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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Regular readers know that every Friday the Thirteenth, I ask those who aren’t sex workers to stand up for us.  If you’re one of them, you already know the sorts of things I’m going to say; if you aren’t, you can simply go back and read the essay for the previous occurence in March. and the one before that from last December.  But since the US has just seen two unrepentant prohibitionist authoritarians elected to the presidency and vice-presidency – the latter of which founded her national-level political career on censoring sex workers’ advertising and demonizing those who provide our advertising platforms  –  your support is now more important than ever.  If you generally support the “red hat” crew, I don’t need to give you extra reasons to oppose the new regime’s policies; if you generally support the “blue hat” crew, you probably don’t need my urging to oppose policies that give cops more money, power, and excuses to lock people in cages for consensual sex; and if you recognize that the two crews don’t differ by much other than the color of their hats, you’re probably already opposed to the abominable concept that peaceful, consensual acts of any kind can be crimes.  Most of the recent pack of Democratic presidential wannabees, including the new vice-president elect, pretended to accept the need for deciminalization of sex work (even though they really support Swedish criminalization); over 50% of Americans support true decriminalization, and the same elections which resulted in a new president also resulted in a wave of drug decriminalizations and legalizations in many states.  Governments sending brutal thugs to inflict violence upon those who enjoy themselves in ways their overlords dislike is less popular in this country than it has been in a century, so now is the time to push even harder to chip away as much of the edifice of prohibition as possible before the pendulum inevitably begins to swing the other way again.

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The wars of the 21st century, unlike their 19th and 20th century counterparts of finite length, will continue on interminably until the Empire waging them is consumed in the flames of its own collective insanity.  –  “War Without End

In the year since my last Armistice Day polemic, the severity of the cracks in the American Empire have become far more evident to everyone who isn’t willfully ignoring them.  As I wrote in “Post-Imperial“,

…whatever prestige the US enjoyed [has been undermined by] the ascension of a mad emperor who has made himself an international laughingstock, burned nearly every bridge, and weakened the economy with a ridiculous trade war; the exposure before the eyes of the world of the violent, racist, authoritarian rot that permeates the entire fascist sytem; the childish bickering and deranged tyrannies of nearly every member of the US political class, trying to one-up each other instead of fulfilling one of the few legitimate functions of government, disaster management; and said government’s shameless funneling of money into the hands of the well-connected on a scale unseen since the collapse of the Ancien Régime…The era of US hegemony is over; it looks, may the gods help us, as though the dominant world political power of the twenties is going to be an empire even more outrageously evil and single-mindedly authoritarian than the US ever was…

Last week, the process of replacing that mad emperor with a senile and more conventionally authoritarian one began, and how exactly that process will unfold is, at the time of this writing, not entirely clear.  But while the antics of the new god-king are likely to be less openly clownish than those of the deposed one, all of the other problems listed in the quote above will remain.  And the wars will go on and on, because as I said a year ago today:

…given the popularity of astonishingly-wasteful military adventurism across the monolithic ruling party naive Americans absurdly refer to as “the political spectrum”, including among those who profess to have better and far more productive ideas for the trillions being flushed down Ares’ toilet, it seems obvious that…a great deal of the impetus for modern warfare, like the impetus for the domestic wars (on drugs, whores, “crime”, etc), comes directly from those reaping profits and gathering political power from the bloodshed…

Furthermore, we can expect most of the voices which have criticized all of this over the past few years to grow silent, as the pretentiously-named “Resistance” evaporates almost as completely as the Bush-era antiwar movement did after the inauguration of Obama, leaving “their guy” free to indulge himself in “empire-building, setting new records for mass deportation, murdering children with flying war robots and using strips of the shredded Constitution to wipe his arse with“.  I say “almost” because it seems at least some of those who describe their beliefs with the silly 18th-century label “left” are at least somewhat more skeptical of Emperor Biden than they were of Emperor Obama, and appear to be at least beginning to comprehend that would-be rulers who choose a jackass as their totem are just as enamored with violence and just as devoted to the principle of “might makes right” as their chums who prefer the totem of a clumsy, lumbering pachyderm.  One way or the other, it’s far too late for the American Empire.  But perhaps those of us who have been sounding the warning for decades may be joined by at least a few extra voices over the next four years.

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Drugs are winning the war on drugs.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Suppression

Watch what you say in front of your children, comrade:

Conversations over the dinner table that incite hatred must be prosecuted under Scotland’s hate crime law, [a megalomaniacal politician bloviated]…Journalists and theatre directors should also face the courts if…Humza Yousaf [or some other censorious sociopath disagrees with them]…the…bill has been condemned by [supporters of human rights and even] the Scottish Catholic Church [and some cops]…It will introduce an offence of [magically] stirring-up of hatred against people [by witchcraft, but only if they belong to specially privileged classes]…Mr Yousaf said that there should be no “dwelling defence” in his bill. He told the Scottish parliament’s justice committee that children, family and house guests must be [forced to become informants for the pigs by threatening them with violence if they refuse]…

Election Day (#937) 

We are watching the beginning of the end of the War on Drugs:

Of nine drug decriminalization or legalization measures on state ballots [this week]…not a single one failed.  These were decisive victories, too, not close calls…In D.C., more than three-quarters of voters approved Initiative 81, declaring “that police shall treat the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi”—those that contain ibogaine, dimethyltryptamine, mescaline, or psilocybin—among the lowest law enforcement priorities”…Arizona…voters were 59.85 percent in favor of legalization [of recreational cannabis]…In New Jersey, the proportion favoring legalization was…67 percent…In South Dakota, 69 percent approved the medical marijuana measure…and…[53%] the recreational marijuana measure…Montana saw nearly 57 percent of voters approve recreational marijuana…Mississippi, voters said yes to two medical marijuana measures…with…74 percent…in favor…Oregon’s measure to decriminalize non-commercial possession of all drugs saw…59 percent of voters approve…and nearly 56 percent of voters approved…the Psilocybin Services Act, which…[allows] licensed …providers to…[sell “magic”] mushroom and fungi products…

See also “The Clueless Leading the Hysterical” below.

Shame, Shame (#951)

Bird-brains still think realistic porn cartoons are the worst use for this technology:

Dangerous Speech (#1041)

The government keeps demonstrating that it doesn’t really care that its war on thought is wholly and incontrovertibly unconstitutional:

…Susan Brnovich, the presiding judge in the prosecution of [a half dozen former members of the Village Voice Media family],  is married to the state’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Mark Brnovich…we have argued — to no avail — that the judge has a conflict.  Previously Judge Douglas Rayes disqualified himself because he had a friendly relationship with attorneys on both sides of this case…Judge Susan, on the other hand, is sleeping with General Mark.  She sees no problem…Mark Brnovich published an incendiary —  and wildly inaccurate  — propaganda booklet attacking Backpage, the classified advertising platform, in 2018…In the absence of any disclosure by her that her husband had already set the table for her, we went to court under the impression that Susan was an impartial jurist…We have only recently connected these judicial dots courtesy of a curious attorney who asked: Did you know…?  We did not…The defendants then are left to ponder the pillow talk between these interlocutors…

(State) Violence Against Women

The “Violence Against Women Act” doesn’t fight its named subject; it promotes it:

…”mandatory arrest” policies…spread across the U.S. after the passage of the…Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), part of the infamous 1994 crime bill.  The man behind [it]…was…Joe Biden.  The parent bill, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994…has since been disavowed by Democrats and Republicans, including…Biden…But Biden and the broader Democratic Party are still boasting in 2020 about VAWA…the product of activist agendas and political convenience, written and sold on ideas and evidence that were either dubious or outright debunked…Biden’s law funneled billions to police and prosecutors to enact policies that put women in greater danger—and said victims’ wishes didn’t matter when they conflicted with what the state thought best…Democrat[s claim]…that 30 years ago, “domestic violence was treated as a private matter, not a heinous crime”…But [this] doesn’t square with the historical record …”Assaults and threats of physical violence against intimate partners have been illegal for centuries,” noted lawyer Leigh Goodmark in The New York Times last year…[even] Prohibition [was pushed using the common belief]…that drunkenness was the main cause of abuse…As Aya Gruber, a law professor…and former public defender, writes in…The Feminist War on Crime, “The nascent battered women’s movement was radical and antiauthoritarian at its core…[but quickly] transformed…into a propolicing, proprosecution lobby”…

Tissue of Lies (#1081)

The latest pig fad: collecting a bunch of unrelated raids, arrests & record updates and calling the resulting dog’s breakfast a “human trafficking sting”:

In what is [pretended by cops and prosecutors] to be the largest anti-human trafficking operation in state history, Ohio [pigs characterized a series of arrests of teenagers and adults as]…the…recover[y of] 45 missing children…and more 100 other human trafficking survivors…Hop[ing that nobody would notice the large amount of time the arrests were spread over, and that they were made by]…50 [diffient gangs of thugs]…Ohio Attorney General David Yost…[made furtive movements in his pants while describing the arrest of teenagers running away from abuse homes and/or living with non-custodial parents as] “lives that were rescued from this evil”…Yost [also seemed to lump the arrests of sex workers into his fantasy]…and…[tied it to] a two-week operation in Georgia that [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined and found that, by combining a variety of cases, pigs had intentionally and maliciously fostered a false perception that confused the public and harmed innocent people]…

Cops all over the US are apparently trying to shore up the dying “sex trafficking” mythology by combining a few arrests of sex workers and clients with mass arrests of teens in foster care and shelters and pretending they’re related.

To Molest and Rape (#1083)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

A Baltimore Police SWAT [thug]…has been charged with child sex abuse…Donald P. Hildebrandt …“denies all the charges against him, and adamantly maintains [that she wanted it]”…

Legislators Gone Wild (#1086)

Sex workers need to keep suing prohibitionists whenever possible:

…Alice Little, who works at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch…is taking legal action [against Nevada governor Steve Sisolak] because…he…is [discriminating against] sex workers [by refusing to allow brothels to do business] while allowing other high-contact businesses to reopen …“For months…tattoo shops and massage parlors…have been…open while the…brothels remain shuttered.  If it’s safe for a customer to get a massage at a massage parlor, then it should be safe for a customer to visit a…brothel…Sex workers like me are suffering financially and emotionally.  We have minimal options for economic relief and limited alternative employment opportunities due to our stigmatized work history”…Most strip clubs in Clark County are also still closed…Little is being represented by attorney Marc J. Randazza

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1086)

Reporters are finally getting that nobody is going to give expensive cannabis edibles to your spawn for free:

Since 1996…drug warriors and their credulous collaborators at newspapers and TV stations have repeatedly warned parents that seemingly friendly strangers might be trying to get their kids high on Halloween by passing off THC-infused candy as ordinary treats.  Yet none of those stories cited any actual examples…since substituting expensive marijuana edibles for cheap candy…offers no obvious payoff even for maliciously minded stoners…[but] after two decades of this nonsense…[some reporters] are starting to…show…appropriate skepticism…”No One’s Going to Give Your Kids Free Weed in Their Halloween Candy,” said the headline over an October 2019 Slate piece by Jane C. Hu…A week later, the Washington Examiner ran an opinion piece…with the same message…NBC News ran an essay by Simon Moya-Smith with this headline: “The Halloween tale of marijuana handed out to trick-or-treaters is as real as a ghost story.”  This month the Spokane Spokesman-Review noted that “tainted treats turn out to be mostly make-believe”…

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Government is at best a barely-necessary evil, and in most cases just a plain evil.  –  “Anarchy?

Every year on this day, following as it does The Day of the Dead, I remind readers that nation-states are, no matter what politicians and other control freaks would like you to believe, every bit as mortal as the humans who create them (albeit somewhat longer-lived on average).  And because the day also falls in close proximity to the US election day, I also use it to remind readers that absolutely no one can be trusted with power over others, and a tyranny which claims legitimacy via the charade of “democratic elections” is no more legitimate than any other because it still claims the “right” to inflict violence upon those who want nothing to do with it and have done nothing to harm anyone.  Nor does the race, gender, sexual orientation, political party or any other characteristic of the power-holders matter; power corrupts, and every last human being is corruptible.  This year, we have seen a greater number of Americans than ever before recognizing that the standing armies created to enforce the arbitrary diktats of sociopathic “leaders” upon their subjects are hopelessly corrupt, evil, and violent, and that their power must be sharply curtailed.  But unfortunately, many well-meaning but naive people will fight to prevent that from happening because they have been brainwashed into fearing what politicians like to call “anarchy”, but is actually nothing of the kind.  Mob violence is not “anarchy”; it is merely a less-organized, less-established form of Might Makes Right, the same principle used to justify every other form of government and policing.  As I wrote two years ago today,

Humans are not yet ready for pure anarchy, and may never be; however, there are functional anarchist societies (I happen to be a member of one), and a small government of strictly-enumerated powers with ironclad guarantees of individual rights is probably the closest we will ever come to a just and incorruptible one…a large part of the problem is that people’s moral perspectives are blighted by a sick infatuation with government, a belief that there are some circumstances in which it’s not only tolerable but desirable to inflict violence on people who have done none to others, in furtherance of some pipe-dream of Utopia…

There is absolutely zero possibility that the United States or any other empire or massive state will ever achieve anything like this, and the empire which will move into the power vacuum left behind by the collapsing US is devoted to exactly the opposite goal.  But it is remotely possible that in the Balkanized North America of the near future, some small independent realm will at least make the attempt.

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It is time that we all listen to the…voices…[of] sex workers. – LaLa Zannell

Paint By Numbers

A permanent dumb “awareness raising” stunt:

Lykins Square Park [in Kansas City]…will be the site of what is likely the first memorial in the nation to victims of sex trafficking…glass artist Hasna Sal dreamed up and executed the memorial, called “Into the Light”…[after] hear[ing and masturbating to]…sex trafficking [fantasies]…Kristy Childs…runs [prohibitionist group] Veronica’s Voice…[and admits] she…calls [all sex work by the dysphemism]…trafficking [but still repeated the Shahada anyhow]…the memorial…is made up of four stained glass panels [which reveal their Christian religious nature by their titles]…Damnation, Isolation, Redemption, and Salvation…

Note that this is just a fancy version of the tired old racist “black man’s hand over white woman’s mouth” image so beloved by the fetishists. Also note (at the link) the pretense that strip clubs only employ girls below 18, and that they “age out” as soon as they’re legal.  These people really do live in an ugly fantasy world.

Legislators Gone Wild (#1028) 

Nevada politicians have accomplished by royal decree what they couldn’t accomplish legally:

…hundreds of legal[ized] sex workers in [Nevada] lost their major source of income when brothels and other businesses [were forcibly] shut down mid-March.  While most other industries have been [allowed by politicians] to resume some level of operations, Gov. has indicated that the state’s brothels are “not on his radar” to reopen [even though other] services allowing physical contact…[such as] tattoo shops, estheticians, and massage parlors [were allowed to] open since May.  Women who work in Nevada’s legal sex industry…[are] being [persecuted] not because of the risk their business poses but because of a bias against their industry…

Social Distancing (#1031)

Swedish criminalization harms sex workers by creating a climate of fear:

It’s a common misconception that Canadian sex workers cannot, or should not, file taxes on their income because their industry exists in what many consider to be a legal grey area, with fears over arrests and other reprisals…[as in the US,] even income from illegal activities is taxable…This year, only those who were able to navigate the tax filing process had access to critical financial support…[but sex worker activist] Valerie Scott…[explains that] the current legal status of Canadian sex workers makes it feel too risky for many in the industry to file taxes at all.  “To be known as a sex worker, to file taxes as a sex worker, to have any information with the government in any form [is] exceedingly dangerous…There are so many ways we can get caught up.  We’re sitting ducks”…

Nonessential

The power to declare something “non-essential” is the power to ban it:

Supermarkets in Wales will have discretion to sell [items declared by politicians to be] non-essential…in “exceptional circumstances”, the Health Minister has said, following a major public backlash.  Vaughan Gething said supermarkets would be able to sell non-essential items to customers “in genuine need” during the so-called fire break lockdown…[politicians had at first arbitrarily proclaimed] that retailers allowed to remain open could not sell goods [politicians arbitrarily] deemed non-essential…such as bedding…children’s clothes…and…sanitary products…Gething [bloviated that] allowing non-essential retailers to open would “undermine” [politicians’ totalitarian power to declare some human beings “nonessential”]…

What Were You All Waiting For? (#1048) 

45 years after it became their official position, ACLU finally bothers to call for decriminalization:

The…ACLU…[has] released…a comprehensive review of over 80 studies about sex work…show[ing] that full decriminalization has the greatest benefits for public health and safety…The [report]…analyzed studies on…full decriminalization…“Nordic” models…[and] legalization models that require sex workers to register or impose other regulations…ACLU’s [LaLa Zannell said]…“millions of people are asking what we can do to reduce abuse by law enforcement, racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and our overall jail and prison populations…One policy that can achieve all of these goals…is to recognize that sex work is work and treat it like any other industry”…

Quiet Genocide (#1050)

A firsthand account of China’s torture of Uighurs:

Ӧmir Bekali…a…Kazakh [businessman, was]…visit[ing]…his family in…Turpan…[when cops unexpectedly] showed up…to arrest him…he…was thrown into a small…cell…for a week…with no explanation…the room…contained more than 36 others, who, like him, had their arms and legs constantly shackled…“My feet and my hands were tied up with iron shackles and they beat my hands…feet…back and…stomach…They put needles [under] my nails and…iron sticks into my sexual organs”…Police also hung him from the roof of the cell by his wrists so his feet could not touch the floor, and later smashed his knuckles with hammer-like instruments…he…was [then] moved to a…prison camp…[for] seven months…with no access to lawyers, phones to contact his family with, nor any real explanations for his arrest.  In November 2017, he was transported to…a…”re-education camp”…there are 40 people to a 16 square-metre room…Twenty-four hours a day, prisoners are shackled.  Iron chains are tied around their necks, fixed to loose iron blocks that…weigh around eight to ten kilograms, forcing [them] to always be hunched down…prisoners…are woken up at 5am and given a meagre serving of bread and soup.  They are then forced to repeatedly sing songs which praise the Chinese Communist party…and…Xi Jinping personally…As Ӧmir often expressed his discontent with his arrest, he found himself tortured once again.  He…was beaten “half to death” and made to stand facing a wall for twenty-four hours without food or drink on some occasions…After 20 days, Ӧmir was finally released…[thanks to] his wife…pressur[ing] two Kazakh Ambassadors to finally [intercede for him]…

Lack of Evidence (#1051)

The only “evidence” these racist sociopaths need is being Romanian:

The trafficking of Romanian women into the UK sex trade has reached an “industrial scale”, [prohibitionists fantasize]…Scottish Community Safety Minister Ash Denham…[participated in a circle-jerk] with Romanian…[prohibition]ists…[misogynist] group UK Feminista…[prohibitionist politician] Diana Johnson…and [other assorted masturbators, fascists, control freaks and busybodies from both] the UK and Romania…[The participants shared a lot of nonsensical claims supported by bogus] research.  Last month 24 people were arrested in the UK and Romania in a Police Scotland-led operation.  Dawn raids [and massive robberies] were carried out [and justified by calling the victims a] gang…

Sometimes prohibitionists openly admit that “sex trafficking” is nothing but a dysphemism for “sex work”.

I Spy (#1057) 

Remember, Twitter claims this surveillance isn’t surveillance:

Dataminr aggressively markets itself as a tool for…police[-statery]…using sophisticated machine-learning algorithms…[tha]t company insiders say…[a]re often nothing more than garden-variety racial profiling, powered…by a small army of human analysts conducting endless keyword searches…Dataminr…has…relied on prejudice-prone tropes and hunches to determine who, where, and what looks dangerous.  Through First Alert, its app for public sector clients, Dataminr has offered a bespoke, scariest possible version of the web:  a never-ending stream of notifications of imminent or breaking catastrophes to investigate.  But First Alert’s streams were assembled…by teams of “Domain Experts”…hunting social media for danger and writing alerts for cops’ iPhones and laptop screens…these staffers…were pressed to search specific neighborhoods, streets, and even housing complexes for crime…

The Clueless Leading the Hysterical (#1083)

There has literally never been a case of a kid getting drugged candy in his trick-or-treat bag:

Indiana State Police [once again tried to foment hysteria by telling] parents [there might be] marijuana edibles in their children’s Halloween candy…Police [pretend] that [adults never like sweet things] so…marijuana…candy…is [therefore some kind of intentional deception intended to ensnare penniless brats for some inexplicable but nefarious reason]…

Once again: nobody is going to give expensive cannabis edibles (which can cost $2 to $3 or more per piece) to your spawn for free.

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Diary #540

I’m happy to say that I had a very lovely birthday week!  I was in an unusually good mood all week, and did a lot of cooking because I felt like it; for inner on Saturday I prepared three kinds of finger foods (deviled eggs, shrimp toast, and crab Rangoon) because I feel as though they’re kind of like adult trick-or-treat, and we watched several spooky shows.  An artist friend of mine was with us, and she gave me this paperweight she made from a stone from my property, painted with a lovely snake motif!  Jae also gave me a snake, a big plush one which I think I will leave to guard my bed.   And I got so many presents from readers and admirers:  Mike Siegel sent me Predestination and The Immortality Key; Jeremy Dunn sent me several of the “Shaver Mystery” reprint books and a Japanese horror film, Marebito, based on them; and two other readers sent me a lovely cashmere sweater and a digital kitchen scale, but since some Amazon sellers neglect to send packing skips, I don’t know who to thank!  If you sent one of those, please let me know.  On top of all that, several readers sent me cash gifts, which are always welcome!  All around, it was an exceptional birthday week, and thanks so much to everyone who helped make it so!

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James Randi, AKA, “The Amazing Randi”, died last week at the age of 92.  If you don’t know who he was, watch this short video for an introduction; there’s also a full-length documentary on his life’s work, An Honest Liar.  The links above the video were provided by Mistress Matisse, Nun Ya, Franklin Harris, Radley Balko, Cop Crisis, Walter Olson, and Mike Siegel, in that order.

From the Archives

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Death is what gives life meaning, and fighting excessively against it is as childish and futile as the behavior of a toddler who refuses to let another child take his place on the carousel once his ride is done.  –  “Thanatopsis

Every year on the Day of the Dead I write about the inevitability and goodness of Death.  Yes, I said “goodness”; as I wrote in “Eternity“, “Eternal life wouldn’t be a gift; it would be a horror literally beyond imagining.”  I’ve never been especially afraid of death; part of that is due to the fact that “I was a strange, wild, moody Wednesday Addams of a child, born on Halloween night and fascinated with horror lore and imagery.  Autumn was both my native season and the one in which I felt most comfortable” The rest, of course, was a combination of chronic depression and ruthless pragmatism; for much of my life I endured long periods in which I would have viewed death as a welcome release, and even when I was in a cheerier frame of mind I was still rational enough to recognize that the continuance of life for any given creature requires the regular deaths of countless others.  But it wasn’t until my forties that I started become really philosophical about mortality, and only five years ago did I really start to deeply ponder its spiritual dimension.  The latter development was not merely due to age, though that undoubtedly helped put me in the right headspace; a catalyst was required, and that catalyst was edible cannabis.  I started experimenting with what are typically and not-entirely-correctly called “recreational drugs” near the end of 2014, and though several of them gave me very rewarding experiences with others, it was the psychedelic experiences I had from using largish doses of edible cannabis alone (or more accurately, without human company) that opened the doors to the Infinite and gave me a perspective on death, the soul and my place in Everything which eventually led to a spiritual peace unlike any I had ever known.  I was far from alone; those who refuse to be bound by the Puritanism which has trapped modern humanity in a death-grip have for decades tried to tell everyone else about the healing and mind-expanding power of psychedelic drugs, and since the 1990s studies have increasingly demonstrated the power of such substancies to alleviate depression, PTSD and other mental health issues.  But this is not a new discovery, it is, rather, a rediscovery of truths known to our ancestors millenia ago:

…sacred tripping was not simply a function of prehistoric religious rituals and shamanism, but an integral, even central part, of the world of the ancient Greeks….The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion With No Name, by Brian Muraresku…shows…the centrality of psychedelic use…in an elaborate and mysterious once-in-a-lifetime ceremony at the Temple of Eleusis, a short distance from Athens.  We’ve long known about…the Mysteries…and the rite of passage they offered — because it’s everywhere in the record.  Many leading Greeks and Romans went there, including Plato and Marcus Aurelius…The Greeks and Romans went to Eleusis only once in their lives, like the Muslim hajj, to participate in a nocturnal rite, and were sworn to secrecy as to what went on.  But the constant theme in the ancient literature around this ritual is that it somehow took the sting of death away.  “Death is for mortals no longer an evil, but a blessing” was the phrase attached to it…Historians and classicists have long pondered what this meant and what exactly happened, but all agree that it required drinking a special brew.  And new discoveries of ancient chalices and cups — and new techniques of testing ancient residue — have begun to suggest what made these archaic potions so special…they contained countless herbs and spices and ingredients, among them, critically, elements of ergot, a fungus that infected barley and rye and had potent hallucinogenic effects…Another re-examined excavation in Pompeii found the preserved remains at the bottom of large barrels jars dated to 79 CE:  chemical analysis found it included seeds of cannabis, opium, and hallucinogenic nightshades.  The recipe for the psychedelic brew and the preparation of it was restricted to women, who passed on the secret recipes from mother to daughter, and was the particular preserve of older women.  The effect, we’re told in the sources, was transformative: you saw past life and death, you became unafraid of your own mortality, you gained perspective and inner peace…
When I read this article a few days ago, I wasn’t really surprised; I have long understood that knowledge is cyclic, and many truths are gained, lost, and gained again, not merely on a societal level but in the lives of individuals treading paths new to us, but well-worn by countless others.  And my own life is replete with “coincidences” and “happenstances” which are in actuality nothing but; I see them as the Hand of the Divine, though you of course are free to draw your own conclusions.  I do not have access to the sacred recipe for the transformative cocktail at the center of The Mysteries, and yet I nonetheless have followed in the footsteps of my many-times-great-grandmeres by offering to others the wisdom that mortality is not a thing to fear, but rather a blessing to accept when it comes to us in the fullness of time.

 

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Halloween 2020

Happy Halloween, dear readers, and Blessed Be!

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Dead On Arrival

Here’s a fun little Halloween game; y’all can play in the comment thread or on Twitter as you prefer.  How many TV shows can you think of in which one of the main characters is already dead by the end of the first episode?  Characters who appear only occasionally don’t count; it has to be regular screen appearances.  Obviously, shows which have vampire characters such as Dark Shadows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood and The Munsters are included, as are ghost characters like Merlyn Temple in American Gothic, Captain Daniel Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and “Slimer” in the cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters (and since we’re allowing cartoons, half the cast of The Groovie Goolies qualifies).  But there are also science-fiction versions of undead, such as Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf or Alex Murphy in Robocop, and wholly-mortal characters whose deaths set events in motion and thereafter regularly appear in flashbacks, such as Master Po in Kung Fu and Laura Palmer (mostly in photos) in Twin Peaks.  I asked Grace to play yesterday and she came up with Georgia Lass and her fellow Grim Reapers in Dead Like Me; several characters in Glitch, Resurrection and The Returned; Ezekiel Stone in Brimstone; Olivia Moore of iZombie; Sheila Hammond of Santa Clarita Diet; and Kieren Walker of In the Flesh.  I’ll bet there are plenty of others, though; how many can you name?

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