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TRTZ | The Real Twilight Zone

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TRTZ no 60 Astrology and All That Stuff …

 

Hi and welcome back to The Real Twilight Zone and to what is effectively the end of the first series of TRTZ…

The first series?

Yes – the first series!

It probably has not escaped your attention that last couple of Twilight Zones have not followed a regular pattern. In some cases this have been due to technical challenges but mostly due to work and work-life challenges.

As many of you will know I  tend to work summer seasons – as an entertainer, speaker and all round mystical dude (www.alanthemagician.com : www.alanjonesmagic : www.aljonesmusic.com : www.mindalignment.com) – and this year I find myself needing to be on the ‘campaign trail’ to find bookings a little more earnestly than in previous years.

So I’m not sure I can promise a show every two weeks and feel that by calling TRTZ no 60 as an end of series, it will give me time to re-think and re-focus in order to keep on bringing you rational-mystical goodness. So this is not a show ending but a temporary hiatus.

There are real plans to take The Real Twilight Zone on-the-road and I’d love to be able to bring the live show to you and your venue.

So put your thinking caps on …

You can always contact me direct on alan@aljones.net or through Facebook (email is more direct and far more frequently accessed than the Facebook sites however).

Right ‘nuf said …

Let’s get on with some NEWS..

June 9th:  A team of scientists from the University of Houston and the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM) have detailed a remote region of Honduras that may reveal the legendary lost city of Ciudad Blanca, known as the ‘White City’ of gold.

Using advanced laser mapping consisting of a small plane firing laser pulses at the ground, a digital 3D map of the topology beneath the jungle canopy was created which analysts believe feature man-made elevations that might be evidence of a plaza and several pyramids.

Over the course of a week, the NCALM and University of Houston engineers flew over 60 square miles of forest and at the end of each day, their findings were sent to Bill Carter, a University of Houston engineer who works with the NCLAM who was the first to discover these apparent ruins.

 

 

June 11th:  A man in China has been arrested after driving some 200 metres with a Traffic officer clinging to the bonnet of his car.  At a toll booth in East China’s Xuancheng city, the driver in question was pulled over by the officer for having no license plates on his car, it was later determined that he didn’t have a driver’s license and that this was the reason he had removed his plates and placed them in the boot as he believed this would somehow reduce the likelihood of being caught.

In the CCTV footage of the incident, the officer stands in front of the car and gesticulates for the driver to stop when he inches forward a little, the driver appears to relent a little before inching forward again at which point the officer places his foot on the bonnet and again gestures for the driver to stay put.  Instead the driver accelerates forward and the Officer is caught on the bonnet instead of being pushed out of the way or run over.

Even after the officer fell from his place on the car, the driver continued to drive off and attempt escape, only getting caught when a passing SUV driver managed to block his passage so that police could arrest him.  Commenters on the story jokingly speculate “Hopefully his defence isn’t ‘I didn’t see him.’”

 

 

The perhaps inappropriately named ‘Baltic Sea UFO’ is still shrouded in uncertainty as a team of divers and scientists, lead by Peter Lindberg, investigates.  The image of the odd looking structure has been drifting around the internet for some time, mostly because many have noticed its’ remarkable resemblance to the iconic Millenium Falcon of Star Wars fame.

The team involved in the investigation is currently still posting updates on their website, the most recent information appears to have come in on Thursday, stating that, “The divers are now down and investigating the circle and reports from the ship say they are really amazed. There is definitely something unusual hiding at the seabed.”

 

 

These vague posts have given rise to a great deal of excitement and speculation and on Sunday the co-discoverer of the object, Dennis Asberg, had this to say about what’s been discovered so far, “Everything is top secret now because of the risks, hope you all understand this is no game. But the truth will be reported shortly.”

Whatever the object turns out to be, these rather cryptic and unspecific updates are certainly working to circulate and promote discussion of the story!

Update :  A Swedish news TV channel has released this on the ongoing investigation.  Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers at Ocean X Team, added that, “During my 20-year diving career, including 6000 dives, I have never seen anything like this… I went down there to answer questions, but I came up with even more questions.”

June 13th:  Students on an engineering course at Utah State University have created a device that allows users to literally climb walls with the greatest of ease.  As part of a national competition sponsored by the Air Force, the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber (PVAC) has performed so well that the military is investing $100,000 towards further development of the contraption.

It consists of a vacuum motor and two suction paddles that strap to the hands of the user, allowing them to cling to any building surface, even glass.  Depending on the altitude of the surface being climbed, it’s powerful enough to support up to 700 pounds.  The team of students, named ‘The Aggies’, competed against other teams from 16 participating schools to see who could get four soldiers up a 90-foot face in 20 minutes with a device weighing less than 20 pounds.

Despite the innovative design, they believe it still needs some work, especially for its’ purpose.  It’s apparently very loud and the team hopes to make it lighter and more efficient as well.

 

 

June 14th:  Michael Jamison and his girlfriend Jackie Smit in Brakpan, South Africa have a risky and controversial pet.  Enzo is a one year old Bengal tiger who shares their home along with 14 dogs.

Enzo apparently has a tendency to destroy furniture and engage in a bit of rough-and-tumble with Jamison that he admits ‘can get a little out of hand’.  They say he is very much ‘part of the family’ and is often bottle fed milk alongside his diet of meat as well as being allowed to sleep on the couples bed.  Jamison points out that “That’s one thing I’ve made peace with: every time I play with him I’m prepared to bleed a little bit.”

The couples’ very public relationship with the big cat has upset several observers, many of whom believe that it impossible to truly own such an animal, that it is unfair and cruel to keep one in such an environment and perhaps most disquietingly that while Enzo is just about small enough to handle at his current age, it may ‘all end in tears’ as he gets bigger.

While such creatures are beautiful and can be very affectionate to their apparent owners, they are also known for being unpredictable and can even kill by accident.

June 25th : Beyonce’s Daughter Blue Ivy has been named an honorary citizen of the Croatian town of Hvar, following reports she was named after local tree.

The National Trust launches Red Light App - The “Soho Stories” uses GPS technology to guide visitors through the red light district as they hear colourful stories of sex, violence and wild partying.

The organisation charged with protecting Britain’s historic sites, houses and gardens, has created the “no-holes-barred” audio guide in a bid to shed its conservative image and attract younger members.

Officials said on Monday that the stories involving “famous and not so famous Bohemians” provide extraordinary detail on the capital’s “long love affair with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll”.

For the first time in the Trust’s 117-year history, the “X-rated” tours come complete with warnings about bad language and “references to sex and violence

June 26th : When computer scientists at Google’s mysterious X lab built a neural network of 16,000 computer processors with one billion connections and let it browse YouTube, it did what many web users might do — it began to look for cats.

The “brain” simulation was exposed to 10 million randomly selected YouTube video thumbnails over the course of three days and, after being presented with a list of 20,000 different items, it began to recognise pictures of cats using a “deep learning” algorithm. This was despite being fed no information on distinguishing features that might help identify one.

All Zipped-Up –  A student with a phobia of buttons is having counselling after years of wearing clothing with only zips.

Hannah Matthews, 21, panics when faced with the fastenings and runs away if they are near her. Her condition, koumpounophobia, first struck when she was five and refused to put on her school blouse. Hannah said: “I know it’s irrational and I obviously know a button can’t hurt me but there’s just something about the shape and the texture that freaks me out.”

Jimmy Carr –  Jimmy Carr’s popularity may be at an all-time low after his tax avoidance was revealed, but one eBay seller remains convinced they can find a buyer for a giant 13ft model of the comedian’s head

ASTROLOGY : Some Thoughts

The ancient Chaldeans and Assyrians engaged in astrological divination some 3,000 years ago. In India, astrology has been practiced for at least two millennia.

By 450 BCE the Babylonians had developed the 12-sign zodiac, but it was the Greeks–from the time of Alexander the Great to their conquest by the Romans–who provided most of the fundamental elements of modern Western astrology.

In order to explore Astrology we need to look at some of the basic ideas …

1) There is the MAGICAL thinking of As Above So Below

2) There is the suggestion, following from (1) that the planets effect us in some way AND that we effect the planets in some way

3) Astrologers study ‘patterns’ of stars (constellations) and ‘angles’ the planets make as they pass through them

4) A birth chart is based upon the Date, Time and Place of Birth  - hence treating the individual as the centre of  the Solar System

 

A traditional view upheld by astrologers, especially in India, is that each planet is literally the body and expression of a spiritual being or entity (deva; asura; god; goddess; guide). These spiritual beings are expressions of the life-force, planetary avatars whose job it is to affect and guide the destinies of life-forms on this planet.

Some astrologers believe that planetary energies themselves generate events in our lives.

And at this point what I’ve previously noted should be a logical fallacy, the argument from quantum absurdity, is brought into play.

This comment might help in this regard ..

…. the use of Quantum Physics to justify the mechanism of astrology. I would suggest reading John Gribbin’s excellent book “In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat” or listen to the SGU’s {Skeptics Guide to the Universe} interview with Michio Kaku who categorically states that Quantum strangeness does not explain supernatural mechanisms. The difference between Quantum Physics and Astrology is that Quantum Physics is demonstrable and Astrology has so far not been …

More about Quantum Quarrells…

NON-LOCALITY AND THE EPR EXPERIMENT

The name, the EPR experiment, comes from the first letters of its authors, Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (1935). It is a thought experiment contrived by the imagination of Einstein. It suggests certain events are connected, even though they do not physically interact and are some distance apart.

A simplified version of the experiment, modified after Bohm’s suggestions, is as follows. A particle enters the experimental device. It has the properties that it is not spinning and can be split in half. It is split with each half heading off in opposite directions. One half is spinning one way and the other half has the opposite spin. The total spin must be zero by the conservation of spin at the point at which the parent split – the parent particle had zero spin, and the equal but opposite spins of the two halves cancel each other out. When the two halves are some distance apart, one has its spin changed. The question concerns what happens to the spin of the other half. It would instantaneously change so the conservation of spin holds. What tells it that the other half particle has changed its spin?

The EPR experiment suggests a connection between the particles which travels faster than light. It is instantaneous. This conflicts with Einstein’s relativity theory in which nothing can travel at such speeds. Einstein’s original intention in pointing to this problem was to bring out a difficulty with quantum theory. Einstein was wrong to insist that the experiment requires a superluminal connection.

The experiment is an example of a nonlocal effect. This means that something influences something else which is not within its immediate area. Neither is there a normal connection between the two things, such as a physical force, which could cause the influence. Nonlocality contrasts with the common-sense idea of locality. This says that what happens in one place has nothing to do with what happens at the same moment at some distant place.

It is clear why my student finds this idea so attractive as a support for the coincidences or synchronicities she sees all around her. Physics says there are connections, mysterious inexplicable connections, between otherwise disparate events.

Physics does not support my student’s hopes. She may want to see nonlocality in all situations. She may want to think of everything connected to everything else regardless of their separations in time and space. However, the connections between things at the quantum level at the moment appear to occur only in limited circumstances. An example is for simple systems over relatively short distances. It can also appear in complex systems and over somewhat longer distances with the temperature near absolute zero. Whether it exists in other situations is a matter for experiment and physical theory.

To go beyond the above physics is metaphysics. 

Experimentally and theoretically, physics supports the idea of nonlocality in certain conditions. Metaphysicians, including Bohm, have extended the boundaries of the idea of nonlocality to include the whole universe. The two uses of nonlocality are different. Further, the metaphysical use, an all-encompassing holism of interconnectedness, is not supported by its use in physics. The justification for a metaphysics is a matter which in this case is not the same as the warrant for the physical theory of nonlocality.

The information a model or metaphor such as nonlocality carries must be taken from its context. A scientific model carries scientific information, even though there be insight for religion there as well. If the latter is developed, then the model leaves its scientific context and enters another.

 

Astrology

Astrology is a much debated belief system with many branches and interpretations.

The basic idea behind astrology holds that there is a correlation between a persons’ birth date (NOT their conception date) and the alignment and position of the planets.  The positions and alignments in question are said to influence a person’s temperament and possible events in their future.

The theories have undergone a waxing and a waning in popularity throughout the ages and are by no means new ideas, having once been an accepted scholarly subject before dwindling in popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw something of a revival in concurrence with the rise of general New Age philosophies.

The word ‘astrology’ itself comes from Latin and the Latin from Greek.

The Latin ‘astrologia’ from the Greek ‘ἀστρολογία’ roughly translates as ‘account of the stars’.

Astrology depends on a principle of some degree of unity between the human individual and the world around them, though not on a level which might be measured.

It emphasizes the individual as a microcosm and the universe as a macrocosm, an idea illustrated by Robert Fludd’s 16th century woodcut of ‘Vitruvian man’.

 

It is also founded on the principle that “mathematical relationships express qualities or ‘tones’ of energy which manifest in numbers, visual angles, shapes and sounds – all connected within a pattern of proportion.”

There are many forms of astrology, the main branches of which are as follows.

Mundane astrology focuses on worldwide affairs as opposed to the individual, making predictions on global affairs such as warfare.

An offshoot of mundane astrology that has gained popularity in recent years is financial astrology, using similar methods to predict economic trends.

Interrogatory astrology also focuses on the individual, analyzing objectives or events within the subject’s life.  It can be broken down into further subcategories, such as:

Horary Astrology, whereby questions are asked that require an outcome answer, such as ‘where did I leave something?’ or ‘will I do this?’  It relies on the principle that upon asking a question the asker is connected to the universe, therefore, by looking at the chart corresponding to the time that the question is asked we can find the essence of the answer.

Electional astrology does not differ greatly from the aforementioned Horary astrology, however, instead of asking what the outcome of an event might be, instead the intention is to predict a favourable time in the future within which to plan an event.

Both of these end in event interpretation, whereby you can review the chart after the event that you asked about took place and see how the two correlate.  Supposedly the chart can often tell you the cause of the event.

Natal astrology is the form that is most well known amongst the public, being the form that makes assumptions based on the birth date of the individual.

A natal horoscope will depict a map of the universe at the time of birth for the individual in question; they will be at its centre with the important celestial bodies surrounding them.  This map is meant to be unique to the individual.

Therefore, with this map in mind, arises the horoscope.

Current natal astrology is said to have arisen from astrologer Alan Leo who was arrested several times for fortune telling and so changed the title of the astrology lessons he was conducting, claiming them to be a form of psychoanalysis instead.  Unfortunately it failed to convince the courts of the time and he went to jail anyway.

An individuals’ sign is determined by which zodiacal constellation the sun was in when they were born.

The sun appears to move across the ‘Celestial sphere’ on the ‘Ecliptic path’ as it is known.

The Celestial Sphere refers to the stars and planets visible from Earth viewed as though part of a giant sphere that encompasses our planet.

The Ecliptic Path simply refers to the path of the sun across said sphere.  The sun moves a degree along this path every day and is counteracted from the earth’s axis of rotation by 23.5 degrees, (Resulting in the seasonal sunlight variation).

Depending on the time of year (And the astrological system used), the sun will have a specific sign as its backdrop.  Thusly, if you are, say, a Pisces, this simply means that the sun was ‘in’ the constellation Pisces when you were born.

Some astrologers divide the ecliptic path into 12 regions and consign the zodiac names to each segment, though the divisions don’t necessarily line up quite right with the appropriate constellation.  This is ‘sidereal zodiac’.

Other astrologers use a method whereby the position of the signs is linked to the changing seasons.  This is ‘tropical zodiac’.

However, because the Earth teeters a little on its axis as it rotates, these two methods no longer line up.  Though they did 2000 years ago, the constellations have since shifted.

In any case, the twelve signs of the zodiac are as follows:

Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

They are additionally grouped by element, that is, earth, air, fire and water as well as being either cardinal, fixed, or mutable, and masculine or feminine.

The cardinal, fixed or mutable aspects of the sign refer to ‘movement, resistance to change and ability to change freely.’

The masculine of feminine nature of the signs do not literally translate as being related to gender and instead associate more clearly with the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang.

The earth signs are Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn and are meant to generally symbolize practicality and materialism.

The air signs are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius and are meant to be signs of ‘the intellect’.

The fire signs are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius and symbolize affirmative action and good leadership.

Finally the water signs are Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces and are known to embody softer sensibilities, renowned for sensitivity and compassion.

Aries – March 21st – April 20th: Cardinal. Masculine.  Proud and impulsive, brave, competitive, arrogant and even violent.

Taurus – April 21st – May 21st: Fixed. Feminine.  Conservative, loyal, stubborn, materialistic, resistant to change, possessive and sensual.

Gemini – May 22nd – June 21st: Mutable. Masculine. Persuasive, concerned with information, highly literate, curious, adaptable, absent-minded, and often loves to travel.

Cancer – June 22nd – July 22nd: Cardinal. Feminine. Cautious, family-oriented, romantic, domestic, imaginative, shy, thorough and interested in the past and tradition.

Leo – July 23rd -August 21st: Fixed. Masculine. Proud, courageous, stubborn, extroverted, vain, ambitious, optimistic, open, and associated with royalty.

Virgo – August 22nd – September 23rd: Mutable. Feminine. Conservative, shy, prudish, kindly, uptight, skeptical, concerned with health, often introverted and melancholy.

Libra – September 24th – October 23rd: Cardinal. Masculine. Extroverted, analytical, unbiased, secretive, tactful, concerned with harmony but prone to collapse in the face of conflict.

Scorpio -October 24th – November 22nd: Fixed. Feminine. Vengeful, sarcastic, courageous, tenacious, protective of itself, known for survival in the face of disaster.

Sagittarius – November 23rd – December 22nd: Mutable. Masculine. Daring, proud, impatient, dual-natured (refined and intellectual as well as bestial and passionate), extroverted, looking to the horizon, progressive, eclectic.

Capricorn – December 23rd – January 20th: Cardinal. Feminine. Neurotic, introspective, inhibited, conservative, fatalistic, methodical, practical, concerned with detail, a good planner.

Aquarius – January 21st – February 19th: Fixed. Masculine. Intellectual, connected to civilization, rational, individualistic, iconoclastic, concerned with science, tolerant.

Pisces – February 20th – March 20th: Mutable. Feminine. Emotional, self-sacrificing, adaptable, empathic, religious, versatile, talkative, often takes on the behaviors of others, creative, impractical.

Taking the model a step further, natal astrology can use what is known about planet movements to guess where a certain planet will be at any point in the future.

Each of the planets supposedly exerts some degree of its’ influence on the individual as well, depending on which sign they are in.

All these ‘influences’  lack any real scientific explanation or credit and astrology’s dependence on metaphysical explanations as well as well-versed astrologers’ being unaware of why a birth chart should match its’ owner has resulted in the practice falling under much criticism from the scientific community.

Some astrologers have taken advantage of the theories of quantum mechanics to try and explain how these influences might behave, but they still prove difficult to test.

Some have also considered the possibility of it being down to a well-known theory such as electro-magnetism, but this is also considered implausible since the magnetic field of an albeit enormous cosmic body is still miniscule compared to the magnetic field produced by most household appliances on earth.

Therefore, scientists generally consider astrology to be a pseudoscience, given that it is not testable, it has not altered its principles even in accordance with contradictory evidence and thusly simply ignores what data there is against it.

It is felt that ‘it works because it works’ explanation is simply not adequate if astrology were to be considered a solid scientific postulation.

There are arguments that there is far more to the theories and principles of astrology than just whether it is scientifically true or false.

Jung took astrology into his theories, believing that many of the themes present in astrology played into his notions of the archetypes and the collective unconscious.

“Astrology represents the sum of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity.

As a tool to make a person feel safe and that they are making the right decisions, astrology could be considered useful; it fills a need to feel connected to the world around you as well as presenting you with a profile which can ensure that you fit in as X type of person whilst retaining the degree of uniqueness that everyone strives for.

It also makes you feel that you are ‘cosmically significant’ in some way, that you are an important part of something altogether larger than yourself – it can give life meaning, which is surely a basic human need?

It is also argued that astrology could be considered a form of art, a field which may perhaps suit it better.

Thanks to Catherine for this  ….

Thoughts about the Astrological Forces

One of the basic ideas in Astrology is that the ‘planets’ have some influence on people – there is some kind of cosmic force..

The Astronomer Phil Plait has commented about what kind of forces might be possible …

Our choices are limited. Planets are big balls of ice, rock, metal, and other stuff. Their ability to affect us is weak because they are pretty far away. As far as we can tell in science, there are only four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and two forces called the strong and weak force. Those last two only work (more or less) on the nuclei of atoms and subatomic particles. It’s hard to see how they could affect us on a macroscopic scale (the strong force weakens so rapidly with distance that it’s essentially gone by the time you’re a few billionths of a meter from the source!).

So what about GRAVITY ? I often hear people comment that the moon effects the tides and we are, after all mostly water …. ummm

We know quite a bit about how gravity works on large scales, scales like that of the solar system.

Basically, the gravity of an object depends on two things: how much mass it has, and how far away it is. The more massive an object, the stronger its gravity. The closer it is, the more its gravity affects you…

…..  the gravity from the planets in our solar system is a tiny fraction of the Moon’s. So if gravity were the force behind astrology, then the Moon would dominate all the planets combined. Yet it doesn’t in any astrologer’s horoscope.

So what about electromagnetism?

Electromagnetism (or just EM) depends on electric charge and distance. The problem here is that most large objects don’t have an electric charge!  Electric charges come from charged particles like electrons and protons. But opposite charges attract each other so well that it’s very rare to find one without the other nearby, which means that a planet is electrically neutral overall.

Some planets do have magnetic fields. But these fields are only strong near their home planet. Jupiter’s field is immense, but Jupiter is so far away it has no real effect on us. Furthermore, the Sun is far and away the largest EM source in the solar system.

 If gravity were the driving force of astrology, the Moon would dominate, but it doesn’t.

If EM were the driving force, the Sun would dominate, but it doesn’t.

 OK – using the oft quoted, well science doesn’t know everything ploy we could postulate an as yet, unknown force…

If this is the case then we’d have to accept that ‘science’ cannot measure it – so how can it have physical effects?

If it exists and we cannot measure it (yet) then it must be something which astrologers themselves can either measure or have techniques for identifying. So we would therefore expect some kind of ‘internal consistency’ within the ‘readings’ offered by astrologers… after all science, despite its limitations (tongue in  cheek here), strives for that internal consistency.

BUT the fact is that, as Phil Plait points out,

 If it exists, it must be measurable, and for astrologers to be able to use it to cast horoscopes, their claims must be consistent. After all, if a force cannot be measured, it cannot have an effect on us, and if astrologers say such a force exists, then all their claims must be based on that force, and should be consistent with each other.

Surprise! Astrologers’ claims are not consistent. They’re not even internally consistent.

Here’s an interesting point..

Geoffrey Cornelius (1994), a teacher and practitioner of divinatory astrology, suggests that astrological ‘connections’ are less a gift of nature and more a product of the astrologer’s mind; that is, of consciousness. In this ‘all in the mind’ view of astrology there is nothing actually ‘out there’ that involves planets. Instead what matters is the mental state of the astrologer. The technique used for reading the chart is then merely a ritual that leads to the right mental state. Just as astrologers differ, so will techniques, but all techniques will necessarily work no matter how much they may seem to disagree.

Charles Harvey (1994) points out that such a view has the advantage of elevating the internal confusions of astrology above criticism, and the disadvantage of denying any way for astrology to be improved over, say, tea-leaf reading, or to have been discovered in the first place. He argues that there can be a psi component to astrology.

Geoffrey Dean concluded in his research paper :-

Many tests of astrologers have been made since the 1950s but only recently has a coherent review been possible. A large-scale test of persons born less than five minutes apart found no hint of the similarities predicted by astrology. Meta-analysis of more than forty controlled studies suggests that astrologers are unable to perform significantly better than chance even on the more basic tasks such as predicting extraversion [sociability]. More specifically, astrologers who claim to use psychic ability perform no better than those who do not.

(see the link below to imprint.co.uk for references and main article)

The Forer Effect

The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people.

Psychologist Bertram R. Forer (1914-2000) found that people tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone…

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself.While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

Confirmation Bias is the psychological principle which allows us to be selective when it comes to what we actually process from the information being offered.

So here’s another set of thoughts ..

The idea that stars express Divine Will goes back some 2,300 years to the Babylonians. They could see with the naked eye seven objects (that they called stars) that moved through the sky – the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They believed that the gods lived in these “stars”, and controlled the destinies of individuals and nations. They thought the gods controlled us either directly by meddling in our affairs, or indirectly, by the intricate relationships of these stars with each other.

To describe the positions of these stars more easily, the Babylonians divided the sky into 12 slices (they had a numbering system based on 12, not 10 as we have). Today, we call these 12 slices the 12 Houses of the Zodiac – eg, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius. The Babylonian astronomers/astrologers closely observed the sky, decade after decade. They noticed that these seven stars seemed to move through the Houses of the Zodiac in totally repeatable ways – coming back to the same location in the same house at the same time, year after year.

But this is where the big problem is.

The constellations shift by about 1o every 72 years, thanks to the drifting of the Earth’s spin. The Earth spins around an imaginary spin axis that runs through the North and South Geographic Poles. But it doesn’t spin true. If you have ever spun a top, you’ll see that this spin axis soon begins to wobble. The spin axis will slowly sweep out a complete circle.

The same thing happens with the spin axis of the Earth – except that it takes about 26,000 years to sweep out a complete circle. So roughly every 2,000-and-a-bit years (26,000 years divided by 12 Houses), the star signs get shifted by one House. The horoscopes you read in the daily newspapers (and that are often written by the most junior journalist on that shift) are wrong by one House. You should be reading the star sign before.

But this is not a new discovery. Back in 129 BC, Hipparchus was the first to find this shifting-of-the-stars when he compared the astronomical records with what he saw with his eyes.

Dr Karl – Great Moments  in Science

 

Some interesting references :

http://www.bobmarksastrologer.com/skeptics.htm

http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/misc/astrology.html

http://www.imprint.co.uk/pdf/Dean.pdf

http://www.astrology-and-science.com/a-conc2.htm

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1651-skeptic-history-astronomy-vs-astrology.html

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2004/12/16/1266452.htm?site=science/greatmomentsinscience

http://www.astrologycom.com/astrol3.html

http://skepticzone.libsyn.com/the-skeptic-zone-119-28-jan-2011

http://cura.free.fr/quinq/02negre2.html

http://www.ksharpe.com/Word/BM04.htm

 

MUSIC on TONIGHTS SHOW – from Aardvark Records

The IS –  You Can Only Be

The Truths – Miracle Drug and Hit The Streets

 

 

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TRTZ 54 17th April 2012 – Metaphysics : Soul, Spirit, Being

 

 

So today is the 54th TRTZ and I’m 54 today – synchronicity or what!

I know, I know – 54 – when I only look like I’m in my 40′s (yeah right!) – but as they say ‘it’s not the age, it’s the mileage’ – and no, that doesn’t make me feel any better.

Tonight we’re taking a slightly different tack and dipping our metaphorical toes into the metaphysical in an attempt to see what we all mean by the words we easily use.

Words like ‘spirit’, ‘ghost’, ‘soul’ can imply a belief system, or at least some ideas about the nature of the cosmos – but what exactly?

This is the question for tonights debate and like all TRTZ shows the notes below reflect only part of the discussion that we will be having  on air so treat them as supporting information and provocations….

BUT FIRST…

Some news…

Villagers get fed-up.

The villagers of the Australian of the town of F*****G are fed up with people stealing their road-signs that they are looking to change it to Fugging or Fuking..

The final straw has been a growing number of calls by pranksters from abroad who ring up locals and ask in English “Is That F*****G” – before bursting into laughter and hanging up.

“The phone calls are really the final straw”, said local Mayor Franz Meindl, who confirmed that the villages street signs were regularly stolen even though they had been welded on steel posts set in concrete in the ground.

Drivers heading into the village often disturbed naked couples romping in front of the signs, and local entrepreneurs made the situation worse by flogging off Fucking postcards – Fucking Christmas cards and even more recently a Fucking beer.

Residents last voted on the subject in 1996 when it decided to keep the name despite problems caused by American servicemen from across the border in Germany that drove to the region just to be photographed in front of signs. They then sent the snaps back home to their girlfriends and wives.

If the name change goes ahead, they will be following in the footsteps of stadium bosses in Switzerland who were forced to change their name from Wankdorf because red-faced stars were too embarrassed to play there.

 Retirement Plan …

It may look like a tropical paradise, but Sotobanari Island is no holiday destination: there’s no natural water, dangerous currents swirl around and it’s lashed by typhoons.

However, the Japanese island has one resident who has made it his home for the last two decades: a pensioner who walks around in the buff despite the insects that come out to bite at night.

Masafumi Nagasaki, 76, has made this 1km-wide Japanese island his retirement home, living off rice cakes, which he boils in water, four or five times a day.

He throws on clothes once a week for a trip to a settlement an hour away by boat, where he collects 10,000 yen (£78) sent to him by his family to buy food and drinking water.

Teaching a young dog an old trick…

This is quite cute ….

 

 

Play_Dead_Baillie

 

Having your cake and eating it….

 

 

Like something straight out of a Roald Dahl book or Heston Blumenthal TV show, a London communications firm had its office lift lined with over 1,000 Jaffa Cakes in a bid to make their workplace just a little bit nicer.

Engine, a marketing firm based in London’s Great Portland Street, had the “edible elevator artwork” installed as part of an advertising campaign for McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes.

A team of artists and food technicians took a month to come with and install the 1,325 Jaffa Cake project, which lined the walls of the lift, last week.

 

Spider-Mouse

 

A hamster who swallowed a toy magnet and became stuck to the metal bars of his cage is now recovering following the bizarre incident.

Pet hamster ‘Smurf’ had to be prised off the bars by owner Kate Meech, who came home to find the hanging helplessly off the cage.

 On a more serious note …..

An Argentinian mother has spoken of her shock after her stillborn baby was found alive in a morgue.

Analia Bouter’s fifth child was born at 26 weeks – around three months premature – in Argentina’s northern Chaco province.

Doctors told her the baby had died, but when she and her husband visited the morgue 12 hours later, they realised their daughter was breathing.

Some local stuff from my Breakfast Show this morning (see www.alanjonesradio.com)

17th April 1986 Netherlands signs Peace Treaty with The Isle of Scillies ending the 335 Year War!

The Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years’ War  was a war between the Netherlands and the  and the Isles of Scilly is said to have been extended by the lack of a peace treaty for 335 years without a single shot being fired, which would make it one of the world’s longest wars and the war with the fewest casualties.

Despite the uncertain validity of the declaration of war, peace was finally declared in 1986.

The origins of the war can be found in the Civil War , fought between the Royalists and the Parlaimentarians   from 1642 to 1652.

Oliver Cromwall had fought the Royalists to the edges of the Kingdom of England and this meant that the Dutchy of Cornwall  was the last Royalist stronghold.

In 1648, Cromwell pushed on until mainland Cornwall was in the hands of the Parliamentarians.

The Royalist Navy was forced to retreat to the Scillies which were under the ownership of Royalist John Grenville.

The Dutch Navy was suffering heavy losses from the Royalist fleet based in Scilly.

On 30 March 1651,  Admiral Maarteen Harpertszoon Tromp arrived in Scilly to demand reparation from the Royalist fleet for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them.

According to Whitelocke’s Memorials (cited in Bowley, 2001), a letter of 17 April 1651 explains: “Tromp came to Pendennis and related that he had been to Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them; and receiving no satisfactory answer, he had, according to his Commission, declared war on them”.

As most of England was now in Parliamentarian hands, war was declared specifically upon the Isles of Scilly.

In June 1651, soon after the declaration of war, the Parliamentarian forces under Admiral Robert Blake forced the Royalist fleet to surrender. The Netherlands fleet, no longer under threat, left without firing a shot. Due to the obscurity of one nation’s declaration of war against a small part of another, the Dutch did not officially declare peace.

In 1985, Roy Duncan, historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, wrote to the Dutch Embassy in London to dispose of the myth that the islands were still at war. Embassy staff found the myth to be accurate and Duncan invited the Dutch ambassador Rein Huydecoper to visit the islands and sign a peace treat.

Peace was declared on 17 April 1986, 335 years after the “war” began. The Ambassador joked that it must have been harrowing to the Scillonians “to know we could have attacked at any moment.”

 

And finally… builders bum outlawed!

A US man has been sentenced to three days in prison after turning up to court wearing low-slung baggy jeans.

It has long been acknowledged that trousers which only reach the mid-thigh are guilty of a range of style crimes, however Alabama Judge John Bush ruled that the 20-year-old’s jeans were so low that they were actually in contempt of court.

 

Metaphysical Meanderings..

 

In his book, The Science of Mind (1926), Earnest Holmes gave  the following definitions:-

SPIRIT –That part of man which enables him to be self-conscious. That which he really is. We do not see the spirit of man any more than we see the Spirit of God. We see what man does; but we do not see the doer.

LOGOS (Christ) –The Word of God manifest in and through man. In a liberal sense the Christ means the Entire Manifestation of God and is, therefore, the Second Person of the Trinity. Christ is a Universal Idea, and each one “Puts on The Christ” to the degree that he surrenders a limited sense of Life to the Divine Realization.

SONSHIP.–We are all Sons of God and all partake of the Divine Nature.

MICROCOSM.–The individual world as distinguished from the Universal.

EMMANUEL.-GOD-WITH-US.–Means that Christ is in every one.

PERSONALITY.–The external evidence of individualized being.

INDIVIDUALITY.–Each one is a separate identity in Mind and no two are alike. Each is an Individualized Center of God-Consciousness. Our personality is the use that we make of our Divine Individuality.

CONSCIOUS-STATE.–The conscious-state is the self-knowing mind of man. It is the only thing that distinguishes him from brute creation. Without a conscious-state of mind man would not be at all; or, at least, he would not know that he is. The conscious mind should be carefully guarded, as it is the real man.

MENTAL.–Means that man is mentally conscious.

SPIRITUAL.–Means that man is a Spiritual Being.

Now I could have chosen almost any spiritual metaphysical text to start this debate, but Holmes’ thoughts provide us with adequate food for thought.

The issue, for me, with any form of philosophical argument is that whilst it may seek to explain experience it can seem detached from what we want to accept as reality.

Take any one of Xeno’s Paradoxes about movement for example. In an attempt to argue from an ‘absurd’ point of view the impossibility of movement Xeno presented a series of philosophical thoughts or propositions.

Oversimplifying some of the arguments Xeno simply claimed that since the distance between two points can be made up of an infinite number of steps it was never possible to actually arrive at a desired destination.

OK, breaking it down a bit..

If I’m travelling from A to B then the first step I take must be equal to a fraction of the distance between the two points. It is possible then to imagine that each step can be made up of two smaller fractions – ie we can travel half a step. If we can travel half a step, then we must be travelling a quarter of a step, and an eight of  a step, and then a hundredth of a step – ad infinitum.

So since there are infinite number of smaller steps that can be taken it we will never fully arrive at point B – we will only always be moving towards it.

Of course the moment someone stands up and walks between point A and point B they show the reality of the possibility of travel between the two points and make a nonsense of the argument. However BOTH realities are possible – one is the reality of the empirical, practical and observable, the other is the reality of the logical, possible and philosophical.

Such mental gymnastics are great for the oiling of the minds cogs in order to enter into meaningful debate. The fact that one reality is practical and the intellectual can, to some, produce an emotional reaction which causes the impractical to be dismissed. Such individuals hence remove themselves from the arena of debate.

During last weeks TRTZ I was noticing some interesting conversations on the two different chat rooms we were on. Some people were engaged in considering the discussion and the points being made in the show but most were not.

This is OK since in both cases the peripheral debates had  been sparked by comments made in the show.

On the one chat room we had people asking very important questions about the nature of evidence and the fact that having ‘evidence’ results in the need for interpretation and that this where things can get ‘messy’.

The other chat room was involving itself in a debate about God, Spirit and Science and the reality (or absurdity) of each.

In many ways these discussions mirror the different ways we can respond to Xeno’s paradoxes or any discussion which attempts to set practical, objective reality against subjective, personal realities.

Consider the following :-

Religions are systems of beliefs that attempt to explain the human spiritual experience.

All religions arise from the illusion of separation, because that is the nature of human experience in the physical form.

We experience ourselves as separate beings, separate from each other, separate from “God”, and from the physical Universe.

It is impossible from this viewpoint of separation to perceive the true nature of who we really are, of matter and energy, and of the life force in everything that we have labeled “God”.

So to unpick this and try to get a little deeper into what has been written let’s take a step at a time …

Religions are systems of beliefs

I think there would be little disagreement with this statement since we can readily recognise the existence of differing religions each with their own system of beliefs, canons of faith and approaches to worship.

that attempt to explain the human spiritual experience

OK, here we could have some interesting debates. It presupposes there is something called a ‘spiritual experience’ which is distinct from personal experience. Some would argue that that which we call spiritual experience is simply part and parcel of the way our brains can and do work.

I am personally in no-doubt of there being a qualitative difference between some of my personal experiences. Some have the quality of being shared by others (we could call this objective experience or rationality); some have the quality of being internal and the result of me conversing with me; some are dream like and some are, for want of a better term, transcendent – they appear to be experiences of things outside of self and outside of rationality.

We experience ourselves as separate beings, separate from each other, separate from “God”, and from the physical Universe

Whilst many would agree that there is a sense of being separate, an individual, and indeed as spectators of the physical universe, it does not mean that there has to be a “God” from which we are detached.

The concept of “God” is not easy to tie down…

From the simplistic notion of a human-like being who is all powerful, all knowing and ever present yet still acting as some kind of supernatural parent to the idea that there is an ‘intelligence’ behind the Universe we find definitions of God as being all at once personal, cultural and historical.

An awareness of  being a distinct part of the Universe of Cosmos does not need to automatically presuppose the existence of a divine being let alone a divine creator. Arguments from personal incredulity about the implausibility of natural processes ‘creating’ the universe to statements which suppose that because we can’t go beyond the scientists current idea of what happened BEFORE the moment of creation of the universe do little to prove the existence of a God.

Science has a pretty good set of ideas about what happened at the moment of creation of the Universe and, indeed, argue that the process of a universes destruction underpin the processes required to drive creation. A kind of end in the beginning and beginning in the end – which, I know, sounds very mystical.

Whilst arguments from personal incredulity are not valid philosophically, there nevertheless is the personal experience many have of the existence of personal truth of God. Should it be stated here that quite simply personal experience and personal beliefs are not necessarily universal absolutes or truths?

In my culture it was common for children to be told of a bearded, red coated fatman who delivered presents to good children every year. My experience at that time was that this was a personal truth. So entrenched was my belief in this character that I adapted my behaviour according to expectations.

When asked to prove his existence I could readily point to his effects on my word. First there were no presents under the tree, then there were.

Other people confirmed his existence and told me the same story.

At times I was sure I heard him, or his reindeer or the jingle of the sleigh-bells – my faith gave me some degree of enhanced perception.

Now I am older and I can enjoy the myth and the magic of those childhood day. In many respects seeing behind the curtain as it were gave me more questions and, indeed, a greater sense of awe…

Awe?

Yes… about how my parents were able to execute some of their well meaning deceits; about how I could be fooled; about the power of belief ..

BUT there was more…

A real fascination for how the legend that became Father Christmas has a resonance above and behind the commercialisation of the holiday period. How pagan tradition sits with Christian tradition without there being so much as a dismissive thought when Christmas and Fertility are mentioned in the same breath …. a I could go on…

So whilst there was no Father Christmas there was a set of ideas, thoughts and intentions behind the myth that were and are important.

Back to the quote in question…

 It is impossible from this viewpoint of separation to perceive the true nature of who we really are, of matter and energy, and of the life force in everything that we have labeled “God”.

So, using my Father Christmas anaology – when I was a member of the Religion of Santa Claus I may have had been told the connections to other mystical teachings (the birth of Christ) but I could not really see from the ‘inside out’ as it were and think of a world that could have ‘presents’ and no Santa.

More importantly once I had recovered from my Santa Delusion (to misappropriate a certain well know book title) I was able to see and acknowledge the interconnected nature of thoughts and ideas which had created him in the first place.

“Santa” was much more than a marketing ploy by a famous drinks company (who, despite urban myth were not the first to describe a jolly-old red-suited Father Christmas) but was a symbol of so much more that I came to value (and of some things I did not).

Having ‘been Santa’ (that is an actor playing the role of Santa professionally) I am aware of the impact the image has and the way people  of all ages react emotionally to ‘him’. For the most part the reaction is one of joy and positivity; of connecting to memories or some idealistic zietgiest …. there is nothing wrong with this as far as I am concerned. Where it would become a concern is where the esteem and regard the character is held in becomes a vehicle for manipulation and control – a kind of extension of the idea that ‘you need to be good or else no presents’.

 

So let’s see where we can find some ‘common ground’.

Most of us have the ability to sense ourselves as individuals – distinct and independent from each other

Most of us would accept that our awareness of the outside world changes from time to time and place to place

Further, then, I would argue that most of us would recognise that our sense of the world outside (what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell) is limited by the sensory apparatus we possess.

Most of us would be willing to accept that some of the sensory information we process is processed without conscious thought – we would be willing to conceive of a sub-conscious or unconscious set of processes.

Most of us would be willing to accept that the way we behave is the result of what we feel; what we think; what we value; what we need – on other words what motivates us to do something.

Many would further accept that there are conscious motivations and as well as unconscious ones.

Some of us would be willing to accept that our inner sense of the world is constructed from our sensory experience of the world ‘out there’ and moreover have had the experience of being fooled into seeing something that was not there (for example)

Some of us would be willing to accept that our emotions have an effect on how we make sense and react to what we perceive.

I think that apart from a pedants need to change some of the specific wording above that most people would take the above as ‘given’ and not really want to argue too much about the claims. Of course there are some with psychological or neurological conditions for which some of the above may not apply, but on the whole we have a general agreement that there are levels of experience which we can call …

  • External Sensory
  • Internal Sensory
  • Consciousness
  • Unconsciousness  or Sub-Conscious
  • Behavioural

This is the MIND and BODY bit which forms part of objective reality which can be studied by scientist, philosophers and rationalists.

Ideas in this real can be tested against scientific (objective) criteria and, for the most part, we can set-up hypotheses which we can attempt to falsify (part of the scientific method).

So far so good..

Now ..

Most of us will have had experiences which we might describe as being ‘different’ and not necessarily related to external experiences – they are personal.

Emotional experiences, which can be felt as unique and personal, are of course related to aspects of brain chemistry but have an impact above and beyond the simple behavioural framework in which they occur.

These experiences can have a sense of being “beyond self” and indeed some of us will have had a sense of what could be called, mystical, spiritual or even transpersonal experiences.

Again brain chemistry is involved but what triggers the bio-chemical responses can be questioned and, in the absence of an acceptance that the mind can ‘create’ these experiences it is likely that we will call these spiritual experiences as being a connection to some universal source of essence.

So now we have the oft quoted trinity of Body, Mind and Spirit.

The issue of course is that whilst many of the body-mind experiences can be subjected to the questions of the rationalist, those we could call a spiritual experience may not be and, more importantly, get ‘caught’ by the web of an individual, group or cultural belief systems.

At this point discussion can ‘break down’ since any attempt to explore a personally powerful experience with rational techniques may seem like an attack on belief even when it is not.

Once emotions run high conversations get defensive and prone to logical fallacy after logical fallacy – and finally the ad homenim attacks which get us nowhere. The truth is, of course, that spiritual beliefs are not necessarily subject to the same rational explorations as are the components we see as being part of objective reality. The existence God, as well as well perhaps spirits or ghosts are not falsifiable in the scientific sense.

The best we can do is explore and seek to understand what individuals mean by the spiritual words and frameworks they use.

I found the chart below very interesting in that is seems to be an attempt to link the  “Great Chain of Being” is usually given as something like: matterbodymindsoul, and spirit to the more ‘popular’ religious belief systems.

 

Source: Integral Life

All of the major belief systems seem to echo the following ‘truths’..

1) The individual has become disconnected from a (or the) spiritual source

2) The personality (outer representation of the individual) and the behaviours (the interaction of the individual between self, others and the outside world) of human beings need to brought in line with the destiny, desires or plan of the divine.

3) Reconnection with the spiritual source requires sacrifice, learning, and personal commitment.

4) That there is, by definition, a spiritual source to reconnect with in the first place – a matter of personal belief and/or self-referred revelation generally following some kind of personal epiphany.

 A note for the atheists who are of a scientific persuasion ….

If you, as an atheist, are willing to accept the concept of an infinite universe – in mathematical and scientific terms – then, by definition, there are an infinite number of possibilities for the mechanisms of nature (or not) which define ‘reality’.

So, therefore, there is high possibility of a universe existing in which a God exists – as well as a universe in which the laws of nature we know or think we ‘understand’ do not apply.

A note for the Christians and others who seem to engage in circular arguments…

 

Counter argument to the Christ myth

Counter argument to the Christ myth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Here are some interesting thoughts …

Some of the best evidence for the afterlife is:

  • People on their death beds see spirits who come to help them make the transition. These experiences have been confirmed in various ways and shown to be objective phenomena and not hallucinations. Sometimes other people attending the dying also see the same spirits at the same time. In one case a spirit communicating through a medium told of how she assisted a dying man. A relative of the man was sought out and the information the man related to the relative confirmed what came through the medium. (see below: Death Bed Visions)OK So how can we prove that these experiences are not hallucinations, the result of expectation, confabulation, retro-fitting reports to expectations or confirmation bias?To be presented as evidence the burden of proof lies with the claimant.
  • Near the time of their death the spirits of the dead have appeared to friends or relatives at distant locations where more than one person present at the location sees the spirit. (see below: Crisis Apparitions)So how do we confirm this? These are non-falsifiable surely and, of course, such accounts as anecdotes are subject to some of the same concerns mentioned above.
  • Mediums sometimes receive communications from spirits who are unrelated to and unknown by the sitters and the medium. These spirits come through to communicate for purposes important only to themselves. They give verifiable information about their identity and cause of death. (see below: Drop-in Communicators)The Medium particularly and some of those attending already have  a belief system which is based upon the reality of spirits and spirit communication. If the information is given cannot be verified at the time, i.e. no one in the session knows the person coming through, how can we rule out expectation and cherry picking when it comes to researching only information that fits that which is revealed? The specificity of the information needs to be questioned.
  • Mediums can receive communications from spirits even when the person getting the reading is not present in the room with the medium. In these cases, the medium may not know who the sitter is and cannot get any type of feedback from the sitter yet the medium can bring through specialized knowledge known by the spirit. (see below: Proxy Sittings)The same questions as posed above need to be asked. In experiments I have conducted the mediums were unable to identify in  a reading someone who had ‘passed’ from six photos (hence five of whom were alive)
  • When people are unconscious and near death, they sometimes experience leaving their body and when revived, bring back information that they could not have obtained with their normal senses even if they had been conscious and that information is later verified as correct. “Scientific” explanations cannot explain this and other aspects of the phenomena. (see below: Near Death Experiences)This again is subject to questions about the nature of the information – its specificity. The scientific explanation of NDE’s relies upon some well established neuro-science.
  • Children have been studied who remember past lives. They can speak languages they have never heard. They remember geography, faces, and names of people in locations they have never been to. They have birthmarks on their body where they had sustained injuries in the previous life. An investigator interviews everyone involved, the children, the current families, surviving members of the families from the previous life and everything checks out. (see below: Reincarnation)This is interesting and there could be many explanations, which include cultural expectation (hence unconscious coaching) and confirmation bias. Some examples of rigorous investigation of cases has shown a bias in the nature of the questions asked by the original researchers – leading questions asked of children and relatives to get the answers required.
  • Spirits have communicated parts of messages through different mediums. When combined, these partial messages produce a complete message. The messages contained very specialized knowledge known to the spirit and were communicated spontaneously, not at the request of any living person. These messages show that the spirit lives on after the death of the body, retains knowledge from its earth life, and continues to have the ability to initiate, organize, and carry out complex activities. (see below: Cross Correspondences)An interesting observation but it does not rule out mind-to-mind communication between the mediums. The specific nature of the knowledge, the information and its clearly defined ‘spontaneous’ origin beg some questions.
  • Experiments attended by scientists and a stage magician have been conducted under controlled conditions where voices of spirits were heard, objects were materialized, and images imprinted on photographic film. (see below: The Scole Experiments)As noted by other commentators on the Scole Experiments were not controlled effectively..Brian Dunning notes” ….the investigators imposed little or no controls or restrictions upon the mediums, and at the same time, agreed to all of the restrictions imposed by the mediums. The mediums were in control of the seances, not the investigators. What the Scole Report authors describe as a scientific investigation of the phenomena, was in fact (by any reasonable interpretation of the scientific method) hampered by a set of rules which explicitly prevented any scientific investigation of the phenomena.”After reading about some of the controls imposed I feel that any competent magician could’ve reproduced some of  the physical phenomena.

    Often Quoted Individual Cases

    • The spirit of a grand master chess player plays through a medium at the grand master level in a style characteristic of the time of his life on earth.
      Source: The Survival Files by Miles Edward Allen
      http://www.aeces.info/Top40/Cases_8-25/case24_soulmate.pdf
    • Is the validation of a style possible since we know moves of Masters are studied in detail by students of chess?
    • Could the medium play chess and was he or she any good?
    • There is a magicians ‘trick’ in which a magician with no (or little knowledge) of chess can play 10 Grand Masters simultaneously and win/draw most of them
    • The challenge of confirmation bias 
    • A scholar of Asian languages speaks in Chinese with a spirit who successfully explains an ancient Chinese poem that modern scholars did not understand.
      Source: Psychic Adventures In New York by Neville Whymant
      http://www.freewebs.com/psilib/PsychicAdventuresWhymant.txt
    • So if scholars could not interpret who was available to falsify the claim?
    • Spirits of crew members of a crashed dirigible, R-101, “provided technical details about its design and construction, recollections of test flights, discussions of political pressures and unrealistic deadlines that plagued the project, and a description of the crash itself and its causes” and “the personalities of the dead airmen also came through in recognizable detail”.
      Source: “R-101″ by Michael Prescott
      † http://michaelprescott.freeservers.com/R-101.htm 
    • Interesting and I would like to see the details of the evidence, the availability of the technical information and how specific it was.
      Also see:
      The Survival Files by Miles Edward Allen
      http://www.aeces.info/Top40/Cases_8-25/case14_R101.pdf
    • Relatives of a deceased child receive convincing evidence of identity from the spirit of the child.
      Source: “An Amazing Experiment” by Charles Drayton Thomas
    • Specificity of information and the ratio of ‘hits’ to ‘misses’ would be an interesting question here.
    • What were the pre-existing beliefs of the parents?
    • “Police in Nelson, B.C., have found the body of a young woman who disappeared last March, and they credit a local psychic for pointing them in the right direction.”
      Source: CBC News Thursday, January 27, 2005
    • What does ‘pointing in the right direction mean’?
    • The use of newspaper stories does not, in my opinion, constitute reliable, unbiased evidence.
    • The Sylvia Browne experience?
      http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/01/27/psychic-body050127.html#
Now the point is not about questioning a belief, but in questioning the evidence which is presented as scientific.
As I have said several times, the experiences which stem from our beliefs are important to the individual and they bring meaning and inspiration.
A scientist’s view of a universe following physical laws is not necessarily poorer for the absence of God and of course a mystics view of the cosmos is not necessarily richer because of the absence of science.
When I share an experience with someone, I share their perception of the world and their beliefs about it. I am honored that they have chosen to share that part of their personal  universe.
I hope that when I share my experiences they are met with similar respect…
BUT …
IF I present a personal experience as evidence for something I would like others to accept as being part of universal truth, then I would hope that they would be willing to question my perceptions and my conclusions.
IF I then try to convince people that my metaphysical construct is the ‘best’ or ‘only way’ I should expect questions and honest debate and not shy away from the rationalists desire to ascertain the quality of my evidence or the mystics recognition that there are differences in the way the universe can be expressed and understood by the individual.
My model of the way ‘the world is’ and my relationship with the universe is based upon my learning, my reflections and my experience and anyone who immediately assumes a superior experience because they are either ‘knowledgeable’ or ‘enlightened’ would capture my interest; my questions and if necessary the re-evaluation of my beliefs.

Evidence for the Afterlife : Source

Brian Dunning : Source

 

Music on Tonights Show:

Courtesy of Aardvark Records

Triptych – The Truths

Sound You – The Truths

Speed of Life – The Truths

Courtesy of Al  Jones Music

 

 

 

 

 

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TRTZ no 51 13th March : Magic, Ritual and Relevance…

 

Tonight’s featured topic will be on ritual magic : the rationale, the cultural considerations and relevance in the 21st Century.

Magic has been defined as ‘the art and science of bringing about change in accordance with will’.

This apparently simple statement is a bit of a philosophical and metaphysical minefield – but more of that later.

First Some News

March 1st: A man from Brantford, Toronto, was arrested after he pilfered an 8ft tall fiberglass chicken from outside a chicken farm.  He cut off its legs in the process of stealing it, leaving behind a rather odd looking set of stumps.  Police recovered the rest of the chicken from the suspects home and removed it on a flatbed truck which must have been quite a strange sight to anybody passing by.  Charges are pending.

March 5th:  Anthony Braglia has today published a two year investigation about two child witnesses to the infamous Roswell Crash.  They were reportedly the first to discover the debris of the whatever it was that crashed at Roswell in New Mexico in 1947, and since the event Vern Brazel and ‘Dee’ never publically revealed any information about what they witnessed and both of them, according to this report, seemed to have suffered for what they knew, additionally dying at a young age.

Vern sadly committed suicide in his twenties and Dee died of a heart attack at the age of 66.  The report attempts to discern what happened to the children after their experience and involves contributions from many family members of their behavior in general and in reference to the alleged crash.  To read the full report and draw your own conclusions, you can click here.

March 6th: A man from Coralville has been accused of stealing from the First Avenue Hy-Vee whilst intoxicated, in particular a jar of cheese that he spread all over the men’s restroom.  He was caught by security cameras stealing a jar of Tostitos Salsa Con Queso Medium Cheese, chips and beer, after which he slunk off to the men’s restroom to consume them.

The complaint to the police included the somewhat ridiculous sounding accusation of his ‘committing criminal mischief with the cheese’.  Investigation by the police found the accused with some of the beer he pinched still in his pocket!

He admitted to spreading the cheese on the walls of the bathroom because ‘he thought it would be funny,’ which to him, given his level of apparent intoxication, probably was.  Police have charged him with public intoxication, third-degree theft and criminal mischief.

The Men In Black 3 trailer was also released today

March 7th:  A dead creature washed up on the shore of San Diego is being called a chupacabra.  Josh Menard, a 19-year-old snowboarder from Lake Tahoe who found and snapped photos of it described the animal as had having ‘the body shape of a pig – kind of a fat stomach, middle area. And the canines were just ridiculously large’.

Earlier in the week Mexican farmers discovered 35 of their sheep slaughtered with claw and tooth marks around their necks and also blamed the chupacabra, one witness tending to the sheep overnight in the town of Paracuaro even went as far as to say that he saw fanged, winged creatures kill the livestock.

There were also pigs and horses in the same enclosure which were unscathed.  Comments regarding the photos of the San Diego creature point out that it is most likely to be a dog, the body of which has swelled with gas from the rotting of the corpse and the teeth appearing larger than normal as the skin is drawn back.

March 8th:  A local FOX TV affiliate cut to a live traffic report web cam and unwittingly captured something of a mystery in the background of the shot.  A bright flash of light is seen in the background of the traffic footage and despite being witnessed by anybody who happened to be watching the television at the time, nobody’s sure what it was neither have Phoenix officials been able to identify it.  It appears to be an explosion of some nature, which makes the flash so baffling as nobody reported an explosion and no damage or other evidence has been found.  FOX 10 is asking for the public to suggest the possible cause of the mysterious explosion of light.

UPDATE: The flash caught on KSAZ-TV Channel 10 traffic report has been put down to a damaged Arizona Public Service Co. power line which fell and caused a short power outage in the area according to APS, who were originally perplexed by the event as they weren’t aware of any power line issues or blown transformers that might’ve caused such a bright flash.

Russian photographer Andrey Pavlov has added to his macro-photographic series ‘Ant Tales’, a series of whimsical images carefully constructed to capture ants appearing to use props designed by Pavlov.

The photographs in the series are especially impressive because they feature careful choreographing so to speak, rather than arranged dead insects.  Pavlov studied ants and became aware that they follow a specific path when they’re working; therefore, he put his props in their trail and was rewarded with some incredible shots.

 

 

A video on YouTube is claiming that a photo of what appears to be a twister or similar on the surface of Mars is actually a Martian worm.  The worm-shaped object is so enormous; it casts its own gigantic shadow as it sails the surface of the planet.  The video magnifies the NASA still photo of an unidentified area of the red planet taken as a reconnaissance satellite orbited overhead.

 

We’re going to start our discussions of ritual magic with the assertion that… Magic Kills

 

Victoria Climbe died February 25, 2000.

The picture above portrays a happy little girl 8 years old, who was sent by her parents from the Ivory Coast to live with an aunt in the UK. The parents believed that she would have a ‘better life’ here. Nothing could have been further from the truth…

The BBC reported that when Victoria died of hypothermia in February 2000 she had 128 injuries.

The Home Office pathologist who examined her body, Doctor Nathaniel Cary, says it was the worst case of abuse he has seen in his career.

“This poor little girl had scars all over her body, on the head, on the trunk, front and back, and on all four limbs.

“And many of the scars suggest they’d been due to weapon-type injuries so you can see from the nature and the extent of injuries why this would be the worst case I’ve encountered.”

Victoria – called Anna by her killers – was forced to live in a freezing bath in her own excrement. Her hands and feet were bound and she was naked except for a bin liner.

Manning has admitted hitting her over the head with a bicycle chain. She was also regularly beaten with weapons including a belt buckle, hammer and wire.

Victoria’s blood was found in the hall, bedsitting room and bathroom of the cramped flat where the three lived in Tottenham in North London.

In his diary, Manning describes Victoria as Satan and says that no matter how hard he hit her she didn’t cry or show signs that she was hurt.

The Victoria Climbie murder revealed a catalogue of disastrous decisions made by the local authorities, the social service and the police. It led to criminal charges being brought against not only her guardians but also upon members of the local authority. It sparked a major review of child welfare procedures.

At the heart of this case was a little girl who was beaten to death by guardians whose stated motivation was to drive evil out of her.

You can read the various news items about Victoria Climbie here

Ten Years On …

Kirsty Bamu died December 2010

Kristy Bamu, 15, was killed by his sister Magalie Bamu, 29, and her partner, Eric Bikubi, 28.

He died in a bath at their tower block flat in Newham, east London, on Christmas Day 2010 after days of being abused.

He had come to London from Paris with his two brothers and two sisters to spend the festive season with Magalie Bamu.

Things turned sour when the couple, who were said to be obsessed with kindoki, the word for witchcraft in their native Democratic Republic of Congo, accused him of putting spells on a younger child. At their trial at the beginning of March

Football coach Eric Bikubi and Magaile Bamu were found guilty of murder.

Bikubi was ordered to serve at least 30 years and Bamu a minimum of 25 years.

Judge David Paget told the couple the case was particularly serious and involved sadistic behaviour.

“It was prolonged torture involving mental and physical suffering being inflicted before death,” he said.

He told Bikubi that he accepted that brain damage may have made him more inclined to believe Kristy was a witch and a threat to the younger child.

But Judge Paget added: “The belief in witchcraft, however genuine, cannot excuse an assault to another person, let alone the killing of another human being.”

He told Bamu he did not accept her denial of belief in witchcraft, nor that she was forced to attack Kristy by Bikubi.

“It is only explicable if you shared Eric Bikubi’s belief. It provides some explanation for what happened, but it does not excuse it,” he told her.

More information about Kirtsy Babu can be found here

Why have I started this topic in such a negative and distressing way?

Simply because there two cases alone remind us that magical rituals are part of life in the 21st Century. These particularly distressing and extreme examples of ritual also, unfortunately, shape public perception about the ‘occult’ and ‘magic’.

It is interesting to note that both of these cases involve the murder of an individual thought to be ‘a witch’ or a ‘servant of satan’. Both cases thus could be said to involve violence being metered out by “Christian” identifying ‘believers

Religious extremism and bigotry exists and continually disturbs as to the violence resulting from it. Neither Muslim, Jew or Christian (whose beliefs are described as belonging to the Abrahamic Tradition) can claim that their history does not contain examples of persecution and murder of ‘non-believers’.

Neither is the New Age or Alternative movement without it’s violent or death inducing practices. The website, www.whatstheharm.net, catalogues 368,379 people deaths , 306,096 injuries  and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages which are the direct result of spiritual practices, New Age beliefs or Alternative Therapy Treatments.

In all of these cases what motivates the killer is not necessarily their belief, but in my opinion, their ignorance…

It doesn’t take too much effort to come across presentations like these on the Internet..

AND this particularly disturbing one …

What we are seeing and hearing here is exactly the opposite of ‘freedom of belief’ and the right to explore ones own spiritual path. Each of these Christian sermons are using fear, prejudice and more than a smattering of ignorance to rally believers to a particular way of thinking and being.

I guess there are numerous ‘Born Agains’ who celebrate and focus on the literal interpretation of the Bible…

Hence…

Exodus : 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

Leviticus : 21:16-23 Handicapped people cannot approach the altar of God. They would “profane” it.

To be more specific :

Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. (21:16-23)
God can’t stand the sight of handicapped people.
The blind, the lame, dwarfs, people with funny noses or blemishes, with damaged testicles, or broken hands or feet, crooked backs, or who have scurvy or scabs, or who have anything superfluous must not approach the altar of God.
What the Bible says about blind and handicapped people.
21:18 For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous,
21:19 Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
21:20 Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken;
21:21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God.
21:22 He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.
21:23 Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

Leviticus : 24 : 16 Anyone who blasphemes or curses shall be stoned to death by the entire community

Of course the New Testament is also of reasons to punish others, including the Jews, for either their ‘willful ways’ or ignorance of ‘the truth’ as delivered by their saviour.

Removing the emotion from the issue and looking coldly and carefully at any ‘text’ thinking folks will easily see that interpretation of what has been written is where the problems lie; especially if that interpretation is taken out of context.

Hence the verse from 2 Corinthians 10 which says:

10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Could be read as a call for Christians NOT to imagine anything outside of the ‘knowledge of God’ and total ‘obedience’ to Christ.

And then we read…

10:6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Surely a call to be ready to smite those who disobey…

But how can we interpret …

10:7 Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s.

Which seems to me to invoke a degree of thought and dare I say imagination.

Surely the argument that ‘the scripture’ needs to be understood and then taught by those who call themselves apostles and prophets actually calls into question the clarity of Gods word.

We could suggest that the wrongful nature of the human imagination is replaced by blind obedience to those who have had the imagination to translate ‘the word’ and indoctrinate their followers with one specific interpretation. If this were not the case how can we explain the schisms, disagreements and fragmentation of Christianity.

Now don’t get me wrong here… I’m not trying to demonise Christianity, but to call into question the behaviours of some who preach it. If I had been brought up in a predominantly Muslim or Jewish culture I may well have been raising the same questions about the Koran or the Torah.

ALSO I respect without hesitation those whose adherence to any particular text or doctrine which preaches peace and forgiveness at its core and do not fall into the fundamentalist trap of believing that they alone are the holders of ‘the truth’ (which I can accept but not agree with) and that they have the right therefore to shun, destroy or even “aggressively convert” others (something I find personally abhorrent)

As Corinthians 2 says..

13 : 11 “Live in peace.”

 Ritual Magic

Coming back to the topic at hand…

MAGIC is, as said elsewhere, the art and science of causing change in accordance with will.

In it’s broadest sense then any change that we make in our lives that we bring about by will or actions (behaviours) is a magical act. Of course this will disappoint most people who really want to hear about wand waving, sword wielding, candle burning and naked chanting… or chanting whilst naked..

Undertaking symbolic and/or practical acts to bring success to any venture has a long history. The cave paintings of our ancestors probably served symbolic and ritual purpose, and of course spells are cast by some of the Biblical ‘heroes’.

Genesis – Jacob is ‘tricked’ into bedding and conceiving children with sistes…

30:16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

“Surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes’…

Well as any herbalist (or witch) knows mandrake has both hallucinogenic properties and is (was) used in love potions.

As Wikipedia tells us..

“Mandrake contains deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids such as atropinescopolamineapoatropinehyoscyamine and the roots sometimes contain bifurcations causing them to resemble human figures, their roots have long been used in magic rituals, today also in neopaganreligions such as Wicca and Germanic revivalism religions such as Odinism.”

But more interestingly, perhaps, the two key references to mandrake in the bible use a hebraic word which translates as ‘love plant’.

So good old Leah was practicing ritual magic.

In fact the Bible is full of  references to magical practices. Some very obvious such as ‘sacrifice’ (including that of Jesus) to less obvious examples such as ‘prayer’.

A wish is a prayer which is a ‘spell’ by another name…

A verbalisation of an intent made to some deity or some source of power.

Of course when we think about Ritual Magic we are frequently drawn to the ideas and images created by the horror and sword and sorcery movies. Robed or naked figures calling out arcane verses read from a spell book or ancient grimoire.

Actually this image is easily adapted to any Church or Religious Congregation in the world.

What makes OCCULTISTS different from the everyday Church is, I would argue, is the metaphysical and mythical framework in which the ritual takes place.

Christians, Muslims and Jews (and no doubt other ‘conventional religions’) have a monotheistic basis. A single deity to which prayers are ultimately directed. Of course some ‘flavours’ of  Christianity will have a ‘host of minions’ to which specific  requests could be made. Catholicism has its Saints and Angels as well as Mother Mary, Jesus and The Trinity.

The reinvented neo-pagan tradition has a creative power behind the Universe which is knowable to us, as human beings, in the forms of a God and Goddess. (see the TRTZ episode on Wicca).

Many of these Earth Based religions, including Druidry, are concerned with the connections between people, spirit and land. Rituals tend to focus on seasonal festivities; healing; fertility and material survival.

In a non-derogatory way this can be considered as Low Magic in that it’s focus has an Earthly, practical and physical motivation. Ok there is the idea of ‘spirit’ in terms of the animistic ideals of ‘spirits of land, plants and animals’ and of ‘ancestors’.

During the Renaissance there was an explosion of interest in mystical traditions. The Natural Philosophers (who were later to become the scientists) were working to bring together spirituality with the growing knowledge that scientific discoveries were bringing. As part of their search the ‘enlightened ones’ (which may or may not have been members of the Illuninati) sought inspiration from older mystical writings. Some Jewish in origin (Qabbala), some older Sumerian and Babylonian – most reinvented and re-written specifically for the growing magical intelligencia.

The overall aim of these magicians was to gain insights into the nature of the Universe and reach some kind of understanding with God. There was, as always, a secondary goal for some of personal development (see TRTZ on Alchemy) and power.

Magical organisations like the Rosicrucians, Freemasons and later the Golden Dawn (O.T.O) and Crowley’s A:A draw heavily upon Judaeo Christian mysticism. All have a ‘hierarchy of initiation’ which may well be earned by learning or as frequently did happen through paying the right person…

In these orders the rituals were always ‘theatrical’. Have a look at this Golden Dawn ritual and see how many symbols you recognise as being part of Freemasonry and even Catholicisn.

The real issue for me is that so many magical groups and organisations become so involved with the ‘outer workings’ or the theatricality that they actually forget what the symbolism is all about. For example I was giving a talk to a ‘spiritual development group’ recently on the Qabbala and related ‘magical ideas’. At the end of the session a gentleman approached me and identified himself as a Mason (I am not a Freemason by the way). He said that he was surprised by the ‘quality’ and ‘insight’ of my talk and that he had not realised the origin of so many of the symbols that exist within his own ‘temple’.

 

In these organisations the ‘magical’ purpose of the initiate was generally to become closer to God or to access the God within. This may well result in ‘earthly power’, but as a by-product of what their studies and experiments rather than as an end in and of itself.

Catherine has been researching a couple of ‘magical traditions’ for your information and interest…

I asked her to look at Odinism, a modern interpretation of Norse mythology and Discordianism – which has a decidedly unusual take on all things magical… in fact one wonders if there’s more than an element of taking the p**s.

The Odinic Rite

The Odinic Rite are a Polytheistic Religious organisation founded in England in 1973.
The organisation was initially called the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite or the Odinist Committee.
In 1979 they disbanded and reformed as The Odinic Rite.
They have their roots in Germanic paganism and Norse mythology, though they apparently reject the label of ‘Viking religion’.

They describe themselves as a ‘life-affirming’ religion.

The term ‘Odinism’ comes from the name of the chief God of Norse mythology, Odin.
The Odinic Rite website describes them as being concerned with ‘…the ethics of social behavior, our relationships with one another and nature, with the whole of life,’ as well as pointing out their ideals of ‘Faith, folk and family’.

They also value the number 3 as a holy number, similar to many other sects, and use the Triskel as their symbol of choice.

They feel that the number 3 can represent a family unit (Mother, father, child) and it fits with their ‘Faith, folk and family’ motto. The triskel symbol itself is on a red background, meant to represent 3 drops of blood that tie again, into the faith, folk and family motto as they are bound by blood. The symbol as it is used now first appeared on the back page of an Odinic Rite briefing, specifically number 112, October 1991.

The Miollnir, or Thor’s hammer, is also used as a symbol of Odinism.
Their moral code is known as the Nine Noble Virtues and is as follows:

“Courage is my strength, To withstand wretched foes, To sail against the storm, And the will to insist, Honour is my will, To defend my dear folk, My moral in battle, And the drive to do Good.”

So: courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, industriousness and perseverance.

These virtues were “…codified from The Hávamál and The Sigrdrífomál (poems from the Elder Edda) in the early 70s.”

The mythology of Odinism is said to be held in five acts that’re often compared to the seasons and using the god Balder who is (again according to the Elder Edda) the son of Odin and Frigg, the God of summer and of all nature and one of the most famous of the mythology, doomed to an early death.

The five acts are Creation (Spring), the time preceding the death of Balder (Summer), the death of Balder (Summer’s end), the time immediately after the death of Balder (Autumn) and Ragnarok, the decline and fall followed by a renewal of the world (Winter, then spring).

Of the other gods included in the mythology Thor is also one of the more famous, though other examples include Brage, Heimdal (Watchman of the gods), Vidar (The silent god), Frigga (Queen of the cards), Vali (God of vengeance and rebirth), Frey (God of fertility), Freya (Goddess of love), Tyr (God of war), Idun (Goddess of youth) Njord (Stiller of storms) and Forsete.

Each of them represents ‘powers of nature’ and are collectively called ‘Aesir’, ruling over the world they created.

Modern day Odinists point out that they do not partake in the elaborate rituals or animal sacrifices that once were, understanding the symbolic nature of the rituals and observing their priniciples and applying them in other ways.

Discordianism is something of an enigma…

It worships the notion of chaos, personified by the Goddess Eris, or Discordia in Roman. It was founded circa 1958–1959 after the publication of the holy book Principia Discordia. It focuses on the belief that order and disorder are illusions and that neither is more accurate than the other.

There are suggestions that the whole thing was created as an antithesis to religions such as Scientology, or that it was made at the same time purely to see which could come up with the next popular new religion.
It’s many quoted mottos include ‘no two equals are the same’ and ‘There is no Erisian Movement but the Erisian Movement and it is the Erisian Movement.’
The website of the Discordian Society consists of a page with their logo and the words ‘there is no definition’.
The idea of a Discordian Society is therefore a paradox in itself. Discordian doctrine is known as Pentabarf and is as follows:
There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.

A Discordian Shall Always use the Official Discordian Document Numbering System.
A Discordian is required to, the first Friday after his illumination, Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Roman Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).
A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.
A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.
Joining apparently consists of doing what you like and telling them about it, or not, and keeping in mind that there are no rules anywhere.
The principles of Discordianism also outline the idea of everybody being a pope, and that any pope can completely rewrite the Erisian church…
According to the Principia Discordia, the birth of the Erisian Movement occurred when Omar Ravenhurst and Malaclypse the Younger received a vision of a chimpanzee while drinking coffee in an all-night bowling alley, followed by a dream of the Goddess Eris Herself a few nights later.

In relation to rituals, Discordian ceremonies tend to be difficult to unravel and non-sensical, though that appears to be the point.
Perhaps the most famous, if you can call it that, is the turkey curse, which is designed to counteract the curse of Greyface which is as follows:

In 1166bc, a malcontented hunchbrain decided that the universe was as humourless as he was and began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of the serious order. He deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it. Thusly, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and destroyed their opposers, the result of which is that mankind has been suffering from imbalance, causing frustration, causing fear, which makes for a bad trip, and that man has been on a bad trip for some time now. This is the curse of Greyface.
The Turkey curse, thusly, counters greyface and his curse of destructive order as he“…absolutely requires an aneristic setting to function and that a timely introduction of eristic vibrations will neutralize their foundation. The Turkey Curse is designed solely to counteract negative aneristic vibes and if introduced into a neutral or positive aneristic setting (like a poet working out word rhythms) it will prove harmless, or at worst, simply annoying.”

The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are ‘manmade concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.’

To perform it, you must “Take a foot stance as if you were John L. Sullivan preparing for fisticuffs. Face the particular greyfaced you wish to short-circuit, or towards the direction of the negative aneristic vibration that you wish to neutralize. Begin waving your arms in any elaborate manner and make motions with your hands as though you were Mandrake feeling up a sexy giantess. Chant, loudly and clearly: GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE, GOBBLE!”

It should be noted, apparently, that this ritual can backfire. Positive motivation is essential.
This is just one example of many rituals, others of which list as The Baptismal Rite, Tarot, The Sacred Erisian High Mass of the Krispy Kreme Kabal, and the Gourdfest.

Coming back to something which may seem less ‘mocking’, Odinic ritual often involves mead, as it believed to be favoured by the gods and drank by Odin. Group rituals can include mead-drinking from a horn after a blessing and a nature of prayer, perhaps for assistance from the wisdom of Odin or in better understanding runes.

The Sumbel is an example of ritualistic drinking and toasts to one another.

The Blot is a sacrifice ritual, usually a blood sacrifice, which is not often partaken in now as it has been replaced by a more symbolic practice.

The rite of Bragi seems the most famous of the rituals, designed to honour the gods of Odinism and bring the perpetrator into a better relationship with them as Odinism teaches that its followers are friends of the gods, not inferior beings.

The ritual begins with purification, by washing the body and dressing in pure white, red or black, then waiting for night.

As night draws in, the next step involves positioning yourself before a source of light.

You must then stand with your eyes and arms raised and declare: “A man without gods has a desert in his heart.”

You must then remain motionless for a time, as during this time you are meant to be moving ‘through time without moving through space.’

Next, you must touch all the gods and goddesses of Asgard by naming them as naming is a kind of touching because the name is a part of the thing.

The final and most mystical part of the rite involves, while still standing before the light source, selecting one god or one goddess from the sacred pantheon then visualising yourself as the deity you have selected.

If the visualisation is successful and you literally see yourself as the imagined god or goddess, you will experience ‘The Glimpse of Extraordinary Beauty,’ and you will be ‘enveloped and penetrated by the thoughts of a god or a goddess.’

Ritual items are also important in these processes, from feathers, beads, bones, books, herbs, honey or beeswax, shells, turtle shells, candles and the more important of which include thor’s hammer, runes and drinking horns.

Thanks must go to Catherine for the above notes on Odinism and Discordianism who left the studio a few moments ago looking dazed and confused having invoked the spirit of Chaos in her attempts to determine meaning from the apparent non-meaning of the Principia Discordia.

The point about all magical systems is the attempt to ‘shock’ the individual awake either by  is methodological approach to what appears to be a logical metaphysical framework or by their attempt to change perception through its illogical and incongruent assertions.

I suspect that some of the more ‘out there’ approaches owe much to the Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley inspired LSD experiments which sought to open the doors of perception …. AND herein lies the key. Magic is about changing perceptions and exploring the illusions we accept as reality.

The work of Robert Anton Williams is as relevant to many magicians as the works of Crowley.

One of the more recent magical systems is that of Chaos Magic.

Liber Choas draws its inspiration from the world of probability and quantum physics …. but time doesn’t allow for more talk on this topic.

So what about the relevance of magic today…

Music

Mountain Mirrors : A Spell to Block The Sun

Buddy Guy : Are You Losing Your Mind

 

 

 

 

 

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TRTZ 28 19th July 2011

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of

regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.”

C.G.Jung

 

On Tonights TRTZ we will be following on from Caroline Watt’s interview last week by considering the question..

“What have we learned from Paranormal Research?”

We will try t0 make a clear distinction between what could be considered as ‘personal truths’ or ‘beliefs’ – subjective truth – and what we can know through empirical research and objective observations.

Remember that in all of my personal writings I make a clear distinction between what can be called a ‘rational perspective’ and that which can be called a ‘mystical perspective’.

The issue I personally find challenging is the resistance some have to an individual who is willing to ‘have a foot in both camps’.

Part of the problem is one of language and another is about entrenched ideology.

In terms of language I often find that the very specific language of ‘science’ (which strives at being accurate and clearly defined) has meaning outside of the ‘laboratory’ which leads to confusion.

Theory – is a specific example of this issue.

“I have a Theory” when used in general parlance is about having an idea; a possible explanation.

In science for any ‘idea’ or ‘explanation’ to be given the status of THEORY means that it has undergone questioning, challenge, falsification and replication – it also underpins other predictions and assumptions.

This level of misunderstanding can be heard whenever a non-scientist makes a statement like:-

“Evolution IS ONLY a THEORY” a statement which is often followed by the ‘jibe’ that ‘and scientists don’t know everything!’

Such a defensive comment is usually made when logical and ‘rational thought’ escapes someone who is trying to mount a personal defence against a scientific challenge.

Now I AM NOT SAYING science is the ONLY way of knowing!

Of course it’s not AND this is where we cross the boundary between OBJECTIVITY (what we can measure, share, postulate, generate hypotheses which might result in theories) and SUBJECTIVITY (what we individually sense, know, feel, hold as self-evident truths).

Hopefully this evening will allow us to cross boundaries between different ways of exploring and experiencing the world in which we live.

 

First some news from Catherine…

UK

July: You may have heard of Joe Purcell and you may have seen the infamous photograph of his attempt to board a train with his pony, Ruby, in May, but he also attempted to take the pony to several other somewhat unorthodox locations that you may not have heard about!  He also took Ruby to Wrexham Maelor Hospital A&E department to get up check up on the pony’s unborn foal, but was told to take her to a vet, as well as taking her to several pubs where she was also turned away until one kind-hearted landlord treated her to a three-course meal.

The Uncon 2011 date has been announced, it will be taking place 12th-13th November at Camden Centre in London and you can purchase your tickets from www.forteantimes.com/uncon2011.

A North Devon bus driver received something of a fright after two of his passengers failed to get off after he picked them up from Green Lanes Shopping Centre.  Upon investigation, the pair had appeared to have vanished without trace.  Vince Adams describes the passengers in detail: “They were an elderly lady and a young man in a dark leather jacket carrying a bunch of red and white carnations. I asked the lady if she was going to the hospital. She just smiled, so I issued her a concessionary ticket. The young man showed me a day ticket, all scrumpled up, but the date was correct. He too never said a word and went to sit next to the elderly lady.”  He was so baffled by their disappearance that he visited the hospital to see if they had checked in and queried passers-by as to whether they’d witnessed them get off the bus.  Nobody had.  As the cherry on the cake of the disconcerting event, the concessionary ticket he had issued the elderly lady was still in the machine when he returned to the bus.

The University of Bath is holding ASAAPs’ (Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena) paranormal event Seriously Strange, later this year.  It will feature a number of speakers, experiments to take part in or watch as well as a party and disco.  The event takes place on the 10th to the 11th of September and more information can be found at www.assap.org/30.

International

July 14th:  Californian Patrick Francis Brooks was arrested for burglary, receiving stolen property, forgery and violating the terms of his parole for a previous conviction on the 11th of this month.  He was not a difficult criminal to track down it seems, given that he has a rather unusual tattoo that makes him stand out a mile.  The owner of a cheque-cashing store where Brooks was eventually caught told police that Brooks’ custom body art initially caught his attention before he tried to cash a forged cheque.  The tattoo is spread-eagled across Brooks’ forehead and simply reads ‘F*** YOU’ – the mug shot has since gone viral on the internet.

 

July 15th: An unfortunate Taiwanese businessman was subject to an internet scam that lost him the equivalent of £258,000.  He received an e-mail that offered him “French bread so delicious it will make you cry” accompanied by a picture of the croissant he’d receive for 99 Taiwanese dollars (This amounts to about £2.12).  He gave the company in question his bank details in the hope of receiving a croissant, but it never came and he received several calls stating that the money had not gone through.  It wasn’t until the seventh cash transaction that he realised he’d been scammed and lost 12 million Taiwanese dollars into the mix.

July 17th: An Australian Labrador has become something of an internet phenomenon after committing an act that has youtube users divided; was it an amazing feat of bravery or a moment of sheer idiocy?!  The dog in question was filmed by a baffled onlooker swimming in the sea before spotting a group of four fairly sizable sharks cruising in the shallows and deciding round them up.  Not only does the dog blithely swim into the centre of the circling predators but it dives underwater and has a nip at one, getting tugged along a few metres before emerging and swimming happily to the shore as if nothing had happened.  The onlooker was suitably pleased with himself for catching the event on tape and the youtube clip currently has around 981,033 hits.

July:  A chef from Thailand, Kann Trichan, has been given the nickname ‘superhands’ after tourists began to notice his astonishing ability.  He is able to fully immerse both his hands in boiling fat without feeling any pain or receiving any injury.  He says that ‘it feels hot, but it doesn’t burn or blister my skin.’  He discovered his intriguing ability quite by accident several years ago and now people come from all around to buy his chicken and watch him perform his spectacular feat.

Paranormal Research – What Have We Learned?

An overview by Catherine…

William Crookes, the SPR and other Investigative Organisations

Sir William Crookes was born on 17th June 1832 and died on 4th April 1919.  In 1856 he married Ellen and had three sons and a daughter.

Crookes was a chemist and physicist who was educated at the Royal College of Chemistry in London.

He invented the Crookes tube in 1875, consisting of a sealed glass tube containing a partial vacuum with two electrodes in its walls. When a subjected to a high voltage, electrons are emitted from the cathode and speed toward the anode.  A significant number of electrons or cathode rays will miss the anode and hit the glass wall of the tube, causing it to glow a fluorescent green.  This led to the discovery of electrons and later on to the discovery of x-rays.

In 1861 he discovered thallium, a toxic metallic element named after the Greek for thallos, meaning ‘a green shoot’.

In 1895 he discovered helium, a singular (Monatomic) non-toxic, odourless, tasteless, colourless element that heads the noble gases of the periodic table and exists almost solely as a gas.

He was one of the first scientists to investigate the properties of plasma, a substance now sometimes called the ‘fourth state of matter’.

In 1903 he invented the spinthariscope, a device used to observe the radioactive decay of individual particles caused by the interaction of ionizing radiation with a phosphor.

He also invented the Crookes Radiometer, now something of a novelty item.  This is a glass bulb within the partial vacuum of which several diamond shaped panels can be seen that spin when exposed to strong light.

Crookes interest in spiritualism was thought to have stemmed from the premature death of his younger sibling Philip after he was stricken with Yellow fever in 1867.

He had been close to his brother and his departure disturbed him, subsequently, in his search for answers he attended séances in an attempt to contact his deceased brother and henceforth turned to Spiritualism.

He felt it was the duty of science to investigate ‘preternatural phenomena’.

Crookes investigated many acclaimed ‘Mediums’, including Daniel Douglas Home in 1871, a man reputed for his arrogance and powerful psychic gift.

He believed Homes’ gift was genuine and performed a complex experiment whereby Crookes wrapped an accordion in copper wire and placed it within a metal cage.  A charge was sent through the wire; this was due to Crookes’ belief that if Homes’ gift was electro-magnetic, charging the accordion would interrupt any such manipulation and render him unable to play it.  Home was still able to play the accordion despite this, and therefore led Crooke’s to believe that his psychic capacity was an altogether independent force.

Crookes attempted to get a paper he wrote on Home published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, but his request was denied.  Subsequently, he managed to get it published in Quarterly Journal of Science, but this didn’t do him any favours in the scientific community despite his achievements up to that point and his work was discredited.

When other scientists told him that his findings over Home were ludicrous and impossible he stated that ‘I never said that it was possible, I only said that it was true.’

Subsequent to his interest in spiritualism, he joined the SPR (Society for Psychical Research) and became its President in 1896 until 1899.

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” – C.G.Jung

The slogan for the SPRs Website.

The SPR aims to study paranormal phenomena scientifically, and unlike some other societies and groups in the same field, share information regarding their findings and encourage debate.

They are less prone to Spontaneous Case Investigation than other such groups as ASAAP or The Ghost Club.

It is the longest running organization of its type.

It runs one of the most extensive paranormal libraries for its members in the UK and has online access to journals dating back to the nineteenth century.

The SPR was founded in London during 1882 by Sir William Barrett and Edmund Dawson Rogers and according to their website it aimed to study ‘that large body of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as mesmeric, psychical and “spiritualistic”, and to do so in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned enquiry which has enabled Science to solve so many problems’.

They are responsible for these investigations gaining scientific merit, as well as setting out guidelines and standardising methods of analysis.

At the centre of the organization then was the ‘Sidgwick Group’, a collection of experienced paranormal investigators who consisted of Henry Sidgwick, Frederic WH Myers, Edmund Gurney, Walter Leaf, Lord Raleigh, Arthur Balfour and Eleanor Balfour, and Evelyn Raleigh.

This group has initially been designed as an informal group in 1874 and its members hoped to thoroughly investigate mediums and séances.  Thankfully, most of the group members were quite wealthy which was a great help in getting up and running.

In their period of operations they managed to expose several frauds as well as witnessing many paranormal events that they simply could not explain.

Henry Sidgwick became the first president of the SPR and remained in office nine years.

The SPR were divided into several specialized areas of study as follows:

1) Telepathy.

2) Mesmerism, Hypnotism.

3) Clairvoyance (and related phenomena), ‘Mediums’ and those who affirm their ability to communicate with the dead.

4) Apparitions.

5) Levitations, Materialisations, other séance related phenomena.

6) The History of the above subjects.

The SPR even attracted the attention of noted psychologists Jung and Freud as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

They have suffered a number of potentially damaging events, including a sex scandal involving one of the founding members, Myers, a number of endorsements in psychics who later turned out to be frauds, a death that may or may not have been suicide, accusations of pseudoscience, and perhaps most damaging, the Fox Sisters public confession to being fraudulent in their claims during the 1800s.

The Fox Sisters were possibly the founders of the interest in Spiritual Phenomena, their widely publicized psychic talents subsequent to the ‘coming of the spirits’ to their home making them minor celebrities.  Sadly, Maggie, Leah and Kate all struggled with bouts of alcoholism and family tragedies until Maggie confessed Spiritualism to be a sham in 1888, apparently having chosen such a confession over suicide.  It is thought that the confession itself may have been a sham to spite Leah who had long since turned her back on her two sisters.

Sadly, the SPRs previous attempts to gain scientific credit by debunking frauds were not only mostly ignored by the scientists who accused them of pseudoscience, but upset the Spiritualist community as well.

Despite the problems they have faced in the past, they continue to be a significant force in the investigation of the paranormal and John Fraser states that the group is ‘still the essential backbone of paranormal investigations in this country.’

The other two most noted groups in the investigation of forteana are thought to be:

The Ghost Club.

The Ghost Club was founded in 1862 and is therefore the oldest of groups of its type, having suffered much of the ridicule from media as the SPR has in its time.

It is voluntarily run and more informal than the SPR, though it stills takes its investigations quite seriously and does not accept membership from ‘thrill-seekers’.

‘Whilst the SPR was a body devoted to scientific study the Club remained a selective and secretive organisation of convinced believers for whom psychic phenomena were an established fact.’ – The Ghost Club website.

Sir William Crookes was also a member later on in his career after one of his investigations, that of already somewhat dubious medium Florence Cook, went sour and she was made out to be a fraud.

They have also attracted a few famous members, such as Charles Dickens, Siegfried Sassoon, , Donald Campbell, Peter Cushing, Peter Underwood, Maurice Grosse, Sir Shane Leslie, Eric Maple and even Harry Price, whose investigations pertaining to Borley Rectory made him something of a psychic superstar.

They have expanded and encouraged their members to investigate UFOs, dowsing and cryptozoology as well as their main area of study.

The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena.

A relatively recent organization by comparison, they were formed in 1981 by author Hilary Evans and Jenny Randles, as well as Founding Editor of Fortean Times Bob Rickard and scientists Dr Hugh Pincott and Dr Vernon Harrison.

They do not adhere to the research of parapsychology alone; they feel that this term is too restrictive.

This group also focuses on gaining merit in the educational field, as well as conducting their own independent research into various phenomena.

They are divided into four main areas of study:

1) Psychic phenomena (ghosts, telepathy, mediums)

2) Fortean phenomena (cryptozoology, etc.)

3) Earth Mysteries (Leys, archaeoastronomy)

And 4) UFOs.

They also undertake training for budding paranormal investigators.

 

References:

 

http://www.assap.org/

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/01/20/skeptic-insights/

http://www.gobeyondnow.com/scimeth.htm

http://www.banachek.org/nonflash/project_alpha.htm

THE RATIONAL MYSTIC blog – THE BRAINS BEHIND IT

THE RATIONAL MYSTIC blog – THE BRAINS BEHIND IT – THE SEQUEL

The Music on TONIGHT’S SHOW

The Truths : Hit the Streets : Tryptich

Benny Teteh-Lartey : Lucky Number

Little Spitfire : If I look I see you

The above  artists are represented by Aardvark Records –  please visit the website, support the bands and if you like them buy the albums.

 

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