Conner Habib, Ida Craddock & Sacred Sexuality

Over at Reality Sandwich, my friend Conner Habib has just launched a new series of essays named The Sex Radicals: Seven Thinkers Who Can Revolutionize Sex in Our Cultures, intended to highlight intelectual figures whose philosophy changed his own perspective about sexuality, and whose teachings he thinks could prove intrumental in reshaping the Western attitude about this truly vital aspect of the human experience.

Because let's face it: Even though we seem to think we're experiencing the most sexually liberated age in history, there are still many puritanical taboos plaguing our society's attitude toward Sex and Eroticism --the fact that in an American office complimenting a co-worker of the opposite gender for their looks can be perceived as sexual harassment, prostitution is still illegal in most countries of the world, breastfeeding in public freaks the crap out of many people, and we still stubbornly cling to the delusion that children are asexual beings, is proof enough that as high-minded as we pretend we are, from the waist-down we're still pretty much stuck on the Dark Ages…

But why bringing this up to the attention of the Grail community, you may ask? As Conner himself is quick to point out in the introduction to the series, several of those radicals he is intending to "invite to the orgy" were also riding on the fringes of Science, Spirituality and the Occult; to the point that a few of them, like the (in)famous Wilhelm Reich, are still relegated to the 'cooky cupboard' by the mainstream.

[Their craziness] in fact, is a large part of what makes them important. To come up with new possibilities for the world, you have to hang out in the impossible and the imagined quite a bit. You have to say outlandish things to see if they’re true. To stand outside the depressing weight of our reality requires deep and intense encounters with your own imagination and seeing things that others don’t see.

Some members of the list will already be familiar to you, like Reich (whom I've just mentioned) and Aleister Crowley --whose name either rhymes with 'holy' or 'fouly', depending of what you think of him-- but others you might have never heard of before. Take for example Ida Craddock (1857-1902) with whom the #SexRadicals series gets started: Aside from being a XIXth century feminist and crusader against the sexual repression of her era --this was after all, the time when boys were given Medieval-like contraptions intended to prevent them from 'suffering' wet dreams at night-- she also claimed to have had sexual intercourse with an angel named Soph:

After some loving correspondence with Soph, Craddock did, and reported her ecstatic sexual experiences with him in a language that strongly resembles the language of objectum sexuals, who fall in love with and make love to objects and landmarks. It’s a moving language of ecstasy – an encounter with a partner whose being-ness others can’t understand. The invisible breath of the angel so in love with you, that you’re the only one who can see him.

Alas, poor Ida paid dearly for the hot angelingus action, and other terrible 'perversions' she committed in the eyes of her many enemies --her own mother included, who was totally scandalized by her daughter's claim that sexual pleasure was a sacred gift every human had the right to claim, and that moral conventions forbidding us to do so was the real serpent we needed to cast out of Paradise.

Make no mistake about it, my fellow Grailers: When it comes to Sex, Spirituality, paranormal phenomena, and many of the things we outsiders value in life, Transgression *is* the scarlet letter stamped on the forehead of those who dare to step out of line of what the Status Quo considers 'respectful' or 'credible'; and yet it is by the cumulative power of those transgressions how our society is forced to drag forward one inch at a century, until the deviancy is grudgingly adopted and becomes part of the ruling paradigm --which eventually signals the need for a new revolution to kick us out of our prudish complacency, and make things interesting for the younger generations...

Enjoy Conner's Sex Radicals series --and bring lots of lube, to grease the hinges of the Doors of Perception.
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News Briefs 24-07-2015

"It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety."

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"UFOlogy Has No Ontology": Jacques Vallee at the CAIPAN Workshop 2014

Last year, back when a few reporters took a look at the sorry state of UFO conventions in the United States, and wondered whether UFOlogy as a field had finally come to an end, some of the best minds in the world were meeting behind close doors on the other side of the Atlantic, having serious discussions about a subject which is still regarded as a form of deranged entertainment by the majority of mainstream media.

Those who were invited to participate didn't have to waste time convincing the audience about the reality of the phenomenon; nor was this a reunion of 'true believers' spinning yarns of contact with benevolent Space Brothers or malevolent alien invaders (and they were certainly NO Kodachrome slides of child mummies displayed on cheap glass showcases!). The multinational team of scientists and members of the military gathered at the CAIPAN workshop, sponsored by the French space agency CNES, were gathered in the city of Paris on the second weekend of July of 2014, because they were already convinced UFOs are more than fodder for the supermarket tabloids. But more than that, they were keenly aware of an utterly embarrassing realization for those who claim to be 'professional UFOlogists': That almost 70 years after Kenneth's Arnold seminal sighting in June of 1947, we still don't know $#!t about what UFOs *are*.

Which was precisely the point of Jacques Vallee's participation during the CAIPAN workshop. "Suppose the so-called Disclosure happened tomorrow," Vallee proposes at the beginning of his presentation titled A Strategy for Research; were that to occur, and the press actually began to take the subject seriously and ask UFOlogists for information about the phenomenon, "we would be unable to answer a number of very basic questions."

By getting back to basics, Vallee is setting forth a number of very straightforward and logical questions highlighting our monumental ignorance about the phenomenon:

  • Are there global patterns in the data?
  • What are the physical facts of the phenomenon?
  • Are there special locations where it manifests?
  • What are the social and cultural factors?
  • What is the impact on humans?
  • What methodology is applicable?

The most shocking aspect of the strategy proposed by Vallee, is the fact that ALL those issues can be researched today with the tools available to modern Science. UFOlogy does not require a 'Moon-shot' approach in which we have to patiently wait for the development of new technologies, in hope of one day starting to catch up with the elusive phenomenon. Parsing the databases already gathered by the few civilian groups conducting research --or the files left behind by defunct organizations, like APRO-- could begin to throw some light about patterns observed by UFOs throughout history.

So why are we not doing it?

"UFOlogy has no Ontology" says Vallee, as a phrase meant to encapsulate the stagnation of a field which is already suffering from rheumatism, even though it has barely given its first few steps. With UFOs we try to study cases by exclusion alone --"it wasn't a plane, or a balloon, or Venus, or a meteor, ergo it's an unknown"-- and until we come up with a useful methodology devoid of ideology, with which we can go beyond what UFOs aren't and start to describe what UFOs are, another 70 more years will come and go, and our children's children will still be wondering about those pesky lights in the sky.

News Briefs: 23-07-2015

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Animal Telepathy Controversy - Did a Leading Skeptic Really Debunk a 'Psychic Pet'?

'Maverick biologist' Rupert Sheldrake has had more than his fair share of run-ins with skeptics over the years, based on his research into psi, animal telepathy, morphic resonance and more. One rather public battle was with skeptic Richard Wiseman, regarding Sheldrake's experiments with a dog named Jaytee, who seemed to know when his owner was on their way home:

Richard Wiseman is a conjurer and professional Skeptic based at the University of Hertfordshire in England, where he is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology. He replicated Rupert Sheldrake's results with Jaytee, a dog that knew when his owner was coming home, obtaining positive, statistically significant results, and then claimed that he had refuted this dogs abilities! Read a summary of this long-lasting controversy, with links to Rupert's and Richard Wiseman's papers and articles on this subject.

Rupert Sheldrake has now posted the video above to his website, in which Jaytee's owner, Pam Smart - who was rather unfairly treated by media outlets in the wake of Richard Wiseman's debunking - discusses the controversy from her point of view.

For more on this topic, see Rupert Sheldrake's book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (Amazon US/Amazon UK).

And while on Sheldrake-skeptic related matters, interested readers might like to check out this dialogue between Rupert Sheldrake and skeptic Michael Shermer, which recently played out over the course of a couple of months.

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News Briefs: 22-07-2015

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Migration Mystery: Genetic Study Links Native Americans in the Amazon to Indigenous Australians

Surui tribesman from the Amazon

A new study has found that Native Americans in the Amazon bear an unexpected genetic connection to indigenous people of Australasia. The results suggest a previously unknown wave of migration to the Americas thousands of years ago:

“It’s incredibly surprising,” said David Reich, Harvard Medical School professor of genetics and senior author of the study. “There’s a strong working model in archaeology and genetics, of which I have been a proponent, that most Native Americans today extend from a single pulse of expansion south of the ice sheets—and that’s wrong. We missed something very important in the original data.”

Previous research had shown that Native Americans from the Arctic to the southern tip of South America can trace their ancestry to a single “founding population” called the First Americans, who came across the Bering land bridge about 15,000 years ago. In 2012, Reich and colleagues enriched this history by showing that certain indigenous groups in northern Canada inherited DNA from at least two subsequent waves of migration.

The new study, published July 21 in Nature, indicates that there’s more to the story.

Researcher Pontus Skoglund was studying genetic data gathered as part of a previous study when he noticed the link between a couple of Native American groups in Brazil and indigenous groups in Australasia. Reich admitted that it was “an unexpected and somewhat confusing result...we spent a really long time trying to make this result go away and it just got stronger.”

After looking into this link further, they found that the Tupí-speaking Suruí and Karitiana, and the Ge-speaking Xavante of the Amazon shared a common ancestor - no longer in existence - more closely related to indigenous Australasians than any other present-day population, though no traces of this ancestor's genetic lineage were found in other Native American groups in South, Central or North America.

While the migration route of this ancestral group remains a mystery, the study proposes that 'Population Y' came down from the ice sheets along with the First Americans, forming the two founding populations of the Americas.

Link: Genetic studies link indigenous peoples in the Amazon and Australasia

(h/t @AnomalistNews)

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Documentary Explores the Possibility of Gaining 'Superpowers' Via Meditation and Focused Breathing

Here's a fascinating Vice documentary on the possibility of much greater conscious control of our bodies, using meditation and focused breathing to allow direct modification of our autonomic nervous system, cardiovascular system, and immune system.

Such abilities are of course part of a number of ancient Eastern traditions, but it was interesting to see it through the prism of a modern European practitioner:

Wim Hof first caught the attention of scientists when he proved he was able to stay submerged in ice for one hour and 53 minutes without his core body temperature changing. Since then, he's climbed Mount Everest in his shorts, resisted altitude sickness, completed a marathon in the Namibian Desert with no water, and proven—under a laboratory setting—that he's able to influence his autonomic nervous system and immune system at will.

Almost everything Wim has done was previously thought to be impossible, but he's not a freak of nature; he's a master of meditation.

To demonstrate that any human can learn his methods, Wim offered to teach VICE hosts Matt Shea and Daisy-May Hudson how to climb a freezing cold mountain in their shorts without getting cold. But when Matt and Daisy signed up for the training, they had no idea that the so-called Iceman was planning to lead them on a psychedelic journey across Europe that circled the chasm between science and spirituality.

News Briefs 21-07-2015

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Snail-Riding Frog Is in No Hurry

In our continuing saga of 'Animals Around the World Keep Riding Each Other,' nothing says "taking it slow" as the picture of a little Indonesian blue-webbed gliding frog, hitching a ride on the back of a snail. Because climbing to the top is secondary to doin' it with style.

C'mon, you animals! Show me a scorpion on top of a frog next time, just to prove that smarty-ass Aesop wrong.

[H/T Laughing Squid. Images by Kurito Afsheen]