Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Reality That An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack On The United States Will Happen

The Hidden EMP Attack Threat On The United States

On the back burner with everything that is in the media there is one item that is pretty terrifying that is not being talked about. This is EMP, short for Electromagnetic Pulse. This can be created by an enemy and render the United States back to the dark ages in under one second.
When a nuclear bomb is detonated above the earth's atmosphere the EMP effect will happen over a vast area on the surface of the earth. Note that this type of nuclear explosion and disaster can be created by a bomb that does not require a reentry device as it will not be striking the surface.
The above is mentioned because so many people, agencies and media state that the threat from countries such as North Korea and Iran are not real as these countries have not devised a device for their nuclear bombs would would allow them to survive reentry into the earth's atmosphere. However, the threat is real. North Korea EMP attack could destroy U.S. and Understand EMP Threat? U.S. Enemies Do. 

Author's note: This article was written in 2013, but as of February 7, 2016, with the launch of the recent North Korean ballistic missile  that is purported to have placed a satellite in orbit, this article has become even more important.

How EMP Works And The Effects

For EMP to work, one just has to toss up a nuclear weapon above the geographical area they want to attack. The distance could be from 300 miles up to just a few miles up. This type of a device could be fired off the coast of the U.S. or even in the Gulf of Mexico, using a simple Scud missile off of a container ship platform. One has to remember that there are hundreds if not thousands of Scud missiles that are out there and available.
In general, an EMP attack will fry all electronics. This is in your cars, planes, computers, devices in your home, industrial and military equipment, electrical power grid and much, much more. Imagine the U.S. without electronic communications, no vehicles or planes working, no internet, military weapons suddenly useless and no electricity over the whole country with the electric power grid fried along with all its components.
Within a second of an EMP attack planes will simply fall from the skies. There is a vast amount of planes flying the skies over the U.S. at any given moment. This alone would cost approximately 250,000 lives within seconds.

Is the United States prepared for an EMP attack?

Effects of an electromagnetic pulse at 400km above the Earth's surface.
The scary answer is no. The U.S. has no plans or safety nets in case of an EMP attack. Such an attack will simply put those in the U.S. back to the early 1700's or so. Big cities will become traps and nightmares as supplies run out and food spoils due to no refrigeration. There will be no way to have running water. There will be no way to move supplies around as all vehicles will be rendered useless.
The effects of EMP were studied by both the U.S. military as well as the Russian Military decades ago. The results are known. These were small and isolated tests. The effects over areas that are vastly populated and including a whole country simply would be overwhelming.
The reality of an EMP attack is that one bomb, yes just one, exploding approximately 300 miles above the middle of the United States within one second would render the country defenseless. The war is won.

Who would launch an EMP attack on the United States?

One has to remember the hatred of other countries of the United States and its people. Again, just one nuclear bomb is needed. It does not even have to be a nation such as North Korea or Iran. It could be a lone terrorist or a terrorist group that obtains just one bomb.
The scenario of what happens after such an attack were partially described above. However one has to remember that medications will not be manufactured, stored, shipped or available. People will die from no medication, not just lack of food, water, heat and shelter.
There will be no replacement parts for our electrical power grid. No way to manufacture replacement parts. No way to transport replacement parts. It could take years to get the United States back up and running with just electricity. It would take just as long, if not longer to begin to replace components in cars and homes for individuals.
Overall, there are predictions that up to 90 percent of the U.S. citizens will die as a result, over time, of an EMP attack on the United States.

Be Prepared For What Happens Following An EMP Attack

Considering that life as we know it will suddenly be disrupted after an EMP attack, it is well advised to think ahead. Keeping much of the same supplies as for a natural emergency on hand will alleviate much of the hardship for the first weeks following such an attack. A well stocked emergency kit should be put together. Also take into considerations water and other items such as medications. Stockpiling is not something that is not feasible. The author does it and simply rotates stock, keeping fresh supplies on hand while using the older supplies.

Tests Conducted That Created EMP Event Without Nuclear Weapon

On October 16, 2012 Boeing, Raytheon Ktech and the United States tested an EMP missile that fried personal computers and electronics. The missile did not have a nuclear warhead on it, and was not exploded hundreds of miles above the earth.
This missile used microwaves and the name is known as CHAMP, or Counter-electronics High-powered Advanced Missile Project.

Additional Reading For EMP and EMP Attacks On The United States

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Role of the Pagan Community With Regard to Solitaries

There Is Some Responsibility Involved Regarding The Pagan Community And Those Who Are Solitaries

In the old days ... solitaries (witches, Wiccans, pagans) generally existed simply because they couldn't find a group - any group - within a couple hundred miles to study with. These days there are quite a number of reasons for people to call themselves "solitary" but only occasionally that one. There have always been people who really do practice their religion in a state of complete secrecy and never with any other. While this is legitimately termed a 'religion' members of most religions practice their faith in a strictly personal way but also practice with a group.
One of the most destructive ways a solitary may be created is when a newcomer falls into the hands of a bad group or leader. Sooner or later most people realize they've been had and the pain of this realization crashes their newcomer's idealistic picture of what a group should be. This can make them extremely wary of groups of any sort. Some who experience this return to their family's religion, some seek even more esoteric paths, some give up religion and some hover around the edge of Pagan activities afraid to join in except in a very peripheral way but are also unable to turn their backs. Occasionally it isn't actually the case of a bad group or individual but a case of mismatch - unfortunately the resulting unhappiness can be almost as severe.
Other people are genuinely not "joiners" for good or bad reasons: some cannot cope with the give and take required of members of a group, some simply fear groups and others are unable to accept that they might benefit from the right group. Some people really do have too many things to do to devote much time to religion other than their personal observances. Some people are truly lazy and only participate very peripherally so they are less likely to be asked to do anything. And, of course, there are always those few who truly 'do not play well with others' and even the tolerant Pagan community refuses to let them hang around.
All this detail is simply to remind people that "solitary" isn't a particularly useful designation since such a wide variety is fitted under it. Of course, back in the old days, solitaries weren't something that we had to worry about. They were too far away from us to be in any way our responsibility. But with the vastly increased communications and community building possible on the Internet and the enormous increase in numbers, we find ourselves in the position of needing to figure out IF solitaries are a part of our community* and if so, how do we include them? Do remember, however, that solitaries are that by their own choice. Part of that choice is that they are not represented and that they have no vote. Of course, nobody has a vote but groups will always have more effect than individuals can.
*For the purposes of this article, I define the "Pagan Community" as those individuals and groups which consider themselves a part of it. An individual or group supports the community when they/it contribute money, sweat or other efforts to bring people together and/or provide services it needs or wants.

Time after Time Life to Life ... the Path Continues


Used with permission courtesy of Esta Weiss, Pagan and Proud of It Art.
Source: Esta Weiss
For one thing, I think we can revise our language a little bit and recognize that there are "solitaries" and "currently unaffiliated people" that look somewhat alike but actually are rather different. The "currently unaffiliated" are folks who are still checking out the groups available but who are not solitary by conviction. This would include people new to Paganism as well as people new to the area and people who have realized that whatever strand they had been working with was no longer the right one for them and are looking around. The currently unaffiliated don't have any problem with groups as a concept; they merely aren't ready at the moment to join any of those currently known. They rarely are much of a problem because they have some idea of what they are looking for and generally they are going to work towards community harmony and put some sweat equity into community building because when they do find a group that seems right, they want the group to welcome them.
We can further sort through the general sorts of solitaries we need to deal with as the same actions aren't going to please them all. The "bear who walks alone" - a person whose religion is so personal and secret they can't even talk about it, much less do an observance with someone else - is surely only participating in the Pagan Community for its social aspects. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this but it does greatly reduce the amount of time and consideration we are in any way obliged to give to them. At more or less public events (assuming they do play well with others) they should be pretty much as welcome as anyone.
There is still such a thing as the "orphan solitary" and there's very little we can do about that. However, if someone who practices in (for instance) a Finnish style invites the community to their ritual, so long as scheduling is handled well, I suspect they will have a cooperative group turn up. In most Pagan communities, public or open rituals are done in a fairly generic form specifically to avoid offending anyone. However, I've seen many times that most of the community really enjoys finding out how others do things - I think that's part of the attraction of open rituals.
Too-busy solitaries can't really be helped (although, if appropriate, arranging child care for all parents of rug-rats is a real boon) but can be welcomed when they can dig out an hour or two. When they get whatever they are currently concentrating on done they may very well bring that energy and determination to the service of the community.
Shy and/or frightened people can be fairly difficult to help. I think the most positive thing we can do is to really concentrate ion improving the safe-space quality of our events: safety not only from actual violence but also from harassment, teasing, insult and snobbery. To do this we must first give some thought as to how to build an atmosphere that encourages some manners and which actively discourages people who can't abide by some basic rules. Safety requires that childcare should always be provided by two unrelated adults - never just one - for the protection of the adults as much as the children. Hosts of activities must be sure they are easily available and receptive to any complaints and in most cases the transgressor must be clearly informed that such behavior won't be tolerated. At open or public rituals, energy levels must be carefully monitored as well as human behavior and experienced people should ensure that beginners are properly grounded at the end of any ritual. Beyond making a safe and friendly place for them to meet people our responsibilities cease. Their fear and/or shyness are their stuff and their cure is not our job.
There is quite simply nothing to be done about the lazy except to attempt not to let them get away with it. Make a point of giving them jobs and seeing to it that they actually do them. Otherwise, tell them there will be a fee so you can pay someone to do their work. Lazy people are seldom a useful addition to any community and I doubt we'll miss them if they take themselves elsewhere.
The "damaged solitary" i.e. the person who was once a part of a group and it didn't go well for them; is frequently the most vocal of a community's solitaries. They may still be trying to build the perfect world they imagined in anticipation of joining their first group and you may feel that nothing done to accommodate them can satisfy them. I do not recommend bending over backwards in order to make them happy. We're all sorry that they had such a painful experience but we didn't do it and we aren't responsible for healing them or letting our own group get twisted into some sort of dream group to satisfy them. In fact if we ask around the groups in the community we're likely to find out that a lot of group members and leaders have been through similar experiences and have let them go and either found a new group which better filled their needs or organized their own group. We can sympathize the damaged people but we don't owe them anything. In fact, the only way for them to recover value from their experience is for them to understand it, accept it and move beyond. And that's simply their job.
My students will assure you that I spend plenty of time trying to help them realize that to take Wiccan initiation - or to assume a position of any sort of leadership in the Pagan community - one must accept a great deal of responsibility. However, I do take a few minutes off now and then to suggest that perhaps it's also a good idea to be absolutely sure it is your responsibility. We must take responsibility for our own actions. If we accept students, we must accept the responsibility to teach them to the best of our own knowledge and ability and to find other teachers to teach anything we are unable to teach. We are not, however, required to accept responsibility for their love lives, their economic stability or their housework.
If we lead ritual, we must accept responsibility for the whole thing; before, during and after. We do not have to accept responsibility for the whole Pagan community - we don't control it and we therefore cannot be responsible for it. None of us has any control over who presents themselves as some sort of great Pagan guru and therefore we do not have responsibility for that guru's actions. However, as people who want to make it a better community, it is reasonable to try to provide opportunities for their victims to learn that there are good groups and good people in our community. But the victim's pain is their stuff. Don't let yourself take responsibility for what's not your stuff.
You've probably been making a mental note to ask me just what or whom I mean when I say "we" and "you". Describing or identifying the leadership of a geographical Pagan community isn't a simple matter. And the word "leadership" carries a great deal of baggage. Many people interpret it as meaning that there are people who can tell everyone in the community what to do. Holding this conviction as a member of the Pagan community requires either total lack of experience or extremely poor observational skills. My definition of the leaders in the Pagan community is simple: they are the people doing the work. Some of them are "clergy": the teachers, ritual designers/leaders, group leaders, counselors etc. Others are not clergy, but they host open rituals on a regular basis, or are on the short list of those who put on a festival or Pagan Pride Day. Sometimes the owners of the local "occult" shop are also leaders - if they host meetings, workshops and other events specifically targeted on the Pagan community, they are leaders. Occasionally one or more of the leaders is some variety of solitary - the test is still "who does the work"?
The "leaders" from/in a Pagan community may or may not "represent" (as in cast a vote for or speak for) their group - that depends on the structure of the group and isn't anyone else's business. No leader from the Pagan community will ever be authorized to represent "all Pagans". Pagans just don't agree enough for that. However, we have in the past authorized an individual or group to represent us for a specific occasion or purpose. The elected board of the Covenant of the Goddess, along with the administrators of Circle Sanctuary and a very few other Pagans did a completely awesome job of representing all of us at the World Congress of Religions held in Chicago in 1992 (I think that was the year). And I heard infinitely less complaining about them then I anticipated.
I use the phrase "leaders from the Pagan community" to attempt to emphasize that they do not lead the community as a whole. It can't be done and I'd really pity anyone who managed to do it (for 10 to 15 minutes). They are not leaders "of" the Pagan community. They certainly aren't leaders "for" the Pagan community - there's a hint of "imposed from above" in that structure and unless some deity cares to step in, there isn't no above to impose. Conferences among these people do not result in laws or even decisions. What they can do is discuss problems and/or situations and possible solutions. They can keep each other advised of possible problems. They can develop a useful, if not deep, atmosphere of trust among the group with the result of making everyone's job easier. These conferences cannot result in making rules for the community or for the members of it. All it can do is suggest solutions and leave it to the individuals and groups that make up the community to accept them or not.
No Pagan community will ever be united save on a single, limited issue. Anarchy is built into the Pagan worldview and this pretty well insures that we don't have to worry deeply about "popes". But we CAN unite for a day or a week in order to address a specific topic.
As a community, we don't owe anything to solitaries in particular, no more than we feel we "owe" to the community as a whole. I'm sure that there are many reasons individuals work to build Pagan community. Luckily in most cases people's motives aren't in question - what is important is that there are people who do this work. It is not only hard work; it also places the individual in the spotlight that occasionally evidences in the form of a bulls eye on their back. As a group we do need to develop mutual support and assistance. Among the benefits of this atmosphere is the fact that this will make it much more difficult for a bad apple to work freely at defrauding members of the community.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Land Of USPS Void - An Unidentified Area That Your Missing Mail and Packages Reside In

Where Are Those Lost USPS Packages?

As many of you may know the U.S. Postal Service was planning cutting back services starting in mid-May of 2012 by closing 252 of their mail processing centers along with 3,700 individual post offices. (I do think they have since revised the plans and dates.)
This is so that they will not have to file for bankruptcy, as they are forecast to lose approximately $14.1 billion in 2012.
This article is not about the USPS cutting back services, but about how inadequately they resolve problems that arise with the services that are available now and in the past.
My wife and myself send and receive many items using the USPS, along with UPS. During the past year we both have lost track of lost items sent to us and items we have sent to others. We have had to refund money and replace items, and senders have had to do the same. For small business owners, this is financially crippling!
The Postal Service does not have any remedy in place. Only if you or the sender had purchased insurance for the item. For small value items, this would add too much expense to your item along with the postage costs, which have increased as well. What is happening, for one to send items via the USPS, the cost, once adding in insurance, simply kills your business, as people can purchase locally much cheaper.
As I mentioned, the Postal Service simply will not attempt to resolve issues. You contact them with a tracking number for a Priority Mail shipment, and they will give you information that it was delivered. However, over and over, the item has not been delivered. Again, no resolution for this problem.
We have had sent items and received items that suddenly show up six weeks to two months after being sent. Where they were at, one never knows, during that time period. This is long after you have refunded money or resent the item to the buyer.
We have had the Postal Service state that they have attempted delivery on days that I have been sitting five feet away from the front door. Never was there a knock on the door. End result, a trip to the Post Office, join a long line and wait, then pick up your package....time wasted along with gas. This has also happened far too many times to count during the past year or so. I have come home to find packages laying on the porch in front of my door, in plain sight for any neighbors or local kids to see and pick up. Some items have disappeared that were supposedly delivered this way upon contacting the Post Office. Again, they offer no resolution.
I was just reflecting back on a set of earrings I had sent a customer, that never showed up, simply disappearing into that Land of United States Postal Service Void. They finally were returned to me, in the original shipping package that had tire marks on it. Figure that one out.
What can we expect with this massive cutback to hit in mid-May of this year in regards to how much further the USPS services deteriorate? That is of concern, without a doubt!
The only actual resolution that I have come up with is to switch to using UPS and FedEx more often, which encompasses higher rates for shipping, but better delivery stats.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What Is Voodoo and Hoodoo Spirituality?

Incorporating Hoodoo into your Pagan Path

Once you get over the curse of the fluff -- I hate to use that term, but let's face it, most of what has come onto the market in the last 2-3 decades is closer to New Age than to the Old Religion of our witch ancestors and kin -- and take an unbiased look at the history of witches and the craft, you may find yourself leaning toward folk magic, the craft of the wise, Cunning-Folk, mountain magic, and such.
Recently I have found myself drawn to the formidable, uncompromising craft known as Hoodoo and herb and root magic. For me recently, it has opened up a door to the basics of all magic. Through a web group run by Dr. Christos Kioni, I became familiar with these traditions and practices and have even incorporated some of the herbal, root magic into my own practice of the craft.
But it has also made me question the ethics of integrating the traditions or parts thereof into my own tradition. I'm not bothered by some the Christian roots of these traditions, as they seem to break down the barrier between conjure and pagan workings and modern fundamentalist Christianity. Even so, I am not African-American, have never lived in the south, nor do I have any history with their traditional practices. Can I ethically make them part of my pagan family tradition?
I recently read Cat Yronwode's "Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic ", and Denise Alvarado's "Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook ", and am completely engrossed in the use of roots and herbs as employed in Hoodoo. I regularly purchase supplies from Lucky Mojo for use in candle and herbal magic and find them to be especially powerful. I believe these workings are the foundation of all witchcraft, whether African-American, Native American, or white folk magic, but are best known as practices in the American south, particularly in New Orleans. I have to say that when I visited New Orleans I was completely taken over by the spiritual energy of the city.
What stands out with Hoodoo is the conjuring of spirits. One first has to accept that spirits exist. Then one must learn about them and seek to recognize them as the ancients did. I'm not sure how they justify conjuring in light of Christianity's obvious fear and condemnation of such practices, but it certainly works for the masters of Hoodoo.
I thought I might simply replace the names of the spirits/angels with pagan gods/goddesses, but I have discovered that the Voodoo pantheon is extremely eclectic due to the way the spirits within different African traditions have been combined. These spirits include deities and rites from Santeria and Yoruba that are comparable to saints or angels in Western religions.
Among them is Manman Brigit (Brigit, Brijit) that appears to be related to my Celtic Goddess Brighid. That gives me a sense of inclusion that allows me to include some of the practices within those traditions. I have for many years used the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, which includes the angel spirits of Raphael,Gabriel, Michael, and Uriel along with the pagan pentagram, and it is a powerful tool that concentrates elemental powers, so it seems ethical for a traditional witch like myself to include this in my practices.
The bottom line is that there is no pure religion. Even the Catholic faith, which claims primacy, drew from pagan practices in the creation of its religious institution and rites. This seems to imply that people often try the practices of other traditions, rejecting those that do not work, and keeping those that do. It is thus ethical in my opinion for us to incorporate those Hoodoo/Conjure practices that have proved effective and advantageous.
I am a panentheist. I believe that the deity is present in all natural things and as such their use in devotions, spells, prayers, ritual or whatever you choose to call it is quite natural. The single deity or pantheon we relate to really doesn't matter much to me because it all emanates from the same Source. If it resonates with you spiritually and feels right, why not?
                                  Image Source: Sheloya Mystical and Agrimas Gothic - Flickr Creative Commons