The Secret History of America

When you see a title like “The Secret History of America”, you might perk up at the thought of nefarious, conspiratorial plots. And although secrets abound in “The Secret History of America: Classic Writings on our Nation’s Unknown Past and Inner Purpose” by Manly P. Hall, you’ll be hard pressed to find sinister actions. That’s because through Hall’s account of history America, the literal land the country exists on, has been preordained to be a utopia, or as close to one as humanity can create.

As editor Mitch Horowitz says in his introduction, “Hall’s view of American history could be called transcendental.” He goes on to explain, “Within Hall’s writings on American history, particularly in his essays and book called The Secret Destiny of America, appears the principle that the U.S. serves – at his finest hours – as a vessel for primeval ideals of democracy, self-development, individual searching, and personal liberty. Hall located these ideals, in their earliest form, within ancient esoteric traditions, and he believed that such principles were preserved within the work of illuminated intellects, like Francis Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh, as well as covert fraternities, including Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism, and enacted, albeit imperfectly, by America’s founders, many of whom were either Masons, such as Washington and Franklin, or were intimately steeped in ethical and individualistic philosophy, such as Paine and Jefferson.”

Hall profiles a colorful cast of characters including George Washington, Albert Pike, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He shares stories of mysterious strangers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and potential identities of Quetzalcoatl. All the while Hall paints a picture of an aspirational America. An America living up to its fullest potential.

Entertaining, inspiring, and informative, Manly P. Hall’s “Secret History of America” is a must read.

You can learn more here.

Williamson Wants You

I love primaries during the run up to a presidential election year. I play armchair pundit like many Americans, weighing pros and cons, and handicapping the primaries as they start rolling. Obviously, I was stoked to see who was going to throw their hat in the ring to become the Democratic Party presidential nominee. Well they can just stop it already! I had a good handle on the candidates for a while, but now I can barely keep up! My cup runneth over, and seriously, I’m drowning in the flood of information!

Not to make matters worse but there is a primary candidate that may be under your radar, and since she comes from a new age/self-help background I felt I should bring her to your attention. If you haven’t heard, author, speaker, and spiritual mogul Marianne Williamson is running for the Democratic Party nomination.

A quick overview of her platform shows her to be mostly in line with most of the progressive candidates. One of her biggest departures with other candidates is her desire to create a US Department of Domestic Peace-Building. As I write this, there are 14 people running for the nomination with Williamson being the last in fundraising. You can find out more about the candidate’s fundraising here.

I honestly don’t know who I’ll vote for at this point. I’ll probably wait for the primary process to winnow the field down, then pick from what’s left. If you’d like to learn more about Marianne Williamson’s campaign, visit her site here.

Hail Satan?

I received a press release about a documentary that I definitely want to see! Check it out!

Chronicling the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon). When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world.

Hail Satan? will be in theaters April 19th! You can learn more and find tickets at https://www.hailsatanfilm.com/.

Witchcraft Activism

Not too long ago I posted a photo on social media of all the books/decks that I have yet to write reviews for and asked for people’s opinion on what they’d like to see first. The overwhelming response was to review “Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance” by David Salisbury next. I can’t say as I blame anyone who voted for it. In this time of political upheaval people now, more than ever, are looking for a way to take action.

The good news is, “Witchcraft Activism” gets the job done. Obviously if you’re a magical practitioner, the idea of effecting change with magic isn’t an outlandish idea. However, I was happy to see Salisbury clearly show the similarities (similarities that never occurred to me) between magic and activism. Both require a serious reflection on intention and the work of follow through. Salisbury has a background in activism and takes you step by step through any type of activism that may interest you: lobbying, letter writing, marches, and more. Then add to that an inspiring number of ways you can utilize magic to reinforce and improve on those actions! He discusses sigils, candle spells, spirit servitors, and of course, more.

David Salisbury has created a great guide for aspiring activists. You could ignore all the magical elements and still walk away with a fantastic book on activism. As far as I’m concerned, the informative magical information is just icing on the cake! Highly recommended!

You can learn more here.

Lady Parts Justice In The New World Order

I’ve got a documentary series for everyone to keep an eye out for online. The series is “Lady Parts Justice In The New World Order”. It debuted at DOC NYC November 11, and now they’ll be exploring streaming options.

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of “The Daily Show”, is furious. Even before the arrival of the Trump administration, Winstead realized women’s reproductive rights were being eroded across the nation. In effort to create a sustainable agency for change, Winstead formed Lady Parts Justice, a collection of activists and comedians. Setting off on the Vagical Mystery Tour, the Lady Parts Justice League brings its political satire-infused advocacy across the US to educate communities about legislative attacks on beleaguered abortion clinics. Urgent and funny, this series is an uplifting reminder of the power of protest.

Check out the trailer, I think you’ll dig it.

You can follow and support Lady Parts Justice at:
Facebook: @ladypartsjusticefilm
Twitter: @lpjldoc AND @ladypjustice
Instagram:@ladypartsjusticefilm

Website: https://www.ladypartsjusticedoc.com

Think Before You Pink 2018

If you’ve been following The Magical Buffet for a while you know that I am a big supporter of Breast Cancer Action. They understand that the issue of cancer is more than just a matter of health policies, but also environmentalism and social justice. They accept no donations from corporations and do real work that potentially helps everyone. That’s why every year I highlight their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. Take a moment to read this press release they sent me for this year’s campaign and if so moved, take action yourself.

This week Breast Cancer Action, the respected watchdog for the breast cancer movement, launched their “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign on day one of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In an open letter in the Detroit Free Press today, they also issued a direct challenge to the CEO and Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, demanding they “Go Further” than their Warriors in Pink program by ending production of vehicles that increase the risk of breast cancer.

Today, marks both the first day of Breast Cancer Industry (aka Awareness) Month and the 100th anniversary of Ford’s Model T, the first mass-marketed automobile. Breast Cancer Action’s executive director, Karuna Jaggar, says: “On the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Model T, we’re calling on Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses.”

“Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to go full-throttle on sales in the U.S. of trucks and SUVs, which are some of Ford’s highest emission vehicles. Ford is trying to tell us that they care about breast cancer, but in reality they’re making business decisions that will increase our exposure to chemicals that cause breast cancer. We call this pinkwashing,” said Jaggar.

Some of the first chemicals identified by researchers as increasing the risk of breast cancer are found in the exhaust from combustion engines: carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Benzene is such a potent mammary carcinogen that it has been linked to breast cancer in men. The 2009 President’s Cancer Panel recommended limiting exposure to auto exhaust, noting that cars, trucks, and other passenger vehicles “are responsible for approximately 30 percent of cancer resulting from air pollution.”

In April of this year, Ford announced they will almost exclusively sell SUVs and trucks in the U.S., which have less-regulated emissions. They will also launch a new diesel version of the F-150 truck. Meanwhile, they will stop selling their zero emission, 100 percent electric vehicle, and nearly all their other lower emission passenger cars. “Diesel is enriched with nitro PAHs,” notes Jaggar. “This means now the F-150, America’s best-selling truck, is offered with even more potent mammary carcinogens.”

Attempting to brush aside criticism for these recent announcements, Ford is publicizing plans for future investment in electrification—nearly all of which will be in China, due to higher regulation standards. At a major auto show in the U.S. earlier this year, Ford notably failed to showcase any electric vehicles. Additionally, Ford has been lobbying the Trump administration to lower emission standards in the U.S.

“Breast cancer is a public health crisis and a social justice issue,” said Jaggar. “We can’t afford to hold our breath and hope Ford’s promise of new, cleaner vehicles will come to the U.S. sometime down the road. Instead of pinkwashing and platitudes, Ford can “Go Further” by making the shift to 100 percent zero emission vehicles now.”

Ford’s Warriors in Pink program sells branded clothes and other gear in order to raise money for four breast cancer charities. But Jaggar said, “We see through the pink-tinted smoke screen of Ford’s Warriors in Pink. This is a just feel-good attempt by Ford to distract attention away from their role in driving up the risk of breast cancer.”

Everyone in the U.S. is exposed to Ford’s auto exhaust, whether or not they drive a Ford vehicle. As one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers in the U.S., Ford is in a position to make a big difference in reducing cancer rates by making clean vehicles.

“One hundred years ago, Ford made its name by bringing the Model-T to the masses,” said Jaggar. “Now it’s time for Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses. By turning away from cancer-causing combustion engines and towards zero emission cars and trucks, Ford can truly help put the brakes on the breast cancer epidemic. After all, the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it in the first place.”

Breast Cancer Action’s “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign is supported by more than 14 health and environmental justice organizations, and is Breast Cancer Action’s 2018 Think Before You Pink® campaign. Since 2002, when Breast Cancer action coined the term pinkwashing, they have been demanding transparency and accountability in breast cancer marketing and pink ribbon promotions.

Find out more at http://www.bcaction.org.

Banned Books Week 2018

It’s the end of September again, so it is time to remind all of you about the important work the American Library Association does in the form of Banned Books Week. For those unfamiliar with the event, you must be new to my site. Welcome! Here’s a brief description from the ALA:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Highlighting the value of free and open access to information, Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

This year’s theme is “Banning Books Silences Stories”. You can learn more about the impact of Banned Books Week by visiting the site.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2017. Of the 416 books challenged or banned in 2017, the Top 10 Most Challenged Books are:

Thirteen Reasons Why written by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian written by Sherman Alexie
Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”

The Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini
This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”

George written by Alex Gino
Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.

Sex is a Funny Word written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”

To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.

The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas
Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.

And Tango Makes Three written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.

10 More Questions with Gary Lachman

1. Believe it or not, you and I talked all the way back in 2009 about your book “Politics and the Occult.” How does your new book, “Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump” differ from that earlier work?

In Politics and the Occult, along with giving an overview of the relation between the two in the modern world, I also wanted to show that the association of occultism and far-right politics, which has become a kind of cliche, is not as necessary or exclusive as writers like Umberto Eco believed, and that there is plenty of evidence for what we can call a ‘progressive’ occult politics. Dark Star Rising is different, first because I am writing about current events – it’s a work of journalism to some degree, or ‘history in the making’ – but also because in it I am looking at what seems to be a rise of a form of occult politics in the alternative-right, both in the United States and in Russia. So in Dark Star Rising I am looking at some occult politics that seem to be happening on the right, here and now.

2. You draw a fairly direct line from New Thought to branches of Christianity (particularly Prosperity preachers) to Chaos Magick. Do you think any of these groups acknowledge their similarities and lineage?

One of the things that struck me as very interesting was that in terms of technique, theory, practice, and aim, there seems to be much in common between New Thought or positive thinking and chaos magic. You wouldn’t think that Norman Vincent Peale and Austin Osman Spare had a lot in common, but in some fundamentals they do. I recognized this when following up the idea that the alt-right had used ‘meme magic’ – via Pepe the Frog – to put Trump into office. Meme magic – using the internet as a way of making things happen in the real world – is an offshoot of chaos magic. Chaos magic differs from traditional magic in that it does not depend on the traditional methods and appurtenances, such as the circle, wand, sword, spells, etc. Instead it relies on the magician’s initiative, creativity, imagination, and will.

Chaos magicians use whatever is at hand, rather in the manner of an objet trouve, or found art, when some ordinary item is taken out of context, placed in another, and called ‘art’. What is most at hand today is the internet and the memes that propagate on it. The idea is that Pepe became a kind of hyper-sigil, or magical symbol or spell, and by saturating the internet with images of him, the people behind this believed they could affect the outcome of the election. And it seemed it did – Trump won. This was why Richard Spencer claimed that “we” – the Pepeists of the alt-right – “willed” him into office.

Now, Trump himself is a devotee of positive thinking; Norman Vincent Peale was a mentor, he says. Peale’s positive thinking comes in an upbeat, cheery Christian wrapping, rather different than chaos magic, but what he is actually getting at is not that different. Both are results oriented, positive thinking aiming at a “realizable wish,” and chaos magic at an “achievable reality.” Both have a very flexible attitude toward facts – in fact our attitude toward facts is for both more important than the facts themselves. There are other similarities. So we have Trump the positive thinker being helped into office by alt-right chaos magicians. But then, what word characterizes Trump’s presidency so far? I’d say chaos and I think others would too. And then Pepe of course turns out to be Kek, the ancient Egyptian god of chaos…

So in answer to your question, no, I don’t think that,say, people following the prosperity gospel know that in some basic way, what they are about is not very different from what a chaos magician may get up to. Some of the more Christian of them would most likely be appalled. In fact many Christian thinkers were appalled by Peale because of the links between positive thinking and more outright occult forms of New Thought, which Peale read and which he translated into a more palatable form. And I should point out that I’m not saying that there is a direct line in any historical sense, between positive thinking and chaos magic, but that what we can call the phenomenology of the magic involved is similar.

3. Are these things, such as New Thought, etc. inherently “bad”?

By asking if New Thought is bad, you have to decide in what sense you are asking this. If you dismiss the idea that New Thought can work, then what’s bad about it is that it is false and, like other scams, can harm people who get involved with it. But if you accept the basic premise that the mind, consciousness, in some way that we do not fully understand, is an active agent in the world and can affect it – that “thoughts are things” – then we enter a different area. This is where the notion of a responsibility of the imagination – as Owen Barfield called it – comes in. And this is something that practically all esoteric, spiritual, what have you traditions make clear. So if it is the case that, unlike Vegas, what happens in the mind doesn’t necessarily stay there, then it becomes rather important to be aware of what’s happening in the mind. Of course, from our rational, scientific perspective, this is nonsense. But as I say in the book, it is precisely this perspective that is being, or has been, undermined in our post-truth, alternative fact world – which is itself the result of a process that started early in the last century. The partitions separating what is possible from what is not are thin, just as the membranes separating fact from fiction, truth from falsehood, reality and fantasy, are dissolving. I’d say we have a responsibility now to be aware of this.

4. “Dark Star” is quite informative for those unfamiliar with Chaos Magick. Would you mind giving my readers a brief description of what Chaos Magick is?

I think I’ve given that in 2.

5. So, is the alt-right filled with unintentional magick users?

Ditto.

6. Several magick groups have been supporting and promoting group rituals to counter the effects of a Trump presidency. Do you think these can have any effect?

I know that the global “binding spell” cast to impede Trump and all those who abet him, goes on, and that there are other forms of what’s being called the “magical resistance.” Will it help? That is usually the first thing people ask. But as realistic magicians know, there are always many different forces at work, and what needs to be aimed it is, as I mention above, a “realizable wish” or ” achievable reality.” Which means, ironically enough, don’t expect miracles. But the idea of magical political opposition has been around for a long time. That was one of the points of Politics and the Occult – that the two are not as strange bedfellows as we might at first think. Did the witches put a monkey wrench into Trump’s first shot at the travel ban?

7. With such a fast-changing Presidential administration, and the inherently slower pace of writing and publishing a book, how much has changed between writing the book and now? Will you consider a book with timely subject matter again?

The main change since writing the book has been Steve Bannon’s exit from Trump’s inner circle. I finished the book last August. A lot happens very quickly these days – that, as we all know by now, is the fluid character of our time – and not long after I delivered it I knew that some of it would be old news by the time it appeared. I was able to add a short note at the end to say precisely this. But as I say above, this is ‘history in the making’. It struck me, as I’m sure it did other people, that with Trump’s election, something very different had taken place. In the book I say that in one sense we can see this as the singularity people have been waiting for for awhile now. A singularity is an event in which our usual, normal ideas about reality breakdown, or at least no longer apply. It strikes me that this is precisely what has happened, and we have our post-truth, alternative fact world to show for it. A world in which there is very little difference between reality and its electronic representation. This too is the result of a process that got going more than a century ago. We are feeling the effect of what I call “trickle down metaphysics.” The post-everything world is the outcome of the nihilism that the philosopher Nietzsche saw was irrevocably on its way back in the 1880s. The relativity of all values that we welcome as a liberation from the dominance of western rationality, is exactly what Nietzsche said was coming. To see this happening is disturbing but also thrilling. History has caught up to us.

In fact I am working on a follow up book about Russia but I can’t say more than that now.

8. In the mid-nineties you moved from the U.S. to London. How do think America and Britain compare when it comes to politics and magick?

I think Americans believe in the possibility of political change – or at least used to – more than Brits, but the Brits have a longer tradition of magic. But when Americans do occult politics, they do it up right. In October 1966, during the anti-Viet Nam War march on Washington, Abbie Hoffman and Allen Ginsburg tried to levitate the Pentagon, while the filmmaker and magician Kenneth Anger tried to exorcise it. The Brits are mostly just worried about Freemasons.

9. Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with my readers?

Covered in 7.

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

What do you think? New Thought, positive thinking, chaos magic – do they work?

Indeed I do. You see the power of the placebo effect and you learn that the human mind is capable of pretty amazing things.

About Gary Lachman:
Gary Lachman is the author of many books on consciousness, culture, and the Western esoteric tradition, including “Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work”, “A Secret History of Consciousness”, and “Politics and the Occult”. He writes for several journals in the US and UK and lectures on his work in the US and Europe. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he has appeared in several radio and television documentaries. A founding member of the rock group Blondie, Lachman was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

Are you still reading? Congratulations because you’re about to learn about our giveaway! That’s right, the kind folks at TarcherPerigee gave me an extra copy of Lachman’s new book “Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump” to give to one lucky reader! The giveaway will end Sunday, June 3rd at 11:59pm Eastern. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Open to international readers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Witches, Sluts, Feminists

So this book has been out for nearly a year. I didn’t get to it right away, and the next thing you know, here we are, nearly a year later. However, no matter how long it sat in my “to do” pile I knew I would eventually get to it. I mean, the book is called “ Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive”, how could I resist? And although almost a year old, this book is more relevant than ever.

Kristen J. Sollee’s book is a fascinating exploration of the way non-conformist women have been treated by society historically and in modern times. There is an intricate web woven with the threads of sexuality and gender identity and the label witch that examined in great depth utilizing extensive research and interesting first person interviews. All of this makes “Witches, Sluts, Feminists” a must read for anyone woman who considers herself a witch and/or part of “the resistance” we’re seeing today.

If you want an informative, eye-opening read, Sollee’s “Witches, Sluts, Feminists” should go to the top of your “to do” pile!

To learn more, click here.

Wild Wild Country

You guys, I got a press release for a documentary series debuting on Netflix March 16th that looks crazy. I’m going to want to watch it and I thought you might too. Here’s the story:

When the world’s most controversial guru builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, a massive conflict with local ranchers ensues; producing the first bioterror attack in US history, the largest case of illegal wiretapping ever recorded, and the world’s biggest collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles. Over six episodes, Directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way (“The Battered Bastards of Baseball”) and executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass (Duplass Brothers Productions) take viewers back to this pivotal, yet largely forgotten moment in American cultural history, one in which our national tolerance for the separation of church and state was sorely tested. Wild Wild Country is historical filmmaking brought to life on an epic scale. It’s a tale so wild that seeing means barely believing.

And here’s the trailer: