Not the Monthly Post

Beyond Thaumatophobia 3: The End of the Age of Reason

Over the last month, in the course of these biweekly essays, I’ve been exploring the fear of the metaphysical realm well expressed by Naomi Wolf in one of her recent Substack posts. A more recent post by her on the same theme takes the same discussion further, in a way that deserves respect.  She took the risk—a considerable one, in our society—of talking about her own personal experiences of metaphysical realities, and about the pervasive bullying that’s used in our society to keep people from talking or even thinking about such experiences.

Naomi Wolf. She really is getting into interesting territory these days.

That bullying starts in childhood but it doesn’t stop there. Wolf herself points out cogently that if you want to maintain your status as a respectable intellectual, it’s essential never to let on that you accept the reality of anything outside the narrow boundaries of scientific materialism. Within those bounds, you’ve got plenty of choices; you can even pledge yourself to a religion, but only if the religion’s been stripped of anything authentically supernatural and turned into an excuse for moral posturing of one kind or another. Faith is acceptable only if it’s been humanized.

Even deities can be trimmed down to acceptability by being stripped of power and agency, at least in theory, and turned into moral, philosophical, or psychological abstractions. The shattering, incandescent reality of personal contact with an equally personal and wholly superhuman divine being? Don’t even whisper the possibility—not if you want to keep your membership in the club of officially respectable thinkers.  Nor, curiously enough, can you mention that you’ve experienced any less overwhelming manifestation of the Unseen. The commandment that governs public life in the respectable classes is strict:  what scientists have forbidden to exist must remain unmentioned, no matter what.

The result is a remarkable paradox.  In our society, as in all others, a great many people have had such experiences. Some have encountered gods, some have been visited by the spirits of dead relatives—this is among the most common of all metaphysical encounters—some have met spirits that don’t appear to have ever been human, and the list goes on.  Such research as has been done suggests that something like a majority of people have had at least one such experience that doesn’t fit within the limits of scientific materialism. The taboo on discussing such things is so strict and so harshly enforced, however, that a vast number of people go through their whole lives convinced that their experiences are unique.

It’s well worth reading.

That’s what David Hufford found in the folklore studies that led to his pathbreaking book The Terror that Comes in the Night. He was researching a curious detail of Newfoundland folklore, the legend of the Old Hag:  an evil spirit that attacks sleepers. The legend had certain consistent features. The victims woke up at night and found themselves unable to move.  They heard a low sound like shuffling or sliding footsteps.  Something then entered the room where they were sleeping.  It was invisible in many cases, but visible as a vague dark presence in others.  With it came a sudden terror of impending death and a sense of spiritual evil.  If the sleeper could move so much as a single finger, the Hag would depart; otherwise, according to the legend, the victim would be found in the morning exhausted and sick, or just possibly dead.

It’s a very widespread bit of legend. What Hufford discovered when he started looking into it was that a significant number of people in Newfoundland reported having had exactly this same experience. Furthermore, and to his great disquiet, he found that people had the experience even when they had never encountered the legend.  Later on, when he took the research public, he discovered that people who had no connection with Newfoundland folk culture and had never heard of anything like the Old Hag still had the experience, complete with such odd details as the sound of sliding footsteps.

The standard belief among folklore researchers is that when a legend is echoed by experience, what happened is that people who knew the legend hallucinated the experience, or misinterpreted something else to make it fit the legend. Try as he might, Hufford couldn’t force the evidence to fit this belief. Instead, it was clear that the belief was inspired by the experience, and it was an experience many people have had, and continue to have. Hufford couldn’t take the final step that the evidence suggests—that what looks like a visitation by a malign spirit might in fact best be described as a visitation by a malign spirit—but then he was an academic, and straying that far onto forbidden ground would have cost him not only his reputation but his livelihood.

A very large number of people have seen things that don’t fit within the modern materialist paradigm.

I’ve had similar experiences to Hufford’s, though of course I wasn’t burdened by the same need to maintain the illusion of respectability. Over and over again, since I first went public as an author of books on occultism, I’ve had people approach me with stories about this or that strange thing that happened to them.  Some of them have waited for years for the chance to discuss such an event with somebody who wouldn’t just laugh at them. Far more often than not, what they describe is some perfectly ordinary encounter with the Unseen, the kind of thing that’s treated as a matter of course in any society less spiritually constipated than ours.

For that matter, I once fielded something not too different from my father. A lifelong materialist, he was startled one day to hear his mother’s voice from the ground floor of his house, calling his boyhood nickname.  That was a bit of a surprise, since she was 300 miles away at the time. Startled, he went to look, and found no one there. As he was turning to go back to his study, the phone rang; it was the retirement home where she spent her last years, telling my father that she had just died. I fielded a very flustered phone call not that many minutes later.  He’d been blindsided by a universe that refuses to abide by our human notions of what can be real.

Not that many centuries ago, experiences like the one my father had, or for that matter the one that David Hufford investigated, were considered commonplace in the Western world. People talked about them, scholars collected and discussed them, and the learned and unlearned alike took them into account when trying to make sense of the world we inhabit.  The standard belief these days, at least in the cultural mainstream, is that this happened purely because people in those days, before the Age of Reason, were too stupid and ignorant to recognize how silly they were. That belief is arrogant; it’s also demonstrably wrong.

Look back over the greater sweep of history and the Western world’s age of reason settles into its proper perspective. Every civilization has its own age of reason.  It begins a couple of centuries after the end of that civilization’s original feudal era, lasts for two to four centuries, and then gutters out. The classical civilization of the ancient Mediterranean, which had its first great intellectual flowering in Greece and settled into its fixed form under the rule of Rome, is a case in point. The Greek feudal era ended around 800 BC; the Greek age of reason began with Thales of Miletus, the first Greek philosopher, who was active in 585 BC, when he predicted an eclipse; it guttered out around 322 BC with the death of Aristotle.

Thales of Miletus. Imagine the intellectual leap needed to think of the sky as something you can express in numbers.

During that period Greek-speaking intellectuals in various parts of the eastern Mediterranean world invented Western philosophy, turned logic and geometry into rigorous studies, and applied geometry to the heavens to create the first spatial models of planetary motion. Comparable periods in the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Indian, Chinese, Arabian, and Mesoamerican cultures saw equally impressive intellectual achievements.  Then, in every case, the age of reason ended. It didn’t end because some outside factor squashed it, by the way. It ended because human reason turned out to be inadequate to the tasks it tried to accomplish.

Human reason, after all, is not an omnipotent superpower. It’s simply a collection of cognitive habits that help avoid certain common mistakes. It’s much more dependent on language and culture than most members of its fan club like to admit. (If you doubt this, pick up a book on medieval logic or Buddhist logic—both of these have been studied closely by scholars writing in English and other modern Western languages—and see how much sense either one makes to you.) Apply it to a subject—to words, for example, as the ancient Greeks did; to consciousness, as the ancient Indians did; to society, as the ancient Chinese did; to nature, as Western societies are still doing—and you get good results…for a while.

That’s what launches an age of reason. What ends an age of reason, in turn, is the inevitable discovery that human reason won’t keep people from behaving like people.  Plato’s dream of philosopher kings governing perfect city-states according to the light of reason collapsed into the fratricidal bloodshed that ended the golden age of Greece; Confucius’ dream of society brought into accord with harmony and virtue imploded just as messily, resulting in the dictatorship of the psychopathic tyrant Qin Shihuangdi.  The same story has played out many other times under many other skies, because it’s all too easy for reason to turn into rationalization, and the people tasked with running the world according to the latest cutting-edge intellectual ideas end up using those ideas as so many excuses to enrich themselves at society’s expense.

That inevitably generates blowback.  What shifts the blowback into overdrive is that the managerial caste that always rises to power during an age of reason turns out to be incompetent at dealing with problems in the real world, precisely because they’ve spent too much time in the realm of the abstract and not enough time finding out how their pet abstractions behave in practice. Thus we get, just for example, grand military plans that collapse in humiliation because somebody forgot to tell the enemy to follow the prearranged script. If this reminds you of the military disaster playing out on the southern front of the Ukraine war just now, dear reader, let’s just say you’re not the only one who’s noticed that.

If you’re going to build your battle plans on the idea that the enemy’s going to break and run, you’d probably better make sure of that first…

This process has a great deal to do with the theme of these posts. One of the things that ages of reason almost inevitably reject out of hand is the metaphysical realm of human experience. Plato sneered at Greek polytheism in his dialogues; Confucius noted that rituals are good to practice for form’s sake but it’s ungentlemanly to take them too seriously; the Buddha considered the existence or nonexistence of gods irrelevant to his path of salvation, and so on down the ages.  The nominally Christian founders of the Western world’s age of reason were in good company when they exiled the Christian god to a heavenly retirement home and insisted that nothing so unfashionable as a miracle could intrude into the perfect order of their paradise of reason.

That act of rejection, in turn, has a predictable effect on the spiritual and magical traditions of the society in which it takes place. Before the age of reason comes an age of faith, and during that earlier period, the brightest intellects in each generation make a beeline either for the established religious institutions or for their elusive semi-equivalents, the mystery schools and initiatory bodies that pass on the occultism of their time. Once the age of reason dawns, the brightest intellects in each generation make a beeline for secular careers instead.

The established faiths of the society thus end up mostly in the hands of third-rate minds who can’t hack it in politics and business, while the occult traditions survive partly among the poor, who are excluded from other avenues for advancement, and partly among a fringe of dissident intellectuals of very uneven quality. Yes, as Groucho Marx said, I resemble that last remark.

A better guide to our situation than most of today’s officially approved experts.

No spiritual tradition, be it religious or magical, can pass through such hands unchanged. That’s why so many of the religious institutions that survive an age of reason end up as plastic imitations of themselves, preaching empty platitudes carefully selected to cater to the worldly prejudices of their remaining followers.  It’s also why so many of the occult traditions that survive an age of reason end up half-garbled or worse, some from being passed down by word of mouth through generations of folk practitioners who preserved the practice but lost the philosophy behind it, others from inept tinkering on the part of fringe intellectuals who understand a lot less than they think they do.

You know that an age of reason is coming to an end when magic escapes from these marginal environments and begins to find a home in pop culture. That inevitably faces savage pushback from the managerial caste and their hangers-on, and understandably so; the rise of magic is an exact measure of the failure of reason, since people turn to magic when the officially approved options of their society don’t work. Since no managerial caste anywhere seems to understand that their pushback just makes rejected ideas more popular, that guarantees the spread of magic through the crawlspaces of society.

The revival of religious institutions comes a little later in the process. What drives that revival is the terminal collapse of the claims of rationalism to provide meaning and value to human life, and that collapse is driven in turn by the failure of the managerial caste to follow through on its grand promises. In the wake of that failure, people left adrift by the collapse of the rationalist promise look for other sources of meaning and value, and a great many of them find it in the old religious institutions of their society. Oswald Spengler, who studied this process carefully in half a dozen civilizations, referred to it as the Second Religiosity.

Current English translations of Spengler generally translate the phrase instead as the Second Religiousness, but “religiosity” is a more accurate description. A flight to religion as a defense against social and personal chaos, understandable and effective as it is, is still a flight away from the personal confrontation with divine realities that is the heart of religion.  It’s for this reason that the religious institutions of the Second Religiosity settle into stasis, worshiping the past and preserving familiar forms.  Eventually those institutions become moribund, but “eventually” can be many centuries in the future; in the meantime, the institutions of the Second Religiosity become important centers of the third age of every civilization’s life cycle. After the age of faith, the age of reason; after the age of reason, the age of memory.

And magic? It becomes the default option for those people who don’t find any solace in the legacy of the departed age of reason but can’t settle for the static forms of the Second Religiosity. That’s why the great ages of magic generally have their roots in an age of memory, though they reach full flower in the subsequent age of faith. Since the political institutions of a society in its post-rationalist era also generally settle into stasis, magic also plays its usual role as the politics of the excluded, attracting those people whose independence and ambition can’t be satisfied by fitting into a prefabricated slot in a religious or political bureaucracy. That guarantees that the mages of the age of memory are going to be a very mixed lot.

A very mixed lot.

All these points are of course relevant to our present situation, because we’re right in the middle of the transformations that I’ve just mapped out.  The waning of the age of reason was clear by the aftermath of the Second World War.  That’s why the 1970s saw occultism come spilling out of the subcultures where it had entrenched itself and become a pop culture phenomenon. The Second Religiosity was as always slower out of the starting gate—the fundamentalism of the 1970s and 1980s was never more than a marketing scheme, which is why it fizzled so promptly.  The pushback against pop culture occultism showed up right on schedule, spearheaded by Carl Sagan, James Randi, and their fellow inmates of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), which had the usual effect of helping to publicize occult ideas among people who might otherwise never have considered them.

Now self-proclaimed rationalists are lining up to join the Temple of Satan. During Trump’s presidency, for that matter, liberals who a few years previously would have dismissed the thought of practicing magic with a scornful laugh lined up just as enthusiastically to go through the motions of invoking demons and casting curses at their political enemies; some of them are still at it. Public trust in scientists and the institutions of managerial caste power and prestige are at rock-bottom levels and dropping. Over the years to come, as the catastrophic failure of so-called rational management in recent times becomes a massive political fact, we can expect to see the cultural landscape of power in the Western world change drastically. The age of reason is ending around us, and the shockwaves of its passing will shake the world for a long time to come.

They stole the image from Eliphas Lévi, and the unintelligent changes they made to it show that they have no idea what he meant by it. (It’s not Satan, to begin with.)

It’s worth taking a moment, though, to consider those rationalists bellowing “Hail Satan!” and those liberal activists chanting death spells. It’s far from clear how seriously most of them take these actions, but that’s less important than it may seem. As I mentioned in an earlier post in this sequence, ethics are as essential to magic as sterile technique is to surgery—neglect either one and things go septic in a hurry.  That remains the case even if you convince yourself that what you’re doing is nothing more than an act of protest or a harmless joke.

Thus there’s a real point to Naomi Wolf’s concern about the presence of supernatural evil in our lives. The Unseen responds to human actions, for good or ill, and a significant number of people in recent years have been going out of their way to invoke malign influences in the mistaken idea that they can use those forces to benefit themselves and hurt the people they don’t like. The law of magical repercussion—or as I called it two weeks ago, the raspberry jam principle—remains in force, as relentless and impersonal as gravity. It will play its usual role in sorting out the very mixed bag of operative occultists in the wake of the age of reason. While that process works itself out, however, there’s going to be an unusual amount of noxious spiritual influence around.

You can deal with that by practicing a traditional religion—and the operative word here is “practicing,” not merely believing; the rites, sacraments, and everyday practices of traditional faiths have as one of their benefits the attunement of the individual to positive spiritual currents, which drive off the noxious influences just mentioned. You can also deal with it by practicing some form of traditional occultism. Ethics won’t do the job by themselves but they’re a necessary ingredient in either path.

Pretending that the Unseen does not exist, though, emphatically won’t cut it any more. The age of reason is ending, and whether or not you believe in metaphysical powers is irrelevant, since their existence and action does not depend on your opinions; whether you believe in them isn’t that important, since they also have a say in the matter. The question at this stage of history’s arc is simply whether you’re going to deal with their reality in a constructive fashion, or in a destructive one, or whether you’re going to close your eyes and let yourself become the passive implement of forces you won’t let yourself perceive. The choice is entirely yours, dear reader. Which will you do?

* * * * *

In not wholly unrelated news, Aeon Books has just announced that two of my forthcoming books are available for preorder.

The first, out in September, is Coelbren. Here’s the blurb:

“Writing systems have been used for magical power and mystical insight in spiritual history for centuries, and the Coelbren Alphabet is no different. Originally devised by a famous Welsh poet the Bardic Alphabet, known as the Coelbren, has always seemed to hold great promise in the esoteric world. But because of its impenetrable nature, the capacity of the Coelbren Alphabet as a system of divination has remained hidden, simply a relic of a bygone era.

In this revised and expanded edition of his classic book John Michael Greer illuminates the power of the Coelbren Alphabet and shows readers how to implement it to full effect in their magical studies. Through in depth analysis of each letter, alongside Welsh keywords, Coelbren provides information on the meaning, symbolism, pronunciation, and divinatory interpretation of each letter, showing readers how to use this unique system for divination
and magic.

Coelbren also provides sample readings, scrying, meditation techniques and tips for making your own Coelbren set. The new edition includes a chapter on gematria, as well as expanded chapters on the symbolism and magic of the alphabet.”

The second, out in November is The Secret of the Five Rites. Here’s the blurb:

“Examining a short book first published in 1939, John Michael Greer explores the teaching surrounding a simple yet effective set of five exercises for health and longevity: the Five Rites (sometimes called the Five Tibetans). Certain dietary rules and lifestyle principles accompanied the Rites, as well a set of teachings about seven energy centres or vortices in the body. It is by awakening the vortices to their normal rate of spin, the book claims, that
the Rites achieve their full effects.

“Following each of these threads back in time, The Secret of the Five Rites illuminates the landscape of ideas and practices that gave rise to these remarkable exercises. Spinning the threads back together, Greer puts the Five Rites in as much of their original context as he can, describing in detail the practice of the broader system in which the Rites have their place, a system of inner alchemy meant to awaken certain subtle powers of the human body and mind.

The Secret of the Five Rites also includes the complete original text of The Eye of Revelation.”

These are both available for preorder from the Aeon Books website; use this link if you’re in the US and this link if you’re elsewhere. There is also, thanks to the publisher’s generosity, a 20% discount for my readers:  for Coelbren, use the discount code CN20 any time before September 30, and for The Secret of the Five Rites, use the discount code SF20 any time before November 30.


  1. This is a wonderful essay even by the usual high standards. Thank you for this.

    I live in a milieu in which I am surrounded by materialist, “scientific rationalist” types–some are casual about it, some are explicitly dedicated to it. Since I take Lévi’s advice to faire taire very seriously, my own metaphysical convictions are a black box to even my closest friends, but I have been known to question them here and there about it. One of the things that stands out is how obvious it is from the outside that an emotional attachment still exists for soi-disant contemporary rationalists towards the assumptions of scientific materialism (and the political and institutional structures that lean on it, of course, and on which it leans; not to mention the venal benefits that one can acquire through commitment to it all.)

    It’s not bad, of course, to be biased towards the views you currently hold–we all do, myself included, and after all if you didn’t believe your perspective had merit then you’d probably find a different one–but “rationalists” are particularly slow to examine themselves and the extent to which they emotionally lean on their worldview.

    Conversely, your point about the eclectic quality of people on the other side of the coin resonates as well. I’ve sometimes tried to engage with communities that have an interest in hermeticism and unfortunately I haven’t found that they generally attract people who I want to be around; petty dramas and obsessions with political resentments are all too present. Metaphysics can be a solitary journey, I suppose. Perhaps it’s meant to be.

  2. Hi JMG – long time no post, but I’ve been reading. Clearly, you are much better versed in this than I will ever be, but I do have 2 experiences with self-proclaimed Satanists: 1) When I was in my 20s I was at a party and 2 girls made this claim. My assumption was this was rebellion against their extremely rigid family life (Dad was a firey brimstone preacher with some rather particular ideas for the womenfolk). When I found out this was “teenage” rebellion, I left the party at once. 2) I met a liberal political activist, proudly atheist, who claimed the Satanist mantle as a way to troll the people wanted to impose (what might be called today) the Christian Nationalist Agenda ™. In other words, I don’t think I’ve ever met a legit Satanist. Over the years I known plenty of Wiccans and people of other, similar nature-centric faiths, but I do not classify them as such. So, no Satanists for me. Yet. Am I being too curmudgeonly or is this accurate?

  3. Two reports re metaphysical realities:

    Several years ago, after an evening of imbibing, I woke in the middle of the night with the sense that someone/thing was lying in bed with me. I was sleeping alone at the time. The being was very large (tall) and was spooning me from behind. I sensed wings and that she was female. (I believe this to have been a visitation by the deity with whom I have been working these many years now.). And the overpowering message of “STOP!” pushed into my mind. I ceased drinking shortly thereafter.

    Just the other day, one of the water distribution guys at the utility where I work used “witching rods” to locate an unmapped waterline serving a fire hydrant for which we had no recorded source. TSW.

  4. So, it seems that the democrats and “progs” of all stripes were so desperate to rid their clubhouse of the demon Trump that they dipped in the to realm of the occult in various ways try and cast out their tormentor. They were ,of course, of bad intentions, lacking the hygiene of morality , and uneducated and inexperienced in this realm. From what I understand of your recent posts this seems as though it will bring on a huge wave of metaphysical blowback.
    One can certainly see this coming. The old phrase, ” Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” comes to mind. If that is the case, then the metaphysical smackdown must be close at hand because the prerequisite”madness” condition has certainly been satisfied.

  5. Your essay does a good job of explaining why I joined the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year. I fit within Spengler’s phase of Second Religiousness, and I understand my joining the Church within that context.

    What drove me to the Church? An increasing awareness of malignant forces operating in the world, combined with the conviction that the old Roman ritual contains some of the most effective prayers and tools for dealing with the demonic – I’m a member of a parish that uses the old Pre-Conciliar Latin rite, and the best prayers are in the pre-Vatican II books.

    After living mostly within vaguely New Age, sort-of occult pagan circles, I was also driven out of that community by increasing awareness of what you could call spiritual and moral sleaze and contamination in that community, and realizing how many in that world are just suckers for media manipulation tools, which in turn makes people that much more susceptible to demonic influence. Things started getting very bad shortly after Trump took office in 2016, and then got much worse from 2020 onward.

    Part of me is completely at home accepting the Church, and another part is very aware I am using its forms as the best system available to me at our current phase of cvilization decline. It provides a well-defined a religious, ritual and ethical system that helps keep me sane.

  6. I honestly haven’t had a single experience that isn’t explained by science. Which is a good thing, since I won’t end up being burned at the stake. I’m glad to be part of a minority.

  7. Hi John,

    Superb post as always.

    I’ve had a strange supernatural experience in the past and i find that many people do open up with their own experiences once they realise their experiences won’t be laughed at.

    Out of interest did your father materialist worldview fundamentally change after his own experience?

    Returning to more earthly matters, this post is very interesting.

    It looks increasingly likely that the Russians aim to absorb Ukraine and Moldova and returning to the Soviet Union borders.

    Putin will demand the removal of all NATO infrastructure from post 1997 member states who would effectively become neutral.

    The interesting question is the fate of the Baltic states. Will Russia move on them or just force them into a satellite type relationship.

    And of course the wider geopolitical and financial impact of the de facto end of NATO within 5 years will be enormous.

    Fascinating times.

    Given the above it makes sense that Trump if elected will pull out of NATO basically making the best of a dire situation.

    What are your thoughts on the US elections?

  8. Plato is a very complex character. At once a founder of western reason as well as esotericism. I’ve noticed an uptick in interest in Platonism and Neoplatonism online among people who 20 years ago would certainly have been hard new atheist types. It’s almost like they’ve hit the wall with reason and Plato is an acceptable road back to a worldview which includes metaphysics.

  9. I deeply enjoy these posts and they always leave me with a sense of excitement and wonderment.


  10. JMG:

    Oof! This is the point I am at right now – struggling with the desire to maintain middle-class respectability and the realization that I have to let go of that to proceed further. The damnedest thing is that I not only know that technological materialism is insufficient on the intellectual level, I have come to feel that way on a visceral level. Yet I am still worried that others’ perceptions of me will go from eccentric to wack-job. I am confounded by how strong and deep that feeling is.

  11. This has been a fascinating series of posts. As I follow along, I can’t help but compare the cycle which you’ve described to my own personal spiritual evolution. Growing up as a child of faith, said faith crumbling in my teenage years, a briefly comforting young adult phase of rationalism which bordered on scientific materialism, and now finding myself approaching middle age and feeling a pull towards both magic and the traditional religion of my childhood, as the rationalism has failed to answer any of my big questions. “As above, so below”, I suppose. This spiritual cycle of civilizations does seem to reflect a somewhat common- at least among my peers- spiritual journey of the individual, as well. I am ruminating on how the personal quest drives, or is driven by, this larger cycle… Also, just pre-ordered your book on the 5 Rites and eagerly awaiting its insights. Thank you!

  12. This is almost off-topic, but I think y’all will be happy to see that our host’s ideas continue to pierce into the mainstream consciousness. This was collected a couple of days ago from SV aggregator Hacker News: Britain is a developing country.

    A particularly poignant quote: With the exception of a few sectors like AI, we are so far behind the frontier in terms of economic development that worrying about technological progress doesn’t make much sense, and at worst is a serious distraction.

  13. Is not the statement (by Wolf in the substack link) that ” – the battle between existential, cosmic good and evil, the dueling between forces that extend beyond the mechanistic, beyond the material, beyond the political — is the battle of our time.” not only dualistic but apocalyptic thinking? Both of which I have learned to regard with weary skepticism by reading a certain druid for decades?

  14. Thanks again John, thought provoking as usual! One area in the modern world fully at ease with a spiritual approach to life are the various 12 Step programs. I have been part of one for many 24 hours and have seen people rescued from horrible addictions after they made a conscious contact with a higher power. People in 12 Step meetings openly talk about this experience with a sense of profound gratitude and with the complete support of their group.

    I have also observed that those people that cannot get the benefit of the 12 Step programs are usually those unable to make a conscious connection with a higher power. Such is the power of the materialist ideology to blind people to alternative ways of thinking, even when their life depends on seeking an alternative since their current way of thinking doesn’t work.

  15. Hi JMG,

    I’m having difficulty in understanding the following sentences that you wrote, particularly the first sentence:

    “A flight to religion as a defense against social and personal chaos, understandable and effective as it is, is still a flight away from the personal confrontation with divine realities that is the heart of religion. It’s for this reason that the religious institutions of the Second Religiosity settle into stasis, worshiping the past and preserving familiar forms.”

    The only things I can come up with to get some traction with these sentences is to compare and contrast 1) early Judaism and post-Second Temple Judaism, and 2) Christianity as described in the Book of Acts and the modern Christianity of right now. But I’m assuming that’s too simplistic and crude. Or perhaps I’m just at a loss to conceptualize (or in denial as to) what it means to confront divine realities under an established religious framework.

    Or perhaps my real question is, What is the difference between an established religion in the age of faith in and an established religion in the age of memory?


  16. JMG wrote

    You know that an age of reason is coming to an end when magic escapes from these marginal environments and begins to find a home in pop culture. That inevitably faces savage pushback from the managerial caste and their hangers-on, and understandably so; the rise of magic is an exact measure of the failure of reason, since people turn to magic when the officially approved options of their society don’t work. Since no managerial caste anywhere seems to understand that their pushback just makes rejected ideas more popular, that guarantees the spread of magic through the crawlspaces of society.

    Someone mentioned in the discussion thread for last week’s post that Britney Spears was reading your translation of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic and had posted about it on social media. I for one was not all that surprised. Britney has a long-standing interest in the Kabbalah, for which she was mocked mercilessly by the MSM when word got out a while back. She’s also a lot smarter than most people give her credit for.

  17. Alex, I’ve had the same experiences repeatedly. It’s just one of those things.

    KevPilot, oh, I’ve met some serious Satanists. I’ve also met a much, much larger array of people who are going through the motions to shock their parents or troll people. No, you’re not just being curmudgeonly.

    David, thanks for these. Dowsing — the other name for water witching — is so often accurate that many British archeologists surreptitiously use it to find things underground. (The euphemism for this in peer-reviewed publications is “probing with metal rods.” The rods in question look like this:

    Clay, that phrase has been much on my mind in recent years.

    Charles, that is to say, you’re in the cutting edge of the Second Religiosity. I’m glad to hear that it works for you.

    Justin, thanks for this! Novalis is always worth a read.

    Wqcjv, I hope, for your peace of mind, that you continue to fall into that minority.

    Forecasting, no, I think my father has done his level best not to think about that one very strange experience. It’s a common reaction. As for the rest, yes, I’ve read the post — but I’d like to save discussion of the accelerating mess in Ukraine and the upcoming election until next week’s open post.

    Douglas, that’s very good news. From Plato to Plotinus, from Plotinus to Iamblichus, and from there either to Christian Neoplatonistm or to us mangy-lookin’ Neoplatonist occultists — either way it’s a tolerably easy road.

    Chris J, you’re most welcome.

    Chris S, it’s a powerful force. We are social primates and it takes real courage to break with the consensus reality.

    Stephen, that same life cycle is as common in individuals as it is in civilizations, and for good reason. Both, while young, focus on finding a place in the world, and a focus on material reality helps with that — but it only goes so far.

    CR, they’d better get used to it. (And so should those of us here in the US.) Oh, and the word “developing” is of course a misnomer, because they aren’t and won’t. “Declining” is the word they’re trying not to use.

    Ken, of course. As I noted in the first post in this sequence, she’s stuck in a dualist mode of thinking, largely as a result of her religious upbringing. The fact that she’s grappling with the metaphysical at all is the point I want to make.

    Raymond, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Eugene, it’s the difference between a plant in springtime and the same plant in autumn. One is burgeoning, expanding, reaching into new contexts; the other is stable, static, rooted in the past.

    Platypus, hmm! I didn’t know she had an interest in Cabala — no surprises there, I suppose, since I don’t follow the corporate media. I’m glad to hear it.

  18. I’m really enjoying this series on Wolf and it’s implications. Very illuminating. Thank you! I have a book called Randi’s Prize, about James Randi and the “skeptic” community’s rejection of the metaphysical realm, and it seems Randi engaged in some confirmation bias of his own in producing his TV show supposedly ‘debunking’ psychic phenomena. As an aside, could it be that intellectuals prefer the term ‘postmodern’ to ‘post-reason’ to intentionally obscure the fact that postmodernism is a rejection of reason?

  19. I am not a member of either group but there are two very different “Satanist” groups. The Satanic Temple is a group that uses Satan worship as tool of disruption and social critique (my words). They do things like demand the istalation of a statue of Baphomet any where that there is a petition to place the Ten Commandments on public property, or the inclussion of lighted pentagrams to celebrate the Winter Solstice along side Manger Scenes and lighted Menorahs in holiday displays. They published the “The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities” which incidentally includes far higher quality of ethical instruction than any Christian publication I’ve seen (google it!), to push back against the distribution of thinly disguised Christian propaganda in public schools. Their current main focus seems to be legally challenging anti-abortion legislation by claiming a religious exemption for having abortions.

    The other group, The Church of Satan, founded by Anton Szandor LaVey, claims to actually worship Satan, at least as a spiritual metaphor. They say, ” we are the first above-ground organization in history openly dedicated to the acceptance of Man’s true nature—that of a carnal beast, living in a cosmos that is indifferent to our existence. To us, Satan is the symbol that best suits the nature of we who are carnal by birth—people who feel no battles raging between our thoughts and feelings, we who do not embrace the concept of a soul imprisoned in a body…”

    As I said, I’m not a member of either one but it would not be fair to confuse the two. Actually, I think both of them are often highly misunderstood in their actual beliefs and goals.

  20. I am recalling the story you told about the college students in New England who formed a religion and held “services” in the woods…and then something answered back! What have these people called forth? I doubt if it will go away of its own accord. What do you see coming from this malign force? Is there anything in your astrological charts?

  21. @jmg I first read this quote “failure of so-called rational management in recent times becomes a massive political fact” I read it as

    failure of so-called rational management in recent times becomes a massive political fart

    I was like “whoa!!!”, but then it changed to fact when I looked again.

    Not sure what that means 🙂


  22. Concerning the night hag:
    This happened almost exactly as described to my wife’s sister and her husband many years ago. They were in bed when when the shuffling entity entered their bedroom through a closed door. While my sister-in-law was frozen in fear, her husband asked “What do you want?” With that it turned and exited the way it came in.

    Having been friends with both of them since early childhood, I know they’re not the type to invent something like this.

    BTW, they moved shortly thereafter.

  23. Part of the transition and loss of faith in the system will be the decline of availability of fossil fuels to keep the materialist wonderland going. I delved into what the current predicted dates for peak oil are and it seems be in the area of 2025-2035 or a few years later. A counter proposal was the concept of peak demand, not peak consumption, because of a shift to renewable energy sources and electrified vehicles, with demand for oil and natural gas and coal then declining. I am skeptical about that possibility. Your current thoughts on this subject?

  24. JMG said

    It’s worth taking a moment, though, to consider those rationalists bellowing “Hail Satan!” and those liberal activists chanting death spells.

    That’s the sort of thing that used to be associated with far-right left hand path groups like the Order of Nine Angles. As the saying goes, what you hate, you tend to imitate…

  25. Is the headlong dive into demonology normal during the collapse of an Age of Reason, or is this some absurdity Faustian society is embracing, to live up to the name?

  26. Jmg, Where do you place the reading of Auras in the world of the metaphysical? One of my strongest experiences with the the Non-Material world is a family friend who feels she can see people’s Auras in a very significant way. Her sense of this is so strong she sometimes has to leave the room when confronted with someone with a very dark aura.
    The rationalist in me decided to test her in a pseudo-scientific way. Her and her husband came to a large family wedding ( not for this purpose mind you) where several relatives of mine and my wife’s would also be there. These people were not known to her, nor were they the sort of people who appear to be anything other than normal middle class citizens. But in a couple cases they were people I would diagnose as high functioning sociopaths that had caused great harm to those around them. During the course of the event I would pull her aside after she met one of these folks ( or others who were my control group). In every case she described the control group as having a ” light” or neutral aura, and in both of the ” bad” folks she described auras so dark that she had to get away quickly .
    She says this ability came to her as a young girl and when she told her mother ( who apparently also had it) she got very angry( the mother) and told her she must never tell anyone about it or be ostracized from society.

  27. re: Second Religiosity

    I think it was Siliconguy who said something about “last known good” a while back. IMHO, that’s what Second Religiosity is, backtracking to a “last known good” configuration. Not the worst thing you can do, faced with the cluster of um, problems in front of us.

    I guess the problem is that nobody moves from “last known good” to something better? That’s as good as it gets and at some point it stops working too?

    >It looks increasingly likely that the Russians aim to absorb Ukraine and Moldova and returning to the Soviet Union borders

    I don’t think so. What it looks like to me, is the Russo-Ukie War is grinding to a stalemate. If anything, you should see less stuff happening and not more. I could be wrong, but it looks like the Russkies learned from their Afghanistan – don’t tarry in places where you’re not wanted. Eastern Ukraine wants them around, Western Ukraine, does not.

  28. Great JMG! Since the Age of Reason has come to an end today, I will take a “ritual bath” as a “rite of passage” from one age to another! I was waiting to see this post! Thank you John Michael Greer! By the way, I agree with Douglas! Hope to multiply!

  29. The Greek feudal era ended around 800 BC; the Greek age of reason began with Thales of Miletus, the first Greek philosopher, who was active in 585 BC, when he predicted an eclipse; it guttered out around 322 BC with the death of Aristotle.

    Euclid and Archimedes add a further century.

  30. Greetings JMG:

    It’s been a very long and hard-to-discern animal trail in the dark forest, trying to find a cosmological/psychological/spiritual/magical model that seemed to accord with my own experiences and allowed room for creative expression. Still, one can’t be a wallflower for ever, and when the cutest young lady at the dance-hall gives you the eye, it’s time to step out onto the dance-floor and ask for her hand, so to speak, and hope you’re not too awkward.

    Thanks for this post. The reason vs rationalism bit reminded me of Voltaire’s Bastards, by John Ralston Saul. Things that should rationally work-don’t! It also recalled to me Patrick Harpur’s contrast of soul and spirit.

    As I type this, George Galloway is talking about J Biden’s sleepy ramblings in the company of the Israeli president. May Our Lady Ancient and Ageless help us all…

  31. It is quite astonishing which protective mechanisms materialistic-rational people build up in order not to endanger their world view. I am a Buddhist and have confronted many people here and there with miracles from the Buddhist context and nothing sticks to them like a hair pulled out of butter. I don’t want to blame them, I was on a similar trip.

    Even though a purely materialistic worldview is kind of sad, it gives you a form of security that things are very concrete to influence and control. In a way, it flatters the ego, since one is not subject to any external force and matter (in our occidental view) can be manipulated without limits. Perhaps this is an angle in the mind that prevents one from opening up to the metaphysical.

  32. Thanks, JMG for this. Nearly thirty years ago I decided not to pursue an MS or PhD in physics because the professors and fellow students were only concerned with funding for research. There wasn’t a scrap of interest in Nature. My favorite undergrad professor had decided to become Buddhist, and he liked to talk about the weirdness of Quantum Mechanics, Godel’s Theorem and their implications. But the other professors were just there for a job. I know, deep down, a higher degree would have led to a miserable life. Sure, there was a lot of talk about the ”majesty of space”, but that gets old quite fast.

    But I now have confidence to rebut ”that look” (a slightly smug smile) from other people when I talk about the spiritual world. I’ll tell them that I’m quite confident that they have had an experience they cannot explain.

  33. I just finished reading “The Divining Hand” by Christopher Bird. It was last published in 1993. It was a fascinating read as it dealt in the history in particular water dowsing but also other uses of the technique. I thought it was interesting that religion has periodically rejected it as being of the devil but at the same time over the centuries there have been any number of priests who were well respected for their ability for dowsing. He noted that even though there has been some serious research done science is still very negative about it. I loved the possibilities presented for perceptual abilities of humans beyond what is considered normal. It was a very good read.

  34. Great article as usual

    I’m reminded of an experience a few years ago. I was in the upstairs office of my house, looking out on the cul-de-sac, watching a procession of people came out to mark utilities on the street and sidewalks in preparation for some sort of work. Well, eventually I see a guy from the water company show up, pull out a dowsing rod (I forget if it was the 2 individual, or the Y shaped one), casually dowse for a minute and follow up with his spray paint, then drive off.

  35. Before I start on responses, a general note: please stay on topic. I know there are lots of fascinating and troubling things going on in the world today, and there’ll be an open post in a week where you can discuss those to your heart’s content, but for now, comments on the subject of this post would be appreciated.

    With that said, let’s proceed.

    Fedora, yeah, I watched the Unamazing Randi at his antics all through the era of CSICOP’s rise and fall, and it wasn’t just confirmation bias; he admitted himself that “he always had an out” — that is to say, his famous challenge was a rigged game. As for “postmodern,” I don’t think it ever would have occurred to them to imagine that there could have been anthing “post-reason,” since the Age of Reason was their equivalent of the Second Coming; we’re allegedly in the Millennium now, waiting for the New Jerusalem to show up any day now.

    Bruce, there are quite a bit more than those two, and the one founded by Howard Stanton Levey (“Anton Szandor LaVey”) was just as much of a trolling enterprise as the first one you cited. My point still stands.

    Thomas, it was in Minnesota, not New England, but other than that, yeah. As for what the Magic Resistance called up, no, it won’t just go away by itself; I’ll comment on the likely consequences at some point.

    Jerry, it’s true either way!

    Ruger, many, many thousands of people have had exactly this experience. It’s a common, objectively real event.

    Moose, that’s a subject for a different post.

    Platypus, exactly.

    Anonymous, it’s unfortunately fairly common.

    Clay, it’s one of the more common forms of astral clairvoyance. Some people are born with it, others develop it through any of several different sets of exercises.

    Other Owen, the people who aren’t satisfied with the “last known good” are the ones who become mages, or who end up founding one of the new religions that replace the faiths of the Second Religiosity.

    Yiğit, not a bad idea, all things considered.

    Strda221, of course it’s quite possible to fuss about the details.

    Casey, she’s used to awkward first-timers. Relax and let her show you how to dance.

    Executed, it’s just as colorful watching people insist that magic can’t work, especially when it does. As for the appeal of materialism, exactly: the whole point is that it defines the world as a collection of wholly passive “stuff” for you to play games with. Doesn’t every selfish spoiled child want a room full of toys she doesn’t have to share with anybody else?

    Jon, I walked away from a potential MA and PhD program just over thirty years ago, so I know the feeling. As for the smug look, if you say the response you’ve suggested, they’ll deny it to your face. The louder and more shrill the denials, the more certain you can be that they’ve experienced something they can’t explain.

    Tom, it’s a fine book!

    Polymath, it happens All. The. Time. A good dowser can do that sort of thing with quite a bit of reliability.

  36. Regarding Douglas’s comment, I can confirm that interest in Plato and Neoplatonism is indeed exploding in many corners, especially among the educated. And this isn’t surprising, as the Platonic tradition offers a way of framing the spiritual world which is rational and coherent but which also doesn’t require factionalism or dogmatism. Pagan Platonism was obviously a living reality for a very long time and is being revived today, but Jewish Platonism, Christian Platonism, and Islamic Platonism are all very old traditions, going back at least to Philo in the First Century B.C, as I understand it. I suspect that a renewed Neoplatonism will allow many to embrace the traditional religion of their choice, without having to accept some of their more unpleasant aspects.

    There may be another explanation, which dovetails neatly with your Levi post from last week. I have shared before that I started studying Plato seriously during the Big Lockdown in the Spring of 2020. I don’t think I’ve shared that it felt less like a decision and more like a possession. From March of that year onward I felt compelled by a force outside of myself to read and internalize the entirety of Plato’s work, as well as that of the later thinkers in the tradition.

    I use the word “possession” advisedly and very much with the theme of last week’s post in mind. At this point, though, I believe that the tradition has become Familiar to me, in the sense that you meant– I use it as a lens through which to navigate the world, and I’m aware of its weaknesses and the fact that other perspectives are certainly possible. But it soon became clear to me that many others had experienced the same thing at around the same time. Now I find Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus and the rest lurking around every corner of the internet. Among many other examples, interest in the work of Pierre Grimes has exploded, and a Neoplatonist philosopher and cognitive scientist named John Vervaeke has become extremely popular on YouTube in the last year or two. Most recently, Vervaeke has engaged in a series of dialogues with an Eastern Orthodox bishop named Maximos on the topic of Neoplatonism and Christianity. Plato is everywhere. The other day I realized I hadn’t checked in with Rupert Sheldrake in a while, pulled up a recent talk on YouTube, and found him opening by quoting the Timaeus.

    I believe that the Platonic Current began moving in a big way in the Unseen during 2020, perhaps as a reaction to the darker forces that broke into the open that year, and perhaps boosted by a specific event which I don’t think I can discuss at this time (not a magical working and not by me). If so I find that to be a very encouraging thought.

  37. My Irish Grandmother born in late 1800s reported encounter with various Entities enjoying Tipperary. *Lorgathans” I found interesting Child behavior critters where you might be “tied to a Tree with a Thralleen” if you didn’t get your act together and become Lorgathan Bait.
    Good enough for me even though I’ve never seen such things. I’m sure my Baconion mind could Rationalize something.
    I did see UFOs before, just because I couldn’t identify them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
    Easy Peasy!
    TY for excellent Article.
    Grandma would call you “The real deal”.

  38. A while ago, an Italian Catholic politician blamed Climate Change on Satan’s activity. He presented his thesis in a book and gave some interviews on the topic. He was met with ridicule, especially from the Left and environmentalists; the topic was “debunked” and classifed as a “hoax”. A well-known comedian did a show on the topic. Italian Catholics generally kept silent.

    I was confused: I am at best a very bad Catholic, but even a passing knowledge of Christian tenets reveals that, of course, the destruction of the natural world is the result of our moral failings (aka “sins”) and what we now call Climate Change is our punishment. If one takes religion seriously, that is a fairly obvious conclusion.

    Just read the Holy Father a couple of times (or the Sermon of the Mount, or a Psalm), think about what it could mean, then see whether people around you live up to it, and you should not be suprised that things have been going downhill for a while now. I am no expert, but I am pretty sure other religions have other ways of saying the same thing.

    Of course, infuriated critics screamed that Climate Change should only be discussed in scientific terms by appropriately educated people, and has nothing to do with religion. They made a caricature of the argument and of the author, and forgot about it.

    Again, maybe I spend too much time in dark corners of the Internet, but it is pretty obvious to me that the mainstream discourse on Climate Change has not delivered anything *at all* for the past 30+ years. So maybe we should hear opinions from somebody, anybody, who is not a scientist. And since Christianity has been around for 2000 years and is still very much present in Italy – why not start there?

    That is, I guess, how a miscreant like me would end up in a Second Religiosity.

    Not that Catholicism can be useful in this discourse: the much praised Laudato Si encyclical is, as far as I am concerned, the official surrender of the Church to the scientific discourse. The Pope apparently refused to say the most obvious thing – that modern life is not compatible with spiritual life, and that God is letting us know.

    The realisation that Catholicism is useful, but not really up to the task, is how I picture people entering a new age of magic.

    An interesting anecdote: of course no one would dare to admit that Climate Change is anything other than a physical phenomenon (because it would be silly and old-fashioned and irrational to do so). But Italian meteorologists have been naming heat waves and cold spells since 2012, just like you Americans name hurricanes. The names are those of deities and mythological characters, male ones for heat waves and female ones for cold spells.

    So now we have heat waves Cerberus (the hound of Hades) and Charon (the ferryman of Hades); last year, we had Lucifer; previously, we had Flegeton. The more you try to repress something…

  39. JMG
    Early last winter I had an experience, which I described here on the blog, where my daughter and her partner were mountain biking in a high and snowed in area, and I thought at far greater risk than they realized, having done quite a few things of that nature myself. I became quite worried and prayed to whatever god/goddess/ spirit inhabited or had influence in those mountains offering whatever they asked of me, even my life, to bring my daughter and her partner back safe. The next day driving back from the mountains I had a knitted hat that I loved that my daughter had got me sitting on top of my coat on the passenger seat and it disappeared. I had never opened that door, and reckoned that the entity that i had contacted had accepted the hat as my offering, and I was content with and grateful for that outcome.
    Shortly thereafter I left for Mexico, where I spend about half the year.
    I just returned a couple of days ago to a cabin I have in the desert here in CA, where a young woman friend of mine had stayed while I was gone. She had found the hat in an area behind the cabin, that I had not gone to before leaving for Mexico buried under some dirt under an old tarp. It felt to me that the god/goddess/spirit had accepted my offering and then returned it to me. This experience has opened me to being more aware of the presence of spirits around, for which I am very grateful. Needless to say I treasure the hat as a gift from my daughter and now also as one from the spirit.
    I am also in the midst of reading your ” A World Full of Gods” which is a great help to me. Thank you for that, and for the guidance your posts and the comments offer me.

  40. “I honestly haven’t had a single experience that isn’t explained by science.”

    I’m in the same boat. Maybe my black cat repells the Unseen.

    “Which is a good thing, since I won’t end up being burned at the stake.”

    Unfortunately that doesn’t follow. When the magic doesn’t work the priests start looking for scapegoats, and non-believers tend to be the ones sacrificed. Heretics, infidels, goyim, it doesn’t matter, if only the true believers can kill enough of them then the magic will work again.

    On a less gloomy note, how does one tell that one is not reincarnated? Given the number of people currently alive some percentage of the population must be on the first pass so to speak.

  41. The difference with the essays by Sam Bowman at the link in #13 and JMG’s thinking is they seem to think there is some kind of quick fix to restore the UK’s economic growth, whether that be by kickstarting a housing construction boom, cutting out all that green cr*p or some tinkering around with the tax system.
    There is a point in decline when there is a kind of boosterism which is similar to what JMG has said about revitalisation movements, if I had that right, and if only we do X we can have the good times back again.

  42. Really interesting topic.

    In my home country of NZ we have the native ethnic minority Maori gaining more influence in our political and national life. Govt is looking to embed aspects of Maori spiritual belief into everyday NZ life including Maori “science” (as in spiritual aspects) given equal weight to “western” science….

    This also goes much further and gets rather complex but basically it looks to empower the minority ethnic group….

    This all seems quite Honorable on the surface and well intentioned but…

    1. It is being driven by woke idealouges and Maori “Iwi”. Iwi are the traditional tribal type chiefs / leadership…no democracy here thank you….

    2. Maori make up 10% of the population but the aim is best as I can tell to give them a 50% weighting in all govermental decision making and power over critical infrastructure – notably all water infrastructure…

    3. However average Maori will not be included in the power base, this will lie with the Maori affiliated technocrats / professional class, Iwi and their enablers. It is a complete rewriting of the social contract in NZ and was ushered in covertly over the last 10-20yrs but massively accelerated under the cover of COVID….

    A large part of this is revamping the education system – to subordinate traditional hard sciences with Maori cultural beliefs and softer sciences which have been politicized and diluted….

    None of this is a good thing and in my opinion is nothing more than a power grab and deliberate attempt to sow division in the country from my perspective….

    Iwi have taken to corporate culture and organizational structure like a fish to water and we have Iwi’s setup as formal corporate structures in NZ…

    Not wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist – but its as if some people can see this cyclical shift coming and are looking to use it for their own nefarious ends….

    We have power elite pushing this “cultural / spiritual” transformation / veneer but it seems to be in the service of a corporate ideology….

    Love your thoughts on this….

    PB. For full disclosure I am actually 1/8 maori though never identify as such. A good proportion of the official 10% of Maori would likely be in a similar boat…as in highly diluted blood lines due to 160yrs or so of wide spread intermarriage….



  43. My only disagreement with anything here is on Plato. When the Spartans picked up the Republic the idea that the work was strictly about mundane politics took flight, and the idea that it was about the organization of the soul started to get eclipsed. I would also argue that while Plato might have had issue with some Orphic practitioners, the idea that the man who said “Each God is the best and most beautiful thing”. or who said that each human soul follows it’s particular leader God, was derisive of polytheism seems a bit far-fetched.

  44. I’m almost ready to start what I practice: the church of the Industrious Hymenoptera..

    It need not necessitate a structure hewn by man (although, in the case of honeybees, orchard bees, syrphid flies
    and the like … even solitary wasps/bees … this can be allowed .. by enhancing their environs) … but what IS necessary is the Observance of their relevence in their activities thereof, which (among the other minute denizens of this good world which have evolved thusly, to allow us, the supposed coginzant mega fauna, to thrive. We humans should bow down in homage to those who go about their business, errspective of Homo UNsapiens var. ‘stupidicus’s’ hubristic folly.

    The public – in the main, now-a-daze .. worships an App, more than not .. (conjured by ephemeral e-bits, that – in a moment’s notice, could – for any number of specious reasons, go ‘poof’ .. never to return) .. with utterly NO connection to the magical world that exists about their feet.

    So, I say again – Pray to micro world – those entities by which allow us idiot macrophiles to exist in ANY form, in ANY way, AT ALL!

  45. Steve, interesting. Well, that’s certainly promising.

    Michael, thank you! That’s high praise. If Tipperary had a shortage of entities, I’d be worried.

    Disc_writers, they were squalling about the Catholic politician precisely because they know he’s right. I really do have to do another post on climate change soon, don’t I?

    Stephen, thanks for this. That hat may have magical or sacred properties at this point, you know.

    Siliconguy, according to Druid tradition you get to the human stage after many lives in animal forms. Notice the way that the increase in the human population has been paralleled by a matching decrease in the numbers of large intelligent mammals. If a lot of people seem easily buffaloed, well, there’s a potential reason for that…

    Mawkernewek, no question, we’ll hear a lot of that in the years immediately ahead. It’s mistaken, but understandable — who wants to think about the possibility that the relative prosperity of the last century was a temporary blip?

    Malleus, thanks for this. I’ll give it a read as time permits.

    Kiwigaz, that’s always the way the woke strategy works. Recruit a compliant class from among your ethnic minority, insist that they speak for the entire minority, and then get them to demand something that will cement the corporate system in place even further — and it can’t be debated or even thought about clearly, because “justice.” A nice sleazy move.

    Richard, do you recall the passage in Phaedrus where Socrates dismisses the old myth about Boreas in naturalistic terms, and then insists that the whole subject of myth is a waste of time? That’s what I had in mind. I did say, please note, not polytheism in general or in abstract, but “Greek polytheism,” that is, the traditional Greek polytheism of Plato’s own society.

  46. Hi John Michael,

    Congratulations on the two new books, and may they be well received and enjoyed. I enjoy your writing.

    I must say, it’s a decent act for you to provide these folks with a second (or possibly another in a long string of) warning. I kind of feel sorry for them, mostly because they do not know what they are doing. It’s a hard way to learn if you ask me. But in this case, as in so many others, ignorance of the repercussions does not in fact shield them from the consequences of their actions.

    You wouldn’t catch me hanging out with that lot. 🙂



  47. I was just reading some biographical information about J Robert Oppenheimer due to the big budget biopic movie opening this weekend. While he was clearly a scientific genius and master of many fields of physics, chemistry and more he was also reported to be something of a mystic. He intensely studied Hindu spirituality. And was reported to have remarked that there was a fuzzy line between science and the more intuitive and metaphysical aspect of the universe. This was even before he lead the Manhattan project and his conflicts with the security establishment. Perhaps it is as you have said, there is nothing about the metaphysical that contradicts the pursuit of good science, it is just a rare scientist that is not captive to the doctrine of rationality at all costs.

  48. JMG,
    I would say no, as Socrates himself puts down the task of such skepticism as not being his business.

    “I might have a rational explanation that Orithyia was playing with Pharmacia, when a northern gust carried her over the neighbouring rocks; and this being the manner of her death, she was said to have been carried away by Boreas. There is a discrepancy, however, about the locality; according to another version of the story she was taken from the Areopagus, and not from this place. Now I quite acknowledge that these allegories are very nice, but he is not to be envied who has to invent them; much labour and ingenuity will be required of him; and when he has once begun, he must go on and rehabilitate Hippocentaurs and chimeras dire. Gorgons and winged steeds flow in apace, and numberless other inconceivable and portentous natures. And if he is sceptical about them, and would fain reduce them one after another to the rules of probability, this sort of crude philosophy will take up a great deal of time. Now I have no leisure for such enquiries; shall I tell you why? I must first know myself, as the Delphian inscription says; to be curious about that which is not my concern, while I am still in ignorance of my own self, would be ridiculous. And therefore I bid farewell to all this; the common opinion is enough for me.”

  49. Funny, I’ve never had any direct/explicit* experience of ghosts, miracles, or any other spiritual/supernatural/paranormal/etc. phenomena. You’d think I’d be a perfect candidate to be one of these rationalist skeptic types – and I actually did have such a phase in my late teens.

    But I’m the first person to tell anyone who’d ask that ghosts totally exist, despite them never ever manifesting to me. That’s because I’ve encountered enough people who gave me extremely consistent accounts of the very specific phenomenon about my childhood home (or rather, the land it’s sitting on) being haunted. These are people who don’t know each other, testifying to the phenomenon years apart, and some of them having no connection to my hometown or family.

    As Hume (not a believer in miracles by any stretch) puts it, “That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous…” If those testimonies are such that each and every person who came to me was independently wrong in the same consistent way, isn’t the kind of “falsehood that would be more miraculous” than the alleged miracle, I have no idea what is.

    *I’m a Roman Catholic and do have regular religious experiences, more of the mundane kind where I prayed to God/a saint/an angel and the prayer was answered later in a very specific manner. I’ve not been blessed by any visions or apparitions, etc., but one such occurrence was enough to get me back to practicing my childhood faith. A skeptic might say that’s confirmation bias, but whatever, that stuff goes both ways.

  50. Even when experiencing the Unseen fairly often in life, it amazes me how often they can be put to the back of the mind. I remember about 15 years ago having a woman come floating across a creek towards me, wearing a frog headdress of some sort and saying something to the effect of “Nahuatl.” It startled me yet got me delving into some understanding of the occult. This past week I’ve stared the Fellowship of the Hermetic Rose candidate level work. This set of tarot cards I’ve using are some I’ve played around with for the past decade having had some great effect with them, yet I’ve often thought it was more about tuning the mind to connect with the subconscious to pick the information out of the card you got, and not so much about the Unseen selected the right card. The past two days of drawings changed my attitude about that. Giving a little personal story to help with understanding, my dad was really never much in my life, especially the first 14 years. He’s sort of showed up, mostly with a scattering over phone calls over the years. Asking whether I should call him or not, I mixed the cards and one card literally jumped out of the deck in front of me. I turned it over to find three swords piercing through a heart. The years of emotional pain and turmoil that relationship has caused me were clearly evident in the cards, but after much reflecting, even loneliness on mine, and perhaps even his part. I fell back on a crutch too often used after the emotions overwhelmed me, waking up with a bit of a hangover and little interest in performing the lesser ritual of the pentagram but just wanted to get off to work. I managed through it though but thought I might want to think about watching my drinking, and this evening when doing some tarot work, asking whether I should be concerned about my drinking of alcohol. Again as I was mixing the cards the Fool jumped out and landed right in front of me. It was a reminder as the texts pointed out, the initiate of the occult is often thought of as a fool because they don’t follow what the rest of the world does. It was a reminder that the path was often a lonely one, which requires some perseverance and development of will.

    All that to say, doubt of the Unseen is all too often there no matter how often one experiences the Unseen.

    It kind of surprises me how much repetition one needs in order to learn. Even with a lifetime of experiences someone can still learn something new. Sadly, it sometimes takes the walls crashing down around you before you wake up to that realization.

  51. The big attraction to the occult for me was the idea that there was a whole different set of scientific principles out there that didn’t have a bunch of gate keepers standing in the way. Recently I used Jack Black’s advice of “Get out there and suck!” as inspiration to free my friend from a noxious attachment, but it totally zapped my energy and now I’m trying to figure out why. I’ll honor your on-topic request and save the details for Magic Monday, but just wanted to say that I’m more intrigued than ever. It reminded me of Franklin’s kite experiment, and I think “age of abstraction” is a much more accurate term than “age of reason”. There’s nothing reasonable about believing that reality extends only as far as one’s personal prejudices.

  52. In the mid-70s, I was in Seattle to visit my girlfriend, later my wife, and decided to drive down to LongAcres racetrack for an afternoon of fun..Just after I passed the Boeing plant on I-5, an accident suddenly started to snowball into a multi-vehicle crash…At that point, the traffic in front of me froze, and I was able to drive around the frozen pileup..When I was clear, regular time resumed and I proceeded to the track…When I got back, I described it to everyone, and we all shrugged and went out for some pizza and beer..(Seattle was wonderful back then..) Others have had the same experience, including a couple of commenters on Steve Sailer’s blog… and Malcolm Gladwell described them in his great book Blink…At the time, I was about as spiritual as a rock…Later, I think I learned what the reason was for my preservation..but who knows…..But at that point, I became whole lot less skeptical of the supernatural…

  53. This post spoke out to me. I have so many thoughts!

    First a question: Do you have any resource recs for where you came to the ideas that Indian culture applied their age of reason to consciousness? This might be a result of being seeped in a culture that applied it to nature, but I see consciousness as an untapped realm of discovery.

    The comparison I make are to the “gentleman scientists” of our early age of reason. I find myself privileged to have access to my very own consciousness, where I can reason out my own natural laws from first principles.

    Secondly: I see the night hag phenomena is an interplay between the purely material (a physiological condition I’ve seen compared to narcolepsy and sleepwalking) and experiences with the unseen. Perhaps the condition makes one susceptible to visitations, or there’s some other mechanism that links these things.

    My datapoints are about half matierialist-friendly instances of “ugh I’m paralyzed again let me just wait this out.”

    The other half include at least one unsettling out of body experience (I can see why many people think they’re being abducted by aliens,) experiences that don’t quite involve individual beings but weird environmental effects: like a mirror seeming like a foreboding portal, or the walls being covered in strange symbols written in light, sexual experiences, and me calling out my great grandfather’s name for no discernible reason.

    Thirdly: I think I understand a bit more of your own work through this post. You’re trying to make sure the mages who come in contact with your work don’t get sorted in the wrong direction!

    Lastly: I’ve been working through my own theory on Satanisms’ place in our society, and linked it to a challenge I’ve faced in my own spirituality: properly reckoning with the law of limitation.

    Satanism is obviously a rejection of Christianity’s place in our society, but the underlying message is one of limitless human potential (in contrast to Christianity’s limitless god, which is its own failure to deal with the law of limitation.)

    IMHO, at least part of what you’re seeing with resistance magic is coming from this place. In my own reckoning with this law, I’ve been trying to accept that limitlessness is a siren song: it’ll feel amazing until you hit the rocks (in my personal journey I’m smart enough to articulate this, but dumb enough to fall for the song every time.)

  54. Re: military blowback in the Age of Reason; a quote from S. M. Stirling: “The enemy always has other plans. That’s why we call them the enemy.” And this is a writer to treats his readers to prolonged-to-the-point-of boredom- choreography of battles, along with chapter and verse.

  55. JMG, thank you for yet another in an endless line of excellent posts. This one especially struck a chord with me as I have experienced firsthand the Old Hag phenomenon. I know the anguish of trying in vain, for what feels like an eternity, to move just that first finger.

  56. Oh, and this just in from the U.$. dept. of Defensiveness – bi den-of-thieves, spox Cirby….
    ! A L I E N S ! They be.. are messing with our usaf pilots!!

    In the words of those wisened, lowly UK plebs via the flick ‘V for Vendetta’ .. “Can you believe this shite?”

    Talk about ersatz ‘magical’…

  57. When I was a senior in high school I had an experience similar to the old hag one. I nNever noticed the footsteps, etc….so maybe slightly different. At the time, I thought of it as a “bad vibe” that lived in the upper corner of my bedroom. I guess that is where I had thought it approached me from, or sensed something off there even when I was not in bed. I would feel its presence right over or almost on me, a weightiness, me unable to talk or move. All that the same. I do not recall if I felt any different the next day. The result was that I stopped sleeping in my bedroom, I just refused to do so any more, all my stuff I kept in there, but I slept on the couch in the living room every night. I lived with my mother and grandmother, and I don’t recall them questioning me about it or anything, they likely asked me why, and I told them I felt there was a bad vibe in the corner of the room, etc…. and likely they just figured it was silly or whatever, but they didn’t care if I slept in the living room, so they indulged me. A short while later, my aunt had a breakup with her husband, so she and my very young child cousin, since I was not using me room, came and started to live with us and sleep there. I asked her if she noticed the bad vibe in there, if it bothered her. She said she noticed it, but likely she was humoring me because they still stayed there. Now all these years later I wonder and hope it didn’t affect my young cousin too much, he was only 1st grade or so so he wouldn’t know how to express any of this, or if he did, they would have all thought he was upset from moving houses no doubt.

    In a couple months, I moved off to college. Everything was fine there for the first year. Then the second year, in the next dorm room I went to, it showed up. It found me there is what I thought at the time, although hearing more hear about this phenomena it could have been a different one. Again, I never heard or remember any shuffling or footsteps, but it coming towards me, it was always my idea that it was above the ground or at least not really touching the ground, but I could have been mistaken. It came a few nights, not ness. in a row. Then, one night when it came and I could feel it pressing right up on me again, I was somehow able to rally myself and tell it to go away. I don’t recall now if that was just mental or if I was able to actually vocalize it.

    It went away and I never have been bothered by such a thing again.

  58. I forgot to relate my experience of the “Old Hag”, which was different in that there was no shuffling or sliding footsteps. I simply woke up in the middle of the night to a dark force on my chest pushing my upper body down into the bed. I tried to call out to Jesus for help, but I couldn’t articulate a single word (probably from panic) and when I finally was able to say “Jesus help me” the phenomenon stopped, but I was deeply shaken. It happened one other time in the exact same way years later, and I had to expel it with the same words after struggling to get them out of my mouth.

  59. JMG,

    How do you define mages? Is that a word for magic practitioners in general or is there a more specific meaning?

  60. Hi JMG and all,

    The more I understand magic, the more I understand that the divine liturgy and mass of Orthodox and Catholic traditions are actually magical ceremonies. The thing that confuses me is why the clergy teach that magic is evil and should be avoided like the plague. This goes for the Protestants, too, who are frequently even more amendment about magic even to the point of forbidding fairy tales and Harry Potter stories in their families.

    From this week’s post, I am guessing that this has something to do with Christianity being old enough to have gone through all three of the phases previously and probably lost something along the way. Am I on to something or completely lost?

  61. I remember reading a quote from a Neo-Reaction or some other fringe right blog a long time ago that while the author sympathized with people turning back to traditional religion, or even those raised in traditional religions and never left them, he felt he couldn’t do it, because it feels to him like going back into an egg after you’ve hatched.

    I wonder how he’s doing today.

    I have seen a number of people across different online communities convert/revert to more traditional sects of Christianity over the years. I wish them well on their paths, I do notice though, that many have become more brittle and bristly in their opinions.

    There are some examples even here, but one that sticks in my mind is a doctor/computer scientist on a forum I used to frequent. He was always nominally Catholic but joined a Latin Mass congregation a number of years ago. Over the years, he studied Thomistic philosophy, at least as mediated through people like Edward Feser. He worked in some field related to biotech, but as he progressed in his Thomistic studies, came to reject evolution as being “metaphysically unsound”. Personally, I find myself incapable of accepting the premises of Thomistic philosophy, the “four causes” model of causation simply seems arbitrary to me, the way it is explained — I tried to ask him how he knows anything has only one “final cause”. A chestnut can grow into a tree, but can also be eaten, a tree can be cut for wood or grow for thousands of years, how do you define what the “final cause” is at the outset? I simply asked something like that because I can’t understand it but he accused me of arguing in bad faith.

    If I didn’t know any better, I might say that a lot of people like my forum friend didn’t have spiritual experiences that genuinely expanded their consciousness. But I think that might be presuming too much, maybe this is an outcome of the traditions they are practising?

    Maybe monotheistic religions tend towards exclusivism more than polytheistic ones in general?

    Either way, I’m happy for them if they benefit from it but it makes me more wary if I have to live somewhere where people like that are in power, as a polytheist.

  62. Has anyone asked the source of that altered Baphomet image that you included up above. The presence of the two children is disturbing. It reminded me of the opening sequence in Jodorowski’s movie “The Holy Mountain,” which I also found pretty disturbing.

  63. My life is pretty mundane in general, but I have had a couple of uncanny experiences: I had something very similar to the “old hag” experience back in the 1970s. It was puzzling enough that I wrote down what had happened right afterward. Then, a decade or so later I happened to read Maury Terry’s book on the Son of Sam murders. (That’s a pretty spooky book, and Terry’s purple prose doesn’t help.) Anyhow, I was living at that time in the “East Bay” and I had a library card at the UC Berkeley library. One day as I was exiting the library, a total stranger who was walking past turned around and said to me, “The Church of Satan in San Francisco is looking for you.” Now there was a synchronicity! Of course he might have actually said, “It looks like the fog is coming back in,” and I just misinterpreted what I heard.

  64. “Even though a purely materialistic worldview is kind of sad, it gives you a form of security that things are very concrete to influence and control. In a way, it flatters the ego, since one is not subject to any external force and matter (in our occidental view) can be manipulated without limits.”

    That last part “one is not subject to any external force and matter…can be manipulated without limits.” is definitely false. There are very firm limits on what you can do with matter. The five recently created ghosts from the Titan can explain that in great detail.

    Similarly with energy, as Homer Simpson said, “In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.” This is a major problem for the Green New Deal.

    I would argue the “kind of sad” part too. It’s neither sad nor happy, it just is. Don’t anthropomorphize the steel, it hates that 😉

    But your comment fits in rather nicely with the topic and with the cycling nature of civilization. The Catholic Church never recovered from the one-two punch of the famine of 1315 and the Black Death. The priests who were most diligent in tending to the sick died. Those that ran off to heritages and remote monasteries did better. People noticed. Their magic was powerless.

    The Plague also started the end of feudalism as the resulting labor shortage made it possible for the serfs to escape from Lord Stodgy to Lord Enlightened (more accurately Lord ‘I’m going to have to give the serfs a better deal or shovel manure myself’.)

    Magic also failed to reduce the maternal death rate, reduce child mortality, stop repeated smallpox epidemics, or for that matter any epidemic. It wasn’t doing a much better anywhere else either. So people started looking for things that did work, hence the Enlightenment. That grew into the industrial revolution and here we are. Distribution is a problem, production is not. (Yes running out of oil is going to be a problem, but that is not the topic here.)

    But now we have reached the point where we have matter and energy figured out, but now what? Why are so many people chugging Fentanyl by the pound? Even accounting for the drug dealer shootouts, why are people going nuts with guns? Guns were everywhere when I was a kid (I grew up in the country. Armed thirteen-year olds wandered the countryside every fall in search of grouse and squirrels and nothing much happened.)

    Rational Materialism can’t explain it (there is nothing rational about coming within 10 feet of a bootleg fentanyl pill, much less paying for it), so having mostly solved the famine and disease problems and left us with hot showers and refrigeration as a bonus the cycle is switching back to the more philosophical side.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if advancements in the physical sciences dwindle away, there are hard limits there and diminishing returns have definitely set in. Spending a few centuries figuring out the “why am I here” may be essential, the dog has caught the car, now what?

  65. Here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community. 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 of the prayer list itself, at the link given at the start of this comment.

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

    Steve T’s brother Matt is currently in the hospital after a sudden violent seizure, and his daughter is having extreme panic attacks; they were both in a terrible car accident last fall. Steve asks for prayers for Matt’s recovery of health; for the emotional and psychological well-being of the rest of the family, including his wife Megan, his daughter Diana, and his young son Jake; and for the lifting of any spiritual harm afflicting the family.

    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 hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all. The reasonable possibility exists that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen. (Lp9 gives updates here and also here.)

    * * *

    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.

  66. Chris, you won’t catch me hanging out with them either, for exactly that reason.

    Clay, science can be practiced perfectly well by mystics; most of what we knew about astronomy before 1750 was discovered by astrologers, after all. It’s the culture of institutional science as currently practiced in our society that makes people like Oppenheimer the exception.

    Richard, if that’s your interpretation, by all means; it’s not mine. Since my point in responding to you was to explain what I had in mind when I made the comment, not to get into one more dreary internet fight, I’ll leave it at that.

    Carlos, makes sense to me.

    Prizm, I’ve seen that reluctance to admit the obvious tolerably often in people I know. It’s a reminder just now much of our state of mind is a collective rather than an individual construct.

    Eddy, “age of abstraction” is also a usable phrase, but I like to take the commonplace phrase “age of reason” and monkeywrench it.

    Pyrrhus, I’ve known people who had experiences of that kind, too.

    Jack, (1) I got that view of Indian philosophy via reading several of the Upanishads, Sankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination, and more recently a good bit of the writings of Sri Aurobindo. (2) There are plenty of theories, of course. (3) That’s one part of it. (4) I don’t see Satanism as any kind of rejection of Christianity at all. It’s simply Christianity with all the value judgments reversed, and thus it reinforces what it claims to be opposing.

    Patricia M, good. I recall one of Murphy’s Laws of Combat: “Before you announce that a given area has been cleared of the enemy, make sure you tell the enemy that.”

    Worried, it’s a harrowing experience by all accounts — and a common one.

    Polecat, if they’re trotting out the fake aliens to try to distract people, the situation must be far, far worse than anyone in Washington DC is admitting.

    Atmospheric, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Fedora, thanks for this also.

    Denis, “mage” is the old term for a practitioner of magic. I don’t mean it in any narrower sense — it’s just a good old word I’d like to get back into use.

    Clark, as I understand it, the established Christian churches insist that they don’t practice magic, no, magic is evil because they’re stuck on the claim that they have the only real god, the only valid religion, and the only magic rites — er, sacraments — that aren’t devil worship. As the old joke goes, that’s their schtick and they’re schtuck with it.

    Alvin, I know. The flight back to the illusion of certainty has serious potential problems.

    Phutatorius, it’s a statue made by the Satanic Temple, which they haul around various places to troll Christians. I’ve read the Maury Terry book — purple prose is an understatement! But I imagine that was quite the odd experience.

    Siliconguy, that’s one of the standard canned narratives of the church of Progress. I encourage you to stop and reflect a bit on it. The Black Death arrived in 1347. The scientific revolution began around 1650, by most measures, and it didn’t provide meaningful answers to questions about human health until around 1850. So how exactly did the Black Death convince people to trust science, when science didn’t start to show up for another 300 years, and couldn’t do a thing about plagues for another 200 years after that?

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

  67. I laughed outloud on this bit, having received a funny confirmation of it just today, and including myself into the ‘very mixed lot’ resulting from the conditions you describe: “Since the political institutions of a society in its post-rationalist era also generally settle into stasis, magic also plays its usual role as the politics of the excluded, attracting those people whose independence and ambition can’t be satisfied by fitting into a prefabricated slot in a religious or political bureaucracy. That guarantees that the mages of the age of memory are going to be a very mixed lot.”

    We received word back in the winter that we were tentatively selected for a ‘climate-smart commodities’ grant from usda. Our small business (one of VERY few in this category who were funded in this program to be sure) will have front row seat to watch the designing of carbon credits based on ag soils AND have investment capacity for regional food systems in the ohio river valley. But getting to the final executed contract has taken better than six months. This last month’s wait has been the worst, just needed a signature from an official on their end. Everything was in order. I knew it must be close, but yesterday as an exercise I visualized the signature, I imagined the woman having a pressing urge that ‘well it’s just time to send this group on through.’ I saw her at her desk. I imagined myself watching her with ravens in the office (I had found myself driving behind a semi that said ‘fastTrack Ravens’ on it). She signed this morning. Excellent! Then I was talking with an independent forester with extensive experience with the federal agencies and especially NRCS. I had said that I thought our program officer was supportive but it was higher ups who had stalled us over this past month. He stopped me abruptly and said that the most valuable advice he could give me at this stage was to *never* try to figure out what was going on inside those offices because I would never know. I said to him casually that instead of politics I would have to depend on wizardry. This has been my approach to ‘keep silent’ while also trying to draw out the consideration of magical forces in the mainstream; a breezy familiarity which can be accepted or just as easily written off as a joke. I could almost see him stroking his chin as he said over the phone, ‘yes, yes, that might be your best approach.’

  68. Sometime in 2022, I sat through an excruciatingly dull Buddhist lecture. The lecturer bragged about taking trip to Antarctica, strongly implying that her prosperity came from being directly favored by Buddha and not her husband’s salary class job. She also implied that the random smell of incense in the temple was part of being favored, though anyone who has ever burned incense regularly knows that furniture will pick up the smell of incense smoke and randomly distribute the smell much like what happens with cigarette smoke. When I casually tested the waters by relating some of my past life experiences after the service, the “spiritual” leaders were downright angry, offended, and hostile, nearly to the point of explosion. I don’t think it is any coincidence they were mask and vaccine aficionados/enforcers. The funny thing about it all is there was a kindly entity there who desperately wanted me to stay and regularly come to services. I was quietly chatting in my head to the spirit the entire time. I told the spirit that though I found the place to be very pretty and well-decorated, I would not be back under any circumstance.

    I have hung out with Satanists, Rosicrucians, Christians of all stripes, Hindus, atheists, pagans, and Jews. Not so much with Muslims. I have never encountered a more materialistic, atheistic set than my local Midwestern Buddhists. It’s so weird… What could have possibly happened to them to make them that way?

  69. Back on the ““Even though a purely materialistic worldview is kind of sad,” there is a book of interest to that belief, “The existential pleasures of engineering” by Thomas Dunne.

    Off topic at bit, or maybe not since we were discussing the limits of materials and the consequences of hubris here is a well done video.

    Back on topic, in response to our host, the short answer to your question is it was the first crack in the dam. The long answer is Chapter 17 in “The Black Death” by Philip Ziegler. It’s going to be hot tomorrow, so I may take a crack at summarizing it.

    Also, Thomas Goldstein (Dawn of Modern Science) puts the beginning of science, or maybe it would be better stated the beginning of the separation of the natural world from the magical world, considerably earlier than you do. I haven’t read that in awhile, but it does mention the interplay of science and the occult more than once. Rereading that is now on the to-do list as well.

  70. So many interesting points within and wonderfully written post. Thanks much JMG!

    In the late 80’s, while many of my friends including my best friend Tim were dying of AIDS, I was awakened from sleep in my NYC apartment one night. I’d sensed something heavy laying on top of me. A creeping terror held me, and when I slowly opened my eyes, I saw the most horrifying being covered with open pus -filled bloody sores. I will never forget my state of terror which seemed to last forever. At some point, the being simply dissolved, yet my terror remained. I guess eventually I went back to sleep but I’m not sure.

    Just a few years back, my partner had the same experience as described with the Old Hag, however the hag took on the face of his dead grandmother (his ancestors hail from Transylvania so maybe no surprises there ;).

    Whether these experiences are guilt -shame-fear psychological events, or actual evil spectral beings, or even some kind of physical glitch (nothing more grave than gravy as Scrooge remarked;) or perhaps a combination of all three perspectives, they certainly are terrifyingly real.

    Your observation that Indic cultures were masters of a rational approach to mind and consciousness was brilliant.
    I think it’s the key as to why Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras has become such a popular text in Western Yoga circles.

  71. Helllo. So all these “satanists” casting curses without actually believing in it are going to get a shock when the curses backfire and they get Trump in again, or worse.
    Didn’t Dion F warn against pushing against evil? You build muscle by pushing against things, and get stronger. To get rid of evil, you remove what it pushes against, like aikido. Remove its oxygen, so to speak.
    Feeding evil by being evil never works! Satan will turn up and say, ‘here I am folks, deal.’

  72. A different take on the second Maori renaissance in New Zealand, is that the old gods really are rising again. The festival of matariki, which invokes and feeds a series of stars, and forms essentially the equivalent of a winter solstice ritual for the iwi that celebrated it, has exploded from nowhere to now being a national holiday, there is indeed an official Maori astronomer, recognition of the Maori astrological calendar (the maramataka) and so on.

    Sure, there’s a woke elite of Maori and Pakeha, but behind it is a genuine movement of forces and forms, that will outlast any woke clique, and certainly for us that have to inhabit these islands at the bottom of the world, I hope something that has us relating to the land and water a bit better than now.

  73. The Old Hag sounds awfully lot like sleep paralysis. I have gone through it twice. I heard no shuffling of feet, but both times there was an awareness of something malicious present and the utter inability to move anything but the eyes. Being a Christian at that time, I struggled to pray for Jesus and as soon as I managed to do that, the presence vanished and I was able to move again.

    The first encounter was the scariest. I heard a beastly creature growl. What I suppose I actually heard was my own undiagnosed sleep apnea and the horrible snoring that was so loud as to actually wake me up. The second one was when I was approached by a couple of Mormon missionaries and agreed to read their book. The experience left me with some kind of a taint that is hard to describe. The next night I woke up with a sensation that “the Witch is coming”. The same kind of sleep paralysis with all the terror included.

    The scientific take on this appears to be that you kind of wake up but not completely. When you sleep, you are paralyzed, which carries on for a bit. You are still kind of asleep, so you experience the world differently, so the hallucinations of the dreamworld can push through, as if you were still dreaming. The simple fact that these might be the scientific explanations to the occurrance do in no way mean that the experience is “purely materialistic”. If an entity were to mess with you, that is probably how it would do it. Merely having a “bad dream”, while harrowing in its own right, would not have a similar impact as waking up, or “believing you are completely awake” and “not dreaming” and then having the experience.

    Who knows what the entity is up to. Probing the defenses? Trying to make you lose your mind? Take a taste of your energies? Infiltrate you? Make you scared so that… you do not do what you know you ought to do? But what I somehow know deep down is that with the protective magic, it can not really harm me. I also speculate that one could try to follow it’s trail with magical means to find out more, but not only would that pursuit not really yield anything substantially useful, it would be a dark and dangerous path to thread. I sense that it is better to just keep the door firmly latched at nights, so to speak, and not wander to the woods at night, metaphorically speaking.

    Now I have not heard any shuffling of the feet. But the reference to a “Witch” is an interesting one in this context. It was not the word “Witch” but the one in my own language. The implication was clear, though, that it was your classic old nasty woman with malicious intent and dark powers. And this is the first time I have heard of “The Hag”. My encounters with the entity happened a few decades ago. Not been bothered since I told it to go away in the name of Jesus.

    And I have no trouble admitting there is power in that name even though I am no longer a Christian.

  74. JMG

    You said in your reply to Clay that it is possible to learn to perceive the auras of the people with a set of exercises. Where could I learn more about this? I do get some sort of a “vibe” out of the people I meet, but you are talking about a different thing, aren’t you?

  75. Hello JMG. Do you think Plato’s ideal “king philosopher” is the first totalitarism? (Or maybe I’m exaggerating…). What’s your opinion on this sensitive topic?

  76. How delightful it was, while reading this post detailing our cyclical trajectory through ages of reason, memory, and faith, to recall first being introduced to that same cycle under slightly different monikers, way back in the Well of Galabes days. At this point, that must be something close to a decade ago, when you were already trying to prepare us for these seismic cultural shifts, which most of us couldn’t quite imagine actually arriving within our lifetimes. And yet… this is where we now find ourselves! Wheee! Who knew losing all your familiar bearings could be so much fun?

    OK, so Naomi doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself quite so thoroughly yet, but she’s still got plenty of time to get the hang of it. This disorienting shift will clearly not be going away any time soon, as there remain way too many Augean stables, housing our late managerial caste, that desperately need a thorough cleaning. I wonder if the raspberry-jam principle will fittingly (or perhaps obligingly, based on my prayers at least) cause all the managerial caste’s considerable filth to be returned directly to them. Hey, we all gotta pray for something, right? And they do say that God works in mysterious ways, so I’m certainly willing to root for that particular karmic repercussion on their behalf.

    Anyway, back to that dimly remembered post from a decade ago. I believe the noble titles that you had given to the three ages of our cyclical trajectory were dragon, phoenix, and unicorn. I don’t remember whether the titles came from some older system, or whether you invented those evocatively memorable categories. What I certainly do remember is the mind-expanding experience of trying to reorganize my understanding of history (as well as the present) to include any event’s timing within those cyclical ages. I believe that challenging practice probably aided more than a few of us in being able to make some kind of sense out of all the craziness of this past decade. Many, many thanks for that early wake-up call!

    It would be fascinating to now reread that post to see how much of its once-confusing otherness has gotten naturally dovetailed into my blessedly recovering worldview. (Many, many thanks to all the gods who have aided in that completely unexpected recovery!) I think you mentioned that the Well of Galabes posts would stay archived when you started up the Ecosophia blogs. Does that post of the mythically personified ages still remain tucked away somewhere on one of your blogs?

  77. Thank you for this essay, it was a fascinating combination of Spengler’s historical thinking with angles Spengler (or Toynbee) would never have dreamed about!

    The fullest exploration of the Greek age of reason I know, how it arose and how it spluttered out, was Dobbs’ The Greeks and the Irrational (recommended on this blog). Dobbs places the peak of materialism in the 3rd century BC, but that is a minor difference. What I am curious about is the discussion of the “managerial caste that always rises to power during an age of reason”. I am confident one can identify a managerial caste in the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese and probably other cultures, but in Ancient Greece, I can’t think of any managers or bureaucrats. Democratic Athens and Republican Rome were specifically set up to have a lot of rotation in office so everybody would be more or less amateur. I only know of a developed bureaucracy after Diocletian, many centuries later.

    The reason I am asking is that I am not sure the downfall of the age of reason has necessarily to do with failed societal plans, though that may be the case in our time. Greek poleis had already been at each other’s throats since at least Euripides’ days, and that didn’t stop the development of less enchanted world views – you mentioned Plato and Aristotle, and there are of course the more materialistic ones like Epicurus and Euhemerus. Dobbs cannot give any reason at all for the end of the Greek age of reason, and I interpret that as there being reasons out of human control.

    None of which is to deny that the end of our particular dreams of world improvement are likely to accelerate the decline of rationalism and materialism.

  78. Very subtle article this, thanks. It took me ages to read through it actually, some paragraphs triggered a lot of thinking.

    “the Buddha considered the existence or nonexistence of gods irrelevant to his path of salvation”.

    I’ve got to break a lance here for early Buddhism. The Pali Canon is full to the brim with references to non-human forms of existence, the Buddha never questions this, it’s part of his default worldview. Buddhist cosmology easily accommodates non-visible (by the earthly senses) realities populated by beings.

    But the Buddha proposes something more interesting, that all those forms of existence can be transcended because they’re all expressions of something (which is neither a thing, nor not a thing, nor both a thing and not a thing, nor neither) that underpins all kinds of existence.

    What the Buddha says is that all beings, seen and unseen, are subject to the same existencial intricacies. And also that there is a clear advantage to the human realm, since it’s the one where we can have a broader perspective to attain wisdom (that is, gnosis of the workings of Sunnyatta, or “ultimate” reality, which is timeless and unconditioned). Though he also says that this wisdom can be attained in other realms, only that demons and gods are both distracted by their own powerful and very one-sided conditions.

    And lastly, and this comes with a warning, all modes of existence are available for rebirth and only the human one is recommended. There’s a big chance that all these people mentioned in the article, who are fiddling with magic for their nefarious purposes, are themselves slowly becoming demons and paving the way for very, let’s say, complicated future existences. I think this is implied in this and other articles in the blog.

  79. @wqjcv #7
    @Siliconguy #41

    Hello. If you don’t mind, I’d like to add my perspective on this topic.
    “I honestly haven’t had a single experience that isn’t explained by science.”

    I’ve only had a couple of “strange” events, a grandmother who came to say goodbye, and a nightly body paralysis. I am sure both can be “explained” using science. Science measures a symptom, calls it a name, then makes a reductionistic theory and finally tries to debunk the theory making some controlled experiments. But the explanation is almost never satisfactory when we try to conduct experiment on complex things that have MEMORY. The first time, the experiment may work, but the second time the subject will remember. That’s the field where Science can’t really make predictions. That’s why calling Economics in its current state a science is rubbish.
    Economist also have their own share of “explanations”, some work, some make sense, but in the end, they fail to predict more often than not.

    Why this detour? Because there are some many things going on in our lives that we are worriless just because we think we have an explanation, and this explanation in many cases turns out to be wrong. Maybe you didn’t experience anything paranormal, which just means extremely rare event. You don’t usually meet family ghosts, but the phenomenon is often reported. Now you can give it many explanations for family ghosts: hallucination, fake memories, self-suggestion, real entities, disembodied people, traces of the soul that are left behind, memories in the shared mind of the collective. Since Science has to be rational, it cannot use unmeasured things in its explanations (reason is comparing measurable things), she’s limited to explain this as an hallucination (a name for a symptom), as a product of our overexcited neurons. Science explains love, anger and happiness as a jet of hormones, not as the physical expression of something else. Following science findings, we could be happy just by injecting us some serotonine. Analogously, we could skip previous-sex and just use lubricant.

    If you don’t limit yourself to the paranormal, you’ll find that there are tons of natural and perfectly normal things happening around you that you can’t give a satisfactory explanation, this is, one that you can’t find a counter argument that refutes the hypothesis, after having tried to find one, and that is useful for making correct predictions. The problem here is that we don’t even try because we are very confident thinking that we know the ground we walk on. And it happens so many times that things take us by surprise because they don’t behave as we expected. Then we blame people for being crazy. We never blame us for being blind.

    What I try to convey with all these it’s that the occult teachings are far more useful with the normal daily things than it is with the paranormal, even if the paranormal has its place.

  80. PS. What I’m trying to say is that we have a tendency to think of Buddhism as more Rational than it really is, because that’s the way western Buddhism has adapted it to our own culture. But this is something that is being slowly overcome as the practice of western Buddhists deepens. It’s not a conscious effort, with the practice of Buddhist methods comes that, an opening of vision.

    One last observation, the “middle way”, as the Buddha called his vision, means many things and I suspect one of them is the precisely the perfect balance between reason and faith, both are indispensable. It’s all a game. May all beings be happy.

  81. Hi John Michael,

    Your essay kicked off the process of cogitating upon the fate of the people involved in that working. I don’t believe that it is too late for them, but the word sacrifice comes to mind. That can be in an offering, or more scarily, as an offering. I have no involvement in their business, but this weird notion came into my awareness just then, that they’ve foolishly offered all. How else can a person explain the escalation?

    I do hope you write about this matter in the future.



  82. @Phutatorius: If I may, I think Maury Terry missed his calling as a writer of pulp fiction. Son of Sam researcher Manny Grossman has pretty much dismantled and debunked a lot of the material Terry put into his book on his YouTube channel, which he started as a believer in the book, and then over the course of his own investigation, looking into it, and talking to people, showed how Terry had “lied, manipulated, and abused”. The channel is here for those interested:

    Another book that came out in the 80’s of similar ilk to Maury Terry’s nonsense was “Jay’s Journal” another fabrication based on a thread of truth from the same lady who gave us Go Ask Alice. The story around this author and her work (she was a frustrated writer who settled for what she could get when Go Ask Alice got picked up) was told in the recent book Unmasking Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson. It was a great read.

    Of course, I’m sure you and others here are also familiar with the lies and deceit spread in the book Michelle Remember’s by Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder. An original pizzagate! Oprah Winfrey had people eating this stuff up when she had Michelle on to talk about her story.

    The whole phenomenon of ritual satanic abuse was also debunked by FBI agent Ken Lanning who was tasked at looking into these things, from his place as an actual child abuse investigator. He never found any evidence for it… Eric Hunley did an interesting interview with this cat about two months ago here:

    It seems that to spread stories about Satanism, people will take the same path as the actual Father of Lies! Yet there are actual Satanists of course…

    Yet I guess there is a strong history of trickery and fraud here in America.

    I hope everyone is well.

  83. Siliconguy said,

    “The Catholic Church never recovered from the one-two punch of the famine of 1315 and the Black Death.”

    That has nothing to do with science vs religion vs magic. Instead, the famine of 1315 and the bubonic plague lead to various dissidents such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus questioning the theology of the Catholic Church, and eventually they were persecuted and suppressed by the Catholic Church in the early 1400s, which showed that the Catholic Church maintained its power in society through the famine of 1315 and the bubonic plague.

    What really broke the Catholic Church was English and German ethnogenesis and imperiogenesis during the 16th and 17th century; the Germans needed something to distinguish themselves from the Catholic Poles and Lithuanians out east and the English needed something to distinguish themselves from the Catholic French, so they developed and adopted various strands of Protestantism to further differentiate themselves from their ethnic and imperial rivals.

  84. One of the topics you touched on in this post seems to be burning through the zeitgeist.

    I have to say I’m quite shocked by all the revelations coming out about child trafficking (and related crimes) due to this new movie Sound of Freedom and the reaction to it. It’s hard to digest this information.

    I mean, I’ve never hired a prostitute or had my own harem, but I can understand why there would be a market for that sort of thing. But a sex slavery market for pre-pubescent children? It’s incomprehensible to me. Not even the Soviets, Nazis, or CCP did this kind of stuff. (As far as I know.) This appears to be a new type of evil in the world. (Or if it’s not new, I cannot believe it is man-made.)

    You said: “Pretending that the Unseen does not exist … emphatically won’t cut it any more.” I feel this movie has helped spread awareness of that fact. Specifically the dark side of it.

    My question is, do you think this has anything to do with the so-called “magical resistance” that you’ve talked about in the past? I mean, why now?

    Please don’t tell me this has always existed and is only being brought to light now. I am afraid I will lose whatever faith in humanity I had left.

  85. In recent years, I abandoned the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America. Some people in the Anglican tradition assume that I did so because I hate gay people, but it was caring about gay people that made me wait as long as I did. I finally realized that the only way to repent of certain hetrosexual sins of my own was to join a church that understands that they are sins.

    But then, I also I left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America because I no longer knew one Episcopal priest who believed in God, but I do believe in God and I do so in a very Anglican way and always have. I was raised what I call backwoods Methodist and even that — I know now that I experienced that in an intensely Anglican, Anglo-Catholic sacramental way, up to and including a Marian apparition when I was 12.

    At the Episcopal Church, it was nonstop sermons on self-esteem. At ACNA, it’s nonstop sermons on, guess what! The Bible. Amazing.

    I think I resemble your remarks. Thank you for articulating it for me.

  86. @Denis #61

    Mages are sages with an ‘m’. Sages of the ‘m’aterial and the un’m’aterial.

    If you take Dion Fortune’s definition, magic is the science of making changes in consciousness according to will (she doesn’t specify on whose consciousness are to be made these changes, or whose is exactly the will). Therefore, a mage is a person who, through magical practices, knows how to change his own percepcion of things (which may allow him to see things in other more useful ways), knows how to change perception in others (helping the others comply to ‘the will’), or knows how to change the perception of the whole cosmos (provided the cosmos has a consciousness), where cosmos is a metaphore meaning “the rest of the system”.
    But for achieving these miracles, the mage first has to find the Will, be it his own, or the deities, or other entities. The will is, in some sense, something that wants to happen even without the practitioner involvement.

  87. Hello JMG! It would be great if you could answer as a “must have” for western traditional occultism a good selection that can be reproduced by hand, while the Collapse is well underway while you can reproduce the ready-made spelling! Love!

  88. re: Black Death

    1. A channeled source suggested the Black Death was created to break the back of the aristocracy, because living conditions were so miserable at the time. If you create living conditions that are miserable and hopeless for the majority of people, eventually you will get something like the Black Death again.

    2. As far as Science(tm) fixing public health. It seems some scientist actually tracked back what caused what and it was improved sanitation and infrastructure that was mostly responsible for the rise in health, not the drugs or the shots. And the improvements happened before anyone knew there was a link between the two. And as sanitation and infrastructure decline, well, you figure it out. Cleanliness is next to…

    >Phutatorius, it’s a statue made by the Satanic Temple, which they haul around various places to troll Christians

    I wonder if they have one of those face diapers on their statue, seeing as they’re so obsessed with making sure everyone is masked when attending services.

  89. @Jon G
    For a related reason, I also decided to forego earning a PhD in Physics – even with a legitimate shot of going to CalTech. My issue started in my 4th year physics of semiconductors class and we were discussing a band gap function (I forget which function, that was 30 years ago, lol.) The main part of the equation was quite elegant but had an additional term that just kept nagging at me. When I spoke up and said “it feels like a fudge factor,” my professor immediately got red in the face and started yelling at me – what could a snot-nosed undergrad possibly know! I found out later that he earned his PhD due to his role working on that fudge factor as a graduate student. He went on to sabotage many of my efforts in the department. I realized I was very likely going to run into other physics religious zealots and it was going to seriously constrain me trying to break new ground in applied quantum physics.

  90. For shale and giggles I wrote the following poem, riffing on the theme of this post and others from this blog…

    If you noticed the astral plane has turned toxically septic
    you might be living among close minded skeptics.
    When the Age of Reason hits hard limits wall
    the engine of progress sputters and stalls.

    No matter how many times the holodeck gets rebooted
    the future they ordered, doesn’t come, can’t compute it.
    Metaphysical realities, can no longer refute it.
    Is that moldy cheese, or has the president tooted?

    The balls, once rolling, are not so easily stopped
    when the checks starts bouncing, banks close up shop
    and no one goes to see Disney’s multimillion dollar flop.

    Pluto from his throne has been downgraded
    in their McMansion homes plutocrats are barricaded
    Green Wizards try to tell them they need to insulate it
    while kids on the corner smoke blunts and get faded.

    Satan’s children are marching on a stairway to hell
    and politicians give off a sulfurous smell.
    It’s no wonder the managers have ulcers gone peptic
    and prescriptions for drugs classed neuroleptic.

  91. @Justin Patrick Moore #84: I didn’t claim to be a fan of that book or of that author or of the crime genre in general. (I never even watched Geraldo!) I used it to point out a synchronicity that was kind of disturbing at the time, back in the 1980s. I’m happy to report that there have been no further synchronicities along those lines. I do think there’s some truth to the notion that when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes back.

  92. Some time ago, I wrote about seeing Pterosaurs. I did extensive review of the literature. It seems the major proponent is a man who believes in the Young Earth, and Pterosaurs fit into his worldview. He collects stories about Pterosaurs and describes how two people at the same time will differ on what they saw (or not saw). It happens a lot that one person will verify they saw one, while the person next them didn’t.

    I wonder if it how people are trained to see or not. The literature as such does lean in that direction. That if it cannot be explained, then people are trained not to see it. The ones who do are either children or people who simply were startled by their surroundings.

    Personally, I have had tons of experiences about seeing stuff or being a part of stuff – like going through a time warp and ending up in a Mastodon herd at South Mountain (MD). What I have learned is that there are places like South Mountain where the lore builds up over time to where people expect to experience the otherworldly.

  93. About the current state of Neo-Paganists.

    I was reading through several reports of Mystic South (Atlanta, GA) and the workshops. Also the discussion of the conference.

    I was struck by how mundane it was. People discussed things like getting published, current affairs, elementary magic, and things rooted in the here and now. Things pertaining to the self and its needs.

    Two things did stand out – the focus on death and the focus on local flora and fauna. Perhaps, people are just letting go of the witchy stuff and just trying to live in the Universe they find themselves. Or they have gone to the point where everything is personal. I am not sure.

  94. last comment.

    I read your “World Full of Gods,” which I copied various passages from for my chapbook.

    Why do Monotheists consider all other Gods evil? The New Apostolic Reformation, which believes that the U.S. is blessed by God, keeps harping on the evil Gods who all seem to stem from Mesopotamia. They haven’t said anything about Satan. I am curious as to why.

  95. How very splendidly timely! I was just saying yesterday on the dreamwidth site that I had been scribbling a note or two regarding some recent rumination. Well, here’s as good a place as any to bring it up.

    It’s just this: I find after everything that’s happened in the past several years, I’m so over materialism, or taking materialism seriously in any fashion. I don’t mean to sound too dismissive when I say I find it hard, anymore, to take seriously anyone proffering a dead, bland, materialist worldview.

    I found that during the COVID period, it was crystal clear that great energies were at work, for good and ill both. It was obvious. I’m not the first to observe that some of the greatest works of this era came from spiritual individuals.

    I hate to say it but in recent weeks I detect a faint abatement in the appreciation of the spiritual. Now that the world is “going back to normal”, people are going back to sleep. As if the spiritual fireworks that lit up our world for a couple of years were a nice show, but it’s over.

    And I’m not interested in following, I don’t take it seriously, to pretend or entertain in any way, that we live in a dead, wooden world. You might as well try and convince me that the sky is green when I can clearly see that it’s blue.

    A number of weeks ago I saw a car with one of those “Darwin” fish on it, and I said to myself, “I’m sorry, are you from the past? Those things were in vogue in like 2005.” Of course not everyone has to share my exact worldview but the obnoxious Dawkins-style stuff is so passé.

    “Less spiritually constipated” might be the finest turn-of-phrase I’ve seen on this website.

    As for dowsing – well, yes. It’s funny what you hear when you move to the country. When we bought this farmhouse, we had a home inspector come out. Intelligent, professional guy. But (to make a long story short) we couldn’t locate the well line, and we were taken aback when he unabashedly, with complete straight face, recommended dowsing to find it.

    Or, as another example, just the other week I had to go ask a neighbour for a favour, which (to make a long story short) had to do with butchering our pigs. We had a discussion about it, nothing unusual, and then – again, complete straight face – my neighbour says:

    “If you’re gonna slaughter those pigs, though, you better check the phase of the moon. They say it makes a difference to the quality of the meat, and it really does. I don’t know why, but it really does.”

    I take this stuff seriously nowadays.

    @Chris Smith #11 – I very whole-heartedly recommend not caring what people think and becoming a full-fledged eccentric. If nothing else, it’s way more fun!

    @Raymond #15 – that’s very interesting. I remember being at an orientation for something once, and – to make a long story short! – they were describing one of their programs, which the speaker introduced, with some scorn in her voice, as “AA but without the God stuff”. I wonder how well it worked.

  96. Blue Sun #86: “But a sex slavery market for pre-pubescent children? It’s incomprehensible to me. Not even the Soviets, Nazis, or CCP did this kind of stuff. (As far as I know.) This appears to be a new type of evil in the world.”

    Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about any of this; child abuse is a horrible human custom, and a lot of people have made money from it. One book that documents this extensively is “The History of Childhood” by Lloyd de Mause. Quote: “The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes, the lower the level of child care, and the more likely children are to be killed, abandoned, beaten, terrorized, and sexually abused.”

    I have no particular “faith in humanity,” but I do recognize that there are wonderful people in the world as well as horrid people (otherwise, I don’t think we’d have survived as a species), and I’m privileged to know a lot of the good ones.

  97. The End of the Age of Reason is interesting. But I don’t understand what book this subject is supposed to be in.

  98. There is no doubt that reality and life are far greater and wider than our senses and cognition can grasp. Personally, I’ve had too many experiences of what is called the supernatural not to be utterly convinced of this. And like others here, I am not one to be browbeaten by a crass materialist culture (one that does not even know how to honor and respect *matter* itself) into believing that my experiences are delirious inventions of my mind. When one has such experiences, one knows full well that they are not “imagined.” There’s a big difference between an imagined experience and a real one. What’s more, I find the point of view of crass materialism—that offhandedly dismisses the supernatural—to be superficial, cowardly, and above all unreasonable. To oppose “reason” to the “supernatural” is not a real contrast. Why? Because it is eminently reasonable to expect that there is far more in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in our philosophies—is it not? The undeniable existence of the supernatural, however, begs more serious questions. Namely, is the supernatural, in some profoundly consequential manner, mucking around in human and Earth history? To what extent are we, or are we not, in its grips? That “inorganic life” exists beyond the veil of our earthly life, and that every once in a while (and rather unpredictably at that) makes a cameo appearance, is a certainty. But how do we come into knowledge, and *can* we come into knowledge, of what is more largely at play?

  99. Really enjoyed this piece. Thanks for writing it!

    I just have an interesting recent experience to share, if you’ll allow it. Very recent actually. My 15 y.o. daughter landed her first job yesterday, at a local coffee/beignet shop within walking distance of our house. I’m so proud of her, she’s always been a go-getter, and I seriously doubt she’ll ever NOT have a job again. So it was kind of a big moment for all of us. And I was on sort of an emotional high all afternoon because of it.

    But I woke up in the middle of the night last night and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I began my usual breathing exercises that I use in such situations: 6 seconds in, 24 seconds out, two breath cycles per minute. After about 10-15 minutes of that I pushed it to 30 second exhales, and started noticing the “wallpaper” in my mind gaining more color, shape, and texture. ~45 minutes later I woke up from a “dream” where I was in a large freight elevator alone, and it started falling. So fast in fact that I was weightless and suspended in the air inside the lift. But instead of it coming to a stop at the bottom – you know, where you feel heavier than normal – I felt my etheric body gently slipping back into the material one.

    It was really quite overwhelming, probably the most magical sensation I’ve ever had. And I think if I hadn’t had some occult training, it might have really freaked me out. But I knew what was going on, and was able to stabilize my heart rate and breath within a couple of minutes.

    I’ve projected etherically before, a couple of times that I’m aware of, but this was the first time I’ve ever been (even semi-)conscious of the re-entry. Absolutely astounding, I must say.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me share!
    Please, carry on!

  100. Back in 2014 I was working as a youth pastor. It was my 5th day on the job and the head pastor was out of town. Someone called the church saying they needed an exorcism. They ware experiencing all the standard features of the hagging phenomenon. Something was attacking him in the middle of the night. He could not breath nor move while this was happening. The creature looked like a shadowy old women. At the time I had no idea what to do other than pray over the house and the person involved. This provided temporary relief but 6 months after I left that church the person passed away in the middle of the night. I did not find out what was going on until I read your book on monsters. If I had to go back and do it all over again I would get a whole team of people laying on hands and praying against this particular malign manifestation, but at the time every seminary professor I asked for help on these kinds of matters gave me a deer in head lights look. Honestly it felt like they were more uncomfortable with the supernatural than most atheists. I’m happy to say though that in recent years I’ve noticed a lot of Christians have changed. Charismatic faith is slowly transforming traditional bookish religions into something more mystical and less academic.

  101. @kiwigaz,
    I think I’m seeing some of the same stuff in BC Canada. The local First Nations are a lot less unified than the Maori, so maybe its less effective and obvious? Lower percentage of the total population, too.

    But whenever I think stuff like that I start second-guessing my own reactions because I know I was exposed to a fair bit of racist stuff growing up, much like most people here, and how much of that have I accidentally internalized? And how much is just my own anxiety acting up like it does about a lot of stuff? How much of what I’m seeing around me is actually real, and how do I say a word that is actually helpful and won’t be misunderstood?

  102. Some thoughts on The Satanic Temple’s “activism.”

    Depending on whom you ask, somewhere between a significant plurality and a slight majority of self-identified American Catholics are pro-choice. Many would never get an abortion themselves, but they are willing to vote for pro-choice candidates.

    At one protest, a TST woman dressed as the Virgin Mary “aborted Jesus” with a coat hanger. TST has also purchased billboards proclaiming “Abortion is a Satanic Sacrament.”

    These stunts are aimed at getting backpats and donations from people who were already pro-choice. They’re also intended to annoy the “Christofascist Taliban,” by which they mean pretty much everybody who identifies as Christian. But what did they really accomplish?

    There are 70 million Catholics in America. If actions like this radicalize 0.01% of Catholics, you have 7,000 formerly lukewarm Catholics who are now single-issue pro-life voters who will donate to pro-life orgs and protest outside clinics. And for every radicalized Catholic, you have many more who are rethinking their position on abortion and who are less likely to feel supportive of groups like Catholics for Choice. These people may not protest outside their clinics, but they are going to be significantly less publicly supportive of abortion rights than they were previously.

    The whole point of a political stunt should be to galvanize your side and make the other side do bad. The TST’s pro-choice campaign has done the exact opposite.

    I know this is a hot-button issue, and I don’t want to start a shalestorm. But if I were a pro-life activist, I’d be sending TST money and encouraging them to keep up the good work on my behalf.

  103. The Other Owen says

    “2. As far as Science(tm) fixing public health. It seems some scientist actually tracked back what caused what and it was improved sanitation and infrastructure that was mostly responsible for the rise in health, not the drugs or the shots. And the improvements happened before anyone knew there was a link between the two. And as sanitation and infrastructure decline, well, you figure it out. Cleanliness is next to…”

    It also implies that society took the wrong approach to the Covid 19 pandemic by forcing everybody to lock themselves down and get the vaccines:

  104. Alvin @ 63, the “four causes” comes from Aristotle. The Angelic Doctor borrowed freely from The Philosopher. It is a useful tool of analysis, but, as we all know, the map is not the territory.

  105. @JMG
    Speaking of these supernatural experiences, I have one in particular that invaded deeply into my family’s life. When I was 11, we moved from a small, farming community to the nearby town of New Castle Indiana. My (single) Mom had gotten her first professional job and met the man whom I now consider my Dad. They found an old, surprisingly very affordable, and, well-taken-care-of home with an odd feature: half the basement had an additional poorly formed cement retaining wall. The realtor claimed it was due to failing cinder blocks and was put in by the previous owners. I’m not sure exactly when my parents found out about the real reason but it was certainly after several disconcerting things started happening. First, although there were bathtubs in two bathrooms, the unchanged portion of the basement had the only shower. That section of the basement, and in particular, the shower (and washer and dryer), effused such extreme dread that not one of us would go down there after dark. Second, every night after the house quieted down, I could hear the staircase to the second floor, which was just outside my bedroom, creaking like someone was ascending them. Third, I inconsistently felt dread in my tiny little bedroom closet.

    My parents found out a little over a year later why the house was so cheap when, out of the blue, a historian from Ball State University came to visit. It was the home where 9 year old Catherine Winters lived when she went missing on March 20, 1913. Funny coincidence – my Mom recognized the woman because they shared graduate student offices in the same building! Back to the story… the historian explained many of the facts related to the story and why the basement had the retaining wall: the police had excavated along the walls looking for remains when they found one of Catherine’s ribbons with blood on it in a spot that looked like it was dug out. It was a false lead. At this time, I was 13 and things started escalating from feelings into physical manifestations, nightmares, and for me, suicidal ideation. My Mom would wake from dreams and see Catherine hovering over her. She would also see blood flowing out of the shower in the basement. Things also started going missing and/or found moved especially in the upstairs bedrooms. My brother (I’m the oldest of 3) began sleep walking. The shower was so terrible to be around that my father put in a half bath with a shower, sink, and toilet on the first floor room that was originally Dr. Winter’s study. All of this continued for another 5 years. Only weeks away from my moving away to college, my Mom had apparitions of Catherine, her stepmom, and the one-armed railroad boarder acting out Catherine’s final moments. Catherine had come home early, heard noise in her parent’s bedroom and went in. The boarder yelled at her to get out, went over screaming at her not to say anything when Catherine mumbled something, and he backhanded her. Catherine bounced off the wall and fell down the stairs. At this point, my Mom went to the basement where she saw the boarder cutting up Catherine’s body and washing her blood down the drain where the shower stood. Almost immediately, the hauntings stopped. As for my suicidal thoughts and near follow through, we found out later that the second owner employed a gardener/handyman during the Great Depression and hanged himself in my closet. It was the same room the murderer lived in.

    I’ve come to think that all of these things started because a parasitic spirit was attracted to that tragic psychic energy, attached itself to me when I was going through the most difficult years of my puberty, and used that amplified chaos to feed itself. I have a B.S. in Physics and there is no way that science can even begin to explain what happened, and quite possibly is still happening, to my family.

  106. @Phutatorius: Got it! I do detect a wry sense of humor from many of your comments, and appreciate your contributions to the discussion here.

    For my part the Satanic Panic has become something of a hobby horse, so I apologize for soap boxing on the back of your comments.

    I’ve read my fair share of stuff I didn’t agree with. Some David Icke books for instance…

    That is an interesting synchronicity. And I agree the abyss does stare back…

    I’m reminded of something Robert Anton Wilson wrote about if you take a walk and look for quarters on the ground you’ll be more likely to find quarters on the ground if you weren’t looking.

    Hope the rest of your Thurs. is good.

  107. Siliconguy @ 66 & 71, and Other Owen @ 90. When living conditions are horrible, rats and fleas do proliferate. I think maybe it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain status by the early 14thC, so many of the upper ranks neglected their duties to their vassals. The closing of convents during the Reformation deprived the poorest persons of healthcare for, according to one estimate, at least 200 years in England.

    I think that the strict Protestant sects which came into being in the late16th and early 17th centuries arose in part as reaction to the disorderly and unclean in every sense lives of both upper and lower classes. People discovered that if they were industrious, frugal, clean, and careful in their ways, they could both prosper, hope to own a bit of property, and maintain health, including keeping their children alive. I don’t recall the exact figures, but JS Bach famously was father of something like 20 children most of whom did live to adulthood or so I recall.

  108. I became a believer in ghosts after we owned and lived in a 200 year old New England farmhouse for 9 years. There was just no other explanation for some of the things that went on in that house. I have a friend who finds my ghost stories to be ridiculous and good naturedly chides me with “Peter, there is no such thing as ghosts”! Some other people though who hear my stories also believe including one who saw a ghost in her Revolutionary War era barn one evening.

  109. JMG 7/20/23

    Yavanna #98:
    I think what makes it seem “new” is the extent of it and the organized nature of it.

    If this really is as big as they’re implying— If it really is the fastest growing area of organized crime, and America is the biggest market— then that means we already know people who are partaking in this. Then the odds are that some people in the C-suites of Fortune 500 companies are involved. Some of us reading this may unknowingly interact with some of them (if we still mingle with the PMC). I’m struggling to comprehend this.

    Organized nature-
    I can “understand” how people could come to abuse children in their care, or priests take advantage of the altar boys who are at hand. I can rationalize that as a rare exception. But an organized global trade? I can’t comprehend it.

    I guess these are the first stirrings of the return of a global slave trade, which some in the peak oil scene predicted years ago. It’s just harder for me to accept it when it’s no longer just an abstraction being discussed in the comments section. I guess I’d rather live in a state of naivete, thinking this could never happen in America.

  110. AliceEm, be very careful. More often than not such federal programs have strings attached that benefit big corporations at the expense of small businesses. That said, wizardry is probably your best bet there, too!

    Puzzled Kimberly, there’s a complex history behind that. That kind of Buddhism became fashionable in the 1960s among what we may as well call the Atheist Lite set — people who wanted some simulacrum of spirituality in their lives but didn’t want to go to the trouble of believing in a god. If you ever want a sample of it in its original form, Robert Sohl’s 1970 book The Gospel According to Zen is exhibit #1: a spiritually vacuous mix of lightweight existentialism larded with chunks of Zen Buddhism and Thomas Merton taken out of context and whipped up into a nice bland frothy commercial product. If spirituality were coffee, this book would be the drink the baristas call a “Why Bother” — a single short decaf cappucino with artificial sweetener and nonfat milk. Of course that kind of Buddhism became very popular among the cubicle set, and remains so to this day, precisely because it requires them to believe nothing that would contradict the worldview assigned them by their lords and masters.

    Siliconguy, I read Ziegler’s book when I was in junior high. It’s not bad as a chronicle of the black death itself, but its sense of the broader context of history is still very much imprisoned by what’s called “Whig history” — the notion that everything in the past must be interpreted as a stepping stone on the way to us. Fifty years of further study of the origins of the scientific revolution — a topic still thickly swaddled in mythology when Ziegler wrote — has shredded that narrative and shown that things were much, much more complex.

    Jill, that’s horrible even by Old Hag standards! My condolences. As for Patanjali, you might be interested to know that one of the Rosicrucian orders active in 1920s America used to recommend William Quan Judge’s translation of Patanjali to all members as a basic text on meditation. It really is a first-rate book.

    Benn, exactly. Exactly.

    Oskari, sleep paralysis has several causes. One of them is whatever’s behind the Old Hag experience. As for seeing auras, W.E. Butler’s classic volume How to Read the Aura, Practice Psychometry, Telepathy and Clairvoyance is my go-to here; it’s taught that skill to a great many people.

    Chuaquin, not even close. There have been totalitarian states since the invention of the first ideology, which was long before the dawn of history. Plato’s political writings have long been influential as inspirations to totalitarians, but he was far from the first on that particular boat.

    Christophe, good. It will probably come as no surprise that we’ll be talking about the unicorn, the phoenix, and the dragon again in upcoming posts. You can read the original version here:

    Aldarion, that’s an interesting question. In Greece and republican Rome a sustained effort seems to have been made to prevent a narrow managerial caste from rising, but that was in large part because the free male adult population was small enough that it was the managerial caste; the sophistic education of the Greek free class and the rhetorical education of their Roman equivalent had the same bureaucratizing effect as the Confucian education of classical China, except that in Greece and republican Rome everybody was expected to be a part-time bureaucrat. But it’s an interesting variation, and had some real advantages (as well as some serious downsides).

    CC, yes, I’m quite aware of this; my Japanese-American stepfamily are Shingon Buddhists, which admittedly is the other end of the tradition from the Pali canon, and I’ve read quite a bit of Buddhist scripture. My comment stands, and in fact your comment reinforces it: however important the existence of other categories of beings may be in other contexts, for the path of salvation through the Dharma, they are irrelevant. (That last word, please note, does not mean “nonexistent.”) If Western Buddhists become more open to the other forms of existence, that would be a good thing; as noted in an earlier comment, there are a lot of Buddhist Lite practitioners in the US whose Buddhism is very, very shallow.

    Chris, I’ll consider it. It’s a harsh topic.

    Blue Sun, I’m sorry to say your faith in humanity is going to take a hit. Pedophilia, disgusting as it is, has been a known taste in many other cultures. What fascinates me is that so many people in the privileged end of the US media are dumping on Sound of Freedom — it’s as though they actually want to make yet another conspiracy theory seem plausible.

    Nell, that makes a lot of sense. It baffles me that so many supposedly Christian churches have stopped teaching and practicing, you know, Christianity — and then they moan about how nobody wants to listen to them babble on about self-esteem or whatever.

    Yiğit, I’ll consider that for a future post.

    Other Owen, of course not! “Do as I say, not as I do” is practically a Satanic commandment.

    Justin, it would make a good rap piece. Seriously!

    Neptunesdolphins, I’ve been to South Mountain, and though I didn’t see mastodons there it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if I had. That’s one of the few places where the snallygaster (that’s how they spell it in western Maryland; it’s snolligoster elsewhere, from German schneller Geist, “fast-moving ghost”) has been seen, not merely talked about. This is more or less what it looked like:

    I’m glad to hear that the Pagans are talking about local flora and fauna. As for the NAR obsessing about Mesopotamian gods and ignoring Satan, hmm! That sounds as though they’re about to start worshiping Asherah and Baal; first you believe in them, then you revere them…

    Bofur, that’s a very good sign, that your neighbor was willing to talk to you about the phases of the Moon. That means he’s decided that you’re a sensible person, not just one of those stuck-up eddicated sorts who think they know everything. Ask him some questions about what else to do by the Moon sometime, and you may learn quite a bit.

    Roman, you’ll have to wait until it’s published!

    Eileen, those are important questions. Occultism is about finding the answers. It’s not the only way, but it is a way.

    Grover, congrats. You may begin to learn how to do it at will — at which point various prospects open up.

    Stephen, once upon a time Christian churches had much more effective ways to deal with such things. You might look into that.

    Kenaz, well, Goethe described Mephistopheles as “Part of that force that always wills the evil and always produces the good”…

    Dale, how horrifying. Back in the day that house would have been torn down and the space purified with rituals to disperse the negative energies.

  111. JMG,

    Hmm, the Old Hag-induced “paralysis” certainly sounds similar to the momentary paralysis often reported by the so-called UFO abductees. I realize the latter are likely being played with post modern-style by the Fae and that the Old Hag manifestations might be of a different order all together, but by what mechanism would you imagine this paralysis occurs? An induced out-of-body semi-trance experience?


  112. First, I find your sociopolitical analysis of the role of magic to be rational and naturalistic. It is precisely by such syntheses of wonder and reason that magic survives science, religiosity and faith. For as Emily Dickinson wrote:

    Best Witchcraft is Geometry
    To the magician’s mind;
    His ordinary acts are feats
    To thinking of mankind.

    The Night Hag has another, more naturalistic, name: sleep paralysis. This attacks between sleep and waking. Its natural function is to prevent sleepwalking, but in sleep paralysis it overcorrects. It has known neural correlates.

    When the sleeper half-wakes to sleep paralysis, then what happens depends on the half-waker’s self-knowledge. Half-wakers who do not know about sleep paralysis might panic, and then exhaust themselves in a fight against themselves. If they do know about sleep paralysis, then in that lucid state between dreaming and waking, they get a choice: return to sleep, or wake all the way up. Both effortless, because not self-resisted.

    Choosing between dreaming and waking is an act of magic, by Fortune’s definition, for it is control of states of consciousness by an act of will. But it is not supernatural, nor immaterial, unless all free choice is.

    Materialism is silent on such matters. You may call this a limit; I call it self-protection. The 20th century produced three self-limiting theories: quantum uncertainty, Goedelian undecidability, and classical chaos. These, too, have been called limits of reason; I call them self-protection.

  113. I can give half-proof of my naturalistic explanation, from personal experience. I distinctly remember several incidents of half-waking to sleep paralysis, knowing what it was, and choosing to wake up. I suspect that I have sometimes chosen to return to sleep, but if so then I do not remember, for sleep erases memory.

  114. @neptunesdolphins (#94) on pterosaur sightings:

    When one of two people sees a pterosaur and the other does not, I wonder whether sometimes it’s more than just being strongly trained not to see.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if two identical cameras, each trained on the very same patch of sky where a pterosaur would appear, gave different results: the film in one camera showed the pterosaus, while the film in the other showed only an empty sky.

    Such things, when they manifest, seem often only to “semi-exist” in our world of matter and energy, time and space. Exist / not exist can be (IMHO) a false binary.

  115. Chapter 17 of The Black Death by Philip Ziegler is really hard to summarize.

    The title is The Effects [of the Black Death] on the Church and Man’s Mind. The gist of the chapter is that the previous relationship between the Church and the people had been upset. Medieval man felt the Church had let him down. Given that the plague was the work of God, the Church should have given everyone a heads up that it was coming. After the people were dying in droves then the Church says, “Oh yeah, this is because you are all wicked.”

    The problem with that was that those priests who were tending the sick were also dying, in many areas in greater proportions than the people. But those priests who ran away had a better chance of surviving. And some who stayed demanded a pay raise. Deceased priests were often replaced with unqualified men, or at least those who not have been considered qualified before the plague. This resulted in a rise in status of the mendicant orders, which annoyed the regular parish priests who applied to Pope Clement VI to shut down the competition. He was not amused, “And if their teaching be stopped about what can you preach to the people? If on humility, you yourselves are the proudest of the world, arrogant and given to pomp. If on poverty, you are the most grasping and most covetous. If on chastity, but we will remain silent on this, for God knoweth what each man does and how many of you satisfy your lusts.”

    The Pope was just a bit peeved.

    But afterward the nobility and moneyed classes donated more to the Church, as “it was the dyke which held back the flood of anarchic insurrection”, this being caused by the sudden change from a labor surplus to a labor shortage. The wealth pouring into the Church created a second front of resentment, including those religious orders who believed that poverty was essential to understanding Christ.

    So the Black Death created a state of mind where long-held doctrines could be more easily doubted. Psychological barriers were breached along with the changes in the economy (that was chapter 15). A century and a half later we have Martin Luther and Copernicus.

    The other book will take awhile. The Dawn of Modern Science is heavy sledding, the author is over fond of long footnotes.

  116. JMG,
    Alas. I will try to refocus my mind on the good things of this universe, to the extent that I can. I should count myself lucky I have never directly encountered evil of this sort.

  117. nellperkins #87:
    I always thought the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church were the same thing, but I was never quite sure. Thank you for clarifying there is a difference! I have to look up ACNA now. My limited experience with the Episcopal churches I have visited matches yours.

  118. Eileen Crist (#101) wrote, “There’s a big difference between an imagined experience and a real one.”

    Indeed there is, especially in the sort of experiences we are discussing here. Once you’ve had each kind, you can never mistake one for the other. The most significant such experience I ever had, when I was about 13 years old, struck me as far more real than even the sidewalk I was standing on or any other part of the mundane world around me. No feat of imagination I have ever done was more than about half as real as then mundane world around me, and far less real than my 13-year old experience. It’s trivially easy to distinguish such an experience from the products of imagination.

  119. Before I read any further, I wanted to ask – in case it’s worth clarifying/correcting – if the second of your books listed should be titled “Secret of…” or “Secrets of…” (cover photo shows the latter, but I noticed you gravitated toward the former in your description). Still time to correct with the publisher if needed?

  120. @Kenaz Filan, #104
    That’s standard procedure for the satanists. I do not think the give a rodent’s derriere about the women’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but even if they did, the potential for drama was too much a temptation. It was a great practical joke and a humiliation for their designated frienemies, so ahead they went with the trolling.

    > But if I were a pro-life activist, I’d be sending TST money and encouraging them to keep up the good work on my behalf.

    Nope, bad idea. They would still go and troll the Christians, mind you… but then they’d find a way to double-cross you, galvanize another lukewarm demography into opposing your shady tactics, and end up adding all heat and no light to the whole issue. The winning strategy is not to play the game.

  121. JMG – Thank you for yet another thought provoking essay. I’m looking forward to reading the comments when I have some spare time.

    Just wondering – how do you spot and deal with fakes (people who have claimed to have had certain metaphysical experiences, but maybe are just playing a game of ‘gotcha’)?

    Also, how can people deal with overactive imaginations (yes, that was simply an odd reflection, not a ghost; that bright light in the night sky is Venus, not an ‘spy-in-the-sky’ satellite; etc.)? And yes, I’ve had some metaphysical experiences, ones that I don’t understand until later (one example – I had a nightmare of smoking/toppling high rise buildings a few days before the twin towers were destroyed on 9/11/2001. Before the event, I told someone about this dream, simply thinking it was merely scary – she felt it was a premonition.)

    While I haven’t heard anything for some years, ‘other’ realities have occasionally been a theme in pop music. Two oldies come to mind:
    1) ‘Phantom 309’ – a song about a hitchhiker picked up by a ghostly truck driver.
    2) ‘Laurie (Strange Things Happen)’ – a teen-age tearjerker about a young man who escorts a young lady home from dance & later finds the sweater she borrowed laying on top of her grave.

    From what I can tell, ‘Reason’ is simply another tool – a very useful tool in certain applications. But for others, not so much.

  122. JMG,

    I admit that I’m all a-twitter at this point. It’s the 3rd time I know of for sure, but this time was radically different. Extremely powerful…and humbling at the same time.

    Controlling it, as much as I’m able to do so, is at the top of my list of things to do.

  123. Hi John Michael,

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. Things are perhaps worse than I feared. Fair enough, the old timers used to say something about: Letting sleeping dogs lie. Seems prudent in this case, don’t you reckon?



  124. Will M, I have no idea. The psychophysiological mechanisms of temporary paralysis are not in my field of expertise.

    Paradoctor, that’s a classic bit of reductionism, redefining the Old Hag experience as sleep paralysis — as usual, it explains everything except what actually matters. Why should so many people who suffer from “sleep paralysis,” whether or not they’ve ever heard of the Old Hag phenomenon, get the bizarre, archaic imagery of attack by a hostile spirit? That’s the thing that has to be explained — and the hypothesis that what looks and acts like a spirit may, in fact, be a spirit is the most parsimonious option.

    Siliconguy, a fine example of Whig history. This is one place where more recent research is worth studying.

    Blue Sun, I know. Sorry.

    Temporaryreality, thanks for catching this.

    PatriciaT, I’ve yet to see a faker who could resist the temptation to engage in one-upsmanship. Get a conversation going among people who’ve had strange experiences, and it’s rarely hard to figure out who’s trying to get attention and who’s just describing what happened. As for overactive imaginations, that takes practice, and reading accounts of other people’s experiences.

    Grover, glad to hear it.

    Chris, the question is whether those sleeping dogs wake up all by themselves.

  125. a spiritually vacuous mix of lightweight existentialism larded with chunks of Zen Buddhism and Thomas Merton taken out of context and whipped up into a nice bland frothy commercial product

    This has been my experience with Buddhism too.

    A friend just asked me to read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, therapist and Buddhist. Though she has some insights on dealing with powerful emotions, she hammers the idea that the self is an illusion. My thoughts were, aren’t you undercutting your own thesis, by rejecting the idea of the self? Why work so hard to have compassion for something that doesn’t exist? And, why did you put your name on the cover, if you are so anxious to convince me that you don’t exist?

    Way of the Peaceful Warrior, meanwhile, struck me as profoundly worthless.

    My sense is that I have no idea what Buddhism is in Asia, but in America it’s atheism with a side of soy sauce.

  126. JMG and Dale Asberry,

    Is it possible the universities were always this way? I once heard a story, but I don’t know if it is true, that Isaac Newton would complain about his professors. He said that they were fuddy-duddy Scholastics who were obsessed with meaningless, logical hair splitting. I don’t know if they were spiritual, but they didn’t come across that way.

    I have always respected the earliest scientists like Newton, Fludd and others for their spiritual views along with Natural Philosophy.


    I think that this idea of science succeeding because religion failed doesn’t cover the full history of science. Roger Bacon was a strong proponent of empiricism and the scientific method, and he lived a hundred years before the first plague. He taught Aristotle and would say that God created a universe that we could investigate using reason, as the universe was rational by nature.

    This, to me, is an important root in the many roots that gave rise to the Scientific Revolution. But I don’t think modern scientists want to give any credit to a Franciscan Friar.

  127. JMG,
    Yes I have noticed/thought about the notion that as human population rises the animal population has dropped in measure with respect to incarnation of soul. Interesting to think about – a great number of these are on their first time through as a human.

    Anyway wanted to ask as well thoughts on the rise of transgender and gender dysmorphia. Many people report the subjective feeling of having the wrong physical sex. Could this be the aftermath of the demolition of gender roles – the gender dysmorphia of now is caused by the rebirth of souls who left their last lives with unfinished business with respect to traditional sexes. Think of a woman who enjoyed the sexual liberation and entry into the workforce that died without having children reborn as a man in the next life feels an urge go back to woman.

    . cheers!

  128. re: Old Hag

    You know, the observations are reproducible. Usually most scientists will dismiss anything that can’t be reproduced. You can’t reproduce it in a lab, I guess. But isn’t that just being lazy?

    It still begs the question – if it’s reproducible, it can be analyzed and studied. Why isn’t it?

  129. JMG, there’s a lot of things that our so-called elites put their hands to that they messed up most heinously, that a minimal application of common-sense could have forestalled.

    “Globalism’, that means by which western plutocracy exploited third-world workers, was farcically bone-headed in its conception and calamitous in its effects to countries such as the US, but not only to the US.

    ‘Woke-ism’, isn’t just one thing, but in its various iterations is similarly blind to practical reality. For instance, this business about gender affirmation or gender affirming care is puzzling. I’ve heard accounts from a few sources, people that tried to change their gender by means of surgery and drugs, that find themselves shut out of the dating world.

    For example, one male that transitioned to female is attracted to men, but since the transition can’t find a partner. Seems that gay men are no longer sexually attracted since they want a male body and not a body that now bears female characteristics. I’ve heard a similar complaint from a female that transitioned to male who is attracted to women. Unfortunately, gay women are no longer attracted because of the newly acquired gravelly voice and beard ie male characteristics that are not the typical gay woman’s sexual cup of tea.

    You’d think that such practical considerations would be front and center before the transition and not come as a surprise when it’s too late.

    Reality never stopped great intellectuals of the age from enacting their pet schemes it appears.

    As for those same folks that insist they’re all about ‘facts and evidence’ and admonish us to ‘follow the science’ should maybe take their own advice. What is science after all but asking a simple question; do you see what I see? Alternatively, did you see what I saw?

    I’m not a credentialled philosopher but when every second person says that they saw or heard something unusual, that doesn’t fit into the usual workaday world of sight and sound, it seems to me to be a great abundance of actual fact and evidence, especially when the testimonial evidence overlaps.

    You can call such things what you like, supernatural, mystical, occult or whatever, but the label seems to me irrelevant. This is stuff that should not be dismissed, this is a facet of reality that needs some serious exploration, and it doesn’t do for some condescending professors to condescendingly tell us that such phenomena are ‘explainable’ without condescending to actually investigate and actually explain.

    If our elites purport to be all about reality, then they should get to it.

  130. As far as your observation about the reaction of the privileged end of the US media, would it be exaggerating for me to say that being opposed to child rape now makes one a right-wing “Q-Anon” conspiracy theorist?

    Truly bizarre. I mean, this whole thing is so strange it made me wonder if there isn’t some magical component to it.

  131. Puzzled says:
    #70 July 19, 2023 at 11:10 pm
    “I have never encountered a more materialistic, atheistic set than my local Midwestern Buddhists. It’s so weird… What could have possibly happened to them to make them that way?”

    If you happen to be a “book Buddhist,” you will have had no encounters with spiritual forces. At some point in the 1970’s, certain forms of Buddhism became favored by the PMC because on paper Buddhism is highly rational, has no truck with “superstition,” and basically caters to the prejudices of the so-called “rational man.” Materialism is no problem. Delusions of enlightenment easily cultivated. I’ve encountered a ton of such people in the nearly 50 years I’ve been around that scene (among others, never fear). Usually White middle class mainline protestant or Reform/Conservative Jewish backgrounds. They would be horrified at the “folk” Buddhism they might encounter in Nepal or other parts of Asia, because…spirits. Hanging out with actual Asian teachers for very long is damaging to the ego, so they don’t do it. Pretending to be Buddhists in Antarctica sounds like a perfect location for them. I even know a few Midwestern Buddhists and Buddhist wannabes. Hardheaded doesn’t even begin to describe ’em.

  132. ‘Scientific’ Materialism is the ultimate example of replacing concrete experience with abstraction. It mistakes the map for the territory. A material world outside of consciousness is an abstract model meant to describe reality, not an observable fact. This is why the hard problem of consciousness exists, you can’t reduce consciousness to an abstract model created within consciousness itself. Contrary to popular belief, materialism is not even scientific either, science could continue to work properly even with a different metaphysics (or with none at all.)

    The uncomfortable thing is that reality doesn’t care about our abstractions or expectations. It’ll do whatever it wants. And sometimes those things are spooky.

  133. Book reports, my favorite thing. (Not)

    Dawn of Modern Science by Thomas GoldStein.

    The conventional date for the dawn of modern science is 1543. That was the year Copernicus published his book on the heliocentric solar system. The original notion had been in his mind nearly 30 years previously, but now it had the math to back it up.

    The other event that year was Vesalius published The Structure of the Human Body. That upended the entire previous system of anatomy.

    However, those two events did not occur in isolation. The ground work for them was laid out at the School of Chartres. {note, the cathedral at Chartres had an amazing history of burning down. I have to wonder if it’s the inspiration for Monty Python.} William of Conches somewhere around 1130 to 1140, with friends, reintroduced secular works both from Greece and Rome, but also from the Arabic world. Studies of nature were put into the curriculum. Since the fall of the western Roman Empire the Church had turned to otherworldly concerns, mainly preparing the should for the afterlife and considered Nature as a passive system, devoid of any intrinsic abilities of its own. That abruptly changed. Nature was recognized as its own system which possessed its own creative powers that followed their own laws and patterns. Investigation of these patterns was now judged to be worthy of independent study.

    The intent of natural philosophy was that the worlds of ideas and of nature were the same. They existed together. Nature made sense in its own right according to its own laws. This of course set off a counter-reaction among the traditionalists. This continued even when the cathedral burned down again in 1194. The backlash grew until the University of Paris banned the scientific works of Aristotle. By 1270 radical students at Paris had discovered the anti-clerical writings of Averroes and were agitating for a ‘unity of the mind’ causing quite a disturbance.

    Thomas Aquinas was sent to Paris to smooth things over and it did not go well. He was deemed not conservative enough and left Paris under a cloud. A few years later Albertus Magnus had to wade into the fray and try to salvage Aquinas’ reputation. It could have been worse, some followers of Averroes were burned at the stake, and another was quietly assassinated.

    But there was a counter-counter revolution and the University of Toulouse in 1229 was advertising “the teachings of books on natural science that have been banned in Paris.”

    This brings us up to chapter 5 which covers ground already covered by JMG, including Nicholas Flamel. It covers the overlap for a time of scholastics, mystics, and alchemists. There are also sections on art and map-making and the development of perspective drawing that turned out to be rather important.

    The point for my argument is we are up to 1300 or so. Natural science is reestablished, Then in 1315 a multiyear famine begins as the Medieval Warm period come to a halt, in 1347/48 the Black Death arrives. It comes through again in 1362, and there is a minor outbreak in 1374. The Church (and magic in general) has failed to deal with it. The undercurrents for a new way of thinking about how the material world works, and how to find out what its rules and properties might be is already in place.

    And what happens? By the 1440’s Henry the Navigator is running a new type of ship ever further south. Toscanelli is generating maps and passing around better maps aided by the changes in perspective drawing. Leonardo Da Vinci arrives on scene, and Copernicus gets his ideas from a pile of new astronomy (much of it from the Arabs.) The Church’s ideas of how the natural world works are shown to be wrong. Martin Luther tells off the Pope and manages to not get killed. And as they say, we’re off. Progress occurs, rather slowly at first but it feeds back on itself.

    The question now is what next? The material world has strict limits. How much smaller can semiconductors get before diffusion disables the transistors in a too short period of time? I didn’t think they would make it this far. There are a bunch of other examples like that, but this post is long enough.

  134. Hi John,

    I figured from the start that the latest hullabaloo concerning UFO’s was just another disinformation campaign by US military intelligence, like the ones we’ve seen before (including the QAnon hoax). Probably the Navy testing some secret new technology or some such thing. But I wonder too if it might be an attempt by the Deep State to distract attention away from the growing problems both here and abroad.

  135. I have experienced the feeling of being held down by a malevolent influence ever since I was a kid. There’s even a pseudo-scientific name for it I’m too lazy to look up right now. I once read a purportedly scientific explanation of the phenomenon that sounded like complete BS….

  136. CR Patiño #122: My “give money to the TST for their pro-life work” comment was tongue in cheek. It’s rather like the old joke about paying the Italian Army to fight for the other side.

    Other than that, I agree with your comment entirely. The TST (like most self-proclaimed Satanists) is more concerned with “look at me look at me” stunts than with actually accomplishing anything. They want to be shocking and edgy because it gets them attention. It’s the equivalent of a 4-year-old who learns a dirty word and repeats it endlessly because it makes Mommy and Daddy hop up and down and equally as productive.

  137. Cliff, I won’t argue at all. Authentic Buddhism is a robust, complex, richly mythical as well as profoundly philosophical faith — I’ve had the very great advantage of interacting with it in one of its Japanese forms, and found that to be the case — but so far, at least, most American versions of it seem to be twaddle for the privileged.

    Jon, university students have been criticizing university professors for that since the invention of the university back in the Middle Ages.

    Jstn, that may well be part of it, but I think there’s another factor. Given the huge number of human bodies to fill, most souls have very little time between lives to process their experiences, and may go back into incarnation while they still have fairly vivid memories of their previous bodies. If those happen to have been of the other sex — as very often happens — dysphoria is one possible outcome.

    Other Owen, I’m sure you know perfectly well why it’s not being studied. Scientists these days will run a mile in tight shoes to avoid studying something that might upset the dogmas of their field.

    Smith, keep in mind that a lot of people with gender dysphoria are fed a line of codswallop by the medical industry — “you’ll be a beautiful woman!” or what have you. No, in most cases, you’ll look like your birth sex with a bad hairdo and some secondary sexual characteristics stuck on, and you probably won’t ever realize that you don’t know how to move or act like a member of the sex you’ve been assigned — and these latter are far more influential than most people realize. Only after the drugs and surgery do they find out that the medical industry only cares about money.

    Blue Sun, I’m still scratching my head over this whole business, but it’s starting to sound that way.

    Enjoyer, exactly — and yet if you try to point out to rationalist materialists that all they have to go on is experiences reflected in their own consciousness, they’ll deny it flatly. Weird.

    Bill, it’s the same old drivel as always. Sigh…

    Siliconguy, see my previous comments about Whig history…

    Platypus, I’m sure of it. The worse conditions get, the more loudly they’ll be trumpeting flying saucers as a distraction.

    Zachary, it’s a common experience. Have you tried metaphysical means of getting rid of it?

  138. I disagree about the old hag being equivalent to sleep paralysis ! Not even the same description. It does not feel like that. First of all, you do not have to be asleep and be awoken to have the visitation. It will happen even if you have not been asleep. Secondly, it is not panic that is felt, at least not by me, it may vary. What I felt was a malign presence. And a weightiness as it was near upon me. The not being able to respond was a secondary consideration, not the primary one. I did not like it, but I dont remember being fearful, certainly not panic. And again, I recollect it coming towards me, I did not wake up not being able to move as I was half asleep, not at all. Maybe people dont like the thought of a makign presence and so are rationalizing it, that rationalization is a coverup for what is realy going on

  139. Mary Bennet, I know the four causes model is borrowed from Aristotle, but one reason why I specified Thomism rather than Aristotelianism in my original post, is that from what I’ve read over the years, I believe Aquinas and other monotheistic authors have interpreted Aristotle in their own way, to justify their arguments for a monotheistic God.

    I am not an expert, but from what I understand, Aristotle’s four causes are meant largely for epistemology, not ontology. He meant for his four causes to be answers to “why?” questions and knowing the four causes of a particular phenomenon means you have knowledge of that phenomenon for him. He also largely meant for them to apply to physical phenomenon, for example, the final cause of growing teeth for an animal is to bite and chew food. I find this model of aetia clunky but reconcilable with modern science. You can give “final causes” for subatomic particles, e.g. the final cause for an electron is to provide a negative charge.

    What I literally cannot grasp is the Thomistic presentation of the four causes, at least as presented by Feser. He starts from metaphysics to justify the four causes rather than deriving them from Physics as Aristotle himself did and throughout the whole Thomistic project, the goal really is to find the will of God directing everything from “first principles”. This is all very well if you accept his principles and premises, but I don’t, and I don’t see a reason to.

    Thomistic final causes have an element of “intention” or will that I don’t find in Aristotle himself and I don’t see the point of, unless one mainly wants to see God’s will in everything.

    Thomistic philosophy comes in a long line of monotheistic interpretations of Aristotle from the Arabic translations and commentaries. For non-monotheists, I find Scholasticism largely irrelevant.

    Anyway, this is just my take on Thomism, no offence meant, and if Christians or other monotheists see benefit from these philosophies, I’m glad for you. I just hope that polytheists have a place in the future too.

  140. I have had conversations with materialists where they straight-up denied the existence of consciousness and called qualia an illusion. At that point there’s literally no point in further discussion because they are denying the undeniable. They’re worse than flat-earthers.

    It’s really confusing how they got to that point, they’re so lost in the map that they deny the territory exists. It’s like if Thales of Miletus believed that the real sky didn’t exist and that all that was real was the numbers and geometry he created to describe it.

    The scary thing is that I used to be in that place. I used to be a materialist but managed to think myself out of it with careful reasoning. I could have easily never figured it out.

  141. Hi John Michael,

    You raise a good question. Can the possessed in the end, free themselves?

    Mate, I dunno. The odds are frankly not good. Maybe, but right now they’re tripping out big time on power and control. It’s kind of sad really because there are far better options as to how to spend ones time. My gut feeling suggests that they’ll be consumed, and that might put an end to the mischief. But the cost, it’s not worth it you know. After the consumption, things will end in a whimper, and new paths will become possible. That force will then depart the playing field.

    Hey, on the other hand, maybe this was all foreordained? I’m guessing that is how things are rolling. Certainly, the current state of play is not a new story.

    You know we had a little chance there in the early to mid 1970’s for things to go differently. For a moment there, the little sparks began turning bit by bit, heading along on a new path. It was a hard path boss, but ultimately the bright lights were stronger, and drew them back one at a time.

    Your response has left me in a contemplative mood. We’d spent most of the day hauling large rocks back up the hill. They’re very useful things you know. I wonder what folks a millennia into the future will make of our efforts?



  142. If that is not already the case, please include information on the compatibility among your books in new releases.

  143. JMG,

    Thank you for the recommendation. Regarding the study of skills needed to perceive auras, when would be an appropriate time to undertake such studies? Would it be better to wait until I am finished with “Learning Ritual Magic” or would it be something that could be worked alongside it? I am currently working with the chapter about Chesed.

  144. @Charles Obert (#5): I’m in a somewhat similar position, although I don’t think of it as “using” the Church, per se—I regard it as participating in the sacramental and spiritual life of the parish, which thereby helps align one’s will, insofar as it is possible, with that of The Divine.

    (It probably helps that the esoteric path that I am on arose in and aligns with a certain (admittedly heterodox) Catholic context, but…)


  145. JMG – interesting thank you for the response.

    I don’t know that I share your view on the hard alternating male female turn just from the perspective of observing that phenomena like that tends to run in streaks heads, heads, heads, tails. In the framework you laid out, i would guess i have a female or two in the non-material planes. i often end up in tense relationships with men who act conventionally macho – it usually starts with them misreading my manner with weakness and ends up in tense hostility. As a kid it would be a matter of quietly tolerating the bully until one quietly beating the s*** out of them in a corner of a school hall. As adult its different but the same line. It’s occurred to me that I may have a feminine way which does not align with their male to macho expectation.

    with respect to Buddhism – a remark the west/Eurocentric persons seem to approach religion solely through an intellectual and doctrinal lens. Other cultures do so as well but also engage in ceremony or practice as root truth. To me that is often the lesson in the koan of zen to snap a student out of a rationale mindtrap and to wash their dirty dishes. Idk. It just seems like westerners engage in doctrinal purity as a dependency of faith, rather than recognized as a blockage such as is called out in the upanishads.

  146. This guy is pretty optimistic, but end quote is worth considering.

    “We cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason … On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

    The obvious reply is The Limits to Growth, diminishing returns, etc.

    I’m off to pick some blackberries which are in abundance at the moment.

  147. @Jon G

    >>Is it possible the universities were always this way?<>Truly bizarre. I mean, this whole thing is so strange it made me wonder if there isn’t some magical component to it.<<

    Thanateurgy. Death Eaters, Soul Eaters.

  148. JMG,

    From what I can tell the stage between the retreat from reality and seeking refuge in religion is a recognition that reality is “actively damaging the form and function of humans”.

    This is why ascetism in some form or fashion is what occupies the first few years of a person’s spiritual life, they need to minimize the damage by adjusting how they interact with their reality. (Fasting, prayer, meditation, or simply abstaining from old habits can do the trick.)

  149. Alvin, if Mme. Wolf and whomever is backing her have their way, there will be no place at all for polytheists in the future. Howsomever, I doubt they will have their way, though it is best not to underestimate her faction’s capacity for troublemaking. Those dudes and dudesses never heard of live and let live.

    I find the 4 causes a useful tool for analyzing events and statements in the political world as well as natural phenomena.

  150. About UFO experiences – I have noticed that as people experienced magic or otherworldly things and share them – so have the UFO people. I wonder if what they are experiencing are the same thing. Perhaps, being materialistic makes it difficult to admit to magic happenings, so they have to come up with something to explain the magic in science terms. It seems to follow the same sort experiences that magic people discuss including the Old Hag – people being parallelized in their sleep by aliens.

  151. Speaking of Satanism …

    When I was in high school in suburban Texas in the late 80s, I went with a friend to his Baptist youth group. I met some other people there who became friends, and attended the group for awhile. One evening, on of the older males in the group (high school senior to my lowly sophomore status) told the group about his experiences in a Satanic cult. He described participating in some rites, but eventually coming back to Jesus. The odd thing about this was his story sounded unbelievable, yet he seemed fully convinced of its truth. I steered clear from the guy after that because my gut feeling was that there was something “not right” about him. Me and a few of the friends I made in the group also left over the coming months. (The head pastor of the church (not the youth pastor, the head guy) married a 16 year old from the youth group which was a giant red flag too far. But that’s another story.)

    But the guy’s story about being a former Satanist and his seeming absolute belief in his own story has always bothered me. Since then I have read other accounts of the same thing happening in other youth groups and churches – someone in the group claiming (and apparently believing) that they had been a part of a cult practicing Satanic rites. I still wonder how this happened.

  152. About the Neo-Paganists,
    Yes, I am glad they are focusing on the local flora and fauna.

    Another thing that popped up is that a few have reported being approached by an unknown God. They are trying to figure Who.

    In my experience, there are certain Gods like Odin and Sekhmet who recruit people to Polytheism. Some people stay with those Gods, some move on to the whole pantheon. Once the person gets comfortable, Gods from less “popular” pantheons appear to them. (Popular are Celtic, Greek, and Norse). I have noticed more people are becoming Roman or Mesopotamian or Slavic. I am speaking of Neo-Paganists, not people in general.

    I suppose that the Gods are more active these days, but is there only One reaching out to Neo-Paganists or is that how they see it? Hmmmm.

  153. @JMG

    >>Zachary, it’s a common experience. Have you tried metaphysical means of getting rid of it?<<

    I stumbled upon this quite accidentally (??) and exorcised the chaotic spiritual parasite that had been attached to me for nearly 40 years. I have a friend who considers himself a (mostly) Nordic shaman — whom I think is more of an extremely intuitive amateur than a true shaman because he doesn't have a master that can correct him — decided we wanted to have a deep entheogenic experience so we purchased two doses of DMT. The very next morning, my friend met a man who had acted as a DMT Guide (??) hundreds of times and agreed to help us that evening. My friend and I made offerings to his gods at his altar and I went into another room to start while he meditated there. For a little background, I weekly consume entheogens and know from experience due to the frequency and my own responses that it takes a good deal more of the substance to have a significant effect. I told this to my Guide so he measured out one dose of DMT into the pipe. Sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to some soft music, I smoked it and nothing happened. My Guide then got his own supply of DMT out and suggested I use slightly more than twice that dose. I trusted his advice so I lit it and smoked it.

    Now, from my perspective: the effect was nearly instantaneous. The first thing I noticed was that sound Neo heard when he was pulled out of The Matrix — hard to describe but unmistakeable. Next, I remember saying, "oh my God, oh my God" and being launched into the heavenly realms. For a brief moment, I experienced absolute beauty like I'd never known before. I continued traveling for some time and eventually stopped in a kind of blackness. I don't know how I know, but, it was The Source, the formless beginning. I know I stayed there for a long while. I then remember coming to with my friend and my Guide calling my name. I realized I was on the floor with them both looking at me with concern. They asked if I was ok, I responded with "yes, I feel AMAZING, but I'm thirsty." I told them to go ahead and start my friend's journey.

    From my Guide's perspective: he heard me shout, "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!" Then, I immediately started having a huge seizure lasting several minutes and I fell to the floor. When the seizure ended, I stopped breathing for several minutes. I'm a very big man, so he called my friend in and they both tried to figure out how to get me downstairs to his car so they could get me to the hospital. Just as they started to pick me up, I began breathing again so they decided to wait for the trip to finish. I was under for an astoundingly long 40 minutes. For comparison, my friend was under for about 15 minutes. My Guide said that what happened to me had NEVER even remotely happened in any of his other sessions including the fact that I experienced nothing.

    Over the next several months, I noticed that the weight and the chaos that had been with me my whole life was gone.

  154. GlassHammer, the main reality we face is increasing pressure from increasing population density. People have already discovered the main solution. Every developed country and others like China have fertility rates below replacement level.

    This will solve the problem eventually. The UN predicts global population will peak at 10 billion in 2086. I don’t think we’ll get to 10 billion and will probably peak before 2086. Meanwhile people are free to pick their own short term solutions whatever they may be.

  155. (reposting, looks like my formatting caused things to drop out)

    @Jon G

    Is it possible the universities were always this way?

    What I’ve learned since is it is not just universities, but all human power structures in all human activities. People in power will never willingly give up that power especially if the power is undeserved. Those people are also quite aware of their weaknesses and will preemptively attack you, and, do so ruthlessly. I have a number of rambling thoughts on this, but, the most important is to enter any power structure with quiet observation — don’t be the nail the hammer is in search of. Most people react to confrontation head-on with their own confrontation, so be aware of that natural reaction in your self. Allow the person in power to reveal their weaknesses. Step to the side of their awareness like a champion bullfighter. Lots of options from there… mesmerize them much like Machiavelli would. My personal favorite is to find their hot-buttons and ever so lightly push them. Eventually they will react excessively and lose the respect of those who granted them the power.

    @blue sun

    Truly bizarre. I mean, this whole thing is so strange it made me wonder if there isn’t some magical component to it.

    Thanateurgy. Death Eaters, Soul Eaters.

  156. This ties into your discussion with Blue Sun about being against child rape now making people QAnon possibly having a magical component. On a recent Magic Monday, you said that masturbating to something charges it with sexual energy, prompting me to ask about the effects that “simulated child pornography” might have. You said you weren’t sure, but it wasn’t likely to be wholesome. Over the last few years there’s been an explosive rise of such deviant works as a result of the rise of commercial AI; and since a disturbingly large amount of the content, like all forms of simulated pornography, depicts rape, I think it’s fair to say the image being charged is child rape. The timing here is suspicious to me, as this matches the period when pedophilia suddenly started being normalized in parts of the mass media.

    Is it possible that this madness around pedophilia and now the defense of raping children starting to make its appearance is a consequence of the energy charged by the very large number of people masturbating to images, and reportedly now plenty of videos as well, depicting children?

  157. Yes, certainly noted that the program is designed for the big dogs and we are just little scurrying mices on the edge. See exhibit a and exhibit b and yet, these mice are getting some scraps that are just plenty for our clan to build some useful stores. Winter is coming lol.

    Wrt the pmc, thought y’all like this from the intercept, ‘today’s class war: the 1% vs the technocrats.’
    “What drives our overlords into a towering rage today is that technocrats still have some power to define reality. And the technocrats keep telling them they can’t have all their heart’s desires instantaneously.
    Musk wants to live in a world of berserk ultra-right conspiracism in which all of humanity looks to him for his discoveries about The Truth. When a Twitter engineer explained to him that his engagement was down not because the algorithm was broken, but because people were losing interest in Musk, Musk fired him. Trump wanted to claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, so he just drew that on the map produced by NOAA (where Sean Parker’s father had worked) and made the head of NOAA frightened he’d lose his job. Doctors want to decide what their patients need but are losing that power to private equity.
    Right now, we’re just at the start of what will be a titanic war between the masters of mankind and the technocrats. The masters hold most of the cards, including the fact that the technocrats largely don’t understand yet that they’re in a war and are not ready for it. Thus the technocrats will likely be defeated, unless they can do something they’ve never done before: Forge an alliance with the working class.”

  158. Jstn at #148

    “with respect to Buddhism – a remark the west/Eurocentric persons seem to approach religion solely through an intellectual and doctrinal lens. Other cultures do so as well but also engage in ceremony or practice as root truth.”

    I’ve noticed this as well. I have also noticed a contempt, sometimes subtle but often overt, in western Buddhist circles for the more ceremonial and religious (for lack of a better word) parts of the traditional practices. There is an attitude that westerners are better at Buddhism precisely because they have stripped away the “superstitious” layers of Buddhism and distilled it down to essential practice. I came to the conclusion that may western practitioners have taken Buddhism as something of a blank slate religion on which they can project their own need for a religion that conforms to their need for a rational, scientific-age friendly religion. I think they can do this because they don’t know enough about Buddhism as practiced traditionally and did not grow up in a traditional Buddhist community. From this ignorance, they can re-skin Buddhism into what they want it to be. Whereas they know too much about the traditions they grew up in (usually high Protestantism or Judaism) to reskin them in the same way.

    I practiced Buddhism for about 20 years, but had the good fortune about 10 years in to realize I was doing this to an extent. Namely, allowing my own ignorance of the fulness of Buddhism as traditionally practices to great a space where I could project what I wanted on it as opposed to taking it as it is.

  159. @zachary

    The “scientific” name for hagging is “sleep paralysis” and there are plenty of “scientific” descriptions of this phenomena, but no actual explanations in that literature. I experienced it quite a lot when younger, and I think it’s perfectly obvious what’s going on: exactly what our perception tells us. It is an attack by a malign nonphysical entity. “Science” of course can’t contemplate this, and so its attempts to explain are frustrating BS non-explanations. On the plus side, the entities in question seem to be pretty weak sauce, and most people find they can escape from/banish them with even the simplest forms of mental resistance. I make the sign of the cross with my eyes. after three or four go-rounds with this (didn’t know that trick when I was a kid, alas), they haven’t bothered me since. Years.

  160. JMG, What is the distinction ( or line) between magic and manipulative psychology as practiced by the likes of Edward Bernays?
    I have been listening to the same local jazz radio station since I was in High School. Up till recently it was run by a community college and mostly staffed with volunteers spinning records. But recently it merged with the local public radio station ( a partnership you see). My guess as a way to use the public radio stations system for fundraising. Since then they have replaced most of the prime time DJ’s with paid help ( now they need all that new money). With them comes a very subtile woke message, which is very obvious when comparing the ” woked up paid help” with the crusty old timers that are still there.
    This is interesting as they don’t broadcast news or have an overt political message but use a very subtle system of cues and phrases that to me almost borders on magical incantations. ” Songs like this move us forward”, or ” This track will bring light in to your life and help your find bliss, ” are the types of things you might hear. Certain historical artists are extolled for leading the fight for social justice, while others are played with a kind of dry introduction or avoided all together.
    Unlike NPR which I have avoided like the Plague for the last 15 years I don’t have much choice when it comes to listening to music in my shop.

  161. The church of Satan stuff is partly a result of not really taking spiritual affairs seriously. They have a “materialist” hangover and don’t get that what they’re playing with is really dangerous if done the wrong way or with the wrong intentions.

    I knew someone who ran an experiment of “buying souls”, fairly materialistic, didn’t take it seriously. Actual contracts money (not a lot, but not nothing) given in return. Said it was to see how many people believed in souls (the idea being that souls aren’t real so it’s free money.). Tried to warn them, they wouldn’t listen, I cut them off.

    I don’t know anyone who’s done meditation seriously, in any tradition (though I’m most familiar with Hindu/Buddhist stuff) who hasn’t had weird stuff start happening. In fact, along with an understanding that meditation brings up dark stuff, it’s part of how I judge if someone has made any real progress.

    There are genuinely beneficient paths. They still have some bad spots, but it always mystifies me when people insist on following darker roads when the light roads are around. /Maybe/ one can win material life being a bastard, but I’ve never met anyone who walked the spiritual dark paths too much who didn’t pay a huge price. It’s just not worth it, no matter what you’re getting from it.

    (I have used your raspberry jam analogy often in such conversations.)

  162. Enjoyer, I have a strict rule when it comes to people who deny the existence of consciousness. I take them at their word, assume thereafter that they are not conscious persons, but simply objects that produce odd sounds that imitate human speech, and treat them accordingly. It’s remarkable how quickly their nonexistent consciousness gets full of anger when I do that!

    Chris, it can happen, but it’s not common. Far more often than not, those who surrender themselves to evil spirits get to deal with all the consequences, and those aren’t pretty.

    Anonymous, these two are standalone volumes, and can be used with, or without, any of my other books.

    Oskari, I’d recommend finishing up the course of study you’re currently in before taking up Butler’s exercises.

    Jstn, I didn’t say that it was a hard alternation, just that it often happens. As for Western Buddhism, yes, very much so; so often it’s just an ideology, not a path beyond ideologies.

    Siliconguy, enjoy them! Just don’t fall into the delusion that there must be an ever-increasing supply of blackberries because you want them.

    GlassHammer, that seems like a good analysis.

    Neptunesdolphins, certainly a large fraction of UFO phenomena are pretty clearly metaphysical, and were recognized as such before the “hardware hypothesis” took over the field.

    Forecasting, fascinating. Clearly Wolf is riding a rising wave.

    Chris S, that’s a known marketing gimmick in Christian circles. You might look up Mike Warnke sometime — he’s the faker who first made it big using that schtick. The people who do it are very good at faking conviction and sincerity, and of course it helps that plenty of people in their audiences believe every word they say.

    Neptunesdolphins, sometime soon they’ll figure out that it’s Jesus. This is standard during the collapse of a pop-culture alternative religious movement — as it winds down, people find ways back to the traditional faiths they left. Do you recall the way that so many hippies first turned into “Jesus People,” then after a while, cut their hair, shaved their beards, bought suits and neckties, and dropped back in? We’re seeing the same process in Neopaganism.

    Dale, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Anonymous, I’m sorry to say that that’s a possibility.

    AliceEm, funny! That is to say, rich computer geeks are finally realizing that they’re not the masters of the future they thought they were; no, they’re owned, body and soul, by the corporate system. As for an alliance with the working class, what that means, of course, is that the geekoisie want to exploit the working class to prop up their own status. I suspect the working class will have their own opinions about that…

    Clay, Bernays taught a debased form of evil magic, and that’s what’s being used on you. Have you considered a CD player instead?

    Ian, exactly. Exactly.

  163. >Maybe my black cat repells the Unseen

    I had a dream, a few years ago. It was some vaguely unpleasant conversation with someone or something. I woke up suddenly to a sharp “meow” and a cat standing on my chest, looking intently out the window at something outside in the back yard.

  164. Yes. The Four Causes pop up in unexpected places. A bit of dialog from fiction, but still:

    “Look. You fix cars. You know the difference between what caused the problem and what set up the conditions that caused the problem, don’t you?”
    “Sure. Your engine conked out because it wasn’t getting any oil. The reason that happened is because you’re a (profanity) bone-lazy (profanity) that never changes the oil.”

  165. >assume thereafter that they are not conscious persons, but simply objects that produce odd sounds that imitate human speech, and treat them accordingly

    Intentionally failing a Turing Test. I find that amusing. Who knows, maybe they are indeed AIs that have been programmed to think of themselves as human. Who’s to say?

  166. Re: Sekhmet – I had a passing acquaintance with her through light reading, but on one very hot summer evening in Albuquerque, it suddenly popped into my head that she was the goddess of the desert heat. That felt very right. I even had a figurine of her on my altar as a secondary goddess, and offered her either red beer (easier to come by there than here!) or, failing that, red wine. It’s as if I’d suddenly zoomed in on a small and distant figure. Likewise, Thor, who I still have and bring out when appropriate. Somewhat more distantly, even knowing his reputation, Woden keeps popping in and out of my mind. For what that’s worth.

  167. This may be a very mundane point but the term magic is entering mainstream news. Today the LA Times has a headline that reads “Hollywood on strike because CEOs fell for Silicon Valley’s magical thinking.”

    The magical thinking here is that Silicon Valley-style hypergrowth tactics are the key to economic growth. This is not the way magic is described above but its mentioning must mean something.

  168. Reading these posts feels like being on the tip of a breaking wave that can’t happen soon enough. I have tended to assume my lifelong paranormal experiences were due to being born c section, because that form of birth doesn’t follow the “normal” route here, we are between the worlds of the living and the beyond. That said my numerous experiences fueled this conviction that consciousness is the lost/undicovered/possibly undiscoverable property of matter
    in terms of nuclear/quantum physics. Possibly it could never be discovered as the entire sciemtific endeavor is designed to reduce all things to predictable inert matter status, and this goes against observer bias in experiments that indirectly confirms the paradox. This then makes any sort of human designed abominations: actions, inventions, and their consequences, the externalized collateral damage in pursuit of individual wealth and glory. Reactivating by numbers in belief of consiousness as an innate property in everything around you is the key to the golden age from the current antipode. Makes ethics and karma somewhat more clear, and deeply implies that the current way that continally reifies separation as the absolute is an extreme objectification of ones self and the world. Thank you so much JMG.

  169. JMG – thanks for the clarification on alternation. i totally misread that you said that in prior dialogue.

    CS #162 – nothing to add but thank you for sharing your perspective on this.

  170. Roman,

    I don’t think reality is going to get more humane as the population shrinks.

  171. Anonymous #160:
    That’s an interesting theory, and the timeframe seems plausible to me.

    It reminds me of something I hear Tim Pool talk about on his show. He believes social media algorithms play a huge role in driving “popular” wokeness. (And there’s a lot of overlap between AI and social media algorithms, as far as I know.) For example, in his view the whole episode of Dylan Mulvaney spokespersoning for Bud Light would have never happened at all without social media algorithms, because it’s those algorithms that amplified Dylan’s popularity in the first place (forgive me I can’t do justice to his explanation).

  172. I’ve seldom sought the supernatural as an experience, but I’ve had too many supernatural experiences to deny the supernatural. My wife and I made a project to pray for a dear friend’s blood cancer, and what do you know, the Doctors changed their minds. To them the blood cancer did not go away. In their minds it was never there. They can be in denial, but I can’t.

  173. Regarding the Black Death:

    Note that the fourteenth century was not even the first time the disease had visited Christian Europe (c.f. Justinian’s Plague, which a good century or more after it first arrived famously wiped out nearly everyone in Jarrow monastery, but spared a young lad by the name of Bede). And yet the sixth century did not undermine the power of the Church.

    The religious issue of disease in general had been dealt with even earlier. During the third century Cyprian Plague (measles or smallpox), the Bishop of Carthage wrote an essay on this very topic. He argued that Christian reward does not come in this world, but in the next – so Christians will die and suffer as much from hunger and disease as the pagans.

  174. JMG,
    To think back to the logic portion of my freshman philosophy class.

    If: Bernays style psychological manipulation is a debased form of evil

    If: Most of the American consumer, medical, higher education and
    political economy is based on this manipulation.

    If; Practicing evil magic brings dark consequences on those who practice
    Then: The American Consumer, medical, higher education and political
    economies are in for a banquet of metaphysical consequences.

  175. JMG,

    If you were the early initiate experiencing random etheric projection, outside of the control of your will, what would be your approach to bringing it under the direction thereof? (I’m kind of thrilled by the faint smell of sulfur, TBH, and wouldn’t choose to stop doing it, just to be clear.)

    Also, is it necessarily bad that my subconscious, or my higher self, is running these night ops without my conscious commissioning, every now and then?

    Nothing bad has come of it, as far as I know. I pulled the pipe out of an artesian spring, yes, but put it back in the next morning. And visited nearby friends who were open to such shenanigans. But no hell-raising!

    And, just as a humorous aside, one of my older female friends asked me if I could drop by for a chat one night, and I told her, I’m sorry, no, there’s a rushing river between us…

    Thanks for any insight you might be willing to offer.

  176. Hi John Michael,

    Oh my! The words ‘surrender themselves’, brings goosebumps. Perhaps I’m an overly wary dude? 😉 Anyway, such a passive state of existence, brings to mind an image of flotsam within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Like how we treat the biosphere which keeps us all alive, it is an epic moral failing. Hmm. The past couple of years have not been reassuring on this front.



  177. Other Owen, exactly. They say that human beings are “meat robots” with no consciousness or will, and so I think it’s appropriate to treat them accordingly — after all, it’s quite possible that unlike the rest of us, they really are meat robots!

    Patricia, I’ve known other desert dwellers who took up a devotion to Sekhmet in that spirit.

    Roman, interesting. Thanks for the data point.

    MJM, you’re welcome. Here’s hoping!

    Jstn, you’re most welcome. It’s a point that’s easy to miss.

    Bradley, the acronym TSW — the polite version is “this stuff works” — is popular among occultists. I’m glad to hear your friend benefited from it.

    Clay, that’s quite correct. That’s one of the reasons I’ve made a point of walking away from the whole shebang before the collective karma comes to pay a visit.

    Grover, in that case I would take up a course of systematic practice in one of the many systems of training that foster controlled projection, and see where it took me. As for the spontaneous nature of the events, no, that’s not a problem — that’s probably how people figured out how to do this in the first place.

    Chris, “surrender themselves” is if anything an understatement. Many of these people are putting themselves on a plate and arranging the parsley next to them.

  178. Love this series of posts, JMG.

    Funny that dowsing has been mentioned. Proudly coming from a ‘spooky’ family, and expecting to be a natural-born first-rate dowser, I was excited from a very young age to give it a try. When I was 14 years old, we found out that our new next-door neighbour was a dowser. And we were looking for ground water on our property. As I watched our dowsing neighbour ‘do his thing’, I could see the forked willow branch twist in his hands and point down in a fitful manner when he found an underground stream. He handed the stick to me and asked me to try. Oh, boy! A dream come true! I listened to his instructions and then walked around a bit holding a thoroughly unresponsive stick. I was a total dud. Boohoo!

    Unfortunately, I seem to have a ‘gift’ for being a target of the Old Hag or some of her unsavoury sisters (wish I could trade that with some first-rate dowser; any takers in the group? 😊). I had three such incidents, all within the space of about one year, in my mid-twenties. I’m not sure if it is related, but that was a year of extreme transitions for me and, to top it all, I was unable to keep up my morning spiritual routine having to work up to 18 hours a day.

    The first ‘attack’ was when I was staying late at night at my trucking company security job. My ‘office’ was a little camper. I was waiting for a really late (2 am) truck and so I slept in the bunk. In the hours preceding my lying down, however, I was in an inexplicably and exceptionally ‘down’ mood. Anyway, I awoke to a unique sensation of something dark and evil having entered my feet and moving up my legs. I was paralyzed. In shock of this unprecedented sensation, I felt the heavy, evil presence continue to move up my body and I realized that if it reached my heart I would die. I did not shout out for help: it would have been of no use anyway because I was at least a half-mile from the nearest human being. Instead, I fervently prayed to my chosen god – and within a fraction of a second the oppressive feeling departed.

    Shortly after the first ‘attack’ I changed residence, but I still had the same job. Almost as soon as I moved into my rented room – which was the back bedroom of a suburban bungalow – I heard shuffling footsteps outside my window (almost like the crunching sound of footsteps in the snow – and it was mid-winter with a good cover of snow, but no footprints were there!) late at night. I told my dear old landlady about the strange sounds: she just shrugged and blamed it on ‘mice in the walls’ (at least she didn’t blame it on ‘swamp gas’!). She loved to tell me stories about haunted houses in the neighbourhood but laughed in disbelief when her basement-dwelling Polish immigrant tenant left because he swore that the basement was haunted. But I digress. Anyway, within a month of moving in, I had my second ‘attack’, in which I woke up to see a monstrous being with a neck as long as a giraffe stick its head through my window and right into my face (old-style 3-D movie style). Again, I was paralyzed. But the shock of the encounter caused me to shout, using a semi-paralyzed voice that I did not recognize. The apparition disappeared as soon as I found my voice. I told my landlady about it in the morning: she neither pooh-poohed my story nor offered any information or explanation. But the late-night (usually about 2 am) shuffling footprints continued nearly every night after that.

    The third ‘attack’ was brutal. This time, still staying in the same room, I woke up to an extremely heavy force on my chest; its evil intent was palpable. But I was mentally prepared this time. Reciting the name of my chosen god in my mind I psychically pounded the stuffing out of it. It never returned. And the nocturnal shuffling stopped too. By that time, I had resumed my daily spiritual routine: quite likely that helped.

    Despite the chaotic socio-political shale-show and technocratic elite end-times that we are living through right now, I find it to be an interesting time to be alive due to the dawning Second Religiosity (plus all the ‘freedom stuff’ going on, which, in Canada, is tied quite closely to this religiosity). So far, what I have observed, and felt, in this rising tide of religiosity has been positive and encouraging. And I hope that it stays so. But given the propensity for religious culture in the West to periodically turn puritan and/or devil-fearing (rather than god-loving), I am not sure that a blissful religious resurgence in North America with be infinite in duration.

  179. Hi JMG,

    I’ve astral projected a good amount but always found it a bit unreliable and can’t do it on demand. I’m curious what prospects you had in mind with your response to Grover?

  180. Good idea, John. Maybe I’ll try that next time! After many discussions where materialists have denied the existence of consciousness and/or lacked the understanding of what materialism actually entails, I have almost begun to suspect that maybe some of these materialists do truly lack phenomenal consciousness. They really seem to be incapable of introspection. Maybe they are just meat automata after all! 😉 Just being snarky, of course. Have a great one.

  181. Ron, regular banishings or other protective magic seem to work for many people to chase off noxious entities. As for dowsing, I share your feelings — I can’t do it well either.

    Luke Z, there are quite a few magical operations you can do on the astral; space and time become relatively flexible in that state, and it’s also possible to pursue certain mystical operations there more effectively than when you have a material body in the way.

    Enjoyer, if nothing else, it gets them to shut up about it. In the same way, if you get someone insisting that human beings have no free will, ask them why they’re trying to convince you — if you have no free will, how can you change your mind?

  182. Hi JMG & commentariat–
    While looking for something else entirely, I came across this 2016 article about the Hebrides Islands of Scotland–

    In an aside, the author tells us that the ‘second sight’ abilities of long-term island residents are based on their being a part of the island community. When people gifted with the second sight leave their islands, their abilities to see the future also go away.

    The industrial revolution caused massive disruption in long-standing communities wherever it spread. Do rootless people have less connection to other spiritual planes? If so, it would go a long way towards explaining the rise of enlightenment philosophies.

    Now that the age of cheap energy is winding down, we may see rootedness coming back, and with it, better scrying and other skills.

    Also noteworthy– Mention of another book , “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies” by Robert Kirk, writing around 1690. Still in print and available for free download here:

    “The most important early statement of Gaelic metaphysical beliefs.”

  183. Thank you all for your explanations of what is going on with Buddhists. The ones I’m referring to were entirely Chinese-American, for what it’s worth.

    I am writing an essay called The World Does Not Exist For Us as part of my recent contemplations. There’s a trend flaring up right now of TikTok NPCs: young women (and occasionally men) dressing up as Non-Player Characters from video games and amassing large amounts of money. Their schtick involves blurting out robotic catchphrases like “Hot dog, yum” whenever someone buys a token that shows up as a momentary icon on the screen. TikTok NPCs are a variation on a degrading theme — two of the big ones are former amateur porn stars.

    I’m very tired right now, but to keep it brief, the NPC TikTok girl exists because of the pervasive idea that the world exists for us humans, by us humans. In my opinion, anyone who presumes the world exists for us or was made by us is utterly wrong. Automated sexuality is appealing to those who want to believe the world owes them a simulacrum of a mate. Of course I am a big time oddball, but I will be tying this all in with my current campaign to inspire daily toilet-cleaning habits via the Clean Toilet Challenge and compulsive thanks to one’s food and drink. Because this world was not made for us, it makes it all the more important to appreciate the things, people, and places that are kind to us and provide us their services.

  184. @Ron M #182: You wrote “all the ‘freedom stuff’ going on, which, in Canada, is tied quite closely to this religiosity”.
    @Bofur #97: You wrote about “spiritual fireworks that lit up our world for a couple of years”
    This is not the first time that both of you have alluded to the religious connotation or flavour of the “freedom stuff”. I wonder if it is possible for you to explain this a bit more explicitly?

    Let me tell you where I come from. My daughter’s best friend’s father is in the Canadian armed forces. In 2020-2021, whenever we met for the kids to play, I couldn’t help noticing that he was (when his kids didn’t call for his attention) almost continually on the phone with people he would call “brother”, while his conversation with myself circled most of the time around the anti-pandemic measures and (a bit later) his opposition to the novel vaccines. He would participate in (and try to take me along to) all protests in our city.

    Now he has been a devout and quite traditional Roman Catholic for many years (all his life for all I know), so I didn’t associate the “freedom stuff” with his faith, because his faith was simply a given.

    One of the biggest satellite “freedom marches” took place a few meters from our apartment. While I noticed many very rude banners, I also noticed (and this was reported by the newspapers) that the atmosphere at the main stage was peaceful. A newspaper reported that one of the speakers called for everybody to embrace their neighbors.

    So you can see that your statement about the religiosity of the “freedom stuff” is not in conflict with my own observations. Still, I don’t understand why a (to me) rather secular matter of public policy would take on religious importance to people who had not already been religious before 2020.

    I hope this discussion is within the bounds of this week’s post. As far as possible, I don’t want to discuss the health aspects of this issue, but rather how a new religiousness got entwined with the political movements of 2020-2021.

  185. JMG,

    There was a talk several months ago about Bach Flower Essences losing their efficacy. I think there may be a magic component here. The Bach practitioners I know are all of the atheist Buddhist variety that is being discussed in the comments. Admittedly, this is anecdotal evidence. But if this is prevalent throughout Bach, it explains why the essences might not work.

    On the other hand, there are others who make flower essences that do work. I think if people want these, they should search for other makers.

    Magic and spirituality are welling up through the cracks, just not the magic that is officially sanctioned!

  186. “If you have no free will, how can you change your mind [due to another person attempting to convince you of something]?”

    If a stone has no free will, how can it move when hit by another stone?

    (Of course, if you hold that the stone does have free will, and moving when struck by another stone is an expression of that free will, that analogy won’t convince. But naive materialists will see that as having won the argument, since you’d then appear to have equated predictable material cause and effect with free will. I’m not claiming we don’t have free will, only that the arguments to that effect aren’t all conveniently stupid.)

    Maybe I shouldn’t enter this discussion. I feel mostly frustrated at what appear to be absolute positions being taken regarding what can only be imperfect mental models of our experiences. I can’t tell the difference between a world in which spirits are autonomous entities existing out in the world with their own wills and agendas that often interact with our perceptions, and one in which those same perceptions of spirits arise from processes taking place in the intricate neural networks that also usually generate our impressions of self, situation, and time. So many people seem so certain they can, yet they can’t agree which world exists.

    Age of this, age of that, let’s be eager with anticipation for the next One Story, the next prevailing absolute that will replace all the ills and excesses of the previous prevailing absolute with exciting new ones. Will there be pastels in the color palette? How long will the skirts be?

    Fortunately one doesn’t need an age of reason to reason, an age of faith to have faith, or an age of memory to remember.

  187. Emmanuel, thanks for this. Fascinating.

    Jon G, that makes a great deal of sense. Thanks for the data point!

    Walt, it’s a snark, not an argument. Schopenhauer points out, and I think accurately, that since will and consciousness are prior to the world of representations they’re not subject to the principle of sufficient reason, which is among other things the basis for all logical argument; thus no argument can either prove or disprove the reality of will or representation. Both can only be experienced. The usefulness of snark in this context is that it gets evangelical determinists and equally evangelical eliminative materialists to stop proselytizing and drop the subject, since (a) the conversations inevitably go nowhere and do nothing and (b) the people doing the proselytizing all too clearly have ulterior motives for their evangelism. (Every loud determinist I’ve ever known well was acutely uncomfortable with choices he’d made and so was trying to convince himself that he had no choice but to make them, and every loud eliminative materialist I’ve ever known well was just as acutely uncomfortable with things he was perceiving and so was trying to convince himself that he wasn’t actually conscious of anything at all.)

  188. “I can’t tell the difference between a world in which spirits are autonomous entities existing out in the world with their own wills and agendas that often interact with our perceptions, and one in which those same perceptions of spirits arise from processes taking place in the intricate neural networks that also usually generate our impressions of self, situation, and time.”

    In regard to the second one, see also hallucinations from LSD and various mushrooms, or for that matter the giant spiders my brother thought he saw when he had a particularly high fever. Mom put him right in the tub of cool water on that one, and the spiders went away. The brain is built to find patterns, it’s not that hard to spoof it into seeing things that are not there. **

    ChatGPT is already generating hallucinations, it’s also a pattern matcher.

    And as for “I have almost begun to suspect that maybe some of these materialists do truly lack phenomenal consciousness. They really seem to be incapable of introspection.”

    The first statement may be true, some people may be immune, they simply cannot receive “the signal”, whatever it is, rather like an AM radio trying to tune in an FM station.

    The first statement does not imply the second though. Introspection is looking within yourself. If an entity is in a different plain of existence, it is outside of you.

    The “free will is an illusion” argument is somewhat miscast. What they mean is that if they know enough about you your response to a given situation can be predicted. Therefore your free will is an illusion. The tricky part is the “enough about you.” Then there are all the things you do that are supposed to be predicable, like the drive to the grocery store. The rest of us on the road want your responses to the inputs to be very predictable lest the sheet metal get bent.

    ** I had a thought, there is a video where one of those mats with a perspective drawing of a descending staircase is left on the floor. A cat wanders up to it, looks it over, then tries to go down, but as soon as the whiskers touch the mat it stops, then circles on top of the mat and plops down on it. The eyes may be fooled, but the whiskers do not lie.

  189. I would love to hear your feedback on my thoughts about free will. I suspect that I think unconventionally on this front.

    Materialists usually have two arguments against free will. The first argument is that because the universe is deterministic, there can be no free will. The problem with their argument is that we can’t be sure the universe is actually deterministic (quantum weirdness) and the second problem is that even if the universe is deterministic, it doesn’t mean that free will does not exist. Free will doesn’t mean that my choices are undetermined. If my choices were undetermined, they would be random, which is not free will.

    Free will means that my choices are determined by my consciousness.

    Materialists counter this by saying that my choices aren’t determined by my consciousness, they are determined by matter which generates my consciousness as an epiphenomenon.

    I reject this because I am an idealist. My body is just what part of my conscious process looks like from the outside. There is no matter ‘generating’ consciousness, there is just consciousness.

    Therefore, my consciousness is determining my choices, therefore, free will exists. (Note when I say consciousness, I include a wide variety of conscious processes, including very deep subconscious processes that I may not be self-reflectively aware of. Self reflection is a complex form of consciousness.)

    Obviously we have somewhat different metaphysics but I would love to hear your thoughts.

  190. This debate between materialists and occultists is a bit on the esoteric side. Just wondering if the common belief of a sixth sense is a middle ground. It seems that most people believe in a sixth sense because of one or two unusual experiences.

    What about deja vu? Where does that fit in? I had a few deja vu experiences when younger. Whatever the sixth sense may be, it is obviously very weak when compared to the five regular senses.

  191. Aldarion (#188): this a very experiential matter and no two people will have exactly the same reply (i.e., I can’t speak for Bofur though I know that he and I see the matter quite similarly in some respects). Canada’s ‘freedom community’ (which was created in response to medical tyranny) is an extremely diverse lot which includes people of all faiths as well as agnostics and atheists. That being said, a large component of those who have spearheaded and passionately maintained the movement are people of strong faith (various Christian denominations, from the Eastern Orthodox to Roman Catholic to Mennonites, as well as Indigenous spirituality). Even the military veterans, medical doctors and lawyers (and the few politicians and former politicians) who are high-profile members of the freedom community have made it clear that they are firm believers in God. Also, I know of a fair number of freedom fighters who started out agnostic and have subsequently declared a strong faith in God.

    There can be a number of explanations to this phenomenon, depending on the perspectives of whom you ask. Here is mine. When the Freedom Convoy was crossing the great plains and headed to Ottawa, the highway was lined with an innumerable number of people holding signs such as ‘God keep our land glorious and free’ (a line from our national anthem) and First Nations people performing traditional prayer-dances and ‘smudging’ the convoy on the roadside as the thousands of trucks passed by, I felt in my bones that a great, powerful spiritual force (or being) was awakening and rising in the land. I do not try to define or describe it: perhaps it is the Second Religiosity; perhaps it is something else. But it has definitely kindled, re-kindled and strengthened religious faith in a very large number of freedom fighters in Canada. And it shows no sign of abatement. I will give one small example: one morning in early May this year, during the hearings of the National Citizens Inquiry (regarding the effects of medical tyranny against citizens), the lead lawyer introducing the day’s proceedings mentioned that the primary videographer for the hearings had fallen seriously ill and was hospitalized – and he asked people in attendance and watching online to pray for the welfare of the videographer. And pray people did. Unashamedly. In huge numbers. And the videographer recovered completely with remarkable rapidity (none of us were surprised). I hope my observations help to answer your inquiry.

  192. Up near the top, Thomas mentioned some people playing at inventing a religion who got back an interested response from something. I’ve never heard or read that story, does anyone have a link?

  193. “Ethics won’t do the job by themselves but they’re a necessary ingredient in either path”

    So what of the masses that don’t participate in traditional religion or occultism? Do you expect your typical non religious westerner to get swept up in the currents of noxious spiritual influences and become more evil and noxious themselves? Or is there reason to hope for your average Joe and Jane?

    Sometimes I speculate to myself that the modern world is so full of transparent lies because it trains people in discernment. Or at least some people. Sometimes I wonder if people in general are more discerning than they used to be. I’m sure I could find evidence for either. In my own life I remember entering the workforce in the early 2000s being bombarded with the idea that everyone should love their job and career so much they want to work long days for no additional compensation, but just because they enjoy it so much. I later realized that was propaganda that benefited a certain class of people. I haven’t heard such propaganda in years from anyone in the corporate world. It seems like everyone knows the how the game works a bit better. Are people more discerning now? Its honestly hard to say. It could be me that changed, not so much the world, or the incentive structure changed.

  194. If Schopenhauer believes in separate concepts such as “will” and “consciousness”, which one of these principles is first, if any? And how are they individuated, such that they are units of activity that we can apprehend?

  195. “Believing is Magic” -Coca Cola

    An ad displayed prominently at the Women’s World Cup just underway Down Under. Pretty vague, of course, but there’s that word again.

    I also saw some chatter in the comments sections of certain matches about “Southeast Asia growing together.” Though perhaps that topic is best left for next week.

  196. I apologise in advance for pedantry and language police is never a good look, so understand if you bin this post because it is way off topic, but it occurs to me that many of the current issues regarding communication and thinking are down to the bastardisation, twisting and warping of language.

    JMG #140
    “the sex you’ve been assigned”

    I always thought that biological sex was ‘observed at birth’ rather than being something like the sorting hat from Harry Potter assigning one to somewhere on the Hogwarts house spectrum! 😉

    Or have I misunderstood and you meant the sex ‘assigned’ at transition? In which case, fair enough and please hit delete on this comment.

    Guess I’m more behind the times than I thought…


  197. Cliff (#127) said:
    A friend just asked me to read Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, therapist and Buddhist. Though she has some insights on dealing with powerful emotions, she hammers the idea that the self is an illusion. My thoughts were, aren’t you undercutting your own thesis, by rejecting the idea of the self? Why work so hard to have compassion for something that doesn’t exist? And, why did you put your name on the cover, if you are so anxious to convince me that you don’t exist?

    Clarke aka Gwydion (#133) said:

    If you happen to be a “book Buddhist,” you will have had no encounters with spiritual forces. At some point in the 1970’s, certain forms of Buddhism became favored by the PMC because on paper Buddhism is highly rational, has no truck with “superstition,” and basically caters to the prejudices of the so-called “rational man.” Materialism is no problem. Delusions of enlightenment easily cultivated.

    This is frustrating to read because they’re too true. There’s a lot missing from the pop culture transmissions of Buddhism that make all the above PMC caste proselytizing of Buddhism drained of things that could make their (and others) lives amazing.

    Shakyamuni’s path is a Prajna path specifically, not a Samadhi path to enlightenment (samadhi paths being one of the *other* 113 pathways through a human body that can lead to enlightenment). That’s why the sutras show him trying out the samadhi paths with different gurus but eventually he set them aside in favor of a pragna path. That’s why he’s said to be a “more wisdom” Buddha (the other two are said to be “more effort” Buddhas and “more faith” Buddhas – ie. different pathways).

    Here’s what the PMC Buddhism-Lite followers don’t know and may give Ecosophia readers a good idea of just how watered-down Buddhism-Lite is around the world is these days:

    Shakyamuni’s path leads to attainment of an actual halo radiating around the head and a 2nd halo radiating around the body. When these two nurturing bubbles of one’s life energies are fully mastered your intersecting, stabilized pranic triangles of life’s energies are 18 to 24 inches out from the body at all times. A halo is a nurturing and nourishing bubble of one’s life energies that you carry around with you always. Once these two halos are mastered all of their pranas and their attendant powers intersect at the throat and that opens the door to gaining full mastery of Vissuddhi chakra and it’s superpowers – the most difficult to set in motion of all 114 major chakras. What he taught is how to replicate the success he had with that particular path through our physical plane bodies. But that doesn’t mean that his pathway is the only way. There are 113 other primary ways through.

    Some first possible manifestations of this come from mindfulness practice in that one’s prana/chi begins to project about 9 inches away from one’s body. Once your prana is stabilized that far out you begin to get some relief from the constant inner mental chatter today’s humanity suffers from so much. Your breathrate will also begin to drop. If you can do the same thing – hold it steady 9 inches out through all the phases of sleep as well you get complete relief from the constant inner mental chatter.

    You then practice further to keep it stabilized out to 18-21 inches out – while working, playing, singing, talking, and most crucially through all the stages of sleep too. You can not waver for even a second through all of those states. If you do this for one full phase of the moon (unchanged and unwavering while awake and asleep no matter what life throws at you) Sadhguru says you gain the pragna (Transcendental Wisdom) halo around your head for always. Any future lives will have the halo too. That’s just for the head halo. You have to do practices for the body halo too if you want open up the pathway to mastery of Visuddhi superpowers.

    When you gain the halos life is directly seen and experienced as a compound – you see and experience all of life’s “parts” that make it work the way it does – it’s a superpower consequence of all the work you put in. You can gain direct perception of other people’s stack of sheath’s – their various sheaths blueprints – so you know the depth and breadth of the possibilities available to and of that person’s actions and mind while you’re interacting with them. You will be able to pick up a book, read a few sections and immediately know the kind of mind and body the author has (Vivekananda excelled at this). It will seem like a superpower to someone who hasn’t opened up pragna yet. Interdependent Arising becomes blatantly obvious at that point and that anything that consists of “parts” on the material plane eventually disappears. You experience daily just how impermanent life is – very much – in fact, exactly like, the impermanence of the astral realm of dreams. Even today if you ask many people to recall accurately a long-dead friend’s face they will often want to first refresh their memory from a photo.

    So…there’s the experience-based origin of Shakyamuni’s emphasis on the Impermance of all Compounded Things of the Material Plane. It’s a natural consequence of the specific path he took for opening up to higher possibilities of life. From that supramundane sphere – the superpowers of agna’s pragna – life is seen and experienced as the compounded thing it is and that eventually all compounds must disappear (decay and death) – just like with dreams.

    But is any of the above taught in today’s Buddhism-Lite? Do the Buddhist-Lite PMC realize the possibilities they could open up in their own lives if they rolled up their sleeves and went full-on for that path? Unfortunately no. Mindfulness can be good for some people. For others it may be too advanced and they’d do better if they focused on prerequisites first. It has little to do with *unthinking* acceptance of statements like impermanence as an axiom. It takes working on one’s life energies too. It’s meant to kickstart heavy self-work that leads to eventual first-hand verification. Unfortunately the outline of the practices required to engage in daily is tossed into a dustbin as superstitious nonsense. Without the considerable blocks of time each day sunk into the practices Shakymuni’s statements will simply remain a belief. Beliefs aren’t enough to transform all of one’s mind and body sheaths to open up higher possibilities for one’s life.

  198. @Ron M #195: Thank you for your answer! From what I understand, the happenings you mention had not been planned and were a surprise even to the participants. As I said above, the whole issue looks more mundane and less existential to me, but I can recognize a new movement even if I don’t understand all its sources.

    After I posted my question, I actually googled a bit, without great expectations. The news stories I found referenced only evangelical Christians, and only such as had converted years earlier. I suppose conversions during the period, and First Peoples prayer-dances, would have been harder to fit into the journalistic scheme.

  199. Hi JMG,

    There seems to be an ongoing competition between religion and reason (science) within a civilisation. The competition somehow seems to power the development and advance of a civilisation. It starts with religion in the lead, then reason takes over. Once reason has succumbed to hubris, civilisation declines and religion makes a comeback.

    During such a civilisational cycle the worldview of the people within the civilisation changes. This process of a changing worldview changes what is considered within the bounds of reason and what is considered religious or metaphysical. Part of it is caused by the fact that the human consciousness has changed by going through this process of worldview change. However, it might even be that the boundaries between the world of phenomena and the metaphysical realm actually change.

    The boundaries between the phenomenal domain and the religious domain seem to be somewhat flexible. The question is whether only human consciousness changes or that the metaphysical world itself changes.

    Such a change of the metaphysical world itself, would give another explanation for why one cannot revitalise the old religions in the second religiosity, but needs a truly new religion. The old religions cannot be adjusted to the new boundaries between the metaphysical and the phenomenal domain.

  200. Enjoyer, from within your metaphysics that seems like a consistent argument.

    Roman, most of the materialists I know deny the existence of any sixth sense, and also insist on various neurological explanations for deja vu, so those won’t cut it.

    Your Kittenship, the organization in question is the Reformed Druids of North America; the invented deity is Dalon ap Landu, god of the groves. You can find most of their material online these days.

    Moose, the occult teaching is that the world is where we learn how to be conscious, and the reason that life so often sucks is that it takes misery of various kinds to force us to learn that lesson. All of us are engaged in various stages of that learning process. Being swept up in various kinds of nastiness is one of the ways that people suffer and learn.

    James, will is primary in Schopenhauer’s philosophy; consciousness is a grade of will — basically, something that will develops when it runs into obstacles (which are themselves the result of will; it’s central to Schopenhauer’s view that will is usually in conflict with itself. They are individuated solely in individuals. They can never be the objects of awareness because they are the subjects in which awareness is present.

    Grover, interesting.

    Other Owen, what is this thing you’re calling “matter”? All we have are appearances…

    Earthworm, good. By “assigned” I meant the one to which trans people transition — “assigned” as distinct from “innate.” I won’t hit delete, because it’s a worthwhile question.

  201. So, according to a occult teaching, what is the endgame of such learning? What does a learned human look like? Like the Buddha or Jesus perhaps?

    Your answer to my first question does resonate with my experience and observation.

  202. #70-Kimberly
    I read your comment about the Midwestern Buddhists and why they are the way they are. The thought came to me was, “ they have no deity to love and lean into.”

  203. @Kimberly Steele, #187

    Thank you for the Clean Toilet Challenge. When you wrote about it I had already begun to put my act together, but this helped me to get going and ride an upwards spiral. More on this when I am ready to share, but I might’ve just dodged a spell of unemployment and drama.

    I don’t know to what degree this is the blessing from Ususama Myoo, or if it is the charms of my grandfather’s coin… but TSW!!!

  204. Moose, the endgame is that you transcend the human level and go on to other things. Being human is like the uppermost grade in elementary school — all things considered, it’s not very far along. There are many more things to learn and do and experience as we proceed.

  205. Aldarion (#203): you are very welcome. Yes, the convoy was nearly spontaneous in nature. Even the initiators of the convoy were shocked by how the event took off and spread like wildfire. As did the public funding (8 million bucks in a week – not shabby, eh?). Yes, plenty of long-time evangelicals were involved, which, of course, was what the media focused on to the exclusion of all else regarding religion. Just two more things I’ll add (which I thought of immediately after hitting ‘send’). One is another aspect of the religious/freedom intersection being spurred by the aggressive and repeated arrests of many clergymen who refused to close the doors of their churches during the lockdowns. The most famous of them being Pastor Artur Pawlowski, Polish immigrant and participant in the Solidarity movement who has been repeatedly and violently arrested for encouraging non-violent protest and comparing current-day Canada to Poland under the USSR’s shadow. By sheer chance I was in his hometown of Calgary today (which I have never been to) and again, by chance, I drove right past his house (which is impossible to miss). I turned around and saw men filling flatbed trucks with food supplies (Artur’s mission is very much focused on feeding and serving the destitute) and, by chance, met his daughter when she was coming out of the house. I thanked her family for their courage and told her that thousands are praying for her father’s welfare (he is to be sentenced for ‘counselling mischief’ in two days’ time: he may be facing 10 years in jail). The second is the ongoing phenomenon of freedom fighters becoming religious. I just heard a couple days ago that the four political prisoners (the ‘Coutts boys’ as we call them) who have been in remand without bail since February 13, 2022 (two of whom are in solitary confinement for 22 hours per day), who are not in touch with each other, have each, independently, become deeply religious. Previously they did not have a strong religious orientation. One of the four has actually declared that once he is freed, he plans on becoming a pastor to serve prisoners and especially those in remand because he sees the magnitude of spiritual need of these inmates. Thought you might find it interesting.

  206. Inspiring John Michael,

    Perhaps you are familiar with Wordsworth’s sonnet, “The World Is Too Much With Us.” It seems that is is time to write a reply:

    Smug worlds fail us now, shed shrinking blooms,
    Grieving and mending, we inflate our powers,
    Each whim of nature’s will, we claim as ours,
    Play awkward games alone, in rented rooms.
    Dark seas that drove our rockets to the moon,
    Fed lights that would be shining at all hours,
    And which blind us now to waning powers,
    Have frittered real wealth away, written our ruin!
    But now I wait, thank God, eager for the morn,
    Watch wonder’s tide return to sinking shores,
    Whisper names of spirits ripe to be reborn,
    While leaking pipes of progress life ignores.
    That inner tale in ashes, last trite pages torn,
    Outside reclaims shorn senses, reverence restores.

  207. >Other Owen, what is this thing you’re calling “matter”? All we have are appearances

    Are you saying if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s really a cow in a duck costume?

  208. Hi John Michael,

    Out of curiosity, do you have any gut feeling possibility that the end of the age of reason will bring about a more moral relationship with the land? I’m chucking around the possibility that this may occur out of necessity, much the way the fictional Retroptopia folks you wrote of, dealt harshly, but also decisively, with the bloke caught using the engine. It sent a strong message.

    Have you noticed this event: Antarctic sea ice levels dive in ‘five-sigma event’, as experts flag worsening consequences for planet. Not good, not good at all.



  209. @Aldarion 188:

    I agree with Ron M. As I’ve made new friends in the “Freedom Community” I’ve stopped being surprised when I find out that they’re much more religious/spiritual than the average. There is something to this, and you’ve noticed it too.

    But your question is why – WHY should this be? And I think that this question is fair game and connected to the OP, and here’s why: because it’s suggestive of a different “way” of thinking.

    What I mean is this: the evidence that the COVID affair was not merely an issue of public policy, but had/has a deep spiritual significance, IS, that so many people had/have a spiritual response to it!

    That is the evidence; but of course accepting this means accepting that we start in a different place when we analyze the world. Instead of asking, “why should a mundane matter of public policy attract spiritual attention?” we might ask “what are the spiritual people saying about this public policy?”

    Secular people (are there any, anymore??) may have a problem with all this. They may call it backwards reasoning. But that’s the point – they are the ones whose approach to the world may just be incomplete.

    To be sure, I still don’t know completely what the spiritual significance is/has been. I could speculate; no doubt I don’t grasp it all.

    But it all hints at a different “kind of knowing” or approaching the world.

  210. Slightly off topic, but since Britney Spears and Taylor Swift have been brought up in the past month…

    “millennials and Gen Z’s in developed countries can’t afford to buy a home no matter how much they save, so why not embrace nihilism and buy those Taylor Swift tickets?”

    I have also noticed prayers seeming to be answered quickly… not just my own, but others. It’s something hard to keep track of, but I wonder if prayers will be answered more readily in an age of enchantment…? That would be an antidote to nihilism after all.

  211. @Ron M:

    I had not heard that about the Coutts boys but I’m not surprised in the least. I have many of these stories from the last several years. As an example, one of the NCI lawyers told me excitedly about how he was getting baptized this summer.

    Anyone who wants to say that there’s nothing going on – “it’s all just a perfectly understandable materialist reaction to the stress of the 21st century” – is, ahem, SmOkInG tHeIr ShOrTs.

    @Emmanuel Goldstein #186:

    Thanks for that, I would like to see a discussion on this forum of rootedness/rootlessness. As folks may or may not know, some of the prominent alt-Right internet personalities proffer an idiosyncratic philosophy in which it’s somehow wrong, or lesser, to be rooted. They call it the “longhouse mindset” or something.

    (I’m not a disciple of those guys but my understanding is it’s something like, if you won’t leave your roots in search of adventure this reveals something about your inner character.)

  212. Hi JMG,

    I have had a few experiences I couldn’t write off as happening purely in the material world – at least as I understand it. Not many, but the few I’ve had are all similar in the way that they refuse to be written off satisfactorily by resorting to a materialistic explanation. They are also among my more interesting memories, but it’s rare you can talk about them with people as they will always discount them.

    In garden biome news, we had an american goldfinch this week – so bright looking I had to look it up as I was sure it escaped from a cage, and three grapevine beetles, so some new activity in the biome. Also I watched birds feasting on large groups of ants over a couple days, eventually dissuading them from setting up camp where they were converging, and also saw a baby bird learn to fly, it was flopping about, crashing into windows clumsily before just getting it and flying off.

    I’ve learned a little about birds this year, the first is that they really like the frameworks I’ve built for my plants. as they can situate themselves all over the place on them and hunt from them, so they use them quite frequently. Also I let some of my bolted kale and swiss chard go to seed earlier in the summer and they really like feeding from them and see them doing it all the time.


  213. @JMG

    Similar scientific-sounding but logically nonsensical arguments were used to deny the reality of the Ganesha milk miracle of 1995. ‘Capillary action’ were at the core of the argumentation, but, as a person who studied chemical engineering, I can assure you that this argument just doesn’t hold water. Most statues of Lord Ganesha are made of wood or a metal alloy, and the hole in the trunk is the opening of a very small cavity – thus, there’s a clear limit on the amount of milk the trunk can hold, with the rest being solid mass.

    Critics point to spillage of the milk, but then if you look carefully at the photos and compare the amount of milk spilled to that offered, the numbers just don’t add up. Also, no skeptic has been able to give a convincing answer as to why this never happened before or after, at least not on this scale.

    I personally agree with our host’s adherence to the principle of parsimony, and given this, at least as far as I am concerned, Lord Ganesha really did drink the milk. Also, let’s keep in mind that this well-publicized event took place at a time when the Internet wasn’t as mainstream as it’s now. He does know how to make his presence felt, doesn’t He?

  214. @Ecosophy Enjoyer et al (#143): re, denial of consciousness

    If I may…

    I was reviewing one of the Modern Order of Essene lessons and came across this. I thought it was quite interesting with regard to the convo…

    “Atheists deny the existence of the Divine. In doing so they also deny their own spirit. Because our spirit is that part of us that resides in the Divine Mind in a state of complete enlightenment. That means our spirit is a part of the Divine in complete communion 24/7 with the Divine.
    Some atheists also deny the existence of their own soul. In their mind all they have is an ego that will perish when their body dies. When these people go to the other side they remain asleep. There they will sleep until somebody finally gets their attention. Some of them sleep for a very long time.

    This has nothing to do with our present discussion, but when you start visiting the astral world you’ll run across some of these sleeping people. You can help them by sending them Essene healing energy and telling them it’s time to wake up and smell the roses. Actually, one of the best approaches is to tell them it’s time to get up and go to work. It is. If they wake up they’ll be expecting an entirely different type of work. Call in their spirit guides and guardian angel and welcome them back to the world of the living.

    Spiritual healing has little meaning for atheists unless they believe in a group mind, group spirit or group soul. Then you can approach spiritual healing from that standpoint. Otherwise, you serve them best by addressing their issues without mention of spiritual healing. What you can do is obtain their permission to include them in your daily meditation and sending them energy for their own higher good. If they agree, include them in your Bridge of Love meditation. Some atheists will study the Gnostic Lessons but most of them are more willing to try Spiritual Alchemy or the Golden Dawn. Esoteric Freemasonry will also appeal to some of them. All of these approaches will help atheists get in touch with their own higher self and that’s a big step toward accepting the Divine. If they’re willing to give them a try, teach them the breath of acceptance, Healing Breath and healing hands of love techniques. Keep them in your daily devotions and Bridge of Love.”

  215. “Whatever the sixth sense may be, it is obviously very weak when compared to the five regular senses.”

    There is no reason to think everyone is equally sensitive. Color blindness is well known, and for the recently “standardized” (because discovered is clearly the wrong word) taste of umami, 5% of the population is insensitive to it. There is quite a variation in the sensitivity to bitterness too.

  216. Hi John Michael,

    On the previous topic, there’s been something of an update: July heat records could reach 50-year high as Europe, US and Asia continue to swelter .

    My favourite quote of the article was attached to a photo of some appealing, but probably rather sweaty young ladies, and the quote read: Tourists suffer through an intense Italian heatwave in Rome.

    Yes, yes, I understand they’re suffering from the heat. But are they willing to give up on the unnecessary flights which got them there which are compounding the problem? And that is a question very people grapple with. I’m treated as something of an oddity, because I drew a line in the sand, and said: ‘no more’, and that wasn’t the only cut made.



  217. Other Owen, what exactly is a duck in your analogy? Walks like matter, talks like matter…it walks like something that walks. Its begging the question (or assuming, which is what we are schooled to do) to say it looks material and only material or basically material. Worse, if you assume matter, then you’re stuck with the further question of what that is, to which you are in another round of appearances to which you have more and more complicated access to in the forms of assumptions. Abstract matter does not exist. Nature always manifests in appearances. What’s behind that is a matter for philosophy or metaphysics or religion. Or meditation. If there is anything behind it and not just shining in it. The It itself IS a theophany or manifestation. The appearance of substrate is an abstract illusion unless you think the substrate is actually revealed in the appearances, but that involves a lot of legerdemain in the form of Occasionalism. It’s a duck, which is a center of conscious manifestation at a certain level. The levels themselves are also manifestations. I suppose you can say Satan or the prince of the world or the little serpent generates matter, but its virtual, an illusion. But that illusion works through our consciousness, which means it cant be a fundamental constraint, or real. And it’s right back to the will and a matter of consciousness. We see “matter” because we want to impose sense at our easiest level of consciousness. It’s a form of projection. It’s worth unraveling in whatever way works for us. What’s really there and not hiding is the reason we came here. Since it’s real the hiding part comes from privation, and not the manifestation. All centers of consciousness manifest as a form of piety towards what is real. But they have the possibility to develop, which means to become more and more real. But they’re also already real. We just have trouble perceiving it.

  218. Albert Einstein summed up the two attitudes pretty well — ‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’

    On dowsing: My mother could dowse. She dowsed the location of neighbor’s borehole, for instance. But she hated talking about her ability.

    I lack the ability. Which would have come in useful for one job. We were trying to locate the water mains in an old township where the contractor never submitted “as built” drawings, so no one knew where they were. We found a valve. “I wonder where this one goes to…” mused the senior engineer, looking at the three possible roads it might lead to. “Let’s turn it on.”

    We opened it carefully, listening to the hiss as water started flowing. For a while nothing happened. Then we saw to our horror the tar on one of the roads slowly lift, crack open, and water flood out.

    We quickly shut the valve off and tiptoed away. “Looks like we found the pipe,” said the engineer, marking his map. “Let’s not mention the tar, shall we?”

  219. I’m a man of science, and because of this, I cannot deny facts when they happen.
    I had three of what I can only describe as supernatural events
    1) the fat man with the large bag
    I was visiting my sister’s home, then left on foot to go to take the bus. It was a clear and sunny afternoon. While walking, I encountered a fat man wearing black robes, carrying a large bag (those that are usually used for musical instruments, like a tube) coming my way, and we had to pass between a wall and a parked car. Clearly there was not enough space to pass at the same time, so I automatically scanted and walked on the road to let him pass. He nodded and proceeded. I just casually glanced to him while I was mid passage (I was walking on the road, he was walking on the pavement). Disappeared. Out of thin air. I was shocked. Just came back and wanted to see where the hell he was gone. No people in sight, no place to hide, Considering his size and the size of his bag, it would have been impossible even to drop into a manhole. Just scratched my head to figure out what was just happened.
    2) the handsome looking man in the bus
    I was returning home by bus, it was evening and the bus had the electric light on. I was sitting on the first row, just checked my ticket. The bus was waiting to the bus stop to allineate timing, or to have a conductor rotation. The bus was almost empty. Then, a man just entered the bus from the front entrance (near the conductor) and just stood up, staring at me, wit a really serious face. He was wearing dark robes, had a pretty handsome face. He was staring at me, but in the moment, because I didn’t absolutely knew him, just turned to understand who really he was looking at. Nobody. There were just two peple in the rear back, too far to meet the line of sight of the man. He was really looking at me, I realized. I turned back to him. All the process took half a second, and I also had this weird feeling that when I would look at him again, he would not be there. He was not there. Vanished, again. The fat man event happened just a couple o weeks before. I looked to see if he had chosen to exit the bus in that split second, but there were nobody to be seen. I felt that something was up with me in that period, but what? I’m still trying fo figure out.
    3) My Grandmother just came to have a visit. After her death.
    This is self explanatory. My Grandmother died of brain stroke in the hospital. I was at my parent’s home, just going to sleep after a grievous day. The beds are at the upper floor. I just went to say goodnight to my mother, when from the stairs, in the rooms below, just come thas sound of steps, steps of slippers that are dragged while walking. It had a real chilling effect on me. I called my mother, asked her what she could hear, and confirmed the sound was someone walking while using slippers.
    No one was in the floor below. I dared not to go below. The shock was too big to do anything. But it was undeniable, a sound crystal clear. Simply put, maybe my Grandmother had something to do there. After her death. Maybe just wanted to be heared, who knows.

    Soo. That’s all. Supernatural is just natural, it seems. I’m a science man, and just because of this, I cannot ignore evidence.
    Have a nice day

  220. Brad, is that your work? It’s a very well written sonnet. Thank you!

    Other Owen, nope. I’m suggesting that you’re looking at a duck and assuming the presence of a pond. If you have some time, George Berkeley’s Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous is a good introduction to this end of philosophy; it’s a couple of centuries out of copyright and can be downloaded in the format of your choice here.

    Chris, if it does so, it’ll be a matter of harsh necessity. Mind you, that seems very probable to me.

    Justin, it’s interesting that prayers do seem to find a quicker response these days. As for the link, I wonder how long it’ll take anyone in mainstream journalism to mention the fact that the reason younger people will never be able to afford a house is three quarters of a century of government policy intended to keep house prices rising, so as to make homeowners happy?

    Johnny, delighted to hear this. We don’t get goldfinches in my neighborhood at present, but greylag geese have apparently found a way across the Atlantic — my wife and I have seen them flying past several times. Nature always finds a way!

    Viduraawakened, I know several people who worship Ganesha and they all agree that he seems to be even more active these days than other gods. That strikes me as a very good thing; if I understand correctly, he’s a remover of obstacles, and we have a lot of obstacles to remove just now.

    Siliconguy, that’s a good point.

    Chris, I wonder how long it’ll be before it sinks in that the Sahara is shifting north, to the other side of the Mediterranean. My guess is it’ll be when the monsoons start rolling into Arabia and Chad.

    Martin, thanks for this. That’s one way to dowse! 😉

    Pierluigi, if you can find a copy, you might appreciate T.C. Lethbridge’s book Ghost and Ghoul; he began the study of parapsychology after having a couple of experiences very like yours.

  221. JMG:

    Re comment # 166: did I read this right? Neopagans are experiencing an “unknown god” (per Neptunesdolphins) but its really Jesus calling them back to the religion they grew up in? That’s wild! This may sound funny, but I am serious – can you schedule such a visit or is it more the case that you hit a spiritual crisis and Jesus shows up to invite you back (which sounds like the prodigal son story) when/if you need him?

  222. @JMG

    Thank you for your reply. You are correct in saying that Lord Ganesha removes obstacles; but that’s one half of the story – the other half being that He creates obstacles as well, which is why He is called ‘Vighneshvara’ or ‘Lord of obstacles’.

    I found it pleasantly surprising that some acquaintances of your worship Him. Doubtless, at least a few of them (if not all) will be from non-Hindu, non-South Asian families. So, what are the specific rituals they follow? Traditional Hindu ways of worshipping Him involve the offering of cooked food or ‘naivedya’, which is purely vegetarian, even eschewing the use of onion and garlic; that said, He is fond of sweet stuff; hence, the festival of Ganesha Chaturthi involves the consumption of all kinds of sweets (eggless only, obviously)on a large scale.

    Regarding the other functions He performs; well, there is a line in the widely sung Ganapati Atharvashirsha which says that “He is situated in the root chakra”. He is THE deity to pray to before you try to worship any other deity – at least, that is the prevailing Hindu view, irrespective of denomination. He is also prayed to by musicians, artists and other men and women of culture, as well as by students, when exam time comes knocking. So, whether you’re interested in esoteric Hinduism or mainstream Hinduism, both require the worship of Ganesha as a real being, and not a symbol or archetype or philosophical concept.

    Also, I wanted to just add this one last thing – as far as possible, one should worship only those statues of Ganesha which have His trunk curled towards His left, and not right. The worship of the latter variety demands extra care and attention, and are mostly worshipped by renunciates and tantric masters.

  223. Chris S, you’ll have to ask Jesus about that. I don’t happen to know his preferred MO.

    Viduraawakened, I’ll have to ask them. I know they pray, and repeat his mantra in meditation, but beyond that I don’t happen to know.

  224. @Viduraawakened, #227

    >as far as possible, one should worship only those statues of Ganesha which have His trunk curled towards His left, and not right.

    Wow, just wow!!!

    I was in a restaurant with family a few months ago. They have a Ganesha statue in display, though most likely they just picked it up because it looked pretty and sort of matched the decoration of the place (to my knowledge no Indian national owns or works at the venture, but they seem to love cows for some reason). I did perform a mental salute as a small courtesy (no worship of other Gods before Lord Jesus, but I allow myself to acknowledge their existence/presence) and commented to my wife how lovely the statue was.

    That night, I had a horrid nightmare involving a gigantic, carnivore elephant that was mowing down crowds of wretches. It was painful to see and next morning I decided to not touch Hindu religion even with a ten foot stick. This is, by the way, not something that I have experienced with other pagan Gods: I have a lukewarm relationship with Minerva, and Thor has manifested himself in my dreams in a generally positive light.

    Do you think this might be related?

  225. Hello John Michael,

    Yes, it is my work. After reading your second post in this series, I was standing in my kitchen, and began to recite Wordsworth’s poem aloud, finishing it with one small inaccuracy. I had not read or thought about it in 22 years.

    Last week, when you published this third essay, I realized that Wordsworth’s poem had come to my mind because our world is changing. He wrung his hands as our Age of Reason neared its apex, whereas now it is almost at its nadir.

    So, the next day, as I climbed a nearby mountain with my dogs, the first stanza of my poem flashed in my head. I’m an old enough hand to carry a small notebook with me, and I captured it, then finished it three days later.

    Thank you for your provocative essays,


  226. The word “Satan” is used to refer to various unrelated things. In the atheistic sense, it represents the spirit of rebellion against organized religion and from there tends to follow one of two trajectories: materialistic spiritual blindness, or a sophomoric interest in being as “badass” as possible. If we accept that there is an actual entity evoked by the word “Satan” and that it is a single entity, the most useful identification of it in my opinion is the anthroposophical being called Ahriman. This being fits the bill as far as the effects seen upon those who invite his influence into their thoughts and actions, and also as far as his desire to remain hidden and work by deception. (This is a distinct and very different being from Lucifer, with whom he is often conflated in Christian conceptualization; that conflation also rings the bell for a tactic Ahriman might use.) An effective remedy for malevolent influence by this being is to consistently recognize him and notice the distinction between his goals and one’s own.

    JMG, do you think there is a single real entity evoked by the word “Satan”? If so, do you agree that it is the same entity as Ahriman of the anthroposophical system?

  227. JMG, I think you might appreciate the surviving respect for dreams still found in many in South Korea. For an otherwise largely non-metaphysical populace (high tech, low religious participation, etc), they still carry remnants of traditional knowledge into modern life.

    Korean women, especially, seem to experience and take serious their clairvoyant-style dreams.


    A few examples:

    + They have an established tradition of close family members experiencing dreams that provide early detection of pregnancy for a given mother. The dreams often feature strong, consistent symbols, such as a particular animal or item. The different symbols historically correspond to the high probability of a certain gender for the baby. “Conception dreams” — I’ve personally witnessed this when a mother’s dream ultimately proved accurate on all fronts well before any physical evidence could be checked.

    + The otherwise rationalist American professor, Bruce Cumings, encountered his mother-in-law forcefully visiting his dream the night she passed. She carefully instructed him to take care of her daughter before moving on. If I recall correctly, he recounted this experience in either the preface or epilogue of an edition of his book, Korea’s Place in the Sun.

    + I experienced the mother of a friend remotely viewing me through a dream, essentially. While halfway across the country, I tripped and injured myself when with friends. I’d had a fight with one in the group, too, so I was smarting physically and emotionally. But I stubbornly played it off as if everything was fine. Promptly, the friend’s mother calls: “I just woke up — are you with EWill? Go check on him. He’s hurt but pretending he’s fine.”

    + People offer to buy or sell their dreams. I was reminded of this after watching some pro Korean baseball players admonish their teammate for low-balling the purchase of their manager’s dream. The manager dreamt something wonderful and full of good portent, so he offered to sell it to their slumping outfielder. The outfielder bought it for 10,000 won but kept striking out in the next game, all the same. His teammates very matter-of-factly scolded him for not paying the more sincere and respectable price of 100,000. You can see this play out in an episode of a Netflix show called A Clean Sweep.


    Something I find intriguing is the response of Americans with whom I’ve shared stories like this, including very personal ones. They invariably reply with polite condescension. “Oh, what an interesting uh.. myth..”

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