Open Post

February 2018 Open Post

As announced earlier, this blog will host an open space once a month (well, more or less) to field questions and encourage discussion among my readers, and this is the week. All the standard rules apply — no profanity, no sales pitches, no trolling, no rudeness, no long screeds proclaiming the infallible truth of fill in the blank — but since there’s no topic, nothing is off topic.

But first, an announcement…

***********
Radio static crackles over the speakers as the pilot and co-pilot carry out final system checks from the bulky steel chairs in the cockpit of the gleaming spacecraft. One turns to the other and makes a thumbs-up gesture: all systems are go. Behind them, in the main cabin, sixteen intrepid interplanetary explorers brace themselves. Then, over the speakers, the countdown:

“10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…we have ignition.”

Flame billows from the mighty rocket engines.

“Main stage.”

With a tremendous roar, the engines rise to full power.

“Liftoff!”

Perched on a pillar of fire, the mighty spaceship Vintage Worlds rises from the surface of the Earth, en route to the solar system that should have been…

I’m delighted to report, in other words, that the Old Solar System short story contest has been a rousing success. Zendexor and I received a fine selection of lively, readable stories, and a hefty anthology is now in the works. The following stories have been selected for the first volume (yep, there’ll be more than one) of Vintage Worlds:

“Perchance To Dream” by Peter C. Aitken

“Europa Or Bust” by Shep Barnett

“The Lure of the Depths” by Violet Bertelsen

“The Dorian Grays” by D. Blakeden

“Pen Pal” by Grant Canterbury

“Tête-à-Tête” by David England

“Uranian Thule” by Robert Gibson

“Methane Blue” by Rachel Guettner

“The Martian Girl” by Christopher Hennington

“Incandescence” by Dylan Jeninga

“Death Songs of Saturn” by Joel Jones

“The Headless Skeletons of Mercury” by Troy Jones

“Arden Archer” by Damian Macrae

“The Solar System, The Universe and Everything” by Albert Sevcik

“The Lost Cosmonaut and Saucer Six” by Clint Spivey

“The Answer at the End of the World” by Arthur Vibert

and “Out of the Chattering Planet” by yours truly.

Contributors have until March 30 to put a final polish on their stories — no major changes, please, but if you catch a glitch somewhere now’s your chance to fix it. Please send any corrections in to the same email address you used for the submission, and include a paragraph of material for a biographical blurb.

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted stories to this project! As with the four After Oil anthologies, it’s been a delight to read so much good fiction that leaves behind the mandatory interstellar future that domineers over so much of contemporary SF. Stay tuned; in the near future I’ll be announcing not one but two new contests.

****************
With that said, have at it…

456 Comments

  1. The internet has become the new inquisition’s makeshift court, where almost everyone takes turns at playing the executioner. If historians’ assumptions are to be believed, public executions used to be a popular form of entertainment. Are there any reasons to think this time is different?

  2. Looking forward to reading some new vintage SF! I remember re-(re-re-)reading my dad’s tattered, well-worn Lucky Starr series when I was little and how much I enjoyed those worlds.

    On a completely different note, I’d like to relate a fascinating, synchronistic experience this past weekend. I was at an organic agriculture conference as part of my personal education project in these years preparing for my post early retirement second act as a small scale agriculturalist (my “nine-year plan”). I attended several workshops dealing with soils — structure, chemistry, biology, fertility, etc. The last workshop dealt with the symbiotic relationships between plant roots and mycorrhizal fungi. I knew I was in for a different kind of experience when, a few slides into the presentation, a photo of Rudolph Steiner popped up on the screen. The pertinent quote from his _Agriculture Course_ was “Everything in interconnected. Absolutely everything.” As I laughed to myself, I thought — Boy, you ain’t kiddin’.

    Even though I was unable to stay for the entire conference due to other obligations, it was an incredibly invigorating experience. On my way home, I just sat with the notion of working with the earth, assisting in (re)building the fertility of the soil, and cultivating nourishment for my family and neighbors. I could feel, deep down, with a knowing that I cannot fully explain, that I must do this.

  3. Excellent! I look forward to reading this collection, and hopefully I will have a story for the next one. What was supposed to be my contribution has apparently morphed into a novel instead (and once i finish editing it, I intend to try to find a publisher)…

    I’m also keeping an eye on a major bill heading through Congress (FOSTA/SESTA) that, in the name of protecting people from sex trafficking will strip websites of protections for third party users. In other words, if this bill passes then JMG (as host of the blog) and Geoff Stratton (since he provides the website) would both be personally liable for links to sex trafficking. While I don’t think this would affect here, since JMG would delete the offending material, it seems likely to cause havoc on much of the internet.

    I think it is not going too far to say that this bill will change the very nature of the internet, in ways that seem likely to shut down much of what currently makes it worth while.

  4. Hi JMG,

    My question regards the mainstream/Christian use of the word “God” as a title for a particular deity. My eight-year-old has discussions with me about the gods, but due to some gentle “subversion” on the part of his grandparents, he hears talk of this figure known as God, and then uses it himself. Given the theological assertions of such a title, I weary of its use, but I’ve also tired of trying to get Christians or even my son to call that god Jehovah or any other variant. Any advice?

    Also, I’ve heard you correlate, if I’m not mistaken, the aura with the occult notion of the sphere of sensation. Are these the same? Could you touch briefly on these phenomena for me?

    Thanks,
    Peter Witkowski

  5. I mssed Magic Monday ☺️ So I have a question. You mentioned that magic is strongly contraindicated for psychotics. Why is that? (Not psychotic myself, just curious.)

  6. Hi JMG –

    Didn’t quite get this in before the buzzer last month, so here goes again…

    First time/long time – wanted to ask you about an angle of civilizational decline/collapse that’s of great interest for both personal and professional reasons. I work for a land trust in the northeast US, acquiring land for conservation and trails. The natural world has always been and will always be the thing that matters most to me, and I consider the conservation work land trusts do to be meaningful because it is a bottom-up approach focused on emphasizing the “utility” of the land for the community – for hiking, hunting, clean air, etc… – in other words, in many cases, folks are invited to use the land in a way that’s deemed manageable and sustainable rather than cordoning off space that’s been part of the community commons for generations. Setting aside larger ecosystem issues like climate change, I’m curious how you think a) this model of conservation and b) the environment in general will fare in a declining economy/energy world

    Based on the trajectories of past civilizations, how has the environment been prioritized (or picked over haphazardly)? On one hand, industrial civilizations seem likely to seize whatever resources are on hand to maintain living standards (or subsistence) as long as possible; on the other, the scale of possible destruction seems to diminish quickly as industrial capacity and development go away. How did the land of, say, western Europe fare in the 500’s after Rome?

    Thanks,
    Ryan

  7. JMG, I was wondering how one would apologize to a god? I threw out a devotional poster in a fit of fundamentalism and now the deity in question has been appearing visually in my mind, plus, even if I didn’t want to formally start worshiping it, I feel it would be prudent to do some kind of formal apology.

  8. A. Kullervo, haven’t you just answered your own question?

    David, delighted to hear this. A lot of people over the last couple of decades have been having similar experiences with the sudden sense of I must do this. I know several herbalists who had that response to learning about herbal healing, and a number of people who are into organic gardening and the like for the same reason. From my perspective, it’s the wisdom of the higher self coming through.

    Reloaded15, the proper response, of course, would be to thwack you over the head with a stick in the best Zen manner! Since I don’t have a stick handy, though, I’ll say that from my perspective, it’s the mode of experience proper to what occult schools call the Individuality or the higher self. It’s not something the personality or lower self — that is, the thing you probably call “yourself” — can comprehend in any way or by any workaround, so the best way to talk about it is to use a suitably vague term such as “enlightenment” and leave it at that. Beyond that, tose who know do not talk, as Lao Tsu said, and those who talk do not know. (Thwack!)

  9. Recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, and the transition from one to the other. From what I’ve been reading, the large slave-manned estates had been a dominant feature of Roman agriculture in Italy well before the transition from Republic to Empire, as witness the Spartacus revolt. I’d not expected to see that level of displacement of peasants by slaves until most of the way through the Imperial era, and that being a contributing factor in Rome’s decline. Did the professionalization of the legions and use of farms as a reward for service under Pompey, Caesar, Augustus and subsequent Emperors succeed in resetting the clock and prolonging the life of the polity?

    There was certainly a lot of chaos surrounding the transition from republic to empire, and things that just generally, ‘weren’t working’.

    What chance would you give a reorganization of one or more developed countries to redistribute the means of production to put off decline and fall in that country?

    Because so much of our economies are based on fossil fuels that are going away, and messing up the climate as they do, I’m guessing our chances are much worse than Rome’s were. More a case of slowing decline down, than putting it off for multiple centuries.

  10. JMG,

    Should one pray? If All is One, isn’t praying essentially praying to one’s highest self? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to acknowledge that the one you’re praying to is the essential self and strive to embody that and solve your own problems? “God helps those who help themselves.”

    Where are the sages of yesterday in today’s society? Where are the occultists and the Alan Watts’; the Joseph Campbell’s, Manly P Hall’s, Sri Aurobindo’s, etc. You’re the closest I’ve found to what seems to have been lost and I thank you sincerely for your public service in an age when we need it most. (Who are today’s leading occultists?)

    R

  11. Forgive me if I missed it, but last week’s mention of “Gaystapo” makes me ask this:
    Is there a label or a specific term for the infantile habit some people have of altering the names of public figures or organizations solely for making a “clever” put-down? (e.g. Pukin, Netanyahoo, Turdeau, etc.)
    Maybe a single word, or a two-word term that’s as handy to use as “ad hominem” or “straw man” during conversation? Thanks.

  12. Dear John Michael Greer,

    I am curious to know your take on the work of Stephen Talbott, in particular his book, THE FUTURE DOES NOT COMPUTE: TRANSCENDING THE MACHINES IN OUR MIDST.

    (For those who have not seen it, the author has posted his book in its entirety at this link http://netfuture.org/fdnc/ )

    I know that Talbott is follower of Owen Barfield’s ideas and I know, from some of your previous posts on THE WELL OF GALABES, that you have some profound disagreements with those, but I ask here because what has caught my attention in this work is Talbott’s prophetic critique of the computer, and this a good many years before the explosion of of social media.

    Secondly, I would like to say once again how impressed and grateful I am for your generosity in engaging with your readers, and also for your maintaining the civilzed tone in this comments section. I despair at the zoo-like comments sections elsewhere on the net, whether on well-known blogs or such self-styled bastions of civilization as the leading newspapers. Or perhaps, rather than “zoo-like,” a more apt description would be, precisely– to echo the observation made in first comment for this post– what one might expect from a crowd gathered to watch an execution. (Would that some of those bloggers would read your comments section and follow suit!)

    MILLICENTLY LURKING

  13. I just read your post on reading the Tarot, and I appreciate the advice.

    I came across a rare copy of a book entitled Tarosophy by a man who went to Europe to study with the occultist Oswald Wirth. Wirth was trained by Stanislas de Guaita, active Rosicrucian, and together they aimed to correct the symbolism of the Tarot. This manual is most complete, using Wirth’s deck of the 22 major arcana to cast intricate taroscopes. It is unlike anything I can find on the internet, and I must say, I’m completely fascinated.

    My questions have to do with the daily readings then. I’ve read some occultists only use the 22 major arcana (as with the author of my book), and I was wondering if when doing daily readings, doing the 3 card draw (or any small card draw), do you believe it would be just as effective as using all 78 keys?

    I’m caught between this manual and the more traditional/mainstream methods found in the LWB’s or books like Pollack’s Tarot Wisdom. Or more specifically, caught between Waite’s deck/methods and Wirths/Guita’s.

  14. John Michael,

    I’ve been working my way through the fourth grade of the Dolmen Arch, the Grade of the Philosophizer. Compared to my progress through the previous grades I’m speeding through this one, and expect to request the examination in a few weeks.

    I’ve noticed a couple effects from my practices: one is that early on in this grade I began feeling my palm centers. This is a constant background sensation, though if I turn my attention to it it becomes clearer. The sensation is a “tightness” or “pressure,” much like the pressure I would feel if there were a small ball resting in each palm. This is generally on the scale of a golf ball, though once while doing the Grand Psychic Breath it reached the level of billiard ball.

    The other effect I noticed happened only once so far (or rather once each in two consecutive practices): while holding the heels of my hands together during the palm center exercise, I felt something like mild electrical currents run from my head down my neck, and also run up and down my arms. I sat with them foe a while, simply paying attention to them. They ceased once I closed the practice. These currents then came up again more mildly while doing the Grand Psychic Breath immediately after.

    So my questions: What is all this a sign of? Also I really want to *do something* with these phenomena, and am wondering what suggestions you have.

    Thank you!

  15. I too have been having that “I must do this!” experience.
    It might be related to a recent health scare I had.
    But the voice in my head isn’t saying “I must do this!” it is saying
    “Pick Up The Ring, Jim!!” (I am hearing that because of your story of the failed Frodo.)
    I am thinking that I should actually go out and buy a ring and get it engraved “Pick Up The Ring, Jim”
    And put it on every day and work on the project I know I should be working on for at least an hour until I get to the point where I can work on it full time.

  16. Peter W: Let this unorthodox clergyman from an open-minded denomination (American Baptist) respectfully suggest that you consider using “Abba” when talking with your son about the “subversive” religious views he may be absorbing from his grandparents. While “Abba” only appears a time or two in the Second Testament, this more intimate name for the deity likely goes back to Jesus himself, as best our scholarship can ascertain. And since “Abba” seems to have been a rather unusual way to address YHWH, this difference between Jesus’ language about his god and that of much of the First Testament might open a door to a more general exploration of deities in general.

  17. Hello JMG,

    Thank you again for hosting this open posting session. I am always amazed at the variety of interesting questions coming your way and your ability to field them all so quickly.

    Another reader (Beekeeper) asked a question last week about Tarot readings, which you redirected to Magic Monday on Dreamwidth. I don’t believe they followed up on Dreamwidth, so I am in this open post.

    To paraphrase: I have started up a divination practice using Tarot reading, but most of the books I’ve been using center on finding true love, fortune, and superficial future predictions – basically party games. Can you suggest any resources or study methods that would lead to a deeper understanding of the Tarot? The divination section of the Druidry handbook has been very helpful in structuring a daily practice with a journal, by the way.

  18. Mr. Greer,
    I can’t seem to find exactly where you said this, but at some point in an essay or comment I recall that you said that the feudal period of early classical Greece was cut short for reasons of weaponry; I have been very curious as to the details, or where I could look up the details. I can’t seem to find anything about that in a cursory scan of what the internet has to say about dark age Greece. You also said that you expected feudalism to be abortive in America because of guns, if my memory serves me correctly. The logic being that guns are a sort of democratizer of violence, and that a feudal class can’t form unless it solely controls what I suppose could be called the means of warfare. What does that mean is likely to evolve instead of feudalism in Dark Age America? Some kind of city state arrangement, like classical Greece?

  19. Hi John,
    I wanted to begin an answer to a question that had intrigued me–and i believe you–some months ago: What if the cornucopians were right and we indeed enter a world of free energy (one possible route: photovoltaic cells that can capture infrared energy) and abundant resources (one possible route: nanoscale structures of common elements, like silicon, that successfully mimic properties of rarer materials.) Would that avoid civilizational collapse or merely postpone it? One of the great lessons of positive psychology is our need for mastery–would a cornucopian civilization recognize that need, or would everything be turned over to AI? Anyway, if the cornucopians’ arguments were shown to fail on their own terms, it would be an especially powerful argument against free energy, etc being a panacea.

  20. What do you think of Isaac Asimov’s SF work? Particularly interesting, I think, is that his earlier SF stories focused on the Solar System, and then he moved on to Interstellar SF.

  21. Not a personal question – I may need this information, the way my old neighborhood is being torn apart. So – how did you and Sara find a pleasantly rundown apartment in a diverse and unpretentious neighborhood without ending up in a high crime area? A serious question here in Albuquerque!

    Thanks,

    Pat

  22. @Fuzzy

    Speaking for myself: It appears that most magical practices involve visualization, meditation, and ritual techniques designed to open and close the mind in a controlled way – no bueno for people that do not have a healthy psychological baseline to begin with. You wouldn’t nudge someone while they are standing on a ledge.

  23. Who here is or has been a socialist or an anarchist? How did you end up here and how much of your original beliefs do you retain?

  24. John,

    Here’s an, “Ask Me Anything” question for you.

    Have you read, “Mysteries of the Great Cyclic Cross of Hendaye; Alchemy and the End of Time”, 2003, Weidner & Bridges?

    Because I respect your expertise on the subject of the occult, I’d value your opinion of this book if you have any familiarity with it.
    Also, do you have any familiarity with the book’s two authors, Jay Weidner and Vincent Bridges? And would you say that they are up to the task of providing the lay pubic with reliable information on the subjects they cover in this book? They seem to be, but I have no real expertise in the history, astronomy, or other subject matter covered in their book.
    I have just recently completed my second read-through.

    The Great Cyclic Cross of Hendaye is, for me, a very intriguing subject and I value any input you might offer on either this particular subject, or on the subject of “Fulcanelli”, the author of the original source material and his book, “Le Mystere des Cathedrales”, which inspired the, “Mysteries of the Great Cyclic Cross of Hendaye” book.

    Thanks!
    Fred

  25. Yay!

    My question: is there a suggested best practice for the bit of fourfold breath/mind-clearing where you have a clear mind for half a second and then you realize “oh hey I’m doing this!” and *that* thought takes over? I’ve just been trying to power through with the count, but if there’s advice, that’d be great.

    (It reminds me a little of those first moments when you actually manage to balance on skates or, for people who ride ’em, a bike, where if you think too much about that you’ll fall over. I mostly just kept falling over until I didn’t, as I recall.)

  26. JMG – I find myself struggling somewhat as a writer, specifically with world building, and I’d appreciate any input you might offer. I’m writing the outline of a story set 1200 years from now, mostly in the middle of North America. The vague outline of the history that brought my heroine’s society to where it is are fairly definitive; war, disease, famine, rapid climate change, resource depletion, etc… I have set her childhood and family in a city state along the Arkansas river, which is part of a larger city state culture extending from Ponca City down to Little Rock, where the river empties into the Bay of Loosian. He culture is coming out of a medieval period and the first hints of a renaissance are showing up here and there. I find researching the social transformations using existing history fairly straightforward; surprisingly I found it fairly easy to invent a religion for her culture (centered around worship of the river, since they live in a desert). I’m having trouble with the technological aspects of this fictive world. It would be easy for me to say “okay she lives in renaissance Italy but with 18th century technology but set in Oklahoma and Arkansas with some journeys to Mexico, Missouri and the Caribbean on the side” but I’m afraid that would not make for a very interesting backdrop for the main action of the story.
    I’ve done the intellectual legwork of constructing a religion (river worship), a social contract (feudal but becoming urban) and even upending gender relations in a way that I hope readers will find fresh. But I’m stuck on what will be feasible in a world without cheap raw materials and one which is past the dark age/salvage era.
    Other than re-reading the Ecotechnic Future, what are your thoughts on a way to try to jump start this part of the world-building creative process?

  27. @Fuzzy

    Also, if you want a good example of how visualization and body energy practices can go wrong, research: Kundalini Syndrome.

  28. Another critique of Pinker’s “Enlightenment Now” (which interestingly, seems to be being pushed very heavily across a range of outlets) http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2018/02/20/4806696.htm:

    “If we put into the practice the counting and gathering of data that Pinker so enthusiastically recommends and apply them to his own book, the picture is revealing. Locke receives a meagre two mentions in passing. Voltaire clocks up a modest six references with Spinoza coming in at a dozen. Kant does best of all, with a grand total of twenty-five (including references). Astonishingly, Diderot rates only two mentions (again in passing) and D’Alembert does not trouble the scorers. Most of these mentions occur in long lists. Pinker refers to himself over 180 times.”

    Ouch.

  29. Good to hear about the new sci-fi stories. They were my main reading as a kid in the late fifties.

    Two questions that I have been meaning to ask you:

    Have you seen Gordan Michael Scallion’s map of the future (world, US or both) and if so, what is your opinion of the map/s?

    2nd question..Eric Sloane wrote many books about early American life (tools, architecture, farming, weather, etc) and in two books he mentions “wetting the bush”…putting a small tree or bush on top of a new roof when it’s been completed and then toasting to bring luck to the structure. He said that ” the tree tacked atop a new building goes all the way back to Druid lore when men worshipped trees”. Is this part of Driud lore? I have not found any other mention.

    Thanks!

  30. Along the same line as my previous request, is there a single label or two-word term for the insertion of the condescending “my friend” (or similar address) into an online discussion between strangers?
    An actual statement goes like this: “If you had bothered to read the article, my friend, you would understand my point.”
    The general form of the statement is something like: , *you idiot*, [you would recognize my brilliance].

    In place of “my friend” people often use pal, bud, buddy, chum, mate, boy, son, sonny, sonny boy, or a number of other disrespectful, belittling, or contemptuous synonyms when referring to strangers who happen to disagree with them. If there isn’t a name for this practice, maybe one can be invented?

  31. Will, I’m very much in favor of legislation that would make internet hosting companies and people who run websites responsible for what they permit on their servers and sites. From trolls who hound people to suicide, through thieves who steal the creative work of others, through a vast range of other nasty habits — sex trafficking among them — a galaxy of abuses have been enabled by the notion that companies and websites aren’t responsible for the third party content they host and distribute, and profit from hosting and distributing. It’s like the crime of receiving stolen property; a “fence” doesn’t commit the original theft, nor is he the end user of the stolen property, but he’s guilty of a crime because he enables the thief to profit from his thefts and the end user to buy the results of theft. Yes, putting that legislation through will change the very nature of the internet, and about time…

    Peter, the proper noun “God” for the deity worshiped by Christians and Jews is standard English usage, and getting bent out of shape about it isn’t going to change that fact. You may just have to learn to live with it. As for the sphere of sensation, yes, this is the technical Golden Dawn term for the aura — the roughly egg-shaped outer layer of the human etheric body, which mediates between each of us and our nonphysical environment.

    Fuzzy, oddly enough, I answered that question last Magic Monday. The reason is quite simply that when people who suffer from a psychosis get into the practice of ritual magic, their psychiatric symptoms very often get worse. There are various theories as to why this should happen, but since it does happen, I strongly discourage anyone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or any of the other psychoses from practicing ritual magic.

    Toby, the end of a civilization typically sees steep declines in human population and, where the local soil hasn’t been stripped to bare rock, a relatively quick recovery of natural vegetation. Much of what had been thickly settled countryside in the western Roman empire reverted to forest within a few generations of the fall of Rome, because there simply weren’t that many people any more. As civilizations fall, they tend to use resources in a far more reckless fashion than before, but their capacity to access resources breaks down; the result is a patchwork, with resource catchment areas that are close to the remaining centers of power and population being hit very hard, while those that are too far away to be economically or politically viable, on the one hand, or too marginal to be worth the expense, on the other, being abandoned to nature.

    In the present case, I expect more of the same. If a land trust were to hire me as a consultant — which will happen promptly on Friday the first of never, I know — I’d strongly advise them to seek out pieces of property that are relatively inaccessible, unattractive, and valueless, because these will be more likely to pass through the final convulsions of our society intact. They can then act as refugia from which living things can recolonize the abandoned suburbs and barren failed farmland of the deindustrial future.

    Merle, I’d make a donation to a religious organization that worships that deity, and with the donation, include a note asking the organization to do the appropriate thing to ask for forgiveness on your behalf. That’s the traditional way of doing it.

    Corydalidae, excellent. I think it would be entirely possible for one or more countries to managed a controlled descent into the deindustrial future, even this late in the game. It would require wrenching changes, and the abandonment of a lot of things that people take for granted today, but it could be done. I doubt it will be, for the simple reason that too many people are fixated on the fantasy of perpetual and omnipotent progress, but if that wasn’t the case, it could be done.

    Ryan, if all is one, all sex is masturbation; that doesn’t keep lovemaking with a partner from being a lot more fun than doing it on your own. In exactly the same way, all may be one in a mystical sense, but until you’ve attained perfect enlightenment, you’re here with the rest of us in the world of appearances, so yes, you should pray.

    As for the sages of today, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear; if you don’t see sages all around you, keep working on yourself.

    Yoyo, I don’t know of one, but you’re right that a word or phrase like that would be well worth having. Readers, help us here! Does anyone know of a good label for the habit in question?

    Millicently, I haven’t read him, but my disagreements are with some of Barfield’s ideas, not with the man himself, and if Talbott’s gotten some useful notions from him, good for him. Thank you for your comments about my blogging; as Gandhi said, we each should be the change we want to see in the world, and one of the things I want to see in the world is more intelligent conversation and fewer tantrums; thus my choice was (and is) clear.

    Ryan, that’s a little like being caught between English and French. Why not learn both? Use two different decks — Wirth’s for Wirth’s system, and the Waite-Smith (aka Rider-Waite) deck for Waite’s — so you don’t get them confused. Different ways of reading the Tarot are like different languages; there’s no One Right Way, and facility with more than one is a good thing.

    I’m currently learning my way through Allegra Printz’s “The Ring Cycle Tarot,” which is based on Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” operas (and takes its artwork from Arthur Rackham’s Wagnerian illustrations, which I adore. Its symbolism and interpretation isn’t the same as Wirth’s, or Waite’s, or the Golden Dawn system (which is what I studied most intensively back in the day); so? it’s a lively and interesting deck in its own right, drawing on a set of symbolism I know inside and out, so I expect to have a good time with it.

    Alexander, all this is a sign of energy beginning to flow along the channels established by the other practices you’ve done. Don’t try to do anything with it yet, other than developing it further by way of the practices you’ve already received; if you’re almost ready for the next lesson, you’ve got plenty of further work en route.

    Jim, do it. That’s a very effective way to anchor a realization in the world of manifestation.

    Samurai47, I posted an essay on the subject on my Dreamwidth journal, which you can find and read here.

    Karl, indeed I did. The basic issue with the survival of a feudal system is how soon the commoners find a military technology that makes an armored man on horseback an anachronism, because the armored man on horseback (or, in very ancient times, in a chariot) is the basic unit of feudal power. Feudalism endures because one armed and armored guy on a horse, who trains for war full time, can easily slaughter ten or twenty men on foot armed with makeshift weapons. It’s when the guys on foot figure out a way of evening the odds that feudalism implodes.

    The ancient Greeks figured out very early on that a mass of infantrymen with long spears can laugh at cavalry; the collapse of ancient Greek feudalism followed promptly, and city-states became the basic organizing principle. In Europe, the twilight of feudalism took longer, because the medieval knight was a far more serious threat than his ancient Greek equivalent; pikes started the process, but it was the combination of pikes and missile weapons (crossbows, longbows, and finally firearms) that eventually swept massed heavy cavalry off the battlefield.

    In deindustrial dark age America, firearms will be the standard weapons — you can make a very nice Kentucky long rifle by hand using fairly basic tools, and there are people who do that for a living right now — and so a classic feudal system won’t have a chance to get started. I imagine the city-states of America circa 2500 AD fielding forces not utterly unlike those that fought the Revolutionary War: mostly infantry, but with dragoons and cavalry to take advantage of the enhanced mobility of horse travel. The one thing that might make life really interesting is that ultralight aircraft should remain viable straight through the deindustrial dark ages, so I imagine an army on the march into enemy territory, columns of infantry behind a screen of cavalry scouts, and buzzing overhead, half a dozen ultralights providing aerial reconnaissance…

    Greg, our civilization would fall anyway. On the one hand, plenty of civilizations in the past had relatively stable resource bases — think of ancient Egypt and imperial China — and still went through the usual cycle of rise and decline; on the other hand, as long as our civilization keeps trying to chase after the phantom of infinite growth, we guarantee that we’ll run into one bottleneck after another, and it’s statistically certain that sooner or later one of them will get us.

    easternRoman, he’s not my favorite author by a long shot, but I liked his earlier works better than the later ones; his capacity for imagining a future civilization that wasn’t just a rehash of 1950s Earth wasn’t particularly impressive.

  32. correction:
    The general form of the statement is something like: [If you weren’t such an idiot], *you idiot*, [you would recognize my brilliance].

  33. Patricia, I think the media have a lot of people convinced that they’re going to be jumped by fifty-eight goons the minute they step outside their doors. In my repeated experience, your chance of facing street crime is much higher in the wealthy end of town than it is in the poor districts; as bank robber Willie Sutton said, that’s where the money is.

    Fred, no, I haven’t; I’ve studied Fulcanelli very closely, though. The one great caution I’d offer anyone who tries to make sense of Fulcanelli’s writings is that it’s when he seems to be laying things out in perfectly straightforward language that he’s laying on the symbolism most thickly. The section on the cross at Hendaye in Le Mystere des Cathedrales is the extreme example of this; when Fulcanelli writes about cyclic catastrophes, he’s using “the language of the birds” to talk about a certain very secret alchemical process. Close meditation on his book is a good starting place!

    Isabel, oh man. That’s a standard experience; all you can do, as with any other wandering thought, is bring your mind back to your breathing, over, and over, and over again. You just keep on falling over, until you don’t.

    Ben, an excellent question. I’d encourage you to go find books on the technology of the colonial era in North America, which is pretty close to what things will be running on when the coming dark age bottoms out and things pick up again. Well-illustrated books are better than just text. You’re trying to teach yourself a language of technological idioms: how to do things without fossil fuels. Once you’ve got a handle on that, research a couple of other pre-fossil fuel cultures and get a sense of how they solved the same problems; then, having those examples to hand, put yourself in the mindset of the blacksmiths, architects, intellectuals, and ordinary people of your society, and let them show you how they go about it. You’ll find that once you give your mind the raw materials, it’ll run with them, the same way it ran with the religion and some of the other aspects.

    Daniel, thanks for this. Of course Pinker is being pushed heavily right now; he’s telling the privileged classes that history really is on their side.

    Linda, yes, I’ve seen the Scallion maps. They make zero sense if you look into the underlying geology and geophysics. People have been coming up with maps like that for at least a century and a half; none of them agree with one another, and none of them work if you try to make geological sense out of them. My guess is that they need to be taken symbolically and not literally. As for Sloane’s comment, that was a speculation by late 19th and early 20th century folklorists — hey, it involves a tree, it must be Druid tree worship! Regrettably, there’s no evidence that they were right.

    Yoyo, I don’t know of a label for that either. Help me, Ecosophia readers, you’re my only hope!

  34. On the subject of appropriate technology for descent with dignity: I started looking into composting toilets yesterday, purely to be informed (and in case of needing alternative sanitation arrangements in a hurry in post-big earthquake situations) They’re quite the simple yet brilliant technology, aren’t they?

    It strikes me that anywhere they aren’t illegal, they’d be a better option than individual septic systems for houses. Much less expensive, vastly less water use, and much easier to see if something is going wrong, because they smell and attract flies if you don’t add enough cover material. The solution is really simple, too, add more cover material. Why aren’t all new rural houses built with them, apart from sheer inertia? It looks like a good system for remote communities in Canada, where tree leaves and sawdust are much easier to obtain than plumbing materials that have to be brought in over winter roads or by air. And brilliant for areas that don’t have proper sanitation at all worldwide.

    The main downside I can see is the requirement for land close to the toilet for composting. Not a suitable system for apartment buildings, as most people wouldn’t want to be hauling a 5 gallon buckets of half-composted waste-and-sawdust down a flight of stairs. I think major cities are probably better off keeping flush toilets and water treatment as long as they can.

    Another downside for Canada, especially up north, is that it won’t compost over the winter, so you’d wind up with a lot of material frozen or just sat over the winter, then composting suddenly in the spring. That would be a bit different, but I suspect it could be worked with. You’d probably need more space. I’m not so sure this system would work well in the high arctic, though.

    Many areas already have other infrastructure, so there’s the psychology of previous investment to deal with, plus the ‘ick’ factor. I’d be happy to try it if I lived in a less-dense area, but I figure inner suburbs of my 300,00+ person city is a no-go zone, and almost certainly illegal. Not to mention that my landlady would have hysterics!

  35. JMG,

    Thanks for the link to the Tarot practice essay you posted on Dreamwidth. I think you answered my question, more by what you didn’t say than what you did. It sounds like the key in your view is to power through the daily divination practice, and that might be more important than the supporting reading or learning about someone else’s interpretations.

    A while back you made mention of a few book projects you would like to do, but that did not have much of an “market” because the interested audience was so small. I’m curious, if you didn’t have to convince a publisher, and were left entirely to your own devices what are some of the book projects you would pursue?

  36. I’ve been following the ADR, Well of Galabes and now Ecosophia for a few years now. I have read a shelf full of your books. I’ve never known you to refer to a large, heavy volume called “Meditations on the Tarot” by an anonymous former follower of Rudolf Steiner, named V.T. I’ve found it to be very “meaty” reading. It’s structure is very much like Eliphas Levi’s “Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic.” In the newer edition, which includes an index, Levi appears extensively. The two books seem almost like companion volumes, both published by Tarcher/Penguin, and of the same physical dimensions. (I have both together on the shelf above my computer just now.) Is there some disapproval/disavowal of V.T. in your silence on this book or its author?

  37. The point about abuse of resources, etc, at the end of a civilisation cycle is being confirmed here: the Romans had an important inland port and market town by a river crossing: the Saxons took it over, the Vikings thought it a fine place to spend the winter, and a Norman castle was built on the site of the Roman fort (on top of a mound built with local forced Saxon labour). Then a university came in the 13th century.

    The end of the Roman period is a bit murky, but now, at what we can assume is the end of our era and in the final phase of rent-seeking hyper-expansion, as much agricultural land as possible is being swallowed up, mostly for housing construction, and throughout the whole county, not just the fringes of town. I now call it the ‘University of Property Speculation’,as it is a major investor in these schemes. Until now it has been a good custodian of the surrounding farmland, the basis of its fortunes for centuries.

    Construction works (to house thousands of Chinese graduate students -they pay well!) have uncovered the site of a substantial Roman industrial site (lots of forges) which simply disappeared in the Dark Ages as the town contracted, and which was completely unsuspected by historians and archaeologists.

    It had simply become farm and woodland after Rome; but with us, acres and acres of poured concrete, which the Romans didn’t and couldn’t do as their Empire fell – sheer destruction of what has been so carefully stewarded.

    Its rather sad to witness, but at the same time fascinating to contemplate these cycles……

  38. I have been reading your blogs for many years and am familiar with your predictions of a gradual stepped catabolic collapse and that this theory is based on your knowledge of the historical trajectory of other civilizations.

    My question is “do you feel that there is any possibility at all that your theory could be overly optimistic”. Is it at all possible that historical events may not serve as a good model for our impending troubles? For example, previous civilizations that went into decline and collapse did not have the majority of their people in mega-conurbations, they did not have the vast majority of their population with zero skills in raising their own food. They did not have the destruction of the extended family unit that we see in the west. They did not have extremely rapid travel and communications in the early stages of the collapse. One can make quite an extended list of all the brittle aspects of our society without trying very hard.

    In other words what are the odds that “it really is different this time” and that a collapse will be quick and hit the bottom without a multi-decade stair step down?

  39. Hi John,

    I have a few questions for you;

    1) how do you see the current state of the oil market (in relation to shale oil, peak oil and peak oil demand) and do you agree with those (for example Peak Prosperity) who are predicting a spike in oil prices by 2020?

    2) Do you think that we are heading towards another economic crisis (as many economists are now saying is likely – https://www.financialsense.com/chris-puplava-why-bull-market-and-economic-expansion-likely-not-over – who are predicting a recession by 2019) and if so, do you think it will be a relatively mild recession or a 2008/09 style depression.

    3) What is your current thoughts on the Trump presidency, in terms of the decline and likely collapse of the American empire. Will Trump, assuming he gets reelected in 2020, act as a Gorbachev figure, ensuring a relatively peaceful transition of power through a deal with the Russian and Chinese leaderships or do you still think there will be a violent Twilight is Coming style ending to the American empire.

    Thanks

    FI

  40. John Michael, do you have any opinion on LED lights? They are all the rage these days. On one hand, they consume almost an order of magnitude less energy than incandescent light bulbs, and even their life-cycle assessment seems promising. On the other hand, the light that they give off is much more different from solar light than it is the case with incandescents.

  41. JMG,

    I agree that those who profit from hosting and distributing content should not have a carte blanche. This is a position I view as indefensible. I know a lot of people take it, and I think the laws as currently written lean heavily in that direction, but it is not my views.

    However, I also think some degree of protection for third party actions is necessary for what is left of the open internet to continue. If running a forum includes having a moderator review every post before it hits the net, because if it has something unsavory you are personally liable, then either the costs of running the forum go up, or the time the moderator puts in goes up, and this is only viable on a relatively small scale, or with an awful lot of money.

    Personally, I think it would’ve been better to have not exempted internet hosting companies in the first place, but since the internet we have grew around such an exemption, changing it will, as well as the positive changes, bring down a large amount of what is left of the open internet.

  42. Re:Yoyo terminology

    Insult-Puns?

    And the second one, Patronization Hiding As Fake Friendliness—PHAFF for short. I admit to using this one from time to time. Like when I was pointing out to a livid anti-Trumper they were being a big help to Trump and ended with “But keep up the good work, sport.” *slightly hangs head in shame*

  43. I’m trying to figure out what to make of spontaneous mental imagery– the kind that appears in the imagination apparently in response to certain conditions. For example:

    Two or three times now, after attending a local church, I’ve had had the image pop into my mind of grotesque beings that look like chewed up balls of meat, hovering in the air, periodically screaming. They don’t appear very harmful or very powerful; all they can do is scream in a way that’s annoying. I don’t see them with my eyes or think about them all the time– it’s just that, for a day or two after visiting this place, I will periodically imagine them. It’s happened more than once.

    Things like this happen in other contexts– sometimes more pleasant images, sometimes equally or more weird ones. They can occur in response to both places or people– for whatever reason, the passenger seat of other peoples’ cars (I don’t own one myself) is often a source of very unpleasant images.

    My strategy so far has been to take the feeling the image produces in me seriously, though not necessarily to take the image itself as “real.”

    Is this the kind of thing you take seriously, as an example of using the imagination as a faculty of perception rather than projection? Is the approach I just described the right way to deal with it? And do you have any thoughts on the instance I described above, the weird screaming meat things from the church?

  44. @Ben: The Ozarks are likely to form a weather shadow that creates oasis-like conditions similar to the way the Appalachians fostered diversity of life forms just south of the great glaciation. Rainy side and shadowed side will have different products to trade. Also, hemp, moonshine and the folk music of the area might be incorporated into worship as aspects of ecstatic fervor. Booze and religion are prominent even in our era on Arkansas billboards—perhaps that zeitgeist will persist. Fiddle-making, an esoteric craft, transmitted by systems of family apprenticeship; also reed and pottery flutes, drums and rattles made from metal salvage bits. Earthquakes in the the New Madrid zone may have created many sweet and salt lakes, along with novel flow patterns in the drainage basin and/or opened up ravines and high bluffs that never were before. Mound-building and mound-built agriculture may be revived, as annual floods renew land fertility and bring fish (especially eels and catfish) into the diet. Fish weirs and fishgut fertilized corn and bean crops may grow in importance. Soybeans and kudzu will run riot all ‘winter’, be harvested as food greens in spring, then die off in summertime and be useful as sturdy basketvines. Hardwood stands planted in the shade of huge earthen mounds may be cultivated and assiduously guarded. Egyptian culture in which desert and river are prominent revered the crocodile and the lion. New Ark may revere the alligator and the Florida panther. Hybrid Haitian hogs and wild boar (razorbacks) may flourish in reedy areas that replace forested areas stricken by drought. Prosciutto pork may be a delicacy. Bamboo-framed coracles may carry cattle and cargo all along the river. Tanning for leather Adobe dwellings and Spanish language drift may be prominent in the urban culture; hard-shelled Baptists may live in the high country. Chert from around Hot Springs will be a coveted trade item, maybe obtainable only by divers or crude submarines if the Louisiana low-lands are inundated by rising seas and the Mississippi delta moves northward. Pigeons originally bred for messenger service may have filled the passenger pigeon niche and become a staple meat. Net making from cotton and bamboo fiber will be of paramount importance in the economy and a primary occupation of boys (if the gender reversal obtains so far). Likewise, hemp and linen cloth will be prized for clothing, sails, and mobile shelters. Darker-skinned persons may thrive better in malarial swampy areas than light-skinned persons due to sickle-cell transmission. Just some ideas that may help world building.

  45. @Ben: (Erratum–posted too soon!)Tanning for leather will be regulated upstream of urban areas. Perhaps allowed to divert river waters, but only if the outflow with the chemical pollution is channelled into a swamp or salt-lake cut off from the river.

  46. Yoyo, JMG,

    I’m partial to shamenaming for the first, and foul familiarity (foulmiliarity?) for the second.

    (Granted, not the most technical of terms.)

  47. JMG
    You have mentioned the ‘higher self’ and a role in life’s choices. Is it essentially the higher self that can make sense of things? Me? I have tried with every work I have undertaken – been given – to make sense of it, even under at times inauspicious conditions. It was not always easy to tell whether it did make sense ‘overall’, but ordinary me, in general, seemed to stay loyal to the faith. But I guess down at my level I did not know always when to let go. And that was just ordinary work, vocation. In other areas of life it has been a lot harder, with some very hard choices. Not always so good.
    I like the idea that somehow the higher self has survived, however hard a time ‘he’ has been given by the low level self stuff. Rueful smile.
    best
    Phil H

  48. Dear JMG,

    In one of your former posts you wrote about Empires having large prison populations.
    Or was it Empires in decline?
    My question: why is that?

    My second question: you and others from the commentariat wrote about the collective Astral Level.
    As far as I understood it, the Astral Level in this time is quite negative and can influence us individually. So much so that a depression might not be our own but triggered from outside?
    What do you recommend as prevention for people who do not practice a magical path?

    Thank you

    Ilona

  49. @Linda: I don’t know where the custom originated, but topping out a building with a tree is a very common custom to this day.

  50. @ Ben: Oil slicks along the Texas coasts will be harvested with mats made of discarded human and animal hair and the oil used for mosquito control during flood season. Salt will be a major industry, as it was for Venice. Salt tax in the cities may support the building of gun-mounted river boats that patrol against piracy and/or religious heterodoxy. Salt-glazed pottery will travel far up river, where fruit brandy and beer country begins. Or even to the Great Lakes.

  51. When I started reading the Archdruid Report seven or eight years ago I was agnostic, verging on being an atheist. After familiarizing myself with your work I slowly and warily dipped my toes into magic. I’d been drawn to western esotericism since I was a small child, but I couldn’t find a way in that made any intellectual sense to me until I encountered your writing (many thanks!). Four years ago I slowly worked my way through your book “Learning Ritual Magic” and it transformed my daily, lived experience. Soon after completing the work in that book I joined a lodge in my area doing Golden Dawn work that is heavily influenced by Paul Foster Case. This has been incredibly rewarding and feels like an appropriate path for my magical development.

    However, about a year ago I started feeling a strong pull back towards the Catholicism of my childhood. I attended Catholic school as a child and rebelled hard. Intellectually I didn’t like that I was being drawn back to the Church, but this is a spiritual pull like I’ve never experienced. Six months ago my wife and I were traveling in Portugal and we had the opportunity to spend two days at Fatima on the anniversary of the Marian apparitions. Since then I’ve incorporated daily rounds of the rosary into my magical practice and have even started attending mass and going to confession. All of these things have felt like coming home no matter how much I didn’t want that to be the case.

    I have a few questions about this and would also appreciate any general thoughts or observations. Some of this pull back to the church feels like it is coming from my ancestors, one recently departed grandfather in particular. My family is Irish Catholic on all sides and it feels as though I’m doing some sort of ancestor work. Does that seem like a possibility to you?

    Also, I’ve been incredibly moved by taking part in Catholic ritual. However, there is a lot about the Church as an institution that I don’t agree with. Do you see any problem with this if my devotion to the ritual I’m participating in is sincere? Most of my experiences have been in relation to the energy of Mary. However, I feel like I’m relating to this energy as a god. I don’t necessarily know what my cosmology is, I know what I feel, and I feel like a polytheist. Still, I feel powerfully moved by engaging in Catholicism. It has brought me a sense of peace that I’ve never experienced before. It has also deepened my Golden Dawn work. Since I’ve started praying the rosary and attending Mass my daily practice of the Middle Pillar has intensified significantly. Do you think that there are any potential problems with continuing along both paths? Thank you for your input, and I’m sorry I was unable to be briefer.

  52. Greetings, JMG, I’m happy to report that my copy of your new translation of Bruno has arrived and I am looking forward to giving it a read.

    I have a few subjects floating around in my head that I thought I might submit for discussion (and/or ridicule as you and my fellow readers/commenters deem appropriate):

    1) The subject of alternative healing methods has come up occasionally on this blog and your previous ones. Do you have any recommended resources (books, websites, whatever) for the study and practice of such?

    2) Do you know of any good works of fiction that provide accurate depictions of real-world magical practices, be they western ceremonial magic or other traditions?

    3) Is the subject of gun rights/gun control in America something you’ve discussed before, or plan to write about in the future? Obviously it’s a major talking point -yet again- in the wake of the recent tragedy in Florida and your blog seems to be one of the few corners of the internet where reasoned, intelligent discussion on controversial political subjects is still a possibility.

    Thanks for any input you might care to give and for providing open posts like this one!

  53. Hello.
    I’ve been reading your book Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth and wanted to know if there were any exchanges of ideas between druid organizations from the west and similar organizations in Slavic countries during its 300 year history. From part one of your book I gather that Druidic traditions are mostly anchored in the folklore and myth of the British Isles and France. Furthermore I’m curious how much you and your readers are familiar with Slavic mythology.

  54. I want to also ask help in naming something I see, and I think you may have already done it.

    What do you call people who are repulsed by the idea of having children of their own, adopted or biological, yet believe they will be able to leave their brain- personality, memories and all – in a computer, for the benefit of future generations?

    I’m thinking “Egotechnist” or something along those lines, but you might have termed this back in the other blog. These folks are so delusional, it feels like it needs a diagnosis more than a term!

  55. @Yoyo: You could call it the Eton slur. P.G. Wodehouse has many of the Drones being given nicknames like “Oofy” Prosser, “Stilton” Cheesewright, and “Catsmeat” Potter-Purbright. Or the juvy lag-slag, implying that the practice stems from the underworld of juvenile detention. The other practice (‘my good friend’) could be dubbed the Cambridge Courtesy, the Oxford Address, or the Harrow Hailfellow. Georgette Heyer in “The Reluctant Widow” has Lord Carlyon tell the heroine to include ‘with my compliments’ in any message she desires to be especially cutting. “You may tell his lordship, with my compliments, that he is welcome to keep his opinions to himself.” So the Carlyon Compliment is another possibility.

  56. How do you think antibiotics will fair in a post industrial society? We found all the easy ones and are abusing them. I can’t imagine us finding more if bacteria becomes resistant to them. Researching new antibiotics after the descent I imagine would be near impossible. It’s like antibiotics could have been with us for eons if only we used them wisely.

  57. This is an interesting tidbit I picked up from an old friend. His son is in the US Military. He says that we could not fight a war now since there is no ammo, no replacement parts for equipment, few machines work and the ones that do only work since other machine have been cannibalized for parts.

    He is a conservative and attributed to underfunding during the Obama admin. I attributed it to imperial overreach coupled with military inefficiency.

  58. I’ve recently read Gene Wolfe’s Latro in the Mist. It was really quite good, very well written, and I think it illustrates (very vividly I’d add) some of the aspects you were mentioning in previous posts, especially the December posts, about the relationship of nature spirits and the living word. It gives me the sense more than any other book I’ve read that’s how the ancient Greeks related to their religion. Gaea and Demeter, by the way, make repeated appearances as well as the Eleusinian Mysteries.

    As I was reading it, it occurred to me that Gene Wolfe and Isaac Asimov are on the extreme ends of a spectrum. And on a number of different points. There is the philosophical approach, where Wolfe’s world is “alive” and there are natural spirits and gods interacting with the world and Latro while many of Asimov’s worlds (especially the Foundation universe) are almost entirely and deeply human. There is the writing style too. Asimov cultivated a beautiful simplicity and sparseness of writing. Wolfe packs a lot of details in his descriptions that you can go back to and uncover new meanings. It was interesting to me to ponder this diversity of writing and worlds.

  59. I just finished reading After Progress and the idea of civic religion bumped an idea I have held about the SCA for a very long time and I wonder if you have enough experience with the SCA to comment. If you do, then here goes, if not then maybe others would care to comment:

    I have long held that the SCA is a cult based on my experiences over 20 years in the SCA and observations related to me by intelligent outsiders. When I have tried to talk about my ideas with other SCA members, they universally blow me off with a laugh and tell me “no, it isn’t”, or “you are being too harsh”. Perhaps I have cut too close to the bone for their comfort, but I have given up trying to talk about this with members because they won’t take me seriously. Then I read your idea about civic religion and wondered if it would be a better fit. What do you think?

    Thanks much for your time and consideration.

  60. @Yoyo: To avoid slamming Brit public schools, how about the “Nasty Nick”, the “Bullyprick(le)”, the Schlock-Mock, Dreck-Peck, tail-twisting, nose-pinching, name-noodling, or snot-smearing. For the other put-down, try the “Snob Snub”, or the “Upperclass Cut”.

  61. JMG: Your comment “As for the sages of today, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear; if you don’t see sages all around you, keep working on yourself. ” rang a loud, clear bell with me. I’ve noticed over the decades that certain qualities disappear from public view in certain decades, and the young people comping up complain about it when they’re old enough to start noticing. Old folks have been known to do the opposite, i.e. “Where were all you when I was growing up and needed you?”*

    I long ago came to a simple conclusion: “If, say, civility and good manners are/were lacking in the world you’re growing up into, then you know what the mission of you and your contemporaries is. To bring these qualities back.”

    I have not seen it to fail once in the past 70+ years. I noticed, for example, that volunteering and such became very big on campus – and *popular* as the Millennials were turning college age. And the news stories occasionally note, sometimes with alarm, that their successors have an ‘unprecedented’** low rate teenage pregnancies, alcohol use, hard drug use, and appear to livelier people to be young for their age and ominously passive. Uh…. been there, done that, 70 years ago. Once those stories came out, I started expecting to see flocks of well-dressed and polite teenagers putting on non-violent demonstrations to clean up a civic mess their elders had somehow overlooked or let slip by them. And actually staring a movement for change.

    Enter the Parkland students, center stage.

    *Marion Zimmer Bradley, still bitter because “Where were the feminists when I was growing up?” My opinion, expressed above, angered her, because (from memory and paraphrased) “we shouldn’t have had to reinvent it.”)

    **And – the roaring 20s succeeded a stage of incredible gentility and purity, among the upper and middle classes, at least. They’re the ones who wrote the memoirs. Along with “We were betrayed by our elders in a war we could not win, because those who led us were arrogant fools. Down with the whole rotten thing!” Oh, the echoes there!

    As one of the chants of my own faith goes “Everything old is new again, …”in the same way, in a different way…”

  62. And thanks for your comment on street crime? I’m on a list called NextDoor, covering Nob Hill Southwest (250 people – relatively easy walking size) and it’s surrounding neighborhoods, and it seems like,crime, crime, crime all the time time, time. And “suspicious person seen”….. walking in the alley, looking into yards, ringing doorbells, etc…. of course, we are less than half a mile from Central Avenue. But it’s gotten so that when I do go walking, I tell the list it was me. Sometimes a little sarcastically.

  63. In your response to Karl’s comment you said that ultralight aircraft will be the warbirds of the future. I think the aircraft we had during World War II are a better approximation, specifically the P-40 Warhawk, P-51, Spitfire and Mosquito. The mosquito has the virtue of that it is built out of wood – And the P-51/P40 are made out of aluminum. Given that there will be vast ruins to salvage, lots of aluminum cans etc, from I think these are a the warbirds of the future. At first, World War I had ultralight aircraft but these quickly gave way to full fledged fighters. The Warbirds of World War II in my opinion are the pinnacle of that fighter technology; more importantly they can be mass produced cheaply. The fuel constraints of a deindustrial age will severely hamper their abilities but I have a feeling they’ll be around in some form. Also to the blueprints to these designs are readily available and can be built in a garage. Fuel is the only question in my mind. They would still be excellent deterrents in a defensive role, rather than long range escort.

  64. JMG,
    A couple of books showed up to day – Chambers’ “The King in Yellow” and and “The Slide Rule” from 1942. Those and the Stoics should keep me occupied.

    A small question. Does Owen have a back story as Jenny and the narrator of ‘Shadow Over Innsmouth’? Yes, No, He hasn’t told me, All of the above. 🙂

  65. @Yoyo: The hits just keep on coming: The Harvard Howdy, the Yale Yoo-hoo, the Browne Rub, or, to invidiously indict my own alma mater, the St. Johnnie Smile.

  66. Harkening back to last week’s conversation where it touched on education, this just crossed my computer screen: “Until now, your income that paid for public schools (via state and local taxes) wasn’t taxed by the Federal government. GOP bill ends that. Instead, they’re now creating a tax break for *private* school tuition. The GOP is, in effect, defunding public schools to fund private schools. This is a straight-up war on public education.”

    Now while I can’t imagine that deep thought has gone into this process beyond “how can I further enrich my cronies,” what are your thoughts that this might be an end-run around the problems currently facing public “schools?” (that is, daily incarceration for minors not convicted of any crimes… yes, I homeschool; why do you ask?)

  67. John, I think the weaponry of America circa 2500 AD might well resemble the weapons of the American Civil War- or at least somewhere between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The muskets in use in the 1770s were smoothbore muskets- the weapon of the civil war was a rifle. The reason for this being the invention of the Minie Ball, a bullet-shaped piece of lead that expanded in the barrel when the gun fired to engage with the rifling. It’s not that the Revolutionaries didn’t have rifles -they did- but since they used round lead musket balls, it took a lot of extra care and time to load a rifled gun- and so they used inaccurate fast loading muskets- which encouraged massed rank tactics. It is no more difficult to make a Minie Ball than a musket ball- they are both just moulded pieces of lead. In fact, if our descendants find that fulminated mercury easy enough- and economic enough- to make, then they’ll have revolvers and various simple breech loading guns as well. Even if they do not, a flintlock rifle instead of a flintlock musket in the hand of every infantry man will bust up the cavalry even worse. No army bother to train men to aim with a musket, since there’s no point. Once rifles came into general use they started to emphasise marksmanship. What will this look like on the battlefield? I have no idea. The generals of the Civil War used tactics and formations designed for massed fire of muskets, and when rifles were substituted, death multiplied. Although more men died of disease than of battlefield wounds in the Civil War, the margin between the two was smaller than in earlier wars. With a remembrance of effective medicine and a deadly long arm in every hand, future war might not look too high tech to us today, but it’ll be far too deadly all the same.

  68. To samurai_47
    I found the Qabalistic Tarot by Robert Wang quite helpful for vastly expanding the scope of the Tarot. Few ever grasp that all the fortune telling and such is just a side effect of what the cards really are. I have used lots of decks over the years, my current favorite being the Shadowscapes deck and books by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

  69. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for your reply concerning narrative as it confirms what I already believed. The thing is, I was wondering whether you had contemplated whether the tool of narrative is subject to diminishing returns? I’m pondering this issue at the moment as I have to deal with this issue in the real world as part of my professional capacity and I do notice that as the reach of a narrative narrows, the effectiveness of the newly inserted narrative increases – but not always so. It sure is one complex tool. :-)!

    And some people have internal narratives that are fixed regardless as to whether those narratives fit well with the world that they actually experience. I find that circumstance to be quite disturbing.

    I’m really curious as to your opinions on this matter.

    Cheers

    Chris

  70. Hi JMG,

    I tried to come up with a fun play on words for spring as a lead in to my question… and failed. Hope everyone enjoys a clip below from Emily Dickinson. What are you planting in your garden this year?

    A Light exists in Spring
    Not present on the Year
    At any other period –
    When March is scarcely here

    A Color stands abroad
    On Solitary Fields
    That Science cannot overtake
    But Human Nature feels.

  71. Individuals looking to learn something about 18th century technology might consider spending some time at Fort Boonesborough (Kentucky). There, you will find blacksmiths making implements, people tanning hides, weaving, spinning, making soap, and even making 18th century firearms. As I recall, there were classes available for people who want to learn to actually do these things, though that may have changed in the nearly two decades since I visited the place.

  72. JMG I have two questions this month. The first is what would be a good book or books to learn about faeries. The posts about nature spirits a while back got me thinking and I realized I don’t know anything about them. My second question is unrelated. The American republic and empire are in decline. Worldwide industrial civilization is in decline. Are these two things the same decline or are they two declines happening more or less together. Thanks alot

  73. Hi JMG,

    I have recently stumbled onto the life story of Viktor Schauberger and have read a fairly comprehensive book on his work and theories. A brilliant visionary whose work was not appreciated in his time. I would be very interested to know your thoughts about his work if you are familiar with him.

  74. Dear JMG,

    I would just like to thank you for having this site. I look forward to your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts each week. It was a little hard for me when you took that month of last year. And especially your comment section. I don’t see the comments you don’t put through, so I don’t how much of it is the caliber of your readers, or the effectiveness of your moderation, but I’m sure it’s some of both.

    I’m frankly dismayed how comments on most web sites on ANY topic quickly dissolve into name calling and personal insults like we’re a bunch of children. Sometimes I’m so frustrated and about to pull my hair out, and then I remember there’s your site. Coming here is like entering a whole new world. Thoughtful and courteous. Adults! Talking about things that matter! I always feel a whole lot better right away.

    So, thank you for what you are doing. I have learned a lot from you, and you have shown a lot of avenues that I’m interested in exploring. I look forward to your new posts and books and I’m going to go find the tip jar.

    Thank you so much! Cheers.

  75. ” Until now, your income that paid for public schools (via state and local taxes) wasn’t taxed by the Federal government. ”

    huh? My state (Washington) has no income tax, and I don’t itemize. My sales taxes and property taxes together are far below the old standard deduction, and even farther below the new one. So much to my surprise, I actually am getting a tax cut out of this deal. But to your point, the tax revenue going to public schools is not affected at all by the Federal tax bill. The local legislature’s activities are a different matter. This year’s property tax bill hasn’t arrived yet.

  76. Would like to chime into the conversation, don’t really have any question, but maybe some info that might be helpful. I am finding that thing that I must do now (am already growing food, know wild plants and herbs and all that) is take action in the search for Self-Realization in this lifetime. And finding much more progress now than I have in the past, and obv not there yet, but this is what is on my mind right now. BTW, for anybody getting into meditation, or anybody who has been doing it for a while and not making progress, The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa (John Yates Ph.D) is amazing! He’s a neuroscientist with over 4 decades of meditation experience in Theravada and Tibeten lineages and has written a clear guide that balances concentration and insight by building attention and awareness together.

    @reloaded & JMG – respectfully I would like to say that according to actual Enlightened people (and while maybe you think they should shut up, historically there have been many genuine Teachers who have not hidden their attainments while also not hitting people over the head with them or abusing their position- The Buddha, Nisargadatta, Ramana Maharshi, etc etc) it is going BEYOND the Individuality! According to Richard Rose “Beyond the Mind is a Golden Find”

    @ryan check out spiritualteachers.org

  77. Corydalidae, agreed — composting toilets solve two major problems everyone’s going to face in a setting of decline: first, what are we going to do with our bodily wastes when the sewage infrastructure shuts down? Second, what are we going to do for fertilizer when the industrial sources go away? The more people who learn how to make and use those now, the better.

    Samurai, yep. Learning the Tarot is like having a love affair; sex manuals may be useful for occasional inspiration, but most of what builds the relationship is close attention to the other person’s needs, wants, and words. As for books — hmm. That’s not something I’ve thought much about, since in the real world I have to pay my rent et al., and I also find that I can find a market for just about anything I want to write. I’ll brood over it and see if anything comes to mind.

    Phutatorius, no, not at all. I don’t happen to be into Valentin Tomberg (the author of Meditations on the Tarot, but that’s no lack of respect for the guy; he’s Christian and I’m not, he’s heavily influenced by Anthroposophy and I’m not, and the main focus of my occult work goes in directions very far from his. I understand from people who’ve worked with his teachings, though, that he’s an extremely good writer to study if his sort of thing is your cup of tea.

    Xabier, not to worry — a century or two from now, people will laboriously hack the concrete into big chunks and use them to build a city wall to keep out armed raiders, just as their distant ancestors did…

    Cynic, you’ll be interested to know that I field just as many comments from people who ask whether I think there’s any chance that my prediction could be too pessimistic. I find that when I line up all the downsides of modernity you and other people on your side of the line list, and then pair them with all the upsides the other side lists, the two basically cancel each other out. Furthermore, predictions based on my slow-decline model have by and large turned out to be quite accurate, while predictions based either on a fast-collapse model or a perpetual-progress model have consistently failed to yield accurate predictions. Thus I consider my model to be superior either to fast-collapse or no-collapse models.

    Forecastingintelligence, I don’t try to time markets. Sooner or later declines in production will catch up to the oil industry and drive another price spike, just as sooner or later the imbalances in the industrial economy will cause another round of economic crises. When? Nobody knows. As for Trump; it’s frankly too early to say; too much depends on the outcome of the various power struggles going on in DC right now.

    Rationalist, I don’t particularly like the quality of the light they produce, but I have yet to encounter a light bulb I like. They certainly save electricity.

    Will, the thing is, the open internet as we know it only survives because corporate advertisers and tech companies plow fantastic sums of money into propping it up. That’s already starting to come apart at the seams, and as it comes apart, most of the open internet is doomed anyway. That being the case, we might as well get some accountability and responsibility in place.

    Steve, as with all spontaneous imagery, it may come from you, it may come from the astral environment, and it may be a blend of the two. What denomination is the church?

    Phil, the higher self learns from the lower self’s mistakes and suffering as well as from its successes. It always survives; it’s the part of you that will still exist when your body is dead and your personality dissolves back into stray astral energies.

    Ilona, the thing about empires was an offhand comment based on the behavior of the British and American empires. Britain had so many convicts it had to fill Australia with them; the US prison system could probably fill Australia all over again. I’m not sure why that is, but it seems to be a pattern. As for dealing with the lower astral, your choices are basically magic, on the one hand, and religion on the other; those are the two standard ways of dealing with the nonphysical. I don’t know of a third that works reliably.

    Kevin, I wonder if you might want to consider looking into the independent sacramental churches — churches that work the same sacraments as the Catholic church, but don’t have the same institutional problems. There are quite a few of them out there, here’s a database, and here’s a brief introduction. Most independent sacramental churches are fine with communicants practicing Golden Dawn magic and the like, while the Roman church isn’t. More broadly, your sincerity of intention isn’t necessarily a safeguard if you’re dealing with an organization with a tainted sphere…

    James, (1) it’s been almost forty years now since I last looked at basic works on alternative healing. If anyone else has something to suggest, I’m all ears. (2) The novels of Dion Fortune are very good along these lines. (3) No, I wasn’t planning on stepping into that particular snake pit!

    Boštjan, I know of one such connection — the head of one of the major British Druid orders started out as a Druid initiate, became a pupil of the Bulgarian spiritual teacher Beinsa Douno, and then returned to Druidry. There may well have been others. I don’t know a great deal about Slavic mythology, and would like to learn more — do you know of any good resources on the subject in English or French?

    Denys, I rather like “egotechnist.” I’m certainly in favor of such people not having children — can you imagine how badly they’d be likely to treat any children they did have?

    Austin, the antibiotic age is ending. There are other effective antibacterials available, but they’re not anything like as cheap, fast, and effective as the antibiotics we’ve abused so drastically, and so future generations will have to struggle with infectious diseases we can ignore today.

    Mike, fascinating. I expected that further down the road; if we’ve already gotten that far, crunch time could be very, very close.

    easternRoman, fascinating. I haven’t read that Wolfe novel, though I greatly enjoyed The Shadow of the Torturer and its sequels.

    Kay, fascinating. You seem to be suggesting the invention of a new category, the secular cult, which relates to religious cults the way secular religions relate to theistic religions. That strikes me as a very useful category indeed.

    Patricia M., works for me. As for crime, maybe things are just really bad in your area or something.

    Austin, I expect to see those further down the road, once dark age city-states begin to coalesce into nations that have a reasonably large resource base. The era of ultralights will be the period when a few hundred soldiers counts as a significant military force — that is to say, in the depths of the deindustrial dark ages. Later on, sure, larger and more stable aircraft will likely come back into use.

    Coop Janitor, enjoy your reading! As for Owen, not really; the glimpses of his past you see in The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth are pretty representative. His parents died in a car crash when he was seven, he bounced from foster home to foster home until he graduated from high school, and then went into the Army and served in Iraq. When he got out of the Army he used GI Bill benefits to go to college, and that brings him up to the opening of the novel. Unlike Jenny, or for that matter Laura, he’s entirely human.

    Michelle, I’m pretty sure the US public school system is facing collapse in the next few decades. The question is purely what will replace it. Yes, the current proposal is partly a way to do an end run around a failed but politically influential institution — though it’s also a way for the GOP to punish the very Democratic teacher’s unions.

    Thepublicpast, the reason I didn’t cite the Civil War is that railroads, early machine guns, factory-manufactured weapons, and very effective artillery were all significant factors in that war, and I don’t expect any of those to be a significant factor again until the dark ages are over and nation-states of significant size began to coalesce. You’re right that something much closer to Minie balls will likely be used, and cartridges are a real possibility; it’s the other aspects of war circa 1863 that won’t be present.

    Chris, it certainly can be, especially if narrative is used all by itself in the teeth of a rising tide of opposing evidence!

    Bill, thank you. I don’t have a garden this year — our move to Rhode Island put us in an apartment without gardening privileges, and until my wife’s health improves, I have too much on my plate to add a patch at a local community garden to my other responsibilities. I make up for it by buying from the local farmer’s market in season.

    Will, I tend to favor that old classic The Secret Commonwealth by the Rev. Robert Kirk, and The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W.Y. Evans-Wentz. As for your second question, it’s two different declines that happen to be under way at the same time.

    Eric, I haven’t read much about him; he seems to have combined some really brilliant insights on some subjects with some fairly wacky ideas on others, but that’s a judgment based on very limited knowledge.

  78. Adam, you’re welcome and thank you! I intensely dislike the kind of infantile screech-fest that fills so much of the internet, so decided to try something else; it delights me that so many people have joined that experiment.

    Reese, a brilliant writer but not really my cup of tea, though I did rather like the Gods of Pegana.

    Isaac, Buddhist theory says that there is no eternal abiding self; western occult theory says that there is. Who’s right? The only way to find out is to attain enlightenment, so we can all agree to keep meditating and settle the matter that way. 😉

  79. JMG,

    What do you make of the South African forcible land redistribution/appropriation? Should it be expected that similar trends might occur in US populations that have become unbalanced due to mass migration (as in California) or poor handling (as in Baltimore and Detroit)? What can be done to mitigate or avoid more Rhodesia-like situations as the US retreats from its position as global hegemon?

  80. My guess is that if the ecotechnic societies envisioned here and on Ye Olde Blog come to pass, the level of military technology will be more like the American Civil War (ACW). As someone pointed out, Minie balls are not that hard to make and greatly improve the effectiveness and loading speed of muzzle loading rifles. We might also have breech loaders comparable to the Colt and Spencer repeating rifles of mid 19th century fame. I’ve seen documentaries about the gunsmiths of Pakistan, who are able to make everything from replicas of 18th century jezzails to AK-47’s with basic tools. Modern metal cartridges will be much more difficult to make without mass production industrial technologies, so our descendants might well have to make do with ACW style paper cartridges instead, which in turn might make most magazine rifles impractical, with the likely exception of Colt style revolver rifles. We know that early six-shooters often used paper cartridges. Perhaps cardboard cartridges coated with lacquer for stiffness and waterproofing could be used as a substitute for metal ones. If automatic weapons exist, they will be more like 19th century Gatling guns and Nordenfelts than modern machine guns and assault rifles.

    The aircraft will probably be like World War I aircraft, with a mixture of ultra lights and biplanes and using alcohol for fuel. We will probably see radios and biodiesel fueled trucks used as well. If you can make alcohol fueled ultra lights, you can make light trucks and biodiesel. Alongside their dragoon and cavalry regiments, ecotechnic armies might have a few truck borne motorized rifle battalions, as well as a few regiments of bicycle dragoons, like the ones the Germans used so effectively during Operation Albion and the Japanese used to even greater effect during the conquest of Southeast Asia in the winter of 1941-42. I’ve seen old photos of Swiss soldiers using bicycles to tow anti-tank guns, so if bicycles remain a practical technology, they could be very useful to the armies of the future.

    I would imagine naval and maritime technology will resemble that of the mid 19th century, with sailing ships being the dominant type. Ships will be built from wood, iron or steel, depending on what is available to the shipbuilders in a given area and time period. In such a scenario, steam and diesel powered vessels will mainly be used for specialized roles, such as tugs, gunboats and dedicated warships. The biggest constraint will be availability of fuel. That will restrict the use of technologies like aircraft, trucks and engine powered ships in an post-industrial civilization. As a result, ecotechnic wars might well be fought with a strange amalgam of early 19th century, American Civil War and World War I technology.

  81. @Yoyo: The Cholmondleigh (pronounced ‘chumly’) Freeze, the Backslap Stab, the Stoop2Conquer, the Turkey Treat, the Like Superior, The Gracious Pooh.

  82. @Darkest Yorkshire
    1) I considered myself a socialist for many years, and also an anarchist for a bit.
    2) Got to The Archdruid Report probably going on about a decade ago now, via Naked Capitalism.
    3) Little if any.
    Why do you ask, out of curiosity?
    Cheers!

  83. JMG,
    1. Can you explain the lore behind Hu, Sul, Hesus, and Elen or point me to a good source? I’ve been addressing them in my SoP ritual but would like to be better acquainted
    2. Does the lunar current have anything to do with the moon? Does the moon play a direct role in Druid practice?

    I think that second question has been explained, but I’m just checking.

    You’re a champion and a scholar and I thank you for this work that you do. It’s a source of sanity for me and I’m sure many others.

  84. @Rationalist
    Re LED lights: I too have considered LED lights and use them in certain applications. I personally do not like the quality of LED light if used for reading, general lighting and especially not for car headlights. LED light is great for flashlights (called “torches” in the UK, OZ and New Zealand), bike lights, and other uses where a strong concentrated beam is needed. Yes, I know that some LED lights are now made to emit a less blue and more mellow yellow quality of light…

    LED’s are energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs in terms of running costs, but one must also take into account the “driver” part of the light if the LED is used in an AC system like that of most homes and businesses. This is because LED’s use direct current “DC”, NOT alternating current “AC” or “mains power”. Typically each individual LED element runs on 1.5V DC. (All LED lights are made up of many individual LED “light emitting diodes” stacked together in an array).

    In practice then, each LED “light bulb” which replaces an old style incandescent bulb in an AC (mains power) situation has in its base an electronic converter which drops the 240 or 110 AC voltage to 1.5V AND converts it into DC current. If you are talking about LED’s running on batteries (DC current) like emergency lights, torches, and bike lights, then there is no need for the converter.

    Yes, the individual LED’s last for 1000’s of hours, but the electronic converter may not last that long AND the converter is made, in part, of rare materials and embodies much more energy to make than your typical incandescent light bulb. Energy use must encompass the whole picture: energy to run the light plus energy embedded in the making of the light and the mining of the materials used, etc.

    I am personally not looking forward to the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, and I am buying them cheap from recycle shops for future use in my house here in New Zealand.

  85. It was at PJMedia, I think, that I saw the argument laid out that the US is in a Cold Civil War-that is, that neither political party’s partisans accept the legitimacy of the other’s election wins. Noted were Birthers, Russian Interference, Illegal Voters, Dead Voters, Popular Vote, and so on.

    Now, I’m fairly young in political terms-I remember Pres. Clinton’s term of office (didn’t all teens? The things NPR taught us!) but not the election hoopla. Pres. G. W. Bush, I remember a lot of fuss about Florida and courts and Electoral College . . . but it died down, I think, even before 9/11. Pres. Obama’s out of office and people are still saying he wasn’t really President because he wasn’t eligible. Now different people are saying that Pres. Trump isn’t really President for different reasons.

    Has it always been thus? Is this a new thing? Or is this an usual feature of crisis times in the USA, and thus a sometimes precursor of a hot civil war and sometimes faded memory as the nation resolves the crisis peaceably and moves on?

  86. re:weapons

    Post industrial doesn’t mean no factories or all tech is lost. It means more expensive resources and materials . The basics required for a modern firearm are metal and wood basically and this would allow anything up to a modern assault rifle like an early AR15 or Mini 14 in theory at least

    cannons are medieval technology and knce metallurgy is understood really powerful guns can be mad with some risk. They won’t be as good as they won’t have an easy means of checking quality but artillery will be very important and we may see guns that are basically the same as we have now only less safe and accrate

    This will make mass formations unlikely

    Smokeless powder can be made with pre industrial tools if the knowledge is there, It was invented in 1886 and primers well before that (1840’s) future weapons certainly won’t be plastic or polymer but could very well be bolt action rifles , semi auto pistols and occasional support machine-guns the later being expensive to operate as ammo will be pricey . If ammo is sketchy revolvers may make a big comeback and so tech might look like WW1 with a smidgen of later stuff

    Figure a cost of 50o cents a round and wages of $5 a week for a poor man, $20 for someone better off (using 1870 assumptions) it might be a bit more but at those prices ammo will be expensive and the millions of rounds spent in modern warfare won’t be acceptable

    It will be much like the British army of the 19th century or the US of the same period reluctant to have repeaters since ammo is too expensive

    This means no knights and less horse calvary than you might think since horses are highly vulnerable to riflke fire.

    Now re: offending a God. Its also acceptable to pray to them and apologize openly and politely ask what they want , I’ve had similar experiences though not with a God I’ve had issues with and sometimes the direct way is the best way . Trust your gut on what to do and if in doubt I’d follow our hosts advice

    Now re: the fae.

    I found Katherine Bridges Dictionary of Faeries to be top notch. Modern lore about how to deal with them is thin on the ground and most of the Llewellyn books are aimed at the Fluffy Bunny Wicca crowd. I won;t say outright terrible but not really useful either

    lastly Marion Zimmer Bradly

    You may wish to read her daughters Moira Greyland’s book The Last Closet, whatever bad stuff happened to MZB did not stop with her and if a fraction of what is written is true, Bradley should have lost custody of her child or very possibly have been lined up against the wall and shot along with her convicted child molester husband Walther Breen As much as I love Bradley’s work as an editor on the Sword and Sorceress anthology its quite possible she was a complete monster

  87. Austin, antibiotic resistance is costly for an organism to carry around. When antibiotics and their careless use no longer tilt the bacterial gene pool in favor of the resistance trait, it can be expected to fade away, and in time, some antibiotics will regain their utility. All bets are off for Streptococcus. It’s frightening how smart some of those little devils are, to the point of passing notes to one another via plasmids.

    It’s worth noting that soil is historically a fertile place to discover previously unknown antibiotics…

  88. JMG:

    Your Geomantic Tree of Life diagram is verily mighty. lol. Thanks senpai! Those undotted first two paths (1-2) and (1-3) that you described by Generations are sagacious clues.

    You have good Latin. Do you think I would err if I used the Latin infinitive posse as a tool for contemplating that principle often symbolized by Sphere 3 in a Tree of Life Diagram?

    One of these days I would like you to consider blogging about those concepts sometimes referred to using the terms materia prima and materia secunda.

    From Parts Unknown,

    Saturn’s Pet

  89. Hello, Kay Robison,

    I enjoy costume parties so I went to an SCA open recruitment/try us out type meeting once. They do a LOT of camping so I knew it wasn’t for me. I’m curious. What’s cultish about them?

    I’ve been interested in cults ever since a relative was in the Herbert W./Garner Ted Armstrong cult for a while (fortunately they kicked him out when he was unable to pay their 30%-of-gross-income extortion—I mean, tithe).

  90. I also give John a 👍🏻 for the way he handles the comment section. I can think of a couple of sites whose comment sections fell victim to Gresham’s Law.

  91. JMG, you had once written on the Archdruid Report that Oswald Spengler didn’t get India. What did you mean by that / what was it that Oswald Spengler didn’t understand about India?

    Futhermore, I have made an observation about the Internet. At different Google searchs it occurred to me that the search results increasingly yield only one opinion about this or that subject. This is one of the several factors which seem to make the Internet less and less interesting long before the Internet itself goes away or becomes inaccessible due to ther factors. And the increased rivalry between the power blocs of the world may result in the fragmenting of the internet because of the spread of censorship against unwanted ideas.

  92. Hi JMG,

    Just to let you know, your posts over recent months have persuaded me to sign up for the OBOD Bardic course. I should get my first Gwers in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to it very much.

    Also, I have a question. I’m currently reading “Sky Shamans of Mongolia” by Kevin Turner. He’s from the Michael Hanson school of shamanism, which I know you don’t have much time for. Nevertheless, this appears to be a genuine attempt to explore Mongolian shamanism.

    Some of what I’ve read so far indicates close parallels between the cosmology of the Mongolian shamanism (particularly the Buriat tribes of Transbaikal) and that of Druidry. More than that, some of the material he’s included has given me huge insights into the meaning of Preiddeu Annwfn – insights I’m going to have to contemplate deeply for some time to come. The topic of pan-Eurasian cultural continuity (extending to the Salish etc in the Americas) is something you and I have already discussed, of course, but are you aware of anyone who’s carried out investigations into this?

    Many thanks!

    Bogatyr

  93. I know some reflective people here know are familiar with Barry Crimmins so I’m just leaving a few words to honor him. Thanks , in advance.
    . A doggedly thoughtful & wickedly funny sage, the political satirist & anti-war stalwart Barry Crimmins , died late last night @ Syracuse, New York . Besides being a tireless thorn in the side of the empire he was born into, Crimmins , a powerfully imposing bear ( hugger ) of a man raised in Skaneateles , New York , had a heart bigger than Pennsylvania & Ohio put together. He survived his childhood by placing his faith in Mickey Mantle & Yogi Berra ( joyously picking them out thru the hiss of late-night radio static ; instantly recognizing them as trustworthy adults ) and then later as a young man and careful student of Mark Twain, he freely embarked on an even rougher road as a ‘volunteer’ in service to the rest of us , inspired as much by Harriet Tubman & Lenny Bruce as his life-long hero Twain. Barry always figured he could “smuggle some content “ in while we laughed . To those shocked partisans who reliably rose to their feet screaming that old chestnut at Barry in some ‘Comedy Club’ next to the Holiday Inn , ” Hey , If you hate this country so much, why don’t you leave it ?…” Barry would bellow, “ Because I don’t want to be subjected to its foreign policy ! …”
    I first met him on a picket line he was visiting, the sort of improvised unpaid, ‘USO tour’ Barry frequently invented as he loyally roamed the rust-belt in between coastal gigs, keeping his eye peeled for the damage done in and out of this country the past 40 years as regular people were being hammered. From Indiana to Central America… Barry Crimmins patrolled his beat. He ’made the road by walking..’ as they say . Really, he LUNGED every step of it. Comforting us in the cottages, afflicting them in the palaces… Thank you so much, Barry. I remain astonished, but I’m sobbing. -John Joslin ( Detroit ,Michigan-South of the Canadian borderline ) electrician IBEW Local union # 58

  94. Dear JMG,
    thank you again for your work! Also thanks to all people who comment here, I learn a lot from the comments also.

    I seem to miss magic mondays as well – I´d like to know if the Tarot and the Geomancy Divination can be used alongside each other?

    Somehow the Geomancy does not yet “speak” to me in as much colour as the Tarot does. So I feel compelled to do a Tarotreading (basically pulling one to three cards on a given subject) if I want a more emotional answer.

    I wonder, because you´ve written elsewhere that mingling systems (e.g. Qui Gong with Golden Dawn practices IIRC) is a bad idea, because other fundaments are laid down that can be contradictory/ unhealthy for the practitioner.

  95. Since this is an open post, I’d like to relay yet another experience, one from just this morning. I was listening to the Nice Polite Republicans and witnessed a brief conversation that illustrated how apt that description is — the commentators were discussing Putin’s recent State of the Nation speech in which he apparently made very strong statements about Russia’s military capabilities with respect to American missile defenses. One commentator stated, “We have not seen this direct a challenge to the US world order in some time.” He immediately corrected himself to “US-led world order,” but the point was made. I laughed out loud at how telling that slip was. (But we’re “not an empire,” of course…sigh.)

  96. Hi JMG,

    Do not pull out the keisaku on me, but are you aware of any books or essays that elaborate on the occult concept of “enlightenment.” I am not a fan of THAT word, it has been so misused in the West recently. Please?

    Thank you

    Mac

  97. Thanks for everyone’s input! In the first instance, I especially like gkb’s “name-noodling”, so how about…
    “name-noodle” (verb): to alter a name’s spelling with intent to insult or smear.
    Can also be a noun or adjective. “The infamous name-noodler, X, name-noodled his way to the presidency of The Name-Noodling Association of Saskatchistan.”

    In the second instance, Brigyn’s “foul familiarity” and gkb’s “snob snub” cover most of the territory. Could we come up with a combining form?

  98. Hello dear John, I have two questions:

    – I’ve recently come into contact with Vipassana meditation technique (no verbalization nor visualisation involved, just focusing on the different parts of the body and not reacting to whatever sensation you experience, pleasant or unpleasant). I think this practice is having good results in me, so I’m planning of going on with it; the problem is that I’d also like to continue learning magic with your book Learning Ritual Magic. Do you think it is safe to continue practicing both?

    – You have said many times that one of the most reliable things we can say about civilisations is that they fall. While we have several clear examples of this (western Roman empire, New World civilisations, Mycenaean Greece, etc.) I feel that mainly in the eastern part of Eurasia the case is not so clear. At least, the falls don’t look so deep, or it could be because these falls have been less studied. For example, I’m reading right now about India in the mid-first millennium CE and yes, there is a decline in urbanism, trade and standards of living in parts of the subcontinent, but I don’t have that feeling of reading about the end of the end of a civilisation. The same happens when I read about Chinese history. So, can you recommend me some good books about the falls of civilisations in India (apart from Hindus valley civ.) and China?

  99. yoyo,

    For the making name into insult, my first thought was “ad homonym”. It obviously doesn’t fit the literal definition, but I rather like it. Perhaps I can use it elsewhere…

    Corydalidae,

    I know people up north who use a composting toilet. I’ll have to check back with them to see what they have to say about how it works with the freezing winters.

    Steve,

    I’ve had similar mental images in response to a Catholic Church. I wonder if it’s more widespread than just us….

    Mike,

    I’ve heard similar things from people I know in the Canadian military, but about NATO in general. I think crunch time is quite close indeed.

    JMG,

    My knee jerk reaction was to think of trying to preserve what’s left of the open internet, but that is a fight I know will end in defeat. There is still a little bit that makes the internet worth while, but I don’t see much of it lasting too much longer. I’m just surprised how quickly it fell apart…

    Another thought is that the protection from liability may very well have been a stealth subsidy that helped the internet grow to the absurd size it reached.

  100. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but a gun is not a magic wand. It’s just a tool like a shovel that has inputs and outputs, limits and uses.

    What I mean is, you can’t have Sam Colt “equalizing” men without mass-machining, mass standardized production of chemicals, mass transport delivery, and much more. A “gun” as we know it today is a highly technical clock-fine machine milled from perfectly standardized metal on million-dollar machines to tolerances in thousandths. The bullets are machined to the same thousandths of the same metal rolled in billion dollar factories behind billion dollar mines, and are filled with perfectly standardized smokeless nitroglycerine compounds, more exact than cosmetic manufacturers, again made in million-dollar factories. In fact, you can’t have cartridges until you have perfectly standardized casings and powder, which is why they weren’t in use until after the civil war. So you see the idea of a “gun” is totally different than what you find in the popular imagination. No point and “bang”. Not the Walking Dead with bullets and lawnmowers and disposable razors everywhere. You can 3-D print a gun but can you 3-D print the powder? If not, are you down to smithing a Kentucky rifle from the rust you find in pond water? Okay, great. And where is your lead mine? How do you make sulfur and saltpeter in adequate quantities? The 18th century had these things. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the closest lead mine is in Patagonia and the sulphur is now shipped from Norway. That’s a very, very different world indeed, and it’s wiser to take up the question from Greer’s perspective of what composes feudal force.

    The Feudal Age was still much in effect in the 16th and 17th centuries, yet heavy cavalry was utterly useless in the New World. In the East, it was dense, roadless forest that was an impassible ambush. Or try supporting a horse in Newfoundland. Or defending the American plains where it would take you most of the year to get back to the fort. Those issues are just as viable as the problem of guns, but they all require a lot of thought.

    Btw, the same would be true of ultralights. You know how to make one? Great! Without the weight/power ratio of an ICE, you’ve got a hang glider. And how do you make thousandth tolerances on 500 perfectly-cast high-temperature clockwork parts when you’re making two a year in your barn? Who pays for your year’s labor of two engines? Doesn’t that make them worth about $50,000 a piece when I can shoot down the pilot with a longbow? How do you make the fuel? No, even with a lot of effort and insight, we take much more for granted than we realize. Inventions are not inventions; they are part of systems.

  101. @Austin, JMG
    Re: Antibiotics

    Long term, the situation isn’t as dire as it’s painted. The reason is quite simple: the DNA structures that contain antibiotic resistance genes have a cost, and that means that the resistant bacteria are slightly less fit in an environment that doesn’t contain those particular antibiotics.

    This has already shown up in a few places, where things that quit working 20 years ago have begun working again.

    @JMG, Patricia M.
    Re: Crime.

    Albuquerque is a very high-crime area, unfortunately. Some people are attracted to safe places, some aren’t. I suspect that regular banishing rituals eliminate a lot of crud that attracts criminal activity, even if it’s there.

    @Isaac, JMG
    Re: is there an eternal self?

    As in many things, the Michael Teaching provides an answer: it depends on your viewpoint. The basic answer is that there is: once created, it is never lost. This is similar (and may be the same) as western occult teachings. The Buddhist viewpoint, as I understand it, is to emphasize the quality of impermanence. That’s somewhat the same idea as one of the Pre-Socratic philosophers who said you can’t stand in the same river twice. It does not deny the existence of the river, it simply points out that the river is never precisely the same twice in a row.

  102. JMG–
    Do you think armored, biodiesel powered vehicles could fill the role of the knight or chariot in feudal America? They require enough resources to build, fuel, and maintain that only the nobility would have access to them. I imagine them spanning a full range of sizes and speeds, from some rough equivalent of the A7V (basically a giant box that moves at around a walking pace with machine guns pointing in all directions and one cannon at the bow), to something more like the 2-crew member Renault FT.

  103. An old friend who has become an uber-Catholic zealot over the years frequently argues that the prevalence of human sacrifice in ancient pagan cultures is justification enough for Christianization. Is there a sound and strong counterargument to be made?

  104. Shane W: Yeah, that pop group name might screw up any attempt to talk meaningfully about Jesus’ reference to God as “Abba,” but then again the young grandchild of Peter W has perhaps never heard of the pop group, either. Some Ecosophia readers interested in religious stuff might like to know about a scholar named Hyam Macobby, who suggested that Jesus used “Abba” far more frequently than the Second Testament indicates, to the point that he acquired the nickname, Jesus-bar-Abba. Ingeniously, Macobby then postulates that the crowd at Jesus’ trial before Pilate was calling for the release of Jesus-bar-Abba, not some random thug also in custody called Barabbas. There is indirect support for this speculation in that we can find no Roman custom of releasing a potentially dangerous prisoner at the whim of a crowd. More direct support comes from the fact that some early versions of the Gospel of Matthew refer to Barabbas as Jesus Barabbas. Nothing can be proven here one way or the other, of course, but Matthew’s version of Jesus’ trial (with the Jewish crowd crying out that Jesus’ blood be on them and their children) has provided fertile ground for many centuries of anti-Semitism. So Macobby’s proposition is, at least for me, an attractive option.

  105. Anyone have any advice – I’ve been trying to start an eBay business for the past several months. I’ve been going around to thrift stores, dumpster diving, yard sales, tag sales, flea markets etc. and finding treasures etc. It seems more environmentally friendly than some of the alternatives.

    It came out of my hobby of painting – What I found is there is no really good way to economically frame a painting. I tried buying frames on sale, then building my own. It doesn’t save anything building your own. So then I tried refurbishing frames from thrift stores and that turned out to be a better deal. Anyway, while I was there I realized that we throw a lot of stuff out. I then did some research on youtube and found out that a lot of stores will throw perfectly good displays of hairpins, posters, furniture, etc. out simply because they didn’t sell for the price point they wanted. It’s the same principle as what happens to unsold cars at the end of the year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYpLk65rbps So the bottom line is I’ve found fairly reliable sources of product. The problem is actually turning around and finding a space in the market.

    I’ve put the stuff I find out on eBay, etc. and what happens is the search engine pummels my product to the bottom of the page. It doesn’t matter how high caliber it is… Like I’m sitting on a several Robert Talbot ties that are mint, new with tags and they won’t even get views on eBay no matter how low I set the price. (No they’re not funky colors) I picked them up for .50¢ It’s not even the views that bug it’s the impression rate, the rate at which something shows up in a search is pretty dismal. What I’ve had the best luck selling is wooden cooking ware. I’d stick with that but the problem is eBay seems to have it set up so you can’t sell more than you list. Like if you list 50 items the most you’ll make a month is$50. So you sell one $50 item you won’t sell anything else the rest of the month. It just feels rigged and I kinda want to switch to selling in our local economy but I don’t know how best to go about it.

  106. JMG, good point! I agree, and will continue meditating & practicing self-inquiry until I find out for myself!

  107. John, I expect expropriation of property in the US — or, quite possibly, the former US — to happen in a somewhat less formal manner! As for preventing this or that event in other countries — well, to my mind, that’s up to the people who live there. The US needs to get out of the business of pretending to be a global policeman, and the sooner it does that, the more likely we’ll be to deal effectively with at least some of the cascading problems we face right here at home.

    Armata, once we get past the dark age era, sure — though there’ll no doubt be variations that none of us have thought of yet. I was talking about the dark age era, when the resources to put together that sort of hardware won’t yet be available due to diseconomies of (very small) scale.

    Mike, there’s some discussion of the deities you’ve asked about in Ross Nichols’ The Book of Druidry and some in the standard literature on ancient Celtic religion, but I don’t know of any single source that gathers it all together. As for the lunar current, that’s a symbolic label more than anything else. Druidry pretty consistently works with the polarity between sun and earth.

    BoysMom, it happens from time to time in American history, and in the history of most other countries as well; sometimes it ends in bloodshed, sometimes people grow out of it. I’ll be suggesting another potential fix next week.

    Simon, again, I think you’re missing the point that I was talking about dark age conditions. You’re the head of state of a dark age American city state, population 20,000, effective military force maybe 5000 in an emergency. Your total resource base consists of a walled town, the nearby ruins of a small city your people mine for iron and other useful things, and a couple of hundred square miles of territory, maybe a tenth of which is suitable for agriculture. You’re not going to be able to set aside enough resources to do anything really complex in terms of weaponry, because 90% of your labor force spends every waking hour working in the fields, and most of the rest are doing equally necessary things. What are you going to have? Firearms, certainly; maybe a few cannon; maybe a couple of ultralights, if you’ve got clever craftspeople who can make a simple internal combustion engine that runs on alcohol. More than that? Your economy can’t afford it. Five hundred years down the road, when the city states have coalesced into nations that have a decent resource base to draw on, sure — but again, I wasn’t talking about that.

    Pet, you’re most welcome and thank you. I tend to assign esse to the first sphere, posse to the second, and ferre to the third, but your mileage may vary. As for the materia remota and materia proxima, now that would be telling…I’ll consider it.

    Booklover, simply that Spengler’s characterization of the central themes of Indian culture doesn’t ring true to me — he was too heavily influenced by the Orientalizing interpretation common in his cultural setting.

    Bogatyr, glad to hear it; like any correspondence school, it’s a mixed bag, but there’s plenty of meat to chew on in the OBOD course. As for trans-Eurasian cosmologies, yes, but most of what I’ve seen has been very slapdash. Some serious work needs to go into making sense of the parallels and continuities as well as the differences.

    John, thanks for this. He’ll be missed.

    Emily07, fortunately, yes. Initiates of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn were traditionally expected to be competent in tarot, geomancy, and horary astrology; some temples have dropped the horary requirement, but geomancy and tarot remain pretty much universal in that tradition, and I’ve never heard of anybody having a problem using both. (I do both, as well as horary astrology and a number of other divinatory oracles, for whatever that’s worth.)

    David, hah! Good catch.

    Mac, pretty much all the books I consider worth reading duck the question and simply say, “don’t worry about that until you get there — and when you get there, you won’t have to look it up in a book.” Sorry!

  108. No particular question. Just gratitude.

    Thanks to you, Mr Greer, and Zendexor for your time and effort on the writing contest.

    And thanks BTW for putting in the time on this website week after week. Wonderful to have something online to read.

  109. escher, I first found ADR looking up intermediate cooking technology like solar cookers, insulated cookers and evaporative coolers. Because I had to zoom in to read it comfortably I didn’t notice the link to Galabes and only found that through a throwaway remark by either Raven Kaldera or Galinda Krassova while discussing the politics of paganism and Norse shamanism. At the time I was fully committed to the techno-utopian vision of socialism you get in Richard Stites’ Revolutionary Dreams and the last chapter of Trotsky’s Literature and Revolution (while acknowledging that we now know some of that stuff would be very bad for the environment).

    So reading Ecosophia and particularly After Progress made me increasingly uncomfortable. So to reinforce my faith I got the books of the most prominent advocates of Fully Automated Luxury Communism – Four Futures: Life After Capitalism by Peter Frase, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek and Austerity Ecology and the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence of Growth, Progress, Industry and Stuff by Leigh Philips (who sneers at JMG’s book titles but doesn’t challenge any of his ideas). To round it off I went with the classic All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by Marshall Berman.

    Reading them was not a pleasant experience. As well as spending a lot of the time thinking “but how will you power it?”, a lot of the ideas didn’t appeal even in the abstract. Although I did think we would end up in something like Iain M Banks’ Culture novels eventually, I thought socialism would start with an age of heroic construction. The idea of becoming as lazy and useless as the ruling class didn’t appeal at all. It also led me to some further research and I heard from multiple sources that the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that promises a lot of these technologies, is a scam anyway. One article said Toyota de-automated a crankshaft production line on the grounds it was making the workers stupid and helpless. It’s a sad state of affairs when a giant car company is more concerned with empowering the workers than socialists are.

    After reading all this I decided to see what the opposition had to say and read Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (if you really want to whiplash your mind, reading these books in that order is a great way to do it). I wasn’t impressed by his obvious contempt for the lower orders but he did present several problems that socialists have to find solutions to.

    I am still a socialist and think it can be done and is worth doing, but what we get will be very different than a lot of people expect. One of the most important things I learned from JMG is to accept that socialism is millenarian in nature (slow change may be preferable, but some things can only change fast). Rather than discounting it on those grounds, I’m attempting to understand what that means and how to make it work even against all the odds and historical precedent. One last chance to jump the tracks of history.

  110. JMG– As Will J guessed, it was a Catholic church. I have been wondering if if it was something local to the particular church or an instance of the taint upon the larger egregore. Or something ese.

  111. Thanks, JMG, your answer “don’t worry about that until you get there — and when you get there, you won’t have to look it up in a book.” jibes with the Zen/Taoist books I consider worthwhile. Just wondered if the Occult had a different slant. Mata, Ne?

  112. Another interesting socio-political observation. There’s a post on PoliticalWire (I still lurk) re Melania Trump’s EB-1 (“Einstein”) visa, reserved for those applicants with “extraordinary ability.” The commentariat reacted, well, exactly as one would fear the commentariat would react. Given the charges against Trump-supporters (and Bernie-supporters, for that matter) of being sexist/misogynist/evil, the suggestions as to the nature of her qualifying abilities were hypocritical, to say the very least. Very sad.

  113. Kevin– My experience with GD magic and Catholicism is virtually identical to yours. The differences are in the details: After being introduced to magic by JMG on TADR I worked through Donald Kraig’s Modern Magick rather than Learning Ritual Magic; I joined JMG’s Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn rather than (I’m assuming) BOTA; and while a plurality of my ancestors are Irish Catholic I also have Italian and Pennsylvania German heritage.

    I also have had the experience of the mass feeling like a homecoming, and what feels like a strong pull from my ancestors, including a recently deceased grandfather. And I also have had a strong connection to the Blessed Mother. And I also am very uncomfortable with the institutional Church, for a variety of reasons.

    If you don’t mind, here are a few resources which you might find helpful–

    A few months back I encountered the work of a guy who goes by the nome Dr plume Agostino Taumaturgo, who writes extensively on Catholic occultism and esotericism. You can check out his work here: https://thavmapub.com

    If you are on Facebook, you might be interested in the Catholic and Orthodox Occultism group:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1111061342347750 . The group doesn’t require orthodoxy, but it does frame magical practice in an orthodox context. (You might be surprised how much of magic is not prohibited– about the only thing “illicit” in an LBRP, for example, is that invoking Uriel is prohibited in the Roman Rite.)

    Also, depending on your inclinations, you might appreciate the work of a group called the Apostolic Johannite Church. They are a Gnostic church, but not dogmatic. They practice the sacraments and their liturgy includes an invocation of the elemental archangels that will be familiar to any Golden Dawn magician. You can find them at johannite.org . They’ve recently put out an extensive lecture series by way of introduction to their church; I found in the forum that I wasn’t the only one who had been reintroduced to the Christian God by the Golden Dawn or the only one with experience with Druidry. The Johannites can also be found on FB and also have a podcast with many hours with of fascinating material.

    Caveats: The Catholic and Orthodox Occultism group is highly conservative. Though politics are prohibited, the group in general is oriented toward Traditionalism, and so a tolerance for such things as Renee Guenon and antipathy toward Vatican II is probably necessary. The Johannites, on the other hand, are very liberal, oriented toward the Social Justice movement, and while they don’t officially enforce this position, a tolerance for SJW rhetoric is probably necessary.

    Finally, on the subject of magic and Our Lady, I wonder if you have read St Louis de Montfort’s work. If not, I cannot recommend him highly enough, and in particular True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. De Montfort presents a 33 day consecration to Mary which looks to me like an extended magical operation a la Abramelin, and a theology that gives her what is basically the status of a goddess while never straying outside the bounds of orthodoxy.

  114. Hi JMG,

    my question relates to a recent discussion over on your other blog. As you may or may not recall, I had mentioned that my daughter had autism, but thanks to some biomedical and other interventions, she is recovered to the point where I consider her to be almost NTN. She remains a highly sensitive person with some traits of individuals with Aspergers – hence my question to you. Lately, I’ve seen her struggling a bit more than usual with social stuff at school, and just self-acceptance in general, to the point where I’m kind of worried about her. I’m wondering if it might be the right time to talk to her about her diagnosis, as thus far I haven’t mentioned anything about it. It’s not like I conspired to keep it from her or anything, but it has only been recently that she has been stabilized enough for me to even consider talking to her about it all. Also, it has only been recently that I myself haven’t felt burnt out from the sheer amount of work that was required to bring her back to a more balanced state, so I can now in some ways think more clearly about the situation. I hesitate though, because she is very sensitive, as I mentioned. She feels like a ‘loser’ (her word) because she still has to follow a modified diet – while all the kids at school get to eat pizza and cookies, she can’t, and feels self-conscious about it. She’s also one of the two kids at her small school who is of mixed-race (her brother is the other one), and although I have never caught wind of any slight racist tendencies or bullying there, she feels like she is different because of it. My fear would be that if I talk to her about it, it would add to her burden of feeling like an outsider – just one more thing to worry about. But of course, my reason for wanting to start this conversation is to hopefully help her come to a greater level of self-knowledge – to realize, among other things, that it is actually her nervous system that is not quite like that of most of the other kids she interacts with, and thus her perception of the world is correspondingly unique. I would hope that having knowledge of that fact might help her come to terms with why she is having difficulties socially. Eventually she will need to know, but I am really torn about how to figure out if this is the right moment, so I’m hoping you might have a relevant perspective on this one.

    The other part of this question (which is getting long, sorry) relates to teaching magic to kids. I know you have discussed this a bit before, but at the ripe old age of almost ten, would you think this is too soon to start her magical education? I have seen some signs that she has psychic abilities – her drawings for example are pretty revealing – think the energy corresponding to the three rays of light, among other things. She’s also written songs which describe in fairly accurate detail some of my recent magical experiences, about which she could have no possible other way of finding out unless she perceived aspects of them psychically. So I would say it’s really just a question of ‘when’ to start teaching her about magic, not ‘if’. I think it could be quite helpful for her understanding of and reaction to social situations out in the world as well. But I also question her ability to keep silent about it at this age, adding another layer of complexity to the situation, as she attends a Christian school, and many of our contacts in our community are with Christians. It may just burden her with the need to keep a secret, which might be stressful. I suppose I have to get my own priorities straight in my mind here…

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions – I really appreciate it.

  115. Oriol, I don’t recommend combining Western occultism with Vipassana or other mind-emptying meditations; discursive meditation is a core element of the Western occult tradition, and you’ll be missing out on far too much of what that tradition has to offer if you neglect it. As for Asian civilizations, remember that decline and fall comes in varying degrees of intensity. In India and China, as (for example) in Egypt, relatively stable and sustainable subsistence strategies put a floor under the downside of the cycle, so that the dark age that followed wasn’t as dark as in the post-Mycenean or post-Roman West, and the recovery was correspondingly easier. The cycle still functions, its consequences are just a little less severe.

    Will, the internet got a lot of stealth subsidies, and yes, that was one of the big ones.

    Jasper, er, if you don’t mean to sound condescending, you might want to pay more attention to the comment to which you’re responding. Nowhere did I say or imply that guns are magic wands — I’ve done more than enough shooting to know better, with a range of weapons including 19th century military firearms — and “guns as we know them today” are emphatically not what I was talking about; did you somehow miss my reference to the weapons that fought the Revolutionary war? 18th century military technology didn’t use thousandth-of-an-inch tolerances — it didn’t even use interchangeable parts — and yet muskets made by individual craftsmen using hand tools over charcoal forges were quite effective enough. The 17th century musket, for that matter, was enough to redefine the battlefield and finish the process of replacing the old feudal levies with professional armies.

    Sulfur, by the way, is readily obtained from iron sulfides — the “fool’s gold” that’s found abundantly in many areas of the US — and saltpeter was traditionally extracted by boiling urine-soaked soil. (Many stable-owners made a tidy profit in the early modern period by shoveling out the dirt floors of their stables and selling it to the manufacturers of gunpowder.) Lead is also readily obtained from ores very widely found on US territory; it’s a very common metal, which is why it’s still so cheap. Plenty of people have already done this kind of research, you know.

    For that matter, internal combustion engines quite adequate to power aircraft can be made by hand, using hand tools and very broad tolerances. We know this because, from the Wright brothers’ first powered flight until after the First World War, they were. An alcohol-burning engine of simple design, driving a wooden propeller, will be quite enough to put an ultralight into the air and keep it there, and such a thing is well within the capacities of an intelligent blacksmith who knows the principles involved. That was my point; if you want to dispute it, by all means, but please do actually address what I’ve said rather than whacking on straw men of your own manufacture.

    Ezra, I can see such things being tried now and again as the deindustrial dark ages give way to an era of consolidation. My guess is that it won’t be common until nation-states, which have the resource base for such projects, are reestablished in the aftermath of the feudal era; some 30th-century equivalent of Bosworth or Nagashino might well pit a royal army strengthened with lumbering tanks against the old-fashioned forces of an alliance of recalcitrant city-states.

    Michael, I’d say that the prevalence of savage religious warfare, persecution, and the mass murder of heretics and Jews in Christian societies is at least as good a justification for de-Christianization. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…

    Isaac, excellent.

    Joel, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Steve, good question. You might try visiting a different Catholic church and see if you see the same thing there.

  116. Mac, you’re most welcome. Thwack!

    David, no surprises there.

    Stefania, I’d be very slow to bring that up right now. As for magical training, that’s another very effective way to feel isolated! Dion Fortune used to discourage anyone from doing magical training before the age of 25; that’s further than I’d go, but you want to get past puberty before really getting into the occult.

  117. Michael Hardy

    Well, for starters your friend assumes a binary option between human-sacrificing paganism and Christianity.

    Then there’s the fact that Christianity as it was actually practiced back then wasn’t without its share of atrocities.

  118. Simon – glad to have the faerie reference, thanks you and the person who asked about such. As for MZB – I KNEW somebody would repeat that about her, which is no longer news, alas. I think she was a very disturbed woman, and hope her re-education the other side of the Veil is proceeding apace.

    Bogatyr: re shamanism etc — perhaps it’s a case of “everyone who makes wheels makes them round.” Or round-ish.

    JMG: “esse, posse, ferre” sounds almost like “Wyrd, Verdandi, Sculd” … “What was, what is becoming, what must be/happen.” As the poem said about Wyrd, “Fate is fully fixed.” (My translation.) Because it’s the past.

  119. Mr. Greer,

    As I wrote to you before I am ensconced in a hyper elite university as a result of a series of accidents. “The Hillary Was Swindled” delusion has a firm grip on the imaginations of most of the undergrads. Happily there are a few faculty and grad students “woke” to that puppet show. Not that we are Trump partisans, but the narrative proffered by media and political elites just does not comport with the facts. Ho hum. We make do as we can while quietly going about our research.

    With that in mind, I have to say, I wonder what your take on the following counterfactual to our current situation would be. Say that Secretary Clinton had been elected.Given her record as a Senator on the Armed Services Committee, and Secretary of State, what is the likelihood we would be engaged in a North Korean conflict or perhaps a “low-intensity” proxy conflict with Russia? Given the implications of such a conflict, to say nothing of the “morality” of it, for my part I find that scenario sobering.

  120. @JMG: “it’s been almost forty years now since I last looked at basic works on alternative healing. If anyone else has something to suggest, I’m all ears.”

    For herbal medicine, a relatively good cheap paperback is White and Foster’s The Herbal Drugstore: The Best Natural Alternatives to Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medicines. However, it was published in 2002 and will not cite the literally thousands of positive clinical trials for various herbs published over the last 15 years.

    For something also old but more substantive, with an extreme bias toward European plants, I suggest the English translation of Weiss or Weiss and Fintelmann’s Herbal Medicine -by and at least partly for German allopaths, so it is indeed “conventional medicine” from some people’s equally valid perspectives. Gives many formulas. Buy used in paperback, as it’s expensive. Classic edition by Weiss alone is better; for second edition Fintelmann got a little namby-pamby and “oh, we daren’t recommend THAT anymore.”

    For older women’s issues, I like Susun Weed’s New Menopausal Years, which is about far more than just herbs. And for instructions on making a nice variety of herbal products, James Green’s Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook or Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.

  121. You’re right, of course; just a pet peeve of mine. I suspected there was a reasonable way to look at it and knew you could find it for me. =)

    Also, am I right in thinking I can find some good information on the sphere of sensation in Regardie’s Golden Dawn?

    Peter Witkowski

  122. @Linda, February 28, 2018 at 7:56 pm:
    Hi Linda, on the topic of ´´wetting the bush´´: It´s quite a common custom in Europe, and it´s called ´´topping out´´ here. Wikipedia says it can be traced to an ancient Scandinavian religious rite:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topping_out
    I still remember when my parent´s house had its topping out (Richtfest in German); the adults had a good party, and us kids were allowed to stay up late…
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  123. @Michael Hardy: “An old friend … frequently argues that the prevalence of human sacrifice in ancient pagan cultures is justification enough for Christianization. Is there a sound and strong counterargument to be made?”

    That the number of people who got tortured to death for thoughtcrimes under Christianity, over long periods in large areas, dwarfed the number who were sacrificed in idiotic attempts to make crops grow during former times in the same areas? Or that the number of people slaughtered by conquistadors has to be counted against Christianity as well? Or that while pagan cultures varied greatly in how much agency and respect women had, Christianity and the other monotheistic faiths until the modern era (with certain laudable exceptions for all) usually treated women as second-class people if not virtually as livestock, and it will take an awful lot of other social improvements to outweigh the harm of blighting the lives of half the population?

  124. About antibiotic resistance, I wonder if some traditional medicines are working well now, elderberry for colds and flue, for example, because they have not been widely used for about 50 years, and the pathogens have lost whatever immunity to such preparations they might once have had. Five centuries of plant exploration have given us a far greater range of useful plants than any country used to have.. The peoples of the Old World now grow maize and potatoes to supplement their rice, wheat or millet while we in the New World are growing and using neem, moringa and coconut. If I were gardening in a hot and arid area, I would be planting neem and moringa trees.

    I suspect that one lesson from our own foolishness which our descendants will learn and heed is the importance of a sound diet and of maintaining resilient local food production and distribution. Local govts. may decide that certain necessary staples, grain, fruits and vegetables for example. cannot be sold for cash but must be made available by farmers whom the community agrees to support.

  125. @Linda, February 28, 2018 at 7:56 pm:
    Hi Linda, I just reread your comment and realized it´s not quite the same custom, since it is done here before the tiles (or slates or thatch) go on the roof… but it sounds as if the two are related.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  126. Stefania, I regret adding to your worries but you should also be very wary of transgender ideology. It’s almost tailor-made to appeal to girls who are on the spectrum and socially isolated. Have a look at this site – https://4thwavenow.com/ The subject comes up a lot and it would be best to be prepared if she starts going in that direction.

  127. Dear Austin of Ozmerst. I fear that Ebay may be past its best days. Have you any expertise in repair and refurbishment? For example, old time sewing shears and scissors are desired by sewers. Wiss is a good brand. If you can find those AND sell them cleaned and sharpened, you save the buyer the hassle of having to find someone else to do it. The best of all irons, IMHO, were the mid29thC GE heavy ones but they had those fraying cloth covered cords. If you could clean the sole and replace the cord, that might be a possibility. Mid 20thC electric mixers are becoming difficult to find and usually have the wrong beaters or any old bowl with them.

    How-to craft books from about 1960 and earlier are far superior to what came later and are becoming hard to find.

    Have you tried selling locally, maybe set up a farmer’s market stand? Maybe offer custom framing from “found” materials? People love custom framing, especially for Christmas, Valentines etc. With a FM stand, you can take orders on the spot, and arrange a pick up date. They don’t have to make a special trip to your house, you don’t have to pay out for a storefront, and you don’t have to deliver.

    Have you any experience in plant propagation? If you happen to grow any out of commerce varieties, you can usually find an addicted person who will buy them. You do have to jump through some annoying state and govt. hoops, but quite a number of folks seem to be making decent livings on Ebay and Etsy with nursery stock. Anyone who has rare alba roses, BTW, may name their price. I happened to mention on a garden forum that I could supply pieces of a certain “found” rose and I had two takers within a matter of days.

  128. After considering what you wrote about reincarnation and how individualities proceeded from Abred to Gwynfydd along with nature spirits being differently bodied individualities near or at the final stage of Abred plus your remark that “Human beings are never going to be top dog in the Druid cosmos,” I began to wonder the last physical stages of spiritual beings considered to be deities or angels. Given that will has been in and on the planet ever since it formed out of the Solar Nebula 4.6 billion years ago but the lineage consisting of our species, the Neanderthals, and the Denisovans have existed for less than a million years, that’s a very long time without physical bodies capable of hosting brains that could reach that level of development. Of course, cetaceans have been big brained for millions of years before genus Homo appeared and elephants and their extinct relatives could have had sufficient brain capacity for nearly as long, so I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they were the last physical bodies of many spirits (the Egyptian deities come to mind, as does the Hindu god Ganesh). Even so, that’s still a recent development in Earth history. Before that, unless cephalopods can act in the role, I can think of no animals that would have served, but nature spirits might have. Is my thinking on the right track? If so, should we be worried about the reactions of these beings who were never human when we despoil whales, elephants, and the rest of nature?

  129. Stefania, I’m not really neurotypical, either. So far as I can judge from extensive family stories going back very many generations, very few of my ancestors have been neurotypical, either. (Our own form of atypicality doesn’t seem to fall on the autism spectrum, but lies somewhere else, possibly even in unstudied territory.)

    So I heard from my mother, from my early childhood onward, “We are different from almost all other people. We don’t fit in or get along. Each of us has to figure out how to “pass.” for normal, how to “fake it” well enough not to alarm the normals, how to survive in a world for which we were not made. We study how to fly under the rader. This is our family’s heritage, our strength and our glory.”

    That helped me enormously while I was growing up.

    I can’t say whether it would help your daughter. Girls are socialized to form and value relationships, not to be loners, in ways that boys are (were?) not; and that may even have something to do with biological differences between the two most common of the many human sexes. But it might be worth mentioning the possibiity to her.

    You might look into your and her own ancestry. You might well find forebears who were like her, and she may be able to take comfort in how well they were able to make lives for themselves despite being odd. I know that I would have had a much harder time of things, growign up,if I had not known how misfit so many of my ancestors were for the societies in which they lived their lives.

  130. @Yoyo,

    “Sonny-Jimmery”? Here at “work” we have a looong list of such names that we call each other.

    Our full list so far: Ace, Big Guy, Boss, Boyo, Bruiser, Bub, Buckaroo, Buster, Captain, Champ, Chief, Chum, Coach, Cochise, Cowboy, Dawg, Doc, Fella, Fireball, Friend, Half Pint, Hombre, Hoss, Hotshot, Jack, Junior, Kiddo, Little Camper, Little Man, Mac, Pal, Partner, Pilgrim, Sarge, Scooter, Scout, Short Pants, Skeeter, Skeezix, Skippy, Slappy, Slick, Slugger, Sonny Jim, Sparky, Sport, Squirt, Sunshine, Tiger, Tough Guy

  131. John,

    Are you familiar with the work of Mark Passio from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (http://www.whatonearthishappening.com)?

    If so, I’d very much appreciate your feedback on your interpretations and feelings regarding his work. If not, it seems to me that much of his work on expanding consciousness in general, and effecting positive change in the human condition via increasing levels of awareness in specific, parallels much of your work. I can easily see how a potential collaboration between you could produce some incredibly useful and pragmatic tools for a large number of people from a very diverse range of backgrounds.

    MichaelR

  132. Hi JMG,

    OK, I’m going to be greedy today and ask for your opinions about three twentieth century figures who were important influences in the early years of my journey of awakening.

    I’m eager to know your impressions of Russian artist and mystic Nicholas Roerich. He was a prolific painter (if you like his art I encourage you to visit the Roerich Museum in Manhattan some day – website http://www.roerich.org/) and author of many ‘inspired/channeled’ books, founder of Agni yoga.

    Also intrigued to know your thoughts on author/occultist Manley Palmer Hall and author/astrologer Dane Rudhyar.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the recent posts and comments on Zeno’s Laughter and the Babbitt Fallacy. Thanks for all you do.

    Jim

  133. Years ago when you recommended the ecology textbooks, I bought them used, and we are finally getting to them this spring in our homeschool. Principles of Ecology, by Richard Brewer had a lab manual that went with it, so we picked these nine to do. Your thoughts and input?

    Labs from Laboratory and Field Manual of Ecology, by Richard Brewer and Margaret McCann

    Microclimate, p.1
    Soils, p.8
    Sampling and Density, p.36
    Life Tables, p.84
    Population Growth, p.92
    Population Problems, p.105
    Productivity, p.128 (done over two weeks to one month)
    Trophic Ecology of Humans, p.206
    Noise, p.220 (add light experiment to it)

    I have to say it was refreshing to see a lab manual more focused on the process than the product. So many high school science text have experiments that aren’t really experiments, because you are guaranteed a particular result. Everything is like the volcano with baking soda in it and you pour in vinegar. Not a lot of thought.

    These experiments go through processes and formulas over 10-15 pages. Its quiet good!

    Thank you for recommending it!!!!

  134. What are your thoughts on everyday, common-man resistance to oppression? It particular, maximizing the impact of the small, deniable ways of making your local apparatchiks’ day a more miserable one.

  135. May I recommend a book? “Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations.” In it David Montgomery examines the fundamental role of soil in human history (including decline of the Roman Empire). Seems pertinent to several of this thread’s comments. It is a lovely book but it has been some time since I have read it. Here is a link to the first chapter: https://content.ucpress.edu/pages/10599/10599.ch01.pdf

  136. Sandy Fontwit,

    You are correct that LED drivers are almost always the first part of the system to fail (the diodes do degrade, but slowly, and in an exponential fashion – rapid degradation at first, then slower and slower decline to zero). It is not as efficient as using a real driver chip, but one can put a ballast resistor in series with an LED, and power it safely from any old DC source provided the ballast resistor is matched properly to the LED and the supply voltage. Still more efficient (discounting the embodied energy of the LED diode itself) than an incandescent, and probably something that will be done – there are a lot of LEDs floating around these days.

    Armata, here’s a fun thought: Because the warships of the future will necessarily have metal armaments, there’s no reason at all (I think) that primitive radar sets wouldn’t be able to at least give a bearing, if not also a range, to them.

    I wonder what Google and Facebook think about the sex-trafficking links law? Maybe they are banking on it making things harder for others than for them, thereby increasing their market share?

  137. Your explanation, particularly to Simon, about the scale and likely level of city state military technology during the coming Dark Age makes a great deal of sense. I was thinking more along the lines of what technologies future ecotechnic nation-states and civilizations would have, so thanks for the clarification. Either way, I suspect our distant descendants are going to be in for some very interesting times, especially if your predictions pan out.

    Incidentally, we know the Wright Brothers made their own gasoline engines by hand because there were no commercially available engines that were light enough, so this is definitely a technology that could be made by a skilled craftsman with the know-how and basic tools. Alcohol doesn’t have as much energy density as gasoline, but it ought to do just fine as an aviation fuel for future prop planes.

  138. @BoysMom,

    The degeneration of Google’s search enginee is sad, but not unexpected. As a for profit organization, they never were going to provide a free service without selling their users down the river; we merely are observing the process catch a briskier rythm.

    A short term solution is to switch to DuckDuckGo search engine. Here’s the sales pitch: https://duckduckgo.com/about

    This status as a fair and privacy conscious search engine cannot last. Since they are also a for profit add selling company (according to Wikipedia, their business model is “by serving ads from the Yahoo–Bing search alliance network, and through affiliate relationships with Amazon and eBay”), they are subject to the same market forces that turned Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” into “Do Not Get Caught”. Still, I am using it and have confidence that it can shore us up for a little while longer; I also hope that by then the Internet will be a much less interesting place anyways.

  139. I have an infallible truth. It’s a secret and also it only works for me so I won’t bore you with it.

    Thanks for letting me sound off!

  140. @Kevin P, Steve T, Will J

    Interesting discussion you have on the dimensions of the Catholic Church and their cousins. I have consciously decided to avoid ritual magic practice, at least for the time being, until I sort where do I stand with this. The resources Steve has provided look quite relevant and are greatly appreciated.

    I have checked the Old Catholics, which seem to be the ones that resonate more with me at first glance. On the plus side, the Tridentine mass (and other rites I may not be aware of) are objectively speaking more powerful. But the downside is that everything that is concerning with the Vatican Church seems to be turned up to eleven with these guys. Furthermore, they are an apocalyptic cult… THE Apocalyptic Cult one may argue, and they see themselves as the last faithful remanant surrounded by a world that has already got a one way ticket to Hell but have not noticed yet. It is surprising they are receptive to any sort of magic, at all!!!

    Other than that, I do not think the taint of Church’s egregore dates back just to Vatican II Council, or that is limited to a (big) bunch of pederasty cases, as shameful as these might be. JMG just pointed out a couple of examples… savage religious warefare, both intestine and invasion to neighbouring nations, persecution and torture of any disidents, including people that never pledged obedience to the Church hierarchy in the first place (like the Jews). Those are the most salient ones I can think off.

    Also, I have never seen anything extraordinary within a church’s premises, but I have a experience to share. A little over 1 year ago, when I was subject to my “rejoining”/conversion, I went to this 2 day gathering. It was a nice powerful experience, but there was something ticking me off during the talks. In the altar, there was a Christ-less cross with the quote from John’s gospel “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”, the words juxtaposed with the cross… It is hard to explain because the words were actually in Spanish, but anyways… the thing is that half of the words were at elther side of the cross, and from where I was sitting only one half was seen. What I could read, from my point of view, was something like this…

    “Behold, the … of God, who .. the sin …”

    It did not make gramatic sense, but you could either interpret it as “Behold the Sin of God”, o “Behold the God of Sin”, or more likely “Behold That which is both God’s and Sin’s”.

    I still went on to complete the gathering, though I did not trust the priests there with my confession. I went back to my parrish that evening and confessed with one of the priests there, which was a lovely experience that left me with a clean conscience and the ability to overcome some annoying bad habits. I completed the gathering the next day and had what can be best described as a mild but full fledged religious experience. So, my take is that Jesus is very capable of laughing off tainted astral phenomena and touch us regardless, but we still need to carry our own weight and live with the consequences of our decisions.

    I guess what I want to say is that it is good to have a look at the landscape, and to learn what are the limits in terms of occult and magic practice, but the issue of partaking in a tainted religious tradition seems still open…

    @JMG

    …which takes me to my question for this month, JMG. What can be known about the sphere taint of an organization? I assume all these we have been discussing latetly is and educated guess, that while many may have noticed, no one has gone and documented the tainting of any of the world’s major religions. It is also not a matter of going to the supermarket and cherrypicking a brand new religion, even if many of us are against what our religious leaders stand for, we have higher commitments to our God(s) and do intend to honour those regardless of what else might happen with the comings and goings of our days. I’d rather not be twacked, so I will not ask what to do, but how can someone get around to make an informed decision on these matters?

  141. @ Justin:

    It’s entirely possible ecotechnic nation-states will have the ability to produce basic radar sets, similar to those of World War II. Depending on what turns out to be feasible in a post-petroleum ecotechnic culture, the navies might range from Civil War era to World War II era in terms of technology.

    The biggest limitation will be the availability of fuel. Imagine the strategic situation faced by Japan in World War II and Germany in both world wars, where petroleum based fuels and good quality coal were in constant short supply and fuel supplies had to be weighed carefully before every operation. Then imagine a future war where the opposing sides have airplanes, steam and diesel powered warships, motorized vehicles and so on, but where all sides have to face those kinds of fuel and resource constraints. I expect that ecotechnic cultures will rely heavily on sailing ships because fuel will be expensive and limited in supply, with engine powered ships being reserved mostly for military use and tugboats available for hire in many ports. I would not be at all surprised if many ecotechnic warships look like their mid 19th century counterparts, where most warships had both engines and fully rigged masts for sailing and would sail whenever that was feasible to save on fuel consumption. You can still mount a radar set on top of the foremast or mainmast even if the ship is fully rigged, so we could see some very strange looking ships in the future.

  142. I am looking forward to the new anthology. I have long been a fan of classic science fiction and pulp fantasy. One of the books I am currently reading is The Airlords of Han, which along with Armageddon 2419 A.D. is an early predecessor of the Buck Rogers comics and serials. E-book versions from Project Gutenberg are available if anyone is interested.

    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/32530/32530-h/32530-h.htm

    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/25438/25438-h/25438-h.htm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armageddon_2419_A.D.

  143. I wonder if koan meditation, used in Zen, is a sort of discursive meditation. Some, if not many, Zen groups using koans, have a lengthy koan curriculum. Typically there’s a gateway koan, mu, or something else that precedes the curriculum. Each is supposed to teach something different. It doesn’t exactly sound like “mind emptying” but after the curriculum is completed comes the practice of “shikan taza” which is, pretty clearly, a mind emptying meditation.

  144. Hi Fuzzy,
    Mostly it was the way that some people get away with bad behavior in the name of the crown. Also it was mentioned to me more then once by outsiders that the SCA had all the hallmarks of a cult but one, a charismatic leader. It took me a while to figure out that the charismatic leader wasn’t a real person although the SCA doesn’t lack for charismatic people, but was a mythic person, King Arthur. Most people who have stayed in the SCA for any length of time take on the mythic Arthurian ideals as the way they should function in the SCA. All well and good for the most part until you have some few people using the “moral”, if you will, authority of the Arthurian myth to prevent others from fully participating or to tilt the playing field in their favor.

    I have sat through gatherings were person after person got up and “bore their testimony” (if you know anything about the LDS faith you will know what this is immediately) about the righteousness of these values and how they need to be preserved and fostered within the organization. Many were very eloquent. There was such a sense of faith and belief about them, myself included that after awhile it was hard to not to believe that there wasn’t a religious or cultish aura about the SCA and it’s participants.

    I had a hard time figuring out why abusers could get away with bad behavior time and time again until I realized that the glamour of the Arthurian myth both blinded most members to these bad behaviors and lent the abusers great authority that they wouldn’t have had in non-SCA life. Myth is powerful stuff especially when the believers in the myth don’t believe they are believers.

  145. Nastarana – Thank you very much:) One of my first eBay ventures years ago was refurbishing old computers. Yes I have tried selling locally. One problem there is I’ve found is that half our “local” businesses here in Amherst and Northampton are owned by people who live in New York. (My cousin had the same issues when he started his business. He gave up on eBay after a year.) He then got his own website…. The towns of Easthampton, and North Adams are a little further from me but every time I walk into a store there I can usually get in touch with the owners, show what I’m selling etc. The farmers market opens seasonally and I am going to try that later this year. I do have a garden and Green House. Plant propagation is something I’ve learned a lot about these past five years…. Propagating plants requires a lot of faith and knowing what each needs; marigolds don’t germinate at all like melons.

    I’ve done the minimum wage 9-5 treadmill over the summer, those years I was in college, and I’ve found that it’s more profitable to be in business for myself. If you figure that you just need to sell 9+ ten dollar items a day you’re doing better than minimum wage, or as I like to call it… thee wage. $15-20 an hour jobs are very competitive to get. I’ve been out of school for a while and can’t find/get one in that range. I’ve commented here before about a friend of mine who majored in Biology and couldn’t make it on $15 an hour and ended up moving back home. There’s another friend of mine who got his bachelors in mathematics and he’s still working as a dishwasher, threes years later… there’s nothing out there. At this point – I believe it’s either do your own thing and swim or go with system and sink.

    Oh speaking of heirloom variety plants. My parents have some 100+ year old apple trees on their property that have apples that taste almost like a banana. The reason for 100s of varieties of apples in the olden days was so that the apples would ripen throughout the season rather than all at once.

  146. @Pat,
    I’m totally unimpressed w/the iGeneration. The outstanding characteristic seems to be their fragility, and the way so many of them kinda spontaneously fall apart–suicide rates are up. They just seem to be the poster children for the damage done by lifelong digital addiction. And I wouldn’t be too impressed by their lack of sex, drugs, booze, etc.–most research has shown that the iGen has given up having a real life for having a virtual life via their glowing rectangular pocket “precious”, in the Gollum sense of the word. As we all go through digital detox when the tech bubble bursts, I expect this generation to be hit hardest. I expect already high suicide rates to spike, and substance abuse rates to spike as well as they have to find a substitute for their digital precious. And I’m sorry, but the Silent generation was only well mannered under the authority of the Greatest generation–once the Greatest exited the scene, crude and rude was the order of the day–Silents can do “anything goes and nothing matters” with the best of anyone alive today. I’m appalled by how bad my mother and her friends have gotten–this was a woman who wouldn’t be caught dead walking and smoking because it wasn’t “ladylike” and kept a copy of Amy Vanderbilt for reference.
    The generation to watch out for will be the ones that come after iGen–they will bring back small-c conservative Greatest generation values w/a vengeance. Anything most certainly will NOT go, and EVERYTHING will matter with this generation. The importance of community and society over the individual will be paramount w/this generation, and concurrent with that, social norms will be strictly enforced and social ostracism of those outside social norms will be universal. Why, you might ask? It will be the effects of that essential element which bred the same traits in the Greatest generation–a Depression and great privation. The essential thing for this generation will not be just the Depression and collapse of the US that they will contend with, but their utter horror at how the “soft” generations (Silent thru iGen) responded to the situation. This will be a rough and tumble, resilient generation that will expect people not to navel gaze, to take care of themselves, and look out for others via fraternal organizations, etc. Of course, this will probably drive the Boomers to those pill and vodka parties that JMG mentioned, as they have to witness their grandchildren bringing back w/a vengeance those Greatest generation values they so despised and dumping their vaunted individualism and freedom in the trash.

  147. Patricia, I’d use those three Norse concepts as a basic framework for the three uppermost spheres of the Tree of Life, if I were doing a Norse Golden Dawn rather than a Druidical one! It would work very well.

    Millennial, one of my great worries about a Hillary Clinton presidency was precisely that she would get us into the first available war in an attempt to prove how tough she was. The way that she was talking blithely about imposing a no-fly zone in Syria when this would require taking on the Russian Aerospace Force in a shooting war gave me a bad case of the collywobbles.

    Dewey, thanks for this! The point I’d make, though, is that alternative healing isn’t limited to herbs. Most of what I use these days are biochemic cell salts, Do-In (a form of acupressure I picked up in my macrobiotic days), and some dietary tricks I also got from macrobiotics; there are literally dozens of other ways of healing that have nothing to do with herbs. I wonder whether there’s a basic introduction to the whole field of alternative healing.

    Peter, indeed there is. It takes a lot of unpacking, and you’d better know your way around cabalistic, astrological, and Enochian symbolism, but then that’s par for the course with the Golden Dawn. W.E. Butler’s useful little book How to Read the Aura also has a fair amount of meat in it.

    Nastarana, the traditional medicines never stopped working, because they don’t have just one active ingredient. If you take amoxicillin, let’s say, what you’re getting is amoxicillin plus some hopefully inert filler. If you drink elderberry tea, you’re getting dozens of phytopharmaceutical compounds in a synergistic blend, which goose your immune system and slow down the viruses at the same time. It’s relatively easy, statistically speaking, for a virus or a bacterium to come up with a mutation that will let it do an end run around a single compound with a single antipathogenic effect; if you’ve got the 120+ active compounds found in St. Johns’ wort, say, statistically speaking the poor microbes don’t stand a chance — which is of course why plant evolution has selected so ruthlessly in favor of antipathogen cocktails, and why human beings are so much dumber than plants…

    Vincelamb, heck of a good question. We simply don’t know. Since paleontologists estimate that only a fairly small fraction of organisms appear in the fossil record at all — I’ve seen estimates as low as 1% — there could have been any number of large-brained animals in earlier stages of our planet’s evolution that just never quite managed to leave fossils behind.

    Eddie, thanks for this.

    Michael, no, I’m not familiar with his work. I’ll give his site a look when time permits.

    Jim, I very much enjoy Nicholas Roerich’s paintings; I know very little about the esoteric philosophy behind them.

    Manly P. Hall, on the other hand, is kind of a personal hero of mine. A flawed human being, of course — as are the rest of us — but he managed to pack a fantastic amount of common sense and occult wisdom into his work. One of his books, Self-Unfoldment Through Disciplines of Realization, had an immense influence on my understanding of occult practice, and it’s still one I recommend to those interested.

    Dane Rudhyar was a brilliant astrologer, but to my mind his work played a central role in launching astrology into an unbalanced fixation on individual psychology, at the expense of all the many other things you can do with astrology. I don’t find his astrological writings useful, though I know a lot of other people who do.

    Denys, huzzah! I’m delighted to hear it, and it sounds like the kids are going to get a very solid introduction to the most important science there is.

    Synthase, and if you do that, you’ll just guarantee that they make everyone else’s lives more miserable, too. Why not instead explore ways to evade the attention of the apparatchiks, on the one hand, or to subvert them on the other?

    MK, thanks for the recommendation!

    Armata, history is always interesting, and war is always a part of it. The thought of what the armed forces of the great ecotechnic civilizations of the year 4000 AD or so will be like is intriguing, but beyond my capacity to guess; one of the things that appeals to me about dark ages is that they’re all so similar to one another, so the capacity for prediction goes up. (Dark ages also tend to produce the best epic poetry; can you imagine a grand epic in which the heroes do battle in ultralight planes?)

    Gregory, sounds like the best kind of infallible truth to me…

    CR, barring a fairly well-trained clairvoyant sense, you detect a tainted sphere by observing the organization and seeing whether the same scandals happen over, and over, and over again, even when different people are involved. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, for example, has been struggling with a tainted sphere for a century now. Over and over again, leadership figures go zooming off into paranoid-megalomaniac power trips, on the one hand, and stunningly nasty gossip wars flare on the other. It doesn’t always happen; I know some Golden Dawn temples that have prevented both, and held themselves, their members, and their leadership to good behavior — but it’s taken them serious and continuing efforts, and they could still slip up.

    So as you look at religions, watch for recurring problems, and watch especially to see if they’re excused and condoned in practice by the leadership and the congregation, however loudly they’re denounced in the abstract — that’s the sign that the rot has gone to the core. Note also how widespread they are. For example, Christianity as a whole has certain problems which seem to be endemic to the entire religion, but specific denominations also have their own unique problems, and so on down to individual churches. Every other religion is in the same situation — yes, including mine — but some religions, some denominations, and some individual churches have it worse than others.

    One useful habit, by the way, if you’re in a tradition with a tainted sphere, is to keep up a regular schedule of spiritual practices in private. The taint in the egregor is strongest when people are assembled in groups, and weakest when it’s just you on your knees before your god. Devotional objects such as rosaries and images should be if at all possible made by you yourself, or if that’s not an option, washed or sprinkled with cold salt water and then left in direct sunlight and the open air for a full day, to avoid the etheric taint. You can take part in group worship without too much risk if you’ve got the solitary practice to keep you steady; lacking that, you’ll be drawn into the collective consciousness of the group, and end up participating in the taint.

  148. Armata, thanks for this. Have you considered writing something for the next volume?

    Phutatorius, good question. I’d have to know more about the process to be able to answer it.

  149. @Pat,
    I’d look at anything promoted by the mainstream media w/a jaundiced eye. I’m very suspicious of this whole discussion of youth led gun control. Gun control is one of those issues that neatly cleaves red from blue and that no one will agree on, and I for one, tire of discussing it b/c it, like most social issues, is not going to go anywhere.

  150. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/28/what-does-snow-mean-climate-change-beast-from-the-east-polar-vortex-freezing-temperature

    Jmg, do you think that is part of the climate going unpredictable? Here in southern Finland it is about -20C or -4F at the moment. Its early March, usually its cold of course this time of the year, but not this cold.

    Another thing that came into me mind is that which parts of the infrastucture could be expected to survive in farther future? I would say one: tunnels (the ones that go through mountains, examples are found in the the Alps for example. Those will have some geopolitical effect, I guess or wont they?)

  151. Your bit about ultralights got me thinking: for the nearer future, while computer parts are still salvageable, how about having true warbirds? Strap a microcamera to a trained falcon or homing pigeon to do your aerial reconnaissance. These would be much stealthier than an ultralight, which would be an obvious target to shoot down. Imagine trying to shoot down every bird that flew overhead!

  152. @Armata, I expect that just about the only way warships of the far-future will resemble the warships of 300 years ago is that they will be mostly wooden, powered by the wind and armed primarily with cannon.

    I thought that this was really interesting: It’s relevant for both future warships and ultralights – https://www.voanews.com/a/researcher-make-wood-stronger-than-st/4270723.html

    The chemicals involved are simple mineral salts which would have been known to proto-scientists in Europe and Asia and the only industrial equipment needed is essentially a rolling mill.

  153. @Yoyo: Well, you could combine them into one elegant portmanteau and call it the “Snoub”. (snOOb or snAUb) V. To dismiss out of hand in a spirit of self-anointed hauteur, undue familiarity, or patronizing manner; esp fake friendliness, phony fellowship. “He snoubbed the hackles out of that guy by phake-phriending him.”

  154. Dear synthase, I so far respectfully differ from our gracious host as to think you might have a point, or part of a point. Now, if you mean pranks, air out of tires and the like, no, I think that sort of thing, a. garners sympathy for the intended target and b. makes you look a prize fool. My experience has been that in any small or even medium sized community it is not difficult to discover who is doing what.

    However, I see no need to engage in displays of either submission or aggression, both of which tend to reinforce delusions of importance, vis a vis various apparatchiks, whether they represent govt. agencies or corporations. You do realize, I hope, that the corporate servants are no less toxic than the govt. ones. For me, a stance of disciplined silence combined with forethought, papers in order, payment already counted out, etc. is the best approach. The idea, for me, is to complete my business without offering personal contact or information of any kind beyond the business transaction. People who value “niceness” will of course be appalled, but the way I see it is that it does not hurt to let the servants know that they aren’t popular any more. A lot of folks take those kind of jobs for the sake of social status as well as financial stability, you know.

    Mr. Greer, you will doubtless be gratified to learn that the fad for adult coloring is ending. Which means, for us who do needlework of various kinds but have no talent for drawing, that the designs, many of which are quite attractive if derivative are now available at knock down prices. The designs being original creations of various living artists, we can’t be accused of cultural appropriation if we use them for our own crafts. There might be copyright issues if one tries to sell one’s crafts, but for one’s own use, many coloring book designs are far better than the usual line of cute puppies and chipmunks which needlework companies provide. At exorbitant prices, I might add.

    Austin of Ozmerst, I urge you to get those old apples IDed ASAP. I find that marigolds are some of the easiest plants to propagate, if one remembers that they come from Mexico and don’t like cold soil. Not even heirlooms, but solid open pollinated commercial varieties are being discontinued by the large nursery companies in favor of something that someone has patented. Often the variety is discontinued as soon as the PVP runs out. Don’t get me started on patent manipulation by rose companies. Have you tried winter sowing? I have found the method wonderfully productive and inexpensive.

  155. Stefania: the book that changed my life was “Pretending To Be Normal.” If your daughter doesn’t know about her diagnosis now, she should; her reaction could well be, as mine was “Oh! That explains so very, very MUCH!” And the book is very readable.

    I’m not sure how old she is, but maybe puberty is knocking her off balance. It certainly did me.

  156. If ‘redistribution’ of wealth might modify the collapse, it might help that universal healthcare is already everywhere (except U.S.) and universal basic income (aka Basic Income Guarantee – BIG, etc) is also getting a lot of attention and pilot experiments (google Scott Santens for info).. also, everywhere, except in the U.S.

  157. JMG,
    I’m sure this has been asked by people before, not necessarily of you, tho. Regarding the reincarnation of particularly hideous people, Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, for example, would they be sent so far back, like bacteria or cockroaches, for example, that by the time they ever reach humanity or some other sentient, advanced species, they would have no memory of their former, hideous selves? Just wondering what teachings say about the reincarnation of tyrants, etc.

  158. Robert Mathiesen says:
    March 1, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    Stefania, I’m not really neurotypical, either.

    Robert, I’m not convinced that anyone is neurotypical. At first, that might sound sort of flip, but I’ve been around a medium-long time, and observed people all over this country (USA) and indeed in various parts of the world, and everyone I’ve ever encountered seems to have something going on.

    Obviously some of it is cultural. Some educational. Some childhood issues. Etc. Psychological, you might say. It’s hard to tease it all apart, because the contingencies of one’s life affects one’s neural development, which of course feeds back to the path of one’s life, and on and on. And what’s “neurotypical” in one context might not be in another.

    Now, in my 60’s, I seem to be recognizing some neurological issues/traits/habits(?) in myself that have made me the strange (but likeable! 🙂 person that I am. Some come from traumatic physical injuries to the head at a young age, some from traumatic psychic injuries that I just put off processing for decades, because too painful for a 6 year old. And so they just scarred over.

    I’m dealing with this now, and I don’t really think there is any label or diagnosis or indeed prognosis for my particular and unique deal. I don’t particularly care, either. I just get on as best I can. I am lucky that I have family and friends who appreciate me as I am.

    Everyone seems to love a diagnosis, a label for their particular weirdness. But I think a lot of such labels are false precision, as if some profession or other actually know what’s going on. NO, I don’t think all such is useless, but I sometimes think too much power is yielded over to that sort of thing.

    Think adjective instead of noun: You may have (this or that) tendency, but you are not a (this or that). (This or that) tendency can come from many different places. It might simply be down to wiring, in the end. But what is ‘normal’ wiring? What suits industrial capitalism? Just what is so normal about that?

  159. @Michael Hardy
    Re: human sacrifice
    Human sacrifice was a characteristic of Bronze Age culture. It essentially vanished in the Iron Age, well over a thousand years before Jesus.

    @Justin
    Re: Sex trafficking censorship law.

    I haven’t heard anything in the tech news about Google’s and Facebook’s reactions. I should, however, note that Google has just hired 10,000 human moderators to ride herd on UTube, and they’ve just given one of the major players at Infowars a lifetime ban from UTube. Then there’s the EU “right to be forgotten” laws, where the EU has just said that they have to react within two hours.

    I should also point out that both of these live and die by advertising revenue, and advertisers these days don’t want their advertisements to appear next to sleazy content.

    The sex trafficking law is really aimed at one site: Backpage. I expect that Google, Facebook and so forth will simply add it to the list of things their moderators look at, and add it to their AIs at some point. You don’t find a significant amount of soliciting elsewhere, other than possibly on some dating sites.

  160. Justin,

    Facebook and Google are indeed backing the law, through the Internet Association.

    Shane,

    As a member of the iGeneration (born 1995, and so on the old side but still part of it), your characterization is too nice. The upcoming generation is mostly digital addicts. At least we tend to be more honest about it though. Additonally, many of us are total pushover, who are unable to stand for anything, and a large number of us are absolutely convinced the usual rules of (ex) politeness do not apply to me, oh no, why would they?

    JMG,

    I’m curious about two things with regards to tainted egregors: would I be mostly safe since I am doing practices exclusively in private and not part of a group or do I need to keep an eye out for the tainted effects of the AODA and OBOD, and if so, what do I need to keep an eye out for?

    Second, does the effect also apply to civil religions? Communism doesn’t appear to have anything that should so reliably lead to such massive bloodbaths, for example…….

  161. JMG:

    Infinitives! My correspondence showed
    Another code for Dragon, Grail, and Goad
    By Providence’s Radagast bestowed–
    It chatters in the chambers of my Hod

    East Providence is a lucky town. Thanks for your help!

    Finding useful names, as you surely know, is a great challenge on Chattering Planet these days. I’ve used esse to contemplate 1 for a while. It works with varying mileage as you wrote. Ferre is new to me.

    Saturn’s Pet

  162. JMG,

    One other thought: is it possible that some of the issues of a tainted egregor relate to the god worshiped? If, the god has some imbalance it strikes me as possible that it would impact its worshipers

  163. This just in. Here is some more interesting news coming out of Russia. Earlier today, the Russian Aerospace Force unveiled a new hypersonic missile known as the Kinzhal (“Dagger”), which travels at speeds in excess of Mach 10 and can be launched by several different types of fighter and attack aircraft, including MiG-31’s, Su-30’s, Su-34’s and Su-35’s. It’s reported to already be in service with fighter squadrons of the Southern Military District.

    If these reports are true, this is a major game changer for naval warfare. Also note that in the live fire test footage below, the missile was employed against a bunker, so it can attack both ships and land targets. The Russians already have at least four different types of hypersonic missile in service that I am aware of, but Kinzhal is much faster and harder to intercept.

    http://www.snafu-solomon.com/2018/03/kinzhal-dagger-just-made-carrier.html

    The story concludes by saying

    But no matter what are the procedures for the launch of this terrifying weapon, the conclusions are simple:

    1. It moves aircraft carriers into the niche of pure power projection against weak and defenseless adversaries;
    2. It makes classic CBGs (Carrier Battle Groups) as main strike force against peer completely obsolete and useless, it also makes any surface combat ship defenseless regardless its air-defense capabilities.
    3. Sea Control and Sea Denial change their nature and merge. Those who have such weapon, or weapons, simply own vast spaces of the sea limited by the ranges of Kinzhal and its carriers.

    I don’t want to sound dramatic and I knew that there were and are always surprises in Soviet/Russian weapons but today’s revelations from the highest podium in Russia about Kinzhal were shocking. The balance of power just shifted dramatically, with it the naval warfare as we knew it is no more. It is OVER!

    Given that tensions are growing again over Syria, perhaps the Russians are trying to head off the need for a Twilight’s Last Gleaming by moves like this and deploying a detachment of their new stealth fighters last week to Khmeimim Air Base.

    Video simulation, including footage from a live-fire missile test, showing how the Kinzhal works.

  164. JMG: You have mentioned in a number of places the possible role of ultralight planes in the future. I agree because of their simplicity and potential for low tech flight. A few of us continue to work on man carrying ornithopters, just for the fun of it. The technological problems are considerable, but we are convinced that the right combination of tech and knowledge could produce a viable aircraft. We’ll see.

  165. @Darkest Yorkshire

    I used to style myself as an anarchist, but over the years have become somewhat more “practical.” Most of the anarchists I have known all managed to scratch out a living at the margins while maintaining their integrity. But even there, hidden in the intentional communities, co-ops, and cabins, they have to face the same primary human failings: we are dark and envious primates.

    One of the greatest things about getting older is that I no longer feel the need to know everything or have a position or cure for the ills of civilization. I certainly no longer recognize anyone as an authority worth following. Wait, does that mean I’m an anarchist again?!

  166. John Michael Greer wrote:
    “I wonder whether there’s a basic introduction to the whole field of alternative healing.”

    There is none, I’m afraid, because it would be highly illegal. One would need to make a lot of contortions to publish such a thing and not be sued into oblivion, unless anonymous material popped out somewhere.

    And healthcare is a lot like feeding and magic, there is no One True Way to it. Local resources, mainly because of the long descent, will be the only thing available when you can’t anymore order items with the practically free shipping available today (books are already making me suffer; importing foreign books with the current USPS rates is not being a pleasant experience, even using a shipping consolidation service).

    In any case, the time to do this is yesterday. Start looking for free ebooks if you will, and get paper versions of those that appeal the most to you. Exotic foreign books might be of little value. You will need something perhaps more local, specially about plants.

  167. JMG – thanks for the advice!

    In your comment to Karl, you said you thought feudalism would be abortive in dark age North America. Since the dark age has passed, in my story it won’t matter much beyond background, but I’m curious, why would put we have feudalism coming out of the dark age? Especially if they could monopolize gunpowder production?

    I get that guns will level the playing field somewhat, but guns need capable hands to wield them. It’s one thing for someone like a dark age subsistence farmer to own a gun, and even be a decent shot with it. It’s quite another for said person to fight as part of a platoon or fire team. Small unit drilling makes a single rifleman (or woman) about four times more potent on a battlefield that an bunch of chumps running around shooting at whatever comes into their field of (adrenaline clouded) vision. Couldn’t a feudal class emerge out of the trainer remnants of war bands?

  168. John, I too was frightened by Hillary’s desperate need to prove herself a better man than Putin. I think mankind might have dodged a nuclear bullet there.

  169. Hiya, I was wondering what your thoughts are surrounding what the climate is doing at the moment. This year seems to have hit a tipping point in what’s happening to the Arctic (been the warmest year yet down here in NZ) and this seems to be starting to effect Europe (although perhaps I am mistaken in my thinking that the two are related). I’m wondering if you think things will follow the trajectory that some scientists have laid out with global warming being a precursor to ice ages or if the carbon we’ve released is in too large quantities and that any cooling will be just part of a larger cycle. I was crossing my toes for an ice age although I by no means think this is a pleasant option just more pleasant than the worry of Alaskas permafrost defrosting and the planet not being able to correct herself. I’m trying to nut it out but am so far from an expert I’d like to hear more thoughts on the subject.

  170. Dark ages also tend to produce the best epic poetry; can you imagine a grand epic in which the heroes do battle in ultralight planes?

    You just gave me a great idea for a story. Thanks.

  171. Simo, one of the things that inevitably happens when a system has been pushed far enough past its equilibrium is that it goes into “surge behavior’ — you get sudden jolts this way and that, and somewhere in the midst of it all the equilibrium shifts and then it settles down again in a different state. We’re in that process with regard to climate. As for tunnels, it depends on the local geology, but tunnels through stable rock ought to be good for a very long time, and thus will have a serious impact on political and economic geography.

    John, the problem is choosing what you’re going to get pictures of. Birds can’t be told, “Okay, now we need some good photos of the fortifications over on that side of the border.” You may just end up with great aerial pictures of a nice wetland full of tasty rodents instead.

    Nastarana, delighted to hear it. I wonder what will be the next big fashion among adults — rattles? Teething rings? Wearing diapers?

    Nancy, I remain highly suspicious of money-for-nothing schemes, but we’ll see.

    Shane, it’s entirely a modern thing to focus on the vices of tyrants as though they’re something far more extreme than the vices of ordinary human beings. A tyrant is simply a nasty human being who happens to have charisma and executive ability; there are plenty of people who are just as vicious as Pol Pot, say, but who lack the talent to act out their nastiness on the large scale. Of course there’s karma to be faced, but a competent and energetic tyrant may well figure out how to deal with that constructively sooner than a passive but equally nasty person.

    Will, watch for groupthink. If in your interactions with either order, everyone you encounter from that order starts to sound the same, it may be time to back away. Other than that, though, you should be fine. And yes, emphatically, it applies to civil religions, and also to other kinds of groups and organizations. You can get a tainted sphere in a political party, a university department, a Little League team, and more.

    Pet, you’re most welcome. Latin is a favorite language of mine — it’s so easy to think clearly in it! — and so two important irregular Latin verbs just begged for a third…

    Will, oh, no question, when you get a tainted sphere in a religious context the worst habits of the god will inevitably be reflected in the worshipers.

    CR, you’re most welcome.

    Armata, yep. The Sarmat missile is also a pretty impressive piece of hardware. I also note that our supposedly subservient client state in Iraq is negotiating with the Russians to buy an S-400 air defense system, and the US authorities are of course having kittens — why, they should buy our much less effective system instead! Interesting times…

    Michael, I wish you well. In the meantime, there are effective ultralight designs that can be used with existing technology, so one way or another, the airborne heroes of the next dark age will have their day!

    Packshaud, it would still be legal under current conditions to do a book that explains the various modalities without advocating for their use. Me, I settled on the alternative health care I want a long time ago.

    Ben, no, because it only takes about six to eight weeks of systematic training to turn a peasant into a soldier who can fire a gun effectively, as opposed to the years of training needed to make someone a competent fighter with non-firearm weapons. That’s so low a threshold, and the advantages to communities that do this are so large, that in every historical case, once guns came on the scene, either feudalism collapsed or guns were banned. (Japan in the Tokugawa period is the great example of the latter.) As long as guns remain in use, those leaders that build large peasant armies and equip them with guns will reliably conquer those leaders that try to restrict guns to the elite.

    This doesn’t mean that the societies of the future will be egalitarian. In ancient Greece, where the pike-armed phalanx did in feudalism just as effectively, the old aristocracy was promptly replaced by a class of wealthy urbanites, and savage struggles between them and the poorer masses followed just as promptly.

    Fuzzy, no argument there.

    Rose, the planet will correct itself, it just won’t return to the conditions we’re used to. One of the things you can learn from paleoclimatology is that Earth’s climate routinely goes through sudden drastic shifts; the current example is being caused by a different driving force, but it’s not unusual in any other way. That is to say, we’re going to get a whacking dose of climate chaos, followed by a return to equilibrium under very different climatic conditions.

    Armata, glad to hear it.

  172. Justin,

    That is absolutely fascinating and could be a major game changer. I have a friend who works for the local economic development agency where I live and he was telling me about a similar product developed by a company in Portland, Oregon. Made from wood, based on the same principle as fibreglass and both super strong and lightweight. There’s a company that’s building a skyscraper from this new material. Imagine that, a skyscraper made out of wood. I’ll see if I can dig up the link he sent me.

    If such a material can be made in an ecotechnic economy, that would solve the main problem with using wood in warship hulls if explosive artillery is available. Conventional wooden hulls splinter badly when hit by explosive shells, turning the ship into a deathtrap. But a wooden hulls made from the material you were talking about would be stronger than steel hulls. It would also make shipbuilding a much more sustainable endeavor, because the material is made from a renewable resource. Such a material also has obvious uses in aircraft and a lot of other technologies. I will definitely want to take a closer look at this one.

  173. The S-400 seems to be the new gold standard when it comes to air defense systems. In addition to Iraq and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also announced plans to buy S-400’s. I read an interview with an American military analyst who flat out admitted that reason why the Saudis are buying the S-400 is because it is superior to the latest American air defense systems, which I thought was a truly stunning admission.

  174. JMG: “…now we need some good photos of the fortifications over on that side of the border.” You may just end up with great aerial pictures of a nice wetland full of tasty rodents instead.”:

    This reminded me of pictures I saw on TV recently showing army deployment in a beautiful natural landscape and thinking that those poor trees, plants and wild animals (the latter not visible in the pictures of course) just had to put up with humans with anthropocentric blinkers.

  175. JMG: you write :”… I’m very much in favor of legislation that would make internet hosting companies and people who run websites responsible for what they permit on their servers and sites. From trolls who hound people to suicide, through thieves who steal the creative work of others…”

    I would be interested to know where you place the limit since we share a common culture and these cultural commons are made of repeating or elaborating the same ideas (progress, climate change, biodiversity crisis, etc etc). Is the unacceptable limit copying a whole text word for word and putting one’s name as author or borrowing a theme etc.

    .To elaborate on what I mean here is a quote from a French author, Jacques Fradin: The richness of every person is first of all humanity’s. We are creators of very lilttle. Neither Montaigne who made his honey from every pollen nor Mozart who did the music he loved without worrying about what inspired him. It is not intellectual pirating: the best things are made to be shared.”

    (La richesse de chacun est d’abord celle de l’humanité. Nous ne sommes créateurs que de bien peu de choses. Ni Montaigne qui faisait son miel de tous les pollens de la connaissance, ni Mozart qui faisait la musique qu’il aimait sans se soucier de ce qui l’inspirait. Ce n’est pas du piratage intellectuel, les meilleures choses étant faites pour être partagées.)

  176. PS Re my comment on internet legislation, I’m talking about “stealing creative work” and of course not about “trolls who hound people to suicide” which is of course totally unaceptable and should absolutely be forbidden and prevented.

  177. @Jonathan – That “antibiotic resistance is costly for an organism to carry around” has been theorised, but is unlikely to be true. Streptococcus are by no means the only bacteria who share genes (via plasmid). They all share genes, and that antibiotic resistance genes are among those that are prolifically shared accords a lot better with the speed and spread of resistance than other theories.

    As to “overuse” of antibiotics, many substances that are widely used in agriculture, such as glyphosate, have antibiotic properties and drive antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria. We have entered a war of attrition with the bacterial world that we really cannot win. Hopefully we do not entirely lose, either.

  178. JMG, what do you think of the notion that human will utilise the ocean for food, power and living space more in the future? Possibly via these methods…
    -farming seaweed and saltwater plants that grow on the beach
    -making electricity from wave power devices and OTEC plants (ocean thermal energy convertersion)
    -seasteading and underwater habitats

  179. Hi JMG,

    As we shifted from being a more low-energy society based on agricultural labour to a more automated society based on manufacturing work in factories, the centre of production shifted out of the home and into the factory, both in practice and inside of people’s heads.

    Now that our economy is providing mostly service jobs rather than manufacturing jobs, has our idea of centre of production shifted again? Where is it now, culturally speaking? And over the next several decades where do you think it might pass through on its way back home?

  180. I’d like to give my two pennies’ worth on the question of whether people diagnosed as psychotic are safe practising ritual magic.

    I myself have been diagnosed as psychotic and I practice ritual magic daily (8 months into the course in ‘Learning Ritual Magic’ co-authored by our esteemed host).

    While I’m sure John Michael’s assertion that people with said diagnosis very often find that magic worsens their symptoms is based on good evidence, for me this has not been the case. On the contrary, I’ve found learning magic, albeit challenging, overall very salutary for my mental wellbeing.

    Perhaps my case is somewhat exceptional. I had a psychotic break in late 2016 after several months of progressive psychological deterioration, and was (technically voluntarily, but more at the behest of my parents) admitted to a psychiatric hospital for monitoring. I was assessed by several psychiatrists in there and diagnosed by one as psychotic, by a couple of others as suffering from depersonalisation syndrome, so there was some disagreement as to what label to stick on me.

    Also, I was very stubborn in refusing to take any of the medications they were offering. Since reading R.D. Laing’s ‘The Divided Self’ when I was at uni, and then subsequently after I became unwell doing more research into what I guess you could call the anti-psychiatry movement, I became more and more disillusioned by modern psychiatry’s model of mental illness, particularly how it conceives of psychotic states as symptoms of a chronic and usually lifelong brain disease from which there is no hope of recovery, only of alleviating some of the symptoms through long-term use of medications often with devastating, disabling and in many cases life-threatening side-effects. Instead, I came to believe that any individual, no matter how unpleasant and irregular their experience of the world, no matter whether or how far the neurochemical composition of their brain diverges from the norm, can find their own way of relating to the unique combination of different parts that constitute who they are and thereby achieve some kind of balance.

    In my own case, I was certain that the distress I was experiencing was not just the result of aberrant brain chemicals, but that there was an environmental basis for it, although I had no idea what this might be when I was first breaking down, just a conviction. So I sought out psychotherapy; and sure enough, through that process I have begun to uncover psychological roots to my condition.

    In particular, I’ve come to understand that part of the reason for my breakdown was a sudden loss of meaning in my life. For a couple of years prior I had been an obsessive follower of a certain New Age guru who shall remain nameless. But then something happened that tested the belief-system I’d swallowed whole from this person and made me see that it had a hollow ring. This was catastrophic for me, as I’d pinned all my hopes and dreams on this philosophy. Retrospectively I can see that it allowed me to escape from underlying issues of a fairly mundane, quotidian nature into a kind of spiritual fantasyland.

    In the wake of my disillusionment with this, desperately trying to fill the semantic void that had opened up, and up out of which all manner of repressed shadow-creatures began to creep, I swung to the other extreme, and tried to embrace a cold, hard-line scientific materialism. Having practised Buddhist meditation rather intensively for the previous few years this was rather an ill fit! It quickly lead me to nihilism, and it wasn’t long afterwards I was hospitalised.

    To cut a long story short, I believe that discovering magic was very helpful for me because I saw that it could be a middle way between the two extremes of the New Age isn’t-eveything-wonderful-there-are-no-problems mindset and the nihilistic and self-contradictory scientific materialist mindset; and roughly this is what it has proven to be in practice.

    So I suppose what I’m trying to say is that everybody is individual, no matter what their diagnosis, and so how they will react to a given stimulus is never a foregone conclusion, there being all sorts of subtle factors involved beyond the obvious. I understand John Michael’s initial statement was based on a generalisation, so I’m not seeking to refute it. I suppose it just made me reflect on why magic might have been so useful and largely unproblematic for me. But if the general trend is as he says it is, then I can’t question his stance of advising against people diagnosed as psychotic taking up magic. Indeed, if I was aware of that in advance, I doubt I would have ever taken it up! Funny how things go.

    I will just say this to finish. The consensus worldview of our culture, i.e. nihilistic scientific materialism, can also be very damaging to psychotics and non-psychotics alike, and I would caution anyone against taking up THAT. I say that without flippancy and not to downplay the risks in practising magic.

    Albert

  181. @Shane W
    Re: Reincarnation of Tyrants.

    That gets into karma, and different teachings have really different ideas. In the Michael Teaching, the entire human experience is taken, [I[as a human[/I] from first incarnation to last incarnation. The idea you mention is not possible. JMG, of course, follows a different tradition. The system works the way it works, and our opinions of how it works or should work have absolutely no bearing on the matter. As in all things, we will find out after we shed our current bodies and can see a bit more clearly.

    The first thing is to disabuse yourself of the idea that these people grabbed power and nobody else was responsible for the mass slaughter. Hitler was given power by the German people, he did not simply come out of nowhere and grab power with everyone else against him.

    The German people at the time [I]wanted[/I] a “final solution” to the Jewish “problem.” Hitler did not go out on Krystalnacht (the night of broken glass) and smash all those windows personally. He did not personally escort all those Jews and Rom to the death camps. There were a lot of people involved, and it was quite popular for a time.

    Mass event karma (which this is) has to be satisfied in some kind of additional mass event. The last I heard, and this was some time ago, Hitler’s next incarnation was as a medical researcher working on cures for major diseases.

    There’s a lot of societal karma that needs to be balanced, and it does not all fall on Hitler’s head. One facet of that is that the people who were concerned about the direction things were going stood by, wrung their hands and [I]did nothing[/I]. That karma has to be balanced, and some of that balancing is happening right here and now.

  182. Hey JMG–

    So I’m rather curious. What plays and playwrights are you familiar with?

    I don’t know if I mentioned this, but the first time I heard the name Oswald Spengler was in a stage direction in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” That play is psychologically apocryphal as to some of the dynamics of our contemporary times, and I think Albee was in many ways a prophet. (It’s the book that George quotes from at the end of Act Two and then throws t the wall just before Honey steps onstage in her strange otherworldly mindset.) Also, for a strangely spiritual play, J.B. Priestley wrote a play years before its time called “Time and the Conways.” Act One is at this girl’s 18th birthday c. WW1. At the end of Act 1, she sees something outside the picture window and the curtain falls.. Act 2 is when the woman is turning 40, and we see where everyone else ends up 22 years later. Act 3 goes back to the 18th birthday party, and devastatingly, we see that everything is already set up for 22 years in the future, right there at this celebration.

    In terms of other prophets, Christopher Durang and Wallace Shawn have also alluded to some future directions as well. “Betty’s Summer Vacation” and “the designated mourner” have a lot to say about the underlying sickness in our culture. My favorite theater-writer, Maria Irene Fornes, wrote a mysterious play called “What of the Night” which is a collection of four one-acts about the members of this family from the 1930s through to a time of an unspecified economic and social collapse in the future. (Along those lines, Paul Schmitt’s translation of “Uncle Vanya” is a revelation–who knew that Chekhov was familiar with environmentalism in turn-of-the-century Russia?)

    While I’ve been venturing into writing gay romantic comedies for film of late, I would like to focus on writing some plays or films that would start to address moving towards a more naturally-grounded existence. I’m also curious about how to transform the nature of conflict such that the notion of “good guys vs. bad guys” gets a thorough examination as a malevolent thought form. I have come to see most of these tropes as “bad guys like me” vs. “bad guys not like me.”

    I debated about posting something with both your last post on the Babbitt Fallacy and the posts about Thought-stoppers. Those could be excellent springboards for short play festivals. I’m already toying with using some of these in a play that I’d like to write, to get out of a difficult time with writer’s block I have endured due to a surgery I had, and then getting sick from the crud this past year. I wonder if there are theaters that might be open to such experiments?

  183. Dear Mr Greer

    I understand that Stephen Stinker, sorry I mean Stephen Pinker has another book out telling us that we’ve never been richer, safer, and more free than at any time is history. Now I know its easy to knock holes in Pinker’s thesis. There are were plenty in the working classes who don’t see it that way and its certainly become more difficult to maintain this facade of progress since the crash of 2008. However when you look at the way wealth has spread to India and China and the way millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last 30 years; I have to admit that they may be some truth in what he says.

    This has got me thinking recently about the way the narrative of peak oil is portrayed. If you were too take a casual look at the way it was reported in the media and on doomer sites you would think that peak oil was the point when oil runs out, when our industrial civilisation will collapse and we get famine, war and go medieval. Now this simply is not true. Peak oil is the point at which oil production reaches its highest point, which is also the point at which global wealth reaches its highest point. Therefore the point that Stephen Pinker makes that we’ve never been richer, safer or more free in our history is completely compatible with peak oil and it is easy for him find loads of statistics to back it up. Unfortunately the point at which civilisation reaches its peak in terms of material wealth is also the point it starts to go down hill. This is what makes it so difficult for us to see whats happening.

    I think that this is one point that has never been made enough of in the peak oil sphere and is one of the reasons why it has been so difficult for us to get our message over. I know that you are always warning that this will be a slow collapse and I wondered what you think of this point.

  184. JMG
    Oops, I missed something. Quote: “tainted sphere in a religious context”. This sounds an interesting shorthand explanation, but from whence comes the ‘taint’, and how does it stick? Are we talking mostly Christianity and its history; war, atrocity etc in the name of the God? Does it ‘stick’ in the symbols, the re-written histories, the hagiographies?

    By and large small rural churches dating back to early medieval seemed OK when I was a child, but when I came across Church of England services in action very occasionally from when I was 5 – 10, I experienced a rapid reaction to the various symbols and symbolic acts, as well as to the ‘authoritarian’ sermonizing. The latter was really only a single experience, but it was a bad intro – I was indignant at the presumption. For examples of symbols, the eagles, the crosses, – even the concept of holy altar – were experienced as profoundly alien. Birds were birds to me, wonderfully alive. And, trees were trees, even when you could feel the ‘tree presence’ beneath the bark when you climbed! And later when I had cared for cows and a bull, my first sight of a Spanish TV bullfight again filled me with indignation at the human posturing.

    I do not pretend to be ‘holier than thou’. I remember when one niece as a child told me off – me the grown man – for a casual bit of bad social posturing. Her expostulation stuck ‘forever’ and I have been grateful.

    Clean up the temple! Seems like an ongoing task: urbanites privileged by extractions from trades, peasants of all trades, hunter gatherers, gardeners, classical or modern, dark age or at the peak of their game. A big message seems to come across from a number of comments this week. Be careful which temple you attend and how you instruct children.

    best
    Phil H

  185. corydalidae,

    Just want to put in a plug for and at the same time a cautionary note on humanure. I use this system at home in Maine. I follow the rules as laid out very carefully in the Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins. I can’t recommend it enough. If you follow the rules and live in a reasonably warm environment it works just fine. If, as you mention, you live somewhere cold then you really will need to think through the details. This year our waste stopped composting earlier than expected in the fall and then, of course froze, in the winter creating way more waste that would normally be expected all of which is a biohazard that cannot be ignored or taken lightly. We keep our waste in a greenhouse but even so it freezes in the winter and piles up. So you need extra space for it and have to let it compost a lot longer. Also carrying the heavily laden buckets out into the freezing weather and cleaning them is an arduous process to say the least. Humanure is hard meticulous work that requires real thought planning and a lot of monitoring and intervention. Even so it is cheaper than a septic system and it does work just not easily. The more room you have and the less danger of running water or ground water contamination the easier it is.

  186. This question is a bit odd, but I don’t know of another place where I could ask.

    Why did the Greco-Roman centaurs as monsters vanish from the popular imagination? I’m here wondering what created that image in the first place.

    I guess the extraterrestrials will also go away with the Long Descent (one of my favorite used bookstores closed its UFO section for lack of titles and interest).

    And what kind of “spirit” could they have been?

  187. I’ve had a realization about my response to the change in internet law: I hadn’t given it enough thought to have an informed opinion. Having given it more thought, the idea hosts of websites should not be liable for what they allow on is not something I support.

    I was opposed not because I’d thought about it, but because I hadn’t and was applying a mental heuristic: look at who supports it, then go from there.

    Additionally, most of the supporters of the bill I’d spoken to acted like opposing it meant you personally were in favor of sex trafficking (while most opponents are acting like it’s going to cause mass censorship of everything, sigh), which did not convince me.

    There’s still parts of it I disagree with, but holding hosts/owners liable is sound.

  188. The idea of a post decline dark ages would indeed make for some top notch raps! Sad thing that I won’t get to hear any of it, what with mortality and all that. I hope future incarnations are music fans.

    Still there is a strange fascination in dreaming of such things. My bias is that gun weilding infantry will persist, and that those troups will be capable enough that a comparable force of Civil War era infantry would be very routed. Most of the innovations in rifels which were deployed in the civil war will still be available, but there will be no need to revert to the suicidal massed tactics that persisted well into the first World War. Any one who can call to their service a decent chunk of an areas population to go forth with rifels would trounce an opponent relient on a smaller vanguard of professionals. Though, to be fair professional fighters and specialists of various kinds will remain highly employable through out.

    Two other technologies might make a comparable impact to bear consideration. Radio and explosives generally.

    I can barely imagine the tacticle difference that radio would make, a force with the recon potentials and the power to communicate, would route a force not thus advantaged. How this effects the nature of political orginization I would guess will be profound, but I don’t have context to think all that clearly about such things. What I can guess is that there could be “political entities” with serious martial capabulity which exist far more geographically defusely that would be possible when the ‘nerves’ of such an entity had to physically connect. Consider for instance a region the size of a large state where five or more political entities geographically overlapped, constantly ready to tweet out a war cry and insergence upon one another. The means by which bonds of loyalty and willingness to participate in such things are engendered, could undergo some rapid evolution to adjust. I imagine rap battles on the waves rallying folks to different factions, and folks thus provoked turning to local leadership to form insergent platoons against one another, in times of extreme warfair targeting one anothers broadcasting powers, as antennia are prized political capitol as castles once were.

    The second case of explosive generally refers to the fact that much more dangerous nitrogen based explosives have been developed since black powder, and several of them are under no obligation to be forgotten in a decline. Expensive, yes, but there are ways of sequestering nitrogen that would be a justified military expendature. It might cost alot to make the explosive, but enough less than it costs to build a wall fortification that the latter fall from popularity. I have considered the possibulity of more diffuse defences. Instead of an inpenetrable wall, a community might maintain a landscape of traps and ambushes, such that topographical familuarity is as overwhelming a factor as can be. Invaders on another groups turf would be at a disadvantage only to be overcome by hard earned familuarity.

    The last factor that I want to throw out is that the potential of arming women is much better with guns than with upperbody strength based weapons. It means that routing your enemies army and entering their towns may be the calm before the storm.

  189. JMG – Just another thanks for your weekly efforts. This blog and its predecessors have helped me become a decent homebrewer; a dedicated gardener; a kinder husband, father, son, and friend; as well as more nuanced in my own views, more understanding of the views of those with whom I disagree, and more dedicated to the Buddhist tradition to which I converted two-plus decades ago. Keep up the excellent work! May your wife’s health recover completely so that you can get back to that garden.

    P.S. Interesting to read about the “meat spirits” visualized at Catholic Churches and SF author Gene Wolfe in the same comments section. Wolfe is a convert to Catholicism, and a quick Google search reveals that Catholicism is all over his SF work. More meaningful coincidence?

  190. JMG,

    I apologize in advance for a long rambling post, but I need to explain where the questions are coming from.

    Something you mentioned to someone else about magical studies triggered a series of meditations. For some reason, the ritual/meditation/divination triad made me think of the 3 rays of light, each a point at the end of the 3 rays, with Awen flowing down to all three from a single point. It struck me that this formed a tetrahedron, and I thought the fourth point of the tetrahedron in this particular instance, ought to be study. However, since study is on par with the others and shouldn’t be the one necessarily associated with Awen, the tetrahedron could be rotated as appropriate so that any of the 4 points are at the apex, and Awen can come through any of the points to illuminate the other 3.

    All points are connected to the others and affect the others. Moreover, each face of the tetrahedron has a different combination of the four points (meditation, divination, study, for example, instead of ritual, divination, meditation). This strikes me as a useful model to understand how we can emphasize different aspects at different times of magical development. In the course of any one lifetime, then, it would be OK to focus on only one face of the tetrahedron (for example, the meditation, study, and divination face if the circumstances of your life don’t permit you to do ritual). The “shadow point” (the one not focused on) is always there anyway. And another lifetime would permit you to focus on a different face, touching on two of the three points of the previous face.

    The first question I had was, for this setup, would you use something other than study as the fourth point of a magical development path? That is, am I missing another more important aspect that would be better as the fourth point, with study being diffused to all four as an aspect of each one? The reason this matters to me is that I am very strongly drawn to study (though I don’t have near enough time to do what I’d like to do with it.)

    My other question had to do with the grade of each point. As we turn our attention to magical studies, we increase the “intensity”, for lack of a better word, of each point. My thinking is there is a continuum for each that would possibly look like this

    random impulses > specific habits > ritual > ?
    random disconnected thoughts > puzzling about things and trying to see patterns > meditation > ?
    vague feeling of anticipation (?) > guessing possible outcomes of choices > divination > ?
    ignorance > listening to what others tell us > serious study > ?

    These are not necessarily correct, I’m just trying to illustrate a continuum. My question had to do with the next level of each one. As developing mages, we are working at the level of ritual, meditation, and divination, but I wondered if there was an intensity level beyond each one, and whether you have experienced or worked at the next level?

  191. To those commenters talking about how current militaries are unable to field more than a fraction of their force due to lack of supplies or working equipment. I would like to point out that this has been an endemic problem for militaries for long time. I remember talking with my father, who was British military, about the battlefield readiness tests they would undertake in West Germany back in the 1970s & 80s. Even back then, most armoured units would have to use one units as spares to field another unit, and this was true of all the NATO militaries involved. Certain “observations” noted that it was true of the Russian and Warsaw Pact forces too.

    This is mainly because its easier to secure funding to buy new toys than it is to fund maintenance on the existing stuff. In accounting terms, its the difference between CapEx and OpEx and most modern businesses have the same problem.

    I’m not saying that things aren’t in decline, but you need to separate out the known existing problems with the new ones coming from over stretch. As a rough barometer, I’ve been looking at what is the most expensive thing a military force can do as part of its standard operations. For the US it is field a nuclear carrier group at sea. The US has 12 carriers, however, at its absolute best, it could never field more than half of those due to training/refits/crew availability/etc. What we typically see is 3-4 carrier groups at sea at any one time, and one of those is normally either training or undergoing sea trials post refit. If this number drops for a brief period of time, then its probably simply operational tempo and calendar related, if its for an extended period, then its probably budgetary or accident related. At one point about a year or two ago, it dropped to just a single carrier group, but it has climbed back to 3 what with Syria, North Korea and other commitments. It’ll be interesting to see whether it drops back or remains at 3.

    The other thing to look at is what second line military units are getting. If budgeting becomes tight, they are likely to feel the hit first. For those of you out there with sources in the National Guard (or local equivalent) and can get them to talk, then ask them whether they are seeing a reduction in spare parts, equipment and available, working vehicles. If, over time, your conversations show that the decline is extended and continuing to worsen, then its a sign of problems coming in the future.

    In the UK military, we’ve seen decades of unit consolidation, reductions in ship and aircraft counts, etc. All supposedly part of the process of “making a modern military”. However, we’ve now reached the point where there are serious conversations about removing our ability to remotely deploy entirely and just turn the UK military into an adjunct to the US military. Pretty much the final move in what used to be an empire and is now struggling to just be an island. Or, as a friend said to me, we’ve trimmed the fat, then we cut to the bone and now we are dismembering the skeleton.

  192. John Roth – vanished in Europe. It was still practiced all over MesoAmerica at the time the Conquistadores landed, and they were deeply shocked and disgusted by it.

  193. Dear JMG, thanks so much for this blog, and also in particular for the mention of ‘kegare’ in your post on WoG a while back, ‘Foundations of magical practice – ritual’. https://www.ecosophia.net/blogs-and-essays/the-well-of-galabes/foundations-of-magical-practice-ritual/

    That post made a big impression on me when I read it not long ago, but I don’t have a sense that magical ritual practice was necessarily the right way for me to proceed, as I have had some turbulent times in my mental health and also have young children in the house at present, the younger one not yet keeping a predictable pattern of sleeping and waking and so on. I’m not sure whether I belong in any other religious tradition than the one of well intentioned people doing their best to have a relationship with a divine being who loves them and the whole of the earth. But, I have started using a morning prayer which I ask God to help me, or to send angels to cleanse the parts of me which exists on the spiritual, mental, emotional and etheric planes, so that I am more able to receive and dwell in God’s grounded, balanced and harmonious energy.

    I felt that something beneficial was happening and when I asked this being what I could do to say thank you, I got the sense that when I do my cleaning and other house and garden work in the physical plane it’s appreciated by this spiritual power. In the early weeks I had a strong sense of layers of caked-on ‘grime’ falling away and now, three months in, I seem to be better able to focus and stay grounded during my day, and the place where I live seems to have a much brighter and more pleasant energy to it.

    I wanted to write and thank you because it seems to be at least somewhat effective for me, but also to ask — please tell me more about religious practices for purification which might have equivalent effects to banishing rituals in magic, and whether this kind of prayer has any negative side effects or risks to beware of, for a total beginner, please? Am I fooling myself that I am doing something different from ritual magic, which I have the greatest respect for but suspect is possibly not for me?

  194. corydalidae:

    Re: outhouses and composting toilets

    Speaking as one who has lived with septic systems and rural water for most of her live (well, at least since Mom, Dad, and I moved to the U.S. when I was a child), the overriding issue with these sorts of things is preventing possible contamination of drinking water supplies. That’s why most jurisdictions have strict rules about placement of septic tanks and leach fields in relation to wells and springs. Modern composting toilets don’t seem to pose as much of a risk, but in places that permit them there are still rules about where to locate and how to dispose of the contents. In the distant and not-so-distant past there was far less concern about such issues and the results were predictable. It’s pretty widely known that in early New England, hard cider was the drink of choice/necessity, because the alcohol in it killed any germs. Even before there was a knowledge of bacteria, drinking water from dodgy sources – like wells located near livestock pens – was understood to be dangerous.

    Vermont actually has some official guidance on the matter which might be of interest to you: http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wmp/SolidWaste/Documents/DEC%20Composting%20Toilet%20Guide_June2014_FINAL.pdf

  195. @Greg Simay

    As an exercise I once calculated the average energy consumption rate increase over recent history (my result, 2.01% growth using Wikipedia data), and used this to calculate black body radiation temperature for an object the size of Earth as the exponential growth of energy increased over time. (The Earth can only shed waste heat through black body radiation.) So even if we find some magical unlimited energy source, continued exponential growth will boil the oceans within 500 years — even neglecting all greenhouse effects. 300 years if you start from the Earth’s current black body temperature (source: NASA). So, another bottleneck for unrestrained growth. It is a relatively simple calculation using Excel, formulas for black body radiation, and widely available data sources.

  196. I missed my chance to jump into the discussion on the law of evolution a few weeks ago, and it was a conversation I had been very much wanting to jump in on, so I’ve been saving my thoughts for open post week. I recall within the book club conversation some discussion on the relationship between occult philosophy and the modern scientific concept of evolution. I’m not sure about a direct connection to the Druid Revival, but I do know Erasmus Darwin heavily influenced by Rosicrucianism and made Rosicrucian language central to his writings, I’ve often wondered if there was more occultism in the Lunar Society than history has chosen to remember. At any rate, Erasmus Darwin’s Botanic Garden is usually treated as a primitive pre-cursor to various modern scientific ideas and he’s usually regarded as an enlightenment materialist. But he was quite familiar with Rosicrucian philosophy and alchemy and saw the language of those traditions as the most useful symbols for describing the natural world. I don’t think I’ve ever seen his writings approached as occult literature, and the Rosicrucian symbolism is usually regarded as pure poetic metaphor and little else, but approaching it that way leads in some really interesting directions that overlap more than a little with the concept of Ecosophia, and whatever the actual mindset behind it was, it does show that in the 1780s (which was also the heyday of the Druid Revival), occult symbolism was at the very least being appropriated for use as metaphor in the first iterations of evolutionary biology.

  197. I feel pulled to work on a musical project and suddenly have some free time to do so. I am not sure if there is a market or an audience for this project, but I have long wanted to work on it. Because you have been able to make a living from being a writer, I hope it’s OK for me to ask: how did you manage to move from earning a living in other ways to doing so through writing? Did you know you had a market for the books you write before you started, or did you start writing about your interests and the market found you? There are so many pieces of art of all media in the world today, it makes it discouraging to try to add something of my own to that, when people have so little time to receive it amidst the flood of everyone else’s creative output – is this something that worried you when you first started? Thanks in advance!

  198. It came up much earlier in the thread–but the use of a word to mean it’s opposite–“my friend, buddy, etc, to address someone with whom you disagree is a form of “antiphrasis” defined as “a figure of speech in which a single word is used in a sense directly opposite to its usual meaning, . . as in the naming of a giant as ‘Tiny’ . . . : the briefest form of irony.” _Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms._ This would not apply to all the examples the original poster gave, but it is the general idea.

  199. JMG – I see your point. Absolute monarchies, oligarchies, theocracies or even republics might emerge post-dark age, but a full fledged feudal caste system with inherited titles and land ownership would be tough to make stick without firearm prohibition or some kind of monopoly on gunpowder production.

  200. JMG,

    I’d like to run another of my Dolmen Arch experiences by you. I’ve recently dubbed it “Psychic Static.” Basically I hear (in my mind but not my ear) fragments of speech, much like I would encounter were I walking through a crowd of people. The fragments are clear, distinct, and short – usually about half of a sentence – and while they make grammatical sense they are devoid of any context. They are often spoken in discernible (though not recognizable) voices.

    This used to happen to me when I was a teenager and was falling asleep, but hadn’t happened for several years until a few weeks ago, when it started happening during my practice of the Grand Psychic Breath. It happens at least half of the time I do the practice.

    Do you have any theories about what’s going on?

    Thanks,

    Alexander

  201. Hi JMG,

    I’m so excited about the anthology! Also, kudos for the number of books you’re publishing – I feel like you’ve announced a half dozen this year alone; so cool, and congratulations! I’m delighted to have made the cut and can’t wait to read the whole thing.

    I’m curious your thoughts on generational differences in maturity level. Robert Mathiesen mentioned last week about the supreme dearth of satisfying coming of age rituals in contemporary American life. This week, Nastarana mentioned the end of coloring books and you replied that other infantile crazes are catching on.

    It is my perception that the majority of people have not crossed the threshold into adulthood. Of course there are many notable exceptions to this, but nonetheless my perception holds. Most, young and old, seem to be stuck at some state of development where they do not take responsibility for themselves, or have adolescent type chronic and obvious gnawing insecurity.

    The few I have met are well outside the cultural mainstream, in fact most are people who have train-hopped which appears to me the ersatz adulthood ritual for millenials. I know that I had a summer of sneaking on to freight trains and it changed me.

    My cluster of questions are, from your perspective JMG, do you view this as a generational problem or more as “this is how people are” sort of situation? In other historical examples how long does this trend continue? It appears to me that the Baby Boomers, as a generation, didn’t grow up and that no generation yet has, en masse, reached adulthood. That’s a whole slew of people born between, roughly, 1950-2000, which equals a huge rend in the social fabric, if my analysis hold true. How were these gaps bridged in prior civilizations in deep decline?

  202. @gkb: Foul-friend can’t stand on its own in this case; it needs a snob/snub/sneer part to show the intent to deprecate (I’ve never seen strangers use “my friend” for any other purpose).
    A portmanteau is a good idea but it helps if the reader can reasonably guess, on first sight, which two words make up the portmanteau. Combining belittle and befriend could produce “belittlefriend” (just a compound word rather than a portmanteau) but it fails to indicate the faux aspect of the friendship.
    The perfect term may be floating around out there, in precursor form, waiting for the right conditions…

  203. Cordalidae

    Check out Fouch Family Off Grid (AKA Fouch-o-matic) on Youtube. They are a family of five living off grid and have been using composting toilets for years now in freezing, alpine Idaho. they recently posted a video explaining their system.

    JMG

    I’ve been reading you for over 10 years now and most of your ideas have resonated with me since that time. I’m wondering if any of you views have changed significantly over this 10 year span of time?

  204. When talking about civilizational decline, the response sometimes is that humans are so adaptable, we will find a way. Well, as a species I think we are fairly adaptable. But it seems that our civilizations and societies are decidedly not so. In fact it seems that some societies went into terminal decline when facing challenges that were a lot less existential than those we face today. Solutions that should have been possible for them were just not implemented. They got stuck. My general interpretation is that they got stock on rules and relationships that needed to change, and they just couldn’t. People who were benefiting from the status quo resisted change that would have undermined their privileged position maybe. And in some cases maybe it was a lot broader than that. Maybe certain forms of religion become burdensome – I’ve heard that was the case in ancient Egypt. But I’m interested in folks reaction to this quandary: that apparently our larger societies at some point appear to inhibit our creativity for dealing with problems, though at an earlier stage, I think those societies may do just the opposite: empower creativity. That’s how those societies grew powerful and prosperous in the first place.

  205. Using a word to mean its opposite could also be a form of the “Janus Word” – a word that is its own antonym. My favorite is “sanction” which can mean “to allow” as in “to sanction an assassination” or to disallow, as in “we cannot ship to that country because of the sanction”.
    So, this could be called a “Janus endearment”.

    As to “Gaystapo” et. al. – this is a portmanteau. Holding on to the French it is an “evil” portmanteau or a “malmanteau”?

    AV

  206. Hi all,

    I don’t have a question at the moment, but would like to share something that may be of interest to many readers here. Apologies if this is too much like promotion- if it is, of course delete!

    Cult of Orpheus, “Independent, original art-song and opera from Portland, Oregon.”
    is doing cool things again!

    They have a Kickstarter campaign to fund recording of The Emerald Tablet of Hermes set to original music composed by Christopher Corbell. It’s for a string quartet and voices, in the vein of the recordings of Michael Maier’s “Atalanta Fugiens” score that was published by Phanes Press back in the late 80s/early 90s.

    The excerpts are gorgeous. I just backed it. With all the ugliness we are bombarded with daily, I feel all the more compelled to lend my support to something genuinely Beautiful. Here’s a link to the excerpt and the campaign:

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/273342036/recording-the-emerald-tablet-for-string-quartet-an

    many thanks,
    Bonnie

  207. CR Patiño, Will, Kevin and others on this topic.

    Here is some out-there theological speculation on what’s gone on with the Church…

    Are you familiar with the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII?

    If not, the story goes like this:

    One day after saying mass the pontiff appeared to be struck, as if in a trance. He came to a few moments later, white as a sheet, and dashed off to his study, where he emerged having written the Saint Michael prayer. “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…” He ordered that the prayer be repeated after every low mass.

    It seems that while in his trance the pope heard two voices speaking, one fair, the other terrible.

    The terrible voice said, “I can destroy your church.”

    The fair voice said, “What do you need?”

    “Seventy-five to one hundred years and more power over those willing to do my bidding.”

    “You have the time. You will have the power. Do what you can with them.”

    That was toward the end of the 19th century. In the succeeding hundred years we got: the mass murder and imprisonment of clergy by communists in various countries; the replacement of the Tridentine mass with a ritual that, whatever else you can say about it, simply is not as powerful, from a magical perspective (and the removal of that Saint Michael prayer); and finally, the revelation to the world that the clergy had been committing and covering up abuse on a massive scale.

    If one takes this sort of thing seriously, it looks at least some form of the taint upon the egregore was caused recently, by the Powers of Darkness. But it also looks like this was deliberately permitted by Jesus, for reasons known only to Him.

    If one takes this prophecy seriously, though, that is a good reason to take other prophecies seriously as well. Our Lady of Fatima has a rather good track record, in my view, since she correctly predicted the end of World War I, the rise of global communism under Russia, the beginning of World War II, and the Miracle of the Sun. She also asked for “the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, promising its conversion through this means and the hindering of the propagation of its errors.” This consecration was carried out in the 1980s. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union fell, and the Russian Orthodox church began its resurgence. Of course many Catholic fundamentalists deny that the consecration was carried out successfully, but the evidence is that 1. the consecration occurred; 2. the USSR fell; and 3. the Russian Orthodox church was revived. Point 3 suggests that, despite the claims of the fundamentalists, a sacramental church is a sacramental church in the eyes of the Powers of Heaven. And that further confirms that the various Independent, Old Catholic, and other “schismatic” churches are valid alternatives to Rome.

  208. Albert- I was never diagnosed psychotic, though I did have a meltdown in my late teens when away from home. I was sent to a psychiatrist – the kind that just listened and never said anything – and realized he was doing me no good, and talked my parents into letting me quit. Recovery came from a strong desire to go back to college and join our glorious future in space. (This was in the late 1950s/early 1960s). Found a guru – never mind who – whose message seemed to be liberating after two decades of never meeting the expectations of other people … ANY other people. Was disillusioned bitterly, as you were, but had also slowly noticed that what the guru was preaching actually did not work in real life in many situations (For what it’s worth, I’m Earth, convinced for a long time that I was essentially Air. Female, moon in Gemini….)

    To make a long story short, like at least two of my friends, getting in to s/f fandom, where being different is the norm, helped a lot; getting into Wicca and finding a faith I could trust (but by then being wary of some of the predators on the New Aquarian Frontier) helped even more. So I’m with you that magic actually can help, when the issue is other people rather than brain disease. (What else helped later, I posted above … still working on a lot of issues. But the honesty demanded of anyone dealing in magic has forced me to examine and cope with a lot of them… still doing so, will probably go to my grave doing so. But luckily, the real world is still out there. Ravens in a barren tree, the roadrunner crossing the sidewalk…..

    Keep up the good work.

    Pat, who seems to have logorrhea this week!

  209. Darkest Yorkshire,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I can’t say I have thought much about that subject so far (just starting to hit puberty now), although I could only hope to keep the lines of communication open, like some of the parents that were mentioned on that site, so my kids will feel like they have someone to talk to about their sexuality. In the end I suppose our kids get to make their own decisions, hopefully having learned some good tools they can employ to help make sense out of complicated situations.

    Robert,

    Thanks very much for your suggestions. I read your recent comments over on the other blog about this subject as well. As for ancestry, it’s very interesting to hear about your family’s heritage! I would bet that my husband’s side of the family plays a role in our case – he’s Nigerian, and his tribe is known for being medicine people and healers. I remember his mom calling him shortly after I became pregnant with my daughter, long before we had told anyone, to ask when the baby was due. He wasn’t surprised in the least that she knew about it. It’s not everyone, but certainly quite a few people seem to have those types of gifts, from what my husband tells me – just being able to perceive those lines of energy which connect us all. When the elders spot someone who seems to be showing signs of great power, they watch them carefully for years and eventually take them in and teach them how to properly make use of it all. On my own travels in West Africa, I met a number of people who had powers of divination, and aura-reading as I suppose it would be called. There’s also no shortage of dark ‘witchcraft;’ those people who use their power to harm others. It’s a well-known part of their lives there. I’m not really sure if or when we’d consider taking my daughter to meet with some of her Nigerian family. It’s a nice idea on paper, but I think the reality of actually going could wind up being somewhat dangerous, between the armed robberies, jealous witches, mysterious illnesses, infectious diseases and who knows what else. She may just have to explore any abilities she may have from here in North America…

    Patricia,

    Thanks for the book recommendation and the suggestions. That was definitely part of my thinking too – knowing about it all could help her to understand herself a whole lot better. I will definitely tell her, when the time is right. Maybe this summer sometime – at least she won’t be in the middle of school and having to deal with any fallout ‘publicly,’ so to speak. And I want to make sure I’m in a good place myself – feeling grounded enough to be supportive. We’ll find out…

  210. So what is hypnosis? Does this overlap, if at all, with ritual magic?

    Science has seemed to have proven over the last decade that we are irrational, emotional beings full of routines and habits, with a tiny rational mind. What we give as “reasons” are really instant explanations for our emotional responses to people or situations.

    I keep thinking that ritual magic and mediation were developed to help us embrace our irrational self. (Is there a better word for irrational? I don’t like describing something by what it is not.) And I think hypnosis is another way that irrational part of ourself gets tapped into.

  211. We are traveling to Rhode Island to visit Rhode Island School of Design for a college visit in two weeks. What are the must see things in Rhode Island? I’ve never been.

    Thinking of visiting Mystic Seaport in Connecticut on the way up or back.

  212. Austin of Ozmerst, do you know if your banana flavored apple has a name? If you’re interested in preserving the tree, I can graft a cutting onto a new rootstock. That way if something kills the original the line will live on. Shoot me an email at MDL17576@gmail.com if you’re interested.

  213. @Gavin Harris -“its easier to secure funding to buy new toys than it is to fund maintenance on the existing stuff”. From what I’ve seen over the years it applies almost everywhere. It might even be one of the sub-definitions of ‘Progress’.

    JMG: ‘The King in Yellow’ – Oh my! Was it actually written in 1897?

  214. @Rationalist, on LED lights: light is very interesting stuff! Our eye-brain system does a lot of stuff with light that unless you’ve intensively studied it (as, for instance, professional photographers do; reference Galen Rowell in “Galen Rowell’s Vision”) you likely don’t perceive. “Color Temperature” is a useful measurement; tungsten (incandescent) bulbs have a color temperature of about 2400 K; sunlight is about 5780 K. Yet you’ll find that 5000 K bulbs are glaring bluish unpleasant things. Heh, those same 5000-6000 K bulbs give you the best color rendition, which is why needlepoint and other crafters often use them for doing their art. Most LED lights are 3000 K, and that may be why you’re not liking them – too ‘blue’. BUT you can get 2200 K LEDs! We have these in our bedroom. Shop around, don’t buy the cheapo off-brand bulbs, and pay very careful attention to the Color Temperature on the bulb. If it doesn’t specify it, that’s another clue of it being a cheapie. Humans are adapted to firelight for evening illumination, which is 1800-2200 K. Much more pleasing and restful, but not as good for energetic working or for accurate color.

    @J.L.Mc12, on undersea living and so forth: wow, what a blast from the past! As a kid growing up in the 1950s, lots of magazines and other media had lavishly-illustrated articles on those sorts of things. I knew a guy who was a major contributor and investigator of OTEC, wave power, and of huge turbines that could be moored in the Gulf Stream to produce power (Peter Lissaman), and have followed the various investigations into undersea farming and living. Bottom line: yes, you perhaps can do it but no, it’s not affordable, nor particularly enjoyable. NASA for a while did some undersea habitat experiments; all abandoned now.

    Many thanks to you, esteemed Archdruid, for hosting such places as this!

  215. I must say, the thought that the dark age will bottom out w/late 18th century technology, and then recover to a mid 19th century level once nation states start forming again warms my heart! This is good news, indeed–we’ll recover and maintain a lot if we can do that! Also, it warms my heart to think of forests covering abandoned thoroughbred horse farms in my native central KY

  216. @Armata, congratulations! You are the first person I’ve seen in several mostly-American forums bring up the real news yesterday, featuring Vladimir Putin saying, “I’m not bluffing.” (Does he ever bluff?) The Su-57s people were talking about last week were in Syria for two days, apparently, then flown back to Russia. There is some speculation they were there to be tested in an environment rich with radio transmissions or to tempt the Israelis and Americans into revealing their reconnaissance capabilities and positions.
    JMG’s prediction of ultralights being used and heroic tales emerging also sparked my imagination–I just don’t have time to devote to it. Two things in particular from my own days of hang gliding: a large raptor once came for a close look at me, and in attempting to identify it (I think it was a goshawk), I followed it through updrafts that put me several hundred meters above everyone else flying (they are the real experts on how to find lift); and another occasion I spotted a guy that done me wrong (I mean really wrong) working a thermal I was approaching from higher up, so I stuffed the bar to my knees and dove straight at him. Luckily for him, he noticed me, screamed and abandoned the thermal, which I then rode aloft. (Gawd that was satisfying!)

  217. @Patricia Mathews
    I lived in a high crime neighborhood in Albuquerque for 2 years a number of decades ago. Everyone in the neighborhood was robbed multiple times, we never were. We had a Rottweiler who was a sweetheart, but he sensed who was bad news and would let them know in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome. I did get jumped, beat up bad and robbed at a bar, someone at the convenience store I worked at got shot and killed. I know Albuquerque has unique charm and do not know what it is like now or specifically in your neighborhood, but the crime and violence was the primary reason why I ultimately left. I imagine that the collapse of American prosperity currently accelerating will result in a similiar crime dynamic on a much more massive scale in all cities. Hopefully, I’m not being too much of a fear monger…but anyway, consider getting a big sweet dog at the shelter who will protect you and your property.

  218. Hi John Michael,

    I’m gobsmacked that nobody has yet mentioned the steel and aluminium trade tariffs, although to be fair I may have missed that. We had a discussion here this morning about the implications of that policy – which I feel is quite sensible. The newspapers here are positively spitting foam at the sheer thought of the policy. I personally feel that it is the beginning of the end for the great experiment that is globalisation, but I am curious as to your thoughts.

    The main argument in the newspapers here is that prices will go up, but they clearly aren’t speaking to people who are out of a job and aren’t purchasing the stuff on which tariffs are being paid, although ultimately all prices will rise as a result. It hits hard on the middle on upper classes. But again I’m curious as to your thoughts on the matter?

    Cheers

    Chris

  219. @Darkest Yorkshire, what a wonderful response. I’ll try my best to do it justice in responding.

    I grew up with an ailing father in a poor, marginal corner of the U.S. There was a lot of fighting about money in the house. I quickly came to hate money, and later the social institutions around it. Marx’s ideas naturally appealed as soon as I came to know of them in my teens. Of course, it’s not hard at all to look out at the world and see injustice, and also not hard to connect your own hardships to it if you feel the world has wronged you.

    At the same time, I always had a certain conservative bent. That meant, on the one hand, I didn’t always believe in my heart of hearts that it was a good thing for a rural farming community to have its prevailing values called into question by New Yorkers on a crusade to remake benighted middle Americans in their image; on the other hand, it led to insights like the idea that you can’t just overthrow a Middle Eastern government and install an American-style democracy there, because democracy is the product of hundreds of years of cultural history.

    Anyway, I ended up getting myself through college and a graduate degree in political theory investigating the pressing question of why socialism had failed to take root in the U.S. (I did a lot of off-curriculum reading, including that Berman book you mentioned, but more along the lines of the Frankfurt School.) After that I spent some years as trying to be a practical do-gooder, but, in short, that failed miserably.

    I stumbled on ADR probably around late ’08—I remember it being around the time our newly elected President Obama had filled his cabinet with neoliberal Rubinites and given the bankers who had just finished destroyed the economy their full yearly bonuses and a pat on the back, I was feeling like a proper idiot for campaigning for him. I stuck around because, well, JMG just has a lot of smart things to say.

    Fast forward a few years and, well, I had to get my head straightened on about some things to find my way in the world; having something to offer other people helped a lot. (Among my major strokes of luck is that I have a brain practically tailor-made for computer programming, and there’s still a lot of demand for that.) Along with that, during my do-gooder days I got a certain bitter education in dealing with people claiming to want to make the world better.

    I guess these days I try to maintain a certain epistemic modesty; it’s an outlook congenial to a brand of moderate Burkean conservatism you’ll surely recognize. 😉 As I mentioned, though, I had a kernel of that in me from the start.

    I think there’s probably a place and a time in which something we’d recognize as socialism could flourish; it just doesn’t happen to be the place and time I happen to live in, the late 20th and early 21st c. United States. (And yeah, techno-utopian socialism is just silly; you’d think socialists of all people would be keenly focused on the facts of our rapidly depleting energy resource base, but I’ve been wrong before!) As for anarchism, though as you’ll know it’s easy to ignorantly mock, I think anarchist principles are fantastic to aspire to, to the extent one can put them into practice in one’s daily life. Maybe I still keep the faith there; I just never went in for the fashion. 😉

  220. Phil Harris wrote

    Clean up the temple!

    So true. I think that one of the reasons why Christianity is in so much trouble these days is because of problems that have been allowed to fester for too long, like the Roman Catholic Church’s problem with child sexual abuse by members of the clergy and the fact that all too often, the church’s response was to try sweep it under the rug while protecting known abusers.

    Or corrupt, money grubbing “Prosperity Gospel” preachers like Joel Osteen, who pointedly refused to open his tax shelter, er, church to flood victims when Houston got hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and only reversed course when he came under fire in the press and on social media.

    http://www.newsweek.com/joel-osteen-televangelist-whose-church-closed-during-hurricane-harvey-tells-659302

    Until institutional Christianity gets serious about cleaning its own temple, its woes will only get worse, especially since the willingness of so many Christian leaders and parishioners to tolerate that kind of gross misconduct and flagrant violations of what Jesus of Nazareth actually taught has corrupted the egregores of many churches.

  221. I preordered and paid for the entire Archdruid Report collection before its publication. I have only received Volumes 1 & 2.

    My understanding was that I should have received Volume 3 in January and the remainder of the collection in February. I have not received any of those volumes yet.

    Could you tell me if there has been a release date change for Volume 3 and the remaining volumes in the collection, or when I can expect to receive them in the mail? Thank you.

  222. After some thought I have decided to respond to the post about ad hominems and alleged “infantile” changing of names of well known persons, for example, replacing the H with a K in the first name of the losing presidential candidate in the last general.

    It seems to me that political vituperation is as American as stealing elections, a sub-branch of rhetoric which has a long tradition, not least among our revered founders. One recalls Mark Twain referring to Congress inspired by “the fear of God and the next election”. Nor do I think that any of the three individuals referred to, with the possible exception of the first, is deserving of any especial mark of respect from me. I wouldn’t call the name change game any more “infantile” than the sort of macho/a (women being by no means exempt here) posturing that leads to invading other countries on false pretexts.

    Mr. Greer, for those of us getting along in years and facing the indignities of old age, I am sure that designer diapers are next up, soon to be had at upscale malls everywhere.

  223. “Nastarana, delighted to hear it. I wonder what will be the next big fashion among adults — rattles? Teething rings? Wearing diapers?”
    Truth is stranger than fiction, JMG. “Littles” and age regression, including diapers, are all the rage among a lot of iGen kids these days…

  224. Hello JMG,

    I am curious about your insight on the limits of will.

    You spoke in an earlier comment of not engaging in ritual magic when you have been diagnosed with psychosis, which implies to me that psychosis is outside the realm of what is malleable with will alone. That got me thinking, and I came to the following question:

    How does one know what aspects of their self (or life) can be changed by will, and which can’t? Phrased another way: when am I pursuing a path with potential for positive change, and when am I beating my head against a brick wall?

    Though that limited question is of interest to me, I am also interested in anything else you think is relevant to the subject more generally.

    Thanks for all you provide in this blog and in your previous works – they have been very formative and engaging for me.

    Joe

  225. John Michael,

    I too was very impressed by the RS-28 Sarmat. Thing is, it’s not just the Kinzhal and Sarmat missiles. The Russians have unveiled a wide range of highly advanced weapons systems lately in response to bullying tactics by the US government, several of which were publicly announced by Putin the other night. Other examples include the Kanyon long range nuclear powered torpedo and Avangard hypersonic boost-glide missile. If those are the systems the Russian government is willing to publicly reveal, then one wonders what other systems they have that are still a secret and what systems the Chinese have developed that we don’t know about.

    Even on a tactical level, we got to see a very interesting glimpse of Russian capabilities when Khemeimim Air Base was attacked by a swarm of drones. Half of the drones were brought down by advanced electronic warfare systems which were able to hack into the drone’s flight control systems and the other half by the shorter ranged counterpart of the S-400, the Pantsir S1. The Pantsir itself is an extremely impressive piece of kit, one which has no direct counterpart in the US arsenal. It combines 12 short-to-medium range missiles (the latest missiles for the Pantsir have a range of 25 miles) and two 30mm cannons firing 5000 rounds per minute, with the entire system mounted on a highly mobile truck and each launcher able to operate as a self-contained stand-alone unit or as part of a defensive network. The Pantsir can defend against everything from airplanes and helicopters to drones and artillery rockets to cruise missiles and short range ballistic missiles. It’s often paired with the S-400, with S-400’s engaging longer ranged targets and Pantsir’s taking care of closer ranged threats and targets that get past the S-400’s.

  226. Re: Your response to Dewey about alternative healing. I found “The Science of Natural Healing” by Dr. Mimi Guarneri (Scripps Center for Intergrative Medicine) quit good. And, useful. It’s one of the “Great Courses.” They’re a bit pricey, but your local library may have it, or, can get it on an interlibrary loan. It’s available as a DVD course, or audio book. Also available in downloadable formats. Lew

  227. @ Nastarana – Are you familiar with http://www.HamiltonBook.com? They’re a remainder/foreign import book company that’s been around for decades. They have hundreds of adult coloring books, covering all kinds of themes, some, at knock down prices.

    However. If you order anything from them, you will get around 3 catalogues in the mail, every month, for the rest of your natural life :-). Every time I manage to toss one, without looking at it, I think, “There’s $100 saved.” :-). Lew

  228. JMG — You mentioned once in a comment long ago on the ADR, if I remember right, that you thought AI probably wouldn’t happen, not because it’s impossible, but because they’re going about it all wrong — and then mentioned a book whose title I’ve forgotten and can’t locate. Does that sound familiar and if so could you repeat the book’s name?

  229. As a point of clarification, I disagree with many of the political conclusions expressed by the author towards the end of the article from The Drive, but it has what is probably the best one-article summary of the new Russian weapons systems currently available.

  230. Gaystapo etc are a form of newspeak (G.Orwell, 1984). Language designed to restrict thought by reducing the expressiveness of language)

  231. (voiceoftaredas, having finally had the eureka moment of “oh, that’s how you change username in this comment system!” – that was ridiculously obvious in retrospect.)

    My suspicion for some time now is that the Father – that is to say, Jehovah – is connected to the worst abuses of Christianity. Quite a few of the classic Christian abuses sure seem to be those of the *abusive* patriarch – the usual “authority figure abuses a child sexually or otherwise”, of course, but also the “just give me an excuse to punish you”/”there’s nothing you can do to be good enough but please me enough and I might just pardon you” view of Hell, the intolerance of dissent/questioning, and the demand of unquestioning obedience. There’s also… for lack of a better term I’ll call it an inner logic to the policies most strongly emphasized by the more conservative churches lately: forbidding abortion and birth control (especially for the poor), forbidding homosexuality, and attacking sources of charity other than the church all seem tailor-made to result in a bunch of children with no options during lean times other than going to church.

    (Or possibly more relevantly… what kind of father sends his son to get crucified?)

  232. Greetings Mr. Greer and the Commentariat

    I was wondering if someone could help me with something.

    A few days ago I was going through my infrequent periods of mental turmoil. These times are quite debilitating for me and I often end up underneath the duvet to ride out the mental storm. One this occasion, while I was wrestling with competing thoughts, something from ‘outside’ came between them. It was from ‘outside’ because I could literally feel it pushing itself into my mind. I don’t know what it did but it brought a measure of calm to me. It came in the shape of, what seemed to me, a wood-made figure of a cat-like creature. It wasn’t immensely powerful, or overwhelming, but nonetheless fierce and friendly. Its eyes were round with small pupils, ringed on the outside with black, as if it was wearing eye-shadow. It had four small canines and no other teeth I could discern.

    Has anyone seen this figure before or perhaps know anything about it, that would shed some light on its identity?

    I have been praying to the gods and spirits for a while now to allow me to get to know them better, and this might be a sign.

    Sincerely,

    Mohsin Javed (lordyburd)

  233. Kind Sir

    Here’s a question for everyone who wants to pick it up.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about the meaning of the following concepts:
    Mind
    Spirit
    Consciousness
    Soul
    Self
    My own definitions are homespun and quite fuzzy. Too much so to put them in words.
    Is it at all possible to define these concepts?

  234. A question on evolution, both biological-Darwinian and “spiritual” (á la Theosophy and such). In your old post on the future history of our planet, you speculate that when humanity is gone, at some distant point in the future, other intelligent species will evolve (I believe one of them was corvid?).

    Of course, these species are products of Darwinian evolution and hence “physical”. Presumably, their level of intelligence is somewhat similar to that of humans (they can create science, build space rockets, etc). Does this mean that a spiritual evolution (as in Blavatsky, Steiner or Aurobindo) is impossible on our planet? That is, is it impossible for material creatures to evolve into some kind of “super-humans” (or super-corvids) with something resembling paranormal powers, imperishable bodies, etc?

    If so, I assume that spiritual evolution will take place on other planes of existence, say the astral.

    Also, what about creatures we call “angels” or “nature spirits”? I believe you said somewhere that they are products of a different line of evolution entirely. Does that mean humans can´t “mutate” into angels or something resembling angels?

  235. @John Wheeler, March 2, 2018 at 12:33 am
    Hi John, about two years ago there was a project of the Dutch police to train eagles to catch drones wich are small enough to be considered as prey:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc_ovddVRKE
    I don´t know what´s become of the project, but there are a lot of examples of animals in warfare (other than the ones one would think of like horses, elephants, dogs and camels), some of them successful (rather cruel, too):
    http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=Unconventional_Animals_in_the_History_of_Warf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy_Marine_Mammal_Program
    The most successful attempts are probably those that manage to make an animals natural behaviour work for the intended military purpose.
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  236. @Jeff Barton,

    Point well made. Of course, if energy ever becomes “too cheap to meter” we’ll find ever more ridiculous ways to squander it. We already have crypto mining, what about self-flying cars?

  237. JMG, pretty much the same question as John L. Paid for the entire collection. Finally received Vol 3 a week ago but had been told I’d receive the rest of the entire collection in February.

    Thanks,
    August

  238. Denys, I’m curious to hear JMG’s response to your question, but as far as Mystic, if you have any interest at all in the various and sundry artisanal skills that go into an economy not powered by fossil fuels – and I assume most followers of this blog do – it’s worth a visit. We were there in October and spent a fine day exploring not just the shipwright’s shop but also talking to the printing press operator, the ropemaker, the blacksmith, the gardener, and so on. Now, if you’ve taken our host’s advice and actually been exploring one of these paths yourself for several years, you’ll likely find the presentation a little basic (except in large-scale shipbuilding, of course, but that’s likely not your hobby), but the diversity of skills on display will still give you a great deal to look at. And the whaling exhibits are worth a look to for anyone interested in our long history of environmental exploitation in the name of oil – it was whale oil before it was petroleum.

    It is a bit of a tourist spot -expect tourist prices – but we really enjoyed our visit.

  239. Hi JMG,

    I’m curious about any limitations of the Celtic Golden Dawn system compared to the Hermetic one. I know planetary energies aren’t mapped into Celtic Tree of Life, but haven’t read through the whole book to see how this affects work with higher spheres.

    Is the purely elemental system limiting to the magic (and maybe its effectiveness/range of uses) that can be done in the system? It seems past traditions use so much planetary material (gods corresponding to each other based on astrological/planetary associations, etc), and a lot of symbolism and magic would be inaccessible/unusable in the Celtic GD due to the strictly elemental scheme.

  240. @ Yoyo: You could call it the ‘brush-down’ instead of the brush-off.
    ‘Pure banana oil’ a borrowing from P.G. Wodehouse.

    Flea-crushing; Iagoading; His Nibs-nebbing; Royal friendship; Maistrosity; Yoda-yadda; ‘Me Topdog, you Lame’, White-frosting; the Snowshake; the Smile-and-smile (and still be a villain); Dimity Conviction (from E. Dickinson); the Handtoss; the Herr Berger Flip; Earl Grey—cold; Putting on the Fritz; It’s my party and you’ll cry if I want you to; Gladhandle; High-handle; Friendflay, Buddybop; John o’Gauntlet; Lord Roger; Mallrate; His Gracing; doing the Duke; Palsey-Malsey; The one-of-us curse; the Ar-biter; the Show of Teeth; Buddy-body; The Cut Indirect; Fellowship of the Ring (with boxing gloves icon); The Elevator Shaft; the Chum-Slum or Chum-Slam; the Higher-Thought Helper; the Mark-Down; the Viscount Discount; Friendship on Parade; All in the Family; Liberty-slobber; The Mark Twain Club; The High Lowball; The Overhead Undermine; Upperfrack, Friend-frack; Just-Us Justice; Supersneer; The High Myway.

  241. Trivial question – rereading The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth (and hoping the publisher will see fit to bring out the next one in an affordable format) – Is Nyarlathotep pronounced “Nyarlat-hotep” as if it were Egyptian? Or “Nyarla-thotep, as if those two middle consonants were a thorn?

    Thanks,

    Pat

  242. Dear Lew, I am familiar with HamiltonBook, thank you for the suggestion. I can find the coloring books to be turned into applique patterns readily locally and not have to pay shipping costs. I am into repairing clothes until they literally fall off me, so I am thinking of tracing designs to cover rips and tears. One small book at a dollar store usually has up to ten or so pages of designs which can be traced many times. I am also teaching myself wool embroidery, which uses large stitches and is therefore easy on aging eyesight. Again the silly coloring books could be used; one would simply trace around some of the larger patterns and ignore the fill ins.

    No, ShaneW, I had not heard of “littles”. Good heavens.

  243. JMG, how far do you think technological knowledge will decline during the long descent, and why? In a comment on this thread, you’ve said that dark age societies will have 90% of their population working as farmers, with no time for crafts, but Britain after the agricultural revolution only had around 20% of the population working as farmers. Given the wider variety of plants available (the potato is a divine gift) and other labour saving techniques, the decline would have to severe indeed for us to once again need to have most of the population as farmers. Also, it’s possible to have the skills to do something, but lack the labour and resources. There are no doubt quite a few individuals who could turn scrap steel into a complete railway system, but it would take a lot of scrap steel and fuel, and they don’t have the time to do it all by themselves. But if they pass on these skills, eventually their successors may be numerous enough to accomplish such a project.

    How do you think the decline will play out, particularly with regards to technology? There are plenty of places around the world where people have smartphones but no running water. Do you think we’ll have a stage like this in the west? I can imagine a situation where the grid is failing, going dark in some places, the roads are being reclaimed by nature, food shortages are common, and unemployment is rife – but smartphones are still available, the mobile networks are staying up, and if you’re rich enough, you can live in a gated community with private security, send your kids to private schools, and pretend that the decline isn’t happening. Isn’t that the case in a lot of countries already? How long do you expect that stage to last, and what do you think would cause it’s final collapse?

    Re. composting toilets and cities, they don’t have to be composted on the property. As long as the city is somewhat functional, the waste can be collected by nightsoilmen and taken to proper facilities. I suggest using a two bucket system as well. The urine toilet could even use a bottle which can be unscrewed and capped, sealing it, so you just end up with lots of big bottles of urine to send away. The council can take them away and clean them for you, perhaps. Same with the buckets of solid waste.

  244. @Yoyo: One more round before I slope off. The Uppity Downput; Suggah-frosting; Small-rate; the Biggby Little; In-Crowd Civility; The Judas Hug; The Judas Backslap; Friendly Incision, Friendly Exclusion; The Snoot-Refute; Schnozzle-Fuzzle; The Puh-leez Police.

  245. What is your perspective on moving out of the US, considering the future we likely have coming?

    I’m 30, single, and it seems I’m eligible for Italian citizenship ‘jure sanguinis'(lucky me with one Italian grandparent…). So moving to Europe might be rather easy for me legally if the paper work pans out.

    I’ve been thinking of finally getting a degree after a decade working various wage class jobs, and I know tuition across the pond is significantly more workable.

    There’s a good chance I’ll make the move either way but I’m curious what you’re thoughts are based on how decline is likely to play out in both places.

  246. Ack! It just keeps going! Stop me before I pan again…The My Buddy Gambit; Hob-snobbing; Snobgaming; The Countryclub Club; Countryclub Clobber; the Yes, M’man; the My Good Man Gotcha; The Noble Nobble; The Haughty-Naughty; the Haughty-Nowt; the Surely-Shirley; The Agreeable Diss.

  247. @Denys: Things to see in Rhode Island, especially in Providence:
    RISD Museum (obviously);
    The Charter Museum in the RI State house, with the 1663 Charter which includes the promise of “… full liberty in religious concernments.”
    AS220 , a non-profit community arts organization.
    The Arcade, with the H.P. Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council bookstore.
    The mansions in Newport (45 minutes drive away).
    There’s a lot of stuff in the warmer months: WaterFire; the Herreshoff Marine Museum; boat rides;

  248. @JMG Hi, I just wanted to report that I finally did my first discursive meditation on the elements. I chose water for my first element. One of the insights that I came away with is that water wrapped in plastic is just gross! I’ve really struggled with getting rid of the habit of buying water in plastic bottles, especially because I’ve been on the road and I have a strong preference for some of the brands. So every time I broke down and bought a plastic bottle of my favorite brand of water, I felt guilty, like I had fallen off the wagon.

    But now I realize that buying water in plastic bottles isn’t “bad” or “naughty” it’s just gross. Like cigarettes are gross after you really quit smoking.

    Also, I couldn’t do much discursive work about polluted water. It made me too sad.

    I’ve finally found a good place where I can do the banishing ritual you outlined – it’s great – every time I do it I feel like I just brushed my teeth but on a spiritual level. Does that make sense?

    Congratulations on Vintage Worlds! I can’t wait to read it 🙂

  249. Grant, well, I definitely enjoyed your story, so we’re even. 😉

    Armata, stunning indeed. I wonder how long until it really sinks in that the US has become a third-rate military power…

    Dominique, when Montaigne and Mozart were alive, we had a different system for supporting creative artists; aristocrats supported them, and got prestige as a result. When was the last time you heard of Bill Gates, say, supporting a writer or a musician, just for the glory of having his name associated with their work? Nowadays, the way we support creative artists is that we give them copyright on their work — literally, the right to control who can make copies of it — and people who want to use their work pay a modest sum for that privilege. It’s a very fair system; anybody who wants to learn from one of my books on magic, say, pays around the price of lunch at a cheap sit-down restaurant, and the book’s theirs to read and study for years thereafter.

    It’s because I get an income from my books that I can afford to put my spare time into writing weekly posts and fielding comments the way I do,without charging people for the privilege of getting an answer. If anybody who wanted could simply take one of my books for free, I couldn’t do that; I also couldn’t afford to put eight to ten hours a day into writing, and so most of my books would never get written in the first place. Sure, in a perfect world, writers, artists, and musicians would get their rent and their bills paid by good fairies, but you know what? We don’t live in such a world, and those of us who work hard to write, paint, compose, or what have you, also have to eat and support our families.

    Admittedly I have one recourse that many authors don’t have. Years ago, when I first got into print as an author of books on magic, I did a working I’ve repeated many times since then. The intention is this: anyone who steals one of my books on magic, whether via shoplifting, internet dowload, or any other means, and tries to use any of the magical workings in the book for any purpose whatsoever, will not benefit in any way from that working. All the benefits, rather, will go to some other person who got the book by an honest method: who bought it (new or used), borrowed it from a library, was given it as a present, or what have you. That seems to have been fairly effective — I’ve heard more than once from people insisting that the material in my books must be hopelessly flawed, because they’ve never gotten any results from it, and in each case where I asked how they’d gotten the material and they answered, it turned out that they’d downloaded it without paying from some internet stolen-goods site.

    That’s as it should be. One of the traditional rules of magic, after all, is that when you have to buy something you need for a spell, you must pay the full price without haggling. What’s more, if someone isn’t willing to help me out to the extent of the very modest price of a paperback book, I see no reason why my work should help them out at all.

    Darkest Yorkshire, good question. I’d encourage you to explore the intersection between them in meditation.

    J.L.Mc12, that was tried back in the 1960s; you might want to look up the Sealab project, which competed with the space program for a while. Like most such progress-porn, it didn’t turn out to be economically viable. By the way, have you noticed that all of a sudden people who are still stuck in the myth of progress are starting to rehash imaginary futures from decades ago? Flying cars are big again, and now undersea cities — it’s fascinating to watch the future go retro.

    Spicehammer, these days the center of production in reality has shifted to an assortment of third world sweatshops worked by slave labor (or the close equivalent) in grim conditions. In people’s heads, it’s shifted to La-La Land — an astonishing number of people have lost track completely of the fact that wealth has to be produced by somebody’s hard work. The resulting delusions do not have a long shelf life; exactly what will happen before people get slammed face first into the reality that wealth must be sweated into existence is an interesting question.

    Albert, many thanks for this. I haven’t had the chance to discuss magic before with someone in your situation, and I appreciate the information. Of course you’re right that the universe of hardcore scientific materialism isn’t any safer for the mind!

    Richard, very little, all things considered. Of course I’ve read a great deal of Shakespeare and Marlowe, a fair amount of Sheridan, and a scattering of more recent works — Peter Shaffer’s Equus and The Royal Hunt of the Sun, in particular, I found very moving. Beyond that, not much; my education, like that of most autodidacts, has gaping holes in it. I’d certainly encourage you to explore the directions you’ve sketched out here — it strikes me that there’s a lot of meat for interesting drama there.

    Jasmine, sure, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and millions of others have been plunged into it. That’s the problem with Pinker’s cherrypicking; he chooses those facts that support his thesis and calmly pretends that the rest don’t exist. You’re right, though, that there’s no inherent contradiction between his thesis and the basic theory of decline and fall; if in fact people really were richer, safer, and more free now than ever before, the most likely outcome would be that they’re going to become poorer, less safe, and less free in the years ahead, as history reverts closer to the mean.

    Phil, the taint exists in the egregor, the “body of consciousness” created by the joint thoughts, words, and deeds of the people who participate in the organization. Every organization has one, and it’s constantly being shaped for better or worse by everything done by its members. The condition that occultists call “the tainted sphere” arises when some particular pattern of dysfunction is condoned by the leaders and the ordinary members alike, and so becomes ingrained; because the egregor shapes the consciousness of the members just as they shape it, people get drawn into acting out the same dysfunction, and you get a vicious circle where the taint in the egregor drives the behavior that feeds it. Unless the organization cleanses itself by imposing harsh discipline on the dysfunctional pattern and those who perpetrate and condone it, things just keep getting worse, and after a certain point there’s usually no way to fix it short of burning the thing down to the ground and starting over again from scratch, with different symbolism and rituals (or the equivalent).

    Packshaud, I have no idea. I find centaurs delightful — for that matter, most of the paranormal fauna of Classical myth strike me as very good company. As for what sparked that image in the first place, that’s a really fascinating question to which I don’t know the answer. Hmm!

  250. Will, I’m by no means happy with the list of supporters of the bill, either! And of course you’re right that both sides are using really incompetent rhetoric to try to make their point. We’ll be talking about that more soon…

    Ray, those are very good points. Radio communications all by themselves would strip most of the legendary “fog of battle” away from combat — if cavalry scouts, let’s say, could report back to the commander of an army instantly from miles away, the confusion that shaped so many premodern battles would be stripped away. Combine that with ultralights, which can similarly radio back the results of aerial reconnaissance, and you’ve got a vastly better command of the battlefield. As for explosives, wall fortifications were made obsolete by black powder; what I don’t know yet is whether the later “star forts” with their massive, slanting barriers would resist shells as well as shot. More research needed!

    Jason, thank you!

  251. JMG,
    would you ever consider writing an alternate history, or a novel set in an alternate history, where the Boomers and Silents don’t sell out, Carter gets reelected, and we continue on the path we were on in the 1970s–appropriate tech, conservation, and retreat from empire, instead of the Reagan revolution–neoliberalism and the neoconservative military buildup?

  252. I could think of so many things that would turn out differently if our parents and grandparents hadn’t sold out, and the trajectories of all the generations that came of age after 1980 (Gen X, Millennial, iGen) would’ve been so different. The digital era and the internet as we know it would have never come to pass.

  253. JMG you are probably right about underwater habitats, but what about the other thing like farming saltwater plants and use of ocean power?

  254. @Dropbear
    Re: Definitions

    Every school has their own set of definitions. Some are widely shared, some less so. I find it best to simply recognize who’s speaking and try to figure out what ce is talking about in cis own terms and either map it into mine or learn something from it.

    For example, JMG treats the etheric body as a separate plane from the physical, and I’m not at all sure what he means by the astral. I use the Theosophical system, which treats the etheric body as the upper levels of the Physical Plane, and the Astral as a separate plane that has specific characteristics (which would probably surprise the Theosophists.) As long as I can recognize that the person is talking about what I call the “etheric body,” we can discuss things meaningfully.

    @JMG
    Re: Magical Copyright protection

    Very interesting. I’m not sure how that would work for fiction, but I’m going to put some thinking into it. I’m sure my own scribblings have been pirated more than a few times. Maybe if one of my works turns up on a pirate site, it won’t attract the attention of anyone who would buy or download it?

  255. @JMG,

    As I understand it, the Trace d’italliene (‘star fort’) was largely abandoned in the 19th C. because of the power of explosive shells. On the other hand, I am led to understand the Russians made good use of old fortifications in the Crimean and First World wars, which weren’t immediately pounded out of existence. I’d have to find the citations again, but of course “not immediately pounded out of existence” is not equal to “impregnable” and probably not good enough to bother rebuilding.

    I do wonder about firearms, though, long term. Specifically, nitrate-derived explosively powered guns. Compressed-gas guns? Spring-guns? Different story. But blackpowder and the various nitrogen-based smokeless powders just might not be tenable if you’ve only got biologically-derived nitrogen to work with, and a population to feed. Wars were fought over nitrate deposits in the 19th century; it was Germany’s lack of nitrates, amongst other things, that made so many Europeans certain the Guns of August would be silent by Christmas–because they’d be out of ammo! OK, so duo of Doktors Haber und Bosch pulled the nitrate rabbit out of a synthetic hat, but at a huge energy cost. I don’t expect our descendents to have that amount of energy, or even necessarily remember the chemistry. Not through the dark age, anyway. So for those centuries, Liebig’s law of the minimum says that each grain of gunpowder means reduced crop yield.

    Does that matter? I honestly don’t know. There’s calculation to be done here. A city-state or other grouping that puts its nitrates into firearms has a military advantage, short term, but in the long term the agricultural consequences limit their population. Now, guns vs no guns is, admittedly, a very large force multiplier. But blackpowder weapons vs. air guns? A larger, better-fed force equipped with something like a Girandoli air rifle might have a slight edge. Then again, air rifles are complex, and the extra resources put into them might make it a wash. I don’t have the expertise to say. Artillery is the killer, there. A compressed-gas rifle? Doable. A compressed-gas howitzer? Er… probably not.

    Still, it might be worth considering system-wide effects of nitrate loss from firearm use, and if that might effect the evolution of technology over the long term.

  256. p.s.: Nastarana? I think? The descriptive term was not ‘infantile’ but ‘juvenile’ — a difference of 12 to 15 years, surely? And much more in keeping with the booger-slinging mind of the seventh-grade giggler than babies innocently rejoicing in the successes of toilet training. Though, to be sure, political poopiness has no age nor Age of its own. Democracy is a very odd duck. And how it do waddle!

  257. @petervanerp Thank you for the list! Excited to see HP Lovecraft store. Had no idea he was from there. We have a family tradition of visiting odd sites, and this will be great!

  258. I wish to thank Heather in CA for kindly assuring me (last month?) that one of my ‘ripples’ did reach a welcoming shore.

  259. @gkb: Thanks for all the funny and zany ideas!
    I’m thinking “fake-mate-bait” might be a suitable term for the “my friend” and similar false-familiarity put-downs because they have the potential to work as flame bait to the recipients, and unfortunately they sometimes do.

  260. @Chris at Fernglade
    According to Keven Drum, the steel and aluminum tariffs are directed at a country, China, which has only a small fraction of the trade with us in the specified metal fabrication types. Canada and one or two other suppliers having the vast majority of the trade. In other words, a nothing burger. I surmise that this is on purpose: Trump gets a big brag out of it, and nobody gets hurt. Or helped. Even the few American companies directly aided will see only a tiny effect on their bottom line. The loud noise on the other side about $120 being added to the price of a new car is not justified, since most of the steel in question will/does come from un-tariffed Canada.

    @anybody re mass school shootings
    Also from Keven Drum: over an extended time the number killed, graphed, has a rock-level trend line. No change. This guy (and I) are not gun lovers. Amazed… It’s partly the shock effect, so many at one school, tips the perception. Still totally NOT acceptable!

    Dave B

  261. @Dropbear

    Greetings from parts unknown. Regarding your search for terms and their definitions:

    1) One can define those terms that you listed and that very fact causes trouble since different people both use different terms to describe the same concept and refer different concepts to one term.

    2) Luckily for us, many informed and competent authors have done much work to present us with clear terminologies. I tend to study the works of John Michael Greer and Rene Guenon to find coherent vocabularies.

    3) You listed many terms that describe concepts that are notoriously difficult to communicate. Perhaps you would find it useful to acquire definitions of sensation, feeling, and thinking and then practice relating them to impressions in your everyday life?

    4) Remember that maps are not territories that they describe.

    Please keep in touch with me in the comments if you’d like to progress this discussion. Good topic.

    Saturn’s Pet

  262. I have a rather odd thought, but what if some of the problems facing the “modern” world (and other civilizations at their equivalent phase of the cycle) is a result of something very simple: a loss of banishing rituals? I’ve seen people writing a great deal about how banishing rituals are something nearly every mage picks up, and I’ve seen analysis comparing a wide range of traditional practices to them. It’s also worth noting that a decline in both magic and traditional religion seems to be a common theme in the rise of civilizations.

    The loss of these rituals would lead to increased influence of the demonic on much of the population, which would of course have a host of problems, including greed, lust, increased desire for power, increased impulsiveness, all of which seem to be more common in civilizations without traditional values.

    I will admit to not knowing my way through demonology very well, but this seems like something worth following up on.

  263. @ShaneW

    “I could think of so many things that would turn out differently if our parents and grandparents hadn’t sold out, and the trajectories of all the generations that came of age after 1980 (Gen X, Millennial, iGen) would’ve been so different. The digital era and the internet as we know it would have never come to pass.”

    Your scapegoating of the Boomer generation for all the world’s ills grows extremely tiresome. First of all, not all Boomers ‘sold out’ – and if some critical mass did, it was at the urging and teaching of the ‘Greatest Generation’ before them. Many did not, and paid the price – my humble self included. In any case, this trajectory that we’re on was set long, long before the Boomer generation.

    I wish Carter had been reelected (in fact, I voted for him both times). But he wasn’t. I share with JMG the notion that the promise of the 70’s was snuffed by the Reagan counterrevolution. But do you honestly think that the internet would never have come to pass? It was already baked into the cake. All this tech baloney has been aspirational stuff from the dawn of science fiction. When people talk about all the innovation, I think bull-exhaust – all of it was dreamed up long ago. It’s just now being built out. The Project is age-old. The Project is the wrong Project for humans, but here we are.

    So please, try to incorporate some nuance into your thinking. The ‘If it wasn’t for the Boomers, it would have been great’ meme is not useful, it alienates and annoys a huge population of potential allies, and really seems like something you tell yourself to absolve following generations of any culpability in anything. It’s divisive and strategically foolish, IMO.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but you’ve been hammering on this theme for so long and so simplistically that I felt it necessary to say something.

  264. @Denys, re sights to see in Rhode Island

    If you like to visit the odd and unusual, and will have a car, drive down to the small rural town of Exeter and look for the grave of Mercy L. Brown in the cemetery attached to the Chestnut Hill Baptost Church. The wikipedia article on her (wuth a picture of her gravestone) is a rather good summary of what happened back in 1892:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercy_Brown_vampire_incident

    This is by no means the only such incident in New England, just the best known and nearly the last. Michael E. Bell has chronicled many similar cases in his book, _Food for the Dead_.

    You could also visit what remains of Devil’s Foot Rock, just off of Devil’s Fool Road.

    http://www.quahog.org/factsfolklore/index.php?id=91

    If you visit the Providence Athenaeum, on the corner of Benefit and College Streets, right next door to RISD, and ask nicely, they may show you the original volume where Edgar Allan Poe signed one of his poems, published in an issue fo a magazine, to impress a pretty woman, Sarah Helen Whitman, whom he later courted and almost married, She is buried in the North Burial Ground in Providence.

    In another Providence cemetery, Swan Point Cemetery, you can find the grave monument of a soldier killed buc annon fire during eh Mexucan War. The monument is topped by a connon ball — by tradition the very cannon ball that killed him. Major Sullivan Ballou is also buried there. He was the writer of a famous and very moving letter to his wifre, Sarah, which was featured in Ken Burns’ documentary, “The Civil War.” We know the letter only from copies made during Sarah’s lifetime; the original, according to later (apocryphal?) tradition, was put into her coffin with her.

    There is so much re to see here …

  265. Myriam, excellent. Yes, that would work very well indeed.

    Bigfoot, ritual magic isn’t for everyone, and if you don’t feel it’s appropriate for you, then by all means don’t do it. The way of prayer is also a valid path; if that’s the path that calls you, then go ye forth and do that thing. As far as what other practices to add in, that’s very much a personal matter; since you don’t belong to a specific religious tradition, your best bet is to pray for guidance, and then be attentive to the responses you get. These may take subtle forms — your gaze happens to fall on a book, and you get an inner nudge saying “read this” — or it may not be so subtle — I’ve had books literally drop on my head from the top shelves of used bookstores when I wasn’t looking in the right place…

    Eric, that’s fascinating. I don’t know much of anything about Erasmus Darwin, but clearly I’m going to have to remedy that as time permits.

    Jbucks, I started by experiencing a lot of failures. I submitted a fantasy novel to a publisher for the first time when I was sixteen, and got back a rejection slip — deservedly so; I still have the novel, and it really, truly sucks. Rinse and repeat; I kept on writing novels, submitting them, and getting rejection slips. In the meantime I got very deep into occultism, and wrote several nonfiction books on occult themes as well; the first of them attracted a similar stream of rejection slips, but the second, Paths of Wisdom, was picked up by Llewellyn, and saw print in 1996. It sold very poorly. So did my next two books on occultism. I kept on writing, learned from my mistakes, and my sales improved. I started this blog, which turned into a fierce but effective training in essay writing; that got me a contract for my first peak oil book, The Long Descent, which saw print in 2006. One of my science fiction novels, The Fires of Shalsha, finally found a home with a very small publisher in 2004; sales were very modest, but I kept writing and kept learning. I can place nonfiction projects with my regular publishers these days with a one-page proposal, but fiction is still a challenge; right now my latest novel, The Shoggoth Concerto, is sitting in the “slush pile” in the office of a big SF & fantasy publisher in New York City, and it’s entirely possible that they’ll send me a rejection slip and I’ll have to try another publisher, and another, and another.

    That is to say: there is no magic way to make it big in any creative field. No, not even if you study and practice magic! I love writing, and so I kept at it even when it looked as though I was going to have to work at a working class day job for the rest of my life; step by step, I refined my skills, learned to communicate to readers, and tried to make each book better than the last; now I make a modest but viable living as a writer. If you want to make it in some creative field, buckle down and get to work, and be aware that it may take you a couple of decades of very hard work before you can support yourself at it.

    Rita, thank you! Antiphrasis…hmm.

    Ben, exactly. There are many different kinds of governments, and most of them don’t depend on a single gimmick. Feudalism does. It’s a very effective gimmick, but if you don’t have what it takes to use that gimmick — or if the peasants have a weapon that terminates the gimmick with extreme prejudice, be that a ten-foot pike or a muzzle-loading gun — you have to do something else.

    Alexander, it’s a common form of low-level telepathy. If it becomes intrusive, stop practicing the Grand Psychic Breath for a while.

    Violet, they generally aren’t bridged. One of the features of a civilization in decline is that traditional practices (such as rituals of coming-of-age) fall into disuse or become empty gestures, with predictable results. One of the other features is that various subcultures find their own equivalents of the missing ceremonies. One of the reasons I’m as passionate about Freemasonry as I am is that the Masonic initiations, in a significant number of cases, fill the gap. I’ve met a lot of Masons who are actually adult — not a common thing these days.

    Sedge, in detail, sure. The basic principles haven’t — I remain satisfied with them, as they seem to work.

    Dean, congratulations — you’ve independently invented one of the best theories I know of about why civilizations rise and fall. Arnold Toynbee argued that civilizations rise when a society figures out how to empower its most creative members to tackle the problems that it faces; they then become a “creative minority” and set examples that the rest of society follows. Civilizations fall when the formerly creative minority refuses to make way for the next way of creative people, and becomes a dominant minority instead, imposing its rule by force rather than inspiring others to follow them. It then fails to solve its problems, and the civilization goes under. You’ll find the details in Toynbee’s A Study of History — the two-volume abridged edition is good to start with.

    Bonnie, thanks for this.

    Denys, good question. I haven’t studied hypnosis; there’s a detail of one of the obligations you take as a Golden Dawn initiate that forbids you from letting yourself be put into a trance by anybody else, and I keep that quite strictly (as I do my obligations more generally). The point about the very small part of our minds that are rational, though, is important in magic as well as elsewhere; it’s because we’re not rational beings that irrational actions like ritual can have such potent effects on us.

    As for Rhode Island sights, I haven’t had a lot of time for sightseeing, so am not the person to ask — though the RISD museum, which I have visited, is really impressive.

    Janitor, it was published originally in 1895, actually. A lot of very strange and lovely stuff came out of the Decadent movement of that era.

    Shane, enthusiastic acceptance of the inevitable is a useful habit!

    Chris, I’m waiting to see what actually happens. If Trump is serious, and brings about the end of the late and lamentable era of globalization, the economic shockwaves will be considerable, and a great deal of wealth is going to redistribute itself. But it could be just another round of posturing by the Orange Julius…

    Eduard, yep. The privileged are always eager to be told that everything is fine and they’re on the right side of history, and intellectual harlots who are willing to tell them what they want to hear always find a willing audience and lucrative gigs.

    Will, fascinating.

    John, i recently heard from the publisher as a couple of projects of mine were on hold. He’s had to deal with health crises in his family; things are running behind schedule, but you’ll be getting the books you ordered as soon as he can finish them all.

    Nastarana, no doubt!

    Shane, it’s a really hard job to be a satirist these days…

    DutyBound, that varies from person to person. The best approach for most people seems to be to start small and work up from there, and see just how far you can go.

    Armata, yep. It fascinates me that back in the past, when the USSR pioneered some new technological leap, the US immediately jumped on it and surpassed it. Now? Russia is cranking out one high-tech weapons system after another, and the US is shrugging and continuing to treat its military budget as a feed trough for corporate welfare queens. This will not end well.

    Lew, thanks for this.

    Chuck, it’s The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose.

    Lordyburd, that may well be a sign. Sometime when you have some time and a fairly calm mind, you might try imagining what you saw as clearly as possible, and ask the “cat” to communicate with you and give you some idea of its name and nature.

    Dropbear, your definitions are fuzzy because the concepts themselves are fuzzy. If you or someone else were to work out precise definitions for these terms, you’d find yourself endlessly frustrated because nobody else would use the words the way you think they ought to be used!

    Tidlösa, I covered all that here.

    August, as noted in response to John, the publisher (it’s a one-person shop) had to deal with two family health crises. He’s behind schedule but promises to get the books out as quickly as he can.

    Ross, the system as presented in that book has certain limitations, though that’s as much a matter of training as anything. There are further dimensions to the system that will be covered in forthcoming books, which include methods for invoking the spheres of the Tree of Life; sphere workings can do anything planetary workings can, and so that covers the ground. In the meantime, too many students neglect what can be learned from the elements in their eagerness to rush onwards; the lessons in The Celtic Golden Dawn take care of that problem.

    Patricia, it’s pronounced as though it was an Egyptian name, “nyarlat-hotep.” He comes out of Egypt:

    “And at the last from inner Egypt came
    The strange dark One to whom the fellahs bowed;
    Silent and lean and cryptically proud,
    And wrapped in fabrics red as sunset flame.
    Throngs pressed around, frantic for his commands,
    But leaving, could not tell what they had heard;
    While through the nations spread the awestruck word
    That wild beasts followed him and licked his hands.”

  266. Regarding frozen, um, crap. If it’s frozen solid, it presents no biological hazard. It won’t even give off odor. It’s preserved as is, until it thaws again. So it could sit frozen solid all arctic winter long, and be fine.

  267. Finally caught up on the comments.
    @Your Yo Yo–I searched my dictionary of literary terms for an existing label for the Trump to Drump, Putin to Pukin, etc. technique. Couldn’t find one, but I suggest “cacanomia” literally “bad naming.”

    @ Michael Hardy and John Roth on human sacrifice. I have two comments. Someone later asserted that it was a bronze age phenomenon mostly abandoned by the Iron Age. I would disagree in that the Celts were Iron Age and there is evidence that they sacrificed war prisoners. I would also count gladiator fights and so forth in the Roman Empire as a form of human sacrifice. The games originated as part of funeral rites and were always a religious occasion, so it only makes sense to view those killed as having been sacrificed to whichever gods were invoked at the start of the games. In response to any Christian criticism of ancient paganism on this score I would ask them to logically explain how an auto-de-fe differs from any other form of human sacrifice.

    On a more mystical plane–and in line with the discussion of the Gregorio of the Catholic Church–I would ask JMG’s opinion on the effects of sacrificing garbage to your deity. Sacrifice is supposed to be of something valued–the best bull, the whitest sheep, the nice fruit with no worms. But human sacrifice, due to the tendency of the ruling humans not to volunteer and to plan ways to weasel out even when the protocol clearly calls for them to get the chop, always seems to degenerate to sacrifice of criminals, heretics, war prisoners or other unwanted population. This seems to me to be the equivalent of taking the gimpy horse, the dry cow and the moldy grain to the temple. Thoughts?

    @Jasper- re. lead and other types of mines. I think a future society will rediscover mining sites that were abandoned as being too expensive to run according to modern anti-pollution measures. I know, for example, that there was an active mercury mine in the East Bay hills. Not sure how big it was, but if it could produce a flask or two a year it would be worthwhile once the means of running big mines are gone.

    I would add to the earlier discussion on why Classical Greece did not support cavalry rather than infantry. Much of Greece is mountainous and has thin soils. No pastures for herds of horses. Readers of the Odyssey will recall that Telemachus is offered some fine horses but turns them down.

    As to why the British and American Empires have ended up with huge numbers of prisoners. Earlier empires were less queasy about execution. The fact of empire creates the underemployed class that turns to crime. You can ship some of them off to colonize new territory or you can turn them into slave labor–Athens, Soviet Union. Or you can execute them. But once you have a notion of due process and punishment appropriate to the crime it is hard to maintain public support for hanging 10 year old pick pockets.

    Before he started pushing proprietary vitamins mixes and cosmetics Dr. Andrew Weil was sort of the doctor of the counter-culture. While trained as an allopath, he was open to exploring alternative healing systems and made some interesting observations on them. His book _Health and Healing_ examines several. It has been some time since I read it, but I think he included references.

    Rita

  268. David Wengrow, a well-established archeologist at Cambridge, and David Graeber announced several years ago they were writing together a book about prehistory. Wengrow now uploaded a short text that reads like an exposé of that future book. It is available at How to change the course of human history (at least, the part that’s already happened) and may, I think, be of great interest to some people here. A few excerpts from the conclusions:

    “Modern authors have a tendency to use prehistory as a canvas for working out philosophical problems: are humans fundamentally good or evil, cooperative or competitive, egalitarian or hierarchical? As a result, they also tend to write as if for 95% of our species history, human societies were all much the same. But even 40,000 years is a very, very long period of time. It seems inherently likely, and the evidence confirms, that those same pioneering humans who colonised much of the planet also experimented with an enormous variety of social arrangements. As Claude Lévi-Strauss often pointed out, early Homo sapiens were not just physically the same as modern humans, they were our intellectual peers as well. In fact, most were probably more conscious of society’s potential than people generally are today, switching back and forth between different forms of organization every year. Rather than idling in some primordial innocence, until the genie of inequality was somehow uncorked, our prehistoric ancestors seem to have successfully opened and shut the bottle on a regular basis, confining inequality to ritual costume dramas, constructing gods and kingdoms as they did their monuments, then cheerfully disassembling them once again.”

    “Clearly, it no longer makes any sense to use phrases like ‘the agricultural revolution’ when dealing with processes of such inordinate length and complexity. Since there was no Eden-like state, from which the first farmers could take their first steps on the road to inequality, it makes even less sense to talk about agriculture as marking the origins of rank or private property. If anything, it is among those populations – the ‘Mesolithic’ peoples – who refused farming through the warming centuries of the early Holocene, that we find stratification becoming more entrenched; at least, if opulent burial, predatory warfare, and monumental buildings are anything to go by. In at least some cases, like the Middle East, the first farmers seem to have consciously developed alternative forms of community, to go along with their more labour-intensive way of life. These Neolithic societies look strikingly egalitarian when compared to their hunter-gatherer neighbours, with a dramatic increase in the economic and social importance of women, clearly reflected in their art and ritual life.”

    “…recent discoveries indicate how little is yet truly known about the distribution and origin of the first cities, and just how much older these cities may be than the systems of authoritarian government and literate administration that were once assumed necessary for their foundation… To take just one well-documented example: around 200 AD, the city of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, with a population of 120,000 (one of the largest in the world at the time), appears to have undergone a profound transformation, turning its back on pyramid-temples and human sacrifice, and reconstructing itself as a vast collection of comfortable villas, all almost exactly the same size. It remained so for perhaps 400 years. Even in Cortés’ day, Central Mexico was still home to cities like Tlaxcala, run by an elected council whose members were periodically whipped by their constituents to remind them who was ultimately in charge.”

  269. I think you have to double compost humanure before using it on edible crops, eg. compost once in the humanure pile, then add that after thorough composting to your regular pile to go thru another cycle in that pile.

  270. @Jason P,
    talk about out of the frying pan into the fire. Western Europe has it almost as bad as we do, w/worse volkerwanderung from the Middle East. Much more crowded w/fewer resources. Probably less likely to embrace fascism, though. The only hope for Europe is Russia, and it’s not a guaranteed thing that Russia will run to Western Europe’s defense.

  271. @Darkest Yorkshire: I call myself a socialist, which is to say that I think that, to the extent that “should” applies to anything, a community should make sure its weakest members have the necessities of survival before the strongest ones get to have above a certain level of wealth, and that the topmost and bottom-most class exist in a relatively non-exaggerated ratio. What I’ve read and seen suggests that government institutions and taxes are the most effective and reliable way to do this (and don’t depend on the poor sufficiently pleasing the rich–some people are impossible to please, and introverted misanthropes like myself need food too), but I could be wrong: I have all the political background of an English major who skipped half her classes.

    I’ve really only been one for a little more than ten years now, and I’ve only been reading this blog for two or three, so I’m afraid I’m also not a very useful data point.

    Re: adulthood: As someone around millennial-ness, I think some of the retreat from/disdain for “adulting” among my peers is a reaction to the popular media and cultural image of adulthood. If “growing up” means climbing the corporate ladder, owning a house and settling down to monogamy and reproduction regardless of whether or not those things suit you, it’s no surprise a lot of people are opting for the trappings of childhood. I think it’s addressing the symptom and not the problem–I just decided that “adulthood” means “can cope with your life using available resources”*–but after puzzling friends by not caring whether or not my day job takes me seriously, for example, I can sort of see where it comes from.

    On hostile “friendly” nicknaming: I have totally done it myself, usually in traffic (“…oh, *sure*, cupcake, go ahead and change lanes without signaling. We could all read your mind over here…”) or when dealing with people determined to be public nuisances, but it definitely puts the conversation on a footing, and I feel like you’ve got to own that going in–as Oscar Wilde said, a gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally. ;P I also vote against the Eton naming, since I always got the impression that Wodehouse’s heroes addressed each other with more genuine affection.

    * I’m pretty sure my destiny involves being the drunken great-aunt hitting on the ushers at family weddings, but I’ve accepted that.

  272. @patriciaormsby, don’t give up on the tales of low-speed flying.

    As an offering, I have my own corresponding flying-with-raptors story: in this instance, I was the one who flew over to the soaring bird. I got fairly close. It swiveled its neck and dispassionately glanced back at me, then in the most beautiful, skilled, and precise maneuver possible rolled about 150 degrees, extended its legs, demonstrated maximum flexion One-Two-Three with its impressive-looking talons, and rolled back to level flight. I took the suggestion and gave the bird a lot more space. It soon outclimbed me anyway! From that point on in my flying career I gave large soaring birds more territorial buffer.

    Patricia & JMG, per ultralights in the distant future, I have my doubts that engine technology will be sufficiently preserved to make ultralights an ongoing presence. But if that hurdle could be crossed, well, it would be very interesting, and from my experience would make the potential aerial engagements look quite a bit different than combat today. Peter Corley of Lazair fame and I once fell in to an impromptu sparring match to see who could stay on the others’ tail (I was flying an Eagle with a 25 HP Zenoah, where his Lazair had two 5.5 HP engines.) Peter’s skill, and the sailplane-like cleanliness of the Lazair had me in rate of roll, but I had him in climb power and could turn just a bit tighter (lots more wing area.) Over the course of 10 minutes or so (felt FAR longer) we scissored and wingovered and banked like mad, neither getting the advantage, and found ourselves at least 2000 feet higher than when we started! Even powerful jet fighters find themselves losing energy and altitude in even the shortest dogfights. Not so for ultralights. Peter and I laughed helplessly when we landed; a dogfight in an ultralight (without guns at least) is a pretty surreal experience.

  273. I think Will J. brings up a good point. Vatican II eliminated the invocation of St. Michael in the ‘60’s and that’s about when tge Roman Catholic Church began going downhill.

  274. Cassandra, I expect a vast amount of knowledge of all sorts to be lost over the five hundred years or so of the coming dark ages, and technological knowledge will not be spared. Why? Well, consider how we store our knowledge. A lot of it is in computer memories, which means one badly timed power outage or hardware failure in the right place and it’s gone forever. The rest is printed on paper, which has a very limited lifespan. Even if printing presses and paper manufacture survive through the deindustrial dark ages, as I hope, our descendants — there will be many fewer of them, remember, with far less resources to draw on — will have to decide what they’re going to take the time and expense to print. A lot of current technology won’t make that cut — and this is assuming that the end of the industrial age doesn’t result in a lot of people believing that advanced technology is evil, and that all records of it should be destroyed…

    Of course on the way down the rich will cling to their technology until it drags them under, and of course everyone will keep pretending that nothing is wrong until long after that becomes a losing game; that’s already happening now, of course. Without a global resource base, transport networks, and financial arrangements, keeping anything like modern technology running becomes a losing battle. It’ll fizzle out for one reason here, for another there, and some scraps may remain in existence for a very long time, the way that Roman aqueducts stayed in use straight through the Middle Ages. Not with a bang but a whimper…

    Jason, I’m not an oracle. Collapse is going to hit both places, but how fast and how hard? Good question. One piece of advice, though: if you’re going to go, start learning Italian now, and work as hard as possible at fitting in when you get there, so you become just one of the locals, not that snotty American who might be a suitable target for anti-American hatreds. The way this nation is going, American expats may be in for mob violence before things finally settle.

    Aron, it makes perfect sense. Doing a banishing ritual, to me, feels like taking a shower after working up a sweat in a very dusty, grimy place.

    Shane, I’ve thought of it now and again. In my version, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident turns into a full-scale meltdown, with more than ten thousand casualties, and the US embassy staff gets out of Iran just before the hostage takers show up; Carter wins a second term; the public reaction to the Three Mile Island catastrophe gives the environmental movement that last push over the top to victory, while the huge economic cost of dealing with the catastrophe forces the US to stand down from its global empire, forcing Europe and Japan to carry the cost of their own defense. In 1984 John Anderson becomes president on the GOP ticket, cementing the defeat of the neoconservatives. Alternative energy and ecotechnology, rather than computers and the internet, become the hot new technologies of the 1980s, and away we go.

    J.L.Mc12, the same principle applies. All of those were tried extensively in the 1950s and 1960s, and they weren’t economically viable. Sorry.

    John, heck of a good question. I’ll be interested to hear what you come up with.

    Dusk Shine, interesting. Armies used biologically derived nitrates from the beginning of the gunpowder revolution until Haber and Bosch got around to inventing their process, though, and it doesn’t seem to have had a limiting effect on their agriculture, so that may not be a serious limitation. Still, effective weapons using other propellants (such as compressed air) might be worth looking into.

    SMJ, did you think I was using the term as a putdown? It’s a perfectly good English word meaning a ruler who holds absolute power; given Putin’s personal popularity among the Russian people and the support he gets from a massive majority in the Duma, I’d consider that an accurate statement. You’ll note that I didn’t say “tyrant,” as so far he’s handled his power with considerable restraint.

    Will, that’s a fascinating suggestion. I’m not sure how to put it to the test, but it’s uncomfortably plausible.

    Janitor, funny. I modeled my version of Nyarlathotep on the mummy of Ramses II. On the other hand, Morgan Freeman was one of the two people I had in mind when I imagined Isaiah Meeker, President of the Lakeland Republic in Retrotopia. (The other is a very dignified elderly African-American Freemason I knew in Maryland.)

    Matthias, fascinating. I may have to look at that.

    Bryan, fascinating! Yes, that would make for first-rate epic poetry.

  275. @ Patricia Ormsby

    I saw the announcement by the Russian MOD too. According to them, the Su-57’s were deployed to test their radar, electronic warfare and stealth capabilities. They participated in a major raid before being deployed back to Russia. Apparently Western intelligence services and media outlets were unaware they already left Syria until the MOD made their announcement.

  276. I was thinking about my reference to the new Russian weapons systems being developed as a response to bullying behavior by the US government and the discussion we had last week about the prevalence of bullying in American schools.

    It occurred to me that the behavior of the US government around the world, especially over the last few decades, has been disturbingly similar to that of a high school bully. The problem is that sooner or later, most bullies make the mistake of picking a fight with someone who fights back and gives them a taste of their own medicine. If the bully is lucky, he only ends up with a bloody nose. If not, the target may just run home and grab a gun. When I was a junior high school student in San Diego, we had a case like that at the school I went to. The bully ended up in the hospital ICU with multiple gunshot wounds. He was very fortunate to still be alive.

    I think that one of the major reasons why the Russian Federation, Iran and North Korea have been the target of so much vilification, anger and hatred by the US is because they are among the few countries that have dared to openly defy the US and all three have military forces strong enough to deter an attack by the US military. Nothing infuriates a bully more than a would be victim that is willing and able to fight back.

    PS – I have heard my Canadian friends refer to the US as “the world’s biggest bully” on more than one occasion, which is rather telling by itself.

  277. @Yoyo — We used to call it “Dutch Uncle Advice.” This describes getting unwanted advice (especially crazy or inane advice) from someone who is not related to you or otherwise has no connection that would make you pay attention to what they say.

    For example, a stranger comes up to you as you exit a tuxedo shop, puts his hand on your shoulder, and says, “What your fiance should wear to the wedding, my friend, is an orange dress with black stripes so that everyone will know she is as sweet as candy.”

  278. @Austin of Ozmerst – on selling used treasures and the eBay business

    I’ve seen that Katy Wolk-Stanley seems to sell on several channels. Besides eBay and Craigslist at least on Facebook Marketplace. You might want to check her site http://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/ and maybe you could ask for her advice.

    Eija

  279. Hello JMG

    Yes I did think you meant “despot” as a putdown, thanks for the clarification! I thought he had quite a lot of powerful people against him though, and he’s had to make various distasteful deals to gain their drudging support and/or play them off against each other.

    SMJ

  280. JMG >> Eduard: The privileged are always eager to be told that everything is fine and they’re on the right side of history, and intellectual harlots who are willing to tell them what they want to hear always find a willing audience and lucrative gigs.

    Ooh. “Intellectual harlot”. I like the sound of that. I’ll have to get some business cards printed up.

  281. Re: the various comments about Russia. I’ve just realized that I may be able to apply for permanent residency status in Russia two or three years down the line. I rather like the idea…

  282. Regarding Italy: I have good Italian friends,and they say that it’s important to have family there, as things at all levels do tend to run on the basis of personal favours and contacts, political party membership, etc.

    An old, noble, humane, cynical, corrupt, culture that does things its own way – and you can be frozen out even if a native.

    This is also true of Spain, but not quite so all-pervasive at the everyday level. My relations – who have very well-paid jobs – got them entirely on the basis of minimal qualifications and, I’m afraid, blatant nepotism (politics and the education bureaucracy/lecturing).

    Both societies have a strong sense of ‘those who belong,and those who don’t’. Not belonging can still mean coming from the neighbouring village. Rural areas are to be avoided unless you have family: you can really come a cropper, and village life can be vicious (happens to in England, to be fair).

    Be warned!

    However, with an EU passport -for as long as that institution lasts and offers freedom of movement – you can have many options, and move to more open societies. An Italian friend has just made great efforts to get a Netherlands passport.

    As a illustration, at the moment I prefer to live in England rather than the Basque Country, or Catalonia (both supremely beautiful places!) where 99% of my large extended family are, as I can avoid the awful all-pervasive politics, and also the ‘inherited’ enemies which I would automatically have because of things that happened 40 or 80 years ago and the family to which I belong.

    And you simply have to take sides in politics there if you are a native – he who sits on the fence soon finds it is topped with nails…..

    However, if England goes under, and I believe it is now very fragile, it is my potential (leaking) lifeboat.

  283. PS. Isabel – you are correct about the Wodehouse nicknames!

    I once worked at Christie’s in London with a charming chap everyone called ‘Bunny’ – Viscount Stormont. He was kind and bumbling and a bit dim, and one of the nicest people there. When he’d catalogued a picture, he drew a bunny on the back in chalk, as confirmation.

    On the other hand, someone at Sotheby’s was universally hated – he was a very nasty snob and totally incompetent – and so was known as ‘Slimy’, short for ‘Slimy Knickers’: his name was Vickers. Years later I restored a book for him, and he tried to cheat me on payment -the only one ever.

    I wish I could have spent my whole working life in the company of genuine Wodehouse characters, but it is pleasant to look back on it.

  284. Matthias Gralle
    Thanks for the link to the Graeber / Wenger article. Archaeology of pre-history is turning up many a useful perspective about our “intellectual peers”. Similarly DNA lineage can help test some assumptions. Recent accounts of ancient ocean canoing and the polyglot language ‘hot spots’ which retain ancient languages, gives a new slant on the ‘wide-world’.

    Thanks also for the cracker from a week or so ago, re T. de Chardin: “This is wildly exaggerated Whig history and should have been abandoned, at the latest, with WWI.”

    JMG
    Forgive a bit of simplistic thinking, but it has occurred to me that what we call ‘rationality’, which indeed seems in short supply in our brains, might also vary with culture and history? (Yes, due allowance is always needed for the complex waking dreams we might weave with habit.)

    I was thinking just now of the conversation with complex realities needed for that ocean-going canoe and the intellectual dynamic of constant recognition and course correction. If thinking does not match the territory, typically there are constant reminders – and it is likely to need team work to deal with multiple inference. It needs even more work at sea. I guess some cultures lose that constant daily attention and corrective and veer off into virtual realities?

    best
    Phil H

  285. Armata said

    Mr. Greer, for those of us getting along in years and facing the indignities of old age, I am sure that designer diapers are next up, soon to be had at upscale malls everywhere.

    My wife and I noted an ad on TV yesterday for exactly that item.

  286. Isabel Cooper
    “* I’m pretty sure my destiny involves being the drunken great-aunt hitting on the ushers at family weddings, but I’ve accepted that.”
    Could do a lot worse methinks! Grin. Weddings are tricky, but funerals are best avoided, especially if wider family gets together,

    best
    Phil H

  287. J. M. Greer, I have a scond question: What will be the fate of capital punishment in the future? The interesting thing to note about this is that historically in preindustrial times, there were few countries which didn’t have capital punishment, and then only for a short time. In contrast to this, in the modern world there are whole regions where it went wholly out of use, with the main exceptions of Eastern Asia and partly, the United States. In many of the mentioned regions, it is not even on the political agenda of political parties outside of the political fringe.

  288. A lot of technology may be lost, if it doesn’t provide obvious benefits to people and can’t be replicated at a small scale. But I don’t think the technologies of the British agricultural revolution fit into either of those categories – the benefits of having 20% of your labour force engaged in farming vs 90% are very obvious. That’s not to mention more modern developments in gardening/farming which reduce the labour requirement from what it was in the middle ages. That has knock on effects on how much labour is available for other things, including maintaining knowledge.

    There are other technologies which might fit the requirements of obvious benefits and small scale replication. (Stationary) diesel engines are more efficient – 50% vs 25% – than horses at turning biomass into energy (of course, you need the right type of biomass…). Electricity as well (plenty of salvageable copper), and sewing machines, and bicycles, and maybe refrigeration…

    According to your model, there’ll be a first stage of collapse lasting about 25 years, followed by an interlude of about 25 years. That interlude will have a very large number of people who are aware that something is happening, a motive to learn a lot of skills, and the population will still be (mostly) literate and quite likely have access to the internet. That’s leaving aside the people who will actively try to preserve knowledge (hmmm, how long would a plastic book last?). I don’t think maintaining the current technological knowledge would be possible in such a dark age, but the level of the early 20th century might be.

  289. Rita,
    “Drumpf” was Trump’s actual German surname when his family came to America, and it got anglicized to “Trump” like so many, either in an effort to assimilate and fit in or by Ellis Island officials who did it.

  290. @Sandy Fontwit
    Good point about the voltage converters, I didn’t think of that. However, surely the incandescent must consume much more energy over its lifetime than the manufacturing of a single voltage converter can?

    @Bryan Allen
    From what I’ve read, the color temperature of sunlight is heavily dependent on the time of the day and the state of the atmosphere (especially clouds). So, for example, the color temperature at dusk or dawn is drastically different from the color temperature of a blue sky at noon.

    I do agree that 5000K bulbs tend to be unpleasantly blue, but I’m not sure if they give such good color rendition. There’s this thing called CRI, or color rendering index. Sunlight has 100, which is the best, incandescents and halogens have 99 or 100. Decent LED’s have a CRI of 80+, professional grades one for photography have 90-98.

    That being said, I do admit that CRI is not the whole story.

    Dr. Mercola has an interesting article titled “How LED Lighting May Compromise Your Health”. I don’t think that everything from Dr. Mercola can be believed, but this article raises some interesting points about light. Incandescents and halogens may look inefficient until you start considering the fact that natural light sources such as sunlight and fire also give off a huge amount of infrared radiation.

  291. It is a great thing about books – every reader sees the story differently. (Unless you’ve seen the movie and then you are some what tainted.)

    Matthias, I need to look in to that.

    It gave me an idea for an addition to the pre-election oath in ‘Retrotopia’. The actual swearing in of an elected official includes a ritual flogging administered by an actual member of the ‘lower’ classes. Just picture any politician being flogged by random person on the street. (Pain is not the intent.) I can think of a few who would probably accept graciously.

  292. JMG, you said in a response to Cassandra that a lot of knowledge would be lost. Say someone wanted to create a time capsule of books, printed on the same kind of paper that ancient Tibetan manuscripts were printed, (It lasts a long time because the paper doesn’t have the inherent acid quality of modern paper. Thus lasts 1000s of years.)

    How would someone stash that time capsule so that only a worthy adventurer may find that knowledge in hundreds… if not thousands of years later? It would have to be findable, so you couldn’t just bury it in a field. And you don’t want the thought police to come across it either or someone else hell bent on destroying history.

    I was thinking the best time capsule would be the classic books, especially poetry, a periodic table of the elements, and history books that contain our best knowledge of civilizations like ancient Egypt, Rome, Anglo Saxon England, etc. Because as we move further forward in time the periphery of our vision in hindsight will slowly be nibbled away. A few Science books would be helpful but I was think an effective time capsule would be less than 150 books or less.

  293. @Will,
    well, your generation parallels the Silent generation, so I think you’ll have a similar trajectory of living in the shadow of the generation that comes after you, which I will dub “neo-Greatest”. Those of you who survive digital detox, the Depression, and the unraveling/end of America will be forever envious of the neo-Greatest b/c they will burst onto the scene and undo all the Boomer damage, dusting-off long forgotten small-c conservative Greatest generation values. You will be forever pleading your case as to why things were so repressive during your time that you couldn’t have possibly done what the neo-Greatest did, or you will be telling people how you bucked the system in the same way the neo-Greatest did back before the neo-Greatest, and how much you suffered b/c of it. Those iGen that survive will be forever embarrassed that they put so much of their identity in what amounted to a fleeting technological device w/so many disastrous downsides.
    @Violet,
    you’re too young to remember, but I remember vividly feeling a profound sense of loss and despair w/the election of our first and second Boomer presidents, Bill Clinton and George W Bush. You’re probably too young to have gotten to know many of the Greatest/WW II/Depression generation like my grandfather, but they were the last generation to have the necessary experiences to collectively reach adulthood, and they were old and mature well before their time, and I remember with Bill Clinton and George W Bush’s election thinking that the last adult generation was exiting the scene, and what a profound collective loss that was, and what a straight shot down it would be after that.
    I’d like to make a prediction that the neo-Greatest generation takes up smoking and flouting smoking bans as their act of rebellion. One of the key ingredients of a youth rebellion is that it infuriates the elders, and I can think of nothing more infuriating to most people today than someone willing to light up inside a building. In today’s society of “anything goes and nothing matters”, indoor smoking is the one thing that most certainly does NOT go and most certainly matters a big deal. In regards to public schooling, I can think of no easier way to get expelled than smoking or attempting to smoke inside a school. As a thought experiment, readers, close your eyes and imagine in the not-to-distant future an epidemic of youth smoking. It’s impossible to go anywhere w/out finding some young person w/a lit cigarette in hand, and the more draconian the penalties to try to stop the behavior, the more doggedly they do it. I can think of nothing more infuriating than for the next generation to shale all over the Boomers crowning public heath achievement. We are on the verge of another 20s–Torches of Freedom for the 21st century? The cigarette as symbol of rebellion is pretty well culturally cemented. Maybe there is something else that fits the bill, but indoor smoking and flouting smoking bans is low hanging fruit for the next Awakening generation, and it is time for the pendulum to swing the other direction on smoking.
    One of the interesting things to me about the neo-Greatest is that for all the similarities to the Greatest generation, a lot of their values will be diametrically opposed to the Greatest–they’ll have to bring an end to Social Security and Medicare, and dissolve the US. My guess is that they will maintain current trends regarding race, gender, and sexuality.

  294. JMG,
    as a thought experiment, I like to look around and think just how different things would have been if the Reagan counterrevolution had never occurred. A phone to most people today might still be a rotary Western Electric 500 desk set. All the suburbs and big box stores that have metastasized over the landscape since 1980 would have never been built. Cars might be a thing of the past, and rail would be rejuvenated. Poverty would have remained low, and the class divide would be small. We would still have a lot of our domestic fossil fuel reserves. The millennials and iGen would have been much smaller generations b/c the overshoot and waste would not have occurred, keeping birth rates low. The global economy would have never come to pass. Cities and urban cores would be rejuvenated.

  295. The one thing for Boomers is that a lot of them intensely resented growing up under a cloud of smoke, so having to be subjected to their grandchildren’s smoke in their old age is another poke in the eye…

  296. Your response reminds of the definition of the best leaders: those who groom the next leaders, and then step out of the way.

    In relationship to that, We just saw China adjust it’s laws to allow Xi to be president for life. I now think it somewhat less likely that China will be a dominant world power later this century. The kinds of people who can be in power for a long time and not have it go to their head are vanishingly rare, and Xi does not seem to be one of them. Supporters of the Chinese system have said in recent years that their system would prevent another Mao. We will see.

    As long as we’ve had a global economy, we’ve usually had one national power at the apex, and others ready to take over when it declined. Maybe this time we will have a void at the top for the period of time till the global aspect itself disappears. Somebody asked a while back if a single country could beat the trend, and you responded possible but very unlikely. If possible at all, my best would probably be on New Zealand. Still has a functioning polity, physically isolated, a rich environment not as abused as others, not desertifying at all. But their immigration website crashed the night Trump won, so I’m not alone in thinking this (not that I tried, I’m kind of tied to where I am now).

  297. @Chris at Fernglade

    While I view the so-called free trade concept as one of the great lies of academia, it’s not clear to me what this policy accomplishes. Fact 1 is that China overproduces steel, and presumably they subsidize too. Fact 2 is that the US imports almost no Chinese steel. So China will not be punished or deterred. Meanwhile other countries who will be are lining up to retaliate. While the impacts of these tariffs, if they even actually happen, will not be anywhere near as bad as the panic indicates, it looks unlikely to fix anything either as far as I can see. My initial reaction is that these kinds of policies are a few decades too late to really do a lot of good. They might do some harm, and they might do some good at the same time – for different people. But I think time and our economies have moved on.

  298. @ J.L.Mc12: Every few years it is announced with great fanfare that a new system for generating electricity from wave action or tidal action will free us from dependance on fossil fuels. The new system is installed to great fanfare, and it just remains for the working out of a few kinks. (…crickets)

    @Matthias: “… run by an elected council whose members were periodically whipped by their constituents to remind them who was ultimately in charge.” That sounds like a great example we should adopt as soon as we can!

  299. Dear JMG, thank you for your detailed reply! I do hope The Shoggoth Concerto finds a publisher; because of your comments about your progress on writing it in previous posts I’ve become very interested in reading it.

    I hear you about the hard work involved. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time over the past couple of decades learning the ropes and making music, but always as an amateur, only rarely performing or putting the last polish on pieces in order to put them into the public. Simply because I don’t think almost all my music was good enough to show anyone. Despite that I seem to keep stubbornly trying to make music that is. However keeping my work to myself has meant I haven’t yet gone through the rejection process that you described, which is probably necessary to learn how to make work that actually does communicate. It’s starting to get too late in life to start that process now, but I’ll give it a shot.

  300. @Steve

    I had forgotten about the Fatima messages. Of course it makes sense in this scenario, and I should have taken those into account. I vaguely recall the news on the Fall of Berlin Wall, and I think my mind made the connection almost immediately.

    If anything, the vision from Leo XIII describes a process gone into overdrive. Please remember that the idea of the Church being under assault, both from outside and from within, is well established in multiple pieces of tradition. We know Francis of Asisi was tasked with “rebuilding the Church”. We now Luther liened her with “the whore of Babylon”, but so did Dante and many other Catholics… in and effort to cause self reflection rather than to demonize?

    I will leave you this archive, a comment on essay “Casta Meretrix” from 20th century Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar: https://web.archive.org/web/20100201093241/http://wquercus.com/faith/casta_meretrix.htm (which was hard to find, Google index (for phrase “santa y pecadora”) is filled to the brim with apologes that claim that this is all lies, damned lies and more lies).

    Lack of banishing rituals sounds also a plausible explanation.

  301. My last name is actually spelled s-e-n not t-o-n ;). I do also have a question, related to the seeming absence of the Christian god you alluded to in one of your earlier posts: I’ve noticed that several quite devout christians take pains to assure others that they’re not into “charismatic” churches. On one of my rare visits to a christian church, I actually started going into rapture – it happens rather easily with me – and the pastor essentially made eye contact and warned me off. So I was wondering – could the difficulty in prayer that you wrote about be not because there’s no one answering the line, but because most mainstream, respectable people panic and hang up if someone does?

    @Your Yoyo
    I would call the first phenomena you referred to as ‘name calling’ or the naughtier ‘apellomancy’; and the second as ‘polite contempt’ or ‘tipping’. A bit of explanation on the latter – for some reason, the kind of arrogantly intelligent people who often engage in polite contempt have become associated with an old-fashioned dress style, including the wearing of hats like fedoras or trilbies. It’s become common in some subcultures to respond to this kind of behaviour with something like ‘And a tip of the fedora to you as well, fine sir!’.

  302. @Cassandra

    On loss of knowledge… please consider this is all speculation from my part, I do not have access to any form of priviledged infro.

    IMHO, the loss of knowledge over the next decades will be driven by loss of intellectual community.This ties up to the other question about sources or alternative healling… but of the two traditions that I have studied with some degree of formality, acupuncture and homeopathy, I have found the works of two contemporary masters of said disciplines, respectively Wang Yu-Ji and Francisco Eizayaga, who probably never heard about the other in their lifetimes. Both men emphatized the need to study the classics, but then claimed that it would be extremelly difficult from a novice student to decode what’s in them without the help of a willing mentor to guide their efforts.

    This ties back to my former profession: computer programming. It’s impossible to think of a human discipline whose crafts and tools are more widelly available in this interconnected world, and yet, you find that really strong programmers have a tendency to arise in hubs and pockets where many other knowledgeable programmers dwell. Again, the driving factor seems to be that in order to push your skills beyond the basic competence level you need mentors and peers to help you grasp the subtleties and strive to surpass your previous achievements.

    And I am going to push my luck and say that the same idea arises in fiction… in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. A major plot engine in the work is that advnced magic cannot be learned of books alone, but must pass from one living mind to another. You cannot just read about the more recondite aspects of magic, you must either be smart enough to figure out the thing from first principle, or you must be told by your mentor. The first is a hard, slow and risky business, so the really powerful mages are the ones that “stand in the shoulders of giants”, to borrow a phrase from elsewhere.

    So, the way I see it, knowledge will not fall appart in the future when the media it is recorded on finally breaks. It is falling appart right now, because the older generations are dying out without enough intelectual heirs to keep the living traditions floating. The dark age to come will make matters way harder because people willing to stay alive will favour knowledge that has immediate pragmatic value towards that goal, and many useful disciplines will simply fail to deliver on that front.

    Also, this social dynamic of knowledge transmission relies heavily on urbanism to connect likeminded individuals to pursue their studies, so any process that hinders communications and travel, or that puts a cap on the maximum size of cities, will result also in knowledge loss in the short and mid term.

  303. Hi JMG,

    do you think it is too late to begin a trade (carpentry,electrician,etc) at 27 years old? Thanks

    Myles

  304. Yeah, I suppose I shouldn’t have tried to comment after a night of excessive beer consumption. I really didn’t finish asking my question… I just explained why I was thinking of going personally, clicked ‘post comment’, and went to bed… Sort of sad really…

    I suppose your response might be about as accurate as it’s possible to be on the topic:
    “Collapse is going to hit both places, but how fast and how hard? Good question.”
    but if I may, I’d like to flesh out my line of thought a bit more.

    What I was really thinking about(but didn’t type) was about infrastructure vs resources and the parts Europe and America are playing in our civilization’s Spenglerian life-cycle.

    It seems pretty straightforward that America has the advantage in resources(smaller population, more farmland & wilderness, etc.) and Europe has the advantage in infrastructure(older cities built for humans rather than vehicles, and old buildings that are preserved for tourism & aesthetic/historical reasons that may be usefully repurposed later on). On this point, do you think one is a bigger advantage than the other or do you think they more or less ‘cancel out’ and life will be about as rough in both places but for different reasons? My thinking is the built environment/infrastructure in europe gives it the better advantage but, my desire to go there might be skewing my view of it.

    As for the big-picture/Spengler view of things, I first have to confess that I personally have not read Spengler yet. The Decline of the West has been on my get to pile for some time, (and I probably need to just move it to the top already) so all my knowledge of this big-picture view of our civilization comes from your writings and the various other websites that have written their take on it.

    I also must confess that in my rather buzzed state I think I was just hoping you’d rif on spengler’s ideas some more, but you’ve sort of already done that about as thuroughly as you can over the years. So, rather than doing that I’ll sum up my understanding and ask a more pointed question.

    If I understand correctly, from spengler’s view the relationship between Europe and America in our civilization is similar to that between Greece and Rome in classical civilization, with Greece/Europe being the source of the culture and Rome/America being the ‘calcified’ civilization thats built on the original culture’s ideas. Along with Moscow filling the role of Constantinople, with the potential to be the next ‘high culture’ similar to how Byzantium developed after/from Rome.

    So, based on this view, the question I’d like to ask is: Are there records of large numbers of Roman subjects migrating to the eastern empire when the ‘barbarians’ began to invade the west(and northern part of the east)?

    I read Ward-Perkins’ ‘The Fall of Rome’ a few years back and while there was a lot of info on the movements of the goths and huns, I dont recall details of romans fleeing the west for the east. It might be that the detail just didn’t jump out at me at the time, or perhaps it didn’t happen. It would make sense if those who could afford to leave would opt to move to the more stable part of the empire and I’ve been thinking something along those lines might happen as America’s decline accelerates.

    For example, here in Chicago there’s a large Polish population, many of whom(the ones I’ve met anyway) still have family living in poland. Once America’s empire is no longer propping up its economy and political violence is increasingliy common(both of these things are already happening and it seems inevitable at this point that they will get worse) it seems likely that the Poles who can will move to Poland. Similarly, I imagine many other ‘white’ Americans will want to leave as well, and with the current rise of nationalist parties in europe immigrating there might be easier for some of them.

    That last bit might seem counter intuitive I suppose, but if the AfD gains power in Germany for instance It doesn’t seem far fetched for them change their immigration rules to prioritize ethnic germans from abroad over others, and America has quite a few of those. Of course that would get a lot of nazi comparisons but, it’s already getting a lot of nazi comparisons and it rises all the same.

    So in a way, I think my plan might end up ‘avoiding the rush’ 😉 though I could be wrong.

    Anyway, to sum up a rather long comment:
    Question #1 infrastructure vs resources?
    Question #2 romans migrating east at start of völkerwanderung?

    Thanks,

    -Jason P.

    P.S. I absolutely intend to assimilate as much as possible when I move, though I wasn’t planning on actually moving to Italy. I was originally looking into attending a university in Germany just as an immigrant when I found out about Italy’s ‘citizenship by descent’ rules. I already started learning German too(still just at the basics) and most of my ancestry(3/4 -ish) comes from north of the alps, so, I’ll probably end up there. A passport from an EU country makes the paperwork a good deal easier

  305. Thoughts on the economics of decline and the catastrophy of usury.

    The article on declining electrical usage in the United States got me thinking about the game play of maintaining a large economic entity during a time of decline. As demand falls it causes prices to fall, as various providers (be it electricity, fertalizer, steel, and so on) have considerable costs which they cannot drop. The need prices to rise to stay in the game, and with a declining economy the only way for that to happen is to have some of their competition drop out of the game. The next move is that all producers in a given feild are in a game of atrition, waiting for others to drop out until supply drops to match the available market. If this were a pure competition of efficency and competence that would be fair enough, but it isn’t, or not primarily so. The best winning stragity is to accumulate debt. Who ever can borrow the most can last the longest, more or less. Eventually the music stops and various producers get kicked out of the game. Sadly huge amounts of debt can never be repaid, and teh costs get shoveled all over the place; which increases stress on various economic sectors and seeds the next cycle of decline.

    Even by the dawning of the Roman empire the problems of debt were clearly recognized

    “Trading can sometimes bring success, but it is insecure; so can money-lending, but that is not respectable. So our forefathers thought; and so they enacted that a thief should pay any penalty twice over, a money-lender four times over, which allows us to infer how much worse a citizen they thought a money-lender was than a thief. When they wanted to say that a man was good, their highest compliments were to call him ‘a good farmer and a good husbandman’. I believe that a trader may display bravery and skill in the course of trade, but, as I said above, it is insecure and liable to disaster. As to farmers, their offspring are the strongest men and bravest soldiers; their profit is truest, safest, least envied; their cast of mind is the least dishonest of any. This is sufficient preface: now to my subject. ” Cato

    In a declining economy, or to a lesser degree and stable economy, debt increases the amplitude of economic waves; which is as welcome to most as increased amplitude of oceanic waves during a pleasure cruze.

    Over time increasing push back will develope against the practice of lone lending. As various economics of scale lose viabulity smaller more localized production of essentials gradually come out ahead, but dispite their economic advantages in the long run, smaller entities are easy prey to larger systems clinging to life; but when the small is consumed it can be replaced; while the demise of each massive program might never be reversed.

    Compare the way that during a mass extinction smaller more rapidly reproducing generalists can out endure more powerful climax species which regularly eat them.

  306. Thank you Pohjanakka 🙂 I’ve thought about those outlets. One thing that’s crossed my mind since I initially posted this week is that business isn’t always steady. I wish I could count on selling x amount per week but I no one really can. That seems to be a fallacy of our modern way of thinking. Some things like fresh Strawberries just aren’t available in New England year round without imports. Seasonality, inconsistency etc. seem to be something modern ways of thinking have a hard time grasping as we want everything now. Trying to do my own thing I find myself subject to such constraints. It reminds me of JMG’s law of balance where you can’t create a backlog in something without expecting consequences. Maybe wishing for steady business is a violation of the law of balance in it’s own way. I wonder if applying mathematics to business is also such a violation of balance…. Math seems to use the word “should” a lot. If I do this I should get that. The real world isn’t so machine like.

  307. Archdruid,

    I thought I’d leave this article from one of the think tanks/defense institutes I worked for.
    https://idsa.in/idsacomments/the-coming-of-the-petroyuan_srdadwal_220218

    As of this week I’m getting replugged into current events. The sudden shifts in the global and national power structure are too difficult to miss.

    China’s Xi is canceling the standard 10 year transition of power. Is he doing this because he’s interested in holding onto power, or because the Politburo standing committee is aware that they’re on the edge of a global crisis, and they don’t want to deal with the internal chaos that comes with a transition, while they’re trying to keep order externally?

    Trump is making nosies about trade agreements, upsetting the US power structure across the spectrum. However, people on the left AND right are looking at the move favorably. Is this going to be the beginning of the end for the oligarchy?

    Angela Merkel just publicly admitted there were no go zones in Germany. Does this mark the shift toward a more security oriented conservatism in Germany?

    Man things are getting fun real fast.

    Regards,

    Varun

  308. Oh! and in India the BJP continues to sweep election after election. Are we seeing the emergence of a single party state to weather the storm?

  309. @ Shane,

    Fascinating! I do remember the moment when I was 24 and realized that everyone around me was a child and I had, for all intents and purposes, a nervous breakdown. That’s an interesting point you bring up about Clinton, he definitely had that vibe. We’ll have to see about smoking. It is an interesting hypothesis. I do not share your optimism for the next few generations, but, that being said, I hope that you’re right

  310. @Shane,
    I’m far from sure Europe is quite as doomed as all that, in fact I’d say you more than likely have the metaphor backwards. I think America is the kindling/fuel and Europe is the frying pan, the flame is still spreading through the fuel, and the pan recently got quite a bit of heat(merkel’s invitation to the ‘refugees’) but otherwise the ‘pan’ seems like the better place to be at present. In the coming decades it might even be moved to the edge of the flame instead of right over it.

    I know the attitude that ‘Europe is lost’ due to mass migration is a common one these days but I think its more psychological projection on the part of Americans then a genuinely objective assessment. If you go by the numbers, the volkerwanderung into the US has been far larger than that into Europe:
    http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/09/28/modern-immigration-wave-brings-59-million-to-u-s-driving-population-growth-and-change-through-2065/
    vs
    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/11/29/5-facts-about-the-muslim-population-in-europe/

    I think that the recent, sudden, influx of so many rather volatile ‘military age males’ has shocked europe into wanting a policy change(the rise of AfD in Germany as a data point). I also think the pro-immigration stance there is very attached to values America pushes abroad, and when America’s ability to project much of anything is gone, the pro-noneuropean-immigration crowd is likely to lose a lot of influence. Particularly if America descends into a Yugoslavia sort of situation…

    I could be wrong of course, I’m basing my analysis off what I’ve heard from those in Europe rather than my own experience there. I’ve never been there at all in fact, not even a short trip… It’s entirely possible the events of the last couple years will continue on into the future without any sort of response, even after America declines to the point of having no influence in Europe at all. I think it’s unlikely though…

    I really don’t think Russia is Europe’s only chance either. All Europe really has to do is TRY a little. If they restrict their welfare benefits to reduce the incentive to come and provide incentives for migrants to repatriate to their home countries along with securing borders and a policy of turning around the boats they find in the mediteranian, towing them to the shore they left from, unloading them there in as nonviolent a manner as possible and then sinking the boat for all to see. (The message sent would be ‘you pay all this money to smugglers to get you to europe and now you’re back here, and the smuggler no longer has a boat’.) I think that would be enough to halt the inflow.

    They could also try the policy I suggested to JMG of prioritizing immigration from the European diaspora. They could probably get the pick of the litter in fact considering how bad things are likely to get here in the near term. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of skilled professionals and ‘A’ students from the upper midwest that wouldn’t mind moving to Germany or sweden or wherever there heritage mostly comes from when things really pick up speed over here. Particularly if It seems like an effective strategy the nationalist parties over there might try to secure their majority status…

    All Russia would have to do is not interfere.

    I can imagine the conversation going like this:
    Europe: We feel restricting immigration from outside Europe will increase stability here. We would also like closer relations with Russia.
    Russia: We support stability among our subjec- er.. ‘Trading Partners’ As long as there are no human rights violations, restructure your immigration policies how you see fit. You are sovereign countries after all. Now… Buy Our Gas…

    Putin seems smart enough to recognize that at this point, Germany rebuilding the Third Reich and threatening Russia is about as likely as France rebuilding the Grand Army and threatening Russia… And based on the tech reveal of a few days ago, if either somehow managed to happen he could just blow either of them off the planet anyway. My guess is he’d rather have western Europe as stable as possible and in a position where Russia can ‘tax’ them, (perhaps with slightly lopsided trade deals) and if he can get that situation without really having to do anything, as I made the case for, he’d probably go for it.

    There’s also the fact that we’re losing our empire at the same time as all this. Europe will be dealing with resource constraints like everyone else but its really just going to go from America’s sphere of influence to Russia’s, and I’m not necesarily sure that will be a negative for them…

    Thats my take anyway.

    -Jason P.

  311. Going back to the nitrogen cost of black powder weapons– I should have done the math. Or maybe just paid attention to history.

    OK, it looks like an old Kentucky long rifle gets loaded with 3.5 to 7.8g of blackpowder, depending on who’s firing and what they’re hunting. The 1953 Pattern Enfield of American Civil War fame took 4.5g of black powder for its paper cartridges. So let’s give our dark-age warbands minne balls and Enfield rifles. Each shot’s 4.5g of gunpowder we’ll say consists of 75 weight % saltpetre (that’s about the ideal), which is itself 13.9 weight-% N, elemental nitrogen — the upshot is each shot costs you 0.47g of elemental nitrogen, up in smoke. Call it half a gram of nitrogen. That’s roughly 0.02oz, you cannot forgive me the use of the metric system.

    Does that matter? Well, how many shots are we taking about? Millions of rounds were discharged at Gettysburg (even ignoring the artillery) — but you’re not getting a Gettysburg during a dark age. I don’t know what you get. A few thousand, on either side, max. (At the end of the last dark age, the Battle of Hastings had at least 12000 souls involved) Skirmishing or fighting in line? Sorry, my crystal ball is a bit blurry, so I can’t tell you, but let’s say there’s 5000 on either side, however they chose to fight. 10 000 total. Each of them will only carry, say 50 rounds to the battle. (40-60 was normal in the War Between the States, according to one source I found). Say they fire them all off, and dark-age level logistics don’t give good resupply, and then it’s down to bayonets. We’ll leave our hypothetical warriors to that, and ask: what about those 50 000 shots? The 25kg (~55lb) of nitrogen they represent?

    I was able to find that, ignoring the straw (we’ll plow it back in) 3/2lb of nitrogen is absorbed from the soil per bushel of (modern) wheat.* Which means our ~55lb of Nitrogen costs us a theoretical 37 bushels of wheat on the next harvest, assuming all the saltpetre used in black-powder could have gone into the crop. (Yeah, it really, really isn’t that simple, I know. Crops don’t respond to fertilizer like that. This is just back-of-the-envelope.) That’s for the whole battle. So if one side forwent the use of blackpowder for compressed gas (or something else tactically equivalent) they’d get an extra 18.5 bushels of wheat. On a grain-based diet, that’s probably enough to feed 2 people for the year.

    So give team gas-rifle an extra two shooters.** (This is the big, decisive battle; we’ll assume it only happens on average once a year.)

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say 2 in 5000 is such a small advantage that it’s going to invariably be lost in other effects. Morale is much more important than that. Weather is more important than that. A million things. It’s a wash. Work the math out to larger or smaller battles, more or fewer shots fired, and it’s still a wash. Not a meaningful difference, unless you’re fighting every day, or fighting on an industrial scale.

    Just as JMG suggested from the study of history. History wins again! Still — it IS a limiting factor, once you get to a certain critical size and intensity of conflict. In our history we had Chilean nitrates, Peruvian guano and later Haber-bosch to pick up the tab. The future won’t. Just another limit, in an age of limits.

    *derived from the bushel/acre and nitrogen/acre numbers here: (source: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/%24department/deptdocs.nsf/all/crop1273)
    **Maybe. Maybe those two extra guys are the support crew to keep the more complex weapons working –then it’s an absolute wash.

  312. @Rita E Rippetoe

    > On a more mystical plane–and in line with the discussion of the Gregorio of the Catholic Church–I would ask JMG’s opinion on the effects of sacrificing garbage to your deity. Sacrifice is supposed to be of something valued–the best bull, the whitest sheep, the nice fruit with no worms. But human sacrifice, due to the tendency of the ruling humans not to volunteer and to plan ways to weasel out even when the protocol clearly calls for them to get the chop, always seems to degenerate to sacrifice of criminals, heretics, war prisoners or other unwanted population. This seems to me to be the equivalent of taking the gimpy horse, the dry cow and the moldy grain to the temple. Thoughts?

    There’s a nice theory that all sacrifice (and most of religion, governance, and civilization in general) came from that exact practice, the sacrifice of the scapegoat.

    Check for Rene Girard’s books.

  313. Michael Leidy – No I do not know if the Banana Apple has a name. I just know that the lots a lot of these heirloom trees are on keep getting destroyed for housing developments and the last of the old timers who knew what they all were died when I was in high school. He was a very nice old man – He used to give me strawberry popsicles when I went past his Orchard on my bike as kid. I remember the first time I met him – I got a huge sliver in my hand from the ancient wood in his shop/bakery. He loved his orchard he was out with a walker in his 90s pruning what was left of it. He had been selling off pieces of it for years because of increasing taxes….. The parcel used to be a mile long now it’s only twenty acres square.

  314. “According to your model, there’ll be a first stage of collapse lasting about 25 years, followed by an interlude of about 25 years. That interlude will have a very large number of people who are aware that something is happening, a motive to learn a lot of skills, and the population will still be (mostly) literate and quite likely have access to the internet.”
    Well, the first stair-step down for the US occurred in the 1970s, and the awareness of limits and decline only lasted that decade before the denial set in, so I wouldn’t be too hopeful…

  315. One thing I want to add. As bad as it is when people cling to power and position, whether or not they once deserved to be there, it’s even worse when they connive to give that power to their kids. Hereditary power structures have often been the death of civilizations because if there is one accurate rule of thumb, it’s that the kids of brilliant and wise people tend to be fairly average.

  316. @Dean Myerson–I am interested to see that you believe the coming generation will continue in the direction of greater gender equality. When I dip into other peak oil blogs I see a frequent assumption that the collapse will lead to a return to traditional gender roles and renewed suppression of sexual minorities. There is frequently barely suppressed glee at the prospect, and it is treated as just a matter of nature reasserting itself. I suspect these bloggers and their audience are not of the neo-Great generation you describe.

    @Christopher Henningsen– I once took a friend to a Unitarian Universalist service. She commented that every time the energy started to build something was scheduled to disrupt it: sermon, passing the plate, announcements, etc. Well, I have heard the UUs described as the last stop on the way to atheism, so a lack of spiritual fervor is not unexpected. However, as a practicing Wiccan (40 years) I have noticed that some individuals in Circle have a tendency to disrupt the energy. At first I thought it was social clumsiness that caused things like inappropriate joking, etc. But I came to realize that some people are just afraid of letting it happen. This could be partly cultural. I was raised lower middle-class and my grandmother expressed a great deal of scorn for “holy rollers”– the type of Christians who speak in tongues, become possessed and roll on the ground and so forth. She grew up in the South and the annual tent revival meeting was a fixture in the area. So there are whole classes of people who regard any ecstatic practice as lower class, common or primitive.

    As for the return of smoking–cigars have made a comeback. I mentally associate them with old men in suspenders hanging around the race track. It is odd, I don’t mind most pipe tobacco; the natural tobacco cigarettes don’t bother me much, but I really don’t like cigars, even supposedly high quality ones. I was frankly surprised to see them make a comeback among younger people.

  317. Hi JMG and all,
    Regarding future firearms technology versus anything else, consider the sling (as in David and Goliath). The sling, according to what I have read, is about as easy to learn to fire accurately as a firearm, in about the same amount of time. There is an interesting book: The Sling for Sport and Survival by Cliff Savage, worth checking out. When I can find the time, one thing I want to do apart from actually learning the sling, is experiment with a modification, in which the sling is mounted on the end of a shaft, say, 1 to 2 feet… I think this may result in a force multiplication similar to what an atlatl gives to a spear, with no sacrifice in accuracy… and if the shaft is somewhat flexible, say bamboo, then there would be additional energy imparted from the spring action. As slings stand (ahem… applause for the near-pun), a projectile can be hurled close to 200 feet per second. I’ll bet twice that may be achievable. A 1-2 oz projectile traveling 400 feet per second would pack a lethal punch like a rifle bullet… The main drawback to the sling I see, is that you can’t fire them from behind close cover. Thoughts?

  318. Armata–

    “It occurred to me that the behavior of the US government around the world, especially over the last few decades, has been disturbingly similar to that of a high school bully.”

    I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. Like many of us, I had my run-ins, some rather serious, with bullies when I was in school. They came from different backgrounds, but there were two constants:

    1. They always lied.
    2. Whenever I fought them and won, they always had some justification.

    So– and forgive the language, but this is how we talked then– there was one kid who would always run up to the biggest guys he could find, point at me and say “That kid was calling you a f****t.” It was never true, but he’d always have a big group on his side when he came at me. Is Collin Powell’s report on Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” at the United Nations all that different? “Come on NATO, Saddam just called us all f****ts!” And you could say the same thing about most of the other “coalitions” the US has put together in recent years.

    And I remember distinctly a time when I, with only two friends, successfully fought off a much larger group of antagonists. The leader was a guy named Kevin who hated me for no particular reason. He was bigger than I was. I knew he would beat me if we stood and traded punches, so I closed with him and drove my knees into his gut instead. And in the end my 2 friends and I won the fight. Later I heard Kevin’s friends going on about how “Kevin would have won if Steve had fought him” but instead “Steve just kept kneeing him, like a p***y!”

    I think of that every time a successful guerrilla attack against American forces is labelled “cowardly.” And every time I hear about how Hillary actually won the election that she lost– or would have, if the rules had been completely different.

  319. JMG, do you have any thoughts on how Australia would survive peak oil, or at least how it would survive if America had to fight china or Russia?

  320. @Shane Wilson:

    “I remember vividly feeling a profound sense of loss and despair w/the election of our first and second Boomer presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. … I remember with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s election thinking that the last adult generation was exiting the scene, and what a profound collective loss that was, and what a straight shot down it would be after that.”

    FWIW, I share your view. I am a mid-cohort Boomer (b. 1955). Like JMG, I always felt somehow “out of step” with my generation. Unlike JMG, it wasn’t until my mid-forties that I developed the intellectual clarity and the personal fortitude to make a clean break from my cohort by (among other things) moving to the other side of the world and embracing Eastern Orthodox Christianity (about as far opposite from Boomer narcissism as you can get).

    On JMG’s various blogs (past and present) we talk a lot about “egregores.” I think that the Boomer generation has a collective egregore, and that it was polluted and corrupted in the time frame of 1965-1968. JMG speaks of the 1980 election as the moment of the moral collapse of the Boomer generation, as though it were some kind of sui generis event. I disagree. I think the 1980 election was the manifestation of moral corruption that had happened back in the late 1960’s.

    I am old enough to remember what American culture was like before 1965. From 1965 to 1968, things took a serious moral and cultural downturn. The quality of movies and television shows, along with popular music, took a nosedive towards what JMG would call the “lower astral plane” during that period.

    In particular, I was instinctively and viscerally repelled by the degradation of popular music during this period. My father trained me and my brother to love and appreciate classical music. I remember the relatively innocent “folk rock” music of the Chad Mitchell Trio and the Brothers Four from the early Sixties, and the contrast with what followed could not be more stark.

    I do not think that this was accidental. From 1963 to 1968, any leader who could inspire moral confidence in the young Boomers was systematically eliminated. Allen Dulles and his merry men in the CIA took out John and Robert Kennedy (see Devil’s Chessboard), while the lot of eliminating Martin Luther King fell to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. (Incidentally, I agree with JMG that JFK was not a particularly great president. My point, is that he, whether rightly or wrongly, provided moral inspiration to a lot of people at that time).

    Once all sources of genuine moral leadership were eliminated, then sociopaths could be inserted as the “cool people” to set the tone for the Boomer generation. A good example is Ira Einhorn, who was instrumental in organizing the first “Earth Day” in 1973. Other examples include Abbie Hoffman, H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael. The ascendancy of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (as well as Donald Trump), followed de facto.

    As you (Shane) have said, the Boomers, in general, have suffered from arrested development, and have not been fit leaders. The collective egregore has been irredeemably poisoned. My thesis, is that this was no accident and was done intentionally. By whom and for what purpose? I can only guess.

    I will be most interested to hear what JMG and Prof. Robert Mathiesen have to say about this.

  321. CR Patiño,

    I’m interested to learn that Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality has been finished! I read it a while back when it was only 70 or so chapters. Although I found HPMOR’s Harry to be an insufferable Marty Stu, I still liked it. I really like JMG’s critique of Harry Potter, especially because I’m a member of Generation Potter – I’m of an age where Harry Potter, upon the release of the books, was approximately the same age as myself, and those books, for all their flaws, cultivated my love of reading. Although my interest waned as I grew up, I re-read the earlier books, as a child, many times – there’s something in those books that many secular western children found deeply meaningful, but I’m not sure what it is. If I do manage to have children, I’d be happy to see them reading those books, although a talk about how evil doesn’t have magic tattoos and brand itself as ‘the evil bunch of evil people who want to be mean’ would be necessary.. However, as much as Voldemort and his gang weren’t realistic characters (although they were a truly detestable gallery of strawmen!), at least Harry and friends were believable characters in JK Rowling’s books.

    Although I am sort of interested in the idea of re-reading the Harry Potter books – as dreadfully thick as the latter ones were – with a more critical eye, I’ve decided I should re-read the Lord of the Rings, first, the Hobbit and the trilogy, and then, if I feel up to it, the Silmarillion and other supporting works. I read the Hobbit as a child, and the Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen or so, and didn’t get much out of it – finishing them was a slog, and at the end, I found them unsatisfying.

    I think the phenomena of mass society, especially hippies, embracing a reactionary work like LOTR is fascinating, and I think I now have the faculties and knowledge necessary to think about just why that happened upon re-reading LOTR.

  322. David L. Babcock.

    Thank you very much for the Fairyist link. I had no idea such a site existed and as its been a topic of much interest to me.

  323. Hello JMG,

    Thank you for your feedback. I would like you to know that I normally pay for the books I read, with the exception of library books or books I borrow from friends. You remind me that I owe you a tip of the jar for reading Ecosophia, so I’ll see to it that this gets done asap.

    In my question on borrowing ideas etc, I had something specific in mind, the articles I have been writing that have been published (I’m not paid nor do I pay) in a local mainstream magazine, with the intention of presenting an ecocentric view to the anthropocentric reader. I’ll ask you again in a more specific way about my concerns in next month’s Open Post.

  324. @ Your Yoyo

    In response to this questions, “is there a single label or two-word term for the insertion of the condescending “my friend” (or similar address) into an online discussion between strangers?”

    The word that immediately popped into my mind was “condefriending,” a portmanteau of condescend and (be)friending. The “ing” (“friending” rather than just “friend”) also adds an apt social-media connotation.

    @ Isabel Cooper
    As someone with fond childhood memories of a drunken great aunt, I heartily endorse the plan.

  325. @Myles 27 isn’t too old to start anything new. I began working in an entirely new field at 27, and I’ve done the same twice more since that time… with another change in the offing. Go where, and do what, the opportunities and your talents allow, and keep on doing it.

    @SMJ I don’t think it’s particularly onerous, or indeed all that different from most European countries. You need to have lived there for a certain period of time, and to demonstrate competency in the language, a knowledge of Russian law and history, etc. Not actually all that hard, at least according to the preliminary research I’ve done. I suspect that it’s easier to get (once you have the language) than permanent residency in eg Singapore (which I used to have, until I worked a bit too long in China and lost it – which I don’t really regret, tbh).

  326. Attention Xabier!

    Hi Xabier, I recognise you from Our Finite World. I sent a message to JMG to ask if he could give you my email address. He kindly tried, but the email address he has for you didn’t work. He suggested I try to reach you through this open forum.
    I thought it might be nice to be in direct contact. Well, for me anyway! We’re neighbours (sort of) — I’m in Northampton.
    If you can send John Michael a note with your email address, he will put us in contact. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Espero oír de usted.

    Best wishes,
    Lizzie

  327. @SaturnsPet

    Thanks for that.

    To address your points:

    1) I am aware of that. A better question might have been “how does consciousness relate to the other terms?”
    Isn’t consciousness the most immediate and undeniable experience that we have. It should be similar at least for each human being. Given this, it seems kind of strange, that we have such a hard time to communicate about it or even think about it.

    2) I am familiar with a lot of the work of our gracious host, but had never heard of Rene Guenon before.Thanks for this link.

    3) I shall meditate on the terms you gave me.

    4) Good advice indeed. And so easily forgotten. Although I am not sure if i even have a map. “All at sea” pretty much sums up my current position.

    Just for the record, I used to be a staunch materialist. Not uncommon for someone with an engineering background i guess, but the fact that consciousness exists made this position untenable.
    Currently I lean towards idealism, but with a limited amount of conviction and a lot of fluidity.
    As you said, the map is not the territory and I might add that it seems entirely unreasonable to me to assume that I should be able to understand the true nature of this territory with or without a map.

    I am also intrigued by the fact that some quite intelligent people seem to have a experience of consciousness that seems at odds with mine.
    To me it cannot possibly be a computation or an illusion or an epiphenomenon (whatever that is supposed to mean) as is claimed in the materialist camp.

    I would certainly be interested in a discussion about it on this forum or elsewhere. I was rather hoping our host would be interested enough to give it a post or two.
    Maybe he already has and i am just not aware of it.

    cheers

  328. Hi John Michael and Dean,

    I believe he intends to go further than either of you both expected. The news today here is that our promised exemption, as well as all others has been revoked. Now whether that gets enacted, that is a whole ‘nother story.

    Interesting times.

    Cheers

    Chris

  329. @ Michael Martin, re your comment on the egredegor of the Boomer generation and cultural descent into the lower astral
    https://www.ecosophia.net/february-2018-open-post/#comment-16074

    I have a similar take on things. And I suspect that this is, in some way, connected to television watching which has made so many people, starting with the Boomers, relatively passive and socially reclusive compared to previous generations. After all, so many of them whiled away their free hours in the 60s and 70s and yonder inside their homes, glued to their televisions. Day after day, week after week, month after month, they exchanged the hours of their lives for “Batman” and “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Flintsones” and “The Dating Game” and “Jeopardy” and “I Dream of Jeannie”… and the general fare on offer has gotten far more violent and explicit since then.

    I too would be most interested to hear what our host has to say about this.

    Dear John Michael Greer,

    Yes, I know that you recommend getting rid of the TV. I for one did that many years ago.

    For those who would defend TV, I do not deny that there are some good things to watch on television (and I have fond recollections of some of the shows I watched as a child– “Captain Kangaroo” and “I Love Lucy” were my favorites), but for me, taking the entirety of it, and above all its addictive and socially isolating qualities, into consideration, television is a dangerous enemy; I do not allow dangerous enemies into my house. That includes burglars, termites, and rabid raccoons.

    Millicently Lurking

  330. @Jason P:

    My wife and I recently made the opposite move, we relocated from Germany to Canada late last year. She is German and I am originally from Nova Scotia but I lived in Germany for almost a decade. Canada is of course not the US, but because Canada is so connected in many ways to the US it will certainly be affected by any decline-related problems that the US will go through. I went through a similar process of trying to judge future scenarios and to weigh predictions, and perhaps some of that influenced our decision to move, but mainly it was for family reasons.

    While weighing our decision to move, in the end I realized that although one might be able to predict overall longer term trends, it is impossible to predict short-term events and conditions with any accuracy. I would suggest to you that basing that type of major decision on a lot of ‘mights’ may end up being costly, partly because you are giving up home court advantage by leaving the country you are used to, and partly because it is already an enormous challenge relocating from one country to another, especially if it’s not an English speaking country.

    I’ve moved around in Europe before settling in Germany, and each time, it took years to build networks of contacts and friends but also to really understand the nuances of the culture there, not to mention the language. Travelling or living abroad like that can be invigorating and wonderful, but there are serious disadvantages about doing so, especially if you have to deal with them while dealing with long-descent related challenges at the same time. Some of these disadvantages can present themselves, by the way, if you decide to move back (such as the process I am going through at the moment after moving back to Canada where old friends have of course moved on with their lives, and the rather unexpected and intense ‘reverse culture shock’ that I am still struggling with).

    If there are other reasons you want to live in Italy or Germany, such as university as you suggest, then those make a lot more sense to base your decision on. For example, it is an immense advantage that you can study in Germany at great universities for a very low cost. Germany has its problems, but it is a great country to live in, and the infrastructure there is very intelligently put together and well-run.

    Another suggestion to you, in terms of the long descent, is a quote from Nassim Taleb: ‘invest in preparedness, not prediction’. Which echoes JMG’s suggestions about learning skills. Even if you make the right bet with your prediction about where is best to live, these trends will not of course affect every location in Europe or the US equally, local conditions will vary widely. So having the right skillset, based around providing essential human needs, is something that makes more sense to invest in.

    Good luck to you whatever you decide!

  331. @ Ray Wharton
    Re your interesting thoughts on economics of decline. I share your own and much classical and medieval distrust of usury. It seems that usury only works in growing economic sectors.

    The word that springs to mind for the future is ‘deflation’. I go along with some economists who say that inflation and deflation are not actually to be defined by prices going up or down. As you suggest, I think, it seems to be more a case of profitability or whether all business costs are at least covered for sufficient volumes of business. Prices of products may go down, but as in the 1930s, they can still not be affordable enough to maintain sales. Then producers (supply chain) as well as retailers go out of business – as you suggest – unless they can eat the small fry of their own kind. Presumably that can only go on so long unless there is a return of growth at the base.

    A serious problem with the global economy appears to be, quote: “[Bank of England blog] argues that the persistent glut of savings in stocks, bonds and property will maintain the trend of the past 30 years – of an excess of money chasing too few investment opportunities.”
    My own emphasis would be on that telling phrase “too few investment opportunities”, which suggests lack of accustomed ‘profitability’ to support the western middle class style. As a footnote, British University lecturing staff are at this moment on strike about their future pension entitlement. Hmmm …

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/03/baby-boomers-saving-inflation-wealth-economics-bank

    best
    Phil

  332. @Robert Mathiesen Thank you for the list! Vampires, indeed. We will have to make sure to visit the cemetery close to dusk for maximum effect.

  333. Re: Wengrow

    The Derrick Jensen plague on the ADR was before my time, but I read the screeds that made it. Also, with all due respect, the many posts by fans of “Ishmael”. That is why I thought Wengrow and Graeber’s line of thought is so appropriate here: they find from archaeology that hunter and gatherer societies were quite often, perhaps temporarily, inequal, while agriculture was not automatically more inequal. In general (and this is major theme in the paper I linked) they make fun of the “only story” of a fall from Eden-like hunter and gatherer innocence, a valley of tears of agriculture and state violence, and a possible return to Eden in the future, whether by technology or by rejection of technology.

  334. With the frequent bemoaning of how people aren’t adults anymore, what definition of adult are you all using? So often I’ve heard someone try to pass off a broken spirit as maturity, or heard claims of what responsible behaviour is that exactly matches the interests of the ruling class (such as the idea that an adult should move out of their family home benefits property developers, mortgage companies and landlords), I’ve become wary of the concept.

    Also with complaints about loss of civility and other character traits becoming rare, if you want them back there are a couple of things I think would be necessary. If you want them to stick around and not need to be relearned every couple of generations, you need to develop methods of developing these traits that are as quick, efficient and effective as possible. Then they won’t feel like an inconvinience that people think their lives are easier without. You also have to break any association between a personality trait or social custom and the interests of the powerful. If a corrupt and incompetent authority is using some social custom or etiquette to deflect or discredit any questioning or criticism of their actions, that behaviour has to be disavowed or people will feel they have to reject it as an act of rebellion. You really need to be in a position where you can say that behaving a certain way is correct regardless of whether you want to be a pillar of the establishment or a professional revolutionary. 🙂

  335. Ray: Cato the Elder, or Cato the younger? It matters. Cato the Elder wrote during the beginning of Rome’s expansion; Cato the Younger, during the Dying Republic Century.

  336. Jason and others:

    I know a lot of people from Brazil who, since 2013, have made an effort to get Polish, Italian or Spanish citizenship, often with a view of going to Germany or other Northern countries. Germany’s laws have always favored immigration by people of German descent, even if the last link was in the 18th century, such as was the case for many immigrants from Russia. No need for the AfD to change anything about that, though they would of course like to revert the more recent opening of citizenship to people born in Germany today of non-German parents.

    I don’t live in Germany anymore and my news is second hand. Last year, before the election, I posted some comments on the campaign ads which emphasized the “Shire-like” and apparently fragile idyll of the current economic situation there, compared with its neighbours. Merkel promised to “maintain current standards of living for the next years”…! The incredibly drawn-out process of government formation, which started September and still hasn’t finished. is due largely to the reluctance of two traditional parties, the market-liberal FDP and the social democrat SPD, to participate in government. The press chided them for being egotistical and pleaded with them to accept the burden of decision-making. That does look as if politicians and party members are afraid of being in power during the coming years.

    Never having lived in the USA, I won’t even try to guess if the USA or some European country will have an easier short-term future.

    Speaking of parallels, I am not a professional historian, but I don’t know of many cases of people fleeing from the Western to the Eastern Empire in the 5th or 6th century. A few high-level administrators moved back and forth at will. In general, I think people thought of more local refugia like Armorica, and also, the population fell a lot. In the 7th and 8th centuries, on the other hand, thousands of well-educated people from Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor and Greece fled to Sicily, Rome and Ravenna. It is good to remember that in the 8th century, the populations of BOTH Rome and Constantinople had fallen to about 50 000, from peaks at least ten times higher, and mainland Greece had mostly lost reading and writing. A different comparison is China after the Han. There, millions of people actually moved from the war-torn Yellow River heartland of Chinese civilization to the (at that time) barbaric and unknown areas south of the Yangtse.

  337. @Nastarana “I see no need to engage in displays of either submission or aggression, both of which tend to reinforce delusions of importance, vis a vis various apparatchiks, whether they represent govt. agencies or corporations.” Thank you for this comment and sound advice.

    I do think the single biggest lesson taught by Aikido (practiced in my 20’s) and Tai qi (practiced since my late 30’s) is that there ARE ways to act, and to interact, that involve neither submission nor aggression.

    It was a lesson that took a while to sink in, but once it did, I much appreciated its everyday, ordinary applications and its not so ordinary effects.

    I think you are right to highlight the value of this “third way” especially during the course of interactions with authority figures and those who, in some respect, are mightier/ more powerful than oneself.

  338. Not a question: just a comment I find very relevant. From Freedom Road, by Leslie Fish”

    did you think the first leader, come preachin’ down the pike,
    could give you one big answer, as if we were all alike?
    well, there’s no set salvation! you should have known all along,
    that jesus, marx, and your guru could be wrong!

    freedom road is a long haul,
    freedom road is a long haul,
    but it’s worth the ride,
    even if you never get there at all!

    this is the lonesome valley that you’ve gotta walk yourself.
    go out and find your answers. you can’t take them off the shelf.
    and you’ve gotta make tomorrow from just what you’ve got today,
    so get up [on your feet] and find a way!

    Blessed be,

    Pat

  339. @Rita E Rippetoe

    I don’t think I commented on gender roles. You refer to collapse but the decline described by JMG could be different. While a collapse likely infers a high degree of conflict and might-makes-right power structures, a decline could still allow our structures of justice, imperfect as they may be, to function for some time. Eventually without the homogenizing structures we now have, we will revert to what we had once before – a hodgepodge that just cannot be generalized. Some people like to generalize that pre-industrical societies were more benign or less benign or whatever. I think the only generalization that is accurate is that they did not have advanced technology. Their governance, their gender roles, even their attitudes towards homosexuality varied a lot. Nor am I necessarily convinced that even prior to any decline that these conditions will improve, as I see it. Issues like gender equality and rights for oppressed minorities improve through struggle and only through struggle. Struggle is not necessarily violent, but it is struggle nonetheless. I think that Frederick Douglass’ statement that “Power concedes nothing without a demand” was a true statement. These conditions will improve as long as we struggle for them and we have a structure that allows us to. If we are struggling to find enough to eat, then are probably not struggling to improve social conditions.

  340. Hi JMG

    After the storm Emma and/or the sea cold snap in the Athlantic, in the beach of the southwestern Spain we have seen a mass die off of starfish, crabs and molluscs; the dead starfish do not allow to see the sand in some part of the beach, I have not seen anything similar in my whole life (sorry for the poor video):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Mxy17AQKA

    People take the dead starfish to dry them and use them to decorate their patios, but it made me sad because it is not a good sign for the future

    I have found in the web that It seems to be happening in others Athlantic beaches in western Europe:

    https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/05/mass-die-off-of-sea-creatures-follows-freezing-uk-weather?CMP=share_btn_tw&__twitter_impression=true

    It is another message that we will not hear, because, cause this kind of thing cannot happen to us….

    Cheers
    David

  341. @Matthias, the population of Constantinople did not fall to 50,000 in the 8th century AD. It was closer to half a million. Where did you get that number from — I did see 50,000 mentioned as the number of foreigners in Constantinople.

  342. @Rita R.

    Please consider that sacrifice of the lame is not universal. In particular prisioners of war were not considered garbage in the Mesoamerican cultures. There were wars waged regularly on the explicit purpose of dragging enemy soldiers from the battlefield to the temples for execution; the apparently primitive weapons the Europeans found here were at least partially a purposeful effort to optimize for maiming instead of killing.

    @Pretentious

    On “what kind of father sends his son to get crucified?”

    For starters, a Feudal Lord. An important part of the vassalage system was that the kin (specially, the offspring) of the ruler would lead the armies in battle and put their lives on the line as much as anybody else.

    Now, if you consider the question from the Trinitarian side of Chrsitianity, the Father and the Son are not two gods, but two aspects of the same god. If you add to that the idea that death is not the erasure of existance, and that God’s plan was never to let the Christ dead for longer than a few days, it is just a matter of how willing you are to let one part of yourself suffer for the sake of achieving some important goal. That’s a lot more relatable to, even if you may disagree with the particular goals and means behind it.

    @Justin

    Thank you for your comment. Methods!Harry is undoubtley a Gary Stu, but the novel is a subversion of the trope. While Harry wins a lot of cheap victories through implausible tactics and plot armour, those are mostly pointless victories. Most of the plot is driven by the game of tower defense between Dumbledore and Quirrelmort, and characters have a tendency to get squashed (wink, wink) if they get too involved in the crossed fire. Now that I think of it, it’s all a very nice magician’s trick. And I will say no more because I have already abused enough of our host’s patience.

  343. @JMG or anyone else who may have some insight.

    Reading this blog and the prior ADR I’m picking up new ideas. These ideas may be old hat to others. So I’m I I appologize ahead of time if this is too elementary, but as I say, it’s relatively new to me. I’m asking if I’m on the right track.

    Many industrial processes require intense application of high heat. Am I on track thinking that most green technologies (useful as they may be in the correct context) would produce that kind of heat, if at all, with relatively low efficiency compared to fosil fuels? Does this mean that as fosil fuels become more scarce our industiral base must necessarily diminish? Is this the crux of deindustrialization?

    Would I be rigth in thinking that we can’t produce solar panels and batteries in factories powered solely by solar panels and batteries? Or at least not with the same productive capacity as a factory (that makes solar panels and batteries) powered by fosil fuels?

  344. @Justin

    Well, I am such a tool… you wanted to talk about Tolkien, right?

    Since my first exposure to it was through the 2000s movies, I am afraid I cannot relate too much to your experience. I do like the world building in the Silmarillion, but have not given it much thought as a political philosophy.

    How would you relate it to the Three Musketeers saga, where a bunch of guys with swords run around, killing each other, for reasons not completely understood by either them or the audience, but having to do with covert power plays by their “betters”.

  345. Denys:

    I don’t know if this would fit in your plans or your travel route, but the husband and I heartily recommend a visit to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts to anyone who will be visiting New England. It’s a recreation of a typical village in New England in 1830 – all the buildings are original to the period and to the region, but they’ve been moved to this location to form the historic area. We’ve always been really impressed with the first-rate, knowledgeable crafts- and tradespeople who work there and the quality of the historical interpretation. If you do go, plan to be there at least one whole day.

    Another worthwhile spot for anyone interested in New England agricultural history and who doesn’t mind getting off the beaten track a bit is the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont. The groundskeeper’s house is a wonderful Victorian with all sorts of interesting 19th century technology built in, the Jersey cow breeding program is worth a look, but to our minds, the best part is the museum of farm tools and technology, mostly early to late 19th century, set out so you can see the refinements as time went on. I don’t know how anyone could walk through the displays and not be impressed by the sheer resourcefulness of these farming families.

  346. Christopher, it’s quite simple to generate intense heat from solar energy, with quite a high efficiency. All you need is a parabolic mirror and direct (not diffuse) sunlight. Now moving that heat somewhere to do something useful with it, that’s a little bit more complex…

  347. @Jason,
    FWIW, my friends have an organic farm in Eastern Ontario, and they’ve noticed a a strong uptick in WWOOF’ers from Western Europe using the WWOOF program to look for immigration opportunities in Canada.

  348. Armata, yep. What makes for a schoolyard bully? An overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a conviction that he will never be made accountable for his actions. Both those are huge issues in the US today.

    SMJ, that’s very common for successful despots. Read a good history of the Italian Renaissance sometimes, and watch the way that the gifted despots of that time played their rivals against one another, now conciliating them, now crushing them; Putin would do well in that setting.

    Bogatyr, by all means print those business cards. 😉 If you speak the language and get along well with the culture, moving to Russia might well be a good plan.

    Phil H., good heavens, yes. What counts as rationality is purely a cultural construct, and changes freely with shifts in fashion.

    Booklover, dark age societies don’t have the economic resources to maintain a large fraction of their populations in prison. Hanging, on the other hand, is well within their budgets. Thus we can expect capital punishment to become standard again, as it has been in every other human society.

    Cassandra, you’re missing the most important element of what you’re calling the “British agricultural revolution” — the core reason why agriculture only accounted for 20% of British employment after it happened was that most of the food being eaten in Britain was grown overseas. As Britain embraced first mercantile capitalism, then industrial capitalism, the Enclosure Acts were used to force people off the land and into factory employment, while the land thus enclosed became grazing land for sheep, whose wool became the foundation of Britain’s first export economy. That’s why Sir Thomas More in Utopia described Britain as the country where sheep devour men. The food no longer produced in Britain was then imported, first from Europe, and then from Britain’s huge network of overseas colonies. Since Britain no longer has either an empire or the means to obtain one, nor does it have the historical advantages and resource base that enabled it to take control of the global economy in the 18th century and hold onto that control until the early 20th, that’s no longer an option, and many of the technologies that seemed to make sense on the basis of an imperial resource base will not be an option when such a base no longer exists.

    I’m not sure where you got the figure of 25 years for the crisis and recovery periods; the first period of crisis lasted from 1914 to 1954, and we’re still in the recovery period from that; my guess is that the next round of crises is very close, but we’ll see. No doubt some bits of early 20th century technology will remain in place — I expect radio technology, in particular, to be around for the long haul — but the whole suite requires concentrated energy sources of a kind that we’re rapidly using up. What we can expect instead, I believe, is a bricolage that doesn’t resemble any past period, but includes a range of different technologies from different eras, patched together for no better reason than that they all fill needs and can be supported on the sharply reduced economic basis of a dark age society.

    Austin, an interesting question. I’d want to produce many such time capsules, and leave clues to their locations in various odd places, to maximize the chances that a few of them reached the future.

    Shane, hmm. I’ll put some thought into that.

    Dean, New Zealand is too small and too dependent on outside resources. My guess is that it’ll end up as a client state of one of the big maritime powers of the deindustrial world.

    Jbucks, thank you! One way or another, The Shoggoth Concerto will be published; the question is purely whether it’s published by a small publisher, like my other fiction, or whether it makes the leap to one of the big presses, which is what I’m trying to do with it. I’d definitely encourage you to start sharing your music with audiences, and see how they react — you may be surprised by the result.

    Christopher, apologies for the misspelling! You may be right; an embarrassingly large number of religious movements these days go out of their way to avoid having anything to do with the spiritual powers they supposedly worship. A common bit of snark in the occult scene has it that Wiccans worship in the nude because that way, there’s less laundry to do if the Lord and the Lady they worship actually show up; parallel comments could be made about a lot of other religious groups.

    Myles, not at all. You have forty years ahead of you before you reach what’s now the standard retirement age in the US, so that’s ample time not merely to learn a trade but to have a career.

    Jason, it’s a crapshoot as too many of the variables can’t be predicted in advance; I’m also not anything like familiar enough with European conditions to venture a guess.

    Ray, my only comment is on the lines of “yes, exactly.”

    Steve, too funny. Thank you for this!

    Varun, I’m going to leave those as open questions for now. We’ll see what the answers turn out to be!

    Dusk Shine, thank you for this! Nicely done; as usual, history smiles and nods and says, “Well, yes, that’s what happened last time, too.” 😉

    Dean, fairly average, and spoiled. Not a good combination!

    LunarApprentice, slings have one problem: they’re useless against somebody who has basic body armor and a good helmet. Guns will punch a hole straight through armor. That’s why slings didn’t do much to upset the feudal applecart, while guns brought it crashing down.

    J.L.Mc12, I leave such questions for people who are there. As I’ve noted before, I’ve never lived outside the US, so don’t have the detailed knowledge of local conditions that would be needed to answer questions like that.

    Dominique, glad to hear it. Please note that I also put my weekly essays online with no expectation of getting paid for them, and they’re picked up and reprinted in quite a few places online. Since I provide a lot of content for free, I simply ask that people be willing to pay for the stuff I do charge for.

    Chris, that’s what I would have expected. Trump’s strategy for the next election will of course focus on giving his existing and potential voting blocs benefits that will keep them voting for him, and piling costs on his opponents that will weaken them; trade barriers to revitalize the manufacturing economy of the flyover states and pull the props out from under the import/export economy of the coasts are perfectly suited to that strategy.

  349. @Violet
    well, the coming Depression and collapse of America will separate the boys from the men, and the girls from the women. Immature children of all ages will not fare well. I think that the poor, working class whites are the canaries. I expect that what is happening w/poor white mortality will spread as people unable to cope, won’t. Substance abuse and suicide will spike. Post Soviet former USSR in the 90s is probably a good indicator, if not worse, since the Soviet Union was not nearly as long lived as the US, and Communism was not as effective as Capitalism in exterminating the traditional culture.

  350. Dean Myerson wrote

    Eventually without the homogenizing structures we now have, we will revert to what we had once before – a hodgepodge that just cannot be generalized. Some people like to generalize that pre-industrial societies were more benign or less benign or whatever. I think the only generalization that is accurate is that they did not have advanced technology. Their governance, their gender roles, even their attitudes towards homosexuality varied a lot.

    I think that with the collapse of the Faustian civilization and the rise of a more multipolar world, we will see cultural diversity come back into play and in a big way. As the West continues to decline, loses its hegemony over the rest of the world and the Abrahamic religions and their secularist offspring gradually lose their power over the human species, we will the return of much more diverse cultures and points of view. Before the rise of the Abrahamic religions and the rise of the West, different cultures often had much different attitudes towards things like gender roles and homosexuality. In some traditional societies, from tribal cultures to ancient civilizations, homosexuality was considered to be obligatory. In certain other cultures, it was harshly condemned and not tolerated at all, at least not publicly, while many other cultures found some middle ground between those two extremes.

    One of the unfortunate results of the rise of the Abrahamic religions was the idea that there is One True Way to do things, a logical offshoot of the idea that there is One True God who is to be worshipped to the exclusion of all other deities, One True Religion whose writ is spelled out in a sacred text like the Bible or the Quran, and that those who do not adhere to the One True Way can and should be punished for their failure to do so. Eric Hoffer argued in The True Believer that totalitarian ideologies ultimately have their roots in this mindset, which began around 500 BCE with emergence of Judaism among the ancient Hebrews in the wake of the Babylonian Captivity. It seems to me that a great many of the problems in the world today can be traced to that kind of thinking.

    We can even see this tendency in the totalitarian mindset of what has been described here as the Ctrl Left. It is curious that traditionally the Abrahamic religions condemned homosexuality as evil, even if in practice, it was historically tolerated with a wink and a nod in many Abrahamic cultures, particularly Islamic ones. Even so, we can see that many Abrahamic cultures, from the ancient Hebrews to Daesh, have viciously persecuted LGBT people on the grounds that their sacred texts condemned homosexuality and certain other forms of sexual behavior as sinful and therefore deserving of punishment, even death.

    The PC Left and the “social justice warriors” simply took the mindset of the Abrahamic religions and reversed the value judgments, so that instead of homosexuals being condemned as evil sinners who needed to be punished, they and other LGBT people are now considered to be inherently virtuous and those who disagree with the current liberal-left consensus trance with regards to homosexuality, LGBT issues and “sexual freedom” are condemned as being evil people who deserve to be persecuted without mercy. To make things even weirder, one of the ideological cornerstones of the modern activist left is the notion of “victimism”, the idea that one is virtuous to the degree that one can claim to be a victim and convince others to accept the legitimacy of that claim.

    So now we have a truly bizarre situation where certain demographics that have been officially designated as “victims” by the establishment, such as LGBT people, African Americans and Muslim immigrants, are considered to be inherently good because they have been officially designated as “victims”. Meanwhile, certain other demographic categories, particularly white males, have been officially designated as evilly evil with an extra helping of evil sauce, simply by virtue of the fact that they have light-colored skin and can trace their ancestry back to Europe and thus have been characterized as the font of all evil by left-wing activists. Even more bizarre is that fact that so many of the SJW’s are Rescue Game playing, virtue signaling affluent whites. It really has gotten to be that batshale crazy and I have no doubt historians of the future will shake their heads in bewilderment that such strange notions became entrenched in the first place in the Late Faustian Culture. No doubt they will conclude these were symptoms of a sick and hopelessly confused culture that had lost its way and they will be correct in doing so.

    As an aside, I mentioned in last weeks comment thread that I believe that what might as well be called the Cult of Victimism is one of the factors driving the explosion of bullying behavior, since children are taught from an early age that they are only virtuous to the extend that they are victims and this encourages people to be passive in the face of bullying.

    Verily, we live in very strange times and one wonders what will emerge out of the wreckage of our civilization after it crashes and burns. One hopes that something saner and more balanced will emerge out of the ruins.

  351. @easternRoman: I was surprised as you when I first saw such numbers. The reference I can find right now is in Wickham’s “The inheritance of Rome:”

    “Constantinople lost its right to free grain in 618, when Heraclius rapidly drew the correct conclusions from the Persian conquest of Egypt, and the population dropped substantially in size, from some 500,000 to between 40,000 and 70,000: still the largest city in Europe, but a tenth the size of what it had been.”

    This agrees with the complete lack of Greek-language chronicles from 630 to the ninth century, the bottleneck of manuscript transmission around 700 and, as I wrote above, the massive immigration of Greek-language clerics to Rome and other parts of Western Europe (even Canterbury got Theodore of Tarsus!).

  352. Hi JMG. Did you take a look at the video I posted previously? In Dublin Ireland, a Lidl store got destroyed and looted by a mob using a stolen excavator. Snow prevented the Garda approaching the scene until later. Signs of times? That much snow and cold weather in Dublin is not so usual, and looters did their thing when there was a chance.

    Capital punishment during dark age sounds very logical, harsh times, harsh justice.

    I hope the optical technology of making corrective lenses, I mean eyglasses, will survive. If one cant see clearly farther than arms lenght or so wont make things easier for those who are myopic.

  353. I enjoy reading your thoughtful articles and essays. it reminds me of Coevolution Quarterly, in that a wide stream of ideas and practices are made available to me miles away. I can see a National Monument from my house, and I wonder if these parks will live longer as the decline picks up steam? I think the land where the Colorado River slows as it enters Lake Powell will be farmed, but I think the Canyonlands are too harsh to exploit, after being rummaged by prospectors in the 1950’s and ’60’s. I had an idea of Druids maintaining these wild lands for intrepid pilgrims to make their journeys from Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon and all the country between. It may be that Druids will live like the old Puebloans. or is it too dry for Druids?

  354. @Violet,
    we’ve discussed this here before, but you have to take in to account the collective death wish present in the US–the fact that most people are digitally addicted zombies, and are already dead, even though the actual death has not yet manifested, it will soon enough w/the crisis. If you’ve ever spent any time among recovery, you will know that one of the keys for dealing w/addiction is detachment, basically, the addict ceases to exist to the loved one until they stop their addiction. I see no reason no to practice detachment w/the digitally addicted as one would w/someone w/drug addictions. Detachment is a must for self-preservation in these necrophiliac times fully of dysfunctions etc.

  355. “For those who would defend TV, I do not deny that there are some good things to watch on television (and I have fond recollections of some of the shows I watched as a child– “Captain Kangaroo” and “I Love Lucy” were my favorites), but for me, taking the entirety of it, and above all its addictive and socially isolating qualities, into consideration, television is a dangerous enemy”
    I would say the same thing about the internet as well.

  356. “Canada is of course not the US, but because Canada is so connected in many ways to the US it will certainly be affected by any decline-related problems that the US will go through”
    Umm, Canada is managing the transition from America to China as well as they managed the transition from Britain to America–with flying colours…

  357. @Miles: at 27 you’re just barely out of short pants! I’m just now moving on to a new trade after near 35 years at the one I started when I was 27.

  358. @JMG & the community at large

    Late in the cycle, but as we are still in the open post, I thought I’d relay recent news (as in a few hours ago) re my efforts on local resilience, front yard gardening, and domestic fowl.

    The amendment to the city’s “chicken ordinance” to include ducks (originally adding other small fowl as well, but trimmed back to only adding ducks) passed 5-4. The proposal to make front yard gardening a conditional use failed 6-3. So the net result of a year’s worth of work, at the zoning board and then at council, trying to thread the needle, find the compromises, and shepherd these issues through the process is ducks. It is difficult not to feel deflated, I must admit.

  359. @ J.L.Mc12 RE; Russo-American war, oil

    People survived fine prior to oil, but not in the fashion in which we live today. Without oil, everything is harder due to no labor saving engines. It means that decline isn’t going to stop, and you will see it in the future as price spikes followed by oilfield busts. The economies go down with the spike, and then the bust wipes out the oil guys – as it ever has been. The result is less money chasing oil, which worsens the problem and – poof! Another spike in price. All in slow motion, all right there to see if you are looking with history in mind. This IS my business, and I am seeing it firsthand.

    I think that V. Putin has made his country’s intentions very clear. Have you listened to or read the transcript of his latest address to his people? The one regarding new weapons they are fielding already? NATO and the US have brought nuclear capable weapons right up to Russian borders – what would you do? And Putin is known for being conservative in his statements…

    As for Oz – in the event of this type of conflagration, nobody escapes. MAD is still MAD, and so I refer you to that old book by Nevil Shute, “On the Beach”…

    Even moving to balmy Darwin or Tasmania is unlikely to help survival odds – your weather patterns make this pretty clear. MAD is global, as is fallout. You can emigrate to us up here, and then you won’t have to worry at all if it does happen…

  360. JMG, there are some other technologies, both old and new, which I haven’t seen discussed on this blog and which I desire to introduce.
    -hot bulb engine
    A IC engine that uses a heated metal build to ignite the fuel instead of a spark plug.
    -solar updraft tower
    A hollow tower with a wide base that heats air which rises through the tower to spin a turbine.
    -fog collectors/air well
    Various devices that can extract water from the air.
    -flywheel assisted bicycle
    A bicycle intended by an American teen that has a flywheel that gets power through regenerative braking to aid you if needed.
    -pneumatic bow
    A archery bow that powers a piston to shoot special hollow arrows.

  361. Okay, okay, so apparently I’m supposed to actually make that comment I didn’t get to in time last week about HPMOR.

    HPMOR is surprisingly significant on a couple of fronts. First, it seems to be the work that pulled a bunch of people to the LessWrong rationalist crowd, much like Atlas Shrugged and possibly The Fountainhead are disproportionately responsible for the Objectivists. Second, and more relevantly, it’s one of two works (along with Wildbow’s Worm) that seems to have sparked a new literary genre relevant to comments this weeks and last; I’m not sure if it has a different name elsewhere, but the ratsphere* calls it “rational fiction”. It tends to show up published as serial fiction online (needless to say, editing is rare), and one of its features is that it at least tries to avoid the Babbitt Fallacy; the villains may not use effective tactics – though said villains often seem to be tapping into the “villain who’s read the Evil Overlord List” archetype that’s been rising since the mid-2000’s – but they have reasons for what they do that follow from values.

    Two notable pieces of rational fiction:
    A Practical Guide to Evil – a somewhat fringe example and more prone to Babbitt than most (part of that’s justified by being set in a Narrative Causality universe with a cosmic-sides style of Good and Evil drawn straight from Dungeons and Dragons, but not all), but notable in that it’s playing in “heroic fantasy tropes from the view of the villains” space that came up in the comments last week. It’s also notable in that it’s giving me the same feeling Mai-Hime did back in my anime days – “someone’s going to do this kind of subversive take on the same genre properly a few years down the road, and they’re going to make it big because of it”. (Mai-Hime, of course, was followed within a decade by Madoka Magica, one of those works that hit the scene like a supernova.)
    Unsong – aka what happens when a rationalist (Scott Alexander of SSC fame, who is admittedly one of the more likely rationalists to make the dive into the occult for real) writes a work set in a universe defined by Jewish cosmology and Kabbalah. (I’d love to see JMG read this just to see his reaction…)

    * – I spotted someone else using that term this week who couldn’t possibly have picked it up off me; either I picked it up from someone else and don’t remember doing so (always a possibility, my brain does that sometimes – I once had to rename a character who had been going by the name of “Hari Seldon”…) or it’s running around on one of the higher planes and I just picked up on it.

  362. LunarApprentice and JMG,

    I’d like to offer major and minor corrections, respectively, concerning slings.

    LunarApprentice, you’ve been misinformed about the ease of use of a sling. Quite grossly so, I’m genuinely sorry to say. A sling has no aiming system except the body and mind of the one who wields it. It’s one of those things that you almost have to grow up using in order to use well. To learn its use as an adult is nearly a spiritual endeavor. I speak from experience.

    JMG, you’re right, of course, that this prehistoric (and awe-inspiring) weapon was never a hedge against feudalism. But I’ve read accounts of lead Aztec (slung) bullets punching right through Spanish armor. It would seem that proficiency of use, rather than ease of defense, is the real limiting factor of this weapon.

    LunarApprentice, (or anyone) if you are following a spiritual path and feel called to learn some martial expression as a bridge between body and soul, you could do worse than to pursue this. It’s like learning a musical instrument with one pure note and an infinity of wrong ones. Also, the wrong note might go straight up and come down on your head. Or fly off on a horizontal tangent (depending on your style) and smash your windshield. Or kill a child 200 yards away.

    Safety first, guys!

  363. @ JMG – Thank you for the pointer (to CR) about the importance of maintaining a private practice if you are otherwise involved with a “tainted” organization. As someone who has returned to attending the Catholic Latin mass often, I am finding some fluctuations in my participatory ability now and again (although the quiet intensity of the Low mass seems to work better for me than the High one).

    However, I do have a regular solitary practice of either hesychasm, or reciting the liturgy of the Divine Office, which is both grounding and elevating. It’s diffficult to keep all the hours from day to day, but the ones I can recite provide a real refuge. Performing the office allows me a stronger connection to the monastic tradition of the church (as well as the desert fathers, like Benedict and Evagrius), which is a lot older, and which has been the secret backbone of the church historically.

    For all those who seem to be finding they have some attraction to the Catholic church (and/or to the Latin or even the contemporary rite), but are having some problems with a positive “sync up” as mentioned throughout various comments, I would recommend looking into a more monastic or Benedictine way of proceeding. This ascetic way has been preserved with much more rigor through the centuries, and has cultivated its own spiritual strength apart from the church… So, visit the church for the Eucharist, but recite the Office privately.

  364. JMG, speaking of radio, do you have any advice on getting into ham radio? What equipment to consider (digital vs. tubes, portability, power supplies, etc.) I’ve owned a couple of receivers over the years, but have always thought it would be cool to join the transmitting side.

    I was thinking about this as I read through the comments – radio has lost a lot of interest for younger folks, and I’m not sure how many even know what the acronyms AM and FM represent. As a kid in the early 1970s, my friends and I had walkie-talkies, then there was the big CB craze, and one neighbor who was a ham operator had a cool world map in his den with pins from all the distant contacts. Since we’re already seeing the Internet begin to sputter, the usefulness of radio may be coming back sooner than later.

    @Justin, Armata – radar in the future is iffy, IMHO. Based on what I learned in radar meteorology class and taking weather radar observations while in the Air Force, you need a relatively LARGE amount of electrical energy transmitted out to receive the relatively weak signal returns. Without diesel generators or access to a very sturdy electrical grid, it would be a non-starter. With ships of the future being made of wood and not metal, they would be harder to detect by any radar, primitive or otherwise.

    @Ray Wharton – interesting thought on radio for military use – it brings up the challenge of coding or encryption, and dependency on that technology as well. I can’t envision dark age cavalry units toting around Enigma machines, but maybe there’s a less bulky workaround.

    @Shane W – since the Bluegrass area around Lexington is so well suited for horse farms, I’m not sure that will revert to forest. I’m thinking the demand for horses (draft more so than thoroughbreds) will be on the upswing in the decades ahead.

  365. @Bogatyr

    I think Russia will be the place to be when the health crises start hitting and world population starts declining. And it’ll probably do alright as the climate changes, too.

  366. @dropBear

    I’ve learned that you wrote back.

    1) “All at sea” pretty much sums up my current position.

    This you are brave to admit. A truly terrible number of people live their lives insisting they’re firmly on shore as saltwater waves around them. This does not seem to me to be a risk for you.

    2) In my opinion your background in engineering probably gives you an edge in studying these concepts because you likely have much experience using concepts such as whole and part.

    3) Concerning consciousness:

    “The attentive power of the soul. This power investigates and perceives whatever is transacted in man; and says, I understand, I think, I opine, I am angry, I desire. This attentive part of the soul, also, passes through all the rational, irrational, and vegetable or physical powers. In short, this power is the one of the soul, which follows all the other powers and energizes together with them. For we should not be able to know all these, and to apprehend in what they differ from each other, unless we contained a certain indivisible nature, which has a subsistence above the common sense, and which prior to opinion, desire, and will, knows all that these know and desire, according to an indivisible mode of apprehension.”

    The above is from this glossary: http://www.prometheustrust.co.uk/html/glossary.html

    I advise you to explore the resources the Trust put online if your exploration of idealism takes Platonic and Neoplatonic turns.

    4) Keep in touch.

    Saturn’s Pet

  367. Law and order in the Dark Ages – real illustration, for what it’s worth.

    My ancestors who lived in the old kingdom of Navarre were small landowners who also worked regularly as royal officers and soldiers. Principally they were castle commanders and also served as sheriffs, rooting out bandits who used to raid the border area.

    They didn’t really take prisoners. Punishments which they applied were:

    1/ Hang on the spot from the nearest tree. 2/ Special prisoners taken back to town, heads cut off and thrown in the river to the sound of trumpets’ (some style, eh?!). 3/ Stolen a cheese? Lose your ears! 4/ Pushed off the castle towers into the ditch (not sure what that was for, I imagine people so low that they didn’t merit the full trumpet act?)

    These laws applied from the 10th century (and no doubt earlier) until the 16th, when prisoners were then needed to man the numerous galleys of the King of Spain and had therefore acquired some economic value. Galleys = mobile prisons that maintain your Empire.

    An exception in the earlier period of Reconquista would have been made for Arab prisoners, who were enslaved if useful, just as North Africans enslaved captured Spaniards to do hard manual labour. Maybe they often worked as entertainers, as many ‘Basque’ dances of today are in fact of Persian and even Central Asian origin.

  368. Armata, that means what the social justice warriors and the left today are practising is, in John Michael Greers’ words, the anti-religion to traditional Western conservative values.

    Thanks for your answers, John Michael! I already had the idea that in the deindustrial dark age, due to resource scarcities and due to changed attitudes toward life and death, people wouldn’t bother much with imprisoning criminals for long time stretches. But, because industrial civilization has access to orders of magnitude more energy per capita than any earlier civilization, the present situation and the present-day attitude toward capital punishment has no direct historical parallels. Of course one cannot predict the details of the future history of punishment.

  369. @Beekeeper in Vermont Did you do a workshop for Philly Beekeepers group at William Penn Charter school a few years back? It was quite good! I was new to beekeeping at the time and your approach was inspiring. I ordered two hives and had little success. Quite frankly I found the buzzing sound a little intimidating too!

    We visited Sturbridge over two days a few years ago. Its an amazing site. We had been doing historical reenactment here – 1780’s – 1830’s for years and learned much there. The coach ride was my favorite; smoother than I had imagined.

  370. Just re-read the Limits to Growth. Its surprising to me how we are holding on for this long. Is it surprising to anyone else? It feels like its just going to keep going on until it can’t, like a bacteria growing in a petri dish that just runs out of food or creates too much waste.

  371. @Armata I have found this transgender rise very confusing too. Twice I’ve worked with women who transitioned to being men, and both individuals were very gracious in answering my questions. I knew them well enough and they said “ask away”, so I did. Its a physically and emotionally demanding process. Transitioning is the focus of life for years. Both individuals were deeply dissatisfied with life prior to transition. During transition everything was blamed on transition so life was OK. After transition the one woman after now being a man for a year, wanted to go back to being a woman. The second woman continued as a man with a beard. Not all the equipment is there so not sure how that works.

    I wonder if people do it so that they are “reborn” so to speak. They pick a new identity and new name and develop a whole new way of interacting with the world. It strikes me it is like the promise of baptism and being reborn in Christ, without the change of clothing and gender.

  372. And, there is another point which I would be interested in: There is some confusion about the current status of peak oil and the oil economy regarding the timing and circumstances of peak oil and the role unconventional oil sources. I see these factors in the writings of Richard Heinberg and other writers on resilience.com. I assume that they build their information on jiggered and / or faulty statistics. Is this correct? Has anyone any ideas?

  373. That’s an interesting theft protection scheme you put in your books, Mr. Greer.

    I’m wondering here, though, magic needs to be quite strict, otherwise unintended consequences arise (your “make me a sandwich” example comes to mind). Are you sure the procedure you used won’t make future copies, far down the Long Descent, useless, because people didn’t pay the price?

    And still on unintended consequences, I thought of a little problem with salt as a food preservative and seasoning. What will take the salt out of the place where you are using it? Nothing. It will slowly build up and it eventually will kill the soil. Sugar and dehydration should be used instead–but no salt.

    A third thought, it’s strange how we are surrounded by dead stuff. Everything I look human tools and buildings are basically made by removing Air, Fire, and specially Water, leaving only Earth. Wouldn’t such a massive Earth elemental focus create an imbalance?

    Warning, I’m often accused of being a worrywart.

  374. Shane,

    As a Canadian, I have to disagree. Quebec is making the transition, while the rest of Canada is being dragged along without really having a plan. More broadly, I’m increasingly convinced that Quebec is actually doing alright, while English Canada is in much the same situation as the US. I’m far from sure that things are significnatly better for (ex) Sudbury, Ontario than (ex) Troy, Michigan.

    Even if they are, I’m fairly sure all the problems facing the US also face English Canada, and I think it’s only the influence of Quebec that keeps us from running fast first in self inflicted crises like the US is. We even have similar kleptocratic feeding frenzies happening in Toronto and Vancouver.

    I think the illusion is possible because standards of living have not been dropping in Quebec the way they have been elsewhere. This is a discussion for the next open post though.

    David,

    Congratulations! In one year you have managed to get a measure passed that will improve people’s lives, and that’s nothing to feel bad about. I wish you best of luck next year!

  375. @David, by the lake: I think you have reason to be proud and satisfied with your progress. It is as if you said, “Well, I only cleared off a bunch of deep-rooted weeds, moved a few half-ton boulders, amended the sand and clay soil and started a compost pile to overwinter for the spring. It is discouraging that I have no asparagus to show for all my work.” Pat yourself on the back, man! You are doing a great work and time is on your side.

  376. @armata

    I just don’t see what you see in the “SJW” movement. I’m a straight white male of the Boomer generation inside of it and get nothing but appreciation for my contributions. It’s laughable to suggest that they think white males are evil. Yes, they call for a younger and more diverse leadership, and given recent history, I have no problem with that. I’m happy to follow younger leaders. As I mentioned earlier, the best leaders are those who step aside for the next generation of leadership. Of course there have been excessive rhetorical flourishes from some individuals, and sometimes the pendulum may swing a bit too far, but there are plenty of other white males like myself involved who contribute to the efforts and all are appreciated for it. Maybe others have experienced something different somewhere else, but what you describe is totally foreign to my experience and plenty of others like myself.

    As to your opinions on the Abrahamic religions, I wonder if they really started this trend or were just a variation that continued it. There are parts of the modern day world where those religions are not dominant and they seem to have problems of equal severity even if some of the details are different. I haven’t read about it in detail, but blaming those religions seems similar to blaming religion in general. The institutions of religion – as differentiated from faith – strike me as human-created institutions subject to all the foibles and strengths and weaknesses of other human institutions. Though I would say the more hierarchical and centralized the structure, the greater the possibility for problems. But again, that’s true of any institution. And with one or two exceptions, the largest and most hierarchical institutions in the world are not religious in nature.

  377. @ Armata: “Meanwhile, certain other demographic categories, particularly white males, have been officially designated as evilly evil with an extra helping of evil sauce, simply by virtue of the fact that they have light-colored skin and can trace their ancestry back to Europe…”

    Simply by virtue…! I am astonished. Is it really your opinion that the present-day social troubles of males with European ancestry and light-colored skin are caused by official and legal sanctions against them? Such as, say, apartheid? Slavery, anti-white male poll taxes, systemic withholding of job opportunities, housing, schools, equal pay; prison for engaging in proscribed sex acts–things like that?

    I cannot believe it of you. You must be aware that widespread resentment against so-called white males is fueled by the considerable degree of political power certain classes and groups of men have historically seized and still wield with deadly and damaging effect precisely by excluding women and people of color from their closed ranks.

    If lower class white males are now feeling the effects of being left unshielded and exposed, bereft of their customary immunity to vengeful retaliation for the many acts of oppression men have committed and deprived of the privileges their sex and skin color formerly afforded them, then you must look to their richer comrades who still reside behind the bastions of money to blame for withdrawing their legal and official support. Solidarity is so over. You may be sure that rich white males are just as well respected as they ever were.

    Poor white males have a great deal more in common with poor blacks, poor Hispanics and cruelly punished sex workers than any of the lower classes have with the rich of any sex or color.

  378. @Shane W:

    “Umm, Canada is managing the transition from America to China as well as they managed the transition from Britain to America–with flying colours…”

    Well, the transition from Britain to the US was inevitable due to the shared land border (which is longer than Europe is wide). Given that border, the extremely close economic and cultural ties, and the fact that Canada is full of resources that a declining US will want to have, I can’t see how problems in US could not affect Canada, pivot to China or not.

  379. About which Cato – yes. If it’s the book about farming, which one of David Wishart’s characters sarcastically called “Farming Is Fun,” then it’s Cato the Elder. Rome’s answer to Ebenezer Scrooge with obsessive warmongering added in.

    Full disclosure: I like Cato the Younger a lot better, hard to live with though he clearly was. Perhaps because he gave Utica good government, was obsessively honest, looked after his troops well, and he kept the conservative faction honest, too. Hard-lined, but honest. One does hope Porcia (wife of Brutus) didn’t inherit his brain wiring, though.

  380. Hi John Michael and everyone else,

    I missed the boat on your Dreamwidth discussion of writing courses, hopefully it is ok to place it here for a response? I wrote:

    I also did a creative writing post-grad, about 10 years ago, and it pretty much did nothing for me (except that I happened to meet my long term partner that way, with whom I have two kids, but that’s a separate issue!). However I don’t think I can blame my confidence lack just on the course.

    I think my mother subtly pressured me into the idea of being a writer (I have a theory that she wanted to herself but never tried due to her own chronic confidence issues, but I don’t know for sure). She also not so subtly poured scorn on some of my genre reading choices as a young teenager such as Philip K Dick and some fantasy interests. She only wanted me reading classic and literary fiction. I also think there are other general life confidence issues there in the background.

    The result is that I haven’t really produced anything and I am in my mid thirties, but the desire to really clear the decks and make a proper try never quite leaves me. I have recently been pushing myself to write again, sometimes getting up at 5.30 to do so as there does not seem to be time otherwise. It is exciting when I manage, but also hard on my psyche, like a steel tight rope walk.

    My question is…I seem to have always been capable of flashes of inspiration that take the form of phrases, single scenes, glowing glimmers of ideas and echoes of ideas, rather than concrete plots and characters. What comes to me is more akin to poetry or the makings of poetry perhaps, except I don’t really read or want to write poetry. It is often very abstract and disparate, yet I feel there is meaning packed into it, but I don’t know how to turn that into enough narrative for a story. I read conversations like this and I just envy you all that seem to be so full of actual STORIES, lots and lots of them, genre or literary or otherwise. Do you think this signifies that I’m just not cut out, or is it possible to learn to generate stories, characters and driving narrative which would give flesh to the sort of inspiration that naturally come to me? I could use some elements of style type-advice as I have writing flaws for sure, but what about elements of story and story-ideas advice?

    Thank you so much for touching on yet another subject of great import to me!

  381. Jason P,

    I think a lot of what you say about Europe is accurate. The immigration lobby being heavily influenced by American culture is a big one. I always remember reading an American-Iranian academic/SJW activist explaining to a Bulgarian woman how she was a white beneficiary of settler-colonialism and so should ‘stay in her lane’ as they like to say.

    But you’re overlooking a couple of processes. One is the most commonly missed: the demographic statistics. Look into them for each European country (except France – they refuse to track such things on principle). The native birth rate has been below replacement levels for a long time now while that of immigrant groups is far higher. Natives are already a minority in the under-10 age group in many urban areas in many countries. The trajectory within the next 50-100 years is clear unless something changes. And I don’t know of any declining civilization that has ever stabilized birth rates back above replacement level before it bottoms out during the ensuing Dark Age.

    The second is that the migrations from Africa, the Middle East and Asia have barely begun. Again look at the demographics of those places combined with their projected climates under most climate change scenarios. We’re looking at massive drought, economic collapses, more failed states like Libya and Somalia producing well supplied black market weapons markets and piracy in the Mediterranean. The coastlines of southern Europe are nowhere near prepared to defend themselves against such mass migrations.

    I think you’re also underestimating the cultural psychoses of western Europeans, particularly but not only among the political class, that prevent them from implementing any of the ideas you’ve proposed. Although it is true that the shock of the scale and nature of the migrations in 2015-2016 have jolted the frog out of the boiling water in some of the hardest hit parts of the continent. The Italians and Austrians have demonstrated that recently. Denmark is also showing signs of getting a grip. To what extent anyone will risk standing up to Germany in practice though is an open question.

    Simo P,

    Yes it is really rare for Ireland to get those kinds of snowfalls – and a real blizzard too. I see it was caused by an invasion of warm air from the south into the Arctic. I suspect we’ll see more such extreme weather while the climate swings until the AMOC hits its tipping point and throws us all into a new Alaskan-style equilibrium. At least we’re all investing in snow boots and shovels now so we’ll be slightly better prepared each time.

    The looting was new for Ireland but it’s not wildly out of character for the areas that it happened in. The inventiveness of the digger plan was what made it dramatic really. The locals there have to deal with antisocial behaviour and crime from the same usual suspects on a regular basis.

  382. Dear Petrus, I have also recently discovered the beauty and use of the Liturgy of the Hours. I have not found the Rosary to be much help for me at all, but the Liturgy is, for me, marvelously settles my mind and heart. I would have to say it is the best remedy for severe and long term depression I have yet discovered. Now if only there were a Latin Mass nearby.

  383. Dear David by the Lake, I add my congratulations to those above. As for front yard vegetables, I suggest you need not be disheartened. The mere presence in an elected office of someone with your views demonstrates that there is at least some public support for those views, and that may well deter overzealous officials from moving against people’s back yard gardens, which has happened in some places. With respect to the front yard vegetables, I rather suspect that you are up against some stubborn economic interests, such as neighbors worried about property values and retail grocers (and their employees). Left and right both, it seems to me, have a rather collectivist view on how the rest of us should be spending our own money in support of their favored people and companies. During the last presidential election, a well-known Clintonista website featured a blistering attack on Senator Bernie Sanders because….he fills out and files his own taxes. I think he publicly asked his wife in which shoebox the back tax forms could be found and a high urbanite leftist took very public umbrage at this failure to employ a tax preparer.

    Dear Matthias Gralle, I gather you consider Wickham’s book worth reading? I ask, because I frankly did not when I had it home from the public library? What was I missing?

  384. Millicently, I hear that heroin is pretty enjoyable, too… 😉

    Yorkshire, we could get into a long and useless debate about what the vocal noise “adult” means, but I really do have other things to do with my time, you know. I trust you do know what the people who are using it in this case actually mean…

    DFC, yep. We may be on the brink of a massive shift in ocean ecology — I wouldn’t put a full-blown deepwater anoxic event out of the question, since that’s how Gaia usually stashes away excess carbon in the biosphere.

    Christopher, ding! We have a winner. It’s very easy, using solar technology, to produce boiling-water temperatures, and anything that you can do with diffuse heat converts very well to solar. Hotter than that? Very challenging, on any kind of industrial scale. You’re quite correct that it’s not going to be viable to create solar panels in a factory that has only sun as an energy source — not to mention the global resource-extraction supply chains needed to get the raw materials! — so the solar power of the future will more likely involve solar water heaters, solar space heating, and small-scale mirror-heated furnaces for specialty projects, rather than vast arrays of solar panels.

    SMJ, another highly talented despot, though of a very different stripe. Putin has a very Russian kind of flair, a sense of the colorful gesture and the dramatic stroke; he’s a bit of a showman, and that talent’s served him well in his rise to power and his contentions with the US. Xi’s a master of slow, patient, inexorable pressure; you can tell he comes from a much older culture than Putin, just as you can tell that Putin comes from a much older culture than Trump. Xi and Putin are well matched; it’s indicative that Putin’s kept on grabbing the headlines with his skillful moves in the Middle East, while Xi’s patiently extended China’s reach to a degree that should scare the bejesus out of the US public without causing more than temporary flurries of denunciation. Their strategic partnership is paying off big for both men and both nations.

    Simo, eyeglasses can be ground quite easily by hand, though it takes time and patience; Baruch Spinoza supported himself as a lens grinder while writing his philosophical works. Thus it’s at least possible, and I hope somebody takes the time to relearn the method!

    Jdm, as with most things, it depends on the Druid!

    Simo, I have no idea, never having lived there.

    Oilman2, if I recall correctly, firearms of types manufactured before 1900 aren’t regulated as firearms, either; I’ve thought more than once about getting an Old West-style revolver and getting skilled with it.

    David, huzzah for the ducks! You’ve achieved one goal; now you can direct your energies and efforts toward others, while continuing to build a constituency for the front yard garden issue. As Attila’s mother used to tell him, Rome wasn’t sacked in a day… 😉

    J.L.Mc12, okay, you’ve introduced them. So?

    Username, with regard to Unsong, my question is simply this — is it at all well written, or is it the prose the usual cringeworthy stuff? I’ve read enough really bad fantasy fiction at this point for several lives; what’s worse, I wrote a fair amount of it back in my misspent youth; and at this point an interesting story idea is not enough to make me slog through a novel.

    Ynnothir, my understanding — and please correct me if I’m wrong — is that a longbow or a crossbow has more likelihood of piercing armor than a slingstone, under equal conditions of range and user skill. It’s precisely the fact that a bullet from a gun will go right through armor under a much wider range of conditions, when pointed and fired by a peasant recruit with six weeks of training, that made firearms such game-changers in war.

    Petrus, that seems like a very sensible approach. In dealing with magical lodges — many of which have at least slightly dubious egregors — it’s been my experience that systematic solitary practice will not only keep you from getting dragged down, it can help lift the group back up, especially if a significant minority of members get going on the solitary work. If the Catholic church is going to have a shot at pulling itself out of its current death spiral, to my mind, that’s what’ll do it: individuals whose spirituality is mostly a private matter, using those traditional practices that can be done outside of an institutional setting to counter the advanced decay of the institutional church.

    Drhooves, my advice is to find your local ham radio club — ARRL, the voluntary organization for ham radio operators, will bend over backwards to help you do that — and ask them for their advice. If the hams I know are anything to go by, you’ll find yourself with far more help than you know what to do with. 😉

    Phil K., hmm! Thank you for this.

    Xabier, many thanks for this. My paternal ancestors were in the Scots Highlands during that same time frame, and things were, ahem, a little less organized there, (The normal response to serious crimes in that setting was blood feud, with a substantial body count; it doesn’t hurt that the ancestors in question were MacGregors, i.e., the nastiest cattle thieves and cutthroats in the southwestern Highlands.)

    Booklover, the present attitude toward capital punishment is an anomaly and, to my mind, not a healthy one. It’s part of a very general habit of putting the rights of thugs and bullies ahead of the rights of their victims — a habit we can see displayed in uncompromising terms, as I’ve mentioned before, in the US school system.

    Denys, it doesn’t surprise me at all. Go back to the chart that shows the curves of the standard run, keeping in mind that population doesn’t peak until 2030 or so, and look at how gradual the changes are. That’s a good guide to where we are just now.

    Booklover, too many people in the peak oil scene back in the day fell into the trap of believing the sudden-collapse fallacy, and so made predictions that failed. As I noted many years ago, peak oil is a process, not an event, and at this point takes the form of slumping net energy on liquid fuels — something that has massive impacts but subtle ones, as more and more economic activities have to be starved of resources in order to keep the fuel flowing.

    Packshaud, 75 years after I die, the copyrights on my books expire, and when that happens, so does the spell. (During those 75 years, the income from my books will go to support my wife if she survives me, and then — since i have no living children and no heirs — to pay for free language therapy for children via a Masonic charity.) One of the things you learn as a practicing mage is to think through such things!

  385. Hello JMG

    Many thanks for your thoughts!

    Would you say that both Xi and Putin largely have their respective nation’s best interests at heart (as opposed to being motivated primarily by personal gain)?

    SMJ

  386. JMG you said in response to Oilman2 that you’ve thought more than once about getting a old western style revolver and getting skilled with it…. lol we’re still waiting for the John Michael Greer brewery to open up – It could be a great book. You once said when Atilda the Hun comes “don’t offer guns, offer beer.” 🙂

  387. Hi Nastarana,

    Wickham’s book is sometimes packed full of data on year-to-year political history and lacks maybe a bit in analysis of the underlying trends, though I enjoy the anecdotes that open each chapter. I have to admit I didn’t read all of it, actually, but I did read the chapter on the Eastern Roman Empire 650-850, so it was easy to find the number on the population of Constantinople ca. 700 AD that I was looking for.

    Bryan Ward-Perkins’ Fall of Rome was more fascinating, but he states very clearly that he isn’t going to say anything about the Balkans because he doesn’t read any Slavic or other local language and he only writes about things he actually read himself in the original language, in the original source (I think it was him who said that, though I might be mixing him up with another historian of the period). I also think that since data on economic activity on the Balkans in the 7th century are extremely thin, he simply couldn’t apply his favorite methods there. That is to say that for this absolutely catastrophic period I had at least a bit from Wickham, and a bit from Reynold and Wilson’s Scribes and Scholars (which I found an amazingly good read!), and the original academic publications of Florin Curta.

    Just a renewed plug: Mez, Renaissance of Islam, is absolutely mind-blowing, though about a slightly later period and region.

  388. @Armata Hoping you are still reading the comments. I’ve been following your comments on Russian military capabilities for some time. Could you comment on what happened in Syria two weeks ago when the US killed 500 Russian troops? http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-mercenaries-testing-us-lost-300-troops-reports-2018-2

    “Forces operating Russian-made T-55 and T-72 tanks fired 20 to 30 tank rounds within 500 feet of the SDF base, which held some US troops, said Dana White, the Pentagon press secretary, according to the executive editor of Defense One.

    The US-led coalition responded with “AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships, and Marine Corps artillery,” according to Lucas Tomlinson, a Fox News reporter. CNN also reported that Himars and MQ-9 drones were used in the attack.”

    I first noticed that the F-35 Lardbucket wasn’t in the fight. It also seems like the battle was lopsided in terms of equipment used; we brought much more to the battle than the Russians did. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    I agree with your view that the Russians have made their military more effective than ours. When Trump said the military has been vastly underfunded, my response was shock because I can’t recall a time people demanded to trim their budget and put the squeeze to them. Its also obvious by reports that much money is unaccounted for.

    My daughter took ballet with a Russian teacher for years. He had no issue calling students lazy, stupid and weak, and they all loved it. He produced amazing dancers. If the Russians run their military the way they run a ballet studio, we are in for a real spanking if we go against them.

  389. Hi, it’s late in the comment cycle, but this post has provided me with the language to properly answer Darkest Yorkshire’s interesting questions (many thanks JMG for the mention of “solitary practice” as a means to balance and/or correct an egregor’s “tainted sphere”).

    Darkest Yorkshire’s questions:
    “Who here is or has been a socialist or an anarchist? How did you end up here and how much of your original beliefs do you retain?”

    These are good questions, and have cause me to reflect for a few days. I generally do not take to names for who I am, because I find myself “overhanging” them tolerably often. Still, on the whole, I would regard myself more of an anarchist than any other flavour of political animal.

    As to finding “here” (I first found ADR, then WOG, then followed the happenings to “here”), I cannot recall the reason for the find, but I do recall the feeling inspired by the very first ADR post I read, which is something like, “there’s work to be done, and I had better start doing it”.

    I do not think contact with this blog has made me less of an anarchist, though I am aware that JMG does not think highly of anarchism, as is sometimes espoused and practiced (possibly due to the “slippage” of coercion through the back door by certain espousers). On the other hand, I have never found that my fundamental belief that we are better at governing ourselves than at governing others to be, in any important aspect, at odds with the ideas expressed in these blog posts. Perhaps “self-government” would be a slightly better word for what I believe in doing (that is to say, there is a “solitary practice” of decision-making and organising that corresponds to my own political life).

    Anyway, it came to me, when considering your questions, in the light of this post (and comments), that I have always thought of the state as a “tainted sphere” (though not in so many words) in that I see “the same scandals happen over, and over, and over again, even when different people are involved.”

    Therefore I sup with the unavoidable aspects of a state “with a long spoon” as it were, and do my best to engage in the political “solitary practice” of governing myself to balance things.

    As to socialism, I am mostly put off by the idea that the right state (given the right leaders) can fix all. On the other hand, when it comes to economics I do take an ecological view (which I find is also mostly in tune with this blog). That is to say if a circulation system flows, it distributes nutrients and remove wastes widely and effectively. Whereas if allowed to pool and accumulate and cease to connect its endpoint back to its origin, then it fails as a system.

    It seems to me money is failing to circulate. It should return from its gravitationally attractive endpoint at the wealthy end of its flow gradient to its origin at the poor end of its flow gradient, from where it enters and “irrigates” the economy. But instead it increasingly pools and accumulates at the wealthy end, and stagnates without returning to the poor. I do favour any sort of “pump” which has the effect of connecting endpoint to origin (as a heart does with vascular circulation, or as evaporation does with the earth’s hydrosphere) so as to permit the flow to ceaselessly cycle (for example certain forms of taxation and spending). In this regard, I was much taken by JMG’s proposals in an ADR post, to primarily tax the extraction of primary resources from nature, and to remove or reduce the taxation associated with work.

    Anyway, I hope that answers… if you are still here. Thanks for asking.

  390. Denys:

    Sorry to say, it was not I who led the beekeeping workshop in Philadelphia! There are a lot of very good beekeepers in Pennsylvania, although I’m more familiar with the groups in NE PA as we used to live up there. If you are in the Lehigh Valley area, nobody knows more than Bill Mondjack – besides being one of the smartest beekeepers around, he’s a really great guy.

    After you’ve become comfortable with bees you’ll find the buzzing to be soothing and if you pay close attention, over time you’ll be able to ascertain an awful lot about what’s happening in that hive just by the bees’ sound. I talk to the bees all the time so I think of the buzzing as their half of the conversation.

    Glad that you enjoyed Sturbridge!

  391. “Well, the transition from Britain to the US was inevitable due to the shared land border (which is longer than Europe is wide). Given that border, the extremely close economic and cultural ties, and the fact that Canada is full of resources that a declining US will want to have, I can’t see how problems in US could not affect Canada, pivot to China or not.”
    Yes, but the US is imploding, not exploding, and most Americans ignore Canada, and as the US declines, the American blackout of anything Canadian is total. Keep in mind that there was mistrust and animus between British North America/Canada and the US for almost all of the 19th century (War of 1812?), and there seems to be a chasm opening up between the US and Canada once more. Let’s not forget that Canada was founded by Loyalists who wished to live under the Crown in a Westminster system that fled the US. There are already tent cities popping up on the border. Before very long, it will be the Canadians clamouring to build a border wall, and the Chinese who will pay for it.

  392. Beekeeper in Vermont – I haven’t been to Old Sturbridge Village in forever!!! It’s not that far from me. There’s also the Historic Deerfield a stone’s throw from Amherst.

  393. @ gkb

    Poor white men do have more in common with poor African Americans, Hispanics and sex workers than they do with the affluent overclass and have been among the many victims of the neo-liberal policies that have been enthusiastically pushed by both the Democrat and Republican establishments, something we have discussed here and on John Michael’s old blogs before. They would make natural allies for many traditional liberal and left wing constituencies, something old school Democrats like FDR and Harry Truman and old school civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass understood.

    So why is it that the activist left these days keeps shooting itself in the foot by indulging in rhetoric that demonizes all whites for the sins of some, thereby alienating many of the people it should be trying to win over? To my way of thinking, saying that all whites are inherently bad and morally culpable because of the misdeeds of some whites is no different than portraying all African-Americans as criminals and all Muslims as terrorists because of the misdeeds of some African-Americans and Muslims. Racial stereotyping and bigotry are wrong, regardless of which demographic category is the target. Wouldn’t it be more intelligent for progressive activists to emphasize the common interests of disadvantaged whites and nonwhites and look for ways to gain the support of both groups over by promoting reforms that help working class and poor people regardless of skin color? Of course, that is assuming they are sincere about wanting social justice and not just engaging in virtue signaling, indulging in hate speech dressed up as social justice activism or doing the dirty work of “The Man” while posing as progressives.

    As for privilege, it’s a far more complex and nuanced topic than either the illiberal left or pseudoconservative right wants to admit. We’ve got some really weird cultural dynamics that say that a poor white person from the trailer park or an inner city neighborhood is somehow more privileged than a wealthy black doctor and that the poor white person should be made to suffer because of all the bad things that some white people have done over the centuries, even though that person is already getting screwed over in large part because of classist bigotry and neoliberal economic policies that were supported by affluent white liberals who were trying to maintain their own positions of privilege by throwing the working class under the bus and then cynically use race-baiting to divert attention from their own complicity in the victimization of working class Americans, both white and nonwhite.

    It’s worth noting that the black community was devastated by the shipping of American jobs overseas to Third World sweatshops because historically, industrial jobs were a ticket to the middle class for many African Americans. When those jobs went away, huge numbers of blacks were thrown back into poverty and the African American community has never recovered. As a result of policies that allowed the affluent urban liberals to maintain their positions of privilege at the expense of the American working class, tens of millions blacks and whites alike got the shaft. It’s not in the least bit surprising that so many well-to-do liberals are desperate to divert attention away from the role they played in promoting policies that did immense amounts of damage to the black community by engaging in whitey bashing and virtue signaling. It is as cynical as it is hypocritical and disgusting.

    As I mentioned last week, the overclass, most but not all of whom are affluent whites, routinely uses crassly manipulative tactics to keep whites and non-whites at each others throats, such as using rhetoric about racism and social justice to keep nonwhites angry at whites and fear-mongering about crime, drugs and welfare dependency to keep whites at loggerheads with nonwhites. Keeping people at each others throats by dredging up negative stereotypes and bad things from the past accomplishes nothing except to make it easier for the overclass to maintain its grip on power.

    As for me, I have had and still have friends from every racial, ethnic and religious group imaginable. I always strive to judge an individual based on his or her demonstrated character, not on skin color or some other arbitrary category. I try to live up to Dr. King’s admonition that people should be judged on the content of their character, not on the color of their skin. It’s a real pity that so many who consider themselves to be social justice activists have forgotten that and instead choose to indulge in divisive race-baiting hate speech that is increasingly difficult to distinguish from that of the KKK or the Neo-Nazis on the other side of the aisle.

  394. No, no, JMG, you misunderstand – I’d love to see you *rip Unsong apart*, to see an actual practicing mage look at the book and point out exactly what it got wrong above and beyond the “use magic words to get physical effects” part. Partially because I’m pretty sure a) Scott Alexander actually did some research into Kabbalah into writing it, b) did a marginally better job than your usual bad fantasy, and c) I suspect he ran into some beginner fallacies.

    (Also, it’s annoyingly hard to get “this honestly shouldn’t happen and I know it shouldn’t happen but but I will admit part of me finds the idea hilarious” tone across… well, honestly, even face to face, but even more so in text, and I clearly failed. Sorry about that.)

  395. Dusk Shine: re: gunpowder

    Smokeless powder and primers are made from rather simple ingredients, nitric acid, cellulose mainly and the core ingredient of a primer fulminating compounds were known in the early 18th century

    They don’t require high energy manufacture to make and if the knowledge survives, until the very deep end of the Dark Age, the era of city states our host mentioned I suspect ammunition while pricey will be made is decent sized lots

    One thing you can’t count on in a collapse is demand for weapons being plentiful though they are not always cheap

    generally if the tech allows an air rifle, a cartridge rifle will be easier and more common once its manufacturing is understood

    As a historical consideration the Colt Walker revolver was available within about 3 decades of that air rifle and the Smith and Wesson model 1 followed a few decades after in about as much time as the Glock 17 followed the Browning Hi Power

    And to our host re: longbow and crossbow arrows.

    These weapons worked to a degree against light armor but by say Crecy neither would penetrate plate armor except on a very lucky shot in a joint.

    In recent years there has been considerable testing with items that were close to period in terms of metal composition and velocity. Against mail and gambeson (a padded undershirt) they basically do nothing

    Most troops however were lightly armored , with at most a layered textile defenses which while effective enough aren’t arrow or cut proof to the degree plate and chain are

    Sling as far as can be told fell out a favor as they were less powerful at range, required more skill and were not useful in mass formations

    Other weapons could be used in mass formations allowing for a lot more missiles down range

    Crossbow men while using an expensive weapon are easy to train and Longbow men cheaper to equip but harder to train .

  396. On Harry Potter in general:

    I’m not part of the “Potter generation”; I greatly enjoyed the books, but I read them all as an adult.

    >Have a hopelessly incompetent Ministry, an Order of the Phoenix sunk in institutional decadence, Tom Riddle’s movement sweeping all before it, and Harry et al. having the kind of impact real people can have in the face of a political system in terminal crisis, all the while feeling the temptation to side with Riddle’s bright, enthusiastic, hopeful, but catastrophically mistaken crusade…now that would be an interesting novel.

    That’s…pretty much what’s implied to have happened in Harry’s parents’ generation. Snape gave in to that temptation, for reasons that were just as good as Harry’s for choosing the anti-Voldemort side*. And Riddle and his Knights of Walpurgis were winning…until he tried to kill Harry, and miraculously was stopped temporarily. (Voldemort in Harry’s time is meant to be not all there because he has split his soul.)

    *(The people who mistreated Snape, including the spoiled bully ringleader, were the main opposition to Voldemort–so Snape joined the side they opposed. Harry becomes a Gryffindor because he doesn’t want to be in the same house as a spoiled bully he just met. It turns out that spoiled bully said the exact same words to him when they met as the earlier generation’s spoiled bully said to Snape. And Harry declares he opposes Voldemort *because he killed his parents*–not because he’s, like, wrong or anything. Not to mention how Dumbledore turns out to have loved Grindelwald, yet still eventually turned against him and defeated him.)

    I mean, I always liked the Harry Potter books because they had *more* realism/nuance than most fiction available at the time. Might say something about the quality of fiction available at the time… But it really does have a fair amount. It’s expressed subtly, though, and you discover it slowly as the story progresses and Harry grows up.

    Which may be why it’s so popular–if you don’t want to see its nuance, you don’t have to. (The movies don’t show it. Especially, they *really changed* the Dumbledore/Grindelwald plot point. In the books: Harry learns something about moral complexity, and chooses for himself what side he’ll be on. In the movies: Harry decides to “ignore vicious rumors” and just follow Dear Leader anyway. I’d call that the biggest change from the books to the movies.)

    Plus–here I’m going to geek out because, well, because I am a geek–JK Rowling has said that she doesn’t like fantasy and the Potter books are a deconstruction/parody of it. Which probably explains why I liked them even though I too don’t like fantasy (Harry Potter is the only “fantasy” I’ve liked since the work of Gael Baudino). I can definitely see the deconstruction aspect. It seems to me that the main overriding point of the Potter books is that *with or without magic, people are still people*–which the author believes to be a disagreement with most fantasy. I’m not sure that most fantasy really does imply that magic changes everything, but I can see why someone might think so. Anyway, her efforts to show the magic-users as “just as human and fallible as everyone else, magic or no” seems to be what produced the nuance that I enjoyed.

    @Justin:

    HPMOR’s Harry is not a Marty Stu. He’s that way for a plot-based reason. You just don’t learn that reason until close to the end.

    I guess I got that far because I didn’t find him insufferable or a Marty Stu anyway. But he is certainly different from canon Harry. (I didn’t find him insufferable because I know people like that and don’t mind them. I didn’t find him a Marty Stu because the way he is didn’t strike me as “distortion of *everyone else’s* character for the purpose of *making things go better for this character, who furthermore is an authorial self-insert*–pedantic reasons, maybe, but there you are.)

    The author never finished reading the series–he said he relied on having read lots of fanfic to infer the rest of the plot–and in some places you can tell. Especially in his handling of Snape, whose backstory is a very distorted version of canon’s, *without* any plot-based reason. Canon Snape’s backstory has similarities to a standard fictional trope, but is different from the trope in a way that I think Rowling found “more realistic”–I think this is another example of her stated goal to “deconstruct” fantasy. But fans who, after all, may not be paying that much attention to a supporting character’s backstory anyway, often just…read it as the actual trope, and brought that into their fanfic. And HPMOR’s author only read the fanfic…and there you are.

  397. @ Morfran: Mark Twain used to keep an empty barrel in the kitchen and write down ideas and snippets of dialogue, etc. on scrap paper then throw them in the barrel. When the barrel was about half full he knew there was a novel in there and dug it all out and started putting it together. If you can use a spreadsheet, it can be better than a barrel bcause you can assign key words and scene categories and character names as sorting fields.

  398. @David by the Lake, I also think you did great! Where I live we can only have chickens–I would be very happy to add ducks to that list. Congrats!

  399. @Darkest Yorkshire: In my take, there is no monolithic definition of adulthood: there are multiple layers and nuances thereof. In law, adult status ranges from 16 to 21 years of age for the purpose of prosecuting crimes, voting rights, driving a car, drinking, etc. In medicine/biology adulthood begins as soon as puberty allows the organism to reproduce. This can be as young as 11 or 12. In psychology, adult behavior varies with cultural expectations and experiential conditioning; certain kinds of trauma at key points in childhood can severely damage the course of normal psychological development. In my opinion, one level of adulthood is defined by being able to perform basic functional self-care: to feed oneself, clean oneself and one’s environment; work/earn, learn, teach, love, and so forth. A more advanced level of adulthood is to take the responsibility for bearing and raising healthy, happy children. This—-done well—-often requires setting aside one’s own needs in order to foster and support the child’s needs. I think this adult functionality is like graduate school is to a bachelor’s degree: more narrowed and narrowing but deeper and more important to the society. But there are childless people who put their needs aside to serve the larger society in other ways. They too are PhPs—-Doctors of People-ology—-compared to those of us who take okay care of ourselves but do not serve others in any sustained capacity.

    I think it is absurd to characterize any chronologically defined cohort as being more or less adult than any other. Every age cohort responds to the challenges of its era just as different cultures define adult responsibilities differently. Those who think it is more ‘adult’ to train millions of people to dehumanize millions of other people in order that both groups may kill one another by temporarily overriding the barriers of human fellowship and murder guilt and then drinking themselves into a state of stupefaction for years afterward posit one generation to be somehow ‘more’ adult than those who hold that mobilizing mass numbers of people to protect the environment from commercial exploitation and degradation is the noblest act a human can undertake in one lifetime. But adulthood is an independent variable here. These actions are taken by groups of individuals, not age cohorts moving in a comic lockstep sequence like Rube Goldberg machines.

    It is possible that people who blame whole generations for this or that are projecting onto a safely distant target the unresolved anger feelings they have towards their own parental or filial relations. Especially when these blaming and shaming behaviors are generalized and vague with no reference to specific facts. The extent to which casual cascades of hormones affect people’s day-to-day thinking is appallingly underestimated. I disapprove of the careless habit of striving to engender cross-generational malice and ill-will. I just learned recently of a case where a young doctor deliberately prescribed a benzodiazepine for an older doctor, knowing that it was contraindicated for the older one’s age group. When confronted by the older doctor’s family he merely sneered “She’s old,” as if that alone justified his purposefully poisoning the older doctor. I call that soul murder fostered by hate and I resent the gaudy tongue waving that nourishes such actions. Selfish abrogation of adult responsibilites is not the exclusive property of any generation or any one individual.

  400. @ Denys:

    It’s still not entirely clear what happened in Syria. Lots of conflicting accounts. The first accounts said pro-Iranian militia, then we got stories of large numbers of Russians being killed. Most of the early news reports of Russian casualties that I saw claimed a total force of 500 attacked the SDF base, with 100 to 200 KIA. The latest info I have seen claim some Russians were killed but probably less than some of the casualty figures that have been bandied about. Other reports suggest a combination of Russian mercenaries as well Syrian militia. But who knows for sure? The whole thing is really murky.

    My understanding is that the Russians in question were mercenaries and the local forces that were involved also appear to have been militia rather than Syrian Arab Army troops. That’s why the Russian government has largely treated the incident as being of no consequence and denied any involvement. That’s probably why Russian mercenaries and local militia, who may well have been mercs hired and trained by the Iranians, were used in the first place. As old Ronnie Raygun would say, its all about plausible deniability. If no Russian, Iranian or Syrian regular military forces were killed, then there’s a lot less pressure to escalate by retaliating and the respective governments can deny having been involved. So there was a failed probing attack and a bunch of Russian and Shiite mercenaries got killed. From the perspective of the Russian and Iranian governments, that’s not a big deal. Cold blooded yes, but that’s how things are often done in that line of business and the US has been playing the same game for a very long time by using mercenaries ranging from the Hmong in Vietnam to companies like Blackwater and Triple Canopy in Iraq.

    I have heard rumors that these particular mercs were not operating with the approval of the Russian authorities, at least not officially. Technically under Russian law, private military companies are banned but in practice, they are widely winked at because they allow Russia to deploy troops on the ground without the official involvement of the Russian military. Returning mercenaries can be prosecuted for violating laws against PMC’s, but in practice are usually left alone so long as they keep their mouths shut after they get back. The Russians use mercs for the same reason the US government uses companies like Blackwater and the French set up the Foreign Legion. If mercenaries get killed, its much less embarrassing to the government then if regular army troops get killed.

    If these had been regular Russian troops, there would have been a much stronger response, perhaps some sort of retribution, although in that case it would probably be done quietly much as is said to have happened after an earlier incident near Deir Ezzor in which several Russian Spetsnaz soldiers were rumored to have been KIA during an “accidental” (few if any Russians buy the official American explanation) airstrike against Syrian government forces. It was rumored afterwards the Russian Navy carried out a cruise missile strike against a “moderate Syrian rebel” training camp in which American advisors were reported to have been to have been killed. So far, there have been no such rumors following this incident, which suggests that these were not regular military personnel whose deaths the Russian government felt obliged to retaliate for.

  401. If capital punishment is used during dark ages, what is going to be the punishment for breaking someones eyeglasses deliberately (if they are hand grinded, they are going to be quite expensive)? Even today is one of the things some idiots like school bullies like to do. Glasses is a costly item to replace, and even more annoying thing is that frame fashion changes all the time, so one often cant get frames similar to broken ones instead having to choose new ones, which is annoying thing to do if the previous ones were just fine.

    Then I want to ask is it possible that traditional slavery makes a comeback in the future during dark age? Its a historically used way to run an economy, we have to remember.

  402. Dear Nastarana, I am happy that you have found some effective solace in the Liturgy of the Office. I don’t know what version you are using, but I myself have recently gone from using the small Latin-English Monastic Diurnal (which does not contain the Matins office) to using the somewhat larger Anglican Breviary (which does) and which is entirely in the beautiful and older English vernacular. 

    Too bad about an absence of the Latin Mass near you. However you may want to look into this service offered by the Barroux monks in France, who  stream their chanted Offices each day, which can also be downloaded. There is additionally a separate link generated for each office to a text page displaying the Latin-English texts so you can follow along or just listen. Each session provides an opportunity for instant retreat…

    https://barrouxchant.com/

  403. Something interesting for everyone, a vid of a man making quicklime, then mortar, from snail shells
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek3aeUhHaFY
    It interesting to know that at mt omaney in Australia there used to be a factory that created cement using dead coral brought over by dredging as the raw material for making the quicklime. Imagine a cottage industry of renewable cement making in the post oil future that does not need limestone mining.

  404. JMG:

    I’ll keep it short.

    Thanks so much for ferre. I now associate it with Water. Now posse is free to symbolize Salt in my mentality.

    Huzzah!

    Saturn’s Pet

    PS: No problem if you don’t post this. I just wanted you to know. Your call senpai!

  405. @David, by the lake-
    Adding to the chorus: you have been toiling away at good work that many of us just don’t want, or aren’t able, to do. Thank you for that. Remember that it’s only your job to work the soil, plant the seeds, and nurture the sprouts. You aren’t in charge of the growth and productivity of the plants. That happens on its own, in its own time. You never know who’s hearing your ideas and mulling them over, or how the currents of opinion may be slowly but steadily changing. I hope you will keep on keeping on, if only as an example to the rest of us.
    Best-
    –Heather in CA

  406. Armata,

    “the activist left these days keeps shooting itself in the foot by indulging in rhetoric that demonizes all whites for the sins of some”

    I’ve noticed that this is where communication often breaks down. Some people choose to read “the activist left does X” as “literally absolutely every single person on the face of the planet who might describe themselves as such does X”. Then they can’t take in another word you say because they’re on the defensive.

    That’s why you get responses, as you did, along the lines of:

    ‘I’m on the activist left and have never experienced that.’

    Technically, that kind of anecdotal evidence could disprove a claim that “All X do Y”. Of course that’s just about never what the speaker was really claiming in the first place, but correcting over-generalizations is an obsession in western political culture. I believe that’s because it allows people to shift the focus from the actual issue, which invariably makes them uncomfortable, to your horrifying lack of qualifiers.

    I’ve watched people try to get past this block by studiously hedging every single statement they make along the lines of “some/a minority/many/most but not all/the vast majority/all but a handful/74.8%… of X group.” In my experience those qualifiers remain invisible to those whose primary focus is sniffing out careless over-generalizations that will allow them to accuse the speaker of prejudice, which is of course the real game. But that kind of meticulousness with qualifiers does occasionally allow an idea to get past the cognitive filters of more honest people, and of course it’s more accurate anyway, so it might be worth a try.

    “As for me, I have had and still have friends from every racial, ethnic and religious group imaginable.”

    I really, really wish people could stop doing this. This is not a criticism of you. It’s understandable to feel you have to resort to trying to prove you’re not a racist bigot fascist whatever in this game. But surely all it does is feed that toxic personalized debate culture. Unlike being careful with qualifiers, it adds nothing to the truth or otherwise of anyone’s statement. Standpoint epistemology has run so rampant that people’s first reaction on hearing an opinion is now often: “what could be motivating them to say that?”. Let’s aim for a culture in which no one needs to wheel out their gay Jewish trans muslim black best buddy ever in any political discussion. But that may be stubbornly utopian of me…

  407. Hi, all: I want to voice my appreciation for Scotlyn’s insights that the state is a tainted sphere and governing myself is one way to mitigate that taint. Now I will be more conscious of what I need to do in that regard–thankyou, Scotlyn!

  408. Someone made a comment upthread about socialism that got me thinking. It was that the idea that workers own the means of production doesn’t imply state ownership. Today, “socialism” seems to imply that to a lot of people, with the Soviet Union as the poster child for why that doesn’t work in practice.

    If you take the idea that “the workers own the means of production,” literally, though, “socialism” is alive and well in the West, including the U.S.

    If I have any discernible political leaning other than “keep the conversation civil,” it’s that brand of socialism.

  409. Dear Armata:

    You are right that it makes no sense for self-described progressives to alienate working class whites, but they do, and with gusto. If anyone needs proof or would like to see for themselves how widely this condemnation extends, s/he has only to mosey on over to Daily Kos or Democratic Underground, where the vitriol is daily on display. On these sites it is never, ever, acceptable to lump all black people or – heaven forbid! – all Muslims together, but white people, especially rural whites? Well, they’re all the same: gun clutching, uneducated, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, stupid, fundamentalist people. And, of course, nearly all mass shooters are white people, even though that’s been debunked by Salon, ironically a liberal outfit. Don’t waste your breath or your keystrokes trying to point out the inconsistencies and ridiculous leaps of logic; I’ve made attempts over the years and have been met with various forms of the f-word. I recently found out that our three sons, raised and homeschooled in a slightly left-of-center, union supporting household and dragged as children to help out in soup kitchens and countless other worthy community charities, Obama voters all, have become so utterly disgusted with the anti-white smears of the Left that they all voted for Trump in 2016. That’s three votes the Left lost in the important state of Pennsylvania. Now that’s shooting yourself in the foot.

    Austin:

    You should make another trip to Sturbridge, especially as you live so close. Check the website for scheduled events and demonstrations so you can make the drive on a day when there will be something that especially appeals to you. Throughout the year the craftspeople offer classes in their craft or trade (not sure if you have to be an OSV member to register), which are reasonably priced and would give you the chance to try out one or other old skill, overseen by somebody who knows what they’re doing. You could do that on your own, of course, but these days blacksmiths are a little thin on the ground.

    We visit a lot of these historic sites when we’re hosting relatives and friends from Europe (the husband has extensive family in England, I in Germany) and last summer we had visitors from London so we took them to Old Deerfield Village, the first time we’d been there. More museum-like than Old Sturbridge Village, but very interesting nonetheless. Deerfield deserves an entire, long, day, which we unfortunately did not allow ourselves.

  410. @Armata: I do not clearly understand who/what you designate as “the activist left”; but I think you answered your own question about its putative behavior in your 5th paragraph. I quote: “…the overclass, most but not all of whom are affluent whites, routinely uses crassly manipulative tactics to keep whites and non-whites at each others throats, such as using rhetoric about racism and social justice to keep nonwhites angry at whites and fear-mongering about crime, drugs and welfare dependency to keep whites at loggerheads with nonwhites. Keeping people at each others throats by dredging up negative stereotypes and bad things from the past accomplishes nothing except to make it easier for the overclass to maintain its grip on power.”

    As far as I know, there has been no genuine, functioning Left in the U.S. since the labor unions were neutralized by the simple but effective method of corrupting union leaders with wealth for selling out their constituencies. What passes for left-wing activity in the richfolks-owned media is a form of vaudeville theatre.

    Should anyone happen to learn of the existence of an organized body in the U.S. that can deliver politician-pinioning bloc votes in favor of such policies as (1) decentralizing, re-municipalizing and de-profitizing utility companies nationwide; (2)federal deinvestment in overseas military; (3) federal defense funds being funneled to civil defense and border patrols for each State; (4) federal mandate for energy conservation, routine civil defense patrols to inspect for corporate violations of laws against water pollution, and punitive monetary penalities and jailing of CEOs for recidivist industrial water pollution; (5) 60% taxes on all corporations, with provisions for taxation on all currency exchanges and stock conversions worldwide and for corporate ‘death’ taxes to be paid the moment that the original corporate board are ousted or have died; (6) federal mandate to promote solar thermal water heating for all schools, government buildings, and places of public assembly such as churches, temples and sports arenas; (7) federal funding of a massive retrofit of residential housing insulation, padded shutters, etc. with bonding and preferential hiring for persons exiting incarceration or the justice system; (8) massive federal investment in tree planting, including a universal draft of all able-bodied citizens to spend three months assisting our nation to plant as many trees as possible for the next ten years; (9) ending all drug prohibition laws and spending the money saved on providing 100% coverage of universal mental health care; (10) immediately ending marijuana prohibition nationally allowing development of hemp crops in every state where the plant will thrive to promote homegrown industry in paper, hog feed, oils for linoleum and biodiesel, medicinal uses, rope and sailcloth; (11) federal creation of a Bridge and Canal Builders and River Defense Corps under the aegis of the Corps of Engineers; (13) punishment for infractions of laws meant to secure equal pay for women –– especially in the movie industry, where clear evidence is in the public domain of systematic collusion against women’s rights, and, for that matter, in every other place on earth; (14) federal bloc grants to all municipalities of 25,000 persons or less to establish and maintain community vegetable gardens; (15) and a few other uses for taxpayers’ money that I can readily think of —- if such an organized bloc-vote-delivering body does exist, do please let me know. Only then will I believe that there is anything I can honestly call a ‘Left’ wing political force. What you are speaking of, Armata, is, I think, a kind of sock puppet show to entertain political infants. Grown-ups have more important work to do.

  411. Dot, in your reply to Armata-“
    Armata”As for me, I have had and still have friends from every racial, ethnic and religious group imaginable.”

    Dot-“I really, really wish people could stop doing this. This is not a criticism of you. It’s understandable to feel you have to resort to trying to prove you’re not a racist bigot fascist whatever in this game. But surely all it does is feed that toxic personalized debate culture. Unlike being careful with qualifiers, it adds nothing to the truth or otherwise of anyone’s statement. Standpoint epistemology has run so rampant that people’s first reaction on hearing an opinion is now often: “what could be motivating them to say that?”. Let’s aim for a culture in which no one needs to wheel out their gay Jewish trans muslim black best buddy ever in any political discussion. But that may be stubbornly utopian of me…”
    Thankyou for this, Dot, and also to Armata who also has important, thought provoking comments. Both are valuable, and continue to make me consider all sides of the important discussion here.

  412. @Armata Thank you for the analysis. I keep thinking Syria is a proxy war like Vietnam, yet with the Saudi’s, Turkey and Israeli’s nearby its certainly more complex than Vietnam.

    I saw the Chinese unveiled some new stealth fighters the other week. Interesting how they jumped so far ahead in military technology. Who from our country gave it to them or is it all their people here on HB1 visas working at top tier companies who borrowed it?

  413. Scotlyn, I’m still here but in a slight state of chaos due to new windows being installed.

    Socialism’s egregor must be in a terrible state by now and the anarchism egregor is probably sitting in a corner somewhere crying. The idea of solitary practice definitely puts a different spin on Murray Bookchin’s criticism of individualist anarchism.

    I too worry about excessive authoritarianism but in my more cynical moments I wonder if it will be authoritarian enough and how much of socialism will actually involve telling stupid selfish people ‘no’. Things like how quickly anti-Semitism came back after the Russian Revolution or how badly a lot of hippies treated women doesn’t inspire confidence. The experience of revolution is supposed to be the mass catharsis that scrubs people clean of the gunk of the past (not just the festival of the oppressed but the group therapy of the oppressed). But now I suspect it’s more like a temporary Hawthorne Effect that is necessary and has vast potential to bring about changes that couldn’t come any other way, but can’t be relied on long term.

  414. gkb, thanks I thought the concept of adulthood would be something along those lines, but your summary was more comprehensive than what I had considered.

  415. On generations, rituals, and adulting:

    The commentariat has offered me a lot to chew on this last week, and even asked for my response. Unfortunately, other obligations kept me from responding until now. Thanks especially to Michael Martin, Violet, Nastarana, Will J, and Shane W; and I’m sorry for the delay. I apologize, too, for the length of this comment, which has turned into a small essay. Here goes …

    Just where one places the boundaries between successive generations—insofar as the word “generation” actually refers to a real thing—is crucial. Sometimes the line between one generation and the next has been very sharply drawn by historical events, with hardly any “grey area” between them. In other cases there is a very large grey area, and some of the children born on any given day in that grey area will belong to the earlier generation, others to the later one, and still others will be odd blends of both.

    The sharpest of the sharp lines within living memory was drawn at the end of the Second World War. During the war years (1941-1945 for the United States), most young men were separated from most young women by military service, so the number of births each year was comparatively low. After the war ended, these young men returned home, and—unsurprisingly!—in 1946 the number of births skyrocketed. That event was promptly dubbed the “Baby Boom,” and children born during it were the first of the “Boomers.” So that is a very sharp boundary indeed.

    And the Pew Research Trust, as cited by Shane W, now wisely identifies 1945 as the last year of the Silent generation, and 1946 as the first year of the Boomer generation. (The boundaries between other adjacent generations seem to me to have been much fuzzier, more grey. Pew Research Trust’s precision in pegging them at specific years strikes me as a very serious mistake.)

    Eighteen years later, in the Spring of 1964, the first “Boomers” graduated from high school. Many of them entered the world of work directly. Others, in far greater numbers than ever before, went off to college, as more and more employers sought to hire men and women with bachelor’s degrees for a wide range of new jobs.

    Up to that time, many colleges were meant to prepare the privileged young for entry into a few high-status professions only, not into the wider job market. For these elite youths, college (and, often enough, a grand tour of Europe or the world afterward) substantially delayed their entry into full adulthood. Now, however, for the first time in the history of the United States, large numbers of young people who had not been born into wealth and privilege, entered college, and thus were able to delay the onset of their adulthood, too.

    Enter the useful concept of “adolescence” as a means of making this new development seem to be both natural and beneficial to the young, who clearly were of an age where the word “child” didn’t really fit them any longer. Eventually the pursuit of graduate degrees could be used to delay adulthood even further, for those who were reluctant ever “to adult”—a rather striking new verb that has come into use fairly recently.

    Incidentally, this concept of delayed adulthood could also be—and was—used by college and university presidents to justify the widening social role of the institutions that they headed, as they ruthessly pursued government subsidies and cultivated political influence.

    That process had actually began well before the Second World War. What President Eisenhower famously called “the military–industrial complex” in 1961, he might better have called “the military–industrial–higher-educational complex.” (But he had been the President of Columbia University up to the day when he stepped down to become the President of the United States, and that would have been “bad form” of him, as well as bad rhetoric.) My own employer, Brown University, participated enthusiastically in this development from its very beginnings. It forged particularly close links with various Federal agencies (for example, the CIA and the NSA) devoted to covert operations and new technologies of surveillance and intelligence, and Brown became something of an advanced preparatory school for the young men who would go on to become the nation’s “black operatives.”

    And this brings me to the subject of tainted egregores. In a comment to an earlier post on this blog, I remarked that our culture lacked the sort of coming-of-age rituals that human beings seem to need in order to mature. We have only the college experience to serve that necessary ritual function. But college comes too late in life, lasts too long, offers too little structured close contact with the culture’s elders and their inherited lore, is too poorly designed and run to have much coming-of-age effect at all—and these days it is far too expensive as well. (Some have proposed instituting mandatory military service, instead of college, to serve this needful ritual function for the youth of our nation, but that egregore, too, seems to be badly tainted these days—probably as the result of a number of new developments in depersonalizing the technology of war and the political uses to which endless war is being put.)

    Every generation will always create and maintain its egregore, for better or for worse. It is through communal coming-of-age rituals that a society gives each rising generation the means to shape its own egregore (or, nowadays, its several egregores) as a beneficial thing. When such rituals are absent or ineffectual, the resulting egregores will be slap-dash things at best, sloppily open to all sorts of tainting. (At worst, an egregore can even become a dangerous thing, preying on the generation that created it, and eventually devouring its creators.)

    Like Michael Martin, I think the generational egregore that was shaped in the later 1960s became tainted almost at its outset, though perhaps I see the sources of the taint a little differently than he does. Like him, I do not think the egregore became tainted wholly by accident or neglect. There will always be people who try secretly to shape the course of history as it unfolds. When conditions are suitable, sometimes their efforts find a measure of success, and can alter or taint an egregore as it takes shape. I was a fly on the wall while a few such efforts were being made in Berkeley during the middle 1960s, as I have described in some earlier posts on various of our host’s blogs.

    However, perhaps unlike Michael Martin (if I have understood him correctly), I do not think that this was any sort of new departure or unusual development in the course of our nation’s history.

    What is important to keep in mind, I think, is that surreptitious attempts of this sort to shape history are constantly being made by small groups of people all across the political spectrum, from the left through the center to the right. This was the case even in the days of the Founding Fathers. It has never ceased to be so, even during wars that threaten the very survival of the nation.

    Some of the attempts that I personally saw and heard about in the San Francisco Bay area during the 1960s were attempted on the left wing, others on the right wing. And on each side, there was a general sense that one’s political aims might be more easily achieved if only one could first destabilize the nation’s current political culture. However, neither side could have had much impact, had it not been for other factors that had already come together to start destabilizing the old norms of culture.

    In Berkeley, some of these contributing cultural factors were subsumed under the catch-phrase of “sex, drugs, and rock-&-roll.” But even before those days there was the heady rebel poetry of the Beatniks of San Francisco, best taken with espresso coffee. (Espresso was the potent, somewhat hard-to-find drug of choice for aficionados of Beat poetry back in those days! I am really showing my advanced age here …) Next came birth control pills, without which the sexual revolution could not have happened. After that there were the Beatles, and also the sensational discovery of LSD and other powerful psychedelics (a.k.a. entheogens).

    On top of all this, the Free Speech Movement rocked the University of California system to its foundations in 1964 and 1965. Over the next few years a large amount of money was unexpectedly obtained from an unexpected source, through a stroke of sheer blind luck, and used by a small number of activists to fund travel from Berkeley to other major universities, in order to organize Free Speech Movements there as well. All this political activism was eventually co-opted by political opponents of the Vietnam War, and the Free Speech Movement soon morphed into a strong mass movement against the Vietnam War and the Military Draft.

    The negative publicity generated by all this student activism on the left was soon utilized quite effectively by a small group of slightly older political strategists on the right to propel their chosen front-man, Ronald Reagan, into the Governorship of California (1967-1975), and then into the Presidency of the United States (1981-1989). Reagan was competent actor, seemingly without many firm principles of his own, and he proved very effective in advancing the agenda of these strategists, first in his home state, and then in the nation. And like our current president, Reagan was raised in the milieu of New Thought, with its mind-over-matter philosophy; he later adopted some of the trappings of Christian Fundamentalism in public, for purely political reasons. (It is also worth noting that some Californians of my acquaintance had, or believed they had, good reason to suspect that Reagan was already showing the first signs of Altzheimer’s disease while he was Governor of California. I remember hearing serious talk about this at the time.)

    And the rest as they say, is history!

    Obviously, cultural destabilization on such a scale has always had its unavoidable consequences for any rising generation’s attempts to create egregores for itself. But cutural destabilization has been a powerful ongoing process throughout the entire history of the United States. Destabilizing factors were baked into the national cake, so to speak, when its ingredients were first mixed in the bowl of revolution. New developments in the means of production, transportation and communication, new technologies of armament and war, new lands seized by war and settled from the older States, new religious movements—all these things destabilized every older, well established community in every British colony, and then in every state within the ever expanding Union, again and again.

    I do not have any comfort to offer people who see this perpetual destabilization as a problem that must be solved, rather than a predicament within which one must live one’s life and shape a beneficial egregore for oneself and one’s acquaintances. The narrower the limits within which one works one’s magic, of course, the easier it is to create an egregore that serves one well. “It is our limitations that keep us sane,” to quote Bertha Simos (Starhawk’s mother). Maybe that is for the best.

  416. Hi JMG.
    I wanted to así you if you’ve read Alan Moore’s comi- (ahem)… Graphic Novel Promethea. It’s the first reference I ever had to actual Magic existing in the real world and it also respects the No Evil-Dark-Lords Allowed rule that you suggested once galabes.
    Also, what do you think of Alan Moore in general, as an occultist/magician, and as a writer?

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss . Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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