Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Project FAD: Food Attitude aDjustment

I’m not really in to dieting.

My religious observances mean that my choice of foods and places to eat prepared food are already restricted enough without adding any further limitations to what I eat.

Hence I’ve kicked off a small project that uses a tactical approach for a strategic goal. The project could be labeled strategic in the sense that it uses multiple approaches.
  • Meditation when eating and drinking from “Walking in the Fire” by Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok
  • 4-step mind training from “I Can Make you Thin” by Paul McKenna
  • No change in my pockets. No chocolate bars.
  • Write down everything I eat and drink (during the working week)

Record all food intakes - last week I bought a small diary to record what I eat and drink during the working week. It’s something that I’ve found is useful for making me conscious of when I’m hungry and what my mood is when the urge to eat arises (which may not always be due to hunger).

No change in my pockets – this is a simple one, it stops me from buying chocolate when I go for a walk during my lunch break. It also stops me from tipping buskers on the underground, but there are often coins in my rucksack.

No chocolate bars – OK, so I lied about restricting my food intake. The one thing that I’m limiting is eating chocolate bars. In the past I’ve used them as pick-me-ups in terms of quick energy boosts, but on reflection my energy levels are largely unaffected and the only thing they boost is my body mass index.

4-step mind training from “I Can Make you Thin” by Paul McKenna – I was until recently pretty skeptical of reading anything by Paul McKenna. However, I bought the book on the recommendation of Mark Smith and I’m testing the 4 golden rules as part of this project. The rules are:
  1. When you are hungry, eat!
  2. Eat what you want, not what you think you should
  3. Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful
  4. When you think you are full, stop eating
In “Walking in the Fire” by Rabbi Ariel Bar Tzadok on pp. 334-336 he describes “Exercise 8: Yichud & Shem Kadosh to Assist One in Losing Weight”. This meditative technique is based on the verse in Proverbs 13:25: “Tzaddik ochel liswah nafshoh” which in English translates to “The righteous eat to satisfy his soul”. 

Now I’d certainly not consider myself as righteous (according to the definition of the Tanya); however meditating on this verse does help with rule 3 from Paul McKenna - namely being mindful when eating and drinking.  There is additional information in the book about what the combination of each of the first letters mean and what the combination of the last letters of each of the words in Proverbs 13:25 mean.

Here is the project summary:

Scope: Adjust my attitude towards food.
Time: 8 weeks.
Cost: Purchase of notepad.
Quality: The success criterion for this project is no more eating for to the following reasons: emotions, boredom, or gluttony. Note: this project does not aim to reduce my weight by X amount, if it changes that is a side-effect of the mental adjustment.
Risks: The main risk is that without due diligence, the old patterns of behavior will re-emerge. There are other risks such as becoming an even more handsome devil, needing a wardrobe upgrade and having more time to think about magic, mysticism and project management instead of about food.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

A couple of weeks ago I started reading this book: "Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us". The message contained in the book blew me away and helped reinforce part of the message in George Leonard's book: "Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment".

The good news for you dear visitor is that you don't need to buy or borrow the book Drive to absorb it's message. All that you need to do is dedicate 10 minutes and 48 seconds of your life to watching this amazing Youtube video instead.

In case you're wondering why it's worth finding out anything about drive, autonomy, mastery or purpose... these are the engine parts that power your path to mastery as a practitioner! If you don't understand the principles of drive and how it affects your life, you're going to repeat the same mistakes each time you interrupt (i.e. take a break from) your path to mastery as a practitioner.

To counter the homeostasis of the cycles of behaviour that take place in your life (of which stopping and starting again the work of practitioner may be one such cycle) - I thoroughly recommend the video above. This knowledge has helped me to plan, execute, monitor and learn lessons from projects in my development as a Trainee Golem Builder.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Kabbalah book recommendation: Shadow Tree Series

Yesterday the second book of the Shadow Tree Series by Jacobus G. Swart was made published. I own a copy of the first book and although I've not completed reading it or trying all the meditative exercises in it - I really recommend the book.

Jacobus is the only author I know of whose synthesis of Jewish Kabbalah and Western Mystery Tradition works well together without pitting one against the other. He has a huge amount of knowledge of primary sources in Kabbalah and well as you may have guessed I'm a big fan.

Anyway, here is a link to the books in the Shadow Tree Serie published by the Sangreal Sodality Press :
"The Book of Sacred Names" has the following chapter outline:

        Chapter 1 : Ru'ach - Names of Power
                A.    Kabbalah Ma'asit & Holy Names
                B.    Divine Speech & the Foundation of Life
                C.    Levels of Being & Levels of Meaning
                        1.    Gematria
                        2.    Notarikon
                        3.    Temurah
                        4.    Chochmat ha-Tzeruf
                D.    Otiot: Sacred Signs
                E.    Shemot: Hebrew Divine Names
                        1.    Adiriron
                        2.    Adonai & Ehyeh
                        3.    Achatri’el
                        4.    Elohim
                        5.    Ar’arita
                        6.    Tzurtak

        Chapter 2 : Esh - The Forty-Two Letter Name of God
                A.    Ana Bechoach Prayer
                B.    Adjurations & Incantations

        Chapter 3 : Mayim - The Name of Seventy-Two Names
                A.    Arcane Origins
                B.    A Biblical Spin-off
                C.    Magical Applications
                D.    Divine Attendants

        Chapter 4 : Afar - Magical Remedies & Hebrew Amulets
                A.    The Path of Pain & Pleasure
                B.    Magical Techniques for Health & Healing
                C.    Kame'ot for Protection
                D.    Universal Shiviti Amulet
                E.    Amulets for Wealth & Happiness

        Addendum: A Kabbalistic Year

        References & Bibliography

Jacobus described the book as:

""The Book of Sacred Names" is a practical guide into the meditational and magical applications of ancient Hebrew Divine Names. Perpetuating the tenets of traditional Kabbalists who recognised the fundamental bond between "Kabbalah" and "Magic," this text offers step by step instructions on the deliberate and conscious control of personal life circumstances, by means of the most cardinal components of Kabbalistic doctrines and techniques --- Divine Names! The material addressed in this tome derives from the extensive primary literature of "Practical Kabbalah," much of which is appearing in print for the first time in English translation."
 Having just spent $75 on a book about Hechalot & Merkavah mysticism (Ma'aseh Merkavah - mysticism based on vision of Ezekiel and Isaiah), I'll need to wait until next month to put in my order for this book.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Addicted to Magic?

I’ve started reading "Addictive Thinking: Understanding Self Deception" by Abraham J Twerski, M.D. and it has an interesting list of questions to find out if the reader is addicted to drinking. The author in fact replaces the word drinking in the list of questions with thinking to get the reader to consider how their thinking affects their addiction.

This reminded me of a post from the Scribbler about guitar playing where he points the Danger of Getting Obsessed.

Just for fun and to hopefully get you thinking about this same list, here is it replicated from pp33 “Chapter 4: Confusing Cause and Effect” with the word thinking replaced with doing magic.

Are you an Addicted Magician?

1. Do you lose time from work due to doing magic?
2. Is doing magic making your home life unhappy?
3. Have you ever felt remorse after doing magic?
4. Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of doing magic?
5. Does your doing magic make you careless of your family's welfare?
6. Has your ambition decreased since doing magic?
7. Does doing magic cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
8. Has your efficiency decreased since doing magic?
9. Is doing magic jeopardizing your job or business?
10. Do you think to escape worries or troubles?

Summer Solstice Elephant Thread

It's midsummer. Time for some discussion seeing as it's the longest day of the year. So, if you've been following this blog for awhile or have only recently stumbled across it - now is your chance to give feedback.

Some issues can be ignored... with the right kind of wallpaper

In particular, if you feel that there is an elephant in the room or indeed a veritable herd of them do something about it. Please shout about it right here in this thread!

Here are some opener questions:
  • Why does this blog only rarely mention golems?
  • Why have are there no detailed instructions posted about golem building?
  • Why does this blog not teach kabbalah or meditation?
  • What's with the Project Management rubbish? Show me that magic works!
  • Why do you hardly ever mention politics, religion, economics or other issues that really matter?
If you would like any of these or other questions answered, please post a comment.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A Console of Angels

Paleojudaiaca blog recently posted about a new console game called: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Having had a quick look at some of the videos  (and more videos) and preview of this game, it looks awesome!

I'm going to have to work out some way to buy or borrow an XBox360 or Playstation 3.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Trainee Zombie Builder

Jumping on the band-wagon (perhaps a bit late), but I’ve been inspired by the addition to Rufus Opus’ blog of the CDC planning information for the Zombie Apocalypse, plus the post by Jason Miller on “Zombie Sorcery book”. This has got me thinking, how would a Trainee Golem Builder make the career shift in to the role of Trainee Zombie Builder?

The “Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism” by Rabbi Dennis entry is as follows:

Zombies: While there is not a large tradition of stories about people reanimating dead bodies (as opposed to full resurrecting a person), there are a few medieval and early modern European stories of how one may make a zombie by writing the secret name of God on a parchment and inserting it under the tongue of a corpse, or into an incision in the skin. Removing the parchment reverses the effect (Sefer Yuhasin). This description closely parallels traditions on the construction of a golem. In one account, the dea, driven by a need unfulfilled during life, can spontaneously start to walk the earth again (Shivshei ha-Ari). Virtually all other traditions assume that zombies must be animated by an adept (Ma'aseh Buch 171). See RESURRECTION.

However, having done a cursory search online for Sefer Yuhasin by Rabbi Abraham Zucato it appears that this is a history text and presumably does not contain details on how to create a zombie.
  • Hebrew Link toSefer Yuhasin.
  • English translation link to Sefer Yuhasin.
    Zombie Girlfriend?
The question that has not been asked yet is: why create a zombie? My interest in creating a golem is to be able to re-create the experience of man (to a lesser degree) and thereby draw closer to the Creator of All. However, based on my current understanding animating a corpse seems a bit like being a repairman rather than an inventor (in the sense of designing and creating something from scratch).

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Considering the Value of Team Rituals

Voice on Project Management (PMI blog) has an interesting article about "The Value of Project Team Rituals" by Lynda Bourne, DPM, PMP. In it the question is asked: how much ritual does a group have and how often is the value of such evaluated?

For something like the practice of Project Management this can be a relatively easy question to answer. For something that like magic or mysticism this may not on the surface appear as easy, but that is exactly why in my opinion is should be asked on a regular basis.

Here is a short (and not exhaustive) list of things to consider when re-evaluating the use of ritual(s):
  • History of the ritual, who created it and to what purpose?
  • Context, who uses the ritual and what was the initial reason for doing so? 
  • Changes, Does it still serve its original Purpose? Does a new purpose justify carrying it on? What is the reasoning for possibly changing it?
  • ROI (return on investment), can effectiveness of the ritual be measured? Does it provide tangible or intangible benefits?
  • Cost, how much does the ritual cost in material, time and effort?
  • Tradition, how does this factor in to the equation?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Terra Firma, Shoes and Inner Blind Spots

I don’t believe in moments of Serendipity. Rather I believe that the Divine is trying to communicate to us all the time. It’s just that most of the time we’re not sufficiently tuned in enough to pick up the message. And when we do, there’s the risk that our egos filter the information in such a way that the meaning may well get lost leaving just a feeling of contact with no actual message.

Anyway, the reason that I bring this up is that I’m trying to work on this tuning in. I don’t have an exact plan for this aside from prayer three times per day and meditation once per day. I’ll also be re-reading “Living in Divine Space” by Rabbi Ginsburgh to see how to incorporate this in to my moment to moment living (ok, it’s a big project and may take some time).

Anyway, whilst reading through blogs today I came across three whose messages struck a chord with me. They were the following:

Rufus re-iterated to me the importance of having my feet on the ground.

Rabbi Ginsburgh explained the importance of putting on the right shoe first, next the left shoe and tying the left shoelaces followed by the right. It’s something I’ve done for years but never bothered to ask why.

Finally the Reluctant Agilist showed by way of example that sometimes we’re the ones conning ourselves through our own blind spots.

Can I be sure that I’m reading the right message from this sequence of posts? Or am I connecting the dots in such a way as to come to a misleading conclusion? I don’t know. But if I keep practicing looking for the lessons of each experience, then (it is my hope that) at least on some occasions I’ll get it right.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Project Update: Mid Year Review 2011

It’s close enough to the middle of the year for me to review the status of my ongoing projects, start of year objectives and plan out the work for the next 6 months.

A quick summary of projects is here:
1. Project: Memorize chapter 1 of Sefer Yetzirah (which deals with 10 Sefirot) - completed on time.

2. Project: Understanding the Merkavah User Manual in 2000 pages or less – completed a couple of weeks early

3. Project: Hebrew Immersion Study Course – is ongoing.
I’m keeping up with my weekly study of the 5 books of Moses with commentary by Rashi. My weekly study of the Prophets and Writings (Nevi’im and Ketuvim) is behind schedule but I don’t know by how much. This is something I need to plan properly and fast.

One other outcome of my study project on Merkavah (Divine Chariot see Ezekiel’s vision) literature is volunteering to create a lecture for this to be presented towards the end of the year. It’s at this point that I’m kicking myself for not taking any notes which makes planning this a bit harder.

I’m currently looking in to taking on a medium to large meditation project involving different techniques over a period of time. The aim of this project being to increase my repertoire of meditative techniques and prepare for doing some meditative exercises that have been derived from Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation).

At the start of the year in a post entitled Project Update: Rolling in to 2011, I set out my objectives for this year based on a lifehack post from Runesoup.

Here is my mid-year update:
1. Locate the good stuff.

2. Be aware of the bad stuff

3. Surround yourself with right thinking
        Done. I’m volunteering my Project Management services. Since signing up to Twitter (thanks Gordon for the recommendation), I’ve been able to find a lot more PM articles of interest to read every week.

4. Accept new things
        This is going to become important towards the end of this year.

5. Explore the unknown
        Well, I’ve been walk-about in almost every direction from my office at lunch time to find new places. Thankfully we’re moving office at the end of the year so I should have some new places to explore. In terms of other forms of exploration, I’m still working on that.

6. Get better at digital
        As I’ve stated above I’m on twitter. It’s so good that I have two accounts to track different areas of interest. Recently I’ve had a desire to get back to doing some programming but this is limited by lack of time and frustration at trying to do simple things that I used to be years ago without any struggle.

7. Read the core texts of the major western religions
        Well I’m working my way through Scriptures. By that I mean Torah (5 books of Moses), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). In the second half of this year I plan to read either the Koran or New Testament,

8. Get fitter without spending money
        Rollerblading is still ongoing. My lunch time walks are also continuing and I’ve started climbing the stairs each day at work to the 8th floor. More on this later in this post.

9. Subscribe to The Economist
        I’m still using up my weekly allocation of free articles. It’s not transformed my view of the world, but certainly has been a useful addition to the numerous news sources that I read on a daily and weekly basis.

10. Learn 3 new skills
        a. Created a Hebrew amulet
        b. Growing tomatoes and courgettes (zucchini). The courgettes should be ready in the next couple of weeks.
        c. Writing a sit-com comedy episode has yet to get started,

11. Devote more time to your appearance
        Weight loss and wardrobe upgrades are ticking along, slowly.

Climbing the Stairs and Humour
Have you ever been in one of those situations where you came up with a really witty comeback but the opportunity to use it had already passed? Here is a link to the definition of treppenwitz Also called “L'esprit de l'escalier”.

Recently I told a joke to my wife, laughed and then saw that she was not laughing. So I asked her: “Do you think I’m funny?” She responded: “Sure, I think you’re funny.” She paused and then said: “In the head.”

It was only later that night, 3:12am to be precise, that I woke up with a funny comeback on the tip of my tongue. Unfortunately it was too late to use it as the thought of waking her to tell her my response was not an option with much return on investment.

Hence I’ve decided as part of my “get that little bit fitter routine” to climb the stairs at work to the 8th floor on a daily basis and work on improving the speed of my witty comebacks. That way I can get the witty replies ready whilst climbing the stairs, the only risk being that I may experience vertigo when it actually comes to using them.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Egyptian Magic Shines in Germany

This is a short post to draw your attention to the PaleoJudaicablog which has posted that there is an Egyptian Magic exhibition in Heidelberg, Germany. Unfortunately I am unable to travel to Germany for the near future, but if you're in the neighbourhood I recommend that you heck it out.

The Egyptian Gazette link.

Some Thoughts on Attack

Having recently posted some thoughts on defense, here are a couple of thoughts on offensive strategies:
  • Fear
  • Corruption

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Some thoughts on Defence

Currently I'm doing a spot of gardening. This consists of mowing the lawn and making sure that the 3 tomato and 3 courgette plants that I have growing in a pot too small for them are watered on a regular basis.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that it reminded me about studying the measures that can be taken in agriculture to protect crops. Rather than relying on a single pesticide, fungicide or other chemical treatment – a series of measures can be taken. These combine to provide a better overall defence compared to a single strategy. For example, some spraying of crops, biological control such as ladybirds, clearing sources of pathogens and crop rotation to keep crop pest numbers under control.

Defence in Structures

Another example of a layered defence is castles. Now whilst I do not know much about castles and have only visited a dozen or so – here is a defence breakdown structure that illustrates the combined approach to defence.

Have a look at the following wikipedia pages for a good jumping off point about castles and fortifications.

Integrated Defensive Strategy
Each defensive measure by themselves are not sufficient to repel an attack, but in combination the layering of defences makes it much more difficult for attackers to penetrate these defences. Coming back to the biological example of crop protection, if the defensive strategy is one chemical treatment – then this puts immense evolutionary pressure to develop resistance to that chemical.

The same goes for pharmaceuticals used to treat pathogens in the human body. In the field of computer security there also exists the idea of layered defences with firewalls, intrusion detection, software to combat malware and viruses, encryption, etc.

Magical Defence
Now let's think about your magical and psychic defences.... How many forms do you have? Are they layered to provide an integrated defence which means that there is not a single barrier to overcome but instead a series of steps? I'm certainly not an expert in this field, but if you can point me to some further reading then please leave a comment. Thanks!