Monthly Post

Beyond Thaumatophobia, Part One: A Door Into Springtime

Naomi Wolf, one of the few journalists who responded to the Covid-19 phenomenon by doing what journalists are theoretically supposed to do and asking hard questions about the party line pushed by government and corporate flacks, has continued to follow that shocking act of independent thought into wider territories.  It’s been quite something to watch.  A recent public post on her Substack went considerably further than she has before now, and suggested that the weirder aspects of recent history only makes sense if you accept the possibility that metaphysical factors play a significant role in our everyday lives.

Naomi Wolf, heading into unexpected territory.

The idea isn’t unique to her, of course.  Readers of this blog and my Dreamwidth journal will recall discussions of the bizarre way that people who’d spent years promoting natural health care modalities, and insisting that the pharmaceutical industry can’t be trusted, turned in lockstep and started shrieking that the inadequately tested experimental vaccines being pushed by Big Pharma were our only hope and anybody who proposed alternatives or even asked the most basic questions was deliberately trying to kill their grandmothers. I was far from the only writer at the time who noted just how spooky the whole process felt—how it seemed as though some unseen presence had taken over the collective consciousness of the industrial world, and a great many individual minds as well.

More generally, the last seven years have been a very weird time. I’m not going to get into the details, because it would take us very far away from the theme of this essay. Let’s just say that an astonishing number of people have ended up supporting things that are the exact mathematical opposite of the things they used to praise to the skies, without noticing the least incongruity between their previous stances and their current ones—and if you point out the difference, you can count on getting either the thousand-mile stare once famous as a mark of cult membership or a saliva-flecked rage fit larded with accusations of every kind of wrongthink you care to name.

The sheer bizarrerie of all this has encouraged a great many people these days to take a hard look at the unthinking materialism of our time, and to reassess the possibility that spiritual, religious, and occult teachings have something worthwhile to say about the present situation.  It’s no accident, for example, that the Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner is getting attention from all over the conservative counterculture these days.  His name first came up in those circles because he predicted that a vaccine would be developed that would prevent the people who got it from perceiving the spiritual world at all—and some reports of changes in consciousness among recipients of the Covid vaccines resemble this to an uncomfortable degree. Yet Steiner’s teachings have a great deal more than this to offer, and it’s been fascinating to watch people who a few years ago would have dismissed him as a crank approaching his work with open minds

Rudolf Steiner. He foresaw quite a few harrowing things.

Wolf’s proposal—basically, that what physical or psychological explanations can’t cover might best be explored in terms of spiritual explanations—displays an equally useful degree of open-mindedness. In this latest post she’s gone further than that, and addressed a perception that many other people have had:  the sense that over the last three years or so the world has passed “from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.”

Yes, that last bit is a quote from H.P. Lovecraft—it’s from his prose poem “Nyarlathotep,” a vision of the end of the world derived (like so many of his stories) from his dreams. It’s appropriate to a discussion of Wolf’s article, because there’s something distinctly Lovecraftian about the image of the metaphysical world Wolf presents to us. She insists on seeing it in the kind of hardcore dualist terms that gave some kinds of Gnosticism a bad name, with the negative side of that balance cranked up fortissimo in the usual way.  Unlike Lovecraft, she’s aware of the existence of positive, life-affirming powers in the spiritual realm, but she seems to be tuned into the same sense of vast malign presences just outside the reach of human awareness that Lovecraft made the mainstay of his weird tales.

To some extent this is probably a function of her upbringing. Wolf was raised Jewish, and it’s quite common for people raised in any religious tradition to turn back to the familiar metaphors of their childhood when something breaks through the comfortable materialism of adulthood. You can see this in the way that she defaults, in this essay and elsewhere, to talking about gods other than the god of Israel as necessarily evil beings.  That’s a common habit of all three of the Abrahamic religions, and it’s responsible for quite a few of the ugliest events in religious history; I’ve discussed that habit and the logical fallacies behind it in my recently reprinted book A World Full of Gods, and so we can leave it aside for now.

The Abrahamic vision is not the only way to think about gods. Here’s another. (Bookshop link)

What I want to discuss here is one of the other factors feeding into the dread of spiritual evil that pervades Wolf’s writing on the predicament of our time. Wolf herself sums up that factor in a few crisp sentences near the end of her essay:  “That said, I do believe that the world in which we could manage quite well enough by never talking about metaphysical energies—blessings or curses, angelic or demonic forces—has died away.  I feel it gone, in all of its dumb, familiar, reassuring solidity. I miss its stolid, lumpen thickness, its cozy materiality, its prosaic predictability.”  Earlier in the same essay, she talks about feeling as though the world she had inhabited had melted away, leaving her stranded in a strange new world.

It’s a common feeling, of course.  As a teacher of occultism, I deal with it now and then in students, who find themselves fearfully adrift in a world much larger and stranger than they ever imagined, a world in which there are potential enemies and allies as yet unknown to them. It has at least one significant expression in literature, for that matter.  Fans of C.S. Lewis will recall the scene in That Hideous Strength when Mark Studdock, a prisoner of the villainous satanist-scientists of the National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.), is ordered to trample and spit on a crucifix.  Studdock is not a Christian; the big crucifix on the floor has no religious significance to him; but the fact that it is there, in what until then had purported to be a scientific setting, brings him to exactly the awareness Wolf describes. (If Naomi Wolf hasn’t yet read That Hideous Strength she should run, not walk, to the nearest public library and check out a copy. She’ll find herself instantly on familiar and congenial ground.)

Yet that vertiginous sense of a threatening new world full of potential dangers isn’t the only way that people react to the same discovery.  There’s another common response, and it’s worth bringing up here, partly in answer to Wolf’s essay (and to the broader phenomenon of awakening to the spiritual that’s happening around us these days) and partly because it’s more than a little relevant to the theme of disenchantment and enchantment that I’ve been developing in my posts this year. Alongside the people who find the discovery of a wider metaphysical world terrifying, it’s important to place those who respond to it with delight.

This is what I grew up with. I loathed it.

I’ll use myself as an example.  Wolf and I were born only a few months apart, but my experience was emphatically not hers.  Growing up in west coast suburbia in the 1960s and 1970s, I didn’t take any comfort at all in the stolid, lumpen thickness, the allegedly cozy materiality, or the prosaic predictability of my surroundings.  I knew these things, of course, but I experienced them as a cage. They felt leaden, oppressive, arbitrary, and fake, and I wanted out.  Since the entire weight of public opinion at that time insisted that there was no way out, I took what comfort I could in books about strange phenomena.  From werewolves through ancient astronauts to lost continents, if it offered some hope that the world wasn’t as nightmarishly one-dimensional as every adult I knew insisted it had to be, I wanted to hear about it.

Then I found my first book on practical occultism, Techniques of High Magic by Francis King and Stephen Skinner. I still have it. I also remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first encountered it. That book was a hacksaw blade smuggled into my prison cell.  I recognized after one reading that the book wouldn’t just pick the lock and set me free, that it would take sustained effort over a long time to saw through one bar at a time, and that once I got an opening wide enough to squirm through, I might have to face any number of further obstacles on the way out. Did I care?  Not for a moment. That book was my guide out of the wintry grasp of twentieth century suburban culture into a springtime I could only just begin to imagine at the time. Nor did the promise it offered turn out to be false—far from it.

I’ve encountered a good many other people, especially but not only in the occult scene, who have had similar experiences.  For us the metaphysical world isn’t shot through with the lurking fear that H.P. Lovecraft milked so effectively for his horror fiction. It has its dangers, like the rest of existence, but what’s much more striking about that world to us is its potential for agency, participation, and delight.  I’ve found, in fact, that Lovecraft’s imaginary critters make one useful litmus test for the distinction I’m drawing here. You might consider reflecting on that yourself.  Do Lovecraft’s shoggoths, night-gaunts, and Great Old Ones seem frightening to you, or do they make you wish that the world really did have other intelligent beings living on and in it, however squamous, rugose, or tentacled they might be?  When you read what Tolkien said of his own childhood, “I desired dragons with a profound desire,” do you nod enthusiastically?  I’d like to suggest that people who belong to the first category might be usefully called thaumatophobes—the first half of that is from the Greek word thaumata, “wonders” or “marvels.”  Those who belong to the second category can accordingly be called thaumatophiles.

I’d be delighted. (Artist website)

The distinction shouldn’t be turned into a value judgment.  If you are one or the other of these, that’s simply what you are, and your response to the metaphysical world will follow from that. If you have a hard time gauging where you fall on that spectrum, old-fashioned weird fiction is among the best sources of tests. One of my favorite examples is from Arthur Machen, one of Lovecraft’s favorite authors.  In “The White People,” one of Machen’s most famous stories, one character has just asked another to explain the nature of sin. This is the answer he gets:

“I think I must reply to your question by another. What would your feelings be, seriously, if your cat or your dog began to talk to you, and to dispute with you in human accents? You would be overwhelmed with horror. I am sure of it. And if the roses in your garden sang a weird song, you would go mad. And suppose the stones in the road began to swell and grow before your eyes, and the pebble you noticed at night had shot out stony blossoms in the morning? Well, these examples may give you some notion of what sin really is.”

Take a moment to reflect on this, dear reader.  If a cat walked up to you one morning and spoke to you in human language, would you be horrified?  Or would you be astonished and then delighted, and hunker down to talk to the cat and find out what it had to say?  If you heard a rosebush start to sing, would that drive you into a frenzy of terror, or would you be fascinated?  Crucially, too, if you’re close enough to the Abrahamic tradition that the word “sin” has rougly the same valence for you that it did for Arthur Machen—is this your idea of what sin is?

He’d get along with talking cats just fine.

It’s worth noting that Machen’s notion of the nature of sin is far from universal even in the Abrahamic traditions. When St. Francis of Assisi preached his famous sermon to the birds, that act implied that he was prepared for the birds in question to listen to him and understand what he was saying. For that matter, I’m pretty sure that if St. Francis, or the Baal Shem Tov, or any of the other Christian saints or Jewish tzaddikim I know of had encountered a talking cat, they would have sat down, listened to the loquacious feline, and responded to it with perfect aplomb. Living in a world awash with divine marvels, why would they be bothered in the least by something as prosaic as a cat who wanted to talk to them?

That’s not a rhetorical question. It traces a crucial fault line, one that’s worth careful exploration. What the talking cat, the singing roses, and the blossoming stones are doing, of course, is rising above the places they have been assigned in human notions of the hierarchy of nature: the cat is acting like a human, the roses are acting like birds, and the stones are acting like plants. In words that Machen would have found very familiar, they are “getting above their stations.”  That, for Machen, is the nature of sin. Replace the word “sin” with its local and temporal equivalents and that same rule applies all through what we may as well call the comfortable classes—the people in every society whose condition of privilege means that they can count on getting benefits from the established order of things that outweigh the costs they have to pay.  For such people, a challenge to the established order of things is a threat not only to their income and their lifestyle but to their very identity.

Arthur Machen, hoping that the moggie on the rug keeps its mouth shut.

Machen belonged to the comfortable classes of his time, and his terror of talking cats, singing roses, and the like applied at least as much to human beings who showed a similar disinclination to do as they were told.  That’s the context in which the passage about sin appears.  The two men are talking about a girl who turned to magic as an alternative to the suffocating life she was expected to live in Victorian England’s middle class. Machen, who liked to wrap up his weird tales with a hefty serving of morality play, had her finish the story by poisoning herself.  Me, I prefer to think that she faked her suicide and, like many other rebellious Englishwomen of the time, went abroad to find a place where she could live a life that made sense to her.

As this suggests, there are people raised in the comfortable classes who end up as thaumatophiles and turn to magic, usually because their circumstances won’t permit them to have a life they consider worth living. Far more often, though, it’s the excluded and the dispossessed, the people who are expected to carry the burdens of the existing order of things but receive few if any of its benefits, who are the first to turn to magic.  The magical history of the United States is brimful of good examples.  Consider hoodoo, the extraordinarily rich African-American tradition of folk magic, which was born during the years of slavery and matured during the era of Jim Crow; consider Appalachian conjure, nurtured over centuries of bitter poverty in America’s least prosperous region; consider the robust Latin American occult traditions spreading across the United States one botánica at a time, and the list goes on.  Magic is one of the ways that people who are denied agency and opportunity get both, and use them.

That is to say, magic is the politics of the excluded classes. Seen from the perspective of privilege, that’s a frightening thing, and it’s helped shape the public perception of magic in quite a few ways, not all of them obvious. That’s why, for example, the Harry Potter novels made admission to the “wizarding world” available only to those who could afford to go to an expensive residential school, the kind of school that in the real world is open only to the children of the comfortable classes:  that was necessary in order to domesticate the fictional magic of the series and make it unthreatening to its readers in those same classes. That’s why, to turn to an older literary phenomenon, the Victorian era was so well supplied with novels in which sinister cultists with magical powers threatened the total overthrow of everything, and had to be slapped silly by clean-cut, well-heeled English heroes in order to make the world safe for plutocracy.

One of the supreme nightmares of the Victorian comfortable classes. (Ironically played in this case by a young Christopher Lee.)

You can see the same pattern at work in the insistence, so widespread among those who don’t practice magic, that people who do practice magic can only be motivated by a craving for unearned power or a desire to be more special than anyone else. People get remarkably defensive if you question such claims. Maybe it’s because they themselves can’t imagine working magic for any purpose other than getting everything they want right now, maybe it’s because they need to feel better than those horrible occultists over there, maybe it’s some other reason: the fact remains that I’ve fielded more than one screaming meltdown and more than one round of bullying bluster from people who don’t practice magic, but somehow can’t bear the thought that magic isn’t about browbeating the world into giving you everything you demand.

They’re going to have to deal, though. Magic is not about domination.  Rather, it’s about participation. The forces that make magic work aren’t the property of any one human being, or for that matter of humanity as a whole; they flow around us and through us, to borrow a notion a certain filmmaker ripped off from occult sources, and if we know how to sense them and work with them, we can dance in their gyres and spread our sails before their winds.  We aren’t the only beings out there in the wide world of the Unseen, for that matter.  The metaphysical realms of being might best be seen as a vast community in which human beings play only a very modest role. As with any community, there are rough neighborhoods where you don’t want to go at night, and other dangers besides, but—as Mark Studdock realized in the presence of the crucifix—there are also potential allies and friends.

The excluded classes, denied agency and opportunity by their society, turn to that community because they can participate in powers that can give them some hope of a better life. Dissident members of the comfortable classes—yes, that would be me; I grew up in the suburban middle classes, though I embraced the downward mobility that’s traditional for novice authors and spent years in working class jobs—turn to it because it offers the prospect of a life less hemmed in by the rigid social boundaries assigned them by the lottery of birth. Other people have other reasons, to be sure, and some of those are grubby enough.  Show me a human activity that doesn’t attract its quota of sleazeballs and I’ll accept a critique of magic on these grounds.

And Naomi Wolf?  I don’t happen to know the details of her upbringing, but she pretty clearly internalized the values of the comfortable classes—you don’t work in high-level positions in presidential campaigns (which she did) without embracing those ways of thinking about the world. Now, having paid more attention to truth than was good for her career, she’s on the outside looking in.  That’s got to be a hugely disorienting experience. Still, once she gets used to it, there are some things she might benefit from learning from those who’ve been here a little longer.

It’s a much vaster world out there than the conventional wisdom realizes. (Artist website)

One lesson I hope she picks up sooner or later is that the metaphysical world isn’t just a matter of angels or demons, blessings or curses, or any other rigidly dualistic scheme of this kind.  It’s a vast and complex community out there. Most of the participants in that community are serenely uninterested in human beings, and many of the others respond to us depending on our attitudes and actions, rather than pursuing some fixed agenda regarding us. Yet human beings also have an impact, or rather a great many impacts, on the metaphysical worlds and their inhabitants.  Two weeks from now we’ll talk about some of the roles that those impacts have played in the strange history of our time.


  1. Wow. Yes, yes, YES! I never understood why Machen equated that with sin. Puzzling, certainly, not having the magical background at the time, but, sin? And yes, I’d dearly love to hear what the cat had to say. Though I might not like it. I don’t think I’d be ready for Shadow’s cynical and suspicious opinions (he was mistreated before I adopted him) ; and Buster the stray would be (was, in fact) full of street-macho defiance.

  2. Greetings ADJMG. Hope the family is well.
    I caught my 84 year old mother reading “Return of the Gods” by a Rabbi Kahn. This book is getting widespread attention in the conservative community,. The premise is that the Judeo Christian liberal order of the modern west is in retreat. And the old pagan gods are returning to rule once again. And it’s not the cool gods like Thor and Neptune but the scary Old Testament ones like moloch and bael.

  3. That’s a fascinating perspective, JMG…It seemed to me that the word “vaccine” turned ordinary intelligent people into obedient zombies…Whereas if the jab had been termed, much more accurately, the gene therapy that it actually was, many would have shied away…The reactions when I pointed out that it was in fact gene therapy, and Merck had termed it thus, were nearly hysterical…So that was word magic, it seems to me…

  4. In re: “It’s no accident, for example, that the Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner is getting attention from all over the conservative counterculture these days. His name first came up in those circles because he predicted that a vaccine would be developed that would prevent the people who got it from perceiving the spiritual world at all—and some reports of changes in consciousness among recipients of the Covid vaccines resemble this to an uncomfortable degree.”

    I took the first two jabs (I have not taken any boosters!). I have noticed no difference in me, in that respect, one way or the other, nor has anyone I know suggested such.

    In fact, so far (it has been almost two years since I took those jabs), I have noticed no ill effects. For that matter, I have never had COVID either.

    My priest has told me that he has read, somewhere, that people who have Rh-negative blood types (as I do) have extra protection from COVID. If that is true, then I wonder if this applies to the jabs as well.


  5. Like many of your readers, I had a childhood haunted by what appeared in the novels and esoteric works I read. I didn’t think anything of it. I could sense the spiritual power and force in the religious works I read, from the entire Bible to the Bhagavad-Gita and so on. None of it entirely comfortable. And CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy thrilled me to the core, as did Andre Norton’s Witch World series and many other authors’ works. I was thoroughly confused by Charles Williams’ Christian esotericism, but appreciated it tremendously. I got a lot out of Cayce, the lesser known Theosophists like Col. A.E. Powell, and even Blavatsky’s rambling huge works. There’s no time to give a complete bibliography even if I wanted to, and anyway you’ve cited a great many of my book-friends here and elsewhere.

    I was never horrified by the entities and experiences that seemed to make HPL’s skin crawl, just interested. Thank you for the Weird of Hali books that look at them from another perspective.

    I didn’t so much seek contact with otherworldly realities as sense and after a manner “see” them. I’ve had so many odd, unsought encounters and communications I have difficulty enumerating or describing them. The inner core of the Abrahamic faiths seems to have taken root in me somehow, but what is communicated to me by that fierce friend is nothing like what I would have expected, and (it/they/them) is much friendlier to talking dogs, rose bushes, and chthonic tentacular beings (not to mention the gods spoken of in myth) than I could possibly have imagined.

    Not having your extraordinary quality, JMG, of engaging the unsympathetic world on these points, I have largely kept my silence about it all, except here. Of course, I haven’t written a plethora of books sticking my neck out in one way or another! I look forward to the upcoming comments and your future installments in this series. Thank you.

  6. Intriuging post. As an (admittedly extremely) heterodox Christian and an invidual predisposed to accept a plurality of occult agencies—good, less so, and indifferent—along the various chains, my definition of sin would be: anything that distracts us from paying attention to The Divine.

    Which is, for all intents and purposes, exactly what the hardline material-reductionist fundamentalist worldview aspires to do.


  7. Happy Solstice, JMG. I hope you have a great day. Thanks for all you’ve brought to us over the years.

  8. Hi John & commentariat.

    These encounters with the wider worlds must be in the air. (& that is a good thing!). It reminded me of this article on Charles Eisenstein’s substack with a UFO researcher that came out last week.

    [ ]

    The interviewer asks:

    “How can you go about your day to day role and your day to day responsibilities and your obligations when you have a glimpse outside of the substructure that we live within?

    Charles Eisenstein

    Yeah, it’s hard to know what to do with the information. But I think another reason people are resistant is because it is an assault on their identity. Because who we think we are is related to what we believe about the world. And our role in the world makes sense, given the reality that we hold. So when that reality comes into question, then, who am I, that comes into question as well, which is why people take it personally, when you question their beliefs. It feels like you’re being assaulted. And in a sense, you are.”

    This notion of attacking someones identity when confronting them with information they don’t compute brings me back to your “thousand-mile stare once famous as a mark of cult membership or a saliva-flecked rage fit larded with accusations of every kind of wrongthink you care to name”.

    I see this phenomenon around me quite a bit. To go back to a comment I made on this weeks Magic Monday, it seems to also be at play in the extreme ends of our current divisive political binary. And to tie that in with magic, the deep entrenchment in either extreme also seems to be in part, a result of the overarching materialism / mistaken belief in or malady of disenchantment.

    As the enchanted world makes itself known again, the prospect of participation can seem quite scary to thaumatophobe. Even those inclined towards thaumatophilia may skirt up close to the edge and then turn away, as you have shown before.

    For many, blinded by the spell of modernism, it seems they turn to political or other tribes for meaning.

    I am curious about what your take on what the greater flip-flop and trading places within our political movements / stances that we’ve seen occuring over these last years might be caused by, and what your take on it is. Because just as we’ve seen the people who were natural health advocates lining up for the medication, we have also seen these previous people who used to hate things like the CIA, become its cheerleaders. On the other side of the aisle, it seems that those who used to not bat an eye at going to war with other countries, or overthrowing regimes in other countries, now are down on the deep state and into natural medicine.

    I imagine part of this is the lack of equilibirium in these movements over time, as so masterfully put forth by Levi and your commentary on the same. They become so imbalanced the move to other side of the scales becomes inevitable

  9. Much on my mind lately is Revelation 18:23…For by their sorceries we’re all nations deceived. The Greek word for sorceries in the original text is pharmakia.

  10. Hi JMG,

    This is a very interesting essay. I read Naomi Wolf’s post you linked at the beginning, and my take is she’s just in the first stages of trying to make sense of what’s going on with the world. Many of us are at this point, as more and more attributes of our life-long frame of reference – built up since being a toddler – are now being broken down into something unrecognizable. And worse, leaving many of us with no explanation of current events or a process to navigate forward.

    As a materialist and reductionist, it’s become apparent to me humans are far more evil in nature than I believed for much of my six decades on the planet. We not only have one foot firmly planted in the jungle, we have a brain that clicks between moral values the way a waterbug flicks across the surface of a pond on a warm summer evening. However, that’s not the critical element here, as my views are probably falling short on explanation and even shorter on “what to do now”.

    It’s my opinion that the topic of today’s post is as important as any you’ve made since I’ve been following you over the last 17 years or so. If part of the transition we’re making with The Long Descent includes a corresponding transition in the spiritual side of things, it’s essential that the tools, wisdom and options are laid out for those that need assistance. Assistance from going insane, assistance with making a positive contribution to our society, and assistance in living a full and meaningful life. At the moment it seems the changes underway are uncomfortable, to say the least, for the majority.

  11. That Hideous Strength is a whirlwind when read today. Having finished it a few weeks ago I found I had bookmarked and made notes throughout of the incredible foresight of CS Lewis.

    From outlining how indefinite remediation justifies preventive actions, or how NICE had organized their female cohort of police officers, the disdain for agricultural laborer’s and rentiers, and orchestrated inciting incidents to name a few.

  12. I was an atheist and “scientific skeptic” for quite some time before coming back around to a belief in a more complex reality. It’s been an interesting journey so I’m always intrigued to see others go through it as well. It definitely takes time to get past the old habits of mind that made it difficult to see the spiritual side of life, but it’s well worth the effort.

    You do mention how magic was something of a way out of a straitjacketed upbringing, and I can empathize, but I’ve also found that having challenges like that growing up can be a source of spiritual value in itself—it can give you a perspective on life that is different and worthwhile in its own way compared to what it would have been in less restrictive circumstances. That’s how I see my own past now; I’m thankful for what I learned from the conservative Christian suburban milieu in which I spent my formative years even as I’m critical of much of the specifics of it.

  13. My condolences on your childhood. It sounds like being trapped in an Ayn Rand novel* or a mental institution run by secular Shakers.

    * Reading Atlas Shrugged was the only time in my life that I have ever wanted to physically hurt an inanimate object. It’s
    not just one dimensional but a bland, shallow, and heavy handed one dimensionality. I wonder how often the library has to replace that book.

    It reminds me of a shorty story set in New Berlin (formerly Tokyo, unbeknownst to the protagonist) long after Hitler conquered the world and rewrote or eliminated every trace of a rival or divergent concept. At the end the protagonist wonders aloud “I can’t shake this feeling that we are all being lied to.”

    To live in such a word and then find actual dragons, I’d remember where I was standing too. Congratulations on your great escape.

    PS If you didn’t watch The Shawshank Redemption before killing your television, then I highly recommend making a one time exception to your no moving pictures rule. I can’t say more without spoiling it.

  14. I suspect, for what it’s worth, that your analysis of thaumatophobes and thaumatophiles, leaves out a very important third category, one which will be playing a major role in the years ahead of us: I’m sure I can’t be alone in that my initial reaction to the realization that the world is far more complex, and far less solidly material, than I’d thought was one of fear at the fact that the world I lived in was completely different from the one I thought I’d lived in; but that was followed by delight at that same fact as I adjusted to it. I think a lot of other people are in the same boat, and so it won’t surprise me in the least to discover that as time passes and people adjust to the new realities, a lot more people embrace it than it seems like will happen right now.

  15. Thank you for this series. Much to think about. Curious if there is a good book or resource that covers the basics of what is being said here that can be given to friends and family. Something written in a way that they can wrap their heads around?

    For one of your artists here is the website. I am hoping he continues this series soon.

    Great story idea of what comes after from a little known book. Other authors have done well with that concept.

  16. >If a cat walked up to you one morning and spoke to you in human language, would you be horrified? Or would you be astonished and then delighted, and hunker down to talk to the cat and find out what it had to say? If you heard a rosebush start to sing, would that drive you into a frenzy of terror, or would you be fascinated?

    I wouldn’t be horrified. I would be amused at first and then I would get concerned. Because cats love mornings. And they want you to love them too. I can only imagine how effective a talking cat could become at waking you up every single time.

    Although thinking about it a bit more, a talking dog would be much more annoying. Only you can end dog hunger. Please feed me now. Dogs. Are. Manipulative.

    I would be concerned the rosebush would start nagging me to spray it for bugs. I’d hate to have to go back and forth with it, telling it I’ll get to you when I can.

    I’m not at all certain though that cats need to talk anyway, even if they could. They seem to be very good at picking up on your moods and thoughts in some weird nonverbal way.

    Although the real disturbing question in all of this – if cows could talk, would you still eat them? Time to make some more chili.

  17. JMG:

    I was more than relieved many months ago to read on your dreamwidth blog that I was not the only one dumbfounded by the sudden shift of people to being skeptical of big pharma suddenly in favor of vaccinating people against their will. This includes a lot of people I know.

    Although now I am concerned after reading this. I did take the vaccine and a booster. I did this in the middle of working through Learning Ritual Magic. I haven’t noticed a difference, but I also was not far enough along to know whether I would have noticed.

  18. JMG – Sin is also found in a deeper inadequacy when we encounter a spiritual reality beyond our reach or ability to meet in a way that is commensurate, hence establishing an existential dilemma not easily or even able to be resolved. I can only wonder if the example you’ve raised from Machen’s tale, of the talking animal, was taken up later by Olaf Stapledon in his wrenching novel Sirius, wherein the family dog acquires a sentience, after being raised with the children, that allows it to communicate with humans, a sentience that produces more despair than enlightenment.

    Alongside Machen’s offering, Stapledon suggests how excruciatingly painful — for both human and animal — such communication would be, because of an unresolvable crisis in accomodating or relating to the Otherness that each side presents, as a fundamental boundary protecting each has been trespassed, with a metaphysical conundrum now arisen in which both find themselves and which should not exist — at least for sensibility to manage or remain sound. Regardless of some timely trappings (the novel was written in 1944 England), that is a real horror Stapledon suggests.

    Perhaps this is a roundabout way of saying that, despite a St. Francis here and there, not everyone can stand on such ground. Certainly from my own experience (and not directly related to this topic), I do not court the Sublime lightly.

  19. A blessed Alban Heruin to everyone and our esteemed host!
    My mind initially went another direction with the Machen metaphor for sin and that was: from the perspective of the Gods, if humans act like they have become gods, that is sin. I’m reminded of the Al Pacino line from the movie the Devil’s Advocate: “You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire; you build egos the size of cathedrals; fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse; grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green, gold-plated fantasies, until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own god…and where can you go from there?”
    Certainly there’s a lot of that going on around these days with the internet and social media. And the elites seem to have assumed they can play God in a variety of seemingly sinful ways, including, to reiterate one of the points made in your essay: that any sort of dissenting should be feared not tolerated. A great read as usual. Thank you JMG for all the thought provoking, insightful, and inspiring content!

  20. Count me as another member of the comfortable classes who found an opening in the bars of the cage at an early age.

    One lovely spring afternoon, I was walking home from school after a classmate’s mom spoke to our AP English class on the topic of astrology. She gave an overview of the basics of the art. (How surprising it seems to me now that we were offered that glimpse into an esoteric tradition at that time and place, the late 1960s in a stolidly conservative suburb in Southern California!)

    Walking home, I was entranced by the scent of roses blooming in well-tended suburban gardens, tiny green leaves fluttering on trees, and the sun radiating blissful warmth. In this heightened state, I pondered the mysterious influences of the moon and other celestial bodies, reasoning that if the moon influenced the tides, how could it not also influence me?

    This long-remembered numinous experience awakened in me a lifelong curiosity about the unseen energies moving through and around me, and a clear understanding that I knew almost nothing about the play of forces that were shaping my life. I resolved to look into the matter.

    Solstice blessings and gratitude for your work, JMG!

  21. Thank you for your writing, I’ve been reading for quite a while and found your writing thought-provoking and dare I say enlightening.
    I think that I myself fall somewhere the middle of the scale but a bit more on the phillic side, driven more by curiosity and a yearning for answers rather than a strong desire towards the supernatural.
    This lead in my late teens to me being into the rationalist and debunking scene that started to catch wind back then, but I left the door open and shone the skeptical light on the pop-skepticism which of course proved deadly to that sort of belief system.
    I was still quite materialist for years after that, but more because the easily found writings on the supernatural (at for me) were of quite low quality.
    I have to say that it is quite freeing to realize that an all encompassing framework with “the answers” isn’t something that’s possible to find.

    Anyway, my rambling introduction wasn’t the impetus for my comment.
    I reflected upon reading that Lovecraft actually wrote a somewhat thaumatophillic story; “The dream quest of unknown Kadath”.
    It has talking and heroic cats and even helpful ghouls, it’s one of my favourites of his and I was wondering how you think it fits with his other stories were just interacting with the supernatural will make you mad.

  22. Have you been following the fuss about Joe Rogan offering a famous vaccine expert 100k to just debate RFK jr? Billionaire Mark Cuban says the scientist shouldn’t debate, that he would be “bullied”. If these things are not even allowed to be questioned, no wonder they are turning to other points of views.

  23. Patricia, exactly. To me, the fact that the cat might say something that makes me uncomfortable is half the value of the experience — it would come from a being who didn’t even share the basic framework of consciousness that comes from being human. That prospect fascinates me.

    Dashui, yes, I’ve heard of the book, and I’ll probably have to read it one of these days. That kind of pushback is inevitable as part of the Second Religiosity; I hope it doesn’t result in pogroms against polytheists — as of course it might.

    Pyrrhus, that’s certainly part of it!

    Michael, thanks for the data points. One thing I’ve heard from a great many sources is that there was very poor quality control on the vaccines, and so it was a complete crapshoot whether what you got had the things that would mess you over, or not. There are times when the stunning incompetence that pervades so much of modern life in the industrial world is actually a good thing.

    Clarke, you’re welcome! I also loved the Witch World books — Andre Norton deserves much more attention than she’s given these days — and I get the impression that there are a lot of Christians and Jews who are much less frightened of singing rosebushes than Machen was.

    Fra’ Lupo, hmm! Makes sense to me.

    Dylan, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Justin, those are important questions and not easy to resolve. I’ll be discussing in future posts why it is that so many Democrats now act like Republicans did in 1980, and why so many Republicans seem to be acting like Democrats in 1970.

    Thomas, hmm! I wasn’t aware of that. Thank you for the reference — I’ll go have a look at that entire verse in an online Greek-English bilingual New Testament.

    Drhooves, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do since the beginning of my blogging. It’s anybody’s guess how much good it will accomplish, but it’s worth the attempt.

    Ynu8ipbnxu, it’s an impressive work of prefigurative fiction. If the next Davos meeting ends the way that banquet at Belbury did, I can’t say I’d be surprised!

    Alex, I’m sure my experience in surburbia had some formative value, and I’m also well aware that there were karmic issues involved, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a thoroughly miserable experience for me. Learning about magic is quite possibly the only thing that kept me, at some point in my teens, from stepping out in front of a truck.

    Raymond, you’re most welcome.

    Team10tim, Rand always struck me as the best possible piece of evidence that the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea. Her fantasies of the good life seemed loathsome to me in exactly the same way that the Communist notion of the good life did. As for television, er, it’s long been a source of wry amusement to me that so many people seem to think there’s at least one program that’s so good that I really ought to watch it. It never seems to sink in that, ahem, I don’t enjoy staring at little colored blobs jerking around on a glass screen, no matter what those blobs are supposed to be doing or saying.. If you have a book to recommend, on the other hand, I’m all ears!

    Taylor, good! Yes, and we’ll be getting to that.

    Miles, my book Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth is the closest equivalent I’ve done so far; I’m considering a more general intro to occultism for complete beginners, along the lines of what I’ve written here. Thank you for the link to the artist’s website! I’ve added the link to my post; I’ve seen his work online but didn’t know whose it was. He does a better job of portraying Cthulhu than pretty much anybody else I know of; I’d love to see him illustrate my tentacle novels someday.

    Other Owen, funny.

    Chris, I’ve encountered discussions by people who’ve looked into the spiritual effects of the vaccine very carefully, and they seem to be agreed that whatever the effects may be, they can be overcome by sustained spiritual practice. It’s the people who had no spiritual life to begin with who seem to end up in deep trouble.

    Petrus, and yet we face that same dilemma every time we communicate with another human being. I can never know your experiences and thoughts, you can never know mine, and yet human beings in that same situation not only manage to communicate but sometimes experience love. For that matter, what is religious experience but close personal communion between two beings who have much less in common than a human and a cat? But then I’m a thaumatophile, and I suspect you’re not.

    Mike, fair enough. The thing that fascinates me about our current supposed godlings, though, is that they’re not really trying to become gods at all. They’re trying to act out fantasies of getting everything they want and never having anybody telling them anything they don’t want to hear — the kind of thing most of us outgrow by the age of ten or so. They’re trying to regress to juvenility, to reenter the state of mind of the spoiled two-year-old who really does believe that the entire world revolves around its momentary cravings and moods. In effect, they’re fleeing from godhood as fast as they can.

    Goldenhawk, thanks for this. What a luminous story!

    Lurker, I adore Lovecraft’s Dreamland stories precisely because they’re less terrified of wonder. Those were written fairly early on in his writing career, as I recall. The older he got, the more brittle he seems to have become about the metaphysical world, and it shows.

    Bradley, I have indeed. That’s just it — once a belief system has to turn to censorship to preserve itself from alternatives, its days are numbered. Insisting that people conform is no substitute for inspiring them to believe.

  24. Hey John,

    I’ve noticed occultist’s seem to have a very similar experience growing up. All of what you have described of your youth over the years parallels my own growing experience very closely. I discovered magic quite a bit later, but looking at the books I was obsessed with at age 10-11-12, like author John Bellairs, its not surprising. With so much experience as an outsider, I am split between empathy for people like Naomi Wolf and a mixture of satisfaction and excitement that as her world breaks down, the possibilities for mine could improve.

    A natal chart reading I had done indicated my spiritual path was ritual magic…my first thought was that’s why the idea of magic feels like home to me. Having been raised Roman Catholic it was difficult to accept the occult as a path (the angel/demon fear programming works very well) and I appreciate you raising understanding of these areas to help people like me break out of their birth culture and align with what they are. I find occult theory explains “how the universe works” in a practical way that allows for participation, where as so many other paths don’t. “Does it work?” has always been a fundamental question for me.

    I look forward to your writings about how beings of the unseen world perceive us, what they think about us, and where we fit in in the wider metaphysical universe.

  25. For me sin is eating one more cookie than your proper share.

    A merry longest day of the year!

  26. Thank you, JMG. This essay has been very useful in helping me understand why I never went ahead with magic, despite having, I’ve been told, a certain natural talent for it.

    I’m okay with supernatural phenomena in situations such as cast circles where magic is expected and invited. In the presence of Machen’s talking cat, however, I’d feel something like garden-variety social anxiety except more intense, out of a sense that more was at stake. If you can imagine the cat and myself as characters in a spy novel, it would be as if the cat, by speaking to me, had broken cover, a thing which carries high risk and must only be done in the most dire of circumstances.

    One of my aunts, whom I strongly resemble physically, was packed off to a loony bin as a teenager in the 1940s for, well, partly for behaviors which would now be seen as ordinary and rather mild acts of adolescent rebellion, and partly for “hearing voices”. My mother’s reaction was to instill in me and and my siblings a deep dread of anything that might be construed as a symptom of mental illness (which is the usual label by which claims of supernatural experience are invalidated in this society). I thought I had thrown off that nonsense, but I guess I still have some work to do.

  27. @Michael Martin #4. I too had the first 2 shots. I never got Covid even though I pretty much never wore a mask or isolated myself either. I did for some time think my fibromyalgia was caused by the shots, but a deep dive in my medical records convinced me the condition was a long time coming. I have a very common blood type, not like yours. So I don’t think it’s that.

    Now, I am just glad I dodged a bullet there, I count myself lucky and just hope my luck lasts. I wish I never got the shots but it’s so much spilled milk now. I just hope it doesn’t affect my ability to proceed with magic. Cats do of course speak to us (so do dogs, birds, plants etc) but I get what is meant here and would be delighted, DELIGHTED, to have that kind of thing happen.
    JMG, can scrying play some part there?

    Why is magic easier in certain places (eg my local wood) than others (eg a city) or is that only me?

    And am I a fool to not be afraid? Am I hopelessly naive to believe that we have enough agency and control to stay relatively safe in magic? So much about demons etc seem to be self inflicted / bad choices / wilful malice?

  28. A number of years ago I used to every summer be on the cooking staff for the Bay Area Country Dance Society Family Camp.A group of very good, kind people who were a joy to work with. The camp was magical, incredible music, arts and crafts, singing, dancing, a paganish feel, gender bending clothing, the best of liberalish Bay Area stuff. They changed the location of the camp to one that had an on-site kitchen staff some years back so I no longer cook for them. I still get emails from them and here is their draconian Covid policy for the camp this summer. EVERYONE, children and all are to be fully vaccinated and more –

    It reminds me of Orthodox Jew cleanliness and kosher rules. It seems for some adherence to an orthodox Covid regime is a liberal loyalty test.

  29. JMG,

    I completely agree with the godlings and the 2-year old analogy. As I’m in the throes of shepherding my second toddler through those years I get to see the parallels up close. I meant to convey that by using the term “play god” as opposed to “be god.” Is there a pantheon with a tantrum-throwing, pants-pooping, tyrant of a god? 😉

  30. @JMG, Bradley,

    My thoughts on a potential Rogan-RFK vaccine debate: While I have a very uneven opinion of both the US pharmaceutical industry and the quality of the science that supports it, I also doubt that such a debate would be a good idea. What would happen is that one or both parties would try to back up their arguments with studies that are garbled, missing crucial context, or simply fabricated, and the other party wouldn’t be in a position to look up the original studies and provide the necessary context within the limits of a one hour television spot (ads and all). So it would just turn into a loudmouthed insult-fest in which each side walks away feeling more confirmed in its own beliefs.

    Now I don’t mean this as an argument against public participation in science or the need for debates – I think we could use more public knowledge of and engagement with medical controversies, not less! There are just huge disadvantages to working with the medium of television and the very limited framework that it provides (not that Rogan, who let’s remember is in large part an entertainer, would be bothered by any of this).

    @Thomas, JMG,

    I too noticed a few years back that “sorcery” in the Greek text of Galatians and Revelation is pharmakeia. I think the word got its double-meaning (drug use + witchcraft/sorcery) because the Greeks were aware, since the time of Homer, if not earlier, of a number of mind-altering substances – opium and cannabis, at the very least – and considered them to be of a kind with spells and other means of manipulating inner-plane forces. (If you accept Dion Fortune’s definition of magic – effecting a change in consciousness in accordance with will – then smoking a joint is quite literally a magical act!).

    That said, I think that if you’re going to apply these New Testament verses to the present day, they make much more sense as an attack on psychopharmacology (both the legal and illegal varieties) than on vaccines. But my opinion here is likely influenced by personal experience – I know some people who have had extremely negative outcomes after getting on psychoactive drugs, whereas I have yet to be convinced that the covid vaccines were either effective or harmful; to me the whole thing seemed like a giant nothingburger.

  31. This is, as always, a mind opening read. I can go with Fra’Luppo’s definition of sin. Personally, I do not read fantasy or science fiction, never really enjoyed them. I did however read some when one of my children became interested. Something to talk about and not too bad.
    I have been a Christian all my life and have no idea why as I do not come from that kind of background. The mystical part of Christianity hooked me quite early.
    As for talking cats etc; that would be sensory overload to a degree that I would find hard to cope with. Sometimes it is good not to have access to all the world’s mysteries.
    However, my dog communicates well without words.

  32. Greetings JMG,

    Interesting post.

    What do you think about the fact that humanity is facing multiple crisis now while in the past I think it was one , i.e. WW II ?

    Is there a change in consciousness?

  33. JMG, re your answer to DrHooves, about the need to prepare and what you have been doing with your writing these many years: Count me as a successfully reached recipient. I heard and heeded your message on the physical level – prepare for collapse now and avoid the rush. Took me many years but I am as physically ready as can be. Then your writing made me realise I also need to be mentally ready. That is still a work in progress. And finally, I headed over to Magic Monday and started my ex-atheist, ex-materialist, baby steps into Opening My Eyes. So, on a variety of levels, I feel like I am prepping. The world’s been shifting under my feet for some time now, and I thank you for providing tools and techniques to deal with it.

  34. Dear JMG,

    Wonderfully written and stimulating as usual. I can partly identify dissatisfaction in youth that also led me to plow through the small “paranormal” collections in my small town school and public libraries. Looking for something more or different. (Paranormal being a more respectable label than occult of course.) Raised in the Fundamentalist
    tradition I was definitely told there are a lot of unseen things and don’t recall neutrality or indifference being one of their characteristics.

    I also have to agree with The Other Owen that based on his current behavior, my dog would probably just keep asking me “Are you gonna eat that?” Over and over.

  35. >To me, the fact that the cat might say something that makes me uncomfortable is half the value of the experience

    It’s 0 dark 30. You’re fast asleep. You hear “Purr. It’s time to get up. Wakey wakey. Meow.” with just enough claws in you to make sure that you do indeed, wake up. You’re now uncomfortable but I suppose the real question is – Do you find the experience half valuable?

    >Insisting that people conform is no substitute for inspiring them to believe.

    I’m stealing that. I might just put that on a t-shirt. Or find someone who has already.

  36. JMG, is there not also a connection to topics you covered in Archdruid Report? When I look around me, when I read the news, what I see happening is the early stages of the Long Descent and the first snapping shut of the trap of fossil fuel dependency.

    The resource that underlies all the modern world is beginning to dry up. That manifests as rising prices, resource wars, and governments flailing around making things worse with everything from fiscal/monetary policy to promoting ‘solutions’ that don’t work.

    People act weird under such conditions. The worse the resource situation gets, the harder the descent bites, the more bizarre people will act. So when Wolf sees demons, I see ordinary stress psychology.

    When I was a kid I loved books about hauntings and poltergeists, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness critter, and all things Tolkien-esque. I’d love to have dragons, talking cats and singing roses. I can feel the spiritual currents all around us, when I take time to stop and open my senses in that direction.

    But when I look around at all the ‘inexplicable behavior’ today, I just see a bunch of violent chimpanzees throwing a fit because there aren’t any more bananas.

  37. JMG, great post with great images, this fine summer solstice, I read Naomi’s, and I read the Lovecraft poem/story which I very much enjoyed and which seems very appropriate to our times. I believe spiritual forces or magic or demons or other forces may have much to do with what is happening. Talking cats and singing flowers do not bother me. I believe the so called physical laws may change in different eras and times and probably are changing right now.

    But if everything is so greatly externally ordained, whether from magical or governmental or some other influence, then it sometimes seems we might just as well stop and smell the roses.

    Except during times like lockdown they won’t let you stop and smell the roses. Where I live you couldn’t go out except to go buy groceries. Where, up until lockdown all the local groceries delivered, once lockdown began they all stopped delivering. This meant everyone had to go to the grocery store, in compressed hours, the stores were open less hours, therefore wait in lines, and perhaps expect and fear, everyone being there in the same fewer hours, to catch Covid.

    At some points you couldn’t even go out after 8 pm, or 10 pm or once it became dark. There was no one else out then, so what was the danger? There were some rumors, in Spain where I live, they were dropping something, what?, at night from the sky. It was suddenly dangerous to take public transportation, which encouraged everyone to drive a car. But at one point no more than one person could be in the car, and many of them were wearing masks. I did not have a car.

    The local buses were, for lack of anything better, being sprayed with pesticides, once every 3 hour cycle. (There were videos of pesticides used for this purpose on airplanes and buses on Youtube). Windows on buses were not allowed to open. Air conditioning, circulation was almost off. I became ill from pesticides the 2 times I took a bus. I am very familiar with pesticides, almost always recognize their presence, and avoid them like the plague. I used to work with plants, interior and on farms, and in greenhouses and everyone around me loved their pesticides, and could not understand why I loathed them. Several times I have seen someone insist pesticides are so safe, that to prove it to me and others, they put their hands in the pesticides, and rubbed them on their skin. As many pesticides work by damaging the nervous system this was obviously a bad idea, but there was no discouraging. One of these people could not even talk a few years later.

    My wife, who could not walk alone, during Covid was only allowed to go out alone to go to the grocery store, and could not take me with her to the grocery store, and therefore could not go out at all. It did the opposite of wonders for her health.

    My son’s mother lived in Wuhan so I knew the Covid was coming, and I began to prepare and began ordering such things as high potency Vitamin D, (hard to get here), online in February. But in anticipation of Covid, deliveries were slowed and then cancelled, even before lockdown, and nothing arrived. Mail and all other delivery service were officially stopped for almost 2 months, and in reality, as in getting anything delivered far longer.

    Within 2 weeks almost every country in the world locked down, except Sweden and China – which was already locked down.

    I have never seen such coordination amongst all the countries in the world, within two weeks, at the same time. Usually it takes forever. Even sanctions against Russia, which were announced shortly after the invasion, were not applied in very many cases until the following autumn, or even December. In fact it took longer to apply the sanctions than to make the vaccines.

    The strategies used to fight the Covid were, with variations, similar in almost all the countries. Hand sanitizers, washing hands, gloves on hands, taking old people with Covid from hospitals to Nursing homes (even in Sweden), not allowing anyone to visit the elderly, not allowing the elderly to escape the nursing home (I read of a son who did a prison-hospital break to save his father), masks, vaccine passports, curfews, fines and arrests of violators.

    Before the Covid even arrived all the information I was reading stated only an N95 mask might work, and they weren’t available. And it would take 3-5 years to develop a vaccine. Suddenly, in every country, almost any flimsy mask was acceptable and vaccines were ready in almost 6 months. How could anyone believe that? And then if you know anything about RNA, messing with it, especially when you are in a rush, is not a good idea. Worse than having someone who does not know anything about baking or cooking –say a 4 year old child making and preparing, without any instruction or guidance, your dinner.

    It seemed doubtful, even before the boosters that any 2 batches of vaccine were the same, And who knew what was in them? They could put anything in the vaccines. Throughout the world the drug companies were released from all liability. They were almost certainly experimenting.

    To me it all seemed coordinated. I don’t know why it would be coordinated. I can speculate: mass fear, mass submission, mass control, profit, destroying economies, mass testing just how far the public can be pushed, experimentation on human bodies and health – but I don’t know.

    Moderna’s early pamphlet on their vaccine stated DNA was like a computer, and the RNA was like an Operating system, and now they would be able to add new programs to your RNA, just like you can add new programs or apps to the OS on your phone or PC. Really? And if that were true, that’s good?

    But the big thing is, even if it was coordinated, how do you get almost every country in the world to engage in more or less the same, often useless, dangerous, restrictive, stringent responses at the same time?

    Perhaps every country was afraid in the same way, and in their panic they all resorted to the same strategies, but it doesn’t seem plausible to me.

    I tell my son it is not the first time the world has gone crazy. In a very short span there was the Great War (1st), the Spanish Flu, prohibition, the punishment of Germany, the rise of Nazism, the second World War, all that in a span of less than 30 years. That era certainly seems influenced by demons to me, but it also seems more chaotic – though we are fast getting there.

    But this time, although we have more almost deliberate stupidity in leaders and government than we would ever need, there seems to be some method in the madness.

    And that is what worries me.

    However, having said all that, today has been a good day. There have been many good days lately. I pray for and look forward to good days continuing, and I pray and look forward to all the problems resolving and pray and hope that what seems like possible storms coming becomes sunshine and much needed gentle rain.

    I pray for this for everyone. It is not something I can enjoy alone.

  38. Thank you for the thought-provoking essay on this Solstice Day.

    One correction, however, if you’ll permit me. You say, “That’s why, for example, the Harry Potter novels made admission to the “wizarding world” available only to those who could afford to go to an expensive residential school…” In fact, this isn’t the case in the Harry Potter books. Hogwarts is open to any British 11-year-old boy or girl, no matter their background or race, who shows magical ability. It is the opposite of exclusive. Tuition fees are never mentioned — although books and supplies have to be paid for (the eponymous Potter was handily rich, it’s true). By using the familiar literary device of the boarding school and playing on the (sometimes lethal) snobbery between those of “pure” blood and those who have one or more parents who are not magical (a snobbery evinced in real-life British private or fee-paying schools by the more comfortable classes towards day pupils and scholarship children), the books could be seen to be turning the expectations of the comfortable classes upside down, especially as the three main characters who drive the action are none of them from the “comfortable classes”.

  39. If birds could speak, I could ask the one banging against my window every morning what it was trying to achieve! Or the chickens, who used to sit with me while I meditated, why they did that. More seriously, once I got the idea that the local birds might learn to recognise me, I started wondering what opinions they had of me …

    In the book and stage play ‘Les Miserables’, the policeman Javert has an identity crisis at the end after the criminal he has been hunting, Valjean, spares his life. The idea that criminals can show mercy, that policemen can commit injustice, and that the world is more complicated than Javert’s sense of order is intolerable. He kills himself, rather than live in that more complex world.

  40. 1) “saliva-flecked rage fit larded with accusations of every kind of wrongthink you care to name.” – Oh yes, I experienced this once with a good friend. We are always good for fiery discussions but this one left me angry at first and then baffled and sad. Your previous discussions on thought-stoppers clearly me recognize a few… It’s been said that consciousness is the universal solvent but that of course doesn’t mean that one consciousness can solve anything. So probably I just have to be patient in this matter. At least I don’t see any other sensible approach.

    2) “That said, I do believe that the world in which we could manage quite well enough by never talking about metaphysical energies—blessings or curses, angelic or demonic forces—has died away.” – Well, has it? For her? For people of a certain mindset? For all of us? Is the world changing into a different one in the sense as in “The World We Used to Live in”?

    While I always enjoy your writings very much, over the last few weeks I notice an increase in, hmm, liveliness. Maybe it’s the planets or something? Yours or mine, who knows? Anyway, reading your essays is currently even more enjoyable than most times!


  41. “Machen belonged to the comfortable classes of his time”

    Machen was socially middle-class via his clergyman father, and his school education. But he was never comfortable financially – he was stuck in a journalist job he hated because the alternative was poverty for his family, and he was only bailed out of poverty in his old age because he got a Civil List pension.

    Machen’s life-long financial straits are why he wrote so much. He needed the income.

  42. 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 at the most recent prayer list entry.

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

    It’s a boy! Hippie Viking and his wife are the parents of a new baby; for blessings on the child according to his nature and the nature of the deity prayed to; and for good health for both mother and child. (Original request here)

    Tanamous’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.

    Nicole’s (shewhoholdstension) 41 year brother Robert died suddenly in bed on May 15th; for a smooth and blessed journey on the other side. Robert was a single dad and he leaves behind three children: Hannah, Zack, and Jordyn; that they and Nicole be blessed and protected, and find what comfort they can during this very difficult time. (Update here.)

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

    * * *

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

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

  43. JMG wrote

    His name first came up in those circles because he predicted that a vaccine would be developed that would prevent the people who got it from perceiving the spiritual world at all—and some reports of changes in consciousness among recipients of the Covid vaccines resemble this to an uncomfortable degree.

    Kinda reminds me of what the Radiance did to Shelby Adams and Justin Martense in the Weird of Hali series by tampering with their brains. I am also reminded of that prophecy by Steiner in which he predicted the rise of the Internet which you cited in a post about the subnatural realm.

    Steiner, again, was ahead of his time. In a lecture he gave in 1921 he described one of his visions of the future: “And from the earth will well up terrible creations of beings who in their character stand between the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom as automative beings with a supernatural intellect, an immense intellect. When this development takes hold, the earth will be covered, as with a web, a web of terrible spiders, spiders of enormous wisdom, which however, in their organisation don’t even reach the plant status. Terrible spiders which will interlock with each other, which will imitate in their movements all that which humanity has thought of with their shadowlike intellect.”

    Score one for Steiner. Computer technology can quite accurately be described as midway between the mineral and the plant, more responsive than the mineral without actually being alive in any real sense, and the Earth is indeed covered with their World Wide Web. There are hard limits to how long this Ahrimanic manifestation (or infestation) can prolong itself, as these “spiders” do in fact “well up from the Earth,” and demand constant inputs of hardware made from rare earth elements and equally constant inputs of energy derived from fossil fuels. (Every server farm receives multiple truckloads of new components every single day to replace the ones that burn out, and require enough electricity to power a midsized town.) None of these resources exist in limitless quantities and many of them are running short right now.

    I haven’t yet seen any discussion, among students of Steiner, of resource depletion as an expression of the Michael current, but I hope to see that one of these days. In the meantime, while the internet remains so pervasive in contemporary life, I’d encourage my readers to keep an eye on the Ahrimanic biases the internet places on their contacts with others, and to look for alternative options that don’t stray quite so close to the boundary where our world brushes against the unhuman and antihuman.

    It’s easy to see why Steiner is getting a lot more attention these days.

  44. On the subject of cats talking, Siamese are famously chatty. I had one as a child. I had conversations where I simply repeated back to her the string of vocalizations she had just uttered. This could go on for awhle, and she seemed to like it. Knowing more about cat behavior now than I did then, I conclude that my cat was making “small talk”, expressing a mood rather than conveying information, and that by repeating back what she said, I was expressing agreement the way we humans do when making small talk with each other.

    Some domestic cats are very quiet unless you upset them. Some make noises when going about their own business, the way some human beings hum. Cats have characteristic vocalizations when communicating with other cats, and these seem to be instinctive or learned by contact with other cats. Some scientists say that the pet cats make different sounds to get the attention of humans in their households than they every make when communicating with their own species. The scientists speculated that the cats may have observed humans talking to each other, and are trying to join in.

    When I read this, it made sense to me. Like a lot of cat guardians, I have been unsystematic in the way I communicate with them, using a combination of gestures (like patting my lap to invite the cat to jump up on it), tone of voice, and far too many words. If I expect my cat to recognize the name I use for it, I ought to use that name all the time, not make up a bunch of nicknames.

    People think cats can’t talk because of the size of their brains. I wouldn’t expect a cat to have a large vocabulary or use the past tense. I think some cats would like to talk to the people they know and trust. Unlike parrots, they are physically incapable of pronouncing most of the consonants of human language. They can utter most of the vowels, including dipthongs and tripthongs. The only consonants I have heard from cats are m, r, w (which is really a vowel), s, h, and that chattering sound some cats make when watching a bird through a window.

    I have an idea for an experiment to teach a cat to talk. It would start by creating a vocabulary list that both the cat owner and the cat can pronounce. In addition to the phonemes listed above, I would include tonality like Chinese, because cats naturally use rising and falliing tones when communicating with each other and with people they live with.

    Out of these sounds, I would construct a vocabulary of thirty to forty words, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, plus “yes” and “no”. Name of the human, name of the cat and any other members of the household. Now, later, good, bad, where, more, pet, eat, drink, hurt, feel, want, go, come, understand, like/love, sleep, play, food, (kinds of food), water, toy, word, medicine, (a few more words). Grammar consisting of subject-verb-object, question indicator, command indicator.

    Then I would raise a few intelligent kittens, using the cat-human language exclusively when talking to those kittens, and repeat often, the way you do with a human baby.

    Deborah Bender

  45. “I recognized after one reading that the book wouldn’t just pick the lock and set me free, that it would take sustained effort over a long time to saw through one bar at a time, and that once I got an opening wide enough to squirm through, I might have to face any number of further obstacles on the way out.”

    This was basically my reaction when you started up the Well of Galabes. I read it for a little bit, then shouted “smell you later, losers!” at my fellow inmates as I tucked and rolled out of the materialist worldview.

  46. I suspect this is the equivalent of a volcano eruption. That is the result of a build-up of pressure (in this case metaphysical pressures). There are rumblings and shakes and few spurts for a while before it goes off in a spectacular burst.
    We’ve been seeing these rumblings in Trump Derangement Syndrome, we have been seeing rumblings in the ever-more-strident social Marxism of the Social Justice Movement getting louder and more fanatically strident over increasingly insignificant “marginalized” groups who need “equity” (i.e. handouts and special privileges).
    The panic of 2020 was just the final explosion of built-up energies that needed an outlet and that was the result.
    My moment of shock actually came a few years ago, when I woke up to the news that Rachel Notley had won the Alberta election.
    I immediately checked behind the curtain… Rod? Rod, are you there?… expecting to see a well dressed man smoking a cigarette looking into a camera saying, “Picture a man going on a journey…”


  47. FYI – ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption is a novella by Stephen King from his 1982 collection Different Seasons, subtitled Hope Springs Eternal. The novella has also been published as a standalone short book. The story is entirely told by the character Red, in a narrative he claims to have been writing from September 1975 to January 1976, with an additional chapter added in spring 1977’

  48. The steampunk fantasy book “The Aeronaut’s Windlass” by Jim Butcher features a culture of talking cats with one of the lead characters being the cat Rowl. A good escapist read into a well constructed fantasy world.

  49. Yes it’s quite strange to see the awakening that’s going on, but it’s not surprising.

    It all smacks to me of the the second religiosity, and not necessarily in a good way. Seeing the world as full of evil and malign influences without the good is just the Reformation and Puritanism all over again (which we never really left, puritans and atheists are very close together).

    As you mentioned with references to St Francis, and could extend to Saint Bernard and others, the original Faustian Christianity of the west had more in common with something like Tolkien’s writing than is commonly accepted now, and the Christian language of the East that became the forms through which the religious feeling were expressed clouded much older myths and feelings deep within Germanic/Celtic culture.

    Mary was the epitome of the good, which is just a different way of talking about the mythic loving feminine that comes out in the Grail legend and someone like Galadriel. The duality wasn’t the good/evil substance of the Magian world but was literally a battle between the forces of Mary and the Devil, constantly fought with enormous armies of all sorts of beings, not unlike the last alliance vs Mordor. Just take a look at one of the exteriors of the Gothic cathedrals to see this story in its full glory.

    The Reformation got rid of this fun part, but kept the Devil. It was almost as if the devil had won the battle, Mary and the Lady were gone, as was the comfort of Priestly contrition, and what was left was a brutal individual struggle against the forces of sin and evil, which reached even more intense heights in Puritanism. Many of the founding fathers of the new world were from this movement, and American Christianity has plenty of devil fear and terror. It must also be noted that this movement was always one of the more comfortable, educated urban classes, which may be one reason it’s so cold and grey.

    Then of course it was an easy step to get rid of the devil too, and lead the west into atheism, but then again I’m not sure he ever went away. It’s all still very Protestant and Puritan the modern love of sterile cleanliness, technology and the future, and stark terror at the unclean, the dirty, the fecund natural. I don’t think it will be difficult for many of the current crop of comfortable classes to switch back into the devil pervaded world, bereft of the counterbalancing l good and joy of the Mary myth of the early Gothic. With it may come witch trials and other horror.

    We will have to wait and see I suppose.

  50. Joe, certainly there are quite a few of us who share that sort of experience! I’m glad my writings were of use to you.

    Turtle, er, duly noted. A happy solstice to you too!

    Lothar, I’d welcome as many talking cats as chose to show up.

    Joan, magic certainly isn’t for everyone. I hope you can get past those traumatic memories and experiences, though.

    Miow, (1) Yes, scrying is a step in that direction. (2) Different places, like different times, have differing concentrations of magical energy. (3) A certain amount of reasonable caution can be called for, but if you pay close attention to ethics and make a protective ritual part of your daily practice, you should be fine.

    Moose, yep. It’s a test of loyalty to the regime.

    Mike, not that I know of — fortunately!

    Thrown, so noted.

    JillN, one of the reasons I find reincarnation easy to believe is that so many people come into life with the most unexpected predilections, things you wouldn’t predict from their background.

    Tony, good heavens, that’s not the case at all. The years between 1914 and 1945 — not a very long period, all things considered — saw the two most destructive wars in history, the Spanish flu pandemic, the rise of communism, the rise of fascism, the decline of European global empires, the Great Depression, and the first use of nuclear weapons. That’s a bigger heap of crises than we’re facing now!

    Miow, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Daniel, no doubt! I certainly can’t speak for dogs, as I’m not much of a dog person.

    Other Owen, been there, been meowed at by that. You may certainly borrow the line!

    Mother Balance, fair enough! I think you’re being a bit disrespectful to chimpanzees, though. 😉

    Rcastle, it wasn’t quite so bad here, but yeah, I know. Fortunately we had plenty of supplies laid by and so were able to evade the worst of it. Prepping isn’t just for natural disasters…

    EndrickWater, so noted. I only made it partway through the series before rolling my eyes and going on to something less labored and cliché-ridden.

    Kfish, exactly. It’s the experience Sartre explored so cogently: you’re peering through a keyhole, and then realize that someone else is watching you do so — you shift from watcher to watched, and it’s very embarrassing. What will the birds think?

    Nachtgurke, glad to hear it!

    Strda221, Machen was raised in the comfortable classes and retained their values, rather than responding to his downward mobility by reassessing them.

    Quin, thanks as always for this.

    Platypus, well, yes. I’d be the last person to claim that my tentacle novels are unaffected by my other work…

    Deborah, you may get your wish. I’ve seen several cats pick up a few very definite words in English.

    Cliff, that’s a colorful way to put it. 😉

    Renaissance, it’s a long strange trip and we’re just getting under way…

  51. When I was a kid I badly envied Dr. Doolittle. I also wound up identifying very strongly with Prince Caspian trying to communicate with all the animals in his uncle’s palace based on old stories, and failing because they weren’t the Narnian ones who could talk.

    I was pretty surprised and a little spooked when I heard my tomato seedlings talking to me a few years back, though. It only happened a couple of times, but it was unnerving because it’s so unexpected. I don’t know why my brain did that, and it makes me wonder what else it might come up with.

    One worries about psychosis and stuff. Though that doesn’t seem to have happened, and I’ve sort of accepted that my experience of the world includes stuff materialists cannot accept, and that while some of it fits neatly into the Christian mysticism end of things, there are also talking tomato plants and musical instruments and telescopes with names and at least imaginary opinions.

    The things I can accept as part of being a Christian and God having things He wanted to share are easier to accept and work with than talking tomatoes. I still don’t know what to make of that.

  52. “One thing I’ve heard from a great many sources is that there was very poor quality control on the vaccines, and so it was a complete crapshoot whether what you got had the things that would mess you over, or not. There are times when the stunning incompetence that pervades so much of modern life in the industrial world is actually a good thing.”

    So, are you implying that those vaccines that were correctly handled are responsible for the waves of illness and death, while the incorrectly handled vaccines were somewhat less harmful?

    If so, that makes a lot more sense to me than the theory that the vaccines are just fine except for those that went bad in transit, or what have you.

  53. @ Deborah Bender
    Something like that idea already exists, only it’s not dependent on the cats being able to speak any words themselves. I’ve seen a vew videos of pet owners who have these little (or not-so-little) mats with buttons on them. Pressing each button plays a recording of a different word, e.g. “food”, “water”, “play”, “outside”, “happy”, “yes”, “no”. If you do a search for “talking pet buttons” or something along those lines you’ll get a bunch of results of it in action, from both cats and dogs.

  54. This feeling Wolf has of the old earth passing away is quite possibly a reflection of the sign change two and a half years ago. We went from being ruled by earth to being ruled by air and now all of a sudden people are recognizing the spiritual and debating what consciousness is. I don’t think it’s entirely material coincidence that the AI conversation is happening now too. (And as an aside, my old college room-mate, who has spent the last 8 years a happy corporate accountant is suddenly visiting Harvard and MIT because she wants to get her PhD in neuroscience and work on AI learning.)

  55. I’m not sure what the birds think, but I found that sitting and visualising the Sphere of Protection Ritual resulted in the wild birds coming a lot closer than usual, behaving almost as if I wasn’t there. Whether it was just my sitting still or something more, I can’t ask them directly.

  56. You say Machen … ‘retained [middle-class] values rather than responding to his downward mobility by reassessing them’ – you woudn’t be trying to encourage us all to reassess our values in response to downward mobility, would you? Naughty, naughty!

  57. Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, An Analysis of the Greek New Testament
    (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1981) define “pharmakeia” as “magic, sorcery” in Rev. 18:23. I mention this because “sorcery” might strike most moderns as rather extreme, while “magic” is rather ordinary by comparison. 🙂

  58. Thanks for this. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the broader community that I live in. For anyone who’s interested, the book “Ani.Mystic” by Gordon White is an interesting exploration of that topic.

    I have some land that I am looking after – a garden near my house, and a dozen acres of forest several miles away. My thinking about how to care for it has been evolving along the lines of participation/membership in a community. Recognizing that there are many active agents in those communities, whose goals are more or less (or not) aligned with my own, and learning to get along with them and work with them to the greatest extent possible, is a learning process that I expect will take a long time.

  59. I find reincarnation easy to believe in because although science has a credible explanation for why pond scum might eventually give rise to things that post on internet forums about reincarnation, there’s no real explanation of why we have a subjective experience of doing so, instead of just doing it the way my coffee grinder grinds coffee.

  60. I think a good rendering of “pharmakeia” in the context of Rev. 18:23 might be “anodynes”, where “anodynes” runs the gamut from blandishments to actual drugs or enchantments, since the Greek word encompasses both pharmaceuticals and sorcery.

  61. EndwickWater #41

    It suddenly occurs to me that practically all of the key characters in Harry Potter are outsiders including Voldemort.

  62. A collection of Arthur Machen’s books, novellas and short stories is available online:

    From “The Novel of the White Powder””

    “Yet, Haberden, what I tell you is the truth, nay, to adopt our common language, the sole and scientific truth, verified by experience; and the universe is verily more splendid and more awful than we used to dream. The whole universe, my friend, is a tremendous sacrament; a mystic, ineffable force and energy, veiled by an outward form of matter; and man, and the sun and the other stars, and the flower of the grass, and the crystal in the test-tube, are each and every one as spiritual, as material, and subject to an inner working.”

  63. “Magic is one of the ways that people who are denied agency and opportunity get both, and use them.”

    Yes, that’s definitely it. Once again your words are dovetailing with some of my own experiences. I just posted a 2-part series on a Black urban farmer, and in part 2 I asked him to discuss the spiritual techniques and practices he applies to farming:

    It strikes me that his lack of hesitancy in talking about this aspect of his farmer persona is not something I see in many gardeners, or even homesteaders who come from elite backgrounds and are chucking urban life by choice. His attitude was wholly enthusiastic and unapologetic. I’ll also note that while his story has also been covered by NPR and Business Insider, neither of those reporters bothered to mention his spiritual farming practices.

    On a related note, I’ll share that I pitched this series to six different outlets for publication, and not one took the story. I wonder if that’s also because I covered it very differently than did NPR, for example, which took his example as an opportunity to rage against the injustices whites visit upon blacks (which to me was actually a racist move, as it denied his action and agency, his very story, in fact). What I see in this man is someone who took responsibility for his health, his career, and his community and used various techniques–including the magical–to create a huge shift for himself and for others.

  64. Just to add to my previous note:

    I read once cats only vocalize because humans do it, and they’re trying to communicate with us. Cats don’t vocalize with each other. So they’re already talking to us.

    JMG, I finished The Long Descent recently and then bought copies for everyone in my family. It’s a definite must-read for our time. Thank you for that.

  65. A fascinating essay, thanks!

    I wouldn’t describe myself as a thaumatophobe, but I like things to not be too squishy and move around in unpredictable ways.
    I’m prone to motion sickness – nausea.

    But I’d love to meet a talking cat. Though it occurs to me that I shouldn’t assume it would speak any language I understood. Maybe that’s the setup – the cat understands your language, and vice versa. That would be excellent.

    Though I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out what people of my own species, culture and language are trying to communicate. It’s shocking what a low level of skills many people possess.

    Thanks again.

  66. @JMG, I think growing up in such lifeless suburbs is a big reason why Americans are so disenchanted, and also why young people are so anxious. I grew up in a similar suburb and had very little independence. I was allowed to walk on my street, in view of the house, but otherwise was not allowed to go anywhere on my own.

    Entering the adult world that carries huge financial consequences if you mess up, I began to have panic attacks. I think a major reason is because of how little independence I was allowed growing up, and then suddenly thrust into full independence with very little preparation. I spent my childhood trying to disappear into Harry Potter and A Wrinkle in Time.

  67. Brunette Gardens,
    I’ve watched cats vocalize at each other plenty of times. They do it in surprise, in playfighting, in real fighting with each other – cat fights tend to involve a long phase of yowling, hissing and puffing themselves up to get bigger before they actually start trying to hurt each other. This can be quite loud.

  68. Candace, thanks for this.

    Moose, and for this!

    PumpkinScone, that’s why it’s all the more crucial to awaken as many people as possible to a sense of the potential for wonder, agency, and participation in the spiritual realm. The Faustian age is failing and the current comfortable classes are falling with it; the range of possibilities is widening rapidly.

    Pygmycory, presumably your God wanted you to hear the tomatoes. I’d say trust him!

    Cliff, that’s one very plausible hypothesis. It’s not just handling, either — quality control at the manufacturers seems to have been abysmal.

    Emily, excellent! Yes, and we’ll be talking about the grand mutation later in this sequence.

    Kfish, that’s good to hear. Not surprising, mind you — the SoP has the effect of bringing you into balance with the elemental and spiritual worlds — but good to hear.

    KylieO, thank you.

    Kfish, who, me? I’m not advocating anything, I’m simply pointing out the options… 😉

    Asdf, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Weilong, the fact that you’re approaching it in that spirit is very cheering to hear.

    Justin, true enough!

    Goldenhawk, thanks for this. Machen is for me what Castaneda calls a worthy opponent: a very good writer and a clear thinker, who starts from a set of basic beliefs just different enough from mine that the struggle with his ideas helps me clarify my own thoughts.

    Brunette, thank you for this. Of course NPR wrote the story in a way that denied his agency — the whole point of woke “anti-racism” is to keep the poor in their place. I’m glad that you framed things in a more intelligent way.

    Eric, oh, I know. A conversation with a cat would be fraught with all kinds of potential challenges, but to have the chance to try!

    Cs2, that makes quite a bit of sense. I had more freedom than that, largely due to neglect, but it was still pretty bleak.

  69. From one perspective it does look like the weird groupthink around Covid and the vaccines is the result of occult forces. But to me it is the incredible need of those in the PMC and upper middle class to hang on to BAU (business as usual).
    My wife manages a public wastewater district and answers to elected county officials. When Covid first started spreading in China she did the sensible thing and canceled all travel for any of the employees in her organization. But she was lambasted by both county and state health officials who said it was an over reaction and would disrupt things. At that point they did not want the status quo disrupted.
    Then when the ball got rolling ( exaggerated or not) and the Vaccines came out this same group glommed on to them and the lockdowns as a way ( in their minds) to hang on to BAU. Nearly every person in this class threw aside any skepticism they might have had about the health system, or medical mandates because they were so desperate for things to stay the same ,and for themselves not to lose any privilege or power that they bowed down to the Covid orthodoxy.
    Soon the same people who did not want to halt foreign travel were at my wife doorstep demanding she mandate vaccines at her wastewater district ( 450 employees).My wife is a person of strong morals and insight and refused , insisting that medical treatments are only the business of a person and their health care professional. She took the stand that the only way that would change is if they fired her. Luckily she is highly regarded in the industry, well liked by the ratepayers and the only woman of color ( Japanese/Korean) in a leadership position in the county. Most of the county leaders are “woke” democrats so such a decision made their brains melt down. As you might guess she survived this and gained the loyalty of her employees. But it showed me that ,just like the so called journalists at the NYT , people are willing to twist themselves in to logical knots to keep the status quo and their place in it in place.

  70. I was listening to a Jordan Maxwell interview, released on his death or after. He told a story about a man who was assisting him on stage in a presentation. He said his aide told him that, years ago while hitchhiking in new england, a very old man in an older pickup gave him a lift. The old man told him every detail of his life down to name of his girlfriend, his pet cat, etc. Then he said, that was to entertain you and get your attention. When you are 50, you’ll be helping a man present on the esoteric in Los Angeles. Tell him, it was all my idea. Not his. Mine. I’m behind it. Maxwell may have made it up, but he said it shook him to his core. I couldn’t help but think of your weird of hali, and nyarlothep.

  71. One of the hardest things to do in this particular era is to see the enchantment underneath the thick layers of cement, drywall, and in the suburbs I too hated as a child. I wished for a portal in the back of my piano where I could disappear into the mythical past, far away from the cringe and drudgery of my everyday life. I hated the environment I lived in and could see almost nothing good about it, because it was a place where I never got a decent night’s sleep except on weekends and breaks and it was where my heart had been broken.

    As for Naomi Wolf, I’m glad you took up the task of addressing what I see as hysterics on her part. I am happy for her that she’s finally had the materialist wool lifted from her eyes — it not the world that changed; it is her ability to see it.

    I wrote this comment on her Have the Ancient Gods Returned? Substack essay, it’s about number 1000:

    Must we fall into the trap of presuming all the ancient gods, because they are not the alleged One True God, are demonic? That is what I see happening here. As early as June of 2020, I wrote a five part series of essays about mass demonic infestation because I wanted to get ahead of monotheists who repeatedly attempt to swing the religious pendulum towards Neo-Satanic Panic. I sincerely hope that someone reading this comment will take the time to read these and other essays:

    The TL;DR is that you cannot defeat demons with curses, hatred, and ignorance. You have to focus on amplifying the true good within yourself and become completely unlike the hypocrite you despise. Only then will you defeat the Enemy.

    The curse of fear is that it is a Wendigo. The more it eats, the thinner and hungrier it gets. For the record, I do believe the vaccines are demonic, but it is not the simple matter of a broken covenant:

    What is going away right now in violent spasms is the notion that there can be One True God to Rule Them All. The horrors of Stalinism and Maoism were how that urge expressed itself after the death of Christianity in the mid-1800s. The egregore of communism (Christian eschatology with the serial numbers scratched off) dies hard, and this latest round of vaccine/mask/lockdown nonsense was its last gasp. Much of the current malaise is a symptom of monotheism having run its course for the time being. Monotheism tries to prop itself up with the fear of demons and the otherization of any competing divine force as “the Devil”.

    You could do far worse than to invoke Apollo, Athena, and Hermes if you have a loved one in the clutches of a vaccine-believer. Please stop lumping deities in with demons because of monotheist bias. They are NOT the same.

    At any rate, Dr. Wolf has done some splendid work, but as an ex-atheist, I shudder at the hubris of monotheists who would slander gods as if they were pledges at a sorority mixer. At least when I committed such acts as an atheist, I always maintained I could be wrong!

  72. The coincidence of you posting something that seem to match the themes of my dream from the night before just goes to further prove that the world will always find new ways to surprise and delight us.

    A paired down version of the dream, just for fun:

    I stumbled on a hidden area within a city, clearly built and maintained for only the most wealthy. I end up being persuaded to join a group of girls for some kind of special ritual. What began as a group of (roughly) 10 of us quickly whittled down to just me, alone in the circle. The rest were standing off to the sides, shouting directions at me from behind the safety of their railings. The purpose of the ritual became clear when they started screaming in terror and pointing up at the sky where a large dragon was seeing tearing through the clouds.
    But I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
    Immediately abandoning the pretense of their ritual I burst into joyful dancing. Spinning and whirling through the plumes of lightning and fire the dragon spat out, because I knew in my bones they weren’t going to harm me. The plain wooden staff I had been holding from the previous ritual is transformed from the fires into one of crystal, and the whole ordeal ends with the dragon and I having some kind of deep bond or pact. Seeing the gobsmacked faces of the wealthy residents afterwards was an added little treat. 🙂

  73. Valenzuela, it doesn’t surprise me to hear that someone invented a gadget like talking pet buttons, but I think it would be more fun to be able to have conversations with a cat using the equipment we were born with. Also a device like talking pet buttons does not meet the cat halfway. A dialect of Basic Ailuric would give the cat opportunities to coin new words and add them to our shared vocabulary.

    Anyone who likes graphic novels, The Rabbi’s Cat was a graphic novel, first published in French, later translated into English. It is set in a North African French colony between the wars. I recommend it. It has a sequel which I have not read. I assume the movie came later.

  74. I recently had a highly disturbing experience that may not be on topic for this post and might be better suited for Magic Monday or some other forum, but it’s on my mind now and maybe there’s some connection after all.

    This Sunday past, as I was leaving my house, from behind a bush there suddenly burst out at my very feet a life and death struggle. A large husky held in its jaws a stray cat. It was clearly trying with all its might to kill the cat, which fought back as best it could. The feline escaped and ran under my car, where it was safe. But being frightened it ran out again and was instantly caught by the dog, which resumed trying to tear it to pieces. I have known a male husky to eat a cat before, and I think that’s what it intended. I tried to chase off the dog, in which I was joined by several neighbors, but by the time a neighbor drove away with the badly mauled cat to the nearest animal hospital, I had no doubt that they would put it down.

    Today there was yet another car collision at the corner a few doors down. It seems like violent incidents are happening more frequently here. Maybe I should resume practicing the LBRP. I currently haven’t sufficient floor space for it, unless I rotate on my axis, which is not altogether satisfactory.

  75. @JMG, I can see exactly why the “wizarding world” would have zero appeal for you, and not only because of the ersatz “magic”! But it is a pretty straightforward (if long-winded) tale of good, evil and sacrificial love. Cliched, probably, but for some readers, the first of that sort of story with which they might have really engaged; no anti-hero here to muddy the water!

    @Tlong0038 (#65), you are right, and Voldemort’s outsider-ness becomes a major plot point, while the only solution those of “pure blood” have to offer is a dream of the past when they were in charge in hopes of recreating it. At least the characters don’t labour under the illusion they can control “evil”, even if they believe that they would nevertheless be able to retain their status under a new regime. All sounds a bit familiar to what’s happening out here in the real world.

  76. @ Thrown Sandwiches #33 (and anyone else interested in the topic)

    I am bemused by the fact that people are treating a potential “Rogan-RFK [Hotez] vaccine debate” as a debate on science, whereas clearly this is a debate on policy.

    Scientists can be endlessly debating how many viruses can dance on the head of a pin, with little of consequence to the rest of us. What is consequential, and needs debate that is wide and broad, are all the questions surrounding what *we* as a polity should do, how we should respond to public threats, what we should spend our hard-got taxes on, what are the fundamental rights we will not accept being violated even during emergencies, and so on.

    The bait-and-switch here is the attempt to stifle this type of public policy debate by calling it a “science” debate and restricting entry to credentialled experts. The fact is that policies that can, and have, affected each and every one of us, are political, and political debate is being stifled by an ascendant priesthood claiming sole privilege over the making of public health *policy*.

    What I think is interesting about the Rogan affair is that it *just might* break this [properly] political policy debate out of the ivory tower “The Science(tm)” is desperately trying to keep it in.

  77. Thank you for this, one of your most beautiful, important essays in my view – and you had already set the bar very high!

    It’s fascinating to see someone like Wolf come round to this truth and to have the courage to stick her head above the parapet to say it. Something – or things – are rising, both dark and light. If you’ll forgive a shameless plug, I just launched a Substack publication, after a long and successful career as a filmmaker, on the very same theme called “Fragments of Light”, using Star Wars as a helpful, accessible metaphor too.

    And while I think your critique of Wolf’s perspective, derived from her upbringing, and an overemphasis on the dark forces, is spot on – I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that I think you yourself may be missing something over what is happening in Russia today.

    I detect a sympathy with the Russian side in your few comments on the Ukraine war and I understand the reasons for it. Yet when you look closely at the distorted ideology driving their actions, you can’t help but think they may have succumbed to a dark ancient force, just as Jung identified Wotan had possessed the Germans in the ’30s.

    My second essay is on the manifestations we can see; an upcoming essay will be on the possibility of what lies behind it. If you have the time and space to read, I’d be fascinated to hear your reaction:

    Thank you very much for all the knowledge and wisdom you share. It’ll be even more important I believe through what is to come.

    Best wishes,
    Edward Scarlett-Watts

  78. It is interesting to read of the experience of others in the suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs and found it quite interesting. This was the 50s and the streets were teeming with kids. I had my school friends and my home friends. There were those I swapped books with and those who taught me to raise silkworms. I tried gardening, not very successfully, and collected tadpoles to raise into frogs. Can’t think why as I have never been a fan of frogs. We played games – marbles, French cricket, rounders, tiggy, hidey and we walked everywhere as there was only public transport into the capital city nearby. We learnt dancing and piano. We had a society to raise money for children with disabilities and had street stalls to do so. And we did hand it on to a charity.
    I would arrive home, have something to eat and be gone. It sounds pretty interesting. I wish I had one like it. Oh, that’s right, I did.

  79. Hi JMG, thank you for your essay. I’m a lawyer working in the corporate sector in Australia, with a string social justice, animist and mystic bent, which I need to keep bottled up to avoid weirding out my colleagues and acquaintances. Your writing is a wonderful cathartic release for me. I wish you all the best of health and happiness. Keep up the good work.

  80. Since the draconian Covid rules of the Bay Area Country Dance Society Family Camp were mentioned here, I would like to add, that, in contrast to that, in Germany nobody talks much anymore about Covid and life has reverted to the normal pre-Covid state, but with less cultural vibrancy than before. A few people still wear masks, but most not do not.

    I agree that we are living through weird times. And the Russo-Ukrainian war is probably by no means the last crisis of the current crisis period we are living thorugh.

    Otherwise, I don’t have anything further to add to the already thoughtful comments of others.

  81. More on non-hoomans talking. Part of why you never hear animals talk, is they don’t have the actual hardware to support it. The reason you get meows and woofs is largely because that’s all they can do at the hardware level. Their jaws and tongues and vocal cords won’t allow speech as we know it. Almost like they weren’t designed for it or something.

    People have theorized that maybe animals do understand hooman language at some rudimentary basic level. Their software does have language support. Not a lot, but some. As far as I know, it’s just a theory though.

    There are some spooky videos of cats trying to talk. “Oh long Johnson” comes to mind. There may be others. But you notice how hard it is for that cat to form speech. I could swear some of those videos of cats getting bathed by a persistent hooman were saying “Nooooo”.

  82. Hi John Michael,

    As a kid I was rather fond of living in a world where there was a Loch Ness monster, and recall avidly reading the: ‘In Search Of’, series of books. The TV series of the same name was ironically hosted by Leonard Nimoy (of Spock, Star Trek fame). Did you ever come across those books in your travels?

    Is that Cthulu in the image associated with this week’s essay? An impressive entity. Has anyone considered that Cthulu might have plans that don’t involve us humans, or that we may give such might a reason to not to swat us? Always possible, however, it might just not be what we as a civilisation want to do. 🙂

    My understanding of strategy, is that these sorts of things which you are writing about, only happen when our society is playing a weak hand. Some things crave the energy that comes from destroying and debasing, best not to hang out with them, but that’s just my take on the world.

    The Francis bloke was onto something, and he sounded OK to me. Some of the birds which live here are allies, others, well they have their own agendas. The magpies in particular will come and seek me out if there is a problem such as a fox or a snake, and I ensure that the place has feed, water and shelter. It’s not hard, it’s just work.



  83. Greetings, JMG.

    “Let’s just say that an astonishing number of people have ended up supporting things that are the exact mathematical opposite of the things they used to praise to the skies […]”

    Have I? Before lockdowns, I was rather confident on science, I had the sense that some people needed the spirituality to face the problems on their lives, but I didn’t feel the need for it, a little bit of stoicism sufficed. I didn’t believe in magic. I didn’t believe in gods. As a peak-oiler and ecologist, I felt anxious about the future and as I was turning 40, a sense of not achieving my goals on life was haunting me.
    The lockdowns weren’t so hard on me since I was able to commute for work, but it went hard on my wife and she was on the brink to collapse. Maybe she did. That brought too many bad emotions to my life.

    It is only after the cleansing of the tides of the Waters of Regeneration that Initiation can take place. When my world became upside down, my old habits no longer useful, I was ready to evolve.

    I knew the placebo effect and I didn’t want to expend money on drugs without trying some placebo first. Yoga meditation helped me to bear the anxiety, so that broke a wall for me, seeing positive results from a spiritual practice. This placebo worked. Then here in this blog I found a reasonable way to think about magic and gods, at least something that fits with my preconceived world-view: Metaphores. In this cosmology we are not told fairy tales, but are given exercises to experience the world in a broader way. Piece by piece, I learned about the way the physical world is being affected by second and third degree effects, the ‘spiritual’ side of reality. I still don’t believe in magic and gods as they are presented in myths, but as useful metaphores of the complex reality I am giving these concepts an oportunity.

    The wyvern (a representation of myself who trusted magic) that appeared and fused to me is now asking to work with the easterly wind, Euro. A small daily ritual that I feel might be pleasing this wind is what I need to remind me to gain his positive traits: fresh and humid it is kind towards life, constantly pushing in the same direction without violence, loves novelty and regeneration. Something as simple as blowing a flame without breaking it, is a good reminder of the attributes I’d like to achieve. And I might be fooling myself, but fooling oneself is what makes this kind of magic work, and as long as the results are the expected ones, I’m fine.

    While this behaviour looks like it’s the mathematical opposite of my former self, it actually comes from the addition of new concepts and needs without actually removing the older ones.
    I am sure I am not the only one who got his magnetic stresses tore up by the pandemic event and left open for an Initiation. I’d say that the group entity, our society, has experienced the Initiation and now it is starting to evolve.

  84. “If a cat walked up to you one morning and spoke to you in human language, would you be horrified?”

    A good question…I’d laugh very loud first (because of the apparent situation inconsistency) but then I’d try to communicate with the talking pet…

    These hypothetical talking pets reminds me a movie scene, in the Von Triers’ film “Antichrist” (oh, a good title, yeah). OK JMG, I know you don’t like videos, but…”chaos reigns!”

    That scene was made maybe to be terrific for everybody, but it made me laugh a lot…
    By the way, I’ve been touched by this phrase:

    “she talks about feeling as though the world she had inhabited had melted away, leaving her stranded in a strange new world.”

    I had that same feeling some years ago, when my 4 years old nephew told me that he had been “big” before being a little child, that is, he was talking about his later past life…After that little shock, my life wasn’t never the same that it was before that “revelation”.

    “you don’t work in high-level positions in presidential campaigns (which she did) without embracing those ways of thinking about the world.”

    You don’t, indeed…

  85. This series has solidified some thinking I’ve been doing about a Bible story that was called “difficult” when I was a child. This was the episode called “Jesus cursing the fig tree”. The modern take, which I was taught, was that the fig tree was just a mindless life form that couldn’t help not having any fruit at that time of year, so Jesus cursing it made no sense. From an enchanted-world perspective, however, the tree was a conscious being with some agency of its own. Jesus had been going around doing miracles big and small. Making a fig tree bear fruit out of season would seem to be well within his capacity — but the fig tree refused to cooperate. It was very attached to the regular cycle of the seasons and was not willing to participate in a miracle that interrupted that cycle. In a way, the fig tree is represents the modern mind, comfortable with rigid, impersonal forces, closed to the interrupting force of the wondrous, so it’s particularly ironic that the story is presented in a way that would leave modern minds unable to make sense of it. (This was also inevitable, I suppose, once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, which had an interest in keeping people at their productive routines.)

  86. Tlong0038

    Outsiders, as in popular key figures in their school – chosen one’s etc.. Give me a break

  87. Talking cats? Singing roses? Blossoming stones? Those aren’t sins, they’re miracles! At least as far as I understand sin.

    A sin is a violation of the accepted norms and standards of behavior of a particular group. A sin in one group might not be a sin in another group.

    Machen’s examples are violations of the laws of nature. The implications are certainly terrifying. If these events come about it means the whole comfortable foundation of your world, namely the predictable behavior of things, has become chaotic, and you are cast loose in a strange territory without a map.

    Take death. Normally, when people die, they stay dead. But Christ resurrected. This is a violation of a law of nature, therefore a sin by Machen’s definition. I am uncomfortable with the idea that the Son of God is a sinner. The son of a president? It happens. But the Son of God, please, no. Give us at least one example to live up to.

  88. Considering the subject of this post, I hope you don’t consider this Magic Monday stuff exceedingly off topic.

    1. I unfortunately got two doses of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine (no other doses). Would spiritual practices be helpful to undo the potential blocking of the Unseen?

    2. You mentioned Appalachian conjure. If you do not know them, look for the Foxfire Books (yes, I know, the author pleaded guilty and is a registered child molester). The project still goes on without him at

  89. John, I’ll look forward to your discussion of the flip flop and verse vicea between Democons and Republicrats. (These days your DemReps from Retrotopia are not far from my mind.) @Emily mentioned the grand mutation, and I’ve been thinking on that as well. Will look forward to your essay on that as well – and rolling with the flow of changes to come -and the possibilities they may open.

    @Pygmycory: It wasn’t the talking animals that enchanted me so much when I read the Narnia stories as a child, but the possibility of coming across a lamppost in the mist, or stumbling into a wardrobe while exploring a relatives house and getting a chance to explore the many worlds next door.

    @pumpkinscone, et al: I hope this vision/version of an older way of Christianity you have articulated can come to the fore, among those who are in that faith. I see it in aspects of Celtic Christianity, in the different mystics, like Hildegard Von Bingen, and others, and in what I’ve read from those who mix Christianity with the Druid Path. I wonder how things on our continent of North America will shape up with all the different denominations? Some people I know in the home church movement (several homes on our street involved in a group) seem more ammenable to this kind of thing, and much less puritan. I can even talk to one of them, who is friends through music with people in my social circle, about Jack Parsons and such without getting burned at the stake. Still, that is only one group. And in forums and other groups I read or participate in I do see the dark side of the second religiosity coming around as mentioned by @Dashui up top of the comments.

    For instance, this morning I saw a comment about the House voting to censure Schiff happening on the summer solstice: “A Little Win – BUT – just think of this, the fact that this occurred on one of ‘their’ High Witchy – High Sacred Days of The Summer Solstice- Actually makes IT A MAJOR WIN for Good in this current Spiritual War of Good v. Evil.”

    I did respond pointing out how the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and their holy days often fall on full moons, how Easter is calculated by using the spring equinox, and that I hope pogroms don’t happen on people who have many gods and choose to celebrate seasonal markers.

    One of my cousins got baptised just a few weeks ago. He used to debate anyone on relgious matters, and was something of an agnostic, though he did some ritual magic with me when we were teens and taking acid together. (“We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”) (BTW the two don’t mix well – I had some nice blow ups from all that.) Anyway, he went on to do a lot more harder drugs than me, for much longer, but has finally sobered up. I am happy for his sobriety but find it hard to here him think talk about how all other religions besides Christianity are wrong. He is in an evangelical sect descended from hippie Jesus freaks. There were a bunch of other baptisms that day. And this was one of my best friends in highschool. After we graduated we went on a roadtrip with this girl I had a summer fling with and her yoga teacher out to New Mexico where we participated in the “White Tantric Yoga/ Kundalini Yoga” retreat held in the mountains outside Espanola where the late Yogi Bhajan (I touched his toe -that was weird) and his Sikhs taught that stuff every year. Sikhism and that whole path wasn’t for me, but I’m grateful for the experience. After that it was off to the National Rainbow Gathering -quite a summer for eighteen year olds. At that time he was a seeker with me. I understand the appeal of religion for him now that he is getting his life together, but the intolerance he now has, as compared to the open exploration of other faiths and philosophies is quite marked.

    I am happy to at least know about Spengler and the second religiosity -as I have a framework for dealing with this stuff, and really do see it happening around me.

    Oh yes, and happy high holy days of ham radio to anyone who is going to be out celebrating summer field day this coming weekend.

  90. “The reason you get meows and woofs is largely because that’s all they can do at the hardware level. Their jaws and tongues and vocal cords won’t allow speech as we know it. Almost like they weren’t designed for it or something.”

    That’s why they taught the gorilla sign language. Brain is willing, body isn’t capable. The cost of human vocal capabilities is a propensity to choking to death.

  91. Fra’ Lupo, your understanding of sin is superb: “anything that distracts us from paying attention to The Divine”. I might suggest a slight amendment to “anything that distracts us from our search for and knowledge of the Divine”. Thanks also for your insight as to how this links to the “sinful” nature of a materialist-reductionist world. Something to reflect on.

  92. The older he (Lovecraft) got, the more brittle he seems to have become about the metaphysical world, and it shows.

    Occams’s razor: could it be he just recognized fear sells better? I haven’t read Lovecraft in many years, but found his mythical beings more entertaining than frightening.

  93. In terms of talking cats and singing roses. Bring it on! I would happily settle for a blue rose. That would sing enough for me

    I’m happily rereading Zen and the Art… His take on “classic” thinking versus “romantic” thinking seems to apply in this discussion. And the metaphorical “knife” idea and trying to get beyond or to combine both ways of thinking to reach a higher form of “thinking”/enlightenment.

  94. @pygmycory: Do you think the cats would vocalize like that with each other if you weren’t there to hear it? Maybe they’re doing it for your benefit.

    Here’s one source of many I’ve seen: “Meowing is an interesting vocalization in that adult cats don’t actually meow at each other, just at people.”

    Or maybe it’s just the yowling you’re witnessing, and not actual meowing, as the ASPCA distinguishes them.

  95. Clay, and of course that’s also something that has to be factored in. In the real world, nothing has only one cause.

    Celadon, okay, that’s pretty good. Who knows, maybe it was the Crawling Chaos himself! 😉

    Kimberly, thanks for this. Thank you also for posting that comment on Wolf”s substack; I hope it did some good.

    Ecosophian, thank you.

    Rose, now that’s a fine dream! Fascinating, too, that it echoed so many themes from this post.

    Kevin, I’d very strongly encourage you to start practicing some form of protective ritual. Yes, the LBRP would be a good choice, and if you have to turn on your axis, do it.

    Endrickwater, I admit I’m curious why you think I’d find Harry Potter dull. For the record, though, it’s because it’s a not especially good rehash of the most overused cliché in current schlock fantasy. There are these Special People, see, and they’ve got magic powers that nobody else gets to have. And there’s this kid in some kind of miserable setting, except he turns out to be one of the Special People; not only that, but he’s the Ultimate Special Person, because he alone can save the world from Blorg the Bad, Evil Lord of Evilness, and his evilly evil followers. (Yawn.) It’s been done not only to death but straight through the next three incarnations. Now of course the Potter franchise, like most other iteractions of the same dreary schlock, makes the Good People an idealized version of current liberal faux-meritocracy and the Bad People a liberal caricature of conservatives, but trust me, it’s just as boring when the politics are reversed.

    Edward, thanks for this. There is certainly something stirring in Russia, but I think you’ve radically misidentified it; you might find this essay of mine worth reading, or at least worth disagreeing with.

    Chuaquin, well, that was certainly my intention. Am I right that the Spanish phrase means “opening the box of thunder”? If so, that’s a fine image!

    JillN, interesting. It doesn’t surprise me that there are people who have fond memories of suburbia; I don’t claim my view as any kind of objective truth for all — it’s just that for me, in my childhood, suburban life sucked.

    Australian guy, thank you!

    Booklover, interesting. Thanks for the data point.

    Chris, I did indeed read the In Search Of… books! And yes, that’s Great Cthulhu rising from the sea. You’re right that what we’re seeing now are the frantic flailings of a society that no longer has the strength to do anything more useful; it’s intriguing to watch, in a bleak sort of way.

    Abraham, thanks for this. That’s a fascinating point and one that I’ll reflect on.

    Chuaquin, a lot of children remember fragments of their previous lives; the memories usually fade out as they get a little older. You might consider writing down everything your nephew told you about when he was “big,” and passing that onto him when he’s in his late teens or so — he’ll likely be glad you did.

    Joan, hmm! That’s a fascinating interpretation, and a workable one. I’d be happy to hear of it as a sermon…

    Martin, that’s the thing that keeps me circling back in astonishment to that passage in Machen. He’s saying that the world is subject to the iron grip of our notions of what can and can’t happen, and anything that violates those notions is sinful. To me, it’s a bizarre and baffling belief.

    Anonymous, please post this question to the next Magic Monday. Thanks!

    Justin, I’ve been thinking of the Dem-Reps too, but that’s partly because the phrase is an off-color joke. A demi-rep, in Regency times, was a high-class harlot — that is to say, equivalent to our politicians today.

    Karalan, no, he very clearly didn’t care what sold better. (That’s why he lived in poverty, supported by his aunts.) I also find his mythical beings delightfully entertaining, which is why I wrote those novels that talked about their point of view!

    Phaedrus, I haven’t read Pirsig in too long. I may have to remedy that.

  96. >she talks about feeling as though the world she had inhabited had melted away, leaving her stranded in a strange new world

    The world didn’t become strange, she just started seeing what was already there all along. Or stopped ignoring the strange stuff that she was ignoring all those years back in the 80s and 90s.

    >The cost of human vocal capabilities is a propensity to choking to death

    There’s a design tradeoff to everything.

  97. Yet when you look closely at the distorted ideology driving their actions, you can’t help but think they may have succumbed to a dark ancient force, just as Jung identified Wotan had possessed the Germans in the ’30s.

    Edward J. Wats @ 83, Do you truly believe that the Azov battalions and their followers and fellow travelers are not under some malign influence? And what about the oligarchs who feasted on Ukraine’s resources while mismanaging the country’s government? Am I to believe these are the Good People? Really?

    As for the American left supporting Ukrainian Nazis, that is easily explained without reference to hidden influences. The Left sold out long ago and does what its’ funders demand. They are hardly alone in this, BTW.

  98. JMG, that’s an interesting distinction between thaumatophobes and thaumatophiles.

    Call me thaumato-neutral? My mother possesses incredible gifts of metaphysical perception and made a career of soul-level work and bringing energetic bodies back into balance. I never really doubted the existence of such realities, and yet I also saw how that work made it difficult for her to be fully present in her body, on Earth, inhabiting this physical reality as she wanted to. So I tend to feel that there is a reason why there is something of a veil between physical and metaphysical realities, which helps most of us to be more fully engaged with our incarnated material experiences.

    For me, the love and fear lies on a different axis. Whether physical or metaphysical, I love order and fear chaos. On the material plane, I am comforted by the fact that Earth has established a complex set of feedback loops that has maintained the conditions for complex life despite massive disruptions over 500+ million years. On the other hand, I recoil in horror from the modern scientific worldview that this all happened by pure chaotic happenstance, that the underlying systems are fragile, and that our tamperings could easily lead to the extinction of humanity and all life on Earth. On the metaphysical plane, I envision a reality in which all beings are on some level aspects of a universal consciousness, malicious actors are constrained in their abilities to influence events, and planetary experiences like our incarnation on Earth have been planned and are to some degree watched over with various objectives (like soul-level development) in mind. Conversely, I fear or dread an enchanted world that is a chaotic battle for influence and self-preservation, in which souls and all of humanity are as pawns to be moved or sacrificed by greater powers.

  99. John, thanks for the term. I clearly need to read some Regency fiction… it also might explain why every now and then, I get a sour whiff when the syphilitic winds blow in from Washington.

  100. @Ynu8ipbnxu: you and a lot of other people these last few years! Lewis was thoroughly tapped into the undercurrents of our time.

    @The Other Owen: For dogs, I think Gary Larson had the right of it:
    Cats, though… I’m pretty sure I know what my old cat would have to say, and it wouldn’t be complimentary. She used to wake me up in the wee hours by bringing me live-but-injured mice, and *chirping* to wake me. Heckuva way to wake up. “Kids these days” she’d sigh, “sleep all night and don’t want to hunt” and then go back to stalking small things in the dark.

    @Rcastle: my thoughts almost exactly. The coordination of mass stupidity and illogic, in countries that cannot coordinate efficiently on anything else ever… darn creepy. I have a hard time believing even an amazingly well-connected elite cabal conspiracy could do that without getting gummed up in local bureaucracies. It was more like mass hypnosis!

    @Kfish: I also have a bird alarm-clock! There is an open soffit just above the window where I sleep, and some wrens have a nest in there. But I have seen them go in and out without knocking the window. Still, every morning bright and early, one of them taps the window and flutters off. Perhaps they are just saying hello, like a neighbor over the fence.

    @Pygmycory: I talk to my tomatoes also, and they talk back. I take it as a very simple case of… these are living beings in my care, they have needs, and whether it’s the plants talking directly or something speaking on their behalf, it behooves me to listen. Perhaps they have their own guardian angels looking out for them. If we are servants of God, we should strive to be good caretakers of His creation. In my case, perhaps they have to shout louder than usual to get past my natural obliviousness 😉

    @Cliff, Michael, JMG: given what I’ve read about the shoddy manufacturing process, and the rush to produce more product than any of the factories could reasonably handle, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that a significant proportion of those first batches were… essentially placebos. There had to have been a lot of outright fraud going on in order to ship that much out of existing facilities. It’s plausible that a LOT of people who only got the 1st, 2nd doses got very lucky. The boosters happened after production was successfully ramped up, and I would not expect the same results from those.

  101. It is common for Americans to describe dark ancient forces for the motivations of those we are told are our enemies. But I think ( like Naomi Wolf) we may find those forces closer to home. I can think of no darker or more malevolent force in todays geopolitical world than the Neocons of the USA who currently hold power within the Biden administration. Not only do they seem bent on sacrificing everyone ( other than themselves) for some kind of dream of unlimited power, but they seem unaware of the aura of darkness and menace that surrounds them. Just look at photos of Victoria Nuland sometime to see what I mean.
    I actually think this is what the adoption of the woke movement by official Washington is all about. They have become so dark, manipulative, self serving, corrupt and downright evil that they need a smokescreen to make themselves and their followers believe that they are still the ” the good people”. I think they learned this lesson from Hillary Clinton. They learned that if you just tell people you are the good guy while doing nasty things at home and abroad ,with an air of malevolence that would make Lucifer blush ,it is not going to work. But no, don’t become a good person, just get a better PR campaign.

  102. Mr. Scarlett-Watts, thanks for calling attention to your essay. I thought the evidence you brought together, especially in the section on the Katechon, was persuasive and disquieting. While there is much that is noble and beautiful in Russian tradition, the better angels of that culture do not seem, at present, to be at the wheel.

    Gray Hat

  103. JMG: The more I read the more I think you should get reading it again.

    Page 78: “The ghost he pursued was the ghost that underlies all of tech, all of modern science, all of western thought. It was the ghost of rationality itself…. A ghost which calls itself rationality but whose appearance is that of incoherence and meaninglessness…” “The ghost which declares that the ultimate purpose of life, which is to keep alive, is impossible… So great minds struggle to cure diseases so that people may live longer, but only madmen ask why. One lives longer in order that he may live longer. There is no other purpose. That is what the ghost says.”

    To me this hits square on the head of what your post is getting at.

    As Kurt Vonnegut would say, “Welcome to the Monkey House!”

  104. @Chuaquin: little kids telling about when they were big is surprisingly common. I think all of my kids did it, around the same age– 3-4ish– old enough to speak eloquently, but still young enough that acceptable ideas about “reality” and linear time haven’t solidified in their heads yet. The line between fantasy and reality, dreaming and waking, present, past, future, and (who knows?) possibly other experiences– one’s own? others?– there is no line. Those distinctions happen later. I resist the urge to correct them and just see what they have to say. They’re wonderfully creative fabulists at that age. I don’t rule out the possibility of past lives (or even future ones), but my youngest is in that phase now, and I can clearly see the influence of stories he’s heard, stuff his brothers talk about, etc, in the stories he tells about the wonderful adventures he had “when I was born” or “when I was big”. Currently they involve all of his brothers’ favorite themes: airplanes, motorcycles, volcanoes, and tractors. He has this great story about flying over a volcano in Peru and dropping things into it– clearly an exponent of stories he’s heard at home. But also so many stories about boats… which his brothers aren’t nearly so enthusiastic about, but which are a bit of a mania for him (my fridge is covered in drawings of sailboats right now. He’s never been on one, or even seen one up close, but he thinks they are grand). I don’t pretend to know what that’s about, but I enjoy it while it lasts, and it clearly brings him joy 🙂

  105. @Justin Patrick Moore: If my diocese is any indication, the second religiosity is in full swing already!

  106. Yesterday afternoon a Wren flew in my workshop and tried to fly through but ran into the big glass windows, and went behind the box of layout tools where I could catch her. 3 steps from the bench, I had her and she pooped on my fingers, thinking this could be curtains, as I rushed to the backdoor of the mudroom where she lept out into the air as I launched her into flight and life and as she flew into the trees she thought “He wanted me to Live!” and “Oh may He live also” but they speak 60 time as fast as me so I missed it right then, it was later I got her thought. My mother was like a Wren in her nest, and she was a Goddess of Beauty and Healing to me when I was 5, though I didn’t put it into words then. I still think that now, but I have since concluded She manifests as different women in many places, eternally and infinitlally, all with different powers, though One. I like to think she and my father are both Wrens, nesting and flying together in a beautiful world, as my father liked flying airplanes, like the Steareman and the AT-6 Texan. His favorite song was “The Impossible Dream”, which you don’t hear anymore even though it was once quite popular, from the musical, “Man of LaMancha” about Don Quixote’ and Sancho Panza. They both had alot of heart, I am so grateful to them. They looked reality right in the eye, and reality looked back.

  107. Hey John,

    I’ve noticed occultists seem to have a very similar experience growing up. All of what you have described of your youth over the years parallels my own experience very closely. I discovered magic quite a bit later, but looking at the books and stories I was obsessed with at age 10-11-12 its not surprising. A story by John Bellairs about a out cast kid being raised by grandparents prays over a figurine and uses it to overcome a bully through unseen force is a good example. Age 14 came and instead of wanting to be Gandalf I wanted to be Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett.

    With so much experience as an outsider I am split between empathy for people like Naomi Wolf, and a mixture of satisfaction and excitement that as her world breaks down, the possibilities for mine could improve.

    A natal chart reading I had done indicated my spiritual path was ritual magic…my first thought was that’s why the idea of RM feels like home to me. Having been raised Roman Catholic it was difficult to accept the occult as a path (the angel/demon fear programming works very well) and I appreciate you raising understanding of these areas to help people like me break out of their birth culture and align with what they are now.

  108. Sin is not really part of my moral framework, per se, not having been raised in an Abrahamic household. I did see somewhere the idea that sin consists of treating a person as an inanimate thing – an object, not a subject. That resonates with me. To the extent we consider entities – say, a river – to have personhood, then to that extent we will be outraged by their abuse – say, pollution.

  109. Now, this Naomi Wolf person…Why do I recognize here…wait before this World Event Crisis… *searches something about Yoni* OH YES… what this here: “She wants to make us all jealous of her amazing [Redacted], which allow her to “experience the sense of heightened interconnectedness, which the Romantic poets and painters called the Sublime” and “hint of a sense of all things shivering with light”. And most of all, she wants to share her great insights with the women of the world: she wants to teach them the secrets of the “Goddess array”, a set of head-stroking, armpit-sniffing, pulse-quickening behaviours that will allow us to experience the kind of earth-moving shags that Naomi seems to have on a daily basis” [From The Quietus]

    Same woman wanted women to go into prostitution to experience this “Goddess Array”. Same person convinced Sherry Sandburg to say this some time later:

    ““When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”

    You know the liars when they speak. Now they are concerned about the EVIL that is coming when these same people helped bring about the same issues now come about? Even if they had a epiphany over this world event Crisis, the actions and words written taken from such actions have lead many women who even still supported her after her takes has done enough that these words now seem deeply hollow to me. She is not looking for a better future – just a man who can make her feel soft since she never got that chance in the little town in HS with the high school football player who is now working at NFL films or some sort after a successful career in the league.

    And the reason I can say this because I began to see the difference between her and someone like Rand (who I understand your disagreements with her) and a Teal Swan who the very latter understands wholesale what kind of work entails in taking this journey and the choice she had to make in not having anymore kids (Swan has one) because of such. It is for this reason (and a few others) that I don’t fully dismiss the magic discussion – because its one of the only other things a woman has a chance to develop full agency over her life outside of her first one – her sexuality. All Miss Wolf has been, and will continue to be – is a Madam without her army of kittens ready to destroy nations because most men knew (from her HS years onward) she is a danger to herself and others and if men play that game with her in particular they are never coming back or out to any sensible, respectful life. The problem is Wolf, Sandberg and others like Blair (a youtuber called Illumanaughti (!)) are in every single national and international edifice and old pains die hard and they are taking it out on everyone – especially young men (via simp culture) and young women (forcing them to suicide like Hana Kimura, and in other cases forcing them to Only Fans and the like with this misconstruction of the “Goddess Array” that Wolf started)

    When you mentioned sin, I saw it as forgetfulness of a promise. How can sin be connected to talking cats? No, im glad that is cleared up. A talking cat would be a blessing not a curse. Yes it would frighten some but with me and others on here, there is so many things I would ask the cat, dog, grasshopper about itself and other things.

  110. More in decline:

    A submarine taking rich people to tour the remains of the Titanic had vanished. Seems it’s now been found and had suffered a “catastrophic implosion,” potentially due to poor construction:

    @JMG re Harry Potter

    “There are these Special People, see, and they’ve got magic powers that nobody else gets to have. And there’s this kid in some kind of miserable setting, except he turns out to be one of the Special People; not only that, but he’s the Ultimate Special Person, because he alone can save the world from Blorg the Bad, Evil Lord of Evilness, and his evilly evil followers. ”

    It starts that way, but its whole point is that guess what, the so-called “special people” are just people with all the same flaws as all other people. But that unfolds as the series proceeds, so if someone just starts reading the first book that won’t be apparent. The target audience is people who *like* that sort of thing, so she has to draw them in so she can pull the rug out from under them later. 😉

    (But yeah, the narrative voice *is* a “Good Liberal” of the times.)

    @all re Machen

    I think that Machen was trying to say that sin is going against the laws of nature, in a kind of a “gods of the copybook headings” kind of way. (I would agree with him there–I think that a lot of the rules that have attached themselves to a lot of religions over the years are about living in harmony with how the world and/or human nature works, so “sin” *would* “just” be “acting in a way that, given the world and human nature, will end up worse than if you did the recommended thing” – which could be summarized as “going against nature”).

    It’s interesting then that all the examples Machen came up with of “going against the laws of nature” also included that extra “getting above their station” aspect. It kind of muddied the waters of what he was trying to say!

  111. that a disturbance of the materialist status quo should be termed a sin seems odd indeed, and to me is far from the Abrahamic religious narrative. – in which donkeys speak back and prophets are fed by ravens.
    the classic Orthodox Christian understanding of sin is that it is to be understood as akin to a disease, to an illness and those that commit sins- actions and thought that have alienated him or her from God – from the light, particularly those who commit the same ones regularly, are sick people in need of help. the church is to be considered a hospital.
    this view is to be contrasted with the catholic and protestant notion that sin is the breaking of a law, and that Jesus is not the spiritual physician, the liberator god, but a prosecuting judge and the church is a courtroom (this model was taken to an extreme by the protestant founders of this nation- the puritans).
    This view is one reason among a great many as to why I am in one of several orthodox churches (OCA, Greek, Antiochian, etc.) as often as I can- every day if I could. We are living in a very sick society, a very sick culture indeed and I need the spiritual dialysis that attending a liturgy, praying centuries old corporate prayers, lighting a candle, kissing an icon and praying for help from a saint provide- I live in such an evil time that merely assenting to a set of beliefs and attending a concert and a lecture is not enough, I need strong medicine, I need to eat the body and drink the blood of the god that walked the earth as a human being, I need to get on my hands and knees and touch my head to the ground and ask for mercy- for myself and those around me.
    that we are living in particularly demon haunted times should be obvious- no it is not like other times, whether you believe as I do that ” the gods of the nations are demons” or that there are other spiritual forces- gods- that are not demonic ( as I sure JMG and many of the pagans who read this blog believe) I am sure you would agree that there are malevolent spiritual forces at work in the globalist Sorathic evil that is currently ruling the world.
    MR Greer how is magic going to save the world? how can Druidry save the world and rescue those who are caught in the trap of materialism? can any of the occult systems of belief rescue those trapped in addiction? i do not mean this as an attack but I wonder- I read you as saying that magic is participation, and I read others as saying that the occult :”works” (not intended as scare quote) – I am sure that it does but I will be reading more of your hardcore occult practice posts to perhaps understand- how does what the occultist do differ from what a scientologist does when he or she uses “religious technology”? (Yes- yours is benign and a lot less expensive) and I don’t doubt that you and the readers who are occultists are not motivated by the need to dominate or acquire power, but still, without a moral framework, ethical teachings and most importantly a divine being who defeats death and cleanses away sins- how is occultism not a religious technology?
    i would not bother to ask if I thought that you -JMG or your occultist readers were malevolent- you and they seem overwhelmingly to be people of good will who have rejected the materialist assumptions of modernity – as have I to differing result, but I have to ask. Does the occult recognize sin? is there repentance? is occultism/Christianity a false dichotomy? is Christian occultism real?
    the culture is sick- how can magic restore it to health?
    how can magic save the world?
    following a living ancient faith in the middle of an evil dying empire- i will all of you well.

  112. @Kevin #80 – I live in a small L-shaped apartment and more or less rotate on my axis when doing the LBRP. It’s what I can do, with what I have.

    @Endrickwater#81 and JMG re: Wizarding World. Rowling didn’t know squat about real magic (OR Latin!), but she hit the elemental nail on the head with the colors for her four Houses: blue and white (air) for Ravenclaw, green and silver (water) for Slytherin, etc. She also – inadvertently? – via the names of the characters and other markers – hit the 4 major linguistic and cultural layers of deep English history, as described by linguist John McWhorter. Slytherin is pure Norman French. Hufflepuff (earth) is Saxon to the bone. Ravenclaw is Classically Educated Roman. And Gryffindor (fire) is pure, wild Celtic in all its unpredictability and tendency to go to extremes. (See, frex, the difference between Irish and Germanic mythologies.) I can easily see where these correspondences stuck a strong note of fitness in the English and Anglophone mind! Not even consciously, just as a reflection of a deep underlying reality.

    Come to think of it, Slytherin’s emphasis on “the right” bloodlines and family is of the etheric level… for what that’s worth.

  113. Hmm, I am fascinated by your take on Arthur Machen’s concept of sin. Because it seem that, in a way, it is diametrically opposed to mine.

    I have always been a fan of the Granny Weatherwax definition of sin – “it always starts with treating people as things”… My own category of “people” may be broader than hers, although, since she was reputed to be rigourous in paying her dues to such animals as she “borrowed” from time to time, maybe not…

    Still, my definition of sin is everything that can start from the habit of treating a “you” as an “it”…

    …whereas Machen (in your fascinating take, at any road) appears to define sin as an “it” daring to insist on being treated as a “you”.

  114. JMG,

    The existence and adoption of a living archive of public thought connected to millions across space and time, i.e. the thing called “social media” is what killed the “American consensus reality”.

    When I read the thoughts of common people from the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, etc… I see nothing but disagreement over what they think is happening to them and why but…. those people didn’t have twitter, Facebook, youtube, etc… to sort and show their thoughts to everyone everywhere all day every day.

    Basically the harmony of thought in the U.S. was only possible when the public was muted but… the public has many bullhorns now.

  115. @Scotlyn,

    I think you’ve misunderstood my comment about a hypothetical Rogan debate. I’m not suggesting that the proles should be excluded from debates about the merits of vaccine mandates (or any other kind of science-related policy) – indeed I would like to see a country where people are both more scientifically literature and more aware of the ways that monied interests, plus the myth of progress, have corrupted mainstream science!

    My disagreement is over whether a 60-minute television spot is a useful forum for such a debate. I think that it’s not, since the constraints imposed by such a format virtually guarantee that one or both sides is going to cite statistics that are garbled, or at least taken out of context, and the other party won’t have time to look up the original study, find out how it’s being misrepresented, and set the record straight. Thus, the debaters will end up talking past one another, and nearly everyone who watches will just end up feeling confirmed in their prior opinions. (As already happens in most televised debates!)

    The problem is not the idea of publicly discussing/debating issues of scientific policy – the problem is with doing it via television, a medium that we already know doesn’t do much to form thinking citizens!

  116. “Justin, I’ve been thinking of the Dem-Reps too, but that’s partly because the phrase is an off-color joke. A demi-rep, in Regency times, was a high-class harlot — that is to say, equivalent to our politicians today.”

    Okay, now that I’ve read all of the interesting comments listed above: I admit that I (now in my 70s) wouldn’t mind “doing a cattleya” with a modern day Odette! Yes, these comments have indeed been interesting.

  117. I suppose by Machen’s reckoning I should have gone mad a few years ago when a despondent swan who had lost his mate walked to my door, which he’d never approached before, for some sympathy and companionship. (He didn’t talk, but I couldn’t have been much more surprised if he did.) Or if not then, then a year earlier, after spending two consecutive nights in spontaneous therapeutic astral communion with the bed of cattails outside my window.

    Such occurrences aren’t happy thrills, to be sure. They’re challenging, and cause some apprehension. “What does this mean or portend?” More practically, “What can I possibly do or say to help this creature, previously just a casual acquaintance, negotiate life-altering grief?” It’s a similar feeling to being uncertain whether I can handle the demands of a new job, or negotiate the transit system of an unfamiliar city. It’s also a reminder that I’m interacting with greater beings, even though it seems best to address them as the forms they present.

    Fortunately my own mate is capable of observing me sit on my doorstep half the night talking quietly eye to eye with a bird, and understanding enough to react with only mild bemusement. (Although, around that time, she did start half-ironically nicknaming me “Father Nature,” little as I deserve such a title.) I wonder how much that aspect of the proper-nature-of-things was in the back of Machen’s mind: if you’re seen in an unguarded moment disputing with a cat, singing along with roses, or watering stones, that’s likely to affect your reputation. Is that another reason those things are so sinful?

  118. JMG, I spent so many hours as a child wishing intently that my cat would talk. The possibility that my childhood desires (which I now suspect were an expression of my longing to find my way back to an enchanted world) might be based not on fantasy but on a much larger reality that most of my species simply isn’t aware of yet… well, that just makes me so, so happy. Just the possibility of the possibility that it’s much more interesting than it appears is profoundly enlivening. I’ll by all means take the tentacles along with the talking cats. Wahoo!!

  119. I enjoyed this essay immensely. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a family that indulged my interest in the weird, the strange and the esoteric. Because I have a background in the sciences people are always surprised when I start talking about my metaphysical experiences.

    I learned that the stereotype of scientist-as-materialist wasn’t always the case and that as recently as the 1970’s you had physicists trying to map the esoteric significance of high energy particles for example. Then the ‘skeptic’ Thermidorian reaction happened.

    Which brings me to HPL. I got a very different read of his fiction than our host. It may be because I read ‘From Beyond’ and ‘The Shadow Out of Time’ first. To me the antagonists in Lovecraft stories always seemed technological; ancient alien spacefaring empires with no morality we could comprehend. The Ythians in ‘The Shadow Out of Time’ really exemplify this I think. A bunch of genocidal alien academics using their advanced technology to time travel and hijack people’s bodies and minds so they can get data for thesis papers.

    They always seemed to me like a group the CSICOP types would absolutely adore and think we should emulate.

    Anyway, excellent essay JMG.

  120. Sabine Hossenfelder said not too long ago, and in a mainstream publication at that, that maybe the universe thinks.

    She said that the pattern of strings of galaxies extending over many millions of light years looks amazingly like neural networks of the human brain. An astrophysicist and a neuroscientist actually studied the similarities between the structures of the universe and those of the human brain.

    But even if this is the case, how do thoughts get transmitted over these immense cosmic filaments given limitations imposed by the speed of light? Locality is a big problem IOW. But what of locality or the lack thereof in the subatomic realm? Maybe these gigantic multitudes of non-local connections (or entanglement), are what the universe uses to think.

    So, is the universe the abode of God, or gods, lurking in the quantum woodwork, making their presence known now and again via deliberate interventions in human affairs?

    Or maybe visual or auditory ‘events’ (for lack of a better word) are the result of glitches in the matrix ie imperfections in the underlying ‘code’ (again for lack of a better word). Or maybe they come from capricious and mischievous denizens of that ‘occult’ (once again for lack of a better word) but very real world, just having a bit of fun.

    Right thinking people, grounded in reason and facts and evidence, scoff. They can do as they like. For my part, I’ve never seen people as unamenable to the very things they say they’re all about, those things being facts and evidence. After all, if you are intent on not seeing something, my bet is that you won’t, even if it’s in plain sight.

    So Sabine is open to the possibility that maybe the universe thinks. If it can do that, maybe it can do other things.

    Is there then a methodology for interacting with this subsurface thinker? Or plural, thinkers? Maybe ‘magic’ is as good a term as any.

  121. If I may be permitted to say something, I would like to say suburbia feels fake because we evolved for millions of years in wide open spaces. Our DNA prefers these wide open spaces.

    We are mammals but live like ants in giant concrete anthills called cities. This is the basis of all the anxiety and depression we feel. But there are 8 billion of us and we can hardly go back to hunting and gathering.

    If I may be permitted to say something positive about suburbia, it seems to be the only practical solution for those people who can afford it. A suburban house provides a little privacy in our giant ant hills and is usually surrounded by grass, plants, and trees which bring back a little of our grasslands past.

    These grasslands provided a lot of variable stimuli. It’s basically impossible to get bored surrounded by nature. But we live in boxes which lack such stimuli. This environment is tedious and stressful. Enter consumerism. People like to buy new things because they provide some new stimulus. This relief is temporary but it is relief.

  122. It is in a book I have read more than once but can’t place atm but there was a line where the author states something like “When a flower spoke to Alice she exhibited only mild surprise, but I tell you this now if a flower spoke to a man that man would know fear”

    Now despite the current techno-surrounded person assuming that it was actually a microphone hidden in the flowerbed it never really occurred to me that a flower talking would be such a scary prospect.

    Your wife saying ‘we need to talk’ on the other hand 😉

    Of course allowing for trees or cats or whatever to have voices also implies they have sentience and agency that is not reliant on us and to have to interact with the ‘other’ as partners, equals, or (gasp) superiors is rather foreign to a culture that has trouble treating even other humans as real.

  123. @John Zybourne, interesting to see the varied reactions to Lovecraft!

    On my part I never even saw the Great Race of Yith, or even the Elder Things as “antagonists”. I felt like they were written almost as “anthropological” observations of alien species. And in fact I think Mountains of Madness was pretty sympathetic to the Elder Things by excusing them for being awakened after millions of years and taking a scientific interest in the scientific team they killed.

    If the Yithians gave me a choice to swap bodies, I’d say Yes! At least temporarily.

  124. Fr. Stephen Freeman has a wonderfully synchronistic post up today:

    Wherein, he talks about disenchantment, how the materialist view of the world allows it to be wantonly exploited for profit, that “disenchantment” is itself illusion, because the world is *sacramental* and when we treat things sacramentally, we are not engaging in mere symbolism, but revealing what they really are, that this has been grievously stomped in Western culture since the Reformation… plus this lovely bit:

    “In the Fathers (particularly St. Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Maximus the Confessor), seeing the world as it truly is – is discussed under the heading of “natural contemplation” (theoria physike). This is described as a perceiving and understanding of the logoi of created things. All things are created through the Logos (John 1:3). As such, each created thing carries within it its own “logos” (logoi is the plural), its eternal purpose and proper character of its existence. Thus, created “things” are not just stuff to be managed, packaged, and sold. Creation is thoroughly grounded in God and cannot be rightly understood or related to apart from that eternal grounding.”

    …and then winds up with a mention of *That Hideous Strength* just to round out the bingo card. Some days it’s like y’all are catching each other’s echoes, up and down the canyon. But I think it’s that writers like you, and Kingsnorth, and Fr. Stephen, while disagreeing on many fundamental things, have all got a whiff of the same breeze.

  125. I don’t enjoy staring at little colored blobs jerking around on a glass screen, no matter what those blobs are supposed to be doing or saying..

    Dear John Michael, I have repeatedly read this statement, or analogous statements, from you over the years. And these statements regarding your aversion to watching anything in a video format have always struck my curiosity.

    Now, I am a person who also would almost infinitely rather read the transcript of a discussion or a video rather than watch it. But that is simply because I can absorb information much faster, and better, in a written format rather than by merely listening to it.

    But your description of “little colored blobs jerking around on a glass screen” goes far beyond my simple annoyance with the video format. It makes me actually wonder if you are not processing, or able to process, those moving images in the way that most other people do. I say that because it would never even occur to me to describe the moving images of a video as “little colored blobs jerking around on a screen”. Yet you seem to have no problem interpreting 2-dimensional still images.

    So do you believe, or know, that you may not be seeing video images in the manner that most other people do? I ask this in particular in light of your Asperger’s Syndrome, as it is well known that humans, like all other animals, must learn to be able to see, which is a process as much, or more, involving the brain as it does the eyes. Can it be that you are unable to make sense of moving images on a screen, in the same way that most dogs, for example, cannot seem to comprehend a television image? Please understand that I do not say that to be insulting to you. I just have never before met, or heard of, an adult human who could not make sense of video images, if in fact that is what is happening in your case.

  126. Upon the third mention of That Hideous Strength within the past week from various sources (a brother, a podcast, and now this week’s post), I think that I’d better heed all of the above and read the book already. Thank you for giving that third push, JMG.

  127. JMG, have you by chance ever read John crowe ransoms God Without Thunder? Examines myth of science and progress and also deals with Gnostic themes, albeit from amateur perspective. Its stacked. The guy was searching and had a bad in modern myth. I’m rereading it from long ago and mad at myself for putting it off. He reminds me a bit of you, in the “view of the gods”. A kindred spirit.

  128. Mark, of course! Thaumatophobia and thaumatophilia are two ends of a spectrum; each exists in many degrees, and there’s also a middle ground between them. I’m fairly far over on the thaumatophilic end but I know people who are a lot further out that way than I am. Your vision of the metaphysical world, btw, is very much along the lines of the description given to it in classical occultism.

    Justin, you might try Georgette Heyer’s novels. She invented the Regency romance, and her novels are fine little comedies of manners with exquisitely precise historical research backing them up.

    Methylethyl, that seems quite plausible.

    Phaedrus, I’ll see what time and other circumstances allow. My current reading is Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, which is also well worth your time.

    Mark, many thanks for the story!

    Gordon, glad to hear it.

    Isaac, fair enough.

    Novid, hmm. I think it’s more complex than that, for what that’s worth.

    Cary, nah, that’s always part of the Special People story. The Special People aren’t special because they’re actually better than anyone else. They’re special because the author says they’re special. It’s exactly the same logic as the current faux meritocracy, in which the fact that you were selected by the system proves that you’re better than anyone else, especially when you’re not. I read three of the Harry Potter novels and part of the fourth, btw; I kept waiting for Rowling to do something interesting with the story line, and it just got more predictable. When the quote Death Eaters unquote showed up, I quit; it’s the sleaziest of all sleazy gimmicks to have the bad guys knowingly be bad guys.

    In good fiction, as in the real world, both sides always think they’re in the right, and they always have reasons to believe in their cause which they think are valid. Imagine the story if Tom Riddle had been an earnest, charismatic, likeable guy who talked with great conviction about his cause, and his Traditionalist Wizards League was full of young, enthusiastic, idealistic people who truly believed in their cause. It would have been much better! As for Machen, I think you’ve misunderstood him considerably. My reading of his stories is that “getting above one’s station” is for him the essence of sin. A cat who paid attention to the Gods of the Copybook Headings would have been just as unnerving to him as one that talked!

    Stephen, it’s a fair question — or rather a fair group of questions. There is indeed Christian occultism; you might find it interesting to read the writings of Mouni Sadhu (real name Dymitr Sudowski), whose Christian occultism drew heavily on Eastern Orthodox teachings. Ethics are a crucial part of every valid form of occultism — one of my teachers used to say that ethics are to magic what sanitation is to surgery; neglect them and the whole thing goes septic — but ethics, essential as they are, are not enough. You can hew precisely to some ethical code and remain just as deep in misery and delusion as ever. What’s needed is a transformation of consciousness — I believe the Greek word here is metanoia — and there are several ways to attain that; your way, the religious way, is one of them. As for your broader question — how can magic save the world? — I’ll be discussing that as we proceed; stay tuned.

    Scotlyn, exactly. To my mind Machen’s definition of sin is quite literally evil, because it demands that everything in the world should remain fixed in an I-it relationship with human beings, rather than aspiring to an I-you relationship.

    GlassHammer, there has never been a single American consensus reality. That’s one of the myths common these days. There have also been plenty of bullhorns — they weren’t quite as fast, but I recommend a good look at political and countercultural magazines from an earlier day.

    Phutatorius, duly noted!

    Walt, thanks for this! No doubt sinning against the great god Reputation is also involved.

    Erica, wahoo indeed. I’ll certainly take the tentacles, too — but then I’ve always thought that octopi were cute.

    John, oh, granted, I had to clean up the Yithians considerably to fit them into my own tentacle fiction. Of course Lovecraft would have joined CSICOP if he’d lived long enough.

    Sawdust, too funny.

    Smith, glad to hear she’s catching up to something that mystics have known for, oh, millennia!

    Roman, maybe so, but I feel comfortable in cities. Suburbia, to me, has all the downsides of urban and rural life, and none of the advantages of either.

    Australian, exactly. To accept that a cat might talk or a rosebush might sing is to accept that they have agency, that we might have to deal with them as a “you” rather than as an “it.”

    Methylethyl, delighted to see this. I get the sense that Christians like to say “sacramental” in situations where occultists like to say “enchanted.”

    Alan, yes, that’s quite possible. Like many people with Aspergers syndrome, my nervous system is kind of a mess — I also have mild ADD and motor dyspraxia (aka “clumsy as f***”). I can interpret the jerky little colored blobs on a screen and identify them as what they’re supposed to be, but they’re still just jerky little colored blobs on a screen, pretending to be people and places and things.

    Dr. Coyote, you’re most welcome. Enjoy!

    Celadon, no, I haven’t. I’ll put it on the look-at list.

  129. JMG, I read the Wolff essay. Of course she misses the old world of scientific materialism, that world was very good to her. Towards the end of the essay one reads:

    The world-spirit now is overtaken by the struggle between good and evil. Nothing stands in between.

    You can’t stand in between any more.

    Have we not been hearing this mantra since at least 1965? You Must Take Stand on (the outrage/crisis/revelation) du jour, which I The Enlightened One have explained. Wolff, newly minted expert, will lay out just what she expects of us sheeple in her upcoming posts. Stay tuned.

    I love the way she focuses on language as the instrument of our decline. Not the uglinesses and uncertainties of daily life, not the poisons in our food, water and air, and not the crude sorceries of advertising. Me, I don’t believe a word of her essay; I think she represents a faction which has been in some ways ascendent and wants to get in on and in control of the new trend. I would call this a kind of entryism.

  130. “We are mammals but live like ants in giant concrete anthills called cities. This is the basis of all the anxiety and depression we feel.”

    Our natural habitat is the savanna country. The first thing we do in forest country is knock some of it down so we can see the sky.

    Several years back there was a concept called ‘crowding psychosis’ going around. It sort of got poo-pooed with an arm wave that humans are social animals and that couldn’t possibly apply. I had an impression that that conclusion was less about the concept being invalid and more about we can’t fix it so we’ll have to just deal with it.

    Synchronicity: Moonlight Shadow is playing on stereo. There is witchy for you. 😉

    As for the dead submarine, that is less about the decline of society than it is about good old-fashioned hubris. At least this time the CEO got to pay the price of his failure. As for the other passengers, at least it was quick. From alive to biofilm in 1/120 second. Cooked biofilm at that. The compression ratio in a diesel engine is about 20 to 1. At the depth they likely imploded the compression ratio would have been about 150 to 1.

    I’ve never been deeper than 1250 ft, and that seemed entirely adequate.

    The quick rule of thumb is 44 psi for every 100 ft down.

  131. The Other Owen says:

    People have theorized that maybe animals do understand hooman language at some rudimentary basic level. Their software does have language support. Not a lot, but some. As far as I know, it’s just a theory though.

    The Other Owen, I can only surmise from this statement that you have never actually owned a pet yourself. If you had, you would realize that it is more than abundantly obvious to any pet owner that dogs and cats, not to mention horses and pigs, can indeed learn to recognize and understand a fair bit of human language. Not complex expressions or sentences, certainly, but individual words, oh yes!

    The last dog I owned, a Malamute/Siberian Husky mix, had an almost eerie and unnatural calm and unflappable presence about him that many people recognized — I sometimes imagine him having been on his last incarnation before moving on to being reincarnated as a human. He also effortlessly learned to very clearly recognize over 100 English words, names and phrases (and a couple of Polish curses for good measure), words as similar as “mouse” and “moose”, which instantly elicited radically different (and appropriate) responses from him when spoken. And bear in mind, NONE of these words, names and phrases did I purposely try to teach him — he just picked them up in the normal course of daily life.

    (I should add that the single largest category of words that he recognized related to food, or to individual foods — “treat”, “food”, “rice”, “oatmeal”, “bread”, “salmon”, “(food) bowl”, “chicken” were all words that he understood distinctly from each other.)

    I often wonder just how much more my dog might have been able to learn, had I actually purposefully tried to teach him.

  132. @ Thrown Sandwiches

    My disagreement is over whether a 60-minute television spot

    Rogan’s show is not on TV and has no limitations… I’ve watched fascinating discussions ranging for several hours. I’m also certain Rogan would gladly do a multi-session debate wherein the parties got to come back and respond to points raised in earlier sessions.

    Regarding debates turning into name-calling, well, it’s always the person that’s losing the argument that resorts to ad hominem attacks. Hotez, like many others, simply know they cannot defend an indefensible position and don’t want their grift exposed.

  133. It strikes me that one can be both a thaumatophobe and a thaumatophile at the same time, or at least in rotating sequences, particularly if they’re understood as representing flip sides of the same coin. I too grew up in the burbs reading a lot of sf and fantasy and walking around thinking, please let there be something more than this, please let there be a real world of wonders. As my spiritual awareness intensified, I discovered that the wonder world existed and was all around me, and it was beyond delight ….. but I knew that talking cats were not part of the wonder, in fact, it seemed to me that would have been a substitute fantasy until the real spiritual vision came along, much like fantasizing about Harry Potter magic in a child’s mind would be a temporary substitute for the real thing.

    So I can’t really say how I’d react if I encountered a talking cat, and honestly I’m not sure how anyone could know how they’d react until they actually encountered a talking cat. I’m sure St Francis really communicated with birds and they with him, but that’s different than a cat coming up to him and reciting an analysis of the Divine Comedy, in which case I imagine that Francis would be thrown off his rhythm at least a little. IAE, I think I’d definitely take it as a metaphysical manifestation, much the same as that NY fish market 20 lb carp that started shouting in Hebrew, if you remember that from 20 years ago – and the guys who witnessed that were reportedly terrified by the event, as unsure as they were if they encountering a malign spirit or not. The world of enchantment does include some frightening stuff. The numinous is both fascinating and terrifying at once. I’m aware of the higher worlds around me, and it’s wondrous, but I also can experience a certain Dread when contemplating the night sky.

    On this subject I always think of Job, Book Of, and of how truly spiritual Job wasn’t released from his torments until he fully realized that he really didn’t have a clue as to what God really was, particularly after God revealed one of His manifestations as a cosmos-sized crocodile, which must have been a daunting vision to say the least.

    Re Machen – I always thought Machen was saying that we are steeped in sin to the point where we are unaware of its real destructive effects on our souls, that is, we take sin as “natural”, whereby in fact it is highly as “unnatural” and as terrifying, were we aware of it, as would be talking cats or singing flowers. Bit of an awkward equation, I’ve also thought, so, JMG, your explanation makes sense for me, thanks.

  134. Nice way to address Naomi Wolf’s concerns! I could very well appreciate the reasons for her views on the demons involved, but as a polytheist, felt distressed that I might be considered part of the reason for the very nasty problems we are all facing.
    I note the Shinto traditions define “tsumi” (sin) as entropy, with the Sins of Heaven being intentional and the Sins of Earth being shale happens. Your essay also gives me more insight into why Susano-o, who went on to become a champion of humans on Earth, may have felt motivated to commit all of the Sins of Heaven.

  135. If cats could talk, I would have words with them about the difference between a lawn and a litter box. This after scraping cat poo off my boot treads and the lawnmower wheels yesterday. But I suspect the cats would walk away with their tails in the air, showing me their buttholes. Sometimes, a gesture is worth a thousand words.

    While actual speech is highly unlikely, telepathic communication via the Sheldrakian ether is always a possibility. We know that animals have sensory abilities beyond human limits in smell, vision, hearing, vibration detection etc. They are also believed to be able to sense the presence of malevolent spirits. I’d like to ask them if they are aware of an unseen world of conscious entities, and what they think of it. It’s an awareness I don’t have.

  136. JMG, you’re right. Spanish prase meaning is “opening the box of thunders” literally.
    And about my nephew reincarnation, he told me only that he has been big like me and we slept in the floor…(it’s interesting that he included me in his past life “memories”, so I can say we are old friends…). I’ll remember him when he becomes an adult…Today he doesn’t remember anything from that evening 7 years ago.

  137. @ Thrown Sandwiches – #124 Thank you for your reply!

    You are right, I missed the point about a 60-minute televised debate… But this is because the invitation Mr Rogan actually issued to Mr Hotez* was for the debate to take place on his show “with no time limit”.

    *and, incidentally, in my humble opinion, Mr Hotez brought this upon himself by alleging “misinformation” had taken place during Mr Rogan’s interview with Mr Kennedy. A strong claim which Mr Hotez is now challenged to back up, with no hiding behind status or appeals to [presumed unchallengeable] authority.

  138. Did anyone else read the Machen quote about the talking cat and think, what’s he saying? Is sin a talking cat? Or, is it IGNORING the talking cat evil?

    In the Donald Sutherland version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, the man’s head on a dog totally creeped me out, but if one our cats talked to me, I’d be okay with it.

    Talking cats are not evil. Injecting mRNA into a plant or animal is evil.

    I have read a lot of John Michael Greer the last three years. I have read a lot of Naomi Wolf, too.

  139. It’s not a sin for the dogs at our house to “talk”, but one does have to listen. One time, my son was visiting with his two cats. Because I have allergies to cats, they stay on the third floor. It was obvious that that my daughter’s dog really wanted to meet them. One time, her dog waited for me near the door to the third floor, when I came by, saw she had my attention and looked at the knob, looked at me, looked at the knob again, then looked at me. I said “no”. The dog, with a rising tone like a question, said “rrr rrr rrr, rrr”. I said “no”, she “asked” again and I said “no” again. The interaction had all the music (rhythm, tone and pauses) of a conversation. I said out loud “I can’t believe I’m having an argument with a dog.” and went on with my business. While linguistic science would cite the lack of syntax, and therefore not count the interaction as language, there was definitely communication and two way interaction going on.

  140. My problem with Harry Potter is they destroyed every interesting magical thing they found because someone could use it for evil. Also they all became government workers at the end of the books. When I fantasized of become a wizard when I was a child, I never imagined doing that.

  141. I second Michael Martin. I have had three jabs and never noticed any difference.

    I have re-taken to modest magical practice, the energy is still flowing. It was at one point flowing really well in Winter, the previous phase of magic.

    A Qi Gong teacher said, if your arms raise by themselves without you tightening your muscles, that is Qi – and that is a point I got to at one point in Winter, long after the jabs.

    As for the mindset of the people during Covid: maybe I find it predictable only in hindsight, but I don’t believe in most virtuous affirmations people give.

    Be you in a horrible situation different from what you know, and we will see your true endurance and character!

    And many people have shown they will kneel and bend when the time comes, as I expected them, as they subconsciously follow their herd drive.

    Others dear to me were willing to risk a lot for not jabbing – another golden proof of character.

    I myself, as I have written elsewhere, am both convinced it wont be that bad with the vaccine (though there’s bad examples many), and additionally, my motivation was another: I knew I wanted short term doors open for me, because I do not care about the future.

    If I had to die and everyone who took the shot – I would not care a dime.

  142. @methylethyl

    Eh, dogs have a few more words in their vocabulary. “Get off mah property!” is one of them. Try it sometime, walk by a house where the residents let their dogs run free. Dogs have weird ideas about property that include public sidewalks and public roads. The other is “Only you can end dog hunger, won’t you feed me now”. And I suppose there’s the perennial “I’m sorry for pooping on your carpet”. Dogs are happy to apologize for that one 10 times in a row.

    As far as the cat and mouse go – would you have rather the cat let the mouse live? Mice are destructive little so and so’s. Way way way more annoying than cats are. As far as waking you up in the morning, the cat would be doing that whether it was hungry or not, whether it had caught a mouse or not, because cats love mornings. And they want you to love them too. Every cat morning starts at 0 dark 30.

  143. JMG,

    Agreed that “consensus reality” is a modern myth and myths normally have some kind of utility for the common man and recurring rituals.

    The thing is the powerful changed the utility when the technology of social media allowed for the targeting of smaller but more dedicated adherents and… simultaneously increased the frequency of the ritual of consumption.

    To me the cry for centrism, consensus reality, etc…. is the powerful realizing they have traded partial control of a very large populace for significant control over a much much smaller populace.

    That trade in control was fine for a world of small/medium problems that can be tackled incrementally but… in a world of Large immediate problems that trade in control is detrimental to their interest.

    I think 3 things are going to be pushed by the elite to facilitate their control over the large problems of our time:
    -Minimize the perceived severity of the large problems to allow for widespread suffering.
    -Remove some forms of alternate media to centralize control.
    -Scapegoat several small groups and strengthen a select group of adherents.

  144. Hi John Michael,

    It drizzled for most of the day today. Then for a brief while, the sun shone through the clouds, and I even caught a good photograph of a rainbow hanging over the valley below. Quite an impressive spectacle if I may say so, and afterwards the rain returned.

    Happy solstice!

    The thing about censorship when that tool is applied to ideas or critique, is that again, the push displays for anyone who thinks about what it means for more than at least ten seconds, that a very weak hand is being played, despite the fact that a person can be shut down and cancelled – or gulaged. The belief system in question should be self evident in its fitness for purpose. The fact that critique gets shut down – even when on a reasonable basis – suggests that important feedback is being ignored. As a policy history suggests this situation usually doesn’t end well, but hey maybe that’s my take on things.



  145. Regarding sin, the Bible has an often used structure, particularly seen in the Psalms, where a verse will say the same thing, once, then again, using different words.

    Let’s look at the most famous verse used by evangelicals, Romans 2.23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, which says two things “all have sinned” and “fall short of the glory of God”.

    “all have sinned” A little obscure. After all, what does the word “sin” mean, originally used in a 1st Century cultural, political, religious, and philosophical context, probably (my knowledge is hazy here!) spoken in Aramaic, and translated via Hebrew, Greek, Latin into English over more that a 1,000 year period, and read in the cultural, political, religious, and philosophical context of Anglo-American culture of the 21st Century?

    “fall short of the glory of God” A little simpler, the concept of falling short is more easily understood, falling short, not going the extra mile, not trying, not being the best one can be.

    If they both are saying the same thing, using the widely used poetic structure utilised profusely throughout the Bible, then the evangelical (and Catholic, Protestants tend to be a little sloppy about these things 🙂 ) idea of sin as being something specific, a specific act, kind of falls apart.

    Are evil things done in the world, do bad things happen – of course! But the world is not binary, as the powers that be are determined that we should believe.

    Is a paranoid schizophrenic who kills someone during an episode a sinner? Is a woman who has a spontaneous abortion a sinner? Is a toddler who shoots dead his mother (no doubt in the USA) a sinner? Is a person prescribed Oxycontin by their doctor, and subsequently kills themself with an overdose a sinner?

    A more pertinent question might be, is a “christian” who stops an abortion, and then fails to ensure the welfare of the mother and child, and watch as their lives are destroyed by poverty, and lack of healthcare, a sinner? See, for example:

    Deut 14:29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

    Clearly, lots of work to do with immigrants, single mothers, and orphans.

    Full disclosure, I used to be a born-again, evangelical Christian, and while I don’t deny the experience, and I rest a Christian, with my theology having changed… ever so slightly! It just seems a little arrogant to be certain what an eternal being that exists outside space and time, and inhabits everything (I have a sneaking suspicion that matter doesn’t exist, it’s just a representation made by energy), thinks, does, approves of, doesn’t approve of.

  146. Monolog: “Well, John, I told him, you don’t know what you’re talking about, I said……”
    Dialog: “And so, granted the premise, is this conclusion not true?” “Indeed it is, but by that logic……”
    Catalog: “mew, Mew. MEW. MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!”

  147. “…she talks about feeling as though the world she had inhabited had melted away, leaving her stranded in a strange new world.” Indeed she is. The world of entropy. Naomi was born the same year i was. She was a child of our material/energy zenith. The details we are living now that the opposite is true are myriad and no doubt in some cases unknowable, but this is the root of such feelings today.

  148. A very thought- provoking piece JMG! Thank you.

    I remember a Jordan B. Peterson lecture where he defined “sin” (from an archaic word interpretation) as “missing the mark”.

    This made sense to me: getting off course in the flow of Divine Mind, Divine Grace and Divine Life.

    Machen’s definition of sin made no sense to me. In fact, I found his explanation extremely tantalizing! Ha! Maybe that was his point, lol!

    Ok, a third-wave feminist uses her wiles to manipulate people into voting for a sleaze-bag. No “wonder” she sees dark evil all round. Shadow anyone?

  149. Hi JMG,

    This story has always been a total bomb for me, but perhaps I’ve finally found the right audience for it here. About 10 years ago or so my cat did talk to me!

    It was a cat that would vocalize imitations of human speech, typically nonsense that sounded like a weird child vocalizing weirdly, but occasionally words would come out too, and once it said “come out” as it was trying to coax my partner out of the bedroom. That was along with a bunch of non-words, so it could have just been chance, but about a decade ago I was sitting down (reading I think) and out of nowhere, coming straight out of being silent for ages it said “I love you, Johnny”, and then nothing else.

    I am not completely sure, but I believe I told her I loved her too and she came and sat by me and I petted her. I’ve never been exactly sure what to make of this incident, when I try to explain it away I’m left wondering what talking even is (if somehow I can discount what she did).


  150. @Cary, I couldn’t resist following the “missing” submersible story because of some of its technical aspects. But the frame story is unbelievable. A CEO decides what the modern world’s greatest monument to hubris really needs is more hubris. Just in case it’s not enough like bad fiction, let’s name the entrepreneur “Stockton Rush” and the submersible “Titan,” throw in some back-story about firing the manager (an experienced mariner) who raised safety concerns, and make sure the doomed “crew” includes a reluctant teenager.

    When the authors of fate make their machinations that obvious, I read it as a portent. In this case, I think we’ll be experiencing extraordinary troubles in and near the ocean in the next few years.

  151. I read the Naomi Wolf piece. The interesting thing from my perspective was what she calls the “taboo,” which is taking seriously metaphysics beyond the technological materialism so in fashion today. I’ve been considering the same problem under the term “middle class respectability”. That is, respectable middle class people (especially formally educated ones) aren’t supposed to take anything beyond the material world seriously.

    As I have progressed in my spiritual practice, I have noticed that my own desire to remain respectable appearing has blocked my progress. For instance, I know that I will hesitate to put my name on this reply (but I also know I will put my real name on it and the very act of mentioning this weakens the hesitation). The cool thing I’m finding is that by becoming aware of this I can explicitly consider it, and weaken its hold.

    It’s amusing that the underlying fear for me is the thought of “what if magic, mysticism, and the like are hokum, there really is nothing more than the physical world, and I am just engaging in ridiculous behavior when I could be doing something else” followed by the corollary thought, “what if everyone else sees me as engaging in foolishness.” And then I realize, the corollary thought is the stronger block – worrying about how others see me.

    As always, it’s good to see I am not the only one working through this. It is also good that the more I confront my desire for “middle class respectability” the less of a hold it has.

  152. Roman at #131:

    Interesting. I am not a fan of suburbs per se having partially grown up in them. But I have lived in cities, suburbs, towns, and rurally. I find that I prefer living in large towns/small cities (10k to 60k people is my sweet spot). The difference to my mind is that there is more of a real community in towns while suburbs (especially those midway out from large cities like LA or Dallas) feel anonymous and isolating.

  153. @ Alan #135

    When you stop and think about it, mentally translating animated two-dimensional images into three dimensions (in our minds) is actually a pretty neat trick, whether it’s cartoons on TV or peering through one of those old ViewMaster toys (anybody old enough to remember those?) We learn the trick when small. It’s then so automatic for us that it comes as a shock to discover not everybody can do it. Dyslexics, for example, don’t have the neurological set-up to allow them to easily distinguish left from right, so irregardless of how brilliant they might be, learning to read western script is often pure torture. All you can really do is try to learn a work-around.

    In a way, a lot of what we think and perceive is really a form of mental alchemy. We take the ingredients from the outside world into the athanor we call a brain and if the mix is right, we get the Philosopher’s Stone of perception, whether it’s telling left from right or watching two-dimensional video.

  154. @Stephen Alexander #120 Re: Sin

    If I remember right, the word for ‘sin’ in at least some parts of the original language of the Bible comes from Archery, and means ‘Missing the mark.’ I like this definition best of all– Archery, like life, can be done as a discipline. You hone your skills on the Archery range. You don’t obsess about missing the bulls-eye, just work on your technique until the arrow goes where you want it to go. And you understand that the arrow will not land in the bulls-eye 100% of the time.
    When it is time to hunt, your arrows will not bring down game every time, but enough to feed your family.
    Applying this to occult matters, IMHO, occult students here have learned to focus on those good targets or destinations, keeping account of the stray arrows, but not obsessing about them. For example, my daily prayer at work to offer my blessing to the people I meet (see Modern Order of Essenes on the Ecosophia Dreamwidth site). Not everyone accepts my blessing. Oddly, though I offer it silently, some people take offense and leave!

  155. Re: Spiritual Forces Driving Russia

    I think a lot of the real issues in the Russia/Ukraine war are hidden in the fog of war, but there are spiritual forces involved in the mix, for sure.
    FWIW, since I can read Cyrillic and speak Russian (poorly!), I have taken to singing along with Russian you-tube videos of their own Christmas Carols. A return to their roots in Orthodox Christianity was one of the things that helped draw them out of the dark decades of communism, so I do this with the intent of anchoring them in their own spiritual light, and as a prayer for mercy.–
    Here are a couple of links to the same song, if anyone is inclined to try it:

    ‘eto noch svyataya’ (This Holy Night)

    High End Version:

    Folk Version (my favorite of the two):

  156. @JMG re: enchanted vs. sacramental: Seems plausible!

    @Alan: Sensory/neuro processing abnormalities are so common with ASD (96%), that they have now been added to the diagnostic criteria. Nearly all of us have one or more sensory modalities that are simply not calibrated to “normal” standards, and yes, this interferes with ability to tolerate/comprehend/enjoy various things that neurologically normal people take completely for granted. I *barely* tolerate video (it hurts, after a while), and rooms lit by LED bulbs are dystopian disco strobe hellscapes. I can literally wave my hand in front of my face in that lighting, and see a series of ten or fifteen hands all in a line, just like one of those old motion-study photographs:

    Everybody experiences sensory input differently. Some of us experience it *very* differently. ASD sensory variations aren’t as neatly consistent and well-catalogued as, say, colorblindness, but they’re every bit as real.

  157. Hi JMG,
    I enjoyed this essay, and also the reference to The Door into Summer, by Robert Heinlein, featuring robots and a zombie drug, and a cat who keeps asking to be let out of the various doors of the house in the hopes of finding one that will lead to better weather. My cat used to do this too, if it was raining outside, and I suppose that this is what I am basically doing everyday when I read the ghastly news, in the hopes that a door to springtime must be around here somewhere…

    -Water Rabbit

  158. @Michael: re: “falling short”– it might be helpful to look that one up in the Greek. I believe the word there is “hamartia” = “missing the mark” as in archery. Not *quite* the same implications as falling short? This is typically the word used for sin, in the Septuagint, AFAIK. I’m not a Bible scholar so don’t take my word for it– but we do get the occasional sermon on it 😉

    @WaltF: when I glimpsed the headlines about that expedition, all I could think (and with a shudder) is… I cannot imagine a place more likely to be haunted by the sort of hungry ghosts you would not want around when your life depends on delicate equipment in a hostile environment.

  159. One of the main reasons that many people find the suburbs demoralizing ( especially kids) is well described by Christopher Alexander in his epic tome , ” The Pattern Language.” It is not just the sameness, or the conformity it is that these places were specifically designed to separate the residents from places of work and commerce. In a traditional city or small town a child could venture downstairs ( from the family apartment) to his fathers watch repair shop, or across the street to his uncles bakery. Or go down to the end of the block and see his mom come out of the gates of the steel mill. That child could walk to the dime store or see men playing checkers in the general store. Suburbia disconnected people from the world of work and commerce in a kind of santitary no-where land where these things don’t exist. Even kids growing up on the farm are intimately involved with the families business. This one dimension world is hard on the psyche.

  160. Mary, interesting. I’ll assess her further posts with an eye toward potential entryism.

    Will M, of course. As I noted earlier in the comment stack, it’s a spectrum, not a binary division.

    Patricia O, the concepts of tsumi and kegare always made more sense to me than the Abrahamic concept of sin, but then I’m a polytheist!

    Martin, no doubt!

    Chuaquin, it’s a fine turn of phrase — much livelier than a mere can of worms.

    Moserian, I could agree with that definition of sin.

    Bradley, thanks for this. I suspect the official definition of syntax could use some broadening.

    Wanderer, I didn’t get to the end of the series, so I didn’t know that they all became bureaucrats — but that’s so typical. That is to say, like good little products of the system, they spent their school years protesting all the officially approved things, and then got over it and settled down to become docile middle managers. Faugh.

    Curt, thanks for the data point.

    GlassHammer, fair enough. Still, I’m watching the current situation and comparing it to other nations in their late pre-revolutionary stages, seeing a lot of parallels, and noting that these earlier examples didn’t have internet…

    Chris, and a happy solstice to you too! Exactly; once the system’s control of information has collapsed to the point that they have to use censorship, the game is almost over.

    Michael, I’ll leave that to you and your fellow Christians to discuss.

    Patricia M, funny.

    Jonathan, I was born that same year, and though there are a lot of other factors involved, yeah, that’s a massive issue.

    JillC, a case could be made.

    Johnny, I once heard a cat make a very, very serious effort to pronounce the word “hamburger,” so I don’t disbelieve you at all.

    Chris S, yeah, I can definitely see that. Me, I deliberately jettisoned every hope I might have had of middle class respectability many years ago, but that’s not a choice for everyone.

    Methylethyl, thanks for the confirmation.

    Water Rabbit, now there’s a blast from the past! I wasn’t consciously thinking of the Heinlein novel when I titled this post, but I’m sure it was in the background somewhere.

    Clay, that makes a great deal of sense of my experience.

  161. >I said out loud “I can’t believe I’m having an argument with a dog.”

    That reminds me of the time I caught my cat chewing on a 110VAC power cord (although would it have really mattered if it were 220 instead). I could’ve scolded the cat, but knowing cats, the cat would’ve ignored me and kept chewing. If there’s one thing a cat loves to do, it’s give you the middle finger.

    I told the cat “I’m not bailing you out if you chew through that cord. You must be this smart to ride the ride.” That darn cat looked at me, stopped chewing on the cord and hasn’t chewed on one since.

  162. It seems to me that the sub tragedy highlights two of the significant themes of this blog. The tragedy of Faustian Culture and the Religion of Progress.
    Prior to this contraption, all research subs designed for this depth have used spherical steel or titanium pressure chambers formed in two halves on a giant forge. But the size of forge presses available limits the size of the sphere to being just big enough to hold three people. But the Ocean Gate bunch did not accept this limit ( Faustian culture) and wanted it bigger so they could hold more people and make money.
    They then justified building it out of an unproven material (for subs) with the logic of the religion of progress. After all carbon fiber is the AI of the mechanical engineering world. All those things not possible in the past can be made with the wonders of carbon fiber. Then they skipped certification with the justification that the religion of progress allowed them to move beyond it because they had a janky system of sensors and software called the ” integrated, real-time health monitoring system.” Wow, with such a string of cliche’d tech terms it must be safe!

  163. Back to the ‘burbs. Obviously totally different suburban experiences from mine have been experienced by others. As a child I had a lot of family within long walking distance in my suburb.
    All my grandparents, aunts and uncles and more distant family connections, although no cousins. Some small businesses although my only connection with them was as a customer. One friend in recent years has mentioned that my suburb was the country. It wasn’t although our milk came from a local dairy. No concrete, steel and glass there. That would have been inconceivable.

  164. Hi John Michael,

    It is a bit bleak isn’t it? But then, I’m of the opinion that this is something we’ll all just have to ride on through. As to the other side of that story, that’s something we all have to work upon.

    Almost forgot to mention, I bought those ‘In Search of’ books too way back in the day. I loved the glossy, but grainy black and white photographs included in the book and the stories were fun. Once the world was a more interesting place, and my gut feeling suggests that thing will get more interesting again in the future. Hey, it’s really quite astounding how much energy gets expended attempting to produce a sameness. Don’t laugh, but it really all did come down to a desire for comfort – and you may note that I did not specify who in that story was comfortable. Credit where is credit is due though it is an ambitious project, which is not so quietly slipping away from the elites grasp. That’s what I believe the floundering is all about at the core.



  165. @Other Owen: The cat: I didn’t mind her usual wake-up routine, purring and kneading the pillow beside my head (except sometimes she drooled on my hair). But I would have preferred the mice dead. I remember watching her deposit one such gift on my rug, around 2am. While I tried to work through whether I should go clean it up now, or wait till daylight, the gift got up and ran under my bed. Never found it. No more sleep that night…

  166. Johnny, JMG,

    A few years ago, my family had a cat that could say a few words. the most memorable one was that he once asked in clear English if there was any tuna water when my dad openned a can of tomatoes (whenever we ate canned tuna, we’d pour the water out and give it to him; it was easily one of his favourite treats; and he often came running whenever anyone openned a can of anything to look for it). What was striking about this was that it was perfectly clear, he said “Tuna water?”; and yet everyone else there edited their memories or perceptions to ignore the fact this happened.

    He said a few words; and quite clearly understood a lot of what was being said, but it’s amazing the lengths my family went to to avoid noticing this. More broadly, there’s been an awful lot of intellectual energy expended by an awful lot of humans to ignore communcation from the non-human world (whether physically embodied or not), and to ignore the fact that the non-human world can understand quite a bit of what we say.

  167. JMG, you have mentioned many times your dislike of the small and smaller screen. How about other media? Obviously, cinema is a different experience to television, and there’s theatre and live music, too.

    For my part, I prefer in-person. We have a local community theatre but they only do a couple of different shows a year. There are fewer pub bands than there used to be, though my home city (Melbourne, Australia) does usually have a lot of buskers, street performers.

    The other day there was a young woman playing her guitar and singing somewhat timidly in the street of shops near our home, my seven year old daughter stopped us to listen. After a few songs she gave her a few dollars of her pocket money, and said how much she loved music. Both the musician and my daughter had their days brightened by this in a way that an ipod jammed in your ears doesn’t.

  168. My perspective on the first dilemma at this point is that it can be answered by the fact that oftentimes appurtenance to any social group (political, sports, subcultural etc) is steered by a fairly simple arithmetic of maximizing social capital, either as a goal in itself or as an intermediary step before converting it into financial capital.

    Before pandemic it wouldn’t have been that hard that with a bit of perseverance, you’d have been able to become a thought leader of a group of anti-vaxxers by simply being louder than others and repeating some ritual formulas ad nauseam (and usually narcissists do this better than common folk).

    Which maximizes:

    – Social capital; being in the in-group of something / becoming a pack-leader which in turns maximizes
    – Sense of power & recognition (or any megalomanic satisfactions) and
    – Creates the appearance (and defense) of high morality and selflessness by doing a perpetual hero pose fighting the hydras of big Pharma (reinforcing in a feedback loop the previous points)
    – Facilitating lucrative associations with all kinds of snake oil businesses (thus converting the social capital into financial one)

    while minimizing

    – cost

    at virtually 0 cost and no actual skin in the game (well actually it is a trade, namely losing social capital for the large society which considered the anti-vaxxers a bunch of weirdos maybe not completely harmless yet tolerable BUT acquiring significant returns and surge in social capital in the sub-set of anti-vaxxers)

    However, until 2020 there have been no actual stress test to fail and when this suddenly materialized, the majority failed predictably because the rate of losing social capital by being associated with the anti-vax crowd (thus actual cost of maintaining the previous ideological stance) increased 100x fold on the heightened emotional charge of the masses.

    So basically the pandemic was the acid test separating the (I’d add majority) group associated with anti-vax ideology solely for maximizing their own social capital from the usual minority that actually lived / embodied the same set of ideas

    And my prediction is that this would happen the same way yielding a similar ratio between the two categories for any kind of heavy asymmetrical social binary (regardless of actual ideological content, can be vax, climate, veganism you name it).

  169. Mr Greer, if the universe is something that thinks, wouldn’t it be reasonable to suppose that the thinker or thinkers might have something interesting to say? And what if the universe can put its thinking into action? Maybe the ‘unseen presence’ is right under our noses in plain view.

    So, if the universe is something that thinks, imagine what it might tell us. If you could ask something of it, what would you ask? How would you go about asking? Can the practice of magic shed any light on this?

    It’s an interesting thing, that if someone as otherwise mainstream as Hossenfelder publicly entertains such a notion, and at such risk to her livelihood and the esteem of her peers, maybe there are many others of her scientific bent, just like her, but without her guts (or foolishness), quietly harboring similar ideas. How many are ready to come out of the closet?

    I don’t underestimate the power of groupthink but, I mean, why not, now that talking about UFOs has official sanction, and we even have whistleblowers telling us that the US government has scientists trying to reverse engineer crashed vehicles of unknown origin, what exactly should be out of bounds?

    Given that the outward structure of the universe is so similar to that of a human brain, can you think of anything as deserving of rigorous and systematic investigation as trying to determine if the universe is a thinking being, and maybe one that can put its thoughts into action, and to try to communicate with it?

  170. Clay, thanks for this. Yeah, that sounds about right.

    JillN, interesting. Not all suburbs were identical, of course.

    Chris, the passion for sameness, and thus for mediocrity, is a weird thing. Yes, it’s partly about comfort, but I think there’s more to it than that. I recall hearing somebody from Budweiser boasting about how much trouble they go through to make sure that every single bottle of their beer tastes exactly like every other bottle; it wasn’t as though he thought the consumers wanted that, it’s that he saw that as some kind of triumph, and dismissed homebrew beers as hopelessly inadequate because they weren’t as monomaniacally identical. It reminds me of the bit in A Wrinkle in Time where they’re on the planet Camazotz and every child is bouncing an identical ball at exactly the same rhythm as every other child…

    Taylor, good for the cat! You’re right that most people do whatever they have to do in order to ignore such things; Machen’s terror seems to be very widespread.

    Hackenschmidt, I’m not a great fan of movies — I haven’t watched one in close to twenty years — but they’re not as bad as TV. Live theater and live music are much more my style.

    Marty, duly noted. I’ll consider this.

    Smith, sure, but how much of your thinking do you think the bacteria in your left armpit are capable of understanding? We’re arguably in the same situation regarding the thought of the universe.

  171. I was wondering how long hubris was recognized as a sin and found this.

    “In classical Greek ethical and religious thought hubris or hybris meant an “overweening presumption suggesting impious disregard of the limits governing human action in an orderly universe”. It is the sin to which the great and gifted are most susceptible, and in Greek tragedy it is usually the hero’s tragic flaw.”

    “In the Greek tradition the sin of hubris was punishable by a super Olympian law to which even Zeus had to submit. Aeschylus in his epic poem “Persians” about the defeat of King Xerxes’ great Persian army in 480 BC by a much smaller Greek force wrote: “For when misfortune’s fraudful hand/ prepares to pour the vengeance of the sky/ what mortal shall her force withstand?”


    “Multiple ancient Greek philosophers warned leaders about the danger of self-pride or arrogance. They called this the “hubris-nemesis” dynamic, and the concept was first attributed to Hesiod, who lived around 700 BC. He warned that hubris was the capital sin of pride and, consequently, the antithesis of two ethics that the Greeks valued highly—aidos, humble reverence for the law, and sophrosyne, self-restraint and the ability to ascertain a sense of proper limits. Those exhibiting hubris or sinful conduct displayed overweening pride, self-glorification, arrogance, and overconfidence in their abilities, and ignored the feelings of others.”

    Somewhere there is probably a cave painting of Ogg impaled on a mammoth’s tusk and a squiggle meaning “what a moron” with an arrow pointing to the late Ogg.

    As for the late submersible, I hope they get enough pieces back to determine whether the cylinder collapsed inward, or whether one of the end domes broke loose from the cylinder and traveled down to meet its mate at the other end.

  172. Hmmm, I notice that the link in #165 above says “video unavailable.”
    A mystery! Probably just a missing character in the link.
    Can’t imagine that it would be blocked in the USA, as it is a bunch of teenagers singing a Christmas Carol with a guitar and recorder. Not exactly the stuff of international intrigue!

    Here in Canada, it is available thru YouTube at this link:

    if the link fails, anyone interested could copy the Cyrillic title (below) into your YouTube search window, it should come up:

    «Эта ночь святая» (ансамбль «Доля»)

    The title translates as “This Holy Night” (ensemble “Share”).

    With Dion Fortune’s “The Magical Battle of Britain” in mind, I think I will step up my prayers and songs with intention for Russians and Ukrainians, especially now that the Wagner Group seems to be involved in a coup attempt.

  173. Hi JMG,
    Thank you for this well-written article, which provide us an opportunity to meditate on our interaction with nature.
    As if someone in the BBC has read your article and prepared this headline as a reprisal à la Faustian : How artificial intelligence is helping us talk to animals
    (Right under is another one: Will AI transform the religion ?)
    Our Faustian Culture, you know, is omnipotent. We can talk to the animals too if we want to 😉
    I wonder if the animals are interested to discuss with these people

  174. >how much of your thinking do you think the bacteria in your left armpit are capable of understanding?

    I wonder if the bacteria when they look up from the armpit, if they see something like the night sky full of stars. And wonder about the structure of it all.

    >yet everyone else there edited their memories or perceptions to ignore the fact this happened

    Until one day they stop (like Naomi Wolf) and then they complain about how the woooorld has chaaaaanged.

  175. #121 I haven’t actually read Harry Potter, except possibly the first book casually. I read recently something by Polly Toynbee (Arnold Toynbee’s grandaughter) where the ‘sorting hat’ in Harry Potter that puts pupils into their houses corresponds to the class system.
    Obviously Slytherin corresponds to the old money rich, although I haven’t read enough Harry Potter to determine exactly which classes Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff are.

    #135 I don’t have any general problem about watching video, but what I find incredibly irritating is TV programs that change camera angle about every second or two, once I start noticing it, it becomes unwatchable for me. I can see what they are doing, trying to make the program look more interesting than it really is, trying to grab the attention of people who might be flicking through channels.

    #166 I’ve not really noticed any kind of strobe effect by typical LED bulbs. What I find irritating about them is they put out too much blue light, and I find driving at night difficult these days because of some cars with over-bright blue-white LED headlights. The reason LED lighting does this, is because white LEDs generally actually produce their light by first producing it as blue light from a blue LED, then having a phosphor coating to absorb it, and reemit it as broad spectrum white light. However, not all of the blue light gets absorbed, some comes straight through and even ‘warm white’ LED bulbs still
    have this subsidiary peak around 430nm of blue light.

  176. Hi John Michael,

    The monomaniacal (quick related fun side story: In the Demon Princes series of novels, the evilly, evil dudes were fleshed out as characters and given good reasons for why they were so, with weaknesses and strengths, but sorry, I digress) sameness is I’m guessing a form of ritual. A weird ritual, sure, but yeah. The God of Progress delivers, every day of the week I have to confess to enjoying singing the hymns with gusto as a school aged kid. I thought it was quite stirring and full of life and energy, the headmaster clearly had other ideas and wasn’t afraid to chuck us into after school detention. Not sure who was right there. I’d like to believe that it was us kids, yeah.

    Symbols are powerful things. The cover art on the Harry Pottyhead novels was suggestive that they were kids books. I could have been wrong. Didn’t read them, haven’t seen the films.



  177. Clay Dennis #172:
    On the sub tragedy, Ugo Bardi has written an interesting comment to it. OK, I don’t agree always with this Italian blogger, but this time he hits his target:

    “They may have been thinking they were immortal, enough to make them engage in this reckless idea. Apart from the human tragedy of their death, the point this story raises is that they may well be representative of the elites ruling us today.”

    Even more interesting than his opinion about “Titan” disaster, may be his post title. A supposed agnostic scientist talking about demons (even metaphorically as “lucky demons”)?

  178. My experience with COVID Narrative:
    First, when pandemic started, I believed in government and health authorities, then I’ve being becoming more and more critic and skeptic, although I’ve never bought the conspiracy theories on the side of “antivaxxers”.
    I’m double vaxxed, (I was vaxxed in 2021), by the way, and nowadays I feel still healthy, in my body, mind and soul…However, I’m crossing fingers…
    Then, I think the turning point in my Narrative view was my COVID contagion (Omicron variant) between 2021 and 2022, in Christmas Vacation. How can you trust in a vaccine which really doesn’t protect you because it doesn’t avoid contagion?
    Luckily, I hadn’t health aftermath after my infection with Moronic errr…Omicron COVID disease, in fact, it was mild, not even I didn’t loose my smell sense.

  179. Just read this and as it pertains…

    Singing Fish
    This is not a great article insofar as you have to read or scan at least halfway down to get to the interesting bits about sound. Nevertheless,
    “One evening, crossing Lake Ipavu in northeast Brazil by canoe, his friend Ekwa stopped rowing and went silent. When Bastos asked why they had stopped, Ekwa responded: “Can’t you hear the fish singing?” Bastos heard nothing. “Back in the village,” he wrote later, “I concluded that Ekwa had experienced some kind of hallucination,..”
    “Years later, Bastos went to a bioacoustics workshop organized by scientists at the University of Santa Catarina, where he heard the sound of fish songs. Suddenly, Bastos realized, Ekwa “appeared more like a diligent ichthyologist than an inspired poet, a victim of hallucination or holy rapture.”

    And then there is this about flowers:
    “Yossi Yovel, a neuro-ecologist at the University of Tel Aviv, has found that flowers will respond to the sound of buzzing bees by flooding themselves with more and sweeter nectar within minutes.”

    None of this is magic but it does confirm there is much more than readily appears to us humans.

  180. @methylethyl, no argument here. And now there are five more. I have no reason to even want to go to such a place, but if I had sufficient valid reasons to do so, I’d do whatever I could ritually to honor and appease the spirits of the dead and of the deep ocean. I suspect others who have dived there did that too in their own ways, and that for instance James Cameron’s filmmaking was deemed sufficiently respectful to receive safe passage.

    But I also wouldn’t make unwarranted engineering assumptions about the properties of carbon fiber bonded to titanium under extreme pressure.

    Speaking of implosions… interesting times in Russia…

  181. I hope this comment isn’t quite as “idle” as my earlier comment this week; in addition to “The White People,” Arthur Machen wrote a story titled “The Terror” that involves a revolt of the animals. The recent orca attacks on sailboats near Gibralter immediately come to mind, as does the fictional attack on the Nautilus of a giant squid in Jules Verne… hmmm.

  182. @ Emmanuel Goldstein re # 182

    Thanks for the improved link. Very lovely and sweet.

    Hard to tell what’s really happening in Russia but I hope nobody thinks things will improve if this really is a coup attempt and it’s successful. Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.

  183. The discussion of Machen’s reaction to talking cats and the like reminds me of the “Sun Fizz” ad from the 90s. Sun Fizz is a fictional orange soft drink parodied in a commercial (for a different, actual soft drink). In the ad, a mother and two kids, all live actors, are having breakfast, including a bottle of Sun Fizz. The Sun Fizz mascot, a sunburst with big eyes, a red bow tie, and little arms and legs (probably a send-up of the California Raisins characters), leaps off of the bottle’s label in a 3D form and starts extolling the virtues of the beverage. This would be completely normal in any commercial, but the family reacts instead like they might if it happened in the real world: screaming in terror and fleeing from the adorable uncanny eldritch abomination.

    Link to the commercial (30 second video)

    Link to a static image of a representative frame from the commercial (small jpeg)

    The serious part of this less than completely serious comment, I suppose, is that the Sun Fizz ad, which I find hilarious by the way, is another example of how framing affects our expectations and reactions. Talking cats and singing flowers? Par for the course in a theme park attraction. Sprouting rocks? Does anyone else remember the “Magic Rocks” toy? (Still available; I just checked.) “Uncanny” really just means encountered outside the expected setting or frame of mind. It’s right there in the construction of the word. It means your mental model of the world is inadequate for the reality you’re encountering.

  184. @Clay Dennis #172: “After all carbon fiber is the AI of the mechanical engineering world.” But are you sure that it isn’t the “electrolytes” of the mechanical engineering world? (Vis. Vitruvian Man with a beer belly.)

    And in general on the theme of nature mis-behaving: The Machen story “The Terror” also reminded me of Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds.” The movie, according to the familiar online know-it-all site, was loosely based on Daphne DeMaurier’s 1951 story, which she claims was based on seeing some birds attacking a farmer in Cornwall. Now I don’t want to accuse Ms DeMaurier of plagiarism, though some people have done so, according to the site, but maybe she just might have read “The Terror.”

  185. Siliconguy, it’s one of the most fascinating shifts in collective thought to watch how hubris, recognized by the classical world as the most dangerous of human bad habits, was turned into a virtue in the modern Western world. I forget who it was who pointed out that hubris is the past tense of nemesis.

    Emmanuel, it sounds like a good plan — no matter what is actually happening in Russia right now.

    Foxhands. I hope they don’t use AI to try to talk to raccoons. The raccoons will reprogram the AIs and start using them to take control of trash collection worldwide. 😉

    Other Owen, we’ll never know. That’s just it.

    Chris, well, yes. Jack Vance was a very capable writer, and he knew that making the Demon Princes complex, believable, interesting characters would make for a much better story than turning them into the sort of cardboard-cutout villains I like to parody with my talk about Blorg the Bad, Evil Lord of Evilness. I think more modern authors would realize this, too, except that they’re in the grip of a collective obsession with shadow projection.

    Rcastle, that is to say, if somebody who actually lives in the area and knows the natural phenomena says something, you might want to listen to them, instead of being an arrogant snotnosed Western scientist who’s convinced that nobody’s allowed to experience anything that his theories don’t account for.

    Phutatorius, the whales may finally have had enough. As for “The Terror,” it’s not Machen’s best piece but it’s a good bit of horror-slash-morality play.

    Walt, any chance you can repost the second link? It goes nowhere.

  186. JillN
    My experience of the suburbs was closer to yours. While I aesthetically always hated the suburbs and aesthetically preferred the older sections of the city where my father’s mother lived, there wasn’t much for me to do around my grandmother’s home.

    Whereas, in the suburbs I lived in, I lived in several, there were always lots of other children, many different adventures we created ourselves, buses everywhere, to the lake into downtown etc. In those days my parents weren’t afraid to let me go anywhere in the city, from the time I was 7. I often used to go to the movies alone in the evening.

    Strangely, when we moved to another suburb in another city, children weren’t allowed into movie theaters alone until they were 16 or 18. My brother and I used to stand outside the theater and ask people to take us in, almost like hitch hiking. As soon as we got inside the theater we disappeared.

    But the best thing about living in the suburbs I lived in, was they were always near the edge of the city. There were fields and trees and forests, a few blocks for the fields, and less than a mile away for the woods. And there were plenty of trees before that. Also 3 miles away there were cliffs, trees, a large waterfall, a long long ravine I never got to the end of, though it did end.

    It was a very full experience even though I didn’t like the neighborhood. Later we lived in a small town. The town was beautiful, the people not so much. As a matter of principle they didn’t like city people or people who were a little different from them. The only saving grace in that town, aside from its beauty, was all around it, there were fields and forest, a river that turned into very fast white water in spring. My father and I used to run the rapids when there was still snow on the ground. It was a long set of rapids, we would take in a lot of water before the end of them, and this would unbalance the canoe and we would invariably tip over before we were done.

    Fortunately this was usually near where my father had parked the car. I can’t remember how we entered the river miles from where we ended, yet always managed to finish near his car. Did my mother drop us off? But then how was the car waiting? Did I drive one car, I was 16. I can’t remember.

  187. Prayer group: I finally got some new about Al (Alison Kulp) who had been in the hospital with a life-threatening infection. Her cat-sitter said “She’s home under cats. Almost back to normal. Hopefully she will stay well for at least a few yrs, if not 20.” What a relief!

  188. JMG, I’m glad that you did this post on Naomi Wolf. She has been discussed from time to time on the weekly Covid posts over on your dreamwidth space, where she has been a controversial figure (my personal view is that she’s a fine writer who has fallen from grace for no other reason than saying what she thinks – and that’s gotta hurt; but she also has some sense of the metaphysical realm, which has helped her). I do believe that she speaks for a sizeable proportion of the population (at least in North America) who have had their world view broadsided by the wackiness of the past few years and are left, upon reflection, realizing that psycho-socio-political analytical lens fails to completely explain the phenomenon. It is rather like the letter ‘C’ which has a gap that simply can’t be filled, as opposed to an ‘O’ which is complete and has everything fit together.

    This kind of societal cognitive dissonance is pretty scary – like lighting a match in a dark cave only to realize that it is packed full of dynamite! I am not sure who it is hardest for – the hard-boiled materialist/atheists, or strident monotheists who are under the sway of the likes of Rabbi Khan and his equivalents in Protestant faiths. Both groups must be having quite a time of it. Meanwhile with the Second Religiosity ascending, the dynamite is piling up.

    “Magic is not about domination. Rather, it’s about participation.” You wrote something similar early in your book The Art and Practice of Geomancy, which for all intents and purposes leapt out of the shelf in my public library into my hands and introduced me to you in January 2010. As an organic gardener and former sailor, that view is right up my alley. It is this view that has enabled me to appreciate your writings even though I am a mystic and so magic (at the practicing level) is just not my thing. I am glad that you state this from time to time as I hope that it helps to prevent (a) some people from getting involved with the dangerous ‘domination’ side of magic (it didn’t work out so well for Dr. Faustus, not sure why anyone would think that they would fare any better!) and (b) the potential for pogroms against mages as belief in the metaphysical realm becomes more common in society and the strident monotheists who think that all mages are evil Satanic sorcerers gain a bigger audience. The thing is, if a spirit of openness can be created and maintained across religious divides, beautiful things – nay, miracles – can happen. I experienced it myself with Canada’s Freedom Convoy, where truckers of diverse Christian faiths and large numbers of Mennonites lining the highways were at peace with the smudging and the prayer-dances in full traditional regalia by First Nations and Metis peoples on sides of the same highways. Again, in February 2022 there was a ‘World Unity’ gathering in a Mennonite farm outside Winnipeg, which brought together a few thousand freedom-loving Canadians from across the country, mostly Christian White folks and non-Christian Indigenous folks (the latter openly talked about their traditional beliefs, spiritual practices and prophecies – a very rare occurrence in ‘mixed company’): the love and mutual respect that was maintained at the four-day meeting was absolutely unbelievable (I’d say, historic).

    As for the definition of sin given by Machen in one of his stories – that is breathtakingly weird! If that is what Machen believed than I deeply pity him for living in such a constricted, blind, deaf universe.

    I suspect that I’ve been a thaumatophile for as long as I can remember, despite spending my first 11 years of life in suburbia. Lucky for me, I had a father who had a considerable number of books on UFOs, Sasquatch and other Fortean things (which I hungrily devoured), and a mother who inherited ‘second sight’ from her Highlander mother and an open-mindedness from her Rosicrucian father (so dinner-table chats about spooky and weird things were pretty much normal). And then came Star Wars when I was 13 and the concept of ‘the force’ hit home (JMG wasn’t the only person who watched that movie 7 times in the theatre!). Of course, as my friends ‘grew up’ I got more and more looks of incomprehension as I talked to them about reincarnation, how I was friends with a tree and how we cannot be certain that all that we experience in life is not just an illusion/dream. And so, I learned to keep my mouth shut socially. At least ‘ghosts’ was a safe subject of conversation, since about half the houses in my old United Empire Loyalist town were known to be haunted and true ghost stories abounded. At least I was able to raise kids who are comfortably thaumatophilic, thanks in part to the efforts of my wife and our community of polytheistic friends.

    We seem to be living in a weird time ‘between worlds’ in which the old certainty and confidence in the purely material thaumatophobic world is dying but has not yet bit the dust, while the renewed metaphysically-rich thaumatophilic world has been born but has still not found its stride. Kind of like living in a house that is populated with nonagenarians in walkers and infants crawling on all fours.

    Last point (I promise!): since the topic of the Titan sub disaster was brought up, I’d like to throw one thing into the mix. My son showed me a video of a Youtuber he really likes who covered the details very well – but the presenter was perplexed by the fact that the media ran with the story that ‘the occupants may still be alive; a rescue mission is being attempted’ for days while there was strong evidence was that the sub was squashed like a bug under the heel of an elephant on Sunday less than two hours into the dive. Why would they do that? Of course, cynics will say that keeping the drama going as long as possible made the news outlets more money. Fair enough. But I am wondering if there might be something else going on. As guardians of the status quo, the media are beholden to prop up the Myth of Progress by whatever means they can. And it is easier to keep that myth alive if they string the public along for days rather than frankly saying that a bunch of rich idiots unwittingly committed suicide by diving in a vessel cobbled together by spare parts from a hardware store and gaming hardware from a toy store. If progress is happening, everything should be getting easier and more effective and cheaper (y’know, like electronics and vaccines and stuff), no?

  189. Very little of what we think we know about the world, the universe, our environment and so on…very little of it is (or can be) what actually is. Sure, laws of physics and chemistry have been something like consistent enough for us to build our industrial craziness upon. But even those are more frangible than we ordinarily assume. Astronomy? Forget it! There is so much that we have taken in as good students in our classes in high school and college that just isn’t so. And the interactions between things are far too complex for our so-called computer models to accurately or adequately describe. Then there is the whole issue of our interiority (our sense of ourselves). We are not discrete identical monads. My sense is that each of us is complex and interrelated in a fashion outside our understanding although mysticism and the occult (and not so much modern psychology) give us tool that help. Our overlords would prefer it if we identical units of …whatever… I have no doubt.

    Cats are always talking to us. Roses are always singing. Rocks are always fruiting. Learning to see, hear, listen is the obstacle. Truth is not a thing but a process and a goal, one we can have a relationship with, but it is not something we can control. And history? Oh gosh! You have to be kidding! So much that we are certain is so that isn’t so. So many convenient lies and stories have been fed us as foundational. It’s really a wonder that we manage any kind of lives at all! The Tao that can be known is not the Tao. Or to misquote Galileo who probably didn’t say this (but should have if he didn’t): “eppur si muove.” But still it moves. Heraclitus move over!

  190. Walt, thanks for this. That’s funny.

    Patricia M, thanks for the update. As for the situation in Russia, it seems to be resolved, but still…

    Random, I love that meme —

    Ron, thanks for this. One of the reasons I try to make this point is precisely that pogroms are so likely a result when people get freaked out at the reality of the metaphysical. “Make it go away!” so easily turns into “Get rid of the people who are comfortable with it!” With regard to the sub, yeah — the myth of progress cannot handle the fact that there are ordinary, familiar natural forces like water pressure 2 1/2 miles down in the ocean, which can reduce a human body to a carbon film in a tiny fraction of a second, and generate (for an even smaller fraction of that same second) heat from compression equal to the temperature of the surface of the sun. In such environments we’re hopelessly out of our league.

    Clarke, yes, exactly! The world simply isn’t stupidly simple enough to fit within our mental categories.

  191. What I find interesting is that so far. Many of the Spirits who encounter Christians with the Spirit of Christ. Or the Holy Spirit.

    And those who use the Name of Jesus. They are invariably hostile. I do wonder. If the Biblical Narrative of a rebellion of the Original Powers made by God aside from 2/3s is in fact the Truth.

    The Princes of Persia and Greece for example with Gabriel recounted as fighting with the help of Michael which hindered him from delivering God’s messages to Daniel.

    This man for example who is in contact with various abductees of Aliens who managed to have the Abductions stop. They were able to do so because they the called Jesus for help.

    The Name of Jesus caused them to recoil in pain and fear:

  192. >I recall hearing somebody from Budweiser boasting about how much trouble they go through to make sure that every single bottle of their beer tastes exactly like every other bottle; it wasn’t as though he thought the consumers wanted that, it’s that he saw that as some kind of triumph

    It’s important to make every gear, screw, piston, bearing, gun barrel, cartridge that way. That sort of thinking was one of the foundations of the industrial revolution. And one of the reasons the North won in 1865.

    But for beer? That’s a bit loony. What critical component of some bigger thing does beer slot into? What would catastrophically fail if the beer was out of spec? But it’s not just Muricans that have crazy beer fetishes. Take a look at a bottle of German beer sometime. Any brand will do. Note they specify the temperature the beer should be at before drinking. Specified to tenths of a degree C.

  193. “My current reading is Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, which is also well worth your time.”
    I liked “The Beach Beneath the Street” by McKenzie Wark because it gives a lot of background about who the Situationists were. The way my mind works is that when I know the background, the history of something or someone, even if it is not directly reveal anything about what is important about them, somehow I understand them better. Also, I thought that Wark does a good job of working with the question of what can one do _now_ working with the Situationists insights. I don’t think this book adds much to The Society of the Spectacle or Revolution of Everyday Life, but it helped me understand them better. Just mentioning this again to give you (and anyone else) a basis for deciding whether this book is worth their time.

  194. Regarding Steiner’s prophecy about a vaccine against spiritual awareness – does anyone have a link or citation for the text where he originally made those predictions? I find it odd to think that cutting my head off couldn’t prevent me from being a spiritual being but tweaking the RNA in my mitochondria could. Then again, it’s also true that physical interventions, e.g. introduction of exogenous DMT, can have significant effects on one’s spiritual perceptions, so I’d be curious to know what exactly he said. I did find an English quote online, but I would have assumed his actual wording was in German – can anyone (dis)confirm that?

    My own intuition on the matter is that taking the coronavirus vaccine is more of a physical component of a ritual with a lot of fear involved, which does of course shut down many kinds of perception. But to me, fear of the jab was pretty similar to fear of the disease, so I didn’t see an obviously ‘right’ choice in that binary that didn’t involve accepting the fear head-on. But I’d definitely value Steiner’s input on the question!

  195. Thanks JMG!

    More to what you are directly addressing in this essay, I’m not sure which camp I would fall into, perhaps somewhere in between. I guess at least I am open to the idea.

    I had a momemnt with a racoon last year where I saw it in a tree behind me in my yard. I told it I wasn’t going ot hurt it, as it was obviously spooked, and it somehow complete accepted that, climbed down the tree and started walking towards me. I got very close and I got uncomfortable and backed off, then I started to move towards it and it ran away. Probably I didn’t handle it quite right, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to engage with it – I think a little thaumatophobia on my part.

    Hi Taylor!

    Yes, only my partner was able to accept that our cat did occasionally speak, and sometimes those words would seem to be correct. Everyone else has seen that story as a signal that they needed to be concerned for my mental health.


  196. @Christopher Jay Henningsen (#297):

    Apparently Steiner made that claim or prophecy in a course of fourteen lectures which he published under the title “Die spirituellen Hintergründe der äußeren Welt: Der Sturz der Geister der Finsternis: Vierzehn Vorträge” in 1917. There is probably an English translation available somewhere.

  197. @Christopher Jay Henningsen (#207), continued:

    There is an English translation of that work of Steiner’s, available on line at:

    Here is the relevant passage, from the 13th lecture:

    “It will be the main concern of these spirits of darkness to bring confusion into the rightful elements which are now spreading on earth, and need to spread in such a way that the spirits of light can continue to be active in them. They will seek to push these in the wrong direction. I have already spoken of one such wrong direction, which is about as paradoxical as is possible. 1 I have pointed out that while human bodies will develop in such a way that certain spiritualities can find room in them, the materialistic bent, which will spread more and more under the guidance of the spirits of darkness, will work against this and combat it by physical means. I have told you that the spirits of darkness are going to inspire their human hosts, in whom they will be dwelling, to find a vaccine that will drive all inclination towards spirituality out of people’s souls when they are still very young, and this will happen in a roundabout way through the living body. Today, bodies are vaccinated against one thing and another; in future, children will be vaccinated with a substance which it will certainly be possible to produce, and this will make them immune, so that they do not develop foolish inclinations connected with spiritual life — ‘foolish’ here, of course, in the eyes of materialists.”

  198. JMG The concept of chaos that came out of the original effort to build mathematical models to predict the weather where they learned that initial conditions were impossible to know well enough to predict behavior for any length of time is plainly shown by this very short video of a double pendulum. A simple single pendulum is such a mainstay of science and physics and the basis of most original clocks because it is predictable and easily modeled. Whereas a double pendulum is a chaos machine.

    A great example of how much we don’t know and can’t know.

    Tom A

  199. There is no doubt that the vax and the masks are some sort of virtue signal or ritual to admit you in the cult of the good people. Today I went to a pet store in North Portland because they were the only place that had the pine litter my wife’s cat has come to expect. This place is down the street from the “Q” center and across from a gift shop with a giant ” Abolish the Police Banner” to give you an idea of the. neighborhood. They were still requiring you to wear masks in the store ( had a box of them on a table blocking the way in), and sanitize your hands. No one in this store, workers or customers ( except for me) was over 25 years old. Just a ritual to show you deserved to buy pet food from the good people. If I wasn’t certain the cat would give me a harsh talking to, I would have not gone in. But I put on a mask for the first time in a year to get my pine pellets.

  200. “but the presenter was perplexed by the fact that the media ran with the story that ‘the occupants may still be alive; a rescue mission is being attempted’ for days while there was strong evidence was that the sub was squashed like a bug under the heel of an elephant on Sunday less than two hours into the dive.”

    They kept working towards a possible rescue because they weren’t certain. Imagine the recriminations if the Navy had called in, “There was an implosion in your area.”

    Everyone says oops, and a week later the recovery vessel shows up, and after a couple of days of careful searching they find the submersible intact on the ocean floor. When the bring it up they find the passengers died of asphyxiation following a power failure. “If only we had ignored the so-called experts we could have saved them!”

    Now imagine the uproar.

    The rescue people did the correct thing. Don’t give up until you have proof.

    Case in point, “The four young Colombian siblings who managed to survive for 40 days in the Amazon jungle after their plane crashed have been reunited with their family as further details emerged of their astonishing feat of endurance.”

  201. Hi JMG,

    It seems that all the institutions of our civilisation are trying to discredit themselves as fast as possible. The certainties that used to form the justification for these institutions, now have become uncertainties. Those certainties were based on a metaphysics, that has now also become doubtful.

    The foundation of the reality that people once took for granted, has become uncertain. If the foundation of reality has become an uncertain mess, anything is possible. Such times are exciting, because then real changes are possible.

    So far, the dismantling of our civilisation has been an interesting and valuable learning experience for me. You get to see what a civilisation is and how it functions. Moreover, living in a civilisation, also means believing unconsciously in its assumptions. So you also learn a lot about yourself and how you have been indoctrinated by society.

    I presume, that all civilisations go through such a process of rapid self-destruction. Therefore people in the past must have had similar experiences. They were of course unable to write about it on the internet.

  202. Info, of course. Equally, however, Muslim wizards banish evil spirits with any of the 99 names of Allah, Hindu wizards do the same thing with the images and mantras of their gods, and Japanese wizards get evil spirits to cower in terror by invoking Buddhist deities. Evil spirits can’t handle any manifestation of the Divine.

    Other Owen, I know. It’s bizarre — but it’s a pervasive bad habit.

    Jessica, duly noted and thank you. I’ll give it a look.

    Johnny, you’re most welcome. I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle ground. If the raccoon had said, “Hey, do you mind letting me paw through your garbage? You put some tasty stuff in there,” the conversation might have been interesting… 😉

    Robert, thanks for this!

    Tom, I love double pendulums for exactly that reason. I sometimes like to imagine a Discordian clock with a double pendulum, and a dial where every number is 5.

    Clay, exactly. I don’t go into places like that, but then I don’t have a cat.

    Dadaharm, most civilizations do it much more slowly. Ours is obsessed with speed: up with the rocket, down with the stick.

  203. @Siliconguy– as an aside, the thing I found most interesting in the accounts of the four Colombian children in the jungle, was that their relatives/village back home had spent that time petitioning the jungle for their safe return.

  204. Synchronicity strikes again. I am just reading “ISHAMA – Göttliche Geliebte” (ISHAMA – Divine Beloved) and now this essay of yours.

    The book was written about 10 years ago and seems to have had quite some resonance in certain cirles here in Germany. It is a novel about a doctor whose life is upended when she refuses to do surgery on a patient because she intuits that the woman is going to die in any case and that to do surgery on her would just disturb her peace of mind. Her colleagues proceed with the surgery while she is called to see the director of the clinic. While she is being reprimanded by him a call comes in that the patient died during surgery. At this point the doctor knows for certain that she is going to be fired.

    “I believe that on this day I was suddenly a different person. It was as if I had entered a different world. Neither my colleagues nor Niki (her partner) could or would enter this world with me”.

    I could not have described it in these words but that is also the reason why I could never start a relationship with a nonspiritual woman.

    Being jobless she takes up the offer to join an earthquake relief operation in Kashmir where she meets members of an order descended from Jesus during his time there. She witnesses the miraculous healing powers of these people. Then she is called to help a girl that had been heavily abused and seems close to dying. After cleaning and bandaging her she walks back to the clinic.

    “Tears were running down my face. It was the first time in my life that I wept because of the suffering of a patient. In front of my inner eye I only saw one picture: the torn up bleeding and unconscious girl. I was seeing it with such concentration that for a moment I felt as one with it. I perceived the physical and mental(seelischen) pain of the young woman like my own. In that moment my consciousness changed once more and I took another step beyond normal perception. Again I was the neutral observer who did not seem to be identified with the girl nor myself and who knew and perceived so much more than me. This observer consciousness seemed to encompass every experience while still remaining unaffected by anything that was going on. I was contained in that consciousness and at the same time it was within me. And then I experienced a miracle: The pain dissolved. My pain which was the pain of the abused girl. By the unexpected view into the deeper layers of consciousness my heart had instantly been freed from its tight clutch. Where I had felt suffering powerlessness hate anger and resistance now only one thing remained: pure perception and acceptance. I could accept the suffering and the pain dissolved. It even seemed as though the girl had never been made to suffer. Then I knew that she would survive.”

    Later she meets a woman of the order and that woman tells her: “For much too long you have been satisfied with way too little. Did you never have the feeling that something is missing for you? In your job your family in your relationship? … you believe that when you share an apartment and a bank account and read the same paper that you have enough in common to love each other. How could you have been fooled so much by your superficial culture.”

    I have not finished the book and there is much more. Just two more quotes:
    “Your colleagues are part of the material world in which you have lived so far. They embody the level of experience where man believes to be nothing but body thoughts and feelings. With this consciousness man sees all physical things and beings as separate from each other and believes that a doctor can heal a sick or injured body through his learned skills medicines or surgeries. Just like a mechanic can repair a car by replacing parts. This material consciousness is afraid of the spiritual consciousness and the spiritual level of experience although it is a part of it. It denies and fights it because it senses that within that it looses its power and authority of linear logic and will power. It looses the power to be the agent of action itself.
    For this reason people with spiritual consciousness often stay away from those who identify with the material level of experience. They do not want to fight for power.”

    “We all here live on the plane of synchronicity. There it may happen that a thought occurs together with an event in the material world or an event corresponds completely with a thought or an inner image. This causes many fallacies which can be an obstacle on the way of liberation from the illusion of duality. When they experience synchronicity some believe that they themselves have creative powers. They believe they can influence the world through their thoughts und make this their goal in life and their teaching. But this is not correct. They exercise the projection of desired thoughts into the world and thereby get entangled ever deeper in desire and fear, in the cause-effect principle and in time. In reality thoughts and the world, consciousness and the world are always one. They are always of equal value, equally important and simultaneous. One mirrors the other. Neither is just cause or effect. Both are equally cause and effect.”

  205. JMG
    this is completely off topic, but I thought you might be interested. In Larry Johnson’s blog, there is an article from 23 June, quoting the head of Raytheon that the US war industry could not function without Chinese rare earth, etc. Sort of “you will keep supplying us so we can attack you, won’t you?”

  206. >I sometimes like to imagine a Discordian clock with a double pendulum, and a dial where every number is 5

    I was about to say that every double pendulum clock would keep a different time but if all the numbers are 5, then that solves that problem.

  207. The funny thing about the failed insurrection by Prigozhin is that it hasn’t affected the war against Ukraine at all. It appears that the Ukrainians temporarily suspended operations while waiting to see if the coup attempt would succeed, then launched several attacks believing that the Russian military was in disarray. Needless to say, things didn’t go very well for them. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Army continues to beat its collective head against a wall of steel in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, while Russian missile, drone and air attacks continued uninterrupted throughout the crisis. And there have been reports that in the last few days, the Russians have launched counter-attacks along at least three different axes in Eastern Ukraine, accomplishing more during those few days than all of the Ukrainian attacks along the southern front have in the few weeks.

    Here is Simplicius the Thinker’s take from his latest blog post:

    I do sympathize with the idea that in many ways this debacle proved the strength of the Russian state, simply because it showed unity like never before.

    In fact, something very interesting is happening in Russia. There is an energy, a vitality and solidarity that’s rising like never before. People are animated with a renewed sense of purpose, patriotism, and love for their country. Patrick Lancaster’s new report captures some of this:

    It may seem confusing to the outside observer at first, because Russia has always been the infamous mystery wrapped in an enigma. But listen to the people’s voices, they are cheering for Wagner while simultaneously praising Putin and Russia with a newfound optimism for destiny, rather than the fatalism of the 90s. It’s captured even in the spirit of the lonesome street sweeper, who intimates that everything is going exactly according to plan for Russia, in the midst of what appeared like an armed rebellion.

    Can Americans understand such things? Perhaps only those who’ve read Dostoevsky.

    This is a new Russia being born before our very eyes, with each hitch, like that of yesterday, merely serving as the birthing pangs of a new actualization of Russia’s historical destiny. These are a people that, despite the highest amplifications of Western propaganda, could not be split yesterday. They came into the streets in support of both Wagner and Putin, and all the heroes, because the narod now understand who the true enemy is and what it is that’s being fought for.

    A mawkish take you say? But it’s the truth. Something is being awakened in the Russian people, and those with unclouded eyes can clearly see it.

    Just take a look at yesterday’s annual Scarlet Sails celebration in St. Petersburg. One commentator noted the difference, how in previous years Western degenerate rap was performed, now patriotic music, and the people, even the youth were in raptures.

    I recall Oswald Spengler’s predictions concerning the coming High Culture in Russia. Is it possible we are seeing the first stirrings of the Russian Springtime? At the very least, it’s clear the US/NATO proxy war against Russia has been a miserable failure and has ended up greatly strengthening it’s enemies. I think we are seeing the beginning of the endgame in Ukraine, with the American Empire rapidly approaching the end of it’s lifecycle, thanks in large part to the blind arrogance, pigheaded stupidity and imperial hubris of its so-called leaders.

  208. @Siliconguy (#213): Oh, I have no beef at all with the rescue people trying to execute something even if there is a slim chance of a happy ending. That is the right and noble thing to do. My beef is with the media which seemed to deliberately withhold the information that indicated that it was already ‘game over’. If the media had wanted (for a change) to actually say something truthful they could have stated that there are strong indications that the sub had been destroyed but that a rescue effort is underway in case that the sub is still intact but incapacitated. But in my experience, the truth is the last thing that the today’s media is interested in.

  209. Anyone who thinks cats don’t talk, those who live with a certain pint-size black cat would differ. As I’m going to get in the shower a couple days ago I hear “Ma! Out! Now! Ma! Ma! Out!” To which I responded, of course, by telling her she’s a very silly Trudy and letting her out of the room.

    Discourse on more complex subjects? No: her mouth doesn’t allow that. Show up voluntarily for regular prayer like a good pius cat? She does that.

  210. Patricia M, Ariel’s wedding will be a little fancier than that, and Britney’s may be less lavish than you think — lots of changes still in process as the story continues. That said, Ariel will probably be married in a suit not too different from the one your mother wore!

    Uwe, hmm! That sounds like a very interesting book. I don’t think it’s been translated into English, alas, and my German may not be up to that.

    Stephen, I read another article referencing that a little while ago. My translation of the Raytheon guy’s comments are “they own us, better get used to it.”

    Other Owen, exactly. In Discordian time it’s always 5:23, anyway. 😉

    Platypus, I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the Prigozhin story yet. A fascinating spectacle! Yes, a robust war against the source of a culture’s second pseudomorphosis might kickstart the rise of the new Russian great culture. As for the Faustian culture, stick a fork in it — it’s done.

    BoysMom, Arthur Machen would be shaking in his boots!

  211. On the topic of animal communication, as a child I once managed to communicate with some ants. I hated stepping on them; and I knew they didn’t like it, but they had found a path to get from their nest to an area they went to forage in regularly that involved going through one of the areas I liked to play in. One day after stepping on some of them, I spent a while watching, figured out where they were going, and mapped out a different path for them. I marked it with some food for them; and they followed it, took the food, but didn’t figure out what I was trying to say, and kept going through the same way as before.

    A few days later, after some construction was done on a road that blocked one of their usual paths, I marked a way around it with some food again; and then tried again marking the path I had found that went around my play area. This time, the ants figured it out, and they stopped using their old route through my play area. Of course, I think it helped that I tried to find them new paths through the construction as it happened: so they fairly quickly learned what these trails of food were trying to communicate.

    I doubt we had much to say to each other: we’re far too alien to each other for there to be much we’d find intelligible, but I still think it’s quite cool that I was able to get a simple message across to them. I’m not sure if the ants ever tried to say anything back to me, but if they did, I never noticed it.

  212. @ Fra’Lupo #6
    As I recall, the Catholic definition of sin in similar — anything that causes you to leave God’s presence. Pride was a key sin, because pride is a belief that your or your way was better than others or others’ way. Pride clearly separates you from others, and from God.
    But the material world isn’t a turning away from God. The material world is where we belong; we’re material beings. The question is how to stay in God’s presence while in this material world.

  213. Platypus
    You might be interested in Larry Johnson’s ( last couple of blogs on the Prigozhyn” coup” He thinks it was very likely a deception to give a different rational for Russian troop movements towards the front. There are a lot of things that don’t make any sense otherwise. I have no idea but it sounds reasonable to me.

  214. @JMG re banishing evil spirits.

    Africans have a strong tradition of belief in magic, the spirits of their ancestors, the powers of certain herbs and potions, etc, much as one might expect from your observation that “magic is the politics of the excluded classes”.

    In many cases, they will consult a traditional healer before turning to Western medicine. I worked for a small health fund serving an industry that employed African workers, some of whom were members, and it permitted claims from traditional healers as well as from doctors and pharmacies.

    So you would get an invoice hand-written on a page from a generic invoice book, not a printed letterhead, like “To casting out of demons, R500.00” (R500.00 was the maximum claim allowed.)

    We would pay out, but there was always the suspicion, are we being taken for a ride? The problem is that there is no way to check whether an actual service has been performed by a recognized practitioner.

    Doctors are licensed, pharmaceuticals are quality-controlled, treatments in many case are standardized, the whole medical industry relies on laid-down standards.

    Traditional healers go through no stipulated training AFAIK. Usually, someone feels a calling and apprentices themself to a practicing healer. Herbs and animal parts are processed according to custom and inspiration from the spirits of the ancestors, and there are no checklists or tests as to whether someone is healed.

    I’m not saying they are ineffective, it’s that they don’t fit into the modern Western system where everything is standardized and commodified and digitized, and you rack up claims pill by pill, consultation by consultation.

    The approach seems to be, you get a low maximum for “alternative medicine” which includes traditional healers, homeopaths and so forth, or you pay out of your medical savings account.

  215. @info #204:

    In re: “This man for example who is in contact with various abductees of Aliens who managed to have the Abductions stop. They were able to do so because they the called Jesus for help.

    The Name of Jesus caused them to recoil in pain and fear:”

    The late Hieromonk Seraphim Rose wrote a book in the late 1970’s entitled Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, in which he speaks about UFO’s. His considered opinion (as well as that of contemporary elders on Mt. Athos) is that these are all demonic manifestations. Fr. Seraphim speaks of instances where “Close Encounters of teh Third Kind” happened, and the “aliens” vanished like soap bubble as soon as a intended victim made the Sign of the Cross.

    All of this is consistent with JMG’s point that true interstellar travel, as far as we know, is simply not possible.

    In the same period as Fr. Seraphim was writing, a French scientist named Jacques Vallee wrote Passport to Magonia and Messengers of Deception on the same subject. Vallee concluded that so-called UFO’s were of Earth origin, and that the stories of “encounters” were virtually identical to medieval tales of “incubi” and “succubi.”

    This, of course, is in addition to (and not in contradiction of) JMG’s explanations of military intelligence psy-ops.

    So, if we see actual “space aliens” we can be sure that they are demons. Full stop.

  216. On Russia – I took a semester of Russian in college and had to change languages because I couldn’t stomach Russian literature. For what that’s worth.
    One potential hot spot on Russia’s border, and some background: in a survey course in Northern Literature taken in old age, I read Finland’s national epic, The Kalevala, and thought “These people are not European at all. They’re Central Asian.” Russia gobbled up Karelia, the large Eastern chunk of Finland and apparently the least Europeanized; what’s left is Scandinavian Finland. But I don’t think the Finns have forgotten, and I wonder what the Karelians are likely to do. If they’re not totally Russified by now.

  217. In regards to animals talking…

    Here is a link to a Spotify podcast:

    It is from Nate Hagens, of Oil drum back in the day. He is doing a great series of podcasts called “the great simplification”. Here is his website:

    This particular podcast is with Aza Raskin who was a founder of Mozilla. He is using AI to study languages and in particular non-human language. Lots of good stuff about what they are doing. In particular with Beluga whales who seem to have a very robust language with lots of different “words”. Highly recommend this.

    JMG- I’m guessing you know Nate?

  218. Dear JMG, so much in that blog to sympathize with; including the escape from middle class materialism – through a book on Wicca in the public library of all places (true places of initiation, public libraries). You – again – struck a strong chord. Thank you.
    When I started my own practice some years ago with my wonderful partner, we both had the feeling that some metaphysical shift was going on. Our intuition was that some powers even older than the “domesticated” second generation – Olympian – gods were stirring. We – both coming from a classicist background – identified them as Titans, though with a more Cosmicist (you may say Lovecraftian) image than those from scholarly mythography and we have been exploring them ever since. We have the fealing that their primordial chaotic powers are rising, and – looking at what is going on eg. in Russia these days – and after reading your book on the “King in Orange” too, I’m more convinced than ever. It has – in our experience – become easier to “manipulate/ride chaos” while more formal, predictable practices are getting less reliable. Any thoughts on that? Almost like swimming in water when the tide is turning. Suddenly, what used to be reliable currents, become erratic and those “surfing” on the waves end up with unexpected results. Chaos Magick and post-modern politics and all that are to me indicators of the same shift.
    And now increasingly people are getting aware, strangely even the most hard-headed materialists. I had a similar observation that you have had with Naomi Wolf. My favorite leftist popstar-philosopher – Slavoj Žižek – in order to describe our times, famously mistranslated Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters.” Or maybe, as I like to think, he channeled an insight, not dreamt of in his philosophy.

  219. @Martin Back
    In Viet Nam, the standard practice is almost the opposite: everybody goes to a Western-trained doctor to get a diagnosis, and then they go to a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor for treatment.

  220. @Martin Back (#228):

    Many illnesses are due not only to a malfunction of the body, but also to an accompanying malfunction of the “mind” (which is not one simple thing). Indeed, in some cases, even, it is the latter malfunction that is the principal cause of the illness, and any concomitant real physical malfunction of the body is a result of the mind’s malfunctioning. The ailing body is often not simply some sort of biological “machine” in need of repair, similar to an ailing automobile. The best evidence for this is the existence of the placebo effect, which can be activated to heal some ills of the body by working through the “mind.” (There is also the lethal twin of the placebo effect, the nocebo effect, which can be activated to harm or kill; but the less said about that, the better for us all.)

    Much healing, even by fully licensed practitioners within the Western medical system (industry?), is enhanced, or soemtimes even effected, through skillful use of the placebo effect. And successfully activating the placebo effect is as much a work of art as a materialistic science.

    So the art of a traditional healer can be an extremely effective treatment for many ills — but definitely not all ills! — of the body. There is a fair amount of research about how traditional methods of healing can be effective within their own proper cultural contexts. You’re usually not being scammed when you pay such a healer for services, any more than when you pay a licensed Western professional for services. (Of course, scam artists can be found now and then, both among traditional healers and, equally, among licensed Western medical practitioners.)

    There’s a small body of good scientific work in medical journals about how placebos can really heal under certain conditions.

  221. Naomi Wolf has just posted again. She suffered an attack of appendicitis, and is now in the hospital recovering from an infection. Her latest post is a long lament for the separation of the modern hospital from the healing powers of nature, and would not be unfamiliar to any of us.

  222. @ Stephen H Pearson, comment # 227 and Siliconguy, comment # 232

    That is a very likely possibility. Sonar21 is one of the blogs I follow closely, and Larry Johnson isn’t the only analyst to reach that conclusion. There are some very convoluted games being played right now, but we’ll only know what has really been going on well after its over.

    Either way, I think its pretty clear that Ukraine and the EU are fracked and there is very little they can do about it at this point. The Ukrainians made the mistake of jumping on the Western bandwagon and then repeatedly doubling down right as the Faustian Culture began its terminal dive.

  223. JMG wrote

    As for the Faustian culture, stick a fork in it — it’s done.

    Especially since Western liberals seem to be bent on emulating (and if possible, exceeding) the worst excesses of decadent empires such as Babylon and Imperial Rome…

  224. Re Jesus vs the demons.

    I worked with a very religious person. He was the sort who carried his bible everywhere. I started noticing that every time he saw me he made a certain gesture. I thought maybe it was to ward off the evil eye. The clincher was when I realized that he always carried his bible in such a way that it was between me and him. He was very subtle about it; he never accused me of being a demon. But I’m pretty sure he thought I was. No idea why.

  225. @ Martin Back #228 – the question I would like to see asked is whether those who present invoices from traditional healers are more or less likely to ALSO go looking for help from what we may as well call “standardised” medicine. I imagine that the policy favouring the payment of such invoices may have originated from an actuarial analysis of this kind of risk, which found that the health of those who presented traditional healer invoices might be less expensive to care for in the long run.

  226. @The Other Owen #205

    About beer… The standardisation is mostly about sales, I would presume. If you buy a Guiness today, and like it, and then you get another one next week and it tastes totally different, you probably wouldn‘t give it another chance. The big guys need to standardise or they will lose customers.

    Small craft breweries, that‘s a different thing – people are much more willing to accept some variance there.

    And for what it‘s worth, I‘ve _never_ met any German who gave a rat‘s behind about the correct temperature of his or her beer, as long as it came from a fridge (or, in a pinch and after a long, hot day in the garden, from half an hour in the freezer… 😉 )…

    @Anonymous #255

    In my experience, we‘re not too alien to communicate with insects. A few weeks ago, I had a very pleasant talk with the hornets who had moved in at the edge of our tomato bed, right next to the patio entrance. They were very polite and understanding, not willing to move, but totally got that some people here are scared of them – they assured me they would keep to themselves and not bother us.

    Of course, we weren‘t talking in words (that would be a bit much to ask), but in images, but they were absolutely clear and quite easy to understand (and very nice about it, too).

    So far, they‘ve kept to their word. Very pleasant neighbours, overall.

    All that is to say… maybe your younger self figured out a way to talk to the ants, too? 🙂


  227. Hey jmg

    On the subject of double pendulums, there is a automaton toy which is essentially a double pendulum made to look like a acrobat, which is powered by sand falling on a vaned wheel which is still being made today.

  228. Michael Martin, no offence, but it seems that you are trying to fit phenomena no one fully understands into the Procrustean bed of Christian dualism.

    In his books, Vallee gives quite a few examples of incidents that Christians found spiritually uplifting which match modern accounts of UFO contacts. St Francis of Assisi, the Visitation at Fatima, just to give a few examples of the top of my head.

    Some UFO encounters definitely correspond to spirits inimical to humanity, but to say all such phenomena are demonic is reductionistic.

    Incubus/succubus type phenomena very likely are demonic, but if you read Vallee’s books you will see a wide range of accounts, where the “visitors” are riding airships and stop by to say hi, to where they ask for water and give pancakes in return. These correspond more to fairy incidents in history, for a mediaeval Christian perspective, maybe CS Lewis’ passages on the Longaevi in The Discarded Image might be interesting to you.

  229. Platypus, JMG,et al
    I think when people look back on these times and the decline of the US empire/western cultural, economic domination, etc, it may be that the one move that will stand out as the stupidest of all was the confiscation of Russian assets in the west. I think a lot of countries that were quite willing to sit on the fence until the rubble stopped bouncing realized that if the west could do it to the Russians, it could do it to them and started de-dollarizing and shifting their assets out of the west as quickly as they could without triggering a crash.And of course applying to join BRICS.

  230. What happened to Open Post? Anyway I see some comments on Ukraine so I assume it’s OK to go there. As a second generation Ukrainian-American I know something about Russia and Ukraine. One thing I rarely see is an explanation of how they got to be different countries. I think it’s now quite obvious that they are different countries-cultures even though they are similar. Like Austria and Germany or Portugal and Spain. If anyone wants to know how they became different countries I can explain it all.

  231. About the march on Moscow – It was interesting to see how the professional “experts” were all engaging in wishful thinking disguised as analysis. They all expected Russia to collapse and even called Wagner freedom fighters. (After the deal it was back to the label terrorists of course). It didn’t matter if the were retired generals, Kremlin watchers for more than 10 years or whatever. They all got it wrong and nobody even seemed to have sources within Russia.

    I took note who had it right from the beginning and it were only a few, like David Goldman (an Asia times analist who writes under the pen name Spengler), Col. Douglas McGregor and the unlikely Kim Dotcom. Kim Dotcom predicted even correctly that Putin and Prigozhin would stike a deal before he reached Moscow.

    Goldman suggested this excellent article about what to expect now. I agree and it seems that Ukraine will be the big loser of the events 🙁

  232. Hi John Michael,

    The interactions between the protagonist, Kirth Gersen, and the individual five Demon Princes were always sharply amusing. And being fleshed out as real people, the interactions were more direct with likely motivations, and the characters were far less abstract. I enjoy re-reading those series of books every few years or so, and they have a lot to say about plot development. Incomprehensible evil dark lords are a tiresome bore, and you know that they’re going to cop it in the neck before the book is even begun. What drives them to be the way they are? That’s the interesting bit. At least the author David Eddings had the common decency to make the mad God of his amusing series from way back in the day, a minor bit player.

    Hey, almost forgot to mention it, but you know I could talk sci-fi / fantasy all day long, and maybe only tire a bit, a little bit anyway! 🙂 Getting back to your essay though, aren’t we in the early springtime now in the cycle? It seems that way to me, and we have yet to navigate the late spring season of want and tribulation. Hmm.



  233. @tomriverwriter (#226):

    I am not critiquing the material world. I am critiquing the reductionist worldview that there is nothing except the material world.

    Indeed, I believe it’s perfectly possible to pay attention to The Divine while immersed in the material. Just as I believe it’s perfectly possible to have our attention distracted from The Divine while supposedly “in flight” from material things, as in contemplation, ascetic practices, et al.

    One of the unique aspects, IMHO, of Christian theology is the implication of the ultimate redemption of the cosmic order, a harmonizing and reintegration of the spiritual and the material, the making of things on Earth as they are in Heaven. As above, so below.


  234. David Brin, about the time he was slipping into the shrill polemics of denial, wrote a post about his objections to magic – and they were identical with your objection to Harry Potter: the notion that magic was inborn, you had it or you didn’t, which is elitist, whereas skill, which can be learned, is democratic. Therefore, he concluded, magic was evil and should not be developed. That memory just popped into my head this morning. Ironic, isn’t it?

  235. @milkyway, anon

    My father never gets bitten by mosquitoes. He swears that when he was a kid, they’d eat him alive as soon as he stepped out the door, and that he resolved this by making a deal with them: he wouldn’t try to kill them anymore, and they’d stop biting him. Ever since then, he just gently brushes bugs off his arms instead of swatting… and they don’t bite him.

  236. @Roman (#247):

    Objectively, they seem to me, too, (as you say) to be quite different countries, and to have been different countries ever since the 1300s. One of the major problems we face these days is that the Russian myth of its own history — I might even say, the Russian egregore — claims that it is the one and only legitimate heir of Kievan Rus’. This is so fundamental a component of the Russian egregore that any other view will be seen as an “existential threat” (Putin’s term) to Russia’s existence, sufficient in itself (as Putin has said) to justify Russia’s use of nuclear weapons.

    As you surely know, the facts of history are otherwise; but it may do some good for a non-Slav briefly to summarize them here for the commentariat.

    After the collapse of the Kievan state, two kingdoms had equal legitimate claims to the same political and religious heritage: the Grand Princes of Moscow and All Russia, on the one hand; and on the other, the Grand Princes of Lithuania and All Russia. For a while, too, each of these two state had its own Orthodox church, headed by a Metropolitan Bishop who claimed tto be the legitimate Metropolitan of All Russia.

    Russians, too, not infrequently regard Ukrainians as “brothers,” but more precisely as “little brothers,” as yet insufficiently mature to be allowed to govern themselves. This is an old prejudice among Russians, not wholly unlike the Western views of superior and inferior races. (For the history of this porejudice, see the four articles by EleventyOne on “Malorossicism,” which can be found on the Daily Kos website.)

    Ukrainians, of course, have a rejoinder to that: if they and Russians are indeed brothers, then their family has long been a highly abusive one, sufficiently abusive to justify severing all family ties. (Most recently, there is the contentious issue of the Holodomor, or slow genocide of Ukrainians by Russian-enforced famine during the 1930s. Most Russians I know deny it ever happened; most Ukrainians I know remember it vividly, or had parents who experienced it themselves.)

    I think there will never be a real meeting of minds between Russians and Ukrainians, IMHO, on how the two nations can coexist. Too much water has flowed under the bridge for that ever to happoen.

  237. For whatever it’s worth, I suspect Steiner was right, in a sense. But I would suggest it’s not the vaccine per se that makes one insensate to the spiritual world, but rather our reaction to it—that we view it as either utterly salvific or eternally damning, as the case may be—that does so.

    After all, it’s not what goes into a person that defiles, but rather that which comes out of a person…


  238. Anonymous, hmm! Many thanks for this.

    Martin, under the circumstances, that user icon is funny, in a bleak sort of way.

    Patricia M, the Finns are closely related to several Siberian peoples, as you’d expect. Yes, that border’s a flashpoint, as both Russia and Finland claim various parts of each other’s territory.

    Orion, we talked from time to time back in the peak oil days, yes.

    Siliconguy, you’re not the only one who’s noticed that. On the other hand, Russia has an equally long tradition of military mutinies.

    Ilja, the world is certainly changing, but I haven’t noticed any lack of efficacy in the rather formal ceremonial magic that I practice, or in other branches of old-fashioned occultism. In recent years, for that matter, I’ve watched plenty of people leave chaos magic and Wicca for more traditional forms of magic and get better results. So things are certainly in flux, but as I see it, what’s happening is that the Age of Reason is over and certain far older things are coming back into their own. (BTW, it wasn’t a book on Wicca; I’ve never had the least interest in Wicca. It was a book on Golden Dawn ceremonial magic.)

    Peter, interesting. It’s going to be quite something to see where she goes from here.

    Platypus, the thing that strikes me is that these people are so short on new ideas that all they can do is copy what the Christian Right says about them. When a counterculture starts taking its self-definition from its enemies, you can wave goodbye — it won’t be around long.

    Patricia M, thanks for this.

    J.L.Mc12, I think you have better toys in your country than we do here.

    Stephen, there’s a very long list of stupidities, but yeah, that’s well up on it.

    Roman, first of all, the open post is on the 4th Wednesday of each month, i.e., tomorrow. Second, keep in mind that this is my blog, not yours, and the 4th Wednesday open post is for people to ask me anything, not to ask you. If you want to put up a blog post on a site of your own and direct people to it, that’s cool, but I’d prefer that you not try to take over the discussion.

    Boccaccio, it was interesting, and not in a good way, to watch the US corporate media spew out identical stories on the Wagner incident on Saturday. It looks very much as though they’d been prepped in advance and told what the party line was to be, and responded like good little stooges. One figure I’d add to your list is Jeff Childers of the Coffee & Covid substack, who also got it right in advance.

    Chris, I remember Eddings’ sprawling opus — as generic Tolkienesque fantasy went, it wasn’t bad. As for the season, it’s either very early springtime or very late winter: either way, cold and bleak, with a few scattered signs of life but a lot of hardship and hard work to get through.

    Patricia M, good heavens. Do you think you can find that essay of Brin’s? Or can someone else chase it down? I’d be utterly delighted to be able to cite it, and make fun of it.

  239. >The standardization is mostly about sales, I would presume.

    But I wonder if that premise has actually been tested as to whether it’s true or not. I would suspect that it hasn’t, and that it is assumed that if it’s manufactured the same way you would a machine screw, that it pleases the Corporate God who will bless you with prosperity. I suspect quite a bit of magical thinking is going on with this.

    >And for what it‘s worth, I‘ve _never_ met any German who gave a rat‘s behind about the correct temperature of his or her beer

    But there is some German out there who does care, at least enough to make sure that on the back label, the proper temperature to drink the beer at is marked, say, at 4.3C. Not 4.0C, not 4.5C, exactly 4.3C. Dutch beer will give you a range, say, 4-8C. French beer doesn’t even bother putting a temperature on the back label. Don’t remember what the Belgians do with temperatures on the back label, they may follow Dutch practices.

  240. It’s a very timely essay since both esotericism and more orthodox approaches to spirituality are steadily gaining steam. Like JMG, I too grew up in the ‘burbs and had a dark period from my teens into my early 20s. For me, it was not so much suburbia specifically that got me down — it was more of a general feeling of constraint and meaninglessness in postmodern life that I think I would have had no matter where I grew up. But I definitely understand that the “compelled uniformity” thing of suburbia really grates on some people. And also like JMG, I think I had karmic things to deal with during that time, stuff related to my last incarnation, which popped back up as addiction in this life, but of course I had no idea about any of that back then.

    What helped it in my case was a slow awakening into a more spiritual consciousness. But that took 10-15 years to overcome what was originally a more or less atheist/materialist worldview. Traditional Christianity didn’t help much because I always had problems with authority, and therefore orthodoxy of any kind. A slow change of perspective, an awakening to the other powers active in the universe beyond the human will and purposes, spending quiet time outdoors watching nature, paying attention to phenomena like dreams, and finally, developing spiritual practices of my own ultimately changed everything. It’s one of those things that, once you awaken, you can’t go back to the old way.

    Discussing it with others who are interested helps a lot too. We have a very special place here at Ecosophia and everything offered here is free; not that I don’t buy the occasional book of course ;). It’s encouraging that I see more and more people interested in what we have going on here. Also I’ve really enjoyed the resurrection of traditional American occultism via the GS, FHR, OSA and other material, which seems to be just about perfect for my spiritual inclinations. I’m sad that it went through such a period of eclipse, but very happy that it’s making a comeback, and that our host made the considerable effort to get this stuff back into print.

  241. Hello John Michael Greer, I was going to have a question for you, or rather a series of questions, I would be glad if you could answer. Now let’s get started: as you mention in your End of the Industrial Age the intellectual toolkit of the classical world survived thanks to Christianity (and I am currently trying to learn that curriculum) similarly can you explain exactly what is the intellectual toolkit of the ‘modern’ world (it may be necessary to put some parts in the toolbox) and Another question I have is what needs to be done while the Second Religiousness is slowly becoming visible, and I am a Turkish Language and Literature student. I would like your advice. I would be very grateful if you could answer my questions, good writing, we look forward to your posts !

  242. JMG,
    I am always amused by the line, ” I am from there so I can tell you how things really are.” Imagine a serious student of Post War (II) American History from Japan sitting in the stands of an NFL football game and asking his neighbors their opinion on the Truman administration. Or a serious geopolitical analyst like John Mershiemer meeting Kamala Harris at a fundraiser and having her explain to him that she will be happy to answer his questions about the latest geopolitical strategy in Washington because of course she is there. Often the people that are from a place are the least informed about it.

  243. @JMG re: “As for the season, it’s either very early springtime or very late winter: either way, cold and bleak, with a few scattered signs of life but a lot of hardship and hard work to get through.”

    Ah. That’s Imbolc for you. And yes, that describes the feeling of these times exactly, right now. Thanks.

    Imbolc, also called Brigid’s Day, is one of the cross-quarter days celebrated in many traditions.. Its not only noted for nasty weather (except in subtropical Florida, where it’s the beginning of Spring), but also lambing season, the only time you can get sheep’s milk (celebrate with real feta cheese?) The secular equivalent of it in the US, is Groundhog Day, a.k.a “Will this cold, bleak weather ever quit? Or are we in for another 6 weeks of it?” The only holiday in the US calendar devoted to a divination.

  244. Milkyway @243..

    Back, not so long ago.. when I had a property in which to ‘work’, I had a bog in our yard with a tiny pond feature (complete with a few fish – shibunkins). Within the surrounds of said pond, I had planted amoung other things a scrophularia, which grew flower stalks 8′ or so high. EVERY flying insect, be they Hornets, Yellowjackets, Paperwasps, Honeybees, Surphid flies.. you name it, were soo TOTALLY engrossed in whatever those tiny flowers had to offer. Needless to say, they all bothered me and mine not one whit, regardless of the number of times we traipest back and forth to hang/retrieve our laundry.. that also included the passing by of the comings and goings of 2 very active honeybee colonies.

    Most people would ABSOLUTLEY cringe at the thought of doing such!

  245. methylethyl, many of us in the USA are doing much the same as your Vietnamese friends. Go to the Dr., pay the hundred bucks or so, don’t make a return visit and don’t fill the prescription–unless you live in the sort of neighborhood where there is a lively trade in pharmaceuticals, in which case you sell the prescription–then get out the herbal books, or consult friends who are into herbal meds.

  246. Deneb Algedi, thanks for this. I had the immense good fortune (or good karma, or blessing) to have the chance to study traditional American occultism with a fine old-fashioned practitioner of the same, and to read reams of books (and no small number of correspondence course lessons) on the same, and it made a world of difference to me; I’ve always believed in paying things forward — and of course, like everyone else with Asbergers syndrome, I love to babble on endlessly about the things that interest me. 😉

    Yiğit, may I ask you to repost this as a comment to tomorrow’s open post? I ask people to use the open post to ask questions unrelated to the theme of the weekly post, as this one is. Thank you.

    Clay, granted, there’s that! I wouldn’t bet on my ability to tell anyone “how things really are” here in East Providence, for example…

    Patricia M, good. Yeah, it’s very much Imbolc of the Great Year right now.

  247. Thank you for this post. This is my first comment on this blog, although I was a reader of yours way back (over a decade ago) but somehow lost you … I believe because you had put some of your content behind a paywall but I could be wrong about that). I miss your voice. Some of your writings in the 2000s profoundly impacted my worldview.

    Regarding this particular post: I noticed the same bizarre processes early in the pandemic and came to the conclusion that I needed to invest more energy in occult studies, including stellar sorcery (thank you for your co-translation of the Picatrix). I believe those studies have paid off.

    Anyway it’s good to read your writings again.

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