Friday, October 30, 2015

The Most Intolerant, Wins.

N. N. Taleb likes outliers and minorities. He wrote an interesting book called 'Black Swan: The impact of the highly improbable', which was a fascinating read that I highly recommend.

Recently, I read an article by him called "The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dominance of the Stubborn Minority". It's a fascinating study of the counterpoint to the majority rules rule, and shows how minority populations end up making decisions for the vast majority of the population, even changing the majority population's makeup.  Mr. Taleb gives the example of the Muslims and Christians, the examples of Rome and the Christians, the example of Kosher everything, the removal of peanuts from public life, and a current event in the general acceptance or rejection of GMO foods. I won't go into the details, the article is linked above, give it a look.

But it does provide an interesting formula: The population which requires x, will inevitably overcome the population that can accept x.

Think about that: The population which REQUIRES x will inevitably overcome the population that can accept x.

So, the population that REQUIRES gay marriage (gay folks) will inevitably overcome the population that can accept x (the majority of americans), because the activists will accept nothing less than total legal gay marriage, and the majority doesn't care that much.

The population that says #BlackLivesMatter will inevitably overcome the populations that says #alllivesmatter. For black populations, it's a matter of survival. For the rest of the population, it's an internet meme.

The population that says #gamergate is about corruption in journalism will inevitably overcome the population that doesn't care. For the gamergaters, it's a matter of journalistic integrity. For everyone else, it's a sideshow.

The apathetic majority always loses to the committed minority. It's how the bolsheviks and the Nazis took over. It's how we have codes of conduct, we have lax gun laws, it's how we have environmental controls, how we have kosher food. The one who doesn't give up, doesn't turn back, who cannot accept another outcome, who doesn't compromise: wins.

This has interesting implications. When two minority populations are equally committed and in conflict, what's the outcome?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Rain Magic

Here in the west, it's quite dry. There are a lot of fires. The drought in California has been going on for some time, and even in rainy Oregon we've had unseasonably early dry weather and low snow pack. Most of Oregon's water needs are met by snow melt water, so having a low snow pack is not a good situation.

I am a magician. I have had great success with individual and group workings combined with real world efforts to change my circumstances. However, I am a skeptic, and always approach new workings with a healthy dose of 'can this work?'

Which brings us to Rain Magic.

Meterology is a relatively new science.  People have been making observations of the weather since before there was writing, and we know Aristotle wrote on it in 350 BC.  However, most of the work before the 18th century was done via observation. As the scientific era dawned, new measuring tools brought that observation into the realm of measurable and predictable science.

Certain things are quite easy to predict, and a lot of weather forecasting focuses on probability. If X and Y conditions exist, then the chance of phenomenon Z happening is so much.  That's why sometimes you'll see a high probability of rain, and end up with a dry sky. The fact that you can see the conditions yet not predict with certainty what will happen is an outcome of living on a rapidly rotating ball of mud, water, and gas.

Probability is where magic has its wheelhouse. Anything that has a chance can have the odds tipped with a magical working. The tip may not be much, but it may be enough to move it from 'won't happen' to 'happening right now'.  The more chaos in a system, and the more definite a desired outcome, the harder it is (see: winning the lottery). But a big, non-localized effect with a decent chance of happening can be tipped quite easily.

So, if the choice is 'might rain' vs. 'might not rain', why can't magic tip us into the 'raining' column?

Joseph Wolf, who is writing the wonderful Illuminated Circle series, has decided to take on the task, and is developing a meditation series culminating on Wednesday, July 15th in an appeal to the Angel Chavuyah, the Shem Ha Mephoresh angel of 5-10 degrees of Cancer.  Here's what he says about it:

She rules 5-10 degrees of Cancer ( cardinal water). When we start at 7 we will be in the hour Jupiter. Jupiter is said to be exalted in Cancer. The New Moon will just have been a few minutes before and also in Cancer. Cancer is the sign of the Great Mother and support for manifesting life.

He'll be doing a ritual in his temple on Wednesday, July 15th at 7 pm to focus the energy and hopefully call for rain here in the far west. If you're interested in lending your energy to this endeavor, please send an email to, and we'll get the meditation material to you. You do not have to be local to the Portland area to take part, but you do have to be willing to undertake meditations from Sun-Tuesday, and have some time Wednesday evening at 7pm PDT to focus your energies into producing this effect.

Let's see if we can make it rain!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Persons vs. Concepts

Gnosticism has several different ways to approach our mythological figures. The Son of God can be approached as a preacher in Galilee, or a cosmic principle of The Word (Logos). Mary can be the mother of Jesus or the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Sophia, or even an embodiment of the Divine Feminine Principle.

What's interesting to me is that neither of these approaches is wrong, or even mutually exclusive. The personhood of Jesus makes him approachable, understandable, and valuable in a moment of crises. The transcendence of the Logos provides a way to work with timeless concepts, timeless forces, and to move beyond the crises into the realm of the eternal.

Where many people fall down with teaching gnosticism, is they try to jump right to the concept. We place more emphasis on the concepts rather than the people. This works for a subset of people, people we gnostics can talk to on this conceptual level: Occultists, Freemasons, other Johannites, etc.  To the vast majority of humanity, these concepts are opaque, foreign, or an obstacle to understanding.

That's where the personification of these concepts comes in. The Logos as the person of Jesus is easier for people to conceptualize. Jesus was there at the beginning, creating the universe, with God, and God. Mary gave birth to Jesus, as the Divine Feminine brings divinity into matter. Analogy works where simple explanation or exegesis cannot.

There is a danger here, as we can abandon the concepts thus embodied, and create cults of personality. If the personalities point towards concepts which we also can embody, I think the technique works well. If the personalities become end goals in and of themselves, I think there needs to be more examination of the teaching being done.

Monday, July 06, 2015


I've now officially met more neighbors in my country house than I ever did living in the city.

There's the YardGuy* and his lovely wife, the Conversationalist. They live up the hill from us, and are delightful people. The Conversationalist gave Paddy a number of lovely plants, which are now merrily growing in our cottage garden.

There's the Mule Guy. He is what we call around these parts, a character. He goes to the local fairs with his mules, and has a mustache that simply will not quit. He's got that way of speaking that is at once incredibly odd and endlessly fascinating.  There's a bit of curmudgeon in there as well.

There's Elk Jewelry Girl and her German Beau. Interesting folks who are renting the property that simply has a great big garage/workshop on it, and living out of their RV.

Yesterday, we met Terminal Preacher and her husband. She runs a home church for terminally ill people, and has cancer herself. We had a fascinating conversation, about the similarities between Pentacostalism and Johannite Gnosticism. There are more than one would think initially: The personal nature of the relationship to divinity (in their form symbolized as Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit), the nature of the gnostic experience ("slain in the spirit"), and the primacy of the individual relationship to the divine over doctrine.

There are differences, of course. Their approach is more emotion based, ours is more intellectual and we have a ton more ritual, but we came to that common ground of helping those who are seeking find the Divine. It was a lovely conversation, and I can't wait to take in a service of theirs.

*All names are changed to protect the innocent.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Illuminated Circle Vol 4

The fourth volume of Joseph Wolf's series on the Shem ha Mephoresh is now available on Amazon for kindle.

This fourth volume goes past angel summoning 101, and into deeper contacts and ties with the entities in the Illuminated Circle. You'll read the results of Mr. Wolf's explorations here.

This is the final volume of the series, completing the elemental correspondences of the zodiacal signs. The books will be updated with further explorations of the angels as they become available. We are also working on a print version for people who prefer text that is not electronic, so stay tuned!

And don't forget to check out the other works in this series, here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


"Two fates bear me on to the day of death.
If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy 
My journey home is gone, but my glory never dies. 
If I voyage back to the fatherland I love, 
My pride, my glory dies... 
True, but the life that's left me will be long, 
The stroke of death will not come on me quickly." 
- Achilles on his death in The Illiad, Book 9, 499-505

Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries
- Fall Out Boy, "Centuries"

I don't wanna die, I'm a God,
Why can't I live on?
-Iron Maiden, "Powerslave"

The knowledge that one day we will die makes us crazy.

Our whole species is insane.

We are these wonderful special snowflakes. Each one different, each one unique, too weird to live, to rare to die.

And yet, we will.

And it makes us angry. Resigned. Hopeful. Insane. Fearful. Crazed.

There is only one form of immortality we can count on. We talk of heavens and hells, we talk of life beyond death, but there is only one thing that can ensure our existence is not forgotten down the line.

Fame (and it's cousin, infamy).

Achilles, long dead these three THOUSAND years, is a name familiar to most of us in the West. Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar. Genghis Khan. Leonardo Da Vinci. Gustavus Adolphus. Napoleon Bonaparte. Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. Winston Churchhill. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy.
Helen of Troy. Cleopatra. Joan of Arc. Elizabeth I. Catherine of Aragon. Catherine the Great of Russia. Marilyn Monroe. 

These are names I know, and I'll bet you do too. And we know them because of great deeds, because at some point in history, they did something noteworthy, something of which we have taken note. And their names live on.

They do not.  But their names do. Stories and tales of their deeds, actions, words live on.

And there are many who try to achieve this immortality, and fail. Or they fail to do it widely. Or their works live on, and we don't know their names without looking it up, if it is even preserved. I can't name the architect of a single one of the Pyramids, but his works live on. I can't name the artist who cast the Statue of Liberty, but his work is a symbol of my country. 

Where does that leave those of us who are not heads of state? Leaders? Artists? People who live on farms, who work in desk jobs or factories, who build and labor and raise families and die?

Or even some of us who are?

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
-Percy Bryce Shelley, Ozymandias

Thursday, June 25, 2015


When embarking on a new endeavor, a good question to ask is "Is it sustainable?"

For instance: A diet, or an exercise program. You may start out all enthusiastic, but can you sustain the effort and care needed to succeed?

Raising animals: Can you sustain the expense or effort required to take care of the animals? Vet bills, feed costs, etc?

Ideals: Can you sustain the effort to protect your ideals, even in the face of stiff opposition?

This all bears on me. I'm currently looking at how we raise our animals, and it's not sustainable. We currently buy a lot of feed, and we're getting little return for it. Some eggs, some rabbit meat, but not nearly enough to justify the expense. It's not sustainable. So I'm exploring ways to make it more so.

Diet and exercise are on my mind a lot. My health would improve greatly if I can drop 40 lbs. It's simply a matter of, what can I do that I can sustain to get that kind of weight loss, and keep it off?

Ideals: I see the supreme court decisions today, and I see the uproar over the Confederate Flag.

I'm happy the ACA is upheld; I think healthcare should be kept affordable for all, and those without means should be aided in obtaining it. My fear is that the way it was upheld will lead to other similar issues. The 'Rule of Law' would state that what the law says, it means, and the way it reads, the subsidies are only a benefit afforded to those exchanges established by the State, not the Federal ones. It's simple enough to walk an amendment through Congress and change the language. That's done all the time.  However, SCOTUS has told us that what the law says is not what it means, and that what it means needs to be interpreted in the wider reading of the law.

This is the issue that fundamentalists run into with the Bible. Every verse needs to be read in context with every other verse, and all of a sudden you get a religion that preaches the opposite of what the book says.

With this ruling, we've gotten the result we wanted, but we haven't fixed the problem.

The uproar over the Confederate Flag upsets me for three reasons: First, it's the flag of an unsuccessful rebellion. It should not be flown on any public grounds. Period.  Second, private companies taking it down seems like an overreaction, as we still respect freedom of speech in this country, and an individual or private organization should be able to fly the flag if they so desire. Three, it's distracting from the very real problems we have of racism, over and possibly incorrect medication of the mentally ill, gun control, and all the various other things we have to talk about. The flag is a quick, easy symbol, and by destroying it we feel like we've won a victory.

But all we've done is take down a flag. Nothing has changed.  We haven't fixed the problem.

As a society, as a culture, we've been doing this for some time. We sort of sideways avoid the problem. We put a band aid on, we throw a tarp over the hole in the roof. But we still have a wound, still have a hole in the roof. It still needs to be addressed head on, no matter how much we dislike blood or manual labor.

Eventually, these problems will fester, or the temporary solutions will create problems in and of themselves. Once the problems will no longer be ignored, it may be beyond our ability to address them.  The wound may bleed out, the house may collapse.

These sorts of 'fixes' are not sustainable. Eventually, the bill will come due.