Mr. Whuffkins

This post is a complete flight of fancy. I’m stealing the idea from Skepchicks and running with it.

A couple days ago one of the Skepchicks posed this question: If you could have any animal as a pet, and have it magically be domesticated and friendly, what would you choose?

Most people chose big cats. One person went with a Velociraptor. So I thought “Hmm…how can I take that to the next level? Oh *I* know! THIS  guy! http://bit.ly/4FdxYw : The Mapusaurus roseae.

This dinosaur was larger than the T-Rex and may have even been bigger than Giganotosaurus, the guy that took over the mantle of “Biggest Badass” from good ol’ T. In other words Mapusaurus rosae, or as I like to call him, Mr. Whuffkins, was longer than a four-story building is tall. So, yeah…big meat grinder on legs.

The question on Skepchicks included the word “friendly”. Sure, Mr. Whuffkins would be friendly TO ME and to people I liked. But lets have some fun here for a minute. If YOU had the biggest carnivore the world has ever seen at your disposal, what would YOU do? Personally, I’d have bullet proof armor and a saddle made for Mr. Whuffkins. Then I’d take him around to places like the Westboro Baptist Church where Fred Phelps hangs his hat. I’d explain to Mr. Phelps that when he says things like “God hates fags”, it makes Mr. Whuffkins vewwy sad. When Mr. Whuffkins gets sad, he gets hungry. He’s a stress eater, doncha know.

Voila! Instant social reform!

Don’t like the way things are going in Washington DC? Mr. Whuffkins and I are happy to go eat..er..greet a few Congressmen and Senators. I can see it now. Me and my pet wandering the world making change happen wherever we go. Barack Obama would have nothing on us!

It would be like the old children’s book “Danny and the Dinosaur”, just a bit, well, bloodier.

Unfortunately there would be a drawback to keeping Mr. Whuffkins as a pet. No, not the food bill. He’s magical so he wouldn’t need to eat. Except for those times I wanted him to, that is. The big drawback would be the fundamentalists and creationists claiming that me and Mr. Whuffkins are proof that people used to live side by side with dinosaurs and even ride them. After all Mr. Whuffkins would be “domesticated”.

And so, the dream dies.

It IS fun to pretend sometimes though. See? Even skeptics have vivid imaginations!




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The Error of My Ways

Last night I got a call from my youngest son’s ex-girlfriend. He mother wanted to talk to me. She knows that at one time I was a Wiccan High Priestess. She asked her daughter to call me because she wanted to know if I knew how to bind someone.

No we’re not talking kinky S&M stuff. A binding is a long-term spell. It’s purpose is to keep the bound person from causing harm.

After being involved in Wicca for a few years I came to a realize about spellcasting. Even though I still believed in duotheism, rarely did a spell work for me. At that time I decided that it wasn’t working because I was trying to manipulate the world in ways that were contrary to the will of the god and goddess. Spellcasting was manipulation in my view.

When I told other Wiccans how I felt, they explained that, in their mind, spellcasting was the same as prayer. To them, the various rituals were ways of asking for what they wanted.

Why not just ask for it then? Why all the circles, pentacles, wands, etc?

I liked the people so I kept hanging out with them but eventually I realized that wicca wasn’t working for me. So I came up with the notion that all gods are one god. Later I discovered that this is a Buddhist idea.

After years of being free of religion, I’ve come to realize that spellcasting is even more egocentric than prayer. With prayer you believe that a being as important as god has the time to listen to you and only you when he/she/it has the entire world to look after.

With spellcasting you believe you have the power to manipulate “Universal energy” to affect change in your life or the lives of other people. Spellcasting can also be used for various situations. For instance if you want a specific job, a spellcaster would do a ritual to create a situation in which they would be offered the job over other more qualified people.

It is egocentric and manipulative to think that by doing certain ritualistic actions in a prescribed manner that those action will bring the desired result.

I called this post “The Error of My Ways” for two reasons. First, I now see that not only is spellcasting manipulative, it also doesn’t work except by pure chance and coincidence. Second, since I have previously told people about my past, it is coming back to bite me in the ass.

I now have to find a way to gently tell this woman that I don’t do spellcasting anymore because I believe it to be another form of manipulation. I’ve also got to figure out a way to explain that it doesn’t really work and she would just be doing it to make herself feel better without actually doing anything to fix the problem.

I’m Sorry Mr. Pan…Ms. Bell Is Dead. Maybe.

Yesterday I talked about using skepticism to analyze personal beliefs. Today I’m going to talk about the validity of mythology within those beliefs. Right now I am rather shaky on the subject. But as with all my skeptical analysis, I’m just going to talk it out and see what makes sense.

Douglas Adams once said “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

People believe what has been culturally ingrained. The Celts believed in the Fae and they were, as far as Bronze Age people go, a little bit advanced. Druidism came from the Celts and to this day many people practice a mdernized version. With that practice comes the mythos.

When I was Wiccan I knew people who would leave a little shot glass of beer or a saucer of milk to appease the fairy folk. They were always surprised when, the next day it was gone. Or, if it wasn’t, they chalked it up to the local Fae not being hungry that day. I was actually one of those people for a while. When my abusive first husband lost his keys or the computer messed up for no real reason that I could see, I chalked it up to the local fairies liking me and trying to protect me.

As a skeptic who wants to believe in fairies, this is something that I keep looking for a scientific explanation for. For a time I even thought I found the explanation in quantum physics. There is a theory stemming from experiments that there are multiple dimensions beyond the one we exist in.

I keep hoping that one of these dimensions is the one that the Fae live in. Others have said that fairies Do exist and their dimension is so close that it tends to overlap in certain places. That’s how people can see fairies from time to time.

I have to wonder though if by dimensions, scientists aren’t talking about dimensions such as Time. People talk about string theory and eleven dimensions. But other physicists have said that string theory holds no water. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus. Right now it’s all just mathematical theory with no way to test it as far as I know. I’ve got to do more reading on the subject. That much is certain.

Even if they do exist, what ARE these other dimensions? Are they like ours? Are they some odd, mathematical construct? Would the same laws of physics apply to them? The more I read, the more questions I have.

Fortunately a friend on Twitter gave me a starting point and I am passing it along to you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

I have NO idea how valid this information is. I’m hoping someone knowledgeable in the field will stumble across this and help. In the mean time, Tinkerbell and her kind are much like Schroedinger’s Cat. Alive and dead.  Existing and non-existent. And right now, I’m alright with that.

Prelude to Rational Thought

I have always been a skeptic. I just didn’t know it.

When I was 12 I wrote an essay about why December 25th is not the anniversary of the Christian savior’s birth. Unfortunately i was raised in a home where magical thinking was encouraged. My mother, an artist, believes in psychics, astrology, influencing outcomes with positive thought and other standard woo. My Dad is in radio and had quite a few characters he portrayed on air. Needless to say, playing pretend played a huge role in my family life.

While my parents are Christian, we very rarely went to church. Sunday was my Dad’s only day off. So I was never really indoctrinated formally. Although there were a couple summers when I was sent to Bible camp. I think I ticked a few people off with some of the questions I asked. Many of the teachings just didn’t make sense to me.

When I was 16, I had a very emotional experience at a church get together for teens and I became a believer. I still didn’t go to church and I still had questions that had no answer. Finally I accepted the “God works in mysterious ways” reasoning. I got beaten over the head enough times with it so eventually I capitulated.

When I was 17, I spent the night at my Mom’s friend’s house and she played a tape that I just fell in love with. I didn’t understand at that moment but that was my first introduction to Wicca. The Old Ways made more sense to me. In that religion god was both male and female and there were many gods to choose from. If you didn’t like one, you could choose another. It was a taste of free thought.

The more I investigated, the more I really liked the precepts that Wicca followed. “If it harms none do what thou wilt”. Short, sweet and to the point. “Whatever you do, be it good or ill, comes back to you three fold”. Fantastic. A religion that taught that you were capable of policing yourself without fear of some Mighty Smiter coming along and condemning you to Hell.

For about 10 years I followed Wicca. Eventually I became a High Priestess, though I was mostly a solitary practitioner. I even cast spells and did ceremonies. Eventually though I began to realize that the spells I was casting weren’t working. They weren’t making a difference in my life. I had also never looked very deeply into Wicca and it’s foundations.

When my Christian boyfriend asked me “Why do you worship the Creation and not the Creator” I genuinely didn’t have an answer. So, back to Christianity I went. And it got pretty bad for a while. I got sucked in deeply this time. I started going to his church, a Church of God (aka Holy Rollers). I even started speaking in tongues and giving the translation during the weekly tongues and interpretation segment.

After a year or so, my logical thinking abilities REALLY went south. I went to visit my best friend in California. We were on a road trip to see another friend of ours. While she was in a convenience store I started having a flashback to the time I was anally raped by my first husband. She came out to find me curled up on the front seat, sobbing.

Her solution was to hand me two crystals and have me place them at either temple.

To this day I still do not understand what happened. It felt like a bolt of electricity went from temple to temple and I was momentarily blinded. When the darkness cleared it was like a veil had been removed. The world seemed clearer. Color were brighter and everything was thrown into sharp focus. I was enthralled by the bark of trees and the texture of brick. It was like the world was brand new.

This is getting a little long so I’ll continue this in my next post.