Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mea Culpa

In a recent discussion, I casually tossed off a reference to the God Helmet in reference to one of the ways human beings can be deceived about their experiences.  I said something like "you can stick magnets on people's heads and make them see God."  I was remembering when I saw it being covered on Nova or some other science show.

As one can see from reading the Wikipedia page on it, let alone the actual scientific studies, the god helmet effect is not conclusively proved as of yet, and there are some problems in replicating the initial results.  It needs a lot more study before one can draw conclusions based on it.

Now, the God Helmet isn't the only example I used, I also mentioned various forms of chemicals by which I meant DMT psychoactive drugs that seem to have better supported evidence about the kinds of effects they can produce, but the fact remains that I was not using the best reasoning I could.  This is an obvious limitation of debate, at least over short term timescales.  It's also an example of how even proponents of a standard can fail to live up to them.

What this says to me is that I need to remember to strive to be more humble when presenting my own claims, especially when criticizing others about theirs.  It doesn't make me less of an atheist or a skeptic, it's just a reminder of how sometimes I can be a dick about it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A clarification interlude.

A few clarifications, directed at some recent discussions:

One doesn't prove a negative, because obviously, that is impossible.  However, if there is no evidence of a thing's existence, there is no good reason to assume that it does exist.  See the partial namesake of this blog, Russell's teapot.  If I were to say "Russell's teapot doesn't exist," technically I would be incorrect, because I can't know that for certain.  However, it would be a huge waste of time to need to spell out that distinction for every single potential thing without evidence for it, so assume that if I do say that if something doesn't exist, I mean that there is no good reason to think that it does.  I'm only interested in the existence of things for which there is evidence, either direct observed, or indirect (such as how dark matter is observed indirectly by calculation of the mass that should be there, though it is of course theoretical).

I was indeed a sincere occultist during the years I spent in pursuing it.  I was sincere in my search for truth by pursuing it.  I never really had a position of faith, where I believed without evidence, but for a long time my standards of what I considered "good enough" evidence were a lot lower than what they are now.  Anyone who assumes that because I have now given up on even that meager subscription to supernaturalism that I therefore never was sincere in my pursuit of it should familiarize themselves with the No True Scotsman fallacy.

Science is not a belief system.  Nor is critical thinking.  Both are methodologies.  Neither require one to presume the existence of anything prior to finding evidence of it.  When one does that, one is reasoning backwards.  What I had realized is that I was presuming the existence of supernatural forces and then went looking for evidence to confirm it, conveniently ignoring contradictory evidence and explanations for my so-called "evidence" of the supernatural.

As I learned more and more about the basic irrationality of humans, our very flawed perceptual apparatus, our inability to estimate statistical probabilities accurately, our tendency to fill in gaps in what we perceive with things we expect to see, the various chemicals both external and in our brain that can cause us to see what isn't there, and a plethora of other things that show that seeing is not believing at all, and that just because I experienced something, doesn't mean that it has any existence outside of my own head unless I can confirm it with others.

We'll never fully achieve a sense of objective reality, due to those filters and others, but if we want to talk about things outside of our heads, we're forced to rely on confirmation from others who can reproduce the same results as we have gotten, and those others need to be from outside of our own little ideological circle, so that if we are deluded due to something we really wish is true, we don't rely on confirmation from those who have the same biases, or those who can be coerced into parroting our own beliefs back at us out of social pressure.  Still, we can achieve a degree of intersubjective knowledge about the "real" world by putting these things into practice.

So it wasn't just the lack of evidence in the supernatural that got me to the point where I didn't believe in it anymore, but it was the positive evidence of the many, many different ways that we as a species have tools of perception that can be confused, wrong, and in error about what it is we see.  Also the way we form ideas in our heads, and draw faulty conclusions based on prior assumptions, and I can no longer find any justifiable way to believe in supernatural phenomena based on current evidence.

Some will object that there are aspects of the supernatural that are unfalsifiable, and therefore immune to analysis, and that somehow it's defensible to believe in them without evidence.  My response is that for those things that are truly unfalsifiable, existing outside the natural universe and unable to interact with the natural universe, we don't need to even consider them, as they have no way of effecting us.  For those things that some claim are unfalsifiable but also claim can exert influence upon the natural universe, via healing, magic spells, etc, each of those assertions are testable in themselves, and therefore falsifiable.  So the attempt to try to hold on to supernatural ideas by placing them in a fortress unassailable by science and reason only works to the extent that such ideas have no way of being at all operative in the universe.  Supernaturalists who are ok with this, I have no argument with, but if they want their version of the supernatural to be productive, they have no recourse.

This is not to say that I think that there can never be evidence for the supernatural.  I can conceive of many things that would prove the existence of the phenomena itself, randomized symbols and messages sent from one psychic to another under strict laboratory controls, performance of reiki or acupuncture that consistently and reproducibly beats placebos in effectiveness, actual manifestations to visible appearance of summoned demons that can be repeated in a variety of controlled circumstances.  These successful results for the claims of the supernatural have yet to occur, and in some cases have been falsified already.  I for one encourage the continued research into this area, because if such effects could be demonstrated, I think they'd be damn useful.  But until there is evidence to support such claims, I sadly have no reason to give credence to the existence of such phenomena in the credulous way I would have done so a short time ago.  I remain open to their possible existence, but no longer open to the uncritical thinking that allowed me to deceive myself for so long.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What a fool this mortal's been: Part 3.

Why Science Kicks Ass, and How I Learned to Hate Jesus.

To pick up where I left off, I never did believe in Jesus again, or any of the other tenets of Christianity, let alone Judaism or Islam (which I only really became aware of at all when Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves came out).  That ship had sailed, and it was never coming back.  I feel towards Christianity the way Christopher Hitchens feels about it, maybe more so.  Atheist isn't a sufficiently strong term for my feelings towards the JHVH meme and it's associated works.  Misotheism, "hatred of God" is a good technical term, but really all that can express it accurately is apopleptic swearing.  That gradually developed after I'd already stopped believing, just by learning more and more about it, both doctrine and history, and becoming immersed in a much more Christian culture than I was originally exposed to.  Becoming a pagan later certainly didn't help me much on that front, but that's what this installment is about.

I first started to really hate God in the second half of 5th grade, when I was 10 years old.  My parents had moved us from New York down here to Texas, and I was attending Wilkerson Elementary in The Woodlands, where we lived.  This had already been a miserable experience, because not only was it so damn hot all the time, but the people were really stupid.  I kept hearing all kinds of weird stuff about Rebels and no one seemed to be talking about Star Wars, and everybody thought I played baseball, and there's no way they'd let a 10 year old even on the field at Yankee Stadium, let alone play.*

To add insult to injury, they would never shut up about Jesus, and some of these kids actually seemed to enjoy church!  What kind of kid enjoys church?  There's monster movies on!  In New York, I was forced to go to church, but nobody actually expected me to like it, just to behave, and I didn't have a single friend who thought it was anything more than a chore.  These kids were proud to go to church, they acted like Jesus was their best friend, and not only that, they didn't like science.

I loved science.  I loved science since before I can remember being aware that it was science.  I watched Mr. Wizard's World all the time on Nickelodeon.  Mr. Wizard told me about doppler effect, the speed of sound, electricity, and all kinds of cool stuff.  I knew why ice didn't overflow the glass when it melted.  I could make a big square aluminum can cave in on itself with a bucket of ice water and a flame, but I wasn't allowed to play with the flame to show how.  I could make a balloon stick to my head.  Science was awesome.

I couldn't understand why these kids didn't like science.  Hell, the best part of moving here was that I actually got to go to NASA!  This is back in the day, when you could tour Johnson Space Center properly.  Space Center Houston is a joke.  When I went there as a kid, what the hell did I need rides and games for, I had a giant Saturn V rocket right there!  I could try on astronaut helmets!  They had science stuff, and it was real.  Some of it had actually been in space.  It was like going to the Natural History museum in NYC, but better in one respect (and only one, as you'll see below), because as cool as the dinosaur fossils were, this stuff was made by scientists like Mr. Spock!  (I was 10, dammit.)

But no, these kids didn't like it.  For some reason, they thought they couldn't be friends with Jesus if they liked science.  That made no sense to me, but then, I didn't believe in Jesus, either.  Some of my friends in New York had had imaginary friends when I was younger, but they grew out of it.  I never had one myself, but I assumed that that was what was going on here, except my friends had always had unique imaginary friends that reminded me of how I felt about Johnny, my little brother.  I'd never heard of anyone sharing an imaginary friend.  The not liking science had something to do with monkeys.

I don't recall ever being sat down in a science class during elementary school, either in New York or Texas, and being taught about evolution.  I may have been and just can't remember.  But I knew about it anyway, because I had been to the American Museum of Natural History a lot.  A whole lot.  I haven't been there in over 20 years, but I'm pretty sure I can still find anything in there in under 30 seconds.  Between Cub Scout trips and school trips and just going with my family, I'd been there a ridiculous amount of times.

When I moved here from New York, I'd never been to the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, or Yankee Stadium (that last one pissed me off, because I was a Yankees fan, and my dad and brother were Mets fans, and I'd been to plenty of Mets games, because they didn't want to let me go to the Bronx).  But I knew and loved both the Museum and the Hayden Planetarium, and I never ever wanted to leave.  More to the point, even though I'd never been formally taught evolution that I can recall, the museum had the Hall of the Age of Man.  I knew Lucy.  I knew Peking Man.  I knew Austrolopithecus, Homo Erectus, Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon, and more importantly, I knew the differences between them, the order they came in, and that WE were modern Cro-Magnons!  I can't remember not knowing about evolution, and more importantly, HUMANITY'S evolution, thanks to that museum.  I never had to be told that the Flintstones were bullshit, because I knew that humans never lived at the same time as dinosaurs.  The dinosaurs were in a totally different part of the museum.  Man had to deal with sabertooth tigers, Woolly Mammoths, and all kinds of other stuff, not to mention glaciers and land bridges and all that stuff, but no damn dinosaurs.

These Jesus kids didn't know any of that!  OK, not everyone can have the best museum in the world, that's fine.  But how can their parents not tell them this stuff?  I said to one of them, "Of course we came from monkeys, but different monkeys, like apes and whatnot, not the little ones.  How do you not know that?"

Not only did he not know, but he was mad.  But nothing prepared me for what came next:

"God created the world in 6 days and humans on the 6th day in the Garden of Eden.  We never came from monkeys.  Anyone who believes we came from monkeys is going to Hell!"

Wow.  I had never heard anyone say anything so monumentally stupid in all my life.  I thought he was retarded (I'd never call anyone that now, but that's what I actually thought at 10 years old).  So I switched gears, and started talking more slowly.

"You do know that the world is billions of years old, right?  Fish, dinosaurs, big giant mammals, us, continental drift, all that, right?"

"Why do you keep lying?  There were no dinosaurs!  Those were dragons!  Billions!  The world is 6000 years old!"

This kid really was an idiot.  There were some other kids around, and I looked at them, trying to gain some acknowledgment of the phenomenal idiocy of this poor bastard, but I didn't see looks of pity.  They were mad at me!

"You're a stupid Yankee, Keith.  Jesus made us, not a monkey."

I had to get out of there, so naturally, I headed to the one place they wouldn't be.  The library.  I had to think.

Someone made these kids stupid.  I mean, I could understand if they thought science was boring.  I didn't, but I had known kids who didn't like science much back home.  But these kids HATED science.  I didn't know how that was possible.  The only thing they had in common, aside from being bullies, was Jesus**.  So I rapidly came to the conclusion that Jesus was more than just a boring story that ate into my reading time at church.  Jesus didn't want kids to like science.  I liked science.  Therefore Jesus was the enemy.

To be continued.

*This is probably obvious, but just in case it's not, region plays a huge part in what gets taught in social studies.  I could name dozens of historical Native American tribes in the Northeast and give salient details about their relationship to the settlers, both before and after the American Revolution.  I could tell you a great deal about Nathan Hale (I'd done a report on him in 4th grade where I got to dress up and act like him) and a wide variety of figures, British and American, from the French and Indian War and the Revolution, but I didn't know a damn thing about the Civil War, because we just hadn't gotten around to it yet when I moved down here.
**I shouldn't have to mention this, but just in case, I will.  Not every kid in this school was an idiotic, Yankee-hating Jesushead.  But the ones who gave me shit all had that in common.  There were plenty of other kids who I got along with, we played with our GI Joes, Transformers, and Ninja Turtles (mutation and evolution!), read comic books, science fiction, etc, etc.  I found other kids who liked science, nerds, like me.  But like me, they were in the minority, and like me, they were bullied by the redneck Jesus-bullies, which only fueled my hatred further, because if there's one thing I've always hated more than being bullied, it's when people bully my friends.

Interlude: An apology

I wanted to take a moment to apologize to those I have subtly or obnoxiously influenced in the past to lend credence to supernatural, paranormal, or otherwise unjustifiable beliefs and claims about the way the world works.  I know that I have had such discussions with many people over the years and I believed that way myself, so I wasn't consciously deceiving anyone.  I was deceiving myself however, and that carried on to others.  I have done all of you a great disservice.

(Not that I think I necessarily am that great an orator or arguer, but for whatever effectiveness in that respect I have had, I feel badly about it.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

What a fool this mortal's been: Part 2.


So I'm free, now what?  D'oh!

Obviously, it's not quite as pat as all that.  I had already been a strong critic of the various mainstream religions for a long time.  In fact I had been a naive atheist in my younger days when I stopped believing in the Christian God around 7 or 8 years old, around the same time I stopped believing in Santa Claus.  I have now read so many similar accounts that I can't say for sure whether I'm remembering my own experience or combining it with that of others*, but here's my version:

When I was 7 or 8, I went downstairs one Christmas eve when I heard motion in the living room late at night.  I wanted to see Santa, dammit.  What I saw instead was my parents putting presents under the tree.  That in itself was no big deal, I always got some presents that were labelled "From: Santa" and some that were labelled "From: Mom and Dad".  I figured they were putting their presents for me under the tree before they went to bed.  After all, my bedtime was 7pm, right after You Can't Do That on Television and Danger Mouse**, and grown-ups got to stay up later.

The next morning, I tore ass down the stairs along with my brother Johnny, and my sister Tina came in from her room, and we all went and woke up Mom and Dad because we weren't allowed to open presents without them.  That doesn't mean we wait, it means they have to wake the hell up!  It's present time!  Hail Santa!

As they groggily shuffled in we all got under the tree and were pulling out presents, sorting them into piles and figuring out who got the bigger pile of loot. (All kids are greedy Republicans, but what the hell, Reagan was in office.) Somehow in my frenzy of paper wrapping I noticed that some of the presents I had seen my parents putting under the tree were labelled "From: Santa."  This was strange.

By the way, this isn't as implausible as it sounds.  We were supposed to write thank you notes to our relatives who gave us presents, so along with Santa and Mom and Dad, we had to notice labels from Grandma and Grandpa R. and/or N., aunts, uncles, cousins, great-grandparents, etc.  The Santa presents were the ones we didn't have to write notes for, which made them extra special, as they had no chores associated with them.  I had figured out that loophole in a previous year, when I pointed out that I didn't need to write a note to Santa, as I had already thanked him by leaving out milk and cookies.  No wonder my Mom sometimes says I have the soul of a lawyer.

Anyway, I can't say that I drew the connection immediately, but as time went by, the incongruity of finding the wrong label puzzled me, until I realized what I had.  A mystery!  Just like the Hardy Boys, or Encyclopedia Brown.  I was gonna solve this.  So the first thing I do, I go ask my friends.  Of course I can't ask my parents.  I wasn't supposed to be downstairs, so I'd get in trouble if I asked them.  I'll start with Doug, my best friend.  His dad is Lutheran, his mom is Jewish, and his birthday is in December, so he gets presents for Christmas, Hannukah, and his birthday all in December.  He's gotta be the expert.

Doug isn't much help.  Rather than getting 3 times as many presents, he gets roughly the same amount as me, he just gets them bundled all together.  What a ripoff for him.  At least my birthday's in July, so I get biannual loot.  But wait!  He lives in a basement apartment at his Grandma's house, and his parents have less hiding space, and he tells me that for the last few years, he's found his presents ahead of time, and always found Santa labels.  He didn't have anyone to talk to about it before, but he tells me that he thinks his parents are Santa.

"How can both your parents be Santa!?  Your dad is the right shape, but he doesn't have a beard, and that leaves out where your mom fits in!"

I was a bit slow on the uptake.

"No," he tells me. "I don't think Santa is real.  I think he's just a story.  Even if I didn't see the presents beforehand, I don't have a fireplace.  How would Santa get in?"

This was irrefutable logic for me at age 8 or so.  Come to think of it, MY house had a chimney, but I didn't have a fireplace either.  What's up with that?

"So, Santa is a lie?" I asked.
"I'm not sure, but I think he must be," Doug confirmed.

Neither of us had much appreciation of the distinction between a lie and a myth at this point.  I can't speak for Doug, but I was too amazed by the revelation that parents can lie.  Why do they get to lie?  They always tell me that lying is bad, and I'm not supposed to do it.  Then I thought it through.

If Santa's a lie, what about the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy?  What about Jesus?  For me at 7 or 8, I had much more compelling reasons to believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  They gave me toys, books, candy, and money.  I could see them on tv.  I had evidence, dammit.  Jesus wasn't a big deal, I didn't mind if he was a lie, because he was a major inconvenience to me anyway.  More importantly, he didn't give me anything except for a really crappy cracker periodically, and I could live without that.  Plus I had to get dressed up in a white suit and memorize a bunch of boring words to even earn the cracker, and that wasn't worth the effort.

Jesus was just someone that I heard about in church, and the less I had to do with Church, the better.  Church made me dress up nice just to go and sit and be bored for an hour, and I couldn't even just sit, they kept making me stand, kneel, and sit, and they kept changing it up.  Couldn't we do all the standing and kneeling and sitting one after the other, instead of mixing it up?  At this point I was already allowed to bring a book to church to read so that I wouldn't be fidgeting, and all this additional business with the standing and kneeling ate into me finding out what Frank and Joe had discovered in the cave.  I knew Christmas was Jesus's birthday, of course, but it was always a bit puzzling to me what he had to do with it, because I'd looked at that Nativity diorama my parents set up every year really closely, and I never did a find a reindeer in that barn thing, just sheep, a cow, and a donkey.  So even though I technically had access to a toy set associated with Jesus, it still made no sense as I got yelled at when I tried to have Snake Eyes ride the donkey.

Back to the point, I now knew that parents could lie, but somehow I wasn't allowed to.  That wasn't fair, so I figured I'd lie back, that would show them.  I'd keep pretending that I believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and I suppose Jesus too, but I wouldn't actually.  Jesus didn't matter so much, but as I long as I still lied and said that I believed in the rest, I'd still get books, toys, candy and money.  Serves them right, hypocrites (not that I knew that word yet, but I would soon).

Obviously my knowledge about religion got more sophisticated as I got older, but even after I stopped pretending to believe in Santa and the rest, I still kept going through the motions at the Catholic church services and catechism classes I kept having to go to, all through maybe sophomore year of high school, whenever confirmation happened.  At that point, I wasn't even keeping the fact that I believed none of it a secret, but I went through it because the family wanted to be able to celebrate the empty rituals.  After confirmation, I put my foot down, though.  No more church.

This has also gone long, although I think funnier, so I think I'll end this here and continue with part 3 later, probably tomorrow.

*Plasticity and self-editing of human memory is yet another flaw with self-reported supernatural experiences, but I'll address that in a future post.
**I'm pretty sure that those shows didn't air on Christmas Eve, but the airing of those on regular days is how I remembered bedtime.  Sue me.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What a fool this mortal's been: Part 1.

I've recently given up my occult practice after almost 20 years. In that time I went from Wicca to paganism to ceremonial magick to chaos magick to the Temple of Set to whatever I am now. I've been working on how to put the transition and my feelings about it into words for a while now, but it's been rough, because my feelings haven't quite settled down yet, I'm still sorting it all out. Not to say I'm conflicted or anything, or in some kind of “dark night of the soul” nonsense, I actually feel pretty good about my current state of mind. Before my epiphany, for lack of a better term, I was already a model agnostic à la Robert Anton Wilson, agnostic about everything, recognizing that all of our maps were flawed and that there was always another lens to focus our perception through. I didn't make too many assumptions about the underlying reality of my magical work, I just got results as best as I could, and entertained numerous possibilities about the meaning of said results. I know it sounds ridiculously wishy-washy, and it does to me too, now.

The biggest flaw with this approach is that I had no self-correcting mechanism. The eternal ambiguity of my position also put me in a place where I couldn't distinguish between actual results and self-deception, and while I was happy to be skeptical about my interpretations of said results, I was never questioning my assumption that I was actually obtaining meaningful results, I wasn't seriously considering the possibility that I was just going through particularly elaborate acts of mental masturbation. Not only did my approach lack rigor, but it was incapable of rigor. I had basically philosophized myself into a solipsistic death-spiral.

I resigned my membership in the Temple of Set a few months ago. Unlike other ex-members I've talked to, I have no complaint with the Temple, I met a lot of really great people during my time as a member, had a lot of fun, experienced interesting things, got some insight into my own values, and all in all, it was the school I needed at the time I joined. I just gradually realized that it was no longer particularly useful to me and my own process of development (Xeper, in Temple jargon), and it hadn't been for a few years. I was basically still in it for the social aspect, and it would've been hypocritical of me to stay in just for that, not to mention anathema to the values the organization itself stood for.

Funnily enough, I got a burst of motivation right after I left, and began a new project of daily ritual practice (a modified Gnostic Pentagram Ritual mostly, for those occultists keeping score), and got it into my head to revisit hermeticism. I had previously had an interest in the Greek Magical Papyri and related texts that originated in Graeco-Roman Alexandria, and so I started re-reading books in my library like Hermetic Magic by Stephen Flowers, got Greek Qabalah by Kieren Barry, along with copies of the Hermetica, the Enneads, and various other neo-Platonic texts. I decided I wanted to re-formulate the Western Esoteric Tradition materials such as can be found in the writings of the Golden Dawn and Crowley, but I was going to rework it from the ground up as an alternate magical history, trying to imagine what it would have been like if the rise of Christianity had never occurred, and if things had proceeded more directly from the learned Alexandrians. It was going to be EPIC.

Then one day, probably a few weeks into this project, I had an epiphany: What the hell was I doing? I had just been a member of an initiatory occult organization for almost 10 years, and what did I really have to show for it? And now I was starting over again with basics for about the fifth or sixth time? With all that effort expended, how had my life actually improved in a significant way? I'm not talking pleasurable and insightful subjective experiences, I'd had plenty of those, made valuable friendships, all that's to the good. But if I was really the capable magician I'd been attempting to be for so long, why was I not wildly successful, financially speaking? Why was I still in such bad physical shape, halfway crippled with recurring back pain? What concrete results could I show for all of my hard work?

Nothing. I had nothing to show for it. I gradually realized that I had basically been lying to myself for years, spending lots of money, effort and time on a fantasy power trip that kept me an ineffective deluded fool when I could have been actually doing something worthwhile and productive with my life. I had wasted nearly 20 years on a Quixotic quest for false enlightenment.

The funny thing is, while I was amazed at the magnitude of the waste I had engaged in, I didn't feel depressed about it. I found it hilarious. I was such an idiot! But more importantly than that, I felt free. I had locked myself into a hamster wheel of nonsense, and I had just remembered that the key was in my pocket the whole time. So I let myself out.

This is getting long, so I will make this Part 1, and continue later. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

For reference

This blog is named after the notion of the Orbital Mind Control Laser from the Illuminati card game from Steve Jackson Games, a device which realigns one's subscription to various dogmas and ideologies (known as alignments in the game) and Bertrand Russell's teapot analogy:

"Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of skeptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

For more, check out:'s_teapot

Getting Started

Starting yet another blog, this one public.  The last I had on here was private, a magical journal from when I was still (not too long ago) an occultist.  I've given up on the supernatural.  I've been agnostic for a long time about most of the various aspects of occultism, but I'm done.  I think there's a vestige of value left in the practice itself, I still find exploring different states of consciousness to be a valid endeavor.  But I'm no longer going to keep lying to myself by pretending belief in the supernatural without evidence.