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MoogPlayer
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31/12/2013 12:14 am  

Was Crowley a proponent of Evolution? Creationism? Or both (what some call intelligent-design)?

Darwin's The origin of species was first published in 1859. And yet, I don't ever recall it being among the many books and works which Crowley suggested his students familiarize themselves with. Instead, he said they should read Levi, who's work is full of baffling passages like the following:

[...]man came out of the slime of the earth, and his first appearance must have been in the form of a rough sketch. The analogies of nature make this notion necessarily admissible, at least as a possibility. The first men were, in this case, a family of gigantic, sensitive mandragores, animated by the sun, who rooted themselves up from the earth ; this assumption not only does not exclude, but, on the contrary, positively supposes, creative will and the providential co-operation of a first cause, which we have reason to call God.
Some alchemists, impressed by this idea, speculated on the culture of the mandragore, and experimented in the artificial reproduction of a soil sufficiently fruitful and a sun sufficiently active to humanise the said root, and thus create men without the concurrence of the female. (See: Homunculus) Others, who regarded humanity as the synthesis of animals, despaired about vitalising the mandragore, but they crossed monstrous pairs and projected human seed into animal earth, only for the production of shameful crimes and barren deformities.

When Levi says mandragore, he's talking about mandrake's. Those little plantlike creatures of folklore - you know, just like in harry potter.

To Levi's partial credit, he seems to vaguely grasp at our evolutionary origin when he says that mans first appearance "was in the form of a rough sketch". Also, that some others "regard humanity as the synthesis of animals". Then he goes off the rails with some clap trap about mandrakes being animated by the sun, and alchemists animating stuff with their sperm.

Another writer who Crowley often recommended reading was HP Blavatsky. So what did she have to say about evolution?

In her book "The secret doctrine" Blavatsky claimed that humans evolved from a spiritual source, and that we previously inhabited lost continents like atlantis.

From wiki:

H. P. Blavatsky developed a highly original cosmology, according to which the human race (both collectively and through the succession of individual reincarnation and spiritual evolution) passes through a number of Root Races, beginning with the huge ethereal and mindless Polarian or First Root Race, through the Lemurian (3rd), Atlantean (4th) and our present "Aryan" 5th Race. This will give rise to a future, Post-Aryan 6th Root Race of highly spiritual and enlightened beings that will arise in Baja California in the 28th century, and an even more sublime 7th Root Race, before ascending to totally superhuman and cosmic states of existence.

Although including elements of the science of her day as well as both eastern and western esoteric thought, Blavatsky rejected the Darwinian idea that man evolved from apes, and most subsequent esotericists followed this lead. Darwinism, with its explanation of evolution through material factors like natural selection and random mutation, does not sit well with many spiritual evolutionists, for whom evolution is initiated or guided by metaphysical principles or is tending towards a final spiritual or divine state. It is believed by Theosophists that humans are evolving spiritually through a series of esoteric initiations and in the future humans will become esoteric masters themselves as their souls gradually rise upward through the spiritual hierarchy over the course of eons as they reincarnate.

There are obvious problems with Blavatsky's account of creationism. First, the geological and archaeological evidence. We have yet to find any evidence of a lost continent, its civilization, or it's cataclysm. It's in the same category as noah's flood. Next, is the biological evidence. We evolved from other mammals, not "ethereal beings". Modern humans started to appear about 200,000 years ago... go back any further, and we start running into our non homo-sapien ancestors. You would think that if Blavatsky were right, that we should be finding lots of modern homo-sapien fossils that are millions of years old! But we hadn't even figured out agriculture at the dates she is claiming civilizations existed. In actual fact there were no civilizations millions of years ago, because we were still wild animals at the time. Our earliest traces of civilization, agriculture, and even tool making (along with all the fossils we have ever found), clearly make this atlantis thing a very unlikely scenario.

My point here is that Blavatsky and Levi were proponents of what is called "spiritual evolution". There is a whole wiki on the subject:

[...]the belief in the animal origins of man threatened the foundation of the immortality of the spirit, for if man had not been created, it was scarely plausible that he would be specially endowed with a spirit. This led to spiritualists embracing spiritual evolution.[9]
In the 19th century Anglo-American Spiritualist ideas emphasize the progression of the soul after death to higher states of existence, in contrast to Spiritism, which admits reincarnation.
The spiritualists view of evolution did not stop at death. Spiritualism taught that after death spirits progressed to spiritual states in new spheres of existence. According to spiritualists evolution occurred in the spirit world “at a rate more rapid and under conditions more favourable to growth” than encountered on earth.

Blavatsky did not like Darwin's theories so she made up her own. Mathers was presumably a proponent of "spiritual evolution" in his own way. So was the quack doctor Rudolf Steiner. Also, the Nazi's.

I'm wondering if Crowley was himself a proponet, and if thelema in general should be interpreted as endorsing the ideas of "spiritual evolution".

After all, Crowley was an advocate of Theurgy and Kabbalah. To quote the "spiritual evolution" wiki once more:

Theurgy has a clear relationship to Neoplatonism and Kabbalah and contains the concept of spiritual evolution[citation needed] and ultimately unification with God or the Godhead at its core. Theurgy is considered by many to be another term for high magic and is known to have influenced the members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn many of whom considered the order to be Theurgic in nature. Aleister Crowley also considered his Thelemic system of magical philosophy to be a Theurgic tradition as it emphasized the Great Work, which is essentially another form of spiritual evolution. The Great Work is believed to result in communication with one's personal angel or higher self.

Within his idea of "progression of the aeons" Crowley doesn't necessarily touch on the subject of our pre homo-sapien evolutionary origins. He merely says that we lived in closeness with nature, and worshipped the goddess in many forms. In his descriptions of the tarot cards, the four worlds, and the numbers 1 - 10, etc. Crowley clearly seems to be leaning towards an explanation for evolution of material existence, from non-material sources.

He spoke of secret chiefs, reincarnation, and ascended masters. These are concepts borrowed from the proponents of spiritual evolution. The inclusion of these concepts into thelema is suggestive of where it's creator might have stood on the subject of evolution. Crowley placed a priority on recommending books like The secret doctrine and Kabbalah unveiled. He never once mentioned reading The origin of species for recommended reading. That is telling.

In any case, these ideas seem incompatible with our knowledge of the world today. You will never see theosophy taught in a public school, because it's just like the christian version of creationism.

And finally, where does thelema fit in all of this? Is it inherently a "creationist" religion?


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Los
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31/12/2013 1:54 am  
"MoogPlayer" wrote:
And finally, where does thelema fit in all of this? Is it inherently a "creationist" religion?

Well, no. Thelema doesn't have any doctrines remotely like that. The closest you'll get to a "creation myth" in Thelema is AL I: 28-30:

"The Book of the Law" wrote:
28. None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.

30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

And that's obviously poetic, metaphorical, and cosmological (dealing with the appearance of "Something" from "Nothing," rather than the appearance of life or humans per se).

As far as evolution goes, I’m inclined to say that Crowley was aware that the theory of evolution is true, in the sense that it is the best model supported by evidence (and is even more so today). For instance, he could point to religionists’ refusal to accept evolution as an example of the ways that the reason can lead people astray (by leading them to draw faulty conclusions) [the “prejudices of rationality so-called”]:

"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
If the Adept is to be any wise conscious of his Angel it must be that some part of his mind is prepared to realise the rapture, and to express it to itself in one way or another. This involves the perfection of that part, its freedom from prejudice and the limitations of rationality so-called. For instance: one could not receive the illumination as to the nature of life which the doctrine of evolution should shed, if one is passionately persuaded that humanity is essentially not animal, or convinced that causality is repugnant to reason. The Adept must be ready for the utter destruction of his point of view on any subject, and even that of his innate conception of the forms and laws of thought. 2 Thus he may find that his Angel consider his "business" or his "love" to be absurd trifles; also that human ideas of "time" are invalid, and human "laws" of logic applicable only to the relations between illusions.

On another thread here on Lashtal, Lutz was kind enough to post a letter from Crowley to David Curwen in which Crowley says, explicitly, that the theory of evolution “knocked silly” the idea of creationism:

"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
But there has never been any evidence whatever of a discarnate intelligence except in the old childish argument that evolution knocked silly - that a beautiful created thing argued the existence of a creator with a sense of beauty.

Of course, Crowley goes on to state that the Book of the Law is, in fact, evidence for such a discarnate intelligence, but the ridiculousness of that claim is beyond the scope of these present remarks.

More broadly, Crowley didn’t buy into this idea of “spiritual evolution.” He seemed to believe not that the spirit was evolving into purer and purer states but that it was perfect to begin with and was enjoying the experience of (“apparent”) imperfection. From the New Comment to AL I: 8:

"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
Why are we told that the Khabs is in the Khu, not the Khu in the Khabs? Did we then suppose the converse? I think that we are warned against the idea of a Pleroma, a flame of which we are Sparks, and to which we return when we 'attain'. That would indeed be to make the whole curse of separate existence ridiculous, a senseless and inexcusable folly. It would throw us back on the dilemma of Manichaeism. The idea of incarnations "perfecting" a thing originally perfect by definition is imbecile. The only sane solution is as given previously, to suppose that the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection.

So, overall, I would say that Crowley was aware that the theory of evolution is correct and is supported by evidence and that he did not buy into the notion of spiritual evolution of any kind.

Further reading: the thread “Aleister Crowley and the Argument from Design” ( http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3 ), started by yours truly. It’s a thread filled with some interesting arguments, a guy who can’t read, and another guy who thinks that HG might be Darth Sidious (he’s agnostic on that point, don’t you know).

"MoogPlayer" wrote:
In any case, these ideas seem incompatible with our knowledge of the world today. You will never see theosophy taught in a public school, because it's just like the christian version of creationism.

Good point. One thing Crowley did during his lifetime was to sift through "spiritual" sources and try to purge them of as much crap as possible and try to pare them down to a simple, workable system devoid of supernatural hokum. Hence, his stripping yoga down to a very simple technique that cast off all of the foolish beliefs and morality with which yogis cloaked them.

I think it's unquestionable that if Crowley were alive today, he would similarly go through the texts he recommended once upon a time, scoff at a lot of the nonsense contained in them, and generate a newer, better reading list for aspirants.

Honestly, if a person hasn't read The Origin of the Species -- or at least isn't familiar with the basic mechanisms of evolution that have been demonstrated to be true time and time again -- I'd say that isn't an educated person. Dawkins' recent The Greatest Show on Earth is an excellent introduction to the evidence for evolution.


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ignant666
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31/12/2013 2:09 am  

Yes, hard indeed to imagine how one could claim any sort of cultural or scientific literacy were one not familiar with the title of Darwin's On the origin of species.


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lashtal
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31/12/2013 1:45 pm  
"ignant666" wrote:
Yes, hard indeed to imagine how one could claim any sort of cultural or scientific literacy were one not familiar with the title of Darwin's On the origin of species.

😉

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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 Anonymous
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31/12/2013 3:18 pm  

It’s a bit like asking if Crowley liked apple juice.


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William Thirteen
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31/12/2013 3:27 pm  

sensitive mandragores, animated by the sun

Sounds pretty much like the membership here!


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Hamal
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31/12/2013 4:16 pm  
"WilliamThirteen" wrote:
Sounds pretty much like the membership here!

Ha ha! I think you're right WilliamThirteen!

93
Hamal


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MoogPlayer
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01/01/2014 2:18 am  
"Los" wrote:
Well, no. Thelema doesn't have any doctrines remotely like that. The closest you'll get to a "creation myth" in Thelema is AL I: 28-30:

"The Book of the Law" wrote:
28. None, breathed the light, faint & faery, of the stars, and two.

29. For I am divided for love's sake, for the chance of union.

30. This is the creation of the world, that the pain of division is as nothing, and the joy of dissolution all.

And that's obviously poetic, metaphorical, and cosmological (dealing with the appearance of "Something" from "Nothing," rather than the appearance of life or humans per se).

True, the appearance of something from nothing is vaguely explained, but there is still nothing in those verses about what took place between the big bang, and the appearance of the world. If Aiwass was making a revelation here, he should have been able to tell Crowley something substantial... unless of course, Aiwass was a figment of Crowley's imagination. That would explain well why Crowley didn't include discoveries or innovations that were made in physics until after he died. (but that is discussion for another thread)

So while there doesn't appear to be anything within those verses that clearly contradicts the known facts of reality, the book does not clarify the verses or go into detail about that specific concept. And it is so objectively vague that without any more information it could be taken to mean almost anything.

Did Crowley personally possess enough knowledge of physics, astronomy, etc, that we can assume his version of this "something from nothing" is an approximation of what we would explain today using science? (In other words, is Crowley's concept comparable to physicist Lawrence Krauss' "something from nothing", or is it more like the biblical god, who just appears out of nowhere and creates a universe?)

"Los" wrote:
"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
But there has never been any evidence whatever of a discarnate intelligence except in the old childish argument that evolution knocked silly - that a beautiful created thing argued the existence of a creator with a sense of beauty.

Of course, Crowley goes on to state that the Book of the Law is, in fact, evidence for such a discarnate intelligence, but the ridiculousness of that claim is beyond the scope of these present remarks.

The fact that he ever claimed such a thing should make any skeptical or intelligent person highly suspicious... I'm starting to think that Crowley had what is called "multiple personalities". One which was rational, skeptical, collected... another which believed in magic powers, and wizards who sent him messages. I really think that part of him thought that by now, science would have confirmed (and not disproved) the existence of what you colloquially call "goblins".

More broadly, Crowley didn’t buy into this idea of “spiritual evolution.”

I'm not so sure. For all his skepticism he still believed in various practical forms of alchemy, in magic powers that could bring him money, in sex that could produce magical children, etc... Don't forget he followed a "wizard" named amalantrah around, and claimed to have gotten a holy book from a praeter being (which some reckon was either an alien, or one of the secret chiefs of fame).

To even understand what is implied by a term like "ascended master", or "praetor intelligence" one has to understand the aspects of theosophy and rosicrusianism, which preach of "spiritual evolution". Although Crowley himself didn't include a lot of this stuff explicitly in his "thelema" material, one could argue that the framework for it is implicitly built into the foundation of his AA and OTO systems. Throughout his whole work it is at least heavily inferred... and this is because he was substantially influenced by Theosophy, Golden Dawn, Buddhism, etc.

"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection.

As opposed to what? This phrase "the Perfect" needs more clarification.

"Los" wrote:
So, overall, I would say that Crowley was aware that the theory of evolution is correct and is supported by evidence and that he did not buy into the notion of spiritual evolution of any kind.

I'm not sure if it's ever clearly spelled out in Crowley's writings what he believed. I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just saying the man obviously remains an enigma to many, for many reasons.

"Los" wrote:
Further reading: the thread “Aleister Crowley and the Argument from Design” ( http://www.lashtal.com/forum/http://www.lashtal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3 ), started by yours truly. It’s a thread filled with some interesting arguments, a guy who can’t read, and another guy who thinks that HG might be Darth Sidious (he’s agnostic on that point, don’t you know).

Nice, I must have missed this thread. I probably would have just posted this there, since the two topics are practically the same.

"Los" wrote:
I think it's unquestionable that if Crowley were alive today, he would similarly go through the texts he recommended once upon a time, scoff at a lot of the nonsense contained in them, and generate a newer, better reading list for aspirants.

He recommends Dracula by Bram Stoker because it would be useful for the student when dealing with vampires, or something like that

"Los" wrote:
Honestly, if a person hasn't read The Origin of the Species -- or at least isn't familiar with the basic mechanisms of evolution that have been demonstrated to be true time and time again -- I'd say that isn't an educated person. Dawkins' recent The Greatest Show on Earth is an excellent introduction to the evidence for evolution.

I agree here. See my next post.


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MoogPlayer
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01/01/2014 2:19 am  
"ignant666" wrote:
Yes, hard indeed to imagine how one could claim any sort of cultural or scientific literacy were one not familiar with the title of Darwin's On the origin of species.

You would think so, but then again there are many educated people who are not only familiar with the ideas, but they reject them outright! Ron Paul comes to mind. He's a medical doctor, and a senator, but he personally believes "young earth creationism".

Just yesterday I read a news article which reported that 1 in 3 americans does not believe in evolution! Of the roughly 68% of us who do, most of them think that it was a god-assisted evolution. ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/30/evolution-survey_n_4519441.html)

This is not a phenomenon that is restricted to fundamentalist christians seeking to legislate their beliefs either. Many Muslims and orthodox jews believe similarly. I can't help but wondering, of the many people who answered that they don't believe in evolution at all (or believe that god had something to do with it), how many of them did so because they are scientologists, theosophists, etc?

I see television shows about ancient aliens, and hear people going on about crystal children, and new cosmic ages. Either these people don't understand evolution, or they believe in something completely different... or at the very least, they don't understand where their personal beliefs contradict with what we understand about reality.


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MoogPlayer
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01/01/2014 11:55 am  

I don't know what I was smoking earlier! I was in a hurry too... i'm re-reading my post now and noticing that I could have made my point a little better.

"MoogPlayer" wrote:
If Aiwass was making a revelation here, he should have been able to tell Crowley something substantial... unless of course, Aiwass was a figment of Crowley's imagination. That would explain well why Crowley didn't include discoveries or innovations that were made in physics until after he died. (but that is discussion for another thread)

What I was trying to say here is that the book of the law doesn't contain any specific revelation of facts that weren't already known in Crowley's time. If it were indeed a real communication from a special prater man, then he was no more knowledgable about the universe in any practical way than Edward Alexander Crowley himself.

"”Aleister Crowley”" wrote:
the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection.

As opposed to what? This phrase "the Perfect" needs more clarification.

I should have also added to that "What else is there for "the Perfect" to be experiencing besides this?

Crowley studied a lot of various eastern philosophies, so it's possible that certain cosmological ideas rubbed off on him. In this case, the idea of a universe which arises from nothing, and then sinks back into nothing, in an infinite cycle of creation, life, destruction, and nothingness. When it comes right down to it, i'm not sure whether to consider him a deist, an atheist, or a pantheist... if he did have multiple personalities he could very well be all three, simultaneously!

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He recommends Dracula by Bram Stoker because it would be useful for the student when dealing with vampires, or something like that

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I looked it up in my copy of liber aba, and what Crowley actually says is that the book is "Valuable for its account of legends concerning vampires". A strange comment indeed.

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Los
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01/01/2014 6:29 pm  

Re-ordering your points...

"MoogPlayer" wrote:
True, the appearance of something from nothing is vaguely explained [in The Book of the Law]

Just to be clear, the Book doesn’t purport to explain the emergence of something from nothing…it gives a metaphor for the identity of Nothing and Something.

The 0=2 equation is often invoked by would-be Thelemites and almost as often misunderstood and misapplied. Essentially, it exists to explain how the Khu creates the perception of individuality by dividing the flux of the world (0) into the self (+1) and not-self (-1).

You see? 0=2 really means 0= +1-1. It’s not really the case that once upon a time 2 emerged from 0…the Book is saying that 0 and 2 are identical. This, cleverly, obviates the need to “explain” where the universe came from because the universe not only came from nothing…the universe is Nothing. It’s Nothing spelled out and extended in its fullest form.

Yes, yes, all of this is a metaphor, not literal truth. Don’t mix the planes.

You should give a read – if you haven’t – to Crowley’s essay Berashith (which predates the Book of the Law and in which he comes up with the idea of nothing being identical to something, once again blowing a hole in the idea that Liber AL is some kind of revelatory text) and to that letter in Magick Without Tears where he explicitly discusses 0=2. In the latter, he tries to argue that Qabalistic Zero is some kind of pure zero…nothingness extended in no directions, so zero raised to the zero power. He then uses a bunch of fuzzy math to try to show that zero raised to the zero power equals an indeterminate finite number (i.e. the universe). I’m not really sure how good or useful the math is, but it gives some insight into what he was trying to do.

He also gives a verbal analogy for qabalistic zero. Qabalistic zero is sort of like saying, “Nothing does not exist.” Qabalistic zero is nothing that is so pure that it possesses no properties, including the property of existing. But if it’s a nothing that doesn’t have existence, then it’s a something.

Personally, I take all of this Qabalistic zero stuff as metaphor for the flux of the universe, which may in fact have always existed in some form or another. Now, is that what Crowley “really meant”? Probably not, but it’s impossible to say for sure, and not particularly relevant. I think it’s likely that he meant something much fuzzier, but the cool thing about living a long time after someone is that we understand the universe better than they did, and we can use the useful concepts in their ideas and adapt them to our present understanding.

Speaking of which, for a great overview of 0=2 and a framework for using it in practical work, see Erwin Hessle’s essay “The Khabs is in the Khu” ( http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/khabkhu.php )

"Aleister Crowley" wrote:
the Perfect enjoys experience of (apparent) Imperfection.

As opposed to what? This phrase "the Perfect" needs more clarification. […]I should have also added to that "What else is there for "the Perfect" to be experiencing besides this?

Well, he’s talking, in context, about the Khabs or about the Nothing/Nuit (of which the Khabs is an inseparable part…which ultimately means it’s Nothing, because you can’t have a part of Nothing…there’s just Nothing).

This “Nothing” gets cloaked with the illusion of duality so as to enable experience.

In other words, Nothing can’t gain anything in and of itself, since it’s Nothing, but it can create beings who imagine that they are separate from the whole (+1 and -1) and therefore can generate and accumulate experience (“Love,” in Thelemic terms).

In other words, the manifest universe, with all of its apparent imperfections, is really just the full extention of Nothing, which is perfect by virtue of having no qualities (including the quality of existence…see above).

Naught becomes All to realise the span
Of naught, oh perfect Universe of Pan

Again…metaphor. Read Erwin’s essay, meditate, and call me in the morning.

What I was trying to say here is that the book of the law doesn't contain any specific revelation of facts that weren't already known in Crowley's time. If it were indeed a real communication from a special prater man, then he was no more knowledgable about the universe in any practical way than Edward Alexander Crowley himself.

Well said. If Crowley actually was in contact with real, no-foolin’ goblins, they sure as shoot didn’t know anything more about the universe than he did. Which, as you point out, is just another in the long list of reasons to be skeptical about the existence of goblins and about the idea that Crowley was actually in contact with one of them.

I'm starting to think that Crowley had what is called "multiple personalities". One which was rational, skeptical, collected... another which believed in magic powers, and wizards who sent him messages.

It’s a real stretch to call this “multiple personalities.” Crowley created a system, Thelema, that had skepticism at its heart, he understood skepticism to a degree, but he seems to have failed to live up to his own standards of skepticism in some areas. He’s hardly the first skeptic to fail like that, and he’s definitely not the first person to be inconsistent.

More broadly, we have to remember a number of facts. Crowley grew up in a nutso religious environment where insane things were drummed into his head from an early age. He grew up with a flair for the dramatic, for pissing people off, for shocking the stuffy Victorian establishment. He had an incredible sense of humor, and he was often playfully blasphemous about spiritual concepts that he considered nonsense. He enjoyed playing with ideas, toying with the conclusions that followed from certain assumptions. He used drugs and mystical techniques to give himself all sorts of loopy visions, and he liked thinking that these made him a super wizard, probably in defiance of the beliefs of his upbringing.

Is it…surprising that a person like that was somewhat inconsistent? Is it surprising that we can’t always figure out how serious he was about certain claims he made?

It would be a lot more surprising to me if a guy with that background turned out to be a sober, straight-forward thinker who never deviated from a single point of view.

It’s actually fairly impressive that a guy like that came up with a philosophy that is relatively straight-forward (I’m talking about Thelema here) and consistent with the universe as we understand it today (i.e. without ookity-spookities, et al).

He recommends Dracula by Bram Stoker because it would be useful for the student when dealing with vampires, or something like that

I dunno, I tend to see this as more humor on his part. I have a hard time imagining that Crowley actually believed in vampires, but I have no problem imagining Crowley giving himself a good laugh at the idea of suggesting to gullible people that vampires are real. Consider that Crowley never spends any time talking about vampires, except in that one letter in Magick Without Tears where it sure sounds like he's winding up his correspondent. Oh, and the whole "serpent's kiss" stuff.

For all [Crowley’s] skepticism he still believed in various practical forms of alchemy, in magic powers that could bring him money, in sex that could produce magical children, etc... Don't forget he followed a "wizard" named amalantrah around, and claimed to have gotten a holy book from a praeter being (which some reckon was either an alien, or one of the secret chiefs of fame).

To even understand what is implied by a term like "ascended master", or "praetor intelligence" one has to understand the aspects of theosophy and rosicrusianism, which preach of "spiritual evolution". Although Crowley himself didn't include a lot of this stuff explicitly in his "thelema" material, one could argue that the framework for it is implicitly built into the foundation of his AA and OTO systems. Throughout his whole work it is at least heavily inferred... and this is because he was substantially influenced by Theosophy, Golden Dawn, Buddhism, etc.

Yeah, that’s fair enough. As you say, none of that whackadoo stuff is explicitly a part of Thelema – which, again, is a practical philosophy dealing with individual action – but it does furnish the background to some of Crowley’s other ideas (and arguably the A.’.A.’. and OTO).

It’s ironic to note that Crowley conceived of his “mission” as involving, in part, stripping the nonsense out of other spiritual systems (hence, his paring yoga down to a very simple technique devoid of moral and religious claims).

It’s possible that if Crowley were alive today – say, reincarnated into someone else’s body, if such a thing were possible – he would look at the works of this “Aleister Crowley” guy and say, “He did the best he could for his day, but there’s still more work to do in terms of stripping out the crap that he allowed to persist in his own thought.”

It’s too bad that far too many people, I think, just swallow anything and everything contained in Crowley’s writings – or worse, since a lot of people aren’t well-read or intelligent enough to even understand the source material a lot of the times, they get their Crowley second hand or third hand, and just end up swallowing everything these other sources tell them.

I see television shows about ancient aliens, and hear people going on about crystal children, and new cosmic ages. Either these people don't understand evolution, or they believe in something completely different... or at the very least, they don't understand where their personal beliefs contradict with what we understand about reality.

It is disheartening (figuratively speaking, of course) that so many Americans are so ignorant when it comes to basic facts about reality.

If you haven’t read it, you should give Carl Sagan’s A Demon Haunted World a go. Right at the beginning he addresses the point that people get so much of their understanding of (what they think is) science filtered through all sorts of awful sources that convince them of things like Atlantis, crystal power, energy healing, and all other kinds of unadulterated nonsense for which there is no good evidence.

Nowadays, even though we have some really educational popular programs on scientific subjects, we also have hucksters – like that execrable Deepak Chopra and his ilk – growing more and more sophisticated and capitalizing on the fact that nobody really understands some of the more cutting edge scientific discoveries. See the awful film What the Bleep Do We Know for an example of how legitimate science can be twisted to suit the purposes of people eager to make a buck by peddling nonsense and misinformation.


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jamie barter
(@jamie-barter)
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02/01/2014 5:10 pm  
"Los" wrote:
[...] Speaking of which, for a great overview of 0=2 and a framework for using it in practical work, see Erwin Hessle’s essay “The Khabs is in the Khu” ( http://www.erwinhessle.com/writings/khabkhu.php )

[...] Read Erwin’s essay, meditate, and call me in the morning.

I agreed with pretty much all of Mr Hessle’s paper – does he not respond on the Lash himself? – but there were just a small number of shortcomings by which it could have been improved further – scientifically speaking, that is.

This rather idiosyncratic use of algebra is more easily understood when written 0 = (-1) + (+1), the two terms on the right hand side of the equation cancelling each other out to equal the zero on the left hand side.

This is not quite true, of course.  After all, there is a fundamental difference between Plus One and Minus One, and you’re not saying that 0= (+1)+(+1) here, are you?  Noooo!  For down that road I think we may start to head off towards Mr Grant’s conception of positive and negative Nothings, which themselves imply….?!?!

One example of where The Book of the Law succeeds where all other accounts of creation have failed is in providing a coherent and satisfying answer to this problem (although we must never forget that we are talking in metaphors, here — we must be careful not to make the elementary mistake of assuming that Nuit actually is a conscious entity that actually does have a conscious purpose and actually does “do” anything).[my bold]

The first elementary mistake here is to DISCOUNT the possibility that it (she) isn't anything of the sort.  (Also, I would prefer the term “superconscious”, myself.)

Since Nuit herself is incapable of perception, by creating self-aware individuals something new can be added to the universe, and that something is experience.[my bold]

Second misassumption.  How do you know that Nuit is not capable of such perception “herself” in a manner literally “unknown” to us?

And this indeed is the explanation of AL I, 29–30. The “division” is (in part) the creation of self-aware individuals who are able to perceive and experience, and the “joy of dissolution” is the uniting of those individuals with the objects of their perception, the acquisition of experience.[my bold]

This is one way of looking at it.  The corollary is that there will be total annihilation in zero or NOT (The "Natural Order of Things"), and no “acquisition” at all.  (Negative v. Positive Nothings, again?!)

Only through manifest creation can this occur, and this is the reason why Nuit creates; this is her motivation: “that atom (fortified with that memory) would not be the same atom; yet it is, because it has gained nothing from anywhere except this memory.”[my bold]

Is this an appropriate point to discuss the implications of False Memory Syndrome here – of whatever sort??!

The soul which seeks outwards for its starry goal is looking precisely in the wrong direction; it should be looking inwards. This yearning for “something else” is ultimately an infantile notion of divine parenthood,[my bold]

This strikes a slightly incongruous neo-Freudian note into proceedings, here.

a plea for something outside to come and rescue one, and there is simply nobody else “out there”.

That’s funny!  There’s that old ‘one, one, one’ again!!

[…] The suffering which “we” experience is in fact perceived only by our experiential vehicles in this particular manifestation. Logically, it is akin to feeling physical pain when our cars break down, which is of course ridiculous.[my bold]

Or even our Kas!  (as we’re talking all Egyptian…)

[…] It is the most important idea in all of magical literature, and is absolutely fundamental to understanding the first chapter of The Book of the Law and the true nature of Thelema.

The second chapter of The Book of the Law of course mentions that keynote phrase: “Existence is Pure Joy”, without which all the first Chapter stuff you have mentioned outside that context about “the pain of division” is literally meaningless.

Debatingly yours,
Norma N Joy Conquest


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Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
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Posts: 4021
02/01/2014 11:48 pm  
"Los" wrote:
In other words, Nothing can’t gain anything in and of itself, since it’s Nothing, but it can create beings who imagine that they are separate from the whole (+1 and -1) and therefore can generate and accumulate experience (“Love,” in Thelemic terms).

What's your evidence for this, Los? What might be the science whereby this Nothing somehow creates beings?

Sounds a bit - y'know - creationist.


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belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1021
03/01/2014 12:27 am  

Nothing can't be.
The only position to take is that there is no nothing.
There is only something.
Something alone is everything.
Everything by itself can only think of one thing - what is not itself.
But this is only nothing.
And nothing doesn't exist.
So every possible thought of the one thing is a creation to find nothing.

So everything longs for nothing, and never gets it.

"But how do you know that the one everything feels anything?"

YOU do, don't you? And can something come from nothing?

So, the eternal longing of the infinite one for nothing is the creation of the illusion of everything.
All worlds, beings, infinite variety, hiding the longing of the one for nothing.


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 4949
03/01/2014 12:45 am  

"THE NUMBER ZERO (Ø) represents nothingness, emptiness, or perfect balance. Intellectually, it is a difficult notion to grasp.
Zero can be compared to the Taoist notion of Tao, and to the ancient Greek concept of Chaos, which derived from Gas and implied the nothingness of pure energy from which all manifestation issues. Due to the misunderstanding of early Christian translators, the meaning of Chaos has changed to mean "disorder," which has nothing to do with the original concept.
Creation is expressed in the Zero equals Two equation (Ø=2), which refers to nothingness producing a matched pair of opposites.
Modern astrophysics has confirmed this equation through the observation of Black Holes.


Throw your trash in here - Save the Earth[/align:3joxwqfy]

A Black Hole is surrounded by an Event Horizon, the equivalent of a magic circle. Inside the Horizon, nothing escapes the potent gravity of the Black Hole. Outside the Horizon, nothing is directly influenced by the Black Hole.
However, energy is constantly being emitted from the Hole.
Paired, ionized (positive and negative) particles are thrown out of the Black Hole and past the Event Horizon. Then, one of four scenarios is enacted:
1. Both ions (positive and negative) fall back into the Black Hole.
2. The positive ion escapes, but the negative ion falls back into the Hole.
3. The negative ion escapes, but the positive ion falls back into the Hole.
4. Both particles (positive and negative) escape.
However we look at it, the net effect is that a Black Hole (Ø) is constantly adding energy to the Universe."

- exerpted from Blazing Diamond (c)2012[/align:3joxwqfy]


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Shiva
(@shiva)
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03/01/2014 12:52 am  
"belmurru" wrote:
Nothing can't be.

"Nothing is.
Nothing Becomes.
Nothing is not."

"The statement, Nothing is Not, technically equivalent to Something Is, is fully explained in the essay called Berashith."

- These little Knotty Naughts are brought to us courtesy of The Book of Lies, Chapter Ø.


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Los
 Los
(@los)
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Posts: 2195
03/01/2014 1:56 am  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
In other words, Nothing can’t gain anything in and of itself, since it’s Nothing, but it can create beings who imagine that they are separate from the whole (+1 and -1) and therefore can generate and accumulate experience (“Love,” in Thelemic terms).

What's your evidence for this, Los? What might be the science whereby this Nothing somehow creates beings?

Sounds a bit - y'know - creationist.

If you read just three paragraphs down, you’ll see that I make it a point to say that this is all metaphor, not literal truth.

"belmurru" wrote:
Nothing can't be.
The only position to take is that there is no nothing.
There is only something.

Yeah, it may well be that “nothing” cannot exist and that something has always existed, in some form or another.

Of course, as I’ve been saying, “Nothing” is best understood in a Thelemic context as No-Thing, the flux of the universe in which there are no “things” at all. Thing-ness or individuality is a quality not inherent in the universe but created by the Khu, which divides “this” from “that” by drawing arbitrary lines.

As an example, is my wooden chair one single “thing,” or is it a collection of many “things” (four legs, a back, etc.)? And if it’s a collection of many things, is each of those things a singular thing or is each itself divisible into many things (isn’t the back of my chair really a collection of different pieces of wood, etc.)? On and on and on.

My chair being one thing or many things isn’t a factual claim: the thing-ness of any of these things is a quality with which I’m imbuing them. It’s a function of how I choose to see them, how I draw the boundaries.

In a similar way, am “I” one single thing, or am “I” a collection of lots of other things, none of them ultimately having any stable identity? It’s a question of perspective, not fact.

It’s possible to think of all of existence as having no thing-ness whatsoever. And that’s Nothing.

"belmurru" wrote:
And can something come from nothing?

There’s a great clip from The Atheist Experience that’s entertaining and appropriate in this context: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYeoTFbLo_Y

In this clip, a Christian radio host calls in wanting to debate Atheist Experience host Matt Dillahunty. And my goodness is this an arrogant caller: he begins by suggesting that the TAE hosts look more right than they actually are because they’re always debating people who don’t know their stuff. Then he goes off on this weird bit where he claims to have won lots of debates.

His arrogance makes what happens next all the funnier. (Skip to 10:00 if you just want to get to the good stuff)

He proceeds to attempt to give a proof for God that begins with the premise “Something cannot come from nothing,” expecting the hosts to agree. They don’t. As Matt correctly points out, that premise is a huge argument from ignorance, and the two of them go back and forth for a while, with the caller apparently unable to grasp that not accepting the claim isn’t the same thing as accepting the converse.

The conversation looks like it’s about to reach an impasse when the inimitable Tracy Harris cuts to the heart of the matter, as she often does, with a simple observation: nobody’s ever examined “nothing,” so how can we make any claims about it? We don’t even have any examples of “nothing.” What is it, then, that we’re talking about when you say “nothing”?

This line of inquiry stops the caller dead in his tracks and turns him into a stuttering, stumbling mess (it begins to unravel around 17:00, and the meltdown starts around 17:38). It immediately becomes clear that it may not even make sense to speak of “nothing” in this way and that the concept cannot serve as the basis of a proof of anything.

The whole clip is a great example of what happens when someone manages to get a supernaturalist off-script, and it’s a reminder of how empty theological appeals to “nothing” usually are.


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Michael Staley
(@michael-staley)
MANIO - it's all in the egg
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 4021
03/01/2014 10:05 am  
"Los" wrote:
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
"Los" wrote:
In other words, Nothing can’t gain anything in and of itself, since it’s Nothing, but it can create beings who imagine that they are separate from the whole (+1 and -1) and therefore can generate and accumulate experience (“Love,” in Thelemic terms).

What's your evidence for this, Los? What might be the science whereby this Nothing somehow creates beings?

Sounds a bit - y'know - creationist.

If you read just three paragraphs down, you’ll see that I make it a point to say that this is all metaphor, not literal truth.

Ah, I see. So any claim you make which can't be substantiated is "metaphor". I'll have to remember that when reading your posts in future.


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Hamal
(@hamal)
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Joined: 7 years ago
Posts: 547
03/01/2014 12:15 pm  
"MichaelStaley" wrote:
Ah, I see. So any claim you make which can't be substantiated is "metaphor". I'll have to remember that when reading your posts in future.

Let's take a moment to visualize that metaphor....

😀
93
Hamal


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jamie barter
(@jamie-barter)
Member
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Posts: 1688
03/01/2014 12:45 pm  
"belmurru" wrote:
[...]So everything longs for nothing, and never gets it.
[...]So, the eternal longing of the infinite one for nothing is the creation of the illusion of everything.
All worlds, beings, infinite variety, hiding the longing of the one for nothing.

This yearning for Nothing – or rather, “longing for nothing” – would then seem to amount to the ultimate in escapism?

"belmurru" wrote:
[...]And can something come from nothing?

There is a very good exploration of this idea (the Universe – as something - arising from out of nothing, by Pure Chance) by Stanislaw Lem which I have uploaded in full already on Reply #100 to the “AC and the Argument from Design” thread on the “Thelema” board (sorry I cannot link it).  This in effect states that the universe is one big meson (mesons being a hadronic sub-atomic particle composed of quarks which “appear in nature only as extremely short-lived products of very high-energy interactions in matter” and which on a quantum basis are held to negate the ‘normal’ laws of physics for fractions of a zillisecond all the time), but the proportionally massive size of the universe means that its own ‘quantum’ effects of generating itself from nothing have now lasted for approximately 14 billion years (and counting, and could along the lines of this theory cease at any moment).

Shiva, I agree with your comments here but

"Shiva" wrote:
Outside the Horizon, nothing is directly influenced by the Black Hole.

This is not quite true, as everything (any thing) with mass exerts a direct albeit infinitesimal gravitational force on any other similar object anywhere in the universe.

"Shiva" wrote:
However, energy is constantly being emitted from the Hole.
Paired, ionized (positive and negative) particles are thrown out of the Black Hole and past the Event Horizon. Then, one of four scenarios is enacted [...]

Could you also be referring to the phenomenon of “bipolar” gamma ray bursts here?  In which case we had better hope our particular cranny of the Milky Way is not anywhere within up to 40,000 light years of one of these babies, as it will suddenly mean goodnight vienna to all of us!

"Shiva" wrote:
[...] However we look at it, the net effect is that a Black Hole (Ø) is constantly adding energy to the Universe."

However the law of conservation and secondarily the second law of thermodynamics state that energy can neither be created (added to) or destroyed (taken away), only transformed.  There is also non-local Jungian synchronicity to consider.  (And while we’re about it, the chronosynclastic infundibulum!?)

"Los" wrote:
It’s possible to think of all of existence as having no thing-ness whatsoever. And that’s Nothing.

More accurately speaking, it’s “not any [one] thing” there – as in, “All is not aught” (Liber AL III:2).

"Los" wrote:
It immediately becomes clear that it may not even make sense to speak of “nothing” in this way and that the concept cannot serve as the basis of a proof of anything.

As it is said, and to which Shiva has referred, the tao which can be spoken of is not the tao & let them speak not of it at all, since it is continuous (to paraphrase Liber AL I:27 slightly)

"Hamal" wrote:

Hang about Hamal, ain't that Sheikh Yerbouti who's buried there in the sand?!
N Joy


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jamie barter
(@jamie-barter)
Member
Joined: 8 years ago
Posts: 1688
07/01/2014 4:48 pm  

Further to:

"jamie barter" wrote:
Could you also be referring to the phenomenon of “bipolar” gamma ray bursts here?  In which case we had better hope our particular cranny of the Milky Way is not anywhere within up to 40,000 light years of one of these babies, as it will suddenly mean goodnight vienna to all of us!

just in case anybody may not be familiar with this somewhat mindblowing phenomenon (only encountered since the appropriate satellites were sent up from 1991), the following little digest may provide the necessary (hopefully not “too much”) information:

Scientists as NASA and the University of Kansas say that a mass extinction on Earth hundreds of years ago could have been triggered by a star explosion known as a gamma ray burst.

Gamma-ray bursts, or GRBs,  represent the most powerful explosions of energy in the cosmos since the Big Bang itself, corresponding to the equivalent of a thousand Earths vaporized into pure energy in a matter of seconds. A large percentage of bursts likely arise from the explosion of stars over 15 times more massive than our Sun.

With the ozone layer damaged for up to five years, harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun would kill smaller life-forms and disrupt the food chain. Scientists say that a gamma-ray burst might have caused the Ordovician extinction 450 million years ago, some 200 million years before dinosaurs.  A small minority of scientists have suggested that the initial extinctions could have been caused by a gamma ray burst originating from a hypernova within 6,000 light years of Earth (in a nearby arm of the Milky Way Galaxy). A ten-second burst would have stripped the Earth’s atmosphere of half of its ozone almost immediately, exposing surface-dwelling organisms, including those responsible for planetary photosynthesis, to high levels of ultraviolet radiation.

The scientists calculated that gamma-ray radiation from a relatively nearby star explosion, hitting the Earth for only ten seconds, could deplete up to half of the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer. Recovery could take at least five years.

A long duration GRB (one last more than two seconds)can produce (and focus) roughly 0.05% Solar mass equivalent energy. That is, the same amount of energy created if 0.05% of the Sun were instantaneously turned completely into energy.  Understanding that kind of energy can be difficult. But if that amount of energy were created and beamed directly at us it would be visible to the naked eye on Earth, from more than 7.5 billion light-years away. That is more than halfway across the entire Universe.

Gamma ray bursts can loose as much energy as our sun during its entire 10 billion year lifetime in anywhere from milliseconds to a minute or more.

In 2011 a burst called GRB 110328A took place in a small galaxy located in the Draco constellation, some 3.8 billion light-years from Earth.  This burst was localized near the galactic center, near the supermassive black hole core. Theorists believe that the black hole ripped a star apart, releasing a massive amount of energy, similar to a long duration GRB. However, instead of lasting a few seconds, the burst persisted for two and a half months.

WR104 is a binary star located 8000 light years away, more or less toward the center of our galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius.  The two stars are both whoppers; one is a massive O star, which will someday detonate in a tremendous supernova.

It rotates in a circle "every eight months, keeping precise time like a jewel in a cosmic clock," said researcher Peter Tuthill, an astronomer at the University of Sydney.

Both the massive stars in WR 104 will one day explode as supernovae. However, one of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, the last known stable phase in the life of these massive stars right before a supernova.  Wolf-Rayet stars are regarded by astronomers as ticking bombs," Tuthill explained. The 'fuse' for this star "is now very short — to an astronomer — and it may explode any time within the next few hundred thousand years."

When the Wolf-Rayet goes supernova, "it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way," Tuthill said. "If such a 'gamma ray burst' happens, we really do not want Earth to be in the way."

Since the initial blast would travel at the speed of light, there would be no warning of its arrival.

The spooky thing about this pinwheel is that it appears to be a nearly perfect spiral to us, according to new images taken with the Keck Telescope in Hawaii. "It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system," Tuthill said. “I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can't help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel," Tuthill added.

Although the pinwheel can't blast Earth apart like the Death Star from Star Wars — at least not from 8,000 light years away — it could still cause mass extinction or possibly even threaten life as we know it on our planet.

Gamma rays would not penetrate Earth's atmosphere well to burn the ground, but they would chemically damage the stratosphere.  If WR 104 were to hit us with a burst 10 seconds or so long, its gamma rays could deplete about 25 percent of the world's ozone layer, which protects us from damaging ultraviolet rays. In comparison, the recent human-caused thinning of the ozone layer, creating "holes" over the polar regions, have only been depletions of about 3 to 4 percent.

A Wolf-Rayet star called WR 104, some 8000 light years away is ripe to undergo a core-collapse supernova of the sort that could generate a seconds-long burst of dangerous gamma-rays.  "We could see it go supernova anywhere from tomorrow to 500,000 years from now," said Grant Hill, an astronomer at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii.  "For all intents and purposes, the gamma-ray burst and optical photons from the supernova would arrive simultaneously," Hill said.

If you look at WR 104 and the image of its pinwheel, it really is a visceral and powerful argument that the thing is face on with an inclination of zero," Dr Hill said. This would mean earth was directly in the line of fire from the star.  University of Kansas physicist Adrian Melott told Forbes such a gamma-ray burst would cause a 50 percent increase in UVB radiation.

"You would first notice a 10-second blue flash in the upper atmosphere, but then the damage would be done," [he added picturesquely.]

While events like these are exceptionally rare, Dr Neunhäuser notes that if such a blast of gamma rays were to hit Earth today, “even tens of thousands of light years away, a similar event today could cause havoc with the sensitive electronic systems that advanced societies have come to depend on.”

Some sources used:

www.beforeitsnews.com/.../extinction-ev ... ay-burst-f
www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/swift/bursts
www.space.about.com › ... › Stars Planets and Galaxies › Deep Space & Stars
www.indianexpress.com/news/lethal-gamma ... /1122203/m

Further information can be found by the usual means.

Trusting that no one loses any sleep about this (to echo Crimewatch, “Don’t have nightmares!”)
N Joy


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