Wednesday, February 08, 2006

תמים תהיה עם ה' אלקיך

Devarim/Deuteronomy 18:13 —
Be whole-hearted with Yhvh, your God!


Tarot.
Demons.
Possession.
Ghosts.
Visions.

(spooky drumroll, please)

The OCCULT.

This past Sunday night, I was driving back down to NYC with two friends of mine from a really geeky weekend up in Geneseo, NY. While both of these friends are halakhicly Jewish, one was raised semi-observant Conservative with a bad rabbi relationship and is now barely observant, and the other's Jewish upbringing consisted of some stereotypical Ashkenazic food and raucous Passover sedarim with relatives on the Jewish side of his family (the other side is Latin American Catholic; he has been known to call himself a "spike", get it?).

Anyway, the second friend, let's give him the silly blog pseudonym Azrael, is very into spiritualism and the occult. He believes in tarot cards, ghosts, EVP, mysterious malevolent 'forces', and prophetic visions, among other things.

So on the way down through the spooky dark middle-of-nowhere-Upstate-New-York scenery we discussed such subjects, and 'Azrael' told us all about the mad spooky things he's seen, heard and envisioned. Everything from ghostly sasquatches and stump-worshipping deer (not the Giant Albino Deer Monster, that's my spooky deer story) to encounters with exorcists and apocalyptic dreams.

Being the Rationalist that I am, I find it very hard to believe in many of these things. Demons? Too polytheistic. Ghostly possession? The dead are all up in Shamayim, so what's there to worry about? I trust in The One Who Spoke And The World Came Into Being, and that's it. And if sheidim exist, they're just sort of like monkey, chicken, cute little goblin things — nothing to get all worked up or worried about!

When I was in high school, I had a friend who was interested in occult things, and would play with tarot cards. Not believing in the things, I felt it was a harmless pasttime that could give you insight not into the future but into your own psyche. After all, the way you interpret the signs has more to do with you and your thought process than with the signs themselves. Let's call him... Couscous. 'Couscous' had an Aleister Crowley tarot deck, which was cool because each of the 'trump' cards was associated with a Hebrew letter printed right on it. So instead of following the directions for giving readings, we would frequently just spell out our names and analyze them that way (my name has THE DEVIL in it!).

Anyway, to get back to Azrael, one of the last things he was telling us about was this apocalyptic prophetic dream he's had. He wouldn't go into details, but he claimed that it involved three (stone?) altars, and asked me about Edomites. So I told him the story from the Torah about Ya‘aqov and ‘Eisav, and how their eponymous nations of Israel and Edom were mysterious sibling-rivalry enemies throughout the First and Second Temple periods. And then when I got up to Rabbinic/Midrashic views on ‘Eisav-As-Nemesis, and the appropriation of Edom as a symbol of Rome and Christianity, he became really interested, and asked if Edom has any connection to Petra. So I told him, sure, that's the area where they lived. He thinks one of his dream altars is there. And if one altar represents Edom (=Christianity), it's probably a safe bet that the other two are Israel (=Judaism) and Ishmael (=Islam). I'll try and get some more details about this crazy stuff out of him later. I'm not a believer, but it'd sure make any Birthright trip he goes on pretty interesting...

One last point:
That conversation about freaky visions and demonic possession and ghostly forces made me incredibly paranoid walking home from where I got dropped off at midnight when we arrived back in NYC. And I really hate being scared of stuff I don't even forkin' believe in.

5 Comments:

Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Reminds me of when my wife and I saw "Silence of the Lambs" at a midnight showing in Tel Aviv.

Going back to our dark apartment, it was pretty freaky. Our hallway was all dark...we get to our apartment, and when I unlock the door door my wife says, "go on in first, make sure there's no one hiding in there..."

So, I slowly go into the apartment, looking around, and my wife sqeaks out at me,"What?! You're leaving me back here in the dark by myself!"

I don't mind the dark, but after that movie, it was rather scary.

2/09/2006 4:30 AM  
Anonymous willendorf said...

Okaaaayyyyyy.

So I clicked on the link and I still don't get what "EVP" is.

2/09/2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Jameel:

Yup, that's pretty much it. Except with ghosts instead of cannibalistic murderers.

Willendorf:

Electronic Voice Phenomena.
click here for a pro-EVP site
and/or here for an anti-EVP one

2/09/2006 4:04 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Saw jaws when I was twelve. Read a comic adventure about ghost sharks coming out of the London fog in the same year.

It took me nearly a year to feel comfortable in the dark.

I still do not like waking up and not being able to see where everything is.

And I hate power blackouts.

2/09/2006 10:41 PM  
Anonymous willendorf said...

Ok, now I get it.
I think I'll go play "Stairway to Heaven" backwards now. Or not.

2/10/2006 1:30 PM  

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