Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Story Of Buddhism A Concise Guide To Its History And Teachings

The Story Of Buddhism A Concise Guide To Its History And Teachings Cover

Book: The Story Of Buddhism A Concise Guide To Its History And Teachings by Donald Lopez

This particular book is an even-handed overview of Buddhist history, beliefs and practices. If you only are interested in the "adapted for modern Western audiences" version of Buddhism that is found in most books, then you might not be interested in this. But, if you are interested in an historical view that attempts to date, for example, when and where and by whom various sutras were written, when (and to some extent why) the mahayana school developed, and in general how Buddhism developed and has been taught and practiced in various places, then this book is for you. I also recommend Lopez's Prisoners of Shangri-La (if you want a more inside, critical understanding of Tibetan Buddhism).

Much of what we hear about Buddhism today in the West focuses on its philosophy, and how it can change one's life. Throughout history, however, Buddhism's mythology, scriptures, heroes, and its promise for salvation from rebirth have been the Buddhist teachings that most people have known. Religion professor Donald Lopez has mastered a good deal of this immense lore and managed with The Story of Buddhism to get it into a manageable package. Rather than providing a chronological history or country-by-country breakdown, Lopez explores general topics, meandering through two-and-a-half millennia, from India to Japan. In sections such as "Monastic Life," "Tantra," and "Pilgrimage," he talks about the origins of each topic and its mainstream manifestations. In addition, he spices up his work with delectable, if occasionally bizarre, examples from specific cultures. There is, for instance, the story of the depraved man who, once having said the words "Lotus Sutra," was saved from Hell. And the tale of the practice called the "act of truth," in which a perfectly candid statement can have magical powers. Or the story of the monk who attempted to rescue some maggots by opening his own flesh for them. No doubt, Buddhism is interesting, but it takes a competent scholar and a good storyteller to get it just right. Lopez fills the bill.

Lopez, a professor of Buddhist studies at the University of Michigan, says that his primary aim for this book is "to focus on Buddhist practice as a religion." Unlike more superficial how-to books on Buddhism, this book gives a thorough historical and theological explanation of Buddhism's major tenets, starting with Buddhist cosmology and then moving to chapters dedicated to the Three Jewels of Buddhism (the Buddha, dharma and sangha) before ending with a chapter on enlightenment. Interspersed are anecdotes intended to teach key principles in keeping with the idea of Buddhism-as-story; unfortunately, these vignettes are a bit overpowered by lengthy discourse on the history and interpretations of those principles. The bulk of the chapter on "lay practice," for example, focuses on various countries' traditions of lay ordination and funeral rituals, as well as monasteries' relations with their respective states, rather than explicating actual daily lay practice. In trying to explain not only Buddhism's key teachings but also their variations by country, region, teacher and school, the text loses focus. Lopez provides a list for further reading at the end of each chapter as well as a bibliography and glossary at the end of the book, which should be helpful for the student of world religions. His command of the subject is obvious, but his prose is sometimes dry, and the scope may be overly ambitious for the general reader.

Find Donald Lopez's book in
The Story Of Buddhism A Concise Guide To Its History And Teachings

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Prometheus Rising

Prometheus Rising Cover

Book: Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson

Like most of my books, this text emerged only partly from my conscious design and partly from suspicious accidents. It actually began as a Ph.D. dissertation called "The Evolution of Neuro-Sociological Circuits: A Contribution to the Sociobiology of Consciousness," which I wrote in 1978-79 for an alternative university called Paideia. At that time, Paideia ranked as State Approved, the highest rating given to alternative universities in California, where we have alternatives to everything and the state feels required to classify the alternatives on a scale of "experimental" to totally bonkers. Alas, Paideia, having achieved relative respectability as an "alternative," later joined with a
much more radical and Utopian outfit, Hawthorn University, and lost its top rank among counter-culture educational contraptions in California, falling from Approved to Authorized, a much lower rating. The whole megilla then joined into several flakey outfits loosely allied, none of which were recognized at all by the state, which suited the new honchos perfectly, since they did not recognize the state either. - Robert Anton Wilson

Download Robert Anton Wilson's eBook: Prometheus Rising

Tags: signs of witchcraft  magic experimental science  do what thou wilt  download occult books   

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Aspects Of Evocation

Aspects Of Evocation Cover

Book: Aspects Of Evocation by Phil Hine

This collection of essays, written between 1988-95, deals with aspects of the practice of magical evocation. My first lengthy foray into this much-misunderstood aspect of magic was a personal Magical Retirement inspired by accounts of magicians working the Abra-melin system, but perhaps more influenced in execution by the work of Austin Osman Spare and the Industrial art movement. My experiences in this retirement are recounted in the first essay, Howling. At the core of this essay is the identification of cognitive-emotional-behavioural constructs as discrete entities - Personal Demons, if you will - a subject which I have dealt with in more user-friendly detail in Condensed Chaos (New Falcon Publications, 1995). The next phase of work concerned the evocation of Servitors (lit: a person who serves another), prompted by a brief paragraph in Peter J. Carroll's book, Liber Null (Morton Press, 1978). Working with the magical group, Circle of Stars, I developed a simple, generic approach to creating and evoking magical servitors. The basics of this approach are presented in the Servitors essay, followed by both an example of a rather successful servitor, and an approach to what I have chosen to call, 'Functional Spirits' which requires no ritual trappings whatsoever. The third phase of work concerned the more 'traditional' forms of evocation. Together with a colleague, Fra. GosaA, I embarked on a 'Goetia Project' - the aim being to experiment with various approaches to the evocation of spirits, beginning with the Lesser Key of Solomon the King. Some Observations on our results with the entities of the Lesser Key of Solomon are enclosed.

During this project, I found my interests returning to a recurrent obsession - the entities of the Cthulhu Mythos. The final essay, Evoking Yog-Sothoth, (originally written for the journal of the Esoteric Order of Dagon) is an attempt to pull together a theoretical model relating to mythos entities, earth lights, and other factors. At the time of writing this, I was very much into creating 'theoretical models' prior to embarking on practical projects.

In a way, I was prompted to 'specialise' in methods of Evocation by virtue of the fact that at the time, I hadn't encountered much in the way of useful information concerning this magical practice. In the minds of some occultists, evocation seems inextricably linked with 'calling up demons' and the notion that it constitutes 'black magic' - a notion much in favour with those who have been exposed to too many Dennis Wheatley novels! Fortunately, the rise of a more eclectic approach to practical magic, in which I feel the so-called Chaos Magic movement has palyed a significant part, has done much to banish the old dogmas surrounding what is after all, a very practical and useful set of magical techniques. Phil Hine, March 1998

Download Phil Hine's eBook: Aspects Of Evocation

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Phil Hine - Aspects Of Evocation

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Creation Of Modern Witchcraft

The Creation Of Modern Witchcraft Cover So let's jump a head a couple 100 years and see how this applies to us today. Neopaganism begins with the 18th century era of Romanticism. A surge of interest in Germanic pagan Shamanism, with a Viking revival in Britain and Scandinavia begins to develop. Neo-Druidism is established in Britain by Iolo Morganwg from 1792, and is considered by some to be the first real Neopagan revival.

By the 19th century, these revival projects heighten and we find Germany's Volkisch movement. During this time renewed interest in Western occultism rises in England and various other European societies. These early views of Occultism attempts to merge the early beliefs of the Celtic and German Shamans, Druids, Greeks and Egyptians into a documented reconstructionalized system of belief. It's here that we see the formation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis.

Many prominent writers and artists become involved in these new occult studies. Writers and artists such as Arthur Edward Waite, William Butler Yeats, Maud Gonne, and Aleister Crowley begin writing about their experiences publicly. Many returning colonials and missionaries bring home to Britan and the Americas, perspectives and practices of native traditions from developing cultures. One of the best known works comes from anthropologist Sir James George Frazer in his book "The Golden Bough" (1900).

The Victorian Era is in full swing now and many in the elite society were also increasing their interest in divination and magik. Supernatural phenomena becomes the "in thing" for this late 19th century and early 20th century culture. Madame Blavatsky is a pioneer in this movement. Creating the Theosophical Society in 1875 with Henry Steel Olcott and Col. Olcott, William Q. Judge. Calling her message Theosophy, Blavatsky's views and perspectives are the talk of New England and spread quickly to other continents.

Many family traditions see this resurgence of pagan beliefs as a sign that society is ready to accept their religious practices on their merits and not through the bigotry of old. In the 1880s and 90s, many new covens, clans and groves begin to pop up out of the wood work and meet in public gatherings. In the U.S. these family traditions are often mixes of European paganism and Native American beliefs. One of the most common mixes come from the merging of Celts and Cherokee in the south east. But other meldings of belief and culture can be found throughout the Americas with Germanic imigrations merging with other Euorpean pagan practices.

As a label, "Neo pagan" first appears in an essay by F. Hugh O'Donnell an Irish Minister in the British House of Commons. In 1904 O'Donnell writes a critique of the plays of of W. B. Yeats and Maud Gonne. In his essay, he criticizes their work as an attempt to "marry Madame Blavatsky with Cuchulainn". Yeats and Gonne, he claimed, openly worked to create a reconstructionist Celtic religion which incorporated Gaelic legend with magic.

Cuchulainn from Irish Legend is the pre-eminent hero and an undefeatable warrior. His mother was Deichtine, sister of king Conchobar mac Nessa; his father was either the god Lugh the Long Armed, or Deichtire's mortal husband Sualtam. This alone made him a great legend in Irish lore.

In the 1920s Margaret Murray writes that Witchcraft as a religion existed underground and in secret, and had survived through the religious persecutions and Inquisitions of the medieval Church. Most historians reject Murray's theory, as it was partially based on the similarities between the accounts given by those accused of witchcraft. If we believe that family traditions exist today; then there's no reason to think they didn't exist through out the 18th to 20th centuries. Family traditions have a great oral history that shares the beliefs, practices and implementations of belief and magikal efforts.

Murray's theories generated interest, which are recounted in novels by prominent authors. Such as Naomi Mitchison's "The Corn King and the Spring Queen" published in 1931. More and more covens move out of the broom closet and let their existence be known to the world.

In the 1920s through 1940s, Gerald Gardner begins his research and initiation into Witchcraft. In the early 1940s, Gardner becomes initiated into a New Forest coven led by Lady Dafo. Many suggest Dafo is actually Dorothy Clutterbuck. Gardner had already written about Malay native customs and various other books about Witchcraft. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gardner develops his own set of teachings which is a culmination of his life long study. Gardnerian Wicca is born and begins to spread through out America and Europe. Some say this new public offering of neopaganism gives rise to other Witchcraft traditions, such as Alexandrian and Dianic Wicca. There is some debate about this time line however. But certainly Gardner is not the only High Priest setting out on his own at the time.

The the 1960s and 70s a resurgence in Neo-druidism, Germanic Neopaganism and Norse Asatru begin to take hold in the US and Iceland. In 1975, Wicca/Witchcraft is added to the US Army Chaplin's Handbook giving official recognition to the beliefs and practices of Witchcraft in America.

The expansion of practices and belief extend into the 1980s. Many of the general metaphysical principles practiced in Witchcraft are slightly rewritten and help support the New Age movement. The 1990s show an increase in the interest of pagan principles and practices. CNN reports that Witchcraft is the largest growing religion in the United States. More and more, Television and Movies begin to show witches in a good light. Offerings such as The Witches of Eastwick, Practical Magic and the movie remake of Bewitched; bring in box office dollars and attempt to turn the negative evil personification around. Even cartoons get into the act with a Scooby Doo movie featuring the hero as a young Wiccan girl. Additional TV shows pop up, staring young teens as witches and wizards who are trying to learn to control their magik talents.

We've come a long way since the Burning Times of the middle ages. And there are still battles to fight. But modern Witchcraft is a religion with a long past, and an even brighter future.

Books in PDF format to read:

Reginald Scot - The Discoverie Of Witchcraft
Alexander Roberts - A Treatise Of Witchcraft
Michael Harrison - The Roots Of Witchcraft
Allen Greenfield - The Secret History Of Modern Witchcraft

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tao Hongjing

Tao Hongjing Cover
The Taoist master, alchemist, and pharmacologist Tao Hongjing was born in 456 near present-day Nanjing. He served in various positions at the courts of the Liu Song and Qi dynasties until 492. In that year he retired on Mount Mao (Maoshan), the early seat of Shangqing or Highest Clarity, a Taoist tradition based on meditation and visualisation techniques. The retreat he built on the mountain remained the centre of his activities until his death in 536.

After his initiation into Taoism around 485, Tao set himself to recover the original manuscripts, dating from slightly more than one century before, that contained the revelations at the basis of the Shangqing tradition. Tao authenticated and edited those manuscripts, and wrote extended commentaries on them. This undertaking resulted in two works completed in ca. 500, the Zhengao (Declarations of the Perfected) and the Dengzhen yinjue (Concealed Instructions on the Ascent to Perfection, only partially preserved). These and other works make Tao Hongjing into the first systematizer of Shangqing Taoism, of which he became the ninth patriarch.

During his retirement on Mount Mao, Tao Hongjing also worked on the Bencao jing jizhu (Collected Commentaries to the Canonical Pharmacopoeia), a commentary on the earliest known Chinese pharmacopoeia, the Shennong bencao (Canonical Pharmacopoeia of the Divine Husbandman). The original text contained notes on 365 drugs. To these Tao added 365 more, taken from a corpus of writings that he refers to as "Separate Records of Eminent Physicians." Tao's arrangement of the materia medica was innovative. He divided the drugs into six broad categories (minerals, plants, mammals, etc.), and retained the three traditional classes of the Shennong bencao only as subdivisions within each section. In a further group he classified the "drugs that have a name but are no longer used [in pharmacology]." Tao's commentary discusses the nomenclature, notes changes in the geographical distribution, and identifies varieties; it also includes references to the Taoist "Scriptures of the Immortals" (xianjing) and to alchemical practices. With the exception of a manuscript of the preface found at Dunhuang, the Bencao jing jizhu is lost as an independent text, but has been reconstructed based on quotations in later sources.

Since the establishment of the Liang dynasty in 502, Tao enjoyed the favour of Emperor Wu (r. 502-549), on whom he exerted remarkable influence. Shortly later, he began to devote himself to alchemical practices under imperial patronage. His main biographical source, written in the Tang period, has left a vivid account of these endeavours. Along with scriptural sources they testify the importance of alchemy within the Shangqing tradition, which represents the first known instance of close links between alchemy and an established Taoist movement.

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Aleister Crowley - To Man
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Tags: pagan humor  equinox yoga  spirits december thesis  liber  

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Satanism The Seduction Of America Youth

Satanism The Seduction Of America Youth Cover

Book: Satanism The Seduction Of America Youth by Bob Larson

In Bob Larson's "Satanism," he uses personal interviews from his radio show in Colorado to explain the different branches of satanism and how the everday choices that teenagers make Influences their everyday decisions. As a parent, it was very helpful to me of what to look for if my child were to be in satanism. I, myself, was active in satanism when I was a kid, and all the music, the lyrics, and the signs that he talks about and connects it with satanism is very accurate. Words, actions and attitudes belong on one side or the other. They are either for God, or not. And if what is coming out of the music, the movies, the logos and reflecting into you'r children are not positive, pure, loving and of good report, than it is not for God. This book was very helpful and it was also enjoyable to read.

In Satanism, Bob Larson examines the pervasive influence of Satanic activity of youth. More than a simple overview of the dangers, this book provides Practical ways to recognize and combat Satanism, Ghoulish games, horror films, black metal music, drugs--Larson gives a clear Understanding of the evil surrounding us. Bob Larson has gone out to meet the enemy and knows him first hand. Level headed, not a scare monger, just reporting what he sees and hears. Anyone who thinks that Evil is a myth should read this book!

Buy Bob Larson's book: Satanism The Seduction Of America Youth

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

An Astrological Judgement Touching Theft

An Astrological Judgement Touching Theft Cover

Book: An Astrological Judgement Touching Theft by Anthony Griffin

Sir, I MADE BOLD to Dedicate this small piece to you, though somewhat a stranger to you at present, yet being desired by a faithful friend of yours: who informed me of the great respect you owe to Art, I could do no less.
Therefore good Sir, let me Crave your pardon in this my presumption, and let me desire you to pass by my imbecilities, which I do not fear but that you will, when you have seriously considered my Minority, and how hard a matter it is to comprehend the profundity of this sublime Science. And now to let you understand what moved me here to make my self public, is the true love that I owe to my Country, and I hope most will receive benefit by those my weak endeavours, and upon this accountonly, I have presumed to make know to the world this little tract of Astrology touching Theft, knowing it must pass the Censure of various capacities, and from the unskilled I expect blots, but from the Judicious a friendly Correction, and if at last it may be crowned with your Protection, my expectation is fully answered: who faithfully desires to subscribe himself. Sir, your devoted servant for ever to command, Anthony Griffin

Buy Anthony Griffin's book: An Astrological Judgement Touching Theft

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