Friday, March 30, 2007

My Sweet Lord

Storm in US over chocolate Jesus

Just think of all the suckers who gave up chocolate for Lent:

...A New York gallery has angered a US Catholic group with its decision to exhibit a milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus Christ...Catholic League head Bill Donohue called it "one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever...the fact they chose Holy Week shows this is calculated, and the timing is deliberate..."

(Update via Witchvox: exhibit cancelled . I tell'ya, Xtains can't have any fun. It's not like someone made a Virgin Mary out of doodie or something. Heh!)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Authoritarians Rejoice!


God Is on Our Side. Does That Mean War?
This isn't the surprise: Religious people are more prone to violence when they think it's rationalized in scripture. But stop the presses: sociologist Brad Bushman's study also demonstrates that scripture has the same effect on agnostics/atheists:

"...What we found is that people who believed the passage was from the Bible were more aggressive [than those who did not know it came from the Bible], and when God said it is OK to retaliate they were even more aggressive," Bushman said. "We found that both at Brigham Young, which is a religious school, and at Amsterdam, where only half believe in God...Even among nonbelievers, if God says it's OK to retaliate, they are more aggressive. And that's the worry here. When God sanctions aggression, when God says it's OK to retaliate, people use that as justification for their own violent and aggressive behavior."

Why am I not surprised that the non-religious among us are just as susceptible to manipulation as anyone else? People don't need religion to be cruel and inhuman. Just about any excuse will due.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our Dominionist Justice Department, Part II


Who is Monica Goodling?
I blogged about our Justice Department before.
Now another Dominionist has come to light, Monica Goodling:

...Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice official who said Monday that she'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than talk to lawmakers, is a frequent figure in department e-mails released so far as part of the congressional investigation into the firings and hirings of U.S. attorneys. Goodling...is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to embracing an evangelical spirit." She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world..."

What a nice display of Xtian values--pleading the 5th Amendment! Are any of the schools this woman attended accredited? I guess her pious education taught her that telling the truth is something you don't have to do, or be proud of. It certainly taught her nothing about US law. She's just one more in a long line of completely unqualified individuals, groomed for success by extremist Xtain cults, granted great power by the Bush Admin.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ten Years: Heaven's Gate & Hale-Bopp


Heaven's Gate: The Sequel by Joshuah Bearman

The Heaven's Gate ritual mass suicide occurred ten years ago, this month. LA Weekly has fascinating article by Mr. Bearman, featuring an interview with "Rio", one of the few survivors. At times, poor Rio's life reads as a cliché Freudian example of someone prone to cult victimization. Yet you're compelled to feel sorry for the guy, the interviewer pointing out that he seems a pleasant and calm fellow. On the other hand, Rio still professes belief in the cult, claiming to receive messages from the dead founders.

I highly recommend the article for anyone interested in science and alternative religions. The author does a good job recapping the history of Heaven's Gate. One peculiar fact I had forgotten: one of the suiciders was Thomas Nichols, brother of Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura, of Star Trek fame). Reading it brought back some vivid memories for me:

At that time, I was just getting into amateur astronomy, so I was really excited about the discovery of the comet Hale-Bopp. The comet had real potential to be spectacular.

Then the hucksters and wackos started chiming in. A newbie amateur astronomer took some pictures of the comet, claiming they revealed a UFO trailing behind it. Art Bell's radio show, a hit among paranoid insomniacs back when the X-Files commanded some relevancy, featured the poor fellow as a guest. Soon after that, the "Farsight Institute", an organization that promoted 'remote viewing', issued a statement their psychics were in contact with the extraterrestrial piloting the spaceship!

I recall a flood of new subscribers joining astronomy and telescope msg boards, bulletin boards, and mailing lists, all asking about UFOs. Many of us tried to explain that thousands of telescopes were trained on Hale-Bopp, giving it the distinction of being one of the most observed objects of all time. If a spaceship existed, how come nobody else was seeing it? Some astute astrophotographers chimed in, pointing out that what the hapless amateur actual photographed appeared to be just internal reflections arising from peculiarities in the optical desing of the telescope. Of course, we were accused of all taking part in 'the conspiracy'! Heh! More photographs were promised by the amateur, but they were never forthcoming.

At that time, in San Diego CA, a secretive messianic group of UFO devotees, calling themselves Heaven's Gate, had interpreted the arrival of the comet as a sign that doomsday was at hand. They believed the UFO claims of the conspiracy crowd; they had faith the ship was going to whisk them away to technological salvation. They purchased a fine 8" SCT (oddly, this was at about the same time I purchased my telescope--almost exactly the same model) to view the craft. They saw what we all did: NO SPACESHIP! The telescope was returned to the store and exchanged for a pair of binoculars.

Up to this point, I found sparing with the net-kooks something of a guilty pleasure. The truth is, not everyone on the other side of the issue was a UFO zealot. A sizable minority asked good questions; some were certainly open minded. On the other hand, there was a verbose hard-core bunch who expressed unyielding faith that we were about to be invaded. Then suddenly, the conspiracy stuff took a deadly turn. Goofing around with the UFO nuts didn't seem so amusing any more.

I posted the following comment to a number of UFO and astronomy boards:

Hi:

I'm comet Hale-Bopp. How's it going, Earthlings?

It's been a long time -- over 4,000 years -- since I last visited your neighborhood. Unfortunately, my last visit went unrecorded. At that time, you did not yet have the knack for transcribing your own history. But you people did some crazy things then, when I reached perihelion. A thousand people had their hearts cut out and were tossed into a bottomless sinkhole, kings were deposed, godheads ascended, and blood drenched wars were waged, all because I graced your skies. You even blamed me for a couple of famines and plagues. What was really puzzling is that you seemed completely unconcerned about what I really was. I chalked this up to mere ignorance.

Now that you have all this science and technology you are so proud of, I was hoping things would be different this time. So much has been written about me, I feel I must speak up!

It's amazing to see how little you have changed. The wars, the famines, and the diseases are all still here. It's as if I never left. And even in your so called "information age", more craziness has proliferated and been written about me, than ever before. I never would have guessed that you still do human sacrifice -- but you now call it "ritual suicide". What gave you the idea I'm hiding a space ship from you? You even made me some sort of symbol for *your* coming millennium. Your self importance could really break me up.

Oh, I almost forgot. I'm not supposed to tell you this, but the real "aliens" consider your planet the laughing stock of the galactic quadrant. See you next time, in about 2,500 years. Just wait till my friends in the Oort cloud hear about this. Don't change, whatever you do! LOL

Signed,

The Comet presently known as Hale-Bopp

Of course, some people got the joke--others were inflamed at my crass insensitivity. Heh, so I posted the following:

People of Earth... Attention:

I am the commander of the space ship orbiting the comet known as "Hale-Bopp".

Thank you! Those 39 people you sent are a good start, but we need some big time help up here. I don't wish to sound ungrateful, but could a few hundred more of you commit suicide? ASAP? This is a big space ship and we've really got our hands full. Conspiracy advocates with computer skills will get the best positions.

One more thing: don't listen to anything that brainless comet says. So what are you going to do? Pay attention to a dirty snowball? Ha! This stupid comet cannot tell its ion tail from its nucleus.

Best wishes,
Commandress Lacerta


In college, I had a wonderful astronomy professor. He was a consummate skeptic, constantly debunking astrology, psychic phenomena, religion, and such. Someone asked in class asked "Do you believe in God"? He grew thoughtful, then responded "I see God every time I look through the telescope." But the author points out that Rio sees the Universe differently. He challenges him on his beliefs:

"...When he finds out I don't believe that the Grays — the bigheaded, almond-eyed aliens — are abducting humans for genetic sampling to save their species, he looks surprised, as if such knowledge is axiomatic, and says, "Well, you'll get there eventually."

Uh, no thanx! I prefer my Gods & Goddesses, Elementals, the Faery-folk, the 'Hero with a Thousand Faces', even Dragons and the Unicorns. Studying them and welcoming them, I feel I am learning something about our history, our place in nature and society, and this amazing existence. The central thing is, that for me at least--these glorious beings don't have to be real to be important. Such acknowledgment helps one keep a foot planted on terra firma. Maybe that's the thing missing from sterile religions such as "Heavens Gate". For the unfortunate followers of that path, it was a tragic omission.

The Universe is mysterious and awe inspiring. The Hale-Bopp comet was a wonderful gift, glorious and magnificent. It was easily viewable with the best telescopes ever evolved: our own eyes--provided free of charge courtesy our Earthbound evolution. Yet, why did so many people feel they had to imagine it all had to do with spaceships? Why is it that some find our Universe so dull, boring, and meaningless, that they compel it to be interesting? Can they only find comfort in this world if they people it with super advanced technological beings, in some anthropomorphic daydream of angelic salvation? Maybe I'm missing something, but where is the spirituality in that? Where are the myths and metaphors, the mysteries and beauty?

Pagan's have a saying: "The Old Ways are Best".

(image: astronomy.com)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Smudge Stick: In case of President, break glass!


The president doesn't have bodily materialize in your vicinity to contaminate it. Due to his vast powers, he--and even some of his minions--can desecrate huge swaths of land through a process of visualization. (Scientist are searching for a logical explanation for this. So far, they are attributing these destructive forces to particles of 'Neoconservatism". Like photons of light, such particles seem to have properties of both particles and waves.)

Unfortunately, the Goddess cannot manifest in all areas of presidential desecrations; her powers must be reserved for the most serious violations. So, what are we to do if our neighborhood is invaded? Fortunately, scientists have determined that Neconservative particles have an affinity for the smoke of burning sage.

All you have to do is learn to smudge!

Smudge sticks--bundles of sage leaves and branches, tied with twine--can be purchased from many health food stores or just about any shop focusing on alternative religion. Not only that, sage is easy to grow, so you can make your own. (It's a cold-hardy plant, although I have found young plants need a little TLC to get them thru their first winter in cold climates.) In an emergency, you can even use dried sage leaves found in the spice aisle of your local grocery store (If using loose leaves, censor charcoal will help it burn.)

You don't have to be a coven initiate, follower of a American Indian spiritual path, or long term Wiccan/Pagan, to smudge. Smudging does not have to involve special incantations or ceremonies. In fact, merely burning of any type of incense is often considered a form of smudging.

Here some links with good information on smudging:

Asunam A good article explaining the American Indian tradition and other herbs in addition to sage you can use.

Crystalinks Another good article, with more 'how to' and safety information.

Sacred-Texts Still more good content.

I've never done any business with Blossom Farms, but they have some cool stuff and seem to know what they are doing. They sell nice smudge sticks/wands and even smudging kits--a great thing to have on hand for an emergency of Presidential proportions!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ostara blessing

Tonight is the Sabbat of Ostara, the Vernal Equinox. This evening, go outside and gave towards the setting sun and you will be greeted by a wonderful sight. From SpaceWeather.com:

VENUS AND THE MOON: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. You'll see Venus and the slender crescent Moon beaming together through the glow of sunset. If you miss the pair on March 20th, try again on the 21st. They will be beautifully close together on both nights.

Some great reading about Ostara:

You Call It Easter, We Call It OstaraGreat article, with lots of ideas, that even utilizes some information from the original The Wicker Man movie! A rather good article, unfortunately marred by the "egg standing" myth.

Ostara - Overview by Christina

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Proof the Goddess Exists!


A Treasury of Brazilian Anti-Bush Protest Pix
Security cam snaps pic of Goddess, simultaneously proving her existence and disproving patriarchal religions.

This act of Divine intervention was stopped by Brazilian security forces, allowing President Bush to complete his ritual pollution of sacred Mayan sites. Witches and scientists are studying digitally enhanced photos of the pictographs inscribed on her sacred body. After very close study, I feel these are sigils of protection which we can use to ward off future presidential attacks.

Thanx to Wonkette for this earth-shaking story

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Our Dominionist Justice Department


Fast-Riser’s High Hopes and Sudden Fall

Reading about the Justice Dept resignation of K. Kyle Sampson in the NYTimes, I came across this rather stunningly horrific statement:

...In 2002 Mr. Sampson told the Brigham Young University news service that he admired Mr. Bush because the president recognized that politics and religious beliefs could not be separated. “He really means it when he says he believes that we shouldn’t chase religion from the public square,” Mr. Sampson was quoted as saying...

Awesome! Religious beliefs and politics cannot be separated! That means a top aid of the Attorney General doesn't understand how this country was founded or what the Constitution is about. This article is one of those typical Times bio-pieces that frequently paints fawning portraits of fundamentalist authoritarians, even when they have resigned or been indicted. In it we learn that Sampson is literally steeped in conservative politics, and used his position to usher other Morman and extremest friends of his into the Whitehouse.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Never pull the trigga of a Myrmecciinae


Ant Visions: Myrmeciinae

Yup, they're as mean as they look.

Most of us are familiar with the legendary Army Ants of Central and South America. In Africa, it's the Driver Ants which strike fear. But Australia has perhaps the world's most aggressive ant, The Bull Dog:

...They are blessed with saw-like elongated mandibles and a sharp sting that originates from the poison gland in the gaster. They never shy away from intrusion and even pursue human intruders who get close to the nest for a few meters. They are nocturnal and blend easily into a background of dry leaflitter....They establish permanent nests which resemble huge crater like depressions...A unintentional poke...results in an unprecedented surge of workers running out with mandibles wide open. They have extraordinarily mammoth eyes and would very likely be using visual cues for navigation...

An excellent collection of Ant Blogs, with some great pictures, by Ajay Narendra of Canberra, Australia.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Mayan Shamans to purify desecrated site


Cleaning up after he leaves.

Only George Bush could out-do Cortes and the Conquistadors. Credit goes to Blah3, where I first saw this. Now it's propagating, and is at Witchvox, Huffington, and others:

...Mayan leaders announced that priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after US President George W. Bush visits next week..."That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a national association of indigenous people and peasant farmers, said Thursday...Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace...

It's times like these that justify and confirm my choice in spiritual path. I hope the date of the ritual is posted, as I'll ask my coveners (my real-life ones, but online ones are welcome to play along) to join in. A little extra mojo can't hurt!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Vampire Hunter "M"



Serbian vampire hunters prevent Milosevic come-back

Well, I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry:

...Serbian vampire hunters have acted to prevent the very remote possibility that former dictator Slobodan Milosevic might stage a come-back - by driving a three-foot stake through his heart...

After the act was accomplished, the team of modern-day Van Helsings, led by Miroslav Milosevic (no relation to the living-dead dictator), handed themselves over to confused authorities. They said they did it to prevent the dictator from returning from the dead and haunting the countryside. That would have been bad for tourism! Then again:

...Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia naturally condemned the desecration, while his daughter-in-law Milica Gajic said she "planned to sue the vampire hunters and accused the police of failing to protect the grave properly"

Sounds like an 'inside job' to me!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Ice Spiders


Arctic spiders may hold clues to global warming

The littlest things may save us:

...Reclusive spiders living in the Arctic may yield clues to the impact of global warming...disruptions to tiny Arctic spiders, little studied and living much of their lives under snow, could ripple through the food chain...said Michael Nickel of Stuttgart University...Spiders adapted to living in the Arctic, with chill temperatures and little food, can take up to seven years to reach maturity, according to some studies. That compares to one to two years for similar species further south...


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Can't we just all get along

Can Christians be friends with Witches?

I've mentioned The Salem Gathering before. Blogger Pam Hogeweide has written a great article about Pastor Phil Wyman and his continuing work establishing bridges between the Christian, Wiccan, and Pagan communities:

...One of the problems about Christians freaking out when it comes to witches and pagans are the myths we associate with them. Myth number one: They worship satan. “They do not. Most of them don’t even believe in satan,” says Phil. Myth number two: We assume they worship a deity. “Most pagans define themselves as agnostic, or what I call mystical agnostic. Some don’t even practice spells,” continues Phil...Myth number three...Pagans and witches are out to send curses against the church. “There are many of them who really think it would be an unethical thing to do. To some degree most pagans adhere to the Wiccan Rede, ‘And it ‘arm none do what thou wilt’” explains Phil. (Rede: pronounced “reed,” which basically means, Don’t hurt anyone)...

Heh, "mystical agnostic", I like that. This next part is my favorite. I'm sure many Wiccans and Pagans have experienced the wide-eyed confusion I've seen when explaining something of our religion to those who have been fed a diet of propaganda:

I asked Phil for advice in relating to pagans about our faith. “Do not assume they are satanists,” began Phil. “Do not assume they practice some form of malevolent magic. Begin your relationship with someone who is pagan by believing the best about them – love believes all things – and that perhaps their reason for being pagan is noble. Understand that they may have been rejected or mistreated by other Christians,” says Phil. “Be willing to listen to them. Treat them with the simple respect you would desire to receive from them.”

The concluding portion is precious:

Is it kind of weird to think about Christians and witches hanging out with each other? “Everybody is weird. And we are weird and that’s why Jesus came because we’re all weirdoes. I just really love witches and pagans.” Me too, Phil, me too.

Pam blog How God Messed Up My Religion is worth checking out. Her post, Love Thy Pagan Neighbor (My friend is a witch), is a must read for Christians with wiccaphobia. I enjoyed this exchange between her and one of her friends:

...I told Michele that I had been researching paganism/witchcraft and learned that pagans for the most part are peace loving and non-violent. They don't drink blood as Hollywood, or freaked out Christians, would have us believe."No, we don't drink blood - that would be the Catholics," joked Michele...

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Pentacle strikes back!

Army Secretary Ousted: Second Firing Follows Walter Reed Revelations...

Remember fallen soldier Patrick Stewart, and the continuing fight of his widow to get a pentacle affixed to his memorial! For some non-Wiccans/Pagans, this may have seemed a small issue. On the other hand, even some people on the more conservative side of things--who frequently have not been our allies--lent their support.

Who can think of a better administration for this whole Veterans Affairs/ Walter Reed issue to have exploded under? After all the screaming of "SUPPORT THE TROOPS"! What hypocrites!

If the VA lets a good chunk of our wounded suffer in squalor and neglect, would they ever give a damn about the spiritual feeling of one of their fallen? Nice to know they would perpetrate their neglect and abuse beyond death. I just have a feeling, whoever has been stopping approval of the Pentacle, is soon to be out of a job.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Great Cats of History


Kiddo, the airship cat
Witches love cats, and cats love witches. Some traditions hold that our feline brothers and sisters are on a similar path to our own, and this explains our mutual affinity. Many who believe in reincarnation hold that cats do as well.(It comes as no surprise to us that the Egyptians had a hand in all this.)

Purr-n-Fur is about the best historic cat site. There you'll find out about the cats of WWII, cats who explored the Antarctic, and more. My favorite story is about "Kiddo", the airship cat. Kiddo was s stowaway in the lifeboat of an airship during a 1910 attempt at transatlantic crossing. At first the crew was annoyed by the cat. But after he settled in, proved to be a valuable crewmate:

...He soon regained his equilibrium and his spirits, and indeed the crew found him 'more useful than any barometer. You must never cross the Atlantic in an airship without a cat,' as the navigator Murray Simon put it. 'He is sitting on the sail of the lifeboat now as I write, washing his face in the sun: a pleasant picture of feline contentment. This cat has always indicated trouble well ahead. Two or three times when we thought we were "in" he gave most decided indications that he knew we would be shortly getting it in the neck...'

Unfortunately, the airship crashed at sea shortly before reaching its destination. The good news is that all hands were rescued, including Kiddo. The navigator reminded the crew that it had been a good idea to ship with a cat--as they have nine lives. Smart navigator!

(thanx to my friend Gomez Adams for pointing me to this site)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Jesusic Park



Test tube Jesus
Who cares about Cameron's smelly box of bones! Thanx to scientific and investigatory powers of Dr. Zaius, we have a more important story:

"...He feels right at home here," said bible scholar and paleobotanist graduate student Ellie Sattler. "When Jesus was growing up, there were dinosaurs all around...That's right, it says so in the scriptures," said her colleague paleontologist and GOP stratagist Alan Grant...

We got Jesus back! Now the Hand-o-God will settle you Intelligent Design deniers once and for all! This is humongous news--and of course the MSM is ignoring it.

Hysterical--Zaiusnation is a work of genius.