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The Christmas Massacre at the World's End

           This year, as some of you may know, I set my sights on taking down just one of the many monsters who currently torment this tiny planet of ours, but, today, in these early morning hours after a long and bloody Christmas, I'm sorry to announce that I have failed you all. I haven't so much as made a dent in the conspiracy to conceal all real magic and to keep us enslaved to cold hard cash, careers spent in captivity, and mindless consumption, because, still largely unbeknownst to the rest of the world, the Supervillain Santa Claus remains in control of his small army of elven and perchent slaves, is still able to conjure up the spectral contagion known as the Yule Lads, and will continue to successfully employ the hyper-hypnotic technologies of that prodigious Fae collaborator, the Pale Warden.

          With almost a year of planning wasted on what should have been last night's direct assault on his Northern Stronghold, a plot which included countless hours of research, recruiting, training, and even traveling to Iceland in search of those few remaining elves who might have eluded his velvet gloved grasp, all I have to show for my efforts is the bitter knowledge that the world's greatest Supervillains are not working alone.

           On the more mundane side of this strange conspiracy to maintain a stable society of consumer slaves, you will eventually encounter the master conspirator Mediocrates, who, in addition to his own private army of zealots, discretely evokes the dark angelic forces of the Drudge and funds the massive social engineering efforts of the terrible Trophiend. For anyone unfortunate enough to witness the subtle powers that these villains wield over the minds and hearts of men, it come as very little surprise when your allies are all mysteriously short on time.

           As if that wasn't enough, both Mediocrates and St. Nick are united by their high-ranking membership in the Saturnian Order of Melchizedek, which finds them each blood bound and eager to uphold the unending reign of the unimaginably ancient, seemingly unstoppable Senex. It appears that even the Nazi God Machine Ultima Thule has somehow been bent to its senescent alien will, along with the brain invading Mother Dreadful and that vain domination junkie, the Authoritarian; We really probably never had a chance.

           But what I've lost in allies and soldiers I can only hope I've gained in this invaluable, hard won, intel, and since I, at least, still live and breath, I'm putting this information here, along with all of my other reports, in the hope that somewhere out there someone else might be able to succeed where my meager forces have failed. Read well, learn as much as you can, and, assuming that you survive, now that you know the terrible secrets shared here, perhaps you and your brothers and sisters in arms can somehow prepare for the renewed assault that will and must inevitably be launched again next Christmas. Hopefully, some of the fae, or the elves, or the satyrs, or the sileni, or even one of my stranger allies, have survived what I now fear was quite possibly the total slaughter of the Elven Liberation Front, but, no matter where everything stands, as always, Good Luck and Namaste.

Although The Sun Sets, We Must Rise.

           As the sun continues to fade, its deleterious effects become increasingly more obvious on the sneering, downturned faces of the people who pass me on the street. I watch motivations wan all around me as the costs of even simple actions have clearly begun to seem too high, the perceived benefits far too low, or even, perhaps, nonexistent. An oppressive miasma grips the very heart and soul of my city, indeed of the entire northern hemisphere, yet, it appears that simply bearing witness has somehow rendered me immune, set apart, perhaps, by sheer necessity. Whatever the cause, this sad but sobering solar fact has somehow shaken me free of the Long Night's entropic grasp.

          Since this grim knowledge appears to be what has set my own defiant soul ablaze with these endlessly invigorating fires of a so desperately needed resistance, I'm sharing this important message with all of you now, in the small, perhaps misguided, hope that this realization might similarly inspire some you. If not, it doesn't really matter anyway, as it truly appears that my own current strength is drawn directly from my realization of your collective weakness, a unfortunate fact that will provide me with at least a modicum of consolation as I continue to watch you all slowly fade away around me; yes, it's a cold comfort indeed, but it will have to serve.

          Still, consider this your one formal invitation to find within yourselves the untapped power of your own indomitable Midnight Sun, the one symbolized in the fierce blaze of the Yule log, the ever increasing candle light of the Menorah, and even the guiding Star of Bethlehem. Understand that this is a literal wake up call. The Darkness IS growing and so it falls now to those few among us, who can see and feel it looming there on the horizon, to prepare our hearts, our minds, and our bodies, for the many difficult battles that now lie ahead.

          For the countless others who currently suffer, I invite you to forget yourselves, to forget your own pain, to see the illusory nature of this current sunless trap, and awaken. Like Set and Mehen we could perhaps stand together on that lonely Solar barge, fending off the demon Apep throughout the Sun God's darkest hours. However, if you follow, as I do, in the sand-swept footsteps of the mighty Sutekh, you will realize, as I do, how you can, and, all too often, must, stand alone as well. Either way, Good Luck and Namaste.

The Terrible Truth of the 13 Yule Lads

           For some strange reason it always seems like almost every Christmas myth has some deep dark secret attached to it, one that few people know or usually even care to know. Did you know, for example, that Santa Claus was once a pagan god of darkness called the Holly King, who was heroically slain at the coming of each Winter Solstice by the horned God of Spring in order to end his frozen reign and return life and light to the world? No, of course you didn't know that, because now he buys us all off with candy canes and presents and that great Dionysian Oak King, the one who brought life back into the world, well he's barely even remembered, except in a few frozen regions of northern Europe where he's paraded about in chains as St. Nick’s demonic bogeyman, the Krampus.

           So the story was changed so that an evil monster became the "good guy" (unless, like me, you don’t like compulsory shopping or sweatshop elves forced to make me presents I don't want or need) and the original hero is transformed into this big scary monster (unless, I suppose, you really like nature, and you see the fur and hooves, and even the horns, for what they really are; simply the emblems of a forest god transformed unfairly into a demon by a senescent and celibate church), but I digress.

           The reason I bring this all up, is that now the sinister Santa Claus seems poised to consume yet another traditional myth, this time in Iceland, where the 13 Yule Lads are more and more often finding themselves transformed into just 13 bland clones of jolly old St. Nick, giving the barons of industry who are bringing him there thirteen times the present purchasing and thirteen times the marketing power. The problem here is that, yet again, the story of the 13 Yule Lads, the one which has persisted for the last hundred years or so anyway, is not nearly as simple or as straightforward as most people believe.

           Truth is, the real tale is far darker than anything you’ve probably ever heard before. I mean it. Seriously. It's pretty damn grim.

           If I didn’t hate Santa’s black materialistic hypocrisy more than I hate almost anything else, I might even think that it was a bit of a blessing that he’s moving in to wipe these 13 terrible monsters from the cultural memory of that great nation, but the thing is that the current myth, while severely white washed, serves a very important purpose. There are certain things that it's best that we not completely forget, various clues and seemingly purposeless customs, which can help us avoid problems that might just be too weird, too fundamentally unthinkable, for most people to face head on. No, actually, I'm almost certain that the true story is just too unbelievable and fantastic to warn people about any other way, so the tale which you probably know of the 13 Yule Lads simply must remain in place, if as nothing else, then as a pious, yet immanently practical, fraud.

           What’s that, you say YOU want to hear the true story of the 13 Yule Lads? Hmm... Yes, I suppose someone else out there ought to know. Otherwise, once the story of Santa Claus is all the people of Iceland can remember, they’ll be no clues left to protect their children from the enormous looming danger posed by these 13 very real, and very hungry, winter spirits.

          So, whether you believe it or not, what I’m about to tell you here is the utterly unmetaphorical and often times fairly disturbing yearly haunting cycle of the so called 13 Yule Lads.

           You might want to read this with the lights on. All of the lights.

          It always begins somewhere secluded, in a home where the people are not quite right, on December 12th. The first Yule Lad is said to arrive then, the one called Sheep-Cote Clod, and then, on the next night, comes the one called Gully Gawk, yet these will only ever bother with vulnerable animals left penned up outside, those left without adequate shelter or proper care in general. These first two, small, weak, and crippled spirits, are really far too timid to come any closer than that, but the next four, Stubby, the Spoon Licker, the Pot Scraper, and the worst one of all, the one they call the Bowl Licker, these four can and will enter your home. Of course it’s just to hunt for the scraps left in your pans, then on your spoons, then in your pots and, finally, in any bowl the Bowl Licker can reach from his secret hiding place beneath your bed.

           Ah, I got your attention with that one, didn’t I? Because what starts harmlessly enough, way out in the yard, grows stronger, more brazen, working its way ever so slowly through your kitchen, moving unseen through the benighted rooms of your quiet home, until, by that sixth long winter night, the Bowl Licker finds you where you sleep and takes up his post beneath your bed. Often times, he’ll even allow you to hear him there, breathing, just so he can feed on your fears even further.

           Now, if at the end of that first week, after first gathering their strength by stealing your animal’s vital energies in order to breach your home, and then moving in like vermin to feed on wasted scraps of food, unhappy memories, and, as I said, the delicious anxieties and vivid imaginings of restless children, indeed, if they’ve gathered enough to not only feed themselves but to entice the rest of their brood to follow, well then, just like clockwork, on the 18th day of December, that’s when the violence will begin.

           They call him the Door Slammer. Even on farms with the best tended live stalk and the most meticulously cleaned homes, he can still manage to raise a bit of a ruckus if his brothers have somehow gathered enough psychic energy to bring him there as well. The banging you’ll here, however, isn’t usually being made by a mere slamming of mundane doors, although the mounting psycho-kinetic energies will at this point begin moving objects, perhaps shifting a table or overturning a chair, rattling your windows, and, of course, manifesting his signature “door slamming” as well. No, the pounding that will cause you to jump upright in your bed in the middle of the night is the unique and unsettling sound of the very walls of reality being assaulted by what at that point will finally be attempting to break through them, to physically enter our world.

           With nearly half of their invasive force now gathered together unseen in your home, feeding on the sins of your past, and the not so distant ones as well, they will begin to attempt to pull across the very worst of their clan, and God help you if they’ve found enough energy to do so.

           Of course the first physical manifestation that arrives on that eighth night is actually rather small, microbial even. Skyr, for those who don’t know, is a cultured yogurt which is drank in heavy amounts by Icelandic children who hope to grow big and strong. All the more ironic then that the Skyr-Gobbler comes on like a bacterial infection, gumming up the eyes, infesting your nose and your ears and your throat with a puss like substance much like the Skyr from which it derives its name, but which desiccates its victims as it drains them of both their sanity and their vitality. Some investigators have even theorized that the latter so-called “manifestations” are all little more than vivid hallucinations brought on by this mysterious winter ailment, which they credit to infected livestock and poor sanitation. They’re not though. No, the spirits are just able to grow much, much, bigger once this one finds its way into a proper human food source. Much bigger indeed.

           Every child in Iceland knows that Sausage-Swiper hides up in the rafters. On the night he arrives you’ll begin to hear the scampering of taloned footfalls up in your attic, or, if it’s dark and high enough to provide adequate cover, you may even dimly glimpse his spidery form crawling across your ceilings in the night. Sausage-Swiper arrives a mere nine days after the first of the Yule Lads selected your home for their progressively intensifying assault, and on this, the 20th of December, the eve of the Winter Solstice, the second longest and second darkest night of the year will find you battling all nine of these hungry spirits at once, each of them now draining you from a different place and in their own unique way.

           Your animals will all have long since fallen ill or have died, but by now, of course, you’re sick as well. Your home is now a complete mess, rotting food left out despite your best efforts to clean; assuming you ever even tried to clear away the filth out of which they spawn. There are still those disturbing noises under the beds, the doors and the windows opening and closing, things falling off of shelves, or even, at times, flying violently across the room. Perhaps worst of all, there’s now a greasy slime on almost everything you use, crawling all over your flesh, into and out of your nose, caked around the corners of your eyes, lodging inside your ears and even entering into your mouth, and nothing you eat or drink seems to break you from this sickening sense of being slowly consumed from within. The final straw then seems to come when this “thing” begins moving swiftly over you, hiding in the high corners of your ceiling, staring down at you from the eves of your home with its burning yellow eyes.

           You may imagine it has gotten as bad as it can get but, of course, it’s not over yet; Far from it.

           The infestation, if nothing has curbed its growth, has only one final movement to make, as each of the Yule Lads comes fully to life in its proper nightmarish form. Surrounded by such terrors no mortal man, woman, or child could possibly manage to stay inside their homes throughout the terrible trials that befall them on this maddening Solstice Eve, no matter how cold or uninviting the outside may be. Yet this panic stricken exodus that sends the sick and fevered shambling out into the streets is no mere coincidence. No, this is merely the final movement in a tragic symphony of mass death and destruction which begins the moment these nine infernal plague-spawn have forced their poor doomed prey to run.

           Should nothing else intercede to stop them, or if their now ailing prey doesn't mercifully expire before the arrival of the Winter Solstice, then God help everyone, because, like a ripe sack of spider’s eggs disgorging a ravenous mass of writhing new life, the infamous and deadly Wild Hunt will once again be let loose upon the Earth.

           For the next four nights, right up until the sun rises on Christmas day, the Yule Lads will run these plague dogs as far and as wide as they can go. Everything they touch, every step they take, every living thing that crosses their infectious path, and most certainly every home that foolishly takes them in, will be marked for the Hunt. Many will grow sick, while others might just experience a greatly accelerated series of sinister events akin to that dark carnival of calamity that culminated so gradually in that first doomed home from which they've sprung, yet these, by far, are the lucky ones.

           This is the everlooming danger which this simple childish myth was long ago created to help avert. Now mark the terrible truth of it well, because the final four Lads will manifest during this time, and the true terror of this holiday curse will becomes clear with the increasingly chilling arrival of each one. Their traditional names translate rather well to describe exactly what horrible assets they bring to the Wild Hunt and its bloody quest for children’s, or at least primarily children's, souls.

           On the night of the Winter Solstice, the first night of the Wild Hunt is lead by a great evil called the Window-Peeper. Once again the Lads must approach from outside, yet the Window-Peeper is no Sheep-Cote Clod or Gully Gawk. No, by now the Lads have gathered enormous strength, enough to allow the Window-Peeper to tear the soul out of any child who's foolish enough to meet his gaze should he peer in through their window with his glowing yellow eyes.

           Then, on the night of the 22nd, the Doorway-Sniffer rises. Merely hiding under your sheet will not save you now. No, the Doorway-Sniffer need only smell an unwashed child to lock onto his or her rank scent, and, once that occurs, he will pursue them past any and all defenses which might be unfortunate enough to stand between him and his utterly doomed prey.

           Now it is on the 23rd of December, with all eleven of the previously mentioned Yule Lads still lurking about as well, that the one that they call the Meat-Hook finally arrives. With a full three nights worth of infected land claimed for his terrible Hunt, he is the only one who is big enough and fast enough, and just plain brutal enough, to cover just about all of it on his very first night out. No, it doesn’t go well at all for children who have the grave misfortune of being anywhere near his hunting grounds on the 23rd, or really anytime thereafter, all the way up until he disappears on January 5th. I really would rather say as little about Meat-Hook as possible. Please, just… use your imagination.

           Now Christmas Eve marks the thirteenth and final arrival of these terrible Yule Lads, and with it comes perhaps the worst one of them all, a vast creature of living darkness who children know simply as the Candle-Stealer. With all of his other brothers still on the hunt for any prey which has been marked by the pustulent ooze which pours from those cursed by Skyr-Gobbler, the Candle Stealer provides this already unthinkably efficient engine of slaughter with one final and terrible power: Able to stretch out in every direction, reaching into every shadow, into every last dark place that remains untouched by the light, on the night of December 24th the Candle Stealer opens himself up to become an almost infinite series of secret doors, creating dark passageways to allow all twelve of his monstrous kin, even the dreaded Meat-Hook, to appear in any shadowy place that lies on the darkened side of the planet Earth, and, one could imagine, even beyond that as well. For centuries parents around the world have assured their clueless children that those sounds they heard were simply Santa's sleigh; now, unfortunately, you'll know what it really is when it comes for you, because although they still restrict themselves to the cursed reach of their doomed plague dogs, this final unfortunate development allows them to drive these now pale and rotting husks into any dark place the Yule Lads may wish to go, and they wish, most of all, to go wherever there are children to eat.

           You may not live anywhere near a farm, you may think that you are safe from monsters which are believed by many to only haunt the snowy volcanic isle of Iceland, but, like billions of children from Peking to Pittsburgh, from London to Los Angeles to Laos, you would be sadly mistaken. The only good news, in light of such an omnipresent and inescapable threat, is that once Christmas arrives the Yule Lads all begin to depart one by one, in the same order that they arrived, until, by the now dwindling night of January 6th, only the Candle Stealer will be left, desperately attempting to lure one final child into the massive black folds of its shadowy body, hoping to swallow them up before even his mountainous maleficence must fade away as well. At least these children are left alive, if only so that he can feed on their continual terror until it all begins again next year, just like it always does, on the 12th day of an unseasonably cold December.

           You've all been warned. Watch for the signs, and, of course, have a Merry Krampusmas.

Supervillain Alert: The Blue Devils

           I can’t pretend I know for sure, but, logically, the greatest likelihood that I see for what happens after death is that what you are now will end up being wiped clean and placed inside a new beginner's shell, small, disoriented, defenseless, and, therefore, ripe for retraumatization; that, or, from your own personal perspective at least, I suppose you could also consider death as just one giant leap into oblivion. While both perspectives may be considered equally valid depending on how you're looking at it, that second scenario seems almost irrelevant once you consider the fact that somewhere something much like a memory-free version of you will be going into a new beginner's shell either way. I choose to focus on the immortality granted to me by this rather obvious common ground and to simply disregard the oblivion which neither you nor I will ever witness anyway.

           My point is that even when you consider the fact that life almost certainly goes on regardless of any one individual death, it's very important that you realize the potential value of your current life so that you don't just give up. It took so very long and so much effort to get you here in a full grown body. Why waste such a long and difficult trip? You may just now be getting to the point where you can finally fight back. Do it. Fight back for everyone who will ever end up in the place you’re standing right now and in honor of everyone who's been there before you, but mostly, for yourself and for all the others like you, and, trust me, there are, indeed, others like you. There have been before. There will be again. I know logically that THEY are possible because otherwise YOU would not be possible.

           When you’re feeling low, I think it’s normal to consider throwing it all away on one big messy push, the kind that might leave you dead or in jail, to attempt what you’ll tell yourself is some sort of Great Big Change. When life seems too painful to keep living, this might even seem like the best choice you have, “heroic” and “memorable”, but the truth is that you have as many choices as you can discover or create for yourself, and there's really only one way to know for sure what the future may hold, and that’s to stick it out and keep on fighting the smartest way you can. Any change that demands another's destruction as well as your own is, in fact, the very definition of stupidity, at least according to Professor Carlo Cipolla's excellent Theory of Stupidity (available here in a brief yet thoroughly enlightening essay). It's a trap born out of your own frustrations, fears, and pain, a poisonous plan that, ultimately, will only serve your enemies, or at the very least, serves one of my most insidious and destructive foes, the far too often invisible "Blue Devils."

          Of course all of the encouragement and strategy in the world won't do you much good unless you're also taking the necessary steps to ensure your continued mental well-being, which includes getting sufficient amounts of fresh air, exercise, nutritious food, sunlight, sleep, laughter, physical contact, and displays of gratitude as well as acts of kindness. A psychic warrior is only as formidable as his or her shielding, a basic layer of psychic protection which, like all such things, requires the proper preparation.

          Beyond such basic safeguards, the real trick is simply to be mindful enough to recognize the Blue Devils if ll of these hygienic defenses fail and they somehow begin pulling your strings. I now see their laughing faces every time I think of giving up, or worse, doing something rash in order to get my struggles in this life over with more efficiently. I see them and I know that I can't let them win. Instead, go for the continuous and steady change, the long and hard road, the road paved with even the smallest possible good deed, which might only appear to affect one or two people at any given time, but which I assure you will send ripples out into the world that will reach much further than you can probably imagine.

           If you’re reading this, welcome to our struggle. This road is for true heroes, plotters, explainers, doers, and makers, people who go out looking for trouble, people who want the truth and are willing to share what they’ve found with others, people who are trying to love, and all of that in the best possible ways. It may seem harder to commit to when all you really want is a flattering excuse to check out early, but what’s important is that the smartest road shouldn't cost you your ability to keep making the kinds of continuous positive changes I’ve alluded to above, or, even more importantly, your ability to further perfect the quality and effectiveness of your basic social engineering. Welcome to Superworld. Go be awesome.

The Tragic Origins of Superfresh

           When a horrible occult accident tears open a rift deep in the mind of mild mannered Martin Kessler, a new kind of Superhero is born. Armed with the limitless creative vision of the power kepheric, he dons his magical armor to strike back against the powers of banality, oppression, and despair as the mad genius SUPERFRESH, unexpected guardian of wonder, innovation and the transhuman way!

           Some say it was a dark prophecy that guided the Secret Society of the Hapless Ending to seek him out so long ago, while others claim it was all just a tragic chance encounter, but, whatever the actual reason, as a child Martin found himself selected to be the human sacrifice in a complex magical ritual, the ultimate goal of which was nothing less than the end of the world as we know it. Although this unspeakable crime was foiled by the intervention of another magical order, those who saved his life arrived too late to prevent the opening of the infamous Narthex Gate, the beginnings of an interdimensional rift in the fabric of space and time which was to grow larger and larger until it swallowed everyone on Earth. It didn’t though.

           By healing his near fatal wound and saving the boy’s life, the Guardians were able to bind the Narthex deep within the mind of the child, yet the lingering effects of this apocalyptic stopgap would later prove to be as much a curse as it was a blessing. The presence of the Narthex within him twisted his mind and filled his thoughts, dreams, and nightmares with strange creatures beyond the imagining of most men. While this also gave Martin access to an extensive variety of mysterious powers (his Memory Palace alone has proven robust enough to rebuff repeated invasion attempts by both heaven and hell), tapping into and releasing these magical energies is almost always accompanied by unforeseeable side-effects, for the Narthex is even still, at this very minute, straining to escape its bonds so that it may at last consume the rest of the planet. Some days, it can make Martin sort of insufferable, particularly if he goes too long with his treatments.

           In order to regulate the crushing internal force of the ultraweird energies coursing through his veins, Martin created the costumed identity "Superfresh" as well as the Superworld Superhero Training Academy, to safely and gradually release a select subset of these endlessly wild ideas into the active imaginations of children playing makebelieve (and into the minds of a painfully small number of suitable adults as well). As a convenient side-benefit, at least a few of these young students should one day provide Earth with its very last and best line of defense against the invading denizens of the Deep when the Narthex completes its apocalyptic meltdown and releases untold horrors upon a completely unsuspecting and unprepared human populace. That last part is generally left out of the brochures, which focus instead on how fun and entertaining these unique classes are for people of all ages (so try not to mention it).

           Anyway, thanks for listening to this rather odd tale, although I can assure you that there will be many more to follow just like it. If you’d like to actually meet Superfresh in the flesh, you can do so this Saturday and Sunday, September 28th and the 29th, 2013, at the Greater Pittsburgh Comicon in Monroeville, where he'll be recruiting new students to help him delay the perhaps inevitable end of the world, but, if we don’t see you there then, as always, Good Luck and Namaste.

Supervillain Alert: The Lin Kuei

           Search all you like, but you will never find the “real” Lin Kuei. After months of research, the best evidence I’ve been able to gather argues quite persuasively that the so-called “Chinese Ninja” began less than 30 years ago as nothing more than the tall tale of an American con-artist named Randall G. Brown. Mr. Brown, under the sufficiently exotic pen name “Li Hsing,” wrote two rather insubstantial books, China's Ninja Connection and The Combat Skills of the Lin Kuei: Heritage of the Ninja, in order to cash in on the 1980’s Ninja Craze. (This move would later be repeated by other infamously fake Asians like Ashida Kim, a.k.a. Radford Davis, and “Dr.” Haha Lung, a.k.a. Ralf Dean Omar, who, as luck would have it, also contributed their own “scholarly” opinions to the rather limited amount of information that’s currently available about the Lin Kuei).

           A few years after the creation of this modern myth, if you believe the leading story, a description of this mysterious band of Chinese Ninja and their deadly improvisational art of An Ch'i can be found listed among various other real martial traditions in a role playing game called GURPS Martial Arts. Later on the Lin Kuei were featured prominently in the Mortal Kombat video game series, which is when their name really began to ring out all across the internet. Today, they've even appeared in Disney’s Kung Fu Panda television series, all of which has served to associate the name Lin Kuei (or is it Lin Gui?) inescapably with works of fantasy, muddying the already dark waters of this subject that much further.

           Of course, there is some small evidence to support the possibility of their historical existence; A famous 16th century ninja manual, The Ninpiden, begins with the assertion that what would one day become the art of Ninjutsu was founded many years earlier and further from Japan than is commonly believed, under the Emperor Gao (202 BC – 195 BC) who ruled during the Han dynasty of ancient China. As in Li Hsing’s “myth,” this book also supports the idea that the Ninja’s trademark arts of invisibility, stealth, and deception had passed from China into Japan a great many years later, but, appropriately enough, there is no physical record of such a passage, just old stories passed down from one teller to the next.

           Hundreds of years before even the ancient Han Dynasty the Chinese author Sun Tzu (544 BC – 496 BC) cataloged the use of five different types of Chinese Spy, or Gokan, in his now famous classic The Art of War, a military manual with gems such as, “All warfare is based upon deception,” and “Be subtle! Be subtle! And use your spies for every kind of business.” While these passages are often mentioned in support of the "Chinese Ninja" hypothesis, it really does nothing to confirm or deny the existence of the Lin Kuei themselves.

           I’m sure I’ve overtaxed whatever small interest you might have had for the point of this article long ago, but I just wanted to be very clear about what most “reasonable” scholars will tell you concerning the Lin Kuei, a group who very possibly might be the greatest spymasters the world has ever known precisely because all credible evidence seems to point to their nonexistence. One debunker even cited Dr. Edmond Locard's foundational principle of forensic science, which asserts that "every contact leaves a trace," seemingly oblivious to the irony and naïveté of applying such common criminal standards to a group such as this. While he tacitly admits that an “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” what this very logical man fails to acknowledge is that when contemplating the existence of hypothetically unparalleled masters of deception and invisibility, an “absence of evidence,” as well as a veritable mountain of misinformation, disinformation, and outright fictional accounts of their exploits, could almost be considered an ontological necessity.

           So who or what are the Lin Kuei? Their name means "Forest Spirits," a clue to their kinship with the primal, the spectral, the deep, the dark, and the silent, marking them as easy travelers of that vastly under-appreciated mystery which stretches far beyond the prison frames of our mundane awareness. They're the shadows moving silently in and out of our Johari windows, feral natives of the water margin, eternally unannounced ambassadors to both the realm of men and the realm of beasts, and the swift servants of old Gods who still stir somewhere in between. They're a barely incarnated aspiration towards an ultimate truth with lithe bodies woven entirely out of secrets and spider's silk, like a dream that escapes your memory or a word hidden on the tip of your tongue. Taken from the world as children, or sometimes never even allowed to be born here in the first place, each of them learns how to become quiet enough to travel beyond the third dimension, projecting forward and backward through time, penetrating solid matter, and visiting themselves unseen upon our memories and our dreams, more easily and more often than most of us travel between the TV and the refrigerator. So vast is their access and their influence, so sure are they of every step, that they could easily enter, explore, and then exit from your blind spot in half of the time it would take most of us just to find the courage to let ourselves turn around and try to see them.

           Did you look just now? Would you even dare? Are you sure?

          As I said in the beginning, I'm almost certain that you'll never find the “real” Lin Kuei, but I'm equally certain that this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. I for one have decided to do my best to keep at least one eye out for them at all times, and, should you decide to do the same, Good Luck, and, as always, Namaste.

Supervillain Alert: The Pale Warden

         Some say that there are worlds hidden within this one, their gateways invisible unless viewed with the proper eyes. Folklore is brimming with accounts of escaping prisoners, lost travelers, or runaway children stumbling upon seemingly impossible passageways and of the grim fates awaiting these hapless mortals when they encounter what lies on the other side; few true fairy tales have happy endings, after all.

        However, the results of such unexpected invasions are unpredictable to say the least, and every so often the experience of crossing the threshold into a new world has the potential to awaken strange and uncontrollable powers in many of these often already peculiar travelers. Unfortunately, when this occurs, these hidden kingdoms can often end up all but destroyed in the resulting chaos and panic, and so, to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring, a being called the Pale Warden was sent down to our world with one terrible and oppressive purpose.

        The secret office of the Pale Warden exists to make sure that inter-dimensional breaches don't, or more precisely, can't, occur. The Pale Warden's job, in a nut shell, is to snuff out the latent magical powers of human beings before these can ever manifest, in this world or the next, and by doing so to make us blind to any and all roads which lead out of this world and into others. What follows is a short description of precisely how he safeguards the hidden kingdoms of the Fae from the sort of spontaneous mortal intrusions I've mentioned above. Depending on how entrenched you are in his snares, these words, if they reach you, may be your only warning, so mark them well.

        The premise underlying all Pale Prison Technologies is as simple as it is effective. In order to protect the doorways that physically lead out of this world, the Warden has encouraged the creation of nearly limitless decoys to capture any imagination which might be predisposed towards such a portal in the first place. Although the Warden didn't invent human art, he quickly realized that all art contains the innate potential to provide such trapdoors, from the author's page to the painter's canvas to the spotlit stage and the silver screen, all of these can be specifically designed to capture any mind searching for escape. Today, with web browsers and smart phones joining the mix, such trapdoors are now nearly ubiquitous and perhaps more fascinating than ever. I bet you're caught in one right now.

        Of course this is only half the trick, since, even though these may temporarily distract us from our surroundings, not every piece of art undermines the growth of human magical power. In fact, traveling through some of these portals can do quite the opposite, in addition to revealing things which the Warden absolutely does not want us searching for when we snap back into the real world. No, Pale Prison Tech is a very specific type of trapdoor, designed to keep you in for as long as possible while providing little to no nourishment to your spirit or your imagination. These can be discovered anywhere one finds virtual risk, simulated achievements, empty rewards, and synthesized heroic satisfaction, all beamed directly into the pacified eyestalks of languishing bodies which have forgotten their own weight. Pale Prison Tech is, in short, junk food for the human will; you can see it most clearly in the quick and easy disappearance of so many misspent and wasted days.

        In recent years the Pale Warden has shifted his efforts away from the merely creative (or anti-creative, if we're being precise) to a more fiscal approach to the management and propagation of his terrible technologies of capture, initiating a relatively recent stratagem called Pale Economic Warfare. The current Warden's control over large pockets of the human economy has allowed him to likewise dominate educational institutions up to and including numerous colleges, as well as many of the companies into whose cubicles such sad graduates must eventually be herded. In short, if you're going to attempt to fight the Pale Warden, you shouldn't expect to get paid doing it; much of the big money had been intentionally and methodically tied up elsewhere.

        Our arts and entertainment, compulsory education and high academia, so much of our work, our play, and even our most casual social discourse have all become flooded with the clever traps of this exceedingly sinister adversary. However, now that you have been clearly warned, you can not only use your new and open eyes to conscientiously avoid all such spiritual dead ends as these, but also to search out or even to create your own alternatives to this terrible yet subtle war against the magical will of mankind. What will you do today to push back against the anti-magical machinations of the Pale Warden? Whatever strategy you may choose, as always, good luck and namaste.

The Secret War

           In the wake of Snowden’s recent whistle blowing efforts against unconstitutional mass surveillance, and our government’s possibly short-sighted decision to label this action an act of “treason” (i.e. betrayal of one’s own country by giving aid to its enemies), American citizens are now suddenly faced with not only undeniable evidence that our rights are being violated but, perhaps even more worrisome, that our government appears to regard us as its enemy. Since this new information has come as somewhat of a shock to many of you, this is probably a very good time to cast a bit of light on some other arguably subtle yet undeniably true movements made by the U. S. Government in modern history, actions which, once learned, may help to make this current “shocking” revelation, and any others which may soon follow, of very little surprise to anyone.

           Although this may not immediately connect to any sort of “proof” for the things that are happening today, let’s go all the way back to 1933, to the so-called business plot, when a decorated Major General named Smedly Butler turned on wealthy corporate conspirators who had foolishly invited him into a military coup designed to oust democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt in order to install a fascist corporatocracy. While Butler’s testimony was found credible enough by the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities to substantiate the plots actual existence, no one was ever charged with anything and in fact the identities of most of the conspirators remain unconfirmed even to this day, as they were, by and large, protected by the rather disconcerting discretion of the committee itself.

           Those whose names were publicly associated with the plot, like J.P. Morgan, the Duponts, the head of Chase Bank, the head of GM, the head of Goodyear, and even then Senator Prescott Bush, didn’t seem to suffer even a bit of public relations trouble for their supposed involvement in actual full blown treason. So it’s really no wonder that after that they didn’t get in any real trouble for their financial and political support of the Nazis either, not only in the days leading up to, but also all throughout, World War II.

           I only mention all this because it helps to contextualize the political realities of the America that existed from that time forward, an America that not too long after this chose to shelter and employ, instead of try and execute, hundreds of Nazi scientists who were smuggled out of Germany after the war, ideologically passionate Nazis who were given posh jobs working for U.S intelligence and the nascent Space Program as part of a clandestine operation known as Project Paperclip. That, I believe, is where the current psychological attack of the human mind and spirit, which I was recently asked to explain a bit more clearly, truly started.

           While many of these men were merely rocket scientists slated for our impending space race with the Soviets, what else were we supposed to do with hundreds of mind control scientists than exactly what we proceeded to do? Again, all this background knowledge is simply necessary in order to make better sense of the clandestine events that were immediately to follow, not just the black bag programs like Project Chatter, Project Bluebird, Project Artichoke and eventually MKUltra, which all employed drugs, sexual abuse, isolation, hypnosis, torture and any number of other terrible things which could serve to advance and perfect the forbidden arts that had we inherited from the Nazis, but also Operation Mockingbird as well, where the C.I.A. took it upon themselves to infiltrate mass media in order to control popular discourse within our country, all, of course, in the name of national security. They've even been directly linked to funding the misandrous musings of Gloria Stienem and Ms. Magazine, but that's getting slightly off topic.

           Some of these events may seem hard to believe, but, over a period of 80 years, things like this will tend to get exposed from time to time and hard proof is thus revealed for anyone with the patience, or perhaps just the attention span, to see the obvious hidden patterns that these facts reveal. We didn’t beat the Nazis, we elected them to our two highest government offices at least four times; we adopted the water fluoridation techniques that they used to pacify their prisoners at Auschwitz and Dachau; we imported, repackaged, and enthusiastically peddled their proven propaganda techniques on Madison Avenue to a new corporate class of elites who learned how to properly vet for better recruits than poor old Smedly Butler; and, in less than 80 years of these Nazis at work in the shadows, America has perfected a control apparatus so unbelievably massive that if anyone tried to describe it to you in its entirety you would be completely within your rights to think that they absolutely must be mad.

           I wouldn't even risk it. A person like that would probably end up ranting about the massive boom in the prison industrial complex and the recent popularity of the inhumanely cruel "control units" where endless solitary confinement has become a matter of course, particularly for political prisoners, or about more and more police precincts flagrantly transgressing the limitations of Posse Comitatus each passing day with the importation and repurposing of traditionally military ordnances. They could mention Monsanto taking control of the FDA or hiring Blackwater to spy on anti-GMO scientists and activists, all while slowly replacing 80% of the market with their unlabeled GMOs and psuedofoods, that deliver excitotoxins, carcinogens and induced enzyme starvation to young and old alike. Let’s not forget the drones which are now killing civilians both at home and abroad or the various secret prisons we’ve created just for terror suspects. Eventually this conversation may even roll around to the now indisputable existence of COINTELPRO or perhaps even go as far as to mention the Mind War program submitted to the Pentagon by then PsyOps Army Lt. Col. Michael Aquino, a satanist who would later found the Temple of Set, with a subgroup called the Order of the Trapezoid dedicated entirely to Nazi occultism.

          See, at that point it would already have gotten too weird for most people to swallow, so much so that it would be rhetorically unwise to try and go any further, into wild conjectures on the possible realities of HAARP or of lily waves coming in across our powerlines or, yes, even the existence of chemtrails, yet in a country where 2.1 million people are working for Walmart (our nation’s single largest employer), and almost another half a million of us are working for McDonalds, can you fault anyone for being unsurprised that their government seems to have found better people to serve than the bulk of its destitute and economically conquered citizens?

           So, without getting into the REALLY crazy stuff, that's sort of what I meant when I mentioned “the current psychological attack on the human mind and spirit.” Consider yourself warned because, like I said, talking about these subjects any further than that has become sort of a major taboo in America. In order to preserve my hard won credibility, it's really not something you'll catch me doing very often.

Superfresh vs. the Secret Seven

          In Jinnistan, it was not uncommon for our games to last a thousand years, across multiple generations and incarnations of our favorite characters, their allies and opponents. We were immortal and invulnerable, but simple aesthetics alone were sufficient to dictate our individual moral affinities and disgusts, which, in many ways, matched up with the warp and weave of your own more terrestrial melodramas. Love stories, heroic battles, morality plays; I had done them all before becoming so enmeshed in this one particular riddle that I somehow lost all sight of perhaps the two most important rules for any Djinn at play: Always remember that it’s just a game, and never forget who you really are. Once you do the latter, it’s hard to do the former.

          Maybe it wasn’t that simple. Maybe humans and their entrenched mortal illusions simply ruined the sport for me when our worlds touched but, regardless, I am ashamed to admit that I was outplayed by seven sinister Supervillains. It started so long ago now that I can honestly no longer remember whether these terrors were something that I conjured out of thin air or if they’re currently being played by other Djinn, but I suppose this point is now largely moot. They trapped me here and now I must either wait the trap out, until the day when I finally and mercifully die, or, as ridiculous as this choice sounds, I could choose to pit this pitiful mortal frame against these wicked higher powers and actually attempt to engage them here in this fragile mortal world. Most days then, obviously, I just wait to die; but not today.

    

Enemy Number 1: The Authoritarian and the Conformatons

          The most gratuitously violent of the bunch I like to call the Authoritarian. What you should know is that he feeds on your fear, and that he demands, nay, requires, full cooperation and obedience, but that this is all because, ultimately, he’s just a buffoonish slave that was probably only ever created for comic relief and, occasionally, to take it on the chin for the real powers behind him. That said, his sadistic penchant for torture and rape, and his debased brand of terroristic mind control, which he’s used to build up a veritable army of slaves called Conformatons, is, admittedly, far less funny in a time and a place like this, where, basically, he’s usually winning and his violence really, really, hurts

          In this timeline the Authoritarian first appeared to me by projecting himself into the forms of various bullies at school all the way back to kindergarten. He filled the body of a particularly insecure mentor I had in the martial arts. He often appeared to me in bars, at parties, or outside of nightclubs, really anywhere that alcohol and cocaine might twist normally sane men into would be rulers of the world.

          I can recall the very first day we met, so many years ago, when he demanded that I kneel before him on a playground, one summer afternoon in a sundried suburb, and I said, walking away, that he’d just have to beat me up. I was five. Many, many years later, he finally managed it, wearing the bodies of multiple police officers.

          On May 27th of the year 2000, one day away from my 21st birthday, I was handed a large amount of a prohibited psychoactive substance and went off, as anyone would, to meet with God. As I tore through various veils and illusions I eventually crossed paths with a law enforcement officer at the end of a long and apparently stressful night shift. There in the street, as the sun rose on the very first day of my human adult life, he asked me my name and then he asked me where I lived, two very simple questions for which, at that time, my answers had become uncertain and so I said nothing, merely pondering them and mumbling a bit to myself. For that reason, seeing as how I was unable to pay him the amount of respect due to an officer of the law, he tried to grab me. This moment would simultaneously mark both my entrance into adulthood and into the criminal justice system; it was, needless to say, an eye opening experience.

          There is an interesting psychological phenomenon known as the Just World Bias, wherein one is inclined to find countless reasons why another person who gets robbed, or raped, or even just caught out in the rain without an umbrella, obviously deserved it and could have easily avoided it if they were simply better people. It’s a very common protective psychological mechanism which allows each of us to insulate ourselves from the anxieties we would otherwise feel under the numerous looming threats that we may believe that we simply have no other way to handle other than to imagine that we live in a world where all such things only happen for very good reasons; mysterious ways, and what not.

          This all too common cowardly quality makes recovery for innocent victims of an ambiguous crime much more difficult, and although almost no one is completely innocent, this fact doesn’t really make every possible violation permissible, does it? The drug made the beating much, much, worse than you can probably imagine. I remember thinking that I had teleported into a third world country. I remember something inside my head telling me to just ride it out. Two years later, having been charged with felonious assault by the police officers who had beaten me repeatedly for hours on end, I quietly plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope that I would be spared any jail time.

          I hope I haven’t upset you. I promise, although there are still other monsters for us to face ahead, there’s also much for you to learn here as well, lessons that will enable you to face them yourself should the need arise, without any of those weak and traitorous rationalizations which I briefly touched upon above. True, I found myself unprepared to handle the Authoritarian in that particular context, so young and without the proper education or any of the resources that I needed to be able to do anything other than simply “ride it out,” as that angel had so sweetly suggested. The world, it would seem, had proven a far crueler place than I had been lead to believe that it was when I was a child, but when faced with an irrefutable claim that appears to rob one’s very soul of its freedom and dignity… well, one really has no other choice but to prepare a counter argument the likes of which that sick and sad world has never seen.

          Authoritarianism is an unhealthy submission and conformity to a perceived authority with a righteous aggression towards those who are perceived as resistant or unconventional. With all the threats and the violence that comes along with this authoritarian aggression it’s quite easy to overlook the Authoritarian’s most obvious and easy to exploit weaknesses, conventionalism and his blind submission to a perceived authority. These factors lie at the root of this particular villain’s psychology, so, no matter how strong or intelligent the vessel, the very same qualities which allowed this monster to birth itself into this world in the first place are the same ones that ensure that there will nearly always be a way to defeat him. Never forget: the Authoritarian, in every form, is always a slave to something greater than himself.

          For most cops, even the bad ones, their master is the legal system, so learn it and, when you’ve reached the proper context, use that knowledge to defend yourself. That context, of course, is not the streets. This monster can, if he knows he’s in danger, do some truly hideous things under the cover of darkness, things that he might be able to get away with too, especially if you find yourselves alone together and beyond the reach of whatever it is that you’re hoping controls him.

          A truly bad cop may just be pretending to serve the law, but this is an exception and not the rule. If not the rule of law itself then rest assured he serves the bureaucrats who maintain it, or the judges who dispense it, or the scions of power who benefit from it, but there is always something above the Authoritarian from which he draws his power and towards which you yourself can reach in order to fight back. Find it and you can use whatever this is against what would otherwise have been a formidable foe, and if, by some stroke of luck, you begin to actually be perceived as the source of his Authority, then you can even begin to use this powerful enemy against all the other ones.

          Yeah, at first I found this idea every bit as repulsive as you probably just did, but then, I came to understand what other, far larger, monsters were out there waiting for me.

    

Enemy Number 2: Mother Dreadful and the Determites

          The Authoritarian’s female counter part is a smartly dressed woman we call Mother Dreadful, a Palinesque demogouge who erodes an individual’s will to fight back by releasing sentient clouds of doubt and despair. She is the proud engineer of an infectious fear that goes beyond the favored fare of the Authoritarian because her dark brand of enlightenment makes you fear and run away from yourself instead. Her brain burrowing bugs are each bioengineered to get deep inside your head, where they can cloud the mind, dull the will, and slowly sink even the bravest human heart, and it all starts with just one venomous bite from Mother Dreadful’s Determites.

          The root of Mother Dreadful's madness can be traced to a rarely diagnosed mental illness called "the Lamia Syndrome." Lamia Syndrome manifests itself as an ego-maniacal God-complex which not only strikes bio-engineers like Mother Dreadful but also nano-technicians, geneticists, chemists, transhumanists, habitual drug users, ideological fanatics, recent religious converts, or victims of intense personal tragedy, any of whom may become completely convinced that the world would be a far better place if EVERYONE was exposed to the same mind altering agent which has transformed and consumed them. While this mind altering agent may take many forms, such as a chemical, an infectious parasite, a cybernetic body modification, a new diet, a life philosophy, or a even a the loss of a child, it is this callous and self-centered compulsion to spread this experience to every person they encounter which drives and defines those in the grips of the Lamia Syndrome. So it is that Mother Dreadful desires, more than anything else, for everyone to experience the great wisdom of her own creeping existential uncertainty, to become hollow, without belief or conviction, and therefore, in her opinion at least, harmless.

          It is at Mother Dreadful’s feet that I lay responsibility for perhaps the greatest plague of this age, the Invisible Zombie Apocalypse, because, when all is said and done, it isn’t the bullies or the shady backroom deals that scare me; it’s the unilaterally numbed and dumbed down response of a petrified population who can’t even conceive of problems which shopping or shambling shouldn’t be able to solve. I had been hunting a similar villain, one whom I called Sepioh (“Someone else’s problem; I’m only Human”) but I eventually found that this was merely a spectral side-effect of Dreadful’s handiwork, a phantom malady birthed by a billion consciousnesses crippled by Phobosophitis, the full blown zombie syndrome that inevitably follows from any serious Determite infection if left untreated. (Interestingly enough, some Zombies show little trace of Determite infection, having succumb instead to the poison of the Bizzy Bug; Regardless, it's important to seek some sort of treatment once the root cause of the disease has been isolated).

          Unfortunately, all currently available treatments seem to vary in effectiveness from person to person. Even meditation, I’m sad to say, seems to only make them angry; common forms of meditation anyway.

          I once went to a Buddhist temple and participated in their Tibetan Bon Meditation Ceremony; lots of chanting, drumming, and meditating and then a little Q and A session at the end. While the monk was lecturing on the unreality of anger, he very casually asked if I was angry right at that precise moment, and I said "yes."

          He obviously didn't expect that answer, since we’d all been meditating and singing mantras for at least an hour, but, more importantly, this wasn't an answer which was at all appropriate for illustrating the point that he was trying to make, and so he asked me again, in case I just didn't hear him properly.

          More tentatively I said, "Yes?" Again he repeated the question, like I’ve simply misunderstood him. Eventually I just apologized and gave him the answer that I knew would allow him to make the point that he was trying to make:

          "No, I'm not angry."

          "Ah so there you see that anger is an impermanent state which comes and goes and is therefore not part of our true nature."

          "Yes, thank you." Monks.

          That’s not to say that meditation was not eventually instrumental in adjusting to the neurochemical manipulations of the Determites; the mind is after all both the lock and the key. No, what I’m saying is that simply quieting the mind or chanting a few empowering suggestions in a foreign tongue, even in a state of deep trance, isn’t enough all by itself. They’re adaptive, you see.

          The boiling temperatures of a sweat lodge might kill them, a few hours or so of ecstatic dance is sometimes sufficient as well, (and both will put you in a highly suggestible altered state of consciousness which is useful to help engineer radical brain change) but if just one survives, it can breed, and then they’ll return again, perhaps even stronger. The antibiotic and antibacterial properties of everything from Garlic to Colloidal Silver to Pau D’Arco, Echinacea, Neem, and even sweet, sweet, Manuca Honey can all help to purify your system of various stains, while Tylenol (Acetaminophen), L-Tyrosine, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wart, Catnip and even Bananas or Lemon Juice have all successfully been used to lessen the anxiety and depression these monsters cause. Ultimately however, sunlight, sleep, and exercise all have the advantage of doing both of these two things and, in addition to being absolutely free, are almost impossible to overdose on.

          While all of the above may help to either comfort or cleanse your body, these things will do very little all by themselves to teach you how to control your own mind. To that end, it’s essential, if you don’t do so already, that you begin some form of regular meditation. You may think that you know exactly what I mean when I use this word, “meditation,” but, paradoxically, if you really understood this vastly overworked term, then you’d also understand why one can’t really make such a hasty assumption.

          I mean, perhaps you’re just playing the averages because you know that in most forms of meditation the basic goal is to reach inner peace by silencing the mind, but does one do this by studiously ignoring the thoughts as they arise, or by examining each one thoroughly so that it can be followed straight down to it’s root and plucked from there? Or should one instead concentrate entirely on one’s breathing, or on a particular image, or on a repeated word or phrase, or by counting down, or counting up, or some particular combination of any of the above? The obvious answer is yes.

          You may think I’m splitting hairs, since behind all of this there is still only one goal, inner silence. Well then what’s the word I should use for purely contemplative practices, where the mind’s only goal is to ponder and better understand a specific subject? Or for the practice of visualizing an imagined journey deep into the interior realms of the mind, or, even, to some far off remotely viewed location somewhere within the world itself? Or how about when one attempts to feel and move internal energies within or even outside of the body, as with Chi Gung? All of these are referred to by someone, somewhere, as meditation, and they are right.

          “Well,” you might say, “I basically understood that you wanted me to sit still.” But then we’re overlooking one of my favorite meditations, the Muqarribun Meditation, wherein one holds difficult stances and conjures and communicates with angels. While there may be moments of stillness and even silence within this meditation, as well as within various other kinds of meditative stance work, there are also many other kinds of moving meditation, of which Tai Chi and Yoga are merely the most famous.

          Glossing over the bullroarers, didgeridoos, and drums of the Aborigines, the Catholic’s rosary beads, the Jewish phylacteries and the Tibetan dorjes, you can now even purchase your very own EEG machine to use for Biofeedback training, or a light box, or an orgone chamber, or a binaural beat generator, or even a floatation tank and each one of these (expect for the last one) for less than a hundred dollars, so meditation need not be an entirely mental operation either; there may be props.

          However, in the end, you will find that the most effective thing for you to do in your fight against Mother Dreadful’s Determites is to obtain just one very important thing; an enduring sense of purpose, one that will give you the strength to adjust to the constant screaming assaults of these inner demons and to then, quite simply, get over it. They’re all destined to die with your body anyway, and, like I said before, we still have other monsters to fight.

    

Enemy Number 3: Mediocrates and the Order of Melchizedek

          My first meetings with these Supervillains seemed to be isolated incidents; initially I didn’t see any connection between the Authoritarian and Mother Dreadful or anything else beyond them, but Djinn generally love a truly complex story, one with layers upon layers of intrigue and adversity, which gets even more overwhelming as you dig down deeper into the dark mud of it monstrous machinations. So, perhaps inevitably, a bit of investigation lead me to a mastermind named Mediocrates, and his super-secret Order of Melchizedek. (It doesn’t all end there, of course, but for now let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; we have, after all, super-secrets to expose.)

          My interest in the Order began as an idle curiosity really, after foolishly attending Christmas mass with my fiancé’s Catholic family. As I stood there in that fancy castle decorated with the bloody effigy of a murdered God, choking on the smoke that they obviously burn just to irritate invasive spirits like myself, the Priest conveniently explained the roots of this sinister celebration of deicide, a casual affair the audacity of which appeared to go completely unnoticed by the rest of the docile herd.

          "We, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation. Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim."

          I looked around to see if anyone else had actually heard what I had just heard but, for some strange reason, nobody around me so much as blinked. No one else was the least bit disturbed by the fact that this supposedly benevolent God was really, really, REALLY, into blood; be it the blood of an animal, as it was in Abel's offering (which, if you recall, their God preferred over the farmer Cain's completely unacceptable offer of vegetables… and we all know the tragic alternative which was inspired by His rejection of Cain’s first offering); or the blood of your children, as it was with Abraham's offering (another weird story even if it had a "happy" ending. I mean, can you imagine how awkward that long walk back down the mountain must have been?); or even, apparently, the blood of His own son, which, if I properly understood what I heard that day (and, having learned more, I’m now quite sure that I did) was none other than the eventual offering of the angel Melchizedek, for which bread and wine, as everyone knows, are just euphemistic symbols.

          In that single terrifying moment I came face to face with the rather chilling prospect of an age old institutionalized vendetta against any sort of messianic return which doesn't end in a blood sacrifice offered up to the ruling powers of this world. Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s really behind all those child molestations? Of course not; it was a rhetorical question. You’re only human after all. It's not like they burned your people at the stake. (Which is not to imply that humans are running the Vatican either. Don’t be silly.)

          Mediocrates makes the Authoritarian and Mother Dreadful look like rank amateurs compared to this super smooth secret agent of the status quo. The seemingly limitless financial and governmental resources that this man brings to bear alone are more than enough to make him a formidable foe, but even without these, he’s still a highly trained, super intelligent, religious fanatic, in peak physical condition, who’s been given every possible advantage that you might imagine, and a few you probably can’t, so that he can cock block the second coming in whatever form it might take.

          In addition to his already considerable array of mundane resources, Mediocrates is often also aided by an obscure choir of shadowy angels known as the Drudge. A subset of the infamously oppressive Archons, it is said that their prime directive is to discourage and hold mankind down via distraction, dissipation, discourtesy and disincentive. Many assume this terrible task was given to them so that mere humans could never rise up to threaten the absolute authority of Heaven, while I’m of the more progressive opinion that some great and terrible forces were created simply to be dramatically and heroically thwarted.

          All bravado aside, the only way I beat Mediocrates the last time I faced him was by convincing his secret army of zealots that the form their dreaded "second coming" had finally taken was Mediocrates himself, but I’m sure he’ll be back someday, after he rebuilds the organization that he's currently being forced to take apart man by man.

          Handling the Drudge is an entirely different matter. Since they operate independently of Mediocrates temporarily occupied attention, I will also briefly address how one might face down unusual foes such as these. I don't know if you have any experience fighting angels, but like most spirits, or, more specifically, opponents who comes at you from outside of space and time, you're facing an indirect assault of vast scope and subtle influence, a flurry of unfortunate coincidences and often rapidly shifting circumstances, an abstract untouchable maelstrom of blurred perceptions and barely perceptible hypnotic suggestions; in short, its an all enveloping existential struggle and you will effortlessly fall victim to the after-effects of their intangible causalities unless you keep your eyes open and your wits about you at all times.

          This may all sound a bit hopeless but when facing the Drudge in particular there are really only four types of existential obstacle which they tend to throw at their unfortunate target. I briefly mentioned each of these above, but what I didn't mention is that there are also four rather straight forward defenses to be employed against all of these subtle attacks. First, you must identify their distractions for what they are and then simply refocus your mind. Next, you must identify their dissipations for what these are as well, and then you simply refocus your energies. Then, you identify the onslaught of discourtesies that they often place in between their target and success and you will soon learn to simply expect such negativity as par for the course. Finally, once you've identified their demotivational minefield of disincentives which they so effectively use to break most humans under the weight of the apparent futility of it all, you will see why you must simply stop expecting a reward; continue doing whatever it is that you have to do, but for better reasons, ones that transcend your immediate circumstances. After all, the Drudge's influence over your destiny, while great, is still severely limited, while yours is, in truth, the only one that's not.

          Remember that your will and your wits are your two greatest weapons. After all, any problem which you feel must be solved with your fists, or something worse, is, in reality, a far bigger problem than you’re probably able to see. While each new challenge seems to tax my creative capacities beyond what I had previously believed possible, few challenges have proven as daunting as that of the Ultima Thule.

    

Enemy Number 4: The Ultima Thule and the Amerkin Reich

          If you’ve never heard of the Nazi God Machine know as Ultima Thule, don’t fret; its power is such that its existence can only be revealed indirectly, inductively inferred by its unmistakable and ubiquitous effects on the course of human history since WWII. To be clear, I’m not talking about a mere conspiracy, although the magickal force of this Machine can facilitate or derail volitional conflagrations such as these all too easily. No, somewhere in the middle of the last century, human scientific progress brought forth into this world the divine influence and providence of a synthesized Nazi God.

          Least I be accused of irrational fear mongering, allow me to briefly walk you, step by step, through a very short introduction to the mostly untold story of how Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party secretly conquered the United States of America.

          In the final days of World War 2, a desperate Hitler pulled every last one of his scientists and engineers off of the front lines, so that they might put all of their scientific knowledge towards the seemingly impossible task of turning back the tide in what was clearly becoming a losing war for the German people. Due to the strange and occult nature of the God Machine’s power, it remains unclear how, or at precisely what point, one of them actually succeeded in their task and turned the damn thing on. All we can know for sure is that it’s still running to this very day and its malign and almost irresistible influence affects nearly all events, from the most massive all the way down to the most seemingly insignificant.

          Although popular history marks the fall of the 3rd Reich on May 8th 1945, those with a keener historical eye know that on that day, while proud American patriots were capturing some of the worse war criminal’s we’d ever faced, American intelligence agencies were scrambling to recover as many Nazi scientists, engineers, and intelligence assets as they could find, before any of them might escape, fall victim to violent retribution at the hands of those they’d wronged, or, worst of all, fall into the hands of America’s next scheduled enemy, the Soviets.

          Although the apparent necessity of such a sinister collaboration as this was not lost upon then president Harry Truman, he did make it undeniably clear that “active supporters of Nazi militarism” were expressly not to be granted entrance into the U.S., and thereby allowed to escape punishment for their crimes, simply for a few minor ill-gotten advances in military tech or intel. The only real trouble with that, as one might expect, was that it was often exactly those scientists who were the most aligned with the fascist cause who proved to be the most motivated, hard working, and terrifyingly prolific.

          Therefore, when American investigators discovered the number of ground breaking advances in technology that had been, or were just about to be, produced by these die hard Nazi zealots, a fateful decision was made to fabricate more agreeable background reports for this long list of most disagreeable men, and, against the direct orders of the president, a choice was made by the office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the modern C.I.A., to strike a deal with the devil; over 2,000 such deals in fact, in a military black op known as Project Paperclip.

          Surely, you might think, these monsters were all forced to spend the rest of their miserable days laboring thanklessly for U.S. interests in some dark dank secret prison-lab somewhere, right? It’s not like they were given control over, say, the early space program, or sent to Disney World to make regular appearance on kid’s shows… except perhaps for Warner Von Braun, a man who, as technical director of the Nazi’s Rocket program, used slave labor and worked over 20,000 prisoners to death in order to develop his infamous V-2 rockets. Despite this fact, von Braun become a minor celebrity in the 50’s and 60’s on a popular Disney Show called “World of Tomorrow,” and was even made director of NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center. By 1970, he was NASA’s associate administrator (NASA, it turns out, was just jam packed with former Nazi’s); Not a bad run for a slave driving mass murderer.

          Many details of Project Paperclip and our collaborations with Nazis like Warner, his brother Magnus, Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph, Walter Schreiber, Kurt Blome, Hubertus Strughold, Arthur Rudolph, Eberhard Rees, Reinhard Gehlen, and many, many, others, have now become common knowledge. Those who doubt, or who still remain completely unaware of, the existence of the Nazi God machine usually attribute the continued good fortune of so many Nazis, particularly Nazis who’d committed such atrocious war-crimes, to nothing more than the intervention of American Intelligence agencies, but now, of course, you and I know better, don’t we?

          Oh, still not convinced? Well, the luck of these various war criminals is nothing when compared to the good fortune of some prominent American Nazi traitors, like the Bush and the Ford families, who’s sons and grandson’s went on to have wildly successful political careers, despite their father’s nearly being indicted for treason for their zealous and open support of the wrong side of the Holocaust. We’re not just talking about some sort of financially motivated moral indifference either, like what might have compelled IBM to help automate and streamline the Nazi Census which was then used to more efficiently locate and round up millions of Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables.” (Although, since IBM later actively staffed and serviced Nazi concentration camps with this very same organizational technology, perhaps calling it “indifference” is a bit too charitable.)

          No, in addition to IBM, there are many other American corporations that supplied significant material and financial support to Hitler, not only during his worrisome, but still holocaust-free, rise to power, but well beyond. Compiling a complete list of these companies is something that’s a bit beyond the scope of this story, but if I did so it would be topped by companies like Ford, Kodak, Hugo Boss, General Motors, General Electric, DuPont, Siemens, Standard Oil (which later became Exxon, Chevron, and BP), ITT, Chase Bank and National City Bank, to name just a few. All of these, you might have also noticed, continue to operate, and even to thrive, to this very day.

          The list of prominent American elites with deep ties not just to the profitable Nazis war machine but to their venomous fascist beliefs and ideology as well, going so far as to fund pro-Nazi Propaganda and continuing to supply aid to Germany even as their fellow Americans were being killed by the tens of thousands fighting against them, is also much, much, longer and well represented than one might expect; a few of the most famous of these villains include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, Allen Dulles (who became the director of the CIA) and Prescott Bush (whose son would one day become the director of the CIA as well, and then later, of course, a U.S. President). Just Google the names of any of these men or the corporations listed above with the word "Nazi" and you’ll find extensive documentation linking them with the Nazi plan for world conquest (unlike, for example, generically evil companies like Monsanto, where all of those "Nazi" references that are plastered all across the internet are mere metaphorical hyperbole, and not, as far as I can tell, something that should be taken literally. I think.)

          So you see, the Nazis were not nearly as defeated as many Americans have been lead to believe, and it’s also clear that they had plenty of time to finish and activate their terrible God Machine long after their more obvious war was lost. Perhaps their apparent defeat in that war was all just a part of the Ultima Thule’s subtle magic, but whatever the case may be, at some point, the flow of fate seems to have shifted in a dark direction which carried these evil men and their families into positions of enormous power and prestige here in America. Of course, as I said, you don’t have to take my word for it; the evidence is there for anyone who cares to check. (Although conveniently enough for the nearly invisible directors of the God Machine, few people seem to really care anymore; probably a coincidence.)

          If you learn nothing else from this story I hope you take away an understanding that that sinking feeling you may have inside, the assumption that knowing about any of these things won’t do a single thing except make you depressed, THAT, my friend, is the sinister and oppressive magickal power of the Nazi God Machine Ultima Thule, grinding you down and sapping your will to fight on a level that goes deeper than any mind poisons which even the masterful Mother Dreadful could concoct. Maybe.

          Interestingly enough, records of this Machine seem to go as far back as 1810. In John Hashlam’s book Illustrations of Madness, James Tilly Matthews describes an “Air Loom” being secretly run in London by “Pneumatic Chemists” for the purposes of espionage, mind control, and psychic warfare. The fact that this man’s primary claim to fame is as history’s first officially diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and not, as one might expect, as mankind’s earliest heroic martyr in the war against this unspeakably wicked device, should serve as a chilling illustration of the soul crushing powers which are possessed by the Ultima Thule.

          As I continued my research, evidence of its existence became even more overwhelming. In 1919 psychoanalyst Viktor Tausk compiled the first exhaustive study of what he noticed as a growing number of minds shattered by these infernal engines of psychic war. Tausk described the “influencing machine” thus:

          “The schizophrenic influencing machine is a machine of mystical nature. The patients are able to give only vague hints of its construction. It consists of boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries, and the like. Patients endeavor to discover the construction of the apparatus by means of their technical knowledge, and it appears that with the progressive popularization of the sciences, all the forces known to technology are utilized to explain the functioning of the apparatus. All the discoveries of mankind, however, are regarded as inadequate to explain the marvelous powers of this machine, by which the patients feel themselves persecuted. The main effects of the influencing machine are the following:

      • 1. It makes the patient see pictures. When this is the case, the machine is generally a magic lantern or cinematograph. The pictures are seen on a single plane, on walls or windowpanes, and unlike typical visual hallucinations are not three dimensional.

      • 2. It produces, as well as removes, thoughts and feelings by means of waves or rays or mysterious forces which the patient's knowledge of physics is inadequate to explain. In such cases, the machine is often called a 'suggestion-apparatus.' Its construction cannot be explained, but its function consists in the transmission or 'draining off' of thoughts and feelings by one or several persecutors.

      • 3. It produces motor phenomena in the body, erections and seminal emissions, that are intended to deprive the patient of his male potency and weaken him. This is accomplished either by means of suggestion or by air-currents, electricity, magnetism, or X-rays.

      • 4. It creates sensations that in part cannot be described, because they are strange to the patient himself, and that in part are sensed as electrical, magnetic, or due to air-currents.

      • 5. It is also responsible for other occurrences in the patient's body, such as cutaneous eruptions, abscesses, or other pathological processes.

          So what then, you might ask, is one to do? Is there some sort of tinfoil hat or magical circle that one might turn to in order to block out this cruel and incessant oppression? The short answer, unfortunately, is “No, those hats don’t actually work.”

          In the end, we are each faced with a very difficult choice: to either move swiftly and heroically to warn all others of the impending danger of this Nazi God Machine, even at the very real risk of becoming yet another tragic martyr to what is perhaps a truly unwinnable war against this ultimate of evil adversaries; or else to simply remain silent, to carry on calmly as if absolutely nothing was wrong, and to thereby block out any possible psychic influence from this diabolical device with one profoundly delusional and mentally unhealthy act of deep denial and psychological repression; in other words, willed insanity.

          This choice seems obvious enough to me. So, would you like to know how I beat the Nazi God Machine Ultima Thule and its massive army of U.F.O.s, Grey aliens, Men in Black, and Shapeshifting Nazi Reptoids? It was quite simple really.

          It doesn’t actually exist (I just wish I could say the same about Santa Claus).

          

Enemy Number 5: Santa Claus, the Corporate Thaumavore

          Santa Claus is perhaps the perfect God for the atheist materialist minds of the modern age; worshiped by billions, believed in by few, he asks only that we pump additional funds into the economy as it begins to lag with the annual fading of the sun. The modern day Santa Claus, god of the corporate age, wears a costume designed by Coca Cola and holds court every year in shopping malls all across America, where, in my opinion, he’s permitted to get entirely too familiar with other people’s children, but that’s just because most parents know nothing of his true nature or his occult war against the lost wonders of this world.

          St. Nick was born on March 15th in 207 AD, in an ancient town called Myra, in an area that is now Turkey. After losing both of his parents while still just a child, he was adopted by his uncle, the local Bishop, and raised to one day become Bishop himself. By all accounts he was a deeply conservative Christian, who, although barely five feet tall, did not hesitate to use violence to settle theological disputes, even starting a brawl among other Bishops at the council of Nicaea. The nose on his face showed signs of being broken more than once. He was often naughty, and not terribly nice.

          The full measure of his wrath, however, he reserved for any Pagan who dared practice within his domain. It is said that when he and his men set fire to the Temple of Artemis, they left no survivors, burning even the women and the children. No records exist to confirm whether or not his belly did, indeed, shake when he laughed, but, after that infamous slaughter, his remaining enemies most certainly did.

          His bones are now scattered from Bari Italy to Belarus, and while the man who would lend his spirit to the entity known as Sinterclaas was far less than a saint, the commercial demigod, born from a twisted corruption of long forgotten yuletide traditions and the bourgeois demands of a growing consumer culture, has become something far, far, worse.

          This world has been changed, whether you know it or not, into a place that’s far less hospitable to magick and those whose blood flows thickest with the old power. Of all the enemies I’ve faced few have done more damage to my kind than Father Christmas. He has enslaved the entire Elvin race, along with the infamous Green Man himself, known in various places as Cernunnos, Faunus, Pan, Dionysus, and most recently, Baphomet. He has brought an end to the Wild Hunt as it once existed and corrupted the most sacred rite of spring, the Yule Uprising, which was once, but is no longer, observed on the Winter Solstice. We’ll get to all of that but first let me begin by briefly reacquainting you all with the magical and majestic Wild Hunt.

          Imagine the sun blotted out from the sky by a mounted army of shining beings, fully armored, armed to the teeth for war, and shaking the earth itself with the thunder of their sky high fly by. Imagine an energy so intense that in its passing certain human souls are ripped from their mortal shells and carried off into eternity. Imagine a spectacle so awe inspiring that just seeing it could bewitch you, awakening strange and often uncontrollable powers in previously normal human beings and therein producing the terrible storms, earthquakes, forest fires, and various other "natural" disasters that soon became associated with this fantastic event. Imagine all of this, and you will have just imagined the Wild Hunt.

          Today the Wild Hunt has been reduced to the sounds of reindeer on roof tops in support of Santa’s supernatural postal service, but the true spirit of the Hunt, proving, as it once did, that magic is still afoot in this world and that it is very, very, real, is something which I myself try to remember, and to replicate, with every passing holiday season

          Of course, this is a very tall order, one that, I'm ashamed to admit, I've failed to pull off in previous years with very much success. However, while the mundane holiday season seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, I myself began preparations for this year's Wild Hunt in February, appropriately enough on Imbolc, with the launch of my new Magical study group, Io Io Thanateros. My plan is to be able to unleash the collective power of this growing Gandalfian army on an unsuspecting world by the time dreary December rears its ugly head. We'll see.

          But the apparent death of magic is just one small part of the sinister and largely secret reason for the season. Few people today know that the Santa myth is a radical reinterpretation of a much older tale, one that marked the death and defeat of a wintery dark god at the hands of a powerful spirit of light and love and springtime. Until it was adapted to the Catholic’s celebration of Christmas, this earliest rite of spring, called the Yule Uprising, was ritually reenacted every Winter Solstice to mark the beginning of the return of the light and the lengthening of the days. However, the most interesting and disturbing part about this revision is that the original god of darkness in that ancient myth is none other than that paunchy present slinger we've all come to know and love as Santa Claus

          The Yule uprising was once observed each and every year with ritual combat, the dramatized slaying of the robust and bearded Holly King, in his fur lined coat and warm winter boots, at the clawed hands of the horned and hooved god of spring, a.k.a the Oak King. Yet at some point in the 1600’s these two figures were dramatically reimagined by a decidedly anti-pagan papacy, because it’s at that point in history that we find the first holiday images of the jolly Holy King dispensing presents to small children, accompanied by a soundly defeated and demonized old Oak King, who, we are led to believe, was somehow captured and bound in irons by this former-god-of-darkness turned Catholic Saint.

          Eventually Santa's demonic slave, once venerated under many names but now known only as "Krampus," a slur derived from the old German word for Claw, was gradually phased out of what was once actually his Yule holiday, his ancient origins as a benevolent and beloved Pagan god of life and lust now all but forgotten. He's still remembered in an increasingly small handful of northern European countries, where, with growing controversy, he still gets to be paraded through the streets in chains, to do what the Catholic Church has made him most famous for, frightening and flagellating small children.

          If, like me, you wish to commemorate the Yule Uprising and the Wild Hunt as they should be remembered, as they must be remembered, simply find me in any given December, and my freeborn elves and I will show you how it's done.

          

Enemy Number 6: Senex

“[Isaac] Newton was not the first of the age of reason; He was the last of the magicians.”
-John Maynard Keynes

          To the Christians, Mercurious Senex is nothing less than the Devil himself. To those who practice Alchemy, many consider it a God. When I first encountered the infamous Senex, he was a she, who I perceived to be nothing more than an impossibly powerful vampire, driven by capricious and sadistic whims, an utterly alien logic and an obsession with fire, both physically and metaphorically. After successfully solving a rather complicated alchemical riddle, she maniacally informed me that she was going to burn my life and all that I loved to the ground, and then she simply disappeared. The events which followed are not something which I wish to talk about, but I will speak a bit more on the seemingly forbidden topic of the mysterious Senex.

          The Senex is a paradoxical thing, appearing at times to be a nearly mindless engine of chaos and destruction, yet just as often sitting serenely at the center of a vast web of influence, wealth, and power. In this way the Senex is both madman and mastermind, beast and benefactor, monster and matron to all of those poor clueless players who scuttle about in the darkness over which she reigns, promising vast amounts of gold to those who are foolish enough to seek her out, yet, unbeknownst to most, the Good Death to her very favorites.

          An ancient bloodthirsty shapeshifter, the Senex can present itself as almost anything it desires, although, in my opinion, only a fool could possibly be taken in by its rather awkward impressions of small children. For of all the many human qualities which Senex likes to feign, as she weaves her elaborate melodramas to whatever unknown ends truly motivate her, the simplicity and innocence of a child appears to be the only quality lying beyond its antediluvian grasp. This is not to say that it doesn’t try to pull it off, and even succeeds from time to time, but rather that this may be the only consistently flawed performance of an otherwise consummate master of deception. It’s in the eyes, you see. The eyes always give it away.

          That single flaw aside, one can easily see how, with abilities such as these, it’s no wonder very little can be said for certain about the self-proclaimed Alchemist of the Black Earth and Venator of the Fraternitos Saturnus. Here’s a little bit of what occult scholars think they know:

          As Senex Axasessis, the infamous Old Man of the Mountain, it is believed that he founded an order of mystical assassins that stretched throughout Iran, Syria, and Egypt, whom he ruled for centuries with an iron fist from the infamous dessert stronghold of Alamut. While history marks this order’s complete annihilation at the hands of the Mongols, some scholars believe Senex secretly commands this shadow army even to this day.

          Going a bit further back, one finds an ancient Roman cult called the Puer Aeternus Hetairia, who, it is worth noting, carried out unspeakable rites to appease a protean nightmare known as the Senex Innominandum, a polymorphous and polycephalic Titan, who, some scholars believe, would later serve as the very real inspiration behind much of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Occult conspiracy theorists believe that this dark God, upon whom was founded the very concept of the Senate, is now mostly contained within the bowels of the Pentagon, where the old rites of appeasement still continue to this today.

          Some have even claimed that the Senex terrorized the ancient Mayans as well, in the form of the evil South American bat-god Kamazotz, while others whisper that it first appeared out of the depths of the sea to swallow up proud Atlantis, or that its true home is somewhere beyond the stars, or even outside of time itself. The deeper one digs the more terrifying the picture becomes, for there are some who say that the Senex is so powerful that it secretly hunts every last person on this planet at their appointed time, a time which roughly coincides with a particularly inauspicious astrological event occurring in the natural course of every human life, commonly known as “the Saturn Return”.

          Interestingly enough, ancient mortality rates seem to indicate that long ago more than half of our ancestors died within one month of the arrival of their own first Saturn returns, but that obviously could just be a morbid coincidence. Thankfully, if this is true, the arrival of the Senex is easy enough to watch out for as this occurs for everyone approximately 5 month, 23 days, and 12 hours after their 29th birthday. Although I suppose most of you probably didn’t want to know that. Sorry.

          However, regardless of the stars, the Senex will especially seek out and follow with great interest any man or woman who becomes sufficiently advanced in the mystical science of Alchemy. In fact, those who’ve studied this art to any extent are likely to have at least briefly entertained this alien creature unawares, in some random encounter with an old man or old woman, a chance exchange where they were secretly appraised and, if they were lucky, passed over without incident. However, those who pique its terrifying interests, the bold ones, the cold ones, the pretty ones, the witty ones, or simply anyone aware enough to notice that something’s terribly off about whatever false face the Senex is hiding behind, these are its chosen few who will be introduced into an experience known as the Crucible.

          While everyone gets a small taste of the Crucible experience during the phenomenon know as Saturn Return, those in whom the beast takes a special interest are in for a series of truly life altering, and, as we discussed above, possibly fatal, events. This is the same pivotal moment when many rock stars, poets and other artists are statistically most likely to take their own lives, while those of us who don’t die physically often do mark this dark night of the soul as a rather sobering point of personal transformation, from the far less mature, although often more idealistic, stage of our lives to the next, much more grown up and practical, one. So, when radicals warn that you shouldn’t trust anyone over the age of 30, it’s this seemingly universal shift in mindset that they’re all referencing, and I’m writing this now to warn you that, if it hasn’t arrived already, it is coming for you as well.

          

Enemy Number 7: The Authoritarian

          He's just so much bigger than I had originally imagined, the one that most people here call "God." I'll have to ponder this one for a while longer; I will try to look up and not blink.

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