Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Heavy metal and Christians

While this could easily lay itself unto a discussion about lyrics, instead I wanted to share this fascinating article from the Telegraph:

Christians could learn a lot about life from heavy metal, says cleric'

The Rev Rachel Mann claims that the much-maligned form of music demonstrates the “liberative theology of darkness”, allowing its tattooed and pierced fans to be more “relaxed and fun” by acknowledging the worst in human nature.

She says that by contrast, churchgoers can appear too sincere and take themselves too seriously.

The priest admits that many will be “concerned” about metal lyrics praising Satan and mocking Christianity, but insists it is just a form of “play-acting”.

Miss Mann, priest-in-charge of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, writes in this week’s Church Times: “Since Black Sabbath effectively created it in 1969 by using the dissonant sound of the medieval ‘Devil’s chord’, heavy metal has been cast as dumb, crass, and on, occasions satanic; music hardly fit for intelligent debate, led alone theological reflection.

“And yet, as both priest and metal musician and fan, it strikes me that the Church, especially at this agonized time, has a serious gospel lesson to learn from this darkest and heaviest music.”

Miss Mann says that heavy metal songs, characterized by distorted guitar sounds, “intense” beats and “muscular” vocals, are “unafraid to deal with death, violence and destruction”.

Its “predominantly male and white” fans “generally like tattoos and piercings” but are “graceful, welcoming and gentle”.

“The music’s willingness to deal with nihilistic and, on occasion, extremely unpleasant subjects seems to offer its fans a space to accept others in a way that shames many Christians.

“Metal’s refusal to repress the bleak and violent truths of human nature liberates its fans to be more relaxed and fun people”.

She goes on to claim that “metal has no fear of human darkness” and while some Christians are similarly unafraid, “many are yet to discover its potential as a place of integration”.

The King himself

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Silly Americans...

From Newsweek's Dumb Things American's Believe:

It seems obvious that it's not a good idea to put too much stock in witchcraft. But it turns out that 21 percent of Americans believe there are real sorcerors, conjurers, and warlocks out there. And that's just one of the several paranormal beliefs common among Americans, according to Gallup: 41 percent believe in ESP, 32 percent in ghosts, and a quarter in astrology. In fairness, the numbers in this poll are a little old—they date back to 2005. But then again, if people haven't changed their mind since the Enlightenment, it's not clear another half decade would make much difference.

Discussing and believing in such silly things!  I'm right in line with evolution-theory deniers, Obama's-a-muslim, Heliocentrism and not knowing the branches of the government. Well, shit...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The lost colors rediscovered

Ultraviolet light reveals how ancient Greek statues really looked 

--courtesy of io9. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Birds of a feather

Yesterday evening after coming home from my run, I was enjoying the loud vociferous caws from the murder of crows that reside around my block. They are my favorite songbird, even though many people find it ridiculous that crows and ravens are even considered songbirds because of its voicebox structure, when all they do is emit a loud, annoying, ugly sound that has no melody. And it hit me – ravens and crows are the death and black metal singers of the bird world.

Crows I would consider more black metal because of their higher shrill in tone...

While ravens I would consider death metal for their lower resonance.

Owls are totally doom metal.

Eagles and hawks are heavy & power metal – they are just, you know, epic. 

I can’t think which bird would represent thrash metal, and I won’t even bother with metalcore, but after talking to my S.O. about this last night, we both agree who Metallica would be…

Yea, I amuse myself.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I have an odd habit of questioning things I do, believe or see. Or hear. Or taste. It’s a sense of wonderment that most children have and many of them who never let go of this turn into scientists, historians or magicians. I have a bad habit of relying on my ‘gut instinct’ to figure if something feels odd or doesn’t make sense. But I’ve come to realize very early that such things as “common sense” aren’t really common in any sense (read: Not Always Right and it will grate your gears).

Common sense is dictated by education, experience, beliefs and expectation of things and what may seem common sense to me is not so for someone else. But more importantly, we view and analyze things based on one’s Ego.

I have been told plainly that reading too many books have made me ignorant. I fail to see the truth – whether religious or conspiracy related - because I just need to “research” it more. But it is flawed and biased research (unscholarly) to justify the developed Ego, the worldly Self. I discovered that not only do they live in a world ignorant of simple fallacies to their arguments, but is driven by Apophenia.

To my delight, Chris at the Infinite and the Beyond podcast interviewed the fantastic Lon Milo DuQuette on this very subject. My Ego tells me a Socratic quote over and over – The only thing you know is that you know nothing at all. My fear when I was younger was to be ignorant – to not know – and this is why I want to enter the field of Library Science. The more I read, research the more I discover how little I understand of the world, or the myriad of cultures - of their customs and symbology that I am unaware of. To claim to know the inner workings of a secret world or universe with concrete assurance when some can barely solve calculus or complete basic tax forms seems hubristic. Seems very human.

We are beings that love order; structure. We love finding clues and hints that give in to our preconceived notions of things, to prove to us that we are right - in the right path - whichever that may be. We associate with others that hold the same view and reinforce it – whether political or even music-wise (“The new Burzum album is for fags.”) Scientists use these clues in a very strict methodology, while in occult and pagan areas, we have our own version. This is true for those in conspiracy circles or right-winged religious zealots (like my apocalyptic grandmother). When the earthquake hit Haiti everyone began putting attention to the amount of seismic activity happening – therefore the end of the world was nigh, again. Confirmation bias, in essence. Ignoring the fact that tectonic movement happens daily, every minute... they didn’t want to hear it, because it reaffirms their belief; it matches up to their Ego. To be wrong is anathema to their existence: it discredits who they think they Are. I hold a strong sense of wonder and skepticality in my life, which has affected all areas of my life. However when the universe throws at you some sign, how can I differentiate it from something my Ego wants in order to keep appearances? My own biases have sullied certain paths I could have taken earlier, to my chagrin.

So I shed, I remove. Analyzing the subjective from the objective. Years ago I would view certain situations in my life with different colored glasses – I would sit down and switch my brain within specific belief systems I had studied or been part of, and the decisions, meaning and vibrations of it would change. Now it’s relearning that while it is well for it to serve as a method of understanding, it is not a method of being. Shedding it – clear lenses to not have a myopic view on what is before me. Not saying that this will be easy, especially when dealing with the Thoth and Liber 777, but I’m giving it a try.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Who put Bella in the Witch Elm?

Black magic was blamed in 1943 four teenagers found the skeleton remains of a woman within a tree. Fifty years the crime remains unsolved and the reasons behind it stir a dark and sinister reason within the locals' imagination.

It begins on a sunny April Sunday in 1943, when four teenage boys from nearby Stourbridge went birds'–nesting in Hagley Wood. Their quest took them to an old, hollow wych–hazel – also known as a wych–elm, on account of its size and age. For a minute or two they climbed and searched. Then one of them, Bob Farmer, gave a cry: from out of the tree, a white skull was grinning at him. "There was a small patch of rotting flesh on the forehead with lank hair attaching to it, and the two front teeth were crooked," he later stated.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

To Dream...

I am a dreamer. Clichéd, absurd and maybe even ridiculous, but I can’t think of any other way of explaining my personality. By which I mean I truly do not live here, but in my head. I guess it’s not surprising that an introvert like myself would see it as such, retrieve and become a recluse there. Then, of course, comes Inception and it puts its hold on me. The more I read about it, the more I listen to Hans Zimmer’s brilliant soundtrack – the more I connect with myself.

Christopher Nolan took ten years writing the script. But like the layers of dreams he presented us in the movie, the meanings seem to go much deeper as well. Two fascinating looks at other people trying to decipher it are found here and here (spoilers within).

I find that my dreams is where I really belong, and life is just the time lost between sleep that I dredge through day in-day out. Like Nightmare on Elm’s Street “Dream Warriors,” the dream state is where I get to explore my subconscious freely without any limitations. I have been wolf, part animal, in other lands and planes of existence, unafraid of demons, conversed with beings while walking miles above Earth and watched mountains fall to hollow crevices. I have dreamt, gruesomely, of my mother’s disease that she kept secret from me. I've met Gods. It is only limited by the time given to sleep – and once the alarm clock rings sometimes the sudden jolt erases the memory of what had transpired. I have woken up in tears realizing what I’ve lost. I have cried for persons I’ve known forever which I love, deeply, that are lost within. Escapism? Perhaps. Repressed thoughts or just sputtering synapses, maybe. Even though my dreams may at times be depictions of visions from Barlowe or Beksinski, sometimes I rather experience the possibilities there than what is given here.

I’ve been told in the past that I put too much weight in the significance of my dreams. Maybe it’s true, but it’s the key to your subconscious (a key to something) – and while it may just be trying to dump excess data out or trying to defrag your mind – I find that within its self-created encyclopedia of symbolism it is trying to tell you something. Dreams have been known to be the medium in which the Gods spoke to men, as Asklepios would in order to heal illness. I feel that my subconscious is Nostradamus and my dreams are his quadrants – if I could only decipher them, I would learn so much more. When Cobb tells Ariadne in the film that he spent 50 years with his wife Mal within their own self-created dream world, Ariadne looks shocked. But if we think about it – it was only a dream… and yet within the film we understand the gravity of it. Within life, we would dismiss it as something silly. Childish. Nothing more than imagination gone awry...

In dreams there is no time, no structure. It is limitless and boundless. It is as if the reality of the infinite that we attempt to connect with is experienced in our dreams. It has its own logic. It is where the ridiculous meets the Divine. In our living state we our conformed by laws, rules and time within our three-dimensional state. We’re made of meat. We do not have to focus to keep our physical reality rotating and existing and we understand it, by reason or logic.

Hans Zimmer, like always in my opinion, had a touch of brilliance and beauty with the soundtrack. The song within the movie telling the inhabitants of the dream that it is time to “kick” back is Edith Piaf’s “Non, je ne Regrette Rien” slowed down. (link) And as we listen to it, it essentially tells us, the viewer: wake up.

You’re waiting for a train – a train that will take you far away. You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure. But it doesn’t matter.

With this chasing of dreams I find myself dreamless - sleepless even - for the past few days. To sleep, perchance to dream, ay...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


After coming back from vacation two weeks ago I find myself in a hollow hole of my own emotional making. I was out of state visiting my Love and found that time was not on my side - it felt shorter than it was and before I knew it I had to get back on the plane. Coming back I've just been readjusting to work - a new position - and immersing myself with catching up on podcasts and music. I'm all strewn all over the place, particularly within, to busy-myself in order to not get too caught up in my oh-so-familiar depression.

I've been amassing a few more books (and I seriously do not need anymore) but I want to jump head-first into active practice instead of my usual armchair study, limited space nonwithstanding. So these feel slightly more future practical, and it's in a subject I've struggled with in the past to which now I feel more comfortable. To start it I have re-purchased the Thoth deck and getting acquainted with it. Today, the card I pulled was The Hanged Man. Upon further study, seems fitting.


At the moment I need to clear my thoughts, organize some documents I look forward to writing about (I miss writing academic, historic papers honestly) and clean the room - the physical clutter is just a reminder of the mental one - before it distracts the emotional.


Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine; Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, with heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill: With winged feet, 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse: Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine: With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, of

care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Kerukeion, blessed, profitable God; Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, and in necessities to mortals kind: Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, give graceful speech, and me memory's increase.

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