Friday, March 31, 2006

The Temple and the Kabbalah

Thursday night I studied some correspondences between the Kabbalah and the floorplan of the Israelite Temple. The idea was proposed to me that there are actually two Trees, one descending down and the other rising up as usual, and I have surmised that there are perhaps four trees, as the pattern can be repeated. I have determined the following:

The Garden of Eden is the underground match to the Holy of Holies, and both are Paradise. Father Adam was placed there by way of what I will term a "Portal" (go ahead and think of the Star Trek teleporters), He transgressed the law and was cast Eastward out of Eden.

The prayer or incense altar is in the Holy Place, and the entrance back to Paradise is guarded by a vail upon which are represented Cherubim and a Flaming Sword.

When Our Father first was ushered out of the Garden, He and Eve obtained coats of skins in connection with partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (the tree on your left, if you are looking at the vail from inside the Garden or Holy of Holies), and when we (and He) enter into it again, we must partake of fruit from the Tree of Life (the tree on your left if you are OUTSIDE the vail, looking in).

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represents coming to earth, entering into mortality. It is the act of God reaching towards man. The Tree of Life represents obtaining eternal life, departing from this mortality. It is man reaching towards God.

Our first parents ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and because of it, we were able to be born, and we have a mortal body. It is important to realize that we haven't eaten of this tree ourselves. Some day, after we have eaten from the Tree of Life, and the earth and ourselves have returned to paradisiacal glory, and after we have passed through the Portal represented by the Ark of the Covenant, so that we may dwell in the renewed Garden, where the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is, then maybe we too will be able to partake of its fruit, transgress and fall as Our Father before us has done, and bring about a new beginning, a new cycle of existence.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Honesty in Religion

I've noticed a frightening trend amongst people on an individual level, a group level, and even a deliberate organized effort, to try to sweep certain things "under the rug", so to speak, that they find awkward, hard to explain, or embarassing. These "dark places" in history are a bad idea. Not only do they actually DRAW unnecessary attention to the perceived "problem" by making it seem as though the person doing the hiding is "admitting guilt" to something, but by deeming these things unacceptable to teach those coming after you, you are submitting them to a certain imposed ignorance, when it most likely was not your rightful decision to make.

Proper steps? If there is something wrong: Admit it, or apologize for it. If there is something confusing or not comprehendable, admit so. By doing this, you are aiding the young seeker of truth to gain strength. If you hide things from them, you are only setting the stage for them to acquire the sense of betrayal once they realize what has happened. The reaction to this, can sometimes be worse than the "thing itself", and could send a person "off the deep end", depending on how serious the matter is.

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization

ECHO is a charitable group that finds and implements new agricultural methods in order to help poor people in developing countries grow more/better food. They also develop new strains of plants that will grow better in bad conditions (like drought). Their mission is to help feed the hungry people in the world by giving them the education they need, seeds and plants and a network of further information and guidance.

They have free tours of their Demonstration Farm in Fort Meyers, Florida - well worth the visit, if you are ever in the area.

When I went there, I saw some pretty amazing things. Ways to use old junk to make a gas stove.Old tires or socks or a cardboard box used to make planters that you can keep in your apartment or on your roof, if you live in a city. They were working on a project to develop an apple tree that would grow in the tropics. That way local farmers could grow apples, and sell to the local market. Since apples only really grow in temperate climates, the prices are quite high in tropical areas. ECHO sends each applying farmer a package of apple trees that will grow into an orchard, along with a volunteer to teach him what to do, and how to take care of the trees etc. Once he gets started he can bring himself and his family out of poverty - away from renting land, and working for pennies a day - into working for himself and bringing his entire community up with him.

Instead of dropping food on these people, and feeding them for a day, ECHO is giving them a renewable source of food and income that will last as long as they take care of it. This is good stuff.

Make sure to look at their websites: and

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Where Evil Dwells

There sure are a lot of people, and a lot of groups of people going around trying to do good, to contribute something to society, or live the way God wants them to, etc. I think almost every person out there has this type of "good intentions". I have a friend who professes Paganism, and when I investigate his intentions they are, more or less, just as good, and just as noble as that of the Christians.

Interestingly, both groups seem to have tagged each other as evil, the enemy. This is scary. Way scary. I think that every group needs to look inward and realize that the enemy is right here, within the group, working from inside.

Christians, hear this: Satan could care less what the Pagans are doing. They are not his force of darkness. Satan's force of darkness lies wherever he can find the most Truth, wherever he can find the strongest believers, the most spirituality. He seeks to corrupt through twisting and turning the words of Truth into tyrannical, evil devices, crafted to take away the liberty of mankind and once bound up, drag them to hell.

The Devil is not a big red guy with horns and a pitchfork. He is, in every apparent, outward respect, one of the Saints of God.

If you forget this, if you proclaim the forces of "the world" or the "other guys" (be it the Christians, the Pagans, or any other group) are the instrument of Satan, you have deceived yourself, and have opened yourself up for attack from within.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


There are people who are good, and then there are people who try to make other people be good.

HAL, SAL and ...

I was asked by my husband to make some icons yesterday for a program. One of the icons was supposed to be a button. I interpreted that to mean a big round red one. While I was waiting for instructions about what to put on the button, I started doodling, and it ended up looking like HAL the 'evil' super computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was pretty funny, so I sent it to him along with the real buttons.

Of course, he liked that one the best, but wanted it green. So I made another by changing the color, and named it PAL.

After that, I went wild and made one for each possible color in the window's 16 color palette: HAL (red), SAL (blue), PAL (green), MAL (puke and yellow), CAL (teal) and GAL (purple). You can download them here as a zip file.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Large Curd Cottage Cheese

At the grocery store a couple of nights ago, I asked one of the clerks if they could start stocking Large Curd Cottage Cheese in larger containers, because they had approximately eight varieties of small curd, but only one type of 16oz container of Large Curd, which was out of stock on that day.
I felt that the needs of the people who appreciate Large Curd were not being met. There were several other stores in town that we could have gone to in order to purchase Large Curd Cottage Cheese, but I felt that I could help them improve their store, which is known around town for their lower prices, and is a local company. Much later into our grocery experience, the clerk approached me in a different section, and told me that he had talked to someone about the problem, and he had me give my name and phone number to the manager so that they could call us when the problem was resolved. I don't know if there will be a change in their product line, and I don't know if I'll even get a phone call, but I was pretty impressed that he followed through with my request to the best of his capability.

My wife's grandma just moved into the area, and she was telling a little story about an emblem or design having something to do with boy scouts, years ago. She had been unhappy with the design, and thought that it was confusing, so she proposed a new arrangement that would make more sense. She received a letter back, telling her that they liked her design and that it was going to be adopted.

Individuals can make a difference.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I'm listening to 'Joy' by Zanoma right now. It's a happy song.

For all of you out there who don't know what song I'm talking about, it's from the 'demo scene' or the group of people who would crack commercial programs and games for re-distribution over BBSs and added their own 'little' signature to the beginning, called a demo. Well, the different groups started competing over who could make the most impressive demo until that became the point rather than cracking software. These same people were later hired by companies or started their own. The flavor of the 'demo scene' has influenced computer games, well, up till now.

If you want to sample some of this music, try Nectarine Radio at where their variety is astounding!

To play the song Joy, linked to above, you need to have WinAmp, or something that will play .it files. If you are on a Windows computer, and you don't have WinAmp installed - install it now. Make sure to get the free full version or you are still out of luck.

If you have no way to install winamp, or play .it files, try this version: Joy

"I am not an atomic playboy"

Monday, March 20, 2006

Every page a Blog.

I just got this crazy idea where every page on the Internet inherits much of the functionality of a blog -- well, if it wants to. The idea centers around the use of javascript to plug dynamic content into any page. I'm sure people have done this before, but I'm talking about the ability to put a few lines of HTML code that would insert a blog-like "Comments" box onto an existing static web page. Things to think about: Will this dynamic content be readable by other javascript devices such as Google Adsense. How to secure a comment box so that another page can't just hijack the code for someone who is using this system. It sounds good, if these things can be solved. My inspiration was a fellow I know who insists on using archaic tools like FrontPage to create sites. He gets quite a bit of interaction via email from visitors, but I think he would see a lot more if they could simply leave a comment directly on the site.

I'll post more if this idea reaches fruition.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ubuntu and Digital Freedom: Part II

After reading Part One, it would seem like there is very little reason to even think about using Linux. But, not so!

In the digital world, freedom abounds. There are few actual limits to what can appear. This Blogging system is an example: a place for people to publish whatever they want to say. Information can be duplicated with little trouble. Some have responded by crippling their product so that it is difficult to convert, *cough*Sony*cough* or deciding not to make a product that can be duplicated digitally (like furniture :-) ). Then there are the people who sift through every page in hopes of finding some violation of their rights and suing anyone who oversteps the bounds by a fraction, or pushing their way into people's personal files to try and catch some sort of illegal activity (ignoring their own misdeed at the same time). Then there are people who say 'Hey! I've got this really cool program/song/book/whatever - Why don't you try it out, no charge, no gimmick, no spam or ads.' This is a library of free, high quality books. And an article about why giving away free books online makes sense financially. This has 33,016 music files, submitted by their composers - some of whom, are professionals and well know within their genre.

Those links are just two examples off the top of my head, I know there are numerous others like them out there. You can also go to the library, or turn on your radio and get the same products that are being so well guarded - for free.

Then, what I really wanted to talk about: Computer Programs. Programs are what make your computer worth using. You wouldn't be able to do anything but, well anything (unless you know machine language (ones and zeros) and at that point you are just making your own programs). For any given task there are hundreds of programs that claim to perform it. Some are free, some are $500. Price has nothing to do with how well a program runs or what it does. For example, I have a sound editing program that cost me $30. A couple of years ago a big name brand bought it, changed the name and raised the price to $350. Is there really a $320 quality difference? uh, no.

The leader in "free" programs for the computer is the Open Source community. If you can think of it, someone is at least trying to make an open source version of it. Briefly, open source means that all the code for a program is 'open' for anyone to see, make changes to and redistribute. If you open up the Internet Explorer .exe file in a text editor, you will get a lot of gibberish - but that is all you will ever get out of Microsoft. You'll get the same type of thing if you open up the .exe for Firefox, but you can go online to and get all or part of every bit of code that makes it. But wait! Some "evil hacker" can just go in and break the whole thing *cries*. Not really. Each project is well monitored, and additions have to be approved before they are included in a program that will be distributed to the public. But, the "evil hackers" are free to do anything they want to their own version. Like change the language so their Grandma who doesn't speak English, but some obscure dialect can use that program.

By allowing the User to reform the actual program, it gives them (or us) the power back. For example, in a musical synthesizing program, should one of the notations be down a fraction of an inch? If it is an open source program, tell the developers about it, or if you know how to program, fix it yourself. Your new feature will be available as soon as someone fixes it - maybe a week, or the next day or a month. Compared to a commercial project, where you would call or write to the company, where if someone got the note, they would put it on the agenda and after the next release (a year? three? ever?), you might have your notation in the right place.

The most important program you run on your computer is your operating system. The vast majority of people use Windows, some use Macintosh, some use Linux and the rest use ancient or obscure programs. The Operating system determines how data is read, stored and accessed. It has the ultimate power over what you can and cannot do. In the future Microsoft is releasing a new operating system (named Vista) which is reported to be going to new lengths to keep people from violating something, I'm not quite sure what they are trying to accomplish. More restrictions will never stop pirating, or hacking - because Microsoft works alone by brute force, while those who want/need to work around the obstacles Microsoft outs in the way work together.

At the root of the problem is the idea of what belongs to whom. (See the Sony ARccOS post earlier) Right now it seems that all these large corporations and organizations have the attitude that they own every imaginable right to their product - but what then are we paying for? It seems that we are paying for limited access to a limited product. And our access can be taken away at the slightest whim or chance or bad fortune.

Moral of this story?

Use products that honor your right as a consumer to use your own possessions as you see fit. Linux for human beings.

The First Temple

The First Temple could refer to King Solomon's Temple. Still, it could refer to the portable Temple called the Tabernacle which was set up under direction of Moses. Then again, you could take it to mean the Temple in the Heavens that was the model for these earthly structures. However, I would like to explore an idea somewhere in between.

To explore this idea, I'd like it if we could set uside preconceived notions of how things were in the early history of mankind and instead look at what those who went before us believed to be true.

It is pretty well established that our first parents, Adam and Eve, donned Aprons, and built an Altar at which to make offerings and pray to their God. This altar was made of unhewn stones.

The First Book of Adam and Eve, part of The Lost Book of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden, contains an interesting tale in which Adam, after having been cast out of the Garden, prays to his God to receive a token from the Garden. God responds by giving him three gifts, which He and Eve set up in the "Cave of Treasures" where they begin to dwell. The first gift consisted of seventy rods of Gold taken from a sea south of Eden, and was set up on the south side of the cave where it created light so that they could see in the darkness of the cave. The second gift was twelve pounds of sweet smelling incense, taken from the east end within the garden. It was set up on the east side of the cave. The third gift was three pounds of myrrh, which was taken from within the garden at the west end, and was set at the west end of the cave. This strongly appears to be a prototype for the Tabernacle of Moses. The Golden Candlestick or Menorah set at the South end of the Holy Place, had Seven lamps upon it and provided the light by which the Priests did their work. The Incense Altar was on the East side of the vail. Myrrh is a bit more symbolic. It was commonly used as an embalming agent, and if you compare the Sanctum Sanctorum or Holy of Holies with the inner chamber of the Pyramids for example, it is obviously set up in the order of a Tomb, making the Ark of the Covenant, on the West side of the vail, well represented by Myrrh, which was burnt in that place by the High Priest once each year for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

Gold, Incense and Myrrh are thus intimately linked with the Temple. Upon continued reading, we find that a charge was given to Seth just prior to Adam's death: to guard over these tokens, along with his Father's own body which would be buried in the cave.

They were to be passed down from generation to generation, until one day the Messiah would receive them. We are perhaps far more familiar with the story of the wise men, or Magi who visited Christ two or three years after his birth to deliver these same tokens and commune with him. Wait... Where did Adam's body go? Maybe Adam's body was symbolic of the Human Body in general, maybe Christ's Body served in its stead in this capacity.

Where did these gifts or tokens go after that point in history? And, were the Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh literal or figurative gifts?

I have a couple of strong theories that I might share at a later date. I believe many people today have received these same gifts, but they know it not.

Scottish Rite Research Society

I'd just like to throw in a quick plug for the Scottish Rite Research Society. A friend suggested that I join it back in december, and I've already received three incredible hardbound books worth well over the $30 it costs to join for a year. The subject matter goes beyond the Scottish Rite of Masonry and has included many relevant items of historical Masonic interest. Membership is open to anyone, so even if you aren't a member of Scottish Rite, and even if you aren't a Mason, or even a man, it might be a way to quench some of your thirst for information of this type.

The books I received for 2005 membership were: "Esoterika: Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Masonry" by Albert Pike, and Heredom volumes IV and XII, which is a publication put out yearly by the Research Society containing articles submitted by its members. Heredom has been fascinating in its variety, and each of the volumes so far has even contained the complete text of an historic degree that is no longer worked. They haven't announced what this year's "Bonus Book" is going to be yet, but I'm certainly going to go for the 2006 membership.

Scottish Rite Research Society

Personal Freedoms - Sony ARccOS

Okay, so this post isn't even quasi-religious. Unless basic ideas of Freedom of Information can be considered such. I'm pretty irked because I spent a few hours (maybe 5) this evening in frustration over Sony ARccOS protection on a DVD. We accepted a free trial of Blockbuster's new mail-out system competing with Netflix. It was NOT impressive. Poor queue management, poor selection, and a couple of the disks wouldn't even play. Well, they gave us a couple coupons for in-store rentals too, and we wanted to use them before they expired. Since I've gotten several scratched disks from Blockbuster already, I am wary of getting deep into a movie for fear that it will suddenly stop and leave me without an ending, or a middle as the case may be. So I've taken up the habit of copying the disc first to look for error blocks. I put it onto a small hard drive on my laptop, and I don't care about encryption, just sector readability. If there were no errors I watch it. If there were errors, I can go complain that the disk doesn't play, without having to be left in suspense. As it turns out, I waited until the due date on this flic: The Grudge. It looks like a pretty new disc, but there are a couple minor scratches. To cut a long story short, I spent a good hour or two trying to find a DVD drive that would read it, and cleaning the disc to eliminate the scratches, before I decided there is nothing physically wrong with the disc at all, but that it must be some sort of weird copy protection scheme. After much research I learned about Sony ARccOS. They use decidedly evil techniques to make a 1:1 copy of the disc nearly impossible to make. Not only that, but nightfall came and I missed getting the disc in by the due date. After all this, I don't have time to watch it, and I look forward to getting scammed by the Blockbuster "no late-fees" policy which I'm sure has some strings attached.

In closing, it is a good thing that Sony did not start using ARccOS a bit earlier, when "The Ring" was released on DVD, or we'd all be dead.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Ubuntu and Digital Freedom: Part I

A couple weeks ago, I was having trouble with my computer. Programs were crashing left and right, I was annoyed. Needless to say, I started thinking about alternatives. Being the geek that I am, I turned to Linux for an answer. I decided to try Ubuntu, a nice distribution for new linux users.

The install was a breeze, and quick! Changing settings to make the computer generally usable was pretty easy, the main snag being mp3s and DVDs. If I had never used a computer before, or if mine had been totally demolished (along with all my back-ups), it would have been a great computer. But, after using it for a day, I had to start working again. I'm a graphic artist (right now) and I mainly use Photoshop for my editing. Well, Photoshop doesn't run in linux. Neither does Flash or MIC or any of the other programs that are made for Windows.

We tried everything we could think of to get around this difficulty. We tried WINE, an application that tricks programs into thinking they are on a Windows machine by supplying them with library files. But it was glitchy and constantly crashed when certain actions occurred, like resizing the Layer palette. Next we tried a real emulator. But it ran excruciatingly slow (I could cook breakfast in the time it took to save one photoshop file). I also tried Gimp, the linux image editing tool. It was hard to work with since I didn't know my way around, and it also crashed while editing files.

Deadlines started creeping up on me, and I had no way of finishing the projects. So I gave in and installed windows on the other half of my hard drive.

Oh, and there was no way to play my .s3m files . . .

See part Two for the rest of the story - and why Linux is actually cool.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Freemasonry and Quakerism

I've been a Freemason for a few years now. I'd like to take a minute to compare it to the Quaker faith. Although I am not a Quaker, I have been visiting a Quaker Worship Group on a regular basis for a little over a year. Also called The Religious Society of Friends, I have found its long name to be a pretty accurate description of the experience. The group I've been visiting is an unprogrammed worship group, which translates roughly to "liberal quaker" as opposed to "evangelic quaker." The Friends are one of those groups that I would tend to call quasi-religious. I don't mean to belittle anyone for whom the Quaker experience is their Religion or spiritual home, but what I mean is that by having no creed, established doctrine, or sacraments, liberal Quakerism appears to make a fine appendage to whatever type of religion one already accepts. It pronounces no theology and no plan of salvation, leaving you free to hold your own views. As long as this type of participation is acceptable to your existing religious conscience, you have nothing to lose. If there is one belief that all Quakers do share, it seems to be the understanding that there is "that of God in everyone" or that the Spirit may speak through any human being, or that there is a divine component to every human.

Being entirely devoid of ritual and creed, I now contrast it to my experience with Freemasonry. Someone might be tempted to say they are entirely opposite. However, I have found that not to be the case. Masonry is not a religion, and makes no claim to be one. It has been said, however, that it is the "handmaiden of religion", and that it is "so far interwoven with religion as to lay us under obligation to pay that rational homage to Deity which at once constitutes our duty and our happiness". Masonry does not admit atheists, but beyond that requires no specific theology or religious alignment. It does teach of the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Immortality of the Soul, although an individual brother's understanding of these things is up to his own interpretation. Masonry is full of elaborate tradition, ceremony and ritual.

At an administrative level, the process for governing each of these groups appears to be very much the same. Masonry exists in the form of local Lodges, each governed by a Grand Lodge, of which in the United States there exist separate Grand Lodges for each state. The Grand Lodges are each soveriegn, meaning that they maintain relations with one another, but each one has the highest authority over the Lodges in its jurisdiction and falls under jurisdiction of no other body. Representatives from local Lodges attend yearly communications of Grand Lodge, at which legislation can be proposed, worked out, and a decision can occasionally be reached. Any types of change or efforts put into play are generally worked out and discussed at the local Lodge level ahead of time, before the Grand Lodge convenes. The Quakers are divided into Weekly Meetings, Monthly Meetings, Quarterly Meetings, and Yearly Meetings. Each of these is a group which "umbrellas" all of the groups beneath it, with the smallest units being "Worship Groups" (areas too small to have their own Weekly Meeting), and Isolated Friends (people who are in an area without any type of quaker meeting). The Weekly Meetings all belong to a Monthly Meeting, and they all belong to a Quarterly Meeting. The Quarterly Meetings all belong to a Yearly Meeting. At each level, the geographical area over which the group covers is expanded. The Yearly Meetings maintain relations with one another, but are also 'sovereign' although I haven't heard a Quaker use that term. Each Yearly Meeting has its own flavor and style, and some contain Programmed Meetings ("Evangelical Quakers") while others are of the liberal variety. The business is usually dealt with on a local level, and a few people may attend the Quarterly or Yearly Meeting and participate in the business at the higher level.

Both groups share a propensity towards being very involved in the process and very slow and inefficient at reaching any conclusion or action. Although, it could be argued that perhaps this is a good thing and keeps them from swaying to and fro on whims?

Both groups accept into their fellowship people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and are defenders of freedom and set pretty good examples of tolerance.

On the other hand, Masonry is limited to men, ability to attend is restricted to members, and new members must be voted upon. Both organizations also serve very different additional purposes.

I get the impression that the Quakers consider someone into doctrine and ritual and the type of exactness that I appreciate as a Mason to be a little bit out of place in a Quaker meeting, or at least to be the minority, however, it seems they have far more in common than they probably realize.

That other blogger

I'm still trying to figure out what this blog is about. The title: Quasi-Religion - hmm. Something that is like religion, but not quite. So it depends on how broad your definition of religion is.

In my favorites, under 'Religion', there is a huge variety of things. From how to knit a kippah, English Guilds, Tarot, something by Oliver Cowdery about a hollow earth?, 'The Church Utensils Explained', and so forth. If I were forced to define where I stand religiously, I would have to call myself an Esoteric Mormon. There are a lot of mainstream-mormon ideas that I disagree with, as they are at variance with earlier teachings or just plain protestantism creeping in.

I'm fond of the Greek Philosophers - especially Aristotle. They were struggling with the same questions we have now. That really tells us how far Mankind has come in the last 2500 years. They were wrong about some things, just as we are wrong about some things. Expect a lot of quoting from them in the future :-)

Welcome to Quasi-Religious Things

Hey! This is my first blog post. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and see where it takes me. Unlike many people, I think I might actually have something interesting to share. I'll be posting concerning my studies into symbolism, ritual, the occult, FreeMasonry and other fraternal groups, the Ancient Israelite Temple, and modern day parallels to these traditions that can even be found in popular media. Hopefully it will be fun, informative, and a great way to learn more from other people studying the same areas.