Open Post

October 2017 Open Post

As announced earlier, this blog will host an open space once a month 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.

With that said, have at it…


  1. Dirk, I checked it out well over a decade ago. I also noted with wry amusement that it was being turned into yet another excuse for the privileged to keep up their unsustainable lifestyles. Did you have anything substantive to say about it?

  2. Sigh, all month long, when I think of something off topic, I think, “I’ll ask that on Open Post!” Then, Open Post comes, and, blank, I forgot what I wanted to ask. Better start taking notes. 🙂

  3. Why did the Freddy & Sam oral tradition disappear from Stars Reach between the blog and the published book? I thought those and the discovery of LOTR at Stars Reach were quite effective.

  4. This is, I hope, a good opportunity to talk briefly about my own observations of New York City, a place I’ve lived for 20 years and with whom I feel a very strong love/hate relationship. While it is not (and probably never will be again) the gilded playground of the mid-late ’90s, there are places here that are still clean and beautiful. Manhattan below, say, 59th street has been mostly emptied of regular long-term citizens and become a giant international real estate money laundering pit, which is why other commenters have noticed how grim and bizarre it becomes after hours. But there are many places in Brooklyn where people own their own homes, and that has enabled certain neighborhoods to maintain a livable atmosphere. I walked around Prospect Park for the first time a few weeks ago, after traveling across the entire country on train and by car all summer, and was astonished at how beautiful and well-kept it was. It looks nicer than Central Park now (same architect) because it does not have the same exhaustive tourist traffic. And there were no homeless tents, which I saw so much of this summer, especially in California. There isn’t a more peaceful and clean big city park, I don’t think, enforced, of course, by a Singapore-level of social, political, and police control.

    To be honest, it reminded me of Marie Antoinette’s pretty little farm…

  5. I have a question that’s so esoteric and niche it seems a bit silly to ask, but I suppose that sort of thing is what these open posts are for:

    One of the sustainable tech inventions I’ve come across in my research is a ‘solar smelter’ – essentially a large parabolic mirror that concentrates sunlight enough to melt certain metals. From an alchemical viewpoint, would there be a consistent effect from concentrating that much solar energy into a piece of metal? If a community inclined to such experimentation were to go in on one of these smelters, is there a particular sort of tool you think it would be most suited to making?

  6. Just a comment on crackpot realism. I was watching some Looney Tunes cartoons with my son on a rainy day and I have decided that no other figure exemplifies crackpot realism more than Wile E. Coyote. No matter how many times his overly complicated schemes literally blow up in his face he keeps buying acme products in the hopes that this time it will be different. He is not deterred in the least by how much pain and trouble these contraptions have cost him. He keeps doubling down. Musk might be the patron saint of crackpot realism with his mars colony and his underground hyperloops, but Wile E. Coyote is its spirit animal.

  7. INSURGE intelligence

    HomeSymposium: Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy

    David Schwartzman is Professor Emeritus, Howard University (biogeochemist, environmental scientist).
    100% renewables: ‘wishful thinking’ or an imperative goal? By David Schwartzman.

    Another article about the reliability, efficacy and, certainty ( a la Jacobson of Stanford University) of maintaining “our” standards of living with all renewable energy. As I read it though, I was reminded of something my father used to tell us as kids: “If the dog had not stopped to take a piss, he would have caught the bunny rabbit”. A Professor later made the same comment in a more ‘refined’ way, saying, “When does the argument die from the cuts of a thousand qualifications?” All the “if’s” are not likely to come true until we are forced to accommodate them, and that certainly ‘kicking and screaming’ all the way!!

  8. Won’t those who cling to their ‘privileged lifestyle’ always use everything that can be ‘turned into … an excuse’ to continue BAU? But, can we hold that against the actual (albeit, not miraculous) good (particularly in the downturn) that can be accomplished with such strategies as biochar?

  9. Dear Mr Greer,

    I have 2 questions for you. I recall once that you had developed a condition that you called Kidney Yang Depletion (if I remember correctly) from practicing Tai Chi whilst also practicing magic. Was that the Golden Dawn system or the Druid Magic Handbook system?

    Also, have you, or anyone else you know of, developed a similar system of martial arts and/or health practices based on (or compatible with) the system in the Druid Magic Handbook?


  10. JMG – do you have any view on the recent demand for pregnant women to be called pregnant people? What is going on with this change of language? Would be interested to hear your view.

  11. Hi JMG,

    In one of the early posts on your Well of Galabes blog you said that in a later post you would give your view of the phenomenon that many people who end up as highly skilled mages, and particularly if I recall correctly you were talking about those who practise in a Golden Dawn tradition, are walking disasters in their personal lives. In the end, it seems you retired the blog before that post could be written. As somebody who has a burgeoning interest in practical magic largely because of its healing potentials, I’d love to hear what you planned to say, or at least the condensed version.


  12. I’ll throw a hat in the ring tangential to biochar. I wrote a term paper in a soil chemistry class on the best way to handle wood ash. Turns out the Europeans have pinned down that the best way to handle it is to add to your compost pile. What little beneficial phosphate and potassium remain in the ash is quickly leached out in any direct application method. The mighty compost community does a great job of fixing these nutrients so they will be available to your plants down the road. In Europe they use ash from biomass plants at up to 40% by mass in commercial compost. I doubt a residential wood stove will produce that kind of volume compared to yard waste, so you can safely throw the whole mess into the compost. Those of us who heat with wood, consider making this change in how you manage your ash.

  13. I am finally reading William Catton’s Overshoot. What a reasonable, thoughtful, and well articulated work that explains the predicament of industrial civilization. I especially like his use of ecological principles as the foundation for understanding certain historical processes. I was also reading Where The Wasteland Ends by Theodore Roszak. Though I like it, it is definitely much more challenging to read, at least for me, so I had to put it down and walk away from it for a while and think about some of the larger ideas he is articulating. Anyway, thanks for those recommendations from your deindustrial reading list!

    -Dan Mollo

  14. Inspired in no small part by your discussions of being a member, I’ve been looking into membership with a local Freemasons lodge. As someone who regularly questions official reality and authorities, what would be the drawbacks or benefits to joining (besides the obvious sense of community and brotherhood)?

  15. There is starting to be some discussion about how big reusable rockets are going to be used primarily for military purposes (not the silly “let’s be Martians” propaganda coming from Musk.) First greatly increased numbers of communication, control and observation satellites. Then if they can get away with it space based kinetic kill weapons and space based solar powered lasers.
    (I have come up with a new name for the space based kinetic kill weapons – Orwell’s Orbiting Boots. I think it is more appropriate than Rods from God).

    To me it seems obvious that if the big reusable rockets actually work they will directly lead to the Kessler Syndrome. The augment goes like this :
    1) Seizing the High Ground gives you enormous military advantages.
    2) Big Reusable Rockets have the potential to make seizing the High Ground seem possible.
    3) The Russians and Chinese will not let the US seize the high ground.
    4) The Kessler Syndrome denies the US this enormous military advantage.

    It just seems so clear that with the US in decline, our militarism will go to the next level of techno fetishism – Space Based War fighting, and it will blow up in our faces. My guess 2030 -2035.

  16. Now, thanks to JMG offering to open his Ecosophia to comment may be a good time to elucidate the comprehensive delusion set that suggests we can continue to “do what we are doing” in the relentless extraction-production-consumption-waste systems that allow our broken economic, social, political and moral pathways to continue us down the chute to oblivion.

    And ruin any chance to live in a constructive ecological spirituality with our beneficient Mother Earth.

    To wit, please see Kevin Anderson’s great (admittedly our opinion here at ATL) lecture last month, the Gordon Goodman Memorial lecture, .

    Crucially, the entire world (practically) has purchased a signal delusion system, based on carbon sucking Negative Emissions Technologies (NETs) in order to meet the Paris Accord’s heat ceiling targets. Targets necessary to keep from shattering the climate system and baking us all into burnt toast. With that delusion, the world is enabled to kick the can down the road, thinking down the road there will be a road to follow.

    Now, JMG has not discussed tipping points, and a completely broken climate system with run-away heat that may well preclude any future worth living, even if some shards of humanity survive this next two hundred years. But, one of the past great extinctions, more naturally constructed by the belches that come from our hot earth under her crust, did eliminate most of life, and anything walking on land larger than a baseball. And the temperatures predicted by our delusional continuing of our current relentless “burnt carbonizing” of our atmosphere may well not give us much of a chance to continue any viable future.

    Perhaps a blog on this might be an easier way to quicken the absorption of the information. There too, Dear Readers of JMG’s great work, you may discover the “Tinkerbell-Effect,” a childish delusion that we (humanity) promotes and currently is pursuing:

    Blessings to All,


  17. Hi John, I recently acquired a number of books that you either wrote the forward to or the contents. One that I am looking at is “Between the Gates”. which makes very grand promises, but suggests that a live instructor would be better. How do I go about finding an instructor? I live in the Portland suburbs. Orenco area if that means anything to you. Thanks, Ben

  18. “People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past. They are fighting for access to the laboratories where photographs are retouched and biographies and histories rewritten.” [Milan Kundera]
    Any thoughts/comments on this quote? If you disagree with Kundera’s explanation, what other reason(s) do people have for not being interested in the future?

  19. The other day I got into an almost heated argument about conspiracy theories with a mentor. I was talking with a friend about how I had been a cynical and suspicious child and how, at September 11th my first thought was “this was an inside job! Bush did this to gain more power. That was a longtime ago”, I mentioned to my friend, “I no longer believe that”

    My mentor overheard this, and apparently he believes that there are evil elite elements in the US government who plan acts of self-sabotage the government in order to gain more power. He started “connecting the dots” and quoting a lot of ‘facts’ and calling people who disagreed with him “sheeple”. He was also assuming defensive body language; clearly this argument had become about defending territory rather than arriving at truth. At first I attempted to play this like a thought experiment, “Ok,” I said, “I wonder though why it is always the US government as the bad guy in these conspiracy theories. Why not Russia or China sowing seeds of discord so they can get middle eastern oil. If you take the idea that Lenin had that you can find an actor based on who has the most to gain, as explored in the Big Lebowski, maybe it isn’t the united states that was behind the conspiracy, if there was a conspiracy” . What can I say to defend my escalation; that I should have known better? I read too much magical realism and like when whimsy and horror dance along alternate time lines? I don’t know but at that moment I had unwittingly stepped off of a mere conversation and into a battle of ideas.

    He said “Conspiracy theory is a term invented to discredit the Kennedy assainations. Bush’s rating went from 19% before the attacks to 86% after. It was him and the Saudis” he said this over-pronouncing his words slightly, as if to impress a simple fact on a stupid child

    I acknowledged that I use the term ‘conspiracy theory’ to ignore certain ideas that I haven’t considered seriously for many years. I then owned that I dislike conspiracy theories largely on aesthetic grounds; they are Gnostic in their structure and I don’t like how Gnosticism ‘looks’. I acknowledged said that there is no accounting for taste. He listened tense, still clearly wanting to win the argument. He started talking about facts, suppressed evidence, dead witnesses etc. He even mentioned that footage from the attacks are no longer shown on television. I was taken aback by these breathtaking logical jumps; I replied stammering “the news cycle is so short…Joseph Stalin said that paper will put up with anything written on it….if I am to consider one set of evidence must I then consider them all? How would I know what evidence to trust”
    With clenched fists and chest puffed out he said essentially “you need to choose a side” and stormed off.

    I’ve tried to be as fair to my mentor as I can be. nonetheless I found the exchange highly disturbing. I’ve listened to an interview where the professionalism of my mentor was attacked repeatedly by a colleague and he took this with equanimity and calm. In our little exchange his body language became very heated and defensive. This indicated to me a deep psychological need to believe that there were an indestructible coterie of colluding elites and that it is important to choose the right side of history. He is my mentor and even my friend, and close friend. he has a lot of influence in my community. He is liberal, compassionate and a source of healing. Somehow, as I listened, I felt that our collective fate is already sealed and that there is nothing I can do to avert a ghastly fated course.

    I’m curious how other people have approached this sort of situation. My first impulse is to give my mentor a very wide berth for the next 6 months or so and hope we can have the good grace to avoid the topic afterwards, although I was disturbed by his need to win and feel that he won’t be able to accept me unless he believes I agree with him on these points. It is like a thorn in my heart for me to see clearly in the eyes of someone I look up to greatly that I’ve been recategorized from “plucky bookish aesthete who is on my side” to “sheeple on the wrong side of history”. Are there words of wisdom for this sort of situation? My loss of status pains my inner social primate who jockeys for position even though my ethics and aesthetics, as it were, say I did nothing wrong except misjudge what was prudent to discuss.

  20. @ Michelle
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments about FEEEELings and teaching citizenship skills. Your primary professor was right about engaging the brain for analyzing language and literature; but a professor of old-style journalism would have said, “Nobody cares how you feel. What do you see, hear, smell, and know for a provable fact? Who, what, when, where, and only after you have gotten all that into three crisp sentences, why and how.” News reporting, like scouting, used to deal with the world around you more than the concepts and feelings inside you. As for the Scouting badge programs, I have no facts about the accessibility of Eagle Scouting opportunities for the class of unemployed young men who invented gangsta rap; but I venture to guess that there is some degree of overlap between kids who opt into Boy Scouts and parents who own moderate amounts of land, have steady middle class incomes, licensed guns, licensed access to hunting and fishing grounds, and some standing in their communities.

    Those are all levers of power: land, money, status, and licensed, insider knowledge of how,when, and where to get game. Street gangs, lacking these privileges and amenities, gain power and control over their environments by developing their own brand of insider knowledge to lay claim to specified territorial boundaries. They, too, are scouts: arrayed in battle mode and fighting for survival in an urban wilderness.

    I have heard that the Boy Scouts suffered a large enough drop in enrollment that they are planning to admit girls into their programs. Perhaps the Boy Scouts of America might consider a program of Neighborhood Safety, where the Eagle Scouts assist inner city youth of both sexes by patrolling, semaphore signalling, and maintaining neighborhood watches to help keep elders, children and working class adults safe from the drug and gun violence that surrounds them. Or, if that is too dangerous for middle-class parents to accept, BSA could work with local churches to support the church-based ID cards that some police forces will accept from illegal immigrants.

    Criminals prey on migrant workers even more than they attack citizens because it is safer for them to harm people who are afraid to go to the police. A Scout ID or Church ID helps police distinguish people known to the community as basically decent and peaceable from less savoury individuals who traffic in drugs, robbery, and violent crime. Scouting could be one important step on the path to citizenship for people fleeing famine or violence in their home countries. Just a suggestion.

  21. When one examines the concept of catabolic collapse todays situation seems especially concerning. My understanding of catabolic collapse is that when a civilization becomes too complex and energy intensive for its available resources it collapses a step down the ladder to match the energy and resources that are available. But for the past decade or so we seem to have perfected the ability to use financial tricks, global thievery and mass delusion to keep a complex system going well past the time when it would have collapsed on it own. This extreme overshoot seems to portend a next step down that will be a doozy. Is that a proper reading of the situation, or does keeping business as usual going as long as possible not make the inevitable fall down the staircase any worse than it would have been otherwise?

  22. At our most recent city council session, the county economic development agency gave its annual presentation and update on the current “lay of the land” and ongoing efforts. We (the city) are also in the process of working with a consulting firm out of Madison to put together a community/economic development assessment and road map.

    The question I jotted on my notepad during the agency’s presentation the other night was “How do we navigate the terrain of a low-growth/no-growth/de-growth future?” (The conversations, of course, do not consider this scenario — speaking primarily of when and how to tap into coming and continuing future economic growth.)

    I recently acquired a copy of Masanobu Fukuoka’s _One Straw Revolution_ (in translation) and as I am reading through it I am wondering if at least part the issue we face is not comparable to modern agriculture versus natural agriculture — that is, the solution is to create opportunities for local economic systems to develop, but not to “do” anything, as opposed to attempting to direct or construct development and “growth”.

    But there is also the issue of the fundamental sea-change from generally continuous growth (which has been the basis of our modern industrial system over-all) and the growth-constrained and/or de-growth future we actually face. How does a small city best position itself for such a future? (Not that I’m expecting to find a silver-bullet answer — this is rough terrain to be navigated and not a problem to be solved with an elegant, closed-form solution.)

    A few policy ideas I’ve been championing include the support of home-based businesses (in terms of permitting and licensing) and a review of our zoning code generally to see where we might allow more small business or agricultural use (front-yard gardening, for example, or small livestock raising) without impeding upon neighboring property owner’s rights.

  23. On a recent podcast I heard you mention some different economic models that were used in the past in particularly the 18th century and I would be interested in finding out more about those, I apologise but I can’t remember the podcast. Would you be able to expand more on them or provide some reference material where I could study more?

  24. JMG. Last month I asked about discursive meditation and you recommended your book the druidy handbook. I am already meditating through the apostles creed and so far it’s great. My question is what would be a good simple one volume intro to Celtic mythology/religion Not from a Druid perspective but from a this is what we think we know secular standpoint. Thanks again

  25. On November 9, I will be speaking to a Japanese audience in Tokyo about the state of the American military. (I invite anyone interested to come!) I am hoping to introduce some information about the American empire which Japanese people might not have heard about, for example that it’s possible that the F-35 will never be able to fly unassisted, or that there was a recent leak from NATO showing that they would be unable to respond effectively to a Russian attack.

    What I notice, reflecting on the scraps of data I’ve gathered, is how little signal there is in all this noise. Everyone knows the F-35 is a clunker, it’s been talked about for years. When this happened in the 1960s with the Lockheed Starfighter, our decision to pass the buck to allied nations was met with shock when it leaked to the press and caused a lengthy international scandal. Nobody cares now.

    Similarly, everyone knows that NATO is militarily ineffective; JMG wrote about it in Twilight’s Last Gleaming years ago. It’s hard to even be surprised that nobody is surprised. The slow collapse putters on, with most Americans content to read about tiny little violent, pissed-off fringe groups and fantasize about them becoming the source of massive civil war. My sole source of outrage doesn’t come from America’s direct empire, it’s from our imperial outpost in Saudi Arabia which has introduced cholera to Yemen. That’s all I can manage.

    I feel like I am getting a lot more done with my Shinto research. Today I looked through a 100-year-old Shinto newspaper at the University of Tokyo prewar archives. The archives, located in a musty basement, have not changed much since 1968, when the campus was occupied and militarized by several warring far-left militias, and the sociologist Maruyama Masao camped out for weeks in these archives trying to protect them from the more chaotic, Maoist factions. I flipped through the pages, bemused that the famous Professor Maruyama basically destroyed his body (he stopped producing significant research after 1968) so that I could look at these yellowed leaves of “Divine Wind.”

    The paper reveals a class of classically trained shrine priests, who are hungry for political change, but just as massively confused as us: How can Japan find its own independent voice without just copying the West? Does Shinto need to be a “world religion” like Christianity? Does it need to cultivate “ethics and morality,” build orphanages or reformatories? Does the potential of Shinto lie in its ability to induce spirit possession, or in the power of the ancestors, or in the 2000-year-old rites and traditions of the emperor-priests?

    When you compare this to the “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” that constitutes modern politics, the old whispers of the shrine priests seem like altogether more fruitful questions for me to ponder these days…

  26. Dear JMG and commentariat,

    I have a job offer in Japan near Nagoya starting February 2018. Every time I mention it to anyone here, they seem convinced that I am going to end up vaporized by North Korea if I go. I do not really follow the news, and my understanding of international politics is sadly lacking. Can you offer an informed opinion on whether there is much real risk involved in moving to Japan for the next ~2 years? Mostly when I do things out of the ordinary, everyone chimes in with a litany of exaggerated fears, and I tend to assume this is the same, but I don’t know enough to make a sound assessment.

  27. I’m a High School history teacher from Southwest New Mexico (farming/ranching community). I mainly teach AP U.S. History and Military History (Combat Vet as well). I’m not your typical teacher that sticks to the State or Federal curriculum, and a matter of fact I despise it (maybe that is why my administration is trying to push me out, but they can’t because my students score well on stupid standardized assessments). I use the idea of infinite growth on a finite planet to drive my lessons and activities (I have also used your writing to help). I also introduce ideas and concepts to show how the U.S. began Industrializing, how we got here, and where we are going. Of course many of my students don’t believe we have an energy problem, climate problem, or if we do, then technology will fix it. By the end of the year many students will change their mind. I deal with many parents that call for my head because I am filling their kids head with propaganda. It’s difficult to get rid of me, not only because of assessment scores, but also because my students love my class and realize their potential to become life long learners.

    I have many students that believe the U.S. has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, but my students have been raised to believe it is “those libtards” that won’t let us drill for it. My question is, how do I respond to this in a positive and teachable moment? And, where can I direct my students to find reliable sources of information that would contradict this thinking in terms of large oil reserves in the U.S.?

    If anyone has any ideas I sure would appreciate it.


  28. I might not have read enough of your books yet, but I’d like to ask: does your system of Druidry rely much on astrological elections (in particular, determining an auspicious time to carry out a ritual)? If not, may I ask why?

  29. A geomancy question:
    I keep hearing it described as more straightforward and direct than other ways of divining, but I find myself overwhelmed by the number of possible ways to interpret a set of signs. Any advice about cutting through that?
    Even if I limit my reading to the two Witnesses and the Judge, for instance, I have no trouble at all imagining three or four (or many more) takes on that combination of figures, with a pretty rich narrative for each. But then I’m stuck–no clue about which one seems ‘best’ or most accurate–which to commit to, I guess.
    I’ve tried the strategy of writing out all the interpretations I can think of and checking them after events unfold, but so far that hasn’t helped me develop a system or a better instinct. (And it’s not sustainable–I’ve caught myself spending an embarrassing amount of time thinking through a simple daily reading, when I need to be working and, you know, living the day.)
    Might I be being too cautious? Would you recommend running with the first interpretation that comes to me, and resist backing up to consider alternatives? Or something different?
    This from a novice, btw. I don’t seem to have any special gift for divination, but I like geomancy, have studied your books and other sources, begun meditating on the figures, and cast maybe a hundred daily charts so far.
    Thank you!

  30. Hi John, you have been critical of Elon Musk in previous posts. I would be interested in additional insights you made have on him or some of his most publicized projects.

    Personally, I am sympathetic to the goals of driving down the price of batteries, making solar power available widely, making sure AI Research stays open rather than own by a single corporation. However there seems to be some constants between all his projects: they are large-scale, they require tons of money, they drive up resource usage, they are (at least initially) mostly available to the wealthiest, and they may not leave people freer after the fact because many technologies are complicated and are behind proprietary business models. While he is getting plenty of public credit for the projects it seems to me that his contributions although significant mostly concern identifying technical feasibility, some sort of business model that could in theory make money in the future, finding key engineers, making the right political connections, and driving up the hype in medias. That is a lot of work to make happen but there needs to be tremendously more work, money, resource, and energy needed to make them happen, that are mostly not covered.

    As a case example, the solar roof that is being offered by Tesla can cost up to 80,000$, depends on tax subsidies, and needs to be amortized over 30 years to make economic sense to a household. Now Moris R. Dowey spent 10 years quietly building a solar thermal panel design ( during his retirement with his savings that is passive, low-cost, requires no maintenance, should last the life of the building and takes into account the cycles of the day and the seasons, requires wood, plastic, and aluminium (common materials), can be built by anyone with the inclination to read and understand the article and access to someone or tools to build it. He asks for no royalty or money compensation of any sort, he intended to simply give the design to the world. At the end of the article he claims that the installation he did for an agricultural shop owner in Central Iowa should be paid for in one year by replacing a propane heater. Moreover, the savings should pay back the cost of construction of the building over its lifetime.

    Let’s say the living cost for Moris were about 30,000$US/year for ten years. Then the development cost for the project were about 300,000$US. We can fund hundreds or even thousands of initiatives like these with the money of one Elon Musk project…

  31. Also, if you are trying to understand shoggoths it might be worthwhile to spend some time around a sourdough starter. The color is different but aside from that I think it is the closest living thing we can easily observe that resembles shoggoths. The bubbling and the fact that humans basically use them as slaves to build our bread seems to fit.

  32. Hi JMG, I know my own prognosis for our future has taken a decided downturn this year, in light of massive fires all over the western US, Canada, Greenland(!), Portugal, etc, as well as the particularly active hurricane season in the Atlantic as well as the Pacific, and also recent revelations on the state of major ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. While I do my best to avoid binary thought, to me, this looks decidedly like an ecosystem that is beginning to gyrate and lose stability.

    I know in your books you reflect on a long if very different future for humanity. I’m curious if your views on our future (either in terms of length or quality) have changed this year, and if so, for what reasons?

  33. Hi JMG. Your comments over the years about our general addiction to unnecessary tech gadgets have hit the spot. After years of nodding my head sagely but not really changing MY actions (because you are really talking about those OTHER people surely), I set myself a test. A year ago, I was given a lovely shiny brand new Fitbit, for free. It was even my favourite colour. Ooo and I really wanted that Fitbit – I could feel the emotional pull. (But thanks to years of reading the Archdruid report and most of your books – I could also hear your comments swirling around in my head). I hesitated, just for a spit second, finally recognising the addiction in myself. So I put the pretty gadget on my office desk. In the wrapped box. In full view of my work computer. For the past year it has been staring at me, willing me to open it. I haven’t. Last month I gave it away. Last week, I purchased a brace drill for my husband, as we recently started a vintage tool collection so we aren’t dependent on his (always breaking) power tools around our mini-farm. OMG! As soon as I picked it up I fell in love with it. So heavy, so solid, so sturdy, so balanced in the hand, so well designed. Such an incredible contrast to all those plastic, flimsy, planned-obsolescence devices littered throughout the rest of my life. I’m now trying to work out which other gadgets I can ‘gift’ to an addict, so I can retro-future more of my life… It just feels right, deep in my gut, to be on this path. I just wanted to say a heartfelt thanks.

  34. “What happened to patrician families (and elite people in general) after the fall of Rome in 476?

    I copied the question from Quora website. Did some or their descendants become peasants? Of course records are sparse, if there are any.

    Then another question: If USA falls into anarchy, and dissolves, would there be feudal times ahead, ruled by local lords. Is the return of traditional slavery a possibility also?

    I also have wondered would muslims if they took power, lets say in Europe, start keeping slaves. Islam does not forbid it. Slavery was only discontinued because of western (military) influence, existing until 1930s in parts of Arabia.

  35. Hi JMG, I noticed that your book, “The Spirit and the Sword” is not listed in your non-fiction section. Do you plan to offer it again, or any other writings concerning military saber style? I found it to be very useful and practical. It reminded me of Alfred Hutton’s writings, but with a more practical system of designating the cuts and parries, as opposed to the old French/Italian nomenclature. Pairing the strike with the guard, in retrospect, seems so obvious and useful, but was really a brilliant little modification. I could go on, but thank you for that (overlooked and underrated in my opinion) book. If you ever offer any other sword training manuals based on your own experience, you have at least one customer (I also own your translation of Thibault, but I’m still working through that).

  36. @ Morvern – Referring to pregnant women as pregnant people, is a question of pronouns. The abuse pronouns have suffered the past decade makes me cringe. Pronouns tend to be the hardest parts of a language to change and for the past 2000 years the pronoun system in English has remained much the same. Even when English moved from Old English, an inflected language, to modern English/middle English, a language that depends on word order, pronouns remained mostly unchanged. (Se used to be she, but the Scottish version usurped it. This is still being debated by scholars.)

    A pronoun to me is a beautiful thing because it’s almost like an inflected noun. There is hidden meaning in it. A pronoun says as much about how the speaker sees the world as what the subject in question presents to the world. It’s a word that hold a small conversation with itself. And deferring all the power of a pronoun to its subject seems like a little thought stopper, building off last week’s post. Referring to pregnant women as pregnant people, isn’t technically wrong in terms of grammar. It leaves a blank space for other people, men to get pregnant. Which is biologically impossible.

    El and La are the definite articles in Spanish. Calling the romance languages gendered languages is a little bit of a misnomer. Because the el and la system was invented to distinguish between alive and dead things. It wasn’t until a scholar came around, I think about 1200 if I remember correctly, that the term gender was applied to words. This of course would be infuriating to a group trying to push a view of a neuter world.

    JMG correct me if I’m wrong anywhere in here. Any thoughts?

  37. I have to chime in on Erik’s post about Moris Dowey’s solar panel project. I usually like passive solar solutions vs high tech active ones but the project described in the link is a classic example of technology overkill even though it is a simple passive system. As described the same solar gain and heating potential could be obtained by a couple of double paned windows of the same size and shape backed with moveable thermal curtains, and some awnings for the summer. The only advantage the greater complexity of the panels gains is that it stops heat loss at night without intervention. But in the future we must give up our fantasy of automatic systems taking care of our needs. I had a wonderful thermodynamics professor in engineering school who also taught the appropriate technology course ( this was the early 80’s). He often said that successful modest scale solar systems would always require “funky people” to operate and care for them. He did not own an automobile as he could not accept the poor thermodynamic efficiency inherent in any motorcar.

  38. I am curious what you think about the Silk Road/OBOR project coming out of China in light of Peak Oil. If the Chinese and other countries along the way are not unaware of the potential problems with energy supply needed to build and operate infrastructure of this size then why are they planning to go ahead regardless? It implies that they are either ignorant of or ignoring this.

  39. Dear Mr. Greer,

    I was wondering if you still plan to discuss the reasoning for moving from the Rust Belt to the coast? I’d really like to learn what influenced your decision on the matter as well as how you are living a low impact lifestyle in an apartment context.

  40. Hey JMG, I’m currently reading “The Storm Before the Storm”, by Mike Duncan, which was released yesterday. Here’s a passage which you may find interesting:

    “Is America Rome? Is the United States following a similar historical trajectory? If so, where does the US stand on the Roman timeline?” Attempting to make a direct comparison between Rome and the United States is always fraught with danger, but that does not mean there is no value to entertaining the question. It at least behooves us to identify where in the thousand-year history of the Roman Empire we might find an analogous historical setting. In that vein, let’s explore this. We are not in the origin phase, where a collection of exiles, dissidents, and vagabonds migrate to a new territory and establish a permanent settlement. That would correspond to the early colonial days. Nor are we in the revolutionary phase, where a group of disgruntled aristocrats overthrow the monarchy and create a republic. That corresponds to the days of the Founding Fathers. And we aren’t in the global conquest phase, where a series of wars against other great powers establishes international military, political, and economic hegemony. That would be the twentieth-century global conflicts of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. Finally— despite what some hysterical commentators may claim— the Republic has not collapsed and been taken over by a dictator. That hasn’t happened yet. This means that if the United States is anywhere on the Roman timeline, it must be somewhere between the great wars of conquest and the rise of the Caesars. Further investigation into this period reveals an era full of historical echoes that will sound eerily familiar to the modern reader. The final victory over Carthage in the Punic Wars led to rising economic inequality, dislocation of traditional ways of life, increasing political polarization, the breakdown of unspoken rules of political conduct, the privatization of the military, rampant corruption, endemic social and ethnic prejudice, battles over access to citizenship and voting rights, ongoing military quagmires, the introduction of violence as a political tool, and a set of elites so obsessed with their own privileges that they refused to reform the system in time to save it.”

    So, the USSR is Carthage, and Trump is Caesar (or Marius?). I’d complement that passage by adding that FDR was a Gracchi that had success in reforming the system enough to save it for a time. Regarding Rome’s history, though, one gets the impression that the Republic was doomed long before the days of Julius Caesar, due to structural problems too intricate to be handled. That said, at this point, do you think the fate of the US is already sealed, and Caesarism will be the order of the day no matter what?

  41. Stinkhorn Press, well, to begin with, we’re multicellular, which sets us apart from the vast majority of life forms on this planet; we don’t photosynthesize, nor do we have chitinous exoskeletons… Or did you have something else in mind?

    Shane, that or learn the Art of Memory!

    RPC, the Tolkien family is pretty savage in its defense of its copyrights, and I decided not to run the risk of getting sued.

    Aron, fascinating. I’ll have to visit sometime, now that I’m close.

    Christopher, alchemists used concentrated solar energy in the Renaissance — if you look in histories of solar energy, you can find copperplate engravings of convex mirrors designed to provide gentle heat to alchemical processes, and there’s that great scene in The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz where they use solar energy as part of the alchemical working that resurrects the King and Queen. That I know of, though, none of the fine details have been preserved in the alchemical literature, so if you want to pursue that, your best bet is to keep careful notes and see what happens.

    Greg, hah! Very good indeed. You’ve just earned today’s gold star, delivered to your doorstep by the Acme Products Company.

    Bruce, another way to put it is that writing studies is easy, while solving problems is hard…

    Nancy, if Dirk had brought up a substantive point about biochar I would have responded in a much less dismissive way. It’s when people shout “biochar!” the way participants at a tent revival shout “Jesus!” that I raise an eyebrow and push the Snark Button.

    Haassmasithiam, it was the system in the Druid Magic Handbook. There’s a system of qigong that was developed by one of the current AODA archdruids, which should be compatible with the Druid Magic Handbook system; you might consider contacting AODA (the website is to find out more.

    Morvern, any social movement taken far enough ends in absurdity. I’d offer this latest bit of language policing as exhibit A in a case for that contention.

    Albert, the Golden Dawn system in its classic form has some significant imbalances. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one major factor is the way that the grades of initiation are linked to the Tree of Life. The Adeptus Minor grade, which is the main working grade in the GD, is linked to the sphere Tiphareth — and that’s where the problem comes in, because most human beings are not yet capable of rising to the corresponding level of consciousness, and if you force a link with that level before you’re able to function there, you get a distorted and unbalanced simulacrum of that level. If you’re smart, lucky, and work really hard, you can bring that into balance, and that process can catalyze the attainment of Tiphareth — but that doesn’t always happen.

    The distorted and unbalanced simulacrum of the Tiphareth level is symbolized by a bunch of demons collectively known as the Tagiriron — in English, “the disputers.” That’s why so many Golden Dawn scenes blow up in interpersonal conflict, and why so many Golden Dawnies become arrogant, self-important buffoons who are convinced they know it all and that everybody else is wrongety wrong-wrong-wrong with a double helping of wrong sauce on the side. This is also why so many offshoots of the Golden Dawn ditched the system of grades based on the Tree of Life — that’s what we’ve done in the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn — and use a set of initiations that doesn’t have that kind of blowback. It can still unquestionably be worth doing the classic Golden Dawn grades, but it’s something to leave until you’re sure you can handle the results.

    Redoak, fair enough. The evidence I’ve seen suggests that the best option varies dramatically depending on local climate and ecology — terra preta, the far more complex traditional product of which biochar is a typically Western oversimplification, works very well in tropical rain forests, not so much elsewhere.

    Dan, I’m delighted to hear it.

    Violet, many thanks for this. I’ll give it a read as soon as time permits.

    Mark, that depends very much on your local lodge and its culture, and also on exactly how your Grand Lodge runs things. I’m far from sure that any generalization of mine will be of use to you, so I’d encourage you to talk to Masons in your prospective lodge and find out what it is that they get out of the Craft.

    Jim, that’s entirely plausible. My guess, though, is that at the rate the US is declining — both economically and in its international standing — by 2030 we may have trouble finding the money to launch cheap fireworks.

    Michael, I’ve often wondered why it is that so many people get stuck in the mental rut that sees business as usual, on the one hand, and a rapid slide into oblivion on the other, as the only options. Is it really so hard to notice that history delights in frustrating such overly linear notions?

    Ben, I don’t recommend finding an instructor until you’ve done a lot of basic work first. A good course of general magical training — for example, my cowritten book Learning Ritual Magic if you’re comfortable with Judeo-Christian symbolism, or my book The Druid Magic Handbook if you’re not — will give you the background you need to figure out if a prospective instructor actually knows his or her stuff, or is shoveling smoke.

    Your Yoyo, that’s the subject for a book, not for a brief comment. In general, I think Kundera was doing as authors of fiction so often do — myself included! — and taking a point further than it can actually go in order to highlight a mood or an action.

    Violet, ouch. That has got to be really unpleasant to deal with. I don’t really get the mindset of the hardcore secular dualist, the person who has to identify somebody somewhere as pure evil, so I’m not sure I can offer any constructive advice there. For yourself, depends on how you best handle grief — for I know there’ll be a fair amount of that to process.

    Sedge, Oswald Spengler pointed out a long time ago that it’s only when a civilization is well into its decline that people start getting obsessive about shunning the Wrong Foods, or what have you. Looking around me, I tend to think he was right.

    Clay, no, you’re not misreading it. We’ve piled a lot of excess complexity on top of an already brutally overloaded situation, and when the inevitable downward lurch comes, a lot of people are going to be hurt.

    David, those would be very useful steps. More broadly, though, you’re quite correct: concentrate on getting out of the way of people making their own choices, and the results will by and large be good.

    David, they were 19th and early 20th century models, not 18th. You’ll want to look into guild socialism, distributism, social credit, and democratic syndicalism, among others.

    Will, you might pick up a copy of Alwyn & Brinley Rees’ Celtic Heritage for starters. There may be more recent books, but that was my go-to title back in the day.

    Avery, exactly. It’s very, very common for empires in their last days to be one vast structure of pretense-by-consensus, in which everybody knows what the score is but nobody wants to talk about it, because it’s painfully clear that sometime soon the bottom will fall out and away we go into a very rough future. I think we’re just about there now.

    Jen, my take is that there’s essentially no risk involved. I’ll defer to those readers who currently live in Japan, but that’s my take.

    SoSick, hmm. You probably have to go at it indirectly, because that’s been so intense a focus of debate that any straightforward discussion will run into the brick walls of denial. Does anyone else have anything to suggest?

    Jeffrey, not at all — in fact, it doesn’t use astrology. The version in The Druid Magic Handbook uses Ogham divination, the very different version in The Celtic Golden Dawn uses geomancy. The reasons are complex, but have to do with symbolic and practical issues — on a symbolic level, Druidry tends to work with the interplay of the solar and telluric currents, rather than the interplay of planetary forces; on a practical one, the skills needed for Druid spirituality and magic are best developed using sortilege (the kind of divination that relies on quasirandom events) rather than a time-based system such as astrology.

    Jonathan, you’re seriously overthinking it. First, don’t let yourself stress out about it; second, no, seriously, don’t let yourself stress out about it. Third, focus for a while on house chart readings for yes-or-no questions — if you follow the rules in my books on the subject, there’s no ambiguity at all with those; if you get a mode of perfection, the answer is yes, while if you don’t, the answer is no, full stop, end of sentence.

    Erick, Musk is very smart, and one of his strokes of genius is the realization that the only way to make real money in today’s America is to suck on the teat of government subsidies. All his projects are ways of doing that. Thus Musk is a welfare king — no, let’s call him the Welfare Emperor.

  42. About biochar: I have made some experiments with it during last two years, and it seems to work rather well. My forest and garden are in Southern Finland, ca. 61 degrees north, probably somewhat different environment from what most writers here are familiar with. I don’t have plenty of gardening experience but my mother has, and she also seems to believe it to be useful technique.

    Is it cure-all that some people seem to think? No, but nothing is.

    Another point: in collapse community there is a lot of talk about acquiring skills that are useful in post-collapse world. But isn’t even more important to think how you can use the skills that you already do have in collapse context?

    First time commenter, long time reader here btw. Thanks a lot for your work. As I write this I sip blackcurrant cider – my first batch ever, and inspiration was your “if the Four Horsemen arrive at your door, offer them beer” comment. Pretty decent stuff, this cider. Another batch is from redcurrant and raspberry, and that is even better. I will definitely keep on brewing – I have plenty of juice and berries to experiment on.

  43. JMG–

    So, as I said on last week’s post, I followed your advice and wrote the story I was working on all the way through. I didn’t stop to edit or correct, and actually I didn’t focus on much of anything but finishing. I treated it sort of like a pathworking, actually, which is what it kind of felt like.

    Now I’m wondering… How do you approach revision?

    Thank you as always for these posts and for your advice.

  44. Greg, funny! Now if sourdough starters rebel against us, and people start to be found with their heads torn off their bodies with the telltale slime of sourdough all around, we’ll know we’re really in trouble…

    David, no, this is pretty much what I’ve been expecting all along. It’s going to get considerably worse, by the way.

    Mandeville99, delighted to hear it! I’ll have to go find out what a Fitbit is, though. 😉

    Simo, what happened to the patrician families? By and large, they died, and not of natural causes. The combination of wealth and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement usually turns fatal in a big way when a civilization falls.

    James, thank you for this! I’ve been considering for some time giving it a thorough rewrite and finding a publisher for it, but its sales were small enough that it’s been a back burner project. As for Thibault, if you take less than a decade to work through that you’re not giving it the time it deserves!

    Clark, thanks for the link.

    Clay, that’s kind of my take as well, but then I’m definitely on the funky side of things.

    Kima, why do you think they’re putting so much focus on rail and seaborne links? Those use much less energy than other transportation modalities.

    Marcu, it’s something I’m considering.

    Bruno, hmm. It sounds as though the author is trying to fit our present history too closely into the Procrustean bed of Rome’s.

  45. Is the energy magicians use definitely infinite? I have a vision of magic and chi kung going mainstream, people totally abusing it and in fifty years we’ll be talking about whether we’ve passed Peak Chi. 🙂

    I’ve seen transgender mentioned a few times here. Anyone who wants to explore the many, many problems with transgender ideology might want to look at 4thWaveNow, in my opinion the best resource on the subject (my distinctive ravings also appear occasionally in the comments).

  46. Urogallus, thanks for the info! That’s good to know. As for the cider, excellent — it sounds very pleasant indeed.

    Steve, excellent! Stick the story in a folder and leave it there for a week or more, and work on some other things, so you can return to it with fresh eyes. Then read through it, noting everything that obviously needs revision, and then make the revisions. Set it aside for another few days, rinse and repeat. Once you have trouble finding things to revise, get it on its way to a publisher before you can have second thoughts!

    Yorkshire, no, magical energy isn’t infinite, but it’s renewable. It’s akin to solar energy, say, or wind; there’s only so much available to you at any given moment, which is one of the reasons why magic has the limitations it does. If you get greedy and try to push past those, you can burn through your own life energy, and then you get sick and die.

  47. Hello JMG,

    there’s a question I tried to ask quite some time ago, and I am glad the Open Post makes it possible to ask it again!

    You have used Spengler’s methodology and results for some of your predictions and even said you prefer his predictions to Toynbee’s. Still, you have made some reservations, such as separating the lifespan of a civilization and an empire, and once you said you thought a new Western European civilization had started around the 15th century.

    While parallels with several different civilizations might be enlightening, I am not sure how much detailed chronological information is available for the Maya collapse, and I don’t know the post-Han, post-Gupta or post-Heian period nearly as well as the post-Roman one. I will therefore simplify my question by comparing our future only with the Roman decline. Where do you put us on that timeline?

    1. Spengler himself is quite clear that the year 2000 AD should be compared to 100 BCE, which means we would be in for a tumultuous civil war followed by several centuries of mostly (however tyrannical and sterile) prosperity and peace, and only then depopulation, analphabetism, loss of knowledge, warbands and finally feudalism. One might say we are witnessing Marius and Sulla, and waiting for Casar and Augustus. You don’t seem to share that view, or do you?

    2. By your counting of Toynbee’s three-and-a-half crises (unfortunately I read his unabridged Study 20 years ago) we are about 60 years after the end of the first crisis and entering the second one. I suppose the first crisis in the Roman world would be that of the 3rd century AD, which ended with Diocletian. We would be near the end of the 4th century AD, a time of religious and social change, and not too many years away from the open breakdown of order and take-over by warbands in some parts, while other parts might rally for several more decades. Have I described your view correctly?

    3. You have also stated that we are in the stage of religious transformation where new ideas crop up in unexpected quarters, which will still take centuries to mature and spread. That would place us somewhere in the first or second centuries AD, but I am a loss how to connect that to economic and military indicators.

    It might seem like an arcane and even abstruse question, but it does make a huge difference for our outlook (if not planning) on our own lives and that of our children…

  48. JMG,

    I am proceeding steadily with the program outlined in your book “Learning Ritual Magic”. So far I have not skipped any of the practices. There is one experience I would like to tell and ask whether you might offer a comment.

    Whilst building the circle of tarot cards according to their suits, I had this strange experience of the circle around me. It seemed to be a much stronger sensation than the banishing ritual, as if all the cards were, how should I put it, almost.. yelling at me? Or rather, manifesting somehow their presence, as if they were somehow alive. The space within the circle felt distinctly different and charged, until I closed the practice appropriately. But before closing, I felt as if this experience somehow opened up my emotions in a little bit.. perhaps a forceful way. I almost wept and I should say I do not cry very often at all. Is this typical? Any ideas what and why this happened?

    Also, whilst standing in the circle, I spontaneously visualized a kind of a whirlwind around me of blue cloudy nature, emanating from the cards, spinning around me and rising up in a thin column above me. I did not intentionally do that but it seemed to perhaps reflect what I was experiencing. Or who knows where that came from, but it felt somehow real. Should I clear my mind of such spontaneous visualizations and “stick to the program”?

    Also one last thing. In the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram I am asked to visualize the upward pointing triangle in red and the downward one in blue. Do these refer to the tips of the stars or the two overlapping triangles? If latter, what does the center look like – both red and blue or.. purple?

  49. @Jen: I would compare the likelihood of Japan getting hit by a nuclear attack to the chant last spring that Trump was about to get impeached. In other words, a lot of talk, but not a lot actually happening. South Koreans will also tell you that this is not the first time the Western media has cried wolf over North Korea.

    Congratulations on the job offer! A lovely city to go to, as well. I’m trying to find one myself…

  50. Archdruid,

    I’ve slowly started to inch my way forward in my magical practice and I’ve run face first into my first challenge. In the comments section of last weeks post you and several readers discussed dealing with repressed emotions, and how thought stoppers acts as a barrier between a person and those emotions. In other words a single emotion or series of emotions become so overwhelmingly dominant that they can prevent a person from dealing with other underlying issues.

    About two weeks ago I did my first scrying practice and found the place where a very powerful source of anger was resting. I began the process of reducing the anger, and made a huge stride in a very short amount of time, but as a result I’m now facing a veritable storm of repressed emotions. The strange thing is that the anger in question actually motivated me to improve myself, I’m made great strides in personal and social development. However the underlying issues that were hidden by the anger didn’t really go away, the were just held at bay. I’m at a loss about how to deal with them.

    These other issues have triggered a nervous reaction where my gut is in knots, I’m feeling anxious/paranoid, and have tons of nervous energy. So the question I have here is should I go on with my internal scrying in order to workout a solution, or work out a solution first?



  51. Hi JMG,
    Are you aware of any good books that discuss the way that it’s likely for a shift to a world that is in a new political paradigm? It’s obvious that the nation-state will not really exist as we know it after this socio-economic system collapses, and it seems likely to me that we’ll also see the end of the Westphalian order with its state monopoly on violence. I know that comparisons to post-Roman Empire are probably the best data on this type of situation (especially in areas like Britain where they withdrew vs other areas that the Catholic Church maintained some of the imperial structures), but I’m not aware of many people who have particularly discussed this subject.

  52. JMG–

    “Stick the story in a folder and leave it there for a week or more”

    When I read that, I thought of the four tinctures currently macerating in my desk drawer, in preparation for the Bardic grade initiation…

    Here’s a question–

    You’ve mentioned the “subnatural,” previously, and in this comments thread you mentioned the Qliphotic power associated with Tiphareth. So the two part question…. What are your thoughts on negative or unpleasant (“evil,” “demonic”?) spirits in general? And is there a corresponding version of the Qliphoth in the DOGD?

  53. SoSick,

    If I may throw out a solution. Maybe have your students look at the oil reserves themselves. Ask them how the companies find them, how the calculate their availability, the costs involved in the process of extraction, and then have them compare with similar resources like iron or silver.



  54. JMG,

    You wrote: “Michael, I’ve often wondered why it is that so many people get stuck in the mental rut that sees business as usual, on the one hand, and a rapid slide into oblivion on the other, as the only options. Is it really so hard to notice that history delights in frustrating such overly linear notions?”

    So……………………… JMG, I would respond this way……………… Of course you have written often and eloquently about the black-white nature of human perception, and how that BAU vs. the complete darkness to come unless “THEY” see what the current commentator is saying is held to like the last piece of silver available……………. will occur.

    And of course, history has shown the complete ridiculousness of that thinking, and you have stirred that pot with relish and until you have had enough already!!!!!!!!

    However, the last time that any living organism had the effect and influence that we now have on collective life and its future was when the single cells evolved at that time produced a complete and consummate poison that would have destroyed their creators and all of life unless they completely changed their modus operandi.

    As you yourself might say, it is probably worth some short detour into that story since I (perhaps not you) would see the current analogue.

    To wit: It was tiny organisms known as cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. These microbes conduct photosynthesis: using sunshine, water and carbon dioxide to produce carbohydrates and, yes, (the poison was) oxygen. In fact, all the plants on Earth incorporate symbiotic cyanobacteria (known as chloroplasts) to do their photosynthesis for them down to this day.

    For some untold eons prior to the evolution of these cyanobacteria, during the Archean eon, more primitive microbes lived the real old-fashioned way: anaerobically. These ancient organisms—and their “extremophile” descendants today—thrived in the absence of oxygen, relying on sulfate for their energy needs.

    As you doubtlessly know, but your Dear Readers might not, about 2.5 billion years ago, the isotopic ratio of sulfur transformed, indicating that for the first time oxygen was becoming a significant component of Earth’s atmosphere.

    It did take another billion years or so—for oxygen levels to rise high enough to enable the evolution of animals.

    So, oxygen was begun, or more accurately, oxygenation. And it was poisonous for the organisms when it originated. To all other organisms.

    But, life evolved and the originating creatures found ways, like in water, and under skin, or inside the cellular-like walls where they could hide from their WASTE!

    JMG, I guess you know where I am going. Just like those bacteria created a different world where different creatures had to live, and we are doing the same in the (now) Anthropocene. This time, the time frame for change, the level of the waste-poison is quite different.

    I would suggest, (without saying for sure, of course), that the multiple ways in which we are destroying life, our life-support systems and the conditions necessary for life………………… along with how much and how quickly we can continue the destruction and self-destruction, makes this time an historical singularity.

    What that means, is I do not believe I am falling into the dichotomy you mention, neither the simplified perception that flesh is heir to (humanity flesh), nor the blind assumption that oblivion is on the horizon because I see so or say so. No, I believe oblivion is on the horizon from the simple data, the indisputable evidence.

    Moreover, I am foolish enough to believe that we can change our economic, social, political and moral systems, our ESPMs, if and (perhaps) only if we can see and feel our relentless-manic destruction. I believe we can pull out of the nose-dive in time, with a full court press for survival and with a perception, along with (revulsion, shame and horror), about what we are doing.

    I could say more, but its in my book, and I am not about self-promotion.


  55. Hi JMG,
    I’m a returning lurker from The Archdruid Report. I see you’re continuing in your excellent and informative work!
    I need to ask you about a subject I rarely talk about with anyone else, which has to do with dealing with various kinds of spirits. I’m coming from a Judeo-Christian perspective. I’m referring specifically to the demonic and “unclean” spirits. I’m interested only in the sense of being able to fight them. They occasionally appear for no apparent reason. Have you a resource I could look through? The Christian Bible is of little help here, and I don’t trust churches any more. I hope I don’t come off as some crazy bastard. I’m only half crazy. 🙃

  56. @Bruno Bolzen – you have just described what I call “The Dying Republic Saeculum” and the one preceding it. No, Trump is neither of those people; he’s Marcus Licinius Crassus. To the life.

    Note the adjective derived from his 3rd name.

  57. Hi John Michael

    I’ve just finished ‘Dark Age America’. Thank you for writing that! I experienced a great deal of insight and inspiration whilst reading it.

    In the last chapter you suggest to the reader to read about the lived experience of people during WW1, the Great Depression and WW2. I’ve spent some time searching for books that may contain this type of information. I haven’t found it easy to find many that have promising descriptions. So far I’ve selected a couple from the plethora of books that cover life in Britain during WW2. I’ve also ordered a few volumes from the ‘Everyday Life in America’ series to cover the USA. Do you recall some titles or authors that you recommend for this? I’d appreciate a steer.

    Thanks a lot.

    If the wider group has any recommendations I’d love to hear them too.


  58. Regarding ‘Biochar’, and other such ‘worship words’ – which Chris Martenson calls the “iPhone moment” (the point in his lectures when the cargo cultists hold up their phones to dispute his talk on collapse/decline) I’ve noticed the same thing in text form. Recently my peak oil movie ‘There’s No Tomorrow’ was posted to another youtube channel, and generated a lot of comments from people who thought it was a new work (whereas I released it originally in 2012). Anyway, a staggering number of comments from new viewers consisted of two words:

    Elon Musk.

    They typed that in the same way that a Christian fundie would type “Jesus Saves”. Amazing that they think that the mere invocation of His Name was sufficient to disprove the movie.

    I regard Musk as an example of Carroll Quigley’s ‘circumvention’ approach to institutionalised stasis. NASA is incapable of reform, therefore the only solution is to circumvent NASA (bleeding off their functions onto the privates, who as mentioned, get to use massive amounts of NASA’s infrastructure, but unimpeded by paperwork). NASA is left in place, to atrophy, the employees keep their bennies, while designing useless behemoths like the SLS.

    This process of institutionalization …. gives rise to three possible responses which I called reform, circumvention, or reaction. In the first case, the institutionalized organization is reformed and growth resumes; in the second case, the institutional organization is left many of its privileges and emoluments, but its social functions are given to a new parallel organization, which serves as a new instrument so that growth resumes; and, in the third case, the institutionalized O is able to become a fascist structure which uses power and force to prevent either reform or circumvention, thus condemning the people of the society to a reduced or declining level of satisfaction of their needs and desires for an indefinite future.

  59. Hi John Michael,

    How are you enjoying the autumn weather in your new digs? I’ll bet it is a sharp contrast to the Appalachian’s?

    If the past week is a sampler of the summer weather here, well it looks like it will be a humid one. I look out the window now and see the same thick cloud and fog that has been hanging over the farm for most of the week. Organic matter gets recycled at ever faster rates in such humid conditions. I’m pretty certain folks don’t understand what that means for them personally. There are reports that the summer may be subject to a weak La Nina, which means a tropical summer here – but what normal weather is in this highly variable part of the world beats the stuffing out of me.

    In a recent discussion a few weeks ago, you made a cryptic mention that we were near to the end of the opening rounds and may soon transition into the beginnings of the middle rounds. Out of curiosity, how do they differ and is the transition due to extreme events or a combination of many smaller events?

    I had to laugh too. I got to a section of the Aurora story yesterday, where the ship was getting feeds from Earth from nine years in the past, that apparently researchers had been getting good results from intensive and bio-diverse and labour driven mixed farms. And the researchers apparently discovered that those areas were more resistant to disease and pests. Who would have thought it? That paragraph was definitely a coffee spit incident combined with hard to contain chuckle. The people on the ship exclaimed at the apparent excess of labour. Amazing!



  60. Re: “big reusable rockets”. I doubt that re-using the shell of a big rocket saves a significant percentage of the money and energy needed for space launches. Havn’t seen any claims with numbers. I suspect this “recycling” is part of Musk’s efforts to paint his endeavors as efficient and green, all the more deserving of subsidies. Meanwhile, all the hoopla about “private sector” space launches hides the fact that most launches are paid for by the taxpayer, and done by much of the same crew that used to work for NASA. Nothing new, really.

  61. Considering who we have for President and given the division and bitter partisanship in the US, do you think the country will eventually break apart? I live in New England and would be happy to see New England and New York State leave the Union and form a new nation.

  62. Clay, of course most people would not take 10 years to engineer passive thermal solar panels… But there we have one more working design now, people are free to use it (or not!), and compared to the passive solar houses design I have seen, it does not require a completely new house to work, only a south facing wall.

    If you have a choice of bigger windows for a better view and prefer having a routine of curtain management that is all fine! But I find the dismissal of the design upfront a bit weird. We now have a choice of a passive design if that one works better in our particular circumstances. I would prefer an active solution if the cost of complicated control systems to automate it would be significant. However, in the case of the design above, it requires no control system and the cost is most probably within a factor of 2-3x of a more simple design if not the same. So the design is actually a counter example that active is better and no automated solution is viable: in some cases a passive design can take care of things for us if it is engineered with the environmental factors in mind.

    Moreover, my point was not so much about that this particular design is a solution to everybody’s needs and desires. The point is that even though he spent 10 years doing it (with no investor, no crowdfunding, no nothing other than his own savings!), the development is significantly cheaper than any other big projects out there, the design is now available to anyone for free if they choose to use it, and it is economically beneficial. We could fund *thousands* of those experiments with the money thrown around on all sorts of things. Rather than being anxious about the collapse of modern society, within a few years people could transition to solutions with much lower energy footprints. Moreover, solutions like these are accessible to the poorest segments of our society, which are also hit the hardest by the consequences of inequality and climate change.

    It is now my take that building solutions that are accessible to the poorest of us is a good way to anticipate the future as the energy descent will mean there will probably be more people in the same situation in the future. Who knows who that is going to be! Moreover, building solutions that any people can afford means everyone can live a dignified life and that should improve social stability in uncertain times.

  63. Hi John

    What is your take on crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and Ether? Do you think that they have a future (at least in the short-medium term) as part of a shift away from centralized systems to decentralized peer to peer means of transferring assets around the world. I imagine that if you are Zimbabwean citizen you would rather own some bitcoin rather then hyper-inflated local currencies.

    I’m also curious to know your thoughts on the evolution of America. From your recent comments you suggest that President Trump is likely to win the next election and that it could trigger the disintegration of the United States. I see growing references to secession within America and could imagine California and other coastal bits wanting to secede if the Donald pulled off another electoral victory.

    Also, in the context of the Limits to Growth business as usual modelling, do you see the post 2030 years as a period of relative stability or will we see even further epoch making changes to the world?

    Finally, I thought these two articles are very good;

  64. I had this wild thought (a regular occurrence) about someone writing a book for a child and getting it published in the hopes that the life force of the universe would one day place it in the hands of their next reincarnation as a child. Have you heard or read of any mage or, for that matter, anyone else who believed in reincarnation, that deliberately tried to pass on a written text to a future reincarnation?

    Note, I’m not making any assertion it would be useful to the child (or as an adult), nor that it’s a good idea, nor that the child would have any recognition that the book would come from a former life, nor that the universe would feel obligated to make sure it got into the right hands.

    I’m just wondering if anyone thought to try it. It would make a great story if it worked.

  65. Hi all,

    I’ve started dabbling in soap-making, but am disappointed how energy intensive a lot of the recipes are: shea butter, coconut oil, palm oil, jojoba etc. Any resources on making a decent soap that doesn’t rely (or rely as much) on exotic, energy intensive inputs? Thanks all!

  66. Redoak and JMG I too did a bit of research on biochar and discovered that wood ashes from your stove don’t make biochar. Biochar is made by a process called pyrolysis, basically burning the wood or biomass without oxygen. I have seen several do-it-yourself versions of biochar stoves and I even tried an experiment of “burning” wood in the ground that didn’t work.

    A couple of years ago, I attended a presentation by a soil researcher from our ag college here in Utah and learned that yes indeed biochar will improve soil fertility, but it takes a couple of years. They had applied biochar to several test beds and showed pictures of the results to the audience. This researcher didn’t address carbon sequestration as the presentation was mainly about soil fertility. As I recall, the take away was go ahead if you wanted to, but it was pricey if you had to buy it and hard to make for yourself. The small farmers and market gardeners that made up the audience weren’t very impressed. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from trying this as a soil amendment if they want, but it isn’t a panacea.

  67. Any thoughts on investing in gold or silver? I have my money in a high-stock-percentage long-term Betterment account, and now I’m starting to realize that this strategy might just be, uh, “subprime.”

  68. JMG,

    I think Yorkshire may have been asking whether magic is in endless supply over time, rather than whether there’s a literally infinite amount here and now. For example, solar and wind energy are neither infinite in amount or endless over time; it’s just that we’ll be long gone before they are.

    My guess is that this is true of magic, as well; the flow of energy back toward its source is irreversible, at until a new universe is ready to be born.

  69. Hi Mr. Greer.

    I’m a long time reader and this is the first time I’ve ever commented. I wanted your take.

    This is in reference to the Syrian refugees in Germany. The story has fallen out of the media but it hasn’t gone away.

    My mother was born in 1938 in a tiny village in Southern Germany. Purely by accident Eussenhousen ended up a mile inside West Germany after the partition. She is a good, card carrying liberal.

    We were discussing the Syrian refugees streaming into Germany and she was horrified at what she saw on TV. All those young men with their decent clothes and electronic devices and where were the women?

    The reason is that she vividly remembers the floods of refugees that passed through her village, fleeing the Russian army. Those refugees were almost exclusively female, filthy, ragged, covered with lice, and only had what they could carry, which wasn’t much. There were no males, other than young boys and doddering old men. Every male old enough to fight was off fighting a rearguard action against the Russians. She mentioned specifically fighting from house to house in Berlin.

    She could not accept that healthy young men of fighting age were refugees.

    What do refugees like this turn into, with their wives and families far, far away? I thought of war bands.

    Thank you for your blog. It has changed my way of thinking immeasurably.

    Teresa From Hershey

  70. What do you make of the situation in Catalonia? It looks like it may be about to get messy, and Catalonia is probably going to become a new country.

  71. I have an observation to share, on the Religion of Progress. Maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but it’s take quite a while to realise just how strong a hold this has on most people I know. It’s even built into the language – people mean to denigrate something by calling it “backward”.

    They appear to be literally unable to consider the likely futures we talk about here all the time. Like zombies, or sleepers who can’t be woken.

    Last week was thoughtstoppers, is there a thaumaturgical opposite, a kind of thought-starter? A kind of seed, that when planted, slowly grows and can’t be forgotten. Like a meme. Whether one should ever deliberately deploy such a device is another matter though.

  72. @Simo P – If you ever read the Bible, you will notice that Judaism and Christianity also do not forbid slavery. Modern countries don’t allow slavery partly because we’ve all recognized how immoral it is, but partly because, as JMG keeps pointing out, a machine is now cheaper than a human and works round the clock. Those who overtly wish for a return to race-based slavery in America are now few (though more are happy to see it happen unofficially in private for-profit prisons) but if the oil supply were to be cut off and stay cut off, I wouldn’t be surprised if more started to speak of reviving the “tradition”.

    And while American-style slavery was exceptionally cruel and vile, I’m not altogether sure that Roman-style slavery was that much worse than what some workers get under modern capitalism. A slave’s owner had at least to provide her with, or allow her to provide herself with, room and board, or he’d lose his “asset.” Capitalists frequently will pay less than a day’s room and board for a day’s wages, basically allowing you to work for the privilege of starving, then throw you out like a bag of trash when your usefulness is ended, e.g., because the starvation wages make you or your kid get sick. What made American slavery so horrific is that they had an endless cheap supply of new slaves, so felt it feasible to use up slaves and throw them away, without even the capitalist worker’s theoretical ability to walk away and starve in peace.

  73. Did you ever consider writing an autobiography? By many accounts you are now famous, or at least very well known. A detailed account of your childhood, your schooling, successes and challenges, meeting your wife, becoming a druid, ect. You will likely become even more famous in time as your predictions of catabolic collapse are realized, then how will you want to be remembered? The greatest American poet of the 20th century, James Douglas Morrison, once wrote “Did you have a good world when you died, enough to base a movie on?” His poetry failed commercially, and like many, he had to die a tragic death in order for it to gain recognition. (Oliver Stone actually did make a semi-fiction movie about him, wouldn’t you want your movie to be accurate instead ?)

  74. I watched a very disturbing “documentary” on the Science channel last month called 2 Degrees Warmer. It discussed climate change and showed what the world would be like once we are past the tipping point. Basically, at 6 degrees warmer by the end of the century all land based life will be extinct. Some of the warning signs listed were massive wildfire in the western US and record breaking hurricanes. The show was produced in 2016. Fast forward to summer of 2017. Massive wildfires in the western US and Canada, check. Record breaking hurricane season, check. Have we passed the tipping point?

  75. I have three questions I have been wanting to ask about for a while. For one of them I was not able to find where it was, so I will put it through first.

    1. It seems you have said once that there is some evidence that long ago another sentient species existed on Earth.
    My question is, what evidence? Is this Unverified Personal Gnosis or there is some reference you can point about the subject?

    2. In a reply to Professor P., in a post made on “The Well of Galabes: Foundations of Magical Practice: Ritual” you said this:
    “Professor P., you’ll notice that I didn’t include the Golden Dawn system among those I recommended as safe among young children. It’s not invariably problematic, but it stirs up a lot of force, and practitioners of the Hermetic GD routinely get “astral static” (odd, seemingly hallucinatory experiences, except that other people can also see them — I should tell the story sometime of the not-quite-physical cat that freaked the bejesus out of a couple of dinner guests one evening) which appear in the first year or so of practice, and fade away after that.”
    My question is, could you please tell me more about that dinner?

    3. On page xiv of your Monsters book, you said:
    “… and [my friend] Gordon [Cooper] also accompanied me on several monster hunts, one of which provided evidence for the old claim that paranormal entities don’t always like to have their pictures taken!”
    My question is, what happened during this case?

  76. Hi JMG…long time reader. Just curious of your feelings in general about guns, gun violence and gun control. Particularly in America since it is somewhat unique to us (in terms of scale) in the western world. I have had mixed emotions about guns for a long time and wanted to know your thoughts.

  77. Hi JMG,

    I’m curious about the remark you made above in reply to Jeffery: “on a symbolic level, Druidry tends to work with the interplay of the solar and telluric currents, rather than the interplay of planetary forces; on a practical one, the skills needed for Druid spirituality and magic are best developed using sortilege…”

    For now, I have questions about both the symbolic and practical parts of that remark:

    (1) In context, the remark about “solar and telluric currents” seems to refer both to the AODA/Druid Magic Handbook system, and to that of the DOGD/Celtic Golden Dawn. The former comes as no surprise, but my understanding had been that the traditional Golden Dawn, at least, worked specifically with the solar. Among other indications of this, I recall your diagrams in the Druid Magic Handbook, showing two sources of power in the Wheel of the Year, but only one (above) in the Tree of Life.

    Is that an accurate understanding of the earlier Golden Dawn? And does the CGD/DOGD then differ in this regard by using both currents? Or better, perhaps, does the DOGD differ by emphasizing/balancing both currents? If so, that really gives me a new appreciation for just how versatile the broad Golden Dawn framework is!

    Corollary to this: Does this entail an interpretation of the Tree of Life in the DOGD which differs from that in the Druid Magic Handbook specifically in the regard (1 vs. 2 sources of magical power)?

    Second corollary: Does the difference (assuming there is one) follow simply from the symbolism? That is, Judeo-Christian symbols = solar focus; Druidic symbols = balance of solar and telluric. Or is there something deeper at play?

    Corollary to the second corollary: I recall a remark you made in passing on Galabes about older elements of Christian magic which did a much better job of handling the telluric current. Is there any relevance/connection here? And regardless, can you give any sense of where to begin looking, if someone wanted to explore/understand those portions of the Christian magical tradition?

    Third corollary: How does OBOD fit into this paradigm? My sense of their work (confirmed in conversation with one person who completed the OBOD Druid Grade, though that’s admittedly a small sample) is that they work primarily, if not exclusively, with the telluric. Does this relate to how much more overtly Neopagan OBOD is, where that Neopaganism is in contrast to Revival Druidry (which predates Neopaganism by a good two and a half centuries)? I’ve had the sense that the Neopagan movement in general has tended to an extreme telluric emphasis, as an (equal and) opposite reaction to our culture’s dominant solar emphasis in traditional Christianity.

    (2) The bit about solar-telluric interplay as a primary emphasis makes good sense. I’d be inclined to add the interplay/balance of the four elements here too—which makes druidic study of geomancy especially fitting!

    But can you offer any elaboration about the last part of your comment, on what it is about sortilege divination in general that’s so pertinent to druidic work? One initial thought on my part had to do with “observing and responding to the patterns of the wider natural world”, but that would fit equally well with sortilege or astrological work…

    Apologies for the length of this, but there is just so much to unpack here!

  78. JMG, thank you for your reply! It was doubly pleasant since it was also the answer I wanted to hear, heh.

  79. I have been wondering could bioluminescence be a light source in long Arctic and Antarctic winters as those regions become more inhabited.

  80. Greetings, I continue to reference your Archdruid article on “the Hate that dare not speak it’s name” (something like that), as it is even more potent every day. Couldn’t get Carolyn Baker to read it, though. Flat out refused. Hmmmm? Anyway, I must suppose you got negative feed-back on that one.

  81. Since you’ve now and then mentioned Charles Williams, you’ve spurred me to read several of his novels, and I am now in the middle of a biography. Regarding the novels: he probably breaks all the rules according to the Iowa writer’s workshop. “All Hallows Eve” seemed a bit like PKD’s “Ubik,” but I think I enjoyed “Ubik” more. The next in line to be read will likely be “Many Dimensions” but I may wait a while for that. A fascinating fellow, just the same.

  82. JMG, here’s a definition of a fitbit: It’s a device that tells you how much exercise you have gotten in a day. The idea is that you compare the amount the device reports to what you remember, and if the device is reporting significantly more exercise than you remember, you go to a doctor to get checked for lycanthropy, zombiism and discontinue any medications which might turn you into a nocturnal serial killer.

  83. JMG, when are you going to do the next podcast? Those on Youtube are good, the 10% stuff of internet.

  84. Hello Mr Archdruid,

    Thanks again for hosting this forum–the variety of questions is really fascinating!

    It is interesting that so many people are apparently waiting for the “fast crash” apocalyptic scenario that never quite arrives. This goes not just for peak oil-oriented folks looking at resource depletion, but also for financial collapse prognosticators, and survivalist preppers expecting violent chaos. Now, as you have pointed out many times, Armageddon is already here, it is just not evenly distributed.

    How do you predict people expecting a fast crash event will react to an agonizingly slow process of decline without the hollywood action sequence?

  85. Regarding the Tolkien family & their aggressive attempts to maintain their fortune: Tolkien would have had things to say about that sort of behavior, and they would not have been nice. I’m no communist, I think that nobility is a great idea – nobles are often the descendants of intelligent and hardworking people & sometimes even have those traits themselves – and what could be better than intelligent and hardworking people who are independently wealthy, if those people have the proper noblesse oblige? The Tolkien family, on the other hand…

    Clay Dennis, that’s funny that you also had a thermodynamics professor who taught alternative technology courses. Of course, how could you be intelligent and educated enough to be a thermodynamics professor and not understand the basic predicaments of our time? Ironically, my thermodynamics professor made a killing selling high tech solar water heaters (which, unlike anything Elon Musk is pushing other than the reusable rockets, actually had an acceptable payback period….). He uses his fortune from his job at the university and his company to finance a very extravagant lifestyle though…

  86. Just thinking about how the worldwide rise in obesity fits into overshoot and our current position in it. It used to just be in the West, but has become an issue over large portions of the globe in this century. Lots of high-energy, low nutrition food and sedentary lifestyles look like the most immediate culprit.

    It is going to do is make it harder for a lot of people to do things like grow their own food, or live with unreliable access to medical care. Over the long run, the obesity crisis is probably self-correcting, but on the scale of a human lifetime it is worsening suffering, and looks likely to overwhelm some healthcare systems, especially in combination with the resurgence of antibiotic resistance etc.

    Shaming people who are overweight or obese seems cruel and useless when this issue affects so very many people, and the causes are more to do with the society the people live in than the people themselves.

    What do you think of banning advertising of soft drinks and the like as a fairly non-invasive method of reducing the problem, maybe along with taxing soft drinks? I don’t think the problem will go away until and unless healthy foods are cheaper compared to junk foods, but perhaps policies like these might be worth a try.

  87. I’ve been thinking about that discussion about the future of trains in last month’s open post. As a historian of technology and a bit of a steam head myself, it is pleasing to imagine a future where steam has finally beat out that rascally internal combustion engine. I have no doubt that steam engine of some description will be found in our future- where the expense of their construction and fuel usage can be paid off. It’s a theme that you’ve talked about a lot, JMG- technical feasibility is nothing without economic practicality. On a recent re-read of Star’s Reach (where I was looking out for examples of machinery in Trey’s world) I was struck by how this is an undercurrent. Steamwheelers are used on the Mississippi because nothing else would do- the good prices for freight and passengers pays for the expensive steam engine-; light bulbs are made by hand (just like they were in the 1880s) and are correspondingly expensive; and radios are hand made (just like some people make ’em now).

    It’s something I’ve been spreading some time thinking about- now that we have the knowledge of how to create these things, our problem will be the reverse of our ancestors had. In the example of the steam engine, they had the materials and the cheap coal, but slowly developed more efficient forms. We know how to make a decent steam engine, but will find materials and coal in short supply (with all the junk we’ll leave lying around, our descendants will want for coal more than steel). It’s all about what can be supported on a much smaller industrial base AND (this is the important bit) whether each technology can justify itself more than all the other possible machines they could ‘resurrect’.

    Steam boats are worth bringing back- they are mostly wood, and the infrastructure (the river) doesn’t cost a dime. Freight fees and tickets will pay for the fuel and then some, given that they used a half-decent engine design that doesn’t drink fuel like the original Mississippi riverboats did. Railroads, with their miles of steel and heavy need of fuel, cannot justify their own (now extremely high) costs.

    Trains are out. But what about steam-driven road vehicles? You’d be surprised. In my own search for what the future of technology may look like in a world constrained not by what they can design but what they can build and fuel, I’ve come across technologies from all periods that might combine in our future- pre-industrial technology, of course, should be viable in such a future, but there are also modern things- Hoffmann kilns, tube radios, electric lights, rocket stoves, biogas digesters- that do not need much infrastructure, materials or power to bring great benefits. Among these technologies were early steam buses.

    Steam buses were developed by Goldsworthy Gurney and Walter Hancock in the years before the development of the passenger railroads. These were not one-off toys, but commercial vehicles that worked quite well day-to-day. They ran faster than the stagecoaches, were safer and cost less to operate (bushels of charcoal is less expensive than large stables every seven miles). They ran upon the gravel MacAdams roads- an essentially 18th century technology that can be laid by men with small hammers (probably the best our descendants can hope for in roads) and so required no infrastructure of their own. In the 1820s and 1830s, these buses did quite well- so well that the stagecoach companies had restrictive road laws passed through that destroyed their ability to compete. That destroyed the steam busses. The railroads then quickly destroyed the stagecoaches before they could enjoy the victory.

    Late writings (1840s) about the bus companies pointed out that they were the natural allies of the canal companies against the railroads, and that if the stagecoach owners had been less short-sighted, they may have been able to fight against the iron horse by producing a competitor that could pull into a coaching inn yard. Alas.

    However, in the world of Star’s Reach, the canals have made a comeback- stone, brick, clay and labour- the ingredients for a canal- are in abundance, and so canals are dug all over the place. The steam bus requires roads made of stone and labour. Is there a chance for them as well? Like the river steam-boats, the busses are mostly wood and some improvements to their engines would improve their already impressive range and speed (their boilers were quite good, actually, but their engines quite primitive- even a lightweight engine of 1850 would offer great improvement, and should be within the skills of a decent machinist). Also like the steam boats, they serve a specific need that can pay their way. How much would people pay for the swift movement of passengers and mail at speeds greater than canal boat or horse? I am not suggesting that everyone would have a steam bus, or that they would crowd the streets of a city, but on routes that would pay you might see one or two shuttling back and forth.

    To be slightly ridiculous, we could take this a step further. The people of Star’s Reach use radio instead of telegraphry because, although the latter is less complicated, it also requires more physical infrastructure. If we don’t want the expense of roads, why don’t we go for aircraft? An alcohol fired engine in a canvas and wood frame plane could carry mail- or a few very high-priced passengers- between cities without the need for roads. How much would people pay for speed? Enough to make a simple airline possible?

    I can imagine a handfull of steam busses moving between the great cities of the future, paying for their expensive machined parts and costly fuel by moving faster than anything on legs or wheels. Aircraft may be a bit much.

  88. @Avery, where and what time you will be speaking? I’m assuming the University of Tokyo near Ueno. I cannot attend myself, but I will pass on the information to my network. Have you been in touch with Richard Evanoff? He would be interested and would know a lot of others who would be too.

    I’ll be dying to hear second-hand about it.

  89. @Avery again, and anyone else in the Tokyo area: we will be holding the Asakawa Kompira picnic on November 5, same time, same place as always, and I plan to attend that. If anyone needs details, just ask.

  90. SoSickThisIs-

    What would happen if you sidestepped the question of how much hydrocarbon energy we have “in reserve”, and ask the question instead “Is Right Now the very best time to exploit those reserves, or will they become increasingly valuable as other reserves are depleted?” Those who look for next year’s income on this year’s drilling obviously want to drill and pump, but there are relatively few of them and many of us. However much oil/gas/coal is left underground, can you get them to consider just leaving it there for another generation or ten, when it’ll be too scarce and valuable as lubricants and chemicals to simply burn?

    This argument also sidesteps the controversial “climate change” issue of how much more carbon we can afford to put into the atmosphere, and why we would cut back on our extraction and combustion when India and China are not (or are they?). Let them burn the money in their vaults, while ours is safely tucked away underground.

    If this evolves into a discussion of what the people of the present owe to the people of the future, that’s probably a good thing, too. Do these parents intend to pass any accumulated wealth to your students? Why, or why not?

    You might also see if your students can discover propaganda conflicts within the energy industry. The coal industry wants you to know that nuclear is dangerous, the gas people want you to know that coal is dirty, the nuclear people want you to know that the gas won’t last forever, the solar people want you to know that hydroelectric power is limited and bad for fish, and everybody else wants to make sure you know that solar power can’t support our current lifestyles. And they’re all telling the truth!

  91. If someone prays to the flying spaghetti monster, do you think something would respond? If so, what?

  92. @Jen, I’ll second JMG’s assessment, and add a few of my own comments. The US media seem to focus on lurid gossip. Social media amplify this. You’ll be spared the former if you come on over to Japan. I’m trying to recall the last time I engaged in a conversation (not involving e-mail exchanges with my American relatives, or my response to Shane yesterday) about North Korea. Nearly two weeks ago, it was, with a Shinto priest; and then a few days prior to that with an American and his Japanese family–a reader of this blog, as a matter of fact (and I am impressed with the quality of JMG’s readership that I have met so far). The gist in either case was that North Korea had the right to pursue national security. The general opinion of most folks here paying any attention to this is that they wish the politicians of Japan, the US and North Korea would quit grandstanding and come to some form of sensible agreement. There is some concern that Trump will be motivated to try a preemptive strike, but as time wears on, this seems less and less likely.

    I heard from one source, and could never confirm, that there is a pro-North Korea faction among the right wing here. Regardless of the veracity, you will occasionally hear sympathetic views; I have met a number of left-leaning Japanese who have visited North Korea and come away with positive impressions–thirty or more years ago in Kim Il Sung’s reign, they were truly unneighborly, but that has changed a lot–and the media are reluctant to pass along unverified rumors about Kim Jong Un and his country.

  93. JMG, if I may trouble you with another question: Do you feel that modern industrial societies lack meaningful and effective rituals for guiding people through their maturation and development, and if so, do you think this contributes meaningfully to our collective inability to grasp and grapple with the various predicaments of our age–a sort of collective social, emotional, and intellectual immaturity? Whether from an anthropological or magical perspective (or whatever other perspective may inform you), I am interested in your thoughts.

    This line of inquiry has been brought to mind by the various commentors who have spoken of addressing emotional blocks (not necessarily a sign of delayed development, but it got me to thinking about rituals of healing and reintegration after trauma, grief, etc. and then on to coming of age and other life-stage rituals to move people from one state to another), as well as the proliferation of memes about failed “adulting” in various corners of the internet, and my feeling that I am able to interact more maturely with others and respond more maturely to challenging situations of late after feeling stuck in certain unhelpful patterns for some years, combined with the generalized disintegration of thought and communication in American society.

  94. @Avery, thank you for your response and congratulations! I am looking forward to it, and I wish you luck in your search.

  95. Matthias, I prefer Spengler’s predictions to Toynbee’s, but that doesn’t mean I consider them infallible. One of the things that makes both authors problematic is that they’re trying to force-fit our situation into a Roman model, and that doesn’t really work, as the energy and resource situations are very different. Thus it’s a waste of time asking if the present date is “really” the fourth century, or the first, or what have you. I expect, as already noted, a second round of serious crisis to begin within a few decades and proceed for some decades thereafter; I see a very serious risk that the US will experience civil war, or at least prolonged domestic insurgency, within a couple of decades; and I expect massive shifts in the religious sensibility of the West to unfold over the next couple of centuries. It doesn’t greatly concern me that these happened at different times in the history of Rome; they’re pretty clearly happening at the same time now.

    Oskari, make a note of the things you experience, and continue with the practices. Such things happen fairly often. As for the ritual, it’s the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram that has the two triangles, not the Pentagram ritual; in the former, the entire triangles, not just the points, have the colors named.

    Varun, deal with your emotional business before you go on. You don’t want to pile more stress onto an already stressed psyche! You might consider doing a martial arts or boxing class, if you can arrange that — the human bodymind is hardwired to respond to anger by hitting something, and there’s a profound satisfaction in releasing anger by shattering a wooden board with your fist!

    Djerek, John Morris’ The Age of Arthur is one of the best histories I know of a society entering into a dark age.

    Steve, definitely macerate your stories! As for demonic forces, they exist, but the best way for a mage in training to deal with them is to focus on bringing through balanced and harmonious energies, and leave the demonic realm strictly alone.

    Isaac, you’ll probably need to have some other subsistence skills. It’s going to be a very hard row to hoe for all creative artists.

    Maurice, I don’t. There’s a technical term for anyone who tries to time a volatile market, and that term is “idiot.”

    Michael, the notion that you can get people to change by threatening them with some version of hellfire and damnation has been tested relentlessly over the last two thousand years, and it simply doesn’t work. Doing it again, and expecting to get a different result, doesn’t seem useful to me.

    Bird, evil spirits are delighted if you fight them; they thrive on your attention. As a Christian, you should leave that to God and his angels, and respond to their presence with intensive prayer and, if you’re into the sacramental end of Christianity, appropriate sacraments.

    Jez, I don’t — much of what I’m going on here is the stories I heard years ago from old Masons, Odd Fellows, and Grangers who lived through the Second World War. If anyone else has something to recommend, though, I’d invite them to suggest it.

    Dermot, yep. People who are desperate will jump at any imagined savior, no matter how delusionary.

    Chris, it’s much more pleasant here. As for the movement into the second round of major crisis, oh, there’ll be big events, but it’ll be a pileup of minor events that gets us there.

    Moshe, exactly.

    Peter, I’ve been predicting that for years. Have you by any chance read either of my two novels on that theme, Twilight’s Last Gleaming and Retrotopia?

    Forecastingintelligence, I could spend an entire post on any of those questions! The cryptocurrencies look very good just now, but my guess is that they’re in the middle of a speculative bubble, from which there will be a whopping crash. The disintegration of the US is looking more and more likely at this point. As for Limits to Growth, 2030 or so is within my very rough window of when I expect the next round of major crises to hit — equivalent to 1914-1954, more or less — so a period of stability is probably not in the cards…

    Myriam, I’m not familiar with any such attempt, but it would make a great theme for a short story!

    JMA, some of the best soap I’ve ever used was made from ordinary shortening and household lye. You just need to look up the details for cold process soapmaking and find the saponification ratio for soybean oil, which is in most good soapmaking books. Then get a tin of ordinary shortening (Crisco, Dreft, etc.) and you’re good to go.

    Kay, thanks for this.

    Joshua, you might find this essay from the old blog useful in that context. (The section on gold is toward the end of the essay.)

    James, I have no idea, and since our species is only going to be around for a tiny fraction of the total time between now and the end of the universe, I’m not at all sure it matters.

    Teresa, I ain’t arguing.

    Will, it’s anyone’s guess at this point, as so much depends on moment-by-moment decisions by individuals. I’m afraid it’s going to get very ugly. Spain has a long history of really egregious human rights violations…

    Graeme, good! Yes, exactly. A lot of people who’ve shaken themselves out of that state of mind describe it as a malign sort of trance.

  96. @Violet

    Dear Violet, though I don’t pretend to know the context of the incident in question, or the nature of your relationship, I will say “plucky bookish aesthete who is on my side” and “sheeple on the wrong side of history”, pretty much amounts to saying ‘you’re my naive idiot’ or ‘or my enemies’ naive idiot’. Either way, these options don’t allow you an inner life or agency. Why consider either?


  97. Dear Patricia Matthews, yours is the best description of Mr. Trump I have yet seen. Crassus lost his life during the course of an ill-conceived and ill-fated invasion of Persia, called Parthia at the time. One young officer who did manage to bring his command home was one Gaius Cassius Longinus, who seems to have been pretty thoroughly radicalized and embittered by the experience.

    About tierra prieta, it is interesting to note that the same technique was independently developed in the rain forests of West Africa. An anthropologist who saw biochar being made in the Amazon during the 1960s, I think it was, didn’t understand what she was seeing.

  98. @Will Oberton: JMG’s recommendation of Celtic Heritage is still the go-to one-volume overview of Celtic (Irish, Welsh, Scottish, etc) mythology and religion. An excellent supplement to it, though, would be John Koch and John Carey’s The Celtic Heroic Age, which consists of translations of primary and secondary (mainly Greek and Roman) source texts.

  99. JMG, Are you by any chance familiar with the works of nassim talen and Gordon white of I often read from them.

  100. Greetings Archdruid John Michael! Since you’ve mentioned being an “on the spectrum” Aspie, and as I certainly resemble that description myself, I’m wondering: how extensive are your compensatory mechanisms, have you increased, maintained, or reduced them with time, and where do you think the proper balance lies between bulking up with compensatory adaptations so that you can pass for neurotypical, versus throwing away all the compensations and adaptions and just letting your Aspie Flag fly, as it were?

    As I approach old age (was born when Harry S Truman was still President) I find myself bemusedly considering how older people sometimes lessen their social genteelness and become rather less inhibited, and whether that is a good thing. Being authentic seems like a good thing, but telling people the raw truth about stuff (“Why yes, that dress DOES make you look fat!”) can leave behind a sizable wake of hurt feelings…

    Always a delight to hear what you have to say, and to read the responses of others here! Cheers!

  101. Dear Djerek, I second the recommendation of The Age of Arthur, and, if you have a Bible around, you might read first and second Samuel. A war band leader was what David son of Jesse was.

    Dear Bird, Christian churches might be having various problems, but that doesn’t mean prayers and rituals don’t still work. I find that they do. As for evil spirits, I wonder if that might not be something like dealing with people of ill will. You can’t change what they do but you can change what you do that attracts them.

  102. @ JMG, thank for your thoughts. Allowing myself a little grieving process by indulging in a massive stack of Isabel Allende novels I picked up from the library and taking some walks has proven to be helpful.

    @ Lordyburd, thank you for for your perspective. You raise a very interesting point, although I am not sure I am understanding it entirely. I don’t see there being a lack of inner life or agency inherent to the category “plucky bookish aesthete,” or that being ipso facto the same as naive idiocy. The sheeple category is however entirely derogatory. That being said, their is something that deprives an apprehension of agency and inner life when formulations of “my side/their side” are deployed.

  103. Workdove, it would be very dull. I prefer a quiet,unadventurous existence, have been married to the same woman for 33 years, and the grand formative events that shaped my worldview mostly involved such thrilling and dramatic happenings as sitting in a library reading an old book, going through a series of sedate rituals conducted by very old men, standing beside a stream for a long time while thinking, and so on.

    Julie, nope. While climate change is a serious issue, the claims that all life on land will die if the earth warms 6 degrees show a stunning ignorance of paleoclimatology or, more likely, a remarkably casual disregard for facts. The planet was a lot more than 6 degrees warmer when the dinosaurs roamed it, and sudden temperature spikes are actually fairly common in the history of our planet.

    Packshaud, no, I said that I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there had been intelligent species on this planet before ours, and that quite a few occult traditions include that detail. You can make of that what you will. The story about the dinner? The four of us were eating, and all four of us saw what appeared to be a kitten run into the dining room in total silence, make the motions of meowing (still without making a sound), and vanish. There was no such kitten present. Our friends got really uncomfortable and left early. As for the photo session, an expensive camera which had taken a whole series of other pictures already that day, the moment it was pointed at a certain sacred rock, let out a really quite impressive grinding noise and became inoperable. The repairman said he’d never seen that kind of damage to the device that advances the film…

    Sean, guns are tools, and for some tasks, they’re useful tools. Unfortunately they’re also the focus of a fantastic amount of delusion from all sides, with some people treating them as amulets of liberty and others treating them as talismans of evil. Until we get to the point that we can think of them as tools again, the whole issue of “gun control” — that is to say, laws concerning guns — is going to yield far more heat than light.

    Barefootwisdom, good. The GD system is overbalanced in a solar direction; one of the things I did in crafting the Druidical GD was to balance that with more attention to the telluric side — though the Druidical GD is still more solar than, say, the system in The Druid Magic Handbook. The Tree of Life by definition works with power from one source, thus the distinction still stands. As for Christianity, while the modern tradition is solar to an extreme and unbalanced degree, yes, older traditions were much less so — I’d encourage you to start with Jessie Weston’s “From Ritual to Romance” and follow the many trails of bread crumbs she scatters. As for OBOD, the original course was telluric in focus through the Bardic and Ovate grades and brought in a very well-crafted balancing solar influence in the Druid Grade; I haven’t taken the revised course, but I’ve been told that the old Druid Grade material has been discarded, which seems like a real shame to me.

    As for the usefulness of sortilege, it’s a matter of what skills you’re trying to develop, You can do good astrology on a purely rational basis, but to do geomancy, or Ogham divination, or Coelbren divination, you need to develop an intuitive understanding of the situation you’re in at each moment, and that’s an essential part of becoming aware of the subtle sides of nature .

    Jen, you’re welcome.

    Lunchbox, I have no idea. You’ll want to discuss that with a biochemist.

    Roy, in response to that post, I fielded screaming tantrums that would put a spoiled five-year-old to shame. I found that highly amusing.

    Phutatorius, he was a very, very odd duck, and I gyrate between enjoying his fiction and wanting to throw it against the nearest wall. (His poetry, on the other hand, I always find infuriatingly smug.)

    Justin, fair enough. I’d probably enjoy getting exercise by putting it on the floor and jumping up and down on it, then.

    Simo, I’ve done a few more — just haven’t had time to put them on the list.

    Samurai, to judge by what’s happened so far, they’ll react to the failure of fast crash predictions by predicting a fast crash louder still, and getting really petulant if you point out to them that their predictions keep on failing.

    Corydalidae, I don’t think advertising has much to do with it. The long-term effects of dieting include weight gain, a lot of drugs popular with the medical industry these days cause weight gain, and of course the same chemicals that are fed to livestock to make them gain weight remain in the meat and cause weight gain in those who eat it; my working guess is that the modest increase in body weight over the last few decades (in the US, it’s an average of 14 lbs., 7 of which are accounted for by increased average height) is caused by that.

    Thepublicpast, fascinating! I was completely unaware of steam coaches, and will look into that. As for airplanes, though, I think there’s a very high chance that alcohol-fueled ultralights will remain in use straight through the coming dark ages — think of the immense advantages in warfare to having that kind of mobile reconnaissance platform, and they’re not hard to build or expensive to run.

    Will, I don’t know. Perhaps you should try it and find out.

    Jen, we’ve got the rituals, but they’re ghettoized. I spent this evening at the local Scottish Rite temple, taking part in some very elegant rituals; there are plenty of other old lodge organizations, some for men, some for women, some for both, that have similarly useful rituals; there are the old sacramental churches, and a lot of more recently founded faiths that have a very meaningful ritual life. It’s just that those are in little enclaves in society and you have to seek them out if you want to participate in them.

    JLMc12, I’ve read Nassim Nicholas Taleb and learned a great deal from him. I haven’t studied Gordon White, as the kind of magic he practices is very far from the kind I practice — think of the difference between classical music and heavy metal rock, and you’ve got some sense of the gap involved.

  104. Bryan, it depends entirely on context. In social settings it’s useful for me to be able to interact congenially with as many people as possible, so learned social routines are very helpful for that. I have an enduring respect for old-fashioned courtesy, too, so the sort of rude remarks that so often pass for being authentic these days do not interest me.

    Violet, you’re most welcome.

  105. @patriciaormsby Thank you for your interesting and helpful response! A respite from (social) media hysteria does sound refreshing. Alas, not even my total avoidance of television and insipidly neutral Facebook persona (which consists almost entirely of dutifully liking my former schoolmates’ baby pictures) has spared me, as all my acquaintances seem intent on passing the bees in their bonnets on to me regardless of my manifest lack of interest.

    And JMG, thank you also for your response to my second question! I will keep an eye out for ritual ghettoes in future.

  106. JMG, you said in your response to Steve:

    “As for demonic forces, they exist, but the best way for a mage in training to deal with them is to focus on bringing through balanced and harmonious energies, and leave the demonic realm strictly alone.”

    And you wrote quite a while ago (2010):

    “Alternatively, you can get even sneakier and beat the bacteria to the punch by deliberately infecting food with a microorganism of your choice, which will crowd out other microbes and change the food in ways that will leave it in edible condition for you; that’s fermentation.”

    Is spiritual practice is a kind of fermentation?

    That’s something worth pondering.

  107. Myriam,

    That may be an idea whose time has come. I’ve made it my goal to develop the skill of bookbinding in order to create the most durable books I can on useful technology. They’re to be based on local resources, the “brittleness” of the technology (how easily it might otherwise be lost, which is a guessing game) and, again, usefulness.

    It was only very recently that I became convinced that reincarnation actually happens.

    Honestly, I’m a little torn by the implications concerning my work. In all likelihood, I’ll be reincarnated right here in my present bioregion, where my books are to be tailored for the local resource base. My efforts right now could very well benefit a future me.

    On the one hand, that’s great. It’s like anything else you might do for your future benefit. On the other hand, that was never the fracking intent! I was trying to be altruistic! (Shakes fist at sky)

    And that’s where I’m left. I’m certainly not going to abandon the project just because it may not be so selfless after all. Will self interest motivate others who believe in reincarnation to pursue similar goals? I don’t know, but the fact that the two of us have had similar thoughts suggests a current in the zeitgeist.

  108. JMG,

    Thank you for your response. I write down most everything of these experiences. I am assuming they might be meaningful and make sense only to the one experiencing them, the significance of which perhaps being revealed later if explored via methods like meditation.

    English is an aquired language for me so I am not always certain I understand all the details and nuances (let alone the importance of such things in any particular situation) nor am I always able to explain my thoughts adequately, so please bear with me as I make a further request for clarification. In page 54 in “Learning Ritual Magic” (top of the page) the instructions refer to “upward pointing triangle” and “downward pointing triangle” in the Star of David, which is to be visualized within the practitioner. This star comprises of two overlapping triangles, but also produce six additional smaller triangles when constructed in this manner. Of these six one points upwards and one downwards. But the bigger triangles can also be understood as one of the pointing upwards and one downwards, and I am not certain which one is meant by the text and if it is the bigger one, how to deal with the territory where the triangles overlap.

    As for the book and the course it offers, I am enjoying both of them immensely. It took me around seven years to get to it (and for the circumstances to be turned favorable for it) but it was well worth the wait.

  109. JMG, in your book, The Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, you listed several trees and one or two plants that can be planted to attract fairies. What would be the purpose of attracting fairies, and aren’t some of them dangerous to humans? Although I think my children would enjoy the old tradition of leaving food for the fairies, I really wouldn’t like to attract trouble. Plus I’d worry about drawing rats or other undesirable animals.

    You also said that natural magic can be done like a potpourri with the magical properties of whatever plant(s) coming through in the scent. Wouldn’t that affect other people in the house too? If I placed a love/lust potpourri by the bed in mine and my husband’s room, would my children be affected by that as well?

    I also found it interesting that you listed jasmine as good for healing and “to dispel melancholy”. I like to drink jasmine tea when I’m sick or a little depressed. I wasn’t aware of it having medicinal or magical properties, but it always seems to make me feel better, so I’ve been doing it for a while now.

  110. @Violet

    Dear Violet,
    You are correct. ‘plucky bookish aesthete’ does not automatically mean naive idiocy. Perhaps I was projecting my own emotional response to such a comment directed towards me. My apologies. What stood out to me, was that both comments seem to deny the commentee an inner-life, an ability to give novel responses to any given situation. For example, one could have also reacted to your views with simple curiosity “why do you think this way? I thought your views on the subject were etc etc….” or a whole range of reactions other than ‘you’re not on my side’. Nevertheless, I wish you well, and may you come out of this stronger and freer.


    Dear Mr. Greer,
    I have been a quasi-atheist for most of my adult life, and through your writings have become open to the possibility of gods. I wish to ‘meet’ them in a manner of speaking. I pray everyday to whoever might be listening, introducing myself, asking them for what they would like me to do. Other than the vague background feeling of a ‘presence’ that I often encounter on quiet mornings during my walks, I haven’t seen anything any rationalist couldn’t dismiss. I guess I don’t know what I am expecting. A humanoid form? A disembodied voice?
    I guess what I want to ask is,Is there a standard by which to judge such experiences as genuine?
    During these same walks, I swear the crows sometimes give me knowing looks 🙂


  111. Corydalidae, healthy food already is cheaper than junk food. Basic, healthy foods like beans, potatoes, cabbage, bags of frozen veggies, apples, bananas, oats, rice, wheat flour, cornmeal, etc. are cheaper than fast food and other forms of garbage food. Most of these foods have to be cooked though, and a lot of people don’t want to do that or don’t know how.

    Before our third child joined the family, there was a period of time when it wasn’t unusual for us to have only $50 or less left for food after my husband paid the bills. I fed our (at the time) family of four a healthy, if sometimes monotonous, diet on that. We never went hungry.

    This idea that healthy food is somehow super expensive isn’t helping poor people. They’re being told that the only food they can afford is garbage that ruins their health. I think this got started by upper middle-class liberals trying to act sympathetic towards poor people but not knowing what they were talking about. For UMC liberals, it is more expensive to eat healthy – because they’re eating out or, if they are cooking, they are using exotic ingredients that cost way too much. They wouldn’t be caught dead eating the kind of healthy food that kept my family fed when we didn’t have much money. They do have status to maintain, you know. They can’t do that by eating brown beans and cornbread.

  112. Dirk, I checked it out well over a decade ago. I also noted with wry amusement that it was being turned into yet another excuse for the privileged to keep up their unsustainable lifestyles. Did you have anything substantive to say about it? Hi John, i get the Jesus saves reference, that applies to lots of alternative tech (sexy strategies) but I don’t get the “excuse for the privileged to keep up their unsustainable lives” After all biochar seems to mainly relate to nurturing productivity of soil, not usually a preoccupation of the privileged. Or was it just a ‘well earned snark’,. Probably a waste of my time, and yours, but was intrigued,, as i usually find your communication clear., regards Bob

  113. A few years back I got given “What is Your Dangerous Idea” (2006), ed. John Brockman; an anthology of short articles subtitled “Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable”. Don’t know if any readers of this blog might like to check it out or share impressions of it. To me, much of it seems wrong-headed rather than “dangerous”, but it’s an interesting little volume to browse in. Some of the titles are rather macabre e.g. “Free Will is Going Away” but I suppose their off-putting nature is the whole point; intentional provocation…

  114. Dear JMG,

    I read all of your posts religiously, but can’t find the time to follow the discussions fully. Also, most weeks I think of something to comment, but it takes three to four days to chew on that thought and articulate it. When I reach that point, the week is already gone. This has happened too many times, so I will just ask this as it occurs to me just now.

    You have noted in your posts (Toynbee’s hypothesis) on how the creative minority turns into a dominant minority as the civilization reaches its twilight, devoid of any clue or ideas to solve the problems faced by the people. This has many consequences: in economic sense, wealth accumulates at the top and lower classes are impoverished; in the religious and moral sense, the elite become irreligious, agnostic and morally corrupt; and so on. This leads to a schism in the society between the elite, internal proletariat and external proletariat, and collapse ensues.

    My question is, what can the elite, the minority at the top do to prevent this?

    I already have a few clues from your writings. Like in Retrotopia, Janice Mikkelson pays and her people generously, and treats them well too. You have also discussed the old concept of Noblesse Oblige. And you also once mentioned how the American working class paid very little attention to the Left’s call for revolution because all they wanted was plenty of jobs that paid living wages and a decent standard of living. I also read James Scott’s “Weapons of the Weak” which talks a bit about what lower classes expect from the higher classes.

    Do you know any books that talk about stuff like this? Even better would be a full length post from you in this blog, in your usual style of well articulated, nuanced analysis.

    I am asking this for two reasons: One, here in India, the situation is not as bad as in America and Europe. So if the higher classes are willing to do some sacrifices and do and say the correct things, it might be still be possible to keep the existing order together (which is not that bad compared to other places in the world and history — Churchill’s quote on democracy comes to mind), and actually do some good for the people. Also, the Indian civilization is pretty resilient, and has weathered plenty of such crises in the past. Second, I think I may end up in the higher class myself in a few years, if I wish for it. So I want to know what I should and shouldn’t do (that and the rather selfish motive of not wanting to be dangling from a lamppost:-)).


  115. Last year or maybe the previous year on the ADR, you mentioned in a comment that Werner Erhard and his teachings were empty and worthless, or something to that effect. Werner Erhard founded the est courses and then sold it off and it is now Landmark Worldwide (for those following along in the comments).

    I did Landmark courses on and off for three years. At the first course I realized that the philosophy of est and Landmark is woven through out corporate trainings and leadership courses – the moral relativism approach and a lot of the lingo. I’ve been in corporate training for decades now.

    I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on est and Erhard.

  116. @Jez – book suggestions for American history in the 1920’s and 1930’s that we used in our homeschool –
    The Victorian Internet, Tom Standage
    Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder
    The Worst Hard Time, Tim Egan
    Only Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen
    Since Yesterday, same
    The Forgotten Man, Amity Shales

    Have this on the shelf and haven’t read –
    The American Homefront 1941-1942 Alistair Cooke

    The suggestion to listen to people who lived through it has never worked for me. I know many people in their 80’s and 90’s and they talk more of about the 1950’s and 1960’s and how glorious that time was, than the earlier decades growing up. They follow a code of “if bad things happened to you, don’t talk about it” which is the complete opposite of today’s culture of “if bad things happen to you, glorify it as much as you can”.

    My grandmother passed away at the age of 96 in January. She was born in 1920, father died in 1923, leaving my great grandmother with 6 children to raise on her own. Here’s all I know about how she lived because my grandmother refused to talk about her childhood – she never had her own new shoes (she was the youngest of four girls so it was all hand me downs for shoes which were the most expensive item to buy), her two brothers either moved away or died but they were not to be talked about, she hated chicken for the rest of her life because it was the cheapest meat available and they ate it all the time.

  117. Hello Mr. Greer,

    My family is currently stationed abroad in South Korea and have not set foot inside the US since we left 3 years ago. Watching the news from my perch abroad has proven to be an interesting experience, especially when it seems signs are pointing to the sun setting on the American Empire in a dramatic fashion. I have occasionally walked down the street here in ROK and been struck with a profound and eerie feeling of being in the outskirts of the Empire as the collapse happens at home. It’s a rather surreal experience at times, to say the least.

    Lately, the feeling has grown more acute. The blustering between North Korea and the US at a time when the US military is facing a growing pilot shortage in the Army helicopter world as well as the Air Force seems insane. Watching what unfolded in Puerto Rico following the hurricane makes me wonder if it’s more a lack of resources than anything more sinister. Perhaps we have reached a tipping point where even the most mainstream of media sources cannot fully keep under wraps the mess we are? In your opinion, have things began to take a more public sour note over the past twelve months or so?

  118. JMG wrote:
    “As for the photo session, an expensive camera which had taken a whole series of other pictures already that day, the moment it was pointed at a certain sacred rock, let out a really quite impressive grinding noise and became inoperable.”

    Laurens van der Post reported a pretty much identical event at a sacred site when filming in the Kalahari sometime I think in the early 1950s. (Eventually a BBC film?) His team had some problems coming to terms with the advice they got for resolving the issue. I can’t find my copy of the book just now, but as I remember the site was also a source of water ‘guarded’ by African bees. Their local adviser later remarked a little sadly that the old powers were waning – in days gone by the intruders would have all been knocked flat!

    Phil H

  119. @JMG – your post last week on thought stoppers was classic, and I’m looking forward to the future posts on improving thinking skills. Will you be covering methods on sifting through the noise, and determining facts from fiction? It’s quite a challenge in today’s world.

    @SoSickThisIs – sounds to me like a lesson in the effect of propaganda is necessary. Perhaps you could use different versions of the same historical event, and point out how the information, events and facts can be twisted to serve an agenda. Pearl Harbor comes to mind. Or should I say the “sneak” attack which will live in Infamy. Then return to the topic of oil, and it may be easier to convince the students that they’ve been duped, and need to “follow the money”….

    @Violet – this may not help, but here goes. Based on your description of what happened, your mentor reacted with a response of rage, totally out of proportion to your view on the topic. Perhaps you simply have seen a new aspect to this person’s personality, and that sometimes occurs when we touch on a hot button topic, inadvertently or otherwise. I’ve sometimes exhibited that behavior (unfortunately) myself, when the proverbial straw is added to the camel’s back. I can’t explain it other than it’s a short-circuit of emotions, manifesting as anger, and totally my fault. Trying to use a conciliatory tone with your views won’t help if rage has taken over – it’s past the point of no return. If cooler heads prevail, you should get an apology soon. If not, you then have to weigh the pros and cons of making an attempt to salvage the relationship, approach your mentor, and ask in a non-confrontational way what set him off. Or maybe just explain how his response made you feel.

    If the “ghastly fated course” transpires, it’ll be his cross to bear, not yours. If I were an alcoholic and reach that stage of asking forgiveness from those I’ve wounded, the line would have 10 or 12 people in it, and probably a couple of dozen more who think they’ve earned a spot. Nobody’s perfect.

  120. A note of caution about L van der Post. I had not paid attention to the controversy van der Post aroused particularly after his death. So I looked it up this morning. Unlike our good host, the man has been dismissed as a fantasist, I read V-D Post’s books in my teens and like the younger Benedict Allen 20 years later was very taken by his depictions (see BA 2003 )

    Yet the 1955 films got made and shown on BBC.
    Further note: the relationship with Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles is interesting, though I stray into another topic. I have long thought of Mrs T as very easily influenced by those cleverer than she was. Her personality did the work for them. And BS can be very potent when it touches the core of our needs.

    Phil H

  121. About my previous comment, I would like to add this: I am interested in knowing this in the context of a society in economic decline, because I want use those principles in the coming decades in my life. Leading people when things are fine won’t be as hard, I supposed.


  122. Varun–

    We’ve discussed guilds in our previous correspondence and I ran across something that might be of interest. A coworker of mine has a son down in SC who has joined a woodworker guild that has apparently been around for some decades.

  123. More spuriousness by ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism”s cheerleader Aaron Bastani (basically loony left Muskism):

    There are so many holes in this argument, it is shocking. The cost of getting mining equipment to an asteroid, the cost of getting mined ores back to Earth for a start. Also, incredibly it ignores the fact of Musk’s reveune stream from outsourcing as mentioned further up this thread.

    I read After Progress for a second time this year, and it rings more and more true every day. The political sphere is currently dominated by a profound sense of denial.

  124. @SoSickThisis

    Art Berman is my ‘go-to’ expert on US oil reality.
    This is a particularly useful example of his ongoing analysis:
    Quote: “So far in 2017, the U.S. has imported more than 9 million barrels of crude oil per day, and net imports have averaged more than 7.3 million barrels per day. How exactly can the world’s biggest importer of oil become the supplier upon which other countries depend?”
    Quote: “The recently released BP Statistical Review Of World Energy 2017 places the United States 10th in the global ranking of oil reserve holders between Libya and Nigeria (Figure 1). That’s not bad but it hardly puts the U.S. in the same league as energy-dominant countries like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq and Russia that have on average 4 times more proved reserves than the U.S.”

    NB 1 US has needed to import oil to make up for what is used since 1960
    NB 2 ‘Proved reserves’ is a technical term

    Phil H

  125. Please pardon the personal nature of this question, but would you mind saying, in general terms, how you allocate your savings?

  126. I live in an area that has had a series of disasterous fires this summer. One of the reasons we moved here was the forested areas, but between the worries about the fires, and increased local cutting, I find myself utterly saddened on my formerly joyful walks.

    I would like to make an offering of some kind to the old groves nearby, but am at a loss in terms of what to do. On the one hand, I´m sympathetic to ¨pagan¨ sensibilities, but am not a particularly spiritual person and certainly don´t follow any dogma. I suppose I could invent a ritual, but am concerned about doing more harm than good in my ignorance (i.e. milk products are bad for hedgehogs). Simply gazing admiringly at the trees seems lame. I do bid them good morning when we pass.

    This year, I have collected acorns and chestnuts, some of which are destined for textile dyeing, some I´ve scattered in likely looking spots, and some I´ve planted to see if they germinate. It just doesn´t feel like nearly enough.

    Thank you for any suggestions.

  127. Hi JMG,

    I’m currently working through the material in the CGD, and find myself bouncing around quite a bit on the first four sections. I’ll think that I’m ready to move on, but then discover something later on that makes me go back to an earlier section, as I realize I’d totally missed some important idea the first time around. How does one know when to move on to the next section? Also, is there any ‘background’ reading that you might suggest before one launches into this system, or should I just trust that the concepts will unfold themselves through meditation? It all seems pretty new to me and I’m not sure if I’m really getting it. Overthinking?

  128. JMG,
    speaking of secession, what do you make of the various positive noises on the right regarding Calexit by people like Steve Bannon, etc? In following the coverage, I’m noticing the articles are cautiously coming around to the idea, instead of just shrieking “preposterous!”, “Confederacy!”, “Civil War!”. Of course, the right, w/the states rights arguments, was always more amenable to secession than the left, whose idealism led them to “save Mississippi from themselves”. Do you think that the cautious movement in the media on the idea of secession, coupled w/tentative positive response from the right, could lead down the road to peaceful dissolution/averting a Civil War?

  129. And on a completely unrelated note, do you (or anyone else) have any experience with above-ground root ‘cellars?’ Our basement isn’t really cut out for a root cellar, as we have our wood stove down there and it gets quite warm in the winter. Digging one into the ground isn’t an option either, as the soils in our area are only about two feet deep above bedrock, which is well above the level that the ground stays unfrozen. So I was considering building a small, well-insulated room in our attached but unheated garage, and then keeping it above freezing with either just a light bulb, or small space heater if need be. I can’t find any resources on how this might actually perform, even in “Root Cellaring” by the Bubels – they just say that it’s possible to do, without any real plans or specifications. I did check the Green Wizard forum too. I would like to be able to at least estimate how much insulation to use and how much heat will really be necessary to keep food from freezing solid. Our winters are very cold, -30 to -40F is not uncommon.

  130. Dear JMG,

    Longtime reader here, and lowly cog in the tottering academic-industrial complex. I’m a historian (and amateur practitioner) of early modern Islamic occultism, especially that of the Persianate world — so far left almost totally unstudied as the Triply Other. (Occultism as *oriental science*; Islam as the *Occult West*.) Among other sciences, I’m particularly concerned to reconstruct Persian geomantic theory and practice, which due to heavy imperial patronage over centuries, especially Mughal, Safavid and Ottoman, reached a level of complexity and “internationalism” never achieved in Arabic or Latin. I also regularly teach a Science, Magic and Religion class that features your geomancy manual as a required textbook (I move some 40-80 copies per year), and a good 20 percent of my students each semester both take it seriously and have the knack. Needless to say, it’s immensely satisfying to watch comprehension dawn on undergrads that the world is conscious and can talk back. Some even get quite angry at the materialist-scientistic conspiracy against occult science, the hypocritical sorcerousness of modernity. And in all my classes I like to drive home the basic historical fact, especially relevant in the early modern Islamo-Christian context and again now, that climate change events and attendant plagues reliably produce occultist renaissances, this as ruling and scholarly elites scramble to bring increasingly imbalanced natural and hence political environments back into some semblance of balance. Professorships in geomancy are coming back…

    In the meantime, though, I’m casting about for ways to personally survive the current extreme academic-industrial imbalance. As an untenured assistant professor at a big southern state flagship, which is sure to get rid of tenure and many faculty when the massive student loan debt crisis hits, I’ve been keenly following your occasional prognostications as to the timeframe I should plan for. The thing is, and despite my status as a fellow white trasher from Washington state (the dry side) who dropped entirely out of the system by high school and sustained a book addiction through manual labor, I believe very strongly in public higher education and its transformative capacities, if only on an individual basis, so I’m every day appalled and grieved to the quick at the destruction being wrought from without and, more perversely, from within on our great public universities. Euro-American academia is essentially committing suicide through a particularly gruesome — if wonderfully ironically Victorian — form of autovivisection.

    But I’m committed to salvaging what can be salvaged, and hence to staying in the game as long as I possibly can. Of course, the only institutions where pure (including occult-scientific) research and effective teaching in the humanities will be possible going forward are the rich privates, with public universities being increasingly reduced to tech and business vocational schools. And I agree that the boom-bust collapse of higher ed is sure to happen within the next decade, as my own geomantic readings have confirmed.

    This sitting academic duck would like to ask, then, for your detailed thoughts on the subject, perhaps even an astrological timeline, your schedule permitting?

    Many thanks!

  131. Jen, you’re welcome. There’s some really fascinating stuff out there, consigned to oblivion by the media culture but still very vital in its own right.

    James, that’s certainly one metaphor you can use to make sense of it. Certainly, though, it’s an axiom of magical practice that you don’t defeat evil by fighting it — that just locks you into fighting it, and keeps the evil from following its natural course and destroying itself. You defeat evil by replacing it with good.

    Oskari, it’s the bigger triangles that are meant. Where they cross, simply imagine one drawn over the other. Here’s an image — the one you want is the Hexagram of Nature.

    Housewife, of course faeries, aka nature spirits, can be dangerous to humans; so can most kinds of wildlife and many natural phenomena. If you handle your relations with them with respect and due caution, it won’t be a problem. You attract nature spirits to your yard for the same reasons you attract pollinating insects — their presence is good for the other living things there, and giving them additional habitat is good for the biosphere as a whole.

    With regard to magical potpourris, as long as you keep the one you’ve mentioned in your bedroom, it shouldn’t have any particular effect outside it. You can also make a different potpourri for the public areas of your home, and allow it to drown out any stray effects from the bedroom scent.

    Lordyburd, I’m not surprised about the crows! They’re that way. With regard to gods, they choose when and how they decide to appear; you don’t. You can always try asking for a favor — it should be something that really matters to you; they don’t take kindly to being pestered about trifles — and see what kind of response you get.

    Bob, there are two ways these days that biochar gets used. It gets used by farmers, who use it to help build soil fertility, and that’s well and good. It also gets used as a rhetorical ploy by people who don’t farm, and are never going to farm, as yet another reason to claim that everything really is all right and they don’t have to change their lifestyles. Is that clearer?

    Robert, I recall seeing a book like that — I’m not sure it was the same book — and rolling my eyes, because most of the “dangerous ideas” were bog-standard bits of fashionable intellectual chatter. (The business about free will going away is one of those — that’s been a commonplace of the chattering classes since the seventeenth century.) Still, I may be recalling a different book. I suspect the two of us could put together a collection of really dangerous ideas, but then no one would publish it… 😉

    Ramaraj, I don’t know of a book on the subject. You might try the later volumes of Toynbee’s A Study of History, which go into some detail about how elites fail. I’ll put some thought into doing a post on it down the road a bit, because it would be an interesting theme to discuss.

    Fred, my exposure to it has been entirely by way of people who got into it and then became what, back in the day, a lot of us called “estholes,” pushing est the same way your common or garden variety giddy evangelical Christian pushes Jesus. I got a certain bleak amusement, about a dozen years ago, out of watching a friend do the Landmark forums and turn into a classic esthole, spamming his friends with canned sales pitches and then getting all you-kicked-my-puppy when people backed away from him. I judge teachings by what they do to the people who follow them — “By their fruits ye shall know them,” said a certain very great initiate once upon a time — and by that measure, est and the Landmark programs are about as appealing to me as herpes.

    Daisy, yes, it’s speeding up. As we get deeper into the penumbra of the oncoming crisis, expect the news from this country to get stark staring nuts.

    Phil, fascinating, but not surprising! With regard to van der Post, of course he was a fantasist; most great visionaries are. You notice that even the critics admit he got his material about Kalahari traditions from valid scholarly sources.

    Drhooves, thank you! That’s one of the things I’ll be discussing, yes.

    Mog, that sort of goofy faux-future is really easy to manufacture — all you have to do is pretend that economic issues don’t matter and something is guaranteed to be affordable if it’s cool enough. Since most people who read (and write) that stuff are trying to hide from the world we actually inhabit in an imaginary technotopia where Tom Corbett really did join the Space Cadets, that kind of casual disregard for economic realities generally goes unchallenged.

    Joe, I start from the assumption that there’s a very good chance that whatever currency or asset I put money into will become worthless at some point in my life. (That happens with impressive regularity in eras of crisis — consider Confederate dollars, bonds issued by Tsarist Russia, and reichsmarks.) Thus savings, for me, are always temporary expedients meant to smooth out variations in income. My core strategy is always to use extra money to decrease my expenditures and increase my income over the long term, rather than trying to amass “savings.” So, for example, I’ve gone long on beermaking supplies over the last year — in an economy propped up by hallucinations, that’s the kind of investment that can actually pay off.

  132. Coco, planting acorns and other seeds is a very good thing to do; if your area has a significant dry season, offerings of water on the roots of trees, especially young ones that are still getting their root structures established, tend to be deeply appreciated. As for a ritual, one that you create yourself, if it’s heartfelt, will be at least as good as anything you can get from other sources. Nonhuman beings don’t perceive your words, except as random sound; they do perceive your emotions and your state of consciousness.

    Stefania, yes, you’re overthinking. It’s common enough! Once you’ve done the work of each knowledge lecture and have a basic grasp of the material, go on to the next. You can always go back through the whole sequence later — it’s a very good idea to do that at intervals.

    Shane, it strikes me as a very good sign. The United States is not a single country, and the sooner we deal with that and let the people in different regions pursue their own destinies — whether that’s through secession, or (as I would prefer) by a return to federalism that gets the federal government out of the business of mass social engineering and lets the people of each state make their own decisions about social issues as the Constitution intended — the better it will be for everyone.

    Stefania, can’t help you there. Anyone else?

    Mmelvink, fascinating! I confess I’m agog to hear about anything you’ve translated — our Western geomantic tradition is fragmentary, and any additional source of material would be of immense interest. As for the academic industry and its fate, I’ll definitely consider a post on the subject — it’s one I’ve been watching in a state of fascinated horror for many years, and finding ways to preserve the traditions of scholarship and to make a liberal education available to adults who aren’t part of the elite ranks high on my to-do list.

  133. @GH: Assuming time and space, absolutely. In urban areas, part of the problem (as I recall vividly from my broke post-college days) is both that apartments with functional kitchens are more expensive and that there are a number of areas where the only food in walking/non-egregious pubtrans distance is the stuff at the local 7-11. The growth of urban farmers’ markets has helped some with that, I think.

    As far as time goes, while I’ve been able to cook for myself most of the time, I’m also a single woman with no kids and a job that doesn’t generally run past forty hours a week, if that. Back when I was working for Vile Pantsless Ex-Boss and he kept me until eight most nights, plus I had to share the kitchen with Chatty Cathy, The Roommate Who Did Not Take Social Cues, I ate mostly pre-packaged food of one sort or another–fortunately, I had access to the healthier kinds and an early-twenties metabolism at the time.

    So yeah: I don’t think the expense of food is itself the issue, and I seem to recall, in fact, a study that said transportation and housing were the primary expenses for most people these days, whereas food had been at some point in the past.

  134. I’m very interested in reading your views on “vengeance” as a motivating force. It appears to be the primary force motivating action and drama in movies and politics. In sports, “payback“ is often a rallying call. The media is obsessed with it; yet, I don’t see this obsession reflected in the interactions of ordinary people. I’m hoping you can explain this discrepancy.

  135. Quite right about Catalonia and the marked Spanish tendency to violence,JMG.

    I suspect that , whatever happens, many will be reproaching the Catalan separatists for having – indirectly -encouraged all the darker forces in the Spanish psyche to come out into the light and strut about threatening people.

    It’s becoming somewhat unnerving: a common comment is ‘We thought this had gone away for ever.’ The sinister litany of ‘Cowards!’, ‘Traitors’, ‘Rebels!’ etc, is flying about just as in the 1930’s.

    Sample lunatic headline: ‘Woman attacks and bites Catalan policeman, shouting: ‘Viva Espana!’.

    Comical,in a way, but then not so much…….

  136. @forecastingintelligence: Thank you for the links to Nafeez Ahmed’s analyses. I have downloaded the papers he mentions.

  137. @morvern and @austin: actually, the entire point of saying “pregnant people” is to create the idea that men can get pregnant. Specifically, transmen. I know of two people who carried children before transitioning from female to male, so it’s rare but not unheard-of. It’s also a major issue for “trans exclusionary radical feminists” (some of whom I also know), for whom pregnancy and birth are a major center of female experience and power. Personally, I keep well away from that fight; as an asexual, I don’t care what clothes anyone wears, and I really don’t want to know anything about what’s underneath them.

  138. Thanks much, on both counts! I’m currently editing and translating three Persian geomantic manuals, two 16th-century (Safavid-Mughal) and one 13th (Ilkhanid), but since (of course) such publications count for almost nothing for those of us on the tenure track, I’ve been focused more on staking out my intellectual-historical turf through a series of case studies and broader surveys. And the science I’ve dealt with most to date is rather lettrism, kabbalah’s coeval Arabic twin, primary vehicle of Islamic neopythagoreanism and a main driver of the great early modern occultist renaissance throughout the Persian cosmopolis — to much greater intellectual-imperial effect and over a far greater territorial spread than was the case with say Christian kabbalah in the Latin. As I argue, it was precisely the boom in lettrism (which really got going in late Mamluk Cairo as a direct response to the Black Death apocalypse) that made the world safe for geomancy, as it were, and it too became a favorite mode of applied neopythagoreanism — hence its reclassification as a mathematical science in Persian encyclopedias (but not Arabic or Latin) from the late 12th century onward. By the time we get to the high Mughal period, geomancy even figures in imperial curricula as a science to be studied by all state functionaries before even economics, medicine or history. Those were the days!

    While you’re waiting, however, you might find my survey of the Persian geomantic tradition from the 13th to 19th centuries useful for your purposes, and I’d be extremely curious to hear your thoughts as to convergences and divergences between it and the Latin in the absence of direct contact. (For the usual colonialist-orientalist reasons, mine is the first article on the subject, if you can believe it, and so strictly preliminary.) Here’s the link:

    I also discuss the science in various other published and forthcoming pieces, most available for download on my page as well. See in particular: and .

    Once I have tenure, assuming tenure still exists, my plan is to write a geomantic manual based rather on the early modern Persian tradition as companion volume to yours. But as I’m the only Persianist in the world working on this massive body of texts, all of which remain in manuscript or lithograph in Iran, India, Turkey and the ‘Stans, I’m afraid it’ll be a long time coming…

  139. SoSick, perhaps this has something to do with how catastrophically, hilariously wrong authorities are and have been with reporting and predicting things, so wouldn’t they be right to be skeptical? I mean, have you seen science not know what 2/3rd of the universe is, what history or media says, or what food and pharmacutical “experts” have claimed and retracted since your students were born?

    You’re not goign to win on facts, because as we’ve seen over the last 10 years, half the “facts” are generally lies. I’d take the opposite approach: what if they are entirely correct? I mean, the U.S. would be the world’s largest oil exporter if we all drove half as far to work, doesn’t that suggest changes like they’re suspicious of can occur to dramtically change the real world effects?

    Suppose the U.S. actually has harbored our oil in order not to ruin our energy inheritence, as one respondent suggested (suggesting we should have, but hadn’t). Suppose we altered our infrastructure with half as much oil being used in cars, whether by electric or some other means. Suppose they are right.

    Would it make any difference in what you or they are saying?

    It isn’t just the existence of oil that matters, it’s the EIEIO. We can’t drill either the Atlantic or Pacific, where like SoCal, we know there is definitely oil. That’s a lot of coastline! Having mountains of oil, but having to run offshore rigs at over $100/bbl would still be the same Peak Oil. And more, it’s not just having the oil or the EIEO: it’s having a whole whole infrastructure, from drills, pipelines, refiners, hedgers, buyers, financial markets, right down to a guaranteed oil user that isn’t broke. Can you say we have that? We don’t even have steel pipe manufacturers anymore. In a financial destabilization we won’t have investment for pipelines either and may in fact have sabotage and war. So doesn’t all these possibilities arrive in the same place?

    Hey, starting with the premise that the other guy is an idiot is never much for changing minds. Why not start assuming everyone has lied to them all their lives, and they expect everything else they hear is probably a lie too? Looking around, I bet they’d be closer to the truth.

  140. Hello Mr. Greer,
    I was hoping to ask a question about Geomancy, specifically about favorability combination of judges and witnesses. I’ve had readings where I’d get a favorable judge derived from two unfavorable witnesses for a yes-no questions, where my intuition would clearly give me impression that the answer is “no”, and similar situation with unfavorable judges. After the events have come to pass it turned out my intuition was correct.

    I know that I should rely on my intuition, but I wanted to check the technique itself. Should I calculate favorability of an answer based of all three figures?

  141. @ JMG re: forecasts

    Fair enough. I admire your 2007 forecast of global energy prices and growth oscillations, and your prediction of the Trump victory. You have made a family of predictions for the longer future (Star’s Reach, Twilight’s Last Gleaming, Retrotopia, Pink Slip for the Progress Fairy, and others), which differ somewhat among each other, as they should. They can be evaluated on their own merits without having recourse to Spengler’s and Toynbee’s authority (e.g. Toynbee places the breakdown of mimesis much further in the past than you do).

    In fact, according to both Spengler and Toynbee, after the currently beginning crisis peaks, we should still expect a global empire of rather long duration. That seems to me much less plausible than your scenario in Pink Slip, which has held up incredibly well so far in spite of the absence of an Ebola pandemic.

    For me the personal question is choosing a place to live: how much value to attribute to current societal cohesion in a country (very valuable during a decades-long crisis) versus natural fertility (more important if statehood breaks down). In your opinion, the USA seem to be badly placed in both respects.

  142. @ Lordyburd, thank you for your clarification!

    @ DrHooves, this is an important aspect to the situation that I hadn’t considered fully, being to close the situation and emotional. Thank you for bringing up; it helps me to clarify my own positions. I can see that my mentor may even have been embarrassed at his own inappropriate reaction, and I will hold space for reconciliation.

    Also, I should note that what I meant by “ghastly fated course” isn’t my relationship with my mentor, but instead the endgame of having a population possessed by competing conspiracy theories and competing moral dualisms. This ghastly fated course is one of horrific violence. I am doubtful it can be averted because there appears to me to be no way of reconciling these many conflicting narratives, ethical systems and aesthetics, at least not until after years of bloodshed reveal how silly and fantastic these ideas were in light of the harm they wrought.

  143. I heard a new (to me) thoughtstopper yesterday, from someone who wants the US to “return” to a state of rather nebulously conceptualized “godliness” combined with strict Constitutional constructionism: “Real Americans don’t compromise.” (Had a staircase moment afterwards and realized too late that the Constitution itself is as fine an example of political compromise as one could hope for.)

    All that by way of preamble to my question: what are some good “thoughtstarters”? Are there ideas that help to shift people out of binary or conventional thinking and toward critical thinking and curiosity?

    (I apologize if you discussed this in the previous post and I missed it – if that’s the case, please let me know and I’ll go a-hunting.)

  144. Actually, on the average adult female Americans were about 26 pounds heavier in 2010 than they were in 1960, and males almost 30 pounds heavier, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they’ve gotten heavier still since 2010. And in other countries too. This also seems obvious if you look at photos of random people (on a street, say) in different eras. But the careful scientific surveys give the definitive answers.

  145. Garden Housewife – the problem with those inexpensive foods you have to cook, is that many poor families have neither the time (they’re working several jobs) nor the resources to do that. By resources, I mean – the single worker who is couch-surfing doesn’t have a slow cooker or even access to a stove, etc. Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickeled and Dimed was a major eye-opener for me on that front, though in my hard-up days, I did have a stove and did make a lot of vegetable soup.

    (use hot pinto beans, and macaroni for thickener, to get Southwestern Minestrone. Yum!)

  146. @JMG

    More of a comment than a question, but during my mid-day meditation session yesterday, I was told/reminded: “Values are not rational.” Now, to my previous self, “irrational” is tantamount to “bad”, but I understood this direction differently (and as it was no doubt intended) to be a statement of fact: that values are not the product of logical processes, which also linked back to an earlier communication which had emphasized rationality as “a tool, not a truth.”

    @All — re savings

    I am fortunate in my employment to have access to a variety of savings and retirement tools, including an honest-to-goodness pension. However, I am also wary of putting all the eggs in a single basket, so to speak, so my “investments” are not only being made in traditional savings vehicles, but also in other realms, such as paying down long-term debt. Moreover, I consider time and money put into (re)skilling — gardening/farming, cooking, cheese-making, crocheting, community-building and the like as worthwhile investments and equally valuable. Both basic skills and social capital, I suspect, will be of great service in future decades.

  147. Read your comment about your quiet, unadventurous life. I prefer to live that way too. But a lot of people don’t seem capable of spending a single week without some kind of high energy activity — partying, sports, road trips, vacations, shopping, etc. It’s all the more insufferable with the bragging on social media. It really doesn’t look normal. Have you ever thought about what’s behind it?

  148. Dear Archdruid,

    The mentions of vampires in the comment sections of earlier posts have left me wondering about the following;
    If these entities need to feed on human nwyfre in order to keep their astral form from disintegrating and ‘passing on’, then how do non-vampiric ghosts keep their astral forms intact for any length of time? (That is to say, both lack a physical body to generate it for them).
    In the same vein, how do astral entities that have always been without physical form (non-human entities) do so?

    Can’t an astral entity just absorb nwyfre of other sources through the solar plexus, as mages do? Or am I oversimplifying things? I guess I mean to say I don’t understand the ‘need’ for vampirism.

    Lastly, could you refer to me any good books that deal with these issues?

    Yours under the aril-bearing Taxus,

  149. Greetings all!

    Dear Mr. mmelvink

    Can you please tell us more about “early modern islamic occultism” and especially how you practice it?

    I am also very interested in your class on Science, Magic and Religion. Can we have some details and perhaps the required reading list?

    I thank you in advance for any information you can make available.


  150. Bruno Bolzon and Matthias Gralle, tthe decline and fall of a civilization happens in similar ways, but the historical details differ. “The Collapse of Complex Societies” by Joseph Tainter contains, among others, an overview of the decline and fall of some complex societies. And there are surely books about the fall of civilizations like, for example, the Maya civilization, or the diverse Chinese dynasties, or the Indus civilization.
    John Michael, thanks for the answer to Joe – I found it interesting too, because that is a somewhat infrequently heard advice regarding savings.
    Regarding your answer to Packshaud, I have read somewhere that marine sediments from the Jura there has been found a group of small stones that were arranged in an octopus-like fashion. The researchers speculated that an octopus from the Jura made a kind of self-portrait.

  151. A few things that I’ve been wrestling with lately: I’ve recently come into two different windfalls, one a stock, and one a flow. I’ve decided to parcel out the stock to pay off part of a debt, and it’s my plan to use the next six months or so of the flow to finish paying that debt off, but after that I admit I’m at a bit of a loss. I’m young enough that I’m not sure there’s any point in saving for my old age in American currency, but I’m not sure how to prioritize using the money to prepare for the future otherwise. I’d like your suggestions on how to frame my thinking on this. Perhaps more in your wheelhouse, I’d also like any advice you have on not falling into the trap where having access to this flow just leads to a more expensive lifestyle.
    In the next year, several local offices are going to be up for election. I’ve been thinking about running for one of these offices, both in the idea that I might be able to help others manage the decline, and also to try and get a bigger picture on what challenges are facing my larger community. Does this seem like a valuable tactic, or would it be better to focus on things from my own domestic perspective?

  152. @Teresa from Hershey – Actually, there were plenty of women and children among Syrian refugees. Whether you see them on TV or not depends upon what group your favorite channel decides to show film of. As for why young Syrian men did not want to stay and die fighting like those upstanding young Germans did in World War 2: aside from the fact that many of the latter had no chance to escape, they perceived themselves as fighting for the Fatherland against a brutal foreign invader. The former, depending upon where they lived, would either have been forced to fight for the worthless government of Bashar al-Assad, or forced to fight for the even more worthless ISIL regime – or just killed by the latter if they happened to belong to the wrong sect or ethnicity. Or perhaps they would be “lucky” enough to join the al-Qaeda-affiliated rebels, who are both U.S. tools and hopelessly incompetent. Is any side in that civil war worth dying for? I sure wouldn’t think so. It’s easy to condemn other people for preferring to stay alive, when you’re safe and comfortable yourself.

  153. Again, regarding Charles Williams. I can see, recalling your previous comments about evilly evil villains, why a villain like Williams’ “Clerk Simon” would make you want to throw the book against a wall. I don’t think Clerk Simon ever got beyond being a two dimensional cardboard caricature. Contrast him, for example, with Dostoyevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor” or Herman Melville’s “Confidence Man.” As for Williams being an “odd duck,” T.S. Eliot said he’d never known a healthier-minded man than Williams. So if Eliot said it, it must be true (despite what I’m reading about C.W. in “The Third Inkling.”) .

  154. Hello,
    @Daisy, and John, a timely comment, as I regularly follow the news of the US through Reuters’ website, and I have been a little startled by the ongoing story making their headlines this week. It has appeared recurringly for the last few days, and it’s basically about trafficking body parts from donated dead bodies. Maybe Reuters publishes that to relate to the Halloween seasonal themes?

    Apart from adding to the general atmosphere of twilight and gloom, it made me wonder, since I live in Europe and a lot of this readership lives in the USA. Is it a real trait of the collective mindset in the USA, that any opportunity whatsoever is good to take, when it comes to making money? And don’t you all fear that it might make the coming years a bit harder to bear ? I am thinking here of situations where the appetite for doing business is favoured at the cost of other more abstract notions like, the common good, one’s ethics, or just plain sanity.

    The example cited above is one that I have in mind, not necessarily because of what it immediately entails, but because of how it could go unchecked in some not necessarily pleasant directions. I don’t want to indulge in clichés, but sometimes when seen from the outside the USA look like they would take every opportunity it can to go unchecked in unpleasant directions. The USA being ‘the land of opportunities’, after all…

  155. My husband, who is something of a natural shaman, is certain that we have faeries loitering about our back yard (which is tiny, but the only real greenspace for quite some distance, and a refuge/deli for the neighborhood woodchuck). “Their corner” holds a dwarf cherry tree with violets growing underneath and a kind of bench made with a sort of giant pale brick dug out of the yard, and I have been told it IS NOT to be mowed or messed with lest they get angry. Near that is a patch of bee balm, milkweed and Pycnanthemum, which are flourishing amazingly despite the crummy soil. I do not seek direct interaction with whatever might be out there, but each year I leave a couple of the first strawberries and cherries picked on the bench as a sort of offering. I have had to take down one tree that was not dwarf as promised and will soon have to kill another plus a small elderberry, and have asked the hubby if he thinks this is “okay with them”, as well as apologizing repeatedly to the trees. It’s weird, but it works for us so far. 🙂

  156. Last month the commenter, ChronoJourney (? or something like that) wondered if any of the Master Conserver publications or resources are available. Yes, they are! The green wizard forums are a great place to look for leads. In this case, short of signing up and spending time there, please email David at and he’ll email you a copy of the Master Conserver files originally referenced by JMG some time ago on the ADR.

  157. Stefania, dirt is a very good insulating material against the cold. Even if you can’t build a traditional root cellar in your two feet of dirt, you could bury something like a cooler (which is already made to be insulating) in the ground for food storage. Then you could put additional insulating material on top, in some way that can be moved when you need to get to your food, maybe a big contractor trash bag filled with hay. I haven’t tried it myself, but there are people who say it’s worked for them. If you tried it and liked it, you could bury several coolers. It’s cheaper than building a room too.

    Some people will build a root cellar by building the basic structure on top of the ground, then trucking in a bunch of dirt to put on it. In other words, they build the cellar first, then construct the hill around it. Apparently, that works very well.

  158. Well, JMG, as you’ve mentioned about how an idea goes from taboo to mainstream, constant discussion seems to be bringing secession in from the fringes to something people are comfortable discussing. Of course, Trump has gone a long way towards helping make blue state secession viable. Let’s not forget the Calexiteers themselves–their very thoughtful propositions that have covered so many bases, including a federalism for the newly-independent California have gone a long way towards rebuffing those who would label them crackpot nutcases. Now, if we could just have a economic event severe enough to cause a crisis of legitimacy in the Federal government…

  159. Going to Mars.

    In the last open post, I made a discourse about how I moved from believing in transplanting to Mars was a human imperative to seeing its folly. Now, a month later, my thoughts have moved to thinking that humankind should, perhaps, in fact push through the technical and economical difficulties and actually try to put humans on that planet.

    And when we all discover that its colonization is completely impossible, maybe we can finally come to understand that this planet is the only home we have and will ever have and realize that the natural life-supporting components must be nurtured rather than destroyed through exploitation.

    A human visit to Mars would certainly push the subject of life-support systems into public discourse and into the heads of many millions, no? Once the masses actually gain the education of our life-supporting environment, perhaps it can finally begin to be appreciated and defended by a substantially larger number of populations -as well as become a guide for future macro policies and et cetera.

    Your thoughts?

  160. Every time this open forum comes around I wonder if it’ll be worth the time to check it out, and every time, so far anyway, you all make it more than worthwhile. Thank you all for being so interesting!

    JMG, I’ve been meaning to tell you – and of course it just gets better as more time passes – that my librarian wife got your book Retrotopia on the shelves of our local library and has been trying to take a photo of it in the mix. Problem is, it’s never there! It’s always checked out! I think the records indicate that it’s spent less than 2 days total in-house since it arrived a few months ago. I truly love the story too, and have read it at least 4 times, and passed it around to at least 4 people, since I bought 4 copies for Winter Solstice last year.

    Thought you might get a kick out of that little anecdote!

  161. @Sister Crow: Well put. I tend to be very much *not* on the side of TERFs and to avoid them socially, both because a number of my friends are transwomen and because, though a ciswoman, I want nothing to do with either pregnancy or birth and find the Mystick Power of Your Uterus* crowd nauseatingly twee as a rule. Also the SWERFs go along with ’em, and that raises my hackles considerably.

    Re: savings: I try and have enough to cover the three months of emergency whatever, but beyond that mostly have a 401(k) to keep my father’s heart healthy. 😛 I have a family farm in PA, and I expect that to be the source of what security I have if things go far askew in my lifetime–that or knowing friends with a place in rural MA.

    @Ramaraj: For most social media, it’s either political arguments, the party you went to last night, or your lunch. I’ve mostly gotten mine to be cute animals and funny quotes at this point, which is a relief.

    As far as adventures etc, I’d say that comes down to nature and age. I’m more restless than our host as a general thing, I think–I like wandering aimlessly**, I enjoy fairly decadent partying once in a while, when I can manage it, and so forth–but I’m also much more of a homebody than I was in my twenties. I like sleep and can’t just skip class on Monday to catch up from the weekend; I’ve also gone from never getting a hangover to taking two days to recover after three glasses of sangria. Adulthood is as remorseless as gravity, and like gravity, renders me disinclined to leave my couch.

    * I mean, you do you, Hypothetical Mystick Uteri people, but I’ve had the plumbing for thirty-five years and it’s never given me any more transcendence than my pancreas has done. (I would actually class the reproduction-specific bits with my sinuses as organs that frequently render me all too aware of my body and also inclined to hate everything about the universe, and I don’t even get the worst of it.) One of the things that turned me off Wicca to a large extent is the be-friends-with-your-womb moonblood fluttery jazzhands. Bleh.
    **While I agree that fewer people need to drive, I admit that I really enjoy a completely unpopulated road at night, especially if I can get some good music on the radio.

  162. Peter, a fixation on vengeance to me suggests the presence of a massively overdeveloped personal or collective ego. Thus it’s not surprising that here in America, where both are very common, mindless chatter about vengeance and payback is all the rage.

    Xabier, that corresponds far too well to what I’d thought. I hope everyone steps back from the abyss…

    Sister Crow (if I may), if this isn’t too intrusive, may I ask if you can point me to any resources (online or off) that would help me portray an asexual character in my fiction, and get it right? One of the central characters in The Weird of Hali has turned out to be asexual — I don’t decide these things; my characters do (or, if you will, my subconscious mind does) — and I want to avoid any obvious stupidities in writing about her.

    Mmelvink, thank you — got all three articles. I’d be extremely interested in seeing those translations when and as you have time to finish them — and if you decide, given their lack of relevance to tenure, to publish them quietly in some nonacademic setting that might actually pay you some royalties, we should definitely talk. 😉

    Scott, what Jung called active imagination is what occultists call scrying in the spirit vision: basically, the free play of imagination, often focused around an imagined journey or interaction with some other-than-physical being. Discursive meditation is meditative thinking — as in, you start from a concept, a symbol, or some other theme, and think about it while in a meditative state, keeping your mind focused on the theme and the thoughts that unfold from it. Think of the difference between daydreaming about tomorrow and thinking through what you’re going to do tomorrow — that’s roughly the same difference.

    Justin, so noted.

    Jordan, yes, the judge must always be understood in the context of the two witnesses. Remember also that the judge is the present, the right witness the past, and the left witness the future — thus a good judge that comes from bad witnesses can mean something that’s a short-term benefit but a long-term disaster.

    Matthias, well, I did say in “A Pink Slip for the Progress Fairy” that the scenario I sketched out was the kind of future I expected us to get, not the exact future in question. I’m glad we dodged the Ebola bullet; I hope we now manage to dodge the very ugly epidemic of pneumonic plague that’s spreading in Madagascar just now…

    Ann, that’s a very good example! As for thoughtstarters, that’s going to require some thought (!) and very likely a post of its own.

    Moshe, I’ve seen a range of dramatically conflicting statistics on that subject, and since all sides have ample reason to lie — and statistics are exquisitely well suited to the production of lies — I reserve judgment until and unless I have a chance to assess the underlying facts. In the meantime, though, I note with some amusement that Marilyn Monroe wore a size 12 dress and would be classified as obese using current standards…

    David, excellent! Exactly: values are, if you will, arational. You can’t reason your way to them, because they provide the basis from which reasoning works.

    Ramaraj, heck if I know. I sometimes wonder if the reason so many people go running after artificial excitement is that they’re so dull that they’d bore themselves to tears if they didn’t keep themselves distracted — but that may just be a burst of cattiness on my part.

    Brigyn, it’s not just mages that absorb nwyfre through various energy centers. All living things do so, whether physically embodied or not. The problem that vampires face is that they’re not able to do so any more, because the human etheric body relies on having a physical body to process the dense ethers. Once your physical body is dead, your etheric body disintegrates — this is called the Second Death — and then the rest of you, the complex structure generally called the soul, goes on to other things. Vampirism is the product of techniques that stop the Second Death from happening; like most attempts to stop natural processes, it doesn’t work well, and so the vampire has to engage in a rising spiral of increasingly desperate expedients to stave off the Second Death.

    Booklover, yes, I read about that! My Lovecraftian imagination wonders if what we’ve got here is one of the few surviving traces of Cthulhu’s childhood… 😉

    Nicholas, in your place I’d use the flow to pay for learning skills that will help me survive and thrive in a disintegrating society. As for local politics, I’m very much in favor of this sort of project. The more people who have a clue about the shape of our future get into the political arena, the more likely it is that at least some useful steps will be taken in at least some local areas.

    Phutatorius, I’m a great fan of Eliot’s poetry, but I have to say that if I wanted to go to someone for an assessment of somebody’s sanity, he’d be very nearly the last person of his era I’d pick! I doubt Eliot knew that Williams liked to spank young ladies with the flat of his Golden Dawn sword — he had quite a stable of groupies, who shared some very odd stories about him after his death…

    Jean-Vivien, I would be amazed if people in the US with rare blood and organ types weren’t already being quietly killed by physicians, under the label of “unfortunate medical accidents,” in order to sell their spare parts to rich patients. I don’t know for a fact that this is going on, but it would be perfectly in keeping with the current ethics displayed by the medical profession here in the US, or for that matter our society as a whole.

    Dewey, that’s all very traditional, and yes, it works. The interesting thing is that people all over the world, irrespective of cultural barriers, do much the same thing…

  163. Re: savings

    Good topic. I think about this one regularly. My take is that my dollar will never be as valuable as it is RIGHT NOW, and will probably lose all of its value within my lifetime. Since I’m generally a terrible saver anyway, this opinion fits my preferred lifestyle quite well!

    It just so happens that I got a check for $800 today for some garden work I’m doing for an older lady. Woohoo!! So I start thinking…what are my priorities while I have such a pocketful? (I own my modest house and land outright and have no power bill, so forget that hassle!) But here’s my thought process, for what it’s worth:

    1) Do we have enough food and clean water?
    2) Is the car in good knick? (we live 7 miles outside of our small town.)
    3) Do we need supplies for our small herbal products company?
    4) Do I need tools or seeds, or plant stock or livestock?

    In other words, I run down my “Liebig List.” On down the list, I start asking if there is a debt I can pay off, then is there a recurring bill I can invest in getting rid of, then what do we need to improve the answers to the first few questions, then…

    I have to be honest, there’s never any left for traditional savings, but I don’t feel like I’m being irresponsible. As our host says, your mileage may vary.


  164. Shane, it may not be an economic event. Stay tuned; the descent of federal politics into a bad episode of Looney Tunes may just do the trick all by itself.

    Zhao, I’ve thought more than once that the spectacle of having a bunch of Mars One colonists slowly die of radiation poisoning, hunger, and thirst on Mars, in the full view of the terrestrial media, when there’s no way to get help to them and no way to get them home, might actually break the grip of the fantasy of Man’s Future In Space. Still, there may be less stunningly expensive ways to do it..

    Tripp, I’m delighted to hear it! Thank you.

  165. JMG are you familiar with the works of David zindell, specifically his novel never ness and its sequel trilogy requiem for Homo sapiens?
    It is one of the best works of scifi I have read and surprisingly it contains themes which may be familiar to everyone on this blog.
    In the civilisation of a thousand civilised worlds where the book is set though there is advanced tech (space ships, body modification, AI) due to the memory of what earth had become before the nuclear war because of the lack of control over tech most people live rather simple low tech lives on other planets.(the protagonist lives on a arctic planet called icefall where the main form of transport is skating on coloured roads made of ice, as well as jet propelled sleds. He goes to university/monastery where they teach science as well as the official secular faith “holism”, very little use of personal computers or even phones.)

  166. Patricia Mathews, that’s another common misconception, that it’s too time-consuming for poor people to cook after working all day. There are meals, using basic, cheap ingredients, that take only twenty to thirty minutes to make. There are plenty of meals that take ten minutes or less to put together, but maybe the baking or simmering time is longer. I used to work outside the home, then come home and cook reasonably healthy meals with as little effort as possible. I know it can be done because I’ve done it.

    I have a black bean soup that only requires ingredients to be dumped into the pot, unless I’m adding a zucchini, which has to be peeled and chopped. Then it simmers for fifteen minutes. Spaghetti requires a little more effort, but not much, especially if you leave out the hamburger. Veggie soup can be made with tomato juice, two peeled and diced potatoes, and two cans of mixed veggies or a bag of frozen mixed veggies. Throw it all in a pot and simmer until the potatoes are tender. Potato soup is easy too, but really must be paired with fresh cornbread, which adds a little more effort. The cornbread doesn’t add much time though if you put it together first, then let it bake while you’re making the soup. Putting it together doesn’t take long at all since you don’t have to measure anything for cornbread.

    If you’re really tired and want a no-effort meal, you can heat up a can of black or pinto beans and a can of your preferred veggie (separately, not in the same pot), and have with a slice or two of bread and butter. That is cheaper and healthier than McDonald’s, and takes less time too.

    Most of the poor people we’re talking about here are not couch surfing. I don’t have a lot of practical advice for couch surfing, since I’ve never done that myself. I guess if I was doing it, maybe I would look into finding meals that can be made from dry ingredients put into a small thermos, boiling water poured over, and left for a few hours to “cook”. Surely if family and friends are willing to let you stay the night or a few days, they wouldn’t begrudge you a little boiling water. Rolled oats and lentils both would work well that method, or so I’d think.

  167. JMG: I will check out the new podcasts and videos once they are available. Just let us know.

    I have an idea about series of posts. Could you make a general articles about each major continents and/or regions, about their future on terms of economy, culture, etc- I guess you know what I mean. You have written extensively on North American issues, but I would like to hear what are your opinions on other areas of the world as well. Espeacially culturally related development interests me, if globalisation really goes away as it propably will, communications and trade lessen between the continents etc.
    Do you think in the far future, there is going to be some general geographic knowledge at least, or will the maps disappear and future explorers have to do all the work again?

  168. Dear JMG,
    I´m a long time reader of yours, blogs and books both; this is my first comment/ question though.
    I find the way you see and explain the world, our predicament, our probable future etc. very convincing and helpful. Your writings sometimes seem to me like one of the few islands of sanity in an ocean of crazy. Thank you!
    re: your post “A Few Notes on Reincarnation”
    You write: “In the language of one school of occultism, the part of you that endures from life to life is called the Individuality …”
    The term “Individuality” suggests to me that a particular Individuality differs in some way from others. If so, in what way could individualities differ from each other? Does this school of occultism answer this question? Or can you?
    I´m a Buddhist and I find it terrible difficult to understand and explain who or what is reborn.
    The way other religions or philosophies explain the world was often helpful for me in understanding my path; and your Druid take is very interesting for me, too.
    Ilona from Berlin (Germany)

  169. @JMG, not intrusive at all! There’s very little out there about us in print, alas. The place everyone goes when they’re first coming out is AVEN–the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, The forums, or at least the greater portion of them, can be browsed by visitors if one prefers not to create an account. You’ll definitely get the spectrum of ace opinion there–much like neopaganism, no one’s asexuality looks exactly like anyone else’s. I’m happy to answer questions as well. You had my email for the magic story contest last year, but I can resend if you’ve deleted it.

  170. Talk we shall! After all, where the Arabo-Latin geomantic tradition is rather spotty, the Arabo-Persian — equally Western — is overwhelmingly replete. I’m thinking Hidayat Allah Shirazi’s 1593 *World of Geomancy* (as described in my survey) might best fit the bill in terms of accessibility for a nonspecialist audience. I’ll be in touch…

  171. @Karim, thanks for your interest! All my work is available on my page, including my Science, Magic and Religion and other syllabi.

  172. @Nicholas C (if I may) re local politics

    I would encourage you to look into running. I have been serving on my city council now for about six months, having been elected on my second attempt. I can say that it has been very educational, if occasionally frustrating (particularly when having to manage the vicissitudes of state politics which flow down to us — as one example, the most recent state budget included a provision stripping local governing bodies of condemnation powers for bike/ped trails, right in the middle of our bike/ped trail project), but it is totally worth doing. If it is something you pursue, one lesson I’d pass on is to take your expectations and reduce them by an order of magnitude — things take far longer to accomplish than you’d think and you will frequently have to settle for much less than you’d prefer. I’ve been pushing for front-yard gardening and haven’t even been able to get it considered as a conditional use in residential zoning, much less a permitted use. On the other hand, I think that I’ve managed to get some traction with the notion of expanding our domestic chicken ordinance to cover ducks and other similar domestic fowl. It takes persistence, but also a certain humility and willingness to bend to others’ perspectives, even when you strongly disagree.

  173. @JMG – thank you for your sharing your experience with the estholes. I’ve been calling them Landmarkians only because I couldn’t get something more offensive to fit with the new company name. I could tolerate the recruiting angle, didn’t agree with it, but got some people were so moved by their experiences they wanted everyone to do the courses.

    My experience of being around the office staff and program leaders is that – as Erhard himself used to say about people – they didn’t know their *ss from a hole in the ground. The longer someone was involved, the worse their life was. One leader’s wife left him and and his child was pregnant out of wedlock and addicted to heroin. One leader had half the people quit in his courses and was still there. Another leader admitted that they constantly lied to the people in their life and didn’t know how to stop. Every course I took, they gave me the wrong dates. It was a circus of an organization.

    When I said something, I was told I was just making people wrong (no one is ever wrong at Landmark – things are either working or not working). My reply, you can run your organization however you like, but when you claim to the have THE answer for people on how to run their lives, you have to do better, and not make me wrong for telling you my experience. (eyeroll)

  174. Several years ago I was wondering what I should do with my savings, in view of the shaky prospects for the financial system. So I asked the I Ching. It stated in no uncertain terms that I should invest in the family.

    The nearest I have to a close family is the family of my ex-wife and her husband. I invested in their elder daughter and her husband, enabling them to buy a house. The outcome of that has turned out to be something far more valuable than any cash increase. In hindsight, I can see that was because I was investing not only in an asset but also in a relationship.

    In other words, there may be better options if you don’t look at investment purely in terms of your own financial gain.

  175. JMG – Just finished reading Dark Age America and it was the first I had heard of your work. Though it filled in oodles and oodles of details, the concept was not unfamiliar to me, though I had some quibbles with some of the details. I did read the Limits to Growth way back when and I also was reminded of Paul Kennedy’s Rise and Fall of Great Powers, which I figure you are familiar with. I consider the latter to be a subset of your concept, dealing only with how the rot in the elite class has led over the centuries to different countries taking the dominant position in the capitalist, and more recently industrial, economy. Were it not for global warming and fossil fuel issues, maybe the rot here in the USA would allow China to take the position next if it can hold it’s act together. As it is, China’s time in the limelight will be cut short by those others issues. Does that make sense?

    And to Zhao – No, IMO the folks who confuse science fiction with science fact will never give up on their dream of humans as a star traveling and colonizing species. Should some billionaire put out enough funds to get some people to Mars in the short term, any problems they run into will just be seen as a design flaw in the specific plans.

    And to Shane, I simply can’t imagine a peaceful breakup of the US. The process to do so constitutionally does not exist and our system is just too stuck to improvise. Nor do I see how the difference regions could be left to do their own thing anymore like they once did. Some kind of breakup will happen some day, but saying it won’t be pretty i an understatement.

  176. @Moshe, and JMG, as for Monroe, one of her dress makers chimed in with the exact measurements he took. Those measurements were 5 ft. 5.5 inches tall; 35 inch bust; 22 inch waist (approximately 2-3 inches less than the average American woman in the 1950s and 12 inches less than average today); and 35 inch hips, with a bra size of 36D. As for her weight, it was listed as 120 pounds.
    Far, far from today’s average.

  177. Stefania – I love a good math problem! In terms of R-value for insulation, I’m thinking of the book Farmer Boy and how they would cut blocks of ice out of the Minnesota lake in winter and store it in a straw bale insulated building so they would have ice all summer. The straw bales were four bales thick, and the R value of a bale is 30-45 depending on thickness. So to keep ice through summer of 75-80 degrees the insulation was R120 – R180.

    Your attached garage likely has some insulation in the walls, R15-R18 is common in PA don’t know where you live, and the ceiling R25-45. Our attached garage in PA doesn’t get below 38 degrees with that insulation and that is when it is 20 degrees with wind chill for a week.

    So I’m thinking an R value of 40-60 additional would keep food from freezing given your colder temps. They sell a cheap digital thermometer with a long cord with a sensor on the end so you could put that into your food storage to monitor the temp. I think I spend less than $5 on ours and put it in our chest freezer because during storms when power goes out it is out for 5 days and I want to monitor that the frozen food stays frozen over the outage. I have R45 insulation I put around the chest freezer when the power goes out.

    When we insulated the attic several years ago, Corning had an R45 pink insulation wrapped in tyvec or something so the itchy stuff stayed inside and it breathed too. A couple extra bucks but worth it.

    I hope it all works out and you are able to store everything successfully!

  178. Isabel, I refuse to live in an apartment without a functioning kitchen. Some large metro areas are just too expensive to live in. There are people in New York City and San Francisco who pay double or triple my mortgage payment for a room in a dumpy apartment that’s probably a health hazard. While working low-paying jobs! “Well, just move then!” isn’t usually the most helpful advice, but if you can’t afford to live in a certain place, well, you just can’t afford to live there. They could work the same kind of job in a place with a much lower cost of living, where they could actually afford a decent place to live.

    There are times though when it’s just bad decision-making. I read an article recently about a woman here in West Virginia who is on disability and pays around $500 a month to live in a shed that has no kitchen or bathroom. That’s insane! She lives in WEST VIRGINIA, where she could easily rent a decent apartment or even a house for that. Better yet, I’d bet she could live with her brother, who also does not have much money, while paying him $200 a month for rent. It would help both her and him.

    On another topic, yeah, that’s one thing that puts me off about Wicca too, the extreme emphasis on femaleness. That seems pretty unbalanced.

  179. JMG,
    In the July 2016 WoG post you mention having gotten “competent at two systems of alternative healing with important ties to occultism”. I’m curious about which they were and why you chose them.

  180. Archdruid,

    Thank you for the advice, I have started researching martial arts classes in my area. Currently, I should just be able to afford martial arts classes if I stretch my budget a little, but I’m afraid that might not be possible in the near future. I was wondering, as far as dealing with the anger goes, how should I deal with the anger if I can’t access a martial arts class?


    I’m reading up on the link. I also apologize for not having written you in sometime, things in my life have gone somewhat sideways. I will write as soon as I am able to get things somewhat back on track.



  181. hm, it seems my last post didn’t go through. I’ll assume the problem was technical rather than etiquette, my Elon screed wast *that* lengthy…

    I find the best way to deal with paranoia is to sincerely ask, “If I saw irrefutable proof of this, how would my behavior change?”. Nine times out of ten, the answer is ‘not at all’. If you ask your mentor that question and he concludes that, indeed, your agreeing with him wouldn’t get you to do anything you’re not already doing, you may both be comfortable agreeing to disagree.

    I see a lot of suggestions to bring up counterfacts, and I actually don’t think that is the best way to reach people on the opposite side of an ideological divide. The lesson plan I’d make for this, if teaching were a full time profession I was devoted to excelling at, would be more aimed at helping your students notice bad information that simply giving good information. The following is ambitious, but it would be a damn cool lesson to pull off:

    “so why do liberals want to prevent drilling? Well, it’s not *just* because they hate America. Let’s look at one example, the fracking injunction near the New York water supply (establish a shared set of facts that can be interpreted differently). Let’s see how much money could have been made if that project had gone through (research and math lesson on wells/acre*output/well*profit/output*size of area). Okay, that’s a big number. Now, how much would the New York Liberals have lost if the fracking had happened? (research and risk management lesson on likelyhood of an event*cost of event. here are some material safety data sheets for fracking fluid you can reference for potential costs: Okay, that’s some big numbers on both sides. See how we can’t really be as sure what the NYLs would be paying because we’re just guessing how much would end up in their water? But here’s the thing to keep in mind: how much of that first number would the NYLs get? Let’s end it there for today. As a bonus assignment, I’d like you all to write between one and five paragraphs on how much a country can reasonably ask some of its members to sacrifice for the group…”

    On another note, I also see a lot of references to Elon Musk here, and as his seemingly only fan on this forum I can’t resist chiming in. I see the Musk story as a classic hero-myth of our time, complete with the sorts of symbolic anecdotes that give a story like that legs. I wonder how much of the antipathy Musk evokes is because he is very much a hero of the industrial age. From megaprojects and workaholism to tyranny and embracing the oligarchy, he embodies both the ideals and the flaws of an age that many people would prefer to simply turn the page on… thoughts?

  182. JMG,

    does Western occultism have anything worthwhile to say about the subtle aspects of food and nutrition, and, if so, can you recommend any reputable sources?

    For example, I feel that frozen vegetables are missing the life force (nwyfre) which fresh ones have. Is this just my imagination (and bad cooking!), or am I onto something real?

    Thank you!

  183. @Jez @Fred There is a paperback I stumbled upon at Half Price Books a few years ago that is one of my favorite books of all time. It is called Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan by Dr. Junichi Saga. Saga collected interviews with the elderly (often over 90 years old) residents of his hometown in the 1980s, so many of the reminiscences cover Japan before the industrial age. There’s a man whose grandfather was the last executioner, basically a custom that went out with the last shogun. The stories about childbirth are terrifying — babies born into semi-starvation and squalor by women too poor to stop working even as they experienced labor pains. There accounts of class division, greedy landlords who collected “night-soil” because it was worth a tiny bit of money, stuff that happened when the naval base arrived, the manufacture of everyday items such as clogs and kimono, fishhooks, exactly how a tofu maker ran his business from sun-up to sun-down. You get an overall picture of how a functioning pre-industrial society worked. Also, damn, people worked hard. One cannot read it without newfound appreciation and gratitude for luxuries we have that are only a circumstance of this particular time and place of oil-rich history.

  184. Hi John.

    When we speak of a planet with cascacding ecologial crises, can we have a spiritual approach to Nature disregarding that it is being profanated? Anything short than changing the material conditions of the murder/ desecration of life could be considered the black magic of continuing the desecration of Nature?

  185. @Stephania. Much depends on the details of your house/location. How cold does it get there, the orientation to the sun, etc. One can do “shallow” burials of food in a barrel or other container, or even loose, covered with straw and a tarp or the like and some soil over that. Not all that easy to open and close, but relatively low input. Probably best where the winters don’t get too cold, and there are cats and dogs around to eat the rodents. Along those lines I did bury a broken chest freezer (with metal insides) and use that for a few years. It worked fine up until about new years here, when the food inside would tend to freeze (more insulation might have extended the useful period).

    If you have a room in your house on the N side, with few windows and can be isolated from the heated house, that can be useful too. We have stored food in a room like that for several months with decent results.

    But all these solutions and how well they work or don’t will depend on your climate/location, and the type of foods you plan on storing. In colder climes a partially open window or something buried with some insulation above can do quite well in keeping foods cold. But the same in a warmer place would not be very effective. Similarly high humidity vs low humidity foods need different storage areas and generally don’t mix well in the same spot.

    Good luck with your food storage.

  186. Garden Housewife,

    The extremely lopsided emphasis on femaleness in Wicca is mostly a later development. The original Gardnerian and Alexandrian versions are only moderately slanted in that direction, in that a woman can function as a high priest if needed, but a man cannot stand in for a high priestess. There is more emphasis on the Moon and the Goddess than the Sun and the God, but this was partly a reaction to the extreme solar focus in hermetic circles at the time–especially Thelema*–and partly marketing to get women to take off their clothes (it worked).

    However, Gardner was actually a political conservative and he originally taught that masculine energy was more powerful than feminine energy, and that homosexuality was a mischief. Alex Sanders dropped the latter teaching and possibly the former. Gardner was also a Druid, and together with Ross Nichols he came up with the Wheel of the Year, which in Wicca is associated with the God.

    On the whole, there was more of a focus back then on the balance between the God and Goddess. The fact that there are 8 sabbats for the God and 13 esbats for the Goddess is perhaps an apt metaphor for the sort of moderately-but-not-extremely-off balance early Wicca kept between the two forces. The extreme emphasis on femininity came in the 70’s when an interest in women’s spirituality, nature spirituality, and second-wave feminism all kind of merged to launch the careers of Zsuzsanna Budapest and Starhawk.

    * I basically see Wicca as Gardner’s attempt to reboot Thelema to appeal to a wider audience. Towards the end of his life, Aleister Crowley had started musing about just such a project, involving a worship of both Sun and Moon, and there’s some speculation about how much Crowley knew about Gardner’s plans.

  187. @GH: That is bizarre. I kinda blame the “work for years in a low-paying job in $INDUSTRY, then you’ll eventually move up and make the big money” narrative going around in my generation, in part. I guess there are people who have friends/family in the area, but…IDK, at least in Boston, it’s not like you’re seeing people five or six days a week anyhow, so…just live outside the city, if you can find an appropriate job, and then visit or have them visit you, as appropriate? If my job let me telecommute more, or I had one that wasn’t downtown, I would get the heck out of the inside-128 area and halve my expenses re:rent.

    Also: I boggle at that woman and wonder why she doesn’t, in fact, move (though I get not wanting to live with immediate family, especially if you’re young and have an active social life) even while I weep/laugh bitterly at the idea of paying only $500 a month for a house.

    Also, I would love these recipes you mention: I am both interested in healthy eating/cooking and short on time most of the time.

  188. @Garden Housewife – thanks for the tips.

    I am Wiccan and first OD’d on lunar energy, so concentrated on earth energy – God and Goddess were Pan, and the primordial earth mother. Then by working with Pan, I slowly started contacting the male energy – brother, lover, son at first (abstractly, but the link was there) – and looking into the face of the museum replica figurine – why, the face seemed to be wrinkled and weathered, too. Why, that old rascal! It doesn’t have to be unbalanced. But you have to work through your own issues first before you can see it. (Bad marriage + pressure to see the bad behavior as “normal for men.” The latter really messes with one’s mind.)

    Shakes head. Everybody has to take her own steps in her own way, but actually doing the work is very useful if you realize that all answers are incomplete at best.

  189. Hey JMG,

    I’ve been working through “Learning Ritual Magic” for over a year and a half now, and I’m currently on lesson 16. I know you say in the book that its okay to take longer, but I’ve stalled for several months during some lessons. I do the daily ritual work regularly but sometimes slip on the will and meditation exercises for a while when I get really busy.

    I’ve done all the exercises and meditations so far (after sitting down and focusing so I can complete the lesson properly) except one will exercise from lesson 10 which I didn’t finish properly.

    Am I selling myself short by taking so long, or is it fine to continue slowly finishing it like I’ve been doing, and then go back and fill in any gaps after?

    Thanks again for these open posts; they’ve been a great way to get clarification and learn more about magic!

  190. @JMG referring to @Sedge’s question about your oil of choice. I agree there is a general trend; food neurosis is at an all time high, and that the demonization of types of food is a huge problem. The demonization of fat, leading to the low fat diet craze, I believe, ruined millions of people’s lives.

    However, there are many “food” items for sale, which are actually not food. Partially Hyrdrogenated Oil, the most egregious example, is now ruled as inedible by the FDA because it’s irrefutably toxic for humans. Yet for decades it was marketed as healthier than butter. But what it really is, is good for corporate profits because it’s shelf stable.

    Westernized people are very very sick and a lot of it has to do with industrialized food, so we are trying to figure out what is safe to eat, but we don’t know where to find the truth.

    As a rule of thumb, pre-industrial oils from oily plants and animals are safe; butter, tallow, lard, sesame, olive, macadamia, coconut. Oils made through hexane extraction, high heat, bleaching, deodorizing, etc are not safe – corn, soybean, canola, anything called “vegetable” oil. They are highly inflammatory and already partially rancid before you open the bottle. Most of this information I read in these books: Deep Nutrition and Perfect Health Diet.

    @JMA – The most sustainable/local oil for soap in the USA is Tallow from 100% grass fed beef. I say 100% because if they are fed corn & soybeans you might as well just use corn and soybean oil then. Avoid crisco because palm oil is causing massive deforestation.

  191. JMG,
    as we’ve noted here, the country, coast-to-coast, border-to-border, blue, red or purple is insane and in denial, and highly prone to real fascism, not the snarl-word “I hate you” kind. So I see secession/dissolution as an excellent backstop against that spreading–if the country falls apart, and then one country straps on the jackboots, then the other countries can just tighten up their borders, beef up their militaries, and respond accordingly. However, if we’re still a United States kind of thing, there’s nothing stopping fascism from blowing over the entire country like a wildfire in California right now.

  192. @ SoSickthisis…

    I will second Art Berman as a very reliable source for facts regarding US oil production, and where it comes from and how it compares to the ROW.

    “Shale (oil) is not a revolution – it’s a retirement party. Shale plays were not some great, new idea. They became important only as more attractive plays were exhausted.” – Art Berman

    Another thing you might want to point out is that non-government oil companies, both public and private, will always drill – because they deplete their current reserves selling them and they must be replaced or they have nothing to sell – out of business. National OilCos (Pemex, Aramco, Petronas, etc.) can sit on them, but only if the oil sales revenue is offset by something else or their GDP drops.

    Perhaps the single biggest thing you might instill in them is this little sentence: “Depletion never sleeps.” As long as we continue to power our world with oil, there will be less of it each year. Today, the cheap oil reserves are mostly gone – hence fracking, ultra-deep drilling and the big political push into Africa by governments (USA & China, along with others) – it’s the last large untapped area (excluding Siberia, the Arctic and Antarctica). Even the Amazon Basin is being drilled up by Petrobras as we speak.

    Ugo Bardi – ‘Extracted’ is a book about mineral wealth in general, and touches on oil. But what is true for ores (reduced purity every year) is also true for oil – just in a different way (reduced accessibility and quantity). Minerals can be recycled, especially metals. Oil is burned and used, even down to the sludges we make blacktop with. There is no really significant recycling, other than as ship fuel, and that is marginal.

    You might want to focus on one oilfield and work through the history of it. I would suggest either the Gulf of Mexico (ultradeep drilling is about all that is left – the rest is mostly gone) or the East Texas Field (which fueled the US for WWII and Korea). Both would give good analysis of what happens from the initial discovery to the winding down and getting the last dregs out. Good exercise for them to look at how the big finds take 2-3 human generations to rise up and fall down. Give them a sense of time scale, so they don’t remain trapped in immediacy.

    And there is magic in the oilpatch as well – to date, nobody in our industry can describe the mechanism of how fracking works or why – it just does. And only in some fields, not in every one by any means.

  193. I’m not sure about WV, but we’re sure getting our fair share of “I can’t afford (way overpriced bicoastal city)” hipsters right now here in Central KY. So they do seem to be leaving in droves.

  194. Hi JMG,

    In some of your books you’ve mentioned that technology follows the law of diminishing returns – do you think that this is a hard and fast technological law, or is did you mean to use the concept of a law as something more a stepping stone to a deeper understanding of how technology works?

    Do you think that the law of diminishing returns applies to all technology generally or just to certain subsets?

    Can technology really be said to have laws like physics does? When we’re making things is there any equivalent to divine or natural law? It seems like technology is concerned fundamentally with what could be rather than with what already is, if that makes sense. I don’t understand how it could follow any laws other than the laws of physics. We’re not going to be able to use technology to break the speed of light or keep modern middle-class lifestyles viable, but those seems more like physical laws than technological ones.

  195. JMG – What do you make of politicians, the media, schools, etc. warning breathlessly of climate change but effectively never mentioning peak oil, the urgency of its timeline, and that 90% of the world’s population is utterly dependent upon eating oil?

    I can’t help but ponder that focus on “climate change” feeds peak, centralized government and more financial arbitrage opportunities for Goldman Sachs. Do you think I am being too cynical or otherwise missing something?

  196. @Fred re: cold room

    Thank you, those are some great suggestions and definitely gives me a place to start from. I do love a good math problem too, and also the whole process of figuring things out, designing and making stuff. And I recently read Farmer Boy with my kids – in fact we’re making our way through that whole series. We were struck by how hard-working and skillful they all were!

    @Garden Housewife

    Thank you, those are some good ideas as well. I do like the thought of making it completely passive, as in an extended power outage we would all be carting stuff back inside the house to keep it from freezing. But I also was considering access, and with the garage being accessible right from the house, I can picture myself actually using it. If I have to put on my snow gear and trudge outside just to get an onion, I might not. I built a cold frame last year with my dad, and while it did perform fairly well in terms of keeping things alive, I found the freezing cold and snow were big barriers to actually going outside to get things. Modern living has definitely made me soft! Of course, if we get to the point where that’s the only food available, it will be a different story…

  197. In The Retro Future you say a 1950 level of development would be sustainable. I don’t know what happened in America but 1950s Britain used a phenomenal amount of coal in fireplaces, power stations, steam trains, the steel industry and gas works (the last two also producing a large number of coal-based chemicals). It was the age of the pea souper smog. How do you see this neo-50s being powered? I know Retrotopia had wind turbines and biogas. Would this be sufficient? Although I don’t agree with everything on it, a lot of what I’ve been reading on Energy Skeptic suggests not.

    You said that there are technologies from the past that have been lost, avenues of development never explored and that the future would develop new tech that could provide high capabilities without fossil fuel dependance. Since you know methods of divination, could you find out about these technologies? According to Lyn Buchanan a private space exploration company used remote viewers to help develop moon base technology and were very pleased with what they got.

    You also said that in order to survive, monastic-like communities need a vow of poverty and a vow of celibacy. I can’t help with the poverty, but there is a type of sex called karezza that has been sucessfully practiced in such communities without causing chaos. There is a book about it by Marnia Robinson called Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow. It might sweeten the deal enough for more people to give that life a try. Also here are a couple of interesting articles on spiritual sex:

    On the subject of asexuality, Julie Sondra Decker (who also writes as SwankIvy) wrote The Invisible Orientation and has a video series Letters to an Asexual. She’s very good, but her experience is as an aromantic asexual. Asexuals who want romantic relationships or aromantics who want sexual relationships have different sets of problems.

  198. @SoSickThisis
    Quick follow up to my comment recommending Art Berman for US oil reality..
    For your students, the import / export of oil into out of the USA (net imports 2017 at 7.3 million barrels of oil per day) should be put in the context of ‘North America’ as a whole, which includes Canada and Mexico.
    Production in N. America is approximately 20mbpd with a net import requirement of about 3mbpd. This is still not ‘oil independence’ and there are serious issues for Mexico. A quick look at historical data is here:

    Phil H

  199. @Varun: When you consider the cost of a martial arts school, something you may want to be on the lookout for is local martial arts *clubs*. I am currently studying with a club instead of a school, and as a result am able to workout in a class where there are as many experienced teachers as there are students. The price is about 1/10th of what it would cost at a school of the same art less than a half-mile down the road, and I could likely pay that in barter if I so chose.
    Unfortunately, MA clubs tend to be a little more, let’s say, ‘occult’ than a school is. They rarely advertise, attracting new members by word of mouth. The best way to find a good club is to figure out who you know who is already interested in martial arts, and ask them to introduce you to their martial arts friends, until someone invites you to a club that suits your nature.

  200. Rather than a specific question, I want to put an astrological forecast past you and just see what you think of it (and I realize you might take it with a grain of salt). My prediction centers around my observation that this phase of industrial decline and collapse seems to correspond somewhat neatly with Pluto in Capricorn. Pluto may not be a planet astronomically, but I think it remains an important astrological planet (and by planet I mean both it and its titular satellite Charon, which is more of a co-planet, as the barycenter of their mutual orbit is observably outside of Pluto). Yes, they have discovered other similar bodies known as exoplanets or Kuiper Belt Objects, but I think Pluto is pretty much the representative of the exoplanets for astrological purposes. (The somewhat larger exoplanet Eris doesn’t, in my estimation, because it’s just way too far out there.)

    So the first major lurch downward occurred with the financial crisis of late 2008, right after Pluto entered Capricorn that year and then pulled back into Sagittarius with its annual retrograde motion period. So after that, Pluto’s next entry back into Capricorn ushered in this shaky “in-between” period that has put so much moral and emotional stress on the fabric of society in this country.

    I really do think we are due for another lurch downward considering the massive economic and financial problems that were simply papered over in the wake of the last crisis. For a long time, I thought this would be ushered in by Uranus in Aries squaring Pluto in Capricorn, but of course we know now that this simply didn’t happen. But what I think did happen with this aspect is that karma was being stored up with the elite gathering up an even more obscene share of the national wealth unto itself and more papering over taking place in the form of massive quantitative easing from various central banks (which is pretty much now massive, ongoing, and absolutely necessary to keep major deflationary compression at bay).

    So when might this massive karma that has been getting stored up be released? (And I think we’re seeing that a lot of it is stored up in the highly demented condition of society right now!) My personal favorite pick is 2019 and 2020, a period in which Saturn will remain in very wide-orb conjunction with Pluto in Capricorn. For anybody who knows a thing or two about western astrology, it’s hard to imagine a combination with more potential for scary, precipitous events being fully unleashed than Saturn in conjunction with Pluto in the sign that is ruled by Saturn!

  201. @JMG Thinking some more about est – do you think there is some sort of magical practice going on in the rooms? People seem so enthralled by what occurs in the courses and like their awareness of the universe is changed. Or is it something else?

  202. Touche.
    I didn’t want to ask too narrow a question and ended up too broad.
    What is the difference between people and other animals? If we are in some ways unique, what are the roots of that difference? Most ways I’ve heard tell – language, self-referencing, names, etc have built in guesses about everything else that are more and more being disproved. But I feel that I personally have slid TOO far into a view that we are NOT in any way truly distinct from other complex forms of life I have to compare us to.

  203. @Varun

    You’re welcome. And no worries. I totally understand how life can go sideways at times. Take care of yourself.

    For what it is worth, I have found meditation to have been an immense help in managing frustration. It is by no means a quick fix and it is certainly not always comfortable — particularly when one is first starting out — to sit with one’s emotions and allow them to be. But sitting with them, observing them, and letting them rise and fall away does indeed work and over time one is better able to see the emotional triggers before they are tripped and to mentally pause before reacting. It is not infallible, but this has prevented me from heading down the typical auto-response pathway many times. And I have been able to accept things that lay outside my control much more readily.

    Sitting can be done anywhere, but I have found that natural settings, such as the lakeshore or the grounds of the nature conservancy just outside of town, work very well for me.

    I hope this is of help.

  204. @Garden Housewife said:

    “Stefania, dirt is a very good insulating material against the cold. Even if you can’t build a traditional root cellar in your two feet of dirt, you could bury something like a cooler (which is already made to be insulating) in the ground for food storage. Then you could put additional insulating material on top, in some way that can be moved when you need to get to your food, maybe a big contractor trash bag filled with hay. I haven’t tried it myself, but there are people who say it’s worked for them. If you tried it and liked it, you could bury several coolers. It’s cheaper than building a room too.

    Some people will build a root cellar by building the basic structure on top of the ground, then trucking in a bunch of dirt to put on it. In other words, they build the cellar first, then construct the hill around it. Apparently, that works very well. ”

    I thought I would chime in with my experience with trying to store vegetables without a root cellar.

    Along the Wasatch front of Utah, (USDA zone 6-7 depending) I have been able to store root vegetables most successfully in the ground with bags of fall leaves on top for insulation and to keep the ground from freezing. A certain amount of difficulty arises when you go to dig them out when wanted as you have to remove snow, remove bags of leaves, dig them out of the muddy soil and find a place to wash them free of mud before bringing them into the house. Inconvenient problems, but not insurmountable.

    In an effort to make this process more convenient, I tried burying a plastic garbage can in my garden. I then pulled all the root vegetables, packed them in the garbage can between layers of dry leaves then covered the can with bags of leaves to keep it from freezing. This worked but only up to a point for as time went on I lost the vegetables to mold and decomposition due to condensation from their respiration. I couldn’t find a way to control the excess moisture and I abandoned this effort after a couple of years. Maybe I should have tried damp sand.

    I haven’t try a “clamp”, where you pile the vegetables on a pile of dry straw or leaves, pile more dry straw or leaves over them then bury the with a layer of soil and a tarp. I am pretty sure that the condensation problem would go away, but not mice or gophers. This seemed like an almighty effort that might be undone by little critters.

    The root cellar that Garden Housewife describes works really well for potato farmers in Idaho, they build massive ones to store their harvest until it is sold.

  205. Hi JMG and everyone,
    Winter is coming, and I´ll have to cut down some of my coppice trees. I would like to do it with some kind of ceremony involved, but since I´m an agnostic (although an ever more open minded one with each open post:-) I do not have any experience in these matters. Practicality would demand it to be quite a brief one for each tree or a longer one for all the ones I´m going to cut. Do you have any suggestions as to what kind of ceremony I could do? Do you think a collective one for all trees would be alright?
    Frank from Germany

  206. I agree that those predicting a fast crash will probably double down on their failed predictions, and get increasingly shrill and dogmatic in the process.

    I have been trying to work out how this perspective is related to the strong individualism in our current culture. I think part of the attraction of the sudden apocalyptic scenario is that it sets the stage perfectly for the Lone Hero to do his heroic acts, carving out his destiny in a cabin in the woods. In some ways, no other situation will do.

    Because for some reason the apocalyptic scenario is really attractive. With all its zombies, EMP attacks, pandemics, and deprivations, people are yearning for it–often in the comments section of your blogs! You have been pretty consistent in pointing out that the reality will be a lot worse than they seem to expect, which I really appreciate.

    What do you think of the idea that hoping for the cleansing flood that wipes away the unenlightened is actually the wish fulfillment of a society in which individualism is dominant?

  207. JMG,

    Disclaimer: I am not a Buddhist.

    I believe you have said elsewhere that you did not find Buddhism appealing. I am moderately curious about this as your affinity for Schopenhauer is slightly perplexing. To my admittedly ignorant mind, Schopenhauer’s “system” is very much a western naturalistic – not naturalism in a materialistic/physicalist sense – Buddhism. Both regard existence as originating from desire and the five skandas are not unlike the Schopenhauerian ecosystem of the self. Their ethical conclusions are largely the same: cessation of clinging, craving, willing et al. Neither system explicitly precludes the existence of the divine; however, the divine must accordingly be finite.

    I recall from my reading of WWR that Schopenhauer arrives at a happy marriage with Platonic forms as expressions of will. Whereas Buddhism, especially later thinkers such as Nagarjuna or Dharmakurti, regards “forms” as products of mental convenience. The terminology in use under that system being particulars and generals.

    “When I look at my hand I see five fingers, one who posits a sixth general entity of “fingerness” may as well argue that they have horns on their head.”

    My feeling is that Schopenhauer did think that “fingerness” existed out there as an objectification of will. I wouldn’t mind getting your thoughts on this?

    Thanks in advance.

  208. JMG,

    What are your recommendations for introductory books on tarot divination? I’m planing on buying a deck (Rider-Waite) as a gift, and am hoping to buy a book to accompany it.



  209. JMG,

    Quick possibly unnecessary clarification: the person I’m buying the gift for has no occult background, and has only dabbled in cartomancy (using decks other than tarot).



  210. JMG,

    Thank you for this clarification. So there was indeed a third (and a correct one!) way to interpret the text about the triangles. I am slightly concerned about what else might be lost in translation, but I suppose we work with what we have, and for what I have, I am most grateful.

    Visualizing the Star of David in this manner is indeed a lot simpler and seemed to work quite well right away. It amazes me and humbles me to think that you take the time to have these monthly open posts and answer small questions like these. Thank you.

  211. @Varun – another martial arts suggestion is the HEMA Historical European Martial Arts, which is swords and daggers. Our local club only charges $5 per class and they have all the equipment to loan. Its a bunch of 20 somethings who love to study sword fighting and want to encourage others.

    On a personal note, our family took up Muay Thai kick boxing last year and we train three times a week and spar once a week. I have found the concentration needed to fight another person and stay relaxed at the same time, much more intense than expected. I leave class soaked in sweat and sore head to toe. I realize now humans are built for this kind of work.

    Plus learning how to take a punch is invaluable. I learned I take a pretty hard punch and it doesn’t really leave a mark and to keep my wits about me and hit back, not out of anger but with the intent winning the battle.

  212. Varun,

    I’m dealing with a similar upwelling that has been difficult to discharge. I’ve found that a long walk–preferably in an undeveloped setting–can be both meditative and purgative. Just need a good pair of sneakers and a rain jacket and you’re set.

    Best wishes,

  213. Thoughts on on the term ‘Ecological Spirituality’: ‘Ecological’ means, (from looking at it’s parts), having to do with the science of ecosystems and such. Yet often ‘Ecological’ (and ‘biological’) are used to refer to, not the science, but the subject of the science; the ecosystem ( or, in the case of ‘biological’, life, as in the term ‘biological science’). How do you mean to use the term ‘ecological’ here?

    ‘Spirituality’ gets used in so many ways that I fear grappling with its meaning, but here it goes anyway: ‘Spirituality’ is the range of topics having to do with the ‘spiritual’, Does ‘spiritual’ here equate with things related to ‘spirit’? Is ‘spirit’ essentially essence; intangible guiding principles or ephemeral concepts associated with something? So then ‘spirituality’ would be the range of topics related to the ephemeral concepts of a thing?
    In sum, do we have ‘having to do with those aspects (relating to the science of ecosystems) of the range of topics related to ephemeral concepts or intangible principles of a thing’?

    ‘Ecosophia’ as a term makes more sense to me: wisdom about ecosystems and such.

  214. Dear Mr. Greer,
    How should a person begin to use a shewstone or crystal ball for divination? I have one but cannot find anything about it in my various Druid books except how to make a wash to consecrate such a stone and that I got from your Encyclopedia of Natural Magic.

    I have tried looking into it but see nothing but the upside-down images of objects around the stone.

    I have made a set of Ogham cards and they are a great help to me and my sister has adopted the practice after I did some readings for her.

    Yours under the red cedars,
    Max Rogers

  215. @Ilona Evers
    Re: Individuality

    In the Michael Teaching, we call this the Divine Spark, or just Spark. Each Spark has its own “address”. Michael calls this a frequency; each Spark is at a different frequency. There are an infinity of frequencies, which means there are (or at least can be) an infinity of Sparks or Individualities.

    They are also together in what we call the Tao, like drops in an ocean. How something can be both distinguishable and indistinguishable baffles me, but that’s the way the MT goes, and it’s something I hear from different schools as well.

    @Mr. Nobody
    Re: Pluto in Capricorn

    Notice that Capricorn is opposite Cancer which creates a natural opposition to the US Sun (at least if you use the standard July 4th charts. Also note that the US Pluto is at the end of Capricorn, so Pluto is approaching its first return.

    @stinkhorn press
    Re: human exceptionalism

    One thing I notice is that there’s a concerted effort in the life sciences, especially anthropology and paleoanthropology, to knock humans off their pedestal as being completely exceptional. From an occult perspective, the applies to human bodies, which is all that hardcore materialists allow themselves to see; that perspective is, of course, standard in academia.

    On the occult side, Michael makes a hard distinction between sentient creatures (humans, cetecea and [redacted] being the only examples on this planet, but there are huuuuge numbers elsewhere) and other beings. The distinction is between “individual souls” and “hive souls.”

  216. @Radha

    Thanks for your input regarding my question about cooking oils.

    Whenever I research the subject I have a hard time separating fact from fiction — there seems to be roughly equal claims that a given oil is healthy…or not healthy.

    Do you happen to know if Safflower is considered an “oily plant” ?– is Safflower oil extracted in one of the problematic ways you describe?

  217. I tested out a prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and think I got a response of some sort. I’m unsure of anything more than that though… If anything happens I will add it to the next open post.

    Also, going into wild speculation here, but I can’t imagine the effects of dying on Mars would be good for the souls of the people who go to the planet. I’m not at all sure what would happen, but somehow, with what little I know of the lore, it seems it could be quite dangerous….

    I also keep hearing about “terraforming” Mars, and find it rather arrogant to think we could change another planet’s environment to be Earth-like when we clearly can’t even manage our own…

  218. @Sister Crow: “the entire point of saying “pregnant people” is to create the idea that men can get pregnant.”

    I don’t think either that or the previous suggestion that “person” is being treated as a pronoun is correct. The usual purpose is to emphasize the fact that women, whether pregnant or not, are people first. Too many people are comfortable thinking that a “pregnant woman” should not be trusted or free to control her own body – and I mean not just the choice to carry the pregnancy, but the choices of what medical procedures to undergo, what to consume, what work to do, what leisure activities to pursue, etc. There is therefore a need for a reminder that pregnant women are adult human beings who should not be subjected to social or legal restrictions that we could never imagine being imposed upon any adult male.

  219. JMG-

    I’ve been working through your learning ritual magic and i really like the first three lessons (particularly the tarot deck meditations), but spirtually I’m much more drawn to the Celtic Golden Dawn imagery and gods, is it a bad idea to mix these two systems?

  220. Ynnothir,

    I can’t say anything about the zeitgeist, but for me, the reasons I thought this would make a good story go the other way. That is, I desperately needed a guiding voice in my own childhood. I was born to and raised by a full-blown narcissistic mother and a powerless father in somewhat social isolation, and have wasted most of my life trying to undo the damage done to my psyche then and by subsequent decisions I made as a consequence thereof. A few wise words from my soul maybe would have made all the difference. If I could go back in time I would send it into the future for my present self as a child.

    I was wondering how sending something to a future self would work out in real life, since the universe has no obligation to make it happen, and in fact, could defeat the purpose of the soul to take up a particular life.

    Just musing on an interesting plot line….

  221. @ Dewey re: pregnant people

    Interesting. I’ve only ever heard of “pregnant people” used in the context in which Sister Crow used it. However, I had my fair share of encounters with the “pregnancy police” judging my caffeine intake and ability to walk down a flight of stairs (yes, really) when I was pregnant with my daughter, so I’m definitely sympathetic with the way you’re using the term!

  222. @Jen ~ going to Japan ~ If you go to Japan, and you are served O Sake, remember to turn your cup upside down when you have had enough — otherwise you may forget! As long as you remember, you’re as safe there as anywhere else on this planet.

  223. John Roth
    re:re: Individuality
    Thank you very much for your explanation!

    re: frozen vegetables
    I learned in my Feng Shui training that frozen food has no Chi (life force).

    Dear all,
    Thank you all for your interesting thoughts, questions and discussions!


  224. Hi JMG and all. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I’d like to add a comment about biochar. In permaculture, it is used for several things, but the one that comes to mind for me is as a substitute for wood in hügelkultur beds located in tropical or semi-tropical climates. The reason for this is that microbial activity is constant in these areas and breaks down the wood very quickly. The biochar is less susceptible to this than regular wood. My understanding is that the wood in a temperate climate hügelkultur bed can last 30 years of more, but in a tropical climate it’s more like five or six. The purpose of the wood (or biochar), in case you don’t know, is to absorb water during rainy periods and release it during dry periods, reducing the need for irrigation. I haven’t experimented with either method, myself, but people I respect have and tell me it works well.

  225. J.L.Mc12, no, I haven’t read his work. Thanks for the heads up.

    Simo, I haven’t lived on any other continent, and lack the detailed local knowledge that would be necessary for any such survey. Frankly, the last thing the rest of the world needs is one more clueless American making sweeping generalizations about the rest of the world…

    Ilona, in the occult tradition, each individuality is in fact unique — each one represents a different take on what it means to be human, and over many lives each individuality expresses its essential nature more and more completely. The core of yourself, in other words, isn’t emptiness or any other interchangeable abstraction — it’s a unique expression of the cosmic process. That’s why the highest grade of spiritual attainment in many occult traditions has the title ipsissimus, which means “most completely oneself.” I know the Buddhist tradition disagrees with this, but as I’m not a Buddhist, that doesn’t concern me all that much. 😉

    Sister Crow, many thanks for this! If you could put your email in a comment marked “not for posting,” I’d be grateful — I may have some questions, and I may also (if you’re willing) want to run some scenes past you.

    Mmelvink, oh my, I’m basically salivating here. 😉 If you like, put in a comment marked “not for posting” with your email, and I’ll be in touch.

    James, the basic techniques are covered in Frances Yates’ historical survey The Art of Memory, which is the book I used to learn it. If you’re interested in more complex methods, my translation of Giordano Bruno’s On the Shadows of the Ideas — his manual of the art of memory — will be going to press shortly. (If you want the oh my god over-the-top fine edition, that’s here.

    Fred, why not call them Landsharks? That was the first snark that came to mind… 😉

    Doug, well played. That’s a very common approach in some other cultures, and not surprisingly, those cultures handle adversity very, very well.

    Dean, it depends on what you mean by “cut short.” The US rose to its current condition of global hegemony in the 1940s, so it’s only been in that role for seventy-odd years. It’s quite possible that China may hold the same position for something between fifty and a hundred years, too, before it goes down the drain we’re currently poised to descend. Decline and fall isn’t a quick process, and the end of the industrial age is unlikely to be complete before 2200 or so.

    Bruno, what year was that? Her weight varied significantly over the course of her life, as happens with most people who do binge dieting.

    Dirtyboots, the two systems were biochemic cell salts (an offshoot of homeopathy much practiced in American occult schools in the 20th century) and Do-In (an offshoot of acupressure that got picked up by French Druids after the Second World War — long story). I chose them out of the smorgasbord of options because (a) nobody else was doing much with them (I’m a sucker for neglected traditions) and (b) neither one costs much; I kept doing them because they work.

    Varun, a punching bag might be a useful investment. You might also try journaling — basically, write a dialogue with your anger, writing down as its answers whatever comes first to mind as you pose the questions.

    Christopher, it must have been technical; I’ve deleted a lot of spam from this week’s post, but only one nonspam comment, and it wasn’t yours.

    Rationalist, the sort of Western occultism I’ve studied, rather than getting into long disquisitions about diet et al., tends to focus on encouraging people to develop their own intuitive senses, and then making use of them. Yes, frozen and canned vegetables contain less vitality than fresh ones; as you pay attention to your perceptions of food and other things, you’ll find other distinctions worth noticing, and you can then make your own choices about food.

    Hmilowicz, if that concerns you, I recommend changing your own lifestyle so that you aren’t contributing to the profanation of nature.

    Ross, taking your time with magical study is always the best plan. There are no prizes for finishing according to some arbitrary schedule, and you’re better off taking the time you need to learn everything thoroughly.

    Radha, everyone these days has some food they insist is evilly evil with a double helping of evil sauce on the side. If yours is hydrogenated oils, by all means avoid them if that makes you feel better.

    Shane, if we get full-on fascism, the likelihood that the other republics can contain it by just beefing up their militaries a little isn’t exactly good. How did that work for Poland and France in 1939 and 1940?

    Spicehammer, I’ll leave such questions to the metaphysicians. All I know is that when people make predictions that ignore the law of diminishing returns, those predictions fail, full stop, end of sentence.

    Gnat, I think it’s more than that. Climate change is a narrative about human power — “look at us, we’re so almighty we can destroy the planet!” — and that’s a kind of narrative that most people these days like to hear. By contrast, peak oil is a narrative about human limits, and that’s something that next to nobody wants to talk about these days.

    Eduard, it’s sitting on the back burner, waiting for me to find the spare time to finish it.

    Yorkshire, coal was much less heavily used over here. No matter what happens, we’re all going to have to use a lot less energy in the future, and my point — that 1950s technologies by and large use much less energy — still stands. Remember that we’re not talking about “going back” to the 1950s, or any other time, but about using the past as a buffet from which we pick up things of interest today.

    I suppose karezza might work as a way for monastic communities to handle sexuality, but you’d have to find some way to make sure that sexually reinforced pair bonds don’t disrupt the community — that’s as important as the avoidance of childbearing. As for asexuality, many thanks for the info.

    Mister N., good. You’ve made a prediction and presented the reasoning for it; it seems sensible enough — and now we’ll see what actually happens.

    Fred, oh, no question, it’s a debased form of evil magic.

    Shane, I’ve seen a couple of articles like that recently. The ice skate concession in Beelzebub’s home town is probably doing very well just now.

    Stinkhornpress, fair enough. The Druid teaching is that humans and some other living things — notably porpoises — are the forms taken by souls that are finishing up the experience of physical incarnation and preparing to go on to another mode of being; other animals are forms taken by souls at other stages in the process. So we’re not really different — we’re just at a very slightly different stage in the common process, and all the abilities and capacities we have were developed in animal incarnations.

    Frank, explain to them what you need to do and why, and thank them for the warmth they’re going to provide. That should be quite adequate.

    Samurai, I think you could make a really good case for that.

    Kyle, I deny the “First Noble Truth” of Buddhist belief — the claim that existence equals suffering. To my mind that’s as incomplete and thus as inaccurate as saying that existence equals joy, or for that matter that existence equals applesauce. Existence is; our value judgments about existence are not of particular relevance to anyone but us, and then only if we take them (and ourselves) too seriously. That’s the heart of my lack of enthusiasm for Buddhism. It’s also the place where I part company with Schopenhauer; his value judgment that existence is misery is his value judgment, not mine, and frankly, he’s welcome to it. I find that his broader philosophy works just as well if you ditch the value judgment and take from the existentialists the recognition that meaning, value, and purpose exist only in the subjective experience of conscious beings — you, me, the gods, the dust mites in my beard, and all the rest of us — and thus are statements about the condition of the individual being rather than about the cosmos.

    I’m still mulling over Schopenhauer’s theory of the Platonic forms as modes of the will. I find it appealing, but again, that’s a value judgment on my part! You’re right, though, that he saw “fingerness” as a mode of will — not a separate thing in itself, but a quality that fingers have, which enables them to function as fingers.The will has many such modes, which flow into one another at their edges.

    Alexander, I honestly haven’t looked at introductory books on Tarot divination in about forty years. Does anyone else have something to suggest?

    Oskari, by all means ask if you have any doubts — one of the reasons I’ve decided to do these open posts is that a lot of people have questions like this that they can’t get answered elsewhere.

    Brian, most people don’t find it necessary, or for that matter helpful, to fixate on dictionary definitions when glancing at a phrase such as “ecological spirituality.” They can see it and get some sense of what it means. If you want to quibble, by all means, but I’m not going to worry about it.

    Max, there are books on the subject. That’s not something I can do, though — some people have that gift, others don’t — and so I’m not really in a position to advise you.

    Will, keep us all posted!

    Sng, don’t mix them. As a rule, it’s best only to study one system at a time; once you’ve learned a system, you can practice it while learning another one, but don’t try to learn two or more at once.

  226. Chronojourner, and I bet the people who are actually using biochar in hugelkultur beds are realistic about its potentials and can explain its downsides and the contexts where it can’t be used, too. That’s my point: biochar as an actual ecological technology is one thing; biochar as an abstraction deployed rhetorically as an excuse to keep on living an unsustainable lifestyle, like all those lumps of warm glurge in Yes! Magazine, is quite another.

  227. Hello JMG! Welcome to New England from another long-time reader who never comments. I’ll bring up a couple of things. First, in regards to the Depression, here are two books I’ve read: The Dirty Thirties, by William Hull and Little Heathens, by Mildred Kalish. Both are memories of those times. The latter is the author’s memoir of growing up on an Iowa farm.

    Also, as part of your future education essay, perhaps you could sketch out/suggest a course of study for homeschooling in the primary years. I know you’ve mentioned before what you think is important for kids to learn. I’d enjoy seeing an expanded “curriculum”. Our boy is only 14 months yet we are already pondering homeschool, as the other option we like, Waldorf, is quite pricey for us.

    Lastly, on the subject of canals, I found two kids’ canal-themed books at our dump’s swap shop! Of course I snagged them! Here in Portland, ME, we had a canal, the Cumberland & Oxford. You can still trace part of it just outside the city.

    And lastly, I want to thank you and the commentariat for a never-ending font of wise words and thought-provoking ideas. It means a lot to me!


  228. @Frank Thamm ~ I am interested in JMGs response to this, but what I do, what I learned from a friend, is, speaking to that tree, or plant, saying, “Thank you for being here, thank you for _______________________________ . That’s the important part, but I can’t take a life without realizing sometime I also will have to let go, of this life here, and die.

    In the spirit of dialog, as for ash from wood heating, What I do with ash is scatter it in the woods, on the snow, completing a cycle is my thought.

    Since I made a Y-Tube vid on the subject, I can recommend this design for heating with wood:

    BTW, if you have laying hens, or bees, saying thanks, if you haven’t thought to try it, may surprise you.

    Also, thanks for everything you’ve done JMG!

  229. Thank you, I will check out the Yates book when I have a chance.

    Is your translation of the Bruno going to be strictly limited to the editions you have linked, or will it get a wider release at some point? I may be interested in it but am not sure it will still be in stock by the time I can afford it.

  230. JMG, Thanks for your replay to my questions regarding “vengeance.” I feel relived. I was thinking the media’s obsession with it was a form of social engineering to make vengeance an acceptable response to grievances, particularly on a national level.

  231. JMG,

    Thank you. I’ve got the Biochemical Handbook next to me now and am considering looking into The Zodiac and the Salts of Salvation by George Carey.

    Preamble to another question:

    I’m finishing the third month of my second foray into the curriculum of Learning Ritual Magic. The first attempt lasted about 9-10 months after which I grew restless and explored other topics for a year. I was drawn back 3 months ago and started from the beginning. Despite the work invested so far I remain unable to clearly visualize color or to hold distinct, static forms in mind. Instead I experience adumbrations of figures that dance and drift, smudges of vague hue and brief scintillations. This difficulty is all the more frustrating given my talent for drawing, which is nothing more than the ability to transfer a mental image to paper. All other aspects of practice–meditation, vibrating names, attention exercises, relaxation, tarot work–go well. Based on my reading of Regardie and Butler, I expect that this inability to visualize will be a significant barrier to further development.

    So, the question is whether there are any five finger exercises that might help to build up this skill?

  232. @Garden Housewife, and those who responded to Garden Housewife,
    the point is, poverty in America is supposed to be wretched. These are people who have failed at the American Dream, capitalism, and consumerism! The left pities them as victims, while the right despises them. It’s supposed to be all pathos: inner city & Mississippi Delta & Appalachia, drug abuse and alcoholism, Heroin, Crack, Thunderbird wine & malt liquor, cash advance stores, dollar stores, laundromats w/broken machines, twinkies, made in China crap, Big Gulps & Marlboro reds, twinkies and Mountain Dew. Poverty is America is supposed to be wretched, and so it is. No one ever thinks about how to be poor successfully and in dignity–if poverty weren’t wretched, then why would the poor ever dream about being rich someday, and go buy their Powerball & MegaMillions? So no one ever thinks about how to successfully be poor with dignity and live a decent life on a meager income. That’s what the Green Wizards should be doing, that’s the whole idea behind the “collapse” part of “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”–voluntary poverty, as I think Schumacher (?) called it. Those idealistic homesteaders out there getting by on very little–I think you, Tripp, Chris in Oz, and countless others on here qualify. We really need a total reevaluation of quality of life and poverty in this country–I mean, third world countries would descend into chaos if their poor had to live as wretched lives as our poor.

  233. My comments on the conversation which has been had about low-income people and their inability or ability to feed themselves on basic and inexpensive foodstuffs:

    1) Everyone, on average, is going to get poorer every year for a long time. Dealing with it is more important than making excuses for it.

    2) Our gracious host wrote an essay called ‘The sound of aunt Edna’s knitting’. The nuclear family, and by extension, the single parent family, is entirely a modern invention and was only ever possible in industrial civilization. That same essay could be called ‘The smell of aunt Edna’s cornbread’.

    3) A university friend of mine goes bicycle touring regularly. He manages to feed himself a prodigious amount of calories using nothing more than a gasoline-fueled stove and some simple tools, while travelling and camping.

    4) The important question is not ‘can they afford X?’ – the question is ‘do they have the motivation and dignity to live well within their means?’

  234. I’m just wondering about the mixed signals you’re sending about food and nutrition, and if you ever plan on expounding on the topic in the future? I agree that there’s a lot of unhealthy obsessive behavior over fad diets out there, but I also see food as one of the things that has brought a lot of people to a more ecological understanding, from all sides of the political spectrum, including conservatives I know who consider “environmentalist” a dirty word. It often starts with them discovering the connection between their own health or the health of their family and the foods they’re eating, then leads to an understanding that how they’re grown or raised makes a huge difference in their quality, and then the connection is made between themselves and the health of the land. A decent amount of the time, it leads to them growing some of their own food as well. To me, food as a basis for ecological understanding can reach a wider audience than things like climate activism, endangered species and wilderness preservation because people can get it at a gut level (pun intended).

    The crucial point to me is connecting the dots between how a food is grown and its quality. The food industry has no problem catering to fad diets that focus solely on percentages of fat, carbs or protein, or avoiding certain foods, or cutting calories, as long as people think that all beef in the same, all broccoli is the same, all butter is the same etc. The fact is the nutritional properties (and toxins) of a food can be quite different depending on how it was grown and also how it was processed, and that doesn’t get the publicity that the fad diets do probably because of a combination of people looking for a quick fix and the industrial food system not wanting people to think of it more holistically because it threatens them.

    Having said that, I do personally have to largely shun certain foods that are normal fare to most people. I won’t even mention what they are in this post because it’s not the point ai want to make, but I do think at least a portion of the reason people are shunning foods more and more is that the food system is more broken, there are more toxins in our food supply, and also more and more people have immune reactions involving food (traditional allergies are only one manifestation of that). I’ve found immense personal benefit to paying attention to what I eat (and put in or on my body in general) and I don’t follow any particular diet, although I have found inspiration in certain writings on diet and nutrition I decide what to do based on what works for me. I also often test my own limits, and also sometimes find myself in situations where I eat things that someone has offered me i know I shouldn’t and pay the price for it, because it’s better than the awkwardness that would result from refusing, and there are a lot of situations I just avoid altogether if I can because I don’t want to have to make the choice of being sick or being awkward. Yet I end up being put into the category of “too obsessed about food” by people who don’t understand. I can’t say I blame them too much, I could see myself being the same way if i hadn’t had the experiences I have.

  235. @Garden Wife, Stefania, and others discussing root cellars. I would avoid using a cooler box unless you have a way to let air through it, especially if you are storing many sweet potatoes. Moisture from them condenses and then mold and rot set it. In Japan, people traditionally dig a deep hole in the ground, put the potatoes in it, leave a space at the top, cover it deeply enough to avoid freezing, and a pipe for ventilation. Where I am living, there is too much moisture in the soil, so they say you need a south-facing slope for this, so that the sun, which we have lots of in winter, drives out the moisture.

  236. @Fred & JMG, re Landmark / EST

    I completely agree with both of you, based upon my own unfortunate personal experience. Back in the 1990’s, I went through Landmark’s entire “Curriculum for Living.” Frankly, I was spiritually pretty desperate at the time, and I was looking for any answers I could find to help me live effectively in my sick and dysfunctional society (i.e, the USA). Having taken Landmark’s Communications course, I can tell you where much of their ostensible philosophy comes from. It is a mixture of Heidegger with a smattering of Wittgenstein.

    Now, I actually think that Wittgenstein had some useful things to say. As for Heidegger, I consider him to be a philosophical fraud, much as Schopenhauer considered Hegel to be, and for similar reasons. Both Hegel and Heidegger used incomprehensible grammatical locutions to give a semblance of profundity to pure wind.

    I also agree, that there is some sinister “ju-ju” going on at Landmark. Not as bad as $cientology (praise God!), but bad enough to negatively affect the lives of people who attend their courses. Stay away!

    As for how to deal with the broken, shattered and dysfunctional society of the United States, I finally came to the same conclusion as Krishnamurti, that “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” My solution (such as it is) was to move to a relatively healthier society, for the sake of my own sanity. I also found the solid spiritual tradition I was looking for, in the Orthodox Church. Such was (and is) my own solution to the dilemma I faced.

    Take this for whatever it is worth.

  237. I just thought of something, the wretchedness of the poor in America is because of a mass double bind of the Batesonian type: the poor aren’t supposed to exist here in the land of plenty/American dream, yet here they are, nonetheless

  238. JMG, in the comments to a prior post you mentioned that the process of translating the Picatrix was instrumental in your decision not to engage in that kind of magic thenceforth. Do I guess correctly that this is because you feel the magic in Picatrix tends to be thaumaturgic, manipulative, in some cases even downright malefic, or otherwise not particularly conducive to one’s spiritual development? You’ve written most favorably, I believe, about spiritual magic of the sort which might tend to move one toward Gwynvydd. Am I on the right track here, or divagating through the woods sans map or compass?

  239. Ellen, I’ll certainly consider it. My idea of a sound curriculum is based on the attainment of literacy, numeracy, and naturacy as the three basic goals. (Naturacy? That’s a working knowledge of the natural sciences, with a focus on ecology and the observational sciences.) Still, that needs to be fleshed out quite a bit to turn into anything like a coherent curriculum.

    James, there will eventually be a trade paper edition, but that’ll be some years down the road — probably after the limited editions have sold out.

    Peter, to my mind the media is more of a feedback loop than it is an active force shaping thought. As our collective consciousness shifts, the people who work in the media are caught up in that shift, and respond in an unthinking, kneejerk fashion to whatever’s flowing through the lowest common denominator of our imaginations.

    Dirtyboots, Carey needs to be handled with a great deal of care and a dollop of the common sense he himself seems to have lacked. If you’re interested in learning the cell salts, the book I’d recommend above all others is Boericke and Dewey’s The Twelve Tissue Remedies. As for visualization, some people have trouble with it — I certainly did. (It took me years of regular practice to get even moderately good at it.) Don’t try to make the images appear in front of you as though they were physically real; if you can get the sort of images that naturally occur in your daydreams and fancies, however pale, fragmentary, and diffuse those are, that’s good enough for now. The rest will come with time and much practice.

    Justin, I know. Unfortunately dignity is perhaps the hardest thing of all to teach.

    Kashtan, they’re not mixed signals at all. They’re quite coherent; it’s just that they conflict with the current culture of dietary obsessiveness. If I do discuss diet, and I’m definitely considering it, I expect to field some world-class tantrums, as the central theme of that essay would be what I call the American macroneurotic diet: in that diet it doesn’t actually matter what you eat, so long as you stress out constantly about it, evangelize for it, and if possible get into fistfights with proponents of competing systems. Human beings can feed themselves and stay healthy on an astonishing array of foodstuffs, including things that violate every currently fashionable dietary theory; it’s only in the decadent phases of a civilization in decline that an obsession with correct diet becomes widespread.

    Now of course there are some people who have medical issues when it comes to certain foods. My wife has serious food allergies, for example, and so we have to be careful to leave some very common foodstuffs out of her diet. Most people don’t have that problem, and the current obsession with evil foods et al. strikes me as having much more to do with cultural and psychological issues than with the biology of nutrition.

    Michael, that has always been my sense concerning Heidegger; anyone who says “clarity is the enemy of philosophy,” as Heidegger did, is a self-confessed smoke-shoveler. I’d also agree that there’s no point in being well adjusted to a sick society, though my choice of alternatives was rather different from yours, of course.

    Shane, good. There are other doublebinds in the way poverty functions in American society; how many of them can you find?

    Kevin, you guess correctly. Ethics is as essential in magic as sanitation is in surgery, and for the same reason: otherwise things go septic. The magic of the Picatrix includes some really repellent, malefic things; I’m glad I know about those, because (among other things) I now know how to mess with people who try to use workings of those kinds; but I prefer what the old Golden Dawn writings call, quaintly but appropriately, the Magic of Light.

  240. While a few of us are on the subject of tech, have you done anything about that sector tool I mentioned before JMG?
    Also, a possible way for people to power combustion engines in the future would be to use wood gas, they used it for a while during the world wars.

  241. JMG, hmm, well that sounds worthwhile. I had been wanting to plant a hawthorn tree, so maybe I’ll go ahead and do it and see what happens. Also, you said, “faeries, aka nature spirits,” so are the two the same thing, or are faeries a type of nature spirit among other types?

    Thanks for the advice on the magical potpourri. I’ve decided to experiment with a little natural magic. I guess I feel comfortable with it because it isn’t anything out of the ordinary since I already use herbs sometimes for medicinal purposes. This is only a small step further, not as if I’m doing mysterious rituals by moonlight at midnight on a full moon. 😀

  242. @JMG, @Sedge, @Radha,

    I have to back up Radha here. There’s a massive difference between demonizing foods and food groups which people have been eating for thousands of years, such as grains, meats, animal fats, legumes, simple carbohydrates, butter, or what have you, and demonizing barely edible oils which have been extracted using chemical solvents such as petroleum-derived hexane, hydrogenated, bleached, deodorized, and other stuff I would rather not know about.

    Here’s a quote from an article called “Why You Should Never Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine”:

    “Canola (modified rapeseed oil) is produced by heating the rapeseed and processing with a petroleum solvent to extract the oil. Then another process of heat and addition of acid is used to remove nasty solids (wax) that occur during the first processing.

    At this point, the newly created canola oil must be treated with more chemicals to improve color and separate the different parts of the oil. Finally, since the chemical process has created a harsh smelling oil, it must be chemically deodorized to be palatable.”

    Similar information can be found on Wikipedia under “Vegetable oil”.

    That said, there are certain companies which use cold-pressing instead of chemical extraction to produce vegetable oils. Here’s a decent video showing the process:

    Whether these are better for you than the chemically extracted stuff, I don’t know, but intuition and logic tell me that they should be. Personally, I’m not sure if there’s much point in using them, as these kinds of oils are usually valued for their high smoke points, and the unrefined, cold-pressed stuff tends to lack this property.

    P.S. I’m kinda annoyed at the English language for the term “vegetable oil”. I mean, many of these oils have been extracted from plants which have nothing to do with vegetables!

  243. Isabel, honestly, these mostly aren’t even really recipes. The spaghetti is just a cheap box of noodles cooked per package directions, then drain the water and add a can of spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti sauce in a can is cheaper than in a jar. You can add spices if you want, but it isn’t necessary since the sauce should already have some. You probably already know how to do that one though.

    Black bean soup is 2 – 15 oz. cans of black beans plus 1 can of diced tomatoes. Do not drain and rinse the beans or tomatoes – that’s just extra work, and anyway, the liquid adds extra flavor. You can add whatever spices you want, but only add 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp of each spice. It’s easier to grab each spice bottle and scoop out 1/2 tsp once or twice, plus it only dirties up one measuring spoon. I use oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and ground cumin. You could just use chili powder and salt (only 1/2 tsp!) to make it simpler. You can also add vegetables – a peeled and diced zucchini, or a cup of frozen corn kernels, or green beans and corn, or chopped kale, or whatever you want and happen to have. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 15 – 20 minutes. This goes well with a baked potato and bread and butter.

    For potato soup, peel and dice potatoes and onions and chop celery, enough for however much you want. The celery and onions are for flavor, so it should be mostly potatoes. For the white sauce, use the recipe on the back of the Argo cornstarch box, which is pretty simple. You can double the white sauce recipe if you need to. Make the sauce while the veggies are boiling, then once the potatoes are tender (not mushy) drain the veggies, add the sauce, and heat through. I’m sorry I can’t explain how I make cornbread. I don’t measure the ingredients because my mom didn’t and I learned it from her. If you don’t already make cornbread, you can find a recipe online. Just don’t fall for any complicated recipe. Good cornbread is simple to make using simple ingredients.

    You can make chili with 1- 15 oz. can each of red kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and diced tomatoes. I do drain and rinse the beans for this because I think that makes it look and taste a little better. You don’t have to though. Add 1 package French’s Chili-O mix and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Bring to boiling, reduce heat, simmer around 10 minutes. This chili is an awful sacrilege to people who are bizarrely obsessed with chili, but it’s filling and tastes decent. FYI, the purpose of the black beans and pinto beans is to replace the hamburger, because hamburger is more expensive and adds extra steps and cooking time.

    Just remember, you don’t have to have a recipe. You can grab a can or two of whatever beans you have and add whatever else you have that looks like it would go alright with beans. That method of cooking can also make it possible to hold off grocery shopping for another day, which is a relief when you’re tired from work. Or you can heat a can of beans with just a little salt sprinkled in, and eat it with bread and butter and whatever veggies you have that will take the least effort. I’ve even skipped the veggies entirely when I was too exhausted to worry about a balanced meal.

  244. Oops, Isabel, I forgot to tell you to put 1/2 – 1 cup water in the black bean soup, depending on how thick you want the soup. Or you use only 1/4 cup water and stir frequently for a thicker dish, more of a stew. That works well served on top of rice.

  245. @JMG “the American macroneurotic diet” – Laughed out loud and almost spit out my coffee! Love this phrase and topic! It could be a whole book.

  246. @JMG – about the Landsharks (can’t help but think of that old SNL skit)…….studying magic is now on my immediate list! I read through your Mystery Teachings but didn’t do the exercises. So I’ll start there. And beyond that what is next?

    @Michael – thank you for sharing your experience! I did get value out of the courses, and agreed the communications course was the one that made the biggest difference for me too. I coached the self-expression course twice and it was this last time that I just quit. The leader had several personality changes during the course claiming he was transformed in a way that would improve his leadership of the course. The last time he was a crazy person in the pre-class meeting, standing up and leaning over the table, pounding with his hands to emphasize words, pacing around with arms waving in the arms, and repeatedly licking his lips. I really thought he was possessed. He went in and led the class in the same mode and one of the participants asked if he was on drugs (this participant was in recovery doing daily anon meetings).

    This man was? is? a truly nice person, kind, warm, soft spoken, and a grandfather. In one coaching conversation, he turned into crazy person. How does this happen, I don’t understand.

  247. Hi John Michael,

    I had an eerie but also very nice encounter this evening with a magpie which is a species of local bird. There are a family of magpies that have lived here for years and years and they are very clever birds. Anyway, last week a fox took one of my chickens. Not good as I was elsewhere working on a water pump at the time. Unfortunately for the fox, the resident magpies and kookaburras warned me that the fox was out and about that evening by their alarm calls, and I managed to stop the fox from dragging the dead chicken away into the forest, but well, the chicken was still dead. I ended up running like a crazy person into the forest just to catch up with the fox and almost caught up with it when it decided to drop the chicken. The chicken was a heavy burden for a fox.

    Tonight though, as I was out with the chickens in the orchard, I spotted the magpies swooping over the ground and again making their alarm calls. I ran down to see what was going on and the birds were attacking the fox (by swooping it) which to be honest the fox was relatively oblivious to the magpies attack (or maybe only slightly annoyed). I ran at the fox yelling and generally making a lot of noise and the fox then scampered away into the forest. The magpie settled in a nearby tree and squawked at me. I said to the magpie: “chook chook” for no real reason, and the magpie then said “squawk squawk”. So I did a little test and then said “chook” and the magpie replied “squawk”. It was at about that point I realised how intelligent those birds are. Not only did they warn me, but they attempted to communicate and we share common goals…

    Glad to hear that the maritime climate suits you. If I may be so bold as to suggest that the climate is in your blood given your background? Hope you are getting some tasty chowder too? I enjoy the mountain climate to be honest, and there is just something about the mountains and forests that has always drawn me. Dunno why.

    I was sort of wondering whether coal peaked as an energy source just before WWI? The reason I mention this is because in these enlightened days we use oil to recover and burn coal, but back then it was all by hand. Do you reckon this may have had anything to do with WWI, the Great Depression and WWII? Are they one of those minor events that we spoke of? There is an old saying about death by a thousand cuts and that rings true to me!

    Hi Shane W,

    Thanks mate! :-)!



  248. Shane, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It drives me nuts though! Being poor isn’t unending misery. Sure, it’s easier when you have more money, but being poor isn’t the end of the world. I spent my childhood in poverty and part of my adult life poor, though not as poor as my family was when I was a kid. There are things poor people can do to make their lives better, but all this, “Oh, you poor thing, you’re just screwed and there’s nothing you can do about it!” does not help anyone. Even when my husband and I were poor, I was deeply suspicious of the people peddling that message. Why didn’t they want me to be able to feed my family healthy, filling meals? Why did they want to take my self-respect?

    I’d rather be told that being poor is my fault (politicians on the right), than to be told that there isn’t anything I can do to make my situation easier for myself and my family (politicians on the left and most of the media). At least the “mean” guys grant me agency, which the supposedly sympathetic guys want to deny me.

    The truth though is that, while some people are to blame for being poor because they’re lazy, sometimes being poor really isn’t the individual’s fault. Sometimes it’s circumstances beyond your control, like when my husband got laid off in the 2008 recession. He had to take a job making a lot less because that was what he could get in his field at that time. But there are always ways to make it easier for yourself and your family. You’re not totally helpless.

    I felt a sense of pride at being able to rise to the challenge and make things easier and better for my husband and children. I knew how to do that because I watched my mom manage with less when I was a kid. Growing up in poverty and knowing how to handle it makes me feel like I can manage most things that come my way. You could say it was empowering. Being patted on the head and treated like a helpless imbecile is *not* empowering.

    BTW, I apologize if I’ve missed replying to anyone. As always, I’m reading comments and replying between other things, mostly kid stuff. Thanks to all for the replies. And of course, my frustration is directed towards the clueless “elites”, not towards anyone in this thread. Everyone who has commented on this topic has been a frequent commenter, and I know that you’re kind, good-hearted people. I’d feel bad if I hurt any of your feelings by being unclear on this.

  249. Greetings all!

    I have a number of fairly naive questions

    (1) What is the nature of the response one can obtain while making prayers to God(s)?

    I ask this question because I am not a religious person nor do I practice religion much either though I tend to believe that transcendental dimensions do exist above and beyond our very limited intellect.

    Furthermore, when many, many years ago I was a moderately religious person and prayed a little I never expected any response nor received any either!

    I also have issues with religious rituals. I always seem to miss the point of rituals and I am perplexed by the sheer intensity with which some people carry out rituals.

    (2) What do they get out of it all?

    Indeed, the only spiritual practice that seem to give me some modest result is discursive meditation.
    I have the distinctive feeling that my spirituality is stunted, lopsided and going nowhere.

    I understand that it is delicate at times to offer advice on those matters, however I would appreciate a few hints!


    (3) Is it just a question of finding the right set of practices and practicing them or are there persons for whom spiritual practices are merely a waste of time?

    Thank you!

  250. I liked your point about the Buddhist belief that existence is suffering. Existence is also, as you say, joy. We could make quite a laundry list of things that existence is by listing all known mental states, feelings, emotions, physical sensations, etc. Existence is everything.

    It seems to me that Buddhists concentrate on suffering because that’s the thing most people are going to need help dealing with. The assumption being that we don’t need any special philosophy to help us deal with joy, or other positives. People tend to take their hapiness in stride. (or do we?) That assumption might be called into question. Maybe we do need help dealing with positive states as well. (Or maybe the assumption is a misunderstanding on my part)

    I’m inclined to see Existence = Suffering as the Buddhist statement of the central problem to be dealt with rather than a ridgid definition of what existence is.

    I’d welcome any thoughts you have on this.

  251. Thank you for your answer. But I was probably unable to express myself. I have changed my lifestyle radically, but Nature all around me continues to be destroyed. My lifestyle changes have not stopped climate change nor deforestation nor ocean acidification. It is getting worse. Can we find a spiritual path as wle see species extinction and, after severe lifestyle changes, continue thinking that my lifestyle changes will do any difference?

  252. @Michael Martin

    Thanks for the Krishnamurti quote! I used to use that as a tagline for my email, but I had forgotten about it lately. Just what I needed after a tiff with my very wealthy younger brother earlier this month. Can’t believe I forgot that one…

    Maybe I should start working on this memory training everyone’s talking about.

  253. @ Shane W:

    A cold gray wet front blew in last night and I find myself sitting in one of those Southern laundromats you mentioned, finishing up yesterday’s laundry. It’s next door to a Dollar General and a smaller, more local Chucky Cheese type pizza joint. Across the street is a tire shop, a “buy here pay here” used car lot, a pawn shop, and a resell produce stand. Up the hill is a diner, a liquor store, and a bar called “The Pour House.” Yes, I recognize the South you describe!

    I gave a 4-hr Permaculture lecture at the Georgia Organics conference several years back, and the most memorable part of the whole deal was a segment I did on the 4th chapter of E.F. Schumacher’s book “Small Is Beautiful.” The chapter in question is about “Buddhist Economics.”

    Now I’m no Buddhist, but the guiding principle of that chapter has stuck with me ever since:

    “Live a becoming life on as few resources as possible.”

    Of course the definition of “becoming” varies from person to person – not everyone likes our sawdust toilet for sure, much less what we do with its end product, but the idea really stuck with me, as similar ideas have with you and so many other admirable folks ’round here.

    The wealthy younger brother I mentioned to Michael Martin above defines his life through consumption, and just doesn’t understand at all why we’re doing what we’re doing. He’s a pilot – just for fun – and actually agreed whole-heartedly with me on the idea that what makes a good airplane makes a terrible car, and vice versa, then turned around in the next breath and insisted that flying cars would be viable as soon as self-driving electric vehicles became the development base stock for such tech.

    I was so flabbergasted by his non-sequitur that I changed the subject abruptly and grabbed a cold beer to ease the pain in my head…

    I don’t know what it will take to knock people upside the head and wake them up, but for some, it’ll have to be pretty fracking heavy. And repetitive.


    PS – I believe it was Thoreau who coined the term “voluntary poverty.”

  254. A couple more great quotes to go in the great quote grist mill:

    “Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything.”
    -Morihei Ueshiba

    “If you throw Mother Nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.”
    -Masanobu Fukuoka

  255. Joe (and all) Re: “savings”. If you are so fortunate as to have paid off your debts, minimized your expenses (e.g., insulated your home to the max, installed solar panels, etc.), invested in your craft (e.g., sewing machine?) and still have cash left over that you can afford to lock away for at least a year, take a look at US Government I-series Savings Bonds. They pay a small amount of interest (2%, now), but the interest rate floats twice a year as the Consumer-Price Index is updated. So, if inflation returns, the nominal value of the bonds will increase, too. If deflation returns, the interest rate can never be negative, and there’s no fee to hold them. Their sold directly by, so there’s no broker/advisor fee (and thus, no reason for the financial industry to promote them). They’re the most boring investment I know of.

  256. Well, yes, JMG, true about Poland and France, but what about Great Britain’s careful diplomatic conciliation of the US that you discussed on the other blog? Perhaps the Confederacy/Texas could conciliate Latin America in the same way, and they could come in and help us beat the stuffin’ out of the New England/Atlantican fascists in exchange for preferred client state status?

  257. Re: above-ground root cellar I few years ago, I tried an experiment. I dug a hole in my garden to fit a 5-gal plastic bucket, put root vegetables in it (on straw), put the lid on (loosely), and put a big plastic bag (which had held mulch, now loosely filled with straw) on top. I put a brick on top of the straw-bag to keep it from blowing away. I was careful to pack soil around the bucket, to maintain thermal contact. Here in central Maryland, we don’t get a lot of terribly cold weather, but this worked well, and it’s a low-cost way to give it a try. Two feet of soil is actually a pretty deep hole, if you’re reaching down into it! Cat owners often have plastic buckets to dispose of, and you only need to open one at a time. In a colder climate, bare ground may freeze down more than two feet, but a thick straw-bag cap should delay and reduce that.o

    As for a walk-in, above-ground root cellar, I think I’ve read that humidity control is important. Too much, and food rots; too little, and it shrivels.

  258. Hi JMG,
    In your response to Coco (which I´ve only read just now, otherwise I wouldn´t have had to ask my previous question because it kind of answers it) you wrote ´´As for a ritual, one that you create yourself, if it’s heartfelt, will be at least as good as anything you can get from other sources. Nonhuman beings don’t perceive your words, except as random sound; they do perceive your emotions and your state of consciousness.´´
    Would that be true of natural spirits and gods as well?

  259. JMG, is it correct to assume that the yawning chasm that’s opening up between Canadian and American standards of living is due to the money that is flowing into Canada from up and coming powers like China, India, and Brazil that’s not flowing into the US?

  260. JMG, Garden Housewife’s question, and your response re: the Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, encourages me to order myself a copy of your book, and of course ask a question:

    I work for state government, in a cube farm, with a formerly harmonious crew of older ladies. One of them is desperate to retire, and has been for some time. Over the past year the desperation seems to have morphed into an overt manifestation of what was there all along: entitlement, self pity, bitterness, and dropping all pretense of doing her job. Her days are spent fiddling with her phone, surfing the web, wandering around mentally and physically, and backbiting. In short, she is a ROD (Retired On Duty). And a nasty one at that. Things got to the point where another worker and myself met with our supervisor and made a strong case for her to try to contain the problem. She has done what she could, and the person in question is making a show of towing the line, but the atmosphere from her space is disturbing, even when she is not physically in it.

    A friend said if I put three pink carnations in a vase, add a note that says something like “A higher power is waiting to help you”, and place it in her cube, she may become less disruptive.

    Sounds gimmicky to me, but hey, it’s open post this week, and I’ll do it, or something else, if you so advise.

  261. @ Alexander

    Nobody else has chimed in so I will recommend Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Way of The Tarot. It is very thorough and well written. However, it deals with the Marseille deck. I personally prefer this deck, but you had mentioned getting a copy of the Rider Waite deck, so I hesitated to recommend it. It is my understanding that the Marseille Deck is the oldest complete tarot deck. I hope this helps.

  262. Temporaryreality, thank you very much. I’ll email him today, and I’ll probably go out and check on the forums also.

    JMG, that is absolutely correct. As you say, no technology is ever without both positives and negatives. If I may rant for a moment, it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to believe that a less than perfect solution to a problem shouldn’t be considered at all; or how some people whitewash the problems that exist with their favorite proposed solutions to a problem and make them out to be perfect in every way. Nothing ever is perfect or ever will be. I don’t know enough about biochar to comment about its positive and negatives, but wood in hügelkultur beds has to be used in the correct balance with soil and the other components, or bad things happen. For example, too little and it will not retain enough moisture to do its job; too much, and it will attract a hoard of insects intent on munching on the wood, and it will also absorb too much nitrogen from the soil for the first few years of decomposition. So, yeah, downsides.

  263. On trees and fairies, there is this Old English address to be made to the Elder Mother before cutting any elder wood:

    ‘Old Lady, give me some of your wood, and I’ll give you some of mine when I am a tree.’

    I love it. A nice sense of one’s place in things,and a little courtesy never comes amiss.

  264. JMG,

    So many interesting things to catch up on in these comments!

    Thanks for the reading recommendation. I picked up a library copy of Jessie Weston’s book, and look forward to exploring that as time permits.

    I’m delighted to hear that you’ve “gone long on beermaking supplies”! Do you, or anyone else here, have any tips/advice/suggestions/experience to share in brewing gluten-free beer in particular? I’ve had some successful adventures in mead making, but I really miss a good dark beer!

    Finally, let me second Marcu’s request for some reflections on apartment living. I need to move out of the apartment I’m currently renting by next summer, so I’m beginning the process of reevaluating my own living circumstances, and would welcome the chance to reflect on, and learn from, your experiences.

  265. @ Shane, Justin and All…

    I believe that there needs to a be a qualification in this discussion. Succinctly, the difference between rural and urban poor. My farm is in one of the poorest counties in Texas, and yet we all get on pretty well – black/white/brown/yellow. Part of the reason for this is the inter-reliance required to be successfully poor(or rich) in a rural setting. There is less mutual predation, few actual strangers and thus lower crime. One cannot continually alienate and offend the locals – it winds up with you having nobody that wants to help you when you need it.

    In a metropolis, one can be poor, and the suckers and prey are endless if you choose the easy way of predation. Cops cannot handle the little infractions, escape is a freeway exit away and anonymity is easy to assume. Cops no longer investigate automobile break-ins, and only file a report for insurance purposes if your home is burgled. This is just a simple fact, and another reason why gun ownership has risen in the last decade.

    If you choose the victim method, the social services available are endless, as they are distributed by population density more than any other diviner. There are myriad churches that have programs to assist those in poverty – all you need to do is appear piteous and subservient, and the items flow. If you are tech savvy, it seems GoFundMe has experts at creating stories and eliciting money from people willing to send it, just from viewing a horrible picture and story in tandem.

    I am not saying these lines are drawn firmly – there are dignified poor and the victims and the predator poor in both locations. I am saying that in a rural setting, these types of people are not anonymous, the police know them and their distinct situations and the locals citizens know them as well. In a city this is the exception rather than the norm.

    Near my farm, those in need and willing to work are routinely solicited to do work for people, in particular elderly and simple jobs that others do not wish to do. Many people exist in this fashion, putting up fences, clearing chicken houses out, painting, etc. and are content with their station. They have families and are part of the community, not exiles or pariahs. In the cities, things are very different.

    Further, those of us doing the intentional collapse exercise find out quickly that the “poor” people are where to go to find the black and gray market items, to find people with skills that are willing to work cheap for future favors or outright barter. People with plenty of cash do not barter – it is usually a repugnant or foreign concept to them. They also value their material goods far higher than is reasonable, as they are much more attached to money rather than future goodwill. Those with limited cash? Well, the case is very different, and you quickly discover there are many people considered poor who are getting by pretty well by networking and trading. Many actually spend less time working and much more time fishing, gardening, visiting and enjoying things than their more wealthy counterparts.

    This is my own observation, and I have a firm foot in BOTH camps due to building our farm on the cheap and still working out of my home in the suburbs.

  266. Good evening, John Michael. At least it is late evening here in NE Europe. Couple of tricky questions and one observation coming through.

    There was big security business-related happening in Berlin some time ago. Only professionals. There was this Venezuelan guy, who had worked at Venezuelan oil industry before political purge drove him to exile. Now working at big oil fields at undisclosed place, below his former position, but fields are big. Infrastructure and personnel security. I do not give more details, because he probably does not want to be recognizable to his employers from some fringe, Looney Tunes website like yours.

    After official stuff was over and people gathered to relax around beers, this guy talked semi-openly about peak oil, how it was rear-view mirror now. How it was affecting oil industry with myriad surprising ways. As he did not encounter opposition to his views as he expected, he became more bold and told as his personal view how oil is becoming too expensive for ordinary people to use. His view was that it will last at least two hundred years, but it will be used only by elites and military/internal security organisations.

    When compared to earlier encounters with people from fringes of oil industry, change in attitudes was enormous. Maybe those engineers and guys directly responsible for science-y stuff have had that opinion for a long time, but for other attached groups to have that opinion so openly…that was something new. If security details and infrastructure/personnel security corps are openly predicting the demise of their industry, well… Roller coaster is going to take us as civilization down, down, down.

    Then the questions:

    Race and gender identity politics have become integral part of more liberal and progressive end of Western civilization. At the same time, they have whipped up backlash from so-called alternative right, which has denounced practically all new developments within these areas from 60’s onward. As I personally feel that both extreme ends are delusional in their fervor, I have been left wondering where these things are going. What is future of gender roles in decaying West? What happens to LBQT people, when societal structures holding up organized society become unmoored?

    Race and ethnicity. Are they going to play same role as during Yugoslavian civil war, or is there some less bloody route out?

    I have seen couple of places, which are with language of political correctness called “underdeveloped”. There was no room for any deviation from local customs there, which did not include immediate mortal danger for the person deviating. No room for fifty shades of gender. No room for feminism. No room for LBQT. That is just a fact. Poor, underdeveloped places where people depend on their kin for survival and never think about history or future, except through the lens of their religion and tribal connection, have no room for deviants from local conservative habits. No room at all.

    History is very flat, as it seems to be with all tribal settings.They do not remember or know that their ancestors used to worship Montu, or Amun-Ra, or Nanna, or Baal. For them it is One God, prophets and finally seal of prophets then, now and always. Except Aryans of Persia. They remember. But they were developed high culture long time ago, and had first truly multicultural empire world has seen.

    All of them, males I mean (no delusionla gender equality there), are potential warriors, unlike soft and feminine West Europeans.

    So what do you think? I have got impression that in field of race, gender and ethnicity (which is NOT same thing as race, at least here in Europe) you are treating your readership with silk gloves, even if you do not pull your punches in other areas. So give me your honest opinion. What is happening with these politically and culturally flammable things when this house of cards falls down? It is not going to be co-operation and flower power, that much I know. But does it have to be the other extreme either? What builds trust when security of organized society is crumbling away?

  267. Not sure how to forumulate this question…

    In your cosmology, the monads start in a primitive state (perhaps as stardust or bacteria?) and only gradually work themselves up to Gwynfydd (“heaven” – pardon the expression). This seems to rule out a prior fall from a spiritual realm into matter. But what about all the legends about a fall?

    The ancient pagans had them too, for instance some peoples believed a trickster figure cheated them out of immortality, others said their ancestors came from “the stars”, etc.

    Where do these legends come from, and what do they represent, if the real state of affairs is the exact opposite – a slow, painful evolution from primordial matter (or “matter”) which only eventually leads to a elevated spiritual state?

  268. Hello JMG, I have not posted before. This past week or so, I read that a study of preserves or refuges has seen a drop of 75% of insect biomass over the past three decades. The notion that no insects might be okay for humanity gives me insecurity. I have lived on this ground for 37 years and seen the warming, along with weirding weather, to changing climate maps for this area of western Colorado. My neighbors and I have irrigation water from the Colorado River, very early rights. I have put compost I made almost everywhere on this acre. We can tomatoes, peppers, and chilis. I’ve had to cut down trees I have planted. I have enjoyed reading you during most of my decade long experience with single-sided deafness and tinnitus. I am a beneficiary of technology in that I am still alive and I am aware of limitations to our knowledge of the brain. I never thought I would reach the age to receive SS, but I did. I stopped working when my ear got infected. I saved money in case I lived long enough to need it and I worked in mental health. I would say this process of seeing the slow deterioration of our world would be enough but I had to raise a daughter, feed us, and go to work . Most people here do their utmost to ignore global warming, even while acknowledging the winters are not as cold. To think that we are facing the aging of millions of Americans, with an aging infrastructure, during a massive shift of wealth to the already rich and think things are swell gives me a strange feeling that things are different this time, but not like we thought. Thanks for writing.

  269. I don’t want to try to make everyone eat the same way as myself, the world would be a dull place if everyone at the same diet, and as industrial civilization ends people’s diets will have to rely more and more on what can be produced locally, which is different depending on where you are. I’ve had lots of good converations about diet and nutrition with people who’s views differ from mine and typically we can agree that people’s bodies are different and what works well for one person doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. I have also had my share of experiences with those who are super dogmatic about one particular diet or another, and converations with them go nowhere (the worst are the ones who don’t even follow it themselves), but they’ve been pretty rare in person (online is another matter but that’s true of almost any subject I’ve experienced). Many of the most extreme diet trolls seem to be vegans and vegetarians who are doing it out of ethical concerns primarily and nutrition secondarily if at all.

    You wrote “Human beings can feed themselves and stay healthy on an astonishing array of foodstuffs, including things that violate every currently fashionable dietary theory; it’s only in the decadent phases of a civilization in decline that an obsession with correct diet becomes widespread.”

    I’d just say that just because some people can stay healthy eating a particular diet doesn’t mean everyone will. Also, many modern foods, methods of processing, and contaminants haven’t been around long enough to really evaluate what effects they have long-term.

    Dietary norms and prohibitions seem pretty widespread to me, the prohibition on pork in Judaism and Islam has lasted through many different phases of civilization. Americans have shunned insects as food since well before our decline phase even though they’re standard fare in many other cultures. These taboos break down when times are desperate, but I see that as only helping to reinforce them, as people who live through those times recall that things were bad enough they had to eat (X awful thing). What I think is different now is that there’s more divergence within American culture about which are the acceptable and unacceptable foods. I haven’t read anything about the dietary habits of other declining civilizations so I can’t comment on them. I have read enough written about nutrition in the first half of the 20th century (Weston Price’s “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” is one of my favorites to know it was a going concern then in America.

    Plenty of people get by fine (at least for now) watching TV and driving cars too, that doesn’t mean I should be dismissive of people like yourself that have good reasons for not doing those things.

    You also wrote, “Now of course there are some people who have medical issues when it comes to certain foods. My wife has serious food allergies, for example, and so we have to be careful to leave some very common foodstuffs out of her diet. Most people don’t have that problem, and the current obsession with evil foods et al. strikes me as having much more to do with cultural and psychological issues than with the biology of nutrition.”

    That leaves the question of where to draw the line over what counts as a medical issue involving food and what doesn’t? I’d personally say there is no line, food is a part of medicine and although some people have much more severe reactions to certain foods than others, we are all affected by what we eat every day. That way of thinking seems pretty widespread in many cultures to me, the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems have developed it some of the furthest.

    I guess what surprises me most about your comments regarding food is that in so many other cases, you speak well of others who make changes in their own life that fit with their values, such as green wizardry skills, cutting their own carbon emissions, not watching television etc. and to me paying attention to the food I’m putting into my body, both in terms of how it affects myself and the ecosystem around me fits in with the other things you’re encouraging people to do.

  270. Hi John Michael,

    Almost forgot to mention it but… The biochar thing is a boondoggle of the sort that is used to distract attention away from the realities. It is often forgotten that biochar will be very heavy in carbon, for obvious reasons. I’m guessing that that will produce an acidic, or perhaps only mildly acidic soil. What about all of the plants that enjoy a more basic soil – like asparagus? Try growing that in biochar heavy soils and they possibly wont like that at all. There are plenty of other plants that enjoy a more basic soil like leafy greens.

    Biochar in effect favours plants that enjoy a forest environment, or a forest edge environment – like tomatoes which enjoy a carbon heavy (50/50 mix) soil.

    It is only speculation, but I have often wondered whether biochar is pursued because people have a fantasy about capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the soils using an industrial process. That process can be done, but whether we can afford it is another matter and whether it consumes more energy (carbon) than it captures is a serious dilemma. Anyway, it just means people don’t have to consider the impacts of their own lives. Not to worry though as the ecology will eventually sort that problem, but perhaps not in the manner that we currently relate to it.



  271. @Tidlösa

    This is what happens when your cosmology is too simple.

    In the Michael Teaching, what you’re calling the Monad resides on the Astral Plane, and extends a tentacle into the Physical Plane to connect with a body as it’s being born. The tentacle thinks it’s separate, which it isn’t, of course. This can be construed as a fall from the Heavenly Realms (one of many, many names for the Astral Plane.)

    This doesn’t change the fact that what you’re calling the Monad gradually grew from very modest beginnings to where it can usefully bond with an animal as complex as a human, and that it will eventually grow beyond that.

    As far as coming from “the stars” goes, that could be simply another distorted look at the same phenomenon, or it could be an actual memory of something the MT talks about. According to the MT, the first few incarnations were on a planet of a different system, and then they had to move because of a deliberate program of extermination by another sentient species in the system. I’m taking this story with a significant amount of skepticism.

    Re: cell salts

    You recommended “The Twelve Tissue Remedies” by Boericke and Dewey. I managed to find what looks like the fourth edition on the Wayback Machine, but it says it’s by Boericke and Tafel? (Dewey only seems to have been involved with the first three editions.) Is this the edition you’re using?

    By the way, the section on how they’re to be administered makes a great deal of sense – I’ve been using zinc tablets for colds, held under the tongue until they dissolve, for quite a while, and they work great as long as I catch the cold in the early stages.

  272. J.L.Mc12, haven’t had a chance to get to the sector. As for wood gas, look up sometime how many trees you have to gasify to power a car on a ten mile drive…

    Housewife, faeries are one subset of nature spirits, as understood by one set of human cultures. It’s a very complex field of lore! As for mysterious rituals by moonlight, hey, those can be useful too! 😉

    Rationalist, that is to say, you think it’s entirely reasonable to demonize the foods you like to demonize. So does everyone else who likes to demonize foods. I suppose if that’s what makes you happy, by all means!

    Fred, you’re welcome. I really am considering an essay, though an entire book would be a stretch — how many different ways can I say “obsessively stressing out about food will do you more harm than the food will” before it gets dull? As for magic, a lot depends on whether you find Judeo-Christian symbolism comfortable to work with. If you do, my cowritten book Learning Ritual Magic is a good introduction. If you don’t, you might consider The Druid Magic Handbook or The Celtic Golden Dawn as options.

    Chris, magpies are members of the crow family, one of the two smartest families of birds — the other is the parrot family. I’m not in the least surprised that one of them talked to you; they’re very bright. I’m not sure whether the sea is in my blood, but I grew up in a maritime climate, and have always been happiest when I’m breathing salt air. As for coal, bingo — it was, as I recall, sometime just before the First World War that coal production per capita peaked and began to slide, and I believe net energy from coal also peaked around the same time. Coal mining since that time has used so much diesel fuel that it’s fair to say that the coal industry today is an indirect way to burn oil.

    Karim, I’d offer you three guidelines. First, don’t stress out about it. Second, no, really, don’t stress out about it. You are a very small part of a very big universe, and everything will work out in due time; if it’s appropriate for you to get involved in spirituality in this lifetime, a viable path will come your way, and if it isn’t appropriate just now, there will be other lives. In the same way, if discursive meditation works for you, practice it, and keep practicing it; you can go very, very far with just one viable practice. (Discursive meditation in particular is an immensely powerful practice, though its effects are subtle and not always easy to notice.) Third, it’s generally wiser to let the gods come to you. The only good reason to go looking for gods is if you can’t stand not to, and in that case they’re usually calling you and will make themselves known to you in good time. In a broader sense, letting it happen is better than making it happen; if you approach the universe with an attitude of openness to possibility and a willingness to follow up whatever clues get sent your way, you’ll end up where you need to be.

    Frank, you’re welcome!

    Christopher, you’re right that it’s an open question whether we need more help with suffering than with joy — or, for that matter, with applesauce. But there’s more going on here than that. Look at the Four Noble Truths — “life is suffering; suffering is caused by cravings and aversions; it is possible to stop suffering; the way to stop suffering is the eightfold path.” The craving for enlightenment is still a craving, though, and the aversion to suffering is still an aversion. Thus the noble truths simply replace one set of desires and aversions with another; by their own logic, they therefore cannot lead to an end to suffering.

    Let’s take this further. Behind Buddhism, and other prophetic religions, is what I’m currently calling the fallacy of abstract perfection — the notion that because we can take words like “suffering” and “bliss,” and combine them with other words such as “no” and “perfect,” that “no suffering” and “perfect bliss” must therefore refer to states human beings can and should achieve, usually by some quest for an arbitrary state of perfection that requires self-mutilation of various kinds. Lopping off your desires and your aversions is no less a mutilation than lopping off a hand or a foot; these things are part of you, and to me, at least, it’s arrogant in the extreme to assume that they’re not there for some good reason. (You did not make them, after all.) Most prophetic religions fixate on some such state of perfection through mutilation, and use that to lure the desperate.

    There is another way: the way of acceptance, which starts from a respect for the organic wholeness of existence. You have desires; you have aversions; you also have hands and feet, not to mention other biological organs that prophetic religions very often get bent out of shape about! Deal with that, not by mutilation but by bringing these things into balance with the wholeness of yourself; abandon the absurd notion that the cosmos owes you some more perfect existence than the one you’ve got; and you can make the most of this and any other lives you may have.

    Hmilowicz, plenty of people find a spiritual path in today’s world, with all its troubles, ecological and otherwise. Whether you can do so isn’t a question I can answer.

    Shane, no doubt. In a world on the far side of the current round of depletion curves, though, I don’t think any future Latin American nation will be able to fund the kind of lavish subsidies we gave Britain.

    Frank, exactly. Most guides to prayer talk about how it’s what’s in your heart that matters.

    Shane, yes.

    Ottergirl, give it a try and see what happens! When you do it, though, focus on the idea that you’re doing it to get the best results for everyone involved, including the troublesome employee.

    Chronojourner, and people who approach biochar — or anything else — from that perspective get no argument from me at all.

    Barefootwisdom, I’ll let you know when I have the chance to give it a try. Time’s been a bit sparse of late, but I have pretty much everything I need, and gluten free beer is in fact the goal; I have, amusingly enough, a Colonial recipe for beer made from molasses, which I got out of The Long Lost Friend, the famous Pennsylvania Dutch grimoire. I plan on calling the beer by that name.

    Juhana, I’ve discussed my views on the future of race and ethnicity here in North America at some length in the old blog; if you consider that pulling punches, I don’t know what to say, because it’s still my best guess as to the way things will play out here. How will things play out on your side of the pond? I don’t know, not having lived there.

    Tidlosa, in the Druid teachings, there isn’t a fall, just a descent. What happens is that unformed, unindividualized “soul-stuff” comes down the planes of existence from the primal source, and enters into manifestation at the mineral level. Individuals then emerge out of the formless mass and work their way back up. As for what the legends of the fall represent, why, that’s a very good theme for discursive meditation, and I encourage you to get to work on it. 😉

    Jdm, welcome to the decline and fall of industrial civilization. It’s not actually different — but it is different from what most people expected…

    Kashtan, I’m perfectly okay with people choosing the diet that suits their needs. What I’m criticizing is the fixation on dietary puritanism that’s become such a widespread obsession in today’s declining industrial societies. “Figure out what kinds of food make you feel healthy, and eat those” is good advice, but so is “stay flexible, since a world in chaos may not provide you with the diet you want” — and so is “obsessive worrying about food will do you more harm than the food itself will.”

    Chris, the carbon thing is certainly part of it, but a lot of people I’ve seen rhapsodizing about biochar aren’t even thinking that far ahead. It’s just a mantra they can repeat to make themselves stop thinking about the future.

    John, Boericke & Tafel is a company — it’s still one of the main homeopathic firms out there. William Boericke was one of the founders, and he and Willis Dewey also wrote books. I have the second edition of “The Twelve Tissue Remedies,” for whatever that’s worth.

  273. @sosick: not that I´ve got any expertise, but intuitively I would agree with those commenters who say that it is not so much a matter of ´´facts´´ but more of a psychological problem; it sounds like those parents feel threatened in their world view. I often find it hard to impossible to get through people´s denial in these matters, and mostly the best I can do is to get them to ´´agree to disagree´´ without any ill feelings (hopefully). In that respect I, too, think that a JMG-post on thoughtstarters (or, indeed, commnents with good ideas on that) might be really helpful.
    Frank from Germany

  274. Thanks to you JMG for the very very thoughtful guidelines. It is a great help. Already I feel more relaxed about the whole affair. You truly are one wise wizard!
    By the way, when will your book on sacred geometry come out? It is something I read about a lot and like to practice.

  275. @Mark Grable October 27, 2017 at 11:12 pm: Thanks for the link, looks like a good design! At the moment I have three commercially bought woodstoves, one in the kitchen with cooking top and baking oven, an ordinary one in the living room and a big wood gas burner which is connected to the central heating and warm water system. One problem with self-made designs here in Germany is overregulation ( I believe we´re notorious for it). Any heating system that involves combustion has to get a certificate from the authorities, which is fiendishly difficult, expensive and time-consuming to get for individual designs, especially if you want to integrate them into existing houses. Furthermore you need to have your ´´burning devices´´ checked by a certified chimneysweep (a kind of guild with accordingly expensive services) and also have your chimney(s) swept by him (it´s usually a he) at regular intervals, at least once a year. Goes without saying that the emissions from your heating system are being monitored as well, and gods help you if the measurements don´t comply with the regulations! In many cases people are being forced to throw out their perfectly good wood stoves because they emit too much (e.g. CO2 or soot particles). That´s why it is so much easier here to go with a commercial wood stove or a prefab-design that comes with all the necessary certificates.
    I like the idea of scattering the wood ash among the trees as an effort to close the circle; sometimes one needs other people to point out things like that, even if they seem obvious once pointed out!
    As for chicken: yes, I do have laying hens, and I do say ´´thanks for the eggs´´ to them, but thanks for the tip nevertheless.
    Frank from Germany

  276. “The craving for enlightenment is still a craving, though, and the aversion to suffering is still an aversion. Thus the noble truths simply replace one set of desires and aversions with another; by their own logic, they therefore cannot lead to an end to suffering.”

    I must kindly offer a correction here.

    A lot of early Buddhist ideas get lost in translation. “Desire” in Sanskrit is kāma, which refers primarily to desire for agreeable sensual pleasures, in addition to psychological gratifications (for example, pride derived from elevated social status). “Enlightenment” is also semantically problematic, since the Sanskrit term is bodhi, which is better understood as awakening (from ignorance of the nature of existence and reality).

    The idea behind the Four Noble Truths is that saṃsāra (involuntary rebirth and all the suffering that accompanies this) is disagreeable, so the logical response is to liberate oneself from this situation, just as you would free yourself from red-hot irons clasped to your ankles (but first you must figure out how to do this, all the while suffering from being in bondage). In this sense, it is not so much about “desire” as it is “seeking” the means to free oneself from pain and bondage.

    Your other point, however, is entirely valid: basic Buddhadharma does, in fact, seek to amputate components of natural personhood, such as sensual desires, anger, jealousy and so forth. In the original Buddhist worldview, the world is brought into existence through the collective karma of beings (there’s no divine or higher design underlying it), and an individual being is but a “mass of suffering”. A lot of these earlier notions are additionally influenced by Brahmanical conceptions of purity: the scriptures remind you of all the “disgusting” fluids from which you were produced in the womb, as well as all the “foul substances” excreted from your body. This is used to justify the quest to abandon the human embodiment for something superior. You become an arhat, i.e., a truly liberated person, only after you’ve completely purged your mind of attachments to all forms of existence. This includes “going beyond” the deva (god) realms (you become superior to Brahma and Indra). So, you also cut off attachment to higher divine realms too.

    One personal problem I have with Buddhist cosmology is that Brahma is said to exist for immeasurable ages before he passes away and is reborn elsewhere (he’s still stuck in saṃsāra), but he’s apparently too ignorant to figure things out during that long cosmic lifespan. The reason given by Buddhists for the lack of true wisdom among the gods is that they’re either having too much fun in heavenly realms or they’re too proud and ignorant, thinking they are creators of the cosmos, to realize the truth before it is too late (and then they die and fall down into a lower realm and repeat the long process of cyclic rebirth through the hell and heavenly realms).

    But, in the original narrative, a young man from an upper-class family has the wealth and privilege to be able to ditch his wife and kid in order to go on a spiritual quest in the wilderness where he experiments with a few teachers before figuring out the ultimate truth of reality, and becoming the only guy alive to have all the right answers. Brahma couldn’t figure anything out even in hundreds of millions of years, so he shows up before the thirty-something year old Buddha and asks him to teach his Dharma.

    The underlying notion in this myth is that the gods exist, but they are simply ignorant. Although I used to be a Buddhist monk, I don’t care for this idea.

  277. Hi JMG,

    Please allow me to rephrase, as I don’t mean to quibble, but to inquire: when you write ‘Ecological Spirituality’, what do you mean?
    The reasons that I inquire:
    -After reading ‘The Wealth of Nature’ and ‘The Long Descent’, I’ve come to respect your thought – It affects how I see the world daily now.
    -When I haven’t understood what you’ve written at first, it’s been productive for me to re-think and inquire.
    -Different people, at different times, use words like ‘ecological’ and ‘biological’ in a number of ways – one way refers to these sciences, another refers to the area of study of these sciences.

  278. Dear JMG,

    introduction short: I have spent my life since early childhood studying nature and the relationship to society, industry, energy.
    I have a degree that’s related and only a couple of years ago I stumbled across your blog, then Tainter, Gail Tverberg, and others
    to finally give me a holistic and consistent view of what I am seeing.
    Your book “After Progress” has opened my eyes further to social phenomena I now consciously observe everyday.

    Today however to not waste your time I want to ask you a specific question:

    I am training to get a feeling for my body under the guidance of a capable witch, to relax myself and become clear.
    She says there is a body “mid”, the lower abdomen which is developed mostly when children have to do physical labour and do it correctly as seen from their parents, as it still is in the 3rd World countries.

    Also Arnold Schwarzenegger has that, she says, as he already had to work at childhood when Austria was still “poor”, or more traditional than today.

    Most people don’t have that in the modern world no matter whether they be athletic or exercising and also Bruce Lee did not have that.

    You, on the other hand must have it, as I was told that a proper practice of Qi Gong is not possible otherwise, and you have written that you have felt and experienced energy flowing there?

    So, do you know of this concept? Has the magical in your life empowered you to have a feeling for your body that so many of us lack? Did you move about a lot as a child?
    My grandmother most probably has that coming from a nature loving family that valued playtime outside above all else.

    Since last year the human body has opened up like a galaxy to me, seeing how much there is to learn, and how little I know, and how through proper training of our body the mind can be transformed, it is impressive.

  279. re. feeding yourself (and friends and family) adequately on a low income: I can only comment from a euopean perspective, of course, but I second the comments of Shane W October 28, 2017 at 1:03 am and Justin October 28, 2017 at 1:05 am (and maybe others in the same vein that I haven´t read yet). I know income inequality in most european countries is enormous but I also know that the price of food in Germany is one of the lowest worlwide (compared to income) and I think it´s not that much more expensive in other european countries (certainly not in the U.K.). A lot of what makes people (feel)* poor has to do with expectations, social status, peer pressure and,increasingly, the unability (or unwillingness) to garden and/or cook from scratch. Seems like the more cooking programs are on TV (I ditched watching telly years ago, but I know they´re still on there), the less the population is actually able to cook, especially plain, unexpensive meals. Exceptions in Europe are probably those countries with a strong self-made kitchen culture ( for wont of a better word) like Italy or France and the poorer East European countries where people retained these skills out of necessity.
    * I´m not trying to belittle people feeling poor; it negatively affects their health and wellbeing. My point is that we need another way of looking at things. In that respect, I think, we could learn a lot from so called third world countries.
    Frank from Germany

  280. @Mark Grable October 27, 2017 at 11:12 pm:  Correction: It should have been CO, not CO2 in my examples of things that are getting measured in the emissions.

  281. @patriciaormsby, lathechuck, Kay Robinson and Steve in Colorado re: food storage

    Thank you all very much for your useful suggestions. I will probably wind up trying them all at some point! I like the idea of having many diverse solutions to a problem, especially in a world of changing and unpredictable weather conditions. That way if one solution fails due to wrong conditions, one of the other ones will probably succeed. I’m hoping that will make for a more resilient homestead.

  282. JMG and all, on Buddhism and the First Noble Truth.
    Stating ‘existence equals suffering’ is a gross oversimplification making it too easy to dismiss – enormous amount of context is lost. I’ll try to clarify as succinctly as I can, hopefully in a way fitting this blog and adhering to ‘early Buddhism/Theravada’ tradition I belong to.

    For a start I’ll quote my dear Teacher, Luang Por Sumedho:

    “The First Noble Truth is not a dismal metaphysical statement saying that everything is suffering. Notice that there is a difference between a metaphysical doctrine in which you are making a statement about The Absolute and a Noble Truth which is a reflection. A Noble Truth is a truth to reflect upon; it is not an absolute; it is not The Absolute. This is where Western people get very confused because they interpret this Noble Truth as a kind of metaphysical truth of Buddhism – but it was never meant to be that.”

    (those who are interested and have time would better just read the book, not that one book is enough of course, meanwhile I’ll continue)

    The Buddha’s teachings contain a lot of references to ‘happiness’ – of various kinds and levels. Attributing the blunt one-sided statement to Buddha is simply untrue. For example, some Suttas describe planes of existence where a being experiences mostly pleasant feelings and states of mind (such a being would reject the statement above immediately, could be a value judgment too. On the other side there are beings killing themselves because their existence is utterly miserable). There are mundane states of happiness in everyday life and the intense/or subtle but profound happiness of refined meditation states. Buddha explains causes for those states to arise at length.

    So instead of ‘equals suffering’ or ‘all is suffering’ actually it reads ‘there is’.
    Ditto for the ‘existence’ part – the supreme happiness of Nibbana exists and is attainable, it is to be realized in this life. Otherwise the way out would be impossible (this is either a statement of faith or trusting those who experienced it, depending on your inclination).

    Now getting to the ‘suffering’, it is true that this is the focus of the Buddha’s Teachings.
    One has to understand what it is through honest, unbiased and immediate investigation of one’s own experience – to focus on the point where body and mind interact is of the most importance.
    Actual word is ‘dukkha’ which means not only the gross forms of suffering, but also any kind of unsatisfactoriness.
    For example, in a commonly applied mode of classifying one’s experience ‘pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings’ the first is ‘dukkha’ not because it is ‘unpleasant’ (it is labeled as ‘pleasant’ already). It is ‘dukkha’ because one can’t find a permanent gratification in it (one has only partial control over it if any: “non-self/anatta” and it inevitably shapes into something else: ‘impermanence/anicca”).
    This impossibility to secure happiness, never having enough, being weary if it stays to long, always seeking for something – is just that: ‘dukkha’, being not satisfied, not having peace. Buddhism is about peace.

    At this place I would define ‘dukkha’ as a function of mind necessary for this form of existence. If there were no dukkha, mind wouldn’t bother ordering inhale after exhale and vise a versa.
    It is a negative feedback for the mind to adjust a position (when it feels something goes wrong or falsely perceives so due to imperfect learning and understanding). Seeing this more or less clearly removes a lot ‘dukkha’ away – namely the ‘guilt’ of the mind, the feeling it can’t cope with its task perfectly. Still, in a big universe which doesn’t care in a slightest a being can’t secure a win in this game. If this is eternal ups and downs and there is an alternative, it is worth to consider it. According to Buddhism it is so.
    (excuse me, I couldn’t make it any shorter)

  283. @JMG “Obsessively stressing out about food will do you more harm than the food will.” 

    That was a commonplace observation among naturopaths half a century ago. It did not stop naturopaths from paying attention to diet. Maybe the distinction between obsessively stressing about something and paying attention to it has been lost in modern America. I can walk through the aisles of a supermarket and simply ignore the junk food, just as I can walk through the woods and ignore the deadly nightshade berries. Sure, they look pretty, but I just ignore them. No stress involved.

    Nevertheless, a problem does arise with essentials, particularly in an urban society where the producer is not also the consumer. In that situation adulteration regularly takes place. Nineteenth century bread included an extraordinary amount of rubbish, including actual poisons, and the same was true in ancient Rome. There is no reason to suppose that the same does not occur nowadays. It’s just that modern adulterants have fancy scientific-sounding names. Perhaps Spengler’s observation that “it’s only when a civilization is well into its decline that people start getting obsessive about shunning the Wrong Food” derives in part from the fact that it takes that long for people to realise what is going on – and indeed from the fact that that is when the most blatant adulteration takes place, as producers desperately try to wring more profits out of a declining economy .

    That still does not mean anyone needs to stress about it, though. The naturopathic dictum that JMG quoted still applies. I don’t consume hydrogenated oils, but I don’t stress about it. If something I want to buy seems suspicious I look it up and act according to my understanding, just as I would when I have suspicions about any other purchase.

    Finally, my old acupuncturist used to say, “Unless you eat rubbish from time to time, your body will never learn how to deal with it.” And occasions may arise when rubbish is all you have available.

  284. JMG, Do you know anyone who has combined the practice of revival Druidry with Heathenry/Asatru? I know there’s nothing inherently contradictory about them and I feel the ancestral focus of Heathenry complements the nature focus of Druidry quite well, but wasn’t sure just how unusual this is if at all.

  285. “The craving for enlightenment is still a craving, though, and the aversion to suffering is still an aversion.Thus the noble truths simply replace one set of desires and aversions with another; by their own logic, they therefore cannot lead to an end to suffering.”

    Buddhism is not ‘a logic’, it is practical system which yields fruits. It is based on insight into causes and effects, through closely looking at what occurs in this body and mind.
    What ends craving and aversion is a clear seeing that they both don’t help or make things worse. At this point mind naturally lets them go.
    When one is just told above, the natural thing to have is, of course, aversion to aversion, this is where everyone starts. One has to go from an abstract understanding to an immediate experience of what works and what doesn’t to gain a previously absent skill. This takes much time, dedication and patience, but very little ‘logic’.

    Four Noble Truths replace (or amend) existing way to deal with suffering with a more profound one. Following Eightfold Path and stealing from someone to gratify immediate need – both answer to immediate problem of not accepting the situation, one is just more profound and skillful. All beings are in the same boat – scratch a one and you’ll find a Buddhist.

  286. @GardenHousewife, others
    yeah, but the point is, poverty in America is supposed to be temporary–no one here is supposed to be impoverished his/her entire life. You either pick yourself up by your bootstraps (the right) or use social services/affirmative action(the left) to get out of the misery of American poverty. No one discusses how to make poverty easier, how to live well on little–the focus is on getting out of poverty. Even the name of the largest anti-poverty programs has temporary in its name–TANF (TEMPORARY Assistance to Needy Families) Considering that the ranks of the impoverished have mushroomed since the beginning of American deindustrialization in the 70s, and will continue to grow as we continue to overshoot limits to growth, the idea of poverty as temporary needs to go away.
    honestly, my experiences here in KY are not the same as yours. Eastern KY and WV are the heart of the heroin/opioid epidemic, and there are tons of social ills and crime that flows from that. I can’t see that there’s much difference between rural and urban social ills in that regard. Even though I’m not in Appalachia, and we don’t have it that bad here (we suffer more of an extreme wealth gap here in horse country), the social ills are pretty much the same. My original posts, though, weren’t referring so much to the crime and social ills of poverty as much as the pathos & misery of poverty in the US. One of the most striking things you notice about the poor here in the US is that the native born poor are way more miserable and maladjusted than the immigrant poor.
    actually, when I was posting, I was thinking of my experiences being poor in Southern Cal, in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area, but there’s a depressingly uniform pathos to poverty in America regardless of region, and there’s certainly neighborhoods and stores in Lexingon and even my own small town that are the same as what I experienced in SoCal. To me, it’s interesting that the poor glorify wealth more than the classes above them–look at rap culture and the lyrics of rap songs. Spend any amount of time with the poor, and you’ll find that a lot of them are convinced that they’re going to “make it” some day, and have a plan to do so.

  287. I worked with a woman from a county in Eastern KY, and she said that the pawn shops back home were full of soda that people on food stamps pawn in order to get cash.

  288. @Juhana,
    I’ve said it before, but I think you’re extrapolating from too narrow an experience to generalize to all humanity. Western Christianity/industrialism is just now coming out of its misogynist/anti-gay phase, and your volkerwanderung is coming from an even more repressed Muslim Middle East. That is not something you can generalize to all humanity. Most traditional cultures have defined roles for queer people and don’t regard them as evil. As for misogyny, there’s cultural diversity in societies from patriarchal to matriarchal and everything in between. As far as our volkerwanderung here in the US, for the most part, their attitudes are not much different than ours. In my medium sized city, there were two Spanish drag shows last night at Latin nightclubs that were very popular and attended by a wide range of mostly immigrant people, not just gay immigrants.

  289. Some musings about the American Revolution – rather old hat to the inhabitants of number 2017, maybe, but a hot topic further down the corridor, to those living behind the doors marked 1775-83.

    Let me hasten to preface my remarks with an assurance that I do know the criticisms that can be levelled against the rebellious colonists – the hypocrisy of claiming freedom for themselves while denying it to slaves; and the unreasonableness of refusing to pay for their own defence, either by taxing themselves via their own Assemblies or by allowing the British Government to tax them.

    I just want to say that I’m nevertheless rather awed by the courage and public spirit of so many people who were willing to lay their lives and fortunes on the line for a fairly abstract principle of representative government. To me, living in a country whose people for almost half a century have allowed our legislature to be subordinate to a foreign bureaucracy, the men of 1776, for all their faults, seem like heroes in comparison. It’s as if human nature has changed in the interim.

  290. JMG, those measurements were taken in the 1950’s.
    Any recommendations for literature on discursive meditation? Thanks.

  291. One of the most impressive things to me about JMG’s magic is how he manages to live among the pathos of American poverty w/out personally being affected. That’s a magical goal I could aspire to 🙂

  292. But JMG, your response about Canada shows that conciliating up and coming powers pads the descent, so that would be true regarding eliciting the Latin Americans to fight the fascists-it wouldn’t eliminate the descent, but pad it and make it less steep, same as Canada…

  293. About cheap homemade food. One good trick is to provide yourself with a blender and slow cook pot, second hand of course,–look for glass lid on the pot and glass container on the blender, for easy soups. fortified yogurt concoctions, pots of beans and so on. For couch surfers, you might want to offer your cooking (and cleaning up) skills to feed the housemates. Two easy things I have never seen a child refuse are 1. quesadilla, AKA Mexican toasted cheese sandwich, which is cheese melted between two tortillas, flour or corn, , and 2. pasta alfredo which is cooked pasta (of the Western kind, doesn’t work with rice noodles or ramen) olive oil or melted butter and some kind of grated cheese–no need to buy expensive grated imported Parmesan unless you live where there is an Italian grocery, where you can get grated cheese in bulk sometimes.

    I think a useful distinction can be made between food faddishness, and deliberately patronizing local and organic producers. I like to avoid chemically enhanced so called food for the same reason I like to avoid plastic junque from Wallyworld; I don’t care to spend money supporting production which I believe lacks integrity. My cash, my decision. As more and more people have begun to turn away from factory farmed and over processed foods, more and more and other people feel their livelihoods threatened. Naturally those other people, who include some of the very wealthy and powerful, react with the whole array of propaganda techniques, including denouncing innocent people with allergies as “faddists”, backed up with other repressive methods, such as ordinances against home production, and even jailing of some home business owners on what are clearly bogus pretexts. You will notice that whenever there is news of a food poisoning case, the contaminated food will be described as “organic” until word gets out, usually a few days later, that it wasn’t organic at all. A host or hostess planning a dinner party ought to inquire about allergies and a guest ought to have informed the host about such allergies; other than that, if you can’t for one day give up your veganism or whatever your special diet is, don’t accept such invitations, even if the previous engagement you have is with a good book and a glass of fine bourbon.

    Getting in strangers’ faces about their food buying is simple rudeness and I would think could be responded to in whatever manner you usually respond to outrageous rudeness. My favorite line in such situations is “I don’t work for you.” but then I am known as a rather uncouth sort.

    Dear Juhana, civilizations which keep half their working strength confined to quarters may spread further north as climate becomes warmer. In North America at least, I don’t think the women’s rights genie is going back into its bottle, for the simple reason that small arms are readily available, along with ammunition, last a long time–dueling pistols from the 18thC can still be cleaned and used, or so I understand– and production of both arms and ammunition continues to this day. Someone looking for a crisis proof occupation might want to consider gunsmithing as well as knife making. Perhaps European countries may need to rethink their opposition to allowing the population to be armed. I am trying to mind my own business here, but I point out that recent migrants into North America seem to find that it is in their interest to be relatively well behaved.

  294. @JMG, thanks for your response! I’ll keep plugging away at the lessons then.

    Unrelated to my previous question, what are some natural magic ingredients that are beneficial for clairaudience/astral hearing? Would some of the herbs listed in Encyclopedia of Natural Magic for clairvoyance be useful for clairaudience as well?

  295. John,

    Regarding coal production – do you any references that support the idea that coal production, at least in the eastern part of the country, produces little or no net energy? Totally logical and I feel that we are close to or in that situation already.

  296. @Shane W:

    The Eastern Kentucky poor pawning soda need to catch up! Why not buy fermentables with food stamp money and make your own hooch?? Of course I’m being a little judgmental there – they may be using the money to pay the light bill and not to buy alcohol…but then really, who needs a light bill?? Subtraction and behavioral innovation is where it’s at!

    In case there was any ambiguity, I’m certainly not biding my time poor trying to catch the wave to wealth again. I’ve been there and done that – college degree in a useful subject, mortgage on the water, 2 vehicles, even a little boat. We had a DINK lifestyle for many years. It was having our first child that changed our wicked ways. Well, that and losing my employment contract in the last real estate bust, blowing through all my retirement savings trying to save face while I scrambled for a new job, being foreclosed on, moving into an unused and dilapidated family house, having my one remaining car repossessed, riding the bus, having to use food stamps (which is when I learned to make mead and hard cider – shh, don’t tell anyone!)

    Then I had that epiphany in January 2009, learned about peak oil, realized that the tide was turning against the American dream, and started doing things a liiittle differently. These days I spend a fair portion of my time helping others build self-reliance into their lives. People know I’m as poor as a church mouse, but I don’t allow them to treat me like an inferior. Or pay me less. I’ve used my advanced knowledge of the situation to develop a useful skill set, and I think a timely one!

    Always more work to do though…

  297. Hi John Michael,

    Ah, of course, it is the arm chair theorist yet again reclining at their leisure and shouting mantras and slogans. I’m perhaps more concerned with the practical implications of that technology. As far as I can understand the situation nothing beats getting organic matter into the soil and then not disturbing it again for several years. I can’t speak for your part of the world, but garden beds here take about three years to get properly established where they can then begin to self regulate and become resilient to climate shocks. You can of course speed that process up, but that involves including an even wider diversity of organic materials and even then it still takes a long time from a human perspective. From what I see, as a society we are flogging our soils to death. Not good.



  298. All this talk about “biochar” (come on folks, it’s charcoal…biochar is just a fancy trade name) seems to be focused on what it ISN’T. Let’s talk about what charcoal IS.

    First, it’s a fairly recalcitrant burnt wood remnant that isn’t all that reactive with nitrogen. So any talk about it depleting nitrogen from garden soil is largely misguided, or misunderstood.

    Second, it’s a great anchor and leaping-off point for beneficial fungi in the garden and orchard.

    More important than that though, it provides a wealth of sheltered sites for cation exchange in the rhizosphere.

    I’m going to go ahead and side with commenter Red Oak on this one. It’s best to just add your wood stove ash and charcoal to the compost pile. With a sawdust toilet we make LOTS of compost, so I’m never concerned about adding too much, and it sounds like that would be tough to do anyway.

    But while we’re on the subject, compost is probably the most important thing we can be making! Compost everything you can – aside from the usual suspects, add the contents of vacuum bins and dustpans, haircuts, wood ash, paper towels, dead chooks, bodily wastes, yourself…

    Compost everything! And yes, use your charcoal too.

  299. On hugelkultur:

    I’ve been making hugelkultur beds for 8 years now. In fact, the aforementioned $800 check is a half payment for a hugelkultur project I’m working on right now – biggest one to date. I’m building about 100 linear feet of hugelkultur beds for an older lady who came to my talk on the subject this past spring at our local library.

    Let me just say this, if you’re having problems with nitrogen depletion in your hugelkultur beds you’re using the wrong kind of wood. The buried wood needs to be old. It needs to be dark, half-rotten, not reactive in the nitrogen cycle anymore. And don’t use aromatic or rot-resistant woods like cedar, redwood, or locust. You want this material to act like a sponge! So find wood that reminds you of a sponge! Some fresh sticks and leaves are OK, but stay away from anything dense or heavy, any wood wood. You’re getting rid of your junk here – that’s half the point. Does that make sense?

    Hope that’s useful. And yes, they work as advertised. I’ve made a point of never watering any of my hugelkultur beds, and they keep churning out edibles year after year anyway.

  300. I often think of space exploration as “faltering, doomed first steps.” Our first attempt at a technic civilization (a wonderful term, thank you for introducing me to it) is doing terrible things to the Earth’s biosphere, yes, but it’s also exploring new possibilities, and I find spaceflight to be among the most interesting.

    Maybe in 500 years, or 5,000, or 50,000 we’ll have gained enough experience with machines to export life sustainably beyond Earth’s surface. I don’t expect to live to see it (obviously, with timeframes like those), but neither do I consider these stumbling explorations to be worthless.

    Perhaps this is just the religion of progress stretched out over millenia instead of decades, but I do none the less find it a comforting thought.

  301. @Tripp,
    (see above), sigh, my guess is they’re using the cash to buy “Her-on”, fentanyl, and other narcotics. And I’d never consider you among the “conventionally” poor, Tripp, you and the other purposeful homesteaders are about as far from it as I can think! 🙂

  302. Patricia, That’s a good idea, I actually have one is storage and will set it up once I move to next month! Thank you for the suggestion.

    Nichalos, I’d heard about those clubs, but only know about one that’s in a town to the east of me. I’ll keep my ear to the ground, where there is one there must be others. Thank you for the advice, knowing about the martial club culture in my city will probably be extremely advantageous for me in the future.

    David, Sideways and upside down seems to be common now days. By the way, this is an open question to anyone. Do you find that your meditation is more difficult after prolonged Internet use? I’ve found that reading improves my meditative focus, while digital media disrupts it.

    Fred, HEMA groups are actually increasingly common in my area. I’ll definitely have to check them out. I hope to accomplish exactly what you’ve accomplished, focused and relaxed while under constant assault. My mind is fairly unfocused at the best of times, and completely chaotic at the worst. I feel like that learning to keep ones guard up in the physical realm is a good way to learn to keep it up in the mental and spiritual realms too. The latter two seems to be increasingly necessary now days.

    D’boots, You know, I have been neglecting long walks in the fall. I used to love this season for exactly that reason.

    Archdruid, I’ll give journaling a try, I never considered talking to my anger. The worst thing about my anger, at least right now, is that I don’t feel like it belongs to me. Does it make any sense if I say that it feels like the anger belongs to the object of my anger rather than to me?



  303. Karim, the one book on that subject I’ve written to date — the book that goes along with The Sacred Geometry Oracle card deck — appears to be hung up indefinitely yet again in small publisher limbo. (This is the purgatorial realm where somebody who promised to get a book into print a couple of years ago ended up with too much going on in other dimensions of their lives and still hasn’t had the time to get back to it. Sigh…) I’ve been mulling over other books on sacred geometry, but haven’t written them yet. When that happens, I’ll keep the list posted.

    Jeffrey, I’m still having trouble seeing why an aversion to samsara isn’t simply another aversion, since the supposed unpleasantness can be compared to the sensory discomfort of red-hot iron manacles — or is that just a traditional turn of phrase? I suppose the core of the problem here, though, is that I don’t find existence disagreeable, and belief systems that start from the presupposition that it must be disagreeable thus don’t have much appeal to me. The fixation on amputating the supposedly imperfect parts of life, of course, is also an issue.

    Brian, thanks for clarifying. Words such as “spirituality” and “ecology” are best understood as ostensive labels — that is, the equivalent of a finger pointing at something and a voice saying “something like that.” Otherwise we end up in a swamp of verbal definitions where every word is defined by other words, which are defined by other words, and so on. Thus I’m not going to give you a verbal definition; if you want to know what I mean by “ecological spirituality,” you’re welcome to come along for the ride.

    Labor Case, no, I didn’t move around a lot as a child. I have Aspergers syndrome, and so grew up as a shy, socially awkward, bookish child with a great deal of physical clumsiness — never once in my childhood, for example, did I manage to hit a baseball with a bat. (I haven’t tried since middle school, so can’t specify anything more recent.) The energy in the womb center — well, if you don’t have it, according to what I was taught, you’re dead; that’s the center of life energy in the body, and it can be developed quite readily by abdominal breathing and exercises such as t’ai chi and qigong. You don’t need to grow up doing heavy labor to get it! Karlfried von Durkheim’s Hara; The Vital Center in Man is a good intro to the concept, using mostly Japanese examples; Westbrook and Ratti’s Aikido and the Dynamic Center includes a very good intro to the concept as well.

    Danil, many thanks for this! As my exposure to Buddhism comes entirely from English language writings, and I don’t read either Pali or Sanskrit, I’m quite aware that my grasp of its concepts may be faulty. If the First Noble Truth amounts to “suffering exists” then it’s an unexceptionable statement. Still, that only pushes my disagreement back one step. Why, for example, should I find it unsatisfactory that no pleasure is permanent? I don’t, as it happens; whether we’re talking about a sensual pleasure such as a cold beer on a hot day, or an intellectual pleasure such as reading a well-written paragraph, the mere fact that I’ll be going on to some other experience shortly, to me, takes nothing away from the delight in the experience itself. Peace, similarly, is an experience; so is engaging in conflict, and both have their upsides and their downsides. (If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, for example, you already know that I take a positive delight in intellectual conflict; too much peace in a forum such as this one makes it dull.)

    All of which circles back around to a point I may not have made forcefully enough: I was asked why I didn’t find Buddhism appealing, and my answer was focused on that. I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that everyone else ought to find it as unappealing as I do. If you, examining your experience of life, feel that the universe as it exists really is unsatisfactory, then by all means pursue the Buddhist dhamma. Since I don’t find that to be true, I choose a different path.

    Doug, and I also ignore the junk food. I just don’t see the point in obsessing about the subject, or pushing my diet on everyone in sight.

    Jeremy, yes, I’ve met a number of people who do it. If it works for you, by all means pursue that.

    Lydia, there are quite a few of us out here filling the role the author of that article pretends to want. Could I ask you, and any others of my readers who feel the urge, to consider doing me a favor? Go to the comments page of that article and post things talking about your favorite authors who have already challenged the church of technology, whether that’s E.F. Schumacher, Ivan Illich, or somebody else. Please feel free to point out to the author that this has been going on for more than half a century now, too!

    Danil, a spirited answer! Here again, though, if my experience of life doesn’t support the claim that desire and aversion necessarily make things worse — if I notice, for example, that my sensual desire for tasty food leads me to cook good meals, that my aversion from discomfort leads me to avoid walking through patches of poison ivy, and that far more generally desire and aversion are natural, healthy, and when held within the bounds of a reasonable discipline, productive of happiness rather than dukkha — I find it hard to think of any reason why Buddhism should appeal to me.

    Robert, I share your admiration for the people who put their lives on the line to create an imperfect but functioning republic here, and in fact one of the unexpected benefits of moving to Rhode Island is that I’m now literally walking some of the same streets those men and women walked. I disagree that human nature has changed in the interval, though. I’d encourage you to get Ben Franklin’s autobiography, or a good collection of letters from and to any of this nation’s founders, or some similar document or collection of documents from that period that reveals their thoughts and daily lives; you’ll find that they contended with the same mixed motives, personal issues, and everyday problems you and I face. For that matter, the recent Brexit vote suggests that there’s a small but significant majority of British subjects right now whose attitude toward the foreign bureaucracy you mention is something that Ben et al. would have recognized and welcomed!

    Bruno, when in the 1950s? Her weight went up and down sharply during that decade, again, due to binge dieting and an assortment of pills.

    Shane, my wife and I were extremely poor when we first got married — poor as in living in a cockroach-ridden studio apartment with a food budget of $10 a week. (This was in 1984, admittedly, when a $10 bill went further than it does now.) We chose that deliberately, since it was part of the price tag for rejecting the corporate-drone lifestyle both our families expected us to pursue. Once you’ve done that, if you do it deliberately and with full acceptance, poverty will never scare you again, and it also loses its power to make you miserable.

  304. JMG,
    it’s not fear of poverty or being poor, per se, for me, but internalizing the pathos and misery and all the other attendant social ills and negative energy that emanate from it. Maybe there is no difference, maybe it is all one an the same, but, to me, there’s seems to be a difference. I think that your magical practice probably enables you to detach better and not take on others’ or your surroundings dark energy as much. I don’t think I’ve yet developed this spiritual inoculation yet.

  305. Shane, funny. By all means advocate that policy when you’re elected to the Confederate House of Representatives, then. 😉

    Ross, yes, you can use the clairvoyance herbs for clairaudience as well; you’ll simply need to wash your ears with a potion made from them, rather than your eyes. Franz Bardon’s Initiation into Hermetics also gives some useful preparations which can be adapted in the same manner.

    John, I don’t have any at present, though I believe that I’ve seen them in the past.

    Chris, that’s been my experience as well; after three years of compost amendments the soil really takes a turn for the better.

    Threewestwinds, if that’s what works for you, by all means. I tend to think of it as being much more like the quest for perpetual motion; it doesn’t work, and future generations will have a much better idea of why it doesn’t work.

  306. I won’t argue with you about adaptability being useful, but adaptability has its limits too.

    As for stressing out, I’m much less stressed out overall than I used to be before I started taking charge of my own health (paying attention to diet has been an important part of that but not the only part). In the mid 2000s my body and mind were in pretty rough shape but I could only get useless diagnoses such as “irritable bowel syndrome” from the medical establishment, so I resolved to take a holistic approach, and it has made a huge difference although there’s still some issues they’re much less extreme than before, i’m just still prone to relapses if I’m not careful. The need to be careful does lead to a certain amount of stress, but considerably less stress than inflammation, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, strange neurological symptoms and the other consequences of relapse leads to.

    I got plenty of advice amounting to “don’t stress out about food” and for a while I did take it to heart and stayed in denial which just made it worse. Even when I started to realized that certain foods and other environmental stimuli were triggering things, I ignored it for a while as it got worse thinking that sine other people can eat a diet filled with worse things than I was and are fine, my conclusions from my own experience were faulty, especially since results of traditional allergy tests were negative (I later learned about the difference between IgE and IgG allergies, only IgE are traditionally tested for, and the difference between an intolerance and an allergy, intolerances don’t involve immune reactions at all just problems with digesting and/or metabolizing something).

    My own level of adaptability has increased, I can get away with more now than a few years ago, and I hope that at some point I can get to a more normal level of adaptability as far as food goes, but that’s just not the case now. It seems to me that the number of people dealing with the sort of issues I have dealt with is increasing, and calling them neurotic isn’t going to do them any good.

  307. Greetings from the beautiful rainy northwest!

    It was my pleasure to see many tree frogs this weekend at a local corn maze/harvest market. I love those little frogs. My partner and I make a point of going to that particular maze every October just to practice our “frog eyes” (they are very good at hiding) and see how many reveal themselves to us. The last few years there have not been many, but we were overjoyed to find so many singing away this time. So many bees out visiting the remaining flowers, too.

    Garden Housewife- Thanks for sharing recipes. These look very much like what my grandmother used to make regularly when cooking for our small family (it was mom, me, and grandma). Her favorite meal for herself was bread and butter with some beans. She raised her 5 siblings through the Depression years and knew so much about so many practical things. I wish I had learned more from her while she was here.

    My current favorite inexpensive and low-effort meal is green or yellow lentils with some chopped carrot and onion, salt & pepper, and one smoked turkey wing from the grocery store deli thrown in for flavor and a little meat. The turkey wing is pretty large and usually costs me only about $1.50. I throw it all in the crock pot on low if I leave it all day, or high if I want it in about 3 hours. If I have chicken stock on hand I cook it in that, but plain old water works fine as well. I usually eat it over rice. Multiple meals and very filling.

    Varun- I do find that too much time spent on the internet or on social media does make meditation afterwards more difficult. It also makes settling down to carve or sketch a bit more difficult to get into the zone with. If I do it, extra time usually has to be taken to collect myself in from a more diffuse, scattered state of mind. I’m trying out performing the LBRP between the two kinds of activities to see if it helps shift my state of mind, along with limiting the time I spend on the internet. It’s been working well so far. Reading doesn’t seem to have the same kind of negative impact for me, either.

    You fellows talking about brewing are really making me want to get it together and try my hand at it too!

    With warm regards,

  308. JMG, re your comment:

    “Ramaraj, heck if I know. I sometimes wonder if the reason so many people go running after artificial excitement is that they’re so dull that they’d bore themselves to tears if they didn’t keep themselves distracted — but that may just be a burst of cattiness on my part“.

    Not cattiness at all, but the truth. When the sort of people who run after artificial excitement say “I’m bored”, I repy (sometimes just in my own head) “No, you ARE boringing“.

  309. Greetings JMG

    I just typed out a somewhat long winded question and in the course of that long-windedness and rereading some of the related discussion here managed to answer it for myself. So thanks, everyone, for that!

    I’m at a standstill in regards to some key aspects of magical practice (namely, which one is most appropriate for me at this time, if any?). Mainly whether to go back to “old familiar” with new eyes and a determination to explore the parts that put me off until true revelation or rejection occur, or to engage with a new-to-me tradition whose deity names and alphabet do nothing for me compared to the energetic punch the symbols, sounds, and structures of the old system have- but which has a theology and cosmology the “trueness” of which sets the bells ringing inside me.

    I come from a Western Hermetic and Qabalah based background (via Crowley, via G.D.), and am drawn towards practices and worldviews more like the ones described in the Druid Magic Handbook. I’ve been reading extensively in other Western traditions- PoN, Bardon, and the like to survey more of the terrain, but that’s all been just reading and thinking an not doing. Too many choices.

    While I’m not trying to work both systems fully simultaneously (bad idea), at the moment I’m focusing on making artwork as my main spiritual work, and incorporating some practices from each of these two kinds of traditions into regular daily practice without actively, consciously pushing the initiatory aspects of either.

    It feels like I can safely continue this level of practice mixing both as long as I don’t press forward with more serious commitments to either. So far it’s been fine. It may not be time yet for a long time, and I am more than challenged with this new phase of art making, but am still feeling a strong undercurrent of frustration and dissatisfaction with this in-between state that seems to be going on what feels like forever.

    Any advice? I’m sure it’ll work itself out in time, it’s just not much fun the mean time 🙂

    Thanks for the good company and good conversation along the way!

  310. What can be said about the incense that should be used in an ovate temple? I know very little about incenses, but the idea to take something local feels right. The winter has however already come where I live. Could pine-needles be a good idea? There are also junipers, spruces, and lichens, which would be easy to harvest during the winter.

  311. Hi John Michael,

    Thanks for the comparison. I was sort of hoping that the situation might go faster in your part of the world. Oh well, these things happen. This subject is on my mind because I may start feeding the orchard tomorrow morning with compost (if the weather suits that task).

    I didn’t reply to your magpie comment because I wrote the story in full tonight on the blog. I never knew that about the magpies, but apparently their memory recollection is quite spectacular too. It seems most unwise to annoy birds that have good memories, live for up to 20 years, and are brave enough to share their opinions in a confrontational manner! ;-)! I wasn’t aware that the parrots were up there too, and three different varieties live here. I may have to stop swearing!

    You know, the funny thing is that twice today I have mentioned in passing conversations that living here is one of the most complex puzzles I’ve yet put my brain to. And yet, there are all these other birds, animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians living here… Clearly, they are the clever ones.

    And this whole “life is suffering” business seems a bit off to me. In fact the concept feels a bit egotistical to me because the universe is utterly indifferent to our existence. As far as I can understand things, the universe as it appears to us is a manifestation of the will of the creators of this universe and we are simply part of that. And the universe is way bigger than us! The whole life is suffering abstract concept feels to me as if it relegates the human existence to background noise and provides for a sense of futility. Some may be happy with that, but I am not. In fact I reckon it is up to us to grab the bull by the horns. Yea, even though we may fail at that.



  312. JMG,

    “I’m still having trouble seeing why an aversion to samsara isn’t simply another aversion, ”

    We need to understand the two main schools of thought on this issue.

    The way saṃsāra is framed in the early literature is multi-life. The basic idea is that even though human life has its ups and downs, and for most people it will be tolerable, the problem is that you have no control over your future rebirth. Your karma could direct you downward into the hell and animal realms. Even if you are reborn among the gods, you’ll eventually fall down from that position. Saṃsāra is understood symbolically as a wheel, or like migration. This whole process is fueled by desire and deep attachments to existence. Having grown weary of this, the seeker “steps off” the wheel by ridding themselves of desires, while also remedying ignorance and other faults.

    The issue of aversion, however, is more of a Mahāyāna idea, since their view is that there is actually nothing inherently wrong with the world. The awakened bodhisattva does not suffer because they possess wisdom, but they do not abandon the world because they possess compassion. This is quite different from the earlier arhat ideal, because if you understand the nature of reality according to Mahāyāna (i.e., that everything is dependently originated, ergo “empty of inherent existence and illusory-like”), aversion is equally as problematic as craving. This is because impulsive emotional reactions are an indication that you do not really perceive things as empty and illusory. The goal of the bodhisattva is sort of “Stoic” calm. The way they used to test this in India was to make Brahmans eat meat and other impure substances (I won’t go into details).

    To summarize, there’s different Buddhist views on the matter. The arhat cultivates aversion to cyclic existence and their physical form, whereas the bodhisattva transcends both aversion and desire, seeing things as illusory instead, and actively engaging the world to benefit beings in distress. The bodhisattva still amputates all sorts of human features (if you truly have wisdom, it is believed that you won’t experience lust for instance).

  313. A belated comment to Mandeville99: I know the lure of shiny electronic gadgets, too. It takes some time and effort to get over it; particularly, when the quality, longevity and usability of electronic goods goes down. Because of this, consumer electronics aren’t as interesting any more to me as they once were. An example would be digital photography. Instead of chinging films, if one wants to have an digital camera with a better sensor, one must buy a new one. That was especially true in the early day of digital photography when sensors were not as good as today, and when digital cameras were more expensive. To view and to process the images, you need a good computer with a screen with good color fidelity. To print images, you need a printer, or at least an internet connection to let the images be printed out. Pigment ink printers and their inks are even more expensive than normal printers and their ink. This all adds up to considerable complexity and cost.
    In the last years, big companies like Amazon, Facebook, Ebay, and some others gobbled up an ever larger piece of retail sales, websites and other things. Does that count as one form of economic simplification, which happens during the decline of a civilization?
    Workdove, J. M. Greer and others, it has occurred to me that in western society, there is an expectation, that your life has to be full of action and that your leisure must be exciting, fitting this or that fashionable way to spend it, like exercising, yoga, jogging, sport or such the like. And the expectation is to be outgoing, and to have a wide and active social network with parties and other meetups. And the collective leisure activities, which are available, more or less tend to follow the lowest common denominator. So, people with bookish inclinations unassuming lifestyles tend to be regarded not following an entirely normal lifestyle.
    By the way, the open posts are interesting. One never knows what comes up.

  314. Hi JMG, I went to the Guardian article comments section to try to post what you were suggesting, as i thought it a good idea. However, I would have to create a Guardian account to comment, and I had no desire to do so. Plus, the only two comments already there were quite inane, barely readable. I understand your reaction, and am certainly well aware that many others, including yourself, have been talking and writing about this for many decades. However, usually that does not get mainstream attention. So what I found interesting here is that an article of that persuasion is actually in a mainstream setting. To me, that does not mean that that particular author is any more knowledgeable or convincing–in fact undoubtedly less–than the persons you mentioned. (Not being familiar with the author, I am not sure what you’re referring to say you say “what he pretends to want”). The encouraging part , to me, is that people who might never run across your blog, or who have never encountered E.F. Schumacher, et. al., might see this and begin to think a little.

  315. John, re the complex of motives animating the zeal of the American Revolution: I agree it’s all explicable in its own terms, but I think it is important to retain one’s sense of surprise. I suspect that my astonishment at the contrast between the patriots of 1776 and the… (don’t know how to say it without seeming offensive to some) of my country in the past half century, is a sign that I’m on to something, though I don’t know what that something is. It baffles me and I think it’s vitally important to retain one’s pristine bafflement, rather than shrug it off, as one so easily can, by allowing the sheer detail and coplexity of life to smudge the astonishment away.

    Tell you what, I’m going to let rip and risk revealing what I really think, with two caveats. First, it’s merely about what happened, not why. Second, I stress that some of those whom I love and admire are Remainers; and I’m not just saying that to be polite and to avoid being expelled from your blog.

    I used to regard patriotism as purely a moral issue, and to look down my priggish nose at non-patriots (leaving definitions aside for the moment, please, or I’ll never get the main point written). Since then, though, I have increasingly regarded it as primarily visionary and aesthetic. Lacking patriotism isn’t being bad; it’s more like being blind or tone-deaf.

    Morals come into, though, in that aesthetic achivements are things we are duty bound to preserve. You wouldn’t put a tone-deaf chap in charge of an orchestra, would you? Nor should non-patriots be put in charge of a country.

    Moreover, and here’s where Edmund Burke scores over Tom Paine, patriotism is more than about salami-slice democracy (i.e. one generation choosing what it likes, and be damned to the heritage of the past and the consequences of the future). Like those poor devils the Italians who through no fault of their own have been left in charge of the biggest open-air art museum in history (i.e. Italy), a stupendous heritage which they have been saddled with and are duty bound to conserve, so we Brits have our fantastic constitutional heritage to think of – we have no right to abandon the sovereignty our forefathers bled to retain. No one generation has the moral right to abandon its heritage (again, please let me off definitions here or my blog-entry will never end).

    Democracy without time-travel is necessarily incomplete and needs to be Burke-ified by the next best thing to time-travel, the 4-D sense of inhabiting a rich timeline – i.e. historical knowledge and an appreciation of saga, of being part of an epic story – of, in short, heritage.

    Heck, what am I doing? I’m inconsistently arguing against that same Tom Paine who was a mainstay of those revolutionaries for whom I have just now been expressing my admiration.

    I’m going round in circles. Help, anyone?

    By the way, you mention the Brexit vote, John. Give me a one-paragraph safe-conduct to blow off steam about that. Yes the referendum vote showed that we in the scepter’d isle have some patriots left – but oh boy what took us so long?? And of course Parliament is going to make a mess of Brexit – it has to; the institution is rotten with Remainers; and why is that so? Answer, because the electorate put them there. For four decades Euroquislings were rewarded with votes and political office. I stood for Parliament twice for the UK Independence Party (in 2001 and 2005, getting under 700 votes each time) and found it almost impossible to get anyone to consider the merits of representative government as opposed to rule by the Thing. I could have done with a few Thomas Jeffersons on my side then, but unfortunately they seem to be absent from my constituency. Sorry, sorry, end of diatribe; back into polite mode…

    But it does make me wonder at times if goodness is over-rated. When British self-government is opposed by good people like Obama and the Archbishop of Canterbury and many of my best friends, and supported by bad people like Trump and me… sheesh! Sorry, I’m being naughty. I apologize.

  316. Dear JMG,

    one good reason I was also asking is that I have learned how many many people especially in the West
    are making a malpractice of tai-qi or qi-gong, either because the teachers do not want to correct their movements precisely and be honest about how long it really takes to just do basic exercises correctly, or because teachers don’t know that well themselves.

    With incorrect movements I mean like a crooked back, feet bent inwards, head not straight and all that.
    People who malpractice, I was told will break themselves in time and cannot continue when they get older.
    For example while Qi-Gong is a practice that regenerates and strengthens yin, a wrong practice might
    even damage that.

    Is that your experience too? Did you have competent and honest teachers, or do you as a magical person simply feel energy flowing and know to distinguish right from wrong there?

  317. Sending virtual thumbs up on your refreshing treatment of biochar, macroneurotic diet, and the fallacy of abstract perfection. Clarity is not the enemy of philosophy.

  318. JMG, Tripp, others,
    you got me to thinking. Having been “crazy poor” in the past, and deep in “the system” (I won’t go into exhibitionistic detail here), yet having seen “principled, voluntary poverty”, as you all have demonstrated, I have a fear of contagion of the social ills of poverty. Thanks for helping me to see. You got me to reflect.

  319. Dear JMG,
    First, I didn’t intend to interfere with yours or anyone’s choice, just merely pointed out that there is a misunderstanding regarding goals and approaches of Buddhism. It looks that I didn’t succeed in this though, since my note that ‘dukkha’ is necessary for a being to stay alive and mentioning that Buddha didn’t deny pleasures went unnoticed (you have a lot traffic here, so it is understandable).
    Buddha referred to the Path as ‘Middle Way’ – the one between indulging in pleasures and self-mortification. It is as simple as that – unchecked obsession with pleasure builds momentum which reinforces attachment and destroys one (think of young people with money or drinkers or people obsessed with sex), what you’ve referred to as self-mutilation doesn’t work (in case you wonder, monastic rules in Buddhism are for different purposes, but explaining this a whole new story).
    Basically, on a mundane level Buddhism teaches to be happy by having little needs and being content and improve one’s quality of life by wisely exercising patience and understanding. Or to prefer quiet happiness of not having an itch to the exciting and pleasant process of scratching. This is against the grain of worldly values, but I think you will probably appreciate this a little bit. It is just a common sense really and I don’t want to defend/justify a position that Buddhism has against yours, since I don’t see much difference on this level.
    On a cosmological level, there is a difference indeed. That is why I’ve asked once, what makes you think that Personalities ‘progress’ (sorry, this is the best word which works and you used it too) mostly upwards, while other observable processes exhibit ‘raise-and-fall’ pattern.
    If you can secure your quality of life in the cosmos, not worse than we have, for instance – it is one thing. If due to factors not under our control or our sheer stupidity we may land somewhere else – it is the other (I remember you saying, that being born as an animal is no fun at all, fully agree).
    This kind of motivation is called ‘seeing danger in sansara’ in Buddhism. Just not willing to take risks, even if it looks like a good party is going on board right now.
    Still, I don’t care that much about the difference on this, since it is not immediate, I respect what you are doing and I appreciate the possibility of having an alternative view on what interests me.

  320. JMG and commentariat:

    If I may be so bold, permit me to ask once more for feedback for the essay I wrote: For those of you who have read it, may I ask; were the arguments cogent, was the writing functional? How was the style and composition? I’ve been a bit puzzled that the comment I posted which become the essay received quite a bit of encouragement for further development, but the full essay itself in blogdraft has received no feedback whatsoever. If this is because the essay has serious problems, clumsy stylistic elements or even makes specious claims I can accept that. Indeed, it would improve the essay if I knew the weaknesses seen by other people’s less involved eyes. I liked JMG’s idea of attempting to publish it in print or online, and would benefit immensely to read feedback from others who may affirm, criticize, disagree with or savage my work. Any help in this regard is sincerely appreciated.

  321. @GH: Awesome, thank you! I’m writing these down. 🙂
    @Sandy: My mom used to say “only boring people are bored” when my sister and I complained. (Or, more often, “I can think of something for you to do,” which inevitably involved cleaning our rooms.) As mentioned, I enjoy the occasional bit of decadence and/or wanderlust, but I think being *able* to entertain oneself is an essential skill for adulthood.
    @Robert Gibson: Interesting. As someone who personally doesn’t feel or get patriotism–I try to be a good citizen of the US because it’s to my advantage and that of my loved ones that I keep living here, and so the social contract and my own self-interest demands that I contribute–I also don’t feel any sentimental attachment toward my hometown, schools, etc, and have wondered from time to time if that’s related. But it means I feel the opposite re: government: patriotism is sentiment, and sentiment has no place influencing practical matters.
    (While I’m also all for considering the future, I don’t, furthermore, think I owe the past anything. For one, I didn’t have much choice about it–commitments require informed consent on both sides to be valid, IME–and for another, those concerned are dead, and likely have better things to focus on. I love/loved my grandparents dearly, for instance, but I don’t think I’m obligated to live my life the way they would approve of, or even that my parents would, come to that.)
    re: Buddhism, I find that I have the same issues that JMG describes. I quite enjoy most of my current existence, if it gets worse in the future it’s likely to get better again, and if a future life is nasty and brutish it’s also likely to be short, and then I get to spin the wheel again. I don’t *want* to be reborn as one of those caterpillars that gets eaten alive by wasps, but if that’s the price I pay for a couple of pleasant lives in human-or-otherwise bodies, eh. On one level, it’s not like I remember it; on another, it all works out.

  322. Well, geez, JMG, I think the Confederacy and Texas should qualify as Latin American countries based on population alone. Don’t countries have an obligation to protect their citizens living abroad. 😉

  323. From a polytheist point of view, do the gods focus on particular ethnic groups, geographical regions, or various natural areas (thunder, the sea, the forest, etc.)? When people travel from one land to another, do they bring their gods with them, or should they adopt the worship of local gods? Should people approach the gods of their ancestors first, as a kind of courtesy, or are they free to pray to whomever will listen?

    One convenient thing about monotheism is the belief that the one God is everywhere, even in a doomed settlement on Mars.

  324. @Violet: My suggestion for the first rewrite would be to reverse the order of the paragraphs, starting with your last and ending with your first. Or else, to take a huge piece of paper (or whiteboard) and draw an array: a visual map of the thoughts in each paragraph, put down higgledy-piggedly as they appear, then clustered into related concepts by drawing lines and arrows and establishing a new sequential order based on the clumps of thought. As it stands, it does not flow either logically or persuasively for me.

  325. Hi Violet,

    I read your essay and commented on it’s web site. Hoping to be helpful as far as I understood what you wrote.

  326. Xabier, I like that! It’s interesting too that “old lady” was used as a term of respect. Nowadays, if you call someone old they take it as a huge insult. It’s really a shame that Baby Boomers, when they were still young and stupid, decided to turn old age into something to be looked down on and sneered at. Now in their old age they whine about age discrimination. Did they think they’d never get old? It’s kinda sad though that the Boomers who weren’t like that are dealing with the same disrespect in their twilight years. It would be better if “age discrimination” could be saved for the ones who deserve it.

    This is, in my opinion, one very big reason why we have lost so much that previous generations knew. When the elderly are looked at as old fools instead of sources of wisdom and knowledge, younger people don’t turn to them for advice. The sad thing is that too many of the Boomers became the old fools they thought the ones before them were. I think they were so busy trying to hold onto their youth that they short-circuited their own growth.

    Fortunately, I know some Boomers who are good examples of how to grow old gracefully. My parents, for instance, didn’t try desperately to look and act young. The funny thing though is that my parents are genuinely youthful because they have stayed interested in a lot of different things and have spent a lot of time with their grandchildren. The ones who still are trying to be young and hot just look unhappy and ridiculous.

  327. Hi JMG,

    Long time reader of ADR here, checking back into the conversation. My question is about your recent relocation and adjustment to apartment living.

    I know that your ADR blog regularly reminded readers that the LESS lifestyle didn’t require running off to a farm, but as an apartment dweller I always struggled with tangible ways to put that into practice. Apartments put hard limits on how much you can modify your abode (no more solar hot water heater for instance). Home food production becomes starkly limited to containers in windows/balcony space, etc. In my mind, the biggest problem renters face as the future unwinds is the monthly rent (although its not that different from owing money on a mortage). We are a long way off from being able to trade goods/services for a roof over ones head. The rent seekers will be the bane of the working class for decades to come.

    The vagaries of life often force us into less than ideal conditions, and I’m wondering if you could indulge us a bit with the strategies you are using in your new living situation.

  328. Varun, the sense that the anger belongs to its objects, rather than to you as its subject, is a sign of what Jung called projection. If you’re the one being angry, the anger is yours, and projecting it onto the object simply makes it harder to deal with constructively. See how the dialoging works for you.

    Shane, it’s entirely possible that regular banishing rituals help with that; it’s also possible that Aspergers syndrome helps with that!

    Kashtan, if that’s what works for you, by all means go ye forth and do it. If you insist that I ought to support whatever diet you happen to be into, though, I’m afraid you’re not going to get far — and I remain convinced that the food puritanism that obsesses about this or that food being Satan on a plate is far more damaging, in most cases, than the food itself.

    Bonnie, your comment about lentils made my mouth water. We cook lentils with carrots, onions, and celery and have that over rice, with very, very tasty results!

    Sandy, fair enough. From earliest childhood I’ve wondered why it is that so many people have so few inner resources that they get bored and then terrified if they have to sit all by themselves, with no media making noise at them, for a modest length of time.

    J.L.Mc12, yes. (Were you going to say anything else about him?)

    Bonnie, the in-between state is a common experience of initiates in the Western esoteric tradition, and usually comes between the point at which you’ve finished training in whatever system gave you your background, and the point at which you start working in whatever system you’ll pursue from then on. The one suggestion I’d like to offer is my book The Celtic Golden Dawn, which presents a Golden Dawn-style system of ceremonial magic that uses Welsh Druid symbolism and divinities. A number of people who’ve come out of the mainstream GD-et-al. tradition but want something with a less Judeo-Christian focus have found it very much their flagon of mead. 😉

    Swimmer, you can use any incense that appeals to you. If you like using locally sourced substances for incense, you certainly may do so, but it really is up to you.

    Chris, no need to stop swearing — the parrots got used to it back in the days of piracy, and probably collect unusually graphic examples to share with their friends. 😉

    Jeffrey, thanks for this. Most of my background in Buddhism comes via Japan — a Japanese stepfamily will do that! — and so the partial mismatch between early Buddhism and Japanese Mahayana and Mantrayana (my stepfamily is Shingon by faith) would explain a thing or two.

    Booklover, I get that. It so happens that I enjoy quiet, solitude, and sedate entertainments of the sort to be found between the covers of old books. I long ago came to terms with the fact that this basically makes me a freak.

    Lydia, oh, I know — the fact that the sentiments in question slipped into a mainstream publication is fascinating in the extreme. Me, I wanted to see the author try to wriggle out of a recognition that the cultural mainstream is half a century behind the times…

    Robert, but if the surprise is the product of incomplete knowledge, it can get in the way of making sense of the present. For example, were you aware that something close to half the population of the 13 colonies opposed the revolution and wanted to remain under the British crown? The word “Tory” has a very different meaning over here; it refers to those people — “Loyalists” was the polite word. So the people who made the revolution of 1776 were in very much the same situation you’re in over in Britain today.

    What’s more, it wasn’t a matter of everybody leaping up at once and deciding to start shooting at the redcoats. The Committees of Correspondence — the network of colonial movers and shakers that ended up leading the revolution — started out very meekly in the early 1760s trying to get modest concessions from London, and only turned to revolution when they were backed into a corner. The fervor that sent Paul Revere pelting through the Massachusetts night to call the Minute Men to arms took decades of hamfisted and idiotic exploitation on the part of the British government to produce, and only became inevitable when British military units got sent to impose London’s will on the colonies.

    Imagine for a moment that Brussels had responded to the Brexit vote by sending German, French, and Polish military units to occupy important British military targets, and that the British people were forced to house, feed, and pay for these foreign troops who were there to impose EU dictates by force. That’s basically what King George III did over here — and you might want to think about how people in Britain would respond if that happened over there right now.

    As for goodness, we really do need to have a talk about that here someday, don’t we? What Obama and the Archbishop of Canterbury are pushing is niceness, not goodness, and niceness covers — and is meant to cover — a steaming and fetid multitude of sins…

    Labor Case, what I learned from my teachers was to focus on those practices that encourage self-correction. If you do a lot of zhang zhuan (standing meditation, for those who don’t speak martial arts) and pay close attention while you’re doing it, for example, you’ll gradually learn to feel your own physical distortions, and release them. The thing is, all of us hold our bodies awkwardly; it requires a very high level of insight to be able to let go of all the distorting influences we’ve picked up, in this life and others, and have the instinctive grace and power that your ordinary wild animal has as a matter of course. That’s why self-correcting exercises are so crucial in this context.

    Redoak, thank you.

    Shane, good. Pay attention to that fear, learn from it, and then let it go.

    Danil, thanks for this. Again, if Buddhism works for you, go ye forth and do that thing. My comments weren’t meant to be a general critique, just a response to the question of why I do something else.

    Violet, I’ll try to find time to have a look at it. (Got your letter, btw, and will be mailing a response shortly.)

    Shane, I’ll look forward to hearing you advocate, in the Confederate House of Representatives, your new nation joining one or more of the associations of Latin American states!

    Kevin, do you mean the Taoist circulation of light, or the very different Hermetic version? If the former, talk to a qualified Taoist teacher, which I’m not. If the latter, no — you need to do it inside a space you’ve cleared with a proper banishing.

    Christopher, depends on the gods. Polytheism is emphatically not a one-rule-fits-all kind of thing.

    Botanist, sometimes there are no optimal choices. I’ll leave further discussion to a future post.

  329. I’ve been sorely disappointed at how well doubling-down has worked. Across the globe, at all levels of scale, doubling, tripling — even giga- and tera-ing down — have carried the status quo further than I ever thought possible. People who sport the latest techno gadget and are well-versed on the latest version of “The Power of Positive Thinking” are more successful than ever before. And their “success” is making it ever more difficult for me to maintain the tiny bit of opted-outed-ness that I’ve managed to muster so far.

    It’s so exhausting having my reality created and defined by hordes of adolescence worshippers undergoing serial Teslasms in broad daylight. I doubt my ability to keep this up indefinitely. I’m starting to lose concern for friends — even close ones — who say one thing and live another. And this concerns me. Anyone else feeling the strain? I’m not talking financial — I’m talking about the ability to care; to maintain genuine compassion for the double-downers. I don’t like to be in a “you deserve it” mind space, but I fear it might be sneaking up on me.

  330. Shane W and Oilman2, there are a lot of social ills associated with poverty in rural areas, but there’s also more of a chance to be poor with dignity than there would be in an urban setting. Housing costs and property taxes are a lot lower, plus if people know that you are honest and hardworking, they will be happy to hire you for odd jobs. That kind of social network can really help. The flip side is that it can be hard to keep your children from being infected by the negative aspects of rural poverty, the despair, the hopelessness, the drugs.

    For some people, poverty is temporary. It was for my husband and me. That’s because he grew up in a middle-class family and felt it was his duty to provide a middle-class life for us. He has worked hard to accomplish that. If it had been up to me to provide, we’d still be poor. I just don’t have that kind of drive, that motivation.

    Some people aren’t capable of that though. There are people who can’t do anything but low-skill jobs. They can’t go back to school and learn a new skill set, because they don’t have the intellectual capacity. These people need menial jobs, and they need to be respected for doing them and for providing for themselves and their families. They shouldn’t be demeaned for not doing what they were never going to be able to do anyway. They should have the opportunity to do their best and to have a dignified life, instead of being mocked for not being college educated, upper middle-class liberals.

    BTW, for everyone who has participated in the poverty discussion, this has been very enjoyable and thought-provoking. Thanks to all.

    Bonnie, it sounds like your grandmother knew what she was doing. The complicated, fancy cooking is for special occasions or for people who really, really like cooking. You mentioned lentils, which are cheap and quick and easy to cook. I don’t use them much because I never had them as a kid and wasn’t used to them. The times I have cooked them though, they’ve been super easy. I’ve thought about using them more, for a little variety. I’ll just have to get better at seasoning them so they don’t get too boring. 🙂

  331. @ Isabel Cooper:

    That’s exactly what I say to my kids. “Only boring people get bored.” Love it!

    Before my wife was my wife, I used to call her on a day off and ask her what she was up to.

    “Eating chips” was her standard response. Staring out the window was the other half of it. Knowing that she could spend time comfortably with herself was one of the things that fascinated me most about her.

  332. JMG, at the risk of your readership rolling their eyes at my handle appearing on their V-pad screen again this week…

    I’ve been wanting to throw this particular cat among the pigeons for a while:

    Do you think there is a net gain from recycling? What I mean is the voluntary kind – plastics and glass particularly. I think if a recycling center offers to pay you for the material, like for aluminum, that is obviously creating a real beneficial recycled commodity (or they wouldn’t pay for it), but if it’s just to make us feel better about the amount of trash we’re (not) producing, is it really a net gain for the biosphere? Maybe you’ve addressed this before and I missed it?

    Obviously I’ve already tipped my hand to my own beliefs, but I’m curious to hear yours, good sir.
    Thanks very much.

  333. @Shane:

    Most of the time I just feel like I’m taking up digital space that might better be allocated to someone else, so if something I said helped you in some small way, why, I’m just beaming about that. Cheers, brah.

  334. @ GKB, that is an excellent idea for rewriting, thank you!

    @ Kay, thank you, I really appreciate the insights you shared and have responded to them on my blog.

    @ JMG, no worries! It isn’t going anywhere, and if you read it later it will likely be better than it is now 😉 I look forward to your letter

  335. Hi Grumpybotanist,

    I realise our host has decided to retire this discussion for another day in the field. However…

    Some useful ideas for you to consider:
    – Go and learn a martial arts in a class;
    – Sprouts. Surely you have enough space for those?;
    – Preserves. And have you been busy preserving foods that are purchased in bulk at a local food market in season? What about jams and tomato sauces?;
    – Wines and beers. No other activity has such a high economic margin as this one (just sayin);
    – Join a community garden or get a community garden plot;
    – Learn the arts of herbalism;
    – Learn how to repair small appliances;
    – Use significantly less energy than your peers; and
    – Most significantly of all, learn how to cook from scratch. The number of people I read about here in the comments section complaining about this food or that food and food allergies (acknowledging that some people suffer greatly from genuine life threatening food allergies) that don’t know the first thing about food or basic cooking drives me bananas (excuse my dodgy pun!) I have been cooking from scratch since about the age of 12 when I had no choice other than to learn those skills.

    The thing is, do you use your apartment as an excuse or has it become a crutch for you? The answer as always is within you and your relationship to the environment. I don’t see your situation as an impediment, I see the way you have been taught to think about yourself as the real problem. The question is, who taught you to think that way? And more importantly: why did you let them?

    You may consider yourself intellectually prodded! :-)!



  336. I’m imagining a pregnant woman in the early 2020s in your timeline of your Retrotopia story, she has been paying attention to the increase in stillbirths and reports of ties to the new GM corn that were vigorously denied by the media. She decides to do her best to avoid the affected food and it requires a certain amount of effort of a type she hasn’t done before. Luckily she’s not in an area that grows a lot of corn, so the air and water supply aren’t too contaminated, but avoiding it still requires attentiveness when it comes to food. Many of her friends ridicule her decisions as psychological problems, but she ends up having a healthy baby in a year when those are scarce. And, her decision not to support the companies contribute in some very small way toward reducing the magnitude of suffering caused by the toxic corn.

    Was her decision an example of neurosis? I wouldn’t think so, and I hope her child would thank her eventually in the future. We may not have anything quite as extreme in the food supply as that fictional GM corn, but I don’t think it’s all benign either.

    It’s getting late in the comments cycle for this post so I’ll have no more comments on this subject anymore until/unless you do a post on it.

  337. Thanks, JMG

    I’ll give the CGD another look. I do wonder how much of my hesitation to go ahead and explore that has to do with just not being familiar with working the system, in the way that a foreign language sounds utterly strange to the ear until one has been learning it a while.

    Speaking of language- the hieroglyphic aspect of each individual letter in Hebrew makes it easier for me to feel like a thing/state/field is literally being made, part by part, as I vibrate the words. From the other direction, constructing word formulae is relatively easy. The ability to make telesmatic images is really powerful.

    Do you think practice and familiarity will bestow that sort of effect in Welsh, even though it’s not written with a hieroglyphic-type alphabet? Or is it a different sort of beast entirely, the “creative word” expressed through the language manifesting via some other experiential process? I love the flexibility that Hermetic Hebrew offers. Hopefully a similar array of possibilities exists in Welsh as it is used in the CGD (or Coelbren, or…?)

    thanks again,

  338. @gardenhousewife – “I had been wanting to plant a hawthorn tree, so maybe I’ll go ahead and do it and see what happens.”
    About fifteen years ago I planted two hawthorns in the front yard, a variety called Washington Hawthorns. It took them a while to get established but once they did, over the years they have grown slowly but steadily. Just be warned, the thorns (at least on the ones I got) are about an inch and half long and needle sharp to boot. You learn very quickly to deal respectfully with them! The branches are somewhat brittle as twice one has gotten branches snapped off in windstorms. However they are very resilient and quickly fill the damaged spots in with a thorny crowd of new shoots. As they are members of the rose family, they tend to occasionally put out suckers so you will need to keep an eye out for those in case you don’t want them to spread too much. They have pretty white flowers in the spring and in the fall have small red berries. Last year they attracted a wandering turkey as well as robins. With the dearth of bees this past year I worried about how well the flowers would get pollinated. But something or someone must have been busy as one of the trees is now loaded with bright red berries!

  339. Hi JMG

    One more tidbit- the strangeness of the CGD system on first survey for me has more to do with the combination of familiar elements and unfamiliar elements in one organism. The hybrid seems weirder to me than something entirely different would, if that makes sense. Internal sensors are saying “there’s something not quite right about this”, even though it’s completely solid when viewed as another set of correspondences being incorporated, if that makes sense.


  340. Ah, where else would I get Marilyn Monroe’s vital statistics, if not here on Ecosophia! On a closely related topic, I’d like to ask what constitutes a prophetic religion? I would offer two elements: The first element is belief in a god. Second element is a person, like Moses, Jesus Christ, or Mohammed, who represents himself to be a spokesperson for that god. Okay, you know where I’m going with this. So I suppose I don’t even need to go there.

  341. @Garden Housewife

    This is where the 80-year cycle sheds a bit of light. The generation that comes of age during an Awakening (that’s the Boomers in the late 60s and 70s) always look on the society where they grew up (that would be the end of WW II to 1964) and find it wanting, so they resolve to rip it up and start over. Part of that is that they’re contemptuous of their elders – the phrase “Generation Gap” comes to mind. Thus they never learned the arts of growing old gracefully.

    The generations following one of these generations usually see the mess they created and draw the appropriate conclusion about the reliability of their advice. It’s their destiny to live a miserable old age and see much of what they fought for taken out with the garbage.

  342. @JMG

    About 10 years ago a friend of mine, father of three and devout Catholic, remarked that Christianity was under attack from the media. I scoffed at this view at the time, but have since changed my view that in many respects “organized religion” is under attack and portrayed in a negative fashion in mass media today. And now, with an anti-technology backlash becoming popular, religion is linked to AI.

    I don’t understand this trend – is it possibly related to the elites/government wanting access to fewer support organizations, resulting in more dependency on the state?

    BTW – the link to the article has an interesting quote: “It is not a stretch to say that a powerful AI—whose expanse of knowledge and control may feel nearly omniscient and all-powerful—could feel divine to some. It recalls Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” People have followed new religions for far less and, even if AI doesn’t pray to electric deities, some humans likely will.”


    Thanks for the clarification on the phrase “ghastly fated course”. I did not come close to catching that. Of course there are many paths to the future, and too many lead to your description of a ghastly fated course as the destination. Personally, I think we’re further from that scenario, as much of the violent outlook comes from the hyper-propaganda of the mass media intent to boost ratings, and to some degree, instill fear.

    As for your essay, my first impression was “Wow!” – this is not for the meek of mind, nor for popular consumption by the masses. I’ll need some more time and thought to provide any useful feedback.

  343. JMG, I would love it if you did a post on nature spirits sometime! It has taken me a while to respond to your last reply because I’m having trouble finding the right way to describe what’s in my head on this topic, but here goes…

    I kind of wonder if the concept of nature spirits (faeries or others) would help some people think of the consequences their actions might have on the natural world and maybe do some things that will help. Instead of thinking of hills, lakes, springs, rocks, dirt, or whatever as inanimate things, the idea that they have spirits or are at least the dwellings of nature spirits makes it a little more personal. The idea of being neighborly and trying to have good relations with nature spirits, and that this might have a beneficial effect on your yard and garden, might be more motivating than trying to think of your effect on the environment overall.

    Thinking of nature spirits has given me a better idea of what I want to do in my own yard. Specifically, I hadn’t intended to do much with the area outside my fence for a while. Now, I’m thinking I can put some plants that have a good faerie reputation out there, and maybe that will get some good plant diversity going in my yard. That will hopefully be good for pollinators too.

    Jeanne Labonte, I had heard that hawthorns have fearsome thorns. That’s why I won’t put one inside the fence where my kids play. I have a place in mind outside the fence, but I have to double check where exactly the electric lines are. I think there’s one place far enough from electric lines to put a small tree. We’ll see! BTW, since you said you planted two, do I need two for cross-pollination? I know I can’t fit two of them there. As long as I don’t want fruit from the tree (are the berries even edible?), then maybe cross-pollination wouldn’t be a big deal anyway. Have you ever planted foxglove? I thought about planting some outside the fence (since it’s poisonous!), but I don’t know if it’s hard to grow.

    John Roth, well I guess that makes sense, but it’s all so sad.

  344. Hi JMG,
    your response to Robert Gibson immediately made me think fof what is going on in Catalonia. It may not exactly be German, French and Polish military that´s going in, but all these Nations (and others) are implicitly backing the actions of the Spanish state. There is a lot of fear of dissolution (of the EU) going round in the halls of power since Brexit and current events are reinforcing this. My fear, in turn, is this: how will the establishment react, if ongoing trends coninue and the EU eventually falls apart (as I think is very likely)?

  345. @Xabier and Garden Housewife:‘Old Lady, give me some of your wood, and I’ll give you some of mine when I am a tree.’: I like that very much, too! I´ve planted a lot of elder and I´m not planning to cut it, but I regularly harvest the flowers(I suppose one can adapt the saying), from which you can make elderflower syrup, a lovely summer´s drink:
    20 – 30 big elderflowers
    500 g sliced lemons
    1 l of water
    1 kg sugar
    20 g tartaric acid
    Heat the water, sugar and tartaric acid until it boils and everything is dissolved. Let it cool down a bit (just so the water doesn´t boil anymore), then pour over the flowers and lemons (in a recptacle with a lid; I use a winemaking barrel with a tap at the bottom). Leave it at room temperature for 2 days, then strain through a sieve or cloth.
    To preserve it, I then heat it up again to about 75 C for ten minutes and then fill it into pre-heated (sterilized in the oven) glass bottles – that way it keeps a full year. Dilute to taste – I usually mix 1 part syrup, 5 parts water.
    Frank from Germany

  346. Hi JMG,

    Back at TADR you referred fairly frequently to your practice of taijiquan. However, you’ve made one reference here on Ecosophia to having studied yiquan. This week, you’ve also referred again in your reply to Labor Case about studying zhan zhuang (not ‘zhang zhuan’, btw!), and the issues you discuss are the exact ones I’ve been working on in my own yiquan practice here in Beijing. Would you mind giving a quick overview of your yiquan school/lineage, and any other insights it’s given you?

  347. “Niceness, not goodness” – brilliantly put, JMG. Mind you, there’s still a problem; some of the Remainers I know are really good, and I don’t just mean in a bland, “nice” way. The tragedy of life…

    Yes I did know about the loyalists or “Tories” in the American Revolution. And here’s another complication. Both sides were, I presume, patriots, trying to defend good things; loyalty to American and loyalty to Britain, both loyalties being Swodges, if I main coin the neologism.

    A Swodge is a substantial or sizeable wodge of positive associations. I coin the term as an antidote to some relativist responses, such as (sorry about this, JMG) your response when I was going on about Natural Law. You were making the point that there are many contradictory notions of what Natural Law is. True, of course. But the validity of the one I was defending does not depend upon believing it is the only one. It need only be a substantial one. If an idea has accreted sufficient positive associations it earns a place at the top table as a Swodge.

    Anyhow, both the Revolutionaries and the “Tories” had their Swodge visions, incompatible but each respectable in its own terms. I suppose in my country the Remainers have some kind of vision and if it were to win, then after some centuries it would have accreted enough positiveness to count as a Swodge, but why bother, since we already have a good Swodge in the epic of Britain? Why kill it and raise another? That’s the question I’d ask a philosophical Remainer, if I could find one.

  348. @Chris at Fernglade and Grumpybotanist:
    Another thing almost anyone can do regardless of how they are living is to go out foraging. There´s lots of books about the topic, and you´d be surprised how much free (food)stuff is out there.
    And if there´s no gardening plot to get at the moment, why not consider some guerilla farming? Jerusalem artichokes are quite suitable for that, for example (people often think they´re a kind of sunflower, which indeed they are, and leave them standing). Then you can go and dig out the tubers in winter.
    Frank from Germany

  349. @GardenHousewife,
    It’s a source of irony for me that the states that provide the least social services are the most affordable for the poor to live, while the ones that are most generous are the least affordable. Seems that cost of living is more important than social services when it comes to making ends meet for the poor.
    I’m the same way as you and JMG, realizing the con game for what it is, I’m just not willing to play along.

  350. @John Roth,
    regarding “miserable old age”–considering that I think a Depression is inevitable at this point, that’s why I’m eager to have it come sooner rather than later, so that the Boomers and what’s left of the Silents can at least experience SOME of the consequences of their actions for the last 40 years.

  351. “Thinking is good!” = a common thoughtstopper, paradoxically, one JMG might be guilty of here? Dear JMG, I think you’re aware that in modern political sociology, current models and evidence show that thinking does not, in fact, change minds. Thinking is the process by which people largely justify and strengthen their own positions, not evaluate and change them. Current research-based best practices for changing minds de-emphasize thinking and provocation in favor of more effective approaches, and similar to Newton, they do not ask “why,” they simply look at the data on how to best manipulate people. Nothing new, on the left and right, there are whole thought traditions associated with justifying manipulative rhetorical practices that go back centuries, and modern research has made these very popular in activist circles. Whether such tools as thoughtstoppers can be deployed ethically and effectively is a question worthy of the current debate that’s going on, but it is often dismissed with thoughtstoppers implying that “people should think more” or that “thinking is good,” when in fact, evidence shows people are very poor at thinking, and provoking thought is a poor strategy for accomplishing change. With a population unable to think, might thoughtstopping sometimes be an appropriate tool?

  352. Tripp said ““If you throw Mother Nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.”
    -Masanobu Fukuoka.” I have that listed among the Roman proverbs I learned in Latin 102. Great minds think alike?

  353. Nohype, this is one of the reasons it’s so crucial to use history to guide your sense of the future. Study the way other civilizations have fallen and you’ll find that consistently, doubling down is an effective way to postpone the fast collapse so many people like to imagine these days; its downside, of course, is that it feeds the slow erosion by which civilizations actually fall. As for caring about the doubling-downers — well, there’s an old Norse turn of phrase that sums up their state of mind: “doom-eager.” When somebody’s rushing on their fate with both hands flung forward, it doesn’t often work to try to turn them aside…

    Tripp, I think of recycling as an example of what the French call faute de mieux — “for lack of something better.” It’s better than a pure throwaway lifestyle, but only by a modest amount. Using much less and producing much less waste is better still. Mind you, I recycle relentlessly, but my wife and I produce only very small amounts of recyclable material (and an even smaller amount of garbage) — reducing waste always comes first.

    Violet, duly noted!

    Chris, hah! Or, rather, Arrrrrrr!

    Kashtan, er, do you realize how obsessive it looks when you keep on circling back around to the same thing over and over again, trying to browbeat me into agreeing with your particular dietary crusade? That’s the kind of behavior I’ve been talking about, you know. I’m reminded of this very thoughtful account of someone who quit veganism, and only then realized that she’d been a complete douchebag toward everyone around her about dietary issues, because — as she admits — her diet actually didn’t work for her. Thus my comment earlier: the more somebody insists on getting other people to support a diet, a religion, or what have you, the more certain you can be that what they’re pushing doesn’t actually meet their needs.

    Bonnie, I hadn’t yet found the sole nineteenth-century document that gives the meanings of the Coelbren when I wrote The Celtic Golden Dawn. The relevant material’s in The Coelbren Alphabet, and down the road a while there’ll be a new and expanded edition of The Celtic Golden Dawn incorporating the Coelbren, as well as a new book now in preparation, The Celtic Cabala, which will cover telesmatic images and much more; in the meantime, yes, the Coelbren can function in exactly the same way as the Hebrew alphabet does.

    More broadly, there’s a profoundly personal factor in the choice of a magical system, as I’m sure you’re well aware. I’d encourage you to consider trying some of the basic practices in the Ovate section of the book, and see if they resonate with you; if they don’t, why, then you should clearly do something else, of course.

    As for the hybridization — yes, it’s rather strange at first glance! One of the points I hoped to make while writing the book is that it’s possible to do Golden Dawn-style magic with any set of symbols and deities you like, and get good results; still, yes, there’s a certain amount of weirdness to deal with at first.

    Phutatorius, I use the term “prophetic religion” to mean a religion that was founded by an individual human being — Jesus, Gautama, Muhammad, Karl Marx, or whoever — as distinct from a traditional religion, which has no individual founder but “just growed” out of the religious experience of a society across many centuries.

    Drhooves, the media’s hatred of religion is partly a matter of loathing competition — Sunday sermons have long been a major medium by which ideas get into people’s heads, and the mainstream media likes to have a monopoly on that — and partly the class hatred of the mostly atheist privileged classes for the much more religious working classes. I don’t see it as having any more instrumental a purpose than that.

    Housewife, I’ll consider it! The philosopher Martin Buber wrote at length about the difference that it makes if you stop relating to the world as “it” and start relating to it as “you” — he used the German pronoun Du, which is for people you’re close to, to heighten the point. The traditional lore of nature spirits, when taken seriously, does have that effect…

    Frank, my take is that Europe is stumbling toward a new age of wars. I can understand the frantic desire of so many people in the EU to avoid that, but I don’t think it can be stopped, and attempts to maintain the status quo by force (as in Catalonia right now) are not helping that.

    Bogatyr, my taijiquan teacher in Seattle, Sifu Andrew Lane, was an inner student of the late Sifu Tchoung Ta-Tchen (that was his preferred Romanization), who studied Yichuan along with a great many other things. I don’t happen to know the details of his lineage. (Thanks for the spelling correction, btw — I was in a hurry.)

    Robert, of course — but remember also that a great many people, then and now, will have strong emotional commitments to more than one Swodge — competing loyalties within a single person are far from rare, after all. (Our Civil War was full of such internal conflicts; I suspect yours was, too.) That’s one of the many reasons why tolerance among people who value conflicting Swodges is so important.

    Lilliehousekzoo, yes, I’m familiar with that research. I’m also familiar with the immense crisis with experimental replicability that has called literally the entire structure of modern experimental sociology and psychology into question. Since this latter issue makes the value of recent sociological research very limited as a proof of anything, I turn to my own experience and that of people I know, and discover that, yes, thinking through an issue can change people’s attitudes — it’s changed mine on numerous occasions — and therefore I find it useful to teach thinking skills.

    More broadly, is it good to use thoughtstoppers on a population that’s unable to think? Not if the prevalence of thoughtstoppers is one of the core reasons they’re unable to think, and a decrease in the use of thoughtstoppers would make them more likely to be able to think. Do you treat alcoholism by handing out bottles of cheap whiskey?

  354. Hello JMG,

    Those forthcoming books, the Celtic Qabalah and the expanded CGD with Coelbren, do sound like things I’d like to explore. I picked up the Coelbren book a few months ago, and so could familiarize myself with that until the books come out.

    Yes, I think I will try some of the practices in the Ovate grade and see how it goes then. And today seems like as good a day as any. Possibly better than most!

    Thanks, and a blessed Hallows to you and to Sara!

  355. Chris at Fernglade,

    Thank you for the suggestions, and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that there is nothing apartment dwellers can do. Learning new skill is always valuable and rewarding in it’s own right even if it’s utility ultimately proves to be minimal in the circumstances we are facing.

    I like to bake sourdough and picked up a bit of leather working. The latter came in handy for stitching a pair of work boots back together while saving for replacements (I don’t recommend Timberlands, seams were blowing out in under a year). A friend rents a house with some other people and we make beer in the backyard. I work professionally as a botanist for a consulting company and know most of the edible plants in my region. Herbalism is something I’m interested in, but I have no idea how to accurately gauge the merit of a book/teacher.

    Despite those skills, and In the context of reducing your reliance on “the system,” having to pony up for rent each month feels pretty precarious. It is a situation lots of people are in, and as I implied before, we are a long way off from being able to exchange bread loaves for a roof.

    I’ve been working with the idea that, learning skills is rewarding in its own right, but the most important things people can do in a world where we all have little control, is try to cultivate emotional resilience to better deal with the unexpected hardships.

    Thanks for the conversation.

  356. Garden Housewife- I second that request! Good points- I would love to hear more about interacting with nature spirits/faeries.

    Making a habit of approaching the plants and animals in my yard has been a big factor in helping me change some of my more destructive and wasteful behaviors. Thinking of “the environment” in a general sense is not nearly so impactful as catching myself in actions that hurt or disrespect my geographically specific home-place, which I have real and specific feelings about. I can’t use a paper cup anymore without thinking of my pollinator bed or the crows in the sideyard elm I watch out my window every day, or the Columbia River salmon whose bones rest on my workbench. Which means I strive harder to not use paper cups at all.

    Just a little taste of reciprocity in this gives me much joy. I’d love to hear about ways to deepen and develop it.


  357. @Garden Housewife – “since you said you planted two, do I need two for cross-pollination?”
    Unfortunately I am not sure. Surfing the net has produced conflicting info about the trees’ needs and the catalog I bought them from years ago didn’t provide much information beyond that they attract bees and birds, so I have mostly been winging it. I planted two mainly for the symmetry but many fruiting trees will produce better fruit if you plant a second tree simply because it usually takes two to tango anyway. Some trees will self-pollinate but even those trees think it’s more fun to do it with a partner. Yes, the thorns are indeed quite wicked but if you are looking for something to create an impenetrable hedge with for security, this really fits the bill! The berries are recommended if you have cardiac issues. They have been used in treatment for heart disease since Roman times. I have not tried eating them so can’t vouch for whether they taste any good.

  358. Hi John.

    I’ve recently listened to “Dark Age America” as an audiobook, read by the mellifluous Michael Dowd. As someone who read almost every post from the Archdruid Report over the last few years, a lot of it was familiar ground, but it was nice to have it all in one place.

    One particular bit caught my attention, and as a result, I’ve started making my own bread. i found a recipe online, and followed it closely. A couple of hours later I turned out a nice warm tasty loaf, which I smothered with butter. It was very nice, and I followed up that first slice with several others.

    Bad idea! You can’t properly digest really fresh, hot bread, so it just sits in your digestive tract, fermenting. So I felt like I had a small boulder in my lower intestines for a couple of days before nature finally took it’s course.

    Since then, I’ve simplified the process quite a lot, and I can dash off the odd loaf at a moment’s notice. I’ve also tried experimenting. Adding chopped dried black olives, and oregano worked really well, as did the honey glazed apple and cinnamon attempt. Replacing water with beer was probably my worst idea, but even that was ok. It just tasted and smelled a bit odd.

    The whole process of making a loaf takes a couple of hours, but almost all of that time requires no involvement beyond peeping into the oven every now and again to see how it’s rising/baking. The active part of it, from getting the ingredients, a mixing bowl and jug out of a cupboard to putting the dough into the oven and washing up the bowl and jug takes perhaps 10 to 15 minutes.

    And my flat (apartment) smells lovely too!

  359. @Robert wrote: “That’s the question I’d ask a philosophical Remainer, if I could find one.”

    A bit late in the day, but for what it is worth, you have found me. I am a fairly philosophical ‘Remainer’, I still call myself British, but the ‘British Epic’ has suffered
    a number of caveats and revisions, not to mention revelations from when I first went to school in the 1940s and we were dished out with tattered pre-war atlases with a lot of the global surface colored red. I acquired my own different adult slant during the 27 years I worked in Scotland with a further 20 years added on living near the Scottish Border. My early adult years had already been informed by heavy labor on construction sites in England with Irish, Welsh, Scottish and West Indian colleagues under what in those days was still a mix of 19th C and more modern conditions. My youthful experience in particular gave me a practical historical perspective. (Oh … and I can remember war up-close; spectacular and deadly.)

    Phil H

  360. Shane W wrote: “so that the Boomers and what’s left of the Silents can at least experience SOME of the consequences of their actions for the last 40 years.”

    Why, Shane, do you lump the Silents together with the Boomers — sheer ignorance of their detailed history? (You’ve lumped them together before.)

    The Boomers’ closest kin and chief antagonists in history weren’t the Silents, but the generation before the Silents, the GI generation. The Silents are the only generation since the founding of the Nation who never produced even one President, and produced rather fewer figures of significant political influence than either the GIs or the Boomers.

    We — I am a late Silent — were raised, by and large, to eschew all agency, to leave things to our “betters” who build the economy before them and “Won the War.” In essence, we were raised to be cannon fodder and obedient cogs in the great machinery of the newly ermegent economic and political powerhouse that the United States were becoming. We were told that our very bodies belonged to the State, and secondarily to the great corporations, not to us ourselves. We were taught that our own wishes and dreams were largely unimportant. We were taught in school that there were no such things as natural human rights, despite Jefferon’s ringing foolish words (which were mentioned and explicitly rejected), but that all “rights” were granted by the State, and could be revoked at the State’s merest whim. And so forth …

    I lived in Berkeley — yes, THAT Berkeley — at the time, and this was the message inculcated in the public schools and in daily life. (In elementary school we older boys were given an hour of military drill once a week under the command of a uniformed police officer, specifically to teach us to obey State authority without question.)

    “Never trust anyone over 30,” when it was first articulated by young Boomers in the mid-’60s, was directed chiefly at the GI generation. The Silents were regarded by these young Boomers as beneath their notice.

    I sympathize with your ire toward the Boomers, but I will not stand for you mindlessly lumping us Silents together with them, as if we were the same thing. You may criticize the Boomers for their actions, but if you are going to criticize the Silents, it should be for their inactions.

  361. Thank you for responding to my question JMG. I meant the circulation of the light in the Golden Dawn tradition, rather than the Taoist tradition. I am rather surprised by your answer because in his book “The Art of True Healing,” Israel Regardie makes no mention of a banishing ritual (at least that I can recall), though the book is pretty much about doing things with circulating the light. In the afterword to one edition of the book, editor Marc Allen recommends doing it in bed. Perhaps one should do a banishing ritual before retiring for the night..?

  362. JMG: thank you for your clarification of the term “prophetic religion.” I see that our definitions are not the same. I wonder, however, if there is an alternative term to denote the valid distinction you are making.

  363. @JMG: Fortunately, I’m comfortable with natural processes unfolding. Your book, The Long Descent, prepared me mentally for this scenario years ago. For historical context, I find your thesis on catabolic collapse the most compelling I’ve seen to date.

    So why did I find myself so exhausted? You provided a plausible answer when you pointed out the existence of The Disputers (new info for me) to another commenter.

    Via inappropriate concern for the headlong antics of others, one can unknowingly feed them. If I allow my outlier path to be questioned (which is what I was subconsciously doing) by the majority, and experience doubt (i.e.: succumb to popular dispute) I poke a hole in my own reserves of strength and they hiss away like so much helium.

    My formative years were Catholic, and I have faith that St. Francis of Assisi is still alive and relevant. A realigned and more balanced behavioral paradigm shall be defined by the following:

    “Start by doing what’s necessary;
    then do what’s possible;
    and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

  364. JMG, that’s exactly what I was trying to say, in much fewer words. I had just noticed the difference between thinking about “the hill behind my house” and “the faerie (maybe, or maybe in the future!) in the hill behind my house”. It’s mind-opening.

    Frank, I had thought of planting elder bushes too. Thanks for the recipe. It may come in handy. How long after planting before the bushes flower?

    Shane, that’s very true. It takes a lot of money to fund those social services, especially when you consider how inefficient and wasteful government tends to be. That means higher taxes, including for the poor. Plus, in the excessively liberal states that fund lavish social services, the liberals, who want to be seen as compassionate and champions of the downtrodden, don’t actually want to live anywhere near the downtrodden. The price of housing and property taxes goes ever higher in extremely liberal areas to keep out the poor. So the more money they vote to give the poor through various programs, the higher they have to raise the cost of living in order to keep them out.

    You don’t necessarily have to play along with “the con game”, but you don’t want to make yourself miserable fighting it either. It’s probably best to make whatever changes work in your own life to adjust to “voluntary poverty”, even if you aren’t currently poor. Not only will most of us probably be poor at some point, and therefore ought to adjust now while it can be done slower and easier, but you can also help other people more when they also fall into poverty. It would be an invigorating challenge.

    As for the Boomers and Silents, I’m not that vindictive about it. Not all of them were selfish and stupid, and I wouldn’t want all of them to suffer for the sins of the loudest of them. Also, I prefer to try to fix their mistakes as much as possible and try not to make too many of my own. Some of the Boomers can help with that, because they can actually remember the world as it used to be before their generational cohorts ripped it apart.

  365. @ShaneW – oh, yesss. All Boomers this and All Silents that, and the best one can hope for is that you’ll condescend to grant some of us the status of “she’s an exception.” A phrase I had hoped never to hear again in all my live. Muchas Gracias …..

  366. @Robert,
    one important thing to remember regarding the whole Loyalist/Patriot divide is that it is still very much alive in North America with the Canada/US border. A lot of Loyalists fled to then British North America, and Loyalists and loyalty to the Crown figure just as strongly in Canadian self identity as patriots, revolution, and republicanism factor in the American mythos.

  367. @Grumpy Botanist

    I agree with the other comments in response. I’d add that one of the best things I’ve done is join a CSA. It’s a great opportunity to contribute to the local food scene, and its a way to meet local farmers, homesteaders, and ‘down-shifters’. I’d also recommend checking to look for groups in your area that may align with your goals.

    Some other things that I’ve found amenable to apartment living are: window herb-gardens, dabbling in soap-making and using old tapestries and clothing to make window insulators. Hope this helps!

  368. Is the book The Art and Practice of Geomancy an expanded version of the geomancy material provided in The Celtic Golden Dawn?

    If so, there are three of your books that are compatible with CGD:

    * The Art and Practice of Geomancy;
    * The Coelbren Alphabet;
    * Sacred Geometry Oracle.

    Are there other ones that can be used as supplements?

    And, are there significant problems in the first edition of the Sacred Geometry Oracle, say, like in Circles of Power?

    I suggest you to publish the book without the card set as an update, it could be on a print on demand service where we could choose between paperback or hardcover formats, and you could always release a fancy version later.

  369. RE:
    junk foods and the foods no one should ever eat: the last few times I decided to “treat” myself and get a blizzard at Dairy Queen, I was totally disappointed. It was bland and not worth it, and I was thinking “a homemade pie w/all natural ingredients would be so much better.” Most junk food and fast food just tastes like crap, regardless of how harmful it is.

  370. JMG,

    I recently saw an clip from a documentary film that was very disturbing to me. It showed a video of fishermen in the Amazon harpooning a river dolphin. This was over a week ago, and it is still haunting me.

    I don’t have a television and limit my media time precisely to avoid exposure to commercials, sensational news, and other unsettling images. The question is, once something like that has gotten past the filters, and entrenched itself in the mind, what is the best way to dispel it?

    I can’t seem to forget about it, and talking it over with family only seems to make it worse. I expect the news of environmental destruction to get worse over time, so learning to deal with senseless destruction is probably an important skill to acquire. Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

  371. @Garden Housewife: It really depends how well the plants ´like´ the place where you´re planting them – they prefer a bit of shade from a bigger tree. If they grow well, you should have flowers after 3 or 4 years. Gotta go to work now – more next month!
    Frank from Germany

  372. Many thanks to JMG, Philsharris and Shane W for your answering reflections on Swodges and the patriotic mythos. By the way, what is the plural of “mythos”?

    Re competing Swodges existing within a single person: JMG, you’ve reminded me of myself. As a British patriot I support the UK; as a chap of Scottish descent I am a Scottish patriot and support Scottish independence and thus the breakup of the UK. Therefore, I’m on the winning side whichever happens! The only sad outcome would be a half-way house in which Scotland achieves a bogus “independence” in the EU. The aesthetic idea, from the point of view of the nation’s traditions, would be for a real kingdom of Scotland with a Scottish-only monarch reigning in Holyrood. (I hereby volunteer to reign as Robert IV. Or Alex Salmond could become Alexander IV. Don’t mind which. Norway in 1905 broke off from Sweden and chose its own king, after all. Finland was going to do the same in 1917-8, but fashion had changed and became a republic… strange how such a short time can make such a difference to ideals.) Failing that, a Scottish republic. Failing that, continuance of the UK which I can enthuse over as the realm of Logres… ignoring the characters I see on the news. (Though come to think of it, King Arthur’s knights weren’t perfect, either.)

    I can also admire both competing Swodges in French history. I sense the mutually exclusive attractiveness of the fleur de lys and the tricolour, and all that they symbolize.

    Philharris: I must stress that I am aware of the sinister side (to put it mildly) of the British epic. Epic and saga have their dark sides, inevitably, and the British treatment of Ireland in particular gives me the horrors and is infinitely sad when one contemplates that the two nations might have been free friends and allies.

    Shane W: the American mythos is a fascinating medley of contradictory awareness. The more fascinating, in that it has developed within a span of well-recorded history, so one can trace its development in the full light of day, unlike the secrets of my country which are lost in the mists of time.

    Finally, JMG, you mention the importance of toleration of rival Swodges. The very concept of toleration needs to be clarified in view of current thought-processes, would you agree? The way the term is used, it’s hard to believe it’s really meant. “Toleration” which is merely a front for advocacy of syncretic amalgamation of views, actually means there’s nothing left to tolerate. To me, Toleration is toleration of incompatibilities, and recognition of their incompatibility, and permission to express such incompatibility, or else it’s worse than nothing.

    Nevertheless I see the problem. Human nature being what it is, it’s natural that my opponents should suspect me of preparing to suppress their views, if I proclaim that they are abhorrent. There’s probably no solution to this, in the current state of civilization. Unless mental precision were taught in schools… haha.

  373. For those interested, the berries of the hawthorn, blackthorn and elder are best taken in…….alcohol!

    Hawthorn brandy;elderberry vodka; blackthorn (sloe) gin: just find a strong spirit and mix, for about a year.

    Patxaran: sloes with aniseed and vanilla pod in a suitable spiritous element, a favourite of Basque priests.

  374. 2 cents worth on “Generations”.

    For many years now I’ve thought that talk about generations – Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, etc. has more to do with Madison Avenue and their attempts to reach hearts, minds and wallets, than with any kind of social/political reality.

    Consider the arbitraryness of the years that define the generations. Boomers, for example, are generally defined as those born between ’46 and ’64. One of my brothers was born in ’64 and one of my sisters was born in ’65. To call brother and sister members of two different generations makes nonsense of the way the word is used in reference to families. Using generations in the sense of a social cohort doesn’t really make much sense either. Someone born in late ’45 would be much closer to someone born in ’46 than someone born in the late 20s which is the begining of the so called silent generation.

    Consider too that the timelines of various generations are wildly different. Boomers take in a full 18 years. Gen X takes in only 11 years. Gen Z starts at 1996 but so far has no official cut off point, 21 years later.

    And what exactly is it that members of “generations” are supposed to share? Political ideology? Hardly. Attitudes twoards race, sexual orientation, etc. ? Not realy. There are accepting Silents and hateful Millenials. It’s mostly trivial things like shared taste in pop music, or having watched the same cartoons growing up. These sorts of things change with the wind. We talk as if everyone born between this date and that date are like the Borg thinking and acting with a hive mentality. Is it true? Is it even a little bit true? Isn’t it silly on the face of it?

    The generational stuff is just another way to divide us up and pit us against each other.

  375. Just saw an article with this title: “In a new study, Americans disproportionately chose the years of their own youth as the country’s greatest years – no matter how old they were now. This finding is the latest involving a phenomenon known as the reminiscence bump.”
    I read through the article, and in no place did they mention the possibility that the USA was in a state of constant decline; where literally for all American’s, the years of their youth would actually be the country’s greatest (that they’d actually experience) (decline applies to all age groups).

    A week or so previously, there was a photo of New York from a hundred years ago where the first comments were astonished that people ‘back then’ were able to do that without our technology! My first thought on seeing that was that ‘we can’t build that way now!’ The building were small sky scrapers with brick, stone, and concrete facades (way too costly for us these days). Here in Little Rock, the latest round of block sized apartment buildings are going up way way west of the main city (in what forest last year), all made of stick frame wood (constructed like a cheap house, just three to four stories tall and block sized). When out to lunch with my friend, we mock the buildings as all it will take is one good leak to rot the building out (or create a big mold issue) or a small fire to turn the building into a three alarm fire.

    My current mission is to start going to the city board meetings twice a month to talk in the public comments section (three minutes to talk, my Toastmasters training will come in handy). I’m planning on repeatedly pointing out that the zoning codes preclude rebuilding in the older parts of the city (the zoning codes require a minimum lot width but in all the old parts of the city the lots are narrower that the designated size, i.e. a zoning variance is required to rebuild on an empty lot or the modify a house, which is not required if building on a “wide enough lot”), so I’ll go and point this out and other bits of broken zoning until the City Board or I get tired of hearing about it.

  376. “You may criticize the Boomers for their actions, but if you are going to criticize the Silents, it should be for their inactions.”
    Yes, Robert, there ARE differences in the sins of Silents and Boomers. Yes, Boomers are more responsible for the destruction of society and social norms, and throwing the baby out w/the bathwater–the “me generation”, the conceit, etc. However, the biggest thing that sticks out for me is the selfishness and entitlement of the Silents. I worked at a branch of a credit union that I nicknamed the “Senior Citizens Center” b/c most of the members that banked there were Silent retirees. Most of the workers were Gen X’ers and Millennials. Us Gen X’ers had Greatest grandparents, so we were in the position of telling the Millennials, “no, selfishness, entitlement, grifting, and a total disregard for others/society are NOT characteristics of being old/aging, they’re just GENERATIONAL characteristics of this PARTICULAR generation and the time period in which they came of age,” and then we’d go to talk about our Greatest grandparents and their generation, and how there experiences of surviving the Depression and WW II led them to be joiners, civic and community minded, supporters of common morals and social norms, and generous givers. If Silents are know as the Lucky Few, then Gen X should be known as the “Unlucky Few”–I believe our cohort demographically was even smaller than the Silents. We had the misfortune of watching the whole thing come crashing down, and seeing what the action/inaction of the Boomers and Silents did, yet, demographically, we were powerless to stop any of it. Our moral imperative, as the generation that remembers what went down, yet was powerless to stop it, is to be the truth tellers to future generations so that they KNOW what happened and aren’t obfuscated and make better decisions based on the truth.
    @Patricia M
    really, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, old age entitlements–pensions, social security, medicare, etc.–must be paid by someone. For every non-working, retired person out there living what used to qualify as a middle class lifestyle, or even a no-so-middle-class lifestyle (living by themselves in a single family residence), there’s a member of the poor, working class working 50-60+ hour workweeks, 2-3 wretched, low paying jobs/overtime, living below poverty in spite of working so much, to support the non-working retired person’s pensions, social security, medicare. So, the next time a member of the working poor at the dollar store, or the gas station, or the drugstore, waits on you, or the next time you drive through a poor neighborhood, think, “these people are paying for my retirement and my ‘entitlements'”, b/c that is very much the case in a “real economy” that hasn’t grown since the 70s.

  377. Re: Generations. Do NOT go by the demographers and management manuals that quote the demographers like a piece of duckspeak. My private criterion, and it hasn’t let me down yet, is “generational divides are between those with no conscious memory of a major turning point (9/11. Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy Assassination) and those who remember it.

    If you have no conscious memory of WWII, you’re a Boomer, not a Silent. The Kennedy Assassination? You’re an Xer, not a Boomer. And so on.

    If you can’t tell where the dividing line is, you’re probably riding a much larger cycle, what I call a macrocycle, in one of its long descents or ascents.

    And of course, there are the civilization-ending megamacrocycles. Meaning, not that “civilization” goes away, but the end of an entire Spenglerian-defined Civilization. The fall of Rome, frex (and let us NOT get into Byzantium, PLEASE!) flipped history over from the Mediterranean-centered Classical civilization (which by then was in rags anyway) to the Eurocentric Medieval; and the opening of the Americas to European sailors, the end of the Eurocentric medieval civilization to the Atlantic-Centered Modern, etc. To which the globalized postmodern is a coda to the earlier symphony, if I may borrow a handy phrase.

    Re: the plural of “mythos.” I think it would be “mythoi.”

    Enough of shooting off my mouth. Time to get the morning going ans wait for this morning’s new post. And pardon typos – it’s cracked & bandaged fingers, not illiteracy.

  378. IDK, the 50s and early 60s seemed like a particularly sinister period in our nation’s history, and I think that must’ve made a serious imprint on the psyche of the Silents and the Boomers, in different ways.

  379. What are your thoughts on geothermal energy? Is it a feasible renewable energy source? Can it provide a baseline for the survival of industrial civilization at a much reduced scale?

  380. Pingback: My Homepage

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