PaganFM 091114

PaganFM Prayer List
Debra, Bill, Mike

Musical Selections
Artist, Track, Album
Arthur Hinds, Children of Cernunnos, Dance in the Fire
Bell Book and Canto, I Heard the Valkyries Cry Last Night, Invocation
Damh the Bard, Spirit of Albion, Spirit of Albion
Darlene Koldenhoven, Greensleeves, Tranquil Times
Kellianna, The Ancient Ones, The Ancient Ones
Spiral Dance, The Burning Times, From the Mist
The Gypsy Nomads, Yes I’m French, Happy Madness
MaterDea, Awareness, Satyricon
Lindie Lila, Lady Water, Sisters of the Moon
Sacred Ancestors’ Chant, Lisa Thiel, Invocation of the Graces
Jenna Greene, Believe, Crossroads
Gary Stadler, Fairy of the Woods, Fairy of the Woods
Gwydion Pendderwen, Harvest Dance, Songs for the Old Religion
Emerald Rose, Wheel of Fortune, Archives of Ages to Come
Celia, Red Alabaster and Blue, Red Alabaster and Blue

News
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions have announced the location for the 2015 parliament, which will be held here in the United States, in Salt Lake City.

For those who wonder what the CPWR is, this is their mission statement:
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

To accomplish this, we invite individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal.

2015 marks the first time in more than 2 decades in which the parliament was held within the United States. Salt Lake City was chosen because of the natural beauty of the area

Past speakers at the Parliaments have included Nelson Mandela, HH the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Queen Noor of Jordan, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Karen Armstrong, Swami Vivekananda*, Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. Hans Kung, Deepak Chopra, and Amma the Hugging Saint.

It was last year that after a bombing in Madrid, the Council faced a huge financial shortfall, and Pagans here in the United States stepped up to the plate, lending their voices and support to the cause of the CPWR. A number of prominent Pagans have been part of previous parliaments, including T. Thorn Coyle, who said “Our time at the Parliament in 2009 was powerful. We spoke with religious people from all over the world – Aboriginal shamans, Coptic priests, Buddhist nuns, Zoroastrians, Shinto priests, Muslims, and Hindus. The Parliament makes space for this. The Parliament draws people together toward a meeting ground of mutual understanding. In a world divided by fear, this work is vital. “

Margot Adler also spoke highly of the CPWR, saying “Since 1893 the Parliament has been the primary place where the religions of the world have come together, exchanged ideas and fostered tolerance, cross cultural exchange and understanding. This is such important work!”

Personally, I’m hoping to attend in Salt Lake – we’ll see what the not so distant future brings.

Coming up on September 21, will be Eastern Mass Pagan Pride Day.
Magical traditions from all over New England will gather together on the field at Winnekenni Castle 347 Kenoza Ave, Haverhill, MA 01830 to connect with the powers of Mother Nature. Participants of this family-friendly event will enjoy educational workshops, entertainment, children’s activities and the bewitching wares of many vendors and craftspeople. Admission will be a donation of non-perishable food.

Some of the performers currently scheduled at this year’s event include: Kellianna, Brian , Derek and Ed, Alaina, Sharon Wells, Jennifer Lavigne, and Rich Roby

Yours truly is also planning on showing up – I’ll be offering a workshop on The Pagan in Recovery.
Hi I’m Carl, and this is the Pagan FM Almanac for September 11th, 2014.
Please note that all moon void of course data is courtesy of www.drstandley.com.
Today is Thursday, September 11th, 2014 and it is the 254th day of the year.
The waning gibbous moon has been void of course since 4:11 PM today and will enter Taurus on Friday September 12th at 2:26 AM.
The Sun is in Virgo.
The Moon will be void on Saturday, September 13th at 8:57 PM and will enter Gemini on Sunday, September 14th at 7:58 AM.
The Moon will be void on Tuesday, September 16th at 5:34 AM and will enter Cancer at 5:17 PM.
The Moon will be void on Thursday, September 18th at 5:07 PM and will enter Leo on Friday, September 19th at 5:14 AM.
On this day, September 11th, thirteen years ago, our country was attacked by low men.
Men – because to call such bipedal vermin animals insults animals. Other species kill from instinct. Even a rabid dog’s behavior is caused by madness, not malice. Man is the only creature that kills for politics, for religion, for power, for greed, for vengeance, for spite…and for evil.
Low men (with apologies to Stephen King), because by any measure civilized society uses to gauge humanity, these nineteen fell woefully short. They hide their evil behind a mask of religion the way the Nazis hid theirs behind a mask of government. They “fought” by attacking the unwary, preying upon the innocent. But there is no honor in a blindsiding, no glory in a sucker-punch.
Enough about them – theirs are nineteen stories of evil incarnate, monotonously similar, equally vacuous and ultimately signifying nothing. More important are the three thousand tragic stories of lives cut short, as well as the thousands upon thousands of stories of bravery, compassion, heroism, selflessness and courage associated with that day.
For instance, the story of forty randomly-selected, typical Americans, untrained and unarmed, each of whom woke that morning, committed simply to getting on a plane and flying from Newark to San Francisco. Instead they found themselves faced with four low men, trained, armed, each of whom woke that morning committed to dying. Did I say they were unarmed? Actually, those forty Americans possessed one weapon that no one else that morning had – knowledge. Because their flight had been delayed, they heard what happened in New York, and armed with that tiny advantage, they took action. We will probably never know for certain the real target of United Flight 93 (my money’s on the White House, but the Capital Building would be easier to hit), but we can be assured that the target was not an empty field in western Pennsylvania. Those Americans, those heroes, at the cost of their own lives, defeated the low men and saved Goddess only knows how many other Americans’ lives.
Our northern neighbors in the Canadian province of Quebec have a motto: “Je me souviens”. Translated, it means simply “I remember”. It describes not merely the act of recollection, but an attitude, a mind-set that summarizes this pagan’s approach to dealing with the memories of September 11th, a strategy combining the duality that is the center of our existence with the yearning for balance that is the core of our spirit.
And so, on this September 11th, when the sun is in the sky, the God is with me. The fighter, the protector, the doer. With His guidance I will live this day. Carpe diem indeed – I will seize this day and reclaim it from those who would desecrate it with evil. I will feel the sunlight on my face, and I will celebrate, for there are things to be celebrated, not only epic feats like Flight 93’s hard-won victory, but everyday things – people were born (and will be born) on September 11th, people were married, deeds were done and milestones were reached, and I will commemorate them and enjoy the happiness that these things deserve, because to do otherwise is to allow low men to control me, and I refuse to yield to them that power, I refuse to give them that satisfaction.
Later, when the sun has gone, the God sleeps, and the moon rules the sky, the Goddess is with me. Mother, nurturer, feeler, carer. There, in the moonlight, in the privacy of my room, when this microphone is silent, the radio turned off, and I am at my altar, alone save for the Goddess and the spirits of this day’s dead. Then, je me souviens – I remember – je me souviens.
And this has been the Pagan FM Almanac for September 11th, 2014.
Practical Pagan
Free will vs determinism

Modern science has been answering more and more of our questions – with remarkable efficiency. When I was born, 54 years ago, we had not yet visited the moon. While there were computers, they were extraordinarily large and power hungry – the idea of a personal computer was a thing of science fiction. Most people didn’t have color televisions, and many programs were broadcast live. And what electronics there was, was far and wide based on vacuum tube technology. Genetics was an idea, but the DNA molecule wasn’t yet understood. Transplants were a thing of the future, and many diseases that are routinely fatal today were deadly and quite feared. Automobiles weren’t nearly as safe, and telephone calls to other countries were wildly expensive. There were no satellites, no GPS, there was no Internet, no Google, no Wikipedia, and certainly no podcasts.

By the time I got to school, things were already changing. I remember taking science classes, where we knew about DNA, RNA, cellular reproduction and other things that were mysteries merely years before. We were regularly visiting the moon, and by the time I got to high school, we were planning the shuttle program. Already, satellites were being used for network television and telephone systems. Personal computers were available for the technically inclined – though the were large, and by modern standards, quite slow. In the late 1970s, Seymour Cray had built the first computer to perform more than 1,000,000 floating decimal point operations per second.

Along with the advancements in hard sciences, came increased knowledge about human psychology, and scientists were becoming increasingly able to understand and predict what we might do next. EEG machines were probing the secrets of our minds.

Then came the 1980s and 1990s, with technology such as CAT, MRI and PET scans, and increaing understanding of chemicals that affect our brains and neural pathways. In electronics, the development of neural networks and artificial intelligence.

Years ago, it was posited by the French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace, that if we knew the position and momentum of every particle in the universe, that we could predict everything that might happen afterward in that universe. Stephen Hawking recounts in his essay “Does God play dice?” that Napoleon asked Laplace where god fits into this equation, and Laplace replied that he hasn’t needed God in his hypothesis. This was pretty much the advent of scientific determinism – that there is no need for God, no need for mysticism, and, indeed, the idea that even what we think is predetermined.

I don’t expect most listeners of this program to know who Laplace is. When we’re in elementary or high school, he’s not one of the scientists we’re likely to hear of. We’ll hear of Newton, Einstein, Descartes, Edison and many others, but Laplace is often off the list, and we might be tempted to think that he wasn’t as important as many of the rest. But the truth is that he was one of the most brilliant scientists in our history. He had an unrivaled understanding of mathematics, and he was the one responsible for developing the modern understanding of the formation of our solar system from a nebula. Even in the early 19th century, he was talking about gravitational collapse and black holes. He pioneered the Laplace Transform, which is one of the most important mathematical tools used in physics and engineering, enabling many difficult problems to be significantly simplified.

So when someone like Laplace made the suggestion that by knowing the position and momentum of every particle in the universe would enable him to determine everything else that might happen, this wasn’t the simple case of just anyone making a bold claim – this was the case of one of the most brilliant minds in history stating something he truly had some understanding of. And when we think of it, it’s not much different, except on its unbelievable scale, than making a complicated shot on a billiard table. If we know the position of the balls, and how much momentum, and in what direction to apply it, we can predict the movement of the other balls. We might be tempted to think that the universe is really not much more than a very complex, three-dimensional game of billiards.

And if our universe is what Laplace expected it to be – a complex system of objects that can be mapped and understood, and if we could predict the outcome of such interactions, and if our thoughts could be represented as particles and bits of energy, then we might be able to say that everything we are, everything we think, everything we will ever be, was determined by the exact position and momentum of every particle of energy and matter at the dawn of our universe.

If Laplace and some other scientists are correct, every choice we make, every thought we have, every love we will ever have, all our children, all our ancestors, our religions, our spiritual experiences, our art, our music, our architecture, our literature, films, even this program – down to the last typographical error – all of it has been nothing but a mechanistic response to the conditions resulting from one exploding singularity that became everything we know to exist today.

Except.

Except firstly, that Pierre-Simon Laplace and Werner Heisenberg never had a chance to chat. While Laplace believed that if he knew the position and momentum of every single bit of matter, that he might be able to predict everything that would follow. Unfortunately for Laplace, Heisenberg determined that there is no way to possess this knowledge – that having one – position – implies that the other, momentum, cannot be known. That knowledge is mutually exclusive. The more we know one with greater exactness, the less we know of the other.

So, what does this mean for determinism? On the one hand, it means that there is a certain amount of randomness built into the system. Even prior to Laplace, Robert Brown had identified the random motion of particles suspended in a liquid – which has since come to be known as Brownian motion – which is a truly random process. Brown had seen bits of pollen suspended in water, and was unable to come up with a mathematical explanation for the movement of those bits of pollen. The water wasn’t moving, yet the pollen still moved through the water. Interestingly, it was Albert Einstein, in 1905, who, looking at Brown’s work, devised the idea that the pollen was being moved by collision with water molecules. It was, in fact, this paper by Einstein, that demonstrated that atoms and molecules actually exist. Parenthetically, looking back, when my grandmother and grandfather were born, we actually had no proof of the existence of either atoms or molecules. By the time they were my age, the power of the atom had already been exploited in nuclear reactors and bombs.

So, at this point, Laplace is partially out of the deterministic picture. He can’t say exactly what the universe will look like some time after knowing the exact position and momentum of every particle. But neither is his indictment entirely complete, and the concept of free will hasn’t been granted complete liberty. Brownian motion is what’s called a stochastic process. It’s probabilistic in nature, which means that if we know the position and momentum of all the particles involved, we can make a better guess as to where the bit of pollen will go. In this arena, we can think of the path of a hurricane – the closer it is, the better our chance of knowing where it will go. This is the same predictive method used to tell us how safe we might be days prior to a large, powerful storm system arrives. But even with the knowledge of larger systems, increasing granularity – the closer we get to the more intimate details, the less certain we are about those details.

Now while those bits of randomness do tell us that the state of the universe years from now, they don’t let us off the hook when it comes to the idea that we are the sole determiners of the paths of our own lives. And that is more the point of this little talk tonight.

Some in science are becoming more of the opinion that our personalities, wants, needs and desires are all functions of neural energy, chemicals, and the things that have happened to us in our past. Indeed, it’s very interesting to see how many violent and anti-social behaviors have been documented as a result of physical problems such as tumors and brain damage.

In 2002, New Scientist reported the case of a 40-year old man who developed pedophilia after an egg-sized tumor developed in his brain. When the tumor was removed, the man no longer had such desires. This doesn’t suggest that all cases of pedophilia are caused by tumors; in this man’s case, he showed no such proclivities prior to the tumor, and most pedophiles demonstrate those leanings far earlier in life. But this does bring to mind the question of responsibility for a criminal’s actions. If our behavior is determined by nothing but the conditions of our brains, how can we be held responsible for any of our actions? Indeed, if we are nothing but the result of 13 Billion years of random processes, how could any of us be responsible for anything?

So that idea of determinism presents us with one significant philosophical problem – if everything that we do is predetermined, what is the point of punishment? If things are predestined to be, and we have no choice – no human free will to do, or to not do anything, doesn’t that lend just a bit of an unjust nature to the idea of crime and punishment? And not only crime and punishment – if everything we do is nothing other than the result of natural processes, all interacting with each other, how is anyone ever deserving of praise or honor or condemnation or punishment? If everything is the result of atoms and subatomic particles in collision, why is there any cause to encourage or comfort or love or anything that we, as human beings do for each other? Seriously – if we live in this deterministic world that some posit, then our choice to encourage the student, the surgeon, the artist, the musician, the lover, the dying – it has no meaning – right?

So here’s the thing. I don’t believe in this deterministic model of our universe. I think that freedom of choice is real and legitimate. And here’s why.

There are lots of people who poo-poo the ideas of psychic effects and reincarnation and near-death experiences and many other phenomena that fall into the realm of noetics and metaphysics, but each of them suffers from one single flaw – they haven’t fully studied these things.

Sometimes it makes sense to look at a claim and to suggest that it makes no sense. We can look at the work of Dr. Emoto who suggests that water given “good feelings” will form crystals that will be more beautiful than those in a jar on which is written “hate”, and rationally we can say nonsense. We can look at his methods and recognize that these experiments aren’t controlled, that the individuals choosing the crystals know what was written on the jars, and are at liberty to choose any crystals they wish. It is nonsense. His work doesn’t represent a valid scientific experiment, because it has no controls. And a basic understanding of the physics involved would suggest that such an experiment would have no merit in the first place – individual atoms don’t have memory – nor do molecules of water. The mechanism doesn’t exist to produce the claimed effect. It would be like selling someone a car and telling them it will go from 0 to 100 in 4 seconds, carrying 4 adults, with a 3 horsepower motor. It’s nonsense.

The problem that we, in the occult and metaphysical community have is that everything gets lumped together – the legitimate and the nonsense.

The truth is that there have been studies that demonstrate that things like reincarnation and near-death experiences have some real validity. Many people have had psychic experiences that do suggest that there is more in heaven and earth than can be described by our still rather youthful scientific understanding.

The metaphysical community is undeniably filled with more than our share of charlatans. There are lots of people posing as psychics who are really nothing more than keen observers practicing the art of cold reading, whose objective is merely to separate each of us from our hard-earned money.

But the opposite is also true – there are many who have uncanny wisdom and insight. There are those of us who know things we shouldn’t know – that we would have no means of knowing.

The truth is that there are aspects of ourselves, and of energy and of matter that science doesn’t yet understand. Science – real science – cannot categorically claim that something yet unstudied does not exist – simply because we cannot understand the mechanism whereby it might.

I don’t expect science to embrace something yet unproved. And science shouldn’t. But I do expect that those of us who are in the metaphysical and occult communities should do more to expose the charlatans among us, and to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims about what we do; we should avoid trying to explain the things that we experience by claiming, for example, that quantum physics proves that something is possible, that higher vibrations (whatever that might be) make spooky things possible.

We do our ourselves a great disservice when we mis-use science to make what we are doing look more legitimate. To those who practice science, when we make the claim that quantum physics is what powered a spell, brought about a healing, or whatever effect it was that we saw, our credibility is in the toilet the moment we make such a claim.

The truth is that among those of us who have effectively practiced magick, all we know is that we did something, and saw an effect. When we try to explain the mechanism, we fall short. So when the scientist asks, we can’t claim that it’s some quantum effect – we’ve lost them then. What we can say is “I do this repeatedly, and repeatedly, this presumed effect occurs”. We can’t claim to know what the causative link is, but when the scientist sees that B follows A, repeatedly, THAT is when they will suspect that something more is going on – that there is truly some connection between the two. And that’s what science needs more when it comes to metaphysics – fewer BS artists, and more people finding the correlations and asking the questions.

But this has been a bit of a tangent – we’re talking about determinism. And it’s in this tangent that we just took that I base my claim that we don’t live in a deterministic universe. The truth is that for scientists and philosophers to make the claim that everything is determined at the moment of the big bang, a second claim must be made – that we, as human beings, are not more than mere matter and known forms of energy existing in three dimensions. But this is an assertion that has not yet been fully investigated, and making it is no more legitimate than it is for Dr. Emoto to claim that words on a jar will affect the formation of crystals from water that is in that jar. The experiments necessary to prove those assertions simply haven’t been performed.

So, without actual evidence that there is something within us that permits us to make choices for ourselves, is there a way that we can know that we aren’t more than the result of random processes stemming from a cosmological accident 13.8 Billion years ago?

I think we’re doing ourselves a disservice when we try to suggest that we actually “know” anything in a scientific sense. We can believe. And we can act “as if” we know in the scientific sense of the word. That is the purpose of myth.

Too often we confuse myth and fiction. We think that fiction means that a thing is untrue, but that’s not the case at all. Myth is what informs us when we don’t have observable, testable, science and facts to explain what it is that is going on. Those of us who have practiced magick, or the spiritual arts know that we have used them to real and legitimate effect – they are real for us, but this is still the arena of myth, because we don’t have a scientific explanation for what has happened. When we pass this information on, it may still be true, but it’s still myth – lying somewhere between faith and observable, testable, repeatable science.

And it is in this arena, for now, where we find that we do have our own freedom of will, that we make our own choices. It is certainly a myth, but that doesn’t mean that it’s untrue. In the Bible, the story of Jesus falls under religious myth – for now. We have no evidence, to date, that he was a real person, or that he actually rose from the dead. Yet the story of his life is still religious myth. Even if we found evidence that he did actually exist, the story of his life remains religious myth.

Our lives are also myth. Our choices, our dreams, our goals They are myth too, but they are not untrue. What we are, who we are, the things we believe – all of it is myth, and all of it is real. I am free to choose because I make my choices. I can balance my desires and my goals. I know that I can make choices, because I have made them.

I’ve also had experiences that can only be regarded as psychic. And the absolute truth is this: I know that science doesn’t have all the answers. So when a scientist says that the freedom to choose is an illusion, I realize that while science looks at the mystic and sees someone without answers, the mystic knows that she is but a mirror of the scientist. And how we view each other – well, that’s our choice. And we are free to choose.