The clock is tick-tick-ticking off its judgments. Tick – stupid. Tick – Hey, stupid. It’s new. I bought it for six bucks at the local five-and-dime. La Virgen de Guadalupe smiles serenely from its face, held aloft by angels.

Black Swan, White Swan... Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Formal logic might be the blackest of magics (and it makes for the most excruciating of reads). Just try figuring out the Black Swan Problem. Read a ton of obnoxious articles by formal logicians – who I imagine wear capes and brood in towers while they go about their dark art of turning language into math – without pushing your thumbs into your eyeballs until they pop.

Donald Duck: High Priest of the Illuminati

Conspiracy theorists are dreadfully thorough, but I guess most of them missed this one: Donald in Mathmagic Land, the 1959 Disney featurette starring Donald Duck which teaches us about the Pythagorean cult, the pentagram, the Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio.

Jack Kirby And Comic Book Mysticism

You may not recognize the name Jack Kirby, but if you’ve ever argued with your friends over who gets to be Cyclops when you were playing X-Men in your backyard, then you’ve been touched by his creations.

Eye of the Skeptic

Those “I’m always right” types absolutely need faith, or else those vicious doubts start creeping in. Not only will you find faith in the religious mind, calling God a fact, you’ll also find it lurking in the atheist, saying He isn’t. Come to think of it, anyone who uses the word “fact” so easily must be pretty faithful, at least when it comes to their own nonsense.

Monday, December 30, 2013

DIY Tradition: A Festivus Miracle -Sitting Now

Originally Published December 30, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk
“It’s a stupid holiday my father invented.  It doesn’t exist.”
-George Costanza

I’ve spent the week thinking about the strange place tradition comes from.  Mostly because of the fairly new holiday known as Festivus, which Wikipedia says is “a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 which serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas holiday season.”
Festivus was a plot device used in Seinfeld that has become a nationally recognized holiday.  In fact, I got two “Happy Festivus” texts this year. Must be getting popular.

But Festivus was just a giggling thought floating around in the back of my head on Christmas morning, when my wife exposed me to one of her family traditions: Christmas cake.  It’s basically just a cake, but you’re allowed to eat it for breakfast.  I think we made it through at least three quarters of the damn thing over the day.  Compounded with the mountain of candy I’d been steadily devouring since I’d woken up, the massive stores of sugar finally had their way with me sometime in the late afternoon, as I stared at the computer screen, trying desperately to work up the effort it takes to finish writing another one of these wonderful pieces.

I was six hundred words into a trotting study of the Juggalos’ recent declaration of war against the Illuminati.
I’d known about the Juggalos for a little while.  Fans of the rap outfit, Insane Clown Posse (or “ICP” to those in the know), they were known for wearing fishnets and clown makeup, drinking Faygo by the gallon, and throwing their dictionaries out of the holes in their tents that served as windows.

What I didn’t know was that ICP have apparently been developing some kind of quasi-Christian, carnival-themed religion over the past twenty years, and at least some conspiracy nuts are absolutely sure that we are watching the first movements of a cult (most likely backed by the New World Order).

I was just about to begin breaking down the cosmology of their home-grown religion, when the looming specter of sugar withdrawal quietly curled around my shoulders, waiting to rip my eyes out of the back of my head.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Kill All Muggles -BoB

Originally published December 13, 2013 via theblogofbaphomet.com

My wife had to explain to me that “muggle” is from Harry Potter. She claims she was reading it for the benefit of a friend. I’m not convinced. But don’t worry. The divorce papers have been filed.
 Muggle 1
It came up because my Facebook feed was filled with this video, last month. “Muggle” was being thrown around like whatever they throw around in that Harry Potter game. I know it as internet slang for those nerds who don’t know about magic. Christians and accountants, mostly.

The video is a short report from Colorado’s 9 NEWS, concerning the finding of an “occult altar” in a deceased man’s backyard shed. Amongst the paraphernalia was found human bones. Most likely, it was connected to Palo, a Cuban magical tradition.

The video contains a clip from Dr. Max Wachetel, the station’s on-call psychologist, answering the question, “What draws people to the occult?”
“Usually, somebody will turn to that when they are an outcast from society. They already don’t fit in. Maybe they – maybe they’re actively trying to not fit in, so they’re trying to do something shocking in order to push other people away. Other times, you know, maybe from their childhood, they’ve been pushed away by others, and this is their way of kind of reconciling that in their minds.”
This gross generalization, of course, had many commentators spitting mad, letting anyone within shouting distance know that they are absolutely not what Dr. Wachetel described, and that he is obviously one of those dumb muggle bastards, always trying to make the rest of us look like weirdos.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rasta Zombie: Director Mitch Williamsmith on Legalization and the Undead -Disinformation

 Originally published December 12, 2013 via disinfo.com

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of zombies.  My favorite zombie film is still Night of the Living Dead and I only made it through about twenty minutes of the first episode of The Walking Dead before getting bored and switching to some cartoons.

I really didn’t think there was too much ground left to cover for stories about the undead.  We’ve seen proverbs of survival, criticism of consumer culture, and allegorical tales of human beings facing the personification of the primal lizard brain.

But zombies versus pot?  Scary.

Writer and director Mitch Williamsmith, along with producer Shaun Kennedy and cinematographer Brian Kennedy, are working on their new film, Rasta Zombie, which will combine marijuana activism, zombie apocalypse, and every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard.

But how can a zombie film successfully tackle a theme like marijuana legalization?  I cornered Williamsmith and demanded answers.

ISLA: Tell me about your plans for the film.
Williamsmith: This is our first attempt to make a new film industry completely independent of Hollywood.  The miracle that is crowd-sourced fund-raising makes this a real possibility, with special FX that rival Hollywood standards.  And if we put the film out for free, we can still have a way of expanding our operations through the sale of merchandise related to the film.  Crowd-sourced fund-raising could take Hollywood’s business model and turn it on its head.  If the fans are the ones who fund the films, it eliminates the need for big business to get involved.  I feel this is the future of film entertainment.  A direct relationship between fans and the filmmakers.  For the most part, alternative media has become the way people receive real news.  We feel that in order to save our country, there must be a cultural Renaissance: a grass roots movement of independent media, industry, art, music and film.  If these new industries work together in new and innovative ways to challenge big business, we might have a shot at real change.  It may be a drop in the bucket, but we’re just doing our part.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Kerry Thornley, Discordianism, and the JFK Assassination -Disinformation

Originally published November 25, 2013 via disinfo.com

It’s been fifty years since the Kennedy assassination.  Fifty years since the conspiracy subculture came screaming out of the hivemind’s womb.  Fifty years since the CIA made “conspiracy theorist” a derogatory term (if you believe some people).  I planned to acknowledge the day with some kind of drinking game associated with the Zapruder film, but I couldn’t make it work.

Everyone remembers where they were when Kennedy died, but no one seems to be able to pinpoint the moment they were dragged into conspiracy land.  I was ripe for it.  I believe everything I hear for at least five seconds.  And there’s something sexy about an intricate web of connections.  Thankfully, I was exposed to Robert Anton Wilson’s playful brand of agnosticism at an early age and escaped delusion’s evil clutches.

So, of course, he just had to be tied into the JFK assassination.

Wilson, in his introduction to the Prankster and the Conspiracy, says he was accused of being a CIA “handler” by author Kerry Thornley, who was convinced that he had been the subject of MK-Ultra experiments along with his army buddy, (here it comes) Lee Harvey Oswald.

Thornley and Oswald were in the same Marine regiment in 1959.  Later that year, Thornley was transferred to Japan, where he heard that Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union, an event that he fictionalizes in The Idle Warriors, a novel he finished in 1961.  It was based on some of his companions in the Marines, with the main character as a kind of mish-mash of Oswald and himself, who defects at the end.

Because of The Idle Warriors, Thornley was called to testify before the Warren Commission in 1964 on his connection to the accused.  The following year, he published Oswald, which endorsed the findings of the Warren Commission.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Miracle Staircase of Loretto Chapel -Sitting Now

Originally published November 19, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk 

 In the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico, stands the Loretto Chapel, home of a famous spiral staircase said to have been built by a divine stranger who was passing through in 1878.  Unsolved Mysteries did a piece on it, and there’s even a 1998 made-for-TV film, The Staircase.

According to the legend, the chapel, which was stationed at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, was completed without a set of stairs leading to the choir loft.  The Sisters of the Chapel were uncomfortable with their practice of climbing a ladder to the loft before mass, as it allowed any passerby the opportunity to look up their habits.  Plans to install a standard staircase were rejected, since the chapel was fairly small, and space was limited as it was.

To solve the problem, the nuns began a nine-day novena to St. Joseph, patron of carpenters, in the hopes that he would give them some sort of solution.  On the final day, out of nowhere, a man with a donkey and a box of tools appeared, looking for work.

The mystery man agreed to build a spiral staircase that would take up little space and be an inspiration to all who saw it.  The only stipulation: he would be given complete privacy and solitude until the project’s completion.

A few months later, the staircase was unveiled to the oohs and ahhs of the chapel’s Sisters, but the carpenter was nowhere to be found.  Wishing to pay him, or at least give thanks, they even put out an ad in the local paper requesting any information on his whereabouts or his identity, but with no luck.
The only possible answer: the man was St. Joseph, himself, visiting the chapel in response to the fervent prayers said in his name.

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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stingy Jack and the Legend of the Jack O' Lantern -Disinformation

Originally published October 31, 2013 via disinfo.com

It’s Halloween.  Time to help your kids develop their bed-wetting habits.  Time to buy a ton of candy, claim it’s for trick-or-treaters, turn off the porch light, and gorge yourself on waxy chocolate.  Time to carve the ol’ jack-o’-lantern.

One of my favorite Halloween myths is the origin story of the jack-o’-lantern: the trickster legend of Stingy Jack.  This folk tale comes from Ireland, which was also a major cultural center for the Celts, who observed the festival of Samhain, which serves as the root from which our modern Halloween sprang.
According to the story, which may be centuries old, a drunkard known as Stingy Jack was infamous throughout Ireland as a liar and a cheat.  He was especially despised for his love of trickery, his favorite pastime.

One day, while bored and lounging lazily around Hell, Lucifer happened to overhear some horrible stories about Jack’s devious skills, which were apparently even more dastardly than his own.  Not to be outdone by a mere drunken Irishman, the Devil decided to find Jack and see if the stories were true.
That night, while stumbling in an alcoholic haze through the darkened Irish hills, Jack came upon a body, lying in the road.  Always curious when it comes to inert bodies (dead people don’t usually press charges against thieves), Jack shambled over for a closer look.

Turning the body over, Jack was surprised to find the face of Satan staring back at him.  Assuming he was there to take Jack to his final reward, he pleaded to be taken to the local pub for one last drink.  Seeing the humor in the situation, the Devil conceded.

The rest of the night should probably have its own legend attached, considering the new levels of debauchery discovered by the pair as they drank the pub dry.  When the party finally died down and the bill showed up, Jack, who wasn’t called “Stingy” for nothing, turned to the Devil and demanded he pay for it.

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Hyper-Real Spirituality: Pop Culture Magic -BoB

Originally published October 31, 2013 via theblogofbaphomet.com

Most folk’ll tell you the use of pop culture iconography in ritual began in the 80′s with Chaos Magick and the IOT. A few folk’ll tell you it started earlier with people like William S. Burroughs, who was known to use a cardboard stand-up of Mick Jagger for “rites of performance.” But I think it can be traced back to the beginning if you consider that at one time, even the Sumerian gods were pop sensations.

Those in the chaos current have always accepted the use of pop culture as being magically relevant. Just examine the successful integration of the Cthulhu Mythos by Anton LaVey, Phil Hine, and many others into the magical landscape over the last fifty years. Borrowing from any archetypal pool is considered okay, as long as it gets results. Devotion to an entity isn’t necessary for it to be useful as a magical tool.

Recently, though, a trend has popped up that I’ve found myself right in the middle of: serious religious devotion given to fictional characters drawn from pop culture. I’m a member of the Sons of the Batman, a magical group that honors the Caped Crusader. Although it may appear to be a joke or an intellectual exercise, it’s definitely not, and we take the worship of Batman very seriously.

And we are by no means the only ones.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Aghori: India's Sexiest Mystics -Sitting Now

Originally published October 22, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk

Editor’s note: The following e-mail was received yesterday, following a deadline lapse by Frater Isla.  In lieu of an actual article, we have decided to print this e-mail, as it may be the last time we hear from him (if he is to be believed).  As always, the opinions put forward within this communication belong solely to Isla, and in no way reflect the feelings of the editorial staff here at Right Where You Are Sitting Now.
Dear [Editor],

I apologize for the lateness of this e-mail.  I understand you are a very busy man, and my untimely response is incredibly unprofessional.

I might as well let you know that my promised article on the so-called “black-eyed children” phenomenon is at a dead end, and will probably never be written.  To be honest, the subject has no real substance, and from what I can tell, seems to be just more internet mumbo jumbo.  The stories that I have read are unsubstantiated at best, and shockingly plagiarized at worst.

But while digging through the sloppy bog of internet prose, I made contact with someone who claimed to have witnessed one of these children in the flesh.  His obviously fraudulent story wasn’t what interested me, though, it was his (equally false) claim that he had spent a number of years among the Aghori, a Hindu sect in India.  He said they were cannibals, sexual deviants, and all-around weirdos.  I’d never heard of them, but it sounded much more interesting than some spooky kids who knock on your door and give you the heebie jeebies.

I spent the rest of the night reading some very strange accounts of these mystical madmen, who appear in striking photographs, covered in the ashes of dead men and drinking from human skulls.  The Aghori are a sect of Shaivite Hindus.  They believe that the universe was created in the image of Shiva, meaning that everything under the sun must be a perfect manifestation of the divine, including death, putrescence, and all manner of nastiness.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Eye of the Skeptic -Disinformation

Originally publishedOctober 18, 2013 via disinfo.com

“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
                                     -Robert Anton Wilson
“No amount of belief makes something a fact.”
                        -The Amazing James Randi

“Faith” should be a four-letter word.  I propose a change in spelling.  “Fath,” maybe.

Those “I’m always right” types absolutely need faith, or else those vicious doubts start creeping in.  Not only will you find faith in the religious mind, calling God a fact, you’ll also find it lurking in the atheist, saying He isn’t.  Come to think of it, anyone who uses the word “fact” so easily must be pretty faithful, at least when it comes to their own nonsense.

One of my favorite “always right” groups to hate is the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a self-proclaimed “skeptical” organization founded by professional debunker and ex-stage magician, the Amazing Randi.  According to their website, the Foundation “was founded in 1996 to help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.”  If you look at this statement closely, you’ll see that little demon, “faith,” wearing a lab coat and a clipboard, trying to look casual in the corner.  It presupposes that “paranormal and pseudoscientific claims” are something to be defended against, and presupposition is the very antithesis of skepticism.  It goes against the very spirit of skepticism: a “questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts.”

Although I’m sure most supporters of the JREF are scoffing right now at the idea that their beliefs are grounded in faith, there’s almost certainly one thing they never question: their own senses.

According to cognitive science, vision makes one of the largest contributions to our perception of reality.  We rely on our sight to interpret the world around us, but in reality, it only sees a fraction of what’s there.  The wavelength of visible light ranges between 380 and 750 nanometers, less than 1% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.  We cannot see X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves, or infrared.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Secret Affair Between Science and Magic -BoB

Originally published October 10, 2013 via theblogofbaphomet.com

Every year, it seems that the line between magic and science gets a little more blurry. Quantum physics seems determined to become the new mysticism with ideas like morphogenic fields, simulation theory, and the holographic principle.

Meanwhile, occultists are desperate to rationalize their practices with parallels found in theoretic physics.
Pointy hats and white coats
Pointy hats and white coats
Entanglement, for instance, may give a scientific basis for explaining the magical idea of “like begets like,” in that two particles which have become “entangled” appear to react to a stimulus simultaneously, despite their isolation from one another in space.

There’s also the “Copenhagen Interpretation,” which states that a quantum particle is always in a superposition, or taking up all possible positions at once, and is only fixed when it is observed. In opposition to this interpretation, we have the “Many-Worlds” theory, which posits that when there is more than one possible outcome of an action, an entire universe is created for each one. Both of these theories can be applied to magic. If you go with the Copenhagen Interpretation, you can say that an act of magic is influencing where the quantum particle “lands.” If you prefer the Many-Worlds theory, it can be said that the act places the operator in a universe where the chosen outcome is a reality.

But quantum physics isn’t the only area of scientific study that seems to be proving what mystics and occultists have said all along. The fields of psychology, cognitive studies, or neurophysiology can also be veritable treasure troves for the wise magician.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Black Iron Kisses and #the1stuniverse -Sitting Now

Originally published October 7, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk

Building an entire universe from scratch by yourself is hard work.  Just ask God.  It took Him a week, and He’s omnipotent.  But a little bit of help from the internet can go a long way, as artist Sia Abderezai found when he started building #the1stuniverse about six months ago.

Sia is the founder of Black Iron Kisses, an art group based in California, whose website is a kind of tongue-in-cheek occult philosophy emporium.  There, you can find artwork, essays, and consistently revolving manifestos dealing with a metafictional cosmology which brings together elements of Philip K. Dick, H. P. Lovecraft, and David Icke.

#the1stuniverse is an open source space developed using World of Text, a universe-builder which allows visitors to edit existent worlds in real-time, using text as building blocks.  According to a block of text found within the universe, itself, it is an “experiment in hivemind thinking,” that will be played out until it’s predetermined apocalypse, September 23, 2045.

According to their website, within hours of the world’s creation, “We saw a sudden explosion of people contributing a little bit of themselves, completely anonymously through this world.”  The digital graffiti ranges from simple messages (“allworkandnoplaymakesjackadullboy”) to massive works of art, all done within the minimal medium of green text on a black field.  The inherent message is hard to miss: this world is your playground.  Play.

But even internet art worlds have their bogeymen.  A few months ago, a troll with lots of time on their hands and a worn out backspace key took it upon themselves to erase the entire work, leaving nihilistic messages in the wake.  Luckily version 1.5 is up and running.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

An Interview with Occult Author and NLP Master, Philip H. Farber -Disinformation

Originally published October 6, 2013 via disinfo.com

A couple of years ago, I realized that thanks to social media, I could start hunting down authors I was interested in like dogs, hounding them with questions I’d never been able to ask before.

One of these poor schmucks was Philip H. Farber, occult author of FutureRitual, Meta Magick: The Book of Atem, and Brain Magick: Exercises in Meta-Magick and Invocation.  He has also written a novel, The Great Purple Hoo-Ha.

Philip is a hypnotist, Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner, and magician.  Beside his books, he also teaches courses and seminars dealing with ritual magic and NLP.  DVDs of some of these can be found at Hawkridge Productions.

Friending Phil on Facebook was one of my smartest moves.  Not only was he willing to answer all of my questions at length, he was also quick to give me excellent reading recommendations.  And all for free.  What a sucker.

In preparing for this interview, I reread some of his books, re-watched some DVDs, and reviewed some of our old correspondences.  And there, staring coolly at me from behind computer screens and printed word, was the ugly beast of accusation.

This interview is an act of apology to Phil.  If anyone out there has ever gotten me drunk enough to talk about my actual views on magic, you should now realize that all of those brilliant and thought-provoking ideas spewing out of my mouth were most likely lifted from this guy.

Sorry, Phil.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Suppression Led to Tarantism and Dancing Mania -Disinformation

Originally published September 29, 2013 via disinfo.com

I refuse to dance unless I’ve consumed at least half of my weight in grain alcohol (though I have been known to attempt the Dougie, as long as I’m by myself and the curtains have been drawn).  Generally speaking, a request to get down on the dance floor will almost certainly send me into a state of blind terror, accompanied by hives and the ice sweats.

You can imagine, then, my horror when hearing about “tarantism,” a disease which causes its victims to become irritable and restless, and was fatal unless treated immediately by engaging in aggressive dancing.  It was relatively common during the 16th and 17th centuries in southern Italy, and is said to be the origin of the popular folk dance, “Tarantella,” which was performed by victims as the most important part of their therapy.

Hydrotherapy was also considered to be an important part of the healing process.  Suffering would abate while listening to the soft sound of a gentle waterfall.  Cloth would be soaked in wine and wrapped around the shoulders of a dancer.  Many victims craved water and were even known to accidentally drown themselves, following deep contemplation of the ocean.

Symptoms of the disease included headaches, fainting, muscular spasms, delusions, overheating, and an increase in sexual appetite.  Its name came from the source of infection, the bite of the tarantula spider, as well as contact with other infected individuals.  There was no permanent remedy for the malady as those cured of tarantism would often relapse, the spider’s venom being reactivated by the summer heat or the overheard strains of Tarantella music being played to treat new victims.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Emperor Norton I and the Slippery Idea of Self -BoB

Originally published September 24, 2013 via theblogofbaphomet.com

September 17th 2013 marked the 154th anniversary of the inauguration of Emperor Norton I.

Joshua Norton was born in England in 1818 or 1819 and was raised in South Africa. He came to San Francisco in 1849 during the gold rush with a large inheritance, which he used to invest in land holdings, making him a successful businessman and respected member of the community. In the early 1850′s, China was facing famine, and enacted a ban on exporting rice. Seeing this as an opportunity to corner the market, in 1852, Norton sold all of his land holdings and used the funds to buy an incoming Peruvian ship, loaded with rice. Unfortunately, within a few days, two more rice-laden ships appeared, dropping the market value and subsequently bankrupting the budding entrepreneur. He tried to back out of his contract with the ship’s owner, but in 1857, the Supreme Court of California ruled against him. In 1858, he declared bankruptcy and disappeared.

Norton wouldn’t be seen again until September 17, 1859, when he marched into the offices of the San Francisco Daily Bulletin and demanded they publish the following decree:

“At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U.S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.”

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Monday, September 23, 2013

How I Learned to Love the Hoax -Sitting Now

Originally published September 23, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk

“Hoax” is the dirtiest of words, isn’t it?  Not only is it a lie, it’s a lie that makes us look stupid.  And it works double-time.  If it’s believable, you feel dumb for being gullible.  If it’s not, you feel dumb just for sharing DNA with the perpetrator.

But some hoaxes can have a positive effect, leaving us laughing at ourselves, and walking away with a pleasant experience.  The famous Nantucket Sea Serpent, for instance, was a hoax that wasn’t meant to denigrate its witnesses in any way.

Tony Sarg, an illustrator who would come to be known as “America’s Puppet Master,” was the designer of the first large-scale helium balloon animals used in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in 1928.  These massive balloons have since become a tradition, and seeing a Thanksgiving parade without one would be unthinkable.  In 1933, he performed a puppet show at the World’s Fair in Chicago with an audience of over 3 million.  And in 1937, he took part in one of the most fun hoaxes ever.

During the summer months in Nantucket, Massachusetts, sightings of a monstrous sea creature were reported in the local newspaper.  Soon, photos of men measuring large footprints allegedly left by the beast were published. The local community began to buzz over the news.

Then, in July, the serpent appeared.  Beached on the shore, the massive rubber creature became a major tourist attraction, bringing sightseers from all over America’s east coast to view it before it was entered into the Thanksgiving Parade, later that year.  Photos of tourists and children playing around the puppet don’t seem to show a single person upset by the hoax.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hostile Spiritual Takeover: Thug Saints in the Cult of Maria Lionza -Disinfo

Originally published September 22, 2013 via disinfo.com

In less than a month, tens of thousands of devotees to the cigar-smoking and liquor-swilling Venezuelan religious cult, El Espiritismo Marialioncero, will make their yearly pilgrimage to Sorte Mountain.  Located there is their most important spiritual site: a shrine to Maria Lionza, their highest deity, the spirit of a departed native chief’s daughter.

It is impossible to pin down exactly who Maria Lionza was, the differing accounts of her history being numerous and varied.  Whether or not she was an actual historical figure is still argued.  Few hints can be gathered from the many disassociated images of her, some showing a crowned, green-eyed girl surrounded by the forest and animals, and some, like the famous statue by Alejandro Colina standing beside the Francisco Fajardo Highway in Caracas, depicting a warrior woman, astride a tapir, holding a female pelvis above her head.

Maria LionzaOne of the more common stories places her birth sometime during the 16th century, among the native Nivar tribe.  Her birth name was Yara, which, in an attempt by the Spanish to Christianize her story, would later be changed to Maria.  It is said that the tribe’s shaman prophesied the coming of a green-eyed girl who would have to be sacrificed to the Great Anaconda to divert the destruction of the tribe.  Yara’s father, upon seeing her eyes, decided to save the baby from her would-be killers, and hid her in a cave.  She grew up there, watched over by twenty-two warriors, until the day she sneaked away and visited the nearby lagoon.  There, the Great Anaconda caught sight of her, and, falling in love with her, demanded she come away with him.  Yara refused, and in retaliation, he swallowed her whole.  But immediately, the Great Anaconda began to swell, displacing the waters of the lagoon, and flooding the village, destroying the tribe.  He continued to swell until he burst, and the unscathed Yara emerged.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Burning of Zozobra and Other Scapegoat Rituals -Disinformation

Originally published September 12, 2013 via disinfo.com

The 89th annual Burning of Zozobra, a 50 foot effigy of “Old Man Gloom,” was staged last Thursday in Santa Fe, NM.  The ceremony is a part of the Fiestas de Santa Fe, a festival celebrating the 1692 reconquest of the city by Spanish colonists in 1692.  My wife and I were planning on going this year, since we only live about an hour away, but a combination of heat, laziness, and the newest episode of Breaking Bad kept us at home in the air-conditioning.  Over 30,000 people showed up to the burning this year.  We weren’t missed.

Zozobra (named after the Spanish word meaning “anxiety”) was created by local artist Will Schuster in 1924.  The original was a 6 foot tall marionette, constructed of cloth and wood, which represented the worries and difficulties of the residents of Santa Fe.  Schuster received his inspiration from a ritual practiced by the Yaqui people of Mexico, known as the Burning of Judas.  This ritual was performed during the week of Easter as a part of the Passion Play, in which the effigies of Judas and other villains was hanged on Good Friday and burned on Easter Sunday.

Before the Zozobra burning, participants fill the marionette with pieces of paper representing their troubles from the year before, such as unpleasant court papers, ticker tape from poorly made investments, and unattractive selfies. While the giant burns, so do last year’s bad memories.

Whether they knew it or not, the thousands of people gathered for the festival were taking part in a “scapegoat” ritual, where the blame of a perceived evil is laid upon a single source, and the destruction of that source brings a kind of equilibrium.  Variants have been practiced in numerous cultures throughout recorded history.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Activist Magic -Sitting Now

Originally published September 5, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk

The most commonly overheard criticism of magicians:  “Well if you guys have all these great super powers, then why aren’t you doing something to better the world?”  Pretty tough to chew on, especially if you’ve just been shooting off sigils to get a sweeter ride or a writing gig at Sitting Now.

Looking back over the modern history of the popular esoteric tradition in the West may give us some answers as to why most occultists find it so hard to see past their own noses.

With the overshadowing presence of hierarchical fraternities like the Golden Dawn and the O.T.O. within the occult scene of the early twentieth century, there was a heavy focus on secrecy and the support of an all-knowing inner circle.  For these organizations and others like them, a certain amount of reliance on the status quo (at least within the group, itself) was required to keep them functioning.  Any member’s goals were superseded by those of the group and its leaders, meaning that the only sanctioned use of magic was for the empowerment of the organization.

In opposition to this attitude, occultism during the latter part of the century was largely shaped by the Chaos Magick movement and groups like the Illuminates of Thaneteros and the Temple ov thee Psychic Youth.  Here, we find the focus shifted to the individual, where all authority was viewed skeptically, and one’s personal goals took precedence.  Knowledge and fulfillment of the Self and its needs were revered as the highest attainments in these circles, and effects on outer reality could be summed up in the common refrain, “Fix yourself, and the world will follow.”

And let’s be honest here.  Occultists have never really been known to get too involved with the outside world. They also tend to be a decade or so behind the cultural curve.  The insurrectionist philosophies of Hakim Bey (famed anarchist and alleged pederast), for example, were adopted by many magicians long after the punk movement had already been anesthetized by popular culture.  For all their talk of “cutting edge ideas” and “living on the fringe,” the average magic-dabbler will only take the time to lift their head from whatever self-help book they’ve been reading to ask an internet forum about whether or not “shadow people are real.”

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Godlike Productions and the Science of Shill -Disinformation

Originally published September 4, 2013 via disinfo.com

Shill [shil]
1. a person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc.

(Author’s note: No links to godlikeproductions.com have been included in this article.  The site is riddled with spyware, and only readers who are completely confident in their antiviral software should visit.)

In the monkey cage of conspiracy forums, the word “shill” gets thrown around more than feces.  Anyone who’s worn the skeptic hat has probably heard it at least once.  In fact, after my article criticizing the subscribers of the Monarch Program and Illuminati theories, I was sure I’d get my own share of shill slander.  But alas, no luck. Hope, though, marches on.

Even with all the monkey posturing, though, the reality of shills within the conspiracy community is hardly debatable, given our verified knowledge concerning the FBI’s COINTELPRO projects during the 1960s.  COINTELPRO technically ended in 1971, but it doesn’t take the wildest imagination to assume that it’s techniques are still in use.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Lord Steven Christ: Heaven is Only a Tattoo Away -Disinformation

Originally Published August 26, 2013 via disinfo.com

There’s nothing novel about someone claiming to be the returned Messiah.  In fact, with the dissemination of information being what it is these days, it’s hard to throw a palm branch without hitting one.  But few of them have been arrested for threatening to assassinate the President like Steven Joseph Christopher (aka Lord Steven Christ).
Steven’s arrest came in January 2009 after the following post was made on the alien-earth.org forum on January 11:
ok we have 6 days until my Presidential Assasination.
Yes, I have decided I will assasinate Barack Obama. It’s really nothing personal about the man. He speaks well, has a loving although controlling wife and two cute daughters. But I know it’s for the country’s own good that I do this. And I’m not racist either, my family is a little, but isn’t all Italian and European families? I mean how many times have you heard the word (racial slur) in the comforts of your home? I have a lot, and it really bothered me and I would confront them about it. No, it’s not because I’m racist that I will kill Barack, it’s because I can no longer allow the Jewish parasites to bully their way into making the American people submit to their evil ways. How many of you Obama supporters are now disappointed after some of his arm-twisted Jewish appointee decisions??? Make’s you think he’s not really in charge(which he isn’t). No it’s the same old, same old filthy (expletive) (racial slur) who are poisoning America, who have murdered thousands of innocent lives on 9-11-01, and are thinking that they are going to get away with it again.”
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Ouija Boards, Zozo, and an Interview With a Demon -Sitting Now

Originally published August 23, 2013 via sittingnow.co.uk

I grew up in the throes of the Satanic Panic of the 80s with a baptist preacher for a father, meaning no He-Man, no Dungeons & Dragons, and definitely no Ouija boards.  To be honest, the only real loss I felt was over the He-Man and D&D ban.  In my mind, Ouija was always aligned with seances, superstition, and big-haired mediums from Long Island.

But then I found some hoaxy YouTube videos and internet yarns describing a demon named Zozo that haunted unwary Ouija dabblers, negatively influencing their lives and even possessing them.

I’ve never been able to make myself believe in ghosts.  The idea of dead spinsters sticking around their old houses with unfinished business just seems boring to me.  Demon possession, on the other hand, is something I can totally dig.  It’s sexy, exciting, and it spooks people in a way that ghosts never could.  I decided to finally try out the Ouija, if only to get back at my folks for not letting me watch Masters of the Universe.  But before I did, I wanted to find out what this mysterious board was all about.

The Ouija board was first made available commercially by Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard in July of 1890, but was by no means the first of its kind.  The Spiritualism movement in the United States had been in full swing since the 1850s, and tools facilitating communication with the dead were in high demand.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Frater Isla's Head Inflates After Reading Wikipedia Entry

I may have arrived, folks.  While following a link to the Wikipedia entry for the Initiative Collective, a non-profit organization that I wrote a Disinfo article about, I noticed a certain someone in the references section.

God bless it.  I'm a reference.  Eat your heart out, Webster's.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Haunted Curiosities' Guide to Duping Goth Kids and Twilight Fans -Disinformation

Originally published Aug 15, 2013 via disinfo.com

There was a kid in my high school named Chris or John, but we all called him “Dick.”  He wore a trench coat and combat boots, and he started telling people he was an honest-to-goodness vampire.  He would cower in the shadows and play out an uninspired pantomime of retreating from the sun in pain.  I remember him telling us that he had woken up on the ceiling above his bed one morning.  He was clearly a resident of the highest social tier.

I haven’t thought about Dick in years, but last night I came across a grown-up version of him on YouTube, “Anthony, the living vampire,” being interviewed by a woman named DeeDee, who runs the Haunted Curiosities and Haunted Collector websites.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Donald Duck: High Priest of the Illuminati -Disinformation

Originally Published August 9, 2013 via disinfo.com

“You do find mathematics in the darndest places.”
-Donald Duck

Conspiracy theorists are dreadfully thorough, but I guess most of them missed this one: Donald in Mathmagic Land, the 1959 Disney featurette starring Donald Duck which teaches us about the Pythagorean cult, the pentagram, the Fibonacci Sequence, and the Golden Ratio.

As is the case with most men of influence, Walt Disney has been identified as a member of the Illuminati (or at least a pawn) by more than one conspiracy buff.  Accusations have included pedophilia, child sexual programming, occult slavery, Freemasonry ties, blah blah blah.  Pretty much, the usual.  An interesting list of some of the weirder points appears in an earlier Disinfo article by 5by5.

One recurring accusation is that the Disney films and cartoons are riddled with subliminal messages of a sexual nature. Most likely, you’ve heard of them before. A dust cloud in The Lion King spells out the word, “sex.”  A phallus shows up on the cover of The Little Mermaid.  Aladdin says, “Teenagers take off your clothes.”  The list goes on a bit.

Other than the sexual subliminals, there are also numerous “Illuminati symbols” supposedly hidden throughout the cartoons and the Disney theme parks, as well.  Most notably, the symbolism surrounding the infamous Club 33 at Disneyland (a members only club inside the park), and the cartoon, Gravity Falls.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back Alley Jinn Exorcism in the UK -Disinformation

Originally published August 1, 2013 via disinfo.com

Last year, the BBC reported on a case where four family members were found guilty of murder.  The victim, Naila Mumtaz, an expectant mother, was found smothered in the home she shared with her husband, Mohammed, in Birmingham, England.  Mohammed and his parents, Zia Ul-Haq and Salma Aslan, along with his brother-in-law, Hammad Hassan, denied the allegations and defended themselves by claiming that Naila’s injuries were self-inflicted, and that she was possessed by a jinn (djinn), an Islamic evil spirit, similar to the Christian concept of a demon.

Although it received some media attention, this was not an isolated case.  Catrin Nye (BBC) reported a rise of criminal abuse in the UK related to the exorcism of jinn (a practice called “Ruqyah”) in recent years.  Some of these cases have resulted in the victims’ death, with the so-called “healer” (“raaqi”) often escaping punishment, being hidden by members of their communities.  Even in the majority of cases, where death does not occur, we find victims of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health issues being denied the proper medical treatment in favor of exorcism.

The jinn are described in the Qur’an (55:15) as a race of creatures with free will, created from a “smokeless flame” by Allah.  They are physical in nature, but are invisible to humans.  The fact that the jinn have free will means that they can be good, evil, or neutral.  However, Islam’s Satan, known as Iblis or Shaytan, was the only jinn to be considered equal in standing to the angels.  The Qur’an tells the story of the creation of Adam, where Allah commands the angels to prostrate before the freshly minted human.  Only Iblis refuses (7:11-12). This story may be the reason behind the general view of the jinn as essentially malevolent.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Taylor Ellwood On Identity, Space/Time, and Pop Culture Magick -Disinformation

Originally published July 26, 2013 via disinfo.com

There’s only so many times you can read about the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram before you stop paying attention and start daydreaming about what the real Harlem Shuffle looks like. Magic only seems novel the first time you come across it. After that, it tends to just be the same concepts rehashed ad nauseum. Maybe it says something about my own attention span, but if I hear anyone mention the “Rule of Three” again, I’m liable to smash a Stevie Nicks record over their head (author’s note: I have never owned a Stevie Nicks record).

Finding a magician who’s interested in testing the boundaries and really experimenting with their practice is what draws my attention, and Taylor Ellwood has based his whole career on fooling around in territories no one else has touched. As he says on his website, “My focus as a magician is to innovate and experiment with what can be done magically.”

Taylor has studied Neoshamanism, Taoism, Hermetic philosophy, Ceremonial Magic, Buddhist meditation, and a number of other traditions. He is a spiritual coach and the prolific author of Inner Alchemy, Multi-Media Magic, Pop Culture Magick, Space/Time Magick, Magical Identity, among others. He has been a guest on numerous podcasts and has presented classes at PDX HARP and Essential Elements.

Taylor is currently the Managing Non-Fiction Editor of Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press. He lives in Portland, OR.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

DKMU's Assault on Reality and the Ellis Sigil -Disinformation

Originally published July 25, 2013 via disinfo.com

“Consensus reality” is a funny term.  There are some things we can all agree on.  The earth is round (Flat Earth Society). Kittens are cute (I Hate Cats Tees).  The external world exists (David Icke’s Saturn/Moon Matrix theory).  For every absolute you can state, there’s someone out there who will draw a line in the sand and tell you that you’re wrong wrong wrong.  The DKMU turned those lines into trenches, huddled down for the long haul, and started bombarding the rest of us with glitterbombs.

DKMU was a loosely affiliated group of artists and occultists, connected through the internet, who declared war on reality in 2007.  “We cast spells, scribe sigils, open doorways, summon spirits, generate hauntings, design deities, perform rituals on skyscrapers while dropping acid, evoke archetypes around bonfires, imbue our intents within media of all sorts and anything else we might find useful in making the world a more wild, mysterious and liberating place to be.” (dkmu.org)

Members of the group came from all walks of life and traditions, bound together by their desire to make the world a more magical place and amp up the weirdness of everyday life.  There were no leaders, and there seemed to be no coherent philosophy shared by its members.  With heavy nods toward Chaos Magic and Discordianism, the DKMU released a series of videos, music, and visual art that they called, “propaganda,” describing the consensual reality as a kind of prison for creativity and personal freedom.  Their focus was on the practical application of magical techniques, particularly the use of sigils (a symbolic representation of an idea or intent), and the treatment of the individual’s psyche as a laboratory.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Don't Call Them Superheroes: An Interview With Zero and Dark Guardian of the New York Initiative -Disinformation

Originally published July 14, 2013 via disinfo.com

When I was seven, I told my teacher that when I grew up, I wanted to be a comedian like Johnny Carson. What I didn’t tell her was that I also planned on putting on a mask and fighting crime. Of course, like everyone else, my childhood dreams were shoved through the meat grinder of reality, and I hung up my cape along with my fantasy.

I’d forgotten all about it when, twenty years on, I saw a documentary on HBO entitled Superheroes. It followed grown-ass adults, calling themselves “Real-Life Superheroes” (or RLSH), who dress up in spandex and go out “on patrol.” They even have forums hidden in the backwoods of the internet, where they can trade training tips, war stories, and sweet pics of their sweet costumes.

But one of the groups featured in Superheroes wasn’t like the others. They called themselves the New York Initiative. They were trained in martial arts and parkour, and lived in no-frills apartments filled with exercise equipment. They didn’t wear bright superhero costumes or pose for photos with tourists. They seemed like the real thing, and I was immediately assaulted with concerns about fascism and due process. The idea of actual superheroes in real life, imposing their ideas of “justice” upon the masses was terrifying (see: Watchmen).

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Can Vortex Mathematics Lead to Free Energy, or is It Just More Fluff? -Disinformation

Originally published July 10, 2013 via disinfo.com

I came across the following post in an occult group on Facebook:  “Only God could have created a 9 number system that can encompass infinity with a zero as the emanation [Chaos].”  Just the kind of quirky and weird statement I just can’t pass up.  “I’ll bite,” I commented.

I was led by the poster to a number of videos featuring Marko Rodin, who discovered what he termed, “Vortex Mathematics.”  While attempting to decode the greatest name of God in the Bahá’í faith, using Abjad numerical notation, he created a symbol consisting of the nine arabic numerals inscribed upon a circle.  He called this the “symbol of enlightenment” (shown at right) which he has also referred to as “the mathematical thumbprint of God.”

For me, understanding math is like trying to walk up a grassy hill in the rain with flip flops that are two sizes too large. That being said, I’ll pass on what I do understand.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Saturni and the Value of Lies -Disinformation

Originally published July 6, 2013 via disinfo.com

Trudging through the internet, I came upon one of the wackiest conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen at thesaturni.com:

While we’ve been mindlessly cycling through work and play, a race of Archon-like beings from Saturn has been slowly devouring our world a piece at a time.  The Saturni were originally bodiless astral entities, known to us as gods and devils, who descended into the material world as human beings.  But something went terribly wrong (as it usually should), and they became enamored with their new-found appetites.  You can imagine them as cosmic cannibals, pretending to be humans, who will not be sated until every resource on the earth has been swallowed.  “That guy stealing a parking space from you?  A closet Saturnus.  Intolerant bigots, greedy fat cats, political pundits, politicians?  Yep.  The fact is, the single greatest power the Saturni possess is their ability to appear exactly like every single person you don’t like.”

The website has been created and maintained by the followers of A. P. Bowman, who has “attained quasi-immortal status, conferred on him by one of the primordial Introim, the forebears and absolute enemies of the Saturni.”  There are numerous conflicting accounts of Bowman to be found throughout the site, placing him in the United Kingdom in the 17th century, Paris in 1945, and New Orleans in the 1970s.  I was immediately reminded of the contradictory stories told by members of the Church of the SubGenius regarding their prophet, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs (including numerous incompatible versions of his life as well as his death).

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fotamecus: The Chaos Magick Film You May Never Get to See -Disinformation

 Originally published June 30, 2013 via disinfo.com

In 2001, Matt Lee, director and epic beard-owner, announced the Fotamecus Film Majik Project, a plan to make a “film about time and modern magick, a story about shifting perceptions of time.”  The film would follow six chaos magicians as they cast a spell through the use of a sigil to “construct a tool with which our subjective perception of time can be altered.”

The film’s title, Fotamecus, comes from the name of a servitor created in 1996 by a magician calling himself Fenwick Rysen.  In chaos magic, a servitor is an artificially created being with limited autonomy that executes a pre-programmed task.  In the case of Fotamecus, the the task was to literally condense or expand time, dependent on the needs of the operator.  Say, for instance, I was running late to an appointment.  In theory, I could call upon the entity to contract the amount of time it would take to get there, and the trip would shorten.  The problem, according to Fenwick, is that to contract time in one place meant that time had to be expanded in another.  To this end, the servitor was then programmed to self-replicate clones of itself as needed, creating a matrix of servitor nodes.  That way, if I needed to make my trip shorter, then a node would be created which another person could access if they wished to make another time period last longer (insert minute man joke here).  This would keep me from having to “pay” for my time.  With me so far?

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Exorcism of Alex Jones -Disinformation

 Originally published June 25, 2013 via disinfo.com

Does Alex Jones need an exorcism?
Last night I spilled half a bowl of SpaghettiOs on my favorite pair of Batman pajamas while reading a Reddit post about the infamous radio personality Alex Jones, host of his own syndicated news/talk show dedicated to conspiracy theories.

A real wowzer showed up on Jones’ Infowars website last week, claiming that not only is he the famous comedian and pop icon, Bill Hicks (who faked his death and reconstructed his face), but is also possessed by the 29th demon of the Goetia, Astaroth. The article was quickly removed, but a generous contributor on Reddit reprinted it.

If you are unfamiliar with the Goetia (the Lesser Key of Solomon), it is a medieval magical grimoire and who’s who of the most infernal demons of hell, complete with instructions on how to evoke and bend them to your will.

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