Sunday, June 3, 2018

Of Psyconauts and Auras

Image captured from here

Do you see auras? In my newest novel Robbyn's Road (scifi/fantasy genre with heavy influences of the occult) my main protagonist, Robbyn is, among other things, a synesthete with extraordinary powers in all her senses. Beginning with readings on electromagnetism I read up on human auras. That is what brought me to Thelma Moss.

Thela Moss is said by many to be the one who brought the occult and New Age belief in auras to the west because of bringing the work of Semyon Kirlian and his wife Valentina Kirlian, now known as Kirlian Photography, to America. Being a psychonaut I liked the simple review of the book Myself and I by Thelma Moss at the end of this post.

First from her Wikipedia page:
“However, she struggled for years with persistent psychological problems, rooted in depression and grief at the loss of her husband (he died of cancer two days after she gave birth to a baby daughter). She survived two suicide attempts. For treatment for her problems, she underwent a course of LSD psychotherapy; she later published an autobiographical account of her treatment, My Self and I, under the pseudonym Constance A. Newland; the book was a bestseller in 1962.”

A book review from the time:
“This book is the true story of one woman's experiences with LSD the new, experimental and dangerous mind drug that is exploding into use across America. LSD is odorless, colorless, tasteless--and potent. One ounce provides 300,000 average doses. One dose can send a user into a shimmering, color-drenched world of wonder...or into a self-contained prison of frenzy and fear.”

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Just for an added read try An Occult History of the Television Set from Gizmodo

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cultural Appropriation And Spirituality


People have asked why I call myself Kether. The story begins when as a pre-teen I had an “entity” come to me. He called himself Rufus. For many years I thought about this entity and came to the conclusion it was just my vivid imagination or some sort of imaginary friend. Then I quit thinking about it. This “friend” told me things and also was a protector of sorts to me. Its voice was with me and gave me warnings about situations. He also told me my real name was Kether. This name stuck in my mind and I told no one about it until I was in my fifties.

I was about eighteen when I learned what Kether meant. It was then I thought perhaps I had subconsciously picked it up from my mother, who was a psychic and read tea leaves and tarot. As I became more involved in Chaos Magic it became my “secret name”. (or Craft name if I were a neo-pagan). As I said, I was in my fifties before I used it publicly in any way. This brings me to the heart of my post today. Cultural Appropriation. Specifically spiritual cultural appropriation.

The most vocal group who are angry about this are Native Americans. They decry “Pretendians” and especially White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men. The debate goes on about the difference between the two, shaman or medicine man/woman. I began my page on Indians with this in mind. There is a group who tracks “Plastic Shamans” and New Age practices avidly. In their introduction they say “Native people DO NOT use the label "Shaman.”

One of the main points and purposes of my website Kether Muse is to show how myth, spirituality, religion and also science share beliefs and blend together. Even politics is in part a blending of these themes and culture.

The United Nations wrote the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to address this as well as other issues. “The Declaration recognizes and affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their cultural, religious, and spiritual practices, to have private access to sacred sites, as well as to maintain and strengthen their spiritual relationship with their traditionally held lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources. With the Declaration, Native peoples have rights acknowledged by the international community of nations, including rights to sacred places both within existing reservation or territorial boundaries and beyond.” But as I see it the declaration gives no explicit opinion on a monopoly of ritual or practice. It is more about land. So to me it is a matter of personal opinion.

Back to my Name Kether. I am not Jewish. I am not a Kabbalist per se. But one reason I call myself a Chaos Magick Practitioner is I don't want to be pigeon holed in my spiritual quest. Just because I am not an Indian does it mean I cannot do a Vision Quest? Many Native Americans say so. Or because I am not an Aborigine am I not allowed to Dream Walk or have Dream Time? When Jesus went into the wilderness, was not that a vision quest? Or the forty year adventure of Moses? Or when the Buddha took his walk and sat under the Bodhi tree wasn't that a Vision Quest? For a pantheist a rock is as sacred as a cross is to a Christian? I have many rocks I consider sacred.

When I walk down a mountain trail and I come upon an owl or hawk feather I consider it a gift and a blessing. My spiritual mentor (now dead) gave me an eagle feather which I have on my alter to represent the element of air. Now Native Americans and the law would say that I had no right to keep that feather. According to federal regulations, only enrolled members of federally recognized tribes can possess eagle, hawk and owl feathers according to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Does it not seem odd this is a felony but I can go dig up a grave, and it's only a misdemeanor? (Alabama Grave Robbing Law)

In my last post I spoke about understanding other people, what they consider sacred and the dangers of slipping into ones cultural spiritual identity, sacrificing ones basic moral and ethical standing which has many shared traditions. It is all about coexistance. As our world becomes smaller and smaller the need for this is more important than any time in history.

So in closing I implore you to reject the dogma. Like Matt Johnson (musical heroes) said in the song Armageddon Days Are Here (Again) “The world is on its elbows and knees. It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds.”

Saturday, January 13, 2018

“Beware Of Darkness”

It is the day of sexual abuse allegations and basically I am proud of those who are coming forward and I believe most of these allegations to be true. The Me Too Movement is long overdue. It is always better when accusations can be proven.

When reading about recent allegations of sexual abuse by Isaac Bonewits from Moira Greyland, daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, in her book, “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon” I read many things. Personally, like his family and others like Lilith Dorsey,who knew him well, I do not believe it. But that is for you to decide I suppose and as for Isaac Bonewits he is dead and cannot defend himself.

Here is a good article from the Wild Hunt on this matter with Isaac. It is also noted Moira Grey's father, Walter H. Breen Jr., was a convicted child sex offender based on her testimony to police.

But beyond the story of Isaac Bonewits this post is about something else. While reading I came upon the open letter he wrote to Salena Fox that was rather disturbing to me. I have always had great respect for her, as well as for Isaac Bonewits. The Dark Side Of Paganism definitely is a subject of much debate but it is disturbing when any “evil” may be found in the prominent people who represent a spiritual path of any kind.

As in all forms of intolerance there is the element of not understanding things in their entirety. That is why organizations like Religious Toalerance.Org are a good place to start to gain understanding, or of course my website Kether Muse. There are common threads that run through all spiritual paths and religions. If ones desire is to find true peace and justice, in religion as well as politics, understanding of the nature of The Other and of ones true self are imperative.

It is a truth (???) that Belief is a powerful thing in both spiritual practice and in politics. As spiritual seekers say we are seeking the Truth. But too often we settle on something that suits our comfort zone. I rather like this article from Elephant Journal that fits with my “belief” quite well.

Narrow-mindedness is all to prevalent in our world. But I am a dichotomy being one seeking truth and hopeful as well as being a dystopian in many respects. Is Hope just a myth? Is there empirical evidence that all can agree on that hope is worthy of pursuit?

In closing faith, trust and hope are determined by one's World View as we all seek absolutes. Keep seeking truth, keep an open mind and continue to seek balance and harmony, whether secular or spiritual. For no other reason than it feels better. As Edward R. Murrow used to say, "Good Night and Good Luck".

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades


Please be patient with me. The following is just a brush with a much deeper conversation.

Frank Robinson (still living) was a Major League Baseball baseball player. He has been attributed as the person who first said, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." The quote appeared in Time magazine July 31, 1973. It is a quote I once said often. Another phrase I currently use is, “Green shaming is just another form of bullying.”

Green Shaming is a specific form of what is known as Culture Jamming, a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements. “There are four emotions that activists often want viewers to feel. These emotions - shock, shame, fear, and anger - are believed to be the catalysts for social change.” (quote source Wikipedia) Also from Wikipedia, “Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes-accurately or not-that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.

So I will explain how “horseshoes and hand grenades”, Green Shaming and guilt tie in together for me today. But first I would like to mention briefly another conjoining term. Activism Ethics. Activism Ethics needs further open source study. There is research on this but most are on those sites where you have to have academic credentials to even read them. That is why I am an advocate of open source knowledge. (my website page on this is here)

As an lifelong political and social activist I have always tried to live by a set of values. Specifically the philosophy of Ahimsa. I also consider myself a Pantheist as it relates to nature worship and my desire not to be an Anthropocentrist holding myself above the rest of creation. I have always had struggles with that. But recently a situation has come upon me that has garnered much anxiety for me. Mice.

In my home I have always had mice and have used catch and release methods for years to deal with them. But these days my physical body is not well and it is difficult to do best practices with catching and releasing mice. I have been agonizing about it for about a month now. I recently came to a decision about it and now I find I am really getting stuck on Green Shaming myself and also struggling with my Activism Ethics.

Living in this modern world and society it is near impossible to adhere to these ethics. For instance how many of us actually do not participate in the use of plastics? Or the mining of rare earth metals that often come via some form of Indigenous Racism just as oil and other natural resources we use every day.

Bottom line I do not like Green Shaming of others. But I find I am adept at using it on myself. And as far as other activism I pour guilt on myself in regard to the mice of not really practicing Ahisma or Pantheism. As a means of justification many use what is know as “whataboutism”. Another action I abhor. Can ther be a reverse whataboutism to use on one's self like saying, “Ya, I kill and support racism but look at all these groups I support and rallies I attend. Don't that balance it out?”

So if I catch and release my mice directly into the garbage can with food, can it ease my mind that when the garbage man takes them to the dump they may survive? Or is it true that, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."? Do the Jains really never step on a bug? What do they feel and do if they do? As an activist is “cutting ourselves some slack” just a convenient excuse? Still wondering, no real answers. It all may may seem silly but the anxiety is real. What do you think?

Just for drill a couple of articles:



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Monday, September 18, 2017

Cornerstones, Magic and George Washington

Image Credit Wikipedia:
Washington laying the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in a photo reproduction of a painting

The dictionary defines a cornerstone as an important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based OR a stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls. As I see it certain moments in time form the cornerstones of our lives. Often have I mused about those moments and about choices we make. Should I turn right, left, go forward or back up? We carry this metaphorical cornerstone as we live, sometimes picking it up and moving it to an entirely different position and begin to rebuild. I suppose you might say the most lucky ones among us plant that stone and it remains indefinably as they remain happy with their chosen path building their life stone by stone and die blissfully satisfied. I could go on in this vein of thought but that would be a distraction from what I wanted to write about today.

It was on this day September 18th in 1793 that the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol was laid down by George Washington. Now here is where my mind went while thinking about this event. To begin with at this event were “three Worshipful Masters carrying sacrifices of corn, wine, and oil”. They also did a ritual and slaughtered an ox and chanted, reminiscent of animals sacrifices to the gods of many historical spiritual practices. What is a Worshipful Master? The Worshipful Master is the highest honor within a Masonic lodge. As a student of the occult I ventured deeper into questions that appeared in my mind.

A number of issues came up immediately beyond my occult interests. First, I have always been fascinated by the history of human architecture and when and how we started building homes. This is associated with my studies of homelessness. Also in my love of mythology, temples that humans have built for thousands of years wherein to worship gods and goddesses and the construction by Neolithic humans of monoliths, like Stonehenge, is equally fascinating.

Cornerstones and Masons are at the heart of this today. I could not find a great source in regard to the cornerstone, if any, for the Great Pyramid of Giza. There is extensive information about its capstone though. We consider this to be one of the oldest “buildings” ever built in general but the fact is it was built near 2560 BC but before that are buildings that date back as far as the Cairn of Barnenez which dates to 4800 BC. Here I could really go off on such things as the Zep Tepi Theory and the whole New Age religious thoughts regarding Ancient Aliens in regard to these monuments, but for now that is a secondary study. I wish to return to the Masons.

In what is considered conspiracy theory the Masons have an extensive litany. Do they want to form a New World Order being agents of the Illuminati? Is our government actually based on this conspiracy not on Christian values as many argue? If the Abrahamic God has a plan is this forming of the New World Order via the United States part of this plan? Were the Knights Templar also part of this? Books such as the The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown suggest this. Which brings me now to move on to Abrahamic religion and Masons. That would be the history of the the building of Solomon's Temple and Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This small area is one of the holiest sites in the world.

Many say that Solomon was the first Mason. Solomon is regarded by Jews, Muslims and Christians as a wise man blessed by God. I find it very curious though that they seem, for the most part, to overlook how Solomon built this temple. In Biblical texts they describes how Solomon was enabled to build his temple by commanding demons by means of a magical ring that was entrusted to him by the archangel Michael. Angels? Demons? Magical ring?

This starts perhaps with Benaiah who killed Solomon's enemies, and served as the chief of Solomon's army. It is told that Benaiah took Solomon's ring and captured Asmodeus, king of demons, who was forced to remain in Solomon's service. There are many tales of Solomon and Asmodeus like the one where Asmodeus brought a man with two heads from under the earth to show Solomon. Interesting.
 Or how Asmodeus stole the ring and threw it into the sea which was then eaten by a fish. This caused Solomon to wander eventually becoming cook for another king and falling in love his daughter. The king didn't like this so he banished them into the desert. They came to a coastal city and bought a fish to eat and lo and behold it was the fish that had Solomon's ring and he regained his power as king of Israel. It was with Asmodeus' help that the stones of the temple were moved. He also commanded angels to help against their will.

Here I like to mention another tool of Solomon. The shamir, a worm used by King Solomon to engrave gemstones. Apparently he used the blood of the shamir worm to make carved jewels with a mystical seal or design. This this led to the belief that gemstones so engraved would have magical virtues, and they often also ended up with their own powers or guardian angel associated with either the gem, or the specifically engraved gemstones. (Source Wikipedia) Perhaps Moses used the shamir to make the breastplate of the High Priest Aaron.

The Mason's god is called Jahbulon, Great Architect of the Universe. People say it is just another name for the Abrahamic god, but is it? Are they really demon worshipers? In a bit of trivia it has been suggested that the Rastafari word for God, Jah, comes from the term Jahbulon.

In a future post I want to talk about Solomon's Temple and the Temple Mount. Its history current and past are of great importance in regard to world peace. If I were more ambitious this post could be three times longer. So my friends, what do you think of all this surrounding our county's roots, Masons, cornerstones and magic? Please visit Kether Muse

Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Story Of Stuff: The Phenomenon Of Collecting

I am a collector. Wikipedia says “the psychology of collecting seeks to understand the motivating factors for persons who, throughout the ages, have devoted great amounts of time, money, and energy making and maintaining collections.” Some people collect things with a monetary focus in mind. But most people collect things that have an emotional component at their core. Then there are many like me who love to collect certain things but are addicted to the hunt. Thrift stores and yard sales are the temples of my devotionhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple. Also people like me who love the hunt often like to sell their finds for a little extra money and in some cases, like me, make an actually living of it. (after 40 years of this I am basically retired from the madness). And yes, at times it seems like a madness. An obsession in need of a 12 step program to get it under control.

Last night I had a dream that had a brief scene where I was with a friend (Sally E) and we were going to a church sale to look at a huge collection of dolls that had been donated by a parishioner who had recently died. As my friend and I started into the church I began to think about what a sad exercise this was. Something that in life was so precious and sacred to someone and now in death that intrinsic value had disappeared like a mist.

Comfort Objects are what some of it is. A Security Blanket. Psychology Today says, “It's okay to carry that blankie. Children who are both insecurely attached to their mothers and attached to their blankies seem to adjust better to anxiety-producing situations.” Here is a similar article by Melody Thomas, a child care professional. Adults need them too is pointed out in this Live Science article. Oh them transitional objects!

I recall  a conversation I had with my best friend Maggie years ago about the oddity of this “Phenomenon Of Collecting”. Now my friend lives a pretty minimalist existence. She has what she needs. Her obsession is reading which she spends a large majority of her free time doing. But as she reads a book she basically passes it along and buys another. Her book shelves are pretty barren of books, especially compared to mine. She does the same with clothes. Now, she does have this penchant for sweaters and has quite a few, but even with that after a while she will go through the closet and give some to the Salvation Army so she can justify looking for new ones.

The conversation with my friend was about whether humans, as it seemed to her, are the only creature who engage in such activity, this need to possess. Well it appears there are plenty but in most cases it is for making nests and most of those nests are for food collecting or laying eggs, not just to hoard stuff like humans. At the bottom of this post are some examples of this behavior. So for the most part it is correct that the ways humans collect is pretty unique. Collecting stuff is one thing but at a certain point it may turn into what is called hoarding which is considered a bad thing for the most part. As far as an environmentalist this hits me hard. Falls into what I don't especially like and which is called #SelectiveEmpathy. Ouch.

The self-storage industry is primarily a United States-based industry. The industry experts often refer to the 4Ds of life (death, divorce, downsizing and dislocation) as the “need” for storing “stuff” Or when two people get together they have duplicate things and rather than just giving it away some still feel the need to store the extra. Maybe in case of the chance the relationship might not work out. As we know that in the USA it is estimated that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%-50%. The Story Of Stuff Project (video here) shows us some negative effects of the this need to possess shit. I being a believer that this “stuff” can hold you back from spiritual growth if you are not careful.

According to Buddhist beliefs, attachment (Upādāna) is a major cause of suffering (dukkha) . It is not necessarily evil to possess things. Another spiritual example is when Jesus told his disciples to drop their nets and follow him, to have faith that they should follow after enlightenment and leave the world behind. At this point perhaps another Jesus thing, the saying that “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” would fit in as many mis-translate this as money is evil but forget that it actually specifies it is the “love of” that is evil.

I like the word Ephemera a lot. When coversations turn to the subject of "what is life" I have been known to say "Life is Ephemera." I have done study on how to persevere books and why some, like The Dead Sea Scrolls for example, pretty much lasted a long time. I found that is because rather then paper we once use other materials. We have been using paper for about 2,000 years but before that we used Clay tablets, papyrus, bone, shells, wood and silk. Romans used wax-coated wooden tablets or pugillares upon which they could write and erase by using a stylus.  Parchment progressively replaced papyrus which was made using the skins of animals (sheep, cattle, donkey, antelope, etc.), with Vellum being the finest quality of parchment. Way back when it was very expensive to use it. But the church could afford it. The scriptorium was the workroom of monk copyists where books were copied, decorated, rebound, and conserved. Environmentally speaking I am a believer of and a proponent of the fact that there are One Billion Reasons to use Hemp instead of trees. To bad our government doesn't know the difference between hemp and smoking/ingesting types of Cannabis especiallt CBDs. But that is another subject all together.

So back to my original point. It seems sad somewhat that when we die all we have done from the cradle to the grave for most is gone in a flash. Some leave a lasting mark on society and people remember them. But most of us live lives of quiet desperation and real joy seems elusive, the carrot on the stick that compels the donkey forward. Ah, but there goes my nihilistic side. They say to be happy is the point of life. Abraham/Hicks says it's our only job. So I suppose if collecting stuff makes you feel happy then it is a spiritual exercise of it's own if your intent is right like the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path suggests is it not?

Here is the promised animal stuff.

Some animals don't bother to go hunting for stuff themselves but are Kleptos: Here are some.

My favorite find today was running into the info on the sociable weaver a species of bird who build construct permanent nests on trees and other tall objects. These nests are the largest built by any bird, and are large enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds, containing several generations at a time. These nests are perhaps the most spectacular structure built by any bird.

Some common animals that cache their food are rodents such as hamsters and squirrels, and many different bird species, such as rooks and woodpeckers. The western scrub jay is noted for its particular skill at caching. There are two types of caching behavior: larder-hoarding, where a species creates a few large caches which it often defends, and scatter-hoarding, where a species will create multiple caches, often with each individual food item stored in a unique place. Both types of caching have their advantage.
Bowerbirds
Pack Rat
Nesting

Beaver dams provide ponds as protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves, and bears, and to provide easy access to food during winter. These structures modify the natural environment in such a way that the overall ecosystem builds upon the change, making beavers a keystone species. Beavers work at night and are prolific builders, carrying mud and stones with their fore-paws and timber between their teeth. Beavers can rebuild primary dams overnight, though they may not defend secondary dams as vigorously.

Other mammals collect stuff to build nest. Gorillas build fresh nests daily out of leaves and other vegetation. Amphibians like frogs and some fish build temporary nests to lay their eggs in. Cobras use leaves and other debris to build nests in which they lay eggs that both sexes guard. Sea turtles dig a hole in the sand above the high tide line in which they lay their eggs, but then they leave it all behind. Social insects, including most species of ants, bees, termites, and wasps, are nest builders.

Be well and “May your Dukkha be as small as Nanobes.” - #Ketherism

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Ode To The Vestal Virgins

Image: The Vestal Virgin Tuccia with a Sieve - Charles-JosephNatoire

Ode To The Vestal Virgins
Nino Kether ©
6-5-2017 

Oh sweet Vestal Virgins
Thank you for tending to the fire in my heart.
I know it is you that keeps my spark of life burning day by day.
Numa's eyes were keen the day he chose you oh Sisters Of The Hearth!

They thought they had extinguished the Sacred Fire
but we know you keep it alive by magic.
You are ordained by the Gods to do so
and mere humans have no real power over you.

Your beauty is rivaled by none.
Oh what you have sacrificed for us and the Gods
Sweet Virgin Sisters!
I know I could not do the same.
Do you cry at times at night
when you are alone with your thoughts?
Do you ever wish for a child and a mate of your own?
Does Vesta comfort your hearts and minds?

I wish I could enter your Temple
but I know I cannot.
So it is in my heart that I make
my offerings and sacrifices to you.
Please quench my thirst with
water from your Sacred Spring.
Oh that my hands were pure enough
to bring some to you.

Fuel the Sacred Fires
with my moral or spiritual weaknesses
as there is enough to last from birth to death.
All my sacred objects I also give to you.
Use them as you will.

I will gather rush, reed, and straw
So you may make the Argei
for my brothers and sister.
And if I be so blessed please take mine
and toss it in the river as sacrifice to the other Gods.
May the effigies purify Gaia and Cybele
that their blessing may flow to all.

I know you are married to the Gods
and your dress is plain and not presuming.
But if I could I would dress you in silk
and adorned you with precious gems
emeralds, sapphires and rubys set in gold.
Although the flashing colors of the opal is divine
they are not as colorful as the rainbows in your eyes
nor as bright and captivating.

I feel weak and see Mors in the corners of my eyes at times
A spectral image for now but soon I know he comes.
Sweet Virgin Sisters I wish for you to know
before he lays his hand on me
how much I am thankful for your grace.
I pray to you and for you.
May the Gods hear my prayers and bless my sacrifices.

May I ask one last favor of you my loves?
Will you take my hand when time arrives
and guide me to the Underworld
and share one last drink from your Sacred Spring?


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