Goofy times

Must be something weird going on in my chart/planets or something because a lot of miscommunication is going on. Something with Mercury maybe? I'll have to try some divination because I am no astrologer.

I've lost two friends in the last couple of days due to communication. In addition, I was supposed to help somebody move today and they never got back to me, and as a result a bunch of boxes I needed for books storage/moving are history as well (books = Mercury). And decent FREE book boxes are often harder to find than friends these days. Everything's fine and over the last week, some land mines. What next?

I guess the magical life is like this. Oh well. More BIG changes on the way too, including maybe this blog going away, or at least just going inactive and being archived. It's been going for 6 years (started 2007). Got some thinking to do.

Paranormal Problems

Occasionally a reader over at my Paranormal Montana blog will ask for assistance if they are having problems of a paranormal nature. I do not currently do investigations personally. Here is the response I gave to a recent inquiry:

hi X---

What part of Montana do you live in? (you only said "locally")

There are generally two things people want to happen when such things occur:

1. Verification of the experiences or alternative explanations. This is where paranormal investigation comes in. Using equipment, interviews, etc., the investigators will explore what is going on, come up with possible explanations as to whether the events are paranormal or not (debunking), look for recordable evidence, etc. There are only a couple of fully equipped investigation teams in Montana, with the most active and established group being Dustin Benner's group out of Billings. His email is contact@mtprs.org.

In general, paranormal investigation teams are useful primarily in this way: verification, debunking and evidence gathering. If through the process of debunking they find normal causes of the phenomena, like electrical problems, misinterpretation of events, infrasonic "standing waves" etc., then they can suggest ways to counter the problem. Otherwise, their real interest is in gathering evidence. They are not equipped to stop hauntings, poltergeists, etc. They may offer some ideas like smudging with sage, the use of holy water, and so on, or they may know of psychics one can contact. Of course genuine psychics are rare.

2. "Getting rid of" paranormal phenomena. IF the team decides the situation is indeed paranormal, caused by spiritual activity, etc., it may offer solutions like I mentioned. Sometimes psychics will be able to deduce what is occurring and what could help. They can help human spirits "move on."

If the spirit is nonhuman, generally it is either attached to a place (such as land spirits) or a person (spirits that are attached to a person rather than a place, so that they move with a person from place to place). Both of these are complex situations. Depending on your own personal beliefs and values, you may need a blessing or even an exorcist of some kind. In general, you should start with the church you attend, talking with the pastor or priest there. If you do not attend church, it can be much more difficult, as most ministers of any faith are wary of people who they don't know who suddenly show up with such inquiries. Other religions such as Buddhism also have religious practitioners who may be able to assist. Native American practitioners can sometimes help as well, especially with land spirit situations. Experienced practitioners of magic can also help in many cases. The main thing is to try and find well-regarded and experienced people, or the situation can be exacerbated.

Lance

Hubris and Magic

Hubris is really about a loss of humility.
I say "saving the world" is hubristic because remembering that balances the extreme narcissism and egocentrism I see in people who say they want to "save the world."
Hubris is a safe word everyone should know and remember. Just like Death.

"Hubris /ˈhjuːbrɪs/, also hybris, from ancient Greek ὕβρις, means extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. Hubris is usually associated with the "simple-minded". " (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris) (cheap shots at Wikipedia as a source will be ignored)

Yeah, sure I'd love to help save the world. Be part of some magical action that stops climate change or create an earthquake that blocks a pipeline or (insert favorite fantasy here). But even the fictitious godling wizards Merlin and Gandalf were unable to save their own little worlds, let alone THE world.

"Hubris is a trait for which men have an enduring talent. We congratulate ourselves on our ability to change our world through thought and our ability to alter the physical world. But we are far too prideful because it is that pride we serve. It would be well, especially in a forum where truth is weighed, to keep in mind the words of Percy Shelly.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away".

(I made this video some years ago, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tz8VG1zIEL8)



To me, magic is not hubris. EXPECTATIONS of what doing magic will result in, can easily turn into hubris. Magic is a path of considered action, that may or may not succeed; hubris is pride that goeth before the fall.

Are You a Failure? Are You a Loser?

Are You a Failure? Are You a Loser? I get sick of hearing how often we are referred to as "consumers" instead of "citizens." One thing you will hear over and over as both an insult and a dismissal in one, is that someone is "a failure."

What they mean of course is solely based on economic success or lack thereof. To them anyone who isn't "making bank" is (the ultimate insult) "a loser." People conceive of "getting rich" as the highest and greatest good they can imagine for their lives.

Using this "rationale," to these "unidimensionalists," those who historically did not "make bank," people like Van Gogh, Jesus, Gandhi, the Buddha, Tecumseh, Marx, Paine, and so on, were all "failures" and "losers."

Well, people who are forward-thinking have a chance to re-tool their mindset to better endure, survive, and even flourish, in what is coming. If your entire worth to yourself and others is based on your economic worth, then when you go broke and become poor, well, it's game over, isn't it? (Except for those who mainly focus on starting over "to get rich or die trying").

So if "making bank" isn't in the cards, make your achievements in the technological and ideological spheres. These should not be overlooked. And of course the social dimension of family, friends, community, and service to humanity is a whole world of possibility. Even economics isn't just about finances and "money," it's much larger...it's about trade, making a living, how you use resources, and how you live in and provide for the stewardship of your environment, including taking care of the land (and you don't have to "own" the land, in order to take care of it).

Remember, economics is important indeed, but anthropologically it is only one of the three legs of the products of human culture: economics, technology, and ideology.

If you "fail" at your finances, lose your job, your house...don't consider yourself a failure or a loser. Look at the rest of economics, because money isn't the end-all of economics. And achieve in the worlds of social, technological, and ideological possibilities. Even if those worlds are within arm's reach :-)

Beyond Orlov and Greer, there's McPherson

"Our way of life, and its supporting myths, seems to suppose that we have arrived at the pinnacle and end point toward which this 3.8 billion year experiment with Life and evolution has always been headed. That is the underlying implication. But is the deepest Meaning of life on Earth really only about us making payments on our standardized boxes in the suburbs, with both parents holding down unfulfilling jobs so that we can drive our air-conditioned SUVs to middle school soccer games, stopping along the way at our favorite fast foods franchise, finally to end our day collapsed in the blue glare of Fox News? Was it for this that we took this country away from the Indians, and turned it into freeways, parking lots, suburban malls and inner city ghettos? Are we dismantling the Earth, ecosystem by ecosystem, species by species, for no better reason than to make bankers, corporate executives, and hedge fund managers filthy rich? Are our excesses of appetite, all at the expense of a living planet, really the ultimate significance of Life on Earth? That seems to be our story — the one we are living in and doing our utmost to make real.

If the human species goes down, as in near term extinction, and we take out the Community of Life and the animate Earth along with us, it won’t be our extinction itself that would leave me inconsolable. Extinctions happen; species fail. Were I able to see with the long eye of the Life Force, what I would find irreconcilable is the incommensurability between the ongoing promise of Life’s self-renewal and the paltry, self-serving species that brought it all down."

(http://guymcpherson.com/2013/05/on-the-acceptance-of-near-term-extinction/)

On Evolution

A daily rant..explaining evolution to a student:

The word "evolution" has come to be associated with a lot of negative things for you, -x-. "Change" is more neutral. You can use "change" if you want. Evolution has come to be associated in your experience with atheism, antireligiousness, people = monkeys, and other things that are basically against your values. The very word "evolution" curdles your milk

TEXT: "Evolution is simply a process of change through time, and it isn't doesn't mean that change is going to be good, bad or anything else. It just means change".

Here I disagree with the author. The word evolution has several meanings of course, if you read the dictionary. One meaning is very general, change from one thing into another. I think the author is being dishonest in a way here, in order to make the specific scientific concept more palatable to religious people. Some people use it that way, change = evolution. "My spirituality has evolved from the Christianity of my childhood to the Buddhism I currently practice" or "the evolution of the modern automobile."

I personally do not us the word "evolution" that way. I find that use sloppy and one that leads to confusion. This is a perfect example of why I am a "grammar Nazi" and correct people, not to be an ass, but because our language is so rich, that it is better to use a word which is more precise in meaning whenever possible.

Evolution is only one kind of change. It's not the only kind, as you state, -x-. Water changes into ice. It transforms into ice. It does not evolve into ice. Evolution is not the same as change. It is one kind of change, a very specific kind marked by the mechanism of natural selection. Mountains do not evolve, as they are not alive, and natural selection, which works through DNA, has no place as mountains do not have DNA. They are not alive in the sense that biology recognizes something is alive (we are not talking about religious belief, as many Native American traditions do see mountains as alive).

So that's one thing. Evolution is not the same as change.

If you really want to understand what evolution is, and what it is not, you need to understand natural selection. You need to understand genetic drift. You need to understand adaptive radiation. You need to understand mutation. You need to understand genetics. And so on. You need to fully understand all of these concepts for you to really understand evolution.

Unless a person really takes the time, not just to understand those things in a brief introductory way, like in this course, but to really absorb them enough into one's understanding in a deeper way, that can take years, you can't "get it"...because on a certain level, you don't WANT to get it, as it threatens one's belief in God (I would say, for me, it doesn't have to). It's like the difference between knowing how to order food in Spanish as opposed to really talking with someone in Spanish conversationally you just met on a train. And you won't be able to really learn Spanish if you have already decided "Ahh, I can't speak Spanish anyways, besides, I'm not a Mexican and I don't plan on living there either."

It's the same with evolution. If a person already has decided it's bunk and against your values, that's going to put up a block.

Just like religion. If a person has decided that there is no God, because why would God allow innocent children to be murdered, that person will not be open to listening to a believer explain about the devil, and free will, and the rest of it. An atheist will just say, if there is a God, why does God allow this to happen? If he allows it to happen, then God isn't as good as people say. If he can't stop it from happening, he isn't as powerful as people say. It's the dilemma in theology known as the problem of evil.

And yet, most believers find a way to accept this using faith, while some just choose not to think of it, and say "God works in mysterious ways." But that doesn't satisfy others, so they don't believe, some becoming atheists, some agnostics, some just not caring at all.

TEXT: "Many believe the purpose of evolution was essentially to create the modern world and with that task completed, that evolution is some how over or finished. But this just isn't true".

Here the author is talking about the belief in progress, that things are always getting better. This is perhaps the deepest belief in our culture, even deeper than belief in God or anything else, because both religious people and atheists believe in progress.

The author is just saying evolution does not equate to progress. There was never a plan for fish to be "better fish" by becoming an amphibian, or a reptile "improving" by becoming a mammal.

There are some people whose religious beliefs state that the goal of evolution was to produce human beings as the end result, a kind of "intelligent design," and that one day we will even "evolve" into pure spirits or angels.

The author is saying this is untrue. There is no ultimate goal in evolution, not in the mechanisms of evolution like natural selection and mutation.

Personally, as I have said before, I fully believe the scientific evidence of evolution and all of its mechanisms. I don't have trouble absorbing it. I think it explains a lot.

However, for me, there is just too much evidence for "something else" going on as well, evidence of a spiritual world, and evidence of human beings having something different about them, and how we affect the world.

It doesn't "take away" the truth of evolution, it's just that for me, there's an additional "something else" going on. Maybe that's God.

Conflicts in Belief Systems

As a child, I was taught the same belief system based on the Bible, with God the Creator making the earth and all the creatures upon it, and with a special creation called the human being that has a soul and a special connection to God. That is a belief system rooted in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Middle East, blending the Semitic tribal desert peoples (like the children of Abraham, the Hebrews and Arabs) and others like the Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Babylonians, and Persians. So I can relate to that.

As a child, I was also taught another belief system where God the creator made this earth and all the creatures upon it. Yet in this belief system, all of creation has spirits, animals, plants, mountains, wind, and all of it, not just human beings. We are all related, all connected in our flesh, blood and spirits, to the animals and the rest of creation. That is a belief system rooted in the traditions of the indigenous peoples of the New World, similar to many among the indigenous people of the world.

Science also is a belief system, which is rooted in the philosophy and rational traditions of the ancient Greeks and Romans of the Mediterranean, who blended their belief systems with each other as well as the indigenous people in their areas (Etruscans for the Romans, and the indigenous Cretans blended with the invading Myceneans as the base of the ancient Greeks). Later on these philosopher-scientists were the basis for the Renaissance, which blended rationalism of the Greco-Roman traditions with the religious faith of the Judeo-Christians traditions.

And the continuing development of this new thing called science eventually revealed so many things based on observation and reason that did not fit into the world of religious faith of revelation and tradition, that a split began, and this became known as the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. The philosophers of the Enlightenment provided the basis for the new American Revolution, as well as the advancements in science, which drove the Industrial Revolution as well. Science and the scientific method became the hallmark of the modern age.

With all these different layers and sources, there was bound to be conflict between the various ideas, and this is so today.

There are extremes of science, where some scientists ridicule anything that is not based in empiricism and material reality, and some people disallow even the existence of the spiritual world, of the Creator. If they can't touch it and measure it, it doesn't exist to them.

There are also extremes of faith, where parents do not allow their children to be operated on, not even to save their lives, but rely solely on the power of prayer to heal their children. Unfortunately, this often does not work, and they blame themselves (or someone else) for having too little faith, or they blame God. Or other extremes of faith, where other people believe if they sacrifice their own lives for their religion through war, they will go to heaven.

Most people however find their own balance between the two extremes, based on their own choices and understanding. Some scientists do believe in God and the evidence of evolution.

So there are many, many layers of historical events and cultures to draw from, and make your own choices, according to your own standards...your own free will.

For me, and this is just my own personal experience, understanding and accepting the evidence for evolution and our physical origins in apes, didn't destroy my religious beliefs.

The physical evidence is pretty solid. For me, science explains the physical side of existence the best.

The spiritual side is explained most satisfactorily for me personally through religious beliefs and traditions that I was raised in, my Christian and my Native American beliefs.

How a person wants to look at it all, is something you have to decide for yourself. It may be a lifetime adventure. It has been that way for me.

The Trees are in Trouble

I have noticed here in Montana, increasing trouble in trees, especially the higher branches, older trees thinning out, and so on. Elms, ashes, and others. I was wondering if I was just imagining it or what.

I just turned 53. I and my brother have been helping a friend farm on his small place. He focuses on peas and carrots. But we put in an intensively intercropped variety of dozens of heritage plants this spring. You are right, that few like to physically work. I am overweight and ill, but I really enjoy it. It feels good to work, body and soul.

No one is listening. I see it all dying around me. I am an American Indian, and it is like watching my family die, but even worse because people naturally die, but nature itself is not supposed to die. If this is the end of nature, I don't want to be around to see it all play out.