Tokens of Light

It used to be all I ever saw were tarot decks; tarot decks that held pretty tight to the template set by the Universal Waite Tarot Deck. Then I noticed tarot decks that meandered off that path at times, and occasionally I saw sets of runes. Then it was oracle decks, that conformed in no way to the traditional tarot, and I saw I Ching sets. It seems for every person out there awaits a type of oracle just for them! And I’m here today to introduce you to another wonderful member of this expanding family, “Tokens of Light”.

“Tokens of Light” is subtitled “66 Paths for insights and prediction according to the Hebrew Alphabet” and it was created by Orna Ben-Shoshan. Astute readers will remember that name from back in April 2011 when I reviewed the “King Solomon Oracle Cards“. Orna was responsible for the beautiful artwork found in that deck, and I’m happy to say “Tokens of Light” is perhaps an even better space for her art.

The tokens are 66 sturdy coins (made of a slightly more sturdy stock than tarot cards). One side of the coin has its number, 1-66, (The total number of 66 was derived by using 3 different aspects of each one of the 22 Hebrew letters.) and underneath it a Hebrew letter with a serial code to which the answer relates. The other side has a beautiful Orna Ben-Shoshan illustration to help you make a visual connection with the coin. The coins come with a pretty drawstring bag to use for carrying, storage, or pulling the tokens from for readings.

You don’t need to be able to read Hebrew to use “Tokens of Light”. Thank goodness! The set comes with an interpretation booklet that gives you some ideas as to what drawing a particular coin might mean, and also some different suggested ways to use “Tokens of Light” for guidance. Despite its beautiful, mysterious, occult appearance, it’s pretty freakin’ simple to use. How about one more “Thank goodness!”?

Along with the tokens, you also get two amulet coins that are not to be included in your readings, but kept close to you. One coin contains the priestly blessing for protection and fulfillment of your wishes, and the other coin contains letter combinations taken from the “72 Names of God” that will bring balance and success to all areas of life.

“Tokens of Light” is a unique addition to the expanding landscape of oracle products. To learn more about it, visit their site.


Many of you probably know, but in case you weren’t aware, yesterday was the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. This year it was our turn to host a dinner for the holiday, and so as always I turned to my well worn copy of “Fast & Festive Meals for the Jewish Holidays: Complete Menus, Rituals, and Party-Planning Ideas for Every Holiday of the Year” by Marlene Sorosky. Every time I flip through her book I always come across something new, despite how many times in the past I’ve looked through the darn thing. This year, as always, her book didn’t disappoint!

Sorosky is quick to point out that traditional foods associated with Hanukkah are related to the miracle of oil. Ahhhh, the miracle of oil. Normally that makes people think of latkes, potato pancakes. We tried her Giant Potato-Carrot Latkes which were delicious and required someone to carve them at the table! However it was her mentioning doughnuts that got my attention.

I hadn’t really thought about it, but yes, fried doughnuts certainly would qualify as a food related to oil. She suggests using them to help create a Menorah centerpiece, but I thought, why couldn’t they be dessert?

Even better, I’m still on a pretty restricted diet, so instead of genuine fried doughnuts, couldn’t we use our nifty little baked griddle baby doughnut maker that our friend bought us? Jim has gotten really good at making all kinds of versions and despite the lack of frying, symbolically our dessert would be righteous. Right?

Well, I don’t know if we’ve started the next newest Hebrew craze, but I present…….


Or should they be, Shalom-nuts?

To those who celebrate, Happy Hanukkah!

10 Questions with Miguel Conner: The Other Nine Questions

Hey! Wondering why there are only nine questions instead of ten? Did you miss question one? Click here to get caught up!

2. What made you decide to start a radio show devoted to discussing Gnosticism?

Ironically, I had just been excommunicated from a Gnostic church for something I hadn’t done (I’m not a 30th level magician…only in the World of Warcraft!). At the same time, I had started listening to an Internet station called, mainly an avenue for New Atheism and Humanistic issues. I was feeling isolated so I sent the owner of the station a proposal to produce a handful of shows on Gnosticism—a series of interviews that would educate as well as dispel many misunderstandings on the ancient heretics. He accepted, assuming that the enemy of his enemy was his friend. Before I knew it, I was falling down a deep rabbit hole with Alice and Sophia. And I’m still falling after four years!

3. Your book “Voices of Gnosticism” is a collection of transcripts of interviews from your show, and does a fantastic job of introducing all facets of Gnosticism to the reader. When did you realize, or what made you decide, there would be value in collecting these interviews into a book?

The idea surfaced in the vast expanse of my head and was proposed by several listeners throughout the years. A few stenographers even offered to transcribe the interviews. I never paid much attention, falling into the cynical yet neo-utopian view that less people were reading and cyberspace was the new and true Library of Alexandria. I finally took a small Red Pill when Andrew Phillip Smith approached me with a sound and lucid vision of an Aeon Byte book based my most prolific guests. Since Andrew had been a guest many times, author of several books that had influenced me, editor of The Gnostic Journal who I had written for, and owner of a publishing company, I knew he couldn’t be an Archon and was onto something. The rest is heresy.

4. As an old school music fan, who would sit and write down lyrics to songs by playing second after second on a tape player, starting and stopping, starting and stopping, I know that transcribing from audio to text can take an insanely long time. How long did it take for you to transcribe all these interviews?

It was agonizing! I hated having to think of poor Andrew spending hours transcribing each interview! I know he started with a voice recognition software, but then he got the usual ‘too’s’ instead of ‘to’s’ and so forth, while Greek words came out all Greek to him; so he eventually did it the hard way, but he did an august job. Even then, it took months of us working together to match the vocals of the interviews to the transcripts. It’s not easy getting 60+ thousand words from audio to print, let me inform you! And I would advise for anyone undertaking such a venture to make sure the publisher and author agree on whether to use UK or American English…it will save you a lot of time and headaches and bad jokes based what is considered dirty in each culture.

5. Your interviews contain a wealth of information and you do an excellent job of really getting to the heart of your interviewee’s research. How much independent research did you need to do for these interviews?

I invest large sums of time and effort with each guest, regardless of their status or how much I agree with their premises. For one, I am passionate about all subjects dealing with the occult and comparative religion. I want to learn along with my guests. Furthermore, I understand how much hard work each guest puts into their books, movies or doctrines, so why shouldn’t they get the same respect? Not only do I read their respective work for the interview, I study all of their other efforts and everything I can about the subject at hand (even if I’m comfortably familiar with it). By the time of the interview, I want to be their virtual stalker or single white female.

6. Out of all the interviews you’ve done, do you have a favorite? If so, why does it stand out for you?

Why, this is my favorite interview! Me…me…me!

7. Is it odd for you to now be interviewed? How is the transition from interviewer to interviewee working out for you?

Okay, I admit it! You’re killing me softly with your song! The hunter has become the hunted! I’ve always envisioned myself as a cyber-Socrates, except a million times dumber, midwifing truths from my guests and handing those babies to my listeners. It is my greatest hope that they can nurture these truths into viable spiritual systems that will induce higher states of consciousness.

Besides, what can I say that could ever surpass any of my astral guests who emanate themselves from their Pleromas down into Aeon Byte every week? Uh, I like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain?

8. If my readers want to learn more about Gnosticism, where do you suggest they start? I’d recommend your book “Voices of Gnosticism” and certainly the “Dictionary of Gnosticism” by Andrew Phillip Smith, who was kind enough to contribute to my website as well as write a wonderful forward for your book.

Good choice for books, I say, I say! That’s another difficult question, since ultimately Gnosticism is a very personal faith even when you do find those with the same Etch A Sketch mysticism as yours. Gnostics are always the perennial strangers in an estranged land. J. Krishnamurti once said truth is a pathless land. I like to say gnosis is a pathless labyrinth. You just don’t know exactly how the song of Sophia will strike you or what teaching of an Aeon wearing mammal skins will stimulate your Divine Spark. I certainly would suggest that if a person is interested in Gnosticism, they approach it for what it is and not for what it isn’t. Many people enter the Esoterica because they are rebelling against a former religion. They end up roleplaying instead of fully participating in the mystery, their hearts still so filled with negativity that it cannot be filled with light.

Having babbled that sermon, it goes without saying that one should either own Bentley Layton’s The Gnostic Scriptures or Marvin Meyer’s The Nag Hammadi Scriptures. Since modern Gnostics have their usual suspects they propose, I’m going to go ahead and throw a few curveballs: Elements of Gnosticism by Stuart Holroyd because it’s a concise and approachable history of the Gnostics in a little over a hundred pages; The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual & Diversity in Early Christianity by David Brakke because he takes one of the best snapshots of the rise and fall of the Gnostics; The Gnostic Religion by Hans Jonas because he reveals that the socio-political world of the Roman Empire that early Christians and Gnostics struggled in eerily parallels our modern times, and thus why the Gnostic spirit is very important today; Valis by Philip K. Dick because he captured the essence of Gnosticism and translated it into a modern context; and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll because the story of Alice is the story of Sophia is the story of each one of us.

And definitely watch The Matrix, The Truman Show, Inception, Total Recall, all at the same time and several times, while reading out loud the poetry of William Blake with a Jungian analyst sitting next to you on the couch.

Like I always say on Aeon Byte, you know you have taken the Red Pill when you start writing your own Gospel and living your own myth, as the Gnostics did throughout history even if history erased much of their wonders.

9. What’s next? Do you have any upcoming projects my readers should be aware of?

I have just released the second edition of my futuristic yet very Gnostic-themed vampire saga, Stargazer (available at Amazon!). I’m working on releasing the sequel sometime late this year or early next year. I have a couple of embryonic projects for a scholarly book on the Gnostics, and there is a good possibility Aeon Byte might go completely live soon with callers and 1-800 numbers commercials for Cialis (but I haven’t bitten completely yet). If you include the actual show, writing articles for different periodicals, and making battle plans with Sophia, I don’t even have time to look for where I put those $#%@ Red Pills.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Ah…that feels good! I can ask questions! How come you don’t have a “Gnosticism” category at the Magical Buffet? Is this some sort of prejudice? Hating on the Gnostics feels good but Yaldabaoth forbid we ruffle the feathers of Wiccans so we give them two categories, eh? Don’t think for a second that this sense of persecution is inflating my sense of self-importance! I’m pulling off my microphone and walking off the set! You’re out of order! This court is out of order! Wiccans are out of order! This whole buffet is outta order!

Alas you have caught me Miguel! The Magical Buffet has partnered up with the Wiccans in an effort to suppress information about Gnosticism ever reaching the public at large. Smart ass! You know what? I don’t feel like a jerk anymore for question number one! That’s right? I said it!

About Miguel Conner:
Miguel Conner is host of “Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio”, the only topical and guest radio show on Gnosticism and its brethren in mystical heresy, ancient and modern. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, popular, and Philip K. Dick-ish vampire epic, “The Queen of Darkness” (re-released as “Stargazer” in 2011). His articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in such publication as “The Stygian Vortex”, “The Gnostic Journal”, “Houston Public News”, “The Extreme”, “The Cimmerian Journal”, “Examiner” and many others. He lives in the lawful dystopia of Chicago with his family, patiently waiting for the beginning of the world.

Miguel’s website is:

Where Aeon Byte broadcasts and blog:

Voices of Gnosticism Homepage:

Stargazer Novel homepage:

10 Questions with Miguel Conner: Question One

Indeed you’ve read the title correct my friends, this post is only question one of The Magical Buffet’s patent pending ten question interview. Why only one question today? To put it bluntly, because I’m a jerk. Here’s why….

I got an email from Miguel Conner, host of “Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio”, the only topical and guest radio show on Gnosticism. He asked if I had any interest in his new book ” Voices of Gnosticism”, to which I responded, “Hecks yeah” (or perhaps something a bit more professional). After reading the book (So good! Buy it now!), I asked if he would be willing to do a 10 questions interview for The Magical Buffet, to which he responded, “Awwwww yeah” (or perhaps something a bit more professional).

So, how does that make me a jerk? It seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement, what jerk-like qualities are there to this? Well, the very first question I asked in the interview was, “Can you define for my readers what Gnosticism is? I’ll admit that I have a difficult time trying to come up with a brief definition that makes sense to someone who has never encountered it before.”

Miguel knew it wasn’t an easy request, and I knew it too….and it’s why I asked. See? Jerk.

However, my jerk-ish question yielded a wonderful, insightful, and entertaining response….that was two pages long. Thus far I’ve never edited down an interview, and I have no intention of ever doing that, especially to such an important answer. Consider this the background for the rest of the interview. And stay tuned because the other nine answers are not to be missed!

1. Can you define for my readers what Gnosticism is? I’ll admit that I have a difficult time trying to come up with a brief definition that makes sense to someone who has never encountered it before.

Gnosticism is probably harder to define than most religions because it’s still an academic field with vast uncharted territory; and then there is the problem of wading through the oceans of romantic misinformation that both mainstream and occult faiths have drowned the Gnostic ideology in. The Gnostics also loved to push the boundaries of both theology and philosophy–even creating parodies sometimes for their amusement—to the point they shrouded themselves in a cloud of mystery (even if they were actually very open about their belief systems). One thing you can be sure of—if the ink on a scripture was barely dry, the Gnostics would rewrite it; if a mythology or religious narrative was just spoken of, the Gnostics would deconstruct and reconstruct the plot; and if a dogma was conceived, the Gnostics would immediately reinterpret it. And often all three at once!

Stevan Davies, on our interview in Voices of Gnosticism, perhaps gives the best short answer:

“Gnosticism is about discovering the way that God has turned into you, and then realizing that if you can describe how it is that God turned into you, you can reverse the process.”

In his excellent book, The Secret Book of John: Annotated & Explained, Davies further describes Gnosticism as “developmental psychology, a descriptive Middle Platonic philosophy, and a cosmic mythology all rolled into one.”

To wit, unlike most faiths that urge one to find transcendence in the now or salvation in the future, the Gnostics contended that one had to voyage deep into inner and outer origins to either correct certain spiritual traumas or find missed doorways into the timeless dimensions. They believed the greatest origin was, of course, the Godhead. I think the Gnostics would agree with Tom Robbins who wrote “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” Although ancient heretics would call it being resurrected into a Christ while still in the flesh, as the Gospel of Philip states. The Gospel of Thomas also puts the Gnostic ethos in good perspective:

The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”
Jesus said, “Have you discovered the beginning, then, so that you are seeking the end? For where the beginning is the end will be. Blessed is he who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”

Now the longer answer will be more complicated, and one has to bear in mind that there were many Gnostic schools of thought in history whose doctrines varied. Yet there is a framework that takes time to discern for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, as Jesus often declares in Gnostic scriptures.

So put on your theological seat belts, here we go:

The Gnostics posited that there was an ultimate existence beyond Heaven and Earth, a primal consciousness that detonated in awareness and rippled out in self-understanding. This Big Bang of supernal imagination and creativity is usually referred to as the Pleroma, the Eternal Realm or the Treasury of Light. The biology of the Pleroma (“fullness” in Greek) consists of Aeons, which although anthropomorphized in their mythos are better understood as modes of thought, firing synapses, or the circuitry of a transmundane motherboard. The Aeons owned such titles as Truth, Love, Forethought, Incorruptibility, etc.

At some point, there is a glitch in the divine mind, a sort of pre-Creation Creation. The severity can fall between something cute, like the Aeon Reason falling in love with and literally bungee divine into the lower realms, to an outright cosmic cataclysm, like universe imploding during God’s first attempt as portrayed in some Kabbalistic traditions. The most prominent cosmology is the fall of the Aeon Sophia (“wisdom” in Greek). The exact details vary depending on the scripture; but she commits the sin of desire, breaking from the harmony of the divine mind and thus plunging into the Void or Chaos. Sophia either becomes pregnant with or tries to hide her negative emotions. The end result is an abortion known as Yaldabaoth or the Demiurge, which the Gnostics commonly equated with the God of the Old Testament. Sophia’s unruly spawn doesn’t waste much time after inventing time, manufacturing his own Bizarro Aeons known as Archons (Greek for “rulers”, but more akin to godlike TSA-agents with very bad dispositions). Then they cut a lot of corners and take long union breaks in order to fashion this wonderful universe The true God has lost his wisdom and wisdom is lost somewhere in a galactic Kennedy airport…who you gonna call?

Whether by the effects of the celestial mind-fart in the Pleroma or by a rescue operation hatched by Sophia to redeem herself, slivers of her essence are mingled into the material world. These Divine Spark, as they are often referred to, generally are housed in humans; although some Gnostic sects believed every living and even unliving thing contained the Divine Spark. The problem is that because of the good cop/bad cop routine of Yaldabaoth and his Archons we have forgotten our ambrosial heritage. Instead of igniting our Divine Spark in order to overcome the powers of darkness and too many astral travel regulations, we have come to believe we’re just overdeveloped apes. In Gnosticism, ignorance in all its forms is considered the greatest of sins and conditions.

From an ethereal borderland, Sophia sings to our Divine Sparks to kindle bright so that we may remember where our true home lies and how to defeat Yaldabaoth. At the same time, the Pleroma sends Aeons clothed in mammal skins–Jesus Christ and Hermes Trismegistus being two of the most exalted ones–who descend into matter to remove the shackles of ignorance with their teachings. This is gnosis, which in Greek means “knowledge”, yet is more akin to a slow-burn acquaintance with the divine mind. Gnosis is taking the Red Pill. Gnosis is discovering you’re in The Truman Show and it’s time to find a more authentic reality. Gnosis is realizing you’ve been incepted and you better get out of the dream within the dream, and into complete wakefulness.

The battle lines are drawn—Sophia, the Aeons wearing mammal skins, and awoken humans on one side; the Demiurge, the archons, and ignorant humans on the other. It doesn’t get more exciting than this!

About Miguel Conner:
Miguel Conner is host of “Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio”, the only topical and guest radio show on Gnosticism and its brethren in mystical heresy, ancient and modern. He is the author of the critically acclaimed, popular, and Philip K. Dick-ish vampire epic, “The Queen of Darkness” (re-released as “Stargazer” in 2011). His articles, fiction, and reviews have appeared in such publication as “The Stygian Vortex”, “The Gnostic Journal”, “Houston Public News”, “The Extreme”, “The Cimmerian Journal”, “Examiner” and many others. He lives in the lawful dystopia of Chicago with his family, patiently waiting for the beginning of the world.

Miguel’s website is:

Where Aeon Byte broadcasts and blog:

Voices of Gnosticism Homepage:

Stargazer Novel homepage:

Playing Dreidel

Here it is, Hanukkah time again. Last year I shared with all of you my collection of menorahs, and sadly, that appears to be the last time Judaism was featured on The Magical Buffet. Fortunately this year I have something fun to share with all of you for the 2010 Hanukkah season… little dreidel collection!

A dreidel is a four sided spinning top that has a different Hebrew character on each side. It’s a game traditionally played during Hanukkah. Players start with an equal number of tokens, these can be pennies, candy, whatever. At the beginning of each round every player puts a token in the pot. Any time the pot is empty or only has one token left every one should pitch in another token. Each player takes a turn spinning the top, the dreidel, and depending on what symbol comes up determines what happens.

If you get Gimmel; you get everything in the pot.


If you get Hey; you get half of the pot.

Hey (Or is it Hay?)

If you get Shin; you add a token to the pot.


If you get Nun; nothing happens.


The game is over once the pot is empty.

Even as I child, each year my father would have to write down the Hebrew characters and what they meant with regards to the game. Thus it should surprise no one that I had to look up how to play to write this little article. It’s been years, many years, since I’ve played dreidel but I’ve never gotten rid of the dreidels I’ve received as gifts from family. Much like the menorahs I keep, they’re just so beautiful and so varied I’ve kept them all these years.

Happy Hanukkah!

My Many Menorahs

Since the Jewish holiday Hanukkah begins at sundown tomorrow, I thought now would be a good time to spend a moment or two discussing the menorah. I love menorahs. I may be what theologians refer to as a “bad Jew”, but what I lack in knowledge and devotion I surely make up for in sheer volume of menorahs in my home. It started out as a burden, having loads of menorah around the apartment, but now I couldn’t imagine getting rid of any of them.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the menorah, let me bring you up to speed. Hanukkah is the celebration of the Maccabees liberating Jerusalem in 165 B.C.E. After liberating the Temple of Jerusalem, the Maccabees wanted to light the perpetual light with seven branches, but it had been destroyed. They built a temporary candelabrum but they only had one flask of oil to fuel it. However, it kept the candles lit for eight days rather than one. Hanukkah, at its most basic, is the celebration of efficient fuels.

In modern times when Jews celebrate Hanukkah (meaning dedication) they light a menorah. The menorah is an eight branched candelabrum; with a ninth spot for the shamash, which is for the candle used to light the other candles. Each night a candle is lit to signify the days that the oil lasted. Hanukkah is actually a minor festival in the Jewish faith, but due to it’s proximity to Christmas it’s been kind of sucked up into a “Hanukkah is the Jewish Christmas” vacuum of commercialism. Not that this lady is complaining. I may be a “bad Jew”, but I still get Hanukkah presents!

Anyway, I really do like menorahs. You can find them in all shapes and sizes. And when the candles are all lit, it is a very beautiful sight. I thought I would share mine with you.

To all of our Jewish readers, Happy Hanukkah!

Passover Fun!

It’s that Passover time of year again. Like most very bad Jews, I tend to celebrate with Cosmopolitans and questionably kosher cuisine. The important thing is that I gather with friends and family to share the story of the Jewish people. (Even more important is having fun.) For those of you who missed the animated film “The Prince of Egypt”, or find the phrase, we tell the story of Exodus confusing, let me drop a little knowledge on you.

And by knowledge I mean, quoting what the anonymous folks over at Wikipedia have to say. “Passover is a Jewish holy day and festival commemorating God sparing the Israelites when he killed the first born of Egypt, and is followed by the seven day Feast of the Unleavened Bread commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery.

In the story of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of firstborn sons. However, the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb, and upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term ‘Passover’.”

Not a holiday you would necessarily associate with fun, but my motley crew of quasi-Jews generally manages to pull it off. It’s rare to find quality Passover humor, but thanks to one of my favorite webcomics, “Least I Could Do” I have a little something to share.

© Blind Ferret Entertainment — Read More Least I Could Do At LICD.COM

By the way, for those of you who really had no clue what I meant when I referenced the movie “The Prince of Egypt”, check out the trailer below. Every year I suggest we just rent the movie and order a pizza, and every year I’m vetoed.

An Israeli President and Saudi Arabian King Eat Dinner

This past week saw a two day meeting at the United Nations promoting dialogue on religion and culture. This interfaith event was attended by seventeen heads of state and government, including Israel, the US, Britain, and several Arab countries. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia organized the conference. The big news was that Israeli President Peres Shimon and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia managed to eat dinner together in the same room.

Not the same table mind you, the same room. And hey, that IS big news. If you want the in depth reasons as to why, I happily direct you to “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East Conflict” by Mitchell Bard, Ph.D.. Hopefully you’ll have better luck wrapping your brain around it than I did. However, to sum up, in case you didn’t know, traditionally Arabs and Jews don’t get along.

There was criticism as to how legitimate this conference could be when it was put together by Abdullah, Saudi Arabia not being known for its tolerance of other faiths. Many organizations who I deeply respect spoke out about this, such as Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. That’s why it pains me to say this….shut up. I’ve spoken out against Saudi Arabia for its lack of what we here in America call First Amendment rights, but you know what? Israeli President Shimon and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia ate in the same room. Anyone who really thinks that human rights will be protected by these guys NOT interacting raise your hand. If you’re hand is up, than to you I also say, shut up. If not for this event, I never would have had the joyful opportunity to read this:

When Mr. Peres took to the floor, he broke off from his prepared speech to address King Abdullah directly.

“Your Majesty, the king of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “I was listening to your message. I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people. It’s right. It’s needed. It’s promising.

“The initiative’s portrayal of our region’s future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations.”

Did you see that? They listened to each other. No, there won’t suddenly be peace and all the religious freedom a gal could want in the middle east, but moments like this remind us all, that all governments, religious movements, and organizations are at their heart comprised of individuals. And that lurking inside every individual is the capacity for love, forgiveness, and respect. Except for me, I’m a bitch.

But to prove that even I am capable of forgiveness and respect, I present to you our President.

“Today, the United States is carrying on that noble tradition by making religious liberty a central element of our foreign policy. We’ve established a Commission on the International Religious Freedom to monitor the state of religious liberty worldwide. We strongly encourage nations to understand that religious freedom is the foundation of a healthy and hopeful society. We’re not afraid to stand with religious dissidents and believers who practice their faith, even where it is unwelcome.”

Amen George, Amen.

Which Religion has the Best Cell Phone?

In the land of “bling” (as the kids say), you see all kinds of stuff getting the “bling” treatment.  Diamond encrusted jewelry, tricked out cars, and super snazzy cell phones are all items to denote wealth and status.  Which is why I was intrigued to see’s headline, “Which religion has the best cell phone?”  The column by Mike Elgan is an entertaining look at the ins and outs of cell phones for the faithful.
Like Elgan, I was shocked to learn that there may be no Christian cell phones.  There are accessories galore for the cell phone savvy Christian to get their phone on, but no 100 percent Christian phones.  He was also unable to find Hindu or Sikh cell phones, which is a bummer because I might give up my crappy pay as you go phone if I could get a cool looking cell with Kali on it.
So who were the big three?  Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists.
In third place was the Jewish cell phone.  This essentially is a phone about denial to help Orthodox Jews be good boys and girls.  In second was the Muslim cell phone.  This is genius because if you’re Muslim stuck in a foreign city, how do you know exactly when to pray and which direction Mecca is in?  Well, with the phones listed in the article they will remind you to pray, help you locate a mosque, and will point you towards Mecca!  I have to admit, despite not being Muslim I wouldn’t mind having a phone that would point towards Mecca…that’s just cool!  With the way things are going these days, I’m guessing it would come with a government listening device already installed for everyone’s convenience!
Finally, Elgan gave first place to the Buddhist cell phone.  I’m not sure what Buddha would think of it, but if this gold-plated, jade accented bad boy was available in the U.S. you would see it in every hip hop video on MTV.  To get a good look at this Nokia, check out this article.

Profile: Bnei Baruch

Bnei Baruch is a group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 20 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation.

History and Origin
In 1991, following the passing of his teacher, Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The Rabash) Rav Michael Laitman, Professor of Ontology and the Theory of Knowledge, PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, established a Kabbalah study group called “Bnei Baruch.” He called it Bnei Baruch ( “Sons of Baruch”) to commemorate the memory of his mentor, whose side he never left in the final twelve years of his life, from 1979 to 1991. Rav Laitman had been Ashlag’s prime student and personal assistant, and is recognized as the successor to Rabash’s teaching method.

The Rabash was the firstborn son and successor of Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag, the greatest Kabbalist of the 20th century. Rabbi Ashlag authored the most authoritative and comprehensive commentary on The Book of Zohar, titled The Sulam Commentary (The Ladder Commentary). He was the first to reveal the complete method for spiritual ascent, and thus was known as Baal HaSulam (“Owner of the Ladder”).

Today, Bnei Baruch bases its entire study method on the path paved by these two great spiritual leaders.

The Study Method
The unique study method developed by Baal HaSulam and his son, the Rabash, is taught and applied on a daily basis by Bnei Baruch. This method relies on authentic Kabbalah sources such as The Book of Zohar, by Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, The Tree of Life, by the Holy Ari, and The Study of the Ten Sefirot, by Baal HaSulam.

While the study relies on authentic Kabbalah sources, it is carried out in simple language and uses a scientific, contemporary approach. Developing this approach has made Bnei Baruch an internationally respected organization, both in Israel and in the world at large.

The unique combination of an academic study method and personal experiences broadens the students’ perspective and awards them a new perception of the reality they live in. Those on the spiritual path are thus given the necessary tools to research themselves and their surrounding reality.

The Message
Bnei Baruch is a diverse movement of many thousands of students worldwide. Students can choose their own paths and the personal intensity of their studies, according to their unique conditions and abilities. The essence of the message disseminated by Bnei Baruch is universal: “unity of the people, unity of nations and love of man.”

For millennia, Kabbalists have been teaching that love of man should be the foundation of all human relations. This love prevailed in the days of Abraham, Moses, and the group of Kabbalists that they established. If we make room for these seasoned, yet contemporary values, we will discover that we possess the power to put differences aside and unite.

The wisdom of Kabbalah, hidden for millennia, has been waiting for the time when we would be sufficiently developed and ready to implement its message. Now, it is emerging as a solution that can unite diverse factions everywhere, better enabling us, as individuals and as a society, to meet today’s challenges.

Bnei Baruch’s Activities
Bnei Baruch was established on the premise that “only by expansion of the wisdom of Kabbalah to the public can we be awarded complete redemption” (Baal HaSulam).

Therefore, Bnei Baruch offers a variety of ways for people to explore and discover the purpose of their lives, providing careful guidance for the beginners and the advanced student alike.

Kabbalah Today
Kabbalah Today is a free monthly newspaper produced and disseminated by Bnei Baruch. It is apolitical, non-commercial, and written in a clear, contemporary style. Its purpose is to expose the vast body of knowledge hidden in the wisdom of Kabbalah at no cost and in a clear, engaging format and style for readers everywhere.

Kabbalah Today is distributed for free in every major U.S. city, as well as in Toronto, Canada, London, England, and Sydney, Australia. It is printed in English, Hebrew, and Russian, and is also available on the Internet, at

Additionally, a hard copy of the paper is sent to subscribers at delivery cost only.

Internet Website
Bnei Baruch’s homepage,, presents the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah using essays, books, and original texts. The site also contains a unique, extensive library for readers to thoroughly explore the wisdom of Kabbalah. In addition, there is a media archive,, containing more than 5,000 media items, downloadable books, and a vast reservoir of texts, video and audio files in many languages. All of this material is available for free download.

Kabbalah Television
Bnei Baruch established a production company, ARI Films ( specializing in the production of educational TV programs throughout the world, and in many languages.

In Israel, Bnei Baruch broadcasts are aired live through cable and satellite on Channel 98 Sunday through Friday. All broadcasts on these channels are free of charge. The programs are adapted specifically for beginners, and do not require prior knowledge of the material. This convenient learning process is complemented by programs featuring Rav Laitman’s meetings with publicly known figures in Israel and throughout the world.

Additionally, ARI Films produces educational series and documentaries on DVDs, as well as other visual teaching aids.

Kabbalah Books
Rav Laitman writes his books in a clear, contemporary style based on the key concepts of Baal HaSulam. These books serve as a vital link between today’s readers and the original texts. All of Rav Laitman’s books are available for sale, as well as for free download. Rav Laitman has thus far written thirty books, translated into ten languages.

Kabbalah Lessons
As Kabbalists have been doing for centuries, Rav Laitman gives a daily lesson at the Bnei Baruch center in Israel between 3:15-6:00 a.m. Israel time. The lessons are simultaneously translated into six languages: English, Russian, Spanish, German, Italian, and Turkish. In the near future, broadcasts will also be translated into French, Greek, Polish, and Portuguese. As with everything else, the live broadcast is provided gratis to thousands of students worldwide.

Bnei Baruch is a non-profit organization for teaching and sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah. To maintain its independence and purity of intentions, Bnei Baruch is not supported, funded, or otherwise tied to any government or political organization. Since the bulk of its activity is provided free of charge, the prime source of funding for the group’s activities is donations, tithing—contributed by students on a voluntary basis—and Rav Laitman’s books, which are sold at cost.