Saturday, 31 March 2007
Friday, 30 March 2007
Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley
Boston: Weiser Books, 2004, (1927). paperback, 335 pps.
Aleister Crowley remains a bit of a controversial figure nowadays. I do have a few acquaintances who are fascinated by the legend. Truthfully, I myself have a grudging respect for someone who walked naked through an English town to a favorite cafe, believing that the invisibility spell he had cast rendered him invisible [as told by John Sutton in his biography].
But there are plenty of other things which are less admirable. One of them is Crowley's track record with women. He tended to pick out unstable addicted women, encouraged them to believe that they were "channeling" ascended masters or spiritual entities of some sort or another, and cheated on them with predominantly other males. Crowley was interested in gaining personal power through the use of "magick." Crowley-- not present day fluffy bunnies so-called-- popularized the spelling of "magick" with the "k" in order to distinguish it from sleigh of hand magic. The extra "k" was also a subtle reference to the Greek word kteis which meant the female reproductive organs.
Moonchild is a work of fiction which is interspersed with his own occult ideology. Crowley in real life was interested in creating a perfect specimen of humanity-- a sort of god incarnate. There are other references in the book to a few of his rivals; a "black" lodge, the poet William Butler Yates [who appeared in the book as "Gates,"], and H. Spencer Lewis who founded A.M.O.R.C. [who was a character named "Butler"]. The appearance of Eliphas Levi [who in real life Crowley claimed to be a reincarnation of], and the hideaway on an Italian island are among the many references in the book which point to things that Crowley believed or experienced. In order to truly understand Moonchild, the reader must know something of the author who penned it.
The story itself, reflective of Crowley's pathos, is engaging at once. From the first chapter dealing with a "chinese god," through the introduction of Lisa, and right on through to the ending introduced and developed a formidable cast of characters. The plot and dialogue were both engaging. Narrative passages were explanatory and flowed into the story.
I was not seeking any great mystical understanding when I picked up Moonchild. As a work of fiction written by a crazed occultist, it did not disappoint. Those who are hoping to gain an unbiased understanding of the author won't find that in the book Moonchild. Moonchild is chock full of Crowley's delusional 'magick' and the casual reader might do better elsewhere. Those who do not recognize the truth about Aleister Crowley will plow through Moonchild looking for hints of his present-day charisma I am sure. As for me, I liked the book even though I do not like the man.
Saturday, 24 March 2007
I take some modest pride in the knowledge, especially in the wake of the latest Republican-based scandal from Washington (The great US attorney purge) that I have been an inveterate foe of Dubya and all his works almost from the first time that I had heard of him. That, if you are curious was when the media reported, during the candidate debates in 1999, that when asked what political philosopher had had the most influence on him, he answered, “Jesus Christ, because he changed my life.” This response told me three things:
That he was a born again, fundamentalist mental midget,
That he was pandering to his religious base,
That he did not have enough grasp on the subject to tell the difference between a religious figure and a political philosopher, and
That he had never read any political philosophy, and so was supremely unqualified to be president.
In what appears in hindsight to be the utmost in wishful thinking, I assumed then that Dubya had managed to cut his political throat, and that we would never hear of him again past the third or fourth primary. I was wrong. I wish to goodness that I had not been. I underestimated the rising strength of the Religious Right, and the naiveté of the American public. Until 9/11, many people, myself included, believed that he would be a completely ineffective president, a belief that was strengthened by the fact that he appeared to be a “one-issue” politician, and that his mania for “faith-based” programs would continue to be crushed by a Congress that still had some hold on reality. We tend to think of the damage that Mohammed Atta and his gruesome little band did to America in terms of lives lost and buildings destroyed, but that pales in comparison to the fact that they transformed George III (think about it) from a nonentity into possibly the most horrifyingly damaging figure in American history. I remember before the full extent of the disaster became clear that I would say he was the worst president since Warren G. Harding. I now believe that was unfair to President Harding, who was at least aware of his own inadequacies.
I see in the news that the Mayor of Salt Lake City has taken up the cause of impeachment of this president. I fully endorse that position. If President Clinton could be considered for impeachment for lying about his sex life, what are we to make of a President who has entangled us in a foreign war on pretexts that were demonstrated to be false, almost as soon as the war was initiated? A President who has repeatedly used executive power to unconstitutionally pass out funds to religious organizations (Let’s drop the misleading euphemism “faith-based”) against the will of Congress and the American people? A President who has gutted environmental restrictions and subverted scientific findings on global warming in order to accommodate his buddies in the energy business? A President who allowed a government agent to be compromised in order to punish her husband for telling the truth about his corrupt regime? A President who appears to be attempting to make America over as a religious theocracy, and who seized unprecedented power over ordinary Americans by railroading through the Patriot Act? A President who initiates a purge of government attorneys who have placed their duties to America ahead of loyalty to those in power? When is enough enough? How about today?
The only problem I have with impeaching the president is that it does not go far enough to solve our current problem. If we dump Dubya, we are left with his Mephistophelean VP, Dick “Quail Hunter” Cheney. This grey eminence is the Richelieu of this administration, and needs to be included in any impeachment proceedings. Dick has the potential to be an even more disastrous chief executive than Dubya, if only because he is light years more competent and unprincipled.
Monday, 19 March 2007
If the mother has the child and the father didn't sign the birth certificate then the father shouldn't have any say so in when they get to see the child. It is the mother's choice. But no, nothing can be that simple these days can it?
Then when you have a teen mother and father it is even harder. Especially when the child's father won't stay out of it. And they keep threatening that they will find a way to get the child taken away if you don't do what they want. Freaking bullshit. Just because a male has the sperm doesn't mean that they are capable of being a daddy. Just like the saying, "ANY MAN CAN BE A FATHER BUT IT TAKES A REAL MAN TO BE A DADDY."
People don't really care about anything but themselves some days. Or at least that is what it seems like to me. The more things that I see going on in this world, makes me wonder if I even want to raise any children in this type of world. Here is what I understand SOME guys to understand about a baby. Sperm + Egg = Baby.
Then you get a mother who takes care of the child and a father who doesn't give a crap about anything and doesn't even want to help with anything when they only see the kid maybe once a month if that. I still have one word for that BULLSHIT. It just makes me angry what some people will do.
I know that there are some guys who will go the extra mile for a child that is theirs or may not be theirs. I congratulate them and they do deserve to be called a daddy. But if you are just using the child to use the mother, you need to get a life and let the child go. And quit acting like a total jackass.
There are way too many people that I have run into in this world that are like this and it just drives me crazy. I am getting to the point where I can't take any more of the crap that they put the innocent children through. The children didn't do anything to deserve any of this. Why do they need to go through the hell of what the parents decide? If both of the parents are good parents and are willing to share the responsibilities of having a child then that is a good thing. The more people that do that the better. And the better for the child.
Okay I got my ranting out for now. Sorry about the mild swearing.
Sunday, 18 March 2007
Why do you bother?
With the person in Blue?
Why do you cry?
Why do you try?
Do we know why?
Give me money, then good-bye...
Why do you follow me?
Why do you haunt me?
Why do taunt me?
Why do you make me hate?
Why do want to kill me?
Why don't you leave me alone?
I know why...
You don't care
No you don't
Not if I die,
Not if I cry,
Nor if I want to die.
Is this your dream?
Is this your goal?
You're almost complete..........
Friday, 16 March 2007
who had a kangaroo stashed in her closet.
You gotta know how to ask questions.
I looked at her. She was an alien.
She came from Schenectady! And I,
I was the zoo keeper.
Questions! Questions! said the therapist
and the kangaroo bounced madly in her closet.
You gotta know how to ask those questions.
I looked at her again. What I saw was no
better. I was still the keeper of pain.
I was still the zoo keeper.
Questions! Questions! said the therapist
as the kangaroo smashed out of her closet.
You gotta know when to ask those probing questions.
Who is the kangaroo? I demanded. And why
is he here? I left then, laughing maniacally.
I was no longer the zoo keeper.
blue space goddess says: lets' all write bad poetry shall we? I see Hop wrote one too. Snarking can be fun, regardless of "what side" the snarker is on.
It's Mabon Time over Black Thorn's land
in the sky fields of Inanna.
A mysterious gent in ectoplasmic fog
visits a lassie fair and bright
who waits with a sparkling collar
gifted by her astral lover.
It's Mabon Time.
It's Mabon Time over Black Thorn's land
in the sky fields of Inanna.
The snowshoes and hares caught the ferry
bound for British Columbia.
A crow from Mab perches on willow tree
reading a tome by a priestly scholar.
It's Mabon Time.
It's Mabon Time over Black Thorn's land
in the sky fields of Inanna.
Wolfsbane and Mallow grow together near a swamp
where a shaman walks tripping on peyote.
The sun has fallen into a westerly ocean
having had a row with Venus.
It's Mabon Time.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
Sunday's sermon was about Forgiveness.
The preacher asked the audienc-- I mean the congregation-- to raise their hands if they were willing to forgive their enemies.
All of them raised their hands except for the oldest congregant, Sister Reese, sitting way in the back.
The preacher said to her, "Sister Reese, why aren't you willing to forgive your enemies?"
"I don't have any," she replied.
The preacher was stunned. "How is it that you have no enemies?"
"I outlived the bastards!"
Sunday, 11 March 2007
The Truth Behind St. Patrick's Day
On March 17, many people in this country will celebrate a holiday
that has nothing to do with their ethnic background or their current
country of residence, and everything to do with an historical
religious event. On this day, genocide was committed upon a Nation.
On this day the leaders, healers, teachers and priesthood of the
various Celtic nations died, those who were still alive by then. On
this day, the Christian church claims that St. Patrick drove all the
snakes from the shores of Ireland. Most of these people did not
leave those shores alive. Snakes are the symbol used by the
Christian church to symbolize Pagans. The legend of the removal of
all the snakes from Ireland (which never had any snakes to begin
with) stems from the symbol of the snake to represent Paganism. As
was the way with those lands and cultures conquered by the Christian
church, all records of the former religions practiced by the people
of the land were wiped out to the best of the abilities of
those who usurped authority from the rightful leaders, both civic
On March 17, I will not wear green.
On March 17, I will not wear a shamrock.
On March 17, I will not honor the man who lead the conquest of
On March 17, I will wear black.
On March 17, I will wear snakes.
On March 17, I will mourn the deaths of my spiritual ancestors.
Thursday, 8 March 2007
Reading the third tradition essay is at best an exercise in patience and at worst a danger to the reader ’ s blood pressure. The smugness and intolerance displayed in this essay, which is nominally about tolerance, is totally and utterly exasperating to the intelligent reader. As a newcomer in AA, I read this essay several times before the import of what Bill was saying sank in, and then for several years I was simply angry, until I figured out what was wrong here. Consequently, I felt I had to write it down and inflict my thoughts on my long-suffering reader.
We can pass quickly over the incredible reference on page 140 to “queers” in the list of undesirables. It is enough to remind ourselves that this is the equivalent to Mark Twain ’ s use of the word “ nigger ” in HuckleberryFinn, as being indicative of the Zeitgeist of the period in which it was written. It probably does not accurately reflect Bill ’ s beliefs regarding gays, especially as we know from independent sources that there was at least one gay in the New York group from an early date, not to mention Marty Mann, whose Lesbianism was at least an open secret among the membership. As we can also see from the first illustrative example in this essay, the struggle against alcoholism became more important to the groups than homosexuality.
Bill tells two stories, one from each of the two early groups, both dated to AA Year Two, therefore 1936-1937. The second takes place in New York, so we know that the first takes place in Akron. A man comes to the group seeking help, but admits to being “ the victim of another addiction even worse stigmatized than alcoholism. ” He more or less throws himself on the mercy of the group.
It is unthinkable to me that what happens next could happen today, and I have to admit that it is the existence of this essay that prevents it in most cases. There are groups up the river from where I live who use the Bible as their primary text, and I expect that a gay who turned up there would be subjected to a certain amount of propaganda about homosexuality being a sin rather than a natural condition, but I am naïve enough to hope that that would be the exception rather than the rule.
But at this juncture the “ oldest member, ” (Dr. Bob) summons two others and they sit in judgment upon another alcoholic, weighing the needs of the many against the needs of the one. Here we discover the origin of the famous expression, “ What would Jesus do? ” because it is this thought that swings the balance in favor of the “ strange alcoholic. ” (Is strange a euphemism for queer?) Naturally, I find this a little unsatisfying. The hospital at which I work includes in its mission statement the phrase “ with dedication to excellence and Christian ideals,” and I am fond of saying to some of my coworkers, that I think we could probably do a lot better than that. They are never sure what I mean. Nevertheless, I have a good deal of admiration for Dr. Bob, and I consider that the sincerity of his faith was instrumental in his behavior towards his alcoholic fellows. What I see in this story is that the group
agreed to tolerate the newcomer ’ s homosexuality, despite their fears. More on this later.
Meanwhile, back in New York, that group committed the unforgivable enormity
of allowing an atheist to join. We shall follow the example of the essay and call him Ed, although that was not his name. If you want to compare Ed ’ s own story with Bill ’ s version, you will find it in the Big Book under the title “ The Vicious Cycle. ” In any case, according to Bill, Ed was a
“power driver, ” an atheist whose “ pet obsession ” was that AA could get along without its
“God nonsense. ” (I have to admit that this is a phase that I also went through, but happily there were other outlets for me to explore, RR and SOS. I even tried to start an SOS group in my town, but it failed to take hold. Imagine that.) So eventually Ed went beyond what the
others were willing to abide, and they, they being the elders, informed him that he would have to stop or leave. Well, ol ’ Ed pointed out to them, them being the elders, that they were going against their own stated principles, and thus he got to stay, much to their, they being the elders, dismay.
What is interesting in this situation is what the wise elders do next. They wait expectantly for Ed to get drunk. They know he will get drunk, because they know an atheist cannot get sober permanently. They know this, apparently, on the basis of two whole years of experience. They are not only expectant, but they are eager to see their point proved. And of course Ed, having been isolated from the group, does get drunk. What follows is incredible. The group abandons him to his alcoholism! Let me repeat that. THE GROUP ABANDONS HIM TO HIS ALCOHOLISM!!! Their rationale? Maybe he ’ ll learn a lesson! But what is even more incredible, more intolerable, is that Bill, writing in 1954, presents this as justifiable, and today groups all over the world read this little morality play and find nothing to object to here. Ed comes crawling back, sadder but wiser, and we are left with the impression that he now has accepted his Higher Power, and all is well, the end justifies the means, and God is triumphant. If you are not sickened by this, you will fit right in in AA.
If you are looking to blame Ed for his behavior, the proper place to look is at his intolerance for other people ’ s HPs. This is also the difficulty in the behavior of the soi- disant elders, and the first of the very real lessons to be derived from this tale. Bill means to be telling a story about
how the NY group demonstrated tolerance of Ed ’ s behavior, as though this was a good thing. In fact, and this is the second lesson, tolerance is not enough. In fact, tolerance can be downright destructive, as it would have been had Ed not returned from his binge. I have continually
attempted to practice acceptance of other people ’ s beliefs in AA/NA, even when they turned my stomach. All I ask in return is that my views be accepted in turn, including my right to reject theism as a source for my HP. If asked, I will tell you all about my HP, who is Bob the Dinosaur from the Dilbert strip. Bob ’ s function in life is to give people wedgies when they deserve it. I have a Bob list of such people. Our financial case manager refers to Bob as my imaginary friend. I like that. It pretty well sums up my attitude towards using god as a HP.
Having read Bill ’ s side of the story, read what “ Ed ” has to say in the Big Book. There you will observe that Bill exaggerated the circumstances for the sake of a good story, as he is prone to do. He implies, for example, that Ed had been around for several months, where Ed indicates that it was less than six. You will also note that Ed ’ s acceptance of a higher power is pretty weasel worded. One is left to wonder how sincere his conversion was.
One further comment on our elders. They all subscribed to the Christian religion and were supposedly familiar with the sayings collection known as the Sermon on the Mount. One of the points that Jesus made in that sermon was that there is no difference between doing murder and thinking murder, between committing adultery and looking with lust. By these lights, I am
afraid I must condemn the elders, for obeying the letter of the Law, but violating its spirit.
In April of 1961, Bill published an article in the Grapevine, reprinted in the book Language of the Heart, on page 251, entitled “ God as we Understand Him: The Dilemma of No Faith. ” In it he talks about the problem of newcomers leaving the fellowship because someone had tried to shove his god down their throats. In what I see as an example of true humility, Bill acknowledges his own shortcomings in this area, both in the early years and ongoing. He tells a story, set in the late thirties, of how he had “presumed to instruct ” an agnostic MD in true religion, and how after the doctor ’ s death three years later, he had learned enough from the man ’ s wife to see that this doctor epitomized all that AA idealized as spirituality, even without a belief in a god. This is a far cry from the Bill of 1954, writing in the 12 and 12. One wonders why, if he learned this lesson in the late thirties, why it took until 1961 to find its way into
print, and what was he thinking when he wrote the Tradition three essay. Nevertheless, late is better than never, and the Grapevine essay is very impressive.
It is interesting to note that even today, seventy years later, the two groups finding the least acceptance in America are gays and atheists. Gays seem to have made more progress in AA, as well as elsewhere. Polls consistently find that, given a choice, most Americans would vote for almost anybody in preference to an avowed atheist. Recent events (Representative Foley, and Ted Haggard) have emphasized how often closeted gays reach to the highest positions, both in political and religious circles.
I can only wonder, as others have done before, how many closet unbelievers walk the halls of power in Washington, and I look forward to the day when America lives up to its secular heritage and its Constitution, which guarantees that no office seeker will have to submit to a religious test.
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
Coffee. There ain't much finer than coffee. I've been drinking my coffee without sugar for bout a month and a half now. Now that I have made the big sacrifice, I can actually tell if a cup of coffee is up to par or really bad or somewheres in-between. At some point, I'm going to endeavor to drink it black and straight up. There are no plans in the foreseeable future for me to switch to decaf.
Monday, 5 March 2007
Saturday, 3 March 2007
Right-click to Save to your My Pictures.
No one is a label. No more labels.
I learned the prejudices of my parents.
As I came into my own, I had to re-think them
and experience people for myself.
I struggle with my prejudices still.
No one gets entirely free.
With hard work and understanding,
my prejudices no longer cloud my vision.
Xenophobia is no way to live.
Weather is no longer a crisis today.
It just is.
The snow outside does not dictate
who I am.
And labels do not determine
who we are.