book review

Book Reviews of 3 books and a link

Metaphors We live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson This is a very interesting book, which explores the role of metaphors in the English language and argues that the majority of communication is done in metaphors. In particular the authors explore space and time metaphors which makes for some rather interesting insights to how American culture handles space and time. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys linguistics or wants to explore how language use impacts everyday life. This is a dense read, so you'll need to spend some time working with it, but you'll get a lot out of it.

5 out of 5

The Dance of Life by Edward T. Hall

In this book Hall explores how different cultures approach and integrate the concept of time into their lives. He explores in depth how the cultural differences can impact peoples interactions with each other, as well as how we can be more aware of the cultural differences as it pertains to temporal awareness. I felt that this book wasn't as dynamic as his previous works. I still got a lot out of it, but it did seem like he was rehashing a lot of his earlier work. I'd still recommend it, because he a lot of interesting perspectives to raise.

4 out of 5

Eyes Wide Open by Marianna Caplan

This book raises some tough questions about cultivating spiritual discernment for your own spiritual journey as well as what questions to ask your spiritual teachers. The author's experiences with the various forms of spiritual charlatanry that occur with teachers is evident in how she explains the symptoms and issues to look out for. I found this book very useful for analyzing my own spiritual journey and looking at how I've presented myself to others in a spiritual context. It gave me some valuable tools for evaluating my own journey as well as evaluating people who might claim to have spiritual authority.

5 out of 5

Humans have hidden sensory system

The E-book of Pop Culture Magick is now available

Immanion Press is slowly but surely publishing many of its book as e-books and this includes my own writing. Pop Culture Magick is now an e-book. You can go here for more information. I think the move to e-books is a good idea, though I'll admit I'm too much a lover of books to really see myself reading e-books. I hope there's print, through the rest of my life.

Review: Towards an Archaelogy of the Soul by Antero Alli

This has to be my favorite of Alli's books so far, because it's the most practical of what he's written. In this book, he explains what paratheatre is and how it works, as well as letting others write case studies of their own experiences using this technique. What I like the most is that it combines concepts of acting with magical practices to get the best of the two different disciplines. I've already found implementing the concepts to be very useful in my own practices and recommend this work to anyone who wants to take a new approach to their ritual and ceremonial magic practices. Readers will find the material easy to approach, but the real gem is found in applying the concepts actively to your own work.

5 out of 5

Are you a Traditionalist?

A reader asked me yesterday, after I posted my review of Evola's book on Buddhism, if I agreed with Evola's  traditionalist views in other areas, because I liked Evola's work. When I posted the review to Amazon, I'd noticed traditionalism come up as a possible tag, first time I ever came across the word actually. Let me just say that assuming I'm anything based on what I read is at best an erroneous assumption. It's true I like Julius Evola's writing. And if we were to research Julius the person, we would find out he was a fascist and I guess a traditionalist as well (maybe they are even one and the same!). But I'm not interested in Evola's political beliefs and don't find them relevant to my practice. Nor, really, am I concerned with labeling his spiritual practices or my own as traditionalist.

In fact, I'm not really interesting in trying to label my own practices either. The most I've ever done is to label myself as an experimental magician, an even that label is one I rely on less these days. What's really important afterall is not the label, but rather what one is actually doing.

So for me, Evola's writing, which I like because he's a good scholar and offers some intriguing perspectives on what he writes about, whether it's Buddhism or Tantra, or Hermeticism, or an article on time magic, is important because I find it relevant to my spiritual practice. Frex, the book on Buddhism offered some useful insights into early Buddhist texts and practices, and proved helpful in my emptiness working.

But even though I like his works, it shouldn't be assumed that I'm a traditionalist or anything else that Evola was. I am, after all, not Julius Evola (last I checked). Nor because I've read Edward Hall and liked his work, should it be assumed I hold to his political beliefs or his approach to anthropology or anything else. Liking someone's writing doesn't mean you agree with all of it or that you hold the same beliefs as someone.

But really what I'm saying is this: Labels are at best an illusion crafted to provide us and others the security (a false one) of being able to say this person is this or that. But what if I'm not?

I read what I read because I find it important to cultivate an awareness of a wide variety of perspectives and beliefs so that I can see how those perspectives inform my spiritual and indeed, overall life. So am I a traditionalist? Likely not.

But I am me...and I do enjoy learning and applying what I learn toward living a better life. I hope you do as well.

Review of The Silent Language by Edward T. Hall

In this book, Hall explores the intricacies of time and space from a cultural studies perspective. Although this book is a bit dated, the information is still very relevant, and what Hell offers is an examination of how much our perception of time influences our cultural and everyday interactions. For example, learning just how tightly time is wound for Americans as opposed to other cultures is quite insightful to the workaholicism that pervades American culture. Hall touches on some aspects of space as well, though you'll find more of his thoughts on it, in the hidden dimension. What I most enjoyed about this book is an exploration of time from a social science perspective as opposed to a hard science perspective.  I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in understanding concepts of space and time.

5 out of 5 stars

Review of The Doctrine of Awakening by Julius Evola

The Doctrine of Awakening by Julius Evola As always, I find myself intrigued by the depth of exploration that Evola brings to any of his books. In this book he discusses the earliest Buddhist texts and makes some persuasive arguments against how Buddhism is currently perceived. The analysis of the texts and techniques as well as instructions on the techniques makes for a very insightful read. I got a lot out of the book and undoubtedly will get even more when I re-read the book.

This book isn't for the casual reader. Evola's writing is very dense and heady. You will likely need to re-read some of his passages to fully grasp what he is conveying, but once you do grasp, your understanding will be solid. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Buddhist mysticism or meditational practices.

5 out of 5

Time Magic: Thiede

Today I painted the seal and sigil for Thiede. You might note in the painting the inclusion of an A, which is done purposefully to denote the alter ego of Thiede as Aghama. Thiede is the other guide for time. His purpose is to help a person understand concepts of space as they relate to time, as well as help practitioners with abyss journeys in time. Thiede can be thought of as an entity that helps the magician with the act of transmuting his/her understanding of time and space in relationship to the self and one's place in the universe.

Thiede

Speaking of space, reading the hidden dimension which focuses on how different cultures use space differently, one of the realizations I came away with was that how space is organized can also speak something to how people conceive of time and how they organize time through space. I think that the perception of time is organized by how we use space, both in terms of navigating spaces to get somewhere, but even in how we set up our homes, offices, and public spaces. The one problem which can arise would be that a cultural definition of space would limit our understanding and appreciation of time...and you can see that in some ways with the rather linear approach to both time and space that is cultivated in how space is navigated and organized. For instance, I notice a lot of straight lines in how businesses and homes are laid out. A straight line is linear, direct and quick to navigate as opposed to a more circular or meandering route. The spatial dynamics in the public areas of my home tend to be straight lines, but in my own room, it's actually a circular and my sense of time feels different, more like a bubble, and less like a line with a specific deadline. I wonder if I were to change some of those straightlines, if some of the stresses would shift and change as a result. It might be something I give a little try, by moving one piece of furniture a different way, just to see how it changes the space of the room and my perception of time in it.

Review of the Hidden Dimension by Edward T. Hall

This is a fascinating book which examines concepts such as territoriality, smell, touch, thermal heat in the context of space and how different cultures organize and interact with space. The author also examines how intercultural issues with space contribute to a lot of the conflicts that occur with people. Reading this book has presented me some new perspectives about space and how I interact with others in my own space, as well as ways to respect the space of other people better. Cultural space is explored in particular depth to show how even the living spaces of different culture varies due to how people in a given culture interact with space. Overall a very insight and revealing book about the relationship of space to how we live and interact.

Book Reviews

Review of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell This was a very interesting book that I'd recommend to anyone because it examines how success is achieved or not achieved based on cultural and historical legacies that people have access to. The premise of the book provides an intriguing look at how success is achieved as well as a ways to look at one's own heritage to capitalize on historical and cultural traits which can help a person find meaningful success. I definitely recommend reading this as an example of how a person's sense of individuality is ultimately based off a collective history and heritage as opposed to the myth of the rugged individual.

5 out 5

Seeking the Spirit of the book of Change by Zhongxian Wu

In this book, the author presents an explanation of the divinatory system of the i-ching and classic Taoist techniques for understanding and utilizing that system. The case studies he provides are very helpful for understanding how the divinatory system works, but be warned, you do need to have more than a basic familiarity with the concepts he discusses to get the most out of this book. While I definitely could understand what he was writing about, I know I'd need to do more research on the i-ching before being comfortable with this divination system. That said, this book does provide an excellent read and opportunity to learn more about the i- ching

5 out of 5

Share

An art recommendation and a minor update on my work with elephant

Check out Acrylick Alchemy. It's really fantastic, magical art by gifted artist and occultist Acrylick. I've liked her art from the beginning. I find to be very evocative. You can tell she's tapped into the spirit of what she is working with. I've sometimes felt that the paintings could come alive... I haven't posted an update on my work with elephant, mainly because I'm still doing some reading and research about the elephant. Here's a review of one of the books I just finished. I'll note that doing the research is really helping me understand more about elephants and will be helpful when I begin doing more work with elephant.

Book Review: The Life and Lore of the Elephant

This was a relatively quick read, which managed to succinctly speak to the history of the relationship between elephants and humans. I found it to be  a useful book in deepening my understanding of how elephants have been treated by humans. Overall a very informative read. I particularly liked the inclusion of the historical documents.

4 out of 5 elephants

Share

Time Experiments, Ethics part 2

On Friday, my group and I did some work with time magic. The first two experiments we did were based off of Jean Houston's book The Possible Human. We did one experiment, where we would experience our consciousness as a unit of time, such as a second, minute, year, 100 years etc. Eventually you lose track of the units of time and enter into a non-linear state of experience with time. Each of us who did this exercise experienced a very similar state of mind.

The second experiment was one where we worked with three segments of time on a yardstick, as it were, but altered which segment of time (past, present, or future) was more prevalent during the meditation. It was an interesting experiment, again because of the state of mind it put us in, moving us out of a linear state of mind and into a non-linear state of mind.

Both of these exercises are useful ones to do, to put you into a very receptive state of mind for doing time magic. They don't take very long to do, but they condition your mind to push itself outside of the constraints of linear time.

The final exercise was done with the Goetic Daimon Purson. In the mythology I've created around my own use of time magic, Purson is a guide on the silver strands of time. I introduced him to my group last night, partially as a way of thanking him for his services and patronage and partially as a way of helping the people I work with learn a bit more about my own approaches to time magic. We used the tesseract board to evoke him and my experience with was of two trees twisted together. I thought that rather odd until late that evening, I came across Ipos, another Goetic Daemon of time...so I'll be contacting him soon.

So an update on the Ethics book. I've started working on chapter one and it's coming together nicely. I got some responses on the first post, both from commenters on this blog and from a blog entry by Augogeides along the lines of arguing that magic is a technology and puzzlement that there's a need to write about ethics as it pertains to occult culture. It was also argued that ethics as they applied to magic boiled down to being able to determine if an action was ethical or not, regardless of whether it was a magical action or a non-magical action. That's the gist of it, or at least what I got from what was said.

When I talk about ethics and magic, I'm talking about taking a proactive approach to ethics, which incorporates practical magical techniques into how one approaches ethics in his/her life. However, I don't think merely determining if an action is ethical or non-ethical, and then making your choice to follow through on that action or not, is really ethics...or rather I think of that as reactive or cover your ass ethics, ethics utilized as a way of making sure you aren't doing anything wrong (or aren't getting caught). I don't really think of that as a useful approach to integrating ethics into one's life because it doesn't make ethics part of your life process and growth. Instead it's just a convenient code to check on occasionally to make sure you are in the clear. I have a lot more to say about this, but I'll save it for the book. Suffice to say my and Vince's approach and outlook on ethics and their role/integration in magic is decidely different from what I've usually encountered in the occult community.

Book Review: The Evolving Self by Mihayli Csikzentmihayli

I wish I could say this book really represented an evolution in psychology or how we conceive of the self, but the truth is, it really doesn't. If you read this author's other works, then this work can be thought of as half a step beyond those works. At times the author is judgmental, condescending, and whiny, and he doesn't offer much in the way of a concrete definition of self. The final few chapters predictably focus on flow, but don't  provide anything significantly new to the theory that he hasn't offered anywhere else.

Two out of five

Share

Further thoughts on clothing and magic

Since my earlier post on clothing and magic, I've been doing some further thinking about it, and considering just how much the act of getting ready for the day can be incorporated into a purposeful ritual that allows a person to invoke a persona that enables him/her to go into the day's encounters and succeed. I've mentioned clothing of course, but even other acts such as putting on makeup, or deodorant, or shaving, tying hair back or otherwise prepping for the day can be construed as part of the magical act of creating the persona. Each action can be perceived as putting on part of the costume or ritual garb, which allows the person to assume the persona of a business person, entrepreneur, or whatever it is s/he needs to be in the moment.

For myself the various activities I do to get ready for my day have become ritualized. Putting on the business shirt and buttoning it, and then tucking it it into the business slacks and tying m hair back, before putting on the business coat and shoes and socks has become a ritual I use to put myself into the right mindset I need for public speaking, visiting with a client, and otherwise assuming the persona or godform of the successful entrepreneur. It's lead to some other results as well, which has been useful on other levels of my life.

Part of my fascination with this topic is born out of my recent decision to dive back into ceremonial magic further, albeit my own brand of ceremonial magic. If I can use my flair for outfits and fashion choices as magical act, it turns that into another tool and/or medium to exert my presence on a metaphysical front, as well as physical and mental front.

I'm even fascinated of late with the jewelry that one can wear. Putting a ring on can have symbolic importance, but having gotten some finger talons recently, it's been quite fascinating to not only feel a physical difference when wearing them, but to also note the change in mindset while wearing them. It speaks to a subtle shift that I think occurs far more often than many of us might realize, when it comes to what we wear and how it prepares us for social situations, but also how we can proactively utilize principles of magical invocation to create personas, which can adeptly navigate those social situations and create more favorable situations in the future.

*********

I'll actually be attending a talk by Thorn later this week at the Sekhem Maat lodge, on embracing the I am of selfhood, so this review is timely. Should be interesting.

Book Review: Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle

This is one of those rare reviews where I would have to say that this book is an essential read for today's occultist. Taking a mystic's perspective to magic and it's integration into our lives, Coyle provides a model of attaining mindful awareness that isn't newagey and is something the occult culture sorely needs. She explores in depth the value of internal work and provides exercises that the reader can use to get in touch with his/her higher self. This book is a guide to internal work and what is refreshing about it is that it's written from a Western tradition of magical practice. Definitely put this book on your must read list this year.

five mystic sages out of five

Share

Assorted matters

I've been feeling a bit stagnant in my magical practice lately. I've been doing my daily rituals, my emptiness working, and even have been involved in a economic activism experiment I hope to post about soon, but being at Heartland did remind me of how important it can be to get out of the usual patterns and push yourself into some new places. I have to admit my emptiness working has perhaps caused some of this feeling of stagnation. To some degree everything in my life feels empty at times and it can be hard to face that.

At Heartland, I ended up doing a fair amount of energy work with one of the people I met there and it reminded me of some of the practices I've done in the past with energy work, so today while having a conversation with Lupa, I asked her to run energy with me. We both noted that the energy between us felt strong and steady, speaking to a strong connection between us. I'd run energy with other people and found different variations, which seemed to speak to the connections I felt with each person. I may be trying more of this as a way to ground my awareness into the connection I have with a given person.

Also at Heartland, I ended up picking up some clothing, which included Hakama pants and a black vest with colorful patterns on it. When I combined the vest and pants with a mesh shirt and my black hat I found I'd created a ritual garb for myself, which very much invoked my connection with Xah. I've already got some ideas on how I can enhance that ritual costume further, which I'll be trying out soon...both for magical work and also for another type of scene. I want to play to my roots as a ceremonial magician more, albeit with my own flair and imagination. It's been a while since I've used some of the more ceremonial aspects of my magical practice, but I think it will be a fun challenge for me.

Book Review: Mapping the Dharma by Paul Gerhard

I found this book to be very readable and easy to follow. I really appreciated how it was set up to explain Buddhism in a very approachable manner, with clear and concise explanations of what Buddhism is about. While I'm already familiar with Buddhism, the author's way of explaining the core concepts and different components of it really helped me understand a lot more about Buddhism. I came away with a much more solid understanding of Buddhism, its practices and how I could incorporate it into my life.

5 out of 5 meditators

When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by By Jeffery Masson and Susan McCarthy

This was a thought-provoking book about the emotional lives of animals and how much we take for granted by trying to assume that only humans can feel emotions. The authors provided a wide variety of anecdotes from their own experiences as well as the experiences of others. They show that animals can feel emotions and also interact in a variety of ways that go beyond traditional scientific reports on them. This book also raises some important questions about how we treat animals. My only complaint would be that at times the authors are very biased about how they feel, which consequently tones down some of what they attempt to convey to readers.

4 out of 5 animals

Share

Review of Qigong Meditation Small Circulation by Jwing-Ming Yang

I just finished reading Small Circulation by Jwing-Ming Yang and I've been implementing the energy practices in it. It hasn't involved changing much that I hadn't already learned from Mantak Chia's work on the Microcosmic orbit. If anything, it's provided more of a concrete explanation of the energetic mechanics involved with internal energy work. What I find useful about his writing is just how much work he's done to translate documents and explain the processes described in those documents. The illustrations and instructions are straightforward and very helpful in learning how to work with the qi/chi of the body. Overall, I recommend reading this book as it will provide a thorough grounding in energy work techniques.

5 out of 5 Taoist sages

Fame in the occult community

There's a really interesting post about fame in the pagan community, in which the author discusses the desire to be famous and how it is part of the Pagan identity, and that at the same time fame in such a context is associated with depth and wisdom, yet also speaks to a rather teenage fantasy of being respected because of being famous (which is not necessarily true at all...if anything fame leads to envy). It's an interesting post to read, and I see certain parallels in the occult community, which is not necessarily the pagan community, but isn't all that removed from the pagan community either. The question though is whether fame is all it's cracked up to be, and in my own response to her post, I mentioned that it isn't all its cracked up to be. Fame is a glamour...a kind of illusion, if you will. It shows off the persona of someone, but doesn't necessarily let anyone in underneath that persona.

At the same time, fame is a poison as well, at least for the really famous people who can never get away from the cameras or people wanting to know the sordid details of every single moment of the famous person's life.

I've never experienced the level of fame that say a movie star has experienced, but being an author, I've experienced some level of fame when I've presented at festivals and events. And more recently, because I've been getting more involved as a coach and public speaker outside of strictly occult topics, I've been experiencing some fame there. And I have to admit, I like my little taste of fame. It is nice to be recognized for your expertise and knowledge. But, it's equally important to recognize that why people recognize is because of that expertise and knowledge...its not because of some inherent specialness about you. And when you can remember that, then any sense of fame is grounded by a humble realization that for you to get to that point, you had to rely on what other people did in the past, as well as your own work. You realize that any sense of fame is also transitory. Fame only lasts as long as you are willing to put yourself out there. Even in Crowley's case, the main reason he's still famous has a lot more to do with his followers continuing to publish his books and also organize a belief system centered around his teachings. If they weren't there, would he still be famous...perhaps, but likely not nearly as famous as he still is.

The real question though is what the seeking of fame really brings someone. I think of fame seekers sometimes as people trying to build a sense of self-esteem based off what other people think of them...and that actually isn't much different from many a person...I don't know many people who don't, on some level, genuinely care about what at least one person thinks of them. And to be honest, it can be good for the self-esteem to know that someone genuinely thinks you are awesome. It only goes sour when we let it go to our heads, and when we forget to that self-esteem ultimately has to come from the self. You've got to possess your self, in order to really become yourself.

I like being an author and a publisher, and part of what makes it rewarding is the fame...but I think of the fame as icing on the cake...and the cake itself is really about the opportunity to share information, ideas, and also help others do the same (which is one reason why I love publishing). And in the end, all that aside, what really matters is the continuing journey through live...the living, learning, loving, experiencing of each moment as an a gift from the universe and also offering of yourself back to the universe.

Book Review: The Brain-Shaped Mind by Naomi Goldblum

This is an excellent beginner's book into neuroscience, and one I'd recommend for anyone who wants to understand how the brain works and how the mind is connected to the brain. The author presents the connectionist model and does a good job of also explaining how the neurons and synaptic processes of the brain work. The examples she uses are also very helpful. This is a short book, and an easy read. It's definitely the first book I recommend to someone new to neuroscience, because the author concisely introduces and explains the concepts, while keeping the reader grounded.

5 out 5 neurons

Interview and two book reviews

I was interviewed by Steve O of the Occult Broadcasting network in November. He just sent me the interview yesterday, so here it is! Review of Toward a Psychology of Awakening by John Welwood

I found this book to be very insightful about the blend of Eastern Mysticism with Western Psychology. At times, it seemed liked every page offered a new insight or perspective that not only helped me understand this blend, but also helped me make sense of myself. This was a fairly dense read. I definitely needed to take breaks and process what I read, as well as meditate on it, but it proved really useful for helping me navigate through some interpersonal issues, as as proving useful for examining how identity is approached by Eastern mysticism and Western Psychology. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and would in fact suggest that anyone using meditation to work through personal issues should read this book, as it could prove helpful for navigating through some of those issues.

5 out of 5

Review of Finding Flow by Mihayli Czikszentmihayli

If you've read his first book on Flow, this book isn't going to offer anything substantially different from the first one. It's a rehash of what he already wrote, albeit a more concisely written rehash. What I don't see is anything substantially new or different. It's a good book to read if you want to familiarize yourself with the concept of Flow, but if you have already read his previous works, save yourself your money and time on this one.

2 out of 5

Why demonization of others doesn't work

I just finished reading the Madness of George W. Bush by Paul Levy and in it, he mentions something which speaks to what I often find problematic when it comes to political activism, namely the tendency to demonize the people being demonstrated against: The (arche)typical political activists, in fighting against Bush as if he was separate from themselves, unwittingly act as a conduit to create and sustain the very thing they are fighting against. By fighting Bush, they are unconsciously reacting against something in themselves, which simply perpetuates the diabolical polarization in the field. Political activists resisting Bush without realizing that he is an embodied reflection of a part of themselves, lack genuine compassion. Not recognizing what they are fighting against is something within themselves ultimately causes them to not be helpful. On the contrary, they are secretly complicit in perpetuating the very problem to which they are reacting...reactive resistance is a habitual pattern in which we are unconsciously reacting to something out of fear and avoidance, which just gives power to the very thing we are resisting. In reactive resistance, we are possessed by and complicit in the evil we are fighting against.

Levy does also focus on proactive resistance:

Proactive resistance is an activity in which we consciously and creatively respond out of a sense of empowerment. Proactive resistance is when we step into the role of standing up for ourselves when our situation invites-or shall we say, demands-that we pick up this role. Proactive resistance is when speak with our true voice, a truly loving, healing, and compassionate act.

I wish Levy would've focused more on the prpactive resistance and how one becomes proactively resistant...but I agree with the point he makes, and in fact it speaks to my own issues when it comes to political activists, because so often what I really see is an us vs. them mentality with them being demonized as much as possible. The demonization, ironically, actually gives more power to the people being demonized, because suddenly they are larger than life demons actively plaguing the world. Certainly Bush was treated as a demon while he was president, which in many ways reinforced his power. But the same can be applied to how people treat cops for example. Cops, to one degree or another, are often demonized as a force which is out to repress, brutalize, and otherwise beat down people who show dissent. Rarely, if ever, do protesters actually consider that the cops are human beings as well (and yes I'm guilty of this to some degree as well). I say that, because the writing I see all too often from peopel who consider themselves political activists is focused on objectifiying and demonizing what they don't like, while not even recognizing that in doing so they are acting out the very same kind of oppression, close-mindedness, and to some degree bigotry they claim to hate.

It's much harder to treat someone you genuinely don't like with compassion, but I often find that what you don't like in someone is usually a mirror to an issue you don't like about yourself. That's not to say the person doesn't demonstrate behavior that is dislikeable, but what buttons is that behavior pushing in you? Learning to be compassionate, with yourself, and with others necessarily makes those people human to you...and actually takes away a lot of the power in the demonization that they would otherwise receive. It's certainly something to remember...do I really need to put so much energy into someone that I make that person into a demon who can wield such power over me that I do whatever I can to demonize them even further? Seems to me the person who is demonized wins in a way...because you can't see that person as a person...you see that person as an embodied force which has power over you.

The solution then is to view the person as a person...to be compassionate toward that person while still holding to your values and boundaries. Once a person is no longer demonized, you've reclaimed your power. You are no longer resisting, but instead acting on the situation.

Review of the Madness of George W. Bush by Paul Levy

I found this book to be an insightful look at how George Bush has been demonized and how that's really reflective of a process of how people externalize their own issues and project them on to other people. Levy builds a strong case for how the madness and demonization of Bush is ultimately something we are all responsible for by our choice to treat Bush as a being of such evil and harm and ignorance that we can't see the human person that he is.

If there's one thing I really would have liked to have seen from Levy, it would be more focus on the solution to the madness of Bush. He only writes a few chapters on that solution and ultimately doesn't spend enough time showing how it can be implemented or how to utilize the concepts he speaks of to make active and healthy changes in our lives. He's able to prove his point about how the shadow self can manifest and be projected, but more focus on what to do with that shadow self, how to work with it, etc., would have been really nice.

4 out of 5 dreamers

An experiment in Magical Economic Activism

As you might recall, I'd written a post a little while back on here about economic activism. For a good definition of economic activism, see my article here. Of course, being me, I also wanted to turn this into a magical experiment, and so I have, along with some other people I work with on a regular basis. The working isn't fully finished, but tonight was a major step. Several weeks ago we agreed we'd focus on creating an entity that helps people with networking.  We then took sometime to list what the entity does and what it doesn't do.

Tonight, Bill W took over for the part of the experiment where we'd determine the name of the entity. We also spent a lot of time figuring out the elevator speech, essential for networking purposes. Once we'd done that, I invoked Purson, the goetic demon of divination to help with the working, while Cobalt and M also did their own workings to feed energy into the creation of the entity. Purson had me shuffling a tarot deck a lot of the time and ended up creating a divinatory enchantment for the networking entity that emphasized it's focus on making connections, providing a balance of power in the networking and other essential skills for successful networking.

While all that was happening, M did some I-Ching readings, and Bill W used a pendulum with mercury to first determine the number of syllables and names for the entity we were creating. Then he used the pendulum to determine the letters for the name. It was an interesting process to observe, and a bit different from how I've created entities, so I definitely felt like I learned quite a bit from watching him, but also want to actually learn how to do the technique, by doing it.

We did come up with a name for the entity, but we still have some more work to do in the creation process. Look for future updates here!

Review: Flow: The psychology of optimal experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This book explains what optimal experiences are and how they relate to the psychology of happiness. This book also provides some intriguing definitions for consciousness, attention, and intention, which I think are useful in reconsidering how to purposely use such elements of our behavior to prompt flow. It's a good book overall, with the author providing some excellent examples of how people have used flow states to overcome adversity as well as create works of genius. It also presents some psychological theory which isn't rooted in Freud, Jung, or the eight circuit model, which is refreshing to read, and much needed in order to better appreciate psychology as a discipline and how that discipline can be related to one's spirituality.

If there's one area where this book suffers, it's that the author is sometimes too wordy and overly repetitious. While I enjoyed this book, there were times, I felt the author was repeating himself too much, in order to get a point across. That said, it's definitely worth picking up, to broaden your understanding of psychology and optimal states of experience. 4 out of 5 psychologists

The connection between Inner Alchemy and Social Responsibility

Latest article on Right where you are sitting now: A reprint of Developing an Internal Body Language. I've just finished reading Mencius and what really stands out to me about is an approach to the value of relationships and sustaining them, which I've only found in networking groups which focus on a collaborative approach to doing business. In this book, Mencius talks about turning vices into virtues by sharing them with other people. What an interesting principle! Essentially he argues that when we keep our pleasures to ourselves, then we have turned them into vices, being done solely for one's own pleasure and without any consideration of other people. By sharing a pleasure with others, we turn it from a vice into a virtue because we are using it to create and sustain relationships with others, and consequently taking care of each other, instead of just the self. Likewise, his focus on the heart, as a principle of connection and feeling which separates us from other beings is interesting because it again suggests that the value of being a human is not based on anything inherently human, so much as it is based on the relationships and connections we create, and how then to cultivate those relationships. These two principles are very humanistic, and I think rooted in compassion.

I've found over the years, as I've continued to meditate and work through the various societal and dysfunctional programming I have, that my awareness of others and relationship to those people has changed. I've become more socially responsible, for I recognize that I do have a responsibility to my fellow person, as well as to myself. I think that as a person unclutters his/her psyche that s/he ideally begins to recognize the connections to other people s/he has and begins to cultivate healthier connections focused on the benefit of all, as opposed to just the benefit of the self, or just a few people. Naturally the best connections occur between the people you know well, but even with people I don't know as well, I've come to recognize that I share much more in common with them, than what is different. The differences do matter, but the commonality of being a human being, of having needs, etc., outweighs those differences significantly in a socially responsible model for approaching the world. Inner alchemical work, by its nature emphasizes an awareness of the commonality all of us share, for in doing the work, the superficial layers fall away to reveal a person with the same ense of vulnerability and need that anyone else has...and if we can cultivate compassion for that, then we can reach out and help others, not out of a self-righteous sense of ego, but rather a humble, humanistic awareness of the commonality of the human experience we share.

Review of Mencius

I found Mencius to be an excellent book, which clarified and drew out a lot of the Confucianist principles found in the analects, with much lengthier explanations offered. In particular Mencius's focus on the Heart and also changing your vices into virtues by sharing them with other people is fascinating because it illustrates a different perspective on how to approach the world, while simultaneously advocating a humanistic approach, sorely needed in our current time. It's wroth revisiting this great classic, both as a way to evaluate our practices, and also to remind us that ultimately we need to value an approach that is humanistic as opposed to materialistic.

5 philosophers out of 5

The cards say it all

In a recent post, I talked about using a new deck for some of my space/time tarot work. Last night, I finally got around to using it for myself and working with the spider goddess of time again, though as a curious note, since I'm currently letting someone borrow the book, she wasn't as present, which suggests that the book itself is magical artifact or talisman for connecting with her. Anyway, I set up my usual circle and invoked my future as well as my space/time deities and XAH. As I mentioned I didn't feel the spider goddess as strongly, but her silver web was still present. I asked my future self for help in continuing to navigate the current economic situation. Then I shuffled the elemental hexagon cards for a while.

First three cards presented myself and my obstacles.Vanadium- the Seeker was definitely me...and how interesting that for the metaphysical world it's described as void. That certainly fits my emptiness working. The two cards above the seeker card were apt as well. The one on the right was Fluorine-paranoia and the one on the left was Nickel - cost of living. Certainly the current environment is one of paranoia in general...and that fear can be infectious. The cost of living is an issue as well, given my current economic circumstances.

The next two cards are resources in myself to rely on right now, both for myself and my business. The card on the left, above Nickel is Hydrogen - Building blocks. It's an excellent reminder that I know how to build a business and also know how to use those building blocks effectively. Strontium was the card above flourine. Strontium is Luminescent Self and what it tells me is to use my meditation, my discipline practices, etc. to work with my fears, but not let them become paranoia...sit with the fear, but not fight it.

The next two cards presented external factors, people, etc. that could help me in this process. The card above Hydrogen is Silver, the moon goddess. I'm pretty sure this is a person and I'm pretty sure I know who this person is and how this person would relate to the cost of living and building blocks aspect, given some of the help she's already given me. Interesting to get confirmation on this person's presence and role not only as a helper, but also other ways she's manifested in my life.

The card above Strontium is Chlorine - Chaos in order, magic. On the superficial level its the reminder to use magic, but on a deeper level, could be more. Too early to tell, but if it's more then it's the vector of another person's path crossing mine...we shall see. Regardless it's a useful reminder that magic is always one of my most potent tools and actually points to the fact that it's time to work with Apophenia.

Final card, the outcome as it were is Argon or completion. A light bulb, but also a filament...Everything coming together to provide illumination, wealth..It is the trump card for the world. All things and none, everything and nothing, becoming complete...it's an interesting theme that continues to play itself out in a myriad of ways.

I'll be working with Apophenia next.

An interesting reading. Below's a picture of the reading:

Review: The Art of Memory by Frances Yates

This is pretty much an exhaustive coverage of the memory mansion technology, where a person creates a virtual space and symbols and associates information with each symbol. Yates traces the technique to pre-socratic Greece through Rome and the medieval and Renaissance era. There's some intriguing overlay with the occult history of Giordano Bruno. I'll admit, however, I was actually looking for what I hoped would be detailed information on how the memory technique is done. While Yates does provide some information, I didn't find this book to be as useful as I hoped. It's useful as a history about memory techniques, but not really for a description of those techniques.

4 out of 5 mnemonics.

Economic Activism as a form of Social Responsibility

Last night I was invited to speak at a Reality Sandwich event at Powell's books. I evidently spoke well enough that people actually wanted me to sign copies of the RS anthology about 2012, even though I had not written an essay for the book. One of the subjects I mentioned was economic activism and a book I recommended for people to read. Here's a book review of said book:

Book Review: Investing for Change by August Landier and Vinay B. Nair

This is a really intriguing book which looks at how investors can use their values to shape not only their stock portfolios, but the companys they invest in as well as explaining how this is a form of social activism. I found this book to be useful in terms of considering how I want to plan my investments to reflect my values as well as helping me be an agent of social change. This book shows that people who are middle class can be socially aware and use their financial influence to be a positive force for change. Different criterias of investing for change are included which examine the motivations of people for doing certain types of investments. Definitely worth reading if you want to use your finances to make a statement about your values.

5 out of 5 investors

I see economic avticism as a from of social responsibility, the responsibility we need to feel to ourselves, each other, and this planet. As I've observed before, there is often a dysfunctional relationship with wealth/money in the counter culture movements and a lot of that is because of a tendency to demonize money as evil, without really recognizing the inherent problem with that perspective, which I'll simply say is an evasion of responsibility for our choices. While I don't economic activism alone is the answer, I do think it's a vital component and tool for us to use if we want to manifest positive change in the world. We will never escape from economics, so we need to start using money, etc., as a tool for change, if we want that change to occur.

I'll be writing more extensively on this subject and how it relates to wealth magic as well, in the future.

Thoughts on energy work

Very recently I had an experience with energy work which really amazed me, because of how subtle it was and yet how how powerful as well. It was a case of someone taking over an interaction and showing me how I was actually over-extending myself instead of allowing myself to flow into the moment. This person showed me this a few different ways and each time I was amazed because I realized how much, even now, I sometimes put too much energy into an interaction and end up unbalancing myself.

I've actually started re-reading Relax into Your Being by B. K. Frantzis, and it seems like a good time to re-read and re-mind myself of the principle of flowing into energy. I've recognized before the value of flowing into a situation, but even so it's easy to forget sometimes in little ways. I enjoyed the reminder because it did show me some areas I can improve on with my energy work and also intimacy. Learning is always an experience to be cherished.

I think what I really learned last night is that sometimes to really experience the energy of a given moment, you've got to let go of your preconceptions and desire to control and just be...and let that speak for itself.

Review of Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione.

This is probably one of the most elegant and useful processes I've found for doing internal work. She bases it off of the Chod ritual done in the Tibetan Bardo and Buddhist systems of work, but makes it sufficiently culture free so that anyone could use the technique and get the concepts behind using the technique. Additionally the technique is broken down into a five step process, which is easy to do and definitely produces results, while also continuing to build upon the internal work you may already be doing. Pick this book up, because it will definitely put a new twist on your dysfunctions, and also help you move past them.

5 out of 5 demons

Pantheacon 2009 update and a book Review

So as I mentioned in a previous post, I'll be presenting a workshop at Pantheacon as well as being on two panels. On Friday Feb 13 at 3:30 Pm in the Carmel room I will be presenting my workshop on the Elemental Balancing ritual. In this workshop I'll explain how elemental balancing works and how to create your own balancing ritual as well as the risks and rewards involved in this kind of working. We'll discuss the application of using pop culture entities or traditional entities for your balancing ritual and do a pathworking at the end so you can find your element to balance your life with.

at 9 Pm Feb 13 in the Carmel/Monterey rooms I and fellow Immanion Press authors Lupa, Tony Mierzwicki, Kenny Klein, Frater Barrabbas, Brandy Williams, and Erynn Rowan Laurie will be answering questions about our books, Immanion Press, and what it means to be a publisher of cutting edge occult books.

At 11 Am Saturday in the Monterey room, Lupa and I will be part of a panel on the pagan publishing industry, hosted by Llewellyn.

So if you want to meet me, look for me at those venues and otherwise just keep an eye out for me as I'll likely be wandering around a lot.

Book Review: Kaostar! by Francis Breakspear

This is an intriguing book that is mostly focused on practical applications of everyday items to results driven magic. The author offers amusing stories without being pretentious and more importantly includes tips and suggestions that the magician can use to effectively apply the concepts to practical workings in his/her own life.

Something I do wish the author focused a bit more on was the business of being  a magician, i.e. charging people for services. He hints at this throughout the book, but doesn't comment much on it at any length. That said, however, this book does challenge you to think on the edge of the magical kaostar. I really enjoyed it and will definitely take the suggestions and run with them in my own practice.

4.5 kaostars out of 5.