Open Post

January 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.

Two announcements before we get to the discussion. I think many of my readers are aware that Founders House, the publishing firm that has produced the four After Oil anthologies of deindustrial SF produced by contests here, also publishes a very lively quarterly SF and fantasy magazine, MYTHIC, which features deindustrial SF along with much else. (I’ve had a couple of stories published in it, including a new one, “Caught To The Death,” in the latest issue; check it out.) There’s now a Kickstarter campaign under way to raise funds to expand and improve the magazine, and offer professional rates to its authors. There are giveaways for contributors, of course. Details? Check it out here.

In related news, we’re in the last week of the current short story competition, the Old Solar System Writing Contest. Zendexor and I have already received some really first-rate stories, enough to make an anthology, but there’s still room for a few more. If you’ve got something half-completed, fire up that word processor; the due date for entries is January 30; if you’ve got something well under way by then, contact us using the address reached via the link above and let us know, and there’s some potential for wiggle room.

With that said, have at it…

419 Comments

  1. Skolymus (cont from last week),

    Point taken. But consider this, when topical steroids are used on skin problems the problems almost always pop up elsewhere, and in forms that can be more difficult to manage, or even to recognize as related to the original issue. It’s probably very nearly impossible to decipher how the suppressed behaviors you mentioned are now manifesting themselves, or how pustulous the manifestation, but knowing my culture, I have a hard time buying the idea that the naughtiness has actually been eradicated.

  2. If I may, I want to thank you for hosting this writing contest; it has been not just a source of delight for myself to explore the inner imaginative horizons of the Old Solar System, but has also inspired a family member to write as well! Also, classic sci-fi is so much fun! I don’t think I’d have rekindled an interest in material that I more or less put down when I was 12 if I hadn’t decided to participate in this contest, and it really is an immensely rich world of wonder and adventure. I’ve been eagerly reading Edgar Rice Burroughs Pellucidar series and have just dived into Barsoom and I’m tantalized by so many of the other classic authors of this immense, wonderful and strange enterprise of human imaginings.

    May I ask JMG if you have other writing contests planned? I must confess that I love the prompts!

  3. Hi JMG, has your assessment of Trump as a leader changed since your predictions during the 2016 campaign?

    It’s hard for me to filter out all the angry noise against him in the media and try to pick out a track record of successes or failures. Most criticism of him as racist seems to be exaggerated, based on the quotes given. He seems to be emerging out of the legislative battles of the past year with a stronger position than he had coming in. He has a clear economic agenda for the country, which the free trade hawks don’t like and don’t want to stoop to acknowledge.

    International relations seem to be a fiasco, but if the main job of any US administration today is managing contraction, as you’ve suggested, he seems to be doing a fair job at demolishing the US’ role as global policeman. I guess the main question there is whether he’s doing so intentionally or not.

    I quietly tell friends and acquaintances, when the subject comes up, that he’s much smarter than he pretends to be. Most commentators want to consign him to the loony bin. Orlov has flip-flopped on this. What are your thoughts on Trump’s competence or lack thereof?

  4. Hi JMG

    I’ve recently become interested in astral projection and I would like to hear your thoughts on a few aspects of it.

    As background: I’ve been using the invoking of the elements and sphere of protection you detail in your druid magic handbook on and off as time allows for a couple of years and I’m working on advancing to the grove ritual.

    1) Is it a form of inner journey, a personal or unique spiritual journey outside the self, a journey into a semi objective reality or some combination of those depending on how it’s done.
    2) Are there any dangers to prepare for.
    3) Can you recommend any resources regarding how to safely achieve projection of the consciousness in this or other similar manners, like remote viewing or other forms of extra sensory.

    4) In order to improve my ability to perceive the non physical world around me would you recommend anything in addition to continuing to practice what’s in the druid magic handbook? Any areas in that book to focus on?

    5) For someone who has developed their ability to feel or see the energy in the world around us can they use it just like our physical senses, for example to see the energy of someone hiding nearby who means harm or just to sense the surroundings to walk in the dark sometimes.

    6) Do you have any advice on how to raise a child without teaching him to dismiss what he sees or feels of the non-physical world around us. My instinct is that not dismissing what he says he sees would be a good start but how could I teach a bit about seeing that side of our world.

    7) I have had to adapt the rituals in the druid magic handbook for the southern hemisphere. I have reversed some things to suite this hemisphere like moving anticlockwise instead of clockwise for invoking the elements and swapping left and right in the elemental cross. Will this cause any problems?

    Thanks for hosting this

    Michael

  5. So I’ve been thinking a lot about Uranus in (tropical) Taurus, since we enter that period starting in May.

    A lot of the eternal optimists seem to believe Uranus in Taurus represents a “revolution in finance” and thus everyone moving to cryptocurrencies or what have you, but I think that might be more Progressive extrapolation mixed, perhaps, with wishful thinking. But Taurus doesn’t just mean money – as I understand it, it represents personal security and values – what we consider important enough to protect or defend, and thus by definition what we DON’T consider important enough to protect or defend.

    Uranus there would seem to suggest, then, a radical change (for better or worse) in what we consider important and/or valuable. Which may, yes, include a financial component, but I get the vague feeling it’s more fundamental than that. What do the rest of you think?

  6. What are your thoughts about shape shifting between human and animal forms as described by in the myths of various indigenous people? Is it real, metaphorical, other?

  7. Two things I’d like to discuss:

    First, with regards to the potluck, count me in. I’m also willing to take on a role organizing it if there’s enough interest. We just need to pick a time and place. I suggest late June or early July, and somewhere close to Providence (since JMG is our host, I think politeness dictates we make it as convenient for him as possible), but I’m open to suggestions.

    Second, I have what appears to be past life memories. I’ll skip over the details, but there’s one thing I’m curious about in particular: I have memories of joining a Druid order. Since when I came across druidry I immediately knew I wanted to join, it makes sense. The particular order is interesting though: they admitted both men and women in the late 1800s, and used seasonal symbolism to structure their rituals and degrees. I don’t know where they were active, but I know they had a small grove in Chicago. I’m curious if JMG or anyone else has heard of something like this. If so, I’d love to hear it. I can also add more if I find anything (whether from looking around or more past life memories)

  8. The End of Moore’s Law

    http://www.softmachines.org/wordpress/

    here is the money quote at the end

    “For now, what we can say is that the age of exponential growth of computer power is over. It gave us an extraordinary 40 years, but in our world all exponentials come to an end, and we’re now firmly in the final stage of the s-curve.”

    In 2015 the growth rate for computers has dropped to 3.5% per year down from 52% per year form 1986 to 2003.

    Specialized chips and better software seem to be the only way to get substantial increases in the future.

    But the followers of the great god of progress will are shouting

    quantum computers !!
    Quantum Computers !!!
    QUANTUM COMPUTERS !!!!

  9. JMG. My question this month is what kind of education I should push for my daughter and suggest for her next door cousins. My wife and i are in our 40s,she is 7, the cousins about the same. We are rural people, Christians. The standard college prep, go to a ‘good’ college, etc is probably not the best course in our present trajectory. What do you think? Many thanks John

  10. Hopefully this question isn’t too far-field (or require too much reading) for you to answer, but this is something I’ve been wanting to ask you for many months, so here goes. Rob Rapier of Energy Trends Insider posted a column written by a guest author last spring. The guest: Todd “Ike” Kiefer (with impressive-sounding credentials, of course), the title: “A Tale of Two Sigmoids”, the point: combating peak oil beliefs, backed with evidence that seemingly even had support from Rapier.

    I’ve followed peak oil info loosely for several years, but this column was hard for me to refute. While I know peak oil is not the topic of this blog, I’d be curious to hear (assuming you are able to take the time to read it) what your take on it is? e.g. is Mr. Kiefer onto something, or is it just more hot air?

    Second question. Mr. Kiefer also claims (in the comments) that: “My views are in line with what is actually written in IPCC 2013 Working Group 1 report, the single document in all of AR5 actually written by the scientists, not political appointees.” Would you agree? And if I were to want to read the most recent accurate report about the current most-likely future state of the climate, would you recommend the IPCC Fifth Assessment, or something different? (Which I guess is a third question, snuck it in there…..)

    And, for the record, I do believe in AGW, I just don’t know where to look for solid, helpful info that is trustworthy, about both PO and AGW. You’re the only one I personally know of who’s well versed enough in both topics to help defray the death-by-information-tactics so commonly found out there.

  11. JMG,

    Many thanks for some answers to these burning questions I have about Retrotopia, which I have read several times. What happens to the Toledo stock market when Janice Mikkelson has sold her last street car–since there’s nowhere left that needs one, or no more steel (recycled or otherwise) to manufacture one with? Can your vision of a Retro future survive with an economy in a steady state, instead of one in perpetual growth? Does a peak in 1950’s technology mean that any vaccines invented between now and then are verboten? And since a crisis in antibiotic resistance would likely impact Lakeland too, is surgery still done? Penicillin isn’t going to cut it in 2065. Would you be able to clean up environmental issues left over from modern technology–toxic waste dumps, nuclear waste, that kind of thing? What about technology that’s used in identifying and prosecuting criminals, like DNA testing? Speaking of criminals, you don’t go into your legal and judicial system much. How are drugs treated in Lakeland? What kind of systems are in place for folks too old or infirm to work? What does the social safety net look like in a Tier One county? If a Tier One county voted to move up a tier, what mechanisms are in place for building the infrastructure they would then require? Since it probably takes less money to maintain an already built system than to build one from scratch, are taxes artificially raised and then lowered later? What if a county sheds a tier? What happens to the pre-existing infrastructure? Is the local power plant shut down, disassembled, and auctioned off? To whom?

  12. Dear JMG, I was wondering whether or not fate, destiny, and freewill, as you described them before might apply in varying degrees to each individual’s life, so that one person’s fate aspect and destiny aspect might be much heavier than their freewill aspect, even if the fate in question is not entirely negative or ruinous. I have had some rather uncommon life changing experiences which involved a temporary suspension of my will and my body or speech being entirely under the control of someone or something else for brief periods of time. As fancy one-off experiences each of these had a large dose of novelty value but each one and especially all of them together have added up to put me on a course in life I never would have planned out or imagined.

    The first time was when I was engaging in some recreational mind-altering substance use with a friend’s Mom, a lady who was very trippy. I would say that she was a Native version of a cunning woman, as I later found out that she “helped” other people in the same way that she “helped” me. I was alone with her and I started to feel more and more relaxed during this session, talking to her about various things which I now don’t remember but which lead up to her asking the question, “Who was the bad man for you?” At the time I had no conscious idea whatsoever of what she meant by that particular question, and when the answer came out of my mouth, it was not of my own volition. Approximately two milliseconds after I answered that question, I understood exactly what she meant and some vague but disturbing details came back to me from very early childhood. Also, of note is that after this experience, weed forever gave me the heebie jeebies. So, in this case my unconscious mind and my speech were manipulated without my consent or even awareness. I found out later she would “interview” many people in that same manner, and that some of them found it very therapeutic and that others found it intrusive and disturbing. In my case, I’m not sure what to make of it, but I suppose it must have some good energy releasing effect in the long run. Although I never really got into acting out on this childhood abuse in a sexual way, the emotional manipulation and the way it poisoned my family system damaged me.

    The second time I felt my free will being totally suspended that I remember was actually the day I found out who you were. I ended up going through a temporary drug and stress induced manic episode at the age of 19 and following that, it took me a long time to recover, about two years. During that two-year interval I had no stable job and was living in atrocious poverty with my family. I had a lot of free time, although few resources. One day I found myself in my hometown library researching whatever various things came into my head. Here’s where the weird part happened, I started thinking about my ancestors, pre-Christian ancestors, and what they believed, and my fingers went beyond my conscious control, I started looking up the Celts, knowing that I had some Celtic ancestry, then from there I made my way to the Druids, and then I was exposed to this Grand Archdruid, who happened to be you at the time. At the time it’s like my ego was still active, but my motor control was absent. Looking back, I would call it an ancestor experience combined with partial possession.

    The third time I experienced some interference with my free will involved me and a middle-aged guy who had some kind of developmental disorder, maybe cerebral palsy, although he was quite ambulatory and had good motor control in some selective situations. I had an inner feeling that this guy was somehow wise, and I used to talk to him in the library or the town square. He would give me life advice which was often very common sense, or he would make speculations about things in the future, or he would say inane things. He was all over the map. But being the intuitive chap that I am, I found him a goldmine of spiritual power or awareness. After a while though, I became off put by the advice that he gave me as he was telling me to do things I categorically didn’t want to do. Things like, “learn to cook,” or telling me to go back to school. So, I tried to avoid him for a while until one day I saw him doing picture perfect t’ai chi (nei gung? Chi’kung?) forms across the road from me. In my head I thought, “there’s no way in hell I’m going over there to talk to him.” Much to my surprise, my legs sent me in his direction as if I were just a floating head and my legs were the executive decision maker. He then told me something cryptic, that I would be able to heal people with water by the time I was a certain age. He also told me that he “made me do that,” i.e., walk over to him, by synchronizing the I-Ching with his moving forms. He also said I had weak kidney chi and liver chi and that he could heal me but my underlying dysfunction was so strong that it would revert to the diseased state almost immediately. This guy was a Caucasian by the way, in a fairly rural agricultural white area of Canada, to make it even trippier.

    Long autobiographical story short, I now live in Vancouver, in a largely Chinese milieu both socially and perhaps soon economically. I’m thinking of going back to school for Chinese medicine, in a very slow and stepwise manner mind you. I think if my free-will had had free reign I would merely have tried to find the most comfortable job and settled down in the most comfortable manner as normal people do. Instead, because of weird stuff like this, I find myself wanting to get into complicated spiritual healing practices. Must I have had some extremely heavy karma from past lives to have gone through such striking experiences of fixed fate and destiny? It felt like I couldn’t have escaped these experiences if I had tried with all the will power I could ever muster.

    And just in case you would say that I shouldn’t talk about personal spiritual stuff like this JMG, I doubt not talking about it will make it go away, as I’ve tried that many times over the years and it’s had about as much efficacy as me trying to resist these three experiences with willpower. I also vote early for a post on possession, full or partial, by any beings, seeing or unseen. Next time I get some bread, I’ll throw it in the tip jar.

  13. Greetings all

    For years I have been interested in the Rennes Le Chateau mystery (France). Beyond the charges of simony that were brought against Berenger Sauniere to which he was most probably guilty:

    (1) could there have been any occult dimensions to this affair? For instance, did Sauniere stumble across some ancient esoteric lore such as rituals or magical practices that he put to some use for his own benefit?

    (2) Could there have been links between the Templars, the Cathars and the doings of Sauniere?

    (3) Have you read any of Patrice Chaplin books on the matter such as “City of secrets, the Portal and Stone Cradle” and what do you make of those books?

    Thanks!

  14. In last weeks thread, Redoak suggested that a Ecosophia Potluck would be great fun, and JMG and a couple other commenters agreed. What follows is sort of sales pitch…
    The First Annual Potluck to honor the end of the ADR and the birth of Ecosophia will be held in Providence, RI on June 23, 2018. The location will be my yard, in the violet house behind the Charles Dexter Ward Mansion on College Hill on the East Side of Providence. We will attempt to dissuade Joseph Curwen from attendance.

  15. JMG,
    Only one question – When will we more of ‘The Weird of Hali’?

    I’d like to thank @barefootwisdom and @J.L.Mc12 for the pointers to ‘By Hand and Eye’ and Lost Art Press. (my book budget doesn’t want to :-)). Some one else in to wood and dead authors and Retro Technology (back at least to Pompeii) . Christopher Schwarz – Anarchist. Worth the time to go back through the blog at LostArtPress.com whether you are interested in woodworking or not.

  16. This is a question along economic/political lines. I have been wondering about Russia’s current position. Most of the people in a discussion group I am part of are convinced that Russia is still in economic doldrums and is in no position to threaten or lead Europe. These are conventionally well informed people who read the Post and the NY Times, watch Public television, listen to NPR, etc. On the other hand, blogger Dimitri Orlov seems to believe that Russia is well positioned to assume leadership in Eurasia. I would welcome suggestions of other sources of information: books, blogs, reliable news sources, etc. from JMG or from fellow readers.

  17. Here’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask you: As you know, the new tax law passed at the end of last year ends the Obamacare mandate by abolishing the fine levied for failing to purchase a sufficient health policy as defined by the so-called Affordable Care Act. Do you think that this will effectively blow Obamacare out of the water?

  18. Right now I am playing hooky from work. The reason being that, sometimes, it comes to one’s attention that “same stuff (ha) different day (SSDD)” is a real issue and is somewhat numbing.

    I even like my job, I do good things and even help folks wend their way through a system that can best be described as Byzantine. But SSDD happens.

    That being said, lets talk about steady state economics. If all you are doing is trying to hold a system in equilibrium, I have a sneaking hunch that there will be a lot more SSDD and probably more soul-numbing ennui.

    Just trying to figure out the long term.

  19. I will be off line for the next three weeks, herding in the boonies. But, I noticed at the end of last weeks comments you mentioned that a post on voluntary organizations might be coming up. Well, I am just going to say, that I am sure excited about the possibility of getting in on that conversation! It has been a dream of mine for sometime, and I already have 5 attempts of varying levels of success and failure under my belt. Still haven’t hit the mark I am after.

    Right now I am planning out some Green Wizard inspired ways of earning some money. Market Garden, herbs, and seed breeding: there are gaps in the local markets at these points and the first two businesses can run off the by products of the third. For this year I am going at a scale that I can handle with just myself and my family, but it is the bare minimum scale for this venture to function. Planning for a scale optimized for my context I would need to collaborate with about another three people on a part time basis. Between working in the garden, running a market booth, and doing upkeep tasks.

    I say all that because I am weighing the options of trying to start a ‘seedy syndicate’ versus keeping the business to myself and letting the less marketable aspects of running all the resources go to a volunteer organization; a Green Wizard’s Hedge if you will.

    Either way I have a good idea who I would be working with, and I think that either path could be as agreeable.

    What sorts of projects seem like they would thrive as a program of a Volunteer Organization, and what projects seem more appropriate to business?

  20. Too many questions that call for book-length answers already, so I’ll settle for supplying a decline data point. Thanks to severe drought (climate change?) and overconsumption by the wealthy, Cape Town is three months away from totally running out of water and shutting the taps off. Unless people now reduce to 50 L/person/day, the reservoirs will run dry and guarded water distribution points (1 per 2000 people!) will distribute 25 L/person/day, ca. 6.5 gallons. Western news stories keep saying that is less than a 2-minute shower. (Hint, in water shortages do not try to shower, get a bucket and dipper; with little practice you can wash, including short hair, with under 3.5 gallons.) They also keep quoting high amounts for toilet flushing (virtually all toilets in RSA are low-flow … but that doesn’t mean you can use them much at 25 L/day). There is spectacular income inequality in CT with plenty of middle and upper class who are just as comfy and unused to hardship as Americans. If the taps do go off this will be a spectacular Charlie Foxtrot.

  21. JMG – According to Thomas Cahill, and I know he has more axes to grind than a lumber camp machine shop, Progress goes back a lot farther than the Renaissance. In his 2nd book, The Gifts of the Jews, he credits them with breaking out of the old cyclical time and and inventing personal and collective destinies and a narrative with a story arc. In fact, his conclusion states openly that the Gift of the Jews is “progress, progress, rah, rah, rah!” [Said book had now been passed on to one of the local Free Library boxes.]

    Any comment? Apart from Cahill’s obvious biases. Though I can tolerate, and even enjoy, his enthusiastic Celtophilia, in light of which, I have hung onto his first book, How the Irish Saved Civilization.

  22. Tripp, that’s a bad sign! The Harvard Business school has been one of the major sources of bad ideas in economic life for many decades…

    Martin, yes, I heard. I remember exactly where I was when I pulled my first Le Guin novel down from a library shelf, her work was that influential to me. She will indeed be missed.

    Violet, delighted to hear it! Yes, of course there will be further contests; I’m currently brooding over what the next one will be. I’d also encourage you to consider writing more Old Solar System stories; I know for a fact that MYTHIC Magazine is open to those, and — ahem — you might consider taking your fiction to the next level and writing a novel.

    Dylan, my impression hasn’t changed at all. Trump has built a career out of convincing his rivals to underestimate him, and he’s doing it to the Democrats and the Republican mainstream alike right now. Notice how, whenever he wants to get something done under the radar, he launches a twitterstorm on some unrelated subject; the media go yapping after the bait, and while they’re otherwise occupied he appoints a bunch more federal judges or issues an executive order or whatever it s. Now that he’s figured out how to work with Congress to advance his agenda — that takes most first-time presidents a year or so, so his learning curve is about average — we can expect red meat to start landing on the plates of his core constituencies pretty regularly from here until the 2020 election, which I expect him to win — not least because the Democrats seem utterly fixated on not learning any of the lessons of their 2016 defeat. More on this in a future post!

    Nicholas, why is it that today’s geekoisie have regressed to the crackpot dreams of the 1950s? To me, that says something very odd about our supposed condition of progress…

    Michael, I’d encourage you to read W.E. Butler’s Apprenticed to Magic on the subject of astral projection — he has excellent advice. The work to do while you’re working with The Druid Magic Handbook is entirely contained in The Druid Magic Handbook, and you should focus on all of it. 😉 Talents vary with magic as with anything else, and what kind of effects you can manage in relation to the material world is something you’ll have to work out in practice; equally, since I don’t live in the southern hemisphere, and the Sphere of Protection is very adaptable, your best bet is to experiment with it and see what kind of results you get. As for children, finally, my advice is simply to listen, to let your child know that some people can’t handle hearing about such things but you can, and to make sure your child gets an intellectual diet low in television and rich in traditional fairy tales and mythology — that’s far and away the best way to make sure he or she has an ample grasp of the mythic way of thinking, which is also the magical way, and the way things work on the astral plane.

  23. Dear JMG,

    In your book “The Circles of Power” you mention that the association of Tiphareth with a physical body produces different results when it’s placed at the heart or at the solar plexus level. What is the difference?

  24. Also, very interested in the pot-luck, though may I move that it would be really swell if it were to happen after the growing season, lest the farmers amongst us be forced to choose between loyalties to crops and conversations.

  25. Hi JMG (and readers, for that matter),

    Do you have any good reading recommendations for first person accounts of interactions with nature spirits or other non-human beings, particularly existing on different planes? I’ve been writing/toying with a story that involves such an encounter, but have limited experience myself and would be really interested in reading some first person accounts. I don’t know if the story actually will work or if I would be comfortable enough releasing it into the world, but I think any success would have to start with some solid source material–plus, I find the subject interesting.

    I can do some research myself, obviously, but would feel more comfortable with recommendations from someone I trust.

    Thanks!

  26. Dear Ray Wharton, Best wishes for the success of your gardening and seed breeding projects. If you have not done so already, you might want to have a look at the Open Source Seed Initiative.

    Dear Patricia Matthews, I have read a lot of similar accusations about “The Jews” or other alleged bad actors being responsible for this or that phenomenon which the writer deplores. What none of the conspiracy alleging writers ever addresses is to me the most important question of all, which is how did we become vulnerable to such conspiracies in the first place, supposing the theories have any validity at all? There was a lot of theorizing about psychology and people’s inner lives going on during the decades immediately before and after the turn of the 20thC. Why did the English speaking world, in particular, take up the theories of Freud, Dr. Fraud IMO, and ignore others speculating in the same field? I can understand the appeal at the level of popular culture–wow, sex isn’t evil after all–but it seems like in academia, where people supposedly have been trained at the highest levels of reason and logic, there is a new fad every generation or so. Behaviorism. Structure functionalism (perpetrated by an unindicted abuser of under aged women named Talcott Parsons, whose collected works form the best argument I know for making crimes against the English language a felony offense). Deconstructionism.

  27. JMG,

    My family has had a whole series of interactions recently with friends who proclaim to be devout Christian but have exhibit a whole variety of bad behaviors ranging from gossip, excessive drinking, all the way to neglect and cruelty to animals. The response, if confronted, is to talk a lot of biblical mumbo-jumbo about being protected by God, being made of sin, etc.

    My question is, how does a person reject the hypocrisy without getting dragged down in the process? I am forgetting the saying, but it is something along the lines of “on what you concentrate, you imitate”. We are never going to rehabilitate these folks from their beliefs, but we can control our reaction to them. I don’t want to become a sort of Fundamentalist Anti-Christian, even though I am tempted at times.

    You seem to have come up with some good ways of dealing with wrongheaded espousals of religion, and I would be grateful if you could share some of what you have learned works. As a side note, I would actually really like to have a beer with Jesus, many of his followers not so much…a tragic outcome!

  28. So this is one of the very few places I can post all of this without someone trying to say it’s just coincidence (hubby has given up on saying that these days). It ties in very neatly with your two-part posts on nature spirits.

    My birthday was on the 9th. In the month leading up to it, my husband was asking what I wanted for a birthday gift, and I would reply I wanted baby goats (born, not bought). Hubby’s reply was to remark, “Well, I’m not in charge of that.” I just couldn’t think of some material do-dad I want. When I talked to my family for Christmas last month, I remarked that if I could spend my birthday midwifing new baby goats into the world, that would be the best gift … and I did have one ballooning out.

    Just in case anyone has not yet guessed it, I did indeed get baby goats for my birthday! Whether “just” a local nature spirit or a god/dess, there is certainly something/someone here that heard me and granted my birthday wish. I am not yet sure who it is, or what little offering or devotion to best honor Him/Her, but I have asked (and of course said a very heartfelt thank-you). It’s been two weeks and one day, but each time I see those cute little dirt monsters playing out back, I feel a little thrill at the idea that I got baby goats for my birthday.

    If anyone wants to see pics, go here:
    https://sandghomesteade.blogspot.com/2018/01/meet-new-goats.html

  29. Hi JMG,

    For the first few years working through the Druid Magic Handbook, I used tarot cards for divination, and didn’t read reversals. I have developed a reasonable amount of skill in this practice and find it immensely valuable. For the past two months though I’ve been using the ogham. Using the guide definitions in The Druidry Handbook, and specifically because of the reversals, my divinations turn up many more ‘negative’ aspects than I am used to. I understand that different systems of divination have their own personalities, but I’m struggling to work with ogham in a way that offers helpful advice for the day ahead, even after exploring the given meanings in daily meditation. Do you have any advice? One idea I had was to synthesis a personalised meaning for each few that includes ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ aspects, and then to disregard reversals, using intuition and context to divine the most appropriate reading. What do you think?

    Another question I have relates to my daily routine. As I deepen in my practice, and especially as I embrace more of the guidelines offered in the Gnostic Celtic Church manual, I have been experimenting with a stricter daily schedule of activity. I am paradoxically finding my sense of inner freedom increases the more I apply a fixed routine to my day and week. I am concerned about restricting spontaneity in my life by pursuing this further though. I have long been impressed by both the prolificness and the consistency of your output, and of course I’m also aware of the amount inner work required to inform what you share with your audience – do you have any experience, recommendations or warnings in planning days, weeks and months like this, beyond the usual periods of daily spiritual practice?

    Thank you as always for your generosity in answering my questions.
    Gavin.

  30. I recall some folks were interested in some resources on alternative medicines. James Green’s The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook is hands down the best resource on herbal medicine that I’ve found. Combine that with First Aid and Wilderness First Aid training, and I’d say that’s an excellent start to taking your healthcare in your own hands.

    On an unrelated note, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between the planes and reincarnation. I was struck how an herbal magical working is an act through the planes, but then I thought, why stop there? Isn’t every creative act the same? In the creative process, one works with emotionally charged concepts and ideas and bring them into physical manifestation!

    That’s when I noticed that the process of reincarnation seems really similar. Sparks of awareness take on the different properties of the planes, until they are physically manifested. So in a way, wouldn’t that make creative acts little acts/imitations of reincarnation? Instead of souls being brought into the physical realm (as in reincarnation), creative projects bring other concepts into it. That was a bit of an aha moment concerning the idea that we really are participants in a living universe. Thanks for reading my swansong all! Any thoughts?

  31. @ Michael, about raising one’s children:

    I’d like to echo what our host said in reply to you, and add one further idea. One of the very best things my mother — her side of my family is the one with generations of esoteric interests — ever did for me and my brother as children was to teach us how to tell stories by making them up as we went along. Here’s how it worked.

    We would all be together somewhere with nothing distractng to do, say, in the car on a long drive to some far-off destination with our father at the wheel, and my brother and I would be bored and restless. So our mother would start a story more or less as follows: “One day big brother and little brother were off on an adventure together, eager to see what would happen. Then, as they went along, all of the sudden one of them saw something very odd …” And then, after a moment of silence, “What was it they saw, either of you?” And we would rush to get our first idea out there, each trying to beat the other to the draw. Then she would weave one of those ideas into the story: “Why, [big/little] brother saw a [whatever it was that one of us had mentioned first]. Boith borthers stood stock still”.” [Or, if more appropriate, ” … ran away very fast indeed and hid [somewhere such as in a cave.”] “Then what did they do?” she would continue, passing the question to whichever of us hadn’t contributed the previous link in the chain of the unfolding story. And so it continued, with each of us eagerly waiting our turn to forge the next link in that chain. We could spend hours building the most fascinating stories out of our childish imaginations.

    As a grown-up, I later realized that what we children contributed to such a story also revealed a lot about what was going on in our inner lives at the time. And there was feedback, too, from our mother, who made sure to accept each link in the chain of the story we were making and reassure us that it was a fine and wise story. No doubt, she also occasionally steered the story in some direction she thought it should go, but she must have done that so subtly that neither of us children ever noticed it.

    I think that this shared story-building was probably one of the most useful arts and skills I ever learned at any point in my life. It also provided me — and my brother, I suspect — with the tools I needed skillfully to create a waking self that suited me, as I grew into adulthood, and also work with my sleeping selves. Storytelling, which in its most powerful form is also myth-making, is an extremely useful tool for people who are inclined toward weirdness, who “see to the very end of things,” or at least partway toward that end.

    [I probably should briefly explain those terms of mine, “waking self” and “sleeping self.” — My mother’s family thought that every person, at birth, was human only by law and by courtesy, not otherwise; and that each child had to *become human* by his (or her) own efforts on the road to adulthood and beyond, throughout the rest of that child’s life. This was an entirely natural process; it would happen no matter what a child wanted. However, a child might eventually figure out how to start controlling the process, and then how to shape the self he (or she) was creating into something the child desired (wisely or foolishly, according to the measure of each child’s wisdom). — As this natural process unfolded, each choice that the child made implied other “selves” that the child was *not* deliberately creating. However, these unchosen alternate selves also took shape within the child, but they lay sleeping within him (or her), not entirely unlike sleepers in some unknown network of caverns, or prisoners in some deep internal dungeon. Eventually, the adult that that child had become could start exploring these caverns (or this dungeon), waking one or another of these “sleeping selves” up for a little while, by way of experiment, while putting one’s ordinary waking self to sleep for that little while. Some of these alternate selves might even prove useful to the body; such an alternate self could be remembered and called up by the body into wakeful action as needed, say, under some circumstance with which the usual waking self was not well able to cope. — None of these selves necessarily had to survive death, not eveen the waking self. Survival, too, was a question of one’s own choice, if one had the skill to pull that off as one lay dying. The possible choices before a dying body included such things as reincarnation, extnction, or disembodied existence of any given created self; and this sort of choice lay before each of one’s selves that was at least somewhat awake as the body died. Selves that had never been woken up, presumably did not survive the body’s death. — I have no idea where this odd theory came from. The closest parallel that I have been able, as a scholar, to find anywhere, is in some of Charles G. Leland’s writings, notably his _The Mystic Will_, his _The Alternate Sex; or the Female Intellect in Man, and the Masculine in Woman_, and his _Flaxius, Leaves form the Life of an Immortal_.]

  32. I’m so glad for these open posts.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the energy and dynamism of the currently wealthy could be directed into business suitable to an energy descent before the value of capital locked in the global financial system erodes more seriously than it already has. My best idea has been to start an investor’s club that operates on the assumption that growth-based economics are neither sustainable nor desirable, and to begin making investments

    The trouble I’m having is, if the economy is growing there is a knowable advantage to having money now as opposed to later – the advantage of having capital earlier in a growing economy is equal to the economy’s growth rate. That makes investment a useful activity, and the fair value of investment is easy to know – at least in retrospect.

    The trouble is, the same mathematics don’t work in a post-growth economy. Does anyone have an idea how one would determine a ‘fair’ rate of return on capital under a zero-growth assumption?

    To give a concrete example, I believe it would be a viable business model where I live to buy ecologically distressed land, practice bioremediation on it for a few years, and then resell or use the land. I would expect this kind of work to still be valuable in a post-growth world. But if the investor’s club backing such a project is seeking to develop practices suitable to a post-growth world, how does one assess the value of putting up the money for the initial purchase?

    Any thoughts or suggested readings would be most appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Chris

  33. Hi, JMG
    I recently read a very interesting book called Astrology, Psychology and Therapy by Jorge Bosia , in which I finally was able to understand a bit more deeply the meanings of the planetary influences of saturn and jupiter, specifically, and all others in general too. In the book the author talks a lot about elixirs of planetary light and their uses. While that sounds great, I do not have access to the equipment needed to make them, but I am sure that drinking tea from the right herbs would work, right? Also, apparently, staring directly at the planet, however that depends on it’s presence in the sky. The thing is that I am not really sure which planetary influence in me is out of balance. I live in a halfway house from a rehab center, and I study psychology (I am the weirdo in my class, I’m sure many here can empathize). The thing is that I am supposed to learn to take care of myself while I live there, It’s been five months, and I’ve learned to tolerate doing house work and stuff like that, but my key problem still seems to be my laziness, or more specifically, my belief that work is something to be avoided. I use my intellect to do so, by justifying negative attitudes and my self-indulgence rationally. That sounds mercuric, but the part about my difficulty to grow internally resonates with what I understand as the influence of Jupiter (the book said overweight can be a symptom of it). I want to try geomancy as a diagnostic tool, but I’d like a bit of guidance, if it’s not too much to ask 🙂

    Also, are you planning on visiting mexico soon? I’d love to hear you talk in person about whatever. You’re always interesting to hear/read.

    Thanks in advance.

  34. Hello, petervanerp- That sounds wonderful!
    Since it is doubtful I will be able to take enough time off work to cross the country during that month, I’d like to send something to contribute to the potluck in absentia, anyway. To show my gratitude for everyone there who has contributed to these great discussions.

    If you wouldn’t mind me mailing something to you (or really, to anyone who plans to go who won’t mind me having your mailing address), send the pertinent info to amritarosa@yahoo.com

    thanks so much!
    Bonnie

  35. A few thoughts on Mr. Trump. Far too many questions; if you only respond to one I would ask you to say why, in light of my points below, you seem to feel like he is OK for our country.

    When Trump was elected, I was willing to give him a chance, to back down from the always-over-the-top campaign rhetoric and take on the gargantuan task of leading our nation with a more-or-less level head and applying some of his business smarts to breaking the status quo in a useful way. Unfortunately I have yet to see anything of the sort. Instead I have seen:

    1. A man who acts often like a playground bully, ready to attack anyone who is different or who disagrees and to incite his army of followers to do the same. As the “different” kid who struggled through grade school under the heel of such bullies, I can’t stand this behavior from a leader, and it makes me wish I were living in just about any other democracy on the planet. Am I wrong to assume that you, growing up with Asperger’s, might have experienced some of the same and be seeing some of the same troubling archetypes in our president?

    2. A man who has taken the trend of reducing policy discussions to exchanges of vacuous emotional gunfire to its logical extreme. Nothing of substance can be expressed on Twitter, and his tweets, as you allude above, serve often to simply provoke outrage to distract from something he is doing behind the scenes. This might be effective, but how is it anywhere close to acceptable? How can we get from this point back to a place of actually engaging with the issues and seeking meaningful debate and compromise? It is an open question in my mind whether Trump actually views the world this way (in which case he is unfit for office) or whether he is just playing that game for effect, but neither option is OK in my book.

    3. A billionaire with every intention of changing policy to benefit himself and the rest of the uber-wealthy. His tax plan will help the working class (giving some pork to his base), leave the middle classes largely unaffected, and give the largest breaks in cash terms to millionaires and corporations. He is doing this by sending the deficit and debt into overdrive, with hollow promises that it will kickstart economic growth (which we all know is not going to happen). Unless the goal is to reach bankruptcy faster, again, how is this OK?

    4. A man who plays loose with the truth, who gaslights the entire nation by questioning or denying objective facts. How many people were present at an event? What words were uttered in a meeting where minutes were taken? How many votes were cast? Trump has questioned all of these and more, essentially imploring his supporters to define the truth in terms of his words only. That trend is dangerous and can lead only to the dissolution of public discourse and democracy if it continues unchecked.

    At this point, I would vote for almost anyone else with a heartbeat in 2020 – provided they don’t have too much dictator potential.

    So…what am I missing? Why is it that 40% of our citizens approve of Mr. Trump as our president? What would it take to get Tulsi Gabbard (my personal favorite), Tammy Duckworth, or anyone open to finding real solutions in a compassionate, transparent manner into office?

  36. JMG,

    can you please spend a few words on the insistence of druidry on wishing “peace”?

    Not that I would like to wish war on anybody, but war and struggle are, after all, part of being alive.

    I’d probably wish “strength”, or the ability to face difficult situations whenever they occur, but not “peace”, that is that difficult situations may not present themselves at all.

  37. Hello JMG,
    I’ve been doing the Lesser Ritual of the pentagram daily as given in the Celtic Golden Dawn book. My question is about one of the quarter-names. Three of them I can identify- Sulw is related to Sul, I’m assuming, and Esus, Elen are names I recognize.

    Is He’uc related to Hu? Or does it represent Someone else?

    Also, would “there is” be an accurate translation of “Mae”? The Glosbe Welsh-English translator gives that meaning, which would seem to fit well but I wanted to confirm.

    Thanks so much!
    Bonnie

  38. John–

    My hodge-podge contribution to the Open Post:

    First, I have to share an experience from later last year. You’ve talked about the inherent bio-phobia in our society, but I hadn’t had a direct experience with it until recently. An acquaintance of my wife’s came over one Saturday morning while I was out. While they were in the dining room talking over an art project, I set about my usual Saturday routine of prepping my weekly sourdough loaf. I’d just set aside the dough for its first rising when the acquaintance walked int the kitchen, inquiring what I was baking. I mentioned the sourdough and she was like, “So where’s you’re bread machine?” I said, “No, it’s old-school here,” and I lifted my well-crusted mason jar half-full of starter. “I’ve had this starter now for several years running.” She just looked at me, then closed her eyes, and (I kid you not) shuddered. “Ewwww. Slime.”

    Second, as someone else brought up _Retrotopia_ (which I’ve recently re-read and thoroughly re-enjoyed), I have a long-standing question. “Why no ads?” I don’t believe that question was ever answered…

    Third, I echo the inquiry re the next Weird of Hali installment. Can’t wait!

    Finally, I’m quite excited about the upcoming OSS anthology. Even more so, as this time around I actually got a story written and submitted. The one I’d begun started turning into a novel/la, but I was able to see that, switch gears, and write a nice, crisp short story set in the same time-line. (Completing a story must have jump-started something in my brain, as I turned around and wrote another story, which was submitted to _Into The Ruins_ earlier today. We’ll see if the streak continues…)

    As always, the Wednesday post and ensuing discussion is something I look forward to each week. Thank you for this.

  39. onething (form last week):

    “But you never really said why it wouldn’t be good to have a generally married priesthood.”

    I would not be strongly opposed to it as a matter of principle; but I think that the current arrangement has some advantages that would be difficult – not impossible, but difficult – to replicate otherwise. Monastic life and other forms of celibate life have their importance, and I think that they should be emphasized more; but the advantage of a celibate priesthood is that every Catholic community personally interacts, as a matter of usual routine, with someone who chose to renounce the fulfillment their sexual desires in order to better tend to spiritual matters. This is important, I believe, and especially in a society such as ours that is apparently convinced that it is impossible to be happy and fulfilled without having sex. Moreover: I know that people joke about lifelong celibate men giving relationship advice, but sometimes a different perspective, one “from outside”, can be useful, and unmarried Catholic priests are well suited to offer such a perspective on matters of relationships.

    Furthermore, I do not believe that removing the requirement of priestly celibacy would actually solve the issue of the lack of priests in Catholicism. Even putting aside celibacy, priesthoood – I have close relatives who are priests, I can tell that for sure – is an awful career choice. Absurd amounts of work, a promise of lifelong obedience to the Bishop (who you might or might not like), poor pay, extreme expectations from the parish people, and nowhere near the amount of social prestige that the position used to have is not a good combination. Objectively, we should not wonder why so few people become priests, but rather that any one – celibacy or no celibacy – chooses to become a priest at all! And, frankly, I think that this is a good thing. One should not choose to become a priest because it is a good path to a comfortable life and/or success, as it used to be for a long time (which, I believe, contributed somewhat to some of the worst failures of Catholicism).

    Personally, if I felt called to religious life (sometimes I wonder, I admit…), celibacy would be the least of my concerns. A graver concern would be the promise of obedience, which would force me to espouse and defend some positions which I believe are simply wrong. For instance, if I was a priest and someone confessed to me that he they were transsexual, it would be difficult for me to follow the doctrine of the Church and tell them to ignore whatever gender they “identified” as. This is the official position, and my promises would compel me to defend it; but on the other hand, it is simply wrong – I’ve read the scientific studies, and gender dysphoria is absolutely a real thing and the best way to address it is gender reassignment.

    I also disagree with your assessment that pedophilia is “endemic” in the Catholic priesthood. There are cases, obviously; but most priests have nothing to do with this.

    On another topic: you said that “It has been the human norm in many, many societies for girls to be married as young as 12 or 13”. I think that this is mistaken: even in the societies which celebrate child marriages, actual consummation is usually delayed until 15-16 *at least*. This is simply common sense, as the body of a 12 year old girl is still immature and pregnancy at that age would be very dangerous for both the mother and the child. I don’t believe that most people find 12 years old sexually attractive; I certainly don’t, and as a 30+ year old virgin (partly for religious reasons, partly – let’s be fair here – because it’s not like I ever had to beat women with a stick to keep them off me) with pretty vanilla sexuality I am a living counterexample to the old “lack of sexual release makes you unhappy/an abuser” chestnut 🙂

  40. a) I am wondering what the state of peak oil is today. Is peak oil still greatly affecting the world economic and political situation? If so, how? I have read all posts you’ve ever written for ADR and Wells and Ecosophia, but wondering if anything has changed in last year or two with regards to this issue.

    b) Assuming they already have greatly reduced their energy use and simplified their life (living by example), what else might you recommend for people who want to help preserve wildlife habitat and help do something constructive to encourage good environmental stewardship in our world? Donating money to organizations that purchase land to preserve? Planting trees? Making offerings to earth and nature spirits?

    Thanks,

    Jacques

  41. Inspired by your note about Mythic, I made use of the Circle of Presence to invoke a patron goddess this morning and ask her for help revising a story I wrote a few months ago. It’s a fantasy story I’m particularly fond of– sort of a Robert Howard pastiche, informed by a simultaneous reading of the Picatrix and the old Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer (http://www.anglo-saxons.net/hwaet/?do=get&type=text&id=wdr). I’ve just finished the revision, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. But I see that at 15,800 words it’s much too long for Mythic– and I was wondering if you know of a market for something like this?

  42. I have a question I’ve been meaning to ask you JMG. It goes back maybe a year or so to your old blogs.

    I had tried to post some comments that included either links or references to articles that mentioned censorship by large tech companies (which shall remain nameless for now) and, although I tried several times, on separate occasions, on both your old blogs—none of them went through.

    I know you will reject comments sometimes. These comments, however, didn’t seem like the type of comments you would remove.

    I guess this took place anywhere from approximately nine months to a year ago. I’ve commented for several years here, and I expect you recognize my handle by now. I know I am only one of hundreds of commenters, so it may be presumptuous of me to expect you to remember this, but I thought I’d ask anyway.

    So I just wanted to ask if you recall having deleted them. It’s possible that they were “eaten” by some computer glitch. Because at first I thought it was a glitch. But, like I said, I tried reposting several times each time this happened, and they didn’t seem like the type of comments you would deny. So then I began to suspect that they were actually being censored by the site itself, because they included comments critical of the large tech companies, including the one which hosted your former blogs.

    What’s interesting is that none of my other comments had not gone through before (or since, for that matter). All these comments, however, never went through, despite repeated attempts.

    So if it wasn’t you, do you think tech company censorship is a possibility?

  43. Hi JMG,

    I was recently reading David McCullough’s book on the building off the Brooklyn Bridge. I came across a passage where the Brooklyn Bridge’s chief engineer (Washington Roebling) was asked by one of the trustees (Abram Hewitt) to provide some comparative examples, basically to show the bridge as a “symbol of progress.” I think you and the rest of your readers will appreciate Roebling’s response, which was as follows:

    “To build his pyramid Cheops packed some pounds of rice into the stomachs of innumerable Egyptians and Israelites. We today would pack some pounds of coal inside steam boilers to do the same thing, and this might be cited as an instance of the superiority of modern civilization over ancient brute force. But when referred to the sun, our true standard of reference, the comparison is naught, because to produce these few pounds of coal required a thousand times more solar energy than to produce the few pounds of rice. We are simply taking advantage of an accidental circumstance. It took Cheops twenty years to build his pyramid, but if he had had a lot of Trustees, contractors, and newspaper reporters to worry him, he might not have finished it by that time. The advantages of modern engineering are in many ways over balanced by the disadvantages of modern civilization.”

    McCullough summed up the passage by writing, “His [Roebling’s] concept of energy consumption was also well in advance of his time.”

    My thought on reading this passage was something like, “We humans never truly learn, do we?”

    I hope everyone enjoys this little “tidbit.”

    The citation for this passage is as follows: McCullough, David. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge (p. 479). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

  44. JMG-
    You’ve written before about the fall of the nation-state, and the possible rise of alternative forms of governing systems (war bands, for example). I recently ran across some articles that reminded me of this, which offers a few glimpses on how things are changing.

    From the BBC: The countries that get by without a government
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42570823
    This article doesn’t address actual government collapse, but situations in so-called developed countries where parties are at loggerheads or, like in the USA, there is a shutdown. Things continue to trundle along, and while the article attempts some negative reasons for such a breakdown, I think all of the negative examples can also occur in a “functioning” government. However, I think every time there is a shutdown or similar situation, it will cause people to see how things continue along and they find ways to get by, so what is really necessary about government as it is currently?

    From the NYT: Losing Faith in the State, Some Mexican Towns Quietly Break Away
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/07/world/americas/mexico-state-corruption.html
    This sounds more like what you have referred to in past posts; present forms of “legitimate” government breaks down, cannot enforce rule of law, or is itself corrupt and seen as a threat, so other forces organize, and step in. These forces are often heavy-handed and dictatorial, but then, the “official” government has also been seen in this light.

    I’m sure there are other examples, especially in so-called third-world countries where there have always been problems and tribalism has long held sway, but these two articles caught my interest because they address countries with more established systems in place. John (and other readers), have you seen or read about further examples of government breakdown? Any indication that this is rolling along at an increasing rate? Or is it going to be a slow and steady plodding?

  45. Thank you JMG, for the opportunity you provide in this forum. May I ask a couple of questions on magic…

    1. What is he difference between a talisman and a blessed piece of jewlery. The one I have in mind is made of cheap metal, and sports St. Benedict’s Cross.

    2. My actual, original, question. How do you recycle, dispose off, or otherwise take proper care one such item that have been physically damaged? Does it loose any of its potency? Does it remain in a diminished state?

    Thanks in advance

  46. JMG, can the simple techniques that Bardon describes in chapter 2 of IIH, such as autosuggestion and conscious eating, really make deep, lasting changing to the negative aspects of one’s personality? How do they compare in effectiveness to the ritual banishings and invocations of qualities you describe in the Druid magic handbook?

  47. I have another question: do you know any good works on the deities worshiped in the Druid Revival movement?

  48. My memory is that you’ve written a couple of times now that Elon Musk is a con man, and that everything he works on is dependent on some kind of government subisdy.
    Can you reveal exactly what you mean by that in regards to 1) Tesla’s energy storage systems (Powerwall 2, PowerPack, and larger utility-scale products), and 2) Tesla 3 car?
    Thanks

  49. Greetings from Scotland! I’ve been following your blog(s) for a little while now and would like to thank you for your time and effort in giving everybody the opportunity to share in your knowledge and insights, both in exposing the fallacy of modernity as well as illuminating aspects of Druid practice and philosophy. That said, I would like to embrace the opportunity of this open post to ask you two questions: Firstly, Are you aware of the writings of Raimon Panikkar? He was in my view one of the greatest sages of recent times, spanning Christian, Buddhist and Hindu traditions and did also independently used the term Ecosophia in his writings. Secondly, What are your thoughts on the Perennialist school (Guenon, Schuonn, Nasr…), particularly in their somehow restricted view of the validity of only a limited number of religious/spiritual traditions? Many thanks!

  50. Patricia Mathews–I think Thomas Cahill is basically right, at least with regard to Western Civilization, with the caveat that nothing as fundamental as narratives with story arcs can be attributed to a single culture or civilization. Within the limits of a blog comment, I can’t prove the case, but I can cite some of the bases for my agreement.

    1. Post-rabbinical Jewish holiday observances. The Jewish calendar has a lunar month (the new moon is the beginning of each month) and a solar year, with the years numbered in sequence back to (I think) the creation of the world. My guess is that it’s a variant of the Babylonian calendar. This is already a hybrid of cyclical and linear time.

    Judaism has many holidays, festivals, and fast days. Most of the festivals have a dual celebratory purpose; they commemorate and symbolically reenact some event in the agricultural calendar of ancient Israel (cyclical time) and some historical or quasi-historical legendary event in Jewish history (linear time). The rabbinical interpretation of the historical events is that the events are directed by God and that the Covenant is a teaching relationship in which the Jewish people learn from events how to be better Jews. The survival and prosperity of the Jewish people depends on paying attention to these lessons.

    The Passover Haggadah directs all Jews to regard themselves as if they personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt and stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai to receive the Law. This is a neat combination of Dreamtime and linear time.

    2. Progression of ideas in the Bible about the consequences of sin. I’m defining sin as disobedience to God. There is no simple progression to trace because the books begin from oral transmission and the earlier ones have been re-edited. However, in the earliest books, there are incidents in which inadvertent taboo-breaking is punished automatically, such as when someone touches the Ark of the Covenant to steady it while it is being moved and is electrocuted. The Torah also contains many statements about collective reward and punishment as well as statements that reward and punishment for conduct get passed down to the third generation.

    The books of the Prophets, written near the end of the period when Israel and Judah were independent kingdoms, treat sin as a matter of conscious choice. There are both assertions of collective punishment and at least one direct statement that there is no inheritance of punishment; each person reaps the reward of his own conduct.

    Some of the last books added to the canon show influence of Greek/Hellenistic culture. Ecclesiastes and Job (if you disregard the last chapter) throw the idea of divine justice out the window. Most of what happens to people is luck or fate, not a reward for virtue or punishment for sin.

    The overall point I’m making is that the Jews thought really hard about personal choice and collective responsibility.

    3. Karl Marx. A secular Jew, and his ideas about a historical process inevitably leading to a classless society is a secular version of the vision of some Jewish prophets about what society will be like after the arrival of the Messiah.

  51. Do you have any plans for any more “After Oil”-type story contests?

    I have a friend who I met through my local Transition group in Winnipeg, he has written a eco-topian novel, “Euterra Rising”, which tells the story of a utopian society in the year of 2298 C.E., (not too far different than “Star’s Reach”) with chapters flashing back to a collapse-type event in 2027 C.E. The author, Mark Burch, has written many books on simple living and meditation/mindfulness, and is currently branching into fiction.

    He has written a new novel (I think it’s called “Euterra Genesis”) that details the origins of this society in 2027, and has apparently wrote some short stories that deal with the centuries-long gap between these novels. (I thought these stories might be a good fit for an “After Oil” anthology, or Into The Ruins.)

    I’ve read the first the novel, and was impressed by the literary quality, and by his attempts to imagine a culture that has attempted to grapple with ecological limits and the human impulse to overshoot these limits – the first novel leaves it as an open question whether this society will be able to adapt to ecological limits or not.

    Anyways, any advice how he could promote his new release would be welcome – outlets to send copies for review, blurb’s for the book jacket, etc.

    Btw – I’ve gotten a few people recently interested in Star’s Reach – the topic of linguistic drift came up, and I brought up your novel’s example of Meriga, Shanuga, Hiyo, Genda, etc. and they were clamoring to read it! I was glad to hear it, as I think it is the best envisioning of the far-term trajectory of current trends, it would be good to have a few more people I know read through it. Would like to interest them in Retropia if they respond well to that! 😉

  52. In regards to Tripp’s comment about the Harvard Business school, why is it a bad sign that companies are handing out $1000 bonuses to all their employees? It seems like an economic bailout in disguise is as far as my thinking takes me.

  53. CR Patiño,

    JMG will probably respond before you see this, but for what it’s worth in my experience there isn’t a difference.

    A few years ago I bought a rosary online. I had an idea of worshipping Christ as a kind of solar logos or vegetable-spirit of the Dying and Resurrecting God variety. My plan was to consecrate the rosary by performing a ritual in which I’d bury the rosary in my garden and dig it up on the third day.

    When I took it out of its box, though, I realized that that would be impossible. The thing very clearly held a spiritual power that was not to be tampered with. I kept it, and found it effective as a protective talisman It was made of olive wood and had a Saint Benedict medal set into it, made from some unknown metal.

    At Christmas my brother, an atheist, resentful of religion but open-minded, told me about frightening experiences his son was having which seemed like classic “kid with the second sight encounters monsters in his childhood, parents unsure of what to do” types of things. I gave the rosary to him with instructions to set it in the boy’s room as a ward against evil.

  54. Hi JMG,

    I was a bit late a couple of weeks ago to the post on the law of planes, and I like a lot of readers had a lot to ask about planes even before we could talk much about the “law of” the. Anyhow, my question, was:

    Drawing from the earlier discussions on will and representation – if the astral plane is the plane of consciousness, is that where all of our (represented) experiences exist? ie, smells, colours, the weight of a stone in my hand – are these the astral projections of corresponding physical realities? Or perhaps more accurately, some kind of intersection of the astral projection with our astral existence?

    I know the results of science are representations (models) just as our experiences are, but they seem to show a world (physical plane?) that is quite different from the one we experience.

    Cheers,
    Graeme

  55. Christopher Henningsen,

    One alternative investment model is the Slow Money movement, which focuses on local agriculture, food enterprises, and organic products. The founder, Woody Tasch is a frequent speaker and you might get some ideas from looking into it. I found his book largely unreadable, but I like the concept.

    Another realm to look into is the incremental development model promoted by Strong Towns and using concepts of New Urbanism. The Incremental Development Alliance has some good models.

    Ultimately, you are well on your way to discovering that it is very difficult to find an investment model measured by quarterly results tailored to a long-term trend of deindustrial decline. The end of the petroleum era isn’t a tradeable event.

    The way to find acceptable investment returns for ventures that will aid the transition is to expand the frame of reference beyond just financial returns. When you start to include things like building resilience, acquiring and preserving low-tech skills, and becoming a valuable member of your community it is much easier to articulate an investment case.

  56. I was reading about the Dreyfus Affair in France at the dawn of the 20th century, and there was something in there that I think you guys might appreciate. If you’re unfamiliar with the affair this is a decent starting point:
    http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/what-was-the-dreyfus-affair

    It seems like there are a lot of parallels between the Dreyfus Affair and the Trump Presidency in terms of corruption and cover-ups in the state, and in terms of two segments of the population being really, really angry at each other, one side positing a vaguely Jewish/International conspiracy operating behind the scenes and counterfeiting all of the evidence, the forces of reaction seeing this as their last chance to stand against the new values, and all of that emotion and anger and spirit of the times being sort of focused onto one person…

    As the affair concluded and the French really had to work out how they could, while retaining legitimacy, reconcile the two halves of their population who were rioting all of the time and shooting people and spitting the most violent rhetoric at one another in the papers and on the streets. They hit on a strategy that I though was totally brilliant and sort of funny. The President began appointing people from both sides to fill important roles, hiring Socialist Internationale heroes and reactionary heroes in equal measure. This had the effect of pissing absolutely EVERYONE off, but also sort of making them happy at the same time, and uniting them again in their hatred of the government currently in office. Totally brilliant.

    Do you think that the US will see something like this in the near future? Or maybe a totally different sort of unification tactic? And if so, what?

  57. @Dylan, JMG:

    First off, many apologies for the double post, JMG. I did a sloppy editing job – this is the real question/response.

    I don’t think that Trump is doing a particularly good job of managing contraction. As the US contracts and declines into scarcity industrialism, I imagine that another country or group of countries will rise up and become, clearly, more powerful than the US in many ways. Sure, there will be less of everything to go around, but there’ll still be a top dog somewhere and I doubt that the US will be it. I know that it’s a bit foolish to predict exactly who it will be, considering that in the 80s everyone thought that Japan was going to overtake the US and didn’t, but if I had to I would guess that China would fill this role.

    When the last big superpower switcheroo happened, the one where preeminent superpower status switched from Britain to the US, the British could roll with that – they spoke the same language as the new top guys, they still wielded a good amount of power, they had a ton of cultural influence – they could easily think of themselves as the Greeks to the US’s Romans. There was a Special Relationship. When the next changing of the guard happens I don’t think that that special relationship will be there between the US and whoever succeeds them.

    I don’t see how the sort of Ra-Ra-American Exceptionalism rhetoric, the “The-American-Dream-Means-Owning-A-Suburban-House-And-A-Car-Rather-Than-Taking-Part-In-An-Unprecedented-Experiment-In-Self-Government” sort of rhetoric that Trump is spouting off and encouraging will do anything but pour fuel on the fire when the time to change the guard comes around. I think that you could never have a president who didn’t buy into the American Exceptionalism trope to a certain extent, but he seems to depend on it an unusual amount, and I don’t think he’ll be able to back down, and I don’t think that it’ll calm down after he leaves power (whenever that is).
    And that goddam sucks, because contraction is a golden opportunity to focus people on what the American Dream could mean in a future of scarcity rather than one of abundance. It makes me wish I was an American, to be honest – Americans have a unique national heritage to draw on, what with the founding document and all.

    Trump seems to greatly improve the chances that there won’t be any kind of gracefulness to this international change of the guard, and a certain possibility of violence. I was hopeful in the beginning that he might have started to step down from the role as world policeman and tried to point the required American Exceptionalism rhetoric in a more contemplative non-interventionist direction, but I can’t say that I’m seeing that happen. Maybe I’m missing it.

    How do you think that the US should go about managing this changing of the guard? Who do you see as the major players in influencing public ideology in this way? And how do you think it will go in practice?

  58. Janet, I read most of that article. What a load of male bovine faeces.

    He’s essentially arguing that oil must be an infinite resource or one that reproduces itself at a rate greater than we are currently using it, because his way over-simplified mathematical model fits slightly better than Hubbert’s way over-simplified model.

    I could probably do even better with a spline function and throw a few epicycles in for good measure. It doesn’t prove much.

    Kiefer’s model is what’s known as an “unphysical” model. Like fitting a straight line through data you know is not linear. Not bad for short term predictions, woefully bad further out and hopeless for end states.

    Cheers,
    Graeme

  59. Hi JMG,

    I wonder if you’re familiar with the late Vine Deloria? I’m reading his “God Is Red,” which offers some really fascinating analysis of the conceptual distinctions between Abrahamic and Native religion.

  60. @Christopher Henningsen: One possible framework for “how one would determine a ‘fair’ rate of return on capital under a zero-growth assumption” would be the multi-generational loan that charges much much less interest and extends past the lifetimes of both the lender and the lendee. It is more akin to slow-growth than no-growth, however. If the lender is required by prior agreement with the local government entity to dedicate some reasonable percentage of the interest paid to make community improvements or pay for community defenses, then the local gov’t gives permission for the maximum of three-generations corporation to be formed. Provisions must be built-in to have a debt jubilee in case of a bad harvest, or acts of war, or whatever. Otherwise, the multi-generational loan just becomes a disguised form of indentured servitude for one’s grandchildren. But it could be a way of capitalizing major projects such as land reclamation or aqueduct building. I believe historical accounts of savings and loan banking of the kind that is forbidden to indulge in speculation, as was common before our day, can be researched to obtain specific facts and figures on how this used to be done.

  61. Barrigan, there’s a lot of wishful thinking there. Uranus is a malefic planet, on a par with Mars and Saturn, and the most likely result of Uranus in Taurus is a long period of economic disruption in which many forms of abstract wealth become wildly unstable and/or simply lose their value.

    Kaye, Eliphas Levi discussed that in detail in Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic, and I give a further discussion of it in my books Monsters and Circles of Power. The short form? It’s etheric projection: you form a body on the level immediately above the material and transfer your consciousness into it. Being etheric, it’s close enough to matter that it can leave physical traces; being etheric, it’s also easiest when the Moon is full (the Moon governs the etheric tides) and can be disrupted catastrophically by highly conductive metals such as silver (anything that conducts electricity well also conducts etheric substance well, and vice versa). It’s not that hard to learn how to do, by the way.

    Will, since Peter Van Erp has been enthusiastic enough to volunteer his back yard for the project, the potluck will be in Providence on June 23rd — more details to follow! As for your past life memory, that’s extremely plausible. The oldest Druid order in the US was founded in 1798, and Chicago was a hotbed of occultism all through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I don’t recognize any of the few details you mention, but by all means post more as you find things out.

    Jim, no doubt. These days, whenever somebody uses the word “quantum,” expect a ripoff to follow promptly.

    Will, I hope to the gods you’re homeschooling — I wouldn’t inflict today’s public schools on a rabid dog. Start by getting rid of your television, if you’re so unfortunate as to have one, and taking your daughter on weekly trips to the local library, where you can encourage her to check out books on whatever subjects interest her most; the goal is to help her become literate, and this is best done by associating books with enjoyment and by providing her with whatever help she needs to become a fluent reader. Read stories to her, and ask her to read stories aloud to you. Since you’re Christians, a good collection of Bible stories for children is a must, and you should also read to her (and teach her to read aloud to you) verses from the Bible.

    Once she has the basic skill of literacy down cold, she can learn anything. Get her writing as soon as she’s comfortable with the idea, and yes, that means writing by hand; short easy things at first, but encourage her to take that as far as she wants. Beyond that, work in history, mathematics, the sciences, the arts, any other subject you have in mind; also practical skills, such as handling tools, budgeting, and so on. Let your daughter have an active voice in her own education from the beginning, so she becomes a self-directed learner. If you can get your cousins on board, the three children can work together to choose projects of interest, under appropriate parental guidance. That’s the very short form of a very complex subject.

    Janet, if you can find a link to Kiefer’s piece, that would be helpful. I haven’t read it, so don’t have an off-the-cuff response.

    Laura, the point of Retrotopia was to encourage readers to ask questions, so I’m delighted to hear that it succeeded so well in your case. Since it’s a work of fiction, and the Lakeland Republic doesn’t exist, those questions don’t have answers, you know.

    Merle, we all balance constantly among the three factors of fate, destiny, and will, and one or another will routinely take charge of us. You’ve been perceptive enough to notice some of the times when something other than will took over in you.

    Karim, good question. That’s not a subject I’ve studied at all.

    Peter, thank you and so noted! Me, I’d be delighted to see Mr. Curwen, and perhaps Charles could come by too, though we might have some trouble telling them apart. That aside, I hereby proclaim that this is going to happen. See you all there!

    Coop Janitor, the third volume, the Weird of Hali: Chorazin, will be out later this year. The fourth and fifth, Dreamlands and Providence, are finished, though I plan on revising the fifth a bit; they’ll be published at roughly one-a-year intervals. I wrote the sixth, Hyperborea, and ended up utterly dissatisfied with it, so am doing it over again from the beginning; and the seventh, Arkham — well, I have the last two chapters, the conclusion of the entire series, completed in draft. When four join their hands where gray stone meets gray tide…let’s just say I don’t think my readers are going to be disappointed.

    Oh, and I’ve now finished The Shoggoth Concerto, which is a novel set in the same fictive universe as The Weird of Hali, though it’s not part of the sequence; I’m going to try to figure out if it’s suitable for one of the big publishers, but one way or another it’ll be in print in the not too distant future. It also has a sequel, The Nyogtha Variations, which will be written once I get Hyperborea finished. So the tentacle fanciers among my readers will have plenty to read in the years immediately ahead.

    Rita, the people in the discussion group apparently haven’t noticed that Russia doesn’t stand alone. Russia plus China plus Iran makes for a massive economic as well as political-military power bloc. For good news sources, avoid anything from the US or western Europe — they’re basically Disneyfied pap these days. News media elsewhere in the world still occasionally practice worthwhile journalism.

    Mister N., I think it’ll die a slow death over the next few years. Once the medical industry can no longer force people to buy insurance they can’t afford to pay for and can’t afford to use, on the other hand, we may be looking at massive economic consequences.

    Degringolade, I don’t expect steady-state economics, because we can’t maintain the economy we’ve built on the resources we have left. That means an economics of contraction and decline, and the replacement of existing economic arrangements with something closer to subsistence economics. SSDD? Sure, but subsistence actually takes a lot less work than maintaining the baroque complexity of today’s economy. Remember that medieval peasants worked shorter hours, got more days off, and got to keep a larger share of the value of their labor than you do…

    Ray, if it can make a profit it’s probably best done via a business. If it can’t, a volunteer organization is a better idea. I’ll definitely consider a post on voluntary organizations in the near future — after all, Shane’s gay leather friends are waiting… 😉

    Dewey, yep. I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen when and if the (ahem) hits the fan.

  62. Random question: anyone have useful sources for spells dealing with chaos (ideally by leaning in and embracing it) or mental illness, or alternatively non-Christian forms of wine consecration, whose patrons wouldn’t be offended by adaptation to fictional work? I’d love to be able to crib from something for an upcoming LARP, but all the stuff Google reveals is like Vogon poetry knocked up a Precious Moments figurine. I can’t even look at it directly; if I spoke the words on my own, my skin *might* crawl off my body; and if I actually brought that stuff to game, I’d then have to change my name, move to a cave in Australia, and become Queen of the Spiders.

  63. Dear JMG, I would love to know a bit about your personal history with Tarot cards. Which decks, if any, do you use these days? Any unusual approach? If you were to design your own deck, any notable eccentricities? Do you have a favorite Tarot book? (Paul Huson’s “Mystical Origins of the Tarot” is mine.) BTW, your Sacred Geometry Oracle is absolutely the most valuable oracle deck I’ve ever used. Thanks so much.

  64. In what situations should the Invoking Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram be used versus the Banishing one?

    Sorry if these questions have been answered in the Druidry Handbook or the Druid Magic Handbook — I have ordered those and am waiting for physical copies to arrive in the mail.

  65. @Christopher Henningsen: Another possible model for “how one would determine a ‘fair’ rate of return on capital under a zero-growth assumption” is the TIC, tenancy-in-common agreements for joint ownership of real estate. Say 35 different families wish to invest in owning an apartment building of 30 units. Though all do not live there, all have the right to do so. Some choose to invest in the building only as a hedge or as a source of future value, since they can sell their share of property in the building to the group of other investors or to someone who is approved by all the other owners. All investors share in the costs of building upgrades or maintenance, and in its improved equity value. All share in the increased value of the building over time, if any. If no increase in value takes place, at least they have a place to live that they own. Repairs are funded in common, lessening that burden and property taxes are less costly to individual occupants.

  66. Hi JMG,

    I was curious if you’d ever read War & Peace. I read it for my ADR homework although it was so long that I forgot all the points I was supposed to consider as I read it, it took a little while! The one I did remember, though, was to take note of things that seem to run contrary to modern perspectives (to paraphrase roughly).

    It’s quite an interesting book, although it’s written in a very strange style. I think he’s basically trying to make a rather Schopenhauer-ish statement about what drives events vs how we understand them. At the largest level this is about the war of 1812 but he shows that the great men of that war are just moved along by forces beyond their control (even though they do not see it this way), a sort of mob movement of people from west to east and then from east to west and that really no individual was in control of this at any time (I thought of your points about Trump’s rise to power a few times). He illustrates this in an odd reverse way, burying this movement quite deeply inside this massive work, allowing you to get a glimpse of it from afar as you are shown moments from the perspective of reams of characters.

    I think I “got” the book partially because of your homework assignment, something that ran contrary to modern expectations was the way family involvement in engagements is shown. I think typically books now would tend to illustrate this as either something bad and invasive, true love can only come from unfettered free choice, or if the writer was cynical they might say that family arranged marriages were better than people choosing freely, but only because love does not really exist. Tolstoy does neither of these, he lets you see how social events are arranged by a hosting party, casually extends this to parents setting up children with optimal partners as naturally stemming from the same sort of practical concerns and what’s more shows how the people involved can often fall in love as a result of just these sort of set ups. Sometimes you see this from the perspective of the set up, and you have to read between the lines, look for the traces of activity of these planners, because from what you are shown it’s experienced perfectly naturally, as you would expect any romantic interest. That this situation is both coerced and free struck me as unusual, and thinking seriously about it, without judgement, it is what opened the novel up to me and made it click.

    He does the same sort of thing with the war sections of the book, again on many levels, but the most obvious one for me is how combat is shown from afar at first, in language someone might use to describe cloud movements or a tide crashing onto the shore, and slowly pushing you closer and closer to the heart of it. I was reading it at the same time as I was reading the World as Will and Representation and so I thought perhaps I was reading too much into their similarities, but I discovered, reading a book on Schopenhauer recently, that Tolstoy discovered him himself, right after completing W&P, and thought he’d truly found a kindred insight into the world.

    If you haven’t read it you might be interested to know that it also features a positive (or at least neutral) mention of Freemasonry although I don’t know how accurate it is, or if a member would appreciate it, as he describes an initiation ritual in a lot of detail. He isn’t critical of the organization though, at least that I picked up, and that would be unusual in most modern books.

  67. Hi John – We’ve been getting favorable email on the idea of a Green Wizard’s fraternity. All are welcome to comment on the founding of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association. This might turn into something… Rusty. gwtower440@gmail.com

  68. Regarding astrology, I recall you saying that if you know someone’s sun sign, ascendant, and moon sign you can know more about them than having the rest of the natal chart.

    So I was wondering, whats the significance of having Scorpio ascendant(with Pluto in Scorpio), opposite of the moon in Taurus, with the sun in Aquarius squaring both of them?

    Also, I’m not sure if it has a significant effect but every sign other than the moon is below the horizon, except for Chiron up there by itself. (Sort of curious if you think Chiron has an effect at all, if you think Pluto’s influence is on the way out.) The whole chart has sort of a strange one sided symmetry to it… to my inexperienced eyes anyway.

    Very much appreciate the Q & A posts!

  69. We may well be experiencing peak oil at this point. Looking at the massive energy required to contain the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, I wonder what the post oil future will hold when hundreds of storage sites will need security, maintenance and protection from the environment. One can imagine a time when even containment of any spill is simply impossible without oil. In a few hundred years, cointainment vessels may have corroded. Will we have over 400 reactor sites that cannot be contained? Or what will become of the thousands of nuclear weapons?

  70. Patricia, the Jews got the idea of linear time from the Zoroastrian Persians when the ancient Hebraic religion was massively remodeled along Zoroastrian lines after the Babylonian Captivity. Linear time, though, does not equal progress; neither the Jews nor anybody else until the seventeenth century believed that history was a story of continuing improvement, which is the essence of the myth of progress. It’s history as improvement, not history as linear process with an endpoint, that’s the core of the myth.

    Ganesh, the solar plexus tends to focus on issues of will, power, and self-expression, while the heart focuses on issues of love, interaction and connectedness. Depending on who you are, one or the other may be a better choice for you.

    Joel, the Findhorn literature is a very good source for this — The Findhorn Garden and Dorothy Maclean’s To Hear the Angels Sing might help.

    Samurai47, the phrase is “what you contemplate, you imitate.” Can you distance yourself from these people? That would be the most effective response, I think.

    Dfr1973, belief in coincidence is the most common superstition of the age of scientific materialism. You asked for something, and the relevant powers saw to it that you got it; a heartfelt “thank you” would be in order, and you might pay attention and see if your intuition suggests anything that would be good to do in return. Other than that, happy birthday!

    Gavin, by all means adapt the Ogham divination to your own needs; it’s nowhere set in stone. As for the relationship between structure and spontaneity, modern culture has that all wrong. Spontaneity is impossible without structure to give it a springboard and a framework; Bach could improvise fugues with perfect spontaneity because he’d internalized the musical laws and structures that made them work. You’ll find that as you add structure to your spiritual life, up to a point (and only you can find that point, by trial and error), your spiritual life will become more spontaneous and lively, not less.

    JMA, exactly. All things without exception come into being by way of the same process of descent down the planes. In other words, all things are brought into being by magic, and the entire universe is magical.

    Chris, I’m far from sure what to say. On the broadest scale, in a zero-growth economy every investment on average breaks even, so the natural rate of profit is zero; in a negative-growth economy, every investment on average loses money, so there is no natural rate of profit — only a natural rate of loss. (Profit is only normal in a growing economy.) How that would work out on the microeconomic basis of an investment club, though, is a question I don’t know how to answer.

    Juan Pablo, Saturn is the planet of accepting limits and of hard work; Jupiter is among other things the planet of laziness and disinclination to work; so your problem, as you’ve described it to me, is a Saturn shortage. Yes, you might get some benefit from Saturnine teas, if you drink them with the intention of learning discipline, patience, and the capacity for work. As for coming to Mexico, I don’t have any current plans along those lines — I don’t actually travel that much — but I’ll post something here if that changes.

    Tripp, huzzah! Say hi to the kids for me. 😉

    Mark, you’re misreading what I said. I’m not claiming that he’s good for the country. I’m claiming that the Democrats are wrong in insisting that he’s stupid, and that they’re so mired in self-defeating behaviors that they’re probably going to get their clocks cleaned in 2020. I’d be happy to see the candidates you’ve named running in 2020, but you’re going to have to get a lot of deadwood out of the Democratic party leadership for that to happen.

    Discwrites, the proclamation of peace to the four quarters is a ritual practice, that’s all. The original point was that nobody’s supposed to get in a fistfight or worse at a Druid gorsedd; the same thing was done in the Middle Ages at the opening of fairs and certain other public events. We don’t go around wishing peace at everyone the rest of the time.

    Bonnie, yep — Heu’c is an alternative name for Hu the Mighty. As for mae, Welsh is difficult to translate into English word for word, and one reason is that most Welsh sentences begin with a form of the verb “to be.” Where English would say “Gwron, Plennydd, and Alawn are the three rays of light,” Welsh says, more or less, “it is Gwron, Plennydd, and Alawn, the three rays of light,” Mae Gwron, Plennydd, y Alawn, y teir pelydryn goleuni, to mean exactly the same thing. We put a form of the verb “to be” between subject and object, Welsh puts it in front of the subject.

    David, (a) I bet it was tasty slime, (b) the elimination of advertising is a crucial element in returning economic life to a focus on needs rather than manufactured cravings, (c) the third installment is scheduled for a little later this year, and (d) delighted to hear it! I’m beginning to think about possibilities for the next contest.

    Jacques, right now where peak oil is concerned we’re still in the situation we were in toward the end of The Archdruid Report, where liquid fuels production is being kept close to its all-time high by throwing more and more of the world’s total economic output into the task of keeping the fuel tanks full. Watch what’s happening to our infrastructure and our retail sector in the US to see how the hidden costs of that strategy are surfacing. As for what you can do, planting trees is always a good plan; you might also see if you can turn part of your yard into a sanctuary for birds and insects, by planting things that provide them with food, and making sure there’s a water source and other habitat needs. .

    Steve, I don’t know of a venue offhand. Does anyone else have anything to suggest?

    Blue Sun, I don’t recall seeing those at all, so they may have been censored, as you’ve suggested.

    Chronojourner, thanks for this!

    Joy, fascinating. I haven’t been keeping track of this, so thank you.

    CR Patino, there’s no difference. Every tradition has its own way of handling such things, though, so you may want to find out if your tradition has a specific method of doing so. My advice is to ask your elderly female relatives, as such things are very often passed down from one old woman to another!

    Rationalist, they’re effective but slow. Ritual magic can be faster.

    Will, there’s not much. You might try Ross Nichols’ The Book of Druidry, which devotes part of a chapter to the subject.

    Chris, I’ll let you do your own research there.

    Manuel, I’m not familiar with Panikkar; I’ll have to look into him. As for the Traditionalists, to my way of thinking, they have some very useful insights mixed up with way too much ego. “I have the One True Tradition and everyone else is a tool of the malign Counter-Tradition!” is just one more version of the standard five-year-old “Look at ME!!!” routine.

    Alacrates, there’ll be more contests, but I’m not at all sure they’ll focus on deindustrial SF; after all, there’s Into the Ruins now. Promoting a utopian novel is always a challenge; I’d encourage your friend to put up a website and post some of his short stories there, as a way to attract attention to his work. Other than that, I’m not sure what to say; I did the thing in a very roundabout manner, and I’m not sure I’d encourage anyone else to spend years writing weekly nonfiction posts and running a Druid order as a way to launch a fiction career!

    Austin, did I say that was a bad idea? My point is that the Harvard Business School can run absolutely anything into the ground.

    Graeme, excellent! In a word, yes.

    Spicehammer, I hope so. The alternatives are civil war, or a constitutional convention to dissolve the Union and let red and blue states go their own ways and form their own independent nations. As for your question about international politics, that would take several posts, or better still an entire book, to answer!

    Michael, indeed I am. When you have a chance, find his book The World We Used To Live In. It’s a stunning account of what the world looks like when magic (or, in Native language, medicine power) is no longer taboo.

  71. Isabel, I wish I did! The image of Vogon poetry getting it on with a Precious Moments figurine is a keeper, though…

    Jay, I started out back in the 1970s with the Rider-Waite, then went to the Aquarian deck (by David Palladini), which I used for many years. While I was focusing on Golden Dawn magic I used Robert Wang’s Golden Dawn tarot almost exclusively. Thereafter I moved away from tarot for a while, focusing primarily first on geomancy, then on Ogham, then on astrology; I’ve just recently started work again with the tarot, due to getting the Ring Cycle tarot by Allegra Printz — I’m a longtime Wagner fan and so couldn’t pass it up. We’ll see where I go from here. As for books, I haven’t followed the literature in a long time; my approach is to do lots of readings, record them, compare my interpretations to what actually happens, and learn that way.

    Kimberly, you use an invoking (aka summoning) ritual to begin a magical working and a banishing ritual to end it; you also use a banishing ritual to cleanse yourself daily, and combine that with an invocation via the Middle Pillar exercise or equivalent.

    Will, delighted to hear it. Enjoy!

    Johnny, no, I haven’t! It’s on the get-to list, and I’m delighted to hear that you tackled that and enjoyed it.

    Rusty, delighted to hear it. That settles it; I’m going to do a series of posts on the mechanics of old-fashioned fraternal organizations in the very near future.

    Jason, I’d encourage you to check out a couple of books on astrology from your local library and look up those placements. Chart delineation is a fair amount of work, and you’ll learn more by doing it yourself.

    Sydney Mike, I’ve discussed nuclear reactors here. As for nuclear weapons, they have to have certain parts replaced every six months or so or they become big lumps of radioactive but otherwise inert metal.

  72. I’m very excited about the idea of a pot luck and I will be there. I wrote this new song called Atlantis that I’d like to share – I hope that’s okay. I made a lyric video for it. I’ve really struggled with finding people to collapse with me and I realized, maybe not everyone can survive in (sunken) Atlantis. So I wrote this song.

  73. I wonder if you’ll indulge me in this…

    On the subject of Uranus as a malefic– In a natal chart, how would you interpret Jupiter conjunct Uranus? in the fifth house, conjunct the sixth house cusp, in Saggitarius?

  74. I posted my last comment before I saw that there was another chart-interpretation question posted; feel free to disregard mine. I only wondered because I hadn’t thought of Uranus as a malefic, and it makes sense of a few things. The natal chart is mine of course, and I’ve found that every time I experience a phase of personal growth (Jupiter) I feel the need to violently reject the previous phase of my life (Uranus).

    I do have a different question though. This one is about gods.

    I’ve been spending a bit of time meditating and working with various gods lately. I mentioned on the last magic Monday an inspiring experience that came about after meditating on your post on the bodies of gods– that the natural phenomena they “rule over” literally are their physical manifestations. To summarize, I was walking around and it was warm, and it occurred to me that from that perspective the goddess Sul, who has come through to me more strongly than any other Druid power, literally was the warmth on the air. There followed a strong and very moving sense of divine presence.

    I wanted to know more about Druid revival gods, so I looked at the material in the Druid Magic Handbook. I discovered that, without any prompting, I’d been visualizing both Sul and Elen basically exactly the way you describe them. Esus less so, and I hadn’t gotten Hu right at all. I realize that “right” is subjective– but I found I had a much better sense of his presence when I used the visualization you gave in the DMH. Like pronouncing someone’s name correctly.

    I’ve also been putting a lot of time into martial arts practice lately. The gym I train at is a fairly intense multi-style kind of school, and I decided to get some extra help. My first thought was to go to a Martial power, and so I invoked Kamael as archangel of Mars. The results were fairly good, the one exception being a time I ate very poorly and, after asking the angel for help, got a fairly clear reply “What am I supposed to do when there’s nothing but salami in your stomach? Give me something to work with here!” After the experience with Sul I related above, though, I wondered if I could(/should?) invoke a Druid power. I first tried Belinos, as a Sun god. The sense I got from him was “Really? I mean, okay, but, this isn’t really my deal.” That night didn’t go so well. So I thought, who would be an equivalent of Kamael? In the Celtic Golden Dawn, a bull god of the Earth named Taran is placed at Modur. I know nothing about him and had never spoken with him before, but I thought, what can it hurt? So I invoked Taran, and asked him for his help. The results were very good indeed.

    That having been the case, I’d like to get to know Taran a bit better– but I can’t seem to find any information on him. He doesn’t turn up in the Druid Magic Handbook, and I’m not sure how to think of him. Do you know of any sources of information on him, particularly in a Druid revival context?

  75. @ Joel Caris…

    There is a series of scifi books set in the “Liaden Universe”, can’t remember the author but was a duo. In it, there is a sentient tree that is part of the entire series of books, but it’s more background than character, save for the story of where it came from. It’s about the nearest thing to a nature spirit I recall in scifi. I think the book about the tree was called Crystal Soldier or Crystalline Soldier (?).

  76. RE: Janet D

    I was favourably impressed with a number of things in this blog post. It looks like “Ike” really did his homework.

    Here is the the cheat:

    http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2017/03/28/the-peak-oil-estimate-you-wont-believe-a-tale-of-two-sigmoids/

    “Finite v. Sustainable

    If the logistic curve is indeed the better fit than the Hubbert curve, what does that tell us about the underlying commodity and the forces shaping its production? The essential difference between the two curves is that a Hubbert curve describes a finite resource whose production is being choked down by scarcity, while a logistics curve describes a sustainable resource who production is stabilized by any of a host of natural limiting factors at a level below which scarcity comes into play. The question of finite v. sustainable is really where the prevailing worldview is most challenged.

    For oil to appear to be a resource that can be sustainably consumed, there are two possibilities. First is the case that the amount of ultimately producible oil is very, very large compared to its stabilized consumption rates, and essentially dwarfs demand, so that true scarcity will not be a factor for a very long time. A second possibility is that oil is indeed a renewable resource, and that the geologic processes that created the oil already extracted are still at work creating more at a significant rate compared to consumption – there is the potential for balance between demand and supply. A combination of these two is also possible. Experienced petroleum geologist and geophysicist David Middleton recently submitted an excellent online essay on what is known and theorized about the thermogenic processes that produce oil ”

    …blah blah blah, fairy dust.

    Oil is not “very very large” from memory the amount of oil field discoveries vs the amount of production was exceeded in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. To be clear, that means that the amount of oil we found through looking vs the amount oil we produced (produced is the common term, extracted is more accurate) went red sometime in the 1970’s. We pumped more out of the ground than we’ve found to replace it for almost 50 years.

    You can safely ignore this prediction. It ain’t gonna happen.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  77. RE: Janet D

    ” The essential difference between the two curves is that a Hubbert curve describes a finite resource whose production is being choked down by scarcity, while a logistics curve describes a sustainable resource…”

    All the fossil fuels that we have ever found have biogenetic markers indicating that they were formed along time ago and take a long time to replace. Meaning that the number or barrels of oil we can sustainably use is measured in barrels per million/billion year and not barrels per year.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  78. @ Janet D…

    This IS my business, and Hubbert was correct for what he knew at the time he threw his infamous curve into the spotlight. I read the article you spoke of, and basically, it doesn’t render anything new, but tries to include politics and societal effects into the reserve and consumption picture.

    Back in the days of TOD (The Oil Drum blog), there were MANY discussions about political and societal effects on the curve, which is what Kiefer tossed in. For lack of a better terminology, we referred to this as the “bumpy ride on the backside” of Hubberts curve. Horizontal drilling had already changed the slope, and now fracking has changed the slope further. But the backside was always going to be hit and miss, because high prices drive exploration, oil is always over-produced while prices are high, collapsing the price and stifling exploration. It’s a vicious cycle, made worse by oil trader shenanigans.

    By making Hubberts simple curve into a longer one, more details can be accounted for historically. I will caution ANYONE that wants to do this that predicting oilfield technology improvements will always save the day is not a factual thing. The alleged gains in “efficiency” that each and every one of the pundits use as indicators are bogus. The real reason for improved efficiency is that the oilfield service companies can be put over a barrel and squeezed when the oilfield goes into it’s regular ‘bust’ cycle. Don’t take my word for it – examine the stock prices of the service companies relative to oil price – the relationship is clear. And never forget that all this “high tech” stuff ADDS to costs much more than the improvement in efficiency it brings.

    The other thing I will say is that oil is not abiotic, and while there are abiotic hydrocarbons (mostly methane), their amounts are not and have never been commercial – so Kiefer lost all credibility even bringing that tired, old, whipped horse out of the closet. Any mention of abiotic oil is an evidentiary indicator of wishful dreaming or straw grasping on the part of the author.

    Further, he states that kerogen is ubiquitous and a source for oil. It is, but it must be the right type of kerogen and located beneath formations that trap it – or it just bleeds away.

    There are also, quite literally, gazillions of deposits that show up as bright spots on seismic surveys. There are several offshore Florida that were larger than those in Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, there must be a geologic trapping mechanism for the oil to stay in place. When these giant potential deposits were drilled, there was trace oil and gas found within the reservoir – but it had long since migrated to surface – what the seismic shone back were only the residual traces. It’s why we do wildcat wells in the first place – to verify that the bright reflection is actually commercial. That’s just one example, because these seismic bright spots show the world covered in oil – only it may have long since moved elsewhere or to surface ages earlier.

    Short answer – we got about 75-120 years to go, most likely. But just because it’s there doesn’t mean it will ever be drilled, or that you will be able to afford it. Have we passed the Peak? Who cares, because it will take 20 years of arguing for it to appear in the rear view mirror.

    And the only thing that could possibly replace oil that is even remotely on the horizon is nuclear fusion – the other energy sources are there, but will require a huge down-shift in lifestyle and associated energy consumption. Hope that helps you some with your separating excrement from Shinola!

  79. @ Rita E.Rippetoe…

    I have clients in central Asia, and would have one in Iran, were it legal. You might try reading some news sources in Kazakhstan or Turkmenistan for a different POV. Indonesia and Malaysia also view things differently, but avoid the Asia Times – chock full of CIA stuff.

    My primary competitors for work in central Asia are Russians, and while they are pretty good, they haven’t caught the west just yet, except for military and aerospace. That Russia makes really great rocket and jet engines is not a shabby thing, but it hasn’t translated into other industries quite yet.

    But it will, especially with China giving them quite a lot of how-to that they garnered from the west – by simply buying people off with a big paycheck and then kicking them to the curb once they drained their brains. How it is that Americans can go to China and expect Chinese to behave like Americans is just beyond me…

  80. @ JMG, thank you for the encouragement! I want to take my writing to the next level, for sure, but honestly I’m not sure how. With my novella, which isn’t that long really, I had to meditate on the themes for between three and five years, and there was a big false start because I wasn’t mature enough to deal with the themes squarely. Also there were many dreams and visions too that factored in, and those took a long time coming. When I try to write longer pieces a they tend to seem stilted and artificial, reading like “homework”. I write daily, sometime a little, sometimes a lot. I don’t struggle with discipline as a general thing. What I struggle with is sterility, lack of the sacred, mere typing. The stories that I write and enjoy have, to my mind’s eye, a “fresh”, revelatory quality, like morning dew. When I force myself to write longer pieces, I struggle to maintain this quality, and it becomes repetitious, preachy, and stuffy. Stiff, wooden or stupidly whimsical. I can pretty easily force myself to bang out a first draft, but not a second. Sure, Ernest Hemmingway had some choice words to say about the first draft, but there is a difference between unpresentable and uninspired, poor punctuation and a lack of soul. If I lack inspiration in the first draft I haven’t figured out how to insert into a latter one. It’s like a mysterious substance that inheres to the words, but is separate from them and, most crucially, that I can’t fake. With my shorter pieces I am much less likely to lose track of the thread of inspiration and keep the project from devolving into mere typing, and if I do lose that thread, there’s less of a loss of invested energy. For this reason I don’t tend to write out plots, I tend to let the story unfold while I write it in an alert, meditative state. When I try to plot out stories, the story rebels against the plot, and I can either let the story or the plot win out. I have a perfectly conjunct Saturn and Uranus in my natal chart and 6 planets in either Capricorn and Aquarius (three in each). This I believe contributes to my literary limitation, but perhaps it is something I can work with in longer pieces.

    May I ask; do you have advice for someone in my shoes? Someone who struggles with maintaining inspiration for a project when the project is not contained within about 6,000 words? I feel like I’m missing some crucial detail. Is this just something where I have to grit my teeth and force myself into writing longer pieces until I learn maintain inspiration? I chafe at the energy/time investment this entails, but if that is what it takes then that is what it takes. It’s not like I have anything more important going on in my life. Is there something else that I’m not seeing? Advice from other novelists here is very welcome and much appreciated.

    In related news; I’m blogging on a new platform and have just posted the Elon Musk parody I mentioned in the September 2017 open thread. It can be found at https://winterstrickster.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/the-10-billion-year-space-reich/

  81. Will, try Ambleside Online (amblesideonline.org) for home schooling. The book lists for each year are well-chosen and well within the capabilities of a normal child of that age, never mind what our culture claims kids can’t understand or enjoy. One favorite feature of mine is that science is based on observation of the natural world by the children rather than memorizing facts about who discovered what when. Another, of course, is that the few books which aren’t already in our possession are worthy of shelf-space.

  82. JMG, I’ve just finished The Ecotechnic Future. One of the best and most thought-provoking reads I’ve ever experienced. Just one point on which I’m not entirely convinced – you dismiss (or rather, don’t seem to mention) the possibility of fusion power coming to the rescue of industrial civilization. I don’t know the science of it; all I know is that, as you say, nuclear power hasn’t done the trick. Is that why you think fusion power won’t – i.e. is it a case of argument by analogy? If so, I can well believe it. After all, the old sf argument (“there’s so vastly much more energy stored in the atomic nucleus than you could get by any chemical reaction, nuclear power must far surpass earlier power sources, and therefore must give us all the energy we want”) hasn’t been borne out by experience. On the other hand… doubt remains. Who really knows what the fusion research boffins will come up with?

  83. Two things I’d love to see hashed out here:

    1. Post-Modern Suicide. What if you really should have been dead, had nature and fate not been thwarted by modern medicine? Is medically-assisted living in the 21st Century fate in and of itself and thus natural? What if you’ve quasi-crossed once or twice but agreed to return/stay for some unfinished work? When you think you know it’s finally time to go, will a well-considered suicide cramp the final crossing? Is sheer exhaustion a good enough reason? Or is working through exhaustion the whole point? Is over-staying your welcome rude and selfish? At what point does one begin lingering for no real reason; unnecessarily consuming irreplaceable resources?

    2. Men. Regardless of your gender, does anyone feel a spiritual imbalance regarding how we nurture and develop our masculinity? I find myself staring into a deep chasm when reflecting on this subject. It’s unnerving and seems to represent a deep, aching, unmet social need. I’d be interested in hearing whether others see/feel this phenomenon or if it’s just me. If you do, please describe?

  84. Hi JMG, and others.
    I need some advice here since I’m a complete newbie when it comes to spirits and such entities. Feeling silly about this so be gentle please.

    The background is that we have a child that’s been very ill and undergone serious surgery for spinal cancer four times in his life (last November was the latest). This is of course very hard on his health and mood in general, but he is a remarkable person and seem to not only accept things as they are (he got pretty disabled the third time and now the latest time this might have improved slightly) and even is he is sad and even depressed from time to time in general he seems to be well. On the physical side of things however things are more strange… and even if he in general is improving his physical status, he often gets sick with something I really can’t explain what it is. There are (often at least) no physical symptoms, but he shows all signs of being ill. He is pale bordering on white, his energy is so low that he can’t sometimes even walk across the house to eat and his belly hurts. These sessions seem to last around three weeks at the time, and then he often gets better for up to the same amount of time.

    As a christian I have been praying together with him. As a father I have been trying to make the food good (both nutrients and taste) and also working with him with physical exercises (which we do fairly often). However the patterns seems to remain. However, roughly a week ago I came to the larvae-section in the Monster book, and it struck me as fitting the description rather well. He has been hospitalized during rather long periods. He has been seriously ill during longer periods, well you understand what I’m getting at…

    My questions are these:
    Is there any way of proving if he has attracted larvae, or something else? I have not noticed anything strange at all around him. Yes one thing perhaps, he is always talking a lot in his sleep.

    How do I get rid of larvae?
    I have put a bowl of vinegar in his bedroom during night two nights in a row during last week, and now two nights this week. I have also been using a steel knife around him (when he was asleep mind you) to try and scare them off (yes I’m desperate here and will try anything). Should I keep the vinegar for longer periods or is there anything else more effective I should do?

    Ah yes, I have some more things to tell you regarding where we live and the effects of the treatment mentioned above. First of all, his complexion was improved as soon as the first round of iron and vinegar (the second morning after he looked and felt better, but not the first). He almost stopped talking in his sleep… very weird. However, he gave me a complete scare a couple of nights ago when he all of a sudden started talking in his sleep with a very low and almost “scratching” voice. He said a sentence or two and then stopped (this is what he usually does, but not with that voice). The vinegar treatment was repeated again after that incident… and is still ongoing.

    Also in the house we’ve had two strange things happening. During night I woke up because of some sound and suddenly hear an old woman talking in the living room. It sounded like she was talking a dinner party or similar and I thought I was dreaming since my wife was clearly in bed beside me. However, when I told the family of my strange dream my youngest kid told me that he also heard her, but had assumed mum was up and talking.
    The other strange thing was almost ten years ago we had a mirror that more or less was pulled off the wall where we were sleeping (in the basement due to ongoing renovations) and came crashing down in the middle of the night. When I examined the mirror I noticed that it was hanging on two fairly thick leather strings of approx 5 mm thickness each, and both of them was very neatly “cut”.

    Well that’s about it, any advice welcome!

  85. May I ask a late question, prompted by last week’s post?

    I’d love to read more about Thomas Taylor. He’s often mentioned in books about William Blake, and I’ve read a number of his translations. Is there a biography, or something else that describes his life, personal beliefs, and practices?

    Thanks!

  86. JMG,

    To say that you seem like a busy guy might, in fact, be an understatement. And yet it appears that you also manage to make the time to read and digest books at quite an impressive pace. Granted I presume it’s something you enjoy doing; still, I’m just curious as to whether you apply any special approaches to your reading time– speed reading, or the like?

  87. Hi John Michael,

    A super cell storm just hit here. Far out, I love a good storm and there was lots of lightning, thunder and heavy rainfall, but the downside was that I ended up getting very wet looking after the various drains and water systems. My wife and I had a big pow wow post mortem afterwards, and agreed on a few major changes to the main drainage. Big storms seem to be getting bigger and more frequent and systems are not keeping up with the storms…

    How is your winter going so far? Glad to hear that the massive winter storm which looked a bit like a hurricane to me, didn’t affect you overly.

    Anyway, I was going to ask about your opinion of the insurance business. I mean how many body blows can that thing take? Insurance is always on my mind because of the bushfire risk. There was an article about the situation from last year: 2017 was a disaster year for global insurers, with record weather-related costs.

    My gut feeling says eventually it will be toast, but other opinions may vary!

    Cheers

    Chris

  88. JMG,

    Thank you for the book suggestion!

    With regards to the potluck, I missed the offer to host, and I would like to apologize for that. I look forward to seeing those who attend it then and there!

    As for the Druid order, I’m not working with very much myself. There’s not too much I can say about it yet. I fully intend to fill out more once I have more.

    Finally, today, I am starting an overhaul of my life in pursuit of green wizard pursuits. First, I’m planning to get in the habit of making most-all my meals myself; second, I plan to get in shape (mixture of more walking, martial arts training, and foregoing elevators. That last one may prove rather annoying since I live on the 19th floor.); and third, I plan to reduce my mindless internet consumption, which will free up time for new hobbies (not sure what they are yet).

    Janet,

    Is this the article: http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2017/03/28/the-peak-oil-estimate-you-wont-believe-a-tale-of-two-sigmoids/ ?

    If so, immediate counterarguments I thought of were the following: the model he critiques is a very oversimplified one, so of course it’s not going to be a perfect fit. Second, the argument the laws of economics trump those of physics is a subtext in there. I find that a very, very, dubious claim.

    Finally, if you want to claim oil is a renewable resource, go ahead. But provide a better source than an article with this as a direct quote: “So, as an olive branch to Abiogenic Oil aficionados, I will unequivocally state that their favored hypothesis is not impossible.”

  89. JMG, do you believe in the concept of True Will, and, if so, do you know of any less intensive way of discovering it than doing the magic od the Golden Dawn?

  90. John Michel, I have some questions. Firstly, since astrology has to do with the movements of the planets across the ecliptic, and since the movements of the planets can be calculated for quite far in the future, it would presumably be possible to calculate, for example, an ingress chart for Washington in the year 2065 (assuming that the United States still exist then), or some such thing, so that astrological influences on the politics and society in that far future come to light. Is this correct?

    Secondly, Oswald Spengler described that every high culture has an unique way of dealing with space and time and assigned to several of them symbolic representations of these ways of seeing the world, for example to western civilization (the Faustian culture) the expansion into infinite space, and to the antique culture (the Apollinian culture) the concrete, separate body as a symbol. Am I right to assume that not every high culture can be easily assigned to such a symbol with a straightforward name or description in current Western languages? There comes to mind, for example, the Inka culture, or the M;exican culture, which Oswald Spengler did mention only in passing.

    And thirdly, I have an inkling that one’s personality is influenced in not unimportant ways by the type of thing you do in your free time: it seems to matter if it is a technical preoccupation like working woth computers or an artistic preoccupation where one deals with papers, pigments dyes, inks and the like. Am I correct in this?

    Thanks!

  91. @jim

    Re: Moore’s Law

    The computer industry quietly abandoned Moore’s Law for individual processors a few years ago. We’re at the point in component size and density that heat, electro-magnetics and quantum effects begin to really bite. So we can’t get any smaller without a re-think in the underlying technology. Instead, the big push has been towards parallelism. If we can’t get better processors, let’s just use more of them. That works in some areas and not so well in others. A lot of the AI stuff that I commented on a couple of weeks ago is a big user of parallel processing, which is why its making big strides at the moment. A lot of rules can be processed very quickly in a parallel world.

    Quantum and Optical computing are the buzz words du jour. Both the US and the Chinese are making some progress here, but, as JMG alludes, as soon as you see buzz words making the rounds in the public space, expect rip offs and attempts to get lots of public funding for broken technology and pipe dreams. Some of it may do some good, but most will be wasted similar to solar power dreams a few years ago, or fusion power at any point over the last 50 years.

  92. JMG, I recently read a very interesting article on the Automatic Earth (but by another writer, “Dr. D” whoever that is), on what Donald Trump and certain elements of his administration might be attempting to do in regards to US financial and world political situations. The author is apparently writing in response to the many people who think Trump is stupid or a bumbling idiot. His idea of what they are attempting is in many respects along the lines of your thinking, although it seems to me quite (overly?) optimistic as well. If you take a look at it, I’d be interested to hear what you think. It is titled “A Modest Plan” and can be found here:
    https://www.theautomaticearth.com/2018/01/a-modest-plan/

  93. @Christopher Henningsen

    Just to add to some of the replies that you have already had. Remember that growing/zero growth/declining economies are defined as such by the aggregated performance of economic endeavours within the system. That is, even in a declining economy there will be economic endeavours that make money, they are just more failures than successes. In a zero growth economy as in any economy, investors are going to want to see a rate of return commensurate with the risk to investment compared to the risk of placing it elsewhere or just sticking it under the mattress. In other words, at a minimum you need to convince them that their risk of loss if covered by the potential gain. Plus, if possible, you want to be able to show that you will provide more potential gain, with less potential risk, than other investment opportunities in the area.

    Remember: In a risky economy (crash/recession//depression/etc), most investors are more interested in “return OF capital” than “return ON capital”. Even just proving that you would lose less than the other alternatives may be enough. Especially if you can provide them with some kind of additional bonus, e.g. priority option on purchasing some of the land you’ve cleaned up.

  94. For those interested in the whole dialogue around Trump/Dems/who wins in the next elections:

    The Intercept has done a good piece on how the Dems are doubling down on the tactics that lost them the election last time https://theintercept.com/2018/01/23/dccc-democratic-primaries-congress-progressives/

    Secondly, I would recommend taking time to follow @ScottAdamsSays on Twitter. He regular periscopes on why and how Trump is effective. Unfortunately, too many people take that to mean he supports him, which Scott finds amusing and therefore makes him crank peoples’ handles. Note: Scott, in addition to drawing Dilbert, is a trained hypnotist and has used and increased that training to help him spot how people use persuasion in dialogue, debate and politics. Even in the hotbed of Clinton supporting California in 2016, he predicted a Trump win based purely on how Trump was interacting with and influencing people.

  95. I think this is my first comment on the rebooted blog.

    I would like to add a belated speculation for a black swan event in 2018 being a disruption to food security including in a number of ‘First World’ nations.

    This could arrive as a consequence of the ‘storm Odin’ described in another post which is part of a disruption to the climate equilibrium that means some areas are much cooler, stormier and wetter than usual during summer 2018, and others hotter and drier. This forms a perfect storm with one or more plant diseases spreading that threaten agriculture and the ecosystem. Speculation is rife that a new mould variety affecting tomatoes among other fruit and vegetable crops originated in a genetic engineering lab somewhere, whether than be in China, Russia, North Korea or in an elite conspiracy from within the ‘West’ but nothing is proven at this stage.

    India is among the first countries to suffer, as widespread fatalities result from extreme heatwaves along the shores of the Indian Ocean creating a ‘wet bulb’ temperature that is unsurvivable for human beings. Meanwhile key agricultural regions suffer from crop disease, drought and/or flood leading to unaffordable prices and shortages of a number of foodstuffs. Economic confidence is lost and widespread civil unrest ensues.

    Extreme heat and drought in Spain and Morocco cause the price of cherry tomatoes to replace cryptocurrencies as a vehicle for financial speculations in Europe. A major food processing conglomerate goes bust as a result of the sudden increase in price and insecurity of supply of inputs. People who previously relied on supermarket ready meals find them unaffordable or unavailable entirely, and previously cheap and common foodstuffs become expensive and often hard to find.
    As well as malnutrition becoming more common throughout the poorer parts of the European population than any time since the 1940s, basic economic assumptions are shaken, like if you have money you can buy stuff since everything is substitutable and the market is omnipotent and benevolent, and with this a collapse of trust.
    Whether this leads to a reversion to local systems of production and consumption (which would take some time and resources to establish) or a revival of old-fashioned state socialism across the continent is something for 2019 and beyond.

  96. So many little things going on. Please forgive the long and scatterbrained post.

    Isabel: I really love the Precious Moments joke! Along the same lines, may I suggest this article: http://babylonbee.com/news/precious-moments-releases-limited-edition-figurines-depicting-violent-conquest-canaan/

    JMG:

    What’s your opinion of palmistry? As a Christian who struggles with materialistic atheism, it’s not something I’d ever given much thought. A friend dabbled many years ago, and I recently realized that what he saw in mine has come way, WAY more true than I would have liked.

    There is a quote, something to the effect of “the greatest economist is the man who plucks an apple from a tree and puts it directly in his mouth.” I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to place it. It may have originated with G.K. Chesterton, and may been referenced here, on TADR, in one of your books, or somewhere totally different. My Google-fu has been insufficient. Can you place it?

    I lent a family member my copy of Twilight’s Last Gleaming, and it got lost. I think I will now order two copies: one to replace mine, and another to put in the local take-a-book/leave-a-book neighborhood library. Maybe it’ll wake someone up. Do you have a preferred vendor (Amazon, Karnac, other)?

    I have decided to finally do the homework you assigned in your series on reclaiming education on TADR. For a work of fiction written before 1900, I chose Black Beauty: the Autobiography of a Horse. What struck me as the biggest difference in perspective of then vs. now was the degree to which hierarchy, and knowing one’s place in it, was valued. A modern critic might argue that the way (sapient) horses were portrayed as happy to accept their lot of working, so long as they were treated well, was just so much justification by, of, and for the power structure. My own experience suggests otherwise: the happiest dogs I have ever met were those doing the work for which their breeds were bred, namely police K9s and herding dogs that actually herd livestock. There is a point at which several boys are chastised for thinking that a horse could be run all day without rest, like a steam locomotive. On my one ride, I had a mirror-image of that problem: it was difficult for me to get used to the idea that this “vehicle” did not need my careful steering to avoid colliding with stationary objects. A horse has less endurance than a locomotive and is much smarter than a car!

  97. Hi JMG,

    The beginning of the new semester has gotten me thinking about ways to sneak Saturn-Jupiter conjunction cycles into my teaching a bit more robustly (I’m responsible for the last 1,600 years), especially given that we’re fast approaching a major historical inflection point with the full transition from earth to air triplicity conjunctions in December 2020. The last time around, of course, we got the Mongol Empire, which transformed the Afro-Eurasian ecumene by jumpstarting globalization, politically, intellectually, economically, religiously, aesthetically, etc. As a specialist in the post-Mongol Persianate world, I’m more concerned with the transition to the water triplicity, which coincided with the Timurid Renaissance (and that other Renaissance a bit to the west). And water triplicities are good for birthing (what eventually become) new major religions, Christianity and Islam being classic Western examples. (I always tell my students North America’s definitely getting some hegemonic form of Mormon-Muslim neo-shamanism say three centuries hence.)

    What’s your sense of what the next two hundred years of air-sign conjunctions might look like? Aquarius in particular in 2020 gives both internet and Big Brother, sure, but the panopticon is dependent on a functioning industrialized and nationalized society for its existence, so presumably won’t make it through the end of this century. And I know we both anticipate an occultist boom going forward, as earth-ruled materialism/physicalism in the (pseudo)sciences gives way once again to actual open-minded and open-ended scientific-spiritual experimentalism. But do you expect a noticeable uptick in Uranian influence in particular during the next two centuries, for good or ill (or weird)? (As someone with a Sun-Mars-Mercury conjunction in Aquarius in house one square midheaven Uranus in Scorpio, I hope so!) Anything else to look forward to?

    And more immediately, am I right in assuming the next three years of Saturn in Capricorn should make for a nice bracing winter of our discontent, especially economically and politically?

    Thanks much,
    Matt

  98. Hello JMG

    On the Magic Monday, you mentioned the that current buildup of energy on the lower astral is unparalleled since Atlantis, and you said that when it happened during Atlantis it was because that civilisation that had become lethally detached from nature. Does anybody know how they managed that? I’d have thought you’d need fossil fuels to go as far off the rails as we have!

    SMJ

  99. JMG,

    Thanks for your response. Yes, we do what we can to distance ourselves from others who cause that kind of strife. That was actually one of the reasons we chose to homeschool our kids, which has been a huge blessing.

    With my question what I am getting at is the tension between being in community with others–who will inevitably do and say bizarre, crazy, or destructive things–and being in isolation. There is probably an ideal grey area in which we lead private lives distanced from others and also spend time in the public realm.

    Being a valuable member of the community is important, but that comes with the need to deal with some religious ideas that I definitely do not share. I suspect other readers here have to confront all sorts of wacky things done in the name of Jesus. Rejecting the ideology and dogmatism without resorting to angry denunciation is sometimes a difficult task!

  100. Spicehammer,

    It seems to me that when questioning how well Trump is handling our declining status as empire, we have to question how well any other candidates might have handled it. (Ahem). It’s true that Make America Great Again is a distraction for the plebes, but I don’r think people, including Europeans or Australians, are ready for the truth. Of course, strong leadership could get them ready…but again, you have to realize that the president is very much hemmed in by the deep state and media.

    It astonishes me the extent to which the people of the world have gotten into an unhealthy obsession with politics, and how much non Americans pay attention to Trump. It’s really over the top. And I have to say that my impression from Europeans and from having a daughter who lives there and having visited last spring, is that the propaganda over there regarding American politics is worse even than here. And the reason for that is not that it is significantly different than the constant propaganda that our own media has become, but that it is relatively unopposed. And since it is propaganda, very difficult to make any real sense of. I am not saying, by the way, that anti Trump news is the sum of the propaganda. I’m saying that most of the news most of the time in the western world (and I don’t know about east and 3rd world) has been propaganda for some time.

    I still find it astonishing that people who I think ought to know better (baby boomer hippies) are not impressed with the way that all hands on deck were against Trump to an unprecedented degree. If you have any cynicism at all, any suspicions at all that the populace is often fed pablum, you would find this remarkable and meaningful. I mean famous republicans openly endorsing Hillary because Trump is so awful…and after these boomers saying for 20 or 40 years that the big boys and corporations pay off the candidates for all sides…yeah, they vote democrat but they also know that there is a lot of rigging in the game of who gets to run in the first place. They know the dems and repubs were all bought and paid for. Yet never before such open panic as over Trump.

  101. I have question that floats about in my head endlessly without ever finding purchase on anything resembling firm ground. Why do rituals work? Specifically, why are the details of rituals necessary? Maybe they aren’t and I just imagine they are, that’s the response I get from atheists and materialists but it doesn’t satisfy me. In my own religious practice, I discovered that there are no shortcuts. Following the seemingly inane details of the ritual makes the experience worthwhile even useful. Leave out the smallest detail and, alas, the whole thing devolves into a bunch of movements and mutterings in a language I don’t even really speak. Is there some structure of the planes or some theory that would explain why rituals work? I am often told that I will eventually understand or that there is no understanding it and we should just follow the ritual because it is effective. OK, but not very satisfying on an intellectual level.

  102. Apropos of whatever, here is what is intended to be a selling point for an upcoming conference for at which I work:

    “By 2100, our destiny is to become like the gods we once worshiped and feared. Our tools will not be magic wands and potions but the science of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and most of all, the quantum theory.”
    – Dr. Michio Kaku

    Does he believe that? Or is he just keeping his paychecks coming? Both?

  103. Aron, thank you. I hope you’ll bring your guitar to the potluck!

    Janet, thanks for this. His logic depends entirely on the belief that the world is flat, and therefore can somehow contain an infinite amount of oil. It also neatly avoids talking about the way that “petroleum” has been steadily redefined to include more and more flammable liquids, without taking into account the amount of energy that has to be consumed in order to produce liquid fuels. He’s entirely correct that the simpleminded “peak and then crash” models of peak oil turned out to be wrong, but that doesn’t mean an equally simpleminded sigmoid curve is correct…

    Steve, why, I’d interpret that by looking it up in a good book on astrology, of course! 😉 As for the thunder god, you’ll have an easier time finding him under the old Celtic name Taranis. here’s a brief introduction from the OBOD site.

    Violet, I write for a living, and one of the consequences of that is that I learned earlier than many that writers are extremely bad judges of their own work. What seems fresh and bright and inspiring to me, as often as not, doesn’t communicate that to its readers, and what seems like plodding to me can strike readers as fresh and bright and inspiring! The feeling of inspiration is one of the delights of the writer’s craft, but it can also become a tyrant; an important part of learning to become a successful writer is learning to plod to good effect. So I’d encourage you to work on plodding. Remember that it’s sure death to edit, or even to judge, while you’re writing; just keep on writing, remembering that you can always go back and revise — and always revise. (I’m not a fan of computers generally, but starting to use a word processor made the difference between my unpublished period and my first publications, because it made repeated revising so much easier.) So I’d encourage you to experiment with plodding, and see if you can learn to work with it.

  104. Do you think the tariffs Trump is placing on solar panels will have a significant impact on the number of solar panels manufactured in the US?

    No matter what the outcome it seems like he knows how to talk to his base. I have heard you say recently that he knows how to give his supporters the pork they want and this will likely get him re-elected. Given the continued response of many on the left to everything he does I agree, especially if the dems can’t get a candidate with a pulse.

  105. @David, by the lake,

    I have wondered why so many resort to exclaim ‘GROSS’ with so many natural processes, and may partly be an English-speaking world pre-occupation. Concrete, manicured grass, drywall are what they live in, with no little tolerance for anything left to be ‘gross’ or grow wild, except for those that don’t clean up after their dogs while on a walk. (But that’s why you take your dog for a walk, to let it mess up someone else’s yard, right?)

    I grew up on a farm, left for college 20+ years ago, and live in suburbs. The sterility of this environment didn’t bother me at first, but over time it has. I look at people that are born and raised in the ‘burbs and marvel at how shallow their experiences are, and how powerful the experiences of such a sterile environment shape them.

    I’ve tried to come up with a way to succintly describe ‘those people’ with their other personality traits. It seems to be a mixture of sense of superiority (which in exists to actually cover a sense of inferiority) with ignorance, but somehow I think there is more to it. Dogmatic insistence on having the world a certain way? Perhaps it is just part of the ‘myth of progress’, that we live so removed from the natural world, and then strive to do so, ignoring that we’re part ‘gross’ things? I don’t know.

  106. @Oilman: I want to say Liaden is Sharon Shinn, but could be wrong.

    @NoHype: Female, but my take on it: twentieth- and twenty-first-century masculinity is really messed up by a couple concepts: the notion that the only acceptable emotions to show or even admit to having are anger and lust*; the related idea that asking for help or saying you have a problem is shameful; and the emphasis on acquiring status and power by means of career, sex partners, and so on. It’s a problem for men themselves and one for those around them. For instance, I know of at least two men (one a friend’s ex, one an older relative) who became emotionally abusive in part because they wouldn’t seek any kind of help or counseling for grief following the loss of a close family member.

    @Anthony: Ha! Thank you–and those are great.

    In re: horses, I also vividly remember a scene in Holiday Inn where a car (1940sish model) drives into a deepish mud puddle and breaks down, and the old man driving it says that this never was a problem with a horse…

    *Not that I’m a big fan of open emo-itude, but my secondhand experience is that a number of people who buy into the “emotions aren’t manly” concept then end up exploding in some form later. Much better to be able to say “Wow, this is upsetting,” or “I feel really disappointed right now,” or whatnot.

  107. A meta-suggestion: Can you enable threaded comments and answer one post at the time? Reading the comments section, as least for me, is mostly an exercise in going up and down to read people’s comments and your answer. Given the high quality of most content and sheer quantity, it really becomes burdensome as mostly everything deserves to be read.

  108. JMG, last Magic Monday on Dreamwidth, you had an interesting conversation with Wayne on the planetary spirit Sorath and the question of its demonic nature. Since this is something I have been puzzled by as well, let me contribute some additional information and some additional questions.

    In Rudolf Steiner’s cosmology, the sun demon Sorat (without h) is considered a devilish entity in the same league as Lucifer and Ahriman; it is equated with the apocalyptic beast 666 and the anti-Christ, while Christ himself is considered the positive spirit of the Sun, and Nakhiel the relevant planetary intelligence.*

    I understand that you are in keeping with traditional lore (and with a goodly number of other operative mages as well) when you consider Sorat/h more of a blind force that is potentially helpful if under intelligent guidance. It is probably Steiner’s refashioning of the sun spirit into a Christ vs. Sorat/anti-Christ duality that is responsible for much of the confusion about this subject, and for some of the reluctance to work with a spirit that may turn out to be evil disincarnate, so to speak.

    This leads me to two closely related questions: Is there anything in your experience of working with the spirit of the sun that suggests Steiner may have been on to something? And if not so, might Steiner’s Sorat simply be a different, but real, entity erroneously conflated with the traditional spirit of the sun? Your perspective on all of this would be much appreciated.

    * A really terrible automatic translation of an otherwise well-informed Anthroposophical website on the subject is available at http://anthrowiki.at/Sorat by clicking on “Google Translate” in the top left hand column.

  109. Zendexor, let’s assume for a moment that the trick of nuclear fusion is discovered.

    That will not solve our problem.

    You can’t convert work into energy at a 100% rate. Some of it is lost as waste heat.

    If you try to keep energy consumption growing, so would grow the waste heat, until the oceans would boil and the Earth melt. No matter the energy source, this always would be a problem.

    I’m actually worried that they can succeed, because infinite growth is impossible, but with fusion power available, it would be tried. If you think ecosystem damage is bad now, I don’t even want to imagine how bad it would get with fusion — possibly something like only our domesticated living beings and microorganisms surviving.

  110. Onething, here in Germany at least, there is among the liberals an obsession with Donald Trump and what he does that is totally out of proportion with his real position in the United States. Indeed, Western Europe has wholly swallowed the imperial propaganda which you mention. By the way, for those who are interested in Eastern Asian affairs, it seems to be the same in South Korea, where current geopolitical arrangements are thought of as permanent and nobody in South Korea seems to see that the United States are in decline and that this will lead to important changes in the power balance of the Korean Peninsula and surroundings (like, for example, the possibility of the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea due to cost reasons).

  111. JMG, and @Janet, “And it is why biofuels and PV solar and wind turbines, with lower EROIs and far lower densities, cannot sustain existing developed nations at their current energy-intensitive standard of living without support from fossil fuels and nuclear power.”

    An unexpected admission from Mr. Rapier!

  112. Hello JMG, I have had this question running through my mind for a few months now. Is there any productive or beneficial reasons for being officially diagnosed with Ausperger Syndrome as an adult? For the record, I don’t generally like labels, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with me. I do believe I may have slipped under the radar as a child for several reasons, reasons that overlap with why I wasn’t diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos until about 18 months ago. I’m 37 now. I just haven’t been able to make up my mind and you are the only adult auspie I know of. Any insight would be appreciated.

    I would love to join everyone for the potluck, but that’s a long trip from Texas. I will keep it in mind. I have a number of wonderful reasons to visit that area. Until then, I plan on making a concerted effort to be more vocal here instead of only reading.

  113. I’m looking to better understanding of some of the basic forces that western occultism works with, namely the elements and the planets. What would be a good place to start?

  114. Hi all,

    Since last month, I have read a truly fascinating article — My fellow nerds may want to look it up. Here’s the citation;

    Boeyens J.C.A., Comba P. (2013) Chemistry by Number Theory. In: Boeyens J., Comba P. (eds) Electronic Structure and Number Theory. Structure and Bonding, vol 148. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg pp. 1-24

    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-31977-8_1 
    Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 
    Print ISBN: 978-3-642-31976-1
    Online ISBN978-3-642-31977-8

    Starting with the link between Chemistry and Number Theory, the authors describe ways to precisely predict the movement of planets, and the higher orbitals of electrons using the Golden (Fibonacci) Ratio.
    Implications for Astrology perhaps?

    They tell us that the interactions of molecules in chemistry can only be explained if the 3-D chemicals we know in our universe are really only projections, like 3-D shadows, of actual chemicals having more than 3 dimensions.
    Does this sort of sound like a description of a universe with more than one interacting level to anyone else, Hmm?

    They also say that numbers have an intrinsic reality, like cars or trucks.

    I was gob-smacked after reading it– So much so that I dashed off a story to play with the concepts, which you can find here;

    http://jackmanassas.blogspot.ca/search?q=projections

    There is a lot of support in the scientific literature for the things we talk about here. Has anyone else read this article? If so, what did you think?

  115. @Bobo the Dork Boy

    (fabulous handle, BTW!)

    “By 2100, our destiny is to become like the gods we once worshiped and feared. Our tools will not be magic wands and potions but the science of computers, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and most of all, the quantum theory.”
    – Dr. Michio Kaku

    Does he believe that? Or is he just keeping his paychecks coming? Both?

    —-

    He’d probably be unable to tell you himself, but I’m guessing both. It reminds me of Stewart Brand’s blurb in his own Whole Earth Catalog back in the 60’s when he quipped:

    “We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.”

    After a useful start in facilitating access to appropriate technologies, SB went on to pure, unadulterated, flaming mega-grandiose-techno-cornucopianism. To the point that it became rather sickening. Even had a falling-out with quite a few folks, including his friend Wendell Berry, and my humble self.

  116. Hi Mr. Greer,

    Newbie here, so bear with me if my questions have been asked by others before!

    Any recommendations for sources to learn alchemy? One of my herbal teachers (and any recommendations on learning to combine herbal medicine and magic would be cool too!) told me that Robert Bartlett was THE man for alchemy, but I just don’t know if I can take someone seriously when they make a point of capitalizing it as Real Alchemy.

    What do you think is the best energy work system for newbies? My first foray into energy work was with Robert Bruce’s NEW system (which reminds me of that ball exercise, which I think I read about in one of your books?), but some people say that this method encourages ‘sensory hallucinations’ rather than actual results. I’ve also heard that some of his suggestions about astral stuff is dangerous, and after reading his energy book, it doesn’t seem as good as the free articles were. I still really like the free articles, but I wasn’t sure if there were any better systems.

    Any tips for how to go through the Druid Magic Handbook? I’ve been trying to work through it for a couple years now, and am struggling with both the discursive meditation and how to sense if what I’m doing is working.

    Thanks for making resources like this post available to people! I love your books, and am repeatedly amazed by all your work.

  117. Jason – For your purposes I think the book The Inner Sky, which was recommended to me by an astrology aficionado and is very readable, would be very helpful.

    @JMG: “[I]n a zero-growth economy every investment on average breaks even, so the natural rate of profit is zero; in a negative-growth economy, every investment on average loses money, so there is no natural rate of profit — only a natural rate of loss.”

    On the optimistic side, as an economy shrinks, more money will be pulled out of (or vanish from) the market and progressively fewer new investments will be made, so if those investments are made very carefully (i.e., tailored to new circumstances) they might have a much higher chance of profitability than the overall value of the market would lead you to expect. Of course this is viewing it in terms of a monetary economy, which may or may not survive. Maybe Chris would find it useful to think a little about things at the really micro-economic level. At a subsistence level most “investments” are profitable: you invest 1000 calories worth of physical effort and produce >1000 calories of food or something that can be traded for >1000 calories … otherwise you starve, so if you aren’t starving, you are getting more out than you put in, and you live off that. So instead of saying “where can I put my money so that it will make enough money to buy groceries?” you can say “where can I add value so that the produced goods or services will suffice to get others to buy my groceries?”

  118. I ran across this article today: https://motherboard.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/bjye8a/reddit-fake-porn-app-daisy-ridley? (I apologize that the title of this article violates your proscription on profanity.) The point of me sharing it with you here is not to be salacious, but to raise the concern voiced towards the end of the article:

    “An incredibly easy-to-use application for DIY fake videos—of sex and revenge porn, but also political speeches and whatever else you want—that moves and improves at this pace could have society-changing impacts in the ways we consume media. The combination of powerful, open-source neural network research, our rapidly eroding ability to discern truth from fake news, and the way we spread news through social media has set us up for serious consequences.”

    This technology is apparently improving very quickly and is already accessible to the average computer geek, at least. What are the societal implications if almost anything can be fairly convincingly faked with relative ease? I have read somewhere that the reason that most of modern society works is that we have created systems by which strangers working together, which is naturally a low-trust situation, can rely on cultural norms and various other systems (contracts, laws, governments, various technological systems, etc,) to bridge the trust gap. Cultural norms have been on their way out for some time, and the growth of computing power combined with an over-reliance on networked computer systems seems to be creating a situation in which almost any system, aside from one’s own primary sense organs and what purely analog systems remain, that one uses to validate facts, can be hacked and distorted by somebody halfway around the world with a keyboard.

  119. Zendexor, the reason I discount fusion power as a commercially viable option is economic, not technical. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these days somebody does manage to get a sustained fusion reaction — but look at the price tag of the current generation of experimental fusion reactors. They cost that much because all the cheaper options have already been tried. An energy source that would set you back, say, fifteen thousand pounds a month just to keep the lights burning in your home isn’t going to be able to power industrial civilization, no matter how technically nifty it happens to be! That being the case, I think fusion reactors are a great power source for Old Solar System stories. 😉

    NoHype, suicide doesn’t seem like a constructive option to me, barring you’re in certain relatively rare situations. Any other choice, you’ve got room for second thoughts… As far as masculinity goes, the whole range of gender roles offered to people in our present society, to my mind, would be unusually restrictive and dysfunctional if it was applied to store mannequins, and let’s not even talk about how wretched it is for human beings. We probably need to talk about this in much more detail sometime soon.

    Ola, is it possible for you to move out of the house? That would be far and away the wisest option. If not, the bowl of vinegar should be in the room 24/7 — refill it when it evaporates — and half an onion, peeled and put in a small bowl cut side up, would also be worth putting in the same room; when it discolors (and you may find it gets really dramatically discolored) bury it in the ground, and replace it. The other protective measures included in the chapter on vampires are worth considering; it is possible that your child is being parasitized by a predatory ghost, and that’s a very serious matter. You didn’t mention what variety of Christian you are, but if you belong to one of the churches that uses holy medals, rosaries, etc., something of that sort might also be very helpful.

  120. @MTC: Here is my brief and somewhat oversimplified answer to your important question, “Why do rituals work?” As I see it — no doubt JMG will have his own take on the matter — ritual activity is one of the most important “programming languages” used by the human nervous system. It may even be the oldest and most important “programming language” of them all.

    To elaborate a little: Ritual combines *signs* (what laymen usually call “symbols,” but they are just one type of sign) and *patterns* in physiologically powerful ways. Ritual plays with all our deeper senses — smell, taste, proprioception (awareness of body motion and position), and touch. Ritual subverts the two shallower senses, sight and hearing. These two shallower senses are the least honest of all a human body’s senses, yet — unfortunately — they play an enormous role in creating and reinforcing our conscious (mis)perception of the world around us. Ritual can make the operation of sight and hearing strange and weird by the use of illusion and emotional triggering. In these ways ritual also unbuckles and removes the straight-jacket of our native language (whichever language that may happen to be) that otherwise severely constrains our thoughts and perceptions.

    In some instances, ritual may even make us aware of the non-sensory, comprehensive, *direct perception* of reality that we also have, but completely ignore. “Direct perception” occurs when we perceive the reality (in which we live and move and have our being) entirely apart from any activity whatever of any of our bodily senses, either the five commonly recognized ones or the more obscure ones (like proprioception and the activity of the vomeronasal organ) that physiologists and psychologists investigate. And yes, there is such a thing as direct perception. It is usually a quite fleeting perception, but sometimes it lasts for a considerable length of time.

  121. My spouse and I are planning to have a child soon. Would you recommend any course of action analogous to prenatal vitamins, that might not occur to someone with a strictly materialist perspective? That is to say, is there some small-to-moderate investment of effort that doesn’t risk much but might benefit my (still notional) child over the long term?

  122. Hello Mr Greer,

    Thank you for your continued generous hosting of these open sessions. Could I drill down a little into an answer you gave in the Dreamwidth Magic Monday thread?

    You replied to Garden Housewife on the subject of Fortune cards, saying that:

    “You are doing the answering. Divination is a way you bring to the surface the things you know subconsciously but not consciously. When you shuffle the cards and cut the deck, micromovements of your hands guided by your subconscious mind control which cards are waiting to be dealt out. ”

    Can you say anything about how one’s subconscious mind can “know” where the cards are in a closed deck? That seems incredible to me, though I suppose no more so than any other explanation, if there is an actual coherent answer being provided. And does this subconcious knowledge apply to all forms of divination?

    Many thanks,

    Morfran

  123. Ola, since you are Christian, you might also find it effective to read the opening of the Gospel of John (1:1-5) *aloud* in the house, and in your child”s room, too, on some regular schedule, at least once a day, until the trouble is over. This text, even without any other ritual or words, was regarded as a very powerful means of defense against such things throughout the entire Middle Ages. Use a translation that feels old and powerful, say the Authorized “King James” version if you are Protestant; or, if you are Catholic, the Reims-Douay version in English, or even the Latin Vulgate (if you have a reasonably good idea how Church Latin is read aloud by Catholics). Read it aloud with solemnity and power.

    When Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (later St. Cuthbert) died in 687, a miniature handwritten book (about the height and width of a 3×5″ filing card) with the complete text of the Gospel of John, in Latin, was placed in his coffin, almost certainly to protect his mortal remains from the depredations of such things. That tiny book still survives intact (in its original binding, even), and is now in the British Library. You might even be able to download a scan of it, page by page from that library’s website, and print it out to keep in your house as a form of protection: http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_89000

    There are good wikipedia articles on St. Cuthbert and on his Book.

    I want to underscore what JMG has written, too. I think he has given you excellent advice.

  124. Regarding Skolymus’s comment on priest celibacy (and forgive me in advance if I’m not using the correct terminology here) –

    It’s worth noting that sometimes organizations like churches do things for reasons that have as much or more to do with practical – or what you’d maybe call “secular” – considerations as they do with what I guess you’d call “spiritual” or inherently religious reasons.

    I remember being told by a teacher at some point that a large part of the reason for celibacy in the priesthood had to do with issues of church organizational power and inheritance. People in power (in or out of the church or maybe both, I don’t recall) didn’t want the clergy having kids, because that would potentially lead to church positions (including the papacy itself) following hereditary lines (like monarchies and inherited land-owner titles), and that was viewed as problematic for some pragmatic reason – so that’s why the church created the celibate priesthood. (Sorry if I’m a bit vague on the historical details – this is a memory from long ago. Maybe someone better versed in European church history can chime in with relevant specifics.)

    Anyway, the larger point is that it’s certainly possible that the priesthood was made and has been celibate for the reasons you cited…but sometimes, spiritual (or whatever the correct term is) justification may be super-imposed on decisions made for pragmatic reasons that stem from other, more-worldly concerns. In this case, inherited positions/power in a clergy that was allowed to marry, and by extension, to reproduce legitimate offspring, was seen as a problem by the power structures of the time, celibacy was the proffered solution, but a different reason than the main one was officially given. After all, it’s probably easier to convince people that they should be celibate for spiritual reasons than to say “you can’t marry because the powers that be don’t want to deal with you wanting your kids to inherit your position, or deal with a hereditary papacy.”

    Not being Catholic, I have no opinion on the matter. I’m just offering this up as another perspective, one that was offered to me in some long-ago class in I-forget-what.

  125. Someone asked about reading material on nature spirits and the like, I highly recommend anything on Findhorn. I also came across a book by Marko Pogacnik called Nature Spirits and Elemental Beings which I recommend also.

    With regards to Uranus in Taurus, I can’t help but wonder if disruptions and shocks (Uranus) to the agriculture system (Taurus) will be one unpleasant manifestation. Considering the over reliance on chemical fertilisers to produce food, I think this is surely long overdue. I’m referring here to the global monoculture model for wheat, corn and similar large-scale monoculture produce.

  126. @ All

    Re the narrative of American imperialism

    Before I finally understood the futility of the effort and just stopped commenting on PoliticalWire, I would often get into conversations re our empire. Much push-back on my (repeated) argument that a strategic withdrawal from empire was vitally needed to make our future less harsh than it is already going to be. One conversation partner, in particular, took exception to the notion that the US was an empire in the first place or that it could withdraw from its maintenance of the current world order. (“America’s international obligations” figured significantly in his argument.) Given that he lived in Europe, I suppose I could understand the vehemence of his reaction. In one of our last conversations before I left the platform, I told him that he needed to get used to the idea of a global order without US hegemony, because it was coming one way or another.

    @ Dennis

    Re biophobia

    It was fascinating to observe the reaction. Talking about these kinds of reactions and seeing them first-hand are quite different. I grew up in the ‘burbs myself, but my paternal grandfather had a farm for many years when I was younger — we often spent summers there growing up — and though I live in a small (very small) city now, just past city limits is family farm country.

    I think John’s fundamental thesis re disconnection with nature being a root cause is accurate. People are increasingly growing up without the basic experiences with wet, slimy, wriggly reality, so their reactions when confronted with it are not surprising (conceptually).

  127. JMG,

    What’s your take on the conflict between scholars and Native Americans as to when humanity arrived in North America? I haven’t kept abreast of the latest archaeology, but from what I read lately, it seems that the scholars have settled on “somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand years ago”. Which is a good long while ago, but actual Natives, consulting their people’s stories, mostly seem to prefer “We’ve always been here,” or “We emerged from the Earth here.” Their stance on this is generally pretty unshakable, too, since its origin is a spiritual teaching.

    It occurs to me that if one is in touch with the spirits, or more aware of how their world works than I am, there might be a spiritual way of looking at this question that makes sense of it. It doesn’t make sense to me for humanity to have independently evolved on this continent, much less at the many different places that the different cultures would pinpoint as the origin of humanity, but is there some way that you’ve found of understanding “We emerged from the Earth here” that makes sense of both the spiritual and physical evidence?

  128. @JMG, Ola:

    “You didn’t mention what variety of Christian you are, but if you belong to one of the churches that uses holy medals, rosaries, etc., something of that sort might also be very helpful.”

    For what it is worth, in the Orthodox Church, we have two rituals which help in these situations. One is the house blessing, in which the priest comes to your home, with holy water and a brush or sponge (to scatter the water on every surface in the home). A short prayer service is read, after which the priest goes through every room in the house and sprinkles/scatters holy water on all the walls and other significant surfaces (e.g., beds) in the house. This is quite effective for expelling demons from the home.

    Normally, this is done at least once a year, just after the Feast of the Epiphany (Theophany), but this can be done as often as necessary.

    The second service is the Service of Holy Unction (anointing with oil), which (again) can be done at any time, as often as needed. In our church, we typically have a public Unction service during Great Lent. In my parish, we have a smaller Unction service every Thursday night at the church.

    Whether or not you are Orthodox, you may want to see an Orthodox priest and see if he can or will help. It is worth asking.

  129. JMG and others, have you heard of the book bolo’bolo by the Swiss author P.M.?
    It is a political book describing a template for the establishment of hundreds of interconnected city-states/ micronations all interconnected via a transcontinental railway. It may be interesting for you all.

  130. Isn’t Davos strange with or without Trump?

    Whatever next – I read that IMF’s Lagarde quoted Blake’s “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy,” She apparently wanted to convey a warning and, in the report I read, to describe the ‘complacency’ of those in front of her. Isn’t life getting a bit abstruse?

    The Blake quote is from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where, I understand, Blake is redefining both the H terms. The aphorism is one of a long list: ‘The Proverbs from Hell’. The whole poem might be seen as an edgy attempt at truth(s) where much of commonplace identity is turned on its head. It seems it could be Blake himself who as, quote, “A Mighty Devil… with corroding fires” writes on the rock of the “world of delight closed by your senses five”.

    Well, the lady got me to re-read the poem. I understand from the textual notes (The Complete Poems; ed. Stevenson, text Erdman, 1971) that Blake rejected the perfectibility of human kind (no Utopia either side of the ocean), so maybe Lagarde is onto something.

    However this kind of thing leaves plenty to be misunderstood. Blake wrote another poem which was turned in the 20th Century into an English patriotic song called ‘Jerusalem’. This song is still very popular, especially with the English upper-middle classes, and indeed with Royalty. It has been used as both an alternative National Anthem and, slightly differently, as a hymn on St Georges Day by parts of the Church of England. Of course it cannot be a National Anthem because it leaves out the other countries of the United Kingdom. And other parts of the Church of England have banned it because it is not exactly mainstream theology.

    Such is paradox – Blake was not exactly mainstream about anything. So it goes.

    best
    Phil H

  131. Hello JMG, given the war activities in the middle east and in other parts of the world, and the progress of the long descent, how likely do you think it is that we see a major war that involves the United States and other major powers in the next 5 years ? (as a % , 100% being an absolute certainty )

  132. What are your thoughts on the rising stock market?

    It positively frightens me. It makes absolutely no sense at all.

  133. Matt wrote

    I always tell my students North America’s definitely getting some hegemonic form of Mormon-Muslim neo-shamanism say three centuries hence.

    How did you arrive at that conclusion? I am interested in reading about your reasoning and why you think that is a likely outcome.

    Even though I am not Mormon or Muslim, I have a long standing interest in both religious traditions. I am fascinated by Mormonism as a religious and social phenomenon. I have several friends who are members of the LDS Church and admire the qualities the Mormon Church seeks to inculcate in its members, but I have always found parts of their teachings a little too hard to swallow or I might well have converted by now since there is much about Mormonism that I do consider to be worthy.

    One of my best friends was raised by Mormon relatives after his parents passed away, but he declined to join the church when he came of age because he had done some research on the history and teachings of the LDS Church and found that he couldn’t sincerely embrace that particular religious tradition. Likewise, I have long been fascinated with Islam, particularly the more mystically and spiritually inclined traditions such as the various schools of Shia and Sufi Islam.

    I also have a long standing interest in the history of the Mongols and what Arnold Toynbee called the Iranic (Islamic Persian/Turkish/Central Asian) civilization. As of late, I have been reading a lot by Toynbee (currently about halfway through Volume 8 of A Study of History) to complement my studies of Spengler’s works and he discusses the history of the Iranic world quite a lot throughout the series.

  134. Follow up from last week, forgot to ask. In the author blurb on the back of A World Full of Gods, it says that you are (were?) a member of ADF. Is that a misprint?

  135. For what it’s worth, if there’s any chance of me and my family making it to Providence for potluck, the Jun 23 date is a no-go…

    Let me add my vote to the post-harvest, fall color tally.

  136. Hi Christopher Henningsen,

    Your land remediation plan has much to recommend it. Your expectation that this plan yields a profit, seems a bit far fetched to me. Have you ever wondered at your particular expectation that – land yield you a profit. I’m frankly curious as to why you feel that way and have that relationship expectation with land and would appreciate it if you elaborated a bit more on that theme?

    Thanks

    Chris

  137. Eric, the closest thing to an introduction I know of is Thomas Taylor the Platonist, edited by Kathleen Raine and George Mills Harper, an anthology of his writing published in 1969. A good lively biography of the man would be worth having; maybe one of my readers who lives in Britain (where all the raw materials are) will consider it.

    Quin, I don’t own a television. That really is my only secret — I don’t own a TV, and so I have six hours of free time each day that most Americans don’t have.

    Chris, it did indeed look like a hurricane! Fortunately all we got was a good solid snowstorm with plenty of wind, followed by a cold snap. As for insurance, here in the US it’s doing fairly well by the simple expedient of refusing to pay valid claims. No doubt sooner or later people will get wise to that, and stop paying the premiums, but until that happens taking in money on a promise to pay, and then refusing to pay, seems to be a pretty good gig.

    Will, see you there.

    Rationalist, that depends on what you mean by True Will. From a Schopenhauerian standpoint, Will is what you are, and you can’t discover it, all you can do is be it — and since you can’t do anything else but be it, since it includes everything you are and will ever be and everything you do and don’t do, discovering it would be kind of redundant in the first place. The sort of dumbed-down notion a la Crowley that there’s this thing called your True Will that you can do, or not do, and if you do it everything will be peachy — no, that I don’t believe. The existentialists were much closer to the target when they said that we’re condemned to freedom: we’re born into a world which is by and large indifferent to our existence, and we can respond to it however we want, with the proviso that the one thing we can’t choose to do, not with any success, is evade the consequences of our actions.

    Booklover, first, yes, you can cast an ingress chart for some future time, and provided that the place you’ve chosen is still a national capital, it should be valid. Second, I’d have to leave that to people who’ve taken the time to study each of the great cultures, and can judge how well its prime symbol can be expressed in any given language. Third, why not experiment and find out?

    Lydia, it’s very much overoptimistic, but it’s by no means impossible that rising US interest rates would (a) bring money back to the US, and (b) improve the economic status of the investment class, who have been losing out big time compared to the top end of the salary class. If this scenario is true, watch for several big name CEOs to do perp walks for insider trading or what have you, and CEO pay to drop from insane to merely absurd — that’s a sign that a transfer of power from the salary class to the investment class is in process.

    Gavin, Scott Adams is an odd duck, but he was dead right about Trump, and that’s far from the only thing he’s been dead right about. (Swap out his name for mine, for that matter, and you could say exactly the same thing.) It really does look as though the only people who don’t see just how suicidally stupid the Democratic Party has become is the Democratic Party…

    MawKernewek, welcome back! Something like that’s quite plausible.

    Anthony, palmistry’s a very effective system. I have no talent for it at all, but I’ve seen good palmists tell people they’d never met before things that had happened in their past — “so you had a close family member die when you were seven, and that really affected the rest of your childhood,” that sort of thing — and be dead right. There have been a lot of Christian palmists, by the way; the theory is that God has placed the signs of His will in various places as a source of knowledge and comfort for His people.

    I don’t know the quote. As for the book, please order it from the publisher’s website, which you can get to by clicking through the link on my JMG Fiction page (see the link at the top of this page).

    Matt, you’re in territory that you know very well and I don’t know anything like so well. The theory of great conjunctions, as I recall, was specifically developed in Iranian astrology, and what we’ve got in Western astrology is a very modest number of points cribbed from that source. Saturn in Capricorn, though, is in his dignity, and therefore tends to be a bit more benevolent than usual; the next three years will be a fine time to build things that endure, to pursue practical matters in a disciplined fashion, to accept limits, and to work the soil. Those of us who have good Saturn aspects (the old guy is trine my natal Sun and Mercury) will be particularly well positioned to do stuff — and of course those who practice astrological magic, and have Saturn well dignified in their charts, should be out there consecrating talismans of Saturn for all kinds of purposes, for the next six years or so will be the best time for that for many years to come!

    SMJ, they didn’t do it using material means; they did it using magical means — and so it blew up in their faces even more spectacularly than the same mistake on a lower plane is blowing up in ours.

    (According to the accounts I consider plausible, the ancient civilization we remember as Atlantis really didn’t go in for technology much at all. They didn’t know how to build an arch and had never heard of wheeled vehicles.)

    Samurai_47, the gray area is a good place to be: not in and not out, or (if you will) in, but not of. Christians used to live that way in the Pagan world: in it, but not part of it. It’s about the only effective approach there is, unless a hermitage appeals to you.

    MTC, nobody knows. We have our various theories, sure, but when it comes right down to it, nobody knows.

    Bobo, I’m sure he believes it, the same way — and for all the same reasons — that Harold Camping believed that Jesus was certain to show up in 2012. Remember that faith in progress is a religion, and its faithful believe with all their hearts that progress really will give them their hearts’ desires; to abandon that conviction is to admit that they’ve spent their lives believing in a lie, and that’s a very bitter piece of crow to have to eat.

    Greg, not really. Solar photovoltaic power is a boutique item, not a viable power source outside of certain specialized applications; cut the government subsidies propping up PV and a lot of it will go away in a hurry.

    Tiago, nope. That’s not an option on this platform.

    Dr. Q., no, I don’t think Steiner was on to something there. He had some extremely useful and thoughtful things to say — I find his book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (or whatever the Anthroposophists are calling it these days; it’s been through a lot of title changes) an exceptionally valuable book, worth repeated readings and study — but his reworking of traditional occult lore was idiosyncratic at best, His was the perennial problem of the gifted clairvoyant outside an established tradition: he had to create and/or adapt a language of his own to communicate his insights, and the result is communications problems with anybody who hasn’t learned that specific language.

    Bruno, yep — and since fossil fuels and nuclear power also can’t sustain developed nations at their current energy-intensive standard of living, the inescapable conclusion is that the standard of living in question will not be sustained.

    Aubrey, I found it profoundly valuable, but that was for wholly personal reasons. Growing up in a world that treated me as an embarrassing oddity, and constantly told that of course I could do this or that or the other thing and why was I so stupid at X when I was so obviously bright at Y, I ended up carrying a great deal of misery. When I first read about Aspergers syndrome, I literally started crying right there in the library, because it wasn’t because I wasn’t trying hard enough. There really was something wrong, something that made it difficult or impossible for me to do things that other people did so easily. That removed a very large burden of self-hatred from me, and made it vastly easier to learn to capitalize on the things I do very well, and figure out workarounds for the things my nervous system simply won’t do. Thus it was well worth it for me, but if you didn’t happen to have the kind of lousy childhood I did, you might not find the same thing to be true.

    (Oh, and don’t let the medical profession know. They’ll use it as an excuse to put you on drugs that won’t help, and will have nasty side effects you don’t need.)

    Valenzuela, my book Circles of Power covers those as well as much else.

    E. Goldstein, good heavens. No, I hadn’t heard of that article; thank you.

    Lindah, I’m not a great fan of Bartlett’s work. There are other good introductions to spagyrics, which is the best way into alchemy — the one I like best is Mark Stavish’s The Path of Alchemy, and I’d follow it up with Manfred Junius’ book Spagyrics (aka Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. As for energy work, it really does depend on the personal equation, and on what you want to get out of it — a system that’s primarily focused on healing may not be as well suited to someone who has other interests. I’d say try several things and see which one appeals to you most. As for the Druid Magic Handbook, concentrate on practicing the Sphere of Protection every single day; the rest will follow from that in due time.

    Dewey, of course — by sheer stochastic chance, some investments will make money even in a declining economy — but there’s no “natural” rate of profit in such an economy; you get what you can, and hope to break even.

    Roy, we’re already much of the way to a point at which most people refuse to believe anything that they haven’t seen in person, without any technological mediation getting in the way. This will accelerate that considerably.

  138. Joel, there are various things to do. The most important is to treat your baby as a person from the moment of quickening on — the point at which the mother feels the baby start to move. (This is traditionally when the soul enters the unborn body.) Read stories to it, talk to it, welcome it into your life, express your love for it. That will help the soul that’s come to live with you deal with the inevitable traumas of rebirth and enter wholeheartedly into its new life.

    Morfran, nobody knows. It just reliably seems to work that way.

    Monica, thanks for the suggestions. You could well be right about Uranus in Taurus.

    David, the thing that nobody on the privileged end of the left likes to talk about is that they know perfectly well their status and their standard of living depends on the maintenance of US empire. They’re happy to denounce empire in the abstract, and to criticize it whenever there’s a Republican in the White House, but the suggestion that we really ought to bring the troops home and retreat from empire gets instant pushback. I may be doing a post on that soon.

    Chuck, the scholars are provably wrong. Mitochondrial evidence, as well as a range of archeological sites US scholars don’t want to talk about, shows that humans have been here for at least 25,000 years, and that roughly a quarter of the mitochondrial DNA among Native American populations came not via the Bering Straits but from western Europe, (I discuss these points in my book on Atlantis.) The human history of the Americas is extremely complex, and the attempts by academics to erase that complexity are embarrassing at bet.

    J.L.Mc12, no, I haven’t.

    Phil, I’d like to see someone at Davos start reading aloud from Blake’s Jerusalem

    Tony, I have no idea, and neither does anybody else.

    Mike, it’s rigged. There’s no price discovery going on there at all.

    Shane, “were” is the correct word. As I noted in last week’s post, I joined quite a few years back, found nothing that held my interest, and quit.

    Tripp, so noted. There may be more than one event, since the summer date is very convenient for many.

  139. Tripp – thanks for the pointer to the John Lewis Partnership

    Skolymus re priestly celibacy

    Australia has just wrapped up Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

    https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au

    In the “FINAL REPORT Preface and executive summary”
    https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/final_report_-_preface_and_executive_summary.pdf

    on page 45 there is a table of survivors of abuse who gave testimony in private session, tabulated by religious organization.
    Catholics lead by a large margin: 36.2% of all private session attendees (PSAs), 61.8% of PSAs who were abused in religious institutions.
    Anglican is next, 8.6% and 14.7% respectively.

    So I look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Australia,
    and see Catholics as 22.6% of the population, and Anglicans as 13.3%.

    22.6 / 13.3 is 1.7x more Catholics than Anglicans

    36.2 / 8.6 is 4.2x more Catholics abused than Anglicans. (61.8 / 14.7 is also 4.2x)

    4.2x / 1.7x is 2.5x higher _rate_ of abuse among Catholics than Anglicans.

    Australian Anglicans have ordained women (on a diocesan basis) since 1992,
    and there are dioceses with openly gay and lesbian and transgender clergy, and a few
    that support same sex marriage. (n.b. Australia just had a nationwide postal survey where 61.6% were in favor of same-sex marriage, thence legalized by Parliament).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Marriage_Law_Postal_Survey

    Ummm, Catholics priests, except for converted Anglican priests, have to be celibate….

    The Royal Commission has recommendations to the Anglicans on pg 153 and Catholics pg 154-158. In particular, Recommendations 16.18 and 16.19 deal with making celibacy voluntary and address “… the potential psychological and sexual dysfunction associated with a celibate rule of religious life.”

    Volume 16 book 1 has a 63 page summary of the history of child sex abuse in the Catholic church, Volume 16 book 2 devotes its entire 925 pages to the Catholic church.

    from page 759 of V16b2:
    “Cahill and Wilkinson have noted that figures based on different sets of data from the Center for Applied Research into the Apostolate in Washington DC suggest that the offending rate by permanent deacons in the United States is about 0.3 per cent – about 20 times lower than the offending rate for priests.1153”

    n.b. “permanent” deacons in the Catholic church can be married (before ordination).

    As a survivor of “mere” physical/emotional/mental abuse at the hands of excessively fervent Protestant parents (8 years and counting of therapy over the past 30 years), I can barely fathom being sexually abused IN/BY one’s church, never mind that the only thing that stands in the way of lowering that rate by 2.5x to 20x is changing a dubious doctrine.

  140. Barring a major turnaround, I think the Democrats are setting themselves up for big losses in 2018 and 2020. The Democrats have a lot more vulnerable seats up for election this year than the Republicans, especially in the Senate and the latest polls suggest that many of those Senators are seeing their popularity ratings sink.

    The comic opera farce masquerading as a government shutdown didn’t help. It certainly helped reinforce the perception many people have that the Democrats care more about illegal immigrants and virtue signalling than they do about American citizens who would be hurt by a government shutdown. The so-called shutdown only lasted a couple of days before the Democrats caved in and agreed to a compromise resolution which keeps things spinning along for a few more weeks, which left them looking weak and indecisive. Supposedly, one of the reasons was because Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer looked at the polls and discovered that as unpopular as Trump is right now, Congress, particularly the Congressional Democrats, are even more unpopular and that far more people blamed the Democrats than Trump for the shutdown.

    Since the 1960’s the Democratic Party has turned into the party of wealthy urban liberals, perpetually offended professional activists, aggrieved minorities and the welfare class. In doing so, the Democrats abandoned their traditional role as defenders and advocates for the working class and Middle America. In my estimation, that was their biggest mistake.

    Someone mentioned that they are a fan of Tulsi Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth. So am I. But so long as the Democratic Party remains in thrall to fossilized relics like Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and extremist agitators from the illiberal left continue to exercise an outsized influence on party politics and institutions with close ties to the Democratic Party such as academia and the mainstream media, the Democrats will continue to lurch from one disaster to another.

  141. Mr. Greer,

    Recently my wife gave birth to a son. I am trying to compile a syllabus of useful books for to hone his intellect and imagination. Do you have any title or author suggestions? Further, would you have any suggestions as to how to present them to him without it seeming like a command or chore?

    Thank you.

  142. JMG, thank you for that. Oh, no, my childhood was no cakewalk. If I wasn’t being called witch, I was called weird. I’ve always had trouble making and keeping friends, too . My narcissistic mother only made it worse than it could have been. I cried too when I first read a detailed description of aspergers. As for the medications, I have been on some of the ones suggested. I quit them years ago and I’ll never go back. My health issues led me to studying herbalism and yoga and meditation. It helps a great deal, but sometimes I wish I could hide away in a cave, away from all the noise. I do wonder if my son is an aspie too. He has similar tendencies.

  143. @Onething: Well, I definitely agree that Hillary wouldn’t have done any better during her time in office, but had she won I have a hard time imaging that yet another establishment president would have soured public opinion on more radical outsiders in subsequent elections. Right now, though…I don’t know. Maybe people will still vote for outsiders, and outsiders are definitely needed all over the world, but a lot of people just want a return to Normal Politics and if that means voting establishment en masse they’ll vote establishment en masse.

    Strong leadership is needed for effective coordination during the descent, for sure, but I don’t know that establishment leadership will provide that strength, and I don’t think that the Donald is exactly a shining example of it either. I don’t trust him to even *try* to bring up difficult, evidence-based, nuanced questions and dialogue about climate change and descent, let alone actually make decisions. A political outsider is the only one who will do that, and if the majority of the population loses its taste for political outsiders, that’s probably not great.

    “If you have any cynicism at all, any suspicions at all that the populace is often fed pablum, you would find this remarkable and meaningful.” I think that cynicism, rather than skepticism, is definitely the correct word here. I understand that the majority of the establishment (and a healthy portion of the anti-establishment) is heartily set against Trump, but I don’t think that’s because he’s some kind of Huey Long character. I also think that quite a lot of the establishment and quite a lot of the media actually likes him being in power.

  144. Somehow I was not aware you had even written a book on Atlantis, but I will be reading it shortly!

    I agree that people have been living in the Americas for quite a long time, and one of the related avenues I’ve been pondering has to do with disease. I accept the accounts related in the book 1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, where the Europeans brought waves of epidemics that killed off vast percentages of the population. The Europeans had some level of immunity, at least on a group level, while the native Americans had none.

    It seems to me that this is evidence in support of a very distant populating of the continent followed by a long period of isolation. It would take a long time to build up that immunity in the Europeans, requiring exposures to all of those diseases, likely with accompanying epidemics in the old world populations. If there had been significant contact between the Europeans and the Americans in the centuries preceding 1492, then these same epidemics and similar results would have occurred. Therefore the two populations must have separated at a time far enough in the past to allow for the Europeans to be exposed to these diseases.

    Yet there is so much evidence that ancient civilizations in the Mediterranean region knew, mapped and contacted the Americas. It must have been a very long time ago. I wonder if that might be a way to estimate that time span? I’ve been trying to think of some way that contact might have occurred, but not triggered the epidemics.

  145. As to priestly celibacy, the Eastern Orthodox Church has always permitted, even encouraged married priests, as long as they marry before they are ordained! Bishops are another matter as they are ‘married to their diocese’. They must be either monastic or widowed. And monastic priests, well they were not encouraged in many cases to enter the parish ministry. Solved a few problems over the ages, I think.

  146. Zendexor & JMG,

    Tom Murphy has usefully highlighted the difficulties we’ll face if fusion becomes practical at https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/07/galactic-scale-energy/.

    The way I see it is that humanity kept asking the god(s) for more power, promising we wouldn’t screw up next time. The god(s) kept going along with this, ultimately granting humanity the nearly inconceivable (to former times) energy trapped in fossil fuels. At this point, I think it would be fair for the god(s) to say “Enough!” Or like the fish in the “The Fisherman and His Wife,” “return to your hovel by the shore.”

  147. A few years ago you had mentioned a library project that you wanted to get off the ground. Could you elaborate on that some more?

  148. JMG – a personal comment here. I don’t know what book you found in the library that opened your eyes to your brain wiring being Not Your Fault, but mine was Pretending To Be Normal, which was a woman’s experience that was echo after echo of my own. I found a review of it tucked into a job envelope destined for discarding, when working as a bookkeeper in the University mailroom. I kept it to myself for a long time, having a phobia about being stigmatized mentally. Long story. Then to my total amazement, when my sister and daughter and I were guinea-pigging at the MIND institute in Sacramento – loooong story! – in the intake interview, my sister – to whom I’d said nothing – casually outed me!

    I still don’t talk about it much, not out of shame now, but not to seem trendy nor to step on the toes of those – three of them in my Circle – who are further out on the spectrum than I am. Two of whom have found their tribe in our local science fiction club, may the gods bless fandom.

    Oh – remind me to fill the tip jar again; I think I spaced on it at Yuletide.

  149. Hi, JM. Thanks for your advice last time. I’ve been reading through some of your books and have started the Druid Magic Handbook. I’m around a month in, with consistent daily practice. The only other occult books I had studied are a couple of those of Mouni Sadhu, but I found his Concentration/Meditation exercises beyond my abilities at the time.

    I wanted to ask your advice on a few things. What do you suggest as honorifics for the 4 irish deities Dagda, Lugh, Danu, & Brid? I’m in SoCal – does that dilute the message (as not on Irish soil) so to speak?

    I am relatively new to this path – I come from a part of ireland rich in megalith sites and was brought up read to, or reading the stories of the 4 classic myth cycles. I’m reading some of these now to my toddler and it’s bringing a lot of memories back which is helpful for my mindset and approach, I think.

    Thinking towards my physical health.

    I practiced yoga for many years in the past and had the benefit of an exceptional instructor. I still occasionally use some of the asnas for stretching and have the feeling, based on things I’ve read here in various comments and what have you, that this isn’t ideal with the kind of ritual practice in the book.

    I’m focusing on doing more classical weight training lately and was curious if there was a recommended style of physical work to compliment my practice, and if there were particular energy centers I should focus on/avoid?

    Thank you

  150. Hi JMG, you have repeatedly predicted (in fiction and non-fiction) that during a long decline, Europe will become largely Muslim in the future, at least partly by demographic replacement (invasion and differential fertility). I have thought about examples for a wholesale linguistic, religious, cultural and at least partly demographical replacement. The examples I have found fall mainly into two categories:

    1. Expansion of a dominant language (and limited demographic replacement) during a technological, military, cultural and demographic upswing: Latin throughout Italia, Hispania, Gallia and other provinces during the heyday of the Roman empire; Han Chinese south of the Yangtse at approximately the same time; Arabic throughout North Africa, Syria and Iraq from the 7th to 11th centuries; German in parts of Eastern Europe from the 12th century onwards; Turkish in Anatolia from the battle of Manzikert onwards; English in Wales, Scotland and Ireland; and probably others.

    2. Demographic replacement of a much smaller original population: European settlers in North America after disease had wiped out >90% of native Americans, and in southern South America after near-extinction by war of the natives; European settlers in South Africa, Australia and NZ mainly because of the low population density of the original populations; possibly Neolithic settlers in Europe and elsewhere because of the low population density of the Mesolithic population; according to Florin Curta, Slavic-speaking settlers after the demographic collapse in large parts of the Balkans after 620 CE; possibly others.

    The only example that I have been able to think of where lingustic and cultural replacement (but probably only very limited demographic replacement!) occured during a technological decline is England 500-700 CE. It is very fascinating, not least because it shows the flexible nature of ethnic identification in a Dark Age, as you have eloquently described several times, but it is really only one example. There are many counter-examples, e.g. the persistence of Romance languages and Catholicism throughout Gallia, Hispania and Italia after Germanic and (in some parts) Arabic conquest, the persistence of Han Chinese language in Northern China throughout several nomadic conquests (300-600 CE, 1100-1300 CE, 1600-1900 CE), the persistence of Semitic languages in Mesopotamia throughout Kassite and Persian domination, the persistence of pre-Muslim religion and language in most parts of South Asia after Muslim conquest, and others.

    Could you please explain the reasoning behind that prediction of Muslim dominance in Europe during a coming Dark Age?

  151. Thanks for the help, will try to find a copy.

    On another note: I remember you suggesting somewhere that some of the angels might corrrespond to some of the gods of classical religion. I recently heard someone else suggest the same thing, and I was wondering where I might be able to read more about this theory?

  152. Regarding meetups, considering that people comment on this blog from all over the world (albeit mostly North America), and in light of the industrial and environmental problems this blog also discusses, perhaps regional meetups are a better idea?

  153. Erik, that’s basically my take as well.

    Anonymous, congratulations. I’d encourage you not to worry about a syllabus, though. For your son to develop intellect and imagination, he has to be free to pursue the interests he has, not the interests you want him to have; that’s why, once he can pick his way through picture books, you’ll want to take him to the public library for weekly visits and let him choose from age-appropriate books that appeal to him. By all means read him the stories that you liked when you were very young — reading aloud to very young children is an extremely good habit, and you should take it up as soon as possible if you haven’t already — but if he wants you to read a favorite story to him, don’t say no. As he gets older, you can look at further educational options; the core early on is to make reading and learning a source of delight. Once you’ve done that, your son will develop all the intellect and imagination you could want.

    Aubrey, it runs in families, so that’s quite possible. I certainly understand the attraction of a cave in the hills somewhere!

    Twilight, most of the diseases that caused massive dieoff in the new world were relatively recent arrivals in Europe. Smallpox and measles, for example, arrived in Europe in Roman times, and caused ghastly epidemics when they hit the Roman world. As long as the earlier era of transatlantic contact happened before that, the epidemics wouldn’t have been passed on.

    RPC, yep. Murphy does a wonderful job.

    Nando, there’ll be a post on that in due time.

    Patricia, it wasn’t a book, it was a magazine article. I spent so much time being stigmatized in one way or another during my childhood that I got over being afraid of it, which is why I went public about my Aspergers pretty much as soon as I had a public platform to do so. Based on what I’ve heard from people, that was a helpful move, since there are so few role models of relatively successful Aspies out there!

    Nua Ulaid, I can’t help you at all with the Irish material — I don’t know it at all. (The teachings I’ve studied have a Welsh background.) As far as physical exercise, it depends entirely on you yourself — there is no one right choice, and it may well be that yoga is the right thing for you. I’d encourage you to experiment and see what works best for you.

    Matthias, I’d encourage you to look into the original expansion of Islam across the Middle East during the, ahem, decline of the Roman world. Kind of a large exception to your claim, and I’m not sure how you missed it, as it’s pretty obviously relevant…

    Valenzuela, hmm. I don’t know of a detailed discussion of this. Can anyone else help?

    Grant, thank you for this.

    Justin, I don’t expect people to come from outside the region. If my readers elsewhere want to get together and talk, by all means!

    KL, nothing’s off topic this week, and that was definitely funny.

  154. JMG, I recently re-read your essay “The Twilight of Protest” that touches upon the Deep Green Resistance. While you differ from that movement on the idea that any successful activism must prove it has a viable alternative, hence the need for personal change first, what are your thoughts on the idea of attacking critical fossil-fuel infrastructure by those who are, indeed, living low-impact lifestyles? Do you agree with the moral imperative to stop Industrial Civilisation as quickly as possible given its destruction of life on this planet?

  155. Joel – re babies
    Check into cranial sacral therapy for newborns
    I saw dramatic results when I took a weeklong class and a woman with an infant with a weak suck brought her child in during a break in class. Also recommended it to a friend who was very skeptical, but it cured her firstborn’s colic. One should only deal with those trained and experienced with newborns though.

    JMG – do you have any sense of the history of child abuse? Does it ebb and flow depending on the phases of a civilization’s life? Is it based on the religious/political/… fashion of the times?

    Have you studied psychohistory and/or Lloyd deMause?

    Is there anything like cranial sacral therapy in any of the ancient lore you’ve come across?
    Or bodywork in general in ancient cultures?

  156. sunnnv: I do not deny that priestly child abuse is a problem in Catholicism. I said that

    1. It is incorrect to say that it is “endemic”: this would mean that Catholic priests are abusers more often than not, which is simply false.

    2. I do not believe that removing priestly celibacy is the best way to address it and I gave (in the comments to the previous post) some suggestions which I think that would be better suited to resolve the situation. As I said, it’s not like someone is going to start getting turned on by children because of lack of sexual release; the problem is that some people who are attracted to children are becoming priests and that there is a culture that does not do enough to promote accountability.

    Yeah, the Anglican Church does not apparently have as much of an issue with child abuse as the Catholic Church does (at least in Australia and according to the links you provided, but for the sake discussion I can accept that this is the case generally), and yeah, the Anglican Church does not require priestly celibacy; but these two facts are not necessarily related.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, also had a number serious sexual abuse scandals lately, despite the fact that they do not require their ministers to be celibate. It seems to me that the problem is not celibacy or not celibacy, but rather transparency and accountability; and this is what the Catholic Church needs to address.

    There are plenty of matters concerning which I disagree with the position of the Catholic Church: for instance, I think that the prohibition of female priests is unacceptable and its “but Jesus was male and the priests has to act in Persona Christi” defense is nonsensical and arbitrary (Aquinas wrote instead that women could not be priests because they were intellectually weaker and unsuited to the position – he was completely wrong, of course, but at least the conclusion would follow from the premise).

    But on the matter of chastity, I think that the Catholic Church has it entirely right, and attacks to its requirement for Catholic priests are largely due to the misconception, common in our culture that lifelong lack of sexual release is some sort of horrible destiny that no one could possibly withstand. The community here seems to have an interest in pointing out and criticizing the implicit assumptions of our current culture; I would posit that this is yet another such assumption, one that is quite unwarranted and is actually the cause of plenty of pointless suffering.

    Plenty of religions other than Catholicism or Christianity have roles which involve voluntary lifelong celibacy. The intuition that this can be a valid spiritual choice and that people who make it can fulfill certain roles in the community is a relatively common one, and – I think – entirely valid.

  157. JMG, would I be correct is assuming that even if you are initiating yourself in the golden dawn curriculum you can nonetheless use folk magic at the same time with no ill effects?

  158. My black swan radar screen just got some blips on it reading about a 2-3% decline in the value of the dollar. The whole government shutdown last weekend was another blip.

    In your yearly prediction I believe you discounted an economic crisis. What if that crisis arrives this year but doesn’t cause any problems? The federal reserve has one arrow left in the quiver and that is creating a crypto currency in place of the dollar. Put it another way, Howard Kunstler’s and Chris Martinson’s long awaited black swan lands but a quick/half assed/3AM in the morning, switch to a crypto-dollar forces everyone to convert. The paper dollar/cash is dead because of hyper inflation. The crypto dollar is hailed as the next logical step in the religion of progress…. but what it really is is the true endgame of the US global hegemony.

    I’m also going to put it out there that I think another debt-ceiling related shutdown is highly likely. If the US credit rating is downgraded from AAA, then that would mean the national debt really becomes unaffordable. Trump has talked about doing away with the debt ceiling all together and he’s said several times, “We’ll never go broke because we print the money.” It seems to me if he plays that line of reasoning it would be the last straw in the past 18-48 years of fiscal idiocy.

    I think in this regard we underestimate foreign holders of US bonds. They know the US is going to fight tooth and nail to keep its position. And if they sold their bonds slowly that gives the US time to dig in. If they sold them all at once then that would be like hitting the dollar with a sledge hammer. A rapid simultanious sell of by Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, etc… might be enough to end the dollar’s reign as reserve currency. China’s been pretty passive – I think they’ll start moving soon.

  159. Oh yes, very true: great conjunction theory was invented by Abu Ma’shar on the basis of an eclectic mix of Hellenic, Babylonian, Persian and Indian elements, and quickly became the leading theory in Arabic astrology due to its great political usefulness, and by extension Latin. (Roger Bacon was a big fan.) But precisely that synthesizing virtue became a major stumblingblock for Renaissance neoclassicizing humanists (and only them), who sought to purge astrology of such “alien” accretions and return to the pure Ptolemaic source. (These post-Hellenic accretions also included interrogations, elections, anniversary horoscopes, calculations of the length of life, lots and revolutions of world years.) But they essentially failed, since Ptolemy is just not that useful, except for meteorology and agriculture; even the staunchest anti-Arabists were forced to hypocritically use Abu Ma’sharian astrology due to continued patron demand. They did, however, succeed in permanently tarnishing all things Arabic as somehow “non-Western” — one of the great magic disappearing tricks in Western intellectual history, and of course wildly antihistorical and dishonest. That is to say, yes, conjunction theory was indeed injured or even stripped down to the bone in its later Latin iterations, rendering them a lot less politically and socially useful. Silly humanists…

    But as for Saturn in Capricorn, hmm, delighted to hear. I have Saturn in Virgo sextile my dominant Moon in Cancer, though unfortunately he’s retrograde, so I should probably leave the talisman construction to better aspected folks; but given the decent resonance with my configuration it sounds like I’ll be able to amp up production over the next three years — bodes well for getting the three books I’m currently working on off my plate!

  160. I’ve just spent an interesting morning at the Matrimandir in Auroville. I like the determinedly non – religious approach. As I understand it the view here, more or less explicitly the view of Sri Aurobindo, is that the development and realisation of the divine within each person is the next stage of evolution.
    Vivekananda said this: ‘Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.’
    And then, seeing as I’m in India, and you’re in the States, I feel bound to mention Krishnamurti, whose home was both, and his view that ‘truth is a pathless land….My only concern is to set man absolutely, unconditionally free.’
    My question is: what do you think about these ideas?

  161. Dear Mr. Greer

    I have a question regarding performing the Sphere of Protection. I am unable to buy your books on the subject but went through the instructions given on the AODA website. Unfortunately, one aspect of that instruction remains unclear to me.

    When spinning the beams of light, in my mind’s eye they naturally form three discs, rather than a ‘triple-sphere’ as instructed. What am I missing? Is it even important?

    Lordyburd

  162. JMG. Have you ever explored what it is that makes tribal identity persist? Not why they persist so much as what it is that makes a tribe a tribe. Let me narrow it down to the decedents of North American Indians, separated by only a few centuries from Stone Age cultures. As opposed to say the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan although if one can craft a general theory of human tribes it should span from the most aggressively separate people in the remote Amazon to Cajuns.

    I’ve puzzled over this in my daydreams for decades. It has recently occurred to me one hallmark of tribes is that members are unwilling or perhaps more strongly unable to submit to other hierarchies be they economic, political or social. I do not use the word submit lightly by the way. Whatever it is in human social potential that made tribes disappear starting XX,000’s of years ago the remaining remnants present an interesting, to me, puzzle. One that I think may fit into your general themes.

    Some asides.

    Even the Dark Ages in Europe was not tribal in the strict sense I specify above

    I’ll mention that I strongly suspect that tribal cultures that persisted as nations arose because first a lot of people were happy to leave their tribes and clans and those who weren’t were eliminated. North American Indians women and children were being eagerly and happily slaughtered still only 150 years ago.

    There is probably a lot of good fodder here for the speculative fiction that’s on tap here.

    I guess your Druids are a tribe of sorts.

  163. JMG, woah, I did not expect that. Yes, I did mean something like Crowley’s True Will concept, except maybe for the being peachy part. So, let me try from a slightly different angle. Is it not the case that the Will of the Individuality is not necessarily the same thing as the wants of the Personality? If that it so, it would be quite easy to be/do something else than your Will.

  164. Re American imperialism

    I’d like to acknowledge that it was Varun’s comment re the utility of internet conversations (or lack of utility, rather) from the other week that finally got the point through my skull and prodded me to just drop the forum. We’re going to plod along the arc of decline, I understand that, but it is frustrating to watch us make a difficult future even harsher by choices that are fully within our control. But the standard arc of decline is the standard arc for a reason — the converging forces of human sociology, psychology, economics, et cetera, drive societies along similar pathways — and it takes unusual presence of mind for a society to break from that rut, something we just don’t have, apparently.

  165. I’ve had an idea with regards to you, Scott Adams, and a few other people and your larger than average number of accurate predictions. The thing I noticed is that you approach things from one viewpoint, Scott Adams from another, contradictory perspective, and yet the predictions you make are generally more accurate than conventional wisdom. This has lead to the idea the status quo has reached what I’ll call “maximum wrongness”, a point at which the assumptions are so detached from reality that close to anything works better.

  166. the liaden universe is the product of sharon lee and steve miller. the tree is a sentient being and a central character in the ongoing arc. the para-psychic abilities in the series are maybe highly exaggerated but the smaller abilities that would be the base are well within what can be recognised now.

    clarence

  167. Re Islamic conquest:
    That is exactly the point of contention. The initial conquest did not lead to conversion. Iraq converted mostly in the 9th century, during its top cultural bloom in the last 2500 years. The golden age of the Coptic church was after the Islamic conquest; Egypt converted to Islam mostly in the 10th century, under the Fatimid renaissance.

  168. JMG,

    It seems that the watcher of the threshold finally got me. I thought I was all set up, dutifully drudging along, well aware of the description of the watcher and the dangers involved, but it still got me. As should have been obvious, it came from an unexpected angle. Suddenly I found myself troubled with some health issues, which made it physically hard to perform the rituals. And well, since it was not perfect anymore, I got discouraged and.. let other things fall apart as well. I tried re-starting it (currently in chapter six in Learning Ritual Magic), but so far I have made around… four re-start attempts.

    This is somewhat infuriating. And now after all these setbacks, it feels next to impossible to get back on track, even though the health issue is now more or less a thing in the past. There is, however, a funny side effect here. There are a number of issues here and there (of the nagging sort) that I should take care of. My awareness of them has been underlined. They are something I know I should address, or fix even, but I have never really found the strength to do.

    Is it possible, that part of the reason for not being able to continue might have to do with these… other revelations? Is this typical? Or it might have nothing to do with it. But.. in any case, how does one get back on the horse after falling? And still one more if I may, do you have any advice on how to deal with situations where issues like health interfere with regular practice?

    It’s been around two months now with all the failed re-starts and what not. I am honestly quite baffled here. A learning experience in humility this if for sure.

  169. @Chuck and JMG:
    I’m afraid that I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned it here before (I don’t _think_ I have, though), but a while ago I found and have been rather interested in the hypothesis that the horse never actually went extinct in North America. Apparently there are a number of native traditions and some dated remains in support, as well as potentially some reports from early (Postcolumbian) European explorers, but I’ve not found much information. It would also explain how in such a relatively short time some peoples of North America went from having never seen a horse to getting their hands on a few escaped or stolen Spanish horses or descendants thereof to being extremely proficient horse cultures by saying that that didn’t happen, with any new horses just replacing older ones, and so doesn’t need an explanation.
    Have either of you heard anything about this?

    @JMG:
    Actually, while I’m making a comment on an open post, another thing I thought to ask:
    You mentioned in a reply to Patricia Judaism being very heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism. Another (in addition to the above, that is, not as an alternative to this one) hypothesis I’ve heard is that Judaism had its initial origin in a fusion of the Sea Peoples and some Atenists remaining from Egypt’s Amarna Period. Do you, or anyone here, have any thoughts on that?

    (And while I’m on _that_, actually, a third hypothesis I came across: that Atenism drew from Indian philosophy and/or religion.)

  170. Dewey, JMG, etc., re: investment. The thing about our declining industrial economy is that we really haven’t got the mental models in place to think about the practical economic consequences. Articulating and normalizing those models seems to me to be precisely the work of this blog, and a fair number of other authors trying to think what their culture tells them is unthinkable.

    Growth is more or less over, so that means wealth will now be expressed as an act of preservation rather than expansion. Of course, that act of preservation can even be, and likely will be, simply reducing the rate of depreciation versus the trend. You will be winning if you are not losing as fast as the guy next to you.

    JMG has made the point many times over, wealth and money are not the same thing. Investment in anything like financial instruments is simply confusing money for wealth and will be a losing strategy.

    But preserving wealth is actually not that hard. Simply ask yourself what will be valuable in 20, 50, 100 years? I believe that is why JMG spends so much time with de-industrial fiction (well, that and is it fun!): it really helps one imagine what will be valuable in our collective future. A short list of obvious places to invest your current money (and time) to preserve wealth for your future: working agricultural systems (focused on soils, seeds, trees, and livestock), practical education, functional community and politics, resilient infrastructure, resilient commercial enterprises, etc.

    Here’s an easy example: build a summer camp for city kids that is a working resilient small farm in a community that could use the employment.

  171. …another example that could really be excellent. Community scale hydro power. Build it to lose money initially selling power to the grid but wire it to eventually provide community scale refrigeration and access to high quality industrial electricity. See how that preserves wealth against the average rate of decline? Simple generators can be built to last a very long time.

  172. On the more general subject of inducing change (political, social, other).

    Just one data point, but I’ve been on council now for a little more than nine months. It is a slog, I tell you. Even for what one might think of as fairly straight-forward changes. As I mentioned in a previous post, my proposal that we hold a referendum to ask the voters to consider limits to consecutive council terms went down 7-1 (one member absent). I’ve been having to fight tooth-and-nail to get consideration for front and street-side yard vegetable gardening, even as a conditional use. (For everyone who doesn’t speak “zoning code” lingo: front yard is defined as the plane of the front of the structure forward; street-side yard applies to corner lots and refers to the side yard adjacent to the street; a “permitted use” is a use-by-right, while a “conditional use” is allowed but requires application, public hearing, and council approval — and payment of an application fee to defray the costs of notices, hearing, etc.) The advisory body (which I also sit on) narrowly failed to recommend the gardening proposals (3-3 ties, we had a member absent each time), but I used my position as a city council member to bring the issues up for discussion at council anyway and hopefully to at least convene a public hearing on the issue. (Understand that flower gardening is allowed and unrestricted. It is only vegetable gardening that is constrained to rear and side yards.) I just may have enough votes, barely, to get the *conditional* use through council, even though I firmly believe that with suitable requirements (use of raised beds, for example, and sufficient set-backs to preserve the sight-triangle for traffic) it should be a permitted use for front and street-side yards. (The conditional use application is ~$300, but it’s a one-time-fee.) I need five of nine votes and I’ve been holding side-bar conversations with other council members to try to build support. To my mind, this shouldn’t take this long, nor should it be like pulling teeth; however, the concept of 1950s suburbia is burned in everyone’s brain as to what a front-yard is “supposed” to look like and, ” but my neighbor might grow corn!”

  173. @JMG, @Rationalist: Jason Miller, an author and teacher who’s been a big influence on my understanding of occult matters, has a perspective on the True Will I find interesting. He views it as a mode of action rather than a set of goals or desires – specifically, action unsullied by the automatisms and manufactured desires imposed by cultural conditioning, social pressure, advertisements, etc. It’s not something you seek to discover, but something you strive to embody moment-to-moment. At least, that’s how I interpret his writings on the subject.

  174. JMG said

    “Tripp, so noted. There may be more than one event, since the summer date is very convenient for many.”

    Oh, please don’t let my calendar restrictions 1000 miles away have any effect on your party! I would love to be there, but the chances of that happening on ANY date are slim…

  175. Regarding early childhood education, if I may, we have a somewhat unusual approach to reading at our house, and it seems to be working REALLY well.

    Yes, read to young children all the time. I don’t think a day has gone by that we haven’t read to our children (now 7 and 9). We also gave them unrestricted access to audiobooks. But we never tried to teach them to read. We felt like becoming too literate too soon would get in the way of other modes of learning.

    Consequently, our 9 y.o. was 8 before she bothered, and then only because being illiterate was getting in the way of her exploration of other subjects. A year and a half later and she’s reading above grade level, and her vocabulary is absolutely astounding.

    Our 7 y.o. is just now getting interested in reading for himself, again, because he’s interested in studying other subjects. And he’s learning fast as well.

    Like I said, this is an odd approach to say the least, but it’s worked brilliantly for us and our children. AND, we feel like they are capable of multiple modes of approaching a problem because of our resistance to the (pretty extreme) peer pressure to get them reading as early as possible.

    But then, your mileage may vary…
    Just my .02

  176. JMG:
    “They’re happy to denounce empire in the abstract, and to criticize it whenever there’s a Republican in the White House, but the suggestion that we really ought to bring the troops home and retreat from empire gets instant pushback. I may be doing a post on that soon.”

    Oh, yes, please!!

  177. Hi, Shaun Kilgore here. I thought I’d mention that we will be offering a limited number of autographed copies of Retrotopia among the other rewards in our Kickstarter for MYTHIC. There are bundles of the After Oil series, Retotopia/An Archrduid’s Tales, Star’s Reach and Merigan Tales. You can get your choice of book from among our other titles as well. For the authors among you, there are some exclusive rewards that were generously donated to the cause. Bestselling sci-fi/fantasy writers like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, David Farland, and Kevin J. Anderson all contributed resources to help writers with the craft of writing. http://kck.st/2FUTTY3

  178. I just wanted to offer a sincere thank you to oilman, tim, JMG, et al, for taking the time to reply to my question about the oil article. Your responses deepened my understanding. I believe I am a smart person, but I am not very clever, and sometimes have difficulty reasoning through someone else’s shenanigans, so I appreciate the help!

  179. Do you think there will be any attempt at all to tackle overpopulation anywhere in the world in the next few years? Even a 2 child policy would be better than nothing.

  180. Oilman and Isabel, Liaden is Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Currently published by Baen, and with various omnibuses, etc, the entire series is currently in print (some in multiple volumes) and available as ebooks.

    “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady came quietly.” Agent of Change.

    Why yes, comfort reads for me. I do tend to memorize.

  181. Sean, sure, if your goal is to die in a hail of bullets or, if you’re lucky, to spend the rest of your life rotting in a maximum security federal penitentiary, while convincing 95% of Americans that concern for the environment is a terrorist fringe ideology. Other than that? A profoundly stupid idea, for reasons I discussed at quite a bit of length here. I encourage you to find a good book on the history of the Symbionese Liberation Army, and another on the history of the Bruders Schweigen, to get some sense of just how efficiently the government will deal with the sort of thing you’ve proposed, and how little such actions will accomplish before they gun you down.

    As for moral imperatives…sigh. I really do have to do that post about the corruption of ethics sometime soon, don’t I?

    Sunnnv, I haven’t studied the history of child abuse, or psychohistory — isn’t that the science Hari Seldon invented? 😉 — or Lloyd deMause. Bodywork of various kinds, usually lumped in under the label “massage,” is basically universal in human cultures, but I haven’t done the necessary study to know how widely anything like craniosacral therapy is found.

    J.L.Mc12, yes, and it actually works well to combine them — for example, to use the Pentagram ritual to purify the area before you do a candle working, or what have you.

    Austin, the dollar’s time as reserve currency is nearly over anyway; my working guess is that the government has been planning for years to default on its debts and issue some kind of new currency once the bills really come due. Whether cryptocurrency is involved or not is a good question, but we’ll see.

    Matt, ah, but keep in mind that the pendulum in western astrology also went the other way just as forcefully. In the English astrological renaissance of the 17th century, as many Arabic techniques as were readily available in Latin got picked up and enthusiastically used, which is why you get horary astrology, electional astrology, and some Arabic parts in Lilly, and so on. (And of course the English astrological renaissance ended up becoming the wellspring from which most later Western astrology emerged, because Lilly et al. had the great good sense to publish in the vernacular.) It’s mostly the high-end stuff, the things that kings and government officials wanted, that got misplaced in the English tradition, since astrology was on its way down to the gutter, socially speaking, and astrologers had no call for any technique that didn’t apply to the needs of ordinary people; Ramsay’s Astrology Restored, with its very good summary of Arabic mundane astrology, languished because millworkers, farmhands, servants, prostitutes, and petty criminals don’t have a lot of call for annual ingress charts!

    Retrogradation is a debility, granted, but if your Saturn is dignified essentially you might still benefit from a well-chosen Saturn talisman, or a multiple-planet talisman in which Saturn plays a role. A horary chart is a traditional way to settle such questions.

    Nick, that approach is also one valid way into the pathless land.

    Lordyburd, imagine that you’re holding a disk in one hand, so that it’s straight up and down. Now twist your wrist, so that the top of the disk goes down to your left and the bottom comes up to your right. Imagine the disk revolving the same way, faster and faster. Do you see how it forms a sphere? That’s the sort of thing you should be visualizing.

    Rapier, no, Druids aren’t a tribe. They’re members of a diffuse and idiosyncratic modern religious movement, and it’s a matter of quirky pride among us that no two Druids believe exactly the same thing about anything. Beyond that, the dynamics of tribal identity isn’t something I’ve studied.

    Rationalist, remember that the planes are discrete and not continuous. The will of the Individuality functions on the spiritual and, to some extent, the mental plane; the wants of the personality reflect that will in various more or less confused forms on the astral, etheric, and material planes. You can doubtless figure out, with time and many mistakes, ways of reflecting the will of the Individuality on the lower planes that are less garbled and more productive of happiness rather than misery, and indeed that’s part of what you’re in incarnation to do. How do you do it? It’s called “living…”

    Will, I like that. Thank you!

    Matthias, so? The nations in question were still ruled by Islamic elites, subject to Islamic law, and increasingly shaped by Islamic culture. If you want to insist that Germany, say, may be in that condition in the 23rd century, but will still have a very large number of Christians in it, I don’t think my basic claims are confuted.

    Oskari, this is the test that will determine whether you’re going to become a mage or not. You, and only you, can make that choice. If you can find the strength to force yourself to resume regular practice, and keep on doing it no matter what, you’re on your way. If not, it all goes to the realm of might-have-beens. Of course there will be other things you need to take care of, but doing that won’t prevent you from putting twenty minutes a day into magical practice. You stand at the portal; will you go forward? Only you can decide.

    Reese, interesting. No, I hadn’t heard about the horse hypothesis; it makes sense, though. As for Judaism, the difficulty there — as Raphael Patai pointed out a long time ago in his book The Hebrew Goddess — is that Judaism wasn’t a monotheistic religion until after the Babylonian captivity. It didn’t have any of the features of Akhenaten’s religion; it was a standard Semitic Pagan faith, worshiping one god and two goddesses, pretty much along the lines of equivalents such as Ugarit. It wasn’t until the post-Exilic reforms that it became a hard monotheism with dietary taboos and the rest of it, just like Zoroastrianism.

    Redoak, sure, but you have to have an attitude that focuses on value rather than wealth, and on value that you won’t live to enjoy. Not too many investors are into that just now.

    David, that is to say, the current system is what it is, and it’s going to take a lot to change it. I applaud your making the effort; it’s going to be the sum total of such efforts that eventually move things in a better direction.

    Fred, fair enough. I’d use different language to talk about that, but it’s a worthwhile concept.

    Tripp, so noted!

    Patricia, yep. “Support strip mining to save the planet!” isn’t far away.

    Shaun, glad to hear it!

  182. On the 31st of this month there is a supermoon, a blue moon, and a blood moon all at once. I intend to observe this. How best should such an event be approached from a spiritual perspective?

  183. Yes, exactly. I think it may be impossible to predict if a population that remains under foreign domination for centuries will eventually accept the foreign language and religion, like most Egyptians did in the 10th century, the foreign language alone, like the Irish did in the 19th century, the foreign religion alone, like Sindhis did, or reemerge with their original language and ethnical tradition, like Greeks did in the 19th century and Han Chinese have done several times, enriched by foreign cultural loans.

  184. Not sure how to formulate these questions, but they deal with astrology and personality types.

    First, is there some known or suspected correlation between the Myers-Briggs personality types and astrology? After all, Jung was an astrologist and both Myers and Briggs were Jungians. Some of the personality types of the MBTI seem to correspond, more or less, with those of sun signs.

    Second, is there something wrong, in general, with how astrologers view Pisces and Neptune? I never met any “fluff bunny” Pisceans, and apparently several US presidents were Pisceans, including Washington and Andrew Jackson?! Yet, in all astrology books, Pisces and its ruler Neptune are constantly pictured as fluffy, New Age, “the planet of illusions” (including dreams and narcotics). In classical astrology, I believe Pisces was ruled by Jupiter, a somewhat different planet I believe. (I´m not Piscean myself, btw.)

    Third, do you know if astrologers have revised their understanding of the Age of Aquarius? After all, the New Age-space technology synthesis never happened, and isn´t likely to ever happen, so what does Aquarius and Uranus *really* signify? I sometimes joke about this, saying that it may symbolize a huge deluge á la ice sheets melting. That´s the Water-Bearer, right there…

  185. Patricia Matthews-
    “I just got an ad from the Nature Conservancy advertising “Five Global Adventures To Support Nature!””

    This is precisely why I don’t give money to organizations which offer more than a thank you letter, an update on what progress they’re making, and maybe a bumper sticker at most in return for donations.

    I don’t want the damn tee shirt (or fancy eco-vacation). I’d rather they spend as much of what I send as possible on doing the work!

  186. D’oh! Mixed up my Sharons there. Thanks for the correction!

    In re: Catholicism: based on a lot of true-crime-profiler reading and also having my mom and her side of the family talk about their experience as Catholics, I think the Church has three things going on re: pedophilia:

    1) Preferential pedophiles–men (in this case) who are attracted to children and join the priesthood in either an attempt to suppress that or an attempt to exploit the power structure and hierarchy to exploit it. As Skolymus says, lifting celibacy likely won’t have much effect on these guys.
    2) Opportunistic pedophiles–men who aren’t specifically attracted to children, but who believe they’re more vulnerable targets and more likely to keep quiet about any activity that happens. I guess being able to openly seek adult partners *might* make some of these men less likely to go for kids, but…at the end of the day, people who act on these urges are horrible, and they’re going to be horrible in whatever form they can get away with.
    3) Getting away with it, which I think is the real institutional problem. The combination of a large, moribund hierarchy concerned largely with PR, a doctrine that says any sin can be forgiven, and a structure in which, as my mother put it, “the priest was basically God to the people in his parish, especially to kids,” creates very fertile ground for corruption. The latter two elements are also present in most Protestant sects, and cases of child molestation by pastors there are reasonably frequent (Dan Savage used to devote part of his blog to pointing them out) but without the network of higher-ups playing the shell game with parishes and “rehabilitation,” I suspect there’s much more likelihood of getting caught and more fear of same.

    I think celibacy very likely *does* make it harder to recruit priests and nuns these days: yes, lifelong celibacy is a valid spiritual choice, and yes, some people will make it for healthy reasons…but that number is much rarer than it used to be. In the old days, celibacy of some form was the only respectable alternative to marriage and family life, and while some form of stealthy sex was possible, it came with severe risks of exposure, pregnancy, and death (all three often going together for women). That’s not the case now; moreover, there are many religions and even denominations in which intense spiritual devotion and leadership does not entail giving up sex. As a result, people entering lifelong religious celibacy are going to be almost entirely those for whom adult sexual relationships are not, for one reason or another, particularly compelling. (And a small number for whom they are* but the priesthood is worth it, but…small.) Sometimes these reasons will be healthy, sometimes not–but as the pool of recruits shrinks, the relative number of problems grows.

    * Or the Brother Cadfael model, who come in after spending youth and middle age pursuing sexual relationships until they get tired of that part of their life.

  187. To read comments and JMG’s replies I open two windows (each 1/2 of the screen), one reads the comments and the other is set to read the replies. When I’m ready to end reading I’ll make a note of the date and time of the last comment I read so I can come back to my _place_in the dialog.
    My thanks to whomever recommended this method many years ago in the ADR.
    JeffinWA

  188. My guess is that child abuse has a long and ignoble history. Children tend to be powerless and it is the powerless who suffer.

  189. Hi! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to interact with you here. What a cool idea. I’ll dive right into my question:

    I’m reading Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I was reading about the “Law of Flow” and came across your reflections about “accumulation” and it’s toxicity. So great! I find your teaching so resonant and affirming, which is part of why I wanted to engage here over something I felt less sure about. I was nodding and mmhmm-ing away when I turned the page and you started talking about money. Page 30, you say: “a system of abstract tokens is used to help manage the flow of energy, material and information from person to person…There is nothing inherently wrong with money or with systems of exchanging goods… Problems arise, however, when people forget that money is simply a way of measuring and distributing the real wealth of goods and services, and they try to accumulate it rather than participating in its flow.”

    I just can’t get behind this! I have had some “ah-ha” moments recently with regards to money. I plan to write up an essay on my blog about it soon, but I’ve started to call it “lack magic”. My main thought, summed up, is that the toxic of accumulation is actually *built into it*, rather than just an unhappy byproduct of our dysfunctional use of it. I mean, I get that the physical money piece is not inherently good or bad, and I’m only just starting my magical study and my understanding of how intention is infused into objects, but I feel almost sure of this for some reason. It seems like the way that money is magically designed sets us up for accumulation and flow problems- that it’s a tool of mental/spiritual accumulation because it necessarily removes us from the relationship with the actual need/resource/person/place/etc.. It’s purpose is to store up power and value for potential future need (more mental accumulation). Even in it’s purest most ideal form, it’s still dabbling in the murky territory of attempting to accurately represent the value of these living relationship-based things within a relatively valueless object that is, by necessity of its own design, disassociated from it all. How could this be benign?

    Looking forward to your answer! Thanks again for holding this space for us. 🙂

  190. JMG and Oskari-

    JMG – That’s sure they way it is. I remember when I began learning martial arts how refreshing in contrast it was to other activities I was engaged in at the time. There was no faking it- you can either demonstrate a particular skill level, or you can’t. The only way to be able to was practice, no exceptions.

    Oskari, I can very much relate to what you are saying.

    I’ve had so much irregularity in my magical practice so many times in my life that I finally just admitted to myself that that may just be what I do in this incarnation- perpetually begin again and again. Or face the possibility that perhaps practicing magic is not something I need to do and that would be fine, and I’d not be a lesser person if that were the case. But I’m stubborn, so I keep going. What I’ve gained so far has been worth it.

    If anything, its taught me just how devious I can be at finding reasons to not practice!

    I’ve also had to let go of the idea of perfect practice, and to also consider just who I am practicing for. Can’t stand and move around? I practice it in imagination until I can. Have life events/work commitments/other urgent priorities jolt me out of it for a period of time? Acknowledge that life happens like that, start again as soon as I can. No in-person community to share and learn with, draw encouragement from? Find one online (oh hey I’m here!) or practice in sometimes-necessary solitude until companions on the road show up. They do, if you do.

    Thanks for letting me share my 2 cents worth, I wish you the best in your practice!
    Bonnie

  191. Aha, good to know, on both counts! Gives one hope for the long-term survival of Western civ, in some form. And vernaculariztion is definitely key to the early modern Islamo-Christian occultist renaissances more generally.

    As to the second point, however, I’m afraid my Saturn isn’t essentially dignified, just accidentally. But I do have my Ascendant in Capricorn as well — could that help? (I’ll look into Saturn talismans in any case, though have depended on Moon and Mercury talismans only so far, with excellent results.)

    An unrelated question, if that’s all right: a number of students in my Science, Magic and Religion class this semester confessed this week to having regular precognitive dreams, and a couple have asked me for recommendations for reliable oneiromantic manuals (in English). It’s not really my bailiwick — any suggestions?

  192. @ Valenzuela–

    Here is my perspective on the subject, with the caveat that I’m not an expert or scholar, only an interested layman. That said:

    I would have a look at Augustine’s City of God, books 8-10, which deal with Neo-Platonism. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1201.htm)

    Here is the subject of Book 10, in Augustine’s words:

    “[W]e must now, by God’s help, ascertain what is thought about our religious worship and piety by those immortal and blessed spirits, who dwell in the heavenly places among dominations, principalities, powers, whom the Platonists call gods, and some either good demons, or, like us, angels…”

    Augustine basically says that the gods of the Platonists are angels of the One God; i.e., that there is an ontological distinction between what it means to be “a god” and what it means to be “the God.” Given that, different forms of reverence are due to each of them (in traditional Christianity this is the difference between “dulia” given to angels and saints and “latria” which is due to God alone).

    Augustine is very hostile to the traditional gods of Rome, but his arguments against them are not very good. He uses the same tactic of literalizing myths that atheists often use when debating Christians. “God can’t be any good; he destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah.” “Chronos can’t be any good, he castrated his own father.” So also read Sallustius “On the Gods” for a Platonist perspective. (https://hermetic.com/texts/on_the_gods-1)

    Also look at the role of angels in Renaissance occultism. Yyou can find a number of sources here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/index.htm and here: (http://www.esotericarchives.com/) . Definitely read Trithemius (http://www.esotericarchives.com/tritheim/tritem.htm). And have a look at the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius (http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/VolumeII/CelestialHierarchy.html) and CS Lewis’s The Discarded Image (I’m not sure if this is in the public domain, so I won’t link to it).

    Also think about the implications of the traditional beliefs about angels. In the Middle Ages they were believed to move the planets in their orbits. This isn’t taught anymore, but the belief about the power of angels hasn’t changed– they remain the sort of beings that *could* move planets, with whether or not they do being open to speculation. It’s also believed that guardian angels are set over basically everything. If you listen to a traditional priest talk on this subject (for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6eEREUPVR4), they’ll mention that nations, church dioceses, and large corporations have them. Traditional priests tend to be conservatives, and thus, in the US, concerned with things of importance to conservatives (nations, businesses, churches). By implication that suggests that things of importance to liberals, like unions, large nonprofits, national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges also have guardian angels. What would it mean to light a candle to the guardian angel of Yosemite any time you went on a backpacking trip?

    Also think about all of this in the context of the Song of the Three Jews from the Book of Daniel (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Song%20of%20the%20Three%20Young%20Men+1&version=RSV) and Saint Francis’s Canticle of the Creatures (http://www.custodia.org/default.asp?id=1454).

    Again, this is all just my take on the matter, and a professional theologian, classicist or medievalist might say that I don’t know what I’m talking about… which I might not.

    Steve

  193. @ JMG,

    Thank you for your advice on writing! What I’m finding is that having a minimum word count is important, but so is a maximum word count. That is, I get a certain type of writer’s block when I write too many words at once without some greater inspiration, if writing words is a horrible strain, reading it is a strain too. If I limit myself to fewer words I can avoid the strain. So I may plod, but I don’t hurt my imaginative back. Perhaps, with time, I’ll be able to grow stronger in my imagination and increase the number of words I can write per session without straining.

    Also, today I practiced the Sphere of Protection after encountering a certain spiritual entity I wished to expel. It worked great and I feel…clean. Like stepping out of a shower. I was nervous about going into it, since I didn’t have words for my patron, but in an exigent moment I heard the invitation and was received graciously. Now I have a ritual practice and a patron; it feels like a homecoming. Thank you for sharing the ritual.

  194. People are about evenly split as to whether they think I’m on the (autistic) spectrum or not. Couple my inability to observe social cues/norms, and always say that the emperor indeed has no clothes with being a redheaded Scorpio, and it makes for a very volatile combination.

  195. Hi John,

    Just to say that I really value your comments on this forum, I always read them every month!

    A couple of comments, 1) the Turkey invasion of Syria against US backed Kurds seems to be one more sign of the collapse of American influence in the Middle East. Something Goldman in the Asian times writes well on –
    http://www.atimes.com/article/americas-syrian-humiliation-worse-looks/

    My question is what your views on future role of gold will be. I understand that you do not favor private individuals hoarding gold, but do you think that gold will become the international reserve currency once fiat currencies hyper-inflate in the future in the post-peak world.

    I referenced your 2018 post in my FI blog which has directed some people to your blog. If you wish to read my 2018 predictions, they are here; https://forecastingintelligence.org/2018/01/16/my-predictions-for-2018/

    Thanks

  196. So, needing a new job as the pheasant hunting season is done for the year and we won’t be firing up the hatching season till April-Jun. Just had one job interview. Passed the state test (permanent with DNR) Took the Amtrak test.

    Anyways, prayers, thoughts, candles, spells, whatever your bailiwick, all would be appreciated. I need a gig…

  197. Dear JMG,

    I would be very interested to hear more about “Thoughtstarters”.
    In my experience it´s at least more talk provoking (and perhaps also thought provoking?) to ask questions instead of offering an opinion.
    Did you by any chance write something about this theme?

    On a second issue:
    you wrote
    “Barrigan, there’s a lot of wishful thinking there. Uranus is a malefic planet, on a par with Mars and Saturn…”
    My question: what do you mean by a malefic planet?
    In another context you wrote that Saturn is about accepting limits and hard work. To my mind this is not malefic. Maybe you could explain?

    Best
    Ilona

  198. I’m uncertain how to word this, perhaps in part because part of me senses it should have an obvious answer that I’m somehow not seeing, but I’ll make an attempt and see where it gets me. Your books intended as magical primers seem to focus on the path of the ‘operative mage’ and as your comment to Oskari (and others in the past) suggests -sometimes operative mage-hood isn’t the path one should be on. My question is: what other magical paths are there? I’m working on a habitual problem that looks like non-commitment to any particular tradition while still casting about for a spiritual/religious practice – in other words sussing out if it’s a problem with will (as in, I need to develop it further) or not yet finding my “path.”

    I’ve spent several months working through preliminary (self-assessed) things in a kind of remedial attempt to get me to square-one in regards to the instructions of DMH, but I’d be curious to know if I should also be considering options that aren’t operative-mage-bound… if only I knew what options there were. I certainly have certain leanings and tendencies – but as of yet am uncertain if ritual magic is part of that picture.

    I don’t suppose there’s a list of magical job descriptions, is there?

    Thank you 🙂

  199. JMG-

    Now I would like to know your thoughts as to the Senior Care Complex, as I have come to call it.

    I had a very bitter experience recently. Shortly after the pheasant breeding season ended, my mother came down with anemia. She is in her 80s. She also has a heart condition.

    Long story short, the “protocols” demanded she be taken off blood thinners to discover the cause of the anemia. She had two stokes in a 24 hour period. So a dangerous condition was turned into a life threatening and life altering one.

    A vibrant, smart, lively, amazing woman now has permanent physical and cognitive disabilities.

    As I was off from the DNR at the time, it was natural that I go out and help her recuperate. But unbeknowst to me, the decision was already made that Mom would be put in a assisted living center, her house sold, her assets liquidated, “unnecessary effects” sold to pay for “”the Facility”.

    It was, all of course, in her best interest.

    The decision was made by my siblings, with no consultation with me or my elder sibling, who had the unfortunate circumstance of living 1000 miles away.

    The thing that pisses me off the most is that, from what I have seen, “facilities” are warehouses for the elderly. Keep them entertained and quiet. But do they do the hard work of rehabilitation, therapy, engagement? Nope.

    Anyways, after that run I now consider most elder-care a racket. Be careful before you designate power of attorney.

    Be very, very, careful.

  200. @Mark-

    Tammy Duckworth is probably too savvy to mess around with running for President.

    Nevertheless, hearing her call Trump “Cadet Bonespurs” to his face on a debate stage is a delicious thought..

  201. JMG,

    Regarding the Rising Dragons exercise from The Druid Magic Handbook/ the Dolmen Arch: After passing through the Cauldron of the Earth, the dragons are described as travelling up the arms, moving through the Cauldron of the Sun, and then up the sides of the head and neck to the Cauldron of the Moon.

    I’m unclear on two points: Firstly, given that the Cauldron of the Sun is at heart level – and therefore below shoulder level, how far up the arms should the dragons travel? I’ve been having them move toward the Cauldron of the Sun before they would reach my shoulders (they kind of go through my armpits) to avoid having to move them down from my shoulders to the cauldron, as this latter feels awkward.

    Secondly, as the dragons move “up the sides of the head and neck” do they leave the physical body and follow a similar shape as they made between the Cauldrons of Earth and Sun, or do they remain within the bounds of the physical body, and follow the physical body’s silhouette?

    On a different subject, during one of your Magic Mondays you stated the the Higher Self/Individuality corresponds to the Lunar Current, and that the primary goal of Golden Dawn systems of magic is to unite the Higher and Lower Selves. Given that the Lunar Current must be created deliberately out of a balanced fusion of the Solar and Telluric Currents, and given that the Golden Dawn is predominately Solar, I’m wondering how the Golden Dawn goes about fusing the two currents. I’ve read several books of Golden Dawn magic, but have not ever practiced it.

    Thanks!

  202. And another thought on how this culture dismisses older people…

    Come to find out, if you are fifty or older, you are considered officially “unretrainable”. I hit that mark in Feb., which is fine considering the alternative. 🙂

    But how in the world did we arrive at a point where the knowledge, experience, and wisdom of people who’ve been around the horn, is dismissed out of hand? And how did we assume, that because you hit a birthday, you can no longer learn anything?

  203. Matt/mmelvink got me to thinking with his contention that the dominant religious tradition in North America in the future will be a neo-shamanic/Mormon/Islamic hybrid.

    I don’t know much about shamanic traditions, but I have done quite a lot of reading about Mormonism and Islam. One characteristic of both Mormonism and Islam is that they tend to have rather conservative attitudes concerning sexuality and gender. If the next great American religion emerges from a fusion of the two, that may short-circuit and ultimately reverse the more liberal sexual mores that have emerged in the West over the last several decades.

    A great many people here seem to think the so-called Sexual Revolution is here to stay as a permanent fixture of American life in the future, but a Gringostan dominated by an offshoot of Mormonism and Islam may have a very different future ahead of it than they anticipated, at least north of the Rio Grande. I suspect that in Mexico, Central America and what is now the Southwestern USA, the future belongs to a hybrid of Catholic, West African and Aztec spirituality, which is already the dominant spiritual current in many Mexican cultures* and has been for some time now.

    As I have written before, I have been reading a lot by Spengler and Toynbee. Spengler points out that the Magian Culture emerged from the ruins of a dying Babylonian Civilization. Toynbee extends that analysis further in A Study of History. He notes that new religions usually emerge from the Internal Proletariat of a declining civilization or from cultures that exist on the periphery of a dying civilization. Judaism was a product of the Internal Proletariat of the Babylonian civilization. The Hebrews were a typically polytheistic Canaanite culture prior to the shock of the Babylonian Captivity and exposure to the religious ideas of the Persian Zoroastrians. The Persians themselves were a peripheral offshoot of the Late Babylonian world and were also very much influenced by the Vedic cultures of ancient India at a time when those cultures were sinking into decadence.

    Christianity was a product of the Internal Proletariat in the Late Classical world, while Islam was more like Zoroastrianism in its origins, an offshoot of Judaism and Christianity in a culture that existed on the fringes of the Late Hellenic civilization and had been heavily influenced by them.

    It seems to me that periods of sexual “liberation” tend to go hand-in-hand with periods of decadence, cultural breakdown and social decay. It’s likely that one of the reasons why early Judaism had such a jaundiced view of sexuality, particularly female sexuality, was the decadence and licentiousness of late Babylonian culture, which triggered an angry backlash from those were disgusted by what they saw. This pattern was repeated in the history of the other two great Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Islam.

    Christianity emerged from the Internal Proletariat of the Roman Empire during a period not unlike that of the late Babylonian civilization, an era of decadence and moral degeneration which evoked widespread revulsion, even among Roman Pagans. Islam emerged in a major crossroads of trade in Southern Arabia which also had a reputation for moral laxity and sexual license. It’s been estimated that before the coming of Islam, something like 20 percent of Meccan women made their living as prostitutes.

    In troubled times, people tend to look for certainty and order to cope with the disintegration and chaos they see around them. It’s not surprising that periods of lax sexual morals often end up producing a backlash, including the rise of puritanical religious movements, especially when people can see the destructive consequences of too much “sexual freedom”, such as the breakdown of families, large numbers of orphans, homeless children and abandoned women, and a loss of social cohesion, among other downsides. All too often, it’s the mainly the well-to-do that reap the benefits of looser sexual morals while others, including a great many women, suffer in the process. In his most recent blog post, William Lind pointed out that modern feminism and the breakdown of traditional sexual morals has ended up hurting a great many women instead of liberating them, particularly among those who are not members of the socio-economic elite.

    So I could very easily see something like a Mormon-Muslim hybrid emerging in the future as the newly dominant religious tradition from out of the Internal Proletariat of Gringostan as the American Empire declines and fall, driven in part by a growing discontent with the downsides of the Sexual Revolution. I suspect that in Europe, we will see Islam, Russian Orthodox Christianity and other related religious traditions becoming more and more popular among the masses for the same reason as time goes on.

    Thoughts or reactions, anyone?

    * I say cultures and not culture because Mexico is every bit as culturally and ethnically diverse as America north of the Rio Grande.

  204. @ Sean:

    It’s worth pointing out that intelligence services do keep an eye on public forums like this, particularly forums that are regarded as being on the fringe. Posts like yours are a good way to end up on a terrorist watch list, which can cause all kinds of headaches in the future.

    Back in the day, seasoned radicals used to say to their younger and more hotheaded comrades “anyone who publicly advocates the use of violence is either an idiot or an agent provocateur. Which one are you?”

  205. Regarding social interactions and possible Asperger’s/autistic spectrum: generally, I feel like I’m on stage and performing whenever I’m interacting socially. Now, I’m kinda exhibitionistic and like attention, and can generally do the whole charming Southern thing for a while, but it always feels like an act. I never feel “real” when I’m interacting properly socially.

  206. @Ann Groa, I talk to my goats all the time, not just at milking. While they are certainly clever, if they worked out how to go into labor on a particular day, I wish they’d share! I know better than to hold my breath on that one. (My one pregnancy went 9 and a half months.)

    @JMG, the thank-you was definitely done, with the note that I felt it a very special gift. I also asked what I could do for Him/Her. So far, the only thing my intuition has come up with is, “This is their way of letting us know we’re doing things right.” That’s my standard response to hubby’s quizzical look when something happens “like magic.” (just too-perfect coincidences, usually … this is not the first time things have just fell into place, which is why hubby no longer calls it coincidence) And thank you for the birthday wish, it certainly was a happy one.

  207. I agree with the author of Forecasting Intelligence that America’s position in the Middle East is collapsing rapidly, largely due to missteps by US.

    Here are a few more links that might be of interest, all from individuals with experience in the intelligence services. These sources definitely have their biases and that needs to be taken into account when reading their blogs, but they offer perspectives that have been deliberately ignored by the mainstream press. It’s also worth noting that I disagree in many cases with their views, but merely post this as a sampling of alternative points of view by people from the intelligence community.

    The Moon of Alabama is run by a former intelligence officer from the BND (German equivalent of the CIA). Here is his take on the unfolding mess in Afrin:

    http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/01/who-lost-turkey-the-us-kurdish-project-in-syria-endangers-nato-.html

    Sic Semper Tyrannis is run by Colonel W Patrick Lang, a retired US Army Special Forces officer and former senior official at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA):

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/01/httpswwwcbsnewscomnewstrump-holds-bilateral-meeting-with-netanyahu-at-davos-live-stream.html

    A look from SST about a major battle last year in Syria and what it means for the US and its Middle Eastern allies:

    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/08/major-cauldrons-forming-in-central-syria-ttg.html

    Vineyard of the Saker is run by an ethnic Russian from Switzerland who is living in exile in the US and was an intelligence officer in the Swiss military and domestic security services:

    https://thesaker.is/uncle-sam-dumps-the-kurds-yet-again/

  208. Janet, you’re most welcome.

    Peter, nope. Well-meaning people have been chattering about that for longer than I’ve been alive, and — well, there were only two million people on the planet when I was born, you know.

    Synthase, good question. None of those things are considered relevant by Druids, astrologers, or old-fashioned occultists; to us, it’s just an ordinary lunar eclipse.

    Matthias, sure — for example, it’s entirely possible that a Muslim conquest of Europe could be followed by a Reconquista on the Spanish model, with Russia and Scandinavia filling the roles of the northern provinces of Spain. That still leaves some fairly harsh centuries to get through, if you don’t happen to like living under Shari’a.

    Tidlosa, I haven’t studied Myers-Briggs so can’t respond to that one. As for Neptune and Pisces, I’d say you’re quite right; Neptune is the Lord of the Great Deep, a subtle and powerful planet not well understood by a lot of modern astrologers, and Pisces is the sign that usually gets the bad rap these days. (For a long time it was Scorpio, then Capricorn; if the pattern holds, the next sign to be so treated will be Taurus.) As for the age of Aquarius, the pop-culture version of that is pleasant nonsense; like the ages before it, it will have its hard downsides as well as its upsides. I’ll consider a post on the subject.

    Reader, yep. Thanks for asking!

    Grace, I see money as a powerful tool, and thus inevitably powerful for bad purposes as well as good ones. It’s not just there for accumulation; it can also make exchange much easier — as economists like to point out, it’s a lot easier to pick up vegetables at the farmer’s market if you don’t have to cut a separate bargain with each vendor for what you’re going to give them, do for them, etc.! Of course it can become a barrier and a source of distortions and delusions, but it can also be a useful tool for transferring exchang value from person to person. As with so many other things, it depends on how it’s used, and that in turn depends on the state of consciousness with which it’s used.

    Bonnie, yep. I consider my martial arts training to have been a huge advantage in approaching magic, since I realized that the role of practice is exactly the same.

    Matt, not according to the Picatrix and other traditional sources, no. To benefit from a planetary talisman, you’ve got to have the planet dignified in your natal chart, either essentially or accidentally, and either free from debility or so strongly dignified that the debility doesn’t count. (My Saturn, for example, has a bad aspect with Mars, but it’s dignified essentially and accidentally, angular, and in an applying trine with my natal Sun, so I get good results.)

    I’m sorry to say I know practically nothing about oneiromancy — I don’t dream true, so have never followed up on it.

    Violet, I get that. These days I can write by the ream, but it took years of steady practice to get to that kind of run-a-marathon pace. Glad to hear you’ve had good results with the SoP! It’s a good solid ritual, and I’m grateful to the teacher and tradition from which I learned it.

    Shane, I can imagine! See you at the potluck; if enough people are coming by train I may see about meeting you at the station.

    Forecastingintelligence, yes, I’m watching the Turkish move on Afrin very closely. The US strategy in Syria is nearing complete collapse, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens as that sinks in. As for gold, well, if it does become an international reserve currency, we’ll be looking at decades of economic crisis — I like to encourage people who think a gold-backed currency brings stability to look at the smoking moonscape of crises and depressions that gold-backed currencies brought the world in the second half of the nineteenth century…

    William, good wishes coming your way.

    Ilona, no, I haven’t written about thoughtstarters yet. As for malefic planets, that’s a convenient shorthand for “planets that people generally find challenging rather than comfortable” — think of the way you experience a square or an opposition, as compared to a trine or a sextile. The difference is comparable.

    Temporaryreality, it’s a good question, and one that hasn’t been well explored in recent decades. I’ll put some thought into a post on the subject, as it probably needs that kind of treatment in depth.

    William, here in the US we have the most expensive health care system in the world, and it’s also the worst in the industrial world — worse, in fact, in terms of outcomes, than the health care systems of many Third World countries. I’m very sorry to hear that your mother ended up being harmed by it. You’re quite right that “senior care” in the US today mostly consists of warehousing people until they die, while charging them, their families, and the government outrageous fees for the privilege, and very often subjecting them to medical treatments that do more harm than good.

  209. @ BoysMom & Sister Crow…

    Thank you – sumtimers disease is a terrible thing, and I rely on others to save me from remembering everything!

    @ Janet D…

    I could write a book on the many shenanigans used to play ‘hide the puddle’ in the oilpatch, but financial and business writing is just much too dry for my taste. I have written many patents, and they nearly killed me…each took months to recover fro at the farm. LOL

    @ Erik the Red…

    I would say that your description fits well within the context we are all familiar with – that the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other; too much sex rebounds into no sex or not enough sex, etc.

    Mormonism is extremely cliquish, and shaming and ostracism still used as tools to punish those not following the groupthink. My best friend is LDS and we talked about this many a time, over a beer, while his wife cast a very evil eye on us. So I am not so sure that type of thing would amalgamate readily with Islam, or vice versa. Not to mention they do NOT honor the same hero figures. And how many Muslims are in Utah anyway? Geography figures in more and ore when oil declines.

    There are so very many flavors of both Islam and Christianity – I don’t see much ahead for either but fragmentation, with Christianity leading that race. One size fits all just doesn’t work unless there is a large, common enemy and then a common leader doing the uniting. Tough to turn all the ingredients out at the same time for that to mesh into a tasty pie.

  210. Wow, thank you everyone for your great suggestions! I’ve got a lot of food for though here, and I haven’t even had a chance to follow up all the leads! I’d never heard ‘return OF capital’ phrased that way, but I realize now that’s a truth a lot of the institutional investors I follow have been dancing around. One reason I haven’t been investing more into tools with a safer return of capital is that I’m limited by how quickly I can learn to usefully use a new tool set – it hadn’t even occurred to me that an investor’s club could share the cognitive load of the investments as well as the monetary one. I shall likely have to make some symbolic maps of these ideas before I attempt to articulate them. My gratitude to everyone who answered!

    @Chris
    What did I say to give that impression?

    @Isabel
    If only Bon Buddhism were less particular about who makes introductions to the deities, there’s a wine offering that would probably be right up your alley. Perhaps this offering to Lolth will do in a pinch (of course it loses a bit in translation from ancient Elvish):
    (hold cup in both hands)
    “Lolth, weaver of the great web, mother of Elves,
    finder of prey on uncertain terrain,
    devouress of unpursued passions:
    may the contents of this cup serve you as do all things!”
    (dip a few fingers in the cup and flick towards a dark corner)
    One wonders why anyone followed that upstart Corellan 😉

    @NoHype,
    Your question deserves an essay, but I’ll try and make a first pass at an answer here.
    I believe that a loud minority in our society believes masculinity to be by nature toxic. The idea that suicide is the best a man can do for his community is one manifestation of that belief. I disagree with that ideology, but I do think it has a basis in reality. Specifically, the situations that required masculinity – what we might very roughly define as tolerance for danger encountered or embodied – are more rare than they used to be. Socially useful or even acceptable avenues for risk taking are harder to find. Consequently, there just isn’t as much opportunity for men to be valuable. This crisis of meaning you refer to is, I believe, as much a crucible that will have winners and losers as any other in history. When I compare it to something like the Somme, I can’t say I don’t count my generation on the lucky side. But finding a way to be of value to your fellow humans has been a perennial question – it just has fewer people willing to answer it for others than there used to be.

  211. I can see that I need to work on my writing skills. Few things are more humbling then looking over comments I have posted and seeing where I fell short. In particular, I’ve noticed I tend to overuse certain terms and phrases. Any advice on how I can improve my writing abilities?

  212. This might be a question that requires a longer answer than a comment tread will allow. If so, I wonder if you could recommend a book or two that address the subject well, or else if you could touch on it in a future post. The question is: What does it feel like to be more aware of the spiritual dimension of the world we live in? On a daily basis. Does the world feel more alive or vibrant in some way? Or is the benefit of regular magical practice more about what you can accomplish or increased knowledge than about how you feel?

  213. Here is another article I came across that people may want to have a look at. While I disagree with the author’s Afrocentric worldview and his contention that African deities are superior to the those worshiped by people of European ancestry, he makes some very interesting points. Some of what he discusses tracks very closely with things we have been talked about here and at the Well of Galabes.

    https://www.modernghana.com/news/247094/african-gods-are-superior-to-white-gods.html

  214. How about that 30 second forward move of the doomsday clock? I’d be curious to hear your take on the story of the Doomsday clock and how it fits into the religion of progress.

  215. Hello JMG –

    I’ve been reading a lot of Norse and Chinese mythology lately, and pondering the differences between cultures under a monotheistic omniscient deity and ones with many and more fallible gods. Specifically, I noticed that I’d feel strange about worshipping a deity that seems to make poorer decisions and judgments than many humans I know in similar circumstances. I got to thinking about how living in a society dominated by a single, perfect god has led to worship of that (apparent) perfection, that both inspires imperfect humans towards self-growth and causes a whole lot of guilt and shame around being imperfectly human. It certainly has made it challenging to approach finding or choosing a patron deity or pantheon when their storied / mythological behavior doesn’t inspire my admiration.

    I was hoping you’d comment (here or at a later time) on how the nature of worship changes when so many of the pantheons of deities have personalities and weaknesses and foibles.

    Thank you, and thank you also for hosting open question days!

  216. JMG, you said, “Redoak, sure, but you have to have an attitude that focuses on value rather than wealth, and on value that you won’t live to enjoy. Not too many investors are into that just now.”

    Investors may not be into long-term (after you’re dead!) value, but parents surely ought to be. That a particular course of action will benefit my children and grandchildren is a very good reason to do it, even if I personally won’t profit from it. As you hint in the quote above, we really need to get away from this idea that the only things worth doing are those that will bring us financial rewards in the near future.

    BTW, I’m not necessarily advocating Redoak’s idea, since I don’t remember what it was. I’m just talking about the general principle.

  217. Hi JMG, jaques and everyone,
    I know I´m several days late, but regarding planting trees I thought I´d share these links about a German search engine that uses 80% of its profits to plant trees (don´t know why I didn´t think of that earlier):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosia
    https://www.ecosia.org/
    The site is also available in English and other languages; I´d encourage everyone to have a look. If anyone has problems to get to the language settings I´ll be happy to assist.
    greetings
    Frank from Gertmany

  218. @ alacrates, January 25, 2018 at 1:07 am:
    Thanks for the book recommendation; I´m always looking for a good read in English !
    @ JMG: On a related note, I´m missing your book reviews in ´´Into The Ruins´´; are you considering writing some more ? Of course I know you´re busy and it might not fit into your schedule, but I thougt I´d ask anyway…
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  219. @Booklover, January 25, 2018 at 5:56 pm:
    Couldn´t agree more; the only thing rivalling the obsession with Trump might be the obsession with Putin and all the EVIL he is responsible for…
    greetings
    Frank from Germany

  220. Hi and thanks for the advice regarding the banishing and protecting my child. I just wanted to leave a little feedback of how things are and what I’ve done.

    Regarding moving from the house, yes this is something I’ve been working on for some time actually since I’m not feeling at ease with living here in Stockholm, and would like to move back home to a northern Sweden. This however is a work in progress at best, and I think you all can guess what (or rather who) is causing the pushback 🙂

    To protect Adrian, the child, I’ve now kept the vinegar and onion in his room since last post, and also added twigs of thuja and the needels along with cloves of garlic in a bowl together with half an onion. When I did this i also got the idea to put thuja twigs under his bed (attached under his mattress where he has his head left/right side of bed and approx where he keeps his feet. I also put some iron objects around and over/under his bed and to top it off I gave him a silver chain to wear around his neck (this was highly appreciated btw since it is pretty cool looking 🙂
    To top the natural magic attempts off I’ve ordered Asafoetida resin, so I have more to try if needed.

    I also took the advice of using the bible and reading John 1:1-5 in all rooms of the house, and I intend to keep on doing it whenever I have the house to myself. As a side note it turns out that I had already marked these verses in my bible some 30+ years ago when I did my confirmation.

    All in all things feel better, and he once again stopped talking in his sleep and seem happier and more energetic today.

    If this turn out to be a more permanent state, then I couldn’t be happier so thanks for all the advice and for talking me seriously! Now I guess I need to figure out how to make some more powerful (and less smelly) banishing/protective amulets and satchels to put around the house so I can do this without my wife noticing. Right now I’ve actually told her my concerns and why I’m doing what I’m doing and let’s just say that things could have gone better…. and even if she accepts these measure, she only does so because she believes they are something I need to do to cope with myself and the stress of having a sick child. She most certainly believes I’m in need of psychiatric care, and the possibility of me having vinegar and such things around the house will not work for very long I’m afraid.

    Thanks again
    Ola

  221. The other day I came across another data point regarding higher education trends. Apparently, students are now often required to buy a digital access code along with their physical textbook. Of course, such codes are only good for one student for one semester. It also imposes a new cost on students who fail a class.

    The Atlantic had an overview… https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/01/why-students-are-still-spending-so-much-for-college-textbooks/551639/

    The speed at which higher education is *ahem* progressing is absolutely astonishing. I’m on the older end of the millennials. In my day we didn’t have textbook access codes, and though student debt was common it hadn’t gotten to the ridiculously problematic levels we see now.

  222. I’m also curious how dependent you think capitalism in general, and industrial capitalism in particular, depends on cheap fossil fuel and how that factors into dwindling supply and attempts to create alternative economic systems.

  223. Thank you, JMG, and again for the link to your other essay. No, I have never been a violent individual and hope never to be, and I must admit that I was not personally imagining running around with an AK (as well as knowing what chance untrained individuals would have). I’m also aware that if somebody actually did manage to stop the flow of oil too successfully/suddenly, that infrastructure destruction would then move on to people destruction.

    So, I do take your point from that essay that infrastructure destruction will likely only be effective when any such movement already has more legitimacy than that which it opposes. But there were two sentences in the same essay that stuck out to me:
    “Along the same lines, a case can be made that revolutionary violence against a political and economic system is morally justified if the harm being done by that system is extreme enough. That’s not a debate I’m interested in exploring here, though.”

    What I have been wrestling with recently are thoughts concerning violence and power. That civilisations and empires so often rely on violence or the threat of it, and cultivate the means to dish violence out. Honestly, I don’t even quite know how to articulate where I am on these topics, precisely because I am struggling with it; I have never had much of an understanding of power, implicitly or explicitly. But I guess that I would say that the debate you’re referring to is exactly what I’m interested in and am trying to understand.

  224. William Fairchild – you’re not living in New Mexico, are you?Your story is exactly what’s been coming out in the local papers about the secretive and very corrupt guardianship racket here.

    To – who was it? who has decided that being an operative mage is not their path. I’m with you on that one. What energy I have has too many demands on it already. So I stick to my small rituals (greeting the sun at sunrise and sunset, mostly), the early morning meditation, and the animal oracle card draw. On the other hand, I talk regularly with the great primordial mother, whom I see as the personal side of the impersonal Mam Gaia, and with Her consort/son/brother/sometimes father Pan, and have had some good down-to-earth advice from Her. Frex, I followed Dion Fortune’s advice to use the going-to-sleep time to meditate on a spiritual aspect or gift and was Told in no uncertain terms that I did NOT need any more Fortitude, but rather, Faith. In the archaic meaning of Trust, as in “Ottar believed in the goddesses” meaning he *trusted* them. Or as an astrologer might put it, mot more Mars; less Luna!

    The path She has me on now is rediscovering the basics of healthy lunches as well as suppers, and sticking by my pledge to do certain chores the old-fashioned way. and to walk when and where it’s feasible. (Not in the face of a 10 mph north wind, I didn’t. Being a coward of some 79 years standing.) Trivial to some, but gut-deep basic to me.

    For what that’s worth.

  225. JMG,

    In the early days of your esoteric studies did you ever have a serious encounter with the Watcher at the Threshold that threatened to derail your development? If so, what was the obstacle and how did you surmount it? Are encounters with the Watcher less intense in those who are born with a greater fund of spiritual experience carried over from prior lifetimes?

  226. Open post question I’ve been holding for an open post week I can actually make it online: During your older post “How Not to Learn Magic,” you mentioned the concept of the “Tainted Sphere” and said you planned on exploring it in more detail at a later point:

    “Part of that is a phenomenon occultists call the “tainted sphere,” which we’ll discuss in a later post.”

    Would it be possible, in lieu of a full detailed post to give a brief explanation of what that concept means and possibly point me towards literature that explores it in more detail? It was a tantalizing tease, and I was quite curious when you mentioned it, but it does seem as though the discussion has moved on a good deal from some of those older planned topics.

  227. Hi JMG, I have enjoyed following your writing over the years. It’s been a breath of fresh air to this recovering materialist atheist.

    I feel a bit caught in between paths here. I’m a market gardener and have been practicing martial arts (siu lum kung fu) for a few years now. I am intrigued by the druid path and what it could mean for the relationship I have with the landscape where I garden but I am hesitating for a couple reasons. You have spoken of an incompatibility between the eastern martial arts and western spiritual work. Also, I remember reading a warning about attracting spirits to homes with young children. So should one give up chi gong or the entire martial art and wait for children to grow before beginning to follow the druid path?

    Thanks so much!

  228. @ Erik the Red:

    I’d strongly caution you against relying on Toynbee when it comes to Islam, given that he was openly, violently islamophobic — a fatal failing in any would-be world historian. Islamdom, quite simply, was the default form of Western civ (which I define as the Hellenic-Abrahamic synthesis) through the 18th century, far vaster and wealthier and more populous and cosmopolitan than the whole of Christendom to the north and west. Only industrialization finally shifted the balance, and that, of course, has turned out to be civilizational suicide. This is especially true in terms of intellectual history: the whole Plato vs. Aristotle debate was carried out much more frequently in Arabic and Persian than Latin and English, and by the early modern period hundreds of thousands of books were freely circulating in the Islamic heartlands when even elite libraries in western Europe contained mere hundreds. (Latin Christians just didn’t go in for public libraries for some reason.) It is also true of “religious” history: in terms of winning hearts and minds, Islam was the most successful “religion” (a dangerously post-Enlightenment term) in the world between 1300-1900, and especially what is now called the global South; the majority of Muslims living today are descended from people who freely if gradually converted after the Mongol conquest, the pivot of Islamic and hence Western history.

    Pre-Mongol Islam, in short, was hugely diverse and internally contradictory; post-Mongol Islam was infinitely more so. As such, Islam cannot and must not be reified as just another Abrahamic law cult with static, well-defined parameters, including a putative perennial intolerance of sexual license. There is no essential core, apart of course from some measure of identification with the Hellenic-Abrahamic synthesis; but in the absence of a relentlessly centralizing and orthodoxizing Church, Muslims’ theories and practices could and did differ radically. Everything was up for debate. We even get exotic Islam-Judaism and Islam-Hinduism amalgams — flatly unthinkable in the western Christian context. To oversimplify, where Christianity was confined to the rigid Roman imperial model alone, Islam joined the Roman model to the highly flexible and pragmatic Persian one, thereby finally realizing the ardent persophile Alexander the Great’s imperial east-west dream. Any centralizing impulses in Islamic imperialism were thus permanently countervailed by a powerful decentralizing tendency, further boosted by regular nomadic invasion, and contractualism prevailed over corporativism, horizontalism over verticalism: hence the madrasa, not the university. We can even think of it as a kind of premodern democratic syndicalism!

    So the western European mania for rigid differentiation and rupture aside — the engine of both Inquisition and colonialist-capitalist-nationalist modernity –, profound ambiguity and radical ecumenism were rather the default in premodern Islamic societies to a degree that most modern orientalists, much less nonspecialists, have yet to appreciate. (Here you might want to check out Shahab Ahmed’s book What Is Islam?) Sure, the violent and near-total protestantization of Islam via colonialism (and now autocolonialism: e.g. Islamic State) has largely obscured this basic fact; but it’s imperative that this radical transformation, this bloody Reformation, not be backprojected onto the rest of Islamic history. Islam cannot be reduced to scripturalism and legalism, for all that some Muslim scholars have historically attempted to do so; but they usually lost that debate and lost it badly, at least until very recently, when collusion with colonial agents finally tipped the balance in this tiny puritanical minority’s favor.

    If we instead judge Islam by what self-identified Muslims have actually said and done over the last millennium and a half, however, then alcoholism and homoeroticism, for instance, are deeply, essentially Islamic sociocultural phenomena — to the point that boozing and boy love are historically both core themes of Islamic spirituality. Think Rumi and co.: sufis had quite a lot of sex, some of it quite kinky, and often while drunk or high; they were also the first to get addicted to coffee and construct legal defenses for its use. The same is true of Islamic imperial cultures: wine was so de rigueur at court that a rather large percentage of Muslim rulers died young of alcohol poisoning. In other words, to equate such “licentiousness” with cultural decadence and decay is simply not historically valid, at least when it comes to mature Islamdom. We have to be wary of anachronism, of course, so can’t speak of any Sexual or Drug Revolutions; but the simple fact is that, by all accounts, the most successful, culturally vigorous Islamic societies were as a rule far more sexually open and drug-friendly than their Christian counterparts to the west, and bisexuality and gender ambiguity extremely common. At the same time, the hegemonic yet highly flexible and adaptable framework of Islamic law discouraged abuses not by criminalizing most forms of sexual activity, but by tying them to long-term financial responsibility. (Even the strictest legalist killjoy couldn’t get around the fact that adultery is for all practical purposes unprovable, and hence unprosecutable, according to most Islamic legal schools.) And this tendency only increased in the post-Mongol period, when many Islamic societies were fundamentally structurally changed, and new ones born.

    That’s all to say that climate change, plague and conquest by nomad horde — three catastrophes that tend to recur in tandem — reliably produce new religions and cultures by forcibly synthesizing or transforming old ones, often beyond recognition. Reincarnationist-vegetarianist Islam-Hinduism in Mughal India was a natural upshot of the Big Chill-Black Death-Chinggis Khan trifecta. And since we’re facing just another such trifecta here in North America over the next few centuries, whereby desertification will render most of the continent fit only for nomadic use (i.e., much as happened to Asia), whatever clans that arise to fill the venerable Turko-Mongol boots will certainly play mix and match with whatever religions happen to have local prestige at the time on either settled coast. Given that Mormonism is one of the most robust expressions of specifically American religiosity, and shows all signs of institutional durability and adaptability, and Islam, while still only at around 2% now, is the fastest growing religion in the US (especially among our insanely massive, nonwhite prison population), I’m indeed putting my bet as a historian on some type of Mormon-Muslim synthesis. At the same time, prestige (i.e., scriptural) religions tend to sit rather lightly on nomad shoulders, and “shamanism” (also a problematically colonialist term) to persist as socioculturally fundamental. Think quranically-biblically-literate Mormon-Muslim medicine (wo)men as mediators between spirit and body, heaven and earth. And in time this synthesis could well birth a new Prophet with a new Book: and so the Western cycle will begin again, climatic conditions permitting.

    Either way, what ties nomad and settled up into one big intellectual-imperial bow is, of course, magic — high Islamic occultism boomed under the eager patronage of the barely-Muslim (-Buddhist-Nestorian) Mongols, and thence dominated Western intellectual history until the “modern” period. Me, I’m looking forward to the next post-Mongol age 😉

  229. @Rapier-

    I rather disagree that there were no tribes in Dark Age Europe. Tribal identities such as the Iceni persisted long after Rome fell. And keep in mind that Rome’s influence in Britain waned long before 476 AD.

    As well, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Goths, Vandals, etc. can all be considered tribes in the traditional sense.

    I have a good healthy dose of Celtic heritage from the British Isles. They had a news blurb the other day that Trump had begun deporting Irish who had overstayed their visas. Word was running through the pub scene on the East Coast and Chicago to lay low and the Irish were, well, pissed. I joked to my wife that it was no surprise, we Celts are rather a Clannish bunch.

    You find this still, in out of the way places in the US. My prime example, Goofy Ridge, IL. They are certainly a clannish bunch and can spot an outsider a mile away. So in a way, tribalism is kinda hard wired into our DNA.

    My working theory is that in large population centers it is based on the malleable word “identity”. Blue, red, LGBTQ, Evangelical, and so on. In very small population centers, such as Goofy Ridge (dang! that is such a delectable place name, ain’t it?) it is much more based on a sense of place and relationship.

  230. @Sean-

    I respect some of the work of Jensen, Keith, and McBay, but the idea of violent environmental resistance is unethical. Here is one reason why. If you apply the Just War Principals (St. Thomas Aquinas) to their theories, it fails right out of the gate when it hits the question “is the war winnable”? The answer is no. Make no mistake, the US DHS and all their assets (NSA, CIA, DIA, FBI, ATF, US Marshals, Secret Service, Nat’l Guard, local LEOs and many, many more), above ground and covert will descend on any who take this road like a bag of hammers.

    Any lives lost, will therefore be lost to no purpose. The insurrection instinct of DGR is, most charitably decades too early, and is at worst a childish fantasy.

    If you doubt this, just look at what happened to the misguided souls of the E.L.F.

    And this does not even take into consideration the public backlash when bystanders and employees are maimed or killed when “actions” are taken against fossil fuel infrastructure.

  231. @Patricia Matthews-

    First of all, thanks for your occasional replies. You are always an insightful commenter.

    A bit back, you pointed out that the 1st Commandment says no other God *before* me. Yes, I dig that and have relied on the *before* to justify my, well, rather polytheistic, nature spirit leanings. But as they say, you can take the boy outta the Church, but it’s awful hard to take the Church outta the boy. 300 years of Anglican heritage is difficult and painful to unwind. And not all of their teachings are wrong or useless. They say “decolonize your mind”. How do you decolonize your soul?

    To answer your question, no I am not from NM. (Although my father-in-law is, originally) I am safely ensconced in central IL. But my people, including Mom, are Coloradans and Wyomingites. That is where my heart is. Maybe, we Westerners have managed to put this senior racket on steroids somehow?

  232. I recall that during the final year of “The Archdruid Report”, you did a post on “interest voting” versus “values voting”, and how all voting these days is erroneously expected by most observers to be the latter instead of the former. It’s noteworthy that in this year’s gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, all the major contenders for the Democratic nomination say that they favor legalizing recreational cannabis consumption. Why is this interesting? In the previous gubernatorial election cycles of this century, Democratic candidates in Wisconsin were very tight-lipped and evasive about if not simply opposed to the idea of cannabis legalization.

    But now the Democrats in Wisconsin have been firmly out of power since the 2010 elections and the failed recall attempt of Governor Scott Walker that followed this Republican “wave election”. Also, legalization of cannabis is now a politically viable option. It would appear that the Democratic Party here has realized getting twenty-somethings to show up at the polls for bland candidates in the name of principles that don’t directly affect these young people in any way they can readily conceive, is a royal non-starter. Tell these youngsters that they could get something that they seriously want (like, say, the ability to buy some killer bud at a lawful business), however, and then maybe it will be a different story entirely!

  233. @violet

    If you are looking for a place to publish (and get feedback for) your novella, you might consider putting it on fanfiction dot net. Despite the name, there’s quite a bit of original fiction there (not just fan fiction, though there is a lot of that of course), and a community that will give feedback for sure.

  234. @JMG, everyone else

    It is to my great regret that I won’t be making it to the potluck, seeing as there is an ocean in the way. It really is a shame, as I’d have loved to meet you all. I’ll be sure to raise a glass to your collective health on june 21st though!

  235. @ Bipeninsular JB, that’s an interesting data point. Spengler discussed that when civilizations decline, World Cities begin to suck out wealth from the countryside until there is poverty everywhere, and lives are spent on the maintanence of the World City. These absurd costs for education, medicine, transportation and communication fit cleanly within this framework. The basic institutions of society have turned vampiric and serve as I way of extorting value from life. My sense is that, at this point, this institutions are so corrupt that they exist on a certain “side” that cannot be worked with. The less they are worked with the better; if we can define Learning as distinct from Education, Healing as distinct from Medicine, Movement as distinct from Transportation and Communion as distinct from Communication than we may be able to precent the poisoning of entire spheres of human experience. Most of my peers hardly read because they closely associate Learning with Education. The drift towards the Hypatia-moment is palpable. I’ve found that it is, increasingly, only those who already benefit from Progress who believe in it. Even MAGA is a statement of decline, of course. People know the score, what they do it about it is an entirely different question.

    @ mmelvink, thank you for your discussion on syncretic Islam! Frequently what I’ve read concerning the historical advent of Islam in the centuries after the Prophet’s death contains a heavy Western European bias that assumes the Koran to have been interpreted and applied evenly throughout time. If I am reading you correctly, you are saying this is not the case and the record is much more nuanced than that. Reading your thoughts, I have a few questions which, if I may, I would be delighted to ask:

    1) my understanding is that the Koran is the same all over the Muslim world, and that there are normative means of interpretation of the Koran. This would mean, if I understand correctly, that later passages supercede earlier passages. If this is the case, does that mean that Sharia law was not implemented as we understand it until quite recently? Is there still no center? That appears to be what your implying, which is very different the conclusions drawn from the history I’ve been exposed to.

    2) is this syncretism you mention still present today? It seems that Koranic interpretations have gotten more strict than what you describe in your response to Erik the Red, with less sanction for intoxication, bisexuality and gender ambiguity. Of course I’m familiar with Iran’s official policies vis-a-vis forced transsexuality, but that seems quite rigid and differing qualitatively from the more tolerant past you seem to be describing. In Indonesia I saw a video concerning transwoman who are part of the religious mainstream as well. Please forgive my ignorance in these matters; what you wrote completely differs in every way with what I’ve been taught and read about Islam, both current and historical. That being said, my knowledge is spotty and potentially very ill informed by bad sources disseminated widely.

    3) Regarding the future religions of North America, do you factor in the influx of people from Latin America in your analysis? My thought is, in the long term, that the future religious history will be much more defined by the volkerwanderung of Latin America than Anglo traditions. When the war bands of the south break through Trump’s wall two hundred years from now and impose law and order, is there good reason to think that they will either be Mormon or Muslim, or have reason to convert? This is a serious question; if the Latin Americans in two hundred years worship Death, The Sacred Heart of Jesus and The Virgin Mother, would it be more likely for the primary substrate of future syncretism to be of this Indigenous/Catholic matrix? This is obviously my bias, but you raise fascinating points regarding prison conversion and the growth Mormonism. My thought is, for whatever it’s worth, that these trends are temporary and great demographic shifts will likely sweep away these relatively poorly rooted traditions, but of course I will likely be totally wrong, my analysis blindsided by the Unforeseen.

  236. @ mmelvink

    Thank you so much for this; it needs to be said over and over again! — When I taught Medieval Studies at Brown U. (roughly 1980-2005), I tried to inculcate much the same view of the “Medieval World,” though with much less knowledge of Islam than you have. I was never sure how well it “took” with my students, since most of my Medievalist colleages (with the shining and inspiring exception of the late David Pingree) had focussed their own scholarship on this or that part of Western Europe alone, and paid no attention even to the varieties of Eastern Christendom, much less to Islam (apart from the reconquista in the Iberian penninsula).

  237. Greetings all

    JMG wrote: “That still leaves some fairly harsh centuries to get through, if you don’t happen to like living under Shari’a. ”

    With due respect to you John (thrice repeated!), Sharia is not equal to harsh laws, actually it means “the way”.

    As mmelvink said ( and I highly appreciate your erudition, Mr Mmelvink on muslim history and civilisation) we should avoid to think of islam as a monolithic bloc with a monolithic ideology and monolithic practice and a monolithic interpretation of Quranic Scripture.

    On the contrary Islam has generated a bewildering universe of very various practices, philosophies and cultures. It is misleading to reduce that universe to fairly simplistic equations that equate islam and shariah with harshness.

    It is a historically invalid and does not shed much light on the whole matter.

    Now for some light entertainment, I am 52 and about 35 years ago, when I was in college, and because I was a muslim I was very occasionally accused of being an amateur of young boys (bear in mind I was barely 17 at the time), and now in early 21st century, because I am a muslim (though not much of a practicing one) I have been accused occasionally of being anti gay….

    Note that my sexual tendencies have not changed much in the intervening time. When I realised the absurdity of the situation when viewed across time, I nearly keeled over!

    It does show that it is especially perceptions of western people towards muslims that have changed.
    When the west was anti-gay, muslims were seen as sodomites (I hope this word makes it!)
    Now that the west is pro-gay, same muslims are seen as being gay-bashing!

    For me, reification of islam is hugely problematic and badly obscures clear thinking on issues pertaining to islam as a cultural phenomenon of great import to the world.

  238. @Ola

    Expectation also plays an enormous role in dealing with a situation such as yours, and when it affects a child, his parents’ expectations are the most important expectations in play.

    Children are sensitive to an almost uncanny degree to parent’s conscious — and especially unconscious — fears, worries and insecurities; and they often model those very same fears and insecurities in their own behavior. So a parent in your position has to strike a very delicate balance indeed between doing acts of protection (against whatever worries one) and sincere conviction that such protection is truly effective and sufficient (against whatever worries one).

    And if, in addition, the situation has become a bone of great contention between father and mother, the child’s own worries will only pick up steam as it senses that contention. A child can and will easily perceive such anxious and fear-filled tension between its parents even if each parent manages never to utter a single word about it within the child’s hearing. It is reflected in the parents’ body-language and in the emitted pheromones which pervade the house, and most children unconsciously know how to read those signals loud and clear. There is absolutely no way whatever that parents can shield their children from their own parental fears, worries, anger, despair, hatreds, etc. — no way whetever, not even if each parent exercises iron discipline over every word and every conscious gesture and expression.

    Can you and your wife somehow mutually accomodate your two divergent world-views in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, even love (as distinct from desire), where each admits the theoretical possibility that one’s own fundamental world-view might possibly be somewhat mistaken?

    If not, then you both face a very hard road ahead. If there actually is nothing “supernatural” going on in your home, nothing at all, even so your child will unconsciously do whatever it takes to make it seem to him as if there is, simply by acting out whatever it is that he senses you fear in his own person. This is completely natural; almost evey child does this to some extent. And if you have indeed got such a thing as a larva or a predatory ghost in your home, then it is drawing huge supplies of its proper “food” from the hopes, fears and insecurities that you and your wife are feeling due to the clash between your world-views — which disharmony it is actively trying to foment with all its considerable resources.

    If you both can manage to pull it off, calm, acceptance of the differences between the two of you with respect to the supernatural (so-called), and even delight in those differences between you, can go a long way toward easing the situation in your home.

  239. @Fred, @JMG: both of these perspectives seem more reasonable and attainable to me than discovering a set of goals or desires. I had to go back two weeks to the January 2018 Book Club to make sense of the discrete planes, but that was quite worthwhile in itself. Thanks to both of you.

    John, here’s one more question related to the subject, if I may: what is your view of destiny? There are quite a few occult authors and teachers who say that the soul plans the experiences it wants to have in a particular incarnation, the people it wants to meet, etc. Is this something that you find plausible?

    Here’s what I found on the subject in The Druidry Handbook:

    “Fate doesn’t dominate all of life, however. The future also has power in the present, for each soul has unique gifts that seek expression. Their force is traditionally called destiny, the power that pulls the soul toward situations in which its potential can be fulfilled. When you find yourself thrust willy-nilly onto unfamiliar ground, faced with challenges you’ve never met before, and forced back on resources you didn’t know you had, destiny is shaping your life.

    Greer, John Michael. The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth (p. 58). Red Wheel Weiser. Kindle Edition.”

  240. @ JMG, if I remember correctly, you’ve mentioned that you are no fan with Jordan B. Peterson. I’ve been curious for several months on what grounds you base your disagreements.

    I’ll confess that I was quite interested in his viewpoints for awhile, but then…grew cold. He has certain Burkean conservative appeal, but he like the alt-light/right seems to believe that IQ is genetic rather than contingent. He ultimately espouses quite racially charged beliefs in light of his belief in the genetic basis of IQ, since he doesn’t view IQ as an abstraction or as an abstraction predicated on a lot of contingent factors. And then they seem to believe a set of numbers of all things derived from tests to be an appropriate basis for judging worth in an objective way. With many of his beliefs I think he is well sided with Reason and Progress, although in a somewhat pallid way. Basically, he seems to think that while flawed Technocratic Western Christian Civilization is the best that people can achieve.

    He is though, somewhat of an interesting figure. One wag wrote concerning the professor — I paraphrase — “I do not understand the appeal of this man. There is literally nothing outstanding about him. I guess some people are born into mediocrity and some have mediocrity thrust upon them”. In my unlearned estimation, he offers up the least metaphysical parts of Jung and analyzes Disney films and says it’s okay to be wealthy because Pareto distributions, IQ, hard work will allow for social mobility, young man and future engineering we can only dream about! — and people flock to him. It appeared for awhile not a small number of people made a living on youtube cutting up Professor Peterson’s videos into bite-sized chunks. He has become something more than himself, he has become a symbol of…something, and I struggle to articulate what that is. I guess he is, perhaps, almost the avatar of the Dead God that Theodore Roszack anatomizes in _Where the Wasteland Ends_, the dead god with a smile put upon his lips to make him friendlier. People seem to oh and ah over his utterances like some new technological gee gaw, and in the same tone, but perhaps I am not being fair or charitable to the man. I’m grateful that he inspired me to read more Jung, but he and his cohorts made me ultimately think that they have much more in common with the SJW crowd than is comfortable; they both worship Great God Progress and merely bicker about the appropriate sacrifices.

    I’m curious your thoughts on this matter, JMG and of course others as well. I really engaged with the Professor’s beliefs for several months, and think he says many things of objective and even subjective truth, but his philosophy seems like more of the same old logical positivism to me, and thus, not my cup of tea.

  241. @isabel kunkle
    Hail, Chaos! Great yawning chasm,
    gaping tear in the fabric of being
    akin to the Fatal Three: Atropos, Clotho, Lachesis,
    thou, mist-born child of Time and Necessity,
    genitor of Darkness, begetter of Night!
    Hear us! We praise thy formlessness,
    revel in thy black, indeterminate marrow,
    come before thee in fathomless fear
    and high-hearted exaltation,
    declaring fully thy worth
    and stand-struck by thy actuating power.

  242. I only wish people would acquire a taste for outsider politicians. We can’t even get up a viable 3rd party.

  243. Apologies if this has already been posted, there have been another 50 or so comments since I “finished” reading them yesterday.

    Curious if anyone has read this piece: https://eand.co/why-were-underestimating-american-collapse-be04d9e55235

    I think the author really overstates the supposed unprecedentedness (is that a word?) of American collapse–I feel pretty confident that people in the late Roman Empire would recognize a lot of it, for example–and he isn’t talking about technological or ecological collapse, but I still find it heartening to hear people talking about COLLAPSE out loud.

    Along similar lines, I’ve also started seeing articles recently about how depression is often not so much a pathological state as a completely appropriate emotional response to common experiences of our times. (I arrived at this conclusion myself years ago, and although others’ mileage will of course vary, for me it was what saved me from despair.)

    At the moment the few voices I’ve heard speaking the C-word aloud in public *mostly* fall into two groups: those who attribute it directly to Donald Trump, and those who actually have a greater sense of historical context but apparently think there’s nothing we can do but wring our hands. But the first step is admitting we have a problem.

  244. Many thanks! I encountered the concept of quickening as I learned the AMA’s role in corrupting Christianity, way back in undergrad (well, to be honest, I had heard the term in a series of bad action movies, but with a distorted enough definition that I would say it doesn’t count). It made sense to me then, and I’m sure I’ll take your advice. I was imagining some sort of action even prior to that stage of development, but perhaps that’s the sort of event that humans shouldn’t usually intervene in.

  245. mmelvink, interesting information about historical Islam.

    I did have some rough knowledge about the various syncretic Hindu-Islamic religions in India (Sikhism, and even Muslims and Hindus continuing to visit each others’ shrines until recently) and on Sufism in general (studying under a sheikh in a tariqa etc). But how prominent would you say “traditional” Sufi Islam still is today as opposed to Protestant/Wahhabi Islam?

    I’m currently in Singapore and studied in the UK for university. It seems to me that the vast majority of Muslims I have met in both countries are much more influenced by Protestant Islam. In daily life, the Muslims I meet in Singapore seem to be not very well-informed of the different schools in Islam and prefer to call themselves Muslims or at most Sunni Muslims, which to me seems oddly reminiscent of Protestant Christians calling themselves Christians while claiming Catholics and Orthodox are not “Christian”.

    It might be because they are reluctant to discuss them with me as an outsider, but I doubt it. However, as far as I have observed, AFAIK, “traditional” celebrations like the Prophet’s birthday seem to be on the wane; although I’m not sure about the legalistic aspect of Protestant Islam in practice. In the UK on the other hand, the legalism and moralizing aspects seem to be much stronger. There was a small Sufi society at my university and I did have some interesting conversations with their members about the commonalities between Sufi Islam and Vajrayana Buddhism, but the other Muslim and ethnic-Muslim (Arab Society etc) were pretty intolerant of them. And at various times, from my friends’ posts on Facebook, through overhearing conversations etc I can see that there is a much greater legalistic and moralizing character to their Islam than I can see in Singapore.

    I thus get the impression that “traditional” Sufi Islam seems to be on the wane outside of maybe Africa and India? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I have to say, as a Buddhist, I am somewhat apprehensive of an Islam-dominated future, bearing in mind the effects of Central Asian Muslim Turkic invasions on Buddhism in India and Central Asia, but ultimately I guess Buddhists should really look at the problems within our fold rather than blame Islam.

  246. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, the storm up your way sure looked like a hurricane on the radar and satellite images to me. Glad to hear that all you received was a solid snowfall. I’m wondering at what point the land around the equator (which is highly productive and fertile land) will cease to support such a massive human population due to frequent and massive storms? I guess that sentiment can be applied to a lot of other land as well. The storms are certainly getting bigger this far south (37’5 latitude South), when the droughts aren’t getting more extreme. I wouldn’t shed any tears about the end of palm oil which is grown around the tropics because it tastes disgusting to me and is a common ingredient in industrial food, but a lot of people may rely on those calories.

    I too have noticed that some types of insurance policies have a very low pay out rate and it is not as if there are not articles in the newspapers reporting on the problems of those types of policies. I quietly ditched them, but I am professionally bound to purchase other policies whether I like it or not. It is a form of tax on my income and it never gets cheaper. I see those types of policies as me supporting big business who are more likely to have claims, rather than providing any useful cover for myself. What do you do? I have to pick and choose where to spend my energies and fighting that rort seems to be a losing battle, although I did query it. Your Obamacare insurance program would have given me an apoplexy because it appeared that you paid for something you couldn’t access any benefit from! Ouch!

    I picked the first ripe tomato of the season today and am looking forward to harvesting some more for lunch. Yum!

    Cheers

    Chris

  247. Hi Christopher Henningsen,

    There are a few Chris’s here, but I’ll assuming that you are referring to my earlier comment when you wrote:

    What did I say to give that impression?

    You need to ask yourself why you believe that investors would just give you funds for your theoretical land remediation plan without expecting a return on their investment? I do not believe that this is a complex question.

    Cheers

    Chris

  248. Just a bit of something that I noticed this week, which might be a rationalizing principle for the things we talk about here. First, it is obvious that our actions respond to our perceptions. We see something, and we react to it. (I think that was part of high school psychology). But I’ve noticed that my perception changes in response to my actions, too. Those things to which I have reacted in the past become more visible in the present. What we perceive and ignore become less likely to be perceived. The example I have in mind is roadside trash. When I’m out walking, I (often) pick it up. The surprising side-effect is that when I’m driving, I can’t “not see it” any more. Logic tells me that it was always there, but it was not so perceptible before it became a stimulus to action.

  249. Ola – Your description of your “pale” Swedish son leads me to wonder whether he is getting enough solar radiation for good health. Your winter days are short and the sun is low at best, but the genes for transparent skin (commonly referred to as “white”) were selected within us northern people to help us make the most of it. Sunshine creates Vitamin D, which is essential to good health, and who knows what other chemical “magic” goes on within a sun-worshipper? Until Big Medicine finds a way to bill us for sunshine, though, you won’t find them urging you to take some… on the contrary, they’ll sell you sun-screen with the (unproven) promise that it may prevent skin cancer (and not contain chemicals with unknown side-effects).

  250. Several people in this thread have been asking about how to educate their children, and JMG has provided some important advice on reading, and allowing children to follow their own interests. He’s also advised homeschooling. In some areas and for some specific local troops/dens/communities, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, or other child-leadership groups may also be a useful addition to their lives, as these groups still have a hands-on, concrete skills training system… but you have to make sure the local chapter lives up to the ideals of that nominal system. Some don’t, so pay attention.

    I’d like to put in an additional vote for crafts. I don’t mean cotton swabs and glue, paper chains and cardboard castles — though these things are of course enjoyable for very young children. No, I mean artisanal crafts — building furniture or boxes or backyard forts and treehouses out of wood, learning to sew costumes (at the very least) for Halloween, making scarves and hats and mittens with knitting and crochet, yarn-spinning, leather-working, pottery, candle-making, bookbinding, instrument-making and instrument-playing, paper making, and cooking (including baking, cheese-making and fermentation [If you take up beer-brewing or wine making at the same time, YOU might even enjoy it too.]) All of these activities involve practical kinds of arithmetic, careful observation, practical geometry, and skillful interpretation of both written and diagrammed/visual directions. They require high levels of hands-on skill, attention to aesthetics, personal discipline, and detail. If you gradually require them to keep track of their expenses in their early teens, you can include lessons in real-world bookkeeping, too. And the lovely thing about all of this work is that you can’t help but get better at a craft that you practice with love and attention. It’s a normal part of the process.

    All of this may seem like a lavish amount of attention to what amounts to ‘artistic skill’ in the modern world. But none of these skills are learned in an afternoon or even a week or a month — but they repay themselves in knowledge of HOW to do things, and not just ABOUT the history of things. Kids with this kind of artisanship-based background in doing things are more broadly adept at handling long-term projects, planning and scheduling their time, managing their finances, and solving problems… in part because they’re used to working with tools and using many different tools in order to complete a complex project’s many specific steps. So, Crafts.

    Also… The recent California horror-show of many children, some still young and others much older, imprisoned in their family home in suburbia, will no doubt be used to justify the tightening of restrictions on homeschooling. Accordingly, please make sure your kids get out of the house often, and connect regularly with other kids, at the very least through a local network of other homeschoolers — who often cooperate and coordinate on field trips, sports activities, science programs (lots of potentially expensive equipment and materials). Find these groups near you, evaluate them, and join the one that seems slightly-incompatible with your ideals and socio-economic and racial backgrounds … in part so that your children get used to the idea that not everyone looks, sounds or thinks just like them or their parents… and mostly we still have to all get along if we want to survive.

  251. @ Alexandra

    Re American collapse

    I’d agree with your general observed categorization of people’s reactions, at least those who can acknowledge the we are in fact an empire in the first place. What people don’t want to hear is that 1) we’ve been collapsing for a while now, it’s just that it is becoming more visible, and 2) that the collapse of the American empire is a Necessary Thing in the sense that it follows as a natural consequence of our (collective) decision to embark on the path of empire in the first place (which I’d still argue has been effectively since the early 19th century and the embrace of Manifest Destiny). It is true that there is much more than can be done other than wringing our hands, but that “much more” involves embracing the fact of our imperial decline, proactively dismantling and withdrawing from the remainder of our empire, and employing those resources that would otherwise be poured into the rat-hole of imperial maintenance in the preparation for and transition to a post-imperial existence. No one wants to acknowledge that stopping the collapse is not possible (nor desirable, in my view).

  252. “Islamophobia.” “Homophobia.” I think I’ll have to look these up in my OED to see just when these words appeared. I think they are both misnomers, too uncritically admitted into the language, implying irrational fears. Perhaps rational avoidance or distaste would be more accurate, possibly arising from personal experience extending over decades.

  253. Hello JMG,

    I just got given a copy of Lean Logic today, and it looks like a treasure trove. I’ve been enjoying it like crazy, and with about three hours of reading and notes I’ve only put a tiny dent into it. It’s a great work.

    The first entry I flipped to was the one on religion. Amongst other things the characterization of churches as an almost Utopian structure was something that really got to me, I hadn’t considered it in that way before. I’m hoping to have a half-decent question about your characterization of religion vs David Fleming’s off of the ground soon, but I haven’t thought it totally through yet. Did the two of you ever have a dialogue together? What are some of your favourite entries in Lean Logic in general?

  254. @Christopher and gkb: Many thanks! I’ll adapt these for the appropriate gods for the game world and get to work. 🙂 (Also, Lloth/Lolth is kind of the best.)

  255. Alexander, when I was doing that working, I brought in the Dragons to the heart center a little below armpit level, and brought them outside my body surface before bringing them back into the head center. If you find that doing things a different way works better for you, though, by all means. As for the Golden Dawn, it doesn’t work with a fusion of the currents; it’s a solar path. (A useful reminder that all paths don’t climb the same mountain…)

    William, it’s the religion of progress again. If you believe that what’s new is always better and what’s old is outdated and a waste of everyone’s time, then applying the same logic to human beings is just the logical next step…

    Erik, that’s a remarkably Judeo-Christian view of history. Outside of that very narrow lens, sexual morality doesn’t correspond at all with position in the historical cycle. For just one example, consider England in the time of Queen Elizabeth I with England in the time of Queen Victoria: which of these came at the beginning of an empire and which came near the end, and which one was the more sexually uninhibited? Now in fact I disagree with MmelvinK about the future religion of North America; I think Islam’s role here is rather more like, say, the role of the worship of Isis in late Roman Western Europe — popular for a time, but too late to naturalize sufficiently to survive the downslope — and I see the Mormon church as sinking into institutional rigor mortis and collective indifference over the next century or so. It’s the new religious movements, and especially those rooted in Hispanic cultures, that are likely to take the lead going forward.

    Shane, I know the feeling.

    Dfr1973, in that case, keep doing what you’re doing!

    Erik, the Turkish foreign minister has now demanded that the US pull its special forces “advisers” out of the Manbij canton in northern Syria — the assault on the Afrin canton is making progress, and Manbij is next. I’d say it’s a safe bet that the entire US strategy in northern Mesopotamia is a burning wreck right now…

    Erik (again), the best advice I ever received on that subject came from George Scithers, then the editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He said that everyone is born with a couple of million words of bad writing in them, and the only way to get them out of the way so you can get to the good stuff is to write them out! From personal experience, I highly recommend doing a weekly blog on controversial topics — you’ll have your writing picked apart by your critics, which is also useful.

    Llmaiwi, there’s certainly a felt component. The world stops being a collection of hard surfaces with nothing behind them, and becomes a realm of life and power and intelligence — and of course it’s not just a matter of thinking about the world in these terms, or coming to believe that the world is like this, it’s a matter of direct personal experience. Of course knowledge and capacity to do things are also part of the package.

    Erik, thanks for the link.

    Reese, no, I don’t happen to know that. IIRC Freud referenced it in his book Moses and Monotheism, but I don’t think it was original to him.

    Austin, I see it as the technocratic equivalent of the “Rapture Ready” index, thus not of great interest to me.

    KF, Symmachus noted a long time ago that “myths are things that never happened but always are;” they’re not history, they’re a depiction in metaphorical language of eternal realities, and very often they include a sense of humor of a kind that you won’t find in most prophetic religions. The polytheist can revere a divine power while still laughing at the humor woven into the teaching stories we call “myths,” and learning from them — since the gods and goddesses are eternal energies, we find in their myths the typical follies that happen when those energies are expressed in the world of human experience.

    Housewife, exactly — and that’s why in times of decline, the only institutions that keep going are families and religions, both of which can pursue long term goals because they don’t worry about profit.

    Frank, thanks for this!

    J.L.Mc12, I’ve used it, in its reworked Golden Dawn form; it’s an effective rite for personal spiritual development and also as a preliminary to exorcism.

    Frank, thank you. I simply haven’t had the time. I also have a huge stack of emails waiting for answers!

    Ola, glad to hear it’s helping. I sympathize with the difficulties you’re having with your partner; that’s very common in this sort of situation.

    B-P JB, one more way in which universities are making it increasingly clear to young people that there are many better options…

    Greg, that’s a question for an entire post, which I’ll consider writing.

    Sean, fair enough. The issues you’re wrestling with are huge, and not well explored in a lot of modern sources — it’s embarrassing how many people simply assume that whatever furthers a goal they think is good must be morally justified by that fact, for example.

    Dirtyboots, of course. It took the usual form of a disinclination to do the work, coupled with an endless series of appealing distractions, and I floundered around getting nothing much done until the death of my only child reminded me that I only had so many years to get things done, and jolted me into systematic practice. As for past lives, the Watcher has to be faced and overcome in every life, but the intensity does seem to vary based on previous experiences.

    Eric, sure thing. When any organization gets in the habit of permitting some particular kind of abuse that violates its official policies, the egregor of that organization becomes biased in the direction of encouraging and fostering that specific kind of abuse, and it will recur again and again, even among people who’ve been sheltered from the original abuse and have no knowledge of it.What’s more, anyone who uses the symbols and rituals of that organization will tend to start acting out the same abusive patterns.

    In mages’ jargon, the sphere of the organization becomes tainted. If a magical lodge develops a tainted sphere, you basically have to shut things down, let everything lie fallow for at least three years, and then start up again with different rituals and symbolism, and a zero-tolerance policy toward whatever the abuse was. Otherwise it’s just going to happen all over again. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is a great example: over and over again, power struggles mirroring the ones that originally brought down the order have broken out in successor orders. That’s why the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn uses different rituals and symbolism…

  256. @Alexandra-

    What a nice article. Thanks for posting it.

    Now, IMHO, the author points out symptoms, not causes, of collapse. A person could cite many other symptoms. Infrastructural degradation, the failure of extended, much less nuclear families, the loss of community institutions (a church of place, or the local Masonic lodge) and so on.

    The fact is, most Empires overshoot and collapse. ‘Tis typical.

    I applaud him for accepting the trajectory of Industrial Civilization. The implied solutions (gun laws? drug legalization? universal healthcare?) won’t forestall it, but they may cushion some small piece of the landing.

  257. I’m glad that was a good question! Thank you for being willing to consider it, in spite of the lengthy list of “that deserves a post” topics that’s accumulating.

  258. On the topic of ‘tainted spheres’, I’m leading a group which is historically unfriendly to newcomers. We’ve managed to pull out of the death spiral which such an attitude inevitably causes, but now we’re getting growing pains and pushback against new members. Any suggestions on ways to get people at least 20 years older than me to ‘play nice’?

  259. @Robert Mathiesen and mmelvink

    Any sources that you would recommend reading in regards to the history of Islam? I have never read any that has described that history in such a way, and would like to learn more. The closest thing I can think of that I have read is The Inheritance of Rome by Christopher Wickham, but he didn’t go into too much detail about the nuances of Islam if I remember correctly.

    -Dan Mollo

  260. @ Violet, re. Peterson–

    Here’s my take. Watch the 30 minute interview he did on Channel 4 in Britain (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54). It’s a masterwork in the genre of “Standing Up to a Bully.” For a half hour his interviewer, very much on her home turf, lies and distorts everything he says, while he maintains his composure and calmly eviscerates her.

    Watch that, and then go back and watch Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s an equally powerful example of the exact same thing. At the time– are you old enough to remember?– George Bush and his supporters had spent half a decade terrorizing anyone that showed any dissent from their party line. Their favorite trick was to insist that anyone who– say– suggested that invading a country that hadn’t attacked might not be a good idea just Hated America.

    Twelve years later, the Social Justice Warriors have spent a half-decade terrorizing anyone who dissents from their party line, insisting that anyone who shows any form of dissent just Hates Black People or Women or Muslims or LGBTQs or whatever.

    I remember watching Colbert stand up to George Bush to his face, and there was nothing in the world that could have stopped me from voting for whoever he told me to. I was 23 at the time. Twelve years and a lot of life experience later, I’m able to appreciate– immensely– the good that someone like Peterson has done without being swept up in the psycho-social-political current that he embodies. But most of his fans are younger people, and this is the first round of political authoritarianism they’ve been consciously aware of. Naturally they’re being swept along; David vs. Goliath is a very powerful archetype. But by the time a plucky left-winger stands up to whatever right-wing authoritarianism has ahold of our politics in 2030, they’ll probably be solid enough in their own identities to appreciate with detachment.

    On another note, I got your letter, and have finally found a postal stamp. But you might have let me know that your email address wasn’t going to work anymore; I worried about you until I saw your comments at the Dreamwidth site.

  261. Ola,

    I don’t mean to push my opinion where it is not appropriate, and I don’t know of this suggestion is appropriate in your culture, but…talk your wife in your arms, look her in the eyes and thank her for indulging your ritual, tell her that it is helping you deal with the fear you have for your son. This will preserve peace in your household.

    If you ever have to see a psychologist tell them that the ritual was a means of preserving your sanity. An absurd way of dealing with your trauma. No psychologist will ever negate a patient’s self reflection. This will preserve peace in your life.

    Remember, magic is absurd, but that doesn’t mean it’s fake.

    Regards,

    Varun

  262. Re: Peopling of the Americas

    JMG ­– Hm! I’ll have to get my hands on a copy of that book. But then, there is still a difference between “We originated here” and “We’ve been here for over 25,000 years”, and that’s what I’m interested in figuring out.

    I suppose the simplest way of making both make sense is treating any given culture’s origin story not as the story of when humans arrived at the place in question, but of when the culture arose in some form recognizably similar to the one it’s in now – which makes some sense to me, though I’ll have to ask one or a few Native elders I know of for their perspective. Any other thoughts on this are welcome.

    Reese – No, I’ve never heard of that hypothesis on horses. Can you recommend a source? Sounds interesting.

  263. Steve, I don’t think there will be any kind of conflict. The energy-work side of Druidry — our equivalent of qigong — is a small part of the tradition, and if your school has its own qigong, just do that instead. (Druidry is extremely flexible.) In terms of my book The Druidry Handbook, of the three paths — the Earth Path of living in harmony with nature, the Sun Path of celebrating the seasons, and the Moon Path of meditation and other spiritual exercises — you’ll simply want to swap your siu lum practices for the Moon Path as given, and run with it. (Did I mention that Druidry is extremely flexible?) As for children, I don’t recommend doing intensive ritual magic while small children are around, but Druidry isn’t about intensive ritual magic for the most part — I had to write my book The Celtic Golden Dawn to provide Druids with that option! — and a lot of Druids have children, and have zero trouble. So you should be fine.

    Mister N., I’m delighted to hear it. Democrats will start winning again when they stop trying to run personalities and start talking — and doing something — about the issues.

    Tripp, nope — Gemini sun. I do have Leo ascendant, moon, and Uranus, though.

    Brigyn, and likewise!

    Karim, yes, but right now the Muslim presence in much of the West is dominated by hardcore Wahhabi ideology, and theirs is the version of Shari’a that Europe can most likely expect to have imposed on it in the event that mass migration and war brings Europe under the control of Muslim populations. That seems like a very bad idea to me.

    Rationalist, no, the notion that the soul gets to plan out its life in advance isn’t found in traditional occultism or the older currents of Druidry; when we get to the point where we have enough capacity for reflective consciousness to do that, we’re finished with the kind of incarnate existence you and I are experiencing right now. Each of us has a higher self — the Welsh word is elaeth — which is the part of us that exists outside of time and seeks to manifest its potential within time; that’s the part of us that’s responsible for the gentle pressure toward certain things that we call destiny — but it can be swamped by fate (the consequences of our previous lives, i.e., karma) and our own imperfectly free but still powerful wills. It also tends to seek out types of situations rather than specific situations — when you’ve got something other than your will pulling you toward a particular person or a particular issue, that’s usually karma that’s seeking resolution, not destiny.

    Violet, it’s been a while since I read him, and I don’t recall at the moment what it was that made me roll my eyes and go do something more interesting, but to the best of my recollection it’s simply that his ideas are a mild rehash of one end of the conventional wisdom. There are quite a few very popular intellectuals who are like that: they restate the familiar and bland in colorful terms, and so get a large fan base of people who like to have their own beliefs repeated to them.

    Alexandra, exactly! We’re going through a perfectly ordinary decline and fall, which will bottom out in a perfectly ordinary dark age…but there’s an overwhelming taboo against saying that, or even thinking it. No, we’re special, and therefore our future has to be the most unique future that ever was… :-S

    Joel, before that, there isn’t much you can do, other than make sure the mother is well fed (if your doctor tells her she’s not allowed to gain weight, get another doctor — the weight of the child, placenta, etc. has to come from somewhere!) and well cared for.

    Janitor, it’s Covington, Kentucky. I based them on guys I met from Kentucky once.

    Chris, yep. Obamacare was a corporate welfare program for the medical and insurance industries disguised as health care, and as I noted in several Archdruid Report posts, the appalling burden it placed on the working class was one of the main things that got a lot of people who’d voted for Obama to vote for Trump in 2016. I wonder how long it’ll take before the Democrats get a clue about that…

    Lathechuck, good. That’s one of the psychological factors behind ritual.

    Spicehammer, no, I never met David Fleming. I wish I had; we could have had some great conversations.

    Temporaryreality, someday I need to go back and make a list.

    Kfish, consciousness is the universal solvent of the alchemists. Bring the issue to center stage, and then see if you can get at least a few members to join you in being very welcoming to newcomers, so that those who aren’t can’t ignore what they’re doing. It’s a hard slog, but once you have a critical mass of newcomers you can usually turn things around.

    Chuck, that’s a useful way of approaching it. It also helps to remember that myths are things that never happened by always are, that they express a different kind of truth than history does, and that “we came from here” is a truth in its own way but not necessarily a historical truth.

  264. @ Steve, my apologies about the email address! I deleted it sometime after I sent the letter and figuring you had my contact info. I deleted it on the fly; it was never my main address and my use of it had tapered off to nothing for quite awhile and one day I checked it and thought “how do you erase a google account?” which I decided to do right then and there without a lot more thought. Although it was not my intent, I feel now that I acted without due sensitivity and I am sorry.

    Re: Stephen Colbert and Jordan Peterson; I saw Stephen Colbert roast George W. Bush in high school. Honestly Steve I found it to be horribly cringey at the time, almost unwatchable. I tried to convince myself that I appreciated Stephen Colbert’s nerve since a lot of my friends were into the spectacle and at the time people thought I was a little square, but I didn’t find it emotionally fulfilling. I thought Colbert was being mean, and I felt mildly nauseous watching George W. Bush squirm, smirk and blush.

    I have much more respect for Peterson’s conduct in interviews, including the video you link to. In fact he is exemplary in his bearing. My issue is with his content, not his manners. He is entirely less of a bully than Stephen Colbert, and perhaps the people he inspires will have more integrity than the SJWs have. That being said I think it would be a closer fit to compare Stephen Colbert with Steven Crowder or Gavin McInnes who both sometimes play satirical SJW characters in mockery. Jordan Peterson is too dignified to fit into a neat comparison with a satirical comedian. I think it would be much more fair to compare him with Noam Chomsky, who also loudly stood up to the Bush administration, If I remember correctly. Center left folks over 25 sometimes still talk of Chomsky’s theories with a voice with reverence. Chomsky seemed like a fairly charismatic man with dignity and gravitas when he played his part of ‘renegade academic.’

    My thought is that the political “left” and “right” are framed by the same technocratic beliefs in Man Conquerer of Nature. Within that framework, I agree Professor Peterson’s conduct is excellent, but I disagree forcefully with the irrational basis of his arguments, the mythic substructure in which he builds his ideas from. If people are inspired by his good conduct I sincerely think that’s great. I am less enthused because my irrational basis of understanding is meaningfully different. To be fair, I wasn’t super impressed by Chomsky either, although I definitely learned some interesting things from him as well and admired his courage in the face of bullies.

    Perhaps any mainstream political group on the ascendant will have its charismatic spokesman arising from amongst the tenured?

  265. JMG: If I remember correctly, you mentioned somewhere (I think in one of the Well of Galabes posts?) that the “magic” of most fantasy fiction is more similar to an idealized version of technology than to what occultists generally means by “magic”. This is an interesting point and, I think, a valid one.

    I was thinking, however, about the reasons why many people (myself included) find the magic of fantasy fiction fascinating, more so than – for instance – science fiction versions of technology, which could also be described in similar terms.

    It seems to me that what some of the most interesting fantasy fiction version of “magic” share is the dream of being able to *speak* to physical reality, to make things happen via talking and negotiation rather than via sheer force.

    For example: one of my favourite “magic” scenes, since I first saw it as a kid, has been the “Merlin cleans up his room” one from Disney’s Sword in the Stone ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bd5YUEOwlE ). It is a silly scene; but what I like most about it, I think, is that Merlin could talk to his things and get them into his bag in this way.

    So, it seems to me, fictional magic, at least in some instances, is largely a fantasy about the power of *speech*; and this is one of the reasons why it is something people like to fantasize about.

    Does this make sense?

  266. Dear Mr. Greer

    Thank you for your guidance!

    I applied your instructions in this morning’s SoP, though it felt a bit awkward (being a new addition), the actions made me imagine the Sphere as passing through me, as if I was transparently standing in the middle of a solid ball of light, whereas before I imagined the Sphere as a hollow shell around me.

    Lordyburd

  267. Hi John Michael,

    It is an appalling burden. Yes. You have no argument from me on that score. When first I heard your descriptions of “deductibles” for Obamacare, I misunderstood what you meant by that term because that term means something else altogether down here. It is a total outrage and there is no doubt in my mind about that, despite the fact that some people may have benefited from that outcome.

    A few years ago I read a lengthy story about a poor community in Europe before the EU and an observation was made by a person living within that community that in order for anyone in that community to gain an advantage, someone else had to take a hit to either their income or wealth. That conclusion was not lost on me, however it may have been lost on others. And just to spell that conclusion out: In a declining economy (i.e. real wealth is declining), if the population increases, then per capita wealth is reduced. No other outcome is possible, although at the moment increasing debt is being used to cover over that decline.

    I’m curious as to your opinion of debt, if you could please indulge me? I see debt as a tool with which to maintain income today in exchange for a lien on tomorrow’s income. A little bit of debt is OK, but too much is a very bad thing. I read very recently that the average debt to GDP ratio for first world countries is now at something like 76%. A few years ago I recall a statistic that any country exceeding the 90% debt to GDP ratio was comparable to a basket case. Do you believe that there may be a tipping point for debt in the near future and a correction rapidly following?

    Cheers

    Chris

  268. Following up on Alexander’s question, does the Celtic Golden Dawn work with the telluric and lunar currents, or is it a solar path as well?

  269. The notion that a soul might be able to plan its incarnation in every detail seems to run counter to experience, and perhaps even contrary to the logic of incarnation itself.

    Much better, surely, to be plunged into a environments which you don’t want to be in, meeting people you would rather not know, enduring great sorrows, – one learns so much more that way, about oneself and others…..

    School and – above all – office life have amply fulfilled this requirement!

    A thought has come into my mind every now and then over the last two decades: ‘I wish I were a disembodied, angelic intelligence.’

    An odd thought, because my whole pleasure in life is making things by hand and I would say that I am a sensualist rather than an ascetic, and not in the least bio-phobic.

    I feel it is an expression of deep weariness with the seemingly incurable mental illness and lack of self-knowledge of mankind in general. But as you say, that kind of thing seems to belongs to this plane of existence…….

  270. isabelcooper: concerning “a doctrine that says any sin can be forgiven”, there are conditions. I would expect that, if one were to confess to a Priest that they molested children, part of the required penance (necessary for absolution to actually hold) *would* involve admitting their misdeeds to the relevant secular authority. I would be in favor an official ruling saying that, when someone confesses a crime of that nature, part of the penance should be to admit it to secular authority. however.

    As for celibacy making it harder to recruit priests: that’s probably the case, particularly in our current sex-obsessed culture. But I do not think that that’s a good reason to weaken that rule. The resulting lack of priests can be addressed by giving more responsibilities to laypeople, which I think is a good idea regardless.

  271. @ Violet,

    You wrote:heavy Western European bias that assumes the Koran to have been interpreted and applied evenly throughout time.”

    Dear Violet, allow me to intrude a little bit. A current muslim thinker I appreciate a lot is Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University. Although he writes mainly in French (he’s swiss!) he has given a number of talks in english about islam. Well worth listening to on youtube. His website has an english version: https://tariqramadan.com/english/
    What I find valuable is Ramadan’s injunction: there is one Koran but many interpretations. Always worth remembering!
    Finally, for some good introduction on this religion and its philosophy, you may want to read Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on islam (paper text version!). Very informative! Certainly not definitive but worthwhile.

    @ JMG. You wrote: “but right now the Muslim presence in much of the West is dominated by hardcore Wahhabi ideology”

    I spent 6 years in the UK from 1984 to 1991 and I have friends and relatives all over western europe from the UK, France, Belgium to Switzerland. Indeed, there is an incessant two way traffic between Mauritius and western europe, although wahabi ideology is present I have failed to see it dominating european islam which is a reflection of the diversity of that religion in its home countries.

    In the unlikely event that muslim populations dominate europe I see no reason to believe that the wahabi version will pre-dominate. It is rarely appreciated by non-muslims how disliked by most muslims the saudi regime is. I have yet to meet one who would be happy to live under wahabi rule.

    Furthermore, currently barely 5% of western europe is muslim. For europe to become muslim would take upheavals rarely seen over the last 2000 years and may be more.

    Although migration rates that shot up recently, I do not expect non-muslim europeans to remain passive if ever millions of muslims come crashing in. On the contrary, european history makes that clear: there will be severe, violent and bloody backlashes to stem whatever tide of muslims come their way.

    With peak oil and disruption of modern civilisations, immigration will occur on massive scales. Wherever it occurs it will be resisted with violent and lethal force. I expect europeans will be largely successful in stemming whatever tides of migrants come their way.
    Well that’s my take for what its worth!

    Regards

  272. Belated response to Packshaud (Jan 25th) re my question on fusion power: yes I quite see it might be just as well if the temptation to use such an energy splurge is not put into humanity’s hands! Besides, the Ecotechnic Future is such an attractive option, I don’t want us to miss it.

    I would however miss the Internet – no more solarsystemheritage website, and no more JMG blog. But perhaps as the demise of the Internet looms, a new profession will come into being, a kind of salvage operation directed at saving the essentials of the Web onto some long-lasting parchment or the equivalent…

  273. @violet, Steve T, JMG, re: Peterson,

    I think Steve T has a good point about Peterson standing up to be bullied — but JMG’s point about rehashing conventional wisdom is important here, as Steve points out, Peterson’s following is largely amongst the young. This is not conventional wisdom to (at least some) of them. This is new, exciting, and contrary to what they’ve been taught, because good lefty post-modernists dominate education at all levels. His defence of modernism might seem old hat and derivative to many, but to a generation of kids raised by post-modernist teachers on a steady diet of social justice, it’s fresh, hip, and best of all, rebellious.

    This explains why JMG sees him as rehashing one end of conventional wisdom : in his public works, he is! He is acting as an educator, not an innovator. Whether his academic work is innovative or not, I couldn’t tell you; not my field.

    It seems to me he is trying to throw forward the best aspects of the old order — the baby in the bathwater, as it were. Or at least, that’s how he started out. It’s a pity he still hews to the religion of progress, because I fear it weakens his message, and of course his ideas about what constitutes ‘baby’ and ‘bathwater’ aren’t exactly how I’d draw the line… on the whole, though, I am very glad he is out there, spreading ideas. The people I know who are fans of his all have a similar story: they never would have read Jung, or the Classics, or grown to appreciate Western culture without Peterson. Like violet, I think most will eventually outgrow his influence. It is, in many ways, self-correcting: the culture he is defending and promoting is one of freethinking and open debate. So if one were to begin as a slavish disciple of Peterson, by truly absorbing the man’s teaching, one is brought out of that slavishness.

    violet, I was not aware he’d strayed into the racialist realm. He has cautioned against caucasians identifying as ‘white’ and warned that the idea of collective identity is the midwife of genocide and the downfall of civilization. Did he change his tune recently, or is this an undercurrent I missed? Most of his popular work is on video, and like our host I’m not a fan of video, so it is very possible I missed it.

  274. Andrew,

    More really solid advice for child-rearing/education! Thank you.

    We swore our daughter was a spider for the first 7 years of her life. She built “spiderwebs” everywhere, with anything she could stretch across an open space. Then came our savior: crochet.

    She took to it like mad. She churns out new pieces every week – gifts for friends, useful bags, hats, whatever the muse puts in her head. Yesterday, on one of those enrichment outings you mentioned, she discovered the art of spinning yarn from wool roving. She may be getting the lady’s older spinning wheel for her birthday.

    Then, she came home and pulled the kid’s herbal (Lesley Tierra – good stuff) and a book called “Wild Color” about natural plant dyes off the shelf and sat down at the table with a cuppa sassafras tea to study her next moves.

    It’s a real treat to behold organic, unscripted learning really take off!

    Cheers,
    Tripp

  275. This is a very interesting take on our national collapse. The author claims that it cuts far deeper than just the impossibility of maintaining our overseas empire.

    eand.co/why-were-underestimating-american-collapse-be04d9e55235

  276. ” It also tends to seek out types of situations rather than specific situations — when you’ve got something other than your will pulling you toward a particular person or a particular issue, that’s usually karma that’s seeking resolution, not destiny.”
    My attention was caught by this line from the end of your reply to Rationalist. I am wondering if you could expand just a bit on this, or perhaps give an example of what this (something other than your will pulling you towards a person or issue) might look like?
    Thanks!

  277. JMG,
    Gemini, eh? Guess I misunderstood. Lots of Leo too though. I’m a real greenhorn when it comes to astrology, but my natal chart shows Leo sun, moon, and mid-heaven, with Scorpio wedged in the rising slot.

    So, can one derive anything about their position in the cycle of reincarnation from their natal chart? I don’t get the feeling Im terribly close to being anything other than human, on either end. Still so much to figure out about this humanity thing!

    You on the other hand seem to already be developing super-human abilities. Like keeping up with this blog while doing all the other incredible things you manage from week to week. Thanks again for the gift of your time.

  278. @Dan and others, I found ‘Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Sharia Law” by Sadakat Kadri to be both highly readable and highly informative.

  279. Hi Dan
    “Any sources that you would recommend reading in regards to the history of Islam?”

    Karen Armstrong has written 2 books on islam: a short history and Muhammad.

    I have yet to read either books but I have read other books by her, she’s a good and knowledgeable writer.

    Tariq Ramadan has also written a biography of the prophet which I read. Very good. It’s title is:

    The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad

    As I said earlier, the encyclopedia britannica’s entry on Islam is also good. Well worth the read.

    Regards

  280. @Violet re peterson

    I had a similar experience with Peterson and find your criticisms spot on. I’m actually in the process of writing a critique of him that I will post on my youtube channel in the near future. I’m currently getting the hang of making and editing, so I’m holding off on this until I have both a good script and the ability to make a video that is a tad more polished. In the meantime I’m posting some video essays that will probably attract less attention. I don’t want to spam the comments here (the link I posted last week embedded the video in the comments), but the name of the channel is Never Speak In Absolutes if you want to check it out. I aim to deal with some of the discussions going on between SJWs and anti-SJWs in a less polemical manner. I also want to draw attention to important overlooked topics like peak oil, slow collapse and so on. I think young men (youtube’s main demographic) should have more exposure to both these concepts and ways to engage in conversation that do not treat discourse as a winner take all sport.

    As Steve T’s comment shows, the mainstream and the left has not done a good job criticizing him. He too often gets misrepresented and is a competent enough speaker that he makes those trying to do this look dishonest. The interviewer from his RSA appearance did a much better job of addressing some of your criticisms, but he only touched on them. Douglas Lain from Zero Books plans to have him on his podcast and it will be nice to hear someone from that far left talk with him, because of the leftists who even know him he just gets ridiculed and caricatured. I’m not a marxist, but I find Peterson’s criticisms of marxism ones that any marxist could easily rebut and in many cases his criticisms unknowingly paraphrase marx himself.

    My biggest problem with Peterson is the reactionary stream he has gotten carried away in his quest to counter often admittedly ridiculous SJWs. You can hear this in his tone of voice when he starts talking about neo-marxist post modernists. He gets visibly angry. I have strong criticisms of post modernism, but he sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theorist when he starts warning this will lead to something akin to the gulags of the soviet union. At the same time this desire to combat SJWs has made him bedfellows with people like Ben Shapiro who once openly advocated ethnic cleansing of palestinians and still talks about arabs and african americans in ways that I can only describe as bigoted (see the Current Affairs article “The Cool Kid’s Philosopher” if you are not familiar with this aspect of Shapiro). For all his claims that he can easily identify dangerous ideologies, he has not noticed this about Shapiro who he has talked with many times and not mentioned it.

    I find Peterson’s comments about hierarchy lacking input from fields outside his expertise. I could go about this, but I will just say he needs to list to King’s last sermon “The Drum Major Instinct”. Given how much Peterson seems to relish the spotlight (even before he had the C-16 controversy he often appeared on Canadian television) this seems not only applicable to his work, but to him personally.

    Anyone who want to read a book that combines christian theology and depth psychology should check out the anonymously written Meditations on The Tarot; a book that will also get mentioned in my criticism of Peterson.

    I look forward to reading The Billion Year Space Reich later. I find Musk and people’s infatuation with him amusing, so I have a feeling I will enjoy it. Musk will also be the subject of a video at some point too.

  281. @Xabler, et al
    Re: Life Plans

    The key thing to know about life plans is this: No life plan survives contact with reality intact. (Modification of vonMoltke’s Law: No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.)

    Some go better than others.

    To address an issue that JMG mentioned in response earlier: there are things that have to be taken in order, in the sense that one has to crawl before one can walk, and one has to walk before one can run. There’s a lot of flexibility, but still each lifetime serves as a building block for later lifetimes.

    @Tripp
    Re: reincarnation and astrology

    Can one get much about where one is in the reincarnational sequence from Astrology? IMO: no.

  282. Reese my guess is that it was the concept of using horses as work animals that spread, possibly out of central Asia after people migrated to the Americas. In the Americas there were at least dogs and llamas with that idea attached but perhaps horses were only thought of as food.

    From this view the new affluence for Plains Indians was as much technical as the (orthodox view) arrival of the horse.

  283. @violet:
    I hope mmelvink can give you better recommendations, since he is the expert in Islam, but I would like to recommend “My Name is Red” by Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk, a fictive, but I think very well founded tale set in 16th century Istanbul, full of both homo- and heterosexuality and diverse forms of intoxication.

    The other book I can’t recommend enough is “The Renaissance of Islam” by Adam Mez (written more than a century ago, JMG!). I read it in a vigorous English translation. It simply jumps into contemporary accounts of everyday life in 9th-11th CE Islamic civilization, and I found it as riveting as any novel.

    Finally, the Quran is a collection of poetry sorted by length, somewhat similar to the book of Psalms, and like all poetry susceptible to multiple interpretations.

  284. @Lydia Grey- the examples that leaped into my mind when JMG mentioned something other than Will pulling you into situations were all related to romantic relationships. I know several people who have married their high school sweethearts, divorced them, then remarried them to live with the same dysfunction. I know several others who keep getting into relationships with the same types of people, to see the same types of terrible things happening again. A woman I used to work for called it “looking for a wreck.” People get out of a terrible relationship, only to jump right into another terrible relationship. Is that what they have to learn in this life? Probably. It’s hard to watch.
    @JMG and all- thank you for all the insight this week- several questions that I was trying to figure out how to ask regarding Sphere of Protection and patrons, were posed by different people, and responded to. It’s nice to know we all are wondering some of the same things.
    @ Westerners (people in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, world desert areas…) I have been struggling finding a “face” of a diety for water and the North as I do the sphere of protection. The name Niwalen, as suggested in the Druid Magic Handbook hasn’t resonated with me yet- I haven’t been able to see/feel/know her, although I invoke her name. Any insight, from a semi-arid perspective?

  285. Tripp you might like John Taylor Gatto’s books. He said that once children wanted to read they learned quickly.

    I agree with him that the one room schoolhouse is efficient and effective. Children teaching children, imagine that.

    For myself I have found the best way to really learn a subject is to teach it but not like is usually done in American schools. I will soon find the holes in my understanding. I think it would have been the same if as a 10 year old I was teaching 8 year olds.

  286. @JMG,
    So that’s why you think KY is a Yankee state that doesn’t belong in the Confederacy. News flash, Covington and basically anything north of Williamstown that’s on Cincinnati Bell isn’t even KY, it’s Ohio–they’re predominately Catholic, they have funny-sounding, non-Anglo last names, they have a Cincy accent, and they’re as wet, liquor-wise, as Milwaukee or Chicago, and always have been. Not to mention the mob run casinos that used to predominate! CVG is not KY! You need to spend more time in the real, Confederate KY before you lump us in w/the Yankees…

  287. Speaking of presidential candidates, you know how the Dems imitate the GOP–now, Oprah Winfrey is being touted as the Dem savior. Sigh. Oh, and John Kerry is discussing another run.
    @Violet,
    the tide is starting to turn on social media. Digital addiction is becoming passe. Only a matter of time before Facebook and social media becomes as passe as a pack of Newports.

  288. JMG,

    I figured that it was Covington, KY but I’d found a Covington, OH while looking for Defiance, OH. It is southeast of Defiance.
    Every time I read ‘Retrotopia’ I’m reminded of something else. I done a lot of work on the railroads in the last 30+ years – Track Geometry and other testing. For some reason I remember Ohio a bit more than most places. Except the foreign ones – Canada, China, Budapest and South America. Best Tequila I’ve tasted was in Toledo.
    Lost Art Press is located in Covington, KY. Maybe some threads of Chris Schwarz’s brand of anarchy helped shape the Lakeland Republic. 🙂 https://blog.lostartpress.com/2014/07/26/i-am-an-american-anarchist/

  289. @JeffinWA

    “My thanks to whomever recommended this method many years ago in the ADR”

    My best recollection is that it was Bill Pulliam that first brought the “two browser windows” technique to my attention. Thanks Bill and happy travels!

    Cheers from Cascadia

  290. One thing about Jordan Peterson is that he’s a great merchandiser – you can get yourself a hold of a $2000 signed carpet from him:

    https://twitter.com/jordanbpeterson/status/952345392619847680?lang=en

    My basic take on Peterson is that he is the first independent mercenary of the culture wars. Given that neither side is particularly principled any more, neither side is concerned with truth, and both sides are only concerned with winning, it was inevitable that a certain class of intellectual would emerge who is capable of efficiently weaponising their own ideas and offering their services to one or both sides.

    Therefore, the inherent value of Peterson’s ideas is not particularly important, what matters is how skillfully he employs them to win cultural battles. Peterson is popular because he is an effective fighter – his infamous duel (and it was a duel) with Cathy Newman demonstrated that he is a ninja-level cultural warrior.

    If you understand this, then Peterson’s rise makes a lot of sense. I suspect we will see a great deal more of his like in the years ahead.

  291. With regard to the putative Islamification of Europe, Björn Höcke of Alternative für Deutschland has today said this:

    “We will get power, and then we will implement what is necessary….Then we will give the directive that the three big M’s – Mohammed, Muezzin and Minaret – end at the Bosporus.”

    As Mr. Zimmerman once said, you don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows.

  292. JMG, would you, by any chance, have depicted in one of your blog essays a fictional encounter between a Roman emperor and a guy telling him about the incoming doom of the empire? I recall having read such an essay some time ago, but I can’t find it, and I thought maybe you are the author and could please point me to it…

  293. Hello JMG,

    It might be a little late to ask this week, but I was wondering if the Dolmen Arch course uses Ogham exclusively, or if it (if compatible) has been adapted to use Coelbren as well since your work in that direction has taken shape.

    What period of time does the coursework span- is it initially a one or two year commitment, or more than that?

    Thanks!
    Bonnie

  294. @ Dusk Shine, It is an undercurrent. Jordan Peterson buys into the theory of the genetic basis of IQ and seems in his lectures to confuse IQ, an abstraction, with something real. Since he buys into this science, he has to concede that the science says that certain races have different IQs and thus are — ahem– statistically superior. I don’t believe that IQ is genetic, but rather contingent on many factors. Even if I did, I find the whole “let the smart inherit the earth!” ethos utterly appalling.

    If I may go into more detail concerning my reasoning:

    Of course Peterson takes that idea in a meritocratic rather than segregationist direction, but nonetheless the idea that those in power deserve it because they’re smarter and harderworking than the rest of us is clearly bunk. How hard does Professor Peterson work in relation to the farmers who grow his spinach? If those farmers had the same advantages that Peterson had, could they not be the one preaching “let the smart inherit the earth!” and him toiling 70 hour weeks in season, and migrating farm to farm looking for work?

    He is not a white nationalist of course, but the political implications of his philosophy are, in my eyes, nearly as horrific. Imagine if the smart really did inherit the earth? I shudder at the mess they are already making! It’s good that occasionally the uniformed and ignorant reach positions of power so they can stupidly jam the gears of the intelligent and well educated, who apply their well developed brains towards imposing reason and order and mathematical formulae on the living nature who they treat as an object. Sometimes fumbling ineptitude is better than willful, efficient directness towards a horrific end point.

    This is why I emphasize that Peterson has an essentially technocratic position. While he may have good manners — and that counts for a lot — they are used in service of something utterly terrifying.

    @ Karim, thanks for the suggestions! I was actually planning on employing my local library’s Encyclopedia Britannica this week, and so I’ll check out the entry on Islam.

    @ Greg Belvedere,

    So glad that you’re making videos! I’ll check them out soon.

    I started to move away from Jordan Peterson when he started to seem increasingly…possessed. I think I saw him talking with Steven Crowder six months ago and the Professor had seemed to change. No longer did he seem humble and non-assuming with reasonable, middle of the road views, he seemed like a man bent on increasing his cult of personality, using fear mongering of the SJW crowd to accrue power and influence. Now I am not keen on SJWs and agree with many of Peterson’s criticisms of them. But he seemed increasingly to be infected with something evil. There was a way his eyes shone that was…unearthly. Very quickly I lost interest in him and now do not keep up.

    I really don’t like Ben Shapiro; he seems like a brain looking for a soul in all the wrong places! My sense is that Ben Shapiro is a bully first and an intellectual second. I get that people like to see the SJW crowd get a taste of their own poison medicine, and certainly I indulged in this for awhile, but eventually it gets pretty stale. Shapiro though was really hard for me to ever engage with. He has to many commonalities with a comic book super villain!

    Thank you for the suggestion to read “The Drum Major’s Instinct.” I did so, and it is powerful. King really was tapped into something beautiful.

  295. @ JMG and violet:

    Hmm, take your point. However, I do think Islam has somewhat deeper roots in North America than is currently evident to the nonincarcerated, though primarily in the context of Enlightenment scientific-racist slavery and its all-structuring persistence to the present; indeed, it is responsible for the advent of the *black (and now hispanic) god* in urban centers like Chicago and Baltimore. That is, it seems to be emerging as a primary black-hispanic mode of resistance to white supremacist nationalism, as articulated in hip-hop in particular. Small, quintessentially American movements like the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., featuring the spiritual-physical, magical union of African and Celt against the Anglo colonialist tyranny, might even win the cultural evolutionary lottery here during the twilight of empire, gods willing! Stranger things have happened.

    But yes, it’s certainly more likely that Catholicisms of the Latin American variety will play a far larger role than Mormonism given the Völkerwanderung now begun. At the same time, I suspect the Mormon North Americanist myth, thoroughly recast, will likely play a not insignificant role in local religiosities long after institutional Mormonism has gone the way of the dodo. But I’d like to revise my bet in favor rather of a recognizably Latin Catholic-Muslim-animist black-hispanic amalgam holding sway in North America (or more likely only on the east coast) three hundred years hence.

    More generally, though, my basic point is that the climate change-plague-nomadic invasion trifecta we’re in for tends to produce religiocultural syntheses that are both surprising and contradictory, and often completely out of left field from the perspective of scholarly elites. Who would’ve thought that the Mongols, of all nomadic peoples, who liked to dally with Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity purely for entertainment purposes, would become some of the greatest patrons of Islamic and Confucian high culture in history? The same applies to the Turks before them, who ended up ruling most of Islamdom for a thousand years. So while we can certainly extrapolate based on current demographies, I think the amalgams that will rule this continent in the middle future are likely to be more unexpected and eclectic than we can now imagine, and minority cults to be suddenly backed up by military might and made somewhat normative.

    @ violet and Alvin:

    Yes: to the extent that Islam has suffered protestantization and nationalization, it has been dealt a death blow as the default form of Western civ. The oneness of humanity as a basic point of Islamic doctrine, while rarely realized in historical sociopolitical practice, is of course flatly antithetical to the modern Euro-American white-supremacist, colonialist project. But since both process are specific to the evolution of western European societies only, the internal product of centuries of doctrinally-induced bloodshed, and violently, belatedly and superficially forced on Islamic and other societies where they have no roots, I fully expect them to wither away with the post-industrial withering of nationalism over the next century or two. Ethnic and other kinds of ambiguity — demonstrably sustainable — will again become the norm, because more adapted for survival.

    “Westoxicated” Muslim communities aside (especially in the UK and US!), there are plenty of pockets in the world where uncolonized, non-Protestant Islam thrives, particularly, yes, among sufi orders in places like Indonesia, central Asia (including Chechnya) and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the Americas — but also among significant percentages of say Moroccan, Yemeni, Iraqi, Iranian, Pakistani, Indian, Indonesian, etc. society. And even most American Muslims of my acquaintance are quite angry about the hijacking of their faith by Wahhabi types. They are generally lying low for now, or on the defensive; but shrine cultures (“syncretic” or otherwise) are alive and well, and sure to boom again as a primary if ambiguating form of social glue once nation-states and their pathologically exclusivist dogmas have bit the dust, as they evolutionarily must.

    In the meantime, the scripturalization and legalization of Islam within a terminally cancerous colonialist-nationalist-capitalist framework has temporarily empowered the most puritanical, a tiny, unhappy minority and a perennial plague on any community, who now find themselves in a position (thanks to ineptly imperial us) to play-act on Youtube their most lurid apocalyptic, Protestant fantasies, to attempt to initiate the Crusader-Manichean-Huntingtonian wet dream of eternal civilizational clash — à la American evangelicalism, radically hostile to natural cosmic order as it is. Tells you how, ah, unsustainable, such a framework might be…

    @ Robert:

    Glad to do my bit! And absolutely brilliant that you knew Pingree.

  296. Dewey, thanks for the recommendation, I just ordered a copy of ‘The Inner Sky’.

    JMG, I suppose I was asking a rather big question there, sorry for that. I’m sure you’re right that I will learn more by studying this myself. I’d like to ask a more pointed question, if I may.

    I found’a number of sites online associating ‘sun-square-moon’ with this sort of thing:

    “You have an internal struggle between your needs and your wants. You can lack focus and be indecisive as a result. Your ability to be objective is both an asset and a liability, simply because when you decide on one route, you are pulled in another direction at the same time. Something tugs at you, and you begin to question your stance. “But what if…” and “on the other hand…” are statements you can’t help but make, and that might plague you. You are always aware of the opposing point of view and the other side of the coin.”

    …this resonates with me particularly strongly. I realized a number of years ago that my greatest weakness is that I get sidetracked and pulled in another direction too easy and too often. I’m certainly functional enough to hold down a job but, it seems as though every project that I start or new path I try to take ends up a casualty of this sort of thing. It’s honestly turned into a sort of depressing lack of self-confidence… “If I’m going to change my mind in a few weeks anyway, then why start…” I’ve attempted to just ‘grind through’ and develop the discipline to stick to something but my results have been rather limited.

    One of the(many) reasons I’m interested in learning a system of magic is that I’m hoping it will balance out things like this. ‘Making changes in consciousness in accordance with will.’ …yeah, reducing the borderline crippling self-doubt would be great…

    I remember you saying that choosing a system of magic depends on what you’re trying to do. I also remember you saying The Celtic Golden Dawn particularly works with solar energy…

    I guess what I’m wondering is if I work through CGD, will I gain the ability to decrease the effect of this solar/lunar square or would I have to do something more connected to astrology?

    I am aware I would need to put in the practice to get this sort of stuff to work, and sticking with something is what I’m having trouble with.

    Anyway, I hope I’m not posting this too late in the week.

    Thanks in advance.

  297. @ Mmelvink:

    Thank you for your responses. As stated before, I am very much interested in Islamic history and it’s great being able to get some detailed input from an academician who specializes in the field. I will be looking over your comments again in greater depth when I get the chance. I do have a couple of questions and some other assorted comments which you and others may find of interest.

    1) While I am less familiar with Toynbee’s writings and ideas than those of Spengler, I don’t get the impression at all that he is Islamophobic, much less violently so. From what I read so far, Toynbee appears to treat Islamic history and the interactions between the Islamic world and other cultures and civilizations in a fair and even-handed manner. Could you please elaborate on why you consider Toynbee to be Islamophobic?

    2) What are some sources you recommend for someone who wants to learn more about Islamic history, cultures and so on?

    3) Part of my interest in Islam, the Middle East and related subjects comes from my own background. I am the son of a naval officer who grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s, when the Islamic world and the Middle East were in the news frequently, but before the rise of Al Qaeda and its epigones and atrocities like the 9/11 terror attacks created such a pervasive atmosphere of fear towards Islam in the Western world.

    4) Among my early memories of the wider world outside of my own immediate circle of family, friends and school were news of events going in the Middle East in the 1970’s, such as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis and the economic shocks that resulted. I became interested in the Middle East and its religious traditions, particularly Islam and Judaism, at an early age.

    5) I lived in Istanbul, Turkey for 6 months when I was a little kid. The submarine that my father was serving on was sold to the Turkish Navy and a group of American officers and sailors were sent to Turkey to train their Turkish counterparts and get them up to speed. I still have fond memories of living in Turkey and one area I am especially interested in is Turkish history, especially from the Ottoman era. I found Toynbee’s detailed description and analysis of the classic Ottoman administrative system to be both invaluable and absolutely fascinating. One of the other books I currently reading right now is a history of the Ottoman Empire, prompted in part because Toynbee’s discussions of Turkish history rekindled my interest in that particular subject.

    6) Your observations about syncretism between Islamic cultures and other traditions remind me a lot of Frank Herbert’s novel Dune and its sequels (I love the original Dune series but am much less impressed with the pastiches by his son Brian). One of the things that makes the Dune novels so interesting is that he imagines a future where Islam is the dominant religious and cultural influence, but has given rise to syncretic cultures and religions based on local adaptations. While I believe that interstellar space travel is a pipe dream, I think Dune was rather prescient in many other areas and on multiple levels.

    7) Practices such as alcohol consumption, adultery, promiscuity and homosexual intercourse are condemned by the Quran and the Hadith as sinful, so it could be argued, as many Islamic conservatives and fundamentalists have, that these represent laxity and a falling away from the true teachings of Islam. The Quran is believed by most Muslims to be a direct revelation from Allah, the literal Word of God as transmitted by the Archangel Gabriel, so even if practices such as these have often been winked at and tolerated in historical Islamic cultures, they are still technically a violation of Islamic law as traditionally understood, something the fundamentalists have frequently used to justify their actions. One characteristic of Islamic history is that periods of laxity have often prompted puritanical movements calling for a return to the original purity of the Quran and the early Ummah. Movements like the Wahhabis, Daash (“ISIS”) and Boko Haram are in part a manifestation of this cyclical phenomenon in action.

    8) Finally, when I hear or see someone using terms like “Islamophobia”, it makes me more than a little leery. Terms like “Islamophobia”, “homophobia” and such are frequently used to label, dismiss and vilify those who disagree with the current liberal consensus trance and in many cases, such labeling and vilification is quite unwarranted. While I believe it is wrong to judge all Muslims for the actions of a relatively small number of violent extremists, the reality is the many Americans and Europeans are understandably wary of Islam. Attempts to sweep those concerns under rug and repress them in the name of Political Correctness and Multiculturalism are not only misguided but likely to backfire in the end. Especially in the last few decades, we have seen a great many horrific atrocities committed by Islamic radicals in the name of their religion and using their interpretation of Islamic teachings as justification.

    The history of interactions between the Islamic world and the West is a long and complex one, one that has often involved violence, warfare, clashing cultural values and other points of contention. In Europe, we see growing tensions caused by large scale migration from Islamic cultures. People on the liberal side of the spectrum often forget that mass migrations can be very destabilizing events, particularly if they are from cultures that are seen as alien and have a long history of conflict with the people who are already there. I have had European friends tell me they see the Muslim migrations going on in Europe right now in much the same light as the Native Americans must have seen the influx of white settlers. Are those concerns entirely baseless?

    Every religion has it’s dark side, regardless of whether we are talking about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Asatru, Wicca or any other religious tradition. Right now, we are seeing the dark side of Islam manifesting in ways that cannot be ignored. All too often, people who express concerns about that dark side are demonized as “Islamophobic”, even when they bring up legitimate points. If neo-fascists and others from the far right are the only ones willing to talk openly about the dark side of Islam, then they are the ones many people will turn to as things get crazier and crazier out of fear. It would be a great tragedy indeed if we saw something like the madness of the 1930’s and 40’s return because the establishment was unwilling to deal with these issues in a forthright manner.

  298. Skolymus,

    Why are you so strongly in favor of a celibate priesthood? And have you thought about how it locks out those who know they are not cut out for celibacy but would like to serve a parish?

    It seems to me that the Orthodox Church has it right. There is a large component and encouragement of monasticism, and in the monasteries there are monk priests, and the bishops are gathered from those, but in the parishes their is a married priest. Sexual scandals are very rare.

  299. Hm. I made the above post before reading all the other comments. This talk of the ‘watcher’, and its effects

    “It took the usual form of a disinclination to do the work, coupled with an endless series of appealing distractions, and I floundered around getting nothing much done until the death of my only child reminded me that I only had so many years to get things done, and jolted me into systematic practice.”

    I never heard of this watcher before. Perhaps I’ve been taking the natal chart too seriously… it just seems like something must be screwing with me and I don’t know what it is.

    What sort of ‘work’ or experiences can trigger something like this? Is it just specific to ritual magic?

    What about someone who went a bit too far experimenting with entheogens? or rather started with entheogens and then took too high of a dose of a rather infamous synthetic copy… https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/dpt/dpt.shtml

    I was rather motivated to explore the inner world before that experience… I didn’t know about ritual magic at the time

  300. I apologize for adding a third comment in a row.

    You mentioned losing your only child… and I copied and pasted it without saying anything.

    I forget that I’m a lurker here more often than not, and haven’t been participating in the conversation for anywhere near as long as it seems like I’ve been a part of it.

    I haven’t said it before so I’ll say it now, I am truly sorry you had to experience that… I can only imagine what it is like to lose a child…

  301. @ Lydia, if I may, I can illustrate. When I was 19 I left college and went and lived in a commune in the woods. there “everything fell into place,” and then turned increasingly hellish. An opportunity opened up several thousand miles away. There I was easily able to access the resources I needed to survive, although I experienced homelessness and mental illness.

    After a few months a certain person came…she was a traveling transsexual with unspeakable charisma. At first I found her unspeakably repulsive, then we spoke a little and I found her charming and witty. She disappeared, leaving a lot of her writing everywhere. I began to read it; over and over. Before this point physically transitioning seemed abhorrent to me since I am critical of medical intervention. I didn’t like her writing per se, I didn’t like her art but very quickly it took over my mind. I began to obsess about her. She displaced my own consciousness and soon I was dreaming of her _every. single. night_ Eventually, glamoured by her influence I followed her path pursuing surgical mutilation and hormone replacement therapy.

    Still, every night I dreamt of her. And in our dreams I saw the revelation of the secret order of the cosmos. I followed her path more closely, squatting and drawing and writing. We met again and she taught me the art of discipline. Then I got very, very sick with an infection. I recovered and was still obsessed. It was like having an outside consciousness inside me which I was powerless to dispel. It was horrible. I felt my actions were controlled by a need to become this person…

    After 20 months of these dreams I had one where I saw clearly a past life where our roles were reversed. Not necessarily trans related but something comparable. After that point the dreams stopped and I lost interest in this person who had obsessed my every thought for about two years. All the sudden I was clean. The karma was apparently paid and I was able to return to my own life.

    I believe I had other karma, but this was the most intense and the horrific I have experienced. I am so grateful that it is over. That being said, my soul was leading me and during the time I became much more spiritually inclined. The experience opened up many doors. It was painful and intense, but I am glad that I got it over with.

  302. @Alexandra,
    I’ve often said the same thing about substance abuse as was said about depression (being a totally normal, expected response to modern life)

  303. Skolymus, hmm! That makes a great deal of sense. To my mind, the most distinctive feature of the worldview of modern industrial societies, as distinct from other human societies, is its insistence on a dead cosmos. Since demanding that the cosmos acts like a dead thing rather than a living one involves quite a bit of cognitive dissonance, I can see that the fake magic of fantasy would be a comfortable way to resolve the stress, and spend time imagining a living cosmos while still clinging to the illusion that we don’t live in one.

    Lordyburd, that’s the way I always did it, so I think you’re on the right track.

    Chris, debt’s a complicated thing. Yes, in a sane economy, debt is a way to even out variations in cash flow by claiming some of a future cash flow in advance. Outside of certain relatively narrow contexts, in other words, it’s a bad idea to use it more than very occasionally. In today’s industrial nations, though, debt is the way that we paper over economic decline: instead of living on our actual income, as individuals and communities, we run up ever-increasing debts, which then function as a form of fictive wealth in the economy of hallucinatory IOUs that dominates economic life today.

    Like all something-for-nothing gimmicks, the attempt to fund an unsustainable level of consumption via debt has a limited shelf life. The recent publicity for “Modern Monetary Theory” — that is, a set of policies by which governments pay for their expenditures by spinning the printing presses, rather than by collecting taxes — is an attempt to find another way to keep getting something for nothing. There will be others, each with a brief shelf life and cascading negative consequences, as the industrial economy slides down the greased chute of decline. The Romans, being far more materialistic than we will ever be, did it by mixing base metals into their gold and silver coins; we’re doing exactly the same thing by debasing the connection between money and wealth.

    Llmaiwi, it’s a solar path; every form of Golden Dawn magic — as the name suggests! — is solar in nature. The Druidical GD is somewhat more balanced in its solar emphasis than the version of the Hermetic GD that made it into print — we do a lot with geomantic divination, natural magic using herbs, and herbal alchemy, for the sake of balance — but its core energy workings are solar, rather than telluric (like OBOD) or the lunar fusion (like the Dolmen Arch).

    Xabier, exactly. One of the things you may need to do in this lifetime is get used to your fellow humans…

    Karim, I expect mass migrations on the very large scale once climate change goes beyond certain levels, as warm periods in the past have caused extreme droughts in what’s now the Muslim middle east. If people have a choice between migration and death, they’ll migrate — and so we’re talking about entire national populations on the move, more likely than not armed with everything the armies of their former nations had to hand. Europe is utterly unprepared to deal with such a thing — due to many decades of blind trust in the United States for their defense, most European countries have feeble, poorly trained, poorly equipped militaries that have no experience in actual combat conditions. I see phenomena such as Daesh and Boko Haram as the first stirrings of the tsunami to come. Will there be fighting? You bet, just as there was fighting when Islam first expanded across the Middle East, but by the time the fighting ends, I expect the borders of the EU to change in roughly the same way that the borders of the Byzantine Empire changed in the wake of the great Muslim invasions — and as usual in such situations, woe to the vanquished…

  304. JMG,

    How do skrying, pathworking and astral projection differ in terms of the planes on which their operations take place and their use and efficacy as tools for spiritual development?

  305. @ Phil Knight:

    I would argue that Milo Yiannopoulos was the first independent mercenary of the culture wars, a provocateur and merry prankster with a taste for far right politics and deliberately baiting the SJW’s to get them to overreact.

    Both Milo and Peterson are using a tactic straight out of Chairman Mao’s writings on guerrilla warfare and applying it to the culture wars: goad the enemy into overreacting in order to discredit them in the eyes of the people and win sympathy for the insurgents. So far, the activist left has played right into their hands, just like the behavior of the Koumintang and the Imperial Japanese Army played into the hands of the PLA and ensured their ultimate victory.

  306. Here’s something interesting – corporate spying on smartphone users has resulted in an extremely detailed map of the extent in 2017 of the great empire known as “The international community”. You can look at it here, for now: https://labs.strava.com/heatmap/

  307. @ Matthias, thank you for suggestions; my library system has”My Name is Red,” which I’ll check out as time permits.

    @ Shane, interesting. I’m not big into social media, and only used facebook to get mailing addresses from friends and then deleted it recently because it was, even with my very limited use, enormously annoying sending me dozens of irrelevant emails a day. Somehow I have a concern that whatever replaces social media will be somewhere between “nothing” and “worse.” That is to say, I imagined that social disintegration will continue, and even more people will die of despair, and we’ll remember the good times when you could get “social contact” for free on the FB. It’s like Newport cigarettes being replaced with meth; one is bad but the other is much, much worse.

    @ Phil Knight, wow! That’s really funny. Has he actually made any of these rugs yet or is he only testing the waters? Hmmm, that is an interesting point, I haven’t thought along those lines. Thank you.

    @ mmelvink, thank you for clarifying. If I remember correctly, James Baldwin in _The Fire Next Time_ discusses Allah as “black” and Christ as “white”, and the Nation of Islam as a militant rejection of whiteness and assertion of black identity. That current of explicit rejection of European values is easy to imagine as part of some future syncretic faith. Good point about the unpredictable synthesis that collapse produces in the longterm. We’re probably too far away in time to predict any of the details.

    For your second point, Spengler describes Judaism as falling into the machinery of Faustian civilization. Are you positing that with the advent of the Westphalian nation state something similar has happened to Islam? That the current Wahhabi form has been the product by the exigency of politics? That given this political landscape, a small minority of Muslims who are scriptural literalists have gained power to the chagrin of a much more diverse, flexible and tolerant majority? That is a fascinating thought, I really had been thinking of global Islam as much more hegemonic than is probably appropriate and the Wahhabi sentiment as more inherent to the inner forms of Islam, rather than a politicization of Islam in the time of Western global dominance.

    Thanks for engaging with these ideas with me! You present a perspective that strikes me as more likely true than what I’ve been exposed to, and this in turn helps to broaden my context for thinking about Islam, both in its current manifestations but also in its historical development and practice.

  308. @ mmelvink

    David Pingree was a marvel of learning, and his scholarship was of the very highest order. (We other facuty quipped among ourselves that he had probably *forgotten” more dead languages than any of us had ever managed to learn.) And he accomplished all this while being blind in one eye and having very poor vision in the other. He refused to have anything to do with electronic computers, or to use a secretary or typist. So each of his magisterial works of scholarship went to the publisher in handwritten form. And he had a very clear handwriting. With all that, he was one fo the kindest, most generous and most charitable people I have ever known.

    Pingree’s utter indifference to any “new, improved” method of running an academic department or a university, and to any academic “hype,” seemed to have deeply angered some high administrators. They couldn’t really move against him while he was alive and active, since he had a standing offer to go over to the University of Chicago any time he cared to. — But once he finally became too ill to work, the University administration decided to abolish the specialized academic department and research program (History of Mathematics) that he and Otto Neugebauer had lovingly built up over the decades — and the SOBs made a point of telling Pingree all this as he was on his deathbed — literally! That was a cowardly, vicious, cruel thing to do to him. It hurt him enormously, as his wife told me after he had died.

  309. Dusk Shine, I certainly don’t mean to suggest that people ought to be prevented from reading him, or that he ought to be denied a forum for his work. I simply didn’t find his ideas of any interest personally.

    Robert, true enough, but that’s the usual side effect of imperial decline. Britain’s retreat from empire is a rarity — the only comparable example I can think of off hand is the Chinese retreat from overseas empire in the 15th century — and in both cases the result was to spare the former empire from the kind of collapse that normally follows imperial sunset. Spain in the wake of its global empire is a much more typical example: Spain in the 17th century was Europe’s richest country, while the 18th and 19th saw it become one of Europe’s poorest, riven by civil wars and fought over by other powers. I’ve been figuring all along that we’re well on our way to the latter condition.

    Lydia, well, for example, you might have an opportunity to do something that just keeps on popping up in your life, no matter how often you turn it down. You might find yourself meeting a whole series of people, over the course of your life, who fill some specific role for you that fosters some talent or capacity you have. You mights also, looking back on your life, realize that a whole series of otherwise unrelated decisions you made were all fumbling attempts, more or less confused and ignorant, to grope your way toward something you didn’t understand. (I spent a lot of time doing that in the first thirty years of my life.) Does that help clarify things at all?

    Tripp, your rising sign in this life was your sun sign in your last life, but that’s about it. In some of the old astrological books, it was common to include comments like “this placement means X for someone who’s early in their sequence of human lives, and Y for someone who’s further along” — the point being that you can’t read that in the chart. Every moment of every day is an appropriate birth time for an enlightened master and an ordinary Joe or Jane.

    Katsmama, sometimes it works that way. 😉

    Shane, funny. Did I say those are the only people from Kentucky I’ve ever met?

    Janitor, it’s quite possible! I’ve been to Ohio on several occasions, though never for long, and found it very comfortable — something about the land and its energy appeals to me, and the gritty Rust Belt culture is much to my taste. That’s one of the reasons I set Retrotopia there.

    Phil K., between AfD and Daesh, you can definitely see the Tariq ibn Ziyads and Charles Martels of the future waiting in the wings…

    Bruno, nope, that was one of Ugo Bardi’s essays, which you can read here.

    Bonnie, the Dolmen Arch course doesn’t use divination at all — if you want that, you want the parallel system of work in The Druid Magic Handbook. It’s an old-fashioned occult correspondence course with a Druid flavor, and focuses on meditation, ritual, and a lot of study. One caution, though — I’m in the process of winding up the Dolmen Arch as a correspondence school, as I simply don’t have the necessary free time to keep up with the correspondence in a timely manner. It will be published in due time as a book or, more likely, a pair of books.

    Mmelvink, I ain’t arguing with your main point; that’s exactly the point I made in my book After Progress, which set out to explore the aftermath of the dominant religion of our time, the religion of Progress. The new religious sensibility that’s beginning to stir in the United States, and more generally in the Western industrial nations, doesn’t fit well into any of the big established faiths, though we can expect a substantial period of what Spengler called “pseudomorphosis” — the condition in which a rising culture or sensibility takes on outward forms borrowed from an older one, the way that a hermit crab borrows a cast-off shell. Thus it’s exactly traditions such as the Moorish Science Temple, with their creative borrowings from older faiths in service to an idiosyncratic vision, that are likely to give rise to the next great religious movement.

    Jason, my guess is that if you started magical training at this point in your life, you’d be setting yourself up to fail. I’m going to suggest instead that you spend some time trying to understand the deeper roots of that pattern in your life. A Sun square Moon can express itself in the way you’ve described, but it can also turn into a source of enormous strength — that’s true of every square aspect. I’d encourage you to consider a course of reading in an old school of psychology called transactional analysis — the books I’d suggest are Games People Play, Scripts People Live, and Born to Win. Read those, think about them, and as you’re doing so, see if you can figure out what habits of thought and action are keeping you stuck in the same self-defeating habit patterns. Let me say this very cautiously: very often when that happens, the person who’s doing it gets some emotional payoff from it, and you might want to explore whether that’s true for you. See if you can figure out what’s keeping you stuck; once that’s out of the way, magical training might be a worthwhile choice.

    That’s just as useful, by the way, if what you’re encountering is a form of the Watcher at the Threshold; if you’re going to go mano a mano with the Watcher, you don’t want one hand tied behind your back by psychological issues! Finally, thank you for your comment about my biographical reference. Yes, it sucked.

    Dirtyboots, scrying and pathworking are different versions of the same thing — the difference is that most pathworkings these days are scripted, which sharply limits their effectiveness (though it does make them better suited for entertaining weekend workshops). In both, you’re perceiving the astral plane using your imagination as a vehicle. Astral projection involves the actual transfer of the center of consciousness into a portion of your astral body. Scrying’s a great way to develop astral awareness; pathworking is a less effective way to do the same thing; astral projection’s mostly a stunt, but it’s very useful if you find death frightening. (There’s nothing like looking down at your own physical body from a distance to convince you that you won’t die when it does.)

  310. Katsmama – water gods of the Southwest would be river gods, mostly. I think of the Rio Grande as “he”. The Navajos also divide the rains into the soft, gentle “female” rain, for which I give thanks to Gaia; and the hard, driving “male rain,” which to me is Thor’s doing. If that helps.

    Pat in Albuquerque

  311. Re: Tainted spheres: Would that concept also apply to religious organizations, by any chance? Like, say, a certain major religion whose institutions keep spitting out child sex abuse scandals?

  312. Regarding the Islam discussion:

    I have also been reading about the history of Islam over the past few weeks. There is only one book I’ve found so far that is absolutely essential: What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed. In my opinion, all other books on the sociology and history of Islam need to be read in light of this book! Not only that, but it will give you so much insight into how the concept of “Islam” relates to sharia law, as well as how Wahhabism and Salafism relate to Islam in general.

    I also picked up the series The Venture of Islam by Marshall G.S. Hodgson which is highly regarded. It is very old now (written before the Iranian revolution) and relies mostly on Western sources, but it seems to be unsurpassed as a general history. Read it in combination with Ahmed’s book, and you will be light years ahead of the mainstream media!

  313. @ Violet– On the email thing, don’t worry about it. I’ve been re-reading Elizabeth Hickey’s Astrology: A Cosmic Science, which was my introduction to the kind of occult-infused early 20th century astrology JMG mentioned on the Dreamwidth site the other day. She tells me that given my Cancer rising and prominent Moon, I have a tendency to motherliness. (She also tells me that my soul is female, which causes trouble for me as a man. Well, hmm.)

    It’s interesting that you had such a different reaction to the Colbert thing. It might be that you’re a bit younger than me, or that we grew up in different cultural settings. Or you might be a bit more savvy than I am– I regard Colbert as a rather contemptible figure, now. But I didn’t mean that I find he and Peterson comparable over all, only in their roles as thorn in the side of a speech-policing authoritarian regime.

    A few years ago when the social justice thing really exploded into public consciousness– and when there didn’t seem like any defense against it– I wrote a poem in which “Promethesus, Unbound” leads The People to Revolution and then promptly removes his mask to reveal Goya’s Saturn and descends to his gruesome feast. (I don’t have the courage to post it.) But that’s what part of what I think is going on– people chaffing under an authoritarian regime gravitate to anyone promising liberation; those under 30 or so haven’t seen it before and so are caught unawares when Saturn comes back at the end.

  314. @ JMG–

    The other day I wrote a question about Coelbren and I thought I posted it, but I don’t know if I did and it didn’t go through or I just wrote it and closed my browser without posting. I said that I’ve been doing a bit of work with Coelbren lately, and I had a few observations/questions:

    1. As oracles go, it’s incredibly blunt, and also sort of, um, “opinionated.” There’s never any sense with it of “Well, this sign could mean that this is a terrible decision, but you could also look at the positive side and think of it as a great decision that just hasn’t manifested yet.” No, Coelbren’s like, “This is a terrible idea and you’re an idiot if you do it. How did you even end up in a situation like this? Sometimes I don’t know what you’re doing in your life.”

    Has that been your experience– or that of anyone else who’s worked with it?

    2. Second thing, scrying. I wanted to get to know the letters of the Coelbren better so I, naturally, thought I’d meditate upon them. I quickly found that I wasn’t getting anyway, just repeating your descriptions from the book in my mind. And there was a trilithon, beckoning me forth…

    I didn’t want to do an epic astral adventure after the manner of the Bardic Grade pathworkings. I find that sort of thing… well, it takes a lot of mental preparation, and it always unleashes havoc in my life afterward. Not bad havoc, necessarily, ultimately– you’ve talked about it as “karmic culmination,” where things go haywire for a few weeks and then settle down better than they were. But I wasn’t ready for that, so I decided to just stick my head through the trilithon and poke around.

    I found, particularly after scrying the second letter (E), that I did indeed get the chaos I had been worried about, but it only lasted a day or two– commensurate, it seemed, with the relatively brief astral excursion. But I also got the sense when I got back from E-Land that I hadn’t closed things down properly. I did some scrying of I yesterday, and banished after I got back.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? Is it the sort of karmic-culmination-chaos one gets from pathworking, or is it unbalancing energies following me back through the trilithon?

    3. Also on scrying. I expected that the scrying of the Coelbren letters would be a bit more “objective” than the Bardic pathworkings– that the material would mostly be external to me, without interference from my own psychic baggage. I don’t know why I thought that– I suppose because I wasn’t intending to do internal work, but rather to explore an external reality (i.e., the Coelbren.) Either way it doesn’t seem to be the case. I encountered some imagery in I that was definitely unresolved stuff from my own deep psyche. Is that normal?

  315. Hi again, commenting under the name Ola seems to be a very bad choice since searching for it yields a lot of hits making it hard to separate who wrote what so if I comment another thread I’ll use a more search friendly name 🙂

    @Robert, yes I agree it’s a delicate balance and I’m not sure I find the optimum way here. But I feel that since Adrian is a very smart person, then the only reasonable thing to do was to tell him at least a bit of my fears and that I thought it was worth a try (with the things mentioned in previous post that is). I agree hat this might cause him to try and “please me” by acting healthier, but I also know that this won’t last very long since he can’t be bothered to keep the act up. So time will tell I guess.
    A funny thing happened during Saturday btw. when we were playing some ping pong while talking about this and that as we often do, when he suddenly asked me if I believed that it was the lack of spirits in the house or placebo that made him feel more rested and energetic? I honestly told him that I don’t know what to believe, but we agreed that it does not matter as long as it works… and it still seem to be working.

    Regarding my wife, well yes… I think she simply writes this off as “temporary insanity by worried father”, which is fine by me as long as she won’t have me committed to some asylum with padded walls and straight jackets. I don’t need to win in any way, just having some kind of acceptance is fine with me and I feel I have it.

    @Latechuck, yes we are pale Swedes 🙂
    There is still a very noticeable difference in skin color between being ill and being well. Adrian was ill, and no vitamins or spending time outdoors would seem to affect his facial color fore more then a very short period of time. He even didn’t get a proper tan during last summer, something he is very proud of always easily getting previous years.
    Right before last summer we had him checked for all kinds of mineral/vitamin/nutrients shortage but he was very healthy according to the doctors. He is of course not tanned right now or anything, but looks healthier at least and have still not been talking in his sleep since I reinstated the vinegar vat.

    @Varun, yes that seems like a good approach.

  316. @JMG – what’s your opinion of ESP, in particular telepathy, telekinesis, retrocognition, and clairvoyance (i.e., remote viewing)? Your comment on palm reading the other day made me think of this, and I recently read a novel with remote viewing as a main topic, and growing up in the Peoria, IL, area I recall local psychic Greta Alexander assisting the police. I don’t recall you commenting on this before, my apologies if you have. Real skills, carnival tricks or something else?

    @William Fairchild – having been through Goofy Ridge numerous times on motorcycle rides, I can attest to it being a little different. Might be the sandy soil. I’ve noticed similar vibes in other out-of-the-way places in Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, but it’s not something that I can easily explain. A town five miles away might be totally unclanish.

    @Alexandra, Robert Mathiesen – the author of the linked article should probably, as our esteemed host might recommend, toss his television into a dumpster. I got a very strong sense of his views being based on propaganda, and he really confuses cause and effect. Not to make like of school shootings, but instead of the naive emotional hand-wringing which accomplishes nothing, perhaps the author should realize maybe these kids are the victims of propaganda as well? Just my two cents, though I suppose that seems a bit harsh.

  317. JMG,Thank you

    One last question. Has initial work with energy centers–before the centers have stabilized– ever been known to incite organic illness? Since starting the preliminary stages of working with the Middle Pillar Exercise, I have experienced a recrudescence of a respiratory problem that hasn’t bothered me since childhood. Luckily it’s not as debilitating as it was as a child; now more of a nuisance. I’m merely curious if there were a possible link to my inexpert handling of the Exercise or whether–as I’m inclined to suspect–it’s has an environmental cause.

    Before I forget, many thanks for Magic Mondays on Dreamwidth. Great supplement to this forum.

  318. @Inohuri:
    Hm, interesting; so your hypothesis, to be sure I’m clear, is that horses did survive in North America but were only hunted as food animals, not domesticated?
    If I’ve understood you correctly there, I’m not sure about that; for one thing, as I recall, it took a while to go from just-domesticated horses to ones that could be used for cavalry.

  319. @Erik,

    Yes, you could be right about Milo.

    I think the culture wars offer a superb opportunity for hucksters and intellectual guns-for-hire, and of course it is in these peoples’ interests to keep the culture wars rolling along interminably. They have in many ways become their own self-sustaining ecosphere.

  320. @JMG,

    You wrote “Phil K., between AfD and Daesh, you can definitely see the Tariq ibn Ziyads and Charles Martels of the future waiting in the wings…”

    I had trouble making sense of that until I realized I was parsing AfD as ADF! 🙂

  321. JMG,

    I suppose you are right. But of course it does take more than 20 minutes a day. Or more precisely, it takes what it takes to commit to those twenty minutes. In my particular case it takes the willingness to accept the consequences of a life changed. It seems that the changed life also has an effect on my immediate surroundings and the surroundings do not seem to be responding only positively. It is not so much the practices themselves (although viewed with a certain degree of concern and even ridicule), but the actual changes taking place within me. These changes challenge the way I have been and the way I have been has offered certain benefits to the said surroundings that are now at risk.

    Basically I am down to choosing between waiting to die or beginning to live. From the outset of it this is not really a very hard choice to make. I do not really have a choice here, though of course I do. Now reflecting back, the magical trainining seems to have been building momentum for the necessary changes – and now that I have again decided to continue them (as I did again this morning, the ritual went surprisingly smoothly), I seem to again have a clearer picture.

    I am sorry if this sounds unnecessarily vague. I do not claim to have a firm grasp of the matter, but “just keep on with the practices” should be an easy enough advice to follow. I kept up with the practices for several months not skipping a beat. I should be able to do it again.

  322. Thank you for this.

    I will absolutely go through those books, and follow your recommendation to hold off on magical training until I have a better understanding of this.

  323. Hi JMG, thanks you for this explanation. I’m still trying to sort out how you classify these things: so the examples you gave were “something other than will” (or as katsmama and Violet responded, as karma–and thanks to both of you also). So something in your life that is initiated by “will” would be more of a conscious decision, more “rational” perhaps? Something arrived at after introspection and done for a specific purpose? And of these two types of situations, is one “better”, or more helpful than the other, or are both simply things that arise in our lives that must be dealt with?

  324. Thank you for the astrology info, JMG! So my rising sign was my sun sign in the last life, huh? Well, before marriage I did have a certain…affinity…for Scorpios!

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more…😝

  325. John–

    It’s late in this comment cycle, but I wasn’t sure when the next Magic Monday might be…

    Is there any tradition of correspondence between the Pillars/Columns of Form, Force, and Consciousness of the Tree of Life and the three Druidic elements of Calas, Gwyar, and Nwyfre, respectively?

  326. @Skolymus: I’d agree with the penalty, say it needs to apply the same whether confessed or discovered, and also say that the penalty involved never again being in a position where the offender would be alone with children.

    As far as celibacy goes, while I have some issues with the rather conflicted way modern American culture treats sex, I don’t think our culture is more obsessed with it than any other. Others have been either more repressed (the 1950s, the Victorians) or more open (OMG the Elizabethans) but for ninety percent of people, sex is a pretty fundamental drive, and that doesn’t tend to change from generation to generation–just to find different outlets and means of expression.

    Giving more responsibility to laypeople might help, but, as has been pointed out above, people who want care of a parish, or people who want to have any positions of authority in the structure, would still be required to be celibate. From an insider perspective, that could well be a recruiting problem. From an outsider perspective, that when combined with the official church views on sex*, tends to make a lot of people consider priestly celibacy in re: Catholicism differently than in religions where it’s truly one of many ways of setting yourself apart from the world.

    * My Catholicism-adjacent family and friends fall into two groups: those who left the church because of its stance on women, LGBT issues, and sex generally, and those who are still in but decided a while back that the Vatican’s completely off-base about that and always has been. (Pretty sure a quick survey of young women at the average Christmas Mass in Boston, for example, would find most of them on some form of contraception.)

  327. JMG, what conventional wisdom do you think Jordan Peterson is rehashing? I find his analysis of Egyptian and Babylonian myths really interesting. Is it the belief in progress extended to seeing monotheism as a natural progression from polytheism?

    Also, why do you think Scandinavia could help the Reconquista? Norway and Finland are one thing but Sweden is in first place to become the first European Islamic state through demographics alone. I don’t think their neighbours will escape the spillover.

  328. Last comment by me on the subject of Islamic domination.
    “The Renaissance of Islam” can be found online, though with many scanning errors:

    https://archive.org/stream/renaissanceofisl029336mbp/renaissanceofisl029336mbp_djvu.txt

    One example (p. 419):

    “The festivals show how thin was the Islamic varnish
    over the popular life. The Muslims celebrated all the
    Christian festivals most of which were nothing more or
    less than rivals (?) of much older practices. Indeed many
    Christian places of pilgrimage in Mesopotamia and Egypt
    were old heathen places of worship. The festivals of
    patron saints of the Christian cloisters, which grew up,
    were merely new labels on old pagan celebrations. The
    local Muslims insisted on celebrating the days which had
    brightened the lives of their heathen and Christian ances-
    tors. But in contrast to the church, they generally dis-
    dained to forge new legends and left the Christians to
    settle their religious affairs as best they could. They
    simply shared in the social side of the festivals. The
    festivals, as, for example, of the Baghdadians, were almost
    all positively Christian festivals. Of them the feasts of
    the patron saints of the various monasteries were the most
    popular. Even on ordinary days these pious centres
    were not free from worldly visitors ‘. With their fine
    gardens and cool drinking-places they were popular ren-
    dezvous of the Baghdadians, intent on pleasure* Cloisters
    and taverns are often and often mentioned in one and the
    same breath : “On a rainy day it is delightful to sip wine
    with a priest/’ 3 And particularly commended is the sacra-
    mental wine (Sharab al Qurban). 3 Things were not very
    different in Cairo. At the end of the 4th/10th century the
    favourite pleasure-resorts of the Cairenes are mentioned:
    The gazelle-hunt near the Pyramid monastery; the Bridge
    and Taverns of Gizeh; the garden at Maqs with a view of
    the canal and the palace ; the play-ground at the Mar
    Hanna monastery and, above all, the monastery of al-
    Qusair, high up on the Muqattam with its delightful
    prospect : “how often was I day and night at the monastery
    of al-Qusair without recovering from the effects of wine.” 7
    The Tulunid Khumrawaihi had a watch-tower built there
    with four bow-windows, one for each point of the compass.*

    Palm-Sunday (Sha’nin-Hosannah) was a day of
    universal festivity or the people. It must have been an old
    feast of the trees notably of olive-trees. In Egypt it was
    simply called the “Olive festival.”* At the court of
    Baghdad slave-girls appeared on Palm-Sunday in gay
    dresses with palm and olive branches. 5 ”

    This is of course a particularly happy aspect of everyday life. Nevertheless, I repeat that the golden age of he Coptic church was after Islamic conquest, that the majority of the population converted in Iraq in the 9th century and in Egypt in the 10th century, not because of heavyhanded persecution but because of the prestige of Islamic culture at that time (and lower taxes).

    Karl Martel certainly did not see himself as a defender of Christendom, and neither did the local Aquitanian nobility, which was quite capable of defending itself against marauding armies coming from Spain. The remnants of classical culture that remained in the 8th century were brought down just as much by Karl Martel and his successors as by Islamic invaders.

  329. JMG,

    Regarding the Rising Dragons: Thank you. Your method mirrors mine precisely.

    Regarding the Golden Dawn/Solar, Telluric, Lunar question: Okay, I’m pretty clearly misunderstanding something along the way. Let me know if you can see what it is. As I understand it:

    1) The Lunar current does not exist naturally, but rather must be created by a deliberate fusion of the Solar and Telluric Currents.
    2) The Higher Self is Lunar.

    These first two together suggest to me that when/where the Higher Self is present, there must have been a deliberate fusion of the Solar and Tulluric Currents.

    3) One of the principle goals of the Golden Dawn is to establish contact with the Higher Self.

    Adding this third, it seems to me that the Golden Dawn must at some point fuse the Solar and Telluric Currents.

    Where am I mistaken?

    Thanks!

  330. JMG,

    Oh! And one last comment. In your reply to Bonnie above, you say “I’m in the process of winding up the Dolmen Arch as a correspondence school, as I simply don’t have the necessary free time to keep up with the correspondence in a timely manner. It will be published in due time as a book or, more likely, a pair of books.”

    What does this mean for current students? Are you still taking on new students?

    Regardless, thank you sincerely and immensely for the work of reconstructing the course and mentoring me through it, as it is my current (and first) spiritual home. Again, thank you.

  331. Thank you JMG,

    Not including a divination system in the Dolmen Arch course wouldn’t be discouraging to me at all. I have a couple of old standbys for divination that I’m much more comfortable working with. I feel I’ve got that base covered already, sufficiently for my needs.

    I find that I’m strongly attracted to the way of fusion of Telluric and Solar forces described in the Druid Magic Handbook, and so will start with that.

    Of course this had me intrigued bout the DA course, from the AODA website:

    “along with a great deal of additional teachings not published elsewhere — meditation practices, Druid philosophy, teachings concerning the Mabinogion, methods of energy healing, and much more.”

    It sounds like the Dolmen Arch course is the DMH plus a lot of additional material. I’m interested in that additional material! I suppose there’s no need to be greedy at this point, as I have a whole book of coursework to do as it is if I start with the DMH (and some serious journal analysis, and writing up an assessment of my journey so far- it’s time for that) I’ve no shortage of work to do, for sure.

    But color me very interested in any teachings concerning the Mabinogion and druid philosophy. If the DA course is wrapping up, I look very forward to its publication!

    Thanks again to you and to all here for some very helpful and simulating exchanges.
    Bonnie

  332. Thank you, and that makes a lot of sense. One question that raises:

    You said “The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is a great example: over and over again, power struggles mirroring the ones that originally brought down the order have broken out in successor orders. That’s why the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn uses different rituals and symbolism…”

    Your courses laid out in Learning Ritual Magic, Paths of Wisdom, and Circles of Power draws heavily on Golden Dawn rituals and symbolism. Is there any potential danger in working through those courses and potentially getting infected by the group egregore? Or did the subsequent work done by Dion Fortune, Gareth Knight, you, and others manage to restructure the tradition into something less prone to those problems?

  333. @ Ola

    I think it’s a good idea to talk with Adrian about all this as you have been doing. It’s the things in a family that are never talked about in front of children that are the most terrifying to a child. The invisible monster under the bed or in the closet is far, far more terrifying than any enfleshed monster — including human monsters — one might happen to cross paths with in the presence of others. Imagination is one of the most powerful faculties a person has, and can actually bring about changes in the physical world. (New inventions come about because someone has used imagination.)

    On the subject of imagination, it can be useful to distinguish between “imaginary” and “imaginal” when contrasting something to “real.” “Imaginary” is what has little or no impact on the real, say, the world experienced when one watches “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “Imaginal,” on the other hand, does not have any independent existence that a physicist can detect, yet does affect the real world — sometimes quite strongly. One of the best examples of soemthing “imaginal” occurs when a person is in love. There are physical components to being in love, say, physiological arousal and excitement; but “being in love” in itself is not simply the set or sum of all such things. It exists as an imaginal object. And it most definitely has real-world consequences, which even a reasonably perceptive outside observer can notice.

    “Imagical” is a term usedf (coined?) by Henri Corbin in his works on Islamic mysticism and esotericism to translate an Arabic technical term. See his article “Mundus Imaginalis,” which is easily found on line in several places.

  334. @ drhooves

    Of course! (And everyone should toss his or her TV into the dumpster anyway.) I didn’t mean to imply that I agreed with it, just that I took it as an interesting sign of the times.

  335. @ Millicently Lurking

    Thank you so much for that link to the obituary of David Pingree from Brown’s student-run newspaper. It captures so well the man I knew and the friend I admired. I had retired by then, so I missed the obituary when it first appeared.

  336. It’s late in the weekly cycle to be asking a heavy-duty question, but this one just came together in my thoughts this morning.

    More and more frequently I see creative people, individuals and groups, acquaintances and distant total strangers, looking for ways to use their own disciplines to address the looming ecological crises.

    More and more, seeing this has been causing me a peculiar low-key distress, feeling, knowing, that their efforts are being wasted, but not wanting to tell them so, especially since I have no better suggestion to give them that they understand. They’re not asking how to prepare to survive or to sustain a community; if they were, I know good places to refer them for excellent advice, and several fine spells courtesy of a certain Archdruid. They’re asking how to forestall or prevent or ameliorate. How to help. How to use their proven fine arts or activism or technical skills to save the world.

    Hence the question: what should I be telling earnest and talented people who want me to help them save the world? Recommending they change their lifestyles toward LESS, or start learning different skills, or simply appreciate the difference between a problem and a predicament, seems to be too big a step for them. To them such suggestions come across as changing the subject, or at best, as defeatism.

    Is there an intermediate step? These are people, still a tiny fraction of the populace even today, who are aware, interested, and concerned. I’d like to help them get from where they are to where we are. But how?

    That question just might be rather central to Ecosophia.

    But for me it’s a personal question. As I said, it’s actually been causing me a bit of mental distress. One obvious answer is, just leave them alone. Especially because they’re usually not asking for my advice to begin with. (My financial support; that’s a different story.) But just as they want to help save the world, I want to help them find more productive channels for their efforts. This “urge to advise” is something I’m guessing you might be a bit familiar with yourself. So, any suggestions?

  337. To add some context to the above… what crystallized these thoughts this morning was reading this Kickstarter page: But There is No Land Near the End. It’s a group of four young art school graduates in Glasgow, who are trying (as best I can tell) to use their skill of getting good grades in art school by juxtaposing interestingly contrasting photographs on a printed page, to “provide therapy for the environmentally distressed.”

    A close reading of the whole project page strongly suggests that they don’t actually have any idea how to do that, and that these kids who “formed out of the shared experience of unease in the face of impending environmental disaster” and joined up because they were “unable to cope with the imminent horror of climate change alone,” are actually seeking for themselves, perhaps somewhat desperately, the very therapy they’re claiming to offer.

    And what really struck me is how typical such appeals have become. It was the third vaguely raising-environmental-awareness or environmental-coping art project I’d read this morning, and I’ve seen dozens over the past few years. Some (like the photo book on overpopulation Overdevelopment Overpopulation Overshoot) eventually get completed. Others (like Chris Crawford’s global environmental-economic computer simulation game Balance of the Planet) failing to get funding. None has seemed to have much impact during that period.

    I wouldn’t expect or wish concerned creative people to be sitting on their hands instead, though.

  338. @ Steve,

    Thanks for mentioning that astrology book; my library system has it and I just put a hold on it.

    “It’s interesting that you had such a different reaction to the Colbert thing. It might be that you’re a bit younger than me, or that we grew up in different cultural settings. Or you might be a bit more savvy than I am– I regard Colbert as a rather contemptible figure, now. But I didn’t mean that I find he and Peterson comparable over all, only in their roles as thorn in the side of a speech-policing authoritarian regime.”

    Underneath my caring demeanor and sweetness I’m very, very prickly. My thoughts tend towards contrarianism and I have a cold logical mind that rapidly sees the component parts of arguments, often with little emotion on my end. It is unconscious; I tend to see logical constructions like a machine and I can tell pretty fast where they’ve been jerry-rigged. When people began to react against Bush, very quickly I began to develop a critique towards that reaction. In high school I felt the same way towards Michael Moore as I did towards Colbert. I was furious that he was taking what I perceived to be unprincipled liberties in the name of values we share. I feel the similarly towards the New Right now. This is what ultimately led me towards more fringe radicalism; I wanted to be around people who were likewise critical towards everything I had judged and found stupid! Of course that led me into some scenes that I now consider diabolical, but in a way that was appropriate and fitting in regards to my absurd arrogance. You live and learn from your mistakes, right?

    “A few years ago when the social justice thing really exploded into public consciousness– and when there didn’t seem like any defense against it– I wrote a poem in which “Promethesus, Unbound” leads The People to Revolution and then promptly removes his mask to reveal Goya’s Saturn and descends to his gruesome feast. (I don’t have the courage to post it.) But that’s what part of what I think is going on– people chaffing under an authoritarian regime gravitate to anyone promising liberation; those under 30 or so haven’t seen it before and so are caught unawares when Saturn comes back at the end.”

    That sounds really cool, Steve! I’ll admit that I had to look up both Goya’s Saturn and “Promethesus, Unbound.” Do you ever publish your writing on a blog or whatnot? You’ve mentioned so many interesting sounding projects. I for one would love to read them and say a nice thing! Seriously Steve, you have so many interesting thoughts, you read such interesting books, and you’ve practiced so many interesting things! Of course, I totally understand if you’re not interested and no pressure on my part, but that being said please know at least one human would be excited to read your writing and to offer feedback!

  339. @Violet,
    I just mentioned this b/c in your new year’s prediction, you’d mentioned a backlash against digital tech, and this might be the first stirrings of this. I’m noticing more and more “tobacco company-style” articles about silicon valley in the mainstream media, discussing how their products are designed to be addictive, and I’m wondering if we’re seeing the government start to pull the plug on some of the deep state the same as they are Middle East military adventures. If the military is too expensive and overextended, perhaps the deep state is as well? The law of diminishing returns applies to everything, deep state included. It’s important to remember that the internet started w/the Department of Defense, and so it has always been a tool of the government. As JMG has said, most social media and internet companies are not turning a profit, and were probably just kept going by the government for the purposes of surveillance. Now that the war on terror is over, perhaps the government is rethinking the expense of keeping all these deep state tools going? I know this will generate backlash from the conspiracy minded, but surely the US got as much out of Middle Eastern adventures (keeping the oil flowing) as they do deep state surveillance.

  340. Alas for the ending of the Dolmen Arch course! I had hoped to take it as part of my Second Degree studies. I had a feeling I was taking much too long working through my First. Ah, well, I will look forward to the publication of the book(s) instead. Undoubtedly the Grand Grove will accept an independent study based on it/them, when the time comes.

  341. Hi John Michael,

    Thank you for the reply (and no need to reply to this) and you have confirmed my darkest suspicions on the matter. I too have also seen the recent publicity for “Modern Monetary Theory”, which can be roughly translated as “Don’t worry about it”. A dangerous philosophy.

    I’m not sure whether you caught a whiff of the stupidest Internet of Things article that I have ever come across, mostly because I’m unsure how good your news reporting is and especially this article in particular which does not reflect well. This one takes the absolute cake though and the only word I can use to describe it is, idiotic: Australian learns how Strava heat map reveals dangerous information from jogging US soldiers.

    Whatever were they thinking?

    Cheers

    Chris

  342. @JMG, voiceoftaredas, and others discussing cases of child abuse by religious leaders.

    How, tainted spheres really add on yet another dimension on the subject, doesn’t it.

    I am sorry to drag you into this messy discussion, John, but as long as this is still the ask anything week of January…

    In your operative mage opinion, what is the excent ot the changes in Ritual and Symbols are we talking about? Not trying to foster conspiracy theories, but would the changes after the Vatican II Council be drastic enough to achieve some form of result (leaving aside the problems with shutting down shop for several years, I can see how the clergy would have rationalized the need to do otherwise, regardless of how occult-savy they might be)?

  343. As a follow up to an earlier comment I made.

    The more I read through Toynbee’s works, the less likely it appears that he was Islamophobic, as some have charged. One only has to read his writings to see that he repeated criticized Western imperialism and decried the damage done by colonialism to Dar al-Islam and the rest of the world. Consider for instance the following comment that he made concerning Western imperialism and the roots of the present Arab-Israeli conflict:

    “On the same cynical principle of making the defenseless pay, the Zionists on 14th May, 1948, had set up a state of Israel in Palestine by force of arms in a war that resulted in more than a half a million Palestinian Arabs losing their homes, in compensation for atrocities committed against Jews in A.D. 1933-45, not in the Levant, but in Europe and not by Arabs, but by Germans”. (Volume VIII, page 258)

    Before anyone goes around accusing Toynbee of anti-antisemitism as well as Islamophobia, let it be pointed out that Toynbee was an early and persistent critic of Hitler, the Nazis and their brand of pseudo-scientific racialist nonsense from the start. He was no bigot.

    Or consider another passage which I am having trouble locating again but which stood out in my mind, in which Toynbee speaks about the Prophet Muhammed, his son-in-law Ali and grandson Husayn in terms that show sincere admiration for all three and a palpable sense of outrage at the unjust murders of Ali and Husayn at the hands of their enemies.

    I am by no means an expert on Toynbee and am still working my way through his writings. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me from what I have read so far that accusations that he was Islamophobic are grossly unfair and say far more about the political biases that have become the new orthodoxy in the post-modernist academic establishment than anything Toynbee wrote himself. To the extent that those biases become more and more blatant as the cult of political correctness becomes more and more entrenched in the academic world, the more the academic establishment will continue to discredit and embarrass itself.

    Armata, formerly posting as Erik the Red.

  344. Synthase, yep. I wonder when people will grasp that the words “internet” and “private” should never be put in the same sentence…

    Voiceoftaredas, why, yes, that would indeed be applicable. Any organization can develop a tainted sphere, and in organizations with a strong spiritual component, the consequences of a tainted sphere are more destructive than elsewhere, because the energy level is higher.

    Steve, no, I didn’t get it. Interesting that you find it blunt! Different people get different results with the same oracle: I can’t get the runes to talk to me at all, for example, while Ogham is very friendly and talkative to me, and the cuter Tarot decks all tend to sulk and refuse to communicate. To me, Coelbren is simply very clear and concise.

    Scrying the Coelbren is much less intense than the work of the DOGD Bardic Grade, which is why I put instructions in a book for the complete beginner! Such chaos as happens is usually a matter of personal karma, and yes, it’s usually pretty brief. Personal stuff almost always intrudes into such things, since (of course) it’s you who’s doing the work, and therefore your own issues are going to be drawn into it.

    Bruno, you’re welcome.

    Drhooves, it’s a mix. I’ve had a few experiences with telepathy — on a couple of occasions, hearing very clearly words that my wife thought but did not want to say aloud — and some of the other psychic phenomena do seem to work from time to time, but they’re not reliable for most people, and there’s a lot of fraud and carnival hucksterism around the subject.

    Dirtyboots, sometimes you get something like that when some more fundamental health issue is in the process of resolving. Keep track of it, and if it worsens, by all means go to a qualified health care practitioner. Otherwise, it should fade out shortly.

    Sgage, funny! Isaac Bonewits as Charles Martel — oog. I want a bottle of brain bleach.

    Oskari, and that’s exactly what the choice amounts to, of course. One thing to keep in mind is that if you miss a practice now and then, that doesn’t mean disaster; it’ll be fine if you just pick yourself up and keep going.

    Jason, thank you. By doing so, you’ll come to magic with the kind of self-knowledge that will make the path of training much more straightforward and effective.

    Millicently, delighted to hear it.

    Lydia, it’s will if you consciously decide to do it, it’s something else — karma or destiny — if it keeps on happening to you, irrespective of what choices you make. You’re going to deal with all three all the time, and one isn’t better than the others; they’re all part of the process of being alive.

    Tripp, well, there you are. Do you happen to know off hand what sign of the zodiac is on the cusp of your fifth house?

    David, there’s no specific tradition I know of, but that’s a great theme for meditation, you know!

    Degringolade, about time.

    Dot, that’s one of the things I found boring in his work, yes. I don’t recall a lot of the others; it was some years ago that I read some of his work. I could no doubt go back and read a bunch of his stuff again, and make a list; I could also go watch paint dry…

    As for Scandinavia, it’s early days yet. I expect to see the backlash building in Sweden very forcefully in the decade or so ahead.

    Matthias, cherrypicking is an entertaining sport, I suppose. I could match quote for quote, you know…

    Alexander, the higher self isn’t of itself solar, lunar, or telluric. The Dolmen Arch system uses the lunar current to connect to the higher self, so — in the source material I used — the higher self is referred to as lunar, as a kind of shorthand. It can also be seen as solar (in solar traditions) and as telluric (in telluric traditions).

    As for the Dolmen Arch, existing students will of course be welcome to finish the course at their own speed, but I’ve basically decided to stop taking new students.

    Joel, glad to hear it.

    Bonnie, the Dolmen Arch is more a parallel training course to The Druid Magic Handbook — each one has quite a lot that isn’t in the other. I’ll be sure to post details here when it’s on its way to print.

    Eric, bingo. The basic work — the sort of things you find in the books you’ve named — has been used by so many groups at this point that it’s pretty generally safe. it’s when you get into the degree rituals that problems can emerge. Even there it’s possible to dodge them — there are Hermetic GD temples that do excellent work — but it takes constant effort.

    Walt, that’s a helluva good question. I don’t have any canned answers to hand, either: how do you tell people of good will who want to prevent the decline and fall of our civilization that the boat in question sailed a long time ago, and the work we need to do now consists of bracing for the crash and saving what can be saved? I don’t know.

    Sister Crow, I’m sure they’ll be good with it. I should be able to field questions on the subject here and on Dreamwidth, too.

    Chris, that’s the internet for you. If it’s online, it’s not private…

    CR, unfortunately, the changes made as a result of Vatican II were insufficient in terms of ritual and symbolism; the Novus Ordo mass has all the old symbolism but combines it in a way that, according to several esoterically minded Catholics with whom I’ve discussed the matter, has a much weaker magical dimension than the old Tridentine mass. (The mass has many other aspects, to be sure, but its magical function is important in purifying and energizing the sphere of the church.) Dropping a few old saints and bringing in guitar masses emphatically won’t do the trick! Crucially, though, any such change has to be combined with a thorough housecleaning in which whatever problems have become pervasive in an institution are rooted out with zero leniency, and that hasn’t happened yet.

    The shortage of priests being what it is — and that’s not going to change until and unless the rule of clerical celibacy gets dropped — most dioceses here in the US, at least, continued their habit of covering up the abuses of the clergy (of which pedophilia is only one, though it’s arguably the most appalling) and treating the misbehavior of clergy and other religious as a public relations problem rather than a burning moral and spiritual issue. I’ve noted here that as the former head of an alternative religious organization, I’ve spoken to a great many people who left the religions of their childhood; Protestants and Jews leave their religions behind for a wide range of reasons — but every single person I talked to, when I was Grand Archdruid, who quit the Catholic Church to become a Druid did so because of repeated, serious abuses of power on the part of priests, monks, nuns, or all of the above, which were condoned and covered up by the hierarchy. Every. Single. One..

    I don’t claim to know what conditions are like elsewhere, but here in the US, the Catholic Church is drowning in a swamp it has created for itself by the unwillingness of the hierarchy to hold its members accountable for acts that are as repellent to traditional Catholic morality as they are violations of the civil law and of the principles of ordinary decency. I know that’s harsh, and it’s an outsider’s judgment, but that’s what I see around me. I hope that the Catholic Church can find the strength to break out of the downward spiral before the tide of public opinion sets hard against it, and politicians begin using conspiracy and racketeering charges to go after its assets — but unless something changes soon, that latter’s probably not too many decades away.

  345. Armata, okay, I’d wondered if that was you! For what it’s worth, I was rather startled by the claim that Toynbee was “Islamophobic” — I certainly didn’t get that impression from his vivid descriptions of the soaring cultural achievements of Muslim societies, for example. I’d be willing to see specific citations of his showing undue bias against Islam, but I’d want to see them with chapter and page given…

    Toynbee came in for a lot of flak from a lot of people precisely because his understanding of history doesn’t leave room for narratives that privilege this or that nation, culture, or tradition above all others. I recall, for example, a splenetic essay by the otherwise brilliant historian of philosophy Walter Kaufmann raking Toynbee over the coals for alleged antisemitism; the reason Kaufmann cited was that Toynbee considered Judaism to be simply one of many offshoots of the old Syriac civilization, rather than something unique and of uniquely world-historical importance. Of course Toynbee came in for far more heat from those who objected to his denial that western civilization was unique and of uniquely world-historical importance…

  346. With regards to Catholicism, I have to agree with JMG. I was raised Catholic, but quite a few things that I saw convinced me to leave Christianity all together. I have a fairly poor relationship with the Judeo-Christian god years later. Its funny, since I had strong experiences with church and prayer, so I was never able to quite be an atheist, but I tried very hard. I’m Canadian, so the total extends to at least one other country.

    I have something else to share, and I’m putting it here since almost everywhere else I bring this up I run into some sort of thought stopper. Someone in my apartment building has recently gotten bed bugs. The response from management has been to spray every unit with pesticides, including mine. As a result, I had to move out for several days since the stuff is toxic and I wasn’t able to even make it to a window to open and air out my apartment without almost throwing up. I have no problem with pest control, but bed bugs are mostly harmless (looking it up, it seems they cause skin issues, and perhaps anemia in severe infestations), while the pesticides used to kill them are linked to asthma, cancer, neurological disorders, etc. The best part is that the bugs are evolving immunity to most pesticides. I didn’t think it would be too much to ask that the treatment not be worse than what it treats, but I don’t think most people are thinking clearly, courtesy of biophobia.

    Finally, here’s a link for an old article (from 2000), on computer security: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/3683?page=0,0&quicktabs_1=1

    It looks at computers, and concludes it is close to impossible to have a truly secure computer. The argument still stands today, probably more so than when it was written.

  347. Shane, I totally didn’t put that together; thank you, and also for the additional details. That is fascinating, I wouldn’t be surprised if your speculations turned out to be dead on.

  348. @ Violet– “Contrarian” is literally the first adjective that comes to mind when I think of you. (The next is “Loki.” No, not technically an adjective. Except when it is.) I have no idea where you got the idea you were hiding that part of your nature.

    On my writing… I used to blog a long time ago, but I don’t anymore. I got out of the habit of having something to say all the time, and found it was difficult to pick it back up. If you want I’ll send you some stuff, including that poem. The story I mentioned earlier on on this week’s blog is, in my view, one of the best I’ve ever done. It’s currently on the electronic desk of a traditional publisher who will, if past experience is anything to go by, reject it without explanation a few months from now.

    I somehow missed your earlier comment that you’d done some work for the Old Solar System anthology. I don’t think you’ve ever shared fiction writing with me and I’d be delighted if you did so. You could even send it by email.

    (I won’t be submitting a story for that anthology. I spent some time today wrestling with the piece I wrote for it, thinking I could cut it down to size. But I can’t. It’s 40,000 words and it wants to be longer.)

  349. John Michael,

    When I was reading through your observations about why Toynbee has come under fire, it occurred to me that those are same reasons why Spengler has been alternatively ignored and vilified by the academic establishment over the last few decades.

    In one of his video lectures on Spengler, the American philosopher John David Ebert pointed out that for all of fashionable denunciations of the evils of Eurocentrism, white privilege and all the rest, academic postmodernism has become more and more Eurocentric as time goes on. Ken Wilber has pointed the same thing out in his critiques of postmodernist philosophy.

    When I look at the angry rhetoric coming out of the campus left these days, it has become increasingly obvious to me that a lot of it appears to be motivated by people projecting their own shadows in the classic Jungian* sense of the term. Doubtless I have been guilty of the same thing plenty of times myself, but at least I have the honesty and intellectual courage to admit it.

    * Along with reading Toynbee’s works, I have also been taking a deep dive into the writings and ideas of Carl Jung and Hermann Hesse lately.

  350. I know that “it’s different this time” & “I’m sure they’ll think of something” tend to be thought-stoppers but there was thinking in the background with regards to these cliches.

    For example, Roman civilization could have survived if they had tapped into fossil fuels—perhaps the problems of our civilization have a similarly unsuspected fix.

    Also, industrial civilization would already be far into decline if the urbanization rate was 10% but that was so at the peak of Roman civilization. Might the interval between current urbanization rates & Roman ones in the sort of fall most feasible therefore have sui generis features. And how would the effects of a given urbanization rate differ in the contexts of rising vs. falling civilizations?

  351. @JMG

    Thanks for the reply about the the placement of Tiphareth in a human body. It sounds very similar to the way chakras are placed in different chakra-based systems. At least when they are placed at the heart or solar plexus level they tend to focus on the same issues you’ve listed.

    Judging by your other replies to other somewhat similar questions, for someone working through the Celtic Golden Down book right now, the best time to even consider experimenting with different placements of Muner would be some time after finishing the Druid grade, right? :-}

    Also, I automatically assumed that in CGD Muner is at the solar plexus level because this is where the Sun is visualised during the banishing ritual. Right now, before writing this, I searched through the kindle edition of the book and in the middle pillar exercise (which is probably a year away from where I am) the third sphere from the top is visualised at the heart level. Muner is not mentioned in the middle pillar exercise but it does sound that the correct location for this sphere is at the heart level, right?

    @JMG and @Steve T

    RE: Coelbren

    I haven’t tried divining with Coelbren yet but I did want to add my 1c to the scrying conversation.

    I tried scrying with the first 3 Coelbren symbols and more than once with some of them. Every single time I ended up in a formless space filled with golden light and pretty much nothing else. With “A” I somehow managed to navigate somewhere else while with other letters it was just that. I would discount it to my skill being in an early beginner stage but it was happening after a scrying binge through the whole set of geomantic figures and a few other things with each session being way more informative. So with Coelbren I switched back to normal discursive meditations and that did produce some results albeit I still found it quite hard with most of the symbols. Not quite sure what to make out of it yet.

  352. JMG,

    I’m aware you deliberately refrain from suggesting/endorsing any particular responses or technologies -or combinations thereof- to adapt to a peak oil world. (Other than not stashing lots of gold and developing a skillset which requires no or little infastructure and will be in demand)

    I suspect this is to avoid spoonfeeding a large readership within a small community, thus preserving disensus and forcing readers to think creatively and critically.

    Would compiling a list of the sum of appropiate tech options, especially those that have surfaced since the cancellation of the new earth catalouge violate this conviction? (If youre not interested in doing this, and this “encyclopedia” doesnt yet exist, would you be willing to send me a list of available source material so i could?)

    More interestingly (and more suitable for blog post format.) are there any specific areas where you see any gaps between available aprop. Tech (or the current cultural psychology, for that matter) and what would be required to mitigate and endure the hardships ahead? Can magic help bridge these gaps?

    As a seperate humble suggestion:

    Given that you are so familiar with the anatomy of imperial collapse, a short story detailing the (potential?) rise of the first or second generation of the feudal warlord archetypes to come, would be of great intetest. Especially if set in an alternate timeline of twilights last gleaming where dissolution was not so entirely smooth. Would these men be some combination of sheriffs, national guard generals, fractured federal agencies, gangs, militias etc? Hope to compare and contrast how they go each about constructing new societies. How would geopolitical trends effect interaction?

    The sad truth is if it where to all unravel (like western europe 440AD style) in my time, i’d fall into the sector of my community that specialized in fighting more than other crafts and trades ( Doesnt mean im not learning, but i know what side my bread is buttered on) and im trying to imagine living that life. As fuedal lord, conscripted man-o-arms, and everthing in between.

  353. @Chris
    Ah, your question is clearer now. The obvious arrangement is that investors in a land-transformation business become part-owners of the land once it’s rehabilitated. I thought you were asking something more philosophical about the validity of owning land at all.

    @Mike from Jersey
    My take on the rising stock market is that it’s the beginnings of inflation, which just hasn’t ‘trickled down’ to the price of apples yet. It was before my time, but apparently the same thing happened when the US went off the gold standard. People were expecting a market crash because of the uncertainty, but the market actually made big gains right after – not because the value of stocks was increasing, but because the value of dollars was decreasing. Today’s situation looks the same, though for different reasons.

    @Ola
    The threats of having family members committed to asylums is one part of my European heritage I do not miss. Although I know these sorts of arguments are not really determined by who has the more logical position, you may want to consider the following angle. As I understand it, you and your wife agree on at least the following:
    1. Your son has been responding to treatment, but has developed secondary symptoms that his doctor would probably ascribe to psychosomatic factors
    2. Identical symptoms to those your son is displaying are described in local folklore
    3. The same folklore has specific instructions as to what to do about the cause of these symptoms, and those measures are completely harmless to your son.
    You see where I’m going with this – even if your wife, your son’s doctor, and a counsellor you all see don’t believe in spirits, they probably still believe in mold spores, the effect of scents on mood, or any number of other perfectly normal explanation for why your son is responding well to what you’re doing. Even from a completely materialistic worldview, it would be irresponsible not to try something so harmless when there’s decent anecdotal evidence that it works.

    Finally, my two cents regarding Peterson – I enjoy his work a lot, even though I also disagree with many of his philosophical positions. What most impresses me about him is his ability to take a dyed-in-the-wool materialist, and in a few hours have him recognizing the importance of myth and higher purpose without ever noticing that his worldview has been turned upside down. Opinions might differ on how good a thing that is – many believe that people should be vetted before being introduced to a subtler worldview. Personally, I think rampant materialism is the more pressing concern at this point, and I laud his success in setting people’s feet on the path.

  354. At this point, it’s difficult for me to be astonished by stories about what an utter dumpster-fire US healthcare has become, but this one managed that in spades: New insurance policies expect Emergency Room patients to diagnose themselves and put the patient on the hook for the very big bill if the self-diagnosis is wrong. What’s funny is that even now, Democratic Party Kool-Aid drinkers still defend Obamacare. (Hint: It was supposed to control costs but in fact did exactly the opposite.)

    My advice: Avoid the ER. Yes, you may die, but the way you could get robbed blind if you do go there might make you wish you had died.

  355. Toynbee was, at the very beginning of his career, an adulator of the British Empire, in some very purple prose! And of course, that is how he got on as an academic…….

    But I should be surprised to learn that he was deeply prejudiced against Islam (whatever that actually IS!) in fact the English Establishment has generally tended in quite the opposite direction, all too eager to strip off those itchy woollen tweeds and swan around in flowing robes like a Bedouin prince. A shared love of horses, too.

    In any case, his mind broadened wonderfully as he matured.

    Wilfrid Scawen Blunt is the funniest example of this English tendency to adore their notion of Arabia, dressing up like a Sheikh in deepest muddy Sussex and seducing his ‘little wives’ on oriental carpets under tents – a total hoot! Lawrence of Arabia in some ways the saddest example.

    Another side of this attraction to Islam was, of course, deep disappointment at the real habits of the Arabs and the sordid reality of an impoverished and decaying East. But that was a case of Romantic disillusionment as well as crude imperial prejudice.

  356. PS On the various transmutations of ‘Islam’, I can recommend the travel book by Colin Thubron ‘Lost Heart Of Asia’, which offers interesting material for meditations on cultural and religious transmission, and the failure and rebirth of belief-systems, notably, of course, Communism and Islam. He travelled there at a very interesting time. And it is a damn good read, probably available very cheaply in paperback.

  357. @ Armata, JMG:

    Ah — I should clarify what I mean by islamophobia with respect to Toynbee; I certainly wasn’t using it in the typical thoughtstopper fashion that is indeed fashionable in some circles today, academic or otherwise, but in a more technical sense as a specialist on early modern Islamic intellectual history. In a word, Toynbee tends to damn with faint praise, leaving out vast bodies of evidence that don’t support his narrative. This, of course, is not his fault — as a nonspecialist he could only be as good as the scholarship available to him, and Islamic studies then, as now, was in its infancy. The bulk of Islamic intellectual history in particular has simply yet to be written, and the old colonialist chestnut that Islam declined after the “classical” period and remained culturally stagnant thereafter is still repeated as gospel even by specialists today!

    What I do fault him for, however, is his inexplicable lionization of Ibn Khaldun, and self-identification as an Ibn Khaldunian historian. Now Ibn Khaldun, that darling of French colonialists, who weaponized him as an imperial talisman during the takeover of North Africa, happens to have been an antirational puritan of the bookburning type, as well as an exceedingly poor historian; he simply ignores historical evidence that doesn’t fit with his simple dualist scheme, and essentially projects his own immediate experience in the Maghrib and North Africa onto human and Islamic history as a whole, about which he knows very little. He also just makes stuff up. And most egregiously from my perspective, he was also a rabid anti-occultist: he tried to get the guys I work on executed for disagreeing with him, and attempted to write the occult sciences out of Islamic intellectual history — an extremely unfashionable move to make during the occultist renaissance then booming in Cairo! (I’ve written on this theme, if you’re curious, particularly in my “In Defense of Geomancy” article, available here: https://tinyurl.com/yd43gyxz .) As a consequence, all contemporary and subsequent Muslim historians either panned or simply ignored Ibn Khaldun through the mid-17th century, when a few Ottoman historians — who were already using a theory of nomad-settled dynastic cycling of their own devising — did cite him in passing.

    Far from being some towering genius outside of time, in short, or “father of modern sociology,” Ibn Khaldun is one of the worst possible apertures onto Islamic civilization. Yet Toynbee held him up as the epitome and greatest genius of that civilization — and was very explicit on this point. In 1934 he offered this eulogy:

    “Ibn Khaldūn’s star shines the more brightly by contrast with the foil of darkness against which it flashes out; for while Thucydides and Machiavelli and Clarendon are all brilliant representatives of brilliant times and places, Ibn Khaldūn is the sole point of light in his quarter of firmament. He is indeed the one outstanding personality in the history of a civilisation whose social life on the whole was ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.’ In his chosen field of intellectual activity he appears to have been inspired by no predecessors and to have found no kindred souls among his contemporaries and to have kindled no answering spark of inspiration in any successors; and yet, in the Prolegomena (Muqaddima) to his Universal History he has conceived and formulated a philosophy of history which is undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time and place.”

    This is the most astonishing colonialist nonsense, and insanely antihistorical, to say the least. Here he presumes to know Islam better than all Muslims historically, as well as great contemporary Islamicists like Theodore Nöldeke, who too found Ibn Khaldun terminally puritanical, antirationalist and unreliable. I frankly find it impossible to square his worship of the Tunisian historian with his obviously more respectful treatment of Islamic civilization and noble anti-colonialist sentiments — it’s almost as if he had a schizophrenic break. But yes, I do think such a declaration merits the adjective islamophobic. Indeed, by this definition Ibn Khaldun himself is one of history’s great islamophobes!

    So to the extent Toynbee’s understanding of Islamic civilization is pinned, as it seems largely to be, to Ibn Khaldun’s, it cannot but be hamstrung. As a specialist much more familiar with Ibn Khaldun than with Toynbee, I thus find it very difficult to trust the latter’s treatment of the subject in its particulars, as well as his overall vision of Islam’s place and function in world history. Hopefully that makes more sense?

    As for the problem of reconciling Toynbee’s eulogy with A Study of History proper, I’m curious — does he go into such raptures over Ibn Khaldun or betray similar sentiments anywhere else, to your knowledge?

    @ violet et al.:

    For good places to start digging, I second Karim’s recommendation of Marilyn Waldman’s Britannica article, essentially a summary of Marshall Hodgson’s visionary A Venture of Islam, which has yet to be paralleled, though it’s weak on the early modern period due to the author’s premature death. (Hodgson is also one of the fathers of world history; see also his Rethinking World History.) And yes, absolutely, Shahab Ahmed’s What Is Islam?, as well as Pamuk; on the fiction side, I remember Amin Maalouf’s Samarkand being good as well. And of course Frank Herbert’s Dune, the most Islamic book ever written in English 😉 I teach an intro to Islamic civ course every semester, so you may also want to check out some of the readings I assign on my syllabus: https://tinyurl.com/ycau5uyv . Definitely check out Richard Bulliet’s The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization in particular — I always start the semester with that, as it’s extremely accessible to nonspecialists, and addresses many of the points you raised.

  358. JMG, understood regarding investors interest in short term gains. But perhaps a post on the difference between value and wealth would be worth while at some point.

    Dewey (I think you had the original post?), in the lead up to the 2007 crises I helped a friend make some money shorting Winebago. Talk about a business poorly suited for the run up in fuel prices! Those opportunities are still around since there is essentially no doubt in our faith in progress. It is an ugly way to make money, but it can be done.

    That said, even if you pick a winner (or loser in this case!), and you pull in a big chunk of money, you still have to convert that money into value (or risk losing it in as ugly a way as you gained it). That’s where the long term comes in. What will be valuable to you (broadly understood, so that includes friends, families, institutions, etc,) in 20-50 years. Build value there.

  359. Walt-it’s a very good question, and as a musician, I had a nebulous, inarticulate idea of what to tell you, then woke up with someone’s slogan-maybe the food co-op or farmer’s market or someone? here local.

    “Think Global, Act Local.”

    To your friends and acquaintances, say: “People will not change until they want to. You can use your talents to convince people that changes in their own behavior will improve their lives.”

    So a movie maker might make a series of short films, narrated by a city bus driver, set entirely on the bus. The bus of course is clean and pleasant. Maybe one story is about a guy who would never ride the bus, but his car broke down, and he had to get to work, and his credit card’s maxed out, so he grabs his pocket change and takes the bus, and meets the love of his life. All the riders except the one the episode focuses on are blurry and out of focus.

    The point is to make riding the bus an appealing prospect, and the film maker had best be a devoted bus rider himself. Since riding the bus is better than driving a car for the environment your film maker has met his goals. It is a local change, not some nebulous UN policy.

    A song writer might write songs about the joys of caring for a garden. A painter might paint people engaged in low-impact activities.

    Most people prefer to do what is pleasurable. Those of us who create have a duty to share the pleasures of the future we want to see, not merely the horrors of the future we don’t want to see.

  360. …so I just went and looked at Winebago curious to see what had happened (I don’t mess around with stocks personally). I recommend anyone interested in this question of investing, price discovery, and, more to the point, the utter mendacity of our markets to check out the long term stock history of Winebago:

    http://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/WGO/prices/winnebago-stock-price-history

    Here you will see boomers retiring and either selling or taking equity in the ultra-hot housing markets leading up to the 2007 crash, obviously they bought a lot of RV’s with that money (a zero value activity if there ever was one!). Then doom! Down from $30 to $4, in all honesty that should have been the end of the line. But wait, here comes QE and stimulus, and ZIRP, and all the other machinations of central bank stimulus. Here comes zombie shell companies fracking like mad and driving down oil prices. And Winebago soars to $55 in December 2017. Think this company is over-valued given our bankrupt de-industrial future? Here’s a better question: given the inevitable correction here, think Winebago can be saved again? What a mess. As Kunstler likes to repeat: happy motoring Winebago!

  361. @BoysMom: Loving the idea, though specifically I’d avoid anything that encourages people to think pubtrans is a singles bar. We have quite enough of That Guy already. Maybe the guy really wants to finish a good book, but his commute takes too much time–but when he gets on the bus, he can spend the time reading rather than trying to manage traffic, so he’s in a much better mood when he gets off? 😉

    As a general rule, though, I totally agree!

  362. Hi JMG –

    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 and the natural world has always been and will always be the thing that matters most.

    I’m curious whether you have any educated guesses, based on the trajectories of past civilizations, how the environment might be prioritized and ultimately fare during the decline of the US. 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

  363. JMG,
    I have Aries on the cusp of my 5th house. 1-5-10 = Scorpio-Aries-Leo. That sounds like an interesting question…any chance you will make it back to this matter before we close out the week?
    Cheers!

  364. JMG, one note on Jordan Peterson. I doubt that you’ll connect with most of his work as it mainly consists of hundreds of hours of his lectures on Youtube (he has recently come out with a new book that I haven’t read yet) being that TV is something that you dislike.
    I do think that he is doing good work as he is encouraging a lot of (mainly young men) to take responsibility for their own lives.
    A couple good quotes: “If you can’t even clean up your own room, who the …. are you to give advice to the world?”
    “The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.”
    “We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated. It is in this manner that we can and must reduce the suffering that poisons the world. It’s asking a lot. It’s asking for everything.”

  365. Regarding celibacy, or rather, denial of orgasm and it’s benefits, even the more sexually adventuresome are keenly aware of this, which is why chastity devices or orgasm denial is very popular in various kink/BDSM circles…

  366. @Will J,
    in an article in the local paper not too long ago, heat can be used to kill bedbugs. You have too superheat the room(s), @ least to 120ºF (maybe higher) to kill the bedbugs.

  367. @Violet,
    I wonder if the articles in the MSM about Silicon Valley designing their products to be addictive aren’t a way of signalling that the government won’t bail out Silicon Valley once the bubble bursts…

  368. Oh, and as a followup to Erik the Red/Armata’s earlier comment re the problematic nature of islamophobic as a term generally:

    I of course agree that people who express concerns about Daesh, Wahhabism, etc. are in no way islamophobic – after all, these are themselves expressly islamophobic movements! That is, they explicitly declare most of the world’s Muslims to be apostates and their blood licit, and proceed accordingly as the death cult they are. And hatred of islamophobes is hardly islamophobic in turn.

    My point is simply that this Islamic “dark side” is the product of developments specific to colonialist-capitalist, protestant-nationalist modernity, rather than some organic, essential expression of Islam. To the contrary, it represents rather a very conscious rupture with and rejection of Islamic history in precisely the same way that that Euro-American modernity represents a rupture with and rejection of Western culture, human history and the living cosmos itself. Their rhetoric aside, Daesh in particular — and yes, we’ll be getting plenty more of such copycat movements, Islamic or otherwise, as climate pressure increases and our imperial Great Game further collapses – is really only historically legible as a classic expression of protestant nationalism taken to its furthest logical conclusion, the roots of which ideology are very much in “Enlightened” western Europe. It ain’t pretty. But to successfully defend against it we must fight against the grossly materialist protestant nationalism in which all such movements live, move and have their being, and which has trashed the planet generally, rather than separating it out from that much larger epistemic evil. Cut the root and the branch will wither.

    In other words, this frontier ex-Protestant (inland Northwest born and bred) is a proud protestantophobe, naturally 😉

    I should also note, however, that Wahhabism in general, while remarkably expressive of the modern zeitgeist, does have a fascinating relationship with organized sufism, in that it’s a more extreme, tribalized Saudi version of 18th-century urban Salafism (the declinist positing of a fabled Golden Age, à la Renaissance neoclassicizing humanism), many of whose exponents were sufis. As such, Wahhabis hate sufis so violently precisely because they stole their organizational playbook.

    @ jacques:

    Due to the combined forces of colonialism and orientalism on the one hand and scientism and religionism on the other, I’m afraid we still know almost nothing about the history of Islamic occultism — insane, I know, but true! Astonishingly, this includes even such mainstream, prestigious sciences as astrology and geomancy (the latter seemingly a product of 10th-century Arabia or Berber North Africa), to say nothing of more popular practices like illusionism or scapulomancy. There’s now a new interest in the field among junior Islamicists, including myself, which is encouraging, although we’re few and far between; but so much basic textual spadework remains to be done (millions of surviving manuscipts sit unread, rotting on the shelf, and usually difficult or impossible to access) that we’re still at least a century away from anything like a comprehensive overview, if not two.

    That proviso aside, however, I did recently publish an edited volume on the theme that you may find interesting: Islamicate Occultism: New Perspectives, the first in the field to deal seriously with developments after the “classical” period, which came out as a special double issue of the journal Arabica, 64/3-4 (2017). (See https://tinyurl.com/h5lqvva .) My introduction to the volume and my own chapter are available on my academia.edu site, and some of its other authors have made their chapters available on their sites as well. I’m also co-editing a second volume on the same theme, Islamic Occultism in Theory and Practice, which should be out with Brill in 2019.

  369. @ Mmelvink:

    It seems to me that at most, Toynbee made the mistake of relying too much on Ibn Khaldun as a source. I still don’t see how that makes him Islamophobic. While he may have relied overly much on Ibn Khaldun and clearly admired him, he used other sources as well and frequently expressed admiration for the great achievements of the Islamic world and sympathy for Islamic cultures being victimized by Western imperialism and colonialism, hardly things one would expect of an Islamophobe.

    It still appears to me that you are mischaracterizing Toynbee based on your own biases. We are all guilty of letting our own personal biases get in the way to a certain extent, since each one of us is a product of the culture and times we live in and our life experiences along the way. An Orthodox Christian friend once told me that the Greek word Hamartia, which is conventionally translated as “Sin”, is not a synonym for evil or wickedness, as the word sin has come to mean in English. Rather Hamartia means “to fall short” or “missing the mark”. The equivalent Hebrew term has the same meaning. We all fall short.

    Based on your description, Ibn Khaldun would appear to be a representative example of a fairly common type from Islamic history and indeed world history, the reactionary moralist decrying what he sees as the decadence and rampant immorality of the culture and period in which he lives. Such figures have appeared from time to time throughout Islamic history (and in the histories of many other cultures) and some have gained a substantial following. As I pointed out before, one characteristic of Islamic history is that periods of liberal tolerance are often followed by fundamentalist movements motivated by what many people see as moral decay and a falling away from the teachings of the Quran and the original purity of the early Ummah. Even if he was as you claim, that doesn’t invalidate the value of his ideas and observations about Islamic history. It simply means those biases need to be taken into account. As for myself, I try to seek a wide variety of sources, perspectives and points of view to avoid falling into that trap.

    Certainly fundamentalism is a controversial topic in the Islamic world and elsewhere. Every Muslim I have personally talked to in private has expressed anger and disgust at groups like Daash, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram. In their accounts of their experiences in the Middle East, T.E. Lawrence and Sir John Glubb (AKA Glubb Pasha) both pointed out that the Wahhabis were widely hated and reviled as heretics by their fellow Arabs and Muslims. But there is something about fundamentalist movements like that which appeal to some in the Muslim community and even though they represent a small minority, they have demonstrated the ability to do a great deal of damage, including the mistreatment, oppression and murder of millions of their fellow Muslims. Even today, many Muslims feel they have to tread very carefully when discussing such groups for fear of retribution from the extremists.

    Aside from that, thank you very much for the references and feedback. I will be taking a close look at the links you provided and books you recommended. Clearly, this is a subject I need to explore in much greater depth. I have always been someone who is intellectually curious since I was a little boy and as such, I seek to learn more and explore other perspectives, even when they disagree with my own. Like Spengler, I am something of a self-taught independent scholar who reads a lot in my spare time, even though I don’t pretend to be Spengler’s intellectual equal or even close.

  370. Oops! In the post you mention, Millicently Lurking, “imagical” was a typo — pregnant with meaning, but nonetheless a typo. I had meant to type “imaginal,” which is Henri Corbin’s term. Here is one of the many links to his essay, plucked more or less at random from google:

    http://www.bahaistudies.net/asma/mundus_imaginalis.pdf

    It’s an essay well worth the attention of any aspiring mage.

  371. Hi JMG, since president Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech, could you make your own version too, or at least make a comment post on that?

  372. @David, by the lake, and @William Fairchild–

    Agreed with both of your comments on the article I posted. Some of the symptoms of the imperial collapse are so gruesome and depressing that I often wish we could just get it over with already. I live in Appalachia, which is a little further along the collapse curve than the “elite” coastal cities, and it’s clear that things will get worse before they get better. (“Worse” for me is more people suffering and dying because of things like lack of clean water, food, or health care.) But I’m always excited to find people talking about what, to me, are obvious facts of collapse, because most people are in complete denial. Holidays with my middle class relatives in California are a real treat, as just about every observation I make (and believe me, I try to keep it low-key) is greeted with scandalized, pearl-clutching terror. Maybe I should let them enjoy their denial while they can?

    @JMG–

    I often think the greatest benefit of being educated as an archaeologist is that it inoculated me against the myths of progress and uniqueness. But maybe I should change my name to Cassandra, because I don’t seem to have much luck convincing anyone else!

  373. @ShaneW–

    Where I live there is a terrible problem with substance (opiate) abuse, and I agree with you–it’s completely understandable if you just look around. It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new “epidemic” of this or that, but the most pervasive of all goes unacknowledged: It is an epidemic of heartsickness and fear, of which drug abuse and violence are symptoms. These are the canaries in the coal mine.

    @drhooves–

    I agree propaganda is rampant. I suppose it could be argued the article I posted might itself be viewed that way. There’s so much BS flying around that it would be a full time job to even try to sort through it. But the collapse of course is real, and at least someone is saying that out loud.

  374. @ Mmelvink:

    Your observations on the role that Protestantism played in helping to create many of the world’s present ills got me to thinking some more. I am of course aware of Max Weber’s thesis about the role that Protestantism played in the origins of capitalism.

    But Toynbee made a couple of very interesting points early on in A Study of History that tie directly into this discussion.

    One is that he points out that racism is a comparatively recent phenomenon, only a few centuries old. He argued specifically that racism was created by Western European, particularly British, Protestants as an ideological justification for colonialism and the enslavement of black Africans.

    He also argued that the main reason why the Indian Wars between the Native Americans and white settlers were so brutal was because so many of the frontier settlers were of Scots-Irish, Scottish Highlander and Borderer descent. Not only did they bring their ruthless, no holds barred style of fighting with them, but they were enthusiastic adopters of British Protestantism early on during the Reformation and exemplified the sort of mindset that Toynbee was talking about in his discussion about the origins of racism.

  375. I agree with what David said about Jordan Peterson. Virtually all his work is recorded lectures on youtube rather than in print so people who don’t like video can’t really know it – and there are hours and hours of it! He has reached a lot of militant atheists and got them to move away from the dogmatic literalist idea of religious myth. His main theme is to tell people to stop trying to change the world before you’ve sorted yourself out. It reflects your own advice about environmentalists, hypocrisy and the power of personal example. He’s also very anti utopian ideologies from anywhere across the political spectrum. If young people (or people of all ages for that matter…) started to take that seriously we’d have far fewer of them causing more harm than good as political activists trying to fix the world when they can’t even control their own drinking habits. He’s a more mixed bag than you’re giving him credit for I think.

  376. For anyone who’s tempted to buy into some version of the ‘Wahhab as the root of all evil’ in Islam story – Wahhab was born in 1703. Islam had a millennia to do its thing before that fashionably handy scapegoat appeared on the scene.

    If you want to learn about Islam don’t start with secondary sources. Just as if you wanted to learn about Christianity as an outsider you need to read the actual Bible. Read the Quran, hadiths and biographies of Muhammad for yourself. Read what the Islamic scholar class – the schools of sharia – have taught over the past 1400 years. Read pew forum research on what muslims around the world today actually believe: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-beliefs-about-sharia/. You can’t make sense of what the scholar class teaches, or what muslims in practice believe, unless you’ve read the actual source documents. Then you’ll be in a position to evaluate for yourself the strength or otherwise of any other literature on the subject.

  377. HI John, Slightly off-topic but is there any time frame to hearing the results of the Old Solar System writing contest? Even writing the short story brought up many of the issues being discussed here so looking to explore those themes on an exotic location in the Solar System 🙂

  378. @ Armata:

    My biases? I’m simply more sensitive to such rhetoric as deployed by Toynbee in his eulogy because it affects me quite directly on a daily basis, making my professional life as an intellectual historian far more of an uphill battle than it should be. He did more than anyone else to popularize Ibn Khaldun in modern scholarship, with the result that the majority of the latter’s far more influential, more interesting and more ecumenical contemporaries have been utterly disappeared from historiographical view.

    A case in point is Ibn Turka (d. 1432), the greatest occult philosopher of Timurid Iran, whose intellectual project was precisely cognate to those of such Renaissance heroes as Nicholas of Cusa, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno and especially John Dee, but whose cultural and political impact was considerably greater and over a vaster area (the Persianate world as a whole). He’s even been hailed the “Spinoza of Iran.” (My encyclopedia article on the guy is here: https://tinyurl.com/yczzjkjd .) Yet, astonishingly, such a major figure has been almost totally erased from the early modern narrative by modern scholarship — not least because Ibn Khaldun, fellow resident in Cairo, hated him and tried to have him executed. In a very real sense, he finally succeeded, if only some five hundred years later: Ibn Khaldun studies continues to boom as an academic subfield, while his far more successful and enlightened rivals, including Ibn Turka, are forgotten. Most egregiously, this has made early modern Western comparative intellectual history flatly impossible, and further reinforced the pernicious narrative of western European exceptionalism — precisely, ironically, the narrative Toynbee himself was trying to combat!

    The same principle holds for post-Mongol Islamic history more generally: it is still thoroughly colonized, especially by way of the modern orientalist fixation on puritanical types who were profoundly uninfluential in and hence unrepresentative of their own time and place but resonant with western European experience, including Ibn Khaldun and his much more learned and penetrating soulmate Ibn Taymiyya, patron saint of modern Wahhabism. Both would have made excellent Inquisitors, had they been given the chance; but they never were — until now. For this fixation in turn has been weaponized under colonialism to paint Islam, in Toynbee’s endorsing quote, as “nasty, dark and brutish”: hence the mission civilisatrice, and hence the still dominant tendency among historians to divide and quarantine the bulk of Islamic civ in squalid internment camps outside the borders of the True West. Sure, Islamic civ produced puritanical killjoys at roughly the same rate as any other high culture; but it is a remarkable historical fact that they were only finally able to dominate and indeed rewrite the narrative through strategic alliance with the forces of an equally fundamentalist, inquisitorial colonialism.

    This is the historical context in which Toynbee’s eulogy of Ibn Khaldun is to be assessed. Before accusing me of undue bias, please go back and read the quote I provided more closely — it really is shockingly explicit on this point: Islam is the exception among civilizations for its almost unrelieved cultural darkness and staticness. Making such a bizarre, essentializing and obviously antihistorical exception of an entire civilization precisely constitutes islamophobia, just like essentializing and otherizing all Jews (and Arabs) constitutes antisemitism. But we must be precise in our definitions. As I define it, then, islamophobia is simply the facile dismissal of the majority of historical, and by extension contemporary, Muslims as somehow essentially sub-: subrational, subcultural, subreligious, subhistorical, subhuman, even subislamic — that is to say, the eternal, monolithic, exceptional Other. The standard of comparison may vary, of course, and need not be consciously chosen or physically violently expressed; but it remains epistemologically violent and perverting nonetheless. In short: Ibn Khaldun was a Muslim islamophobe, and Daesh his latter-day dream come true.

    Again, I don’t know Toynbee nearly well enough to know how his blatantly islamophobic eulogy can be squared with the *islamophilia* that seems to pervade A Study of History and the man’s politics generally. I suspect it can’t, and will have to be left as a simple instance of cognitive dissonance, which is certainly common enough. You’ll note that I’m in no way using the descriptor in equally essentializing fashion, whereby an islamophobe cannot be simultaneously an islamophile; here as elsewhere, contradiction must be embraced. (Ibn Khaldun too, for all his intolerant vitriol, was obviously equally islamophilic.)

    But words are often sorcerous, with unintended effects: I’m here to tell you that Toynbee’s eulogy, however praiseworthy his intentions otherwise were, has done considerable damage to the field of Islamic history over the last eighty-odd years since he penned it, and has indirectly helped enfranchise postcolonial Islamic puritan nationalism. To combat such narrow and antihistorical chauvinism, to fulfill Toynbee’s grandly equalizing vision, we must rather stop giving miserable puritans like Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Taymiyya — and their modern colonialist and nationalist disciples by extension — such a primetime platform. They were roundly panned and ignored in their own lifetimes and for centuries after; we should do the same now. More: we should look rather to the thinkers and historians those haters hated, and who successfully wrote a very different, powerfully cosmopolitan and fiercely *magical* narrative that came to dominate mainstream Islamic cultural discourses down to the 18th century, for tips on how to do the same again.

  379. One thing that Ibn Khaldun did lament was that by the early 14th century culture and philosophy had more or less died in Andalucia, leaving little more than the memorisation and recitation of the Koran, and the usual legal studies – he regarded this as a disaster, given the briliance of earlier times.

    So, he was, I would suggest, much more than a ‘puritan’ moralist. In fact, the more one studies him, the more enigmatic he becomes…….

  380. As a quick point of clarification to my last comment to Mmelvink:

    It was not intended as a blanket condemnation of Protestant Christianity, but I felt obliged to post this just in case anyone takes it that way. Like most if not all people here, I believe it is wrong to judge and condemn an entire religious tradition based on the misdeeds of some of it’s adherents. Many of us who frequent this blog belong to minority religions and know that from experience.

    My point was that Toynbee had argued that certain ideas that were circulating within early Protestantism were used to justify some profoundly horrific things. They represented a perversion of Protestant Christianity, in much the way that groups such as Daash, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram are based on a perversion of Islamic teachings.

  381. Hello JMG,

    I’m Mike, and I’ve binge-read your old blog (well of Galabes) and this one since they both seem to resonate deeply with me.

    As I was finishing my degree in economics a few years back, all the contradictions were so evident, specially with regards to the environment and what is really of “value”. I grew up in Ecuador with constant exposure to nature, so it became evidrnt along the way I forgot what i was really passionate about. So I searched into ways of changing my career and professional path into something that would make the environment and conservation my life mission. I asked, searched, read, sent emails, had interviews… for about 2 years. I was about to graduate with a major in finances but decided not to take the final 3 subjects.. out of not wanting to.. I returned the next year and the Dean of the school called me to his office.. he (an ex Catholic priest) knew of my passion, and told me ” what if I told you that this year and this year only we will have an environmental economist give a minor on environmental economics”.. this came from the sky but it was somehow answering my prayers! long story short I took the opportunity worked hard, one thing led to another graduated, became a research assistant to this professor which after some years opened up the opportunity for travelling to pursue further studies into environmental economics and climate change, and now, 5 years later I’m now in the Galapagos working on conservation of ecosystems (mangroves- incredibly important in the tropics!). I used to say this was too much to be a coincidence, and as you said in a comment above, coincidence is the most common superstition in the age of scientific materialism. This realization (along with many others) has directed me to try to consciously develop my willpower, so as to achieve changes for the better of society… but as I am in the middle of the Pacific getting hold of tarot cards and other necessary things becomes rather difficult. Likewise it’s not something that I can easily talk with my peers at the scientific research station where I’m now working!
    have you got any advice as to what book I can use to develop myself and learn about channelling my willpower? ways to enhance it, direct it, how to learn about what influences it … I’ve got 3 of your books, the druidry handbook, learning ritual magic and the Celtic golden dawn. I’ve also read Arroyo (2 books) for a background on astrology. I come from a Catholic background, an English father and an Ecuadorian mother.. so I’m not quite certain as to which way to go..

    thanks so much for taking the time to read this

    Michael

  382. Hello JMG
    I asked above about wether jupiter or saturn herbs could help me get more discipline with my chores. I started drinking sage tea and I feel like it has helped quite a bit. I still have a ways to go but I managed to get going.
    Now, on another aspect of my life, It’s a very common topic with my therapist that we talk about my relationship with girls. I had a girlfriend six years ago and it was the second and last time I ever had sex. I tend to feel guilt when I express my sexuality. I don’t really feel confortable when I want to express to a girl that I like her, so I don’t tend to come off as attractive.
    I investigated my natal chart and turns out that I have a mars-venus squaring, with venus conjuncted with the sun in Aries in the third house, while mars is in Cancer in the sixth. My guessing is that the sun settles the match for venus, making me emotional, while mars (trined with mercury in pisces) makes me be agressively rational, but cannot manifest much in action. So I looked up martian herbs and I’m thinking a basil and thyme infusion can help my mars get in tune. Is my assessment accurate? What else could I try or consider?
    Thanks in advace.

  383. Hi JMG,

    There is a nice analogy between the course of our civilisation and the life of an oak tree. It is said they grow for 300 years, rest for 300 then decline for 300. During the decline phase the tree will draw in its energy (retrenchment) leaving the branches at the top to die back (stag-heading) which allows light in, stimulating the buds closer to the trunk to spring into life to form a tighter, compact canopy. The oak gradually shuts down acorn production as well. Perhaps we need to take a leaf out of the oak’s book (sorry for the pun).

  384. Pingback: URL

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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