Carl Jung, psychics, and a psychological history of human nature.

I once paid for a reading by a “certified” Tarot card reader. I was at a mental health event, of all places. He claimed that his method was not meant to replace traditional psychotherapy but instead was only an alternative for those who prefer a cheaper and quicker access to universal truths.

“We’re not really reading the future,” he told me. “We are using familiar symbols that have been used for centuries. These symbols are meant to untangle thoughts that you already have and that will help clarify your best options moving forward.” He looked clean and educated: he didn’t…


A postmaterialist perspective on the paranormal.

There is a belief that consciousness can be explained by studying the interaction of smaller parts. In other words, by focusing on a study of the brain we will eventually find the source of consciousness and understand its mechanism. That is like saying we can study time by taking a clock apart. Serious people have a tendency to focus only on the measurable, reliable, and simple, ignoring the nuance of complex phenomena. In an effort to control the universe, they have removed its spirit, limiting their investigations on its mechanical processes. By doing so, they have ruled as impossible, superstitious…


The Filipino psychologist who studied the paranormal.

Fr. Bu’s collection of crystal balls, amulets, and dowsing rods.

It is culturally normal for Filipinos to be possessed. This was the assertion of the Jesuit priest and clinical psychologist Jaime C. Bulatao in his essay, “Local Cases of Possession and their Cure”. His writings on the paranormal explored the idea of studying spiritual experiences from a psychological perspective — he even claimed that it is possible to exorcise individuals through hypnosis. In fact, he claimed that he regularly did this, especially during his consultations with possessed individuals and visits to “haunted” households.

It is important to note that Fr. Bu’s paranormal studies were pragmatic. He studied local cases of…


On the belief in real, dangerous magic within religion.

Every week, the leader approaches the altar to offer a human. This is done in order to invoke the good will of a terrifying, ancient, and almighty cosmic being. He then drinks the blood from a goblet. Meanwhile, the crowd chants practiced hymns and then falls in line to eat pieces of flesh. I have attended these rituals every week since I was a child, never questioning the strangeness of it all. The grotesque tortured body of a frail man crucified by the wrist is housed in a lavish, intricately-designed gold-and-ivory temple. Ominous poetry is read, that call upon the…


Reflections on how we bear suffering.

The feeling of being personally cheated in life shows how much we cling on to status and power. The feeling that others are being cheated in life shows our understanding that all people are born with dignity and have the right to be treated with dignity. To sacrifice yourself for the achievement of your personal goals is noble, but to sacrifice yourself for others is often considered unthinkable — and therefore, divine.

Two paintings stand out as human reactions to that sense of being cheated in life. …


Belief in a God might be irrational, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not real.

TL;DR: We’re aware that there are things beyond us and beyond our understanding, but we don’t know exactly how to explain it. So we use images to describe these things indirectly, and these are the images that have built our religions.

When we talk about God, these are the two most important points:

  1. Our perception of God came from the human mind’s ability to perceive itself as an individual who belongs to an environment with natural laws.
  2. Our experience of God is linked to our intuition regarding the logic of how the universe operates; this intuition is verbalized through moral…


This movie shows you how to be true to who you really are.

The 2016 Filipino movie “Vince, Kath, and James” showed the Filipino values of Lakas ng Loob (strength of character) and Tiyaga (Fortitude). Rarely can a person find a really healthy representation of Filipino values because every other romantic Filipino movie shows toxic, dangerously clingy, desperate, and miserable — and pretends that these things are love. “Vince, Kath, and James” (which I finally got to watch on Netflix) has multiple characters show these Filipino values in different ways. Some spoilers ahead.

Lakas ng loob here is shown in two ways: first, in the way people think they should act; second, in…


Nietzsche, Chaos Magic, and the liberation of the self through dreams.

“Madness in individuals is rare — but in groups, it is the rule.”

The controversial philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche suffered from mental illness in the years leading up to his death. He is often quoted for the passion with which he wrote his thoughts: he called for the radical liberation of the self from the chains of politics, institutionalized religion, and arbitrary cultural norms. One path to freedom is by courageously diving inward and expanding one’s self from within. In doing so, one destroys the boundaries of the ego and achieves a state of being beyond social pressure. …


Sigmund Freud, Fernando Pessoa, and the psychology of fantasies.

“Poets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science.” — Sigmund Freud

In a 1908 essay, Freud observed how poets are “able to carry us… in such a way and to arouse emotions in us of which we thought ourselves perhaps not even capable.” By merely using the right combination of words poets can evoke vivid imagery and trigger memories buried in that inaccessible portion of our psyche: a mental place he called the Unconscious Mind.

This creativity is observed in children, who…


Does the Divine live through us, or within us?

Quiapo Church has become a pilgrimage site for the religious, because it is the house of the allegedly miraculous Poong Itim na Nazareno, or Black Nazarene. This is Christ carved from black wood, clad in regal red garments with gold embroidery and carrying a cross. An old legend says that the image is black because it is the only object that survived a galleon fire as it was being transported to Manila. Oddly enough, the image has actually survived fires, natural disasters, and even bombings during the Second World War

During the Pista ng Itim na Nazareno (Feast of the…

Carl Lorenz Cervantes

Likes psychoanalysis, Negronis, and the occult.

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