Monthly Archives: February 2011

Two Tarot Spreads

A bit earlier than I said, but the writing update will come later. I recently just tried two new spreads, and was happy with one and not so much with the other.

The one I was not so happy with was a fifteen-card spread I decided to try based on the little booklet included with my Thoth deck – with five groups of three cards, one representing the heart of the matter, two representing different futures, one indicating the implications/psychology of the individual querent, and the last telling of larger forces. The main problem I had with it is the presence of the two futures indicate more divination than I am comfortable with, and the whole set-up just seems too simplistic, and the presence of three cards for each issue makes things murkier than they need to be. It was neat, however, to be able top modify the strengths of the central cards based on the influences of the flanking ones. I had a few interesting readings, but in the end, it didn’t call to me.

The second one I tried was Joan Bumming’s Yin-Yang spread. I asked the same question of this one (I tried the question with Celtic Cross, Fifteen-Card, and Yin-Yang), and I felt like it gave me the better answer. It was clear, concise, helpful, and very well-designed. Interpreting the cards came with no real difficulty and it almost seemed as if the spread was tailor-made for the conflict I was examining. I think I may have a new spread to often use along with the Celtic Cross I think. I will be examining this one further, then seeing what happens when I look at some of Raven’s spreads.

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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Updates Soon I Hope!

Things have been going slowly – as you no doubt could guess from my lack of posts. I got a lot done – more than I had expected – during my long weekend, but since then I’ve been loaded with exams and papers, and I have another twoish weeks of these before I am free – and then I have even more to do. I have reached the busy part of the semester.

Expect a longer post hopefully around Wednesday or Thursday detailing TLOB progress, as well as thoughts on two new Tarot spreads, and maybe even some “plans” for April. Still aiming for a mid-March rough draft finish date!

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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in Personal, Writing


The Emperor and the Star

As I have been thinking about Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth and his thoughts on the relation of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, I found I disagreed with him on one point – he put the Emperor (IV) as the connection between Netzach (Bliss) and Yesod (Essence of Being), and The Star (XVII) as the connection between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Tiphareth (Experience). Now, his argument is based on linguistic and numerological arguments that go way over my head, but I am looking at this purely through my own philosophical standpoint.

To me, just thinking on the surface(ish) side of things, the connection between the Sefirot of Chokmah and Tiphareth should be representative of the active and powerful emanation of Chokmah – commonly associated with the male (as opposed to Binah, the passive, receptive female where creation occurs after receiving Chokmah’s seed – note that these terms are not representing what I think of men and women, but is representing symbolism primarily drawn from the Tanakh – or for those less knowledgeable of Judaism, the rough equivalent of the Bible‘s Old Testament) – exerting its will on the consciousness that is attained through experience (Tiphareth). This will to me would be better represented by the Emperor, not the Star – the Emperor as the “father” figure, the single stern authority who provides order from above. Additionally, putting the Emperor here would put him opposite The Lovers (VI) – which represents duality and intimacy, and in a way reflects the spirit of Binah, as the connection where Crowley places The Star should represent Chokmah.

One could argue that the Star provides light from above as a form of symbolism, but I see that as more of the symbolism of the Sun’s (XIX) role – and the Sun in its current placement is opposite the Emperor; would it not be better for the Star, which can be argued to have a similar function, to be opposite its closest example? The best placement for divine light from above, however, is the connection from Kether (The Spiritual Seed/Emanation) to Tiphareth, which is represented by the Priestess (II). This is fitting, as the Priestess serves not only as a passive figure, but also as the mysterious secrecy that lies behind the veil; she herself as a figure can be seen as Kether, the veil the abyss (in which dwells Daath and separates the supernal triangle from Tiphareth), and the viewer as the consciousness of Tiphareth. She, as a priestess, is herself “divine” in a sense, and also at the same time by her human nature more earthy and conscious in that sense; she then very well represents the bridge from the spirit to the “center” of the Tree of Life.

The Star, on the other hand, currently occupies the Emperor’s positions in Crowley’s layout, between Chokmah and Tiphareth, as mentioned earlier. The Star would better fit between Netzach and Yesod – Bliss and Essence of Being. Why? The star represents a calm serenity and a sort of dreaminess – that which is associated with bliss – and also with a sort of bringing down from above (just look at the image on the Thoth cards of Nuit, bridging the gap between high and low) and a sort of guidance, but in a different way than the Emperor’s stern imposing of order. More of a nudging or actual guide than a bring of order, which the power of Chokmah seems to say to me. The more gentle “Bliss” aspect of Netzach, coming down to guide Yesod (Crystallization and Essence of Being), and providing the best possible help for what can be argued (except in the case of Swords) is the best of the Sefirot. The additional hunt that Nuit as a Goddess is doing the guiding also seems more fit for this happier, “better” connection.

At least to me. Crowley had his points, and from my more limited view, I disagree – plus this puts the Roman numerals back in order. I have adopted this variant form to use in my tarot readings now.

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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in Philosophical Musings


Why We Are Doomed

After a recent conversation with a fellow doomsayer (I myself am an optimistic pessimist), I began thinking about the many myriad ways in which humanity is doomed, helped along by my fellow doomsayer:

-Wealth inequality is growing, leading a polarization of society and mass oppression. Not fun.

-Corporations are gaining more power, and those not at the top are working more for less, becoming little more than machines – even ignoring the humanitarian implications, this also means that the arts will die as fewer will appreciate them.

-Asteroids could hit us at any moment.


-Climate change! This is real; it’s hard to argue with the evidence. More severe weather comes along with this; and natural disasters. Not to mention global warming will likely kill us if we keep going at this rate.

-The people in charge of the world shouldn’t be. They are selfish and completely invested in the status quo of the system. The people able to initiate real change won’t do it because it isn’t in their best interests. Also these people tend to be older, and so care less about the future that they won’t be in.

-People on the whole are rather dim and thick-witted. And easily led and manipulated.

-Viruses and other diseases are growing in resistance and becoming pretty scary and unstoppable – mostly our fault, too.

-Aliens could arrive at any time.

-We are dependent upon very fragile devices (electronics) that could in theory we wiped out by a single exceedingly strong electromagnetic disturbance (read: sun).

-We are completely and utterly dependent on finite natural resources that are already ridiculously hard to obtain and harm the environment, yet our great and wise leadership doesn’t even begin to really consider alternatives because it will hurt the wealthy rich people in charge.


-The “greatest superpowers” in their own ways are heartless corporate systems with no real concern for human rights.

-We kill each other all the time. If nature doesn’t do it, we will – just look at nuclear arsenals! Why do we have these again?

So, what do we do? I’m not sure we can do anything, but our best bet is to deal with the energy crisis first – that’ll cut out our dependence on finite resources, help cut down climate change, and give us time to fix the rest of it. It also would weaken the oil and coal companies’ hold on the world. Of course, in order for this to even semi-realistically happen, we need “good” leaders actually looking to the far future and beyond their own self-interests…

Have a wokling to make you feel better.

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Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Philosophical Musings



Just finished reading Bujold’s latest Vorkosigan book, CryoBurn. It was, up until the very end, fantastic. The (science fiction) book would make little sense to one who had not read all of the other Vorkosigan books (inside-jokes and references to past events abound), but had a very interesting look at the idea of death.

The premise is that the ever-so-amazing Lord Imperial Auditor Miles Naismith Vorkosigan of Barrayar is sent by Emperor Gregor Vorbarra (of Barrayar) to investigate the dealing of a corporation seeking to spread off of its home planet of Kibou-daini to Komarr, the Barrayaran Empire’s second planet. The company specializes in freezing dead (and nearly dead) bodies to revive them at a later death – in a strange attempt to cheat death. The entire planet is based around these companies, which almost rule the place, and makes for some very interesting thoughts with regards to the rights of the “dead” and frozen, who could again come to life. How much say should they have in what goes on around them? Who has the responsibility for them?

Many more questions also assert themselves, but I highly recommend reading the book; it was well-written, well thought out, and even through in most of (but not all) of the major characters of previous ones! The Dendarii mostly were not mentioned (Taura was mentioned for half a page or so, and Quinn once – as well as Dubauer), and Simon Illyan and the ImpSec crowd also were passed over for the most part. I eagerly look forward to the possibility of another one, yet after the ending also am saddened. The book had a very surprising, unexpected, and yet entire fitting ending – it was well done, but be prepared for a depressing shock at the end of it.

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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Readings


Mind Over Medium: How Many Words is a Movie Worth?

I recently watched Percy Jackson and the Olypmians: The Lightning Thief (I had read Rick Riordan’s books well before – go read them if you have the time, they’re a very good read), and was noticing how little of the book’s nuances the movie captured. I then thought about the differences between the two mediums (book and movie), and now have a greater appreciation for those involved in movie production and actually do good work – like the Lord of the Rings movie team as a prime example.

The primary limiting factor of the movie medium is, I believe, the timespan in real-time. Books are not (usually) meant to be sat down and read all at once; movies (generally) are. This gives books a considerably greater amount of freedom in terms of the length of what they are expressing than films do. They can include more scenes, better looks into the actors’ thoughts, and generally develop characters better than most movies, limited as they are to usually about two to two and a half hours. Those that can pull off plot and character development in a movie on par with that of books deserve to be commended. Of course, this is easier with longer movies and especially with series (Lord of the Rings, anyone?), but some shorter films do a good job.

Of course, then, one can’t really effectively compare the book with the movie, simply because unless we wanted a ten hour movie (which most don’t – though I would!), there will be serious cuts that will hurt the final product. Movies that are not based heavily off of books tend to be better, I have noticed, largely because (I think) A) They aren’t being compared to a book, which will be better, and B) They aren’t trying to cram what was meant to be a ten-hour plot into two hours. This certainly was apparent with Percy and the Olympians.

Further thought on this matter led me to consider the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Of course, this then leads to the question “How many words is a movie worth?” The simple answer, of course, would be:

WordWorth = (Frames in Movie) x 1000 Words/Frame



Now, considering a fairly standard number for frames per second is 24 (source), this means that:

F=24l (l=length of movie in minutes)

Which, then, means that:

W=1000 x 24l=2400l

Therefore, the amount of words a movie is worth is equal to approximately 2400 times the length of the movie in minutes – but this does not take into account the motions or sounds! Motions could be argued to have been accounted for in the frames, but I disagree – swiftness and speed of motion certainly counts for something more. Therefore, we add in the motion variable.

W=2400l + m

The motion variable, I have decided, will be equal to a number from 1 to 10, judged by the viewer: a ’10’ being a fast-paced action movie, a ‘5’ being a moderately paced movie, and a ‘1’ being a still picture (this assumes that more movement = more value in words). However, this tiny value should add more – therefore, I propose that we multiply this value by 1000 – which also gives us the effect of, for a single picture (with a length of zero minutes and a motion variable of one) have the worth in words equal one thousand, which is necessary if we are to justify the formula, as this is the assumption that it is based on. So we have, then:

W=2400l + 1000m

And now for sound. There are two types – spoken words and other sounds. Spoken words, counting emphasis and the like, I suggest be equal to a speaking value of s. This value will be equal to the number of words spoken. The rest will be represented by the noise factor (d), which will be equal to the average decibel volume of the noise when the television volume is at 25, multiplied by a number from 1 to 5, representing variation in the sound. In this case, zero will be equal to silence, and 5 to lots of variation, and 1 equal to no variation – let this be called the noise variable (n). Leading us to…

W=2400l + 1000m + s + dn

And lastly, we must account for any words written on screen – not counting subtitles. This is merely equal to the number of words that appear (this can be justified with the assumed adage, as a picture with words on it is worth more than one with none), and shall be w (lowercase). So we have:

W=2400l + 1000m sdn + w

Unfortunately, this formula is based on what I believe is a flawed assumption: that a picture is worth a thousand words. There are things in a picture – and therefore also in a movie without narration, which tend to be awkward, that the written word can convey but the images can’t. Inflection, noise, environment, and inner thoughts and feelings can be conveyed by both, and in some cases (inner thoughts/emotions mostly) be conveyed better by print. Then books can also, through word choice in descriptives, convey implications and symbolism in word better than the film – which makes it superior.

Books also, by virtue of having to interpret words, are an active process, while watching a movie is a passive one – as such, books stimulate more thought and hone one’s mind more. It is also usually easier to read a book in a better environment – which leads me to conclude that the formula is erroneous, and as symbolism can show, a word is worth a thousand pictures.

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Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Philosophical Musings


The Loneliness of the Spheres: Afflatus Divine

I apologize, for I was again distracted from my novel by horror – reminiscent of my distraction by “Parallax” while I was working on editing The Loneliness of Stars. I wrote two things with relations to Dark Aeons; one of which was my first real poem! I can’t say it’s very good, but really speaks to me. It’s inspired by a unique vision of Hell that I have as represented by the ultimate loneliness – unable to interact or even know if the existence of others, while at the same time unable to do anything, imprisoned endlessly in a floating sphere that you cannot see out of. Similar in theme to “The Man in Amber” in some respects, but also different in its emphasis on loneliness. The entire poem is as follows:

The Loneliness of the Spheres

They sing their songs of sorrow
But I cannot hear
They sing their songs of pain
But I cannot hear
I add my voice to the song
But no one can hear

I am alone
Eternal solitude is my being
I am afraid
Eternal fear is my being
I am unoccupied
Eternal sloth is my being

Around me there is darkness
Darkness is my life
Around me I feel nothing
Deadened is my life
Around me there is nothing
In my life there is nothing

Eternity is my name
Loneliness is my being

The song of emptiness goes undiscovered
The song of loss is never heard
The song of pain is never wept

The spheres float endlessly through the empty infinite
Never touching, never seeing
Each protecting a life-soul-essence
From the hungering dark outside

But do the spheres seek ever to consider
The thought-processes of their wards?
For though the spheres have hereby banished their solitude
Have their wards banished theirs?

And if the wards then have banished their isolation
Why is it then that they sing?
Why do their songs of pain and loss
Echo in the vastness between
Never heard by their own
And listened to by those only who cannot hear?

In addition to that, I have also begun work on another horror short story: “Afflatus Divine,” which tells of a supernatural entity that feeds off of the creativity of humans. It will be a three-part story; I just have finished the first part (though undoubtedly I will change the latter half of it significantly during the editing process), and hope to write the next two over the course of the next week or so. Currently it stands at about sixteen and a half pages – so I’m estimating a final total length of fiftyish pages for this story. One of the longer ones.

Now that I have finished the first part, however, I am diving back into The Libel of Blood for a bit. I am going to see if I can finish the rough draft by mid-March!

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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Writing


The Parasite

I just finished another short story – about six and a half pages – and I must personally say that I find this one the most disturbing of all those I have written so far. It truly embodies Lovecraft’s cosmic indifference, I think, and brings up some truly disturbing thoughts – and also has a neat little poem at the beginning of it! I don’t normally write poetry, so it isn’t particularly brilliant, but here it is:

This is an affliction of the Body – It will destroy your Flesh.
It will weaken your Mind and tear open your Head.
This is an affliction of the Mind – It will destroy your thoughts.
It will weaken your Spirit and tear open your Self.
This is an affliction of the Spirit – It will destroy your Will.
It will weaken your Life and tear open your Existence.
That which is an affliction of the Body, Mind, and Spirit
Is that of the Soul – And it will destroy your Being.

That poem is, in essence, also the story. Here’s an excerpt:


An affliction of the body is better than an affliction of the mind. An affliction of the mind is better than an affliction of the spirit. That affliction that is of the body, mind, and spirit is an affliction of the soul, and an affliction of the soul will destroy you.

It came to me first as an affliction of the body. It was not separate from its symptoms, yet lived inside me as surely as any other physical being. Its feeding was a constant tug at my reserves of energy; they slipped away slowly but surely as the weeks passed. It remained unidentifiable and unknown to even the best of physicians; as far as they could see, it did not exist. It was merely an abstract parasite with no form in the physical, that could yet still surely make me sweat and shiver in the bitterest of cold and the most fiery of heat. It never could give respite, and relentlessly drained the vitality from my body, and each day, each hour, each minute, I could exert myself less and less.

It had come from nowhere, yet must have existed somewhere. It descended out of the blue, transforming what had been a healthy young girl, her body developing strongly and filling with the vibrant energy and joy of youth with a life left to live, into a coughing and exhausted woman who felt aged a century in less than a minute. Her friends came to her aid, but it had control of her flesh, and she was powerless to stop it.

No drugs could harm it, no treatment cure it. Never lacking in funds, my guardians were confident that it would be defeated given proper payment, but money means nothing without brilliance, and the mass hallucination of coinage is meaningless to a parasite. The best and brightest of the medical industry stood no chance against it, and friends and family watched as I descended into a terrible sickness.

The worst was the clarity of mind that accompanied these stages; the hazy god of insanity eluded me, and every excruciating inflammation, every painful swelling, every terrible itch, was felt with the clarity of a cold gush of water. I could not retreat from my plight, for it had trapped me, and I was powerless to resist. It was not even a week before I could no longer walk, and the powerful, striding young woman of Monday was eternally bedridden by Sunday.

My stomach churned like a herd of buffalo across the plains, but nothing could feed it. The parasite cared not for material sustenance; that was not what it wanted. Whatever I was forced to consume emerged within moments – my ailing body had given up and surrendered. It had lost the fight long ago, and it was well aware of it. The parasite would triumph.

Not even the machines that they thrust into my flesh was enough to even drive it back. The best of physicians were at a loss when even the intravenous sustenance was rejected by my body; yet I did not starve nor did I thirst. It kept me alive, somehow, that I would not cease to feed it. It is in the interests of the parasite to leave its host alive.


In case you couldn’t tell, the story is called “The Parasite.” It’s my favorite so far, I think, surpassing “Winds of Madness” and “Parallax.”

Tomorrow I get back to working in The Libel of Blood – things are really beginning to pick up again!

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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Writing


Book of Thoth and Book Releases

I finished the first read-through of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, and was both impressed and annoyed. The book is an examination of the tarot, mostly with regard to the Sefirot and the Tree of Life, and an explanation of Crowley’s and Harris’ Thoth deck, which I hope to start using soon. The theories behind everywhere were, of course, fascinating – especially the relation of the Naples Arrangement and the development of – well, everything – to the Ten Sefirot of the Tree of Life to astrology to alchemy to numerology to the tarot. It was all very fascinating, but also slightly inaccessible – Crowley’s prose was often dense and hard to understand, and he repeatedly interspersed “the full meaning of [X] is only available [X]-degree members of the [XXX]. It became irritating rather quickly.

But looking at the tarot through the lens of the Sefirot and Naples arrangement has really helped me better understand the character of the cards, and now that I’ve started using the Thoth deck, I find that I much prefer it to the Rider-Waite deck. The Book of Thoth has piqued my interest in astrology, numerology, and alchemy, so possibly expect me to start dabbling in those as well!

Still, I now feel that I understand the Tarot a lot better now, and even made a poster of the Sefirot, placing all of the cards in their proper places and writing down their attributes. It was a very helpful experience. Now that I have finished with that book, I am moving on to Bujold’s Cryoburn.

Tarot Tree of Life!
My chart!

Thoth cards laid out in accordance with the tree of life!
Thoth cards laid out according to the chart!

Lastly, The Loneliness of Stars is now available on the Amazon Kindle (see the Books page for the link)! Additionally, The Light of Civilization is available on all mediums now, including Nookbook, Amazon, and the Kindle. Go out and buy it!

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Posted by on February 12, 2011 in Philosophical Musings, Readings, Writing


Mimsy Were the Borogoves

A line from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” from Through the Looking Glass, and the title also of a short story by “Lewis Padgett” (pseudonym of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore). A short story that I recently just finished reading here. The first thing that became apparent upon reading it was that it was likely typed by someone with inadequate editing skills, for there were several spelling errors and random symbols (such as “[“) present, as well as an improper understanding of some punctuation and quotation rules. But perhaps the authors themselves were guilty of this sin, though I doubt it – I have read other Kuttner, at least, and he did not do this.

But regardless, it was a very enjoyable read. One of the first thematic things that peopped out at me was the apparent submissiveness of the mother-figure – Jane – with regards to her husband or Dr. Holloway. Additionally, the husband is frequently referred to by his last name, while his wife is not – another interesting aspect of a patriarchal society. Considering this was written a fair while ago, this is not unusual – the fact that I noticed this gender disparity first off perhaps is more of a testament to the state of my own psychology than to the authors’ intentions.

In terms of the actual story, it was a well-conceived science fiction short story; a (presumably) post-human from the far future as an idle experiment sends some of his son’s former toys back in time to Earth (in two boxes), then leaves the experiment when they do not return to him. The toys, however, find their way into the hands of earth children – one to an acquaintance of Lewis Carroll, who utters the opening stanza of “Jabberwocky” as a result of these toys (which allows the other children to transcend when Carroll puts it verbatim into his poem), and the other box ends up with Scott and Emma, the children of Jane and Dennis Paradine. The toys are highly instructive in a non-normative way of thinking (that Holloway deems “X”), and the tale ends with the children mastering concepts completely alien and superior to normative thought, and presumably transcend to a place better suited to their lines of thought (Carroll’s associate mentions that her stanza is the “key” to “escaping”).

The tale also includes some elements of horror in that the childrens’ thought processes are completely alien to us – and as exemplified by the parents and the child psychologist Dr. Holloway – what is alien to us we fear. The fear the parents had for their children is ultimately realized when the children “escape” and vanish forever. The focus on the difference between child and adult psychology is central to the tale, and examines it in a fascinating way – as adults are set into their paths, only children could master these toys that taught people to think in different ways. And in the end, all that they were were toys. The idea also of the younger child – Emma – being able to master new concepts  (such as “X” thinking) far more quickly than Scott was also interesting, and made for some interesting – if unsettling – circumstances.

I won’t say more – but the story is well worth reading!

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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in Readings