22 JAN 02:  

from the Penguin
Dictionary of Symbols

“In the Buddhist world, cats, along with
snakes, are blamed for being the only creatures left unmoved by the death
of the Buddha, something which might be considered from another angle as
a sign of higher wisdom.

“To the North American Pawnee Indians,
the wild cat is the symbol of cunning, forethought and ingenuity: ‘it watches
in crafty consideration until it can achieve its ends.’ For this reason
it was a sacred animal which could only be killed for religious reasons
with a set ritual.”


16 JAN 02

of the Spectrum

by Craig Baldwin

(16mm color and b/w sound
film approx. 93 mins.)

Spectres of the Spectrum
is a feature-length 16mm film utilizing old ‘kinescopes’ (filmed records
of early TV broadcasts before the advent of videotape, mostly from the
late Fifties’ educational show called ‘Science in Action’) to create an
eerie, haunted “media-archaeology” zone for a sci-fi time-travel tale,
wherein live-action actors search for a hidden electromagnetic secret to
save the planet from a futuristic war-machine, inspired by HAARP the High-Frequency
Active Auroral Research Program. (Though fictionalized for Baldwin’s film,
HAARP is, in fact, a very real phenomenon. On the surface, it is a data-gathering
tool to explore the Aurora Borealis in detail. But in fact, HAARP doubles
as one of the most sophisticated components of the Star Wars weapons arsenal,
a particle beam device that can be accurately targeted on specific sites
in the ionosphere.

Set in the year 2007 in the blighted desert outpost of Las Vegas, a young
telepathic woman (“BooBoo”) scavenges for survival on an old bombing range
with her father (“Yogi”) who is holed up in a cinder-block pirate-TV station,
broadcasting rambling diatribes on the impending global electromagnetic
‘Pulse’. A solar eclipse gives BooBoo a cosmic opportunity to save the
world, through a superluminal voyage back into time to retrieve a secret
message left on the airwaves by her scientist grandmother.

With their Airstream trailer converted into a spaceship, the amazed BooBoo
is able to catch up with outwardly propagating Fifties’ educational-TV
broadcasts, affording an accelerated review of mid-century science and
science-fiction cinema; and narrating a loose and collage-happy history
of heroes and martyrs of the electromagnetic revolution. Commentary on
Mesmer, Morse, Bell, Tesla, Farnsworth, and others comes from Yogi and
his ‘TV Tesla’ correspondents, in a playfully speculative effort to trace
the growth of corporate hegemony over the electromagnetic spectrum. Through
an increasingly abstract montage of live-action, archival film, broadcast
video, and ‘exploded’ interviews, the fantasy narrative warps into disjointed,
abstracted, audio-visual phrases, suggesting the breakdown of personal
ego/memory, historical representation, and, yes, of spacetime itself.

This science-fiction allegory about ‘electromagnetic autonomy’ in opposition
to the hegemony of the culture-management industry, tracing a history of
media technology from its early days to a 21st century “New Electromagnetic
Order” that threatens to take total control of our lives.

from Tikkun:

Jewish Renewal Makes It to Film

by Rami Shapiro

Raising the Sparks: A
Personal Search for a Spiritual Home in Judaism.

Davis. Throughline Productions
and Delphi Productions, 2001.

With its very first scene,
Raising the Sparks, a delightful and disturbing

documentary of producer/director
Chuck Davis’ year-long sojourn into Jewish

Renewal, draws us into the
central dilemma of postmodern Judaism: the tribe. The

film opens with his youngest
son’s brit milah. Amid the boy’s screams of terror

and the practiced nonchalance
of Jewish friends and relatives, Chuck verbalizes

his angst at circumcising
his son to appease a God he does not believe in and to

make his son a member of
a tribe he is not sure is worth joining. In a sense,

Raising the Sparks is Chuck’s
attempt to justify tribalism in what for him and

most secular Jews is fast
becoming a post-tribal world.

of the world’s religions responds to a specific question. As long as the

question is compelling and
the answer relevant, the religion thrives. When the

question is moot, the religion
dies. This is why centuries of effort to convert

Jews to Christianity have
been so unsuccessful: Jesus is the answer to a

question Jews don’t ask.
And it’s also why, without even attempting to convert

Jews, Buddhism is making
such inroads among us.

answers the question: “How can we overcome Original Sin and avoid

eternal damnation?” Most
Jews don’t ask this question, so Christianity is

irrelevant to them. Buddhism
answers the question: “What is suffering, and how

can we end it?” This is
a question Jews do ask, and the concise, practical

advice of the Buddha is
quite compelling. The question Judaism answers is this:

“How do I adhere to the
tribal standards set by God Who chose us from among all

peoples to be His holy nation?”
This is a question fewer and fewer Jews even

think to ask. If Judaism
is to survive it must answer a different question.

not necessarily new. Judaism must shift its focus from tribal

survival to planetary survival;
it must move from halachic conformity to aggadic

creativity. God did not
command us to be Jewish; God commanded us to be holy.

The old question: “How to
be a Jew?” has to be replaced with the older and

timeless question: “How
to be holy?” And it is here that Chuck’s journey into

Jewish Renewal is most welcoming
and helpful, for he shares with us a Judaism

that dares to ask the right

Jewish Renewal does, and does so well, is shift emphasis from peshat, the

literal meaning of Torah
and tradition, to drash, psycho-spiritual

interpretations that transform
tribal teachings and custom into a dialect of

universal truth. Judaism
in the hands and hearts of the wonderful Renewal rabbis

interviewed in Raising the
Sparks is no longer the parochial culture of tribal

Israel, but the highly sophisticated
spiritual lifeway of yisra-el, of the god

wrestlers and spiritual
warriors from many backgrounds seeking to infuse and

repair the world with holiness.

Renewal asks not “How can we maintain our uniqueness as a people?,” but

“How can we use 3,500 years
of Jewish experience to repair the world and

ourselves with holiness?”
Here is a question worthy of our utmost attention. And

answering it will insure
Judaism’s survival as a vital spiritual force in the

world for generations. But
before Judaism can be the answer to this question,

Jews must begin to ask it.
And this is where Raising the Sparks is disturbing.

encounters in Renewal Judaism a practice that is devoted to holiness, to

universal questions. God
is the Nameless Source of Reality that manifests all

life. Torah is a spiritual
map written in symbols open to endless

interpretation. Mitzvot
are spiritual practices for chipping away at ego and

freeing the soul from the
enslaving self. Prayer is a technology for stepping

outside boundaries and experiencing
the unity of all things in God. Halachah is

a toolbox for repairing
both person and planet. Yet at the end of his journey,

Chuck is still struggling
with the old question of tribalism. He cannot get over

the fact that Judaism is
for the Jews. He hears and even appreciates the Jewish

Renewal answer, but he cannot
yet bring himself to ask the new question. For

Chuck Judaism is still a
matter of tribe.

    He is
not alone. Most Jews still think of Judaism as something parochial. They

see themselves as members
of a beleaguered tribe. While few are willing to

adhere to the customs of
that tribe, even fewer are willing to let the notion of

tribe go altogether. Why?

    I suspect
the answer lies in an unarticulated fear of the hyphenated identities

demanded by postmodernity.
The emerging global village will not see an end to

human diversity, but an
expansion of it. As barriers fall between seekers of

different faiths, hybrids
will develop. This is not new. Moses Maimonides

created Aristotelian Judaism.
Abraham Abulafia created Jewish Sufism. What is

new is the self-conscious
nature of postmodern hybrids. Maimonides and Abulafia

did not admit, let alone
celebrate, their creativity. But our age is different.

What earlier Jews saw as
peshat, postmodern Jews see as drash.

    In the
postmodern world everything is drash. We borrow openly and liberally from

other faith traditions and
begin to speak of ourselves as JuBus, Jufis, and

Hinjews. Ironically, we
draw the tribal line at Jesus, the one world-teacher who

was Jewish and who addressed
the world through the medium of Torah. I suspect

this barrier, too, will
fall, and when it does it will be a sign of the final

fading of tribalist thinking.

Renewal offers an alternative to both tribalism and hybridization.

Choosing the way of interspirituality,
Jewish Renewal uses the insights and

sensibilities of other faiths
to search out, reveal, and revive similar insights

and sensibilities in our
own faith. Jewish Renewal takes advantage of postmodern

openness without falling
into the blather of spiritual Esperanto, abstract talk

about God, and holiness
stripped of all cultural richness and nuance. Where much

of New Age talk pits religion
against spirituality and offers a pristine

spirituality devoid of religion,
Jewish Renewal allows spirituality to do what

it was meant to do: uplift

without religion is like the sap of a tree without the tree itself.

The sap has nowhere to flow,
nothing to enliven, no way of manifesting life in

the world. Jewish Renewal,
in all its forms˜from the most ecstatic to the most

silent and contemplative˜resurrects
the tree of Jewish life by freeing the

spirit of holiness it was
meant to embody.

the Sparks is an excellent and honest portrayal of a contemporary Jew’s

search for Judaism. It offers
a compassionate and clear-eyed view of Jewish

Renewal and her teachers.
It is a film worth seeing. More importantly, it is a

film worth talking about.

Rami Shapiro is senior
rabbi and president of Metiva,
a center for contemplative

Judaism in Los Angeles,
CA. His most recent book is Proverbs (Bell Tower 2001).

Raising the Sparks can
be purchased from Delphi Productions, 888-443-2400.

Freddie's Coquito (Creamy Tropical Liqueur)


14 JAN 02

Freddie’s Coquito (Creamy Tropical Liqueur)


2 cans cream of cocoanut (Coco-Lopez)

2 cans condensed milk

4 – 6 oz Bacardi white rum

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract



Mix all ingredients in a blender or food
processor. Store refrigerated. Remove

from refrigerator a half hour prior to
serving and warm slightly (Freddie thinks

the optimum temperature is obtained by
warming on the back of a computer


Magical Staves

13 JAN 02ábrókarstafur

Magical Staves

“A small sample of the magical staves and
characters found in Icelandic grimoires. A number of grimoires can be found
in collections of Icelandic manuscripts. A few of these have been dated
to the time of the witch-hunts though the majority are from the eighteenth
and nineteenth century, and some are copies made in the early 1900s. Some
mix primitive medicine with darker parts but all of them include signs
and drawings as an important part of the magic. Very little of this material
has been printed in its original form. The following samples are taken
at random from various collections. The texts are not translated in full
but are intended to give some idea of the contents of Icelandic grimoires.

/  Nábrókarstafur

“These were made with the intact skin
of the lower part of the human body, dug up from a church yard. When worn
they will become undistinguishable from one’s own skin. The stave should
be kept in the scrotum along with a coin stolen from a poor widow. Money
will then constantly be drawn into the scrotum.



A Stave to Raise the Dead / Stafur
til að vekja upp draug

“This sign can be used to wake from the
dead, to exterminate a ghost, and it also has the power to drive away evil
spirits. It must be carved on the skin of a horse’s head with a mixture
of blood from a seal, a fox, and a man. This verse must be recited with

Þykkt blóð, þreytast

Þjóð mörg vos öld

grand heitt, gummar andast,

glatast auður, firrast snauðir.

Hætt grand hræðast dróttir

hríð mörg, vesöld

angur vænt, ærnar skærur.

Illur sveimur nú er í heimi.”