Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cryptozoology And Religion

Cryptozoology And Religion Image
Interesting overview article on cryptozoology and religion, by Joe Laycock at Science and Religion Today, suggesting a parallel between fringe science efforts and religious fundamentalism. He argues that both attempt to re-sacralize a world stripped of mystery by science, specifically natural selection and evolution. Though perhaps sacralize isn't the proper term, more an issue of both approaching the sublime.

Laycock notes that Creationists have turned to cryptozoology to back up some of their beliefs. He does not discuss that some cryptozoological expeditions have a Creationist agenda to them, as attempts to find living Mesozoic reptiles such as dinosaurs or pteradons, in order to support Young Earth Creationism. But that's alright, it's not meant to be a tome.

But there is a bigger issue. Laycock doesn't really pinpoint why the two have started to cross paths. Yes, there is the sacralization thing, the sense of wonder. But that applies to many things, and it is why people who are interested in science issues can in many cases find common ground in activities rejected by mainstream science (like cryptozoology), as they focus on mystery and wonder. There is the Young Earth aspect or similar "prove the scriptures" elements (Bigfoot as Children of Cain in some ideologies, etc.).

But there's another aspect, and that's their nature vis-a-vis the mainstream: both are forbidden. In his book A Culture of Conspiracy, Michael Barkun uses the concept of stigmatized knowledge to explain how seemingly incompatible conspiracy memes transfer back and forth between religious, racist, political, and paranormal (specifically UFO) narratives and communities. One reason is that they are all labeled by the mainstream press, academia, science, and the political structure as being forbidden, rejected, or otherwise not just wrong, but excessively wrong. Once labeled as such, these concepts don't go away so much as start to transfer and hybridize within a pool of stigmatized knowledge.

Creationism is rejected by the scientific community, and forbidden by law (in the US where Creationism is most potent) in public schools. Cryptozoology isn't outlawed in public schools, but it simply wouldn't be taught, and it is rejected by the mainstream scientific community. Elements of both have particular beefs and interests in the fossil record and with evolution. Perhaps it isn't surprising that the two worlds have collided a bit, just as cryptozoology, once fully identified with secular materialist hunts for living species, has also developed an arm concerned with thought forms, UFOs, and psychic creatures.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Buddhas Of Afghanistan

The Buddhas Of Afghanistan Image
Afghan girls walk past the empty seat of one of the two Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images).


The GuardianCoinciding with the 10th anniversary of the DESTRUCTION of the Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban, an EXHIBITION opened at the British Museum this week showcasing more than 200 examples of AFGHANISTAN'S CULTURAL HERITAGE over the last 4,000 years. The exhibition, which has toured internationally since 2006, was inaugurated by President Karzai on Tuesday. Among the items on show are 2,000-year-old artefacts from the ancient city of Bagram, north of today's capital, Kabul. "These are an extraordinary set of ivories stolen from the National Museum in Kabul, bought by a London dealer specifically to return them...

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

General Observations On Religion By A Religious Liberal

General Observations On Religion By A Religious Liberal Cover

General Observations:

- In human society, religion is arguably the most powerful and pervasive force in human life. Some have suggested that more wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than of any other institution. Yet, in the end, organized religion is nothing more than a system of beliefs built around a particular idea of how things are. Unfortunately, when the religious ideas turn into dogmas and doctrines, they become largely unchallengeable, and cause problems that are almost impossible to solve.
- Many believers, particularly from the conservative wing of the world's religions, accept that complete knowledge of religious and spiritual matters has been revealed to humanity in ancient times through a holy book(s). However, most secularists and religious liberals suggest that we fool ourselves if we imagine that our present ideas about religious and spiritual matters cover more than a tiny fraction of the truth still to be discovered. We are not even at the threshold of our understanding of the ultimate mysteries. We are part of a reality which confronts us with questions on these matters, and we were given an intelligence which cannot rest until we obtain some answers to these questions. However imperfect and provisional these answer may be, we must not stop looking for them.
- Most people are not aware that the majority of the conflicting truth-claims of the different religious traditions, as well as their main doctrinal differences, concern answers to questions that are not relevant, questions that are not answerable, questions that have no answers, or questions that lead to circular arguments. On the other hand, topics that are really important are seldom discussed. This may be because the matter under discussion is difficult to deal with, or that we are simply reluctant to jeopardize outworn or vested interests. Together with providing wrong answers to right questions this practice leads to rigidity of thought.
- If there is only one truth, why should the messages given by the different religions be so confusingly different? Why should there be so many revelations that do not agree with each other, and which all bear the hallmarks of the time and place of their conception? Are the present religions just a phase of a continuous evolution toward one universal religion?

Swami Vivekananda commented as follows:

"Had it been the will of an all-wise and all-merciful Creator that only one of the great religions should exist and the rest should die, it would have become a fact long, long ago. If there were a fact that only one of these religions was true and all the rest were false, by this time it would have covered the whole world." 1

This statement, which evidently sees the plurality of religions as natural, has a serious flaw. It does not consider the time factor. i.e. can six thousand years be considered a long, long time for God, when there are billions of years of history yet to come?

- The spiritual basis for religious tolerance is the recognition of the common source of all the world’s great faiths.
- Among the basic human rights, the right to follow one’s conscience in matters of religion and belief is undoubtedly one of the most cherished.
- Our picture of the ultimate reality is influenced by an unavoidable selection effect – that of our existence. Our human mind always sees everything from a limited and hence incomplete perspective: It is most difficult to discuss any religious issue without taking sides. In this respect, consider the damage done in religious schools, where children in their earliest years are encouraged to view life through the prism of a particular religious doctrine and cultural prejudices, thus acquiring a biased view for life.
- We are better informed that our parents and grandparents were. We must use this extra knowledge. If we want to resolve some of the difficulties religions face, our deliberations will have to be brought down from the level of theological abstractions to the level of specific problems that are urgent and typical. Some help may come from philosophy, but the expectations do not seem to be particularly bright – by its very nature, philosophy is rather inconclusive.
- Religions rarely publicize their opponents’ true views, perhaps because they might be found persuasive. It is considered far better to put a spin on things oneself, to show how absurd the opposition’s ideas are, how problematic, how dangerous. Do we really know what the early Christian heretics, such as Marcion, taught when most of what we know about him is derived from attacks on his ideas by orthodox writers' ?
- There is a widely accepted practice, primarily in academia, to base answers to religious problems upon arbitrary definitions, debatable terminology, contentious assumptions violating the basic tenets of elementary physics, and untestable notions. So far, few object to this approach.
- Although universal religion is still just an utopia, a determined attempt should be made at the reconciliation of different systems of belief, which would leave room for intelligent disagreement.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim

On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim Cover

Book review: On The Antient And Primitive Rite Of Masonry Memphis Mizraim by Jeremiah How

A COMPLETE history of this Order would necessarily involve an account of most of the Rites prevalent last century which devoted themselves to Templary, Theosophic, Hermetic and Occult research. Suffice it for this article to give the reader a general impression upon the more important points of the Rite.

The leading fact is, that prior to the year 1721 some of the English Masons of the York Rite, which last century was known as a Templar Tie of Seven Degrees, were well acquainted with the ancient mystical language of those occult fraternities who boaster the gnosis, or wisdom of old Egypt, and were the, in 1721, addressed as the ‘higher class’ of Masons. The Continental brethren developed this Hermetic element to an almost incredible extent. Martinez Paschalis, who was a German, of poor parents, born about the year 1700, after having acquired a knowledge of Greek and Latin at the age of sixteen years, journeyed to Turnkey, Arabia and Damascus, and obtaining imitation into the Temple Mysteries of the East, upon his return, established a particular Order of Rose-Croix, or Elected Cohens, which influenced greatly all the Masonry of his century, and especially some of the Orders from which the Rite of Memphis drew its inspiration.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Emotional Alchemy

Emotional Alchemy Image
Depends on which branch of buddism it is. some allow for relationships, some allow families, some require celibacy, and some are tantric- meaning that they practice a sacred ritual of incarnating their divine beings, and then making love with them. In Tibet, sometimes these women are called Dakini's (witch queens). In branches of Tibetian Tantra, sometimes the monks, in meditation, visualize their wisdom as small women, and then make mental love to them. It signifies that their wisdom is married to their mind.

Its hard for us to think of viewing relationships that way, but we have not successfully journeyed to the void (legally speaking). The void is a very difficult state of awareness to maintain for even minutes, much less go there frequently. The aim of this type of meditation, is to progressively approach a place where they can maintain this void-ness for increasingly longer periods of time. Buddha is venerated for two primary reasons:

he perceived the incompleteness of the various stages of enlightenment - from India and the aesthetic practice, thru the Himalyas, to Tibet, and its religion of Bon. He perceived that true Nirvana was rare and momentary. And he perceived the state beyond Nirvana - The Void, the one really true reality, composed of an absence of all things we see, know or perceive. This is refered to as the OneTrue Space, Where no form holds, and all that is perceivable is the infinite white concious, The One. The place of origin. The one thing that is real and true, and never alters form, no matter what your personal religion beleives, the one unchanging factor to exist. eternal. bliss and pure awareness in tandem, generated by love for all beings, and your desire to have them see the one true place as well.

To Acheive by due diligence., meaning, he understood what he was, what he was capable of, and what he was not capable of, and progressively practice, to exercise, if you will, to make himself fit to have the energy and focus to work to this state of voidness. To make it short, one day he, i guess, was prepared. At any rate, he (having learned how to stay alive in the flesh for months and years on water and breath.) sat down under The Bodhi Tree, and took a vow that he would not leave this place until he died or acheived enlightement - refered to as "Vanquishing the 10,000 Worlds" - leaving behind the form of flesh and mind, and keep moving, until there was nothing but nothing.
After acheiving this state - the state called Buddha, he was from then on, a living in the flesh, person who perceived from the Void of Purity, yet was able to talk to you here, and communicate to the world. To give teachings, - sutras- guides in different formats, for techniques to be used to approach this state of Buddha. The point of Buddhas teachings was to emphasize that each incarnate being - insect, critter, human, had the absolute right to also approach, to progress thru the 10,000 worlds, and that they could, with due diligence, also be of Buddha. Indeed, His Holiness Dalai Lama 14, maintains that each of us are - now - buddhas. The problem is we forget and do not remember. The plan, i guess it could be said, is that each being that enters the void - stays there, or comes home here, to aid and assist others to enter the void. Eternal Clarity does not die. the body does. Enter Eternal Clarity, then you don't notice the changing from body to purified spirit.

so back to relationships, so you can see that we, as feeling and sensual and indulgent humans, seldom find the stength to desire that kind of conciousness, so we cannot, at this stage, make decisions from that space. but we can practice.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama, wrote a book as a man, a monk in the modern world. he wanted one teaching for acheiving this state to be accessible to anyone that read it, irrespective if they were buddhist.

As a human man his name is Tenzin Gyatcho (sp.) and his book is: "The Opening Of The Wisdom Eye"

Anthropology Of Religion

Anthropology Of Religion Image
*Creation myths from all corners of the world describe the
involvement of people with the events of creation, as if
human ancestors had actually witnessed the formation of the

One of the long-standing puzzles of mythology concerns the
role of people in ancient traditions. Philosophers within
the literalist Judeo-Christian tradition have long scratched
their heads over the question how the author of the creation
story contained in Genesis 1, reputedly Moses, could have
known about the things that had transpired before the
formation of Adam on the sixth day. But a similar dilemma is
posed by the creation accounts of illiterate societies
around the world.

The drawing shown above was made in 1869 by Paiore, a man
from the Paumotu group of islands in Tuamotu, Polynesia, to
illustrate the ancestors' role in the lifting up of the
layered heavens at the time of creation. The Toba Batak
people, of Sumatra, describe the condition of the world
prior to creation as if people somehow already existed to
witness this state of chaos: "In the very beginning, in
by-gone times, when the middleworld in which we live did not
yet exist, there was only the sea; there was one sea and
there was a thick darkness, (so dense that) people could not
see their hands before their faces."

The Navaho, of Arizona, relate how the first 'people'
declared that "We must have light" to bring an end to this
perpetual night. "The first three worlds were neither good
nor healthful. They moved all the time and made the people

And speaking of the distant time when "The whole world was
" and "There was just light", long before the "separation
between Sky and Earth
", the Makiritare, of Venezuela,
observe that "the people were always happy. They had life.
They couldn't die."

'Ancestors' play a prominent role in creation myths
worldwide, closely interacting with the gods in a distant
epoch Eliade called illud tempus or 'that time'. But does
this really mean that creation myths contain genuine
information about the prehistoric activities of mankind?
Just who are these 'people' who ostensibly lived even before
the 'gods' undertook the work of creation?

The question has traditionally been treated as a
chronological problem, to the effect that human beings
according to myths worldwide have existed as long as the
world itself. To take that seriously would mean either that
humans are really billions of years old or that the world is
really just a few thousand years old - two alternatives that
are equally absurd and unscientific. On a catastrophist
paradigm, the conundrum can be resolved far more easily. Two
complementary and often overlapping solutions present

First, if the mythical set of events collectively known as
'creation stories' is not really about the absolute physical
origins of the universe, the earth and life on earth, but
about the latest in a series of catastrophic episodes in the
recent history of the planet, accompanied by major
instabilities in the geomagnetic field, it becomes only
natural that ancient descriptions of these turbulent events
read like eye-witness accounts. If the acts of creation were
really cosmic occurrences happening during the Holocene, the
prehistoric races of mankind would have observed what
transpired. Interpreting these drastically transformative
events as the creation of a new earth and a new sky -
perhaps in a historical succession of such events - the
paradox of people seeing how the gods made the world,
including mankind itself, would present itself inevitably.

And second, the 'people' that were apparently engaged in
supernatural activities, such as an ascent to the sky by
means of the axis mundi, need not really have been human
beings of flesh and blood. Euhemerism is an early school of
mythology that held that the protagonists of the ancient
myths - the gods and certainly the 'ancestors' - were really
human beings whose deeds had been exaggerated.

Yet in a way, it would be nave to interpret such
'ancestors' literally as members of the species Homo
sapiens, tantamount to explaining the cosmological role of
the feathered serpent or the ouroboros in reptilian terms.
This impression is easily dismantled from the
anthropological perspective of 'totemism'.

Traditional societies almost without exception identified
and worshipped their legendary 'ancestors' not only in the
form of human beings, but of animals, plants and countless
other aspects of nature, based on a fundamental belief that
humans are really animals and vice versa. Thus, a wallaby
clan in indigenous Australia would regard themselves as
wallabies, sprung from a wallaby ancestor, and so on.
Against this background, traditions about 'ancestors' and
'early people' need not necessarily refer to real people
after all.

The 'people' populating the mythical world at the time of
creation are characterised by two key features: They are as
easily situated on the surface of the earth as in the sky,
moving up and down along the axis mundi and in close rapport
with the gods. And they are often interchangeable with the
'stars', being described as the 'stars' at the time they
still lived on earth or, conversely, as 'people' before they
turned into stars.

The universal obsession with myths of catasterism springs
from the archaic idea that the stars are 'sky people'
opposed to us 'earth people', who had to die and 'go to
' to reach that state. Making the shortest shrift of
Von Dniken-like scenarios involving 'aliens' coming down
from space, this analysis offers the promising insight that
the 'people' of creation were actually luminous forms seen
in the sky.

It has been proposed that the axis mundi, along with other
archetypal features of the mythical landscape, was a
semi-permanent formation of glowing plasma seen in the
earth's atmosphere and ionosphere at a time that the
geomagnetic field suffered from severe instabilities. The
'people' observed in and around the world axis - who are
also described as 'seeds', 'ancestors', 'animals', 'stars'
and so on - will have been little sparks of glowing plasma
that were emitted by the central column like meteors issued
in meteor showers.

Both in the laboratory and in space, plasma has been known
to behave in a surprisingly life-like way, as if imbued with
a will of its own. The surprisingly life-like properties of
these little blobs of star-like lights will have contributed
to their incorporation into human memories as the first
'people' doing divine deeds in the era of creation. With the
progression of time, the actual ancestors, who were the
anonymous earth-bound eyewitnesses to the plasma spectacles,
will have been confounded with these more proactive and
rather less 'ordinary' celestial ancestors.

Contributed by Rens Van der Sluijs

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations

The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations Cover

Book: The Coelum Philosophorum Or Book Of Vexations by Paracelsus

THE COELUM PHILOSOPHORUM, OR BOOK OF VEXATIONS; By PHILIPPUS THEOPHRASTUS PARACELSUS. THE SCIENCE AND NATURE OF ALCHEMY, AND WHAT OPINION SHOULD BE FORMED THEREOF. Regulated by the Seven Rules or Fundamental Canons according to the seven commonly known Metals; and containing a Preface with certain Treatises and Appendices.

YOU who are skilled in Alchemy, and as many others as promise yourselves great riches or chiefly desire to make gold and silver, which Alchemy in different ways promises and teaches; equally, too, you who willingly undergo toil and vexations, and wish not to be freed from them, until you have attained your rewards, and the fulfilment of the promises made to you; experience teaches this every day, that out of thousands of you not even one accomplishes his desire. Is this a failure of Nature or of Art? I say, no; but it is rather the fault of fate, or of the unskilfulness of the operator. Since, therefore, the characters of the sign of the stars and planets of heaven, together with the other names, inverted words, receipts, materials, and instruments are thoroughly well known to such as are acquainted with this art, it would be altogether superfluous to recur to these same subjects in the present book, although the use of such signs, names, and characters at the proper time is by no means without advantage.

But herein will be noticed another way of treating Alchemy different from the previous method, and deduced by Seven Canons from the sevenfold series of the metals. This, indeed, will not give scope for a pompous parade of words, but, nevertheless, in the consideration of those Canons everything which should be separated from Alchemy will be treated at sufficient length, and, moreover, many secrets of other things are herein contained. Hence, too, result certain marvellous speculations and new operations which frequently differ from the writings and opinions of ancient operators and natural philosophers, but have been discovered and confirmed by full proof and experimentation.

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Taoism The Road To Immortality

Taoism The Road To Immortality Cover

Book review: Taoism The Road To Immortality by John Blofeld

This was one of the first books I read on Taoism which described the Taoist life as it actually was lived. Although a scholarly work at heart, like all of Blofeld'd books, it never ceases to delight with wonderful anecdotes and descriptions. Blofeld has a gift for taking what seems at times to be dry, esoteric stuff, breathing life into it and making it shine.

A religion with roots stretching back nearly five thousand years, Taoism combines elements of folklore, occult sciences, cosmology, yoga, meditation, poetry, and exalted mysticism. Mysterious and charmingly poetic, it is a living remnant of a way of life which has almost vanished from the world.

In this comprehensive study, John Blofeld explains the fundamental concepts of Taoism, tells many stories of ancient masters, and provides incisive reflections on Taoist verse. He writes in a colorful and unique way about his visits to Taoist hermitages in China and his interchanges with contemporary masters. Taoist yoga, a little known aspect of Taoist practice, is also discussed in detail. This book captures the spirit of the Tao, communicating the serenity and timeless wisdom of this tradition.

This book is a treasure, a gift, meant to be savored, and read with the care and sensitivity which thankfully produced it. As noted, Blofeld is a wonderful writer, a sedulous scholar, a first-hand observer, and a gifted story-teller.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition

Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition Cover

Book: Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition by Robert Mathiesen

This is an extract from: Byzantine Magic edited by Henry Maguire © 1995 Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University Washington, D.C. Printed in the United States of America published by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection Washington, D.C.

Ethnographers and folklorists interested in the Orthodox Slays have long been aware of the rich oral traditions of magic in that part of the world, and have been collecting and studying texts of magical foildore for well over a century.
Particularly valuable are the extensive collections of East Slavic folk incantations published long ago by L. Majkov and by N. Vinogradov, but South Slavic materials are also available in quantity.

Philologists and historians, in sharp contrast, have paid little systematic attention to the corresponding written traditions of magic and the Occult Sciences among the medieval Orthodox Slays. Some Magical Texts havebeenpublished,
and others studied, but always only in passing, by scholars who were pursuing other interests, such as describing manuscripts or editing texts for the historical study of literature, language, the Bible, liturgy, church history, the
sciences—in short, of anything and everything except magic in its own right. This neglect of magic as a subject of scholarship is only partly the consequence of a kind of rationalistic or scientific distaste for magic itself, or of
discomfort in the presence of magicians who took their magic seriously. It is also due to the intractability of the magical texts themselves.

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Books in PDF format to read:

Donald Tyson - The Magican Workbook Practicing The Rituals Of The Western Tradition
Marcus Cordey - Magical Theory And Tradition
Robert Mathiesen - Magic In Slavia Orthodoxa The Written Tradition