perception of the electronic theater and the real world, because electronic media is an overflow of stimulation, while many the short and fast cycles of events in our world are still embedded in rising levels of onionshells with bigger, slower, deeper cycles.

    The stimulant catastrophic news of ie energy shortage give a strong signal, while the complex structure of our world economy is still more resilient and slowly moving than that in a systemic view.

    This would match evolutionary theory, that we evolved to take strong stimulating events and information as correspondingly important, but the abstract mask of modern media distorts the correspondence of strong trigger vs comprehensive picture of how that embeds in world history.

    Also on abstraction:

    I remember these discussions, a long time ago already, when I argued resource shortage, and people argued a simple tweaking of numbers and economic levers would change the equation.

    If I understood that part correctly, then not money printing itself did the job of squeezing some more goo out of porous rock by dissolving and washing the goo out of the rock. The printing of money just opened and closed gates of present resource flows, and changed orders for workers, executives and other “agents” of our economic system, thus rerouting resources from our colonies that otherwise would have found a better and more economical use.

    The occult dimension of modernity seems at that to confuse human will with – well the wide cosmos around us, around our petty minds in the view of higher beings.
    To confuse someone willing to extract oil our not vs material reality being that much changeable.

  85. It’s 7/7 in Japan right now– Tanabata, a day on which traditionally wishes are made upon stars. May each of us be blessed this day, and our own worthy desires are attained!

    Here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community, 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 to the prayer list (linked above).

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

    Oilman2 has survived cancer and is learning to adjust to a rebuilt colon and learning how to walk again; for healing energies, for robust fitness in his new physical circumstances, and for him to remain cancer free.

    Tamanous’s friend’s brother David got in a terrible motorcycle accident and has been diagnosed as a quadriplegic given the resultant spinal damage; for healing and the positive outcomes of upcoming surgeries and rehabilitation, specifically towards him being able to walk and live a normal life once more.

    Lp9’s request on behalf of their hometown, East Palestine Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people and all living beings in the area. (Lp9 gives updates here and most recently here, and says “things are a bit… murky”), and the reasonable possibility seems to exist that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen. At any rate, it is clearly having a devastating impact on the local area, and prayers are still warranted.

    * * *

    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 now 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.

  86. My first intuitive disposition of occultism probably has been these energy flows I have felt around my body in and within, and the strong impact of emotion, thoughts, the impact of other people’s presence on them within me, the strong impact of invoking imaginary pictures on them and other people around me with visible impact,
    without much outward activity of mine.

    Most of all the chaos of my energy flows, the inability to control them, lead them, harmonize them again. I had no good answers in my social environment about that back then.

    Once I looked at my mobile phone and thought “mind over matter”. Then something came that had happened often since my childhood, though since one or two years not so much anymore: energy congests in my body, and I twitch outwardly as it is released.

    Well as I looked at my phone that day, energy congested once again in my body, and this time for the first time in my life I let it go free. In lockstep with my feeling and perception, the phones screen started showing colored plots, then static and the phone was screeching, like a screeching radio, all of those things I have never seen of the same phone before or thereafter, remotely.

    I suspected already that this could be replicated and furthered through some sort of training or practice, but I knew not how. There were no answers all around. Back then, I did not know the meaning of either “Qi” or the lifeforce, nor the pathways to employ it.

    It was not for lack of trying, all those years, but I couldn’t get a steady mind, had no thread to grasp as to where it should lead, and was always too soon discouraged.

    Looking back at it, I already tried to do something occult, but I had no track whatsoever of what it was.

    Invoking spirits:

    After I had entered a questionable though on many levels highly skilled martial arts training group, in later times, I was already informed about the concept of occultism.

    I found the Archdruid report by chance in 2014 if I remember well, and occultism was mentioned, the other blog well of Galabes referenced, but this blog was otherwise strictly peak oil. I found the concepts I read only little about there obscure, I was a materialist, although I did not feel offended or spiteful, just it was something I did not know where to put.

    In a bad night some years ago, lying in my bed, I was angry I did not manage to get up earlier and get exercises done.In a spontaneous move, I said ferverntly in my inner dialogue: “I call upon thee, forces of darkness, to help me with this problem”, with a lot of emotion packed.
    Something happened that had never happened like that. It is very rare that anyone would ring my bell on the intercom in the night, especially not on weekdays.

    Somebody rang, it was midnight or something. He seemed drunk, and also very confused. He demanded to be let in, referencing my neighbour. I let him pass. Two hours later, he rang *again*. I wondered, did you not find him or something…?
    He demanded to be let in again. I let him pass. In the morning, when I wanted to get up and usually couldn’t, he rang a third time. I exploded and threatened him with violence over the intercom. He didn’t ring again.

    The Wiccan witch in the martial arts club said when she heard about it I should better avoid such ideas altogether, otherwise we’ll need an exorcism.

    Improvised exploration:

    First covid lockdown was a boon on my soul. I had just severed old ties, done relevant works, when it hit unexpectedly. By that time I had learned Qi Gong standing, feet straight and narrow together, so that our lower back may relax while standing most easily and a well stretched hip isn’t necessary.

    At first, I had always stood and traced the tension in my body, opening them, then other tensions popped up, following them…

    That was still on the physical level. At some point though, I started merely sending my mental focuse up and down and all around my body.

    At some point, my focus wandered outward into the space around my body, and for the first time, I noticed what this does on many levels.

  87. A number of those “unprovoked” animal attacks come from housing encroaching on their habitats. When Albuquerque’s developers moved in on the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, we started getting urban bears prowling around.

  88. …Of course, “August and” should be Augustine, and “Pluton is” is Plotinus…

  89. Hi JMG and all,

    So some of the things that gets me are if there is more than one god and each culture has their own gods. Are these gods exclusively local? Can we transplant them? I know that Christians worship God aka Yahweh/Jehovah, but if He is actually from the middle east, does He really travel? And how do we know who the local gods are? How do we pick a god or gods to worship? How do we know the god(s) we worship is/are actually benevolent and even care(s) about us? And I guess the ultimate question is do I even need to worship god(s)? These are some of the things that confuse me when considering worshiping god(s).

  90. Mr. Greer,
    Can you point me to the specific volume containing the Tolkien essay regarding the “discernment of spirits” referenced above? It sounds fascinating.

  91. The hottest day(s) on record are certainly in the news. The question few are asking is how far back do the records go. The BBC article is at least honest enough to mention the satellite based records go back to 1979, and the land based records go back to the late 19th century. Locally the Spokane records go back to about 1880.

    On a completely different topic it’s worth remembering the early parts of the Old Testament were set down while the Jews were desperately trying to retain their culture while in Babylon. They had been kicked out of Israel for being, well, obnoxious. There is a lot of ‘but we really are the chosen ones’ in there. The list of those who must, of course, be killed is extensive, the genocide of the Midianites sticking in my mind rather firmly. (Numbers 32 or thereabouts)

    Not a god I’m willing to worship.

  92. @ JMG and Chris

    Oz is famous all over the world for being home to some of the strangest and deadliest wildlife on Planet Earth, from cassowaries to giant spiders that catch birds in their webs to sea snails that kill because the agonizing pain from their venom causes the victim’s nervous system to overload and shut down.

    My Aussie friends say that if you go to the beach Down Under and don’t see any sharks, it’s because the saltwater crocs have eaten them all…

  93. @ Clay Dennis, I’m so glad you picked up on that VP comparison – it reminds me of this other hilarious SNL skit from 2015 (except, oops, that didn’t age well, joke starting at 1:57, how embarrassing) that the YouTube gremlins queued up for me this morning at work (I do feel more peppy now, thanks for the recommendation, you terrifying algorithmic crime against decency and nature! But it is the last time I hire a “carpenter” from those people. Fool me once.)

    Sorry, JMG, I do have something serious to contribute, about places where the veils are thin (Anchorage Alaska has more dandelions than I have ever seen in my life, as an aside, possibly because no one there seems to mow their lawn or the boulevards at all), and utterly nonsensical schizophrenic behaviour; my boss, who used to be an archeologist, was doing a dig at Tel Megiddo in 2012. Thousands of people were driving and flying in from all over the world to scream at them “Stop digging! You’re going to cause the apocalypse!” Some top journo from the BBC came out and had all the scientists do a New Year’s countdown on the site and then cheer to cut to at the end of her story about the New Age furor, which is enormously cheeky and funny to me. My other coworker brought up Y2K, and all the panic buying and bank runs and deliberate throwing out of technology – my mom was a bank teller at the time, and told all the people taking all their money out that the software programmers had known it was a problem, which was why the general public, you know, now did too, and fixed their bank computers over ten years ago. No one listened – what would a bank teller be able to tell you about banking!

    It was my fault we were discussing the end of the world. There was a power outage at the busiest intersection in town, and the traffic light was out, so anyone who has met drivers knows how that was going – it turned out to have been planned for some below ground work, but I had wondered if it was more of the solar flare activity that had hit on Sunday. Then I had to explain what the Carrington Event was, and everyone was aghast that such a known potential risk was not something commonly known about or that we appeared to have planned any resilience for (weird that we’ve had this spike in solar activity at the same time of this spike global heating. I mean, they can’t be related, otherwise that would mean this natural cycle would not be irreversible, and some reporting was irresponsible on that matter). Anyway, what was I saying? Right, schizophrenia – my boss’s fiance gave her a Tanzanite ring when he proposed last month, so I’m watching to make sure she doesn’t suddenly have a personality change, because that seems like an intense stone to wear for an untrained person, but I’m also thinking of experimenting with putting her at that intersection.

  94. JMG,
    Another thing that mystifies me in addition to tents on top of cars is Tattoos. Once a symbol to identify specific groups ( sailors, convicts, bikers) they seem to be on everyone under 40 now. Is there an occult dimension to this popular form of permanent body art that you know of? Was the leap from Bikers and Sailors to everyone else some sort of magical event? Did it start with a few in the occult scene using them for magical purposes and then it gained power over others, or just seemed cool enough to imitate. Or am I barking up the wrong tree and it is just a permanent fashion accessory to help people fit in?

  95. OilMan2 has been one of the most interesting voices in these circles for a very long time and I hope for a speedy and lasting recovery from his illness.

  96. @Jen #73, @JMG – Raspberry Jam principle

    Cursing one’s enemies by hoodoo– Probably it can be done, but I’m pretty sure that the raspberry jam of that activity would get on you as well as the witch doctor you hired to do it.

    What little I know on this one– Try blessing your enemies with attributes you wish they had, and for yourself, pray that you may be strong to get through the conflicts you must have with your enemy.
    There used to be a man and his wife living in our town who made their living by swindling other people; House flipping properties that were not safe to live in, moving property lines and building on their neighbors’ land–and then selling the buildings! Renting to people who were running crack labs because they paid the rent in cash, and the like.
    When they wronged me, I took the available legal action and won, but they moved to a different location far away before they could be compelled to pay.

    It was tempting for me to send some curses their way. Instead, my prayers and actions about them center around preventing them from causing more misery and harm to others, and that they might be drawn into good works that benefit their new community, especially the poor and destitute, so that in this way, they may undo much of the bad karma they have no doubt been accumulating throughout their lives.

    No doubt, my activities will cause blowback by drawing me into good works that benefit my community–If I can do more to benefit my neighbors, that sounds good to me. If anyone can see a down side to this approach, please comment!

  97. Hi John Michael,

    I’ve gotta bounce, but just quickly, there’s been a huge change down under – although few might think of it that way…

    Universities given two years to overhaul teaching degrees after education ministers’ meeting

    The important quotes:

    And after a national meeting of the country’s education ministers on Thursday, universities have been given two years to overhaul their teaching degrees or risk losing their accreditation.


    Mr Fox said the science of learning was starkly different to most university courses which often taught student-directed learning and exploring education through societal power structures.

    Does that last quote sound strangely familiar to you? The tide I’d have to suggest is turning, and the blow back is a-coming.

    Cheers and gotta run!


  98. @ Clark, I think your question, “Are these gods exclusively local? Can we transplant them? I know that Christians worship God aka Yahweh/Jehovah, but if He is actually from the middle east, does He really travel?”
    has a complicated answer, the TLDR of which is – He has been successfully transplanted here and backcrossed, but his vigour varies according to treatment and site. I can’t speak to the entirely still-European varieties that might be out there, but the naturalized version seems congenial to all comers whether approached through a more traditional church or pilgrimage format, or through an intermediary folk saint.

    I think gods may be somewhat like any other species – they have terroir. I know that my great-great-great-grandfather’s youngest brother, John Baptiste Renville (those with institutional access can read more of this book I highly recommend, for free here), had a genuine spiritual experience of the bible in their father’s longhouse, where he saw it fly off the shelf and around the room. Like all Dakota children, he’d been raised in his mother’s tent until he was of age, then sent to live with his father, so he accepted that as a sign of medicine power according to his lexicon, as well. His father, of course, was a hugely influential Christian missionary himself, and his eventual wife was an abolitionist Quaker whose family had been chased around the US because of their involvement in the Underground Railroad; a perspective she then brought to their Mission. The Christian god was well known to have power on this side of the pond (and here, as well, for example, even in a very disparate ecocultural setting).

    Unfortunately, Mary also brought her former Calvinist streak, as did several of the rest of the Renville siblings who remained at Lac Qui Parle. The Lac Qui Parle Christian Mission itself was burned to the ground during the 1862 war (now reconstructed as a historical site, and all 9 siblings scattered – some to rejoin the Dakota entirely (under a new line’s leadership, see below), some to join white culture entirely, and my great-great-great-grandfather, Francis, was, to my knowledge, the only one to be in the north at Pembina and have joined the Métis, marrying an Ojibwe-French woman ([Little Shell band], which was an unusual choice, as the Ojibwe, Dakota and Métis were active enemies – though Francis was present at a three-way peace treaty that was made, once, then broken within months – and it would be a Dakota who eventually killed him, while he was working as a mail carrier for the US government. But that choice enabled me to thank my Ojibwe ancestors, too, for their contribution).

    John Baptiste Renville was revisionist-history made the first ordained indigenous person, as a Presbyterian minister, but not according to Mary’s linked writing, above – possibly they did later, while he was still alive, and it’s past the timescale of that book. Given how weak sauce the United Church of Canada has been described, despite their really awesome logo, and that is the church that was created by the merger of the Presbyterian church he served and the Methodist church in Canada, it seems like that power may have fizzled out.

    On the other hand, the way they’re now raising John up in their historical accounts, and the huge effort they’re making toward indigenous reconciliation, they might be able to fan some life back into that ember, we’ll see. Personal anecdote: I used to not be able to set foot in the chapel of that church, it was extremely hostile feeling, even though I was in the rest of the building and grounds all the time because my kids’ co-op preschool was there. But at Christmas I was in there twice, once for a craft fair, and once for an actual service I was invited to at the craft fair. They are struggling to get pastors, and the one they had that day they didn’t like much, but that is some sort of data that something changed either way.

    The Catholic lineage is, to my knowledge, also very strong in terroir here – the pilgrimage to Lac Ste Anne in Alberta is the largest in North America, and it is utterly pancultural in attendees, both those of European orthodox stock and indigenous go and attend services in something like a dozen languages, now. That mission, as the website says, was founded by invitation by the local people – I think this is an important detail. And the pope was there last year!. I’ve never been a very good Métis, but I’m not going to lie, I cried.

    On the US side of the border, the indigenized sociocultural Christianity from just that one example family line are also still strong; the torch bearer of the Renvilles as a political power passed out of Joseph’s line to his brother Victor’s son Gabriel, who was extremely, extremely cool – and he advocated and practiced a much more naturalized blend of Dakota and European religion and lifestyle, and his line is still very strong among the Dakota people, though the ones I’m aware of went back to more traditional religion, he is still cited as a cultural hero by the Native American Indian Catholic Schools Network as ”>20% of Native Americans are Catholic. (Note: The ACE program of the NAICSN to expand Catholic school access runs for non-indigenous people, too – so the indigenous Catholics are now proselytizing to the non-indigenous a European religion – wild!).
    And the Christian god is of course, also extremely well-established and indigenized in South America, as well – the Virgin of Guadalupe is entirely a mestiza creation, who again, appeared before an indigenous person and has been fully incorporated back into the Catholic church. Santa Muerte is, let us say, more controversial, and is NOT accepted by any formal Christian Church, but Andrew Chestnut records her rapid migration through all of the US and even now north to Canada – he was able to find her candles even in the smallest, flyover state towns he looked in the US – and she also now has a church in the UK. (Her devotees are apparently especially good at memetic transmission of devotional materials on the internet).

    Chestnut also writes about (transcript of a podcast) the way that Pentecostalism thrives in Brazil, and how the faith healing appeal of Pentecostalism merged with various strands of African and Afro-Christian religions there, and then is merging again with Santa Muerte with a combined faith healing and love doctor focus (Santa Muerte was, until only very recently, almost exclusively called on for love workings). Santa Muerte has been incorporated into Hoodoo practices in the US combined with Saint Michael workings, where she is treated more like a folk saint; though the really devoted muertistas believe her as more powerful than even God, who they see as impersonal and without a power to affect their lives, whereas she is felt as an active power that does miracles in their lives.

  99. I wonder if thaumatophobia is probably the safer of the two extremes, although, as you often say, the opposite of one bad idea is another. Up until I was 20 (that was around 2000), like many New Agers, I did believe everything in the metaphysical realm was sweetness and light, and I recklessly experimented with a group of friends from late elementary school onwards.

    That was a mistake that led to both not-so-serious and serious trouble, some of which is ongoing today because people with whom I closely associate seem to have their thoughts manifest easily as if they were magical practitioners, but in an uncontrolled, indeliberate fashion.

  100. Great analogy, comparing the wider spiritual reality to an ecosystem. The abrahamic faiths seem to be unduly anthropocentric- humans were created in the image of the One True God™, the earth was created for humans, all spiritual beings exist to influence humans in some way, etc. It makes those religions seem very unrealistic to me, especially since we now know that humans were not specially created but are instead a kind of animal who share the same roots as all other animals.

    I’ve been delving into the deeper reality over the past few years, and I’ve had profound spiritual experiences that I am finding harder and harder to keep to myself. I would compare these experiences to being camped out in the woods and seeing a lightning strike, which lights up the entire woods for just a second, long enough to get a glimpse.

  101. Orwell again; he said (and I think it’s true) that seeing what’s right under your nose requires a constant struggle. But what about what’s not in plain view? What’s not is no less real than what is in plain view, and regardless of whether it is or isn’t, I think it’s not advisable to get crosswise with reality.

    I’ll bet that every other person has seen or heard something that doesn’t accord with the workaday world of cause and effect, you know, that place that runs according to the laws of thermodynamics. No matter, the people that tell us they’re ‘scientific’ and all about ‘facts and evidence’, refuse to give any place under the firmament (not that it’s theirs to give) to any bit of those facts and evidence. Nope, that’s the stuff of weirdo parapsychologists and not to be touched with a bargepole. See, the universe as they know it runs according to rigid rules and is way too tightly woven to allow the unallowable through its warp and weft.

    Okey-dokey but after decades of stout denial and derision, suddenly we can talk about what everyone knows, that there’s strange objects flitting about in the air, at speeds that defy the physics that they teach in school. Welcome to the party denialists, and it’s about bloody time.

    So now maybe we can give the time of day to that other realm, which some call occult and some metaphysical, but which nonetheless makes its presence known, metaphorically rustling the branches and creaking the floorboards. Few of us know anything about it, but many of us suspect that it’s there, and most of us refuse to talk about it for fear of being called a nut. For good reason, for if your livelihood and reputation are at stake, you either keep your trap shut or you mouth the balderdash that everyone else does.

  102. Curt, money is subtle. It’s a system of tokens that our society uses to manage the flow of actual wealth, and it can be (and constantly is being) gimmicked to redirect the flow in various directions. In the case of fracking, the costs are being carried by the economy as a whole — the ever-worsening state of US infrastructure shows this — while the profits are being cycled back into an increasingly desperate struggle to keep liquid fuels flowing. How long can that keep going? Heck of a good question.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Curt, thanks for the data points.

    Clark, those are all valid questions, and human theologies and mythologies are among the attempts at an answer.

    EN, I don’t own copies of all the volumes of The History of Middle-Earth so can’t look it up for you. If I recall correctly, it’s in the final volume, The Peoples of Middle-Earth.

    Citrine, if ever there was a continent with signs around it saying “I’d Turn Back If I Were You”… 😉

    Sarad, er, okay.

    Clay, I have no idea. Anyone else?

    Emmanuel, that’s a very canny approach, and a good one.

    Chris, good heavens. I’m delighted to hear this.

    Dennis, the opposite of one bad idea really is another one. Blind terror of the Unseen is just as harmful as blind enthusiasm for it.

    Enjoyer, you could always write a book…

    Smith, that’s why I stake a claim outside the boundaries of respectability and talk about the things you’re not supposed to talk about. It gives those who haven’t chucked their respectable position in society some encouragement that they’re not actually nuts.

  103. @Alan #74, @oilman #29 –
    There are a lot of things about Christianity from the inside that make you go, “Hmmm…” Here’s one more: I mean no offense to any Christian or Muslim readers, but I myself sometimes wonder if the original Alla and the original YHWH are/were the same spiritual entity/god. There are a lot of similarities.
    A deity that you meet on a mountain near the Red Sea (yeah, I know, different mountains);
    Requires an exclusive contract;
    Authorizes eradication of peoples not in on the contract;
    Many rules to follow;

    I got this idea many years ago when I read a book by the name of “The Gold of Exodus; The discovery of the true Mt. Sinai” by Howard Blum (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998 ISBN 9780684809182). Not great literature– But they make a good case that the real Mount Sinai is in Saudi Arabia and is currently named Jabal Al Lawz, and is close to the Red Sea. On page 359, they describe finding the Cave where Elijah encountered YHWH. It is still a place of spiritual activity and great uneasiness. Meeting YHWH in a cave, when I thought about it, sounded very much like another deity-meets-prophet-in-a-cave story…

    We live in an era in which (per JR ‘Bob’ Dobbs) there are many False Jesii about. On what basis can we know who we are worshipping? — Could it be that the entities known to us as YHWH and Alla were/are mountain spirits with ambitions for more territory? Or even the same entity? Are the worshippers of YHWH and Alla worshipping the same god(s) as the first people who worshipped them? Again, its likely that humans will never have the toolkit to definitively answer these questions, but at some level, you get to know what a deity is like by the way they treat people who cannot possibly hurt them. This lets us learn about other humans as well.

    A lot of us have a steep learning curve in dealing with the spiritual world, now that the tide of it is rolling in.

  104. Zachary Braverman #55 re original Hebrew:

    Note: the Hebrew reads right to left.
    For any verse you are curious about, plug it into the search window at the top of the page.

    Alan #74 re ‘chosen’ vs ‘unchosen’ people:
    Michael Heiser in his books ‘The Unseen Realm’ and ‘Supernatural’ goes over this question in detail.
    The thumbnail summary is basically that God has a family, with older kids and younger kids.
    The older kids are the “Sons of God” mentioned in such verses as Job 38:7 ( They are all of the other gods. We are the younger kids.

    Back when, the humans built the Tower of Babel and attempted to bring God (YHWH) down into it so they could worship him at closer proximity. God was not amused and dispersed them with a zillion different languages. He put most of the humans (‘nations’) under the supervision of the ‘older kids’ (other gods) while taking Abraham as “his portion” and generating a new nation, all his own, from scratch/from Abraham. He always wanted to pull the other humans back into the fold, however, and as far back as Abraham told Abraham that his progeny would be “a light for all the nations”.

    The Law of Moses was intended to be like a babysitter, to keep the Israelites more or less on track until the Law could be fulfilled. Paul of Tarsus says in the Bible that Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the Law. Now, Paul says, anyone who believes that Jesus did that, was resurrected, and who puts their trust in him, benefits from that sacrifice, and becomes a spiritual descendant of Abraham.

    Not only that, but as God dwelt in the Tabernacle in Old Testament times, Paul says that now he ‘tabernacles’ inside each Christian.

    So that is how the ‘dichotomy’ of ‘chosen’/’not chosen’ is resolved.

    Robert Mathiesen, #76 re stars:
    A friend once took me up Mauna Loa at night to the observation spot at 9,000 feet elevation. I have never seen so many stars in my life. They were so thick I couldn’t even make out the constellations. Truly marvelous.

  105. @CR Patiño, @Scotlyn
    thanks for your response. St Cecilia sounds interesting. Possibly something that i could resonate with. You certainly gave me food for thought.

    @Clark “do i even need to worship a god”. That is a question that i keep asking myself. Why would a god worth worshipping want to be worshipped by a lowly creature such as myself? The old Groucho Marx paradox.

    @Citrine @JMG Re: the risks of living in oz:
    The story that in OZ everything is trying to kill you is a myth just like the story that Aussies are tough, suntanned and freedom loving Crocodile dundees.
    I am not sure if this is just a meme such as Chuck norris jokes, or if people oversees really believe it, but talking to some Indian immigrants i got the impression that they are indeed worried about our wildlife. For pete’s sake, you guys in India got more dangerous animals currently alive than we had here in the Pleistocene.
    It is something we would like to believe about ourselves while at the same time we know that we are afraid of our shadows. The last 3 years have proved that beyond doubt.
    Our largest native land predator is the dingo which is about the size of a small dog and only ever attacks tourists. Preferably young french female ones if anyone can remember the latest video from Frazer Island. I for one can’t blame them for that.
    There are snakes and spiders and they usually have the sense to stay away from a human many thousand times their size and far more dangerous to them than they are to it. And there are
    There are sharks. But i understand they are in all oceans and very rarely attack humans.
    The crocodiles live in the sparsely populated far north and can normally be easily avoided.
    Just like everywhere, your best chance of getting killed is in road traffic.
    JMG, you are however correct saying “if ever there was a continent with signs around it saying “I’d Turn Back If I Were You””.
    I’ll give you some Clive James to explain why :
    “The problem with Australians is not that so many of them are descended from convicts, but that so many of them are descended from prison officers.”

    My apologies for this rather lengthy post, but i felt this needed to be said and I had no time to write a shorter one.

  106. Re JMG
    Do you think it’s a good idea for me to write a book about it? I keep a hidden journal with insights and descriptions of my experiences, it wouldn’t be that hard to reformat it into a book.

    As things have continued over the years the experiences increase in frequency and intensity. At first I thought I was going crazy, but now I know that this is real, and it’s excruciatingly hard to describe in words. Human language is a clumsy instrument for such a delicate task. And yet even though I can hardly put it into words, I feel like I must tell others. It’s an inexorable urge I haven’t felt before.

    As always, thanks for your great blog posts and great books.

  107. EN:Can you point me to the specific volume containing the Tolkien essay regarding the “discernment of spirits” referenced above? It sounds fascinating.

    JMG might possibly be referring to the essays in Morgoth’s Ring, the tenth volume of the History of Middle-earth. There’s reference to houseless Elven spirits and necromancy and stuff. The last volume (The Peoples of Middle-earth) has an essay on the Shibboleth of Feanor – officially a piece about Elven linguistics, but in practice also has some stuff on Elven naming conventions, and how that ties to personality and eventual fate.

    Regarding Tolkien’s knowledge of occult stuff pre-Williams – yes, Numenor pre-dates that. As noted, Tolkien does have Blackwood and Dunsany as influences (Dunsany knew Yeats), so it’s possible he absorbed stuff from earlier fantasy writers, rather than reading occultist texts directly. On the other hand I have checked a Blackwood story (Sand) that very much dwells on Atlantis, and there is no reference to the black magic corruption of Atlantis storyline – Blackwood’s channelling Donnelly there instead. Could Tolkien have read William Scott-Elliot?

  108. I have a question: in this series of posts you’ve made reference to the different reasons one gets in the occult. You listed the appropriate reasons and the inappropriate reasons but I wonder where my own reasons fit it.

    I am not like you or probably most of your readers. In every epoch of my life I have been the most popular of my peers. I’m 41 now and that hasn’t remotely changed. Why I got into the occult a decade ago and why I am still deep in it is simply for adventure. That’s really it. I want some bloody action in life. My personal hero is Sir Richard Francis Burton and I want to seek adventure as he did. I feel as if I have conquered as much material life as the gods have exposed me to. Is my rationale for getting into this appropriate or inappropriate?

  109. JMG,

    I doubt this is the same Tolkien essay you are thinking of, but in the HoME volume titled Morgoth’s Ring, there are several detailed metaphysical discussions that go in this direction. One includes his ideas about the spirit realm, how it operates in the bodily lives of Elves and men, and it’s general relations to the material realm.

    I’d always thought of this as influenced by Aristotle by way of the Catholic church, as there’s much in common. But since I’ve been following you here and reading into the occult traditions, I definitely see the overlap.

  110. @JMG, Iguana
    My aunt, who is Christian, cautions people to never pray for strength, for that reason. (Though it’s probably safe to pray for the strength to endure something that has already happened).

    Jessi Thompson

  111. Hello JMG,

    you said sacramental churches would probably make a big comeback in the next few decades. What exactly do you mean by sacramental churches?

  112. Naomi Wolf is of Jewish ancestry and liberally peppers her writings (especially recently) with Jewish references. However, as someone of Jewish background myself, having wrestled myself with these matters for many years (and still searching for the answers), when reading her stuff, I just can’t help but feel something is “off.” Hard to explain exactly why, but I just don’t feel like what I’ve read of hers so far is particularly Jewish in character nor loyal to the Jewish tradition. I also don’t think she is as knowledgeable about Judaism as she claims to be (or at least gives the impression). To my ears, she actually sounds much more Christian than Jewish. Perhaps we can call her a “Judeo-Christian,” to the extent there is such a thing. Maybe she actually is in the process of becoming a Christian? Leaving aside the labels and the speculation, I do like her work the last few years overall, I think she is on to something in her recent writings, and I hope she continues the process of discovery. But, for now, I don’t think she is very self aware, and the actual words coming out of her keyboard, as they pertains to religious/spiritual matters, should not be taken at face value.

    And not just picking on Naomi Wolf here. I get the same impression from… well, pretty much all well known contemporary (ethnically) Jewish public intellectual figures of the current generations around today, liberals and (neo-)conservatives. I could even say the same about Reform Jewish clergy– whose sermons share a very similar writing style with Naomi Wolf. Reform Judaism was from its founding and still is essentially a manufactured institution for non-believing Jews with a social need to still belong to a “religion” (in the mold of the liberal protestant churches) that would more readily integrate into 19th/early 20th century Germany (and then, America), while still holding on to a “Jewish” label. Fast forward to the 21st century, outside of the extremely insular, stubborn, dense world of Orthodox Judaism, all that is left is some waning nostalgia and identity politics (“as a Jew, ___”, etc). So when people like Naomi Wolf do start feeling a spiritual inclination, their notions of things and their overall approach tends to come not from Judaism, but from things they’ve internally assimilated from their social circle and the general culture.

    I think when phrases like “Judeo-Christian”, or its latest incarnation, “Abrahamic Faiths,” are used… the purpose is not to invoke some abstraction of a supposedly meta-religion that we all actually share in common, but rather, to gain political currency among the audience (both in terms of who is included and who is excluded). “Judeo-Christian” is not a coherent and stable concept. The character of these religions, in their traditional, orthodox forms, are radically different from each other. And if anything, despite Judaism and Christianity (on paper) sharing part of the same scriptures, Judaism and Islam are actually the two of these three that are the most similar to each other structurally. I am not convinced that believing Jews, Christians, and Muslims actually worship the same god, despite all three being classified as “monotheistic.” I’m not even sure if all people who call themselves “Jews” today, or all people who call themselves “Christians” today are even worshipping the same god, within their respective groups.

  113. I have hardly any knowledge of the occult but I deeply share your observation of the immature voices who have caught their first glimpse of the wider reality. The historic moment of this occurring resembles in so many ways what happened round a hundred years ago that the pattern screams at me.

    After being silent for a long time about the unspeakable I think it now important to speak up. Not so much to be heard, or to be read, much more to call it, to name the thing rising. And to state my true name.

    Thank you for the forest metaphor, it does a great job. What has long been secret is now accessible to many. I would love to read more about your actual practice. Not the results or the reasoning, but the way, your particular how.

    Guardening the spheres

  114. It’s interesting, about the mono/polytheism topic, that there was a mass song I remember when I was a Catholic child. It said something like this: “You Lord are my savior, there’s no God who does things as you do”.
    Hummm…the no-Christian Gods in this song are less pwerful than Jehovah, but they seem exist in some way, they aren’t non-existent ideas…

  115. Been wondering about the things that go bump in the night, and to what extent the general human fear of them (and of the night) is justified…

    The entities which are hostile or harmful to us humans, are they more active at night? More hostile? More dangerous? Does the night require more actual caution from us than the day?

    And if so, why?


  116. Hi John Michael and Citrine,

    If someone could please explain to me why it is somehow so necessary for this part of the world to have the second deadliest snake on the planet, it would most certainly assist my rattled senses when I occasionally spot the things? 😉 I don’t expect a reply.

    Yes, yes, all very funny! 🙂 Years ago I stopped ocean swimming. There were a couple of incidents. Once before a competition, a lot of people were talking about the sighting of the bronze whaler sharks in the area where we were to swim. Apparently, they’re OK, most of the time. Far out. It doesn’t make for a comfortable swim I can assure you both.

    That was awkward, but swimming though the school of jellyfish was the final straw for me. It’s really hard to concentrate on swimming correctly when you’re wondering just how deadly these things are. The first I knew about it was kicking downwards with the freestyle stroke, and my foot hitting something soft, yet unyielding. Was this a shark about to lop my foot – went the thoughts? I had a rash vest on, but my bare arms were covered in red marks for a day or so. It just wasn’t fun, but plenty of people head out surfing all the time, so perhaps it’s just me. Dunno.

    We spent a few months in the top end of the country in the late 1990’s. It was a really interesting place to visit, and in those days there were few if any tourists. In the vast Northern Territory we did a lot of swimming, and the water was usually pleasantly warm. If the water was safe to swim in, there were signs posted. I spotted people occasionally swimming in areas where there were signs advising people not to go into the water due to the salt water crocodile risk. People, dogs, cattle etc. get taken, there’s no mucking around with those creatures. Hunting bans were placed on them, and the crocodile population has apparently gotten quite large nowadays. My understanding is that many places up there where you could previously swim, you’re no longer able to.

    There are red back spiders here too. Very unpleasant customers.



  117. JMG, I know that the elites of past fallen civilizations did stupid things over and over again, but still, this particular spectacle is quite eerie. For obvious reasons, the question of spiritual influences on the rise and fall of civilizations hat not been studied as thoroughly as their more material aspects.

  118. @Emmanuel Goldstein #101
    @JMG – Raspberry Jam

    Riveting article and wonderful comments. I always learn so much here: both intellectual and practical.

    In the foundational Yoga text of Patañjali, a sūtra from the second chapter reads “When disturbed by disturbing thoughts, think of the opposite.”

    I particularly loved the advice from @Emmanuel Goldstein that when the impulse is to curse someone, instead think about what non-toxic qualities you’d prefer they had.
    That is going to come in very handy with some family relation drama I’m going through now, lol!

    Also, liked the raspberry jam analogy, though in my case, it seems to be the same always with mayonnaise!

    Thanks again
    Jill C

  119. Regarding the First Commandment (Abrahamic), my reading of it was pretty broad: not only do other gods exist, you are free to worship them AS LONG AS Yahweh was without question in first place. I think this will naturally lead to having relationships with beings (e.g. the archangels) who are okay with this rather than those (e.g. Zeus, Thor) who are going to react with “I ain’t playing no second fiddle to some two-bit God from the sticks!”
    It also kind of explains Luciel becoming Lucifer – originally okay with being lesser than Yahweh, then changed his mind and wanted to “up a level.” He’s become so nasty because he’s been attacking Yahweh and his followers for thousands of years and the raspberry jam principle is just as effective on his plane as ours.

  120. About Dr. Surprise’s book: Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind Paperback

    I realized that it is a book of magic without dealing with magic and all that bother. He does his version of spells etc except says “It is science!”. He doesn’t want anything to do with the unseen either in religion or the occult. So, digging deeper, he is saying the same things that Mr. Greer is saying, except for those scientific Atheists. He says that people need discernment or they will end up hurting themselves by becoming insane. He says that it is a mirror that reflects back to you. (Sounds like the raspberry jam principle.)

    That got me pondering – why do modern people insist on rejecting the unseen. I have been reading “Sekret Machines: Gods, Man, and War” Vol. 1 by Tom DeLonge and Peter Levenda. They say that people’s religion is based on UFOs. Of course, they try very hard not to bring up the alien origins of man i.e. we are special because of Aliens! It struck me that modern people are really uncomfortable with the unseen world.

  121. @Clay Dennis et al: re: tattoos, piercings, body modification.

    I used to want them when I was a teenager and couldn’t afford them. Now that I can afford them I don’t want them ; ) I used to want them so I could be cool like my older friends, now I’m one of the few people untattooed from my peer group. Same with piercings… It is interesting…

    James Howard Kunstler has railed and railed against tattoos in the past. I’m not sure why. He looks at as some kind of descent into barbarism, from what I remember of his posts and writings on the matter. I see it more as something more tribalistic. Certain types of tattoos definitely denote your membership in a subculture.

    I know a few tattoo artists. One was a skater and graffiti guy who I was close friends with in my teenage years. Opening a tattoo shop was a way for him to go into business for himself, make art every day and get paid. I do think for some of the artists its as simple as that, and they can do more representational work, the kind of thing you don’t necessarily see in galleries and art shows currently. Though I’m not sure where he stands politically or on class issues these days, getting a tattoo has some certain working to middle class appeal. It’s not as expensive as some of the more elitist forms of art, in other words. Same with graffiti: there is an egalitarianism to it.

    In the graffiti world it doesn’t really matter what your background is, it’s all about “getting up” -getting your tag and letters and pieces all over the city and further as a way to get “fame”. Because the identity behind graffiti remains anonymous for a large part, where you came from, your personal background, etc. are less important. Of course there is competition among the artists who get “beef” with each other. A lot of graffiti artists end up becoming tattoo artists once they get old enough to not want to go to jail and its a way for them to make a living and have a family.

    As for an occult dimension to the popularity of tattoos: their very well might be. The Temple Ov Psychick Youth, was an artistically-oriented occult and magic group that emerged from the industrial music subculture surrounding Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV. One dimension of it was that it was like a “fan club” for Psychic TV except instead of creating followers their intention was to create leaders and get people doing their own individual creative work. To that it succeeded. Active between between 1981 and the early 1990s, the people involved were also heavily interested in piercing, body modification, tattoos and even what I now call “gender blending”. They did a lot of magical work around all these things -and body piercing and tattoos went from something being abberant when they started to now being de rigeur. In that sense I think their magic worked. The same could be true of some of their ideas about gender. TOPY is another example of a fringe group doing magic that went on to have a wider influence on the culture at large. They often included ritual elements as part of their piercing

    Industrial Music culture in general was very occult oriented. The book “Modern Primitives” put out by V. Vale and Re/Search publications also was a big influencer on many people in the underground music world in general. The book came out in 1989 and continued the push in this direction that was started by TOPY and the underground music milieu of punk, metal and industrial music in general. A lot of the focus of the piercings was on places that may make most people cringe, but also have historical practices in parts of Asia going back to ancient times. (So what is normal, anyway?) Apparently the upper crust Victorians were into this kind of thing too in the late 19th century -perhaps due to their contact with the natives they were colonizing.

    One of the major critiques I have of TOPY is their focus on sex magic and on manifesting their desires, which I think tied them to the lower astral plane, much more than otherwise, and that limited what they could achieve, and also led to schisms. That said I really like a lot of the music and other things that came out of the subculture. And there is still some good technique and theory to be found within the TOPY tome “Thee Psychick Bible: Thee Apocryphal Scriptures of Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Thee Temple of Psychick Youth”

    Piercings and tattoos were/are of course common in other cultures current and historically. It will be interesting to see what role they continue to play in the United States. I can really see them continuing to have a role. If what JMG has written about the consciousness of the land influencing those who live on it is true (and I concur) then it makes sense perhaps that we’d have some traditions around tattooing and piercing on this continent, as these were also practiced to some degree by Native Americans. What directions those take, and how prevalent they continue to be, waits to be seen.

    I still think about tattoos and piercings for myself every once in awhile, but for the most part I’d rather spend the money on something else. Same goes with fireworks. I like the display, but not the outlay of funds to buy my own!

  122. Well bad fantasy fiction is what I’m trying not to write…and there are no portals in my book drafts… I thought the whole time traveling portal at a stone henge in the Outlander book was ridiculous and cheap and am trying to craft a story at least partially related to real magic.

    But still, In terms of portals, if an irresponsible magician opened a magic circle, and just left it open for the day, had guests over etc, got drunk and closed it the next morning… well that would be like throwing unsuspecting people into a portal in a way…exposing them to metaphysical powers without tools to handle them. This would lead to bad outcomes for everyone involved as cautioned about in your works.

    I understand that didn’t happen to Naomi, though I think that some intellectuals do the equivalent to themselves on purpose and take big risks… like these psychonuats who took the ‘heroic’ doses of lsd as McKenna phrased it. Or anthropologists that decided to just wing it and try out a rite they were researching from an indegenous culture.
    If Naomi just came to occult related conclusions from mundane analysis then I guess she found her way to it innocently. So then she needs another intellectual deepened in this sort of thing to guide her.
    That guiding role is an interesting one to work towards. Also an interesting role to cast a character in. Also, the inept magician opening magic circles before bbq’s would be a good side character/stupid villain as well.
    Thanks again for the exercise space!

  123. Chris @ 121. the govt. of a Caribbean island once imported mongeese. The creatures wiped out the fer-de-lances, and then started in on farmer’s chickens. IDK if Aussies would want to try that. OTOH, if mongeese eat rabbits…they might share the continent with the camels which your descents will likely be riding.

    Social Critic, as a Catholic, I already know there is an unseen world all around us. I don’t need the likes of Ms. Wolf, whatever her shade of Jewish belief, to tell me that. The You Must Take a Stand–ending about something which she neither herself understands nor clearly explains–left me wondering just who does this woman think she is? If this were a WASP PMC Karen speaking, it would be called, oh, privileged, cluelessness, maybe?

  124. re: tattoos, body mods, piercing… there was a name that was escaping me when I was writing my previous comment. It came to me now: Fakir Musafar.

    Musafar taught a lot of people the piercing methods as currently now practiced… he had a huge influence on the growth of this phenomenon. There was an interview or section on him in Modern Primitives. He died back in 2018 it appears, but his website is still up or kept up. There was a definite ritual component to his body mods and an aspect of the exploration of consciousness through these techniques. He did a lot of stuff with suspending himself from hooks that was inspired by anthropological research. Which led him into exploring altered states of consciousness using these means, etc.

    Understandably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m of the opinion to live and let live.

    That said such rites may recur among the tribes who dwell in the shadow of our civilization. Which I guess brings me back to JHK who railed against tatoos and piercings as barbaric -is it really that, or just part of a rejection of the barbarism that is our current civilization conducted by people in suits?

  125. DropBear, you’re forgetting your own namesake — by all accounts a terrifying predator of the eucalyptus forests… 😉

    Ecosophy, only you can decide whether to put what you have to say into book form. It’s simply a mode that comes naturally to me!

    Strda221, thank you! Yes, it’s the piece on houseless Elven spirits. Tolkien could well have read Scott-Eliot, but if he did so it’s interesting that so little of Scott-Eliot’s embroidery of the tale got into Númenor; that and the other Theosophical material makes me suspect he may have read Blavatsky or some of her early interpreters.

    Jonathan, it’s not my place to judge whether your motivations are appropriate or not. If that’s your truth, that’s your truth.

    Matt P, I’m fairly sure that’s the one. Thank you!

    Jessi, it’s good advice!

    Executed, a sacramental church is a church that considers participation in the sacraments central to salvation, as opposed to a fideist church, in which accepting some belief system is the only essential.

    Critic, duly noted. It’s certainly no business of mine to judge whether Wolf is Jewish enough! As for the label “Abrahamic,” though, from outside the three main Abrahamic faiths have much more in common with each other than any of them have with other religions, so it’s a useful way of saying “Judaism and Christianity and Islam” in fewer keystrokes.

    Bertus, I’ve published more than a dozen books about the how, you know.

    Chuaquin, hmm! Interesting.

    Milkyway, some nonphysical phenomena are more active at night than in the day, because the etheric effects of sunlight make it difficult for them to manifest. That’s about it.

    Chris, this is one of the reasons I’m happy with New England’s much more modest supply of rattlesnakes and very occasional great white sharks!

    Booklover, yes, it’s eerie! I suspect it was just as eerie in past civilizations, for that matter.

    Jill, mayonnaise will also do as a metaphor. You’re most welcome.

    Roldy, an interesting bit of theology.

    Neptunesdolphins, my experience is that people are uncomfortable with the Unseen because it gets in the way of the modern fantasy of humanity as the summit of creation, the measure of all things, blah blah blah. If the Unseen is real then the best we can be is local champs in a very small league. A lot of people find that utterly intolerable.

    Ian, fair enough; the mage would have to be very skilled to charge a space strongly enough to matter, but it does happen.

  126. To preserve themselves from accusations of a modified polytheism (tritheism) and keep their status as monotheists, but still acknowledge the reality of the Christian distinct experiences of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit theologians came up with a quantum physics superimposition state of the Godhead. For instance if a gallon of water was like the Trinity all of the water would be liquid, all of it vapor, and all of it solid all at the same time. This of course is anathema to Islam and Judaism. Though in my own admittedly finite experience of the Three Persons, each one has the authority and taste of eternal deity at least compared to what I am. I must admit there is a compelling logic to henotheism. 3 Gods for the price of One?
    Also I think you have a partial understanding of what fideism is as compared to sacramentalism. Fideism to me is that a human person can directly encounter and know the Living God in the here and now not just mere intellectual assent to a set of ideas. However every system has a degree of intellectual assent as part of the process.

  127. Thinking Turtle.
    You are right. But most those other things –
    “heart disease, cancer and bad medical outcomes. The most dangerous thing a person can do is what we do all the time. Eat unhealthy food, work overtime, and take too many medicines,”
    – come about from getting old, or older in our current society. I think this because I am old.

    The dangers I was talking about, and in reflection the dangers I think JMG was talking about, are those that are just as likely to happen to a person of any age – maybe even preferring the younger.

    And rather unsympathetically I was laughing at the fear of the forest.

    I have been pondering, meditating on JMG’s response, and I still don’t know what he meant because actually I mostly lived in the city, but at the edge. I could take a bus anywhere and did from the age of 7. And I could walk to where cows were, and waterfalls and forests.

    It could be said that my mother was remiss in letting me wander so at age 7, but usually I had with me my brother who was 6. And it was my responsibility to take care of him. And so when I was out there in the world I never much thought about the danger or possible dangers to me, I thought about the dangers to my brother, and looking after him, but also considered the whooping I would get when I got home if I did not.

    My mother was very often cruel and mean and savage and bitter and sadistic and tormenting of everyone in the family, some more than others. But she taught me how to do everything, so that I was skilled to do most anything, except drive a car, by the time I was 7. I could cook, I could sew, I could feed and care for a baby, I could change diapers, I could take my brother on the bus to the YMCA downtown for swimming lessons in the evening when he was 6 and I was 7. I was happy to learn all of this, and in fact I was the only one of six she ever taught it too. My younger sisters could not cook until their teens, and then not even well. My year younger brother never could cook while living in the same home as me.

    I was not my mother’s favorite, she considerably abused me, and gave preference to the others, I think she blamed and resented me for forcing her to get married. And I have often wondered why my mother taught me all this. I think it was to assist her. But also, although she did not like me so much, I was her first to experiment with. And she tried every experiment she could on me.

    As for letting me roam so much when I was young, she roamed the same way at the same age, in the same community, in the same city, so considered it perfectly normal. And I’m glad she did, that was the best part of being young.

    And I loved her stories of the Sheeny man, the snow so deep one winter, they just dug a path up the middle of the road with 6 foot snow walls, the chickens that her father cut the head off, that could still run around, the ability to get into a movie theater if you stole one of your mother’s pots during the war, the people in the sled with horses, that let her hold onto the back for a ride and took her miles out into the country and kicked her off, the single males – her uncles and cousins not even being allowed to remain in the city after dark during the Depression.

    Thinking Turtle. Thanks for saying you like my stories. I had been thinking of stopping. Wondering if perhaps they are inappropriate. JMG has serious goals and objectives, and maybe I’m undermining them. It’s not my intention. I don’t plan to write about things, I just read one of JMG’s posts and for one reason or another start to respond. I could censor the response, that is not post it, and I have thought of doing that, and am not sure what is right.

    But my original intent was, everyone talks about the world, now and in the past, and most not all, fail to capture any essence of what it was. They have a lot of details and events, and even what happened, but they don’t have what it felt like to be there.

    I have the stories of my mother, my grandmothers, my step-grandfather (he was born in a sod house and had a picture), my grandfather I knew, and to a lesser extent the stories my father told – he did not have as many stories but he lived in England during the war and was, according to him, in the midst of at least one bombing in London, some time before being evacuated, or maybe during a visit to his mother – he wasn’t above embellishing.

    I also know stories of my great grandparents, from my grandmothers and my uncle who was older than my mother. My one great grandfather came from Cork Ireland as a young man and told stories of migrating, picking fruit in Florida, apples up north, and being a sailor. My mother said all these stories were lies, and I completely believed her. But then my uncle her older brother, told me they were all true, and my mother just didn’t like my grandfather. And one day when I was older still, I saw the movie “The Cider House Rules” and I realized that story although it involved black migrants, was almost identical to my great grandfather’s stories, which certainly would have preceded that movie by fifty or sixty years – so probably his stories were true.

    My other great grandfather was blind and had 18 children. But when my grandmother was about 83, she told me he had been a Blaster, and a great philanderer (although she didn’t know that when a child), until struck down blind.

    When my grandmother was about 16-18 a neighbor told her she had sisters and family in another city, just a little bit older than her. Of course my grandmother didn’t believe it but she went to see. Sure enough another whole family with the same last name, and the same father. Obviously he didn’t pull all this off after he was blind, which means the philandering occurred before that.

    I was always told the blinding was caused by a blasting explosion. But later after my grandmother told me more about her mother who was a midwife who travelled all about at all hours of the night, had access to all sorts of drugs and chemicals, and accidentally killed her own father, by miscalculating the amount of drug to give him by a factor of ten, I began to wonder, and there were hints from my grandmother, that this woman, who was not a witch but perhaps not so far off from being one, had perhaps poisoned or blinded her own husband. That would certainly keep him home.

    Anyway I don’t know if I should continue to write about all these things on this blog. I just have the feeling that life as it was and is lived alongside the magic is relevant and needs to be mentioned in parallel, but I don’t want to overwhelm or intrude writing where it is not appropriate.

    JMG: I have been meditating on this a lot: “You’ll be interested to know that city kids routinely find the city to be perfectly safe as long as you don’t get stupid, while the wilderness is full of dangers! It all depends on what you’re used to.”
    Probably you did not mean anything other than what you said, but I wondered. Do you think I lived in the country? Mostly not. Even as 5 year old boys living in the city we had a code against talking to the police. Or did you mean the city can seem as dangerous to a country boy as the country to a city boy? Quite probably. Or did you mean there are many of the same dangers in city or country. Also quite likely. I think there are beings, who may be non visible, everywhere. Some of them, city or country are dangerous.

    Maybe you meant all of these, or none, or maybe you meant for me to meditate.

    I am not as a rule afraid in the county or the city, or driving. I love live music and dancing, especially blues, jazz, reggae, African music, ska, salsa etc, don’t now all the names of all the musical types, so I was wondering the clubs and the streets through the wee hours until my fifties, and only stopped because I moved to Florida. So I am not afraid of the city, and I am not afraid of people in clubs.

    But what I am afraid of is small private parties where I know no one, and don’t know how to speak to them. I’m not really afraid, afraid, I just don’t know how to participate or break the ice or feel like I belong.

    The magic world is here with us when we are living in what might be called the regular world. It is the invisible walls or rules of society that bother me. I have difficulty resisting the invisible expectations in certain settings without withdrawing. On the other hand I am free-er in other cultures where I don’t know the rules. Of course in a way you have to be even more careful, or responsive then, but it doesn’t bother me. I respect where I am.

  128. It seems to me that Joe Biden’s current state could be the work of Dark Magic, or fate, turned back upon him. His entire career has been one of pandering to special interests to get himself ahead. A man devoid of character or morals pretty much sums up our current POTUS. Such a person is useful to those in power, so he has always been rewarded by moving up the ladder. But fate is a trickster and kept a punishment reserved for his life of moral turpitude. Instead of a quiet retirement he is destined to spend his final days as a laughing stock, bumbling about as an example to those desiring to take such a path or harness dark forces for their own enrichment.

  129. Chris of Fernglade,
    We have snakes round here, we even had a couple of snakes when we lived in the city. I hardly ever see them and stomp around when among bushes aka gardening. Sharks are a bit of a worry. Having enjoyed bodysurfing for many years I have decided to give it up. I have been lucky enough not to encounter a shark in all that time, although have heard shark warnings while in the surf. I was always told not to swim at dusk or dawn, not to swim near anyone bleeding and to keep a line of surfers between me and the open sea.
    Other people’s dangers always seem so much more scary.
    And don’t underestimate the drop bear – nasty claws.

  130. @ Alan #74, Emmanuel Goldstein #108

    I find it interesting that so very many Christians fail to slide themselves into timeline context, replete with customs and living conditions for said geographical area. So my strong suggestion is to read histories like Tacitus and Josephus and speculative fiction of the era. It will be difficult for many women to stomach that they were regarded as possessions legally and historically, and that slavery was far broader across the world than people can fathom.

    If you read through New Testament, many of Paul’s Letters to various churches are in there discussing various other churches and practices with other Gods. The entire book of Acts is about miracles…

    I think both Christians and Muslims would argue against their Gods being one and the same. Sure – many similarities in both religions, and both are often just as wrapped in bloody struggles – in spite of the good teachings.

    Reading Tacitus got me going, and let my imagination shift into context – where science was simply non-existent and curious things attributed to magic and spirits. The tendency today is to sugarcoat the old reality due to the difference for women and slaves.

    Hope you find time anf joy imagining!

  131. @Rcastle (#132):

    Like you, I have stories upon stories about my ancestors for very many generations before me. They are my greatest treasure, and I see that you treasure your stories, too. Of course, our host has the final word here, but just speaking for myself, please keep your stories coming. I love reading them.

    Every one of us here is three things at once: we are each an artist, we are also the raw material on which the artists practice their art, and finally, we are the never-quite-finished work of art itself.

  132. JMG,

    When your a beginner they say “Stick to the outskirts of the forest or within sight of the paths but don’t go too deep inside.” because the difficulty of finding your way back and the dangers increase as you move inward.

    I would assume (because I don’t know first hand) that the first danger of a metaphysical realm would be the difficulty in even distinguishing the outskirts and safe paths from the areas too deep for a novice.

  133. I think I’ll write a book, then. I apologize for getting even more off-topic, but what advice would you give to a new religious movement that seeks to be an alternative to scientific materialism and abrahamic dogmatism? The neopagan movement is basically dead, and many other alternative spiritualities (like theosophy) met a similar fate. How could a new religious movement avoid this?

    I’ve thought of some ideas myself. Any path forward needs to refute mechanistic materialism and still have a metaphysics that is believable to those versed in science. I’ve been working out the details of my metaphysical system for years now, and it’s designed to refute materialism while being more simple, plausible, and having greater explanatory power. The cosmos is a great spirit, not a great machine. Materialism can actually be defeated with skepticism if you know how to be a true skeptic.

    Because of the Long Descent, adopting moderate ascetic practices into the movement has obvious benefits. Nothing too extreme or it will put off people, especially those who want to have a family. But good enough that it will help people survive the hard times ahead. On the other hand, the rabid consumerism in the culture of the West might condemn an ascetic movement to an early death.

    The movement should also function as a network of mutual support in times of crisis, but walk a middle path between individualism and the hippie communalism of the 60s and 70s.

    The new movement needs to be well-versed in ecology and needs to see nature as sacred in order to move toward a sustainable civilization. This obviously ties in with the metaphysics I mentioned earlier. The “vending machine” view of the universe needs to be thrown in the trash where it belongs, as does the anthropocentrism of abrahamic religion.

    I think pluralism is a virtue, and emulating the dogmatism of abrahamic faiths is a dead-end. Avoiding a cult of personality is also an obvious goal.

    I can think of more goals later, but these are some obvious ones.

  134. Hi John Michael,

    Great White sharks are easily avoided for us land dwelling creatures. But if you head into their turf, all bets are off. 🙂 I’d put you and your lady in the ‘safe’ from that risk category.

    Had half an inch of rain already today. It’s exciting, like in a very wet way. Did you spot the update: For the fourth day in a row, Earth has broken or equalled its hottest average temperature record A remarkable achievement. The decline in the extent of Antarctic sea ice should be ringing alarm bells – because summer is not far away and those rocks will store a lot of heat. If I dare make a suggestion about that frozen continent – Once dinosaurs roamed there. Should give pause for thought.

    The article included the quote: “They demand cheap energy, cheap food and do not want to pay the true cost of food and energy,” Dr Watson said. Who are these ‘they’ people? I’d want to ask him, just how many conferences he’d flown to recently. And does his household reflect his strong words? Hmm.

    Given the time wintry time of year here, it’s about time I wrote about the realities of solar power again. Always brings out the true believers.

    Hey, just checking with you. Did you know what the outcome would be for those magical resistance folks? If I recall correctly, and memory is a tricksy thing, you did kind of pass on a warning to them at the time. Well, it can’t be helped, what is done, is done.



  135. Hi Mary,

    I like how your brain works, and yes, what could possibly go wrong? 🙂 Surely you’ve heard of the story of the lady who swallowed a fly? Camels are very useful creatures.

    Hi Jill,

    The dropbears are particularly nasty customers. Wicked sharp claws. Yes, something to be careful of. Always fatal. 😉

    We get Koala’s here from time to time. The less I know the better. The leaves on the Eucalyptus Obliqua trees growing here aren’t the Koala’s favourite feed, but a lady involved with rescuing the local wildlife told me years ago that the koalas are adapting to the feed which is available.



  136. Moose, both sacramental and fideist churches claim to offer the experience of direct encounter with the divine. The sacramental churches claim that their ceremonies can become vehicles for that encounter, while the fideist churches reject that claim.

    Rcastle, I didn’t especially mean it as something to meditate on. I simply noted that country kids find the city just as unnerving and dangerous as city kids find the country.

    Clay, do you think he’s aware that he’s a laughing stock?

    GlassHammer, to some extent, yes. In occult training, it takes significant effort to get past the edges of the night forest, but one of the risks is that people will make the effort in a clumsy or morally corrupt way, and end up very deep before they have the skills to get out.

    Enjoyer, my advice would be to go slow and take things a step at a time. Get your ideas out there, in book form if that’s what works for you, and see what kind of response you get. A modest web presence might be a good thing; you’ll want to provide regular content online if you want to do that. But you’ll want to take it slow, and see what kind of response you get before going beyond very basic steps.

    Chris, here in New England, at least, rattlesnakes are just as easy to avoid as great white sharks — they don’t like people, and avoid settled areas. There’s a reason they’re called timber rattlesnakes. If there are still cougars in the mountains, they’re even more elusive. As for the Magic Resistance, I did indeed warn people that invoking evil spirits and casting curses on their political enemies would blow up in their faces, no matter how loudly they insisted that the ends justified the means. You can lead a horse to water…

    Peter, thanks for this! I’ll give it a read.

  137. It is a mystery to me that my post WWII generation seems to have little or no sense of responsibility for cultural transmission. Persons like the current president, the former Speaker of the House, and others should long since have been given honorable retirements and helped to write their memoirs. These folks, whatever we might think of them and their policies, have been present in the rooms where decisions were being made for the past 30-40 years. Their detailed knowledge of who made what payoff to whom for what concession is all being lost. (Governance is messy, democracy probably most of all)

    Chris, in Africa the most deadly snake is sometimes found frightenly near human habitation because it hunts kittens. I understand adorable Fluffy has caused extinctions of numerous bird species on various tropical islands.

  138. John Michael,
    I was a little surprised by your comment on Washington DC having bad feng shui as I recall reading somewhere that its design had been influenced by Masonic practitioners (George Washington and several other Founders were Masons.) This information may have been in Robert Anton Wilson’s writings. I know he researched early Masonry for his Historical Illuminatus series. Of course whatever magical intent was behind the original layout may have been altered by later building.


  139. This may or may not be relevant, but a couple of newspaper articles caught my eye in the last two days. One in the Guardian – yes, there is something worthwhile in it now and then – is about how it now seems impossible to have a reasoned debate about UK systems and institutions urgently in need of reform, even when they are nearing collapse. The second is about how some of the UK’s most iconic institutions seem to have fallen under the control of their own worst enemies. One could add to that list the British Railways, which are set to close almost all face-to-face ticket offices over the next two years, leaving people to buy tickets via often baffling web apps or at concourse ticket machines that frequently malfunction. This will certainly push many people back to using cars just when we should be switching to low-carbon travel methods. It is as if some unseen hand is guiding us toward a more rapid and traumatic descent than might otherwise be possible.

  140. @Darkest Yorkshire #133
    By no means. According to “Googoracle”:
    gaslight: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
    The current problem, IMHO, is that we think we are sane, when in reality we are raving lunatics (understanding by “we” the industrial civilization, broadly).

  141. More on the UFO religions. Peter Levenda in his books – the Sekret Machine series ended up with aliens are actually demons in disguise. They are trying to destroy humans from the very beginning for (ahem) Gods know what. We need to turn to the Monotheistic Gods for help.

    Paul Wallis, former Archdeacon of the Anglican Church in the Capitol Region of Australia, converted to the UFO religions. He, after studying the Old Testament, came up with the same thing as Levenda. Wallis has a series of books about Escaping from Eden and a radio show. He still believes in God and Christ though. God is the Cosmic Unity and Christ is an alien who is trying to transform people.

    At the same time, both discuss mystical experiences that seem prevalent among UFO types. Wallis counsels people who have had encounters with UFOs, saying that they are afraid of admitting that aliens exist or that they had direct encounters with them. Wallis, under hypnosis, also claims a direct encounter and has the scars to prove it.

    Meanwhile, Levenda discusses it in terms of religious experiences through the ages starting with the Egyptians and moving on to the Aztecs. He puts all of their mystical excesses such as a Death cult (Egyptian) and Blood and Death cult (Aztec) as an experience derived from alien contact.

    My takeaway is that the UFO people seem to have a religious dogma (since they are quite incestuous) that they promote. They assume that anything that is not of man is evil. It is taking Naomi Wolf one step to having not the Unseen be demonic but the Unseen as aliens are demonic. I believe it is a transference for modern people since you can’t admit to mystic experiences of the Unknown. Just say aliens!

  142. JMG: As for the Magic Resistance, I did indeed warn people that invoking evil spirits and casting curses on their political enemies would blow up in their faces, no matter how loudly they insisted that the ends justified the means.

    Me: Oh, they are still down in the trenches flailing their arms, alternating between fury and terror. Oh, and now we have a GREAT WAR of THE OTHERWORLD bleeding through to this one, and we must be on the side of Good. Whether there is a great war bleeding through (I have discussed this with serious Polytheists who have said something is occurring but stay out of it. It is none of our business.) Meanwhile, the Magic Resistance folks are enlisting and of course there is the “Tower Time” where everything is changed radically for the worse.

  143. Just read Wolf’s latest. Always found her a bit flaky– have been bumping into her stuff since the early 2000s when she was playing around with feminist/libertarian ideas. But I think I like her current turn. Perhaps she was flaky because of all the stuff she was avoiding saying. Perhaps not. We’ll see how her current enthusiasm ages.

  144. At this very moment, slightly sideways to our time and space, above the peaks of Mount Olympus, the Alps, the Rockies, the Himalayas and other high mountains of the world, a conference is underway. The lesser gods (whose powers and insight are incomprehensibly vaster than our own) are conferring with the greater gods (among whom might or might not be one a few billion people call “God” in some language or other). The question?

    To the extent I can even imagine the question, it is something to do with what to do with the Earth and all its inhabitants during this time when many transitions are taking place. From the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, From the Iron age of Technology to the new Bronze Age. From one aspect of the Kali Yuga to another aspect (or another Yuga altogether), from one 2,500 year celestial cycle to another, and so on.

    Some, no doubt, are volunteering to adapt microbes and small life forms to remediate the damage humans have done to their beautiful Earth. Others are planning on working with waves of consciousness to affect humans in and out of incarnation. Others are planning what catastrophes are needed to shift things in a positive direction. Perhaps others are saying “we didn’t need them before and we don’t need them now: exterminate the human monkeys.” And so on.

    I doubt if we’d actually understand most of what passes between the selection of beings of majestic power who take an interest in our part of the Solar System, and the subset of those who are concerned with our little issues, but I have no doubt the conferences are ongoing. I can feel it. Can’t you?

    Our friends here and on the inner planes have already given us a foreshadowing of what their conclusions and actions already are and what they might be. Thank you, Mr. Greer and commentariat for contributing to our understanding on these lines.

  145. thank you for this discussion and forum Mr. Greer.
    in regards to the topic of the post – the other day a loud crack of thunder and dark storm cloud greeted me first thing in the morning. No rain fell. By afternoon the sun was out. its an arid climate, I love rain and much prefer the cool feeling of rain cloud shade over blister in the sun. so the night before I had read/quoted an Assyrian inscription,
    “He advanced intent on combat. I defeated him. I shattered his warriors, 3,000 of whom I slew. Their blood filled the wide plain. I took his arms, royal treasure and cavalry from him. He climbed a steep mountain to escape with his life… Over the plain I thundered like Adad, the storm god. Now my harsh rule is established over Urartu.”
    Under that afternoon’s sun a thought bubbled over my head about the thunder shot, “Ah. Adad was saying hello.” Cheers!

  146. FWIW, one of the (several) reasons I left Protestantism was because I have had quite a lot of experiences similar to what Wolf describes in her most recent post, and there is not any room in the modern Protestant worldview for any of that. It is either dismissed as not real, or worse, believed and assumed to be evil.

    Fortunately, that isn’t equally true of all branches of Christianity, and I remain Christian, despite needing a very extended meander to find a church that had room for me.

  147. JMG,
    I would guess that Biden does not realize that he is a laughingstock. In a U.S. judicial system kind of way, that would mean he is not really being punished because he is not aware of his punishment. But in a Greek Tragedy kind of way he is receiving the ultimate punishment. He has lost both his dignity ( assuming he ever had any) and his self awareness. So he is trapped in an endless cycle of humiliation without the agency to do anything about it. In addition he is slowly dragging his family down in to the mud with him ( yes many of them richly deserve it.) So his history of moral failure is not only evident in his own demise but in the fecklessness of his offspring.
    I would like to think that he is a lesson ( to the aware) that the price of clawing for money and power without moral guidance is the slow destruction of character, dignity, and agency. He has become nothing more than a clown shaped hood ornament on the senile elites ” Thelma and Louise” car headed for the edge of the canyon.

  148. @Neptunesdolphin: There is good evidence to link Peter Levenda with U.S. intelligence circles, so I would be very careful with what you read in his books (fascinating as the topics are). I would take them somewhere between a grain of salt and enough salt to make a brine that could float an egg.

  149. Clay, great descriptions of Biden as the Pandering President. This raises the question of who is really running the White House.

  150. I hadn’t felt called to read Wolf’s essay at part 1 of this, but you got me there with this one. I can’t help but agree with @Mary Bennet and others here to say that I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Wolf’s piece is meandering and sketchy, not to mention derivative. My cynical mind thinks perhaps she’s merely sensed that her new, only, remaining audience skews Christian, and this is her attempt to get to where they already are.

    She’s also made some serious errors in her recent articles that have made me lose interest in her work. I followed her early in the pandemic, especially since I was a fan in the 90s during her Beauty Myth phase. I met and talked to her in those days when she came to my campus to speak; she gave me advice I now look back on as elitist and wrongheaded (and maybe even arrogant, as @Kimberly Steele suggests): That was to leave my “conservative” Midwestern university and seek refuge in a more politically liberal college, somewhere on the East Coast. Good thing I didn’t follow that advice, or I would have missed out on a valuable lesson in what it feels like to be the one going against the grain. I also would have wound up more deeply in debt at a more expensive school.

    Still, it’s commendable that you found positives in her treatment and that your critique is reasoned and evenhanded. I love that you “assume the best of the people you’re inviting to a conversation.”

    I seem to keep experiencing coincidences (synchronicities?) around your essays, and this one is no different. Last night, I dreamt my husband and I were walking through the forest, and we came to a clearing in the middle of the woods. Crossing the clearing, I saw something out of the corner of my eye and turned to see it was a bear, standing on its hind legs and staring at us. I stopped in my tracks and told my husband, who didn’t at first see it but then did after following where my finger pointed. I then was about to say we should make ourselves look scary in defense by raising our arms up above our heads, but I wasn’t sure if the bear would charge or not, since it was up on hind legs, which was… peculiar. The dream ended there. Not sure what to make of it, but I hadn’t even read your essay until today and didn’t connect the dream with it until you mentioned the bear. A few months ago, as I was going through this difficult period with my business ending, I would sense the Great Bear roaring to life during the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Any insights here?

    I’m glad you’re going to address the prohibitions in magic among mainstream Christianity.

  151. Mary, my take for some time now is that they’re clinging to power like grim death because letting go would mean admitting to themselves that as a generation, they failed. They had even more than the usual quota of bright dreams of a better world, and did even less than usual to make those dreams happen; now they get to look at the world they made, and it sucks. As long as they hold onto power, though, they can still pretend that it could get better. Of course it won’t — not until power finally gets wrested from their cold stiff hands.

    Rita, well, you know, I’m a 32° Freemason, and nothing I learned in any of the degrees I’ve received in the Craft taught me the first thing about feng-shui. Washington DC was indeed laid out according to certain Masonic principles, and that may be one of the reasons why it became the capital of the world for a short time — but the feng-shui is still appallingly bad. You don’t build a city on swampy ground, with no hills protecting it from the negative influences of the northeast, if you want good feng shui!

    Robert, when the Grauniad and the Torygraph both agree on something, trouble is at hand! Of course they’re both quite right. Britain has reached one of those states that appear regularly in its history, in which none of its institutions work any more but nobody’s willing to change anything that matters. It usually takes a major war to fix that, I’m sorry to say.

    Neptunesdolphins, have you by any chance ever read Jacques Vallee’s book Passport to Magonia? He pointed out back in the 1970s that many of the phenomena assigned to UFOs were identical to experiences once credited to gods, spirits, fairies, etc. A society that’s stopped believing in gods and embraced a wholly materialistic version of heaven, in the form of outer space, still can’t keep itself from experiencing gods descending from heaven… As for the Magic Resistance, yes, I know. I’ve been watching them from time to time as they dig themselves ever deeper into the pit. I’m really starting to wonder how soon they’re going to do a Heaven’s Gate or something of the same kind; their talk has that vibe to it.

    Methylethyl, I’ve also read it, and I like it rather better. I’ll be responding to it in due time.

    Clarke, oh, I figure they foresaw all this countless aeons ago, and the course of action they chose is unfolding according to their will.

    Jstn, the thunder gods seem to be very active just now. We had quite a thunderstorm the other day, with lightning flashing so often that one roll of thunder followed another without a gap in between.

    Clay, we’ll know the gods have decided to punish him if every single thing he’s done ends up turning against him before he dies. All things considered, I don’t find that implausible.

    Justin (if I may), I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anyone pushing the UFOs-are-aliens schtick who isn’t in bed with US intelligence.

    Brunette, duly noted, but it’s intriguing to see her veering in a metaphysical direction, and where she goes, others are likely to follow. As for the bear, it’s a fine theme for meditation!

    Enjoyer, glad to hear it.

  152. On the topic of realities about the non-physical, I think a lot of the way people relate to the internet does not make sense unless there’s something beyond the physical world driving it. I’ve come to wonder if a lot of the current mess we’re in is related to the fact that there’s a weird draw to the internet, and have a surprisingly mundane example of where it has thrown someone’s thinking for a loop: the Yellow Pages company requires people to use an online submission to order physical phone books. Phone books are essential for getting by comfortably without the internet, and yet the company has no option to schedule a delivery without the internet. When I called the company and tried to ask about how to set up a delivery without using their online submission system, the person I talked to seemed utterly unable to grasp the idea that there might be people who don’t want to use the internet, or even just want to minimize their use of it, despite the fact that this is almost certainly the only reason that anyone will order phone books these days; and I’d imagine this applies to the people who will choose to call a company by phone rather than send an email.

    The less I use the internet, the more strange and troubling other people’s thinking on it looks to me, and the less I can think of any way to make sense of it that doesn’t involve words like “spell” or “curse”.

  153. I just read Naomi Wolf’s latest post and liked it. It seems like she may have had some karmic culmination from starting this series of posts. In what stages of of the historical process are metaphysical realms more dangerous? Times of decline?

  154. “Hail, Thor, Lord of Thunder
    Master of the winds of the western world
    Hail, Thor, hammer-wielder,
    Lord of Lightning, Lord of Storms.”

    Leslie Fish, “White Man’s Rain Chant

  155. No, not Thor, though him, too. Magic is afoot, madness is rampant, we’ve had senseless wars from Vietnam through Ukraine, and strife us everywhere. All we need to make the picture complete is the mead of poetry being poured out for the war bands. Go out in the mean streets of the inner city any time in the past 50 years and give a listen. No, it’s not Thor who’s running things right now, nor even Kek. The Old Man is, with Thought on one shoulder, Memory on the other, and Greedyguts curled up in the dog house gnawing on the bones of our age. And the virtues we need in this time are courage, loyalty, hospitality, and strength.

  156. Rabbi Josef Gikatilla (1248-1305), Gates of Light: “ A man must be aware that there are no open places from the earth to the heavens; every place is filled with legions and hordes. Some are full of mercy and loving-kindness. Others are impure creatures who seek to detract and do harm. There is no open place between the earth and the heavens because each place is crowded with them. Some are for peace and some are for war, some warrant good and others evil, some are for life and others for death.”

    As you were saying, Mr. Greer, we’re part of a spiritual ecosystem…

  157. >It is a mystery to me that my post WWII generation seems to have little or no sense of responsibility for cultural transmission

    Forget culture, look at their kids. Hunter isn’t that special, he’s pretty typical of how they’ve (mis)trained their children. These kids were never taught how to run anything, only how to be bagmen, gofers, messengers. Well, except for Trump Jr. and maybe some of the Kennedys. What was the name of that punk rock band?

    Part of the reason they cling to power, there’s nobody who can take over from them. I guess we’re going to find out what happens when they start dying off. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

    >So he is trapped in an endless cycle of humiliation without the agency to do anything about it

    So, he’s Kermit The Frog. Or has the same amount of agency. Here’s the question. Who, is Jim Henson in all of this? Who. Is. Jim. Henson.

  158. There is a UFO religion known as “Rael” or the “Raelians.” (See wikipedia but there’s also a chapter on them in “The Tower of Babel” by Robert Pennock) I think I lived upstairs from a Raelian in an apartment a few years ago because her last name was “Rael.” Some really weird noises would filter up through my floor from her bedroom. I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard any discussion of the Raelians here. It might make an interesting discussion.

  159. I said “really weird noises” in my previous post; I should have said “very disturbing noises” because at one point I considered calling 911.

  160. @JMG OT:

    You posted a link to where you could pre-order Ariel Moravec #2 Haatan, I think, and now can’t find it. Please refresh my memory?

    Thanks. Pat

  161. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, you can’t make the horse drink.

    However, there’s no getting around it, they’re certainly hell-bent on speeding up crisis and thus their own demise. The word ‘frantic’ comes to mind.

    As to the larger issue at stake, once the limits were pushed past, the result was baked into the cake. And if I may say (and I’m curious as to your perspective), a good old fashioned crisis which cannot be lightly brushed away does wonders to drive home a lesson which our species would do almost anything to avoid learning. It is possible that the old ones knew that.

    There’s a bit of sun out there right now, although don’t worry, it did rain a little bit earlier today.



  162. Hi Mary,

    No cats here for the reason you noted.

    It’s the rats, the snakes are after. The easiest way to remove the snake risk, is to be rid of the rats. The owls and dogs do a great job with them. But also, most importantly, I provide no shelter to the twitchy nosed pesky rodents. If ever you want to learn how clever we humans are, go head to head with the rats (without baiting them) – then you’ll find out for yourself just how clever other animals are. The things I’ve learned about rats over the years.



  163. Do you know why any city which is built to be a capital city seems to end up built in some horrible spot? Brasilia, Ottawa, Washington, Canberra, all have this in common: no one who paid any attention to the traditional lore of the area or basic feng shui principles would have ever built a city in those areas, let alone a capital….

  164. @Clarke aka Gwydion Assuming you’re quoting from the Avi Weinstein translation (unless you’re translating from the original or the Latin), what is the page reference? It’s been a while since I’ve read it. Thanks.

  165. I think “someone” told me a joke this week. The first part was when I woke up Thursday morning, with “Pop Goes the Weasel” running through my mind. This is very unusual. I can’t recall the last time I had any reason to think of that tune. But, there it was, and I couldn’t shake it.

    Later, when I had a slack moment at work, I read the Wikipedia article about the song, and found:

    In 1964, comedian singer Allan Sherman recorded “Pop Hates the Beatles”, a novelty song to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel” that condemns The Beatles with lyrics such as, “Ringo is the one with the drums / The others all play with him / It shows you what a boy can become / without a sense of rhythm.”

    Then, Friday morning, I hear a mention on the news that Friday was Ringo’s 82nd birthday. It’s the punch line to the cosmic joke, and resolves the tension that began the morning before.

    Now, I’ve talked with a certified schizophrenia patient, and I was struck by his tale of finding a sense of mysterious significance in what I was certain were random events. I’m pretty sure that I have no other symptoms, and am functioning well within my family and community. But, this little joke is one that I appreciate. Does this sort of thing happen to others, too?

  166. “Chris, the belief that the ends justify the means is one of the most frequent sources of moral collapse and descent into evil I can think of, and the quote Magic Resistance unquote walked straight into it.”

    What worries me is that I think a sizable fraction of their opponents may have fallen into one of the other sources of moral collapse and descent into evil, if it can even be usefully distinguished from the above: namely the delusion that if one is fighting evil, then anything done, no matter how evil, is justified. Two examples I’ve seen, both discussed on your dreamwidth, was the way that someone thought to monkey-wrench one of their workings to kill all who support Trump into a death trap should anyone who cast it ever support Trump; and then one about using a possible divergence between two goals of a working aimed to help anti-vaxxers to get over their emotional block and see the benefits of vaccines (if vaccines are dangerous, then it may pull people towards both seeing them as beneficial and seeing the truth that they aren’t as helpful as people think) as a way to kill the casters by causing a public health disaster.

    Neither of those are particularly helpful, and in both cases there were other ways to defuse the workings with a lot less collateral damage. For the first one, for example, if it was as sloppy as the other workings and never specified the cause or time of death, it would be trivial to turn into a blessing, by seeking to turn that energy into bringing Trump supporters a death at old age, surrounded by loved ones.

    I’m therefore troubled by the fact that it sounds like a lot of occultists on both sides of the political aisle dove into malevolent magic; and the way in which everything has gone wrong in spectacular ways since 2016 does not seem unrelated to me at all.

  167. asdf jkl; says:
    #172 July 8, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    You are likely correct as to the translation. I took the quote from a quite reliable kabbalah scholar friend of mine, a physicist, who taught himself Hebrew in his 70’s and now, in his 80’s, is so proficient that many people (rabbis, ministers, etc.) come to him for help with questions of grammar. As a consequence, I haven’t got the page reference. My apologies. He reads a great deal in Hebrew, but is also likely to resort to a good English translation for secondary texts. His languages are: Czech, Russian, German, Hebrew/Aramaic and English (not necessarily in that order). And advanced mathematics. I consider that a language.

  168. Anonymous, that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

    Luke Z, it’s always risky, but the risks vary from era to era. I’ll discuss that in a later post.

    Patricia M, it’s doubtless no accident that Heathenry has caught on so strongly here in recent decades.

    Clarke, exactly. Saints, tzaddikim, adepts, hoodoo doctors and granny women have known that all along.

    Phutatorius, yes, there’s also something about them in one of Jacques Vallee’s books, iirc. Like most UFO cults, they don’t interest me greatly — it’s standard Western religious entrepreneurship with flying saucers in place of crucifixes. But I’ll consider a post someday.

    Patricia M, nope — it’s not yet available for preorder. I’ll let the list know when it is!

    Chris, oh, granted. A nice robust crisis might drive a clue or two through the yard-thick skulls of our current would-be lords and masters.

    Anonymous, I don’t. It’s an interesting question.

    Lathechuck, funny. These things certainly happen to me…

    Anonymous, unfortunately, yes. I’ve done my best to explain to anyone who will listen that it’s always stronger magic to build up what you want than to tear down what you don’t want, but not enough people were listening.

  169. I’m aware of how off topic this is, but if you don’t mind me continuing, or wrapping up, the discussion of Plotinus–

    In Ennead 6.9, which contains a method of meditation and some of his most moving descriptions of the One anywhere in his work (or anywhere at all, to my mind), Plotinus repeatedly characterizes the One as God, and uses the word “θεόσ .” (I’m not sure how many times as I don’t know Greek well enough to spot the different cases of the noun. The use of the English word “God” in my translation may at times be an interpolation, or may not be. The Greek is here: 

    At the same time, he clearly characterizes the One in terms radially different from any particular God, and even from the Intellectual Principle, which he elsewhere characterizes as “our One God who is all the Gods.” Discussing how we can come to know the One, he tells us:

    “The main part of the difficulty is that awareness of this Principle [that is, the One] comes neither by knowing nor by the Intellection that discovers the Intellectual Beings but by a presence overpassing all knowledge. In knowing, soul or mind abandons its unity; it cannot remain a simplex: knowing is taking account of things; that accounting is multiple; the mind, thus plunging into number and multiplicity, departs from unity.

    “Our way then takes us beyond knowing; there may be no wandering from unity; knowing and knowable must all be left aside; every object of thought, even the highest, we must pass by, for all that is good is later than This and derives from This as from the sun all the light of the day.

    “From none is that Principle absent and yet from all: present, it remains absent save to those fit to receive, disciplined into some accordance, able to touch it closely by their likeness and by that kindred power within themselves through which, remaining as it was when it came to them from the Supreme, they are enabled to see in so far as God may at all be seen.” (Source:

    Yet he also tells us,

    “Think of the One as Mind or as God, you think too meanly.”

    …but this in a passage in which he also tells us not to understand the One as a monad, or as a point, or any other image. Rather, a name like “One” or an image like “point” is a way of characterizing to our minds that which cannot be characterized. Presumably “God” is used here in exactly the same way. 

    In any case, the One remains radically different from the highly personal God understood by Christians and particularly by Protestants. On the other hand, the Catholic and Orthodox traditions drew heavily on Neoplatonism and these ideas aren’t actually foreign to them, even if the average pewsitter isn’t aware of it. 

  170. @Anonymous: re: planned capitals: I don’t know about the feng shui aspects, but I strongly suspect that by the time people get around to installing a planned capital city… one problem is that all the good spots have already been taken. Pick a place that doesn’t have a city in it already, or worse, commandeer and existing community small enough that it can’t fight you and then bulldoze it and re-route all its roads… you’re asking for trouble, no?

    I mean, think about how cities evolve naturally– a village here, a hamlet and a farmtown there, a couple roads that run between them– not drawn with a straightedge on a map, but following waterways, valleys, game trails, donkey tracks, two-rut wagon roads. Look at any map of an *old* city, and it’s not grids or neat wagon-wheels, it’s nodes connected by spiderwebs. Why do five or six roads converge on that square, that plaza? Because it was a good spot. It’s where living things wanted to go. The path had been worn very deep before anybody thought to pave the road. When a city grows this way, it follows the currents, energies, and landscape that already exist there. Not that urbanization is perfect or anything.

    But when you go and *plan* a city, now you are imposing a bunch of arbitrary ideas on a landscape with nothing to recommend it for habitation, that probably has ideas of its own. Did anybody even *look* for the game trails and footpaths before they laid out the roads? No, they were too busy making it *tidy*. Serves them right.

  171. @methylethyl 150. What Christian church is that, I am curious to know? Thank you!

  172. Hi JMG,

    The metaphysical realm is not only dangerous, it also suffers from the metaphysical problem that it is not entirely clear where it is located.

    Orthodox religion puts the metaphysical world behind the world of phenomena. Mystics, on the other hand, place the metaphysical realm in the interior.

    In western philosophy the metaphysical field has moved from the exterior world to the interior world. Jung and Barfield both call this interior world the collective unconscious. Though Jung sees it in a polytheist way and Barfield in a monotheist way.

    Since both the unconscious and the phenomenal world are outside consciousness, they are both exterior in some sense. This also makes it possible to combine these views. Then the metaphysical realm would equal the collective unconscious that at the same time also stands behind the world of phenomena. (This is of course also part of the idea of final participation of Barfield.)

  173. Steve T, thanks for this. Interesting.

    Dadaharm, from the perspective of occult philosophy, at least, the metaphysical world’s location is very simple. It is the world. The non-metaphysical world that we think we live in exists entirely inside our own heads, and is created solely by the limitations of our capacity to perceive. Blake’s comment is highly relevant: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” The world of phenomena is purely a world of representations existing within the minds of human beings; other beings have their own worlds of representation, which differ from ours — if you want evidence of this, watch a cat sometime as it stares at something that you can’t see.

  174. Anonymous,

    “The less I use the internet, the more strange and troubling other people’s thinking on it looks to me, and the less I can think of any way to make sense of it that doesn’t involve words like “spell” or “curse”.”

    And doubly so for those little internet-connected gazing balls in everyone’s pockets.

  175. “…other beings have their own worlds of representation, which differ from ours…”

    Hmm… I suppose it follows that in some (perhaps, many?) worlds of representation as lived in by other beings, we humans do not exist, and therefore, cannot be seen? Hmmm…

  176. A book discarded by someone moving out of here drew a long, extended parallel between the reigns of Ahab and Jezebel, then Jezebel, then Jezebel and Joram, then Jehu, with the U.S. Presidency between 1993 and 2017. The author noted a lot of timing coincidences, and based his entire thesis – that the events in Kings foretold said Presidency – on them. Plus the usual warnings that America was facing the fate of Israel. Israel being God-fearing heartland America, and Phoenicia being the coastal homelands of the sophisticated elite.The book is called The Paradigm. It really isn’t much of a stretch to see the parallels, either, though I attribute that to the similarity of Imperial downfalls and the usual reasons for them. Just another straw in the wind.

    Alas, I put the book back in the bin in the trash room.

  177. “My take, rather, is that the people in charge these days are wholly materialistic and unspiritual, and are thus playthings in the hands of malevolent spiritual forces of which they themselves have not even the smallest awareness.”

    If this sort of thing can happen, doesn’t this make chaos magic quite dangerous? You’ve said it’s not your cup of tea, but if people can become playthings to malevolent spiritual forces without knowing it, then invoking energies which you insist are not real seems like a very good way to get there…..

  178. Hi JMG – another excellent post on a topic becoming more relative by the minute. You wrote about Ms. Wolf’s “anthropocentric view” in her write up, and I think that’s a huge factor in the changes coming down the pike. We live in a very self-centered culture, at least in the West, and I see a continuation of people who are in crisis wanting to “roll their own” metaphysical reality, similar to how the hunt around for a church or religion that pleases them. The clash between a desire or need to cope with Decline and the reality of how beliefs and actions mesh is going to be, IMHO, a very interesting time in history.

    You also responded to Ron about leaders today who are “materialistic and unspiritual” and not even aware of the “malevolent spiritual forces” that influence them. I believe you’ve outlined some of this process in your Covid thread and the thesis under which it was launched, and I think I follow the basic logic of your view. However, as a devout agnostic my whole life, I’m as “materialistic and unspiritual” as one can get, while at the same time I consider myself mostly righteous and NOT under the influence of any malevolent spirit. I could be naive in that experience though, so I’ll have to do some research to better understand the nuances in the metaphysical realm you’re describing…..these two posts are an excellent start, but not easy for a single-plane-framework (materialistic) person like me to fully grasp.

  179. Jstn, and JMG, two weeks ago there was in the region, where I live, an unusual heavy thunderstorm with hail, heavy rain and numerous lightning flashes; the commuter rail with which I get to work and back, ceased to be serviced for two days, so that I left my workplace via taxi. A railway station in the city, where I live, was a few inches under water, trees were toppled, much foliage was torn off and some cellars were underwater. My apartment didn’t suffer any damage, because it it situated relative high above ground level.

  180. Patricia Mathews: A book discarded by someone moving out of here drew a long, extended parallel between the reigns of Ahab and Jezebel, then Jezebel, then Jezebel and Joram, then Jehu, with the U.S. Presidency between 1993 and 2017.
    That book was one of many written by Jonathan Cahn, who also wrote “Strange Gods.” Cahn has a reputation of being a prophet, albeit a controversial one. Google him for all the particulars.

    BTW, Cahn’s book “Strange Gods,” detailing how various Gods of the Old Testament – Ba’al, Moloch, and Istar are rising in power and reclaiming the world. He decries them as evil. Naomi Wolf read the book, which prompted her to start writing her series about the unseen. Her information about various Gods came from Cahn’s book. She wrote that she believed that evil Gods are overcoming the world.

  181. about animals attacking – Orcas and yachts. It is a fad with the orcas. One year, they all decided to wear salmon hats – people saw orcas with dead salmon on their heads. Now, it’s bumping yachts. It’s orcas wanting to have fun.

    This does relate to the topic since people assume that other Beings are all about humans, not that the other Beings are just doing their thing.

  182. Neptunesdolphins, have you by any chance ever read Jacques Vallee’s book Passport to Magonia? He pointed out back in the 1970s that many of the phenomena assigned to UFOs were identical to experiences once credited to gods, spirits, fairies, etc. A society that’s stopped believing in gods and embraced a wholly materialistic version of heaven, in the form of outer space, still can’t keep itself from experiencing gods descending from heaven…
    I was first introduced to UFOs by my neighbor who was a professional astronomer. Growing up, he encouraged us to go out and look at the sky. I have read many UFO books (including Mr. Greer’s). What I was struck by was how everyone settled on conspiracy theories about the U.S. government and aliens. Later, Gods as aliens and alien creation of people became a part of the theology. Now, it seems to be that all the time.

    Mr. Greer’s book is the exception.

    I believe Vallee got his ideas from Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark who wrote “The Unidentified” and “Creatures of the Outer Edge”. Coleman went on to be the expert on Bigfoot and other cryptids. The thesis of their two books was the idea what people experienced the unknown in the cultural context of their time. Fairies, aliens, etc.

    What seems to be missing from all of this is the wonder and awe of the UFO phenomenon. It has been reduced to evil aliens, evil government, and slave species (i.e. humans). My neighbor was intrigued by the phenomena and had no preconceived notion of aliens or anything else.

    Again the UFO phenomenon became human-centric and evil. Not that UFOs are just out there just doing whatever like other Beings.

  183. Lathechuck #173 said:
    “Now, I’ve talked with a certified schizophrenia patient, and I was struck by his tale of finding a sense of mysterious significance in what I was certain were random events.”

    Well, last weekend I met a man who has also certified schizophrenia and he refuses stubbornly to accomplish medical treatment. His symptons are very clear to everybody. He told me about certain random events like if were a regular and clear and true link between them. It was like a conspiracy theory, but more crazy and amusing (for a while) than the boring conspirative “thinkers”.

    ” Does this sort of thing happen to others, too?”

    It depends on which do you call random events, coincidences and so on…The most intersting and “strange” random event I suffered in my whole life happened to me a summer ten years ago. I was going to climb a mountain pass (1300 meters over the Mediterranean sea level ) with my bycicle, but when I started the first hill at some 600 metres, I heard a low “Boom!”. My rear wheel had busted, maybe due to the heat. This happened at 4 p.m.
    When I managed to fix my wheel, I was so tired that I decided return to the last town I had visited and spending the rest of the day there, searching a place for sleeping. When I was arriving to the town, it started near suddenly an awful hail storm; I had just enough time to reach an hostel and seek for refuge. The following morning I was told that the storm had gone to the same mountain pass I pretended to climb.
    Maybe the “boom!” was a nice irony by a joking storm god? I don’t know. I only know that I had a very good/bad luck that evening.

  184. Booklover #189:
    Last Thursday evening a flash flood rained over an Spanish town, with heavy hail, thunders and a lot of lightning; the most strange of this event is that flash floods uses to happen in the Mediterranean coasts (Barcelona, Valencia, and Balear Islands), but Saragossse is more than 300 km inland. And I can say to you that it’s between the driest places in Spain.

    A very strange phenomena IMHO…Angry thstorm gods or climate change in action? I don’t know…

  185. “BTW, Cahn’s book “Strange Gods,” detailing how various Gods of the Old Testament – Ba’al, Moloch, and Istar are rising in power and reclaiming the world. He decries them as evil. Naomi Wolf read the book, which prompted her to start writing her series about the unseen. Her information about various Gods came from Cahn’s book. She wrote that she believed that evil Gods are overcoming the world.”

    The list of evil Gods had better include Yahweh. The idea of good Gods and evil Gods fits in with Marcion of Sinope. He couldn’t reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of Jesus so concluded there had to be more than one God. Do they alternate in some way?

    That in turn plays into Yin and Yang, or the cosmological battle between gravity and entropy.

  186. @Neptune’s Dolphin – thanks!! Since his beef with Ahab’s reign and Clinton’s is worshiping other gods (I’m a polytheist), condoning homosexuality (I have many gay friends), women taking on leadership roles (can’t do much worse than men, only in a different way, and England has had some truly great queens), and sex outside of marriage, I’ll pass. Though Dion Fortune called it on the nose when she said “The real problem with free love is homeless children.”

    Now, Cahn’s other beef was with abortion, and I’m of several minds on that, and class it as a necessary evil at times. The total ban has caused some nasty casualties.

    However, I’ll grant you Cahn is a prophet.

  187. Anonymous 171
    The capitals you mentioned were all chosen as compromises between two major competing cities: Canberra between Sydney & Melbourne; Washington between New York and Philadelphia; Ottawa, I assume between Toronto and Montreal; Brazilia between Rio and Sao Paulo, and also to draw settlement to the interior. they all started as company towns for government.

  188. > if you want evidence of this, watch a cat sometime as it stares at something that you can’t see

    9 times out of 10, whatever it’s staring at will be something eventually you’ll see too. A bug, a bird, a mouse, something along those lines. It’s that tenth time though, that’s the one that really gets you.

  189. What is most significant to me about Mr. Cahn’s thesis is that the pattern-finding ability he demonstrates. He’s pretty amazing that way. What he makes of the pattern fits into a Reform fundamentalist view of the progression of events for the end-times. My own notion is that we’re always in an end-time situation. Always. Always in a 2nd coming situation. Always. And anyway no one knows what anything actually is until it’s upon them. The Prophecies of Nostradamus are only meaningful in hindsight. And they, too, are conditioned on various Christian apocalyptic theories. The boogie man is always under your bed, always around the corner. Scary story time while out camping.

    The ancient deities have not had many to make a case for whatever beneficial qualities they might have for a very long time. If I have a shadow-side, you can bet they do too, as conditioned beings existing in some fashion in time and operating according to cause and effect on whatever level. I guess what I’m saying is, what you’re looking for, you’ll find. I don’t mean to discount his evaluation of our culture entirely. The fall of the empire is a scary business. “What rough beast is slouching to Bethlehem to be born?” Beware the boogie man. Just don’t go around burning people at the stake because you are scared of him. Please.

  190. “BTW, Cahn’s book “Strange Gods,” detailing how various Gods of the Old Testament – Ba’al, Moloch, and Istar are rising in power and reclaiming the world. He decries them as evil. Naomi Wolf read the book, which prompted her to start writing her series about the unseen. Her information about various Gods came from Cahn’s book. She wrote that she believed that evil Gods are overcoming the world.” – Me

    The list of evil Gods had better include Yahweh. The idea of good Gods and evil Gods fits in with Marcion of Sinope. He couldn’t reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of Jesus so concluded there had to be more than one God. Do they alternate in some way? – SiliconGuy

    Cahn doesn’t include Yahweh in his list.

    However, Paul Wallis, former Archdeacon of the Anglican Church, does in his Eden series about evil aliens and humans. He believes that the Old Testament is about a war of aliens on earth. Yahweh is the main evil alien.

    How did an Archdeacon go from that to being a UFO believer? He started out that way – reading “Chariots of the Gods.” Had a spiritual experience and converted to Christianity. Was reading the Old Testament in original Hebrew and got flummoxed with Elohim (a plural) being translated as a singular. Decided that the Church was lying to him, and deconverted.

    I believe there are a lot of people at loose ends in the materialistic, scientific world they find themselves. I was reading an essay in “The Hedgehog Review” about people seeking transcendence through technology. It reminded of the Atheist-Pagans who decided there is no God but desire transcendental experiences in nature. Spirituality without the messy parts.

  191. JMG: What significance did the Great Conjunction of 1962 have? Since the sun, the moon, and all the visible planets were in Aquarius at the time, I know a lot of people thought it marked the beginning of the Age of Aquarius. If not, what did it signify?

    [I tried to ask this on Magic Monday, but my computer was taking forever to load anything, as if it was trying to force the entire cosmos through a pinhole. The IT tech here says that’s a common event in this place, whether wifi or cable.]

  192. Also – the current lesson in the workbook “Spiritual traditions from around the world and throughout history,” have recognized reincarnation, but to the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t appear in any of the ancient religions at the root of Western culture: Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek. Julius Caesar reported it as a belief of the Gaulish druids, and I’m sure some of the Greek or Hellenistic philosophers considered it, since they considered everything. Was this something ancient occultists knew and the religions didn’t? Or did it come to us from India, as others think?

  193. Scotlyn, yes, that would indeed follow. There are, for example, whole worlds of life in the soil that have doubtless never noticed our existence, and come up with their own theories to explain, say, plowing.

    Patricia M, that kind of game is fun to play. I recall a very learned discussion of Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark” that proved, in a manner of speaking, that Carroll’s nonsense-poem was about the economic cycle that drives business expansions and recessions. Given any adequately complex inkblot, you can interpret it plausibly to mean whatever you like.

    Anonymous, not as dangerous than ignoring the existence of spiritual forces entirely. Chaos magic has the concept of “hypersigils,” which are energy patterns created by the efforts of many people, and I believe chaos mages are aware of the fact that these “hypersigils” can occasionally behave as though they have minds and intentions of their own.

    Drhooves, one of the great virtues of ethical behavior is that it attunes you to positive forces whether you believe in them or not.

    Booklover, clearly Donner wants to remind people that he’s still very much around!

    Neptunesdolphins, thank you! I long for the days of yesteryear when people actually had original ideas about unexplained lights in the sky — not just folderol about aliens from the true believers, and “if I don’t believe in it, you didn’t see it” from the pseudoskeptics.

    Other Owen, sure. But I specified something that you can’t see, not something that you don’t happen to notice.

    Clarke, oh, sure. I like to read Christian prophets from past decades, insisting that the Second Coming will surely happen any day now; their logic is comparable to Cahn’s, and of course they were just as wrong as he will turn out to be.

    Patricia M, I’ll have to cast a chart for it and see. As for reincarnation, it was a widely held minority belief in ancient Greece — Pythagoras was famous for knowing his previous incarnations, for example, and Plato discusses it in the Republic. So, yes, occultists knew about it.

  194. >But I specified something that you can’t see, not something that you don’t happen to notice.

    That’s why after 10 minutes and you know the cat has a good track record of staring at things that are really there, but – there’s still nothing there. And the cat is still staring at it. It’s those ones that really get you right in the spooks.

    It’s not just cats either. There was this dog and somehow she knew someone was loitering at the edge of the property. She was inside, with the curtains drawn. The people doing the loitering were in a car, so good luck being able to smell or hear them, even for a dog that would be a stretch. *Somehow she knew*

    Then there are times you swear you are seeing things that aren’t supposed to be there – but the *cat is acting like it is seeing them too* I’m not sure which is spookier TBH.

  195. @JMG – Thank you. I’d forgotten the Pythagoreans. And wasn’t there something about the Orphic mysteries? So, yes.

  196. OT: here, but about my problems with loading Magic Monday – it was with the “Expand All” link. I just finished reading Magic Monday by clicking the subsidiary links, and was able to open the ones beneath the subsidiary links by clicking the second level ones. Not sure if this was Dreamwidth, or an artifact of my update.

  197. @JMG Thanks! Can you suggest a place in RI that’s good to buy it from, or what kind of store would sell it? Thanks again!

  198. @ Patricia Mathews #206, I have been having the same problem with the expand comments thing. Not sure if it is Dreamwidth or my setup. Nothing about it on Dreamwidth. I am running firefox on top of Linux.

  199. As for cats, are you sure the cat is seeing something, or is it hearing something?

    “The hearing range of the cat for sounds of 70 dB SPL extends from 48 Hz to 85 kHz, giving it one of the broadest hearing ranges among mammals. Analysis suggests that cats evolved extended high-frequency hearing without sacrifice of low-frequency hearing.”,sacrifice%20of%20low%2Dfrequency%20hearing.

    That said, there is the old legend of the gremlin, a magical entity that can only be seen by young children and cats. If you’ve ever wondered why a child will stare at something then start laughing…

  200. Other Owen, exactly. They perceive things we don’t. It’s a useful reminder that our senses only give us a narrow range of the possible perceptions impinging on us at every moment.

    Cary, sure. Most good herb and incense stores have it. I get mine by mail from Dandelion Botanical ( — I’ve been shopping with them since I lived in Seattle. To burn it, you’ll need incense charcoal, which you can also get in any decent herb or incense shop — Spectrum India in Providence has that, for example.

    Robert, thanks for this!

    Siliconguy, certainly it’s perceiving something. But I know cats who are pretty obviously tracking something with their eyes.

  201. Patricia Mathews, I had that same problem on dreamwidth starting this Monday. I found that the expand all link would work as before provided I was logged into dreamwidth. If I wasn’t logged in, no matter which browser or device I used, it would never load the expanded comments via that link.

  202. I am reading the last novel, « Buriti », in João Guimarães’ work « Corpo de baile ». It contains a description over three pages of all the sounds that can be heard during a night in the sertão backlands of Brazil. The irony, in view of this week’s essay, is that the sounds are heard by a madman who is convinced someone is coming after him! This time, I won’t try to translate any of it, but it was a remarkable coincidence.

  203. Late reply to the question about tattoos. Consider that a tattoo is a possession you cannot lose. The bank cannot repossess it. Your exiting roommate or lover, or the neighborhood burglar cannot steal it. You can’t be forced to leave it behind because not one more thing will fit in the moving truck. You can’t get drunk and leave it in the restroom at some bar you can’t remember the name of. It is yours. You may regret it, but it is yours.

  204. Cats: some friends had a semi-wild and very skittish kitty. Took a long time to make friends with her, but if you were patient, the cat was friendly. She had such a well-established habit of watching things nobody else could see– things that apparently flitted through the air– that when guests would ask about it, my friends would be like “oh, she’s just watching the fairies.” Having seen it in action, this seems plausible to me.

  205. Hi Yiğit. I saw your question very recently. I can recommend a book in Turkish about Muslim occultism, although I’m a non-Muslim Turk 🙂
    I recommend the book “100 Soruda Tasavvuf” (Sufism in 100 Questions), written by Abdülbaki Gölpınarlı, to those who are interested in learning the history and doctrine of Sufism. Gölpınarlı was a well-versed scholar and a sincere practitioner of Sufism. Unlike most of the Turkish Sufis that we often see today, he never used his religious views to obtain economic or political power.

  206. JMG – Do you ever get the sense that occultism is in some sense like cheating at the game of life? This is a world where souls are schooled from experience and various ways. I’m open to having my mind changed on this – and indeed would love counter arguments, but my intuition is that knowing about entities in the metaphysical isn’t what is important for most people – that ignorance of those things is a feature of the game. Is it possible that trying to root behind the veil breaks the game, and that breaking the game that way is a no no in some way we don’t/can’t understand?

    There is a non-physical realm we all know about. The moral realm, the realm of virtue, choice, the myriad of decisions about who we are becoming.and what is in our hearts. Perhaps it is those things about human life that are truly important.

    That said, I also suspect souls are here for different reasons and I’m open to the idea that some are here to be occultists. In any case, you prevent a very interesting and helpful analogy between camping and the metaphysical. Thank you for sharing your insights.

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